Chestnut Herbal School

Materia Medica

Red clover harvest.

The Ecology of Estrogen in the Body

Women today live in a very different world than our foremothers. Our female predecessors began menstruating later in life, had more children, breastfed longer, underwent menopause earlier, ate whole foods, and lived in a cleaner environment. Women today have approximately ten times as many menstrual cycles as their great-great-grandmothers. Our bodies did not evolve with the hormonal inputs of perpetual ovulation and menstruation. As a result, more women than ever are experiencing reproductive disorders, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts.

Close up of a pollinator visiting passionflower.

Passionflower – Ecology, Cultivation, Botany, and Medicinal and Edible Uses

Passionflower is ecologically intriguing, drop-dead gorgeous, and an incredibly useful herbal medicine and wild edible. So I introduce this passionflower materia medica with some ecological, botanical, and cultivation snippets specific to this amazingly charismatic native vine, and hope that you wont skip this juiciness for the medicinal information.

Partridgeberry in fruit.

Partridgeberry Materia Medica

Partridgeberry Materia MedicaWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Partridgeberry in fruit My botany professors in Florida first introduced me to partridgeberry, and with excitement I recognized the scientific name as a medicinal from one of my herbal books. This was back in the late 80s when the modern herbal literature was scanty, computers were not [...]
Yellowroot growing next to a stream.


– Yellowroot’s elegant, subtle maroon flowers are just emerging in March in the mountains of North Carolina.  This native shrub in the buttercup family prefers the dappled sunlight and silty soils of the streamside and floodplain, but will tolerate drier soil in cultivation.  Yellowroot grows abundantly in central and southern Appalachia near forest streams that […]