Chestnut Herbal School

Materia Medica

5 Tonic Herbs to Boost Immunity This Winter

The cold months of the year bring a flurry of beastly germs to our doorstep. These wee-but-wicked pathogens must sense that our immune systems are vulnerable—especially during the holidays, when rich food and drink prevail. I like to start bolstering my family’s immune systems early in the cold & flu season; well before everyone around us is sniffling and sneezing. Practices like eating a nourishing diet; getting plenty of sleep, sunshine, and water; and proper hand washing are essential, but I also rely on a handful of tonic herbs to keep us healthy and resilient.

Herbs for the Immune System

Before we dive into herbs for the immune system, we’re going to start with lifestyles for the immune system. Because herbs are really and truly the icing on the cake, whereas the day-to-day choices we make for how we want to live are the cake, so to say. The same things in life that make us feel vital, happy, connected, and energetic also make our immune cells feel perky and capable.

Violet’s Edible and Medicinal Uses

Violets are welcome “weeds” in my garden. In fact, the common blue violet—my particular brand of violet garden guest—is native to these parts, which is more than I can say for myself. The common blue violet (Viola sororia, Violaceae) is native to most of central and eastern North America. It is a common sight in lawns, gardens, sidewalk cracks and along trailsides. The common blue violet is typically considered a “weed” because of its relative ease in adapting to human disturbance, but it pushes the definition of weed because it has been on this continent for a very long time. The leaves and flowers of the common blue violet, along with many other species, are edible and medicinal. The “confederate violet” is an escaped cultivar (cultivated variety) of Viola sororia—it has white flowers with blue streaks and is a common inhabitant of lawns in the southeastern United States.

Lavender’s Medicinal and Aromatherapy Uses and Lavender Truffles

Lavender's Medicinal and Aromatherapy Uses and Lavender TrufflesWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor - There are few scents in this world that evoke the feeling of clean - lavender is one of them. Its common and scientific name originates from lavare, the Latin word for wash or bathe. Lavender was popular as a linen-washing herb [...]
Calendula officinalis

Calendula’s Herbal & Edible Uses: How to Grow, Gather, and Prepare Calendula as Food and Medicine

Calendula officinalis is one of the easiest-to-grow medicinal herbs and so versatile in its healing properties that it invariably finds its way into the hearts and gardens of all herb lovers. It is typically grown as an annual, but can be cultivated as a short-lived perennial in warmer climes (Zone 8-10).

Anemone: Medicine, Poison, Pollen, and Melodrama

Anemone: Medicine, Poison, Pollen, and MelodramaWritten by Juliet Blankespoor with Meghan Gemma Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Courageous of bloom, anemone often endures the wind and freezing temperatures of early spring or fall (depending on the species). I first fell in love with anemone while visiting the high boreal and alpine expanses of the Rocky Mountains [...]

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 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 [...]