Herbal Articles
from Blog Castanea

Green Greetings!

Welcome to Blog Castanea ~ a collection of herbal writings, recipes, materia medicas, and musings from the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine.

We are an online herbal school founded in Cherokee Nation territory (in what is currently known as Asheville, North Carolina), nestled in the botanically rich Southern Appalachian Mountains. This blog sprouted in 2011 as a creative outlet for Juliet Blankespoor’s photography and writing. Juliet is the founder of the Chestnut School, the primary instructor, and the author of The Healing Garden: Cultivating & Handcrafting Herbal Remedies. Over the past few years, the blog has welcomed new herbal voices, notably Meghan Gemma, who is also one of the school’s primary instructors.

Herbs are our main squeeze, and we love to show them off! This page is devoted to helping you connect with dozens of herbal sweethearts (and to navigate our blog successfully and easily). Thanks so much for visiting! We hope you’ll leave feeling inspired and ever more curious about the green world of herbs. And if you want to keep up with our newest articles, sign up here.

Care to learn more about who we are and what we do? Please stop in for a visit to our About page and check out our programs here.

Interested in receiving our FREE 100-page Guide for Budding Herbalists? Tap here to claim your copy.

Curious about our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism initiatives? We’d be thrilled if you’d take a peek at our DEIA statement.

Interested in writing for our blog? We’re always looking for fresh voices, especially from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ herbalists, and we offer highly competitive compensation! Write us here with inquiries and writing samples.


Here are some topics to explore on our blog:

Foraging Wild Foods
& Medicinal Herbs

Calling all foragers! Are you intrigued by the idea of gathering abundant wild edibles and common medicinal plants? We’ve stocked up all the resources you need to begin your foraging adventures safely and wisely. Tools, field guides, harvesting ethics, and a primer on sustainable wildcrafting are all requisite. Browse our library of resources to start foraging on the right foot! Come fill your baskets with our best books, recipes, and tips.

A person holds a basket of harvested herbs.
A person picking Japanese honeysuckle.

Sustainable & Bioregional Herbalism

Ready to reinvent how you gather, grow, or purchase herbal medicines? We’ve laid out information on a quadruplet of important topics: sustainable foraging, sustainable herb cultivation, supporting local herb farmers and ethical wildcrafters, and investigating your herbal supply chain. We’ve provided a wealth of resources for becoming a more reciprocal member of your ecosystem, bioregion, and herbal community. Keep reading for our recommendations!

Medicinal Herb Gardening

From seeds to sprouts to harvest baskets, this green archive contains everything you need to know about cultivating medicinal plants. If you’re the type of herbalist that likes to get down and dirty in the garden, you’ve come to the perfect place. We’ve compiled an array of our most popular herb gardening articles—on starting medicinals from seed, propagating and multiplying herbs, planning the herb garden of your dreams, and more! This round-up even includes tips for growing medicinal herbs in tiny yards, porches, and tight spaces (shout out to our urban gardeners!).

Digging up sochan.

Herbs growing in pots.

Growing Medicinal & Culinary Herbs in Containers

Are you itching to grow herbs but don’t have access to a garden? Or have you had lackluster results with potted porch plants? We’re here to lend a green thumb! Whether you have a small space to work with, or a luxurious outdoor area that’s begging for a medicinal makeover, it can be easy-as-elderberries to grow healing and culinary herbs. Porches, patios, and sunny windowsills are all prime-time real estate for the herb gardener. Take a wink at our Container Gardening Hub for a collection of resources that will have you growing potted plants like a pro.

Herbs for Immune Support

Curious about how herbal home remedies can help boost your immune system and alleviate nasty cold and flu symptoms? Or perhaps you’re wondering how to use herbs to build up your immune system and prevent colds before they start? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about herbal immune stimulants, herbal immunomodulators, and antimicrobial herbs. Plus you’ll find links to our favorite herbal immune system recipes. Nip bugs in the bud here.

Astragalus leaves.

Herbal Materia Medica

It can be frustrating trying to find reliable herbal information on the internet! We promise to always deliver the finest articles on using herbs medicinally—so that you and your loved ones can confidently use and prepare the highest quality natural remedies. You’ll find vital information like dosage, preparation, medicinal use, and precautions & contraindications in each and every materia medica. Ready to learn more about using medicinal herbs effectively? Get started here

Herbal Medicine Making

Do you fantasize about having an apothecary brimming with herbs, tinctures, teas, and syrups? Homemade medicine, done right, can be some of the freshest, MOST effective herbal medicine on the planet. Want to browse our tips and cherished recipes? You can find an online library of our free resources right here.

A person pours tincture into a measuring cup.

Subscribe to our newsletter & receive our Guide for Budding Herbalists, a FREE 100-page eBook brimming with medicinal herb growing resources.

Close-up of a calendula flower.

Calendula's Uses & Benefits

Come steep yourself in herbal sunshine! Here is everything you need to know about calendula’s healing benefits, plus our recipes for making calendula oils, salves, and teas. Calendula is one of the sunniest herbs around, and one of our most versatile medicinals. Do you have skin issues? Digestive complaints? Or an immune system in need of a boost? Calendula’s your flower! To help you make the most of this merry medicine, we’ve compiled our favorite recipes and resources on preparing and using calendula right here.

Medicinal Uses & Benefits

This bright medicinal is a plant-lovers dream: it’s a premier ally for seasonal allergies, colds, flu, and urinary tract infections ~ a seasonal dye plant ~  a pollinator mecca ~ and a tasty culinary and beverage herb. Want to find out what the bees already know and love about goldenrod? This is your golden guide to gathering, growing, and using fall’s most iconic wildflower.

Close-up of goldenrod.
A bowl of blue violets in a violet patch.

Violet’s Edible & Medicinal Uses

If ever an herb could steal your heart, it might be violet. As one of the earliest wildflowers of springtime, violet rolls out a green carpet of lush leaves and draws the eye with its watercolor blooms. Used as a traditional cleansing herb, respiratory remedy, and lymphatic, violet is a plentiful staple for both the home medicine chest and the clinical apothecary. Ready to meet the most welcome “weed” around? We’ve prepared the most florally comprehensive guide to finding, foraging, preparing, and using violet.

Witch Hazel's Uses & Benefits

Ready to meet the witchiest witch of them all? Witch hazel works its herbal magic in the apothecary as a premier strengthener of the skin and blood vessels—its bark, twigs, and leaves are used for a cascade of conditions ranging from eczema to poison ivy to varicose veins. Come take a witchy wink! Pull up a toadstool and and pore over our wee spellbook of articles on growing, gathering, and using witch hazel.

Snow covered witch hazel branch.
Juliet Blankespoor's library is full of home herbal apothecary books.

Our Favorite Herbalism Books

Are you seeking a spectacular stash of herbal medicine books? We’re happy to present seven special reading lists that highlight our personal picks. There are selections for every kind of plant person: beginning herbalists, advanced and clinical herbalists, herb gardeners, foragers, medicine makers, and budding aromatherapists. We know a good book is worth its weight in goldenrod, and we want to set you up with a sweet stack!

Herbal Botany & Ecology

Do plant i.d. and botanical terminology leave you weak in the knees? Do you feel a fascination for plant-ecosystem relationships? We’re right there with you! These topics are near and dear to our hearts, and we love spinning a good yarn about the extraordinary nuances of plant parts, habitats, and the great interconnected web of life. If you’d like to dial in on herbal articles that explore botany and ecology, this will be your cup of palmate-leaved jiaogulan tea.

A person holds a floral mandala arrangement.
A bagel with wild greens and violet flowers on top.

Food As Medicine

Everything we take into our bodies is medicine! Which makes food one of our greatest potential healers. Would you like to whip up some of the herbal food-as-medicine recipes we prepare in our own kitchens? Or learn which nutrient-rich wild foods and herbs can impart deep and delicious nourishment? Join us for a colorful, flavorful, and seasonal exploration of food as medicine!

Come Study with the Chestnut School!

Herbal learning, à la Chestnut style, means a plant-centered, hands-on approach to the art of handcrafted herbal medicine. 

Our courses are about establishing a relationship with the plantsa connection that yields potent herbal remedies, pathways to improving health, and a greater sense of belonging in this wide world of green beings and medicine.

Are you eager to forge botanical bonds? We offer several online opportunities to learn, including the Herbal Medicine Making Course, the Foraging Course: Edible and Medicinal Wild Herbs, and the Herbal Immersion Program.

Take a peek at our Course Comparison Chart to get started on your herbal journey!

Herbal Medicine Making Course

Whether you’re a seasoned medicine-maker or a novice in the apothecary, you can bet your bottom flower that you’ll gain brilliant insights into the art (and science!) of handcrafting your very own herbal remedies in our 150-hour Online Medicine Making Course. In addition to alchemizing the most medicinally-potent herbal preparations around, you’ll soon be crafting edible herbal delicacies and luscious homemade body products—perfect for pampering yourself, loved ones, or clients.

And the anise hyssop on top? If you aspire to set out your shingle as an herbal products entrepreneur, our 44-page Herbal Livelihoods Guide—included in the course—will set you up for success!

A jar of Maple Medicinal Mushroom Concoction.
A forager connects with anise hyssop.

Foraging Course: Edible and Medicinal Wild Herbs

Ready to become BFFs with 21 of the most abundant and versatile wild starlets on the planet? Our 375-hour Online Foraging Course will teach you everything you need to know to confidently identify, harvest, and prepare wild food + medicine with the most abundant and nourishing weedy wonders around. You’ll also gain the botany & plant identification skills needed to set you up for a lifetime of foraging new plants in new places—safely and sustainably. The Foraging Course is only available for a small window each year (late winter through early spring).

Herbal Immersion Program

Our 1,000-hour Online Herbal Immersion was designed with the truly passionate plant person in mind. Encompassing the Medicine Making Course, our seasonally-available Online Foraging Course, and so much more, the Immersion is THE most comprehensive online program in hands-on, sustainable herbalism that exists anywhere in the world.

Are you ready to dive deep? The program covers herbal materia medica, medicinal herb gardening, wild food and medicine foraging, medicine making, botany, plant I.D., and herbal livelihoods in 119 videos, 150+ lessons, and a gorgeous 1,446 page printable course manual.

A person holds a bundle of assorted herbs.