THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – Episode 42 (Special Edition): Meet Herbalists Katja Swift and Ryn Midura

katryn-tatsThis Special Episode of The Walking Herbalist Podcast features herbalists Katja Swift and Ryn Midura. This awesome husband and wife duo are proprietors of The CommonWealth Center For Holistic Medicine! You can check out their website here!

Mindy and Marc chatted with Katja and Ryn in April 2016 on their newly acquired land in Royalston Massachusetts.


Join us while we discover how this amazing couple first met, how they got into herbalism, the struggles and successes of starting and maintaining an herbalism practice, and much, much more!

Enjoy the show!




THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – Episode 26 (Special Edition): Live from Herbstalk!

Marc and Mindy record live from Herbstalk 2016! Join us for a cruise around this magical herbal gala, where we talk to the teachers, small business owners, and patrons that come together for the yearly festivities. We meet up with Tom & Pat Zabel and Sue Kesner (parents of HerbstaIMG_5025lk founders Steph & Henry!), and find out what they think about the big event. We stalk out Catherine Iagnemma (Herbstalk’s Assistant Organizer) and her boyfriend Ian Schaplowsky (and Marc hits Ian with some hard questions, such as “what are his favorite guitar chords and why?”) [If you want to know know more about Steph, Henry, and Catherine, listen to The Story of Herbstalk!]

The music you hear is Graveyard Shuffle by Connor Magnuson, an Herbstalk volunteer who was providing music in the front lawn. Connor also showcIMG_5028ases the artistic side of Herbstalk with a poetry reading: “I want you to have my baby, Yarrow”. In fact, its hard to throw a smudge stick without hitting a musician at Herbstalk! We got to talk with Henry’s band, The Ways and Means Committee. Listen to their music here, or check out their facebook site for an upcoming events schedule (of which they have many!). Herbalist Kim Almeida also steps out onstage with her band, the Unstables. Ian is also a guitar player. And by now, we know you are aware of Marc’s love of the strum-strum!

IMG_5074We know there are many we missed, but we did manage to corner a bunch of vendors, teachers, and attendees (all listed below). Listen to what they have to say! We sure hope you enjoy this attempt to capture the spirit of Herbstalk on The Walking Herbalist Podcast!

Natalia from Sweet and Sacred (
Melanie from Fir & Elm (
Hannah Sparks from Hannah’s Herbals (
Maisie Raftery from Natural Awakenings (
Kim Almeida from Ecotone Herbals (
Madelon Hope from Boston School of Herbal Studies (
Caleb Dean from Cambridge Naturals (
Liat Racin from Tamim Teas (
Katja Swift & Ryn Midura from The Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism (
Iris Weaver (
Emma O’Brien from Lavandoula (
Danielle Laberge from Growing Habits (
Nina Judith Katz from Meridians of Health (
Todd Danforth – Photographer (
Gavin Mccarthy (
Sue from Chicago
Lynn Iverson of Eirs Garden
Bryan Rincowski

THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – EPISODE 22. The “Nature is Boss” Herbalism & Chicory Show

The Herb Nugget eludes to our bunker’s location in the 2011 tornado tract of the Pioneer Valley in Western Massacusetts; nature will always win!  Indoor seed starting has begun, with our seedling breaking the surface of the “Italian Seasoning” garden we are planting this year. If you want to know about how we start seeds, you can check out this post (which includes a .pdf of a talk we recently gave) on the subject.

Marc’s “Herb of the Podcast” is Cichorium intybus — Chicory! We personally have harvested and enjoyed the roasted chicory root as a coffee like beverage.

Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Smith AP, et al. An Investigation of the Acute Effects of Oligofructose-Enriched Inulin on Subjective Wellbeing, Mood and Cognitive Performance. Nutrients 2015 (7): 8887-8896.  Mindy gives a brief summary on Inulin (which is found abundantly in chicory root), its prebiotic capabilites, and utility to gut flora as a backdrop. The article describes human inulin consumption correlating with better memory, improved sense of happiness, less indigestion, and less hunger when compared to a placebo.

The Book Review is “Mushrooms of Northeast North America” by George Barron. The full review is here. This gives us an opportunity to talk about how we are dipping our toes into the world of mycology. Mindy also talks about her brand new magnifying loupe.

The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one and this one. One of them discusses how a couple created India’s first and only private wildlife sanctuary from seemingly useless land. The other bashes on the commercialization of food foraging in the United Kingdom.

Don’t forget that Herbstalk is right around the corner (June 4th & 5th)! Enjoy the show! The botanical plate pictured above is from Kops et al., J., Flora Batava, vol. 11: t. 832 (1853) and was obtained from

THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – EPISODE 21. The “Don’t Know What You Got” Herbalism & Mugwort Show

The Herb Nugget references how close we were to losing our sick kitty last week, and how grateful we are that she pulled through her “Feline Vestibular Disorder” attack. We chitchat about our interview last weekend of Katja Swift and Ryn Midura of the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism out at their wilderness retreat in Royalston, MA. Hopefully we will get that up soon! Of course we are still in the middle of editing Iris Weaver‘s interview as well. Busy, busy!

Marc’s “Herb of the Podcast” is Artemisia vulgaris — Mugwort! And we enjoy a tea blend with Echinacea purpura, red clover, peppermint, and mugwort to go along with Marc’s discussion of this cool herb.

Mindy’s “Backed by Science” research article is: Lachenmeier DW, et al. Thujone – Cause of Absinthism? Forensic Sci Int 158 (2006): 1-8. This article discusses whether thujone is responsible for the symptoms that Absinthe drinkers of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries experienced, namely hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, and hallucinations. Made from another Artemisia, wormwood, absinthe was completely banned in Europe and the United States by the 1920s. However, its now been legalized. The link between thujone consumption and absinthism is tenuous at best. We will keep drinking our mugwort (which also contains thujone), but look into this for your sake!

The Book Review is on Russ Cohen‘s “Wild Plants I Have Known…And Eaten”. The full review is available here.

The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one and this one. One of them talks about pharmacy students in India communing with their lively garden. The other discusses the merits of vertical gardening in the urban environment.

Enjoy the Show!

THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – EPISODE 19. The “Three Cheers for Open Source” Herbalism & Plantain Episode

The Herb Nugget reminds everyone that knowledge is power, and that it is important to keep an actual physical library of information. There are a lot of great updates: The Herbstalk Episode was extremely well-received with tons of listeners (and they are very grateful to this wonderful audience!)They met up for a plant walk and a discussion with shamanic herbalist Iris Weaver and will be getting that up in the next few weeks (Marc shares a quick clip of the interview).

And Katja and Ryn, the awesome proprietors and teachers of the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism, committed to an interview as well–so be on the lookout! Marc and Mindy talk about their long weekend at the bunker (in Western Massachusetts), where they played outdoors from dawn to dusk everyday. This included a venture into home movies, of which Nellie the Doggie was the star (this may or may not get posted!) The first greens from their city garden were harvested; these cultivated wilds included dandelion, stinging nettles, and onion greens — delicious!

The Herb of the Podcast is Plantain (Plantago major). Marc discusses its many medicinal and culinary purposes. Mindy talks about a beeswax and plantain-infused olive oil salve that she regularly uses as a lip balm.

Mindy’s “Backed by Science” report is: Nhiem MX, et al. Inhibitory Activity of Plantago major L. on Angiotensin I – converting enzyme. Arch Pharm Res 2011; 34(3): 429-423. Researchers find that one of the chemical constituents of dried plantain leaves includes 10-Hydroxymajoroside, which they found to be an effective ACE-inhibitor.

The Book Review focuses on: Breverton’s Complete Herbal: A book of remarkable plants and their uses –  by Terry Breverton. The link takes you to the full review.

The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one and this one. These present an interesting picture of the health benefits of getting your hands into the soil again. Make sure you check out Marc’s post on the subject of forest bathing (Shinrin-Yoku).




THE WALKING HERBALIST PODCAST – EPISODE 17. The Don’t Mow The “Red Clover” Herbalism Show

The Herb Nugget coins “If you have a perfect lawn, you’re doing something wrong!” Marc encourages everyone to let a patch of their untreated lawns grow wild to see what type of plants will grow. The Herb of the Podcast is Red Clover (Trifolium pratense). Marc talks about this amazing legume, including its phytoestrogenic compounds / isoflavones, and its vitamin and mineral contents. Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Giampaolo Mainini, et al. Nonhormonal management of postmenopausal women: effects of a red clover based isoflavones supplementation on climacteric syndrome and cardiovascular risk serum profile. Clin Exp Obstet Gycecol 2013; 40(3):337-41. Mindy does not have access to the full article, therefore discusses the abstract which claims red clover eases the symptoms of menopause. And then Mindy goes on to complain that medical studies are not readily accessible by the public…a public disservice. The Book Review talked about Nature’s Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants By Samuel Thayer (Forager’s Harvest Press, 2010). The full review can be found here. The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles are this one and this one. One talks about a Missouri man (Nathan Athans) and his family that had the audacity to want to grow food in their front yard, and were promptly shut down by the city which passed a new restrictive zoning ordinance. The other article discusses the state of oregano spice products in Australia, namely that they do not contain entirely dehydrated oregano leaves (and sometimes only 10% oregano!) Food fraud apparently is a very serious issue, according to the article. That said, who knew there were still Woolworth stores in Australia! Take a look at the featured photograph. Do you know what plant it is? We are not sure (some baby conifer we guess). The crushed needles smell profoundly like pineapple! As we work on our interview series (Iris Weaver is next up!), we reveal that we are working on getting Katja Swift and Ryn Midura of the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism (fingers crossed!) on the show.