It’s important to regularly ask yourself questions like: “why am I an herbalist?" and "how can I make great herbal medicine?”
The way I would answer the latter question is: I love collaborating and learning from plants. I remain forever curious about what they are going to teach me next. The botanicals ask me to keep reviewing and re-approaching the ways I make medicines and honor their healing properties.
This keeps me in a process of evolution and diversification which is a natural process of growth and change. It's also a force of creation for becoming an herbalist that is very aligned with earth systems science—which is just another way of describing the popular word “permaculture.” We can apply these principles to yourself and to your collaboration with botanical beings.
By using glycerine as a solvent for making herbal extracts, I have discovered new ways of sharing and enjoying herbal medicine in everyday life. Creating an herbal lifestyle is easy when you make more than alcoholic tinctures and when you push the boundaries of what it means to be an herbalist.
Glycerine is sweet, yes, but it doesn’t spike blood sugar. After working with it for years, I see it as a blank canvas in which to feature botanicals in a variety of ways that everyone can enjoy and use in a ton of different instances.
Glycerine is an open source medium for featuring the many ways that plants taste their healing into our lives…. Over the years of teaching about non-alcoholic solvents like glycerine, I have heard folx share so many fears about making herbal medicine. FEAR! Yes, people are really afraid that they are not doing it “right” or that their medicine won’t work or will go “bad.”
Fears of non-alcoholic medicine making must be smashed because they are holding herbalists back from being creative, curious, and open to collaboration with the plants.
The other thing I see from herbalists is that they refuse to try anything else and so they stay with the same methods for making medicine. It’s easy to fall into rigid ideas and stop questioning what we are doing and why we are doing it.
I teach in a way that is not dogmatic and instead invites a personal evolution and intimate relationship to the act of being an herbalist and making herbal medicines.
People come to classes on glycerites to learn about non-alcoholic herbal extracts but I teach them much more than that. I teach about how to stay open and curious and to use their bodies through the process. I teach about communication and collaboration with plants in ways that the ancients practiced, and in a modern way that acknowledges the human creative impulse to innovate, revolutionize, disrupt, revise.
I am inspired by interdisciplinary ideas and concepts like those in the culinary arts and the sciences like physics. There’s a lot of experimentation and play in those fields—they are reaching for something expansive like the edges of our understanding and how we put things together.
Why shouldn’t we as herbalists also approach our medicine making with such depth and curiosity? We honor the healing of the plants by seeking to expand what we know and how we know it.
Making herbal medicine with a substance other than alcohol made me see a whole lot more than what I was aware of—that’s part of the glory of it!
Energetics are very popular in herbalism right now. That’s great for the herbal glycerite maker because we can take plants fresh or dried and make a great stock of botanical extracts like ginger, cayenne, pepper, peppermint, rose, artichoke, etc and instantly direct the energetics of a formula in a tasty and effective way.
Glycerites are also softening and moistening as opposed to the hot sharp and dry energetics of alcohol. A lot of people need this moistening and softening quality that is so a part of the glycerine profile—this is why its used so much topically!
You can also make anything into a glycerite—if you can make an infusion or a decoction of it, then you can make a great tasting glycerite out of it and it will last for years!
If you're interested in learning more about how to make non-alcoholic medicine, join me for my next in-person workshop The Glory of Glycerites at Scarlet Sage on February 1st at 5PM PT.
In this 2 hour medicine making demo class and lecture, learn how to make glycerites with fresh and dried plant parts and understand why this medicine is a game changer in the herbalist toolkit.