Monday, July 30, 2018

Mountain Rose Herbs Giving Project Application in support of Herbal Medicine Apprenticeship Program

As many of you know, I ran my Herbal Medicine Apprenticeship: An Exploration of Wild Foods and Plant Medicines of the San Juans for the first time in 2017 with a small group of women. It was a life-changing experience for me and for many of the students, and there is much support in our community for allowing it to continue. Having a program like this in the San Juan Islands allows people who would be unable to travel to the mainland for such education to have this kind of learning experience. Community members are also excited to have a program that is focused on our unique plant life—a one-of-a-kind offering. Additionally programming like this offers a means of connection for people who are living in a somewhat isolated situation—on an island in the Salish Sea—and a way of expanding local herbal wisdom outward beyond our community as students share their work with others.

My goal is to make the Apprenticeship accessible to students of all income levels in this community. Much to the disappointment of new and returning students for 2018, I was unable to run the program at the same pricing, and many students were not able to afford higher tuition. We have since been looking for ways to fund this unique, immersive herbalism learning opportunity in the San Juan Islands. The Mountain Rose Herbs Giving Project is a great opportunity for funding for this program, and for collaboration in support of our mutual vision for a sustainable future. 

Offering the Apprenticeship program is important to me because it is how I first learned about herbalism ten years ago—through an Apprenticeship program with Robin Rose Bennett in New York. It helped reconnect and enliven my spirit in ways I had never thought possible, and the nourishing, beautiful space Robin created for us fostered intimate relationships with sisters I will have for a lifetime. This is the type of experience I hope to pass on to the students in my Apprenticeship. Ryan Drum has taught me so much about life, off-grid living, health and wellness in addition to our local land and sea plant medicines. I hope, through this program and my other teachings, to continue his legacy of vast knowledge of the plants in our islands and wildcrafting ways for the next generation of herbal medicine students.
Through living off-grid in a primitive situation, I developed a new relationship and deep connection with the resources in my environment; I realized in a very tangible way how much these resources are impacted by everyone in our community, our region, and our world and that we can’t create health and sustainability for the planet in isolation. I loved the freedom, empowerment and rich connection of being able to harvest wild foods from the land and sea. Eating where I live and spending time harvesting and working with plants in my environment over the course of many seasons, many years, has been an invaluable teacher of how to work with plant medicines sustainably—not just through the avoidance of inflicting harm on the landscape but in new ways of engaging with plants in our environment that is collaborative or beneficial to the system. What’s more, this work has instilled a deep-rooted investment in defending the health of the place where I live and continues to inspire creative ways to sustain it for generations to come. It is my hope that through this immersive Apprenticeship program, I can offer a setting for similar learning experiences to happen for more people who bring their own gifts for innovation change—as my small part in the greater work that so many others are doing in these times: creating a new future for the coming generations and deep nourishment and healing for people, plants, and the planet.

Check out this video on my program that 2017 student Colleen Stewart and I put together for the Mountain Rose Grant Application: 

If you are interested in supporting this program or joining us for 2019, please email me at

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Queen of Hungary's Water

Queen of Hungary’s Water (Lemon Balm leaves; Sweet Cicely leaves, flowers and seeds; Nootka Rose blossoms; Calendula blossoms (dried and fresh); Comfrey leaf; Rosemary leaves and flowers (dried), Sage (dried), Lemon Peel). This is my version of this legendary recipe, substituting sweet cicely for chamomile, inspired by a similar recipe of the renowned herbalist-gypsy, Juliette de Bairacli Levy. Known as the first herbal ‘product,’ purportedly marketed by Gypsies as a cosmetic beautifier and cure-all, the deeper legend goes something like this: “Some say that it was created for the aging Queen of Hungary by an alchemist in the 1300’s to restore her youthfulness. According to the legend, it reversed her appearance so much that the 25 year old grand-duke of Lithuania asked her for her hand in marriage when she was 70!” Maude Grieve notes a slightly older version of the recipe, “A formula dated 1235, said to be in the handwriting of Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, is said to be preserved in Vienna.” Whatever the case may be, “the Gypsies used it as a hair rinse, mouthwash, headache remedy aftershave, footbath, and who knows what else!” Some of the ingredients vary from recipe to recipe, but rosemary, a favorite of the Gypsies, seems to always appear as its key ingredient, valued for its astringency, fragrance, and use in beautifying dark hair or thwarting hair loss. Many of the other herbs in this recipe similarly impart both astringency and appealing scents:“there is no doubt that Queen of Hungary’s Water is a wonderful astringent for all skin types and is especially beneficial for oily or acne prone skin. It gently tones, tightens pores, soothes itchy skin, normalizes the skin’s pH, and is a superb hair rinse.” Juliette recommends this preparation as “Excellent applied on cloths wrung out in cold water, and placed over the forehead, to allay headache, soothe fevers. In fevers also apply to the pulse on the wrists.”

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis). Another key ingredient in this recipe, lemon balm imparts a lemony fragrance and is “antioxidant, antiviral (herpes), antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory,” and is known for its use in “treatments for a wide range of…skin problems, including…sores, bites.” From ancient monastery use as a cologne and in healing salves to Pliny and Dioscordes recommending it as a “‘certain cure for the bites of venomous beasts and the stings of scorpions.’ It is now recognized as a scientific fact that the balsamic oils of aromatic plants make excellent surgical dressings: they give off ozone and thus exercise anti-putrescent effects.” In modern herbalism lemon balm is used particularly as a herpes treatment, “A lemon balm-containing cream is sold in Germany for the treatment of cold sores and related herpes simplex conditions. Studies have shown that it reduces the healing time of herpes lesions and lengthens the time between recurrences of the condition.” It is not surprising that lemon balm is also a great nervine—helping to relax and cool hot conditions of all kinds. 

Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza spp.). “Referred to as ‘all medicine’ by some tribes,” our local sweet cicely imparts a sweet anise-like aroma to the other infused herbs. As Juliette notes, “The foliage is put into linen closets to impart a pleasant scent to the contents.” Various species of sweet cicely have been used as a wash for head lice and fleas as well as “for treating skin rashes, eye problems, and sore breasts; as a feminine deodorant; and applied to snakebites, cuts, sores, swellings, and bruises.” An antifungal plant medicine, “The tincture can be diluted with two to three pints of water and applied freely to tineas and other fungal conditions”

Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana.). An ancient nourishing and beautifying skin-healing plant medicine, roses are mildly astringent, toning tissues, including burns, and shrinking “capillary inflammation and redness” according to Michael Moore. Rose is “balancing, cooling, and hydrating to the skin” and helps to soothe sunburns and clarify skin that could use general enhancement. The essence and magic of rose, as in any plant, can be felt and absorbed through the skin, making this preparation an energetic healer in addition to its physical properties. Rich in tannins, roses steeped in apple cider vinegar “is a fine medicine to relieve sunburns….and nourishes your skin to keep it fresh, smooth, and glowing with health.”

Calendula (Calendula officinalis). Calendula is renowned for its skin-healing abilities and has been used for generations and throughout the world in folk healing. Known in the herbal circles as the “‘mother of the skin,’” it is traditionally effective on even the most obstinate skin conditions: “Calendula is truly the miracle worker of the skin, whether a person has lumps, bumps, scabs that won’t heal, eczema, athlete’s foot, acne,” and the list goes on. Calendula is antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory, among other properties, and it promotes epithelization, or the knitting together of wounded skin tissues. With its nourishing carotenoids and “life force-enhancing properties,” calendula has been known to “speed up healing and counter infection in conditions as diverse as minor burns and sunburn insect bites and stings, sore and pustular blemishes, acne…cuts and abrasions, inflamed rashes such as diaper rash, and hemorrhoids and varicose veins.”

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale). Another skin (and bone)-knitting herb, comfrey “facilitates and activates the healing of damaged tissue. It is one of the best herbs for treating torn ligaments, strains, bruises.” Comfrey’s high allantoin content promotes “healing of bruises, wounds, ulcers, and sore breasts,” while its rich musilage soothes, and eases pain, swelling, and inflammation. As Maude Grieve notes, “Comfrey leaves are of much value as an external remedy, both in the form of fomentations, for sprains, swellings and bruises, and as a poultice, to severe cuts, to promote suppuration of boils and abscesses, and gangrenous and ill-conditioned ulcers.”Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). The key ingredient in the Queen of Hungary’s Water recipe for its fragrance, antiseptic, and hair-conditioning qualities, “Blended with other herbs in the famous Queen of Hungary’s Water…rosemary makes a bracing astringent cosmetic preparation.” An ancient remedy to strengthen and brighten skin and hair (especially dark hair), rosemary has also been used to discourage dandruff and encourage hair growth, “stimulating the hair-bulbs to renewed activity and preventing premature baldness.” Even today “You’ll often see rosemary used in shampoos and conditioners for dandruff and thinning hair, including alopecia.” Rosemary has been a protective plant of the Gypsies, and “Spanish peasants pound rosemary into common salt and consider this remedy as the finest of all wound cures. The Arabs also extol this wound remedy; they sprinkle the dried powdered herb on the umbilical cord of newborn infants as an astringent and antiseptic treatment.” With its powerfully antiviral, antiseptic, antiinflammatory, and antioxidant rosmarinic acid, rosemary has also been traditionally used as an insecticide and treatment for bites and stings. The scent and flavor of rosemary is a powerful nervine treatment that helps lift the spirits and shift consciousness: “In ancient times, rosemary was used in French churches and cathedrals for perfume, by crushing underfoot.” A rubefacient and “fragrant stimulant” rosemary and its use in “Hungary water was also considered very efficacious against gout in the hands and feet, being rubbed into them vigorously.”
Sage (Salvia apiana). Another protective, cleansing and astringent herb, the Latin “Salvia, derives from the Latin salvus, ‘safe,’ and salvere, ‘to be well.’” Like rosemary, sage is traditionally used “for all forms of wounds, sores, ulcers….An effective hair tonic: to stimulate growth, tone up the color, act as a setting lotion, and remove dandruff.” The minerals in sages “helps keep your hair and scalp healthy” and glossy. Also like rosemary, sage is highly aromatic and high in antiseptic volatile oils—“White sage leaves were used as a deodorant to remove human smells during deer hunting”—and both sage and rosemary contain the antiinflammatory rosmarinic acid. Michael Moore recommends white sage as the best of the sages for “broken skin, rashes, and scratches, applying it to sore gums, and taking it as a first aid for sore throats, skin tineas, urethritis, prostate irritability, and gastritis. Absolutely first-rate stuff.” Sage is also helpful “to warm cold joints, or sinews, troubled with the palsy and cramp, and to comfort and strengthen the parts.

Lemon (Citrus limon). Flavanoid-rich lemon peel is another plant in this blend that is tightening and toning, cooling, and clearing to the hair and skin: “Applied to the skin, it has antibacterial and astringent effects, which helps to clear up blemishes and brighten dull or oily skin and hair….It’s also used in many beauty treatments to help with cellulite.” It is a great plant medicine for healing sunburn. High in fragrant volatile oils, lemon also works on an energetic level to “calm and soothe mental fatigue and insomnia, and lift spirits.”

Yellowstone, June 30, 2015

Montana Greetings!
Ryan and I journeyed east last week to Helena for the Montana Herb Gathering, and afterwards took a detour south to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons before heading home. I love watching the incremental changes in landscapes on a road trip—the changes in rock, flora, and fauna. As we passed through the Cascades into the high desert of eastern Washington the trees shrunk and became more spread out due to lack of water and cold, dormant winters. Sage brush dominated where there weren’t nearby human inhabitants or flowing waterways. Rock formations rose up from the earth, seeming to appear out of nowhere. Northern Idaho became more deeply forested with stubby pines and firs amidst burnt older growth, and the mountains became more vast as we wove through the valleys of western Montana. 
Traveling through Yellowstone, the landscape began to change more significantly—it is a place valued in scientific study for its other-worldly landscape, which might give clues about other planets. And yet we found plants common to our own backyard: dalmatian toadflax, indian paintbrush, pearly everlasting, yarrow and even a larger version of our native garlic onion with the same exact delicious flowers.
Stunning volcanic rock and mineral formations emerged from this land through geysers, fumaroles, and hot limestone-infused streams steaming up out of the earth and depositing beautiful formations colored by various types of bacteria. The layers of minerals left by the flowing hot springs trap water and over time create opals, which we found at a town near an opal mine (discovered by lost hunters 70 years ago) in eastern Idaho. As I waited for Old Faithful to put on its show, I was fortunate to sit behind a woman who knew a lot about the geyser and the volcanic activity in the park. Old Faithful, known for its regularity in displaying a fountain of hot water after the build-up of pressure every hour and a half, used to to be predictable within 30 seconds, now it’s give or take 10 minutes. The woman said the change in its predictability indicates that Yellowstone’s active volcano, 600 years overdue for an eruption, is closer to exploding. The park monitors seismic activity, not for larger movements, but for increasing frequency of small quakes, like labor contractions indicating an imminent birth. A couple of years ago there was increased activity and the ground got so hot that hikers’ shoes were melting, but no eruption occurred. The smoke and ash from the predicted eruption is forecast to wipe out two-thirds of the U.S. 
This reminder of our earth’s dynamic movements deepened my appreciation for the power of this moment, being able to witness the earth in a process of creation, bringing ancient minerals buried deep within out to the surface for us to see, in a constantly changing and reborn landscape. Never again would it be exactly as I had seen it in this moment.
In the spirit of the plants, 

Kristy Bredin   June 30, 2015

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Kristy Bredin began her journey as an herbalist and wellness coach in 2009, when she completed a holistic health coach training through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and began a two-year apprenticeship with Robin Rose Bennett (in Susun Weed’s Wise Woman healing lineage). Through Robin she learned to see magic and spirit in the world around her again, in addition to connecting with the gifts of common plants, ancient healing traditions, and intuitive wisdom. In 2011 Kristy participated in a clinic with herbalists Margi Flint and Matthew Wood, working with clients with Lyme, skin conditions, dental issues and more. For the past 4 years Kristy has worked with Ryan Drum on Waldron, wildcrafting medicinal plants and seaweeds and occasional client case-work. Her work with Dr. Drum has given her a thorough understanding and practical knowledge of local plants and seaweeds as foods and medicines; seaweeds and thyroid health; lifestyle choices for optimal health; and traditional herbalism. 

Kristy's practice focuses on supporting growth through the healing process. Through each session, Kristy empowers clients to be active participants in their well being, guiding them in tuning into the messages of their bodies, adding nourishing food and herbs to their diets, making health-positive lifestyle choices, and transforming patterns to strengthen their health and stimulate healing. She provides clients with information and resources on traditional uses of plant medicines and food-based healing so that they can make informed choices for their well being and helps them to integrate changes. Kristy strives to honor clients as unique individuals, connecting them with the plants that resonate with them and can be their best teachers, whether on a physical, emotional, or spiritual level. Kristy enjoys working with clients on issues that she has navigated herself—digestive issues, depression, herbal birth control, women’s health, and skin issues, among others. She teaches classes on seaweeds and land plants as food and medicine locally and in other parts of the country. As she begins her practice at the Healing Arts Center, she will be reviewing her cases with Ryan Drum and Paul Bergner toward her certification as a Registered Herbalist through the American Herbalists Guild.

Contact Kristy about special ordering of herbs for practitioners and apothecaries: