A Way Home | SustenanceNW
Classes Medicine Making Health Topics Lunar Calendar Library Additional Herbs
community-cheat-sheets-notes.pdf community-cheat-sheets.pdf herb-cheat-sheets.pdf journal-cheat-sheet.pdf recipe-cheat-sheets.pdf summary.pdf

Vision of A Way Home →

Herbal medicine can seem daunting, but we are made for it - and learning to see the world full of medicine is healing in its own right. It is actually simple to do a ton of powerful home herbalism. In this session we introduce the first actionable medicines, as well as dive into the philosophy and role of home herbalists.

Also woven through our talk of bruises and fevers, tinctures and teas will be holistic glances at things like anxiety, depression, trauma and addiction. The most challenging darkness comes from inside us - so we’ll go there. We’ll talk about the things in this world we can’t change, the things we can work with, and strategies for you to use your work as a healer as a leverage point to strike out for the light we so desperately need.


Autonomous medicine →

Show cards

In this session, we’re going to look at medicines with profound impacts that we don’t ingest or apply - things we can do that shift our health! It turns out that science and tradition tell us that some of the most profound treatments available to us don’t require pills, teas, tinctures, balms or creams.

We’re going to focus the impacts of a few different kinds of innate medicine, and some simple ways to engage with them:

  • Basic breath principles that let us create our own natural breathwork
  • How to safely engage in cold exposure, and why we’d want to
  • Simple techniques for healing our capacity to move freely
  • Fasting to strengthen the immune system, gut health, and mental health
  • Reclaiming the incredible ground slandered as “placebo effect”, and getting a sense of what it can accomplish and what it can’t

We will briefly mention mind work, meditation, rest, forest bathing, and heat exposure (like sauna or sweat lodges), but only in a futile gesture at completeness… obviously there are many more innate healing modalities!

Before we start talking about making and taking medicines, we should look to the simpler, more fundamental medicines we carry inside us. The full session is 4.5 hours long - scroll down for clips.


Willow & Cottonwood →

Show cards

Willow Cheat Sheet Cottonwood Cheat Sheet

Willow is one of the best known herbal medicines, famous for containing the constituent that is sold in isolation as Aspirin. But willow has a bounty far richer than just one chemical, and is profoundly effective yet gentle on the body, and has usefulness far broader than Aspirin gives us.

Cottonwood is a close cousin, and has similar medicine, but also a special magic. The resin of cottonwood buds is incredibly aromatic, and is a deeply soothing skin medicine, in addition to a potent antiviral.

We’ll talk about pain, fever, and skin issues, and we’ll share discussion about the complex interwoven ties between mental health and physical pain.


Alder →

Show cards

Of all the medicines we are studying, Alder is easily the most commonly overlooked. It is an incredible medicine: mild enough to take as a daily tonic, potent enough to have serious value, applicable for myriad concerns, capable of soothing symptoms and helping resolve root causes - but so, so overlooked.


Yarrow →

Show cards

Yarrow Cheat Sheet

Yarrow is found all over the world, and is revered all over the world, too. It is the single herb that I use the most in the daily life of our family - and regularly on our animals, too!

It is maybe most famous as an effective healing agent for all kinds of burns and wounds, but its use as a fever medicine is also renowned. But it is also quite useful for women’s health - and it is little known that it is also a mildly psychoactive sedative.

We’ll briefly talk about psychoactive medicines and mental health.


Hawthorn →

Show cards

Hawthorn Cheat Sheet

Hawthorn is a central medicine - it is a beautiful plant, is found in various forms all over the world, and is one of the gentlest medicines while holding great power. Locally we have are native species of hawthorn, and abundant introduced species.

It is famed as cardiovascular medicine, with the bright red berries of some species a mnemonic to help us remember it is for our heart and blood. It is also beneficial for digestive health, helping sooth digestive tract and regulate blood sugar levels. If that wasn’t enough, it has a mild calming, sedative effect.

We’ll talk about the two-edged sword of using sedatives when working through mental health issues.


Oregon Grape →

Oregon Grape Cheat Sheet

Show cards

Oregon Grape is another medicine that is about as important as could be, but rarely seen as the treasure it is. It grows wild in abundance here, and is widely planted in landscaping arrangements as an ornamental. And make no mistake, it is beautiful.

The bark and roots are a powerful tonic for certain digestive issues and oftentimes related skin issues, and it has great potency in regulating blood sugar levels. Its most famous constituent, berberine, is a powerful antimicrobial agent yet is gentle on the body.

We’ll talk about the reinforcing crosslinks between gut and emotional health, and how herbal support can help us when trying to get ourselves untangled.


grandMother Cedar

Cedar Cheat Sheet

Show cards

Grandmother Cedar, also known as Western Red Cedar, is an unparalleled medicine. Not only can anyone easily, ethically harvest as much as they could possibly need, but it has so many uses that it really excels at. We’ll specifically talk about its us in respiratory illnesses and skin conditions, but we’ll briefly cover it’s many other uses, too.

This is a daunting one for me, because the importance of the cedar tree to the Salish peoples of this region is impossible to overstate. I am so inspired by and grateful to those people, and humbled to live on their homeland.

We talk about herbalism and spiritual health, and how to integrate the various faiths and traditions we carry with our work as herbalists and healers. No matter your spiritual beliefs, this work can be a prayer, for you and anyone you care for.


Elder →

Elder Cheat Sheet

Show cards

As long as humans have existed, we’ve always needed medical experts. Whether that is the village healer, the town doctor, the hospital, or the naturopath, there are always health concerns that ordinary people seek help with. Expert medicine is a GODSEND when we need it, but there is another thread, too. The stuff that ordinary people use daily to care for each other - the people’s medicine.

So for our final medicine chest discussion, we’ll talk about a plant that has been called “the people’s medicine chest” for centuries: Elder, or as it is commonly known now, Elderberry. Most people have heard of the scientific and traditional backing for Elder as an antiviral that is highly effective against colds, flus, and other similar illnesses. Many people know it works in part as an immunomodulant, helping quicken or soothe the response of our immune system.

What most people don’t know is that the Elder plant has medicine beyond the berries, and uses beyond viruses. It is a powerful wound healer, and can support the recovery of bruises, sprains, and breaks, it soothes many skin conditions, and works as a powerful anti-inflammatory that can sooth joints aching from various reasons. The berries can also help modulate blood sugar levels!

There is good reason this plant has been called the people’s medicine chest since ancient times!

We’ll talk about lessons the Elder plant can teach us about building community, and how to actually use the literal plant as a community building tool. We’ll look at our role as healers in family and in community, and how our need for belonging and meaning ties us together in our healing journey as we find A Way Home.


Reflections →

In this last session of the series, we’re going to look back, and review a lot of the ground we’ve covered… but far more importantly we are also going to look forward. Charles Eisenstein says we can build the better world our hearts know is possible - sounds really good, doesn’t it? Let’s do that.

Why do many hands make light work? How do we get out of the fiendish traps the industrial world catches us in?

There are layers to this question. But we’ll focus mostly on a hardnosed lens - in purely material terms, what can we get out of working with each other? What logistical profits can we realize by teaming up? In economic terms, why do we have such degraded communities, and how do we avoid the pitfalls while building in the ruins?

We’ll be discussing some specific recipes for community that are workable for us - patterns that are timeworn, accessible and practical, and that can boost our quality of life more than they cost us. We will have time designated specifically to making plans. We WILL make our lives together, by hook or by crook.

Wisely investing into these kinds of community may be the very most important thing we can do to truly be finding a way home.


Medicine Making

See the full notes from the Medicine Workshop here.

Tea / Infusion

Cheat Sheet

More notes

For each cup of hot water, add a teaspoon or so of dried herb, or a tablespoon of fresh herb. For maximum potency, brew a quart or half-gallon at a time and allow it to steep all the way until cool.

Generally, for tonic herbs take up to a teaspoon of each herb per day. For acute, short term situations you can drink 4-5 cups a day of a specific medicine.


Cheat Sheet

Put a heaping tablespoon or a small handful of your herb into a cup of water, or a large handful in a quart of water. Cover and lightly simmer for 20-60 minutes or so, judging by color.

Generally, for tonic use take an ounce or two a day. For short term acute use, generally take a couple ounces 3-4 times a day.


Cheat Sheet

More notes

Fill jar with herb, cover with vodka. Use as soon as the next day, but potency comes after a month or two. Optionally blend and/or heat with a double boiler to speed the process.

Generally, for tonic use take 1/2 - 1 tsp daily. For short term acute conditions, generally take 1/2-1 tsp 3-4 times daily. Use a teaspoon or two in a neti pot rinse.

Video: Cold Oregon Grape Tincture

Video: Alder Hot Tincture

Spit Poultice

Cheat Sheet

Chew up the herb, apply it to the issue of concern and hold it in place with a bandaid or other suitable dressing.

In addition to the healing properties of the herb, spit itself has various constituents that promote wound cleanliness and healing.

Infused Oil

Cheat Sheet

More notes

Place dry herb into a jar, and fully cover with oil. Let sit for a month or two. If using fresh herb, the oil must be gently heated to remove all moisture.

Apply directly to skin as wanted, use a spoonful for oil pulling. For nasya oil, put a few drops in each nostril and massage while head is tipped back.


Cheat Sheet

More notes

Gently heat infused oil in a double burner, and add beeswax, and stir well. About 1 part beeswax to 6 parts oil is a good starting point. Allow some balm to cool on your stirring utensil to check consistency, and add more beeswax if necessary to make it harder.

Use topically as desired.


Cheat Sheet

More notes

Take 1/4 cup baking soda and add 2 tablespoons of tinctures or decoctions. Then slowly add more liquid to reach desired paste consistency.

Use roughly a pea-sized amount on your toothbrush. You can also put that amount in your mouth and swish it around for an effect like mouthwash.

Video: Herbal Toothpaste

Honey Paste

Cheat Sheet

More notes

Powder your desired herbs. Warm some honey till it gets thin and runny, then add powder until it makes a thick paste.

For internal use you can add it to tea or just eat it (yum!). For external use you can shape it into a lump and hold it in place with a bandaid.

Video: Yarrow Wound Honey

Honey Infusion

Cheat Sheet

Roughly fill a jar with your desired herbs. Cover the herb with warm honey. If you use fresh herbs the extra moisture content may require you to store your honey infusion in the fridge. Let it steep for a good long while - if you want to strain it, gently heat the jar to make the honey runny again.

Use topically for wounds, or consume directly or added to tea or food. Dosage depends on much herb you put in the honey.


Cheat Sheet

More notes

Add herb to jar, and cover with isopropyl alcohol. For dried herbs use 70%, for fresh herbs use 91%. Optionally, you can carefully heat it in the covered jar with a double boiler approach until you see the alcohol boiling, then allow it to cool.

Use the liniment directly on skin, or put a teaspoon in a neti pot. Do not consume it internally!

Video: Yarrow Liniment


Cheat Sheet

More notes

Make a strong infusion or decoction - make your brew with several handfuls of medicine to a half gallon of water. While the water is hot, dissolve a quarter cup of sugar into it. Once the brew is cooled, mix it with a quart of existing kombucha. It can be used immediately, and will become more tangy and sour as it ferments.

Drink a few ounces at a time. It can be delicious mixed with sparkling water.


Cheat Sheet

More notes

Take fruit juice and add a yeast starter. Close the lid, but leave it loose enough so your container won’t explode. Once the bubbling is more or less stopped the fermentation is complete. At this point it will be about 5-6% alcohol. You can then add a pound of sugar; bubbling will resume until alcohol reaches about 12%. If you then add one more pound, you can potentially reach alcohol as high as 15-20%.

Use for making tinctures.

Sterile Saline

Cheat Sheet

Boil a half gallon of water, and dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt into it. Or boil 1 cup of water, and dissolve a half teaspoon in it. Sterile saline can be used for neti pot rinses, gargling, and rinsing wounds. If you want to prepare a saline infusion or decoction, prepare it as you normally would and add the required amount of salt.

Pure saline solution is shelf stable, but saline decoctions or infusions should be treated as perishable.

Health Topics

First Aid



Cuts and Lacerations




Home Health

Blood Pressure

Blood Sugar Regulation


Chronic Pain

Cold/Flu/Respiratory infections

Cough / Sore Throat

Digestive health


Immune system

Joint Pain



Oral health

Pink Eye


Skin Issues

Tonic medicines

Mental Health

Anxiety / Depression / Trauma


Dopamine regulation


Gut/emotion link

Interactions with Chronic Pain

Placebo/Nocebo/Knowledge of Care effect

Psychoactive medicines

Sedatives and Nervines


Lunar Calendar

This is a basic lunar calendar, to help us build a deeper awareness of the rhythms of the world. It is very simple:

  • Each moon starts with the new moon (when the moon is totally dark), and continues while the moon waxes till full, and ends after the moon wanes to the next new moon.
  • The yearly cycle starts with the Rain Moon. This moon is chosen as the one that has its fullness after the rains return. In 2021, this full moon occurred on October 20th. The moons are simply counted in order after that.
  • The lunar calendar is about 10 days longer than the solar calendar, so every couple years a lunar month must be skipped. This will occur when the last moon of the calendar, the Yellowing Moon, hasn’t yet come but the rains have returned.
  • The dates below are given for the 2021-2022 lunar year, which according to this calendar began on October 26th 2021.

Rain Moon

Oct. 26th - Nov. 4th, 2021.

The rains have returned.

Bare Tree Moon

Nov. 4th - Dec. 3rd, 2021.

The trees are now almost entirely bare.

Freeze Moon

Dec. 3rd, 2021 - Jan. 2nd, 2022

Frost is now a regular occurrence.

Dark Moon

Jan. 2nd - Jan. 31st, 2022

Shortly after the solstice is the darkest time of the year, from the low sun and constant clouds.

Glimmer Moon

Jan. 31st - Mar. 2nd, 2022

Days are getting longer faster and faster, and we’re seeing the sun more.

Budswell Moon

Mar. 2nd - Mar. 31st, 2022

Buds are begginning to swell in preparation for the new season.

Spring Moon

Mar. 31st - Apr. 30th, 2022

Everything is popping back to life!

Bloom Moon

Apr. 30th - May 30th, 2022

Gardens and wild places are covered in flowers.

Berry Moon

May 30th - Jun. 28th, 2022

Berries are beginning to flood the landscape.

Drying Moon

Jun. 28th - Aug. 27th, 2022

Many plants are dormant for the summer season, and drying their seeds and aerial growth.

Harvest Moon

Aug. 27th - Sept. 25th, 2022

Warm season staple crops like corn, squash, and beans are brought in before the rains.

Apple Moon

Sept. 25th - Oct. 25th, 2022

We start to enjoy fall cuisine of all kinds, most epitomized by apples.

Yellowing Moon

We are seeing the start of leaves yellowing. In the 2021-2022 cycle, the rains are likely to return by the start of the Yellowing Moon, so it will coincide with the Rain Moon beginning the next cycle.


For recorded discussion about Herbal Medic, Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West, and The Medicine Maker’s Handbook, see the chapter Books on the replay of our first session

©2022  SustenanceNW.com. A Transformative Adventures program

Nothing on this site should be taken as advice for treating or diagnosing any medical condition, and is only shared for educational purposes.