Welcome to the Blog of the British Columbia Herbalists Association

We are a non profit association with a mandate of monitoring and maintaining the educational qualifications and practice of Herbal Practitioners. We are thrilled to be offering another educational resource for the public and for our members.

The posts on this blog are intended to promote in herbal medicine, to promote our members, through featuring their articles and other educational posts and increase awareness of BCHA related activities and herbal medicine in general. This blog will feature articles written by our members on the topics of herbal medicine, holistic health and healing, the natural world and medicine making. We welcome submissions from all members of the BCHA – which will then be peer reviewed prior to posting.

Please note: The information, opinions and views contained within the blog posts do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the BCHA. The posts are for educational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. All individuals are advised and encouraged to seek the advice of a qualified health care professional prior to starting any new treatment.

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  • 30 Jun 2023 4:52 PM | Anonymous

    The Art of the Botanical Dispensary: Maintaining Autonomy with the Compounding Policy

    Submitted by Colleen Emery, Cl.H, RHT (BCHA)

    Creating customized Herbal Medicine for Client Centred Care is paramount to providing access to health care that makes meaningful changes to a person’s wellness. Working 1:1 with clients and preparing medicine specifically for their needs allows the Herbalist to ensure that the person is receiving the most appropriate herbs necessary to their wellness goals.

    When a Herbalist working in practice with clients has access to herbal medicine that allows them to create specific, customized formulations for their clients, the outcomes are the most efficient and effective to wellness plans. Simply put, Herbal Medicine works best when we treat people with health conditions as opposed to the health condition itself. The action of preparing customized herbal medicine is the tradition of herbal medicine. Static, shelf ready products, often lack the flexibility that is needed to meet specific client needs in a capacity the yields the most notable outcomes for health.

    In Canada, the Natural Health Product Compounding Policy offers the Herbalist in practice the distinction to create customized herbal medicine within the client practitioner relationship. Herbalists are permitted to create medicines for their clients and dispense directly to them within this relationship. Canada is one of the few countries in the world to have this policy in place, making it an incredible opportunity for the Herbalist in practice to maintain autonomy while staying true to the tradition of Herbal Medicine Compounding.


    On January 1, 2004, the Natural Health Products Regulations came into force in Canada. The NHP Regulations contain requirements for the manufacture, packaging, labelling, storage, importation, distribution and sale of NHPs. Visit this link to view how the Canadian Council of Herbal Associations (CCHA) was formed in relation to this regulation:

    At this juncture a dedicated group of Herbalists from across Canada sat at the bargaining table with the NHP regulatory board to ensure the access to compounding herbal medicine was maintained, creating the Compounding Policy.

    As quoted from the Health Canada website:

    “NHPD consulted on this interim policy with Health Canada colleagues and health care practitioners, including pharmacists, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, herbalists, naturopathic doctors, practitioners of Aboriginal medicine, homeopaths, etc.

    The NHP Compounding Policy distinguishes between the manufacturing of natural health products, an activity regulated by the Natural Health Products Regulations (NHP Regulations), and the compounding of natural health products, an activity unregulated by NHP Regulations.

    Compounding is an activity performed by a health care practitioner in the context of a practitioner-patient relationship. It is an activity that generally falls under provincial or territorial jurisdiction. A site licence is therefore not required to compound, and the compounded product does not require a product licence to be sold. Responsibility for the safety, efficacy and quality of the compounded product is assumed by the health care practitioner.”


    A manufacturer is defined as:

    "Manufacturer" means a person who fabricates or processes a natural health product for the purpose of sale but does not include a pharmacist or other health care practitioner who, at the request of a patient, compounds a natural health product for the purpose of sale to that patient.

    This product is then sold outside of the client / patient practitioner relationship or what is consider third party sales.

    A practitioner is defined as:

    A person who works in a professional, medical, health related profession that requires skill, practice, training and education.

    Herbal Medicine Practitioner

    Is defined as a person who practices using herbs within a profession health practice, dispensing and recommending herbal medicine within the context of the professional patient/client relationship.

    A well-rounded education experience of 2000 minimum training hours and a minimum of 500 hours of supervised clinical experience yields a professional Herbal Medicine Practitioner.

    This practitioner then is able to work within the Compounding Policy to create customized herbal medicine for their client base.

    For a full description of the categories of education hours recommended visit:


    For a full description visit:

    The following are all scenarios that are within the scope of the compounding policy whereas a practitioner of herbal medicine create/compounds these medicines to dispense directly to their clients. The Natural Health Product (NHP) must be within Schedule 1, Subsection 1 of the NHP definition policy, found in the link above.

    • 1)       Practitioner uses an NHP with NPN or DIN-HM or DIN to compound product
    • 2)       Practitioner uses an NHP with neither an NPN nor DIN-HM nor a DIN to compound product
    • 3)       Practitioner uses raw material to compound product
    • 4)       Practitioner wildcrafts or cultivates a herb for use in a compounded product.
    • 5)       Practitioner compounds product for another practitioner to provide to their patients.
    • 6)       Practitioner provides a stock bottle (e.g., a tincture) to another practitioner to be used by that practitioner to compound product.
    • 7)       Practitioner uses a stock bottle (e.g., a tincture) provided by another practitioner to compound product.
    • 8)       Practitioner compounds a product in advance of a practitioner-patient relationship (i.e., bulk compounding) AND product is given to patient in the context of a practitioner-patient relationship.

    Impermissible within the scope of the Compounding Policy

    • 1)       Practitioner uses an NHP withdrawn from the market for safety reasons to compound product.
    • 2)       Practitioner uses any substance listed on Schedule 2 to the Natural Health Products Regulations to compound product. Schedule 2 substances do not fit the definition of a NHP. Schedule 2 can be found in the link above.
    • 3)       Practitioner uses any substance that does not meet the NHP definition to compound product
    • 4)       Practitioner compounds product intended for distribution or sale outside the established practitioner-patient relationship. This is manufacturing.

    There are many advantages to working within the Compounding Policy to create specific medicines for clients, to become autonomous with your medicine supply and to empower the practitioner to deepen the tradition of Herbal Medicine Practice. When a Herbal Medicine Practitioner operates within the Compounding Policy this also opens up the ability to create community amongst peers. To be a able to open your Botanical Dispensary to other practitioners to submit their client formulations and compound these for their clients creates balance and reciprocity within our practice. This action also creates an ability to learn from one another and show support to each other in a clinical practice. Too often practitioners of Herbal Medicine work independent of each other, loosing that connection to community.

    For more information about Herbal Medicine regulation visit the above links in the article or contact your provincial association.

  • 1 Oct 2021 9:21 PM | Anonymous

    Photo credit: Alexis Hennig, RHT

    Thuja occidentalis / Thuja plicata (Cupressaceae): Eastern Arborvitae, Northern white cedar / Western red cedar

    Author Chanchal Cabrera, RHT (BCHA).

    Part used : young leaves and growing tips harvested in the spring

    This is a large and stately conifer from the northeastern Americas, now naturalized into Europe and widely planted around the world as an ornamental. Although nomenclature was unreliable in the 1500s and other trees could be contenders, Thuja is believed to be the ‘tree of life’ that was given by the native Indigenous people to save the lives of the sailors of Jacques Cartier’s ill fated voyage in the winter of 1536, most of whom died of scurvy. The decocted boughs of thuja contain appreciable amounts of vitamin C as well as arginine, proline and other amino acids that act as synergists in connective tissue to reduce the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency.

    Ancient peoples of the Mediterranean cultures burned the aromatic wood of local species of thuja (Thuja orientalis) along with sacrifices; indeed, “Thuja” comes from the Latin form of the Greek word thero (to sacrifice). Other species of thuja were used in Egypt for embalming the dead, evidence of the strong antimicrobial action of this plant.



    This tree is not, in fact, a true Cedar but is a Cypress family It is an evergreen and reaches heights of 50 metres with buttresses at the base. Branches droop considerably then turn up at the ends. The leaves are scale-like and occur in pairs. They are an acid green at the tips in the spring, turning to a glossy dark green as they mature. In the species plicata the leaves are closely pressed to the stem and overlapped in a shingle arrangement. It has male and female parts separately on the same tree, pollen from the male parts being wind borne to the female cone in which the seeds develop. The bark on mature trees becomes a rich red brown and tends to peel off in shreds. The tree grows in moist to wet soils at relatively low elevations and forms dense forests with new trees growing off nurse logs and many forest floor plants in mature stands.

    Part used

    The medicinally active part is the leaf, preferably the leaf tips harvested in the early summer for maximum content of volatile oils. The volatile oil can be distilled out or the leaf tips can be soaked in alcohol or vegetable oil as a solvent. The leaf tips can also be boiled and the steam inhaled.

    Therapeutic actions

    Astringent / cicatrant

    Stimulating expectorant




    Moth and insect repellant

    Anti-neoplastic / antimitotic

    Traditional uses

    The green spring tips have long been known for their antimicrobial action. They can be boiled up to make a tea for washing dirty wounds or for cleansing the sickroom, used as a gargle for throat infections and the steam inhaled for sinus and lung infections. The Eclectic herbalists of the 1800s made extensive use of this herb as a blood cleanser or depurative especially for old and festering sores and for benign skin growths. It was considered a stimulating expectorant and decongestant remedy, used to treat acute bronchitis and other respiratory infections, and a diuretic and astringent used to treat acute cystitis, bed-wetting in children and incontinence. It was also recommended in gynaecology for amenorrhea, leucorrhoea, endometrial overgrowth, ovarian cysts, polyps and uterine prolapse, and was used a douche for leucorrhoea, cervical dysplasia, yeast or bacterial overgrowth, herpes and genital warts. In men it was given by local injection for hydrocoele. Extracts were applied topically over stiff or painful joints or muscles as a counter-irritant, improving local blood supply warming the joint. It was also taken as a snuff or lavage for post nasal drip and for nasal polyps

    Thuja also has a long and established history in homoeopathic medicine. In homeopathic medicine Thuja is a key remedy for skin and genito-urinary conditions with growths e.g. warts, skin tags, fibroids, uterine polyps, and especially as a depurative or blood cleanser where benign or malignant growths were considered to be a sign of blood dyscrasia. It is also recommended in homeopathy for people with low self-esteem and feelings of unattractiveness and worthlessness, for sharp left sided headaches in the temple or forehead and for a sensation of something is alive and moving in the abdomen, among other things.

    Constituents and pharmacology

    Oleo-resin up to 4%

    monoterpene ketones: carvone , (-)thujone, isothujone, α and b thujone

    monoterpene hydrocarbon: pinene

    7 diterpenoids



    A bitter principle called pinipicrin


    Coumarins (p-coumaric acid, umbelliferone)

    Flavonoids (catechine, gallocatechine)

    There is a wealth of research available today to validate the therapeutic claims of the past, and to explain the mechanisms of action of this herb. For the most part the traditional uses and the Eclectic medical recommendations are entirely supportable and still relevant today.

    Volatile oils high in terpenes are directly antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, tannins are astringent and cicatrizing, diterpenes and polysaccharides are immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory.


    Actions and uses supported by research

    Anti-inflammatory effects include downregulation of IL-6, TNF-α expression and COX-2

    Antibacterial action is against both gram-negative/positive bacteria

    Antifungal and Antiviral including Candida, HIV and herpes virus

    Hepatoprotective, gastroprotective and anti-ulcerogenic (reduces gastric acid production, promotes regeneration of the gastric epithelium)

    Antidiabetic, hypoglycemic

    Improve lipid profile (increased HDL fraction) and anti-atherosclerotic


    Redox regulating (radioprotective, anti-neoplastic)


    Clinical applications

    Antifungal – the volatile oil may be applied undiluted to fungal skin infections such as athlete’s foot, tinea versicolor or ringworm. The tincture may be used internally to treat systemic Candida infections and also for Aspergillus and other fungal lung infections. It is also applied topically to warts.

    Antibacterial – especially for upper respiratory tract infections. The volatile oil or the steam from boiling leaf tips may be inhaled in any congestive conditions of the upper respiratory tract especially where there is a lot of mucous being produced but little expectoration occurring. The Thuja will stimulate the muco-ciliary escalator, act directly against the pathogenic microbe and stimulate leucocytosis in the area.

    Vulnerary – the alcoholic extract (tincture) was prized by the Eclectic physicians for treating chronic superficial injuries called by them fulminating ulcers or ulcerous epitheliomata. Today, while we no longer have to deal with such chronic conditions very often, we still find value in Thuja for treating diabetic or varicose ulcers and some of the more persistent tropical skin afflictions, bedsores and skin cancers.

    Astringent – the tannic components contribute to an astringent and tightening action on the mucus membranes, particularly in the upper respiratory tract where there is a marked mucolytic effect. It has traditionally been used to treat hemoptysis and used to be valuable in the treatment of diphtheria and croup. Used in a sitz bath or in a cocoa butter suppository, it may also be useful to treat hemorrhoids or anal fissures. The Eclectics also used Thuja to treat strawberry naevi and port wine birth marks as well as in the form of a snuff or nose wash for nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis.

    Female tonic – small doses of Thuja tincture act as a stimulating tonic to the female organs, being valuable as an emmenagogue for suppressed menstruation and as an anticatarrhal for any congestive conditions. It is especially indicated for a heavy, dull, aching sensations and for abnormal tissue growths such as fibroids, endometriosis and benign or malignant tumors. It may be used in the form of a douche to treat chronic leucorrhoea, vaginal Candida infections, or for vaginal polyps, cervical dysplasias or genital warts.

    Male tonic – Thuja is frequently employed for congestive conditions of the prostate gland such as benign prostatic hypertrophy, as well as for mucous in the urine and for retention of urine. It may be applied topically to genital warts or for treatment of Candida infections. At the turn of the century Thuja tincture was employed as a treatment for hydrocoele. This was diluted in water and injected hypodermically into the tunica vaginalis of the testes and manually distributed into the whole scrotum. Considerable inflammation would occur but as it then resolved the varicocoele would usually resolve too.

    Kidney / bladder tonic – Thuja is believed to give tone to the bladder walls and to reduce nocturnal enuresis and promote complete emptying of the bladder. Coupled with the pronounced immuno-stimulating, astringent and anti-catarrhal activity, this is a specific remedy for chronic urinary tract infections. Because of the irritating effect of the thujone, it is not recommended for those with acute renal infections.

    Anti-cancer activity – Due in part to the diterpenes that mediate stress responses and inflammation, but also due to a synergy of constituents that cause antioxidant or redox regulating effects. In vitro studies show that α and β-thujone fractions kill cancer cells through inducing oxidative stress. Overall, the α and β-thujone fractions decrease the cell viability and exhibit a potent anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic and anti-angiogenic effects. In vivo assays showed that α and β-thujone inhibit neoplasia and inhibit the angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels in tumors)



    Tincture 1 : 5 (40% EtOH) up to 3 mL three times daily

    = 1.8 g equivalent dried herb daily

    note that extraction with 35 – 40 % ethanol will remove the useful diterpenes and polysaccharides, but leave behind the thujone fractions and this will reduce toxicity.

    The European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA) gives the content of thujone in dried twigs as 7.6 mg /g, consisting of 85% α-thujone and 15% β-thujone. The maximum daily dose is suggested as 1.25 mg thujone/kg body weight, equivalent to 68 mg thujone / 55 kg person per day or 9 g per person per day of herb.

    Tincture should be taken one month on, one month off.

    Can be used topically as well, without limitation in unbroken skin, or alternating month doses in cases of open lesions.

    The volatile oil may be purchased, taking care not to confuse it with essential oil of cedarwood which is quite different. This may be applied undiluted to warts or fungal infections or may be diluted for skin washing. It may also be employed in a vaporizer for inhalation.


    Adverse Effects

    Thujone is a constituent of commonly used herbs such as wormwood, yarrow, thuja and sage. This compound is somewhat neurotoxic and its presence in liqueurs such as absinthe may have contributed to widespread toxicity and abuse syndromes in the early 20th century, a contention that is currently being reassessed to take into consideration the amount of alcohol being consumed as well.

    The first sign of toxicity from thujone is a headache. Thujone inhibits the gamma-aminobutyric acid A (GABA(A)) receptors of the brain, causing excitation and convulsions in a dose-dependent manner, and possibly inducing seizures. Care should be exercised when giving thujone-containing herbs in high doses to epileptics. These herbs include Thuja (Thuja occidentalis), sage (Salvia officinalis), tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and some types of yarrow (Achillea millefolium). High and prolonged doses of the above herbs are hence best avoided, unless they are low-thujone varieties.

    Metabolism is mainly through CYP2A6 enzymes in the liver, followed by CYP3A4 and CYP2B6. This could be affected by drugs or other herbs that induce or inhibit them so care should be taken when prescribing Thuja for internal use that potential drug interactions have been considered.



    Thuja should not be used for extended periods of time by those with kidney weakness and should be avoided in pregnancy where it may act as an abortifacient.


    Clinical pearls

    There is variation in the composition of essential oils of Thuja occidentalis L. from different trees and different locations, with one study suggesting ketone content varies from 58 to 77% of the essential oil. It is recommended to harvest from several trees in a location and from several locations to avoid a single tree or location that may be particularly high or low.


    Traditional uses

    Thuja is the most widely used and versatile of all the trees indigenous to the Pacific North West. The wood is extremely rot resistant and was traditionally used to make the poles for longhouses, totem poles and dugout canoes. It was also used to make many tools and implements including fish spears, paddles and food drying racks. Certain tribes used hand hewn planks to make bentwood boxes, perfectly square and formed from a single plank bent and pinned. Mortuary boxes were always made from Thuja wood because the local traditions required that the body be preserved above ground in a raised box that was resistant to the elements. Before the arrival of the white man the natives made fabric for clothing from pounded sheets of Thuja bark and also used it to make beautiful baskets. It was considered by these people to be bad luck to fell a tree so they removed planks by driving antler wedges into the living tree along the grain to split off planks. When a whole tree was required to make a canoe or a longhouse pole, then either a naturally fallen tree was used or there would have to be offerings made to the Gods before a tree could be cut. The power of the Thuja was aid to be so strong that a person could receive spiritual healing by simply by standing with their back against a tree and one myth suggests that the Great Spirit created Thuja in honor of a man who was always helping others: “When he dies and where he is buried, a cedar tree shall grow and be useful to the people – for baskets, for clothing and for shelter”.The inner cambium layer of the bark was even eaten in times of famine as a survival food.

    In the Pacific Northwest the indigenous peoples of the region called this tree the grandmother of the forest as it was often the oldest and the largest tree in the forest and it provided for so many of their needs. This idea of the generous and benevolent grandmother, helping the people who love her, is borne out today in a more literal way by research at the University of British Columbia. Here Dr. Suzanne Simard has established that these venerable old trees, with a huge photosynthetic capacity, are making a lot more sugars than required for their own energy needs, and are in fact ‘feeding’ sugars via mushroom mycelia into the root systems of nearby seedlings that are still struggling to grow up above the competition on the forest floor.

    The Thuja was used for many medicinal purposes as well. The green immature cones were chewed and the juice swallowed as a contraceptive for women to prevent implantation of the egg. The smoke of the smouldering branches was used as a traditional ‘smudge’ to ward off evil spirits and to cleanse sick rooms. Similarly, the green branches were used to splash water on the stones during the traditional ‘sweat lodge’ ceremony. The branches were also used in the form of a strong tea to wash rheumatic limbs.

  • 1 Oct 2021 8:31 PM | Anonymous

    Article courtesy of BCHA Professional RHT member Emily Boese, RHT

    To view entire article with additional information, please visit:—The-top-5-benefits-of-using-plant-medicine


    When is it appropriate to use plant medicine?

    We should all be harnessing the power of plants everyday!  And many of us do in the foods we eat.

    The line between plant medicine and nutrition can be very blurry… think about ginger, turmeric, garlic, oregano… these are all common food ingredients and yet they have also been used medicinally for thousands of years.

    Anyone who has ever drank a cup of tea or coffee has experienced plant medicine in a hot water extraction and has felt the phytochemical caffeine coursing through their veins!

    I point this out to show you that plant medicine isn’t something weird or foreign… it is an integral part of our world as humans!

    One of the main things people ask me is about the safety of using plants.  And as a general rule – plants which have been used for hundreds or thousands of years have an excellent safety profile.

    **HOWEVER – if you have a serious medical condition or are on medication then it is your responsibility to speak to a practitioner before self-prescribing herbs. **

    The use of pharmaceutical meds is relatively new compared to herbs – and you need to work with someone who is well trained in how these different medicines can interact.

    In many cases, plants can still be safely and effectively used alongside pharmaceutical medication – but you want to check it out first to ensure that you are using plants which won’t negatively change the way the meds are working in your body.

    Now let’s get into it.

    The benefits of using plant medicine

    Humans have co-evolved with plants and are designed to utilize the nutrients and chemicals within them.  Here are some of my fave benefits of using plants as medicine.

    1. Plants work with the body – They tend to  “nudge” it in the right direction so that the body can better self-regulate

    (Big shout out to Simon Mills for introducing me to the concept of the *nudge*… he’s like as big of a celebrity as you can be in the world of herbal medicine!)|

    2. Nutritive –  Plants contain nutrients that the body can use as well as those secondary metabolites which act medicinally.  So you are actually feeding your body something useful at the same time.

    3. Gentle – Rather than forcing or blocking a reaction in the body it is more of that “nudge” action again.

    Often this means that there is no rebounding of an issue once the herb has stopped – the body can continue to do the work on its own.

    This is a direct contrast to many pharmaceutical drugs – rebound insomnia, rebound reflux, and issues with weaning and dependency are common examples of issues found with many pharmaceuticals

    4. Powerful – It can feel like a paradox that plants can be both gentle AND powerful but many plants pack a punch and their effects can be profound and fast.

    Anyone who wants to test this theory – have a cup of Senna tea tonight before bed and call me in the morning.

    5. Balanced – Due to complexity of whole plants they tend to have less side effects than their synthetic counterparts.

    A great example of this is dandelion leaf.

    Dandelion leaf works as a mild diuretic, aka it helps the body flush out excess fluid through the kidneys and urinary tract. Most pharmaceutical diuretics cause people to excrete potassium.  We need potassium for lots of important functions and so that needs to be monitored and often supplemented.

    Dandelion leaf naturally contains high amounts of potassium so it balances out.  Amazing and sophisticated

    About the Author:

    Emily drying herbs

     Hey, I’m Emily!

    ​I love playing outside, growing and eating good food, and drinking a bit of nice wine or a good, hoppy IPA.  With a local cheeseboard, of course. Holistic Nutrition and Herbal Medicine are my specialties.  I am a qualified natural healthcare practitioner with a Bachelor of Natural Medicine, and I offer one-on-one health assessments, individualized treatments and meal plans to help you get your health back on track.

    I have just returned to Canada after spending nearly 12 years living in New Zealand, and have settled in beautiful Kelowna, BC. While I was in NZ I studied natural medicine at the South Pacific College of Natural Medicine.

    ​I am a Professional Member of the BCHA My approach to health is all about balance.

  • 1 Oct 2021 8:30 PM | Anonymous

    Article courtesy of BCHA Professional RHT member Chanchal Cabrera – Msc., FNIMH, RH (AHG), RHT

    To view entire article with additional information, please visit:

    The microbiome of the human body, the vast array of yeasts and bacteria, archaea, viruses and eukaryotes that co-inhabit our bodies, play a vital role in health and disease, with notable influence on many human illnesses in recent years, including cardiovascular and neurologic diseases, as well as cancer.

    Research at King’s College London includes studies of diabetes, obesity, allergy and inflammatory diseases like colitis and arthritis, showing patients with the best outcomes had the richest and most diverse communities of gut microbes. Studies also demonstrate that babies born via caesarean section miss out on some of the microbes they would obtain through a vaginal birth, which may make them more vulnerable to obesity, allergies and asthma.

    Another report recently published outlines research conducted at MD Anderson and Johns Hopkins hospitals in the US, showing how the tumor microbiome found in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC) influences overall prognosis. Apparently bacteria colonizing the actual cancerous tissue can modulate its biologic behavior and potentially promote immune response to the malignancy. The research shows that a higher diversity of colonizing bacterial species and a specific bacterial profile or range were associated with better outcomes. In addition, they showed that fecal transplants from patients with PDAC were able to modulate the growth of tumor xenografts in mice. The gut microbiome of long-term survivors of PDAC induced a much slower growth of these xenografted cancers compared with fecal transplants from short-term survivors.

    Although the researchers stop short of making recommendations based on the evidence, saying only that their study demonstrated that “PDAC microbiome composition, which cross-talks to the gut microbiome, influences the host immune response and natural history of the disease”, it would seem prudent as clinicians to work towards optimal microbiome composition.

    Optimizing your microbiome

    Of course, this begs the question of actually how to do that? There are estimated to be upwards of 1200 different strains of yeast and bacteria in the lower bowel alone. Currently it is possible to test for somewhere between 12 and 20 of these with varying degrees of reliability, and there are supplements available to purchase with anywhere from 2 or 3 up to 6 or 8 different strains of bacteria and or beneficial yeasts. Clearly this is quite inadequate to make clinical diagnosis or recommendations of any specific probiotic mixes.

    In my practice where I am often dealing with chronic conditions, including autoimmunity, inflammatory conditions and, especially cancer, I often find it is more effective to use prebiotics, which are those foods and supplements that actually feed or promote the supposedly “active” or “optimal” microbiota. At the very least, I do encourage patients to eat a wide array of fruits and vegetables, including a good proportion raw, and often to take specific prebiotic agents as well, such as flaxseed, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), and onions or garlic.

    Not everybody does well with this diet plan. Some people have such disordered microbiome (dysbiosis) that they cannot tolerate this level of fiber and fermentation all at once. They may need to very diligently and conscientiously avoid all these foods for some 4 to 8 weeks to rest the system, and revert to a baseline level of irritation and inflammation. After that they may be able to introduce these foods slowly, building up a tolerance, and restoring the optimal microbiome in this way.

    I also encourage people to eat plenty of fermented foods containing live microbes. Good choices are unsweetened yoghurt; kefir, (a sour milk drink); raw milk cheeses; sauerkraut; kimchi, and fermented soybean-based products such as soy sauce, tempeh and natto.

    Slippery Elm, Marshmallow, Licorice and Psyllium are all herbs which contain fermentable sugars which can feed, nourish and regulate the bacterial profile in the digestive tract. This is certainly in part how they are so effective in soothing and healing inflammatory bowel disease. This is not just a function of the mucilage, the complex polysaccharides which absorb water, hold water, soften and bulk up the stool and promote proper peristalsis (defaecation), but also a function of improved gut flora profile using the plant sugars as prebiotics.

    Other things that have been shown to improve the diversity and richness of the communities within and upon us, include being around pets and animals, being outside especially with your hands in the dirt, gardening, getting muddy, and eating a wide range of different and varying foods.


    About the Author:

    Photo of Chanchal Cabrera

    Chanchal lives with her husband Thierry Vrain in Courtenay on Vancouver Island in BC where they cultivate vegetables and herbs on 7 acres and are building a healing garden retreat center. Visit to read more about this.

    Chanchal has been a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists since 1987 and obtained her MSc in herbal medicine at the University of Wales in 2003. She has an extensive background in orthomolecular nutrition and allergy therapy as well as clinical aromatherapy.

    Chanchal has held the faculty chair in Botanical Medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster since 2004 and she serves on the board of advisors of Dominion Herbal College in Burnaby. She publishes widely in professional journals and lectures internationally on medical herbalism, nutrition and health.

  • 1 Oct 2021 8:20 PM | Anonymous

    Article courtesy of BCHA Professional RHT member Holly Fourchalk – Ph.D., HNM, MH, HT, RHT

    To view entire article with additional information, please visit:

    Chocolate – what it can do for you

    The cocoa pod is a fruit full of juice and between 300-6800 seeds. These seeds are the most nutrient dense food we know of. The seeds contain over 300 nutrients that we need.

    The nutrients in these seeds are usually destroyed with processing BUT 100% chocolate protects the over 1200 compounds and over 300 nutrients that chocolate has to provide. One might suggest it is a real gift from the Gods, but then women already know that.

    Vitamins, minerals, all the amino acids (essential & non-essential) fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, anti-oxidants (2x more than acai berry). So what do these nutrients do for you? Besides taste great?

    Fights weight

    • Regulates the two important hormones in weight metabolism: grehlin & leptin
    • Opens fat cells so that they release stored toxins
    • Alters the genetic coding changing the fat cell into fatty acids – used for energy

    Fights cancer

    • turns on apoptosis “automatic cell death”
    • changes the membrane so it receives oxygen instead of sugar
    • blocks off arterial nutrients – starves the cells
    • alkalizes the interior and exterior of the cell

    Fights heart disorders

    • Re-stabilizes oxidized cholesterols
    • Induces vasodilation
    • Lowers blood pressure
    • Improves coronary vascular function
    • Decreases platelet adhesion – reduces arteriosclerosis plaque

    Fights diabetes

    • High levels of soluble & non-soluble fibers slow down sugar absorption.
    • Natural sweetener is agave.
    • Diabetics are always low in anti-oxidants and consequently high in damaging free radicals – Xocai combats this by providing high levels of anti-oxidants.

    Fights digestive issues, bowel issues, gastric issues

    • Provides huge amounts of micro probiotics, fibers/prebiotics.
    • Protects the gut from acidity and alkalizes our gastro tract so that the good bacteria can thrive.
    • Eliminates inflammation that disrupts the environment for healthy bacteria.
    • Inhibits the growth of bad bacterial growth in the gut.

    Fights psychological issues

    • Provides all the amino acids required to make serotonin, neuroephinephrine, dopamine and other neurotransmitters.
    • Provides endorphins and natural anti-depressants, ie., MAOIs.
    • The brain is about 60% fats and xocai provides the omega 3/fatty acid fats.

    The cocoa bean contains several useful minerals and vitamins.

    • Magnesium, which is necessary for muscle relaxation, nerve conduction, energy production and bone and teeth development and overall health.
    • Copper—found in rich supply in dark cocoa—is involved in many of the chemical processes in the body.
    • High levels of potassium, which is vital for cardiovascular health.

    About the Author:

    Dr Holly, has a genetic disorder and therefore a passion about health. With a PhD in Research, Design & Analysis;  in Psychology: Endocrinology; MA in Herbal Medicine; Dr of Natural Medicine; PhD Nutrition; Advanced Ayurveda Practitioner; Homeopathy, Reflexology; Energy Practitioner; Hypnotherapy & more, she has written 25 books and teaches around the world.

  • 1 Oct 2021 8:19 PM | Anonymous

    Article courtesy of BCHA Professional RHT member Emily Boese, RHT

    To view entire article with additional information, please visit:—Where-should-I-get-my-plant-medicine-from-and-why-this-isnt-a-stupid-question

    Most of us who use plant medicine, herbs, natural stuff, whatever you want to call it – get it from the health shop.  It comes packaged up nicely in a capsule in a bottle with a picture of plants growing in a field.  When we take it, it tastes nothing like the plant and we simply down it with our multivitamin and get on with our day.

    But this, my friend, is only one way to get your plant medicine.  And I would argue that it’s far from the best way!

    Here, in order, are my Top 3 Favourite Ways to get your plant medicine.

    1. Grow your own.

    Growing herbs in a container on your balcony or in your yard is by far my favourite way to get plant medicine.

    Just like growing your own veggies, this guarantees that what you are getting is fresh, not sprayed by weird chemicals, and has the lowest possible “food/herb miles” (just the energy you expend walking outside). This is by far the most sustainable way to get your plant medicine also – which is something I’m super hot on (see points 2 & 3 for more info on that)

    “Don’t be ridiculous”, I can hear you (or that dismissive friend from earlier) saying.

    “I don’t have time/space/knowledge/whatever to grow a herb garden to use for medicine.  I can barely keep my spider plant alive!”

    Great news!  Many, many medicinal plants are actually considered weeds by most people.  This means you don’t even have to try to grow them – they will just do their own thing and you can get the benefits.

    Plants like Nettle, Chickweed, and Dandelion are all considered “weeds” and I bet you can grow at least one of these at your house.  Or just offer to weed your neighbor's yard – they will love it and you will get your plant medicines!

    Common culinary herbs such as mint, thyme and oregano are also super easy to grow in containers and all have medicinal benefits.  Use them in your cooking (that counts) and then harvest the lot at the end of the season to preserve and make into medicine.

    Once you have these plants, you can dry them to make your own tea, make tinctures, or oils and creams. (Watch out for upcoming blogs, videos, and workshops on medicine-making)

    2. Buy sustainably sourced/cultivated loose herbs or teas

    In case you can’t tell by my other articles – I’m really into drinking herbal tea.

    It is simply the easiest way to integrate plant medicine into your everyday routine.  Almost everyone drinks some kind of hot drink daily – coffee, hot chocolate, lemon water, black tea, whatever.

    So to swap out one or two of those drinks with a therapeutic herbal tea is a super easy way to start using more plant medicine.

    It also gives you the added benefit of taking in fluids (because hardly anyone drinks enough water), and though you are buying it rather than growing it – it does start to give you a deeper understanding of the plant when you drink it rather than take it in a capsule.  You start to recognize what the plant looks and tastes like.

    This is called “organoleptic” identification, and it’s an awesome marker for knowing that you’ve got the right plant (which is extra important when it comes to point #3, below)

    Super important note: Only buy sustainably sourced herbs.

    If we are going to continue to use plant medicine on this planet (and I sincerely believe that we reallllly need to), then it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that we don’t yank every plant from the earth in the process.

    When you’re buying tea or loose herbs – be a bit of a detective.

    Does the company explicitly say that their herbs are either cultivated (ideally using organic agriculture – because who wants pesticides piggy-backing on their medicine) or sustainably wildcrafted/foraged?

    Do they have any sections on sustainability on their website?

    Get to know which herbs are endangered.  The international authority on this is called CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora –

    This organization documents which plant species are endangered.  You can search for a plant and see if it is on the list on their website.

    Just because a plant is listed on the CITES website doesn’t mean that you can’t buy it – but just that it should ALWAYS be bought from a cultivated source.

    CITES should also be used if you are planning on foraging any plants yourself.(see #3 below)

     3. Forage your own

    I am a bit of a nut when it comes to talking about foraging or wildcrafting (they are the same thing).

    Going out and picking wild food or herbs sounds super romantic, and it is definitely having a trendy moment here right now.

    And while I definitely wildcraft some of my plant medicines – I feel super sketchy about it probably 85% of the time.

    The possible risks involved in foraging are huge – from picking the wrong plant, to picking a plant that has been contaminated or was close to a poisonous plant, to picking from an area that has contaminated soil or large amounts of pollution.

    And while these all stress me out – they are mostly personal problems.  Like the consequences of these actions are only going to affect you.

    You pick the wrong plant?  Best case scenario it doesn’t work for you, worst case scenario it’s poisonous and makes you super sick.

    (There are about a million cases of people mistaking foxglove for comfrey – with pretty yucky outcomes).

    Same if you use a plant that has been covered in weird sprays or that comes from contaminated sites – mostly your own problem.

    But where I really get riled up is with the sustainability issue.  If you take more than what you should (which is super ambiguous and depends on the plant, where you are picking from, and how many other people are picking it), or if that plant is protected or endangered in your area, then you are adding to the endangered-ness of that plant and mucking with the ecosystem, too. Not cool.

    Plants that I love to forage are mainly those that are considered invasive species or noxious weeds in my local area.

    Again, what those plants are in your neighborhood will totally depend on where you live.

    If you’re foraging plants that are considered weeds, then do your best to make sure that they are not sprayed (this is more likely when a plant is considered a pest), that it is the right plant (that’s foraging 101!) and that you are allowed to pick from the land that you’re on.

    Some regions have parks or indigenous land that doesn’t allow foraging – be respectful

    A side note on buying plant medicines from the Farmer’s Market:

    This can be great or it can be a disaster.  Unlike products that are in the health shop, there are not requirements for people selling herbs at the Farmer’s Market to go through Health Canada vetting – which ensures that what it says is in the product is actually in the product.

    Many of these products (and the people selling them) are amazing.  But don’t be afraid to ask questions about their knowledge, where they source their plants, and how they know about plants.

    My old boss Sandra once came upon a lovely couple in New Zealand selling “Valerian” for sleep at a farmer’s market – and it was not the right plant.  So super dodgy – and potentially dangerous.


    About the Author:

    Emily drying herbs

    Hey, I’m Emily!

    ​I love playing outside, growing and eating good food, and drinking a bit of nice wine or a good, hoppy IPA.  With a local cheeseboard, of course. Holistic Nutrition and Herbal Medicine are my specialties.  I am a qualified natural healthcare practitioner with a Bachelor of Natural Medicine, and I offer one-on-one health assessments, individualized treatments and meal plans to help you get your health back on track.

    I have just returned to Canada after spending nearly 12 years living in New Zealand, and have settled in beautiful Kelowna, BC. While I was in NZ I studied natural medicine at the South Pacific College of Natural Medicine.

    ​I am a Professional Member of the BCHAMy approach to health is all about balance.

  • 1 Oct 2021 8:15 PM | Anonymous

    Article courtesy of BCHA Professional RHT member Chanchal Cabrera – Msc., FNIMH, RH (AHG), RHT

    To view entire article with additional information, please visit:

    Most people would agree that escaping the noise and pollution of the city to spend time in nature is a good thing. We all know we feel better in a natural environment, and we bring potted plants and cut flowers into our urban lives to compensate for the dearth of nature in the built environment. Now there is exciting new research confirming the health promoting, stress reducing effects of contact with nature, especially being in a forest and the overall benefits to our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

    Horticulture therapy – the healing power of being in nature and interacting with plants – is an ancient concept made anew. The Pharohs were advised in Egyptian papyri to walk in the gardens for healing, and today nursing homes, rehab centers and prisons are just a few of the places you can find horticulture therapy being practiced. Forest Bathing therapy (Shinrin Yoku) is a specialized branch of the same reasoning.

    Over 35 years ago, in 1982, the Forest Agency of Japan advocated the practice of walking in the forest and being in the presence of trees as a useful health promoting activity. Over 60 designated forest bathing sites have been established across the country, where your doctor can prescribe you time in the woods for stress, hypertension or anxiety.

    Now it seems the genie is out of the bottle and everyone is talking about it. As fast as the forests and wild lands are being lost to development, we are coming to realize more and more how valuable they really are. The real and measurable physiological benefits of being in nature are not the norm for most people today. Somewhere around 2 years ago the world population passed the point where more than 50% of the population live in urban environments. Now the predominant experience of people’s daily lives is urban, manmade, straight lines and containment of nature.

    The concept of healing properties in the experience of nature even has a name: Shinrin-yoku in Japanese, Sanlimyok in Korean, and it is being promoted as an antidote to the manufactured, artificial, urbanized lives most of us lead. Studies conducted in the last few years even show that forest bathing increases a component of the immune system that fights cancer.   (Int J Immunopathol Pharmaco.  2007 Apr-Jun;20(2 Suppl 2):3-8. Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. Li Q, et al. 

    Specifically, the researchers suggest, walking in evergreen forests (spruce / fir / pine) has the most benefits. The reason for this is due to the terpenoid molecules called phytoncides that are emitted by the trees as chemical airborne messages to tell each other about predators and disease. These compounds, of which there are several thousand known, act as early warning signals to the other trees to prepare them for meeting a threat. In a similar way, they can be used by our immune system to activate and invigorate the leucocyte responses. Researchers suggest that human immune activity may be increased in response to breathing in air containing phytoncides (wood essential oils) like α-pinene and limonene.   (

    In 2016 I was lucky enough to go to Japan and Korea and study Shinrin Yoku. Walking through a mall one day in Osan, a couple of hours outside of Seoul, going in to a ‘natural lifestyles’ store,  I was startled to find a bottle of phytoncide room spray “to bring the forest into your home” ! In such an urbanized society as south Korea, even in the midst of a fast growing modern city, people are still trying to get in touch with nature.  The room spray won’t really work for them but the placebo effect in medicine is sometimes as high as 30%, so possibly some people will get benefits anyway.

    More likely is that prolonged, and preferably frequent exposure to forests is necessary to effect lasting change. Measuring stress markers in men and women before and after a two-night/three-day forest bathing trip revealed a significant boost in Natural Killer cell activity. The increase was observed as long as 30 days after the trip. Follow-up studies showed a significant increase in NK activity was also achieved after a day-trip to a forest, with the increase observed for seven days after the trip.  Forest bathing significantly decreased the scores for anxiety, depression and anger in one Japanese study and led the researchers to suggest that forest bathing may help to decrease the risk of psychosocial stress-related diseases. (Natural England Commissioned Report NECR204, A review of nature -based interventions for mental health care

    Forest bathing trips reduce the concentration of cortisol in saliva, reduce the concentrations of urinary adrenaline and noradrenaline, reduce prefrontal cerebral activity, reduce blood pressure and stabilize autonomic nervous activity in humans.  (

    A February 2016  WHO report summarizing evidence on the health effects of green space in urban areas shows that green spaces offer numerous public health benefits, including psychological relaxation and stress reduction, enhanced physical activity and a potential reduction in exposure to – among other harmful urban factors – air pollution, noise and excessive heat. The report concludes that there is a need for both small, local green spaces situated very close to where people live and spend their day, and large green spaces that provide formal recreational facilities (such as playing fields) and opportunities to interact with nature.    (

    With ever greater numbers of people experiencing significant mental health problems and with the prescription of anti- depressants at record levels, it is encouraging to think that something as simple as a walk in the woods could be so beneficial, accessible and affordable.

    Horticulture therapy and it’s off shoots, termed ‘Green Care’ or ‘Ecotherapy’ as well as Shinrin yoku, can be implemented into town planning and urban design as well as architecture for homes, offices, hospitals etc. whereby everybody has access to some green space, trees on the streets, pocket parks, planted buildings. And on a personal level, we can all make a goal and set an intention of spending time regularly in a forest.

    About the Author:

    Photo of Chanchal Cabrera

    Chanchal lives with her husband Thierry Vrain in Courtenay on Vancouver Island in BC where they cultivate vegetables and herbs on 7 acres and are building a healing garden retreat center. Visit to read more about this.

    Chanchal has been a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists since 1987 and obtained her MSc in herbal medicine at the University of Wales in 2003. She has an extensive background in orthomolecular nutrition and allergy therapy as well as clinical aromatherapy.

    Chanchal has held the faculty chair in Botanical Medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster since 2004 and she serves on the board of advisors of Dominion Herbal College in Burnaby. She publishes widely in professional journals and lectures internationally on medical herbalism, nutrition and health.

  • 1 Oct 2021 8:10 PM | Anonymous

    Article courtesy of BCHAProfessional RHT member Chanchal Cabrera – Msc., FNIMH, RH (AHG), RHT

    To view entire article with additional information, please visit:

    Start with good quality seeds. Some suppliers of medicinal plant seeds are:

    • Richter’s Farm, Goodwood, ON
    • SaltSpring Island Seeds
    • Horizon Herbs (in Oregon, but the best for unusual medicinals and exotics)
    • Ravenhill Herbs, Victoria

    A few herbs need to be direct sown but most do better planted into seed trays or plug trays and grown up to a few inches before transplanting into the garden. That way you can control temperature, moisture etc. and there is less competition with slugs etc.

    Woody herbs like lavender, sage and rosemary can be propagated by cuttings and layerings. Cuttings of the young wood, or small branches, with a root or heel, pulled off the large plants, may be inserted in sandy soil, and planted out during the following spring. The ‘cuttings’ are taken by pulling the small branches down with a quick movement, when they become detached with the desired ‘heel’ at their base. Cuttings root freely in April, but thorough watering will be required in dry weather until the cuttings are thoroughly established.

    Most of the herbs will grow in almost any friable, garden soil. They usually do best on light soil – sand or gravel – in an open and sunny position with good drainage and freedom from damp in winter. Some plants may need protection in winter, or bringing inside.

    Making potting mix

    A ideal general potting mix should be light, airy, long-lasting (doesn’t break down or become compacted), moisture-retentive and contain some nutrient value.

    In your potting mix, you need ingredients that provide:

    • Drainage – to help hold the soil structure open so water moves through and it doesn’t become anaerobic.
    • Aeration – a good mix will be light and fluffy, allowing air pockets to form in the soil structure so your plant roots and micro organisms have the oxygen they need to thrive.
    • Water retention – moisture holding capacity is essential or you will have a water repellent mix and waste money on unnecessary watering.
    • Nutrient retention – ingredients that bind or hold onto the minerals means less leaching of nutrients; improves plant health and saves you money.
    • Plant Food – vital nutrients for plant growth – the amount depends on how long you want the mix to feed your plants for.
    • Support – the soil crumbs need to be small and fine so the plant roots (especially young seedlings) can take hold and easily expand through the mix.
    • Microbes – play a vital role in plant health and growth and I include them in my mix although many mixes are devoid of soil life.


    You’ll need a container for measuring, a large bucket for mixing in, access to water (kettle and hose/watering can), sieve; a small fork and trowel, a container for pre-soaking the coir peat and your ingredients.

    • 1 part pre-soaked Coir Peat – Coir peat is a cheap but long lasting renewable resource so is a more responsible environmental choice (a waste by-product from coconut-processing industry). The finer product left behind after the husk fibre is processed is called coconut coir or coir peat – not to be confused with peat moss!
    • 1 part Vermiculite (Grade 3 is a good size) – Vermiculite is the silvery grey colour you often see in potting mixes. It is natural volcanic mineral that has been expanded with  heat to increase its water holding capacity and can come from a variety of sources. The flaky particles soak up moisture and nutrients and keep them in the mix so the plants can access them. It’s lightweight; inorganic so is a permanent ingredient that will not deteriorate or lose volume in the mix; clean; odourless; non-toxic; sterile (no pathogens) and won’t become mouldy or rot.
      Some potting mix recipes suggest using perlite instead of vermiculite however I don’t recommend this due to the risk of Silicosis (overexposure to dust containing microscopic silica can cause scar tissue to form in the lungs, reducing the ability to extract oxygen from the air).
    • Coarse washed river sand (salt removed) or builder’s sand can be substituted for vermiculite as an alternative ingredient for drainage – or to minimise cost, use a combination of both. “Coarse” is the key word – the rough shape and size of the individual grains of sand allow space for water to pass though. If the grains are too fine, smooth and round (like you find on the beach), water will cling to them and they’ll compact, drowning your plants.
    • Use sand if you need to weigh your container down e.g. for a windy balcony so it is less likely to blow over. Add more sand for a faster-draining succulent mix.
    • 2 parts sieved Compost – Compost retains minerals, provides moisture and plant food, microbes and improves the structure of the growing media. It also acts as a buffer to changes in pH and suppresses disease.
    • 1/2 to 1 cup Worm Castings  or Vermicast (humus) – ideally you will have your own worm farm to add this perfect humus to your mix. Note: * this is an approximate quantity based on making 36 litres (4 x 9 litre buckets) of potting mix using a 9 litre brick of coir peat. Feel free to add more if you have it! [If you can’t access vermicast, you can buy worm castings or use some humus from the bottom of your compost pile that is most decomposed or use good quality compost]. Humus has so many benefits including the capacity to hold nutrients and supply them to your plants; incredible moisture retention capacity (holds 80-90% of its weight in water); prevents leaching; provides beneficial microbes; is a plant food source; a buffer for toxic metals and chemicals; and has the optimum soil crumb texture.


    STEP 1: Pre-soak coir peat in warm water in a large plastic container. Tip: To rehydrate a 9L block requires 4.5L of water so you need a container bigger than a 9L bucket to work in (minimum 14L size).
    When rehydrated according to the directions for the volume you are making, loosen and fluff with your trowel.

    STEP 2: Mix equal quantities of pre-soaked coir peat and vermiculite (or coarse sand if using) together well in a large separate container.

    STEP 3: Next, add the sieved compost and worm castings and combine thoroughly with (optional) nutrients.
    You may need to moisten lightly with a watering can until you can just squeeze a few drops of moisture out of the mix or it has a nice moist but NOT wet feel.

    STEP 4: Check the pH with a meter.  Most plants require a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0 but if you are growing vegies, they grow best in the range of 6.2 – 6.8 pH.
    Some plants do require a more acidic mix (e.g. azaleas, gardenias, rhododendrons and blueberries) to thrive

    To raise the pH of potting mix by about one unit (make it more alkaline), add 1 – 1.5 grams of dolomite (lime)/litre of mix. To lower the pH by about one unit (make it more acidic), add 0.3 grams of sulphur/litre of potting mix. Keep the mix moist and recheck the pH again a few days later.

     STEP 5: Store in a container with a lid to avoid drying out if not using it all immediately.

    Add Nutrients (optional but recommended)

    • Rock Minerals – Plants need a balance of minerals for health & reproduction – just like we do.
    • Seaweed & Fish – These provide essential trace elements that boost root growth, plant health, disease resistance, transplant shock and many other benefits.
    • To maintain the soil life in your potting mix, feed microbes kelp/seaweed one week, and then molasses the alternate week.

    Harvesting herbs

     Plant Part When   How Remedy 
     Leaves Fresh, undamaged, before blooming Spread out on a sheet in a dark room with air flow Infusion
     Flowers Fresh, undamaged, day of opening Spread out on a sheet in a dark room with air flow Infusion
     Seeds At maturity Clean from fruit, spread out on a sheet in a dark room with air flow Decoction
     Roots Early spring or late fall Chop in small pieces, spread out on a sheet in a dark room with air flow Decoction
     Barks Early spring or late fall Chop in small pieces, spread out on a sheet in a dark room with air flow Decoction

    Making herbal teas

    Infusions (leaves & flowers)
    Take 1 Tbsp. fresh herb mix or 1 tsp. dried herb mix and place in a china cup or tea pot. Pour on 1 cup freshly boiling water. Cover and steep 5 – 15 minutes.

    Decoctions (roots, barks & seeds)
    Take 1 Tbsp. fresh herb mix or 1 tsp. dried herb mix and place in a stainless steel pan. Cover with 1 ½ cups cold water. Cover, bring to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer on the lowest possible setting for 5 – 15 minutes.


    About the Author:

    Photo of Chanchal Cabrera

    Chanchal lives with her husband Thierry Vrain in Courtenay on Vancouver Island in BC where they cultivate vegetables and herbs on 7 acres and are building a healing garden retreat center. Visit to read more about this.

    Chanchal has been a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists since 1987 and obtained her MSc in herbal medicine at the University of Wales in 2003. She has an extensive background in orthomolecular nutrition and allergy therapy as well as clinical aromatherapy.

    Chanchal has held the faculty chair in Botanical Medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster since 2004 and she serves on the board of advisors of Dominion Herbal College in Burnaby. She publishes widely in professional journals and lectures internationally on medical herbalism, nutrition and health.

  • 1 Oct 2021 8:05 PM | Anonymous

    Article courtesy of BCHA Professional RHT member Katolen Yardley – MNIMH, RH (AHG) ~ Medical Herbalist

    To view entire article with additional information, please visit:

    Vitamin C Rich Herbal Tea

    A delicious and nourishing herbal tea ideal for the winter months – packed full of flavonoid rich herbs and fruit rinds for their antioxidant, anti inflammatory and health enhancing benefits.

    2 teaspoons Spearmint leaf
    2 teaspoons Rose hip fruits
    2 teaspoons organic Orange peel, coarsely grated fresh
    Juice of an organic Orange
    1 teaspoon organic Lemon rind peel, coarsely grated or dried
    1 teaspoon Cinnamon

    Optional: Add in elderflowers for added immune system support and antiviral support.

    Directions: Prepare a strong infusion using 2 cups of boiling water, steep covered for
    15 minutes. Before removing from heat, mix in the juice of the orange for a
    hot orange tea. Use herbal honey or stevia to sweeten.

    About Katolen

    Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG) -Medical Herbalist
    Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists

    Katolen is a Medical Herbalist and a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, currently in private practice in Vancouver and Port Moody, BC and offers online consultations throughout North America. She has been employed in the Holistic Health field since 1993, with clinical experience since 1995. Her personal interest in health lies with the emotional connection to wellness and dis-ease. She specializes in women’s health issues, skin dis-ease, digestive and nervous system disorders and believes in providing usable tools for healing through inspiration and education.

    Katolen has been involved in curriculum development for numerous educational programs. She is adjunct faculty at Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, has taught at Pacific Rim College and is an instructor and clinic supervisor of a Dominion Herbal College approved student training clinic. Katolen offers hands on medicine making classes, herb walks and public talks at Van Dusen Botanical Gardens and UBC Sustainable Farm. Katolen is the president of the Canadian Council of Herbalist Associations (CCHA) and a past three-term president of the Canadian Herbalist’s Association of BC (CHA of BC). She is the author of the book – The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies (release date July, 2016).

    From 1998 until 2015, she appeared monthly on Global Television Morning News, offering herbal information to the public. Katolen has been a guest on the Discovery Channel’s Healthy Home Show, has been published in numerous magazines and health journals including: the British Journal of Phytotherapy, Shared Vision Magazine, Elated News, Choices Markets Newsletters and Living + Magazine, she is a guest speaker at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, has presented at international conferences including Phytotherapy Canada, the BC Pharmacy Association, the Canadian Herbalists Association of BC, Ontario Herbalists Association, Health Action Network, Kootenay Herb Conference, Green Gathering, Vancouver Island Herb Gathering, Powell River Women’s Health Network, Washington State’s Northwest Herbal Fair, Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium, North West Herb Symposium, Nanaimo Horticultural Society, the BC Post Secondary Support Staff Conference and appeared in interviews on the Dr. Don Show, the Simi Sara Show, Access Television, Health Stuff You Need to Know Podcast, CKVN News, CBC National News, The Weather Network, CBC Talk Radio, CKNW’s World Today and CFML Radio.

  • 1 Oct 2021 8:00 PM | Anonymous

    Article courtesy of BCHA Professional RHT member Avery Knechtel, RHT

    To view entire article with additional information, please visit:

    For anyone who knows me well, knows it is very apparent that I am not a morning person.

    BUT, the last few months there is one thing that helps that awful alarm clock sound feel a little brighter and lighter as I roll out of bed. I’m sure you’ve heard of it – it’s the bullet coffee.

    Although it’s well known that multiple cups of coffee a day are certainly not beneficial to our health, many of us look forward to that one delicious cup in the morning to wake us up, perhaps promote a digestive movement, or just to enjoy a social habitual pattern we have grown to love.
    Either way, the bullet coffee is a way to increase your healthy HDL fats in the morning – studies show these keep you full longer, improve cognitive and digestive function and lets be real..make everything taste amazing!

    Coconut oil…ghee….BUTTER….in your coffee!!??? Say ..whhhattt!!??

    YUP!  Any of the above!
    Personally, my favourite recipe for jumping out of bed in the morning looks like this:

    Freshly ground and pressed fair trade coffee
    1-2 tsp coconut oil
    Dash of milk – my favourite is cashew milk
    1 tbsp Additional flavours and medicine – Cocao powder, Maca, or powdered medicinal mushrooms work great! *Harmonic Arts has wonderful options for these, check out their “Activate” Blend!*
    Dash of Honey or Maple Syrup or Stevia, if you’re wanting to add some sweetness to your day – although this mix doesn’t need it to be delicious!
    Blend in Blender – Enjoy!

    Mmmmm – What a way to start your day! Healthy fats for the win!

    If you’re not a coffee person, OR you are looking for great coffee alternatives – switch out the fresh pressed coffee for a rich tea instead (my favourite is Chaga, Reishi or Astragalus)! Adding coconut oil to any hot drink has been a beautiful decadent treat to my day. It makes a regular everyday thing feel special, and gives me that feeling of gratitude for taking time to take care of my body.

    Lets give it up for healthy fats! Improving your mind, body and spirit first thing in the morning*

    About the Author:

    Avery herbert

    Avery is a Medical Herbalist, born and raised on the incredible Vancouver Island in Southwest British Columbia. She is now living in Victoria after graduating with honors from Pacific Rim College – Diploma of Phytotherapy program, where she studied western herbalism, biomedical sciences, herbal energetics, nutrition and Ayurveda.

    Avery uses a combination of Western herbal medicine, Ayurvedic philosophy and holistic nutrition in her practice to assess and treat each person based on their constitution. She studied Ayurveda under her teacher in Kerala, India in 2012 and 2016.  Now a professional member of the CHA of BC, she hopes to make Herbal Medicine accessible to all.

    Other passions include, traveling, gardening, camping and volunteer Harm Reduction work.

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