Ro Giuliano is an acupuncturist and herbalist at Maha Rose. Her workshop Slow Down, Stress Less, Sleep Deep...Herbal Medicine for your Nervous System, is on March 24th. We sat down with her to talk about getting into the game of herbs and to get a little more information on her upcoming workshop.
In your opinion what are the best herbs to start with as a beginner?
I think "kitchen herbs" and food- like herbs are a wonderful place to start. Folks are already familiar with them on some level, and they can be less intimidating and easily incorporated into nourishing recipes. Mints, Rosemary, Thyme, Garlic, Onions, are some great examples. With Spring on the way Nettles, Dandelion leaf, and Burdock Root, are great foods that are also plant medicines. They will assist your liver in gently cleansing and moving anything that is still sticking around from those dark cold winter months. But remember, always cook your stinging nettles to deactivate their stinging properties!!!
Lemon Balm and Chamomile are super calming herbs that are well tolerated by most, taste great and are a great herbal teas for beginners to play with.
What are the most effective preparations of herbs?
The most effective preparation depends on the herbs you are using and what you are trying to achieve with that plant medicine. Herbs can be used in so many different ways; teas, infusions, decoctions, tinctures, baths, steams, salves, balms, incense and smudges...and they all have their purpose. It all depends on what your desired outcome is, what is it that you are calling on that plant to assist you with.
Many factors come into play For example, when making a tea with Aromatic herbs, like Jasmine, Chamomile, Mint, they are high in volatile oils, that's what provides their scent, and they need to only be steeped for a few minutes, whereas roots and barks needed to be steeped or decocted for much longer periods to draw out their medicinal properties.
The choice of using fresh herb vs dried also may vary from plant to plant and preparation to preparation. It's all very individual to each plant and that's part of the beauty of herbal medicine.
i want to also add, quality and sourcing is super important. Folks should using only organic herbs and source locally whenever possible. There is deep magic that exists when you use the plants that grow in the earth that you exist on, in your own bio region.
How do you prepare a medicinal herb tea rather than just steeping for regular tea drinking?
There are a few ways to prepare a medicinal herb tea. First, there is the simple tea- pour a cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of herb, let steep for 5-10 minutes. Depending on the herb this preparation can be quite medicinal, and even though you may not get all of the medicinal properties in this amount of time you are receiving all the energetic benefits that the plant ally has to share with you. But I think part of the healing and the magic of this preparation is that I makes you slow down for a moment and take care of yourself. The next type of water based herbal preparation is an herbal infusion. This is when you steep a larger amount of plant material in water for a longer period of time, 1-8 hours. This method is a great way to get the full nutritional benefits of a plant like nettles.
Decoctions are an even more concentrated water based preparation. The herbs are put in a pot of water and cooked down to half of the liquid volume, sometimes more water is added and cooked down to half once again. This is the traditional way that most Chinese herbal teas are prepared.
Your workshop,Slow Down, Stress Less, Sleep Deep...Herbal Medicine for your Nervous System, is on March 24th. Do you feel that de-stressing is an important first step in overall health?
Yes! I believe that slowing down, creating space for self care rituals to reduce your stress levels is key in maintaining health and wellbeing.
Stress affects every system in our body, and not in a good way. Some stress is normal; but too much and our bodies get stuck in fight or flight mode.
What herbs and preparations will you be using in the workshop?
In this workshop will will be focusing on the effects that stress have on the nervous system and how it can manifest as anxiety, insomnia, and general feelings of unease. We will learn about some amazing nerve nourishing plant medicines... Lemon Balm, Milky Oats, Skullcap, Lavender, and Nettles. We will explore the use of teas, tinctures, balms, baths and smudges to create self care rituals to ease stress and soothe frazzled nerves.