March 17, 2020

Dear Spirit Farmer Patients, Friends and Family,

We pray you are well, and have what you need to get through this time.

Last week I treated a patient, who several days later came down with a fever.
She was tested yesterday for Covid 19 in Auburn and is awaiting results which are due in 4-5 days.

I am monitoring her symptoms daily via phone and giving her herbs for her changing symptoms.

To protect us all, we have made the decision to close the office for in-clinic treatments until March 31st.

I am going to the office and offering discounted follow up phone consultations at $40. We will be making herbal formulas, for those of you that want to maintain treatment.  We will prepare herbs while wearing masks and gloves, and will maintain sanitization of the office.

Do not hesitate to call me for herbs if you feel a fever or cold/flu symptoms come on, this will expedite your healing and prevent the severity of symptoms.
We can arrange pick up or possibly delivery.

It has just been announced that Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital will be starting drive through testing 3/17/20 and 3/18/20 from 3-6pm should you feel you have symptoms of cold/flu.
Please call your Primary Care Physician for further details.

Please note, the herbs that I have prepared for you are immuno-supportive to your unique system and are treating your symptom profile.

I have had several on-line meetings with my teacher who is in Nanjing, China since early February about the viral outbreak. She has shared updates with me regularly.

In China they have been combining the use of antivirals and IV administration of Chinese herbal formulas for treatment. These formulas are being regularly modified as symptoms change. There is no one size fits all treatment, or preventative formula.

Here are some suggestions for staying healthy:

  1. Do your best not to live in fear or anxiety about the situation.  Yes, it is a serious matter that requires our attention.  However, it is important to note that when we get trapped in a fear response our immune systems weaken. We use up our vital body fluids and deplete our digestive/processing/transformation function by feeding and staying in fear.
  2. Be wise and discerning about your lifestyle practices and choices, and trust you are doing what you can to keep yourself and your friends and family safe.
  3. Fresh air is vital to healthy immunity – make a point of getting outside, daily.  Even as little as 10 to 15 minutes three times throughout the day will benefit you.
  4. Rest!  Get plenty of sleep and rest.
  5. Take some time off, perhaps use this time for a personal at-home retreat where you just enjoy some time spent away from work, extra-curricular activities and the hustle and bustle of life.  Walks in nature, healthy dinners together with your family, board games, curling up with a good book and limiting your social contact are all enriching ways to protect yourself from community transmission.
  6. Increase your consumption of anti-oxidant and nutrient-dense infection-fighting foods like: organic blueberries, raspberries, rose hips, spinach, sprouts, lots of ginger, garlic, onions, ginger, parsley, cilantro, celery juice, bone broth and fermented foods and beverages.
  7. Drink lots of water. Drinking good quality water and herbal teas, staying hydrated, is one of the best things you can do to flush out toxins from your body and help support the immune system.
  8. Keep your immune system strong by eating a balanced diet and reducing your sugar, alcohol, processed foods and dairy intake. These substances are inflammatory and weaken the immune system, making it less able to deal with viruses and bacteria.

Please do not hesitate to call us if you have further questions or concerns.
We are grateful to all of you for your trust to support you in your good health!!


Anna and Kristen

DIY Coochie Steams!

A steaming vesselAny kind of healing tenderness to the Cooch is of great benefit to humanity and the earth at large.  Treating vaginal issues can be challenging! Yeast, Bacterial vaginosis, and atrophy are all issues that are difficult to resolve.

As a healer, Coochie Steams have been a great asset to my practice as a DIY for patients when herbal formulas and acupuncture have fallen short.

Coochie Steams are all the rage lately, offered up as Vaginal Steam or “V Steam” at salons and spas in many major cities. Origins are multiple, from the Mayan to Korean culture.

Vaginal Steams can Help with Many Complaints

It seems the cooch is getting lots of new and tender attention and care these days, and it’s about time.

I have been recommending at home coochie steams to my clients with the following complaints:

  • Sexual trauma
  • Disconnect with sexuality
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Foul smell
  • Yeast infection
  • Pre- and peri-menopausal vaginal dryness
  • Atrophy
  • Amennorhea
  • Irregular or painful menses

The Conception Vessel 1 (CV1) Acupuncture Point

Use what you got! Or got to your herbalist for special recs.
Use healing herbs for your steam, or got to your herbalist for special recommendations.

Though I have found no references to vaginal moxa or steams in Chinese medical literature, there is a practice of applying moxibustion to acupuncture point Conception vessel 1 (CV1), hui yin, yin meeting point also called “doorway to the earth” (Bensky).  It is also a Sun Si Miao Ghost point.

Ghost points treat the spirit, chasing entities or bodily inhabitants out. In this case, it could include

  • Energy from past partners
  • Parasites
  • Fungus and bacteria
  • Or anything detrimental that may be taking up residence

This point is located on the perineum on the mid-line, midway between anus and labia or anus and scrotum.

Moxa applied to CV1 can have the following benefits:

  • Cleansing and toning benefits for vaginal tissue in menopausal vaginal atrophy
  • Decreased menstrual pain
  • Improved sleep
  • Is thought to enhance fertility from cold in the womb
  • Hernia support
  • Clears bladder and vaginal damp heat, as in a candida infection
  • Hemorrhoid support
  • Strengthens the lumbus and boosts the kidney

I make the leap that vaginal steams will help the same and similar conditions.

What My Clients are Saying About Vaginal Steams

herbs in baskets

“I just experienced my first ever, ‘Yoni Second Chakra Steam.’ My cycles have been progressively becoming longer and longer in the last 18 years, to 32-35 days. I have had 1–3 days of brown blood before my red flow starts, and when my red flow starts, I have clotting and intense bleeding.

This lead me to try the vaginal steam to help heal my uterus. The first thing that I noticed after my steam was that I needed to rest, and as I did so, I felt my pelvic bones have 8-9 powerful adjustment, and this was followed by an intense emotional release.

When I did have my cycle after my first steam, black, thick blood came out, with no cramping, as if the old blood got liquified by the steam. It’s another tool in my belt for healing, and I hope that it will bring profound healing for you as it did for myself.

-Monica Tomasi


“I recently had a negative sexual experience that left me feeling…unclean, used and discarded, like a dirty rag. Soon after this encounter, I noticed a distinct and unpleasant odor coming from down there. The smell was persistent and repulsive.

The next week my acupuncturist recommended doing an herbal steam to help shift the environment down there and hopefully alleviate the smell. She gave me a special yoni steam herb blend.

As I sat, the scent of the herbs wafted up to me, comforting me with the familiar scent of mugwort, an old ally of mine. My yoni felt warm and comforted, like I had built a sacred sauna, just for her.

After I was finished, I was delighted by the beauty of the herbs floating in the bowl of warm water. My yoni scent has returned to normal, a gentle and pleasant smell that I am used to. The unpleasant odor has vanished!

Doing my steam feels like a ritual of self-care specifically dedicated to remembering and honoring the feminine aspect of myself. Like the yellow flowers opening their petals in the water, I feel myself opening and relaxing into the warmth of the steam, the scent of the herbs, and the tenderness of a simple act of self-nurturance.

By giving this special love and attention to my vagina, I remember to honor all parts of myself with equal reverence, because they are all part of the greater whole of me.



“I have had amenorrhea for eight years, and only recently has it worried me when my womb began to feel empty, lifeless, and dry. I did not want my sex life to dissipate, and I wanted to feel whole as a woman!

When I saw Anna for acupuncture and herbs, she gave me a tea and a yoni steam with my favorite herbs, mugwort and schizandra. My second round of steaming created a day of my uterus and cervix vibrating! I waited a few weeks and then again, did the coochie steam with the same herbs. Again! I experienced vibrations or flutters from my uterus all the way down to my cervix!

There is no doubt in my mind the healing steam of these intelligent plants at the gateway of my womb is bringing Her back to life! Woo hoo!”

-Brooke Sullivan


“I have had chronic yeast infections and candida on and off since my 20s. It began to cause fissures and pain from sex, so severe that I had to abstain from sex.

I received a special herbal steam blend from Anna. I have done three steams, and my last sexual interlude was pain and fissure free.”


How to Do a Vaginal Steam at Home

Close up of a calendula flower

It is best to do a vaginal steam during premenstrual phase or when bleeding is complete. The best time of day for a steam is right before bedtime.

Directions for Vaginal Steam

  1. Put 2/3 cup of herbs into a pot with 8 cups of water.
  2. Bring to boil and turn off to steep and cool for 15 minutes.
  3. If the water is not cool enough after 15 minutes, just add a bit of cool water to make it manageable.
  4. Wrap yourself well with a blanket so as to keep in the warmth.
  5. Sit for 15-30 mins.
  6. After your steam, it is important to wrap yourself up and go to bed so you can keep your womb warm, and not let cold into your relaxed and open womb. Let the effects of the steam resound throughout your lower burner as you rest.

Ways to Position the Steam Water



  • There are vagi stools available that have an opening, under which you can place your hot pot of herbs.
  • You can also get a  metal bowl large enough to fit into our toilet without falling in!
  • Another idea from Monica Tomasi is to put your pot under a milk crate and sit on top with a blanket wrapped around you. I have tried this, and it works well!

Do be mindful that the steam is not too hot, so as not to burn your butt or cooch!


Herbs and Recipes to Use in Coochie Steam

Peri- and Post-Menopausal Blend

This is a great blend for the peri- and post-menopausal cooch who feels frequent irritation from lovemaking with fissures and a growth of yeast:

  • Chinese
  • Scutellaria Baical
  • Cnidium
  • Angelica Sinensis
  • Lily Bulb
  • Schizandra
  • Mugwort

Moving Blend

This simple blend helps move menstrual blood to clear cramps and tone the vaginal tissue:

  • Calendula
  • Plantain
  • Mugwort

Other Herbs to Use

Here are some of my suggestions for my clients:

  • Calendula
  • Plantain
  • Mugwort
  • Scutellaria Baical
  • Oregon Grape Root
  • Schizandra
  • Marshmallow
  • Cnidium
  • Lily bulb
  • Rosemary

This variety of herbs can help with many issues.

What’s Your DIY Recipe for Coochie Steams?

Do you have your own favorite recipe or method for steams? Share them below in the comment section, and let us know how they worked for you!

Mandarin Orange Gummies, A Nutrient Dense Winter Treat

Healing Wisdom from The Yellow Emperor’s Classic on Chinese Medicine


The three months of winter, they denote securing and storing… Go to bed early and rise late. You must wait for the sun to rise. Let the mind enter a state as if hidden {as if shut in}, as if you had secret intentions, as if you had already made gains.
(Unschuld, Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, Ch.3 p49.)

This passage is from an ancient Chinese medical text called The Yellow Emperor’s Classic on Chinese Medicine. The Yellow Emperor, Huang Di ruled in the middle of the third millennium.

Following the Energy of the Seasons

This ancient wisdom guides us to follow the energy of the seasons.  It gives us permission to hibernate, rest, consolidate, contract and slow down in winter, which is so contrary to our western cultural rhythms.

It gives us permission to rest in what we have done and slow down our minds from trying to always create something new. It seems we all must be doing something, or we feel unproductive or useless.  Winter is a time for less social engagements.

Deeply Nourishing Foods

It is also a time for deeply nourishing foods that are slow and well cooked, warm and easy to digest. Foods that go deep such as roots, broths from bones, marrow and gelatin nourish us at our core.

Just as the plants have retracted their energy to their roots, so do we:

In winter the true qi of the depots descends into the kidneys. The kidneys store the qi of the bones and of the marrow.
(Unshculd, Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, Ch 18, p307.)

It is a good time to store up so that we have the force and vitality to expand into the spring and summer rays of the sun. Using seasonal ingredients is another way to align our bodies with nature’s rhythms.

Gummies: a Nourishing Treat

Gummies are a deeply nourishing treat that are especially appropriate during the winter as our energy contracts deep into our body.

The most important ingredient in gummies is gelatin, made from long-simmered bones, marrow, and cartilage. Gelatin and bone broth are some of the most healing and easiest foods to digest, commonly thought of as convalescent food (hence jello given in hospitals).

I have been making these for my kids for some years, and it was always hit or miss, for I am just not a recipe follower. With the help of Nourished Kitchen (see her Glowing Ghost Gummies here), I did follow the bones of this one and made my own creative additions and flavor adjustments.

Gummies are the most satisfying treat I can give my children where I know I am supporting their healthy growth. They are loaded with grass-fed gelatin (Great Lakes is my favorite), seasonal fruit, and sometimes herb flavors.

Gelatin contains

  • High amounts of protein
  • Amino acids
  • collagen for strong bones, teeth, hair, and nails

In Chinese Medicine, gelatin is an essence (Jing) tonic. Gelatin is what makes a good bone broth gel. In our own bodies, Jing is our bone marrow, our brain matter, the deepest part of our beings.

Jing is the source of all of our vitality, emanating into yin, yang, qi and blood and spirit. From deep within, if our Jing is strong then our spirit (Shen) emanates vitality.

Gummy Recipe

  • 1/4 cup gelatin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed mandarin orange juice (I add the juice of 1-2 lemons as well, for my kids like it tart)
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (for color and a little medicine!)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  1. Put your gelatin into a mixing bowl and pour on the water to soften.
  2. Heat your juice, turmeric, salt, and honey on low heat until honey dissolves.
  3. Pour over gelatin, and stir stir stir.
  4. You can put your mix back over a very low flame on the stove to aid in dissolving. You may have to strain out some of the lumps. I eat these gelatin globs because I know what’s good for me!  Nourished Kitchen suggests using a mixer. For me, this aerates the gummies and changes them to a less-pleasing texture.
  5. Pour into silicon molds or a square food storage container.
  6. Put in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
  7. Pop them out of the molds, or cut into squares if you put in a food storage container.
  8. The recipe makes between 25-30 gummies. And let your children have at them!

You will feel good as they gobble up this healthy treat, knowing you are nourishing them deeply.

Gummies are a healthy treat for

  • The elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • Breastfeeding women

It is also beneficial for fertility enhancement.

Note: It is not advised to give raw honey to children under one year old.

Other seasonally appropriate flavors could be

  • Elderberry
  • Rosehip
  • Persimmon
  • Quince
  • Yerba santa

Allow your inner alchemist to create and concoct. I would love to hear what you come up with!





Black Locust Vermouth

Black Locust Tree History and Uses

A black locust tree in full bloomBlack locust trees, Robinia pseudoacacia or false Acacia, are abundant in our Sierra Foothills. The trees were probably brought here by the Europeans in the mining days. On my recent trip to Southern California, I discovered them in my old stomping grounds in Topanga!

They are a fast growing hardwood. They were traditionally used for bow making. They have a short showy bloom phase in late spring for about two weeks.

Their legume-like vanilla-scented blossoms are edible! They taste like sweet pea flowers, nutty with a sweet hint of the nectar inside.

You can snack on them like popcorn, or sprinkle them as a garnish on top of a light bowl of cattail soup (see Living Wild book for recipe).

See this guide for tips on identifying black locust trees.

Black Locust Blossom Vermouth Recipe

I love to make beverages of all sorts. (Come to my QUENCH class in June for more sipping zippy delights!)

My latest concoction is a black locust blossom vermouth. It lends a sweet floral pea flavor to the mild lemony taste of dry vermouth. It is a warm spring or summer sipping, low-alcohol beverage.

All the supplies you'll need to make black locust vermouth: bottle, alcohol and blossoms

It is super easy to make this vermouth. You will need the following:

  • Bottles, 12-16 oz
  • Dry vermouth, or even sake
  • Lots of locust blossoms

It is nice to use clear bottles so you can see the blossoms soaking. I like to use old GT Kombucha bottles, labels removed.


  1. Simply gather your blossoms and pluck them off of their stems.
  2. Stuff a bottle until it is nearly full of blossoms. Then pour vermouth to the top.
  3. Label your bottle and let sit for 3-6 weeks.
  4. Strain, saving some of the blossoms to garnish.

The drink is lovely over a bit of ice. Locust Blossom vermouth is a delightful way to preserve the tastes of spring to share with friends.

Here are black locust blossoms soaking in alcohol in a clear bottle.



Day at the clinic with Anna {photo-blog}




Welcome to a visual tale of what happens behind the door of Anna’s office. You are encouraged to imagine the smells and feelings that come with it. Thank you to the lovely artist Kathy Frey for the photos!

Spring Sorrel Soup, “Potage Germiny”


Early Memories of Sorrel Soup

My first job beyond babysitting was at 12 years old at a print shop in San Francisco, HJ Carl & Sons, on Capp Street. We constructed,  deconstructed, and hung metal print plates, flyers, and posters of recipes for local restaurants every Saturday.

Lunch was delivered warm from Jack’s restaurant, and every week we had creamy rich yet light lemony sorrel soup. I have tried to recreate it many a time, and I finally came close to duplicating it.

What is Sorrel?

Sorrel, also known as sheep sorrel, is a weed. It grows abundantly in spring, in perfect harmony with the Chinese elemental correspondence of Spring-Liver-Sour flavor.  sheep-sorrel1

You can find patches where it is big leaved—the Broad Street Cemetery is a great place. You may have it growing in your yard! I harvested sorrel from my dear friend Liz’s garden.

Sorrel is high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Its sour flavor astringes fluids. The fluids are yin, water that we store up from the wet moist winters.

We store our yin so that we have enough to keep us from overheating through the spring and summer. Too much sour can dry out the ligaments and tendons, so check your sour cravings.

Western Versus Chinese Health Benefits

In western herbalism, bitter is the flavor associated with the Liver. On the other hand, Bitter in Chinese medicine corresponds to the heart.

It is important to keep the heart cool and drained for liver health, but some people cannot tolerate bitter, for it cools and drains too much when they are in need of nourishing to their Liver.

Oxalic Acid

There is a buzz of concern about oxalic acids being a health hazard, for these acids can leach calcium from the bones.

Oxalic acid is neutralized by lemon juice or a little apple cider vinegar, so it is always important to combine your sorrel, spinach, or chard (and other greens containing oxalic acids) with fat and protein.

This soup is the perfect whole meal, yet light enough to give your digestive system a rest after the richer winter diet.

Sorrel Soup Recipe

  1. Sauté 1/2 yellow onion in 2 Tbsp butter
  2. Add in 2–3 cups washed, chopped sorrel
  3. Sauté sorrel in 3-5 Tbsp butter.
  4. When the leaves are wilted, add 5 cups stock. The best stock is chicken, though I have made it with beef.
  5. Remove from heat and add a small amount of the soup to 1/2 cup cream and 3 beaten egg yolks.
  6. Combine all ingredients and heat until the soup thickens slightly, but do not boil. I puree my soup, for that was how I had it at Mr. Carl’s.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Variations With Meatballs

My Lithuanian friend Aruna grew up growing rows and rows of sorrel and eating sorrel soup all the time in the spring. Her family did not blend it, and they sometimes added meatballs.

Support for Health and Vitality

I encourage you to explore the wonders of easy to grow and abundant wild foods to support your health and vitality. Our wild greens have a greater mineral value and life force for they thrive and adapt without our care.  Bon appetite!



Violet Gelatine!

Violet Gelatine!


violetsMy favorite food to make for dear friends who are recovering from any major life transition is gello! I spell it with a “g” because it is different than our childhood treat. It is made with grass fed gelatin (available at HAALo) and because you can create your own amazing flavors as wild as your imagination can get. I am very into using seasonal medicinal plants in my food. In this blooming spring, the violets are out, in three colors, purple, fuschia(!) and white. They are everywhere around town on people’s lawns, roadside, wafting their sweet fragrance within a several feet distance from where they bloom. They impart their odor as flavor to all sorts of delicacies. I have two dear friends who are recovering, Megan from childbirth and Shea from major back surgery. They both need the same types of foods! Nutrient dense, easy to digest potent foods. So I have been feeding them gello.

Violets have been used traditionally to decrease inflammation and help one sleep. Perfect for these two dear lady friends! They are called “zi hua di ding”  translating to “purple flower ground spike.” They clear heat toxins, nourish blood, and regenerate flesh.

Here is my latest recipe: VIOLET GELATINE





2 Tbsp gelatin grass fed, I like Great Lakes beef or porcine

1 1/2 c water

1 c heavy whipping cream (raw, or pasteurized, but NOT ultrapasteurized if you can help it). Alternately you can use coconut cream, it is just not as subtle.

A handful of freshly harvested violets, destemmed

2-3 Tbsp raw honey, or choice of sweetener, add to taste, really

pinch sea salt


Pour gelatin into your mold container

Add 1/2 c cold water and let it dissolve.

Heat 1 cup water.

Meanwhile pour cream into a saucepan on low, immerse your violets in the cream. Do not let it boil. When warm almost hot, add honey and stir til it dissolves. Again honey is to taste.

Add hot water to dissolved gelatin in a mold, stir to make sure it all does dissolve. Then add your violet cream to your mold. Stir. Make sure your violets are nicely arranged on top. Chill.

The cream will separate creating a two-toned gelatine. Slice and eat with your fingers, or serve in quaint little bowls. Eat as much as you want. It is lovely subtle, gentle, nourishing heart blooming healing food. Enjoy.





WILD CALIFORNIAN ROSE HIPS, A.K.A. JIN YING ZI:  A Native Local and Traditional Chinese Plant Food Medicine!

Written by Anna Wederitsch LAc

Ah, the rose. Though most cherished for its intoxicating heart nourishing and heart opening (and heart qi moving) essential oil, few realize the potent healing properties contained in its fruit, hips, or haws as some call them. Many of you are familiar with rose hips for tea, but have you had them as FOOD? Yes, food! There are accounts of it being eaten with salt and butter!

Native American people have used this fruit in stews, soups, teas, and raw as snacks, to support their health through local available foods. When I see rose hips while hiking and foraging, my kids and I enjoy snacking on the softer hips for they are sweeter.

“…Native American people have used this fruit in stews, soups, teas, and raw as snacks, to support their health through local available foods…”

The rosacea family has fed and healed us with over 3400 plants: apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, pears, plums, blackberry, raspberry, hawthorn, agrimony, cinquefoil, and mountain ash, to name a few. Many of these plants were brought in by settlers as they came to new lands, because the plants were so valued for food and medicine.

Just when all plants have withered and dropped their energy deep down into the earth into their roots, out pops the rose hip, containing 5x the vitamin C contained in oranges. Up here in the Sierras where citrus is rare, may Rose Hips be our C of choice! During World War II, the whole of England turned to rosehips for their vitamin C during a crippling citrus shortage. All rose hips are edible, but most abundant right now is the Wild California Rose Hip.


Most recent research and use has been in effectively alleviating pain and stiffness in the knees, hips, and other joints, associated with osteoarthritis. Its anti-inflammatory properties are attributed to its ability to reduce the C-Reactin protein (CRP) and creatinine, inflammation markers. Lower CRP levels are also associated with heart health and decreased triglycerides. It is rich in vitamin C, tocotrienols, beta carotene, pectin and many other health enhancing ingredients that protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.


Rosehips are considered one of the most important Chinese health tonics. They are highly valued by the Chinese, both as a food and as medicine. Rose hips are sour, astringent, and neutral; they go to the Bladder, Kidney, and Large Intestine. It stabilizes the Kidneys and retains Jing, which is our primordial essence, or battery juice if you will. If the Kidneys are weak, our lower gates will not be strong enough to contain our essence. We can lose Jing through excessive vaginal discharge, seminal emissions, and night time urination. Jin Ying Zi also functions on the Intestines, part of the lower gates. It binds the Intestines to stop chronic diarrhea from spleen deficiency. For most of these functions Jin Ying Zi will be combined with other herbs.

“…Rosehips are considered one of the most important Chinese health tonics…”

This herb is contraindicated in cases with excessive fire or fever, or excessive pathogenic factors (cold/flu/virus) and is better as an immune tonic. Long-term use may result in constipation.


Pick after the first frost, as the hips are softer and come off easier. Before I begin picking, I check in with the plant, asking if I may use its fruit to make medicine for my family and community. Then I talk and sing to the plant, whatever song comes out, whatever else I wish to share in that moment with the plant. It is also a common courtesy to return to the plant just for a visit, to share with it how your concoction came out, who you shared it with, how its medicine worked.

Mince 1lb of rosehips in a blender, and empty straight into 3 cups of boiling water. It is important to put the hips in the boiling water immediately after mincing to minimize the loss of vitamin C. Stop heating and let stand for 15 minutes. Filter the mixture through a jelly bag. Put the mixture remaining in the bag back in the saucepan, add 3/4 pint of boiling water. Allow to stand for 10 minutes and then filter through the jelly bag again.

It is important to remove all the hairs that cover the seeds as these will be an irritant if swallowed. The recipe suggested re-filtering the first cupful of juice to make sure all the hairs are removed.

I add equal parts raw honey to the syrup and a bit of alcohol, about a 1/4cup, as a preservative. Even with these ingredients, it may ferment slightly, but it will definitely have a longer life. The fermentation can contribute to the medicine! Refrigerate. It may gel up, due to the high pectin content. Use it as a jelly! In Europe, traditionally a tablespoon a day was given in the winter months to the whole family. You will be able to find a Sierra Berry Elixir with locally harvested rose hips at HAALo!

Anna Mama’s Postpartum Stew


Right before I was about to give birth to my firstborn Cypress, my dear sister friend and fairy godmother to our boys, Deborah Mahgen shared with me a Persian stew that contained fresh fenugreek. We both got so excited about this for postpartum for me! I made it right before giving birth, a huge batch with plenty for later. And immediately following Cy’s birth, it was the first thing I ate with yogurt. And I ate it throughout the first few weeks, and anytime I craved it. I still crave it. This recipe is a bit thicker than the traditional Persian version.

I have made it for many mamas through the years, you may have seen it on www.holisticsquid.com, I made it for Emily when her son was born. She and her hubby gobbled it down. These days our small town of Nevada City is experiencing a baby boom right now, so I recently made a batch for dear mama Catie. She ate a 1/2 gallon jar in a week, and immediately called me for the recipe to make more. I just made more for several more mamas who just gave birth.

So for all you mamas in our town who are about to give birth or just had your baby (two weeks ago, six months ago or even later; my boys are five and seven, and I still need to eat this stew every now and again to fortify myself), here is to your nourished postpartum body and bodacious milk supply!

This stew is full of galactagogues, lactation supportive herbs and spices, and mineral rich herbs and greens to cool the liver from the firey experience of birth. Please note: the onions and the garlic don’t seem to affect babes because they are combined with digestives spices.

It is a blend of interior warmers, digestives, blood tonics, and blood coolers. This is all so important for postpartum support. Your body is tired from the initiation of birth, and also has to kick up blood and qi production to make breast milk. Digestion will be a bit sluggish, for you now have to make milk and blood from your food. The combination of meat, herbs, spices and fats make for an easy to digest meal, that leaves a mama and her baby feeling so very satisfied. Fennel, fennugreek, ginger, cumin, and a little cinnamon, all warm the interior, consolidate the surface and aid in stoking the digestive fire. After full dilation and open vulnerability to bring baby into the world, it is good to warm and strengthen the emotional and physical body, so there is qi enough to close up the portals and seal.

I just learned from Katie De Mota at The Nest that fenugreek may be an allergen to those allergic to peanuts. Please omit this ingredient if so. The nutrient dense greens and fresh herbs are blood cleansing nourishing and cooling, and the meat nourishes the blood and essence.

These amounts will yield 5 or 6 meals, so enough to freeze for when the craving hits. And it will.

2-3lbs meat; lamb, beef or buffalo, or goat, cubed.

2 heads of celery

2 fresh bunches of the following:

fenugreek, parsley, cilantro, dill, green onions

1 bunch tarragon (optional)

1 bunch dandelion

1 onion chopped

4-6 cloves of garlic, pressed

2-3 potatoes, or parsnips, or sweet potatoes, your choice. I like it with potatoes.

1-2Tbs turmeric

1/2-1Tbsp powdered ginger

1Tbs cumin seed

1Tbs fennel seed

1-2Tbs fenugreek seed (especially if you can’t find it fresh)

1 Tbs nigella seeds, aka kalajeera in Indian markets (optional)

A little bit of ground cinnamon

Lots of olive oil, probably 1 cup total

salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, puree celery, and all the fresh green herbs. I do the celery first, then the herbs in 2 batches.

Put 3 Tbs oil in a stew pot, add onion, garlic. When onions are translucent, add seeds and spices. When seeds start popping, add meat. Sautee until browned. Add your pureed greens and more olive oil. Add your root veggies of choice. Then simmer for about half to one hour until the roots are done.

Serve with a dollop of plain sour yogurt. Eat to your heart’s and your breasts and your baby’s content.

Monk Fruit…The Healing Low Glycemic Sweetener



When I was asked to create the Chinese herb pharmacy in our small town’s herb shop, HAALo, one of the first herbs I brought in was monk fruit. It has come to be known as Monk balls in our town because of its legendary use by the Guilin monks.  Monk fruit, a calorie free low glycemic index sweetener, has been gaining popularity as people strive to fulfill their sweet craving without spiking their blood sugar or gaining weight. Body Ecology’s Donna Gates recommends it as a sweetener that does not feed candida or other yeasts. It has been used in China safely for diabetics and obesity.

A little bit on sweetness…

Chinese nutrition is about balance of the five flavors: bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and pungent. It is natural to crave sweet, and it our body’s way of telling us we need energy.  But sweet comes in the sweet of asparagus or yams. Too much sweet depletes energy and causes digestive weakness, which then leads to a cascade of issues like bloating, loose stools, fatigue. These symptoms may then lead to diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, all signs that our body is having trouble processing the foods we eat and is overloaded with the sweet byproducts it couldn’t digest.

For those times when you just want a taste of something sweet, your healthiest alternative is monk fruit, most commonly known now as lo han, or another healthy choice is stevia. Both are plants with naturally occuring sweetness, and, unlike aspartame and other artificial sweeteners that have been cited for dangerous toxicities, they are safe, natural alternatives that are ideal if you’re watching your weight, or if you’re maintaining your health by avoiding sugar.

I recommend using lo han in moderation, just like sugar. In excess it is still far less likely to cause metabolic problems than sugar or any of the artificial sweeteners.

If you have insulin issues, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or extra weight, it may be best to avoid sweeteners altogether, including stevia, as they all may decrease your sensitivity to insulin.  With sweet cravings it is important to cultivate a taste for bitter to decrease the stimulated sweet taste buds, thereby decreasing the desire for sweet.



Guilin Mountains

Monk Fruit History and Healing Properties

In the cucurbitacea family, the family of melons, it is said to have grown in the forested mountainsides of the Guaxi Province, home to the Guilin Monks in the 13th century. Most of them lived past the age of 100. It remained a longevity secret amongst the monks for many years. The fruit (guo, a term used mainly for gourd-like fruits) is named after the luohan, which are advanced Buddhist practitioners. With a limited natural growing area, mainly mountainsides in China, and some areas of Thailand, it has been difficult to cultivate successfully. It is only recently that it is being grown successfully on a non-GMO farm in New Zealand.

Monk fruit, Momordica grosvenii, has been used in China as a sweetener and a healing medicinal herb. It is used as an extract to sweeten bitter medicinal teas, to revive one from heat exhaustion, or high fever, for almost any pulmonary condition, and for longevity. As an expectorant it also relieves sore throats. The elemental energetics of lo han is cooling, moistening to the lungs, and generating fluids for severe thirst or dry throat. It clears heat from the Lungs, moistens and stops cough. It is neutral and sweet and goes to the lungs and spleen.

Lo han is collected as a round green fruit that turns brown upon drying. The sweetness comes from a naturally occuring, intensely sweet compound called mogrosides, a group of terpene glycosides, present at the level of about 1% of the fleshy part of the fruit. The mixed mogrosides are about 300 times as sweet as sugar by weight, so that the 80% extracts are nearly 250 times sweeter than sugar.

In the 90s, Proctor and Gamble pattented lo han as a sweetener, but the taste is more complex in flavor, emitting a slightly complex bitter and nutty taste in addition to sweet. They are currently trying to isolate compounds, to extract only the intense sweetness. Meanwhile, everyone and their mother are making sugar substitutes from it.

I strongly recommend using lo han as a liquid extract or as a powder of just pure lo han fruit.  There are many products coming out that include other ingredients, that I do not recommend using. Some even contain sugar!

Lo Han….what is the best way to use?

The best way to use it is in its oven roasted herb form, which is how it comes from China, and either made into an extract or powdered and added to foods.

HAALo has whole a liquid extract of Lo Han as well as the whole balls and crushed. They can powder them for you there for your favorite recipes, or you can simply grind them in your high power blender.  Our herbalists will be happy to make you a simple tea blend with monk balls,

Here is a rundown of some of the products:

Nectresse; contains lo han from BioVittoria’s Fruitsweetness, erithrytol ( a fermented corn sugar), sugar and molasses.  Not recommended.

Lou han sweet by Jarrow: contains lo han and xylitol. Better.

Fruitsweetness by BioVittoria in New Zealand (the ones currently growing it successfully): pure lo han fruit concentrate powder. Seems interesting and clean.  I will try this one. BUT! Processing anything in the extreme can change how our bodies recognize foods as useable fuel.

So again, I would say use it in its natural form as best you can.


Here are a few recipes some I found and some from friends who are getting quite creative with monk fruit!

Daikon Carrot and Luo Han Guo Pork soup from http://www.chinesesouppot.com/1-soup-recipes/135-daikon-luo-han-guo-pork-soup

Victoria is a GAPS certified functional nutritionist from Kentucky.  Here is her Blackberry Cobbler. Substitute powdered monk fruit for the manzanita sugar.


Teas:  The best way to brew tea is to use one monk ball in about a gallon of water. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes. You can use this sweet base to add other ingredients to depending on the time of year. This fall season I recommend elderberries to support a healthy immune system; add in the last five minutes. Yerba Santa is another local plant that will enhance lo han’s lung healing abilities, for sore throats, coughs. In the summer add in flowers like rose petals, chrysanthemum flowers to enhance the cooling calming abilities.


Rachel  of of Sierra Botanica is a teacher and herbalist.Here is her Monk Fruit Thai Iced Tea: Take 2 balls, crush them well, put them in a quart jar, pour boiling water over them. Let cool. Add heavy cream or half and half! Drink on a warm summer day. You could drink this warm, add cinnamon for the cooler seasons, and use coconut milk if you are dairy free.

Please write in with recipes you have to share!