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by Rachel Thomas


schultes amazon 1940sEthnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes with Indigenous ExpertsIt was almost twenty years ago when I first arrived in Costa Rica. Already a student of herbalism in a classroom setting, I was attracted to the possibility of learning about plants directly from those who used them ancestrally. Lucky for me, and many others like me, Costa Ricans tend to be open in sharing stories about their botanical allies. I was in herbalist heaven.

Over time, I have come to see the other side of that heaven. I started to realize that while my knowledge was increasing, the general population was losing its traditional wisdom. The easy part has been finding ways to conserve the medicinal plants. The real challenge is to help community elders to conserve the traditional ways of life that are interdependent with the natural world, the living context in which their herbalism thrives.

I share this story to raise consciousness and encourage advocacy of the survival of traditional wisdom amongst any peoples who are practicing their culture in the face of modern life and assimilation, and especially those peoples who have been forcibly separated from their traditions or their homelands.

When I settled in the remote fishing village of Puerto Viejo, I was hoping to find a local healer to study with.

Quassia amara; strong man of the tropical forestby Susan Leopold, PhD   Enjoy reading the foreword to the newly published and updated English version. Contact United Plant Savers if you wish to purchase the book. Quassia amara is a member of the Simaroubaceae family, which consists of 19 genera and 95 species of trees and shrubs that are mostly tropical in distribution. Folks in the temperate region may be familiar with the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), which is also in the Simaroubacea family. It is known as an invasive to eastern North America but a native medicinal to those in China. Quassia, with 40 species in the rainforests of tropical America and Africa, contains trees and shrubs. Quassia amara is the source of bitter-tasting compounds and is used currently in commercial products as a vermifuge and as an insecticide. Among those in Costa Rica it is know commonly as Hombre Grande, translated as the strong man, to make a tea that can cure pain in the stomach, rid parasites, help with diabetics, and treat fever.


On the Ground and Running: Herbal Acute Care, Environmental Resilience and Regenerative Strategiesby Sarah Wu   Herbalist, Sarah WuIf you want to practice herbalism, really practice, the first thing you need besides an herbal education, whether it is a class or direct mentoring, are sick people to practice on. Many herbalists are well read and studied, but few have practical on-the-fly skills in the instance where someone hurts themselves or needs immediate medical attention. These skills include cleaning and bandaging wounds, lancing, bracing or treating acute inflammation. Some herbalists have taken Wilderness First Responder Courses, CPR or EMT trainings, and many just have wild children, nieces/nephews or neighbors. Herbalists are not always thought of as the initial responders in acute situations, but with the proper training, herbalists can actually be your community’s best first line of defense and relief.


Ethno-botany in Laos, the Roots of Cultureby Biba Vilayleck   PTK Ethnobotanic Garden (copyright Paul Wager)Man lived first of all in, on and with nature, and to forget this is dangerous. The goal of ethno-botany is to show how plants have always been faithful companions to man. It inventories and examines the vast collection of knowledge, which different cultures have developed across the millennia to tame and master the plant world. Laos remains a plant-based society, and we want to preserve that. The plant wisdom of Laos is a part, albeit a small one, of Laotian heritage. Though new techniques and new materials are employed, in the villages people still live “in nature” and with nature.


Germination of Garcinia Kola, a high valued Non-Timber product of Nigeria1Ibe, A. E., 1Madukwe, D.K., 1Ileka, S.C., and 2Ibe, M.A.1Department of Forestry and Wildlife Technology.2Department of Agricultural Economics and ExtensionFederal University of Technology, OwerriP.M.B. 1526, Owerri, NigeriaEmail: tonyeloka6@yahoo.com;donkele2002@yahoo.com Garcinia kola (Heckel) belongs to the Guttiferrae (Clusiaceae) family (Geeta et al., 2006). The tree produces edible and medicinal seeds, which are widely consumed (Okigbo, 1997). Its distribution ranges from West Africa to Central Africa, extending from Sierra Leone to Congo, (Gledhill, 1977). Garcinia kola is endemic in the humid lowland rainforest vegetation of the West and Central African sub regions. It is found in coastal areas and lowland plains up to 300m above sea level with an average of 2000 - 2500 mm rainfall per annum and temperatures ranges from 21.4°C to 32.15°C and a minimum relative humidity of 76.34% (Ntamag,1997). Garcinia kola (Heckel) otherwise known as ‘bitter kola’ is one of the several non-timber forest products that are of socio-economic importance in Nigeria with high consumption rate (Okafor, 1980). Its economic contribution to both domestic and national markets raises the standard of living of those involved in its trading activities, both in the rural and urban centers (Yakubu et al., 2014).


Sacred Mother SanctuaryPeabody, KSSanctuary Stewards: Debbie and Noel McSweeney   When we think of the word Sanctuary, it brings to mind many different things for different people. For me, personally it brings to mind hope. When I was a little girl, my grandfather, Ben Avery, a conservationist, gave our family the gift of a Sanctuary in the Northern White Mountains of Arizona. It was a place where we could escape the craziness of the city of Phoenix. No cars, no sirens, just a one-room humble cabin and the occasional thunderstorm over the valley chasing the cawing crows. It was a powerful place for me, as it was my first strong connection with Mother Earth. I was taught there to care for the land, to be aware of the impacts I have on it, and most importantly I was set free from a very early age to wander the woods on my own. The connection to that Sanctuary saved my life many times when life got difficult.


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