Category: Herbal therapies


Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Valerian root is a natural sleep remedy.  In Chinese medicine it calms the Heart Shen and excess Liver Yang. It is a complex nervous system herb because it’s effects are so diverse.  Valerian is anti-bacterial, anti-spasmodic, and will gently lower blood pressure.  It can be used as a flower essence, but usually the root is used.  This root can attract cats with a substance called… Read more →


Ashwagandha: an amazing herb!

Ashwagandha or Withania somnifera is one of our most wonderful plant allies with use dating back thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. We found a patch of plants in a temple garden in Rishikesh, India and chose to talk about one of the ashwagandha plants which was growing up through the gravel pathway like a weed, it’s small round red… Read more →

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Dr. Donna teaching at the International Herbal Symposium!

This June 9-11, I hope you can make it to Norton Massachusetts to join me, Rosemary Gladstar, Christopher Hobbs, Guido Masse, Dr. Lowdog and others to help spread the word about herbal medicine! It’s a human conference but there is a veterinary tract that anyone can attend! I am presenting Pacific Northwest Plants and Skin infections in dogs and cats.… Read more →


Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

Oregon grape root (Mahonia aquifolium), a wonderful native North American medicinal herb, is often exported to Europe and preferred over other Euroasian berberine containing plants for the treatment of acne and eczema. Berberine is a well-researched antibiotic chemical which is also present in Goldenseal root, another North American herb which is more expensive and has suffered over-harvesting almost to the point of… Read more →


Salve Making – Part 4: Adding the Beeswax

For this last salve making post, I thought I would highlight the final steps in salve making. Hopefully you are now interested in making your own. It can be very simple. Pick an herb like plantain, pour olive oil over the cut leaves, place in sun for 4-6 weeks until the oil is green, heat with the beeswax, and there… Read more →


Salve Making – Part 3: Processing the Oils

In Salve Making Part 1 and 2, we discussed how to identify herbs with volatile oils that are beneficial in salves. I use St. John’s Wort flowers, plantain leaves, comfrey leaves and calendula flowers, but you can also use yarrow flowers, cottonwood buds (see previous video) and many other plants.  For me, the St John’s Wort, or hypericum, is great… Read more →

Calendula, St Johns wort

Salve making – Part 2: More about the Plants

Salve making is one of the most rewarding aspects of my practice. Many animals heal amazingly fast when you apply plant medicine to wounds. Herbal salves can promote granulation, prevent infection and prevent “proud flesh”(overproliferation of scar tissue) in horses. Wounds will often heal within two or three days, rather than 2 or 3 weeks with typical topical therapies like Neosporin. Last… Read more →

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Salve Making – Part 1: Making the Infused Oils

Salve making has been a big part of my life for about twenty years. The first years presented some difficulties finding high quality fresh herbs, timing the sun infusion and sourcing the olive oil.  But now we grow the herbs right here or nearby. I usually want to start my infused oils by July 1st each year. The first step in… Read more →


Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis)

Most of us grew up thinking marshmallows were something you put in smores on camping trips (invented by a dentist for job security), but actually the original marshmallows were made as a tasty treatment for colitis. Marshmallow does anything that slippery elm can do for diarrhea without the ecological controversy of slippery elm. Slippery elm is being significantly over-harvested these days. So my… Read more →


Hypericum perforatum: Our sunny five-petaled anti-depressant

Welcome to our discussion on veterinary uses for St. John’s wort. For many years I picked St. John’s wort around July 4th and used it for my Feather Picking formula that I made for Avian practices throughout America. I found when I left it out of the formula, the herbs did not work as well to calm pet birds and create… Read more →

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Cottonwood: The Magic of the Balms of Gilead

This month’s amazing herb is Cottonwood, Populus trichocarpa. The budding leaves are contained in a sticky resinous pouch where the antibiotic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory medicines can be released into an infused oil. Where the native peoples may have used bear or fish fats and tallows, I might use olive, grapeseed, or almond oils. The individual species of the cottonwood tree… Read more →

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Echinacea: A Powerful & Misunderstood Medicine

Echinacea is like an old friend to me. When I am abroad, feeling a sore throat or just around someone who is very sick, I take a dropper every hour. Echinacea is extremely safe. Its only possible contraindication is related to certain severe auto immune disease, which I’ll discuss later. Echinacea’s claim to fame is its tincture form’s ability to significantly cut the… Read more →


Boneset: Eupatorium perfoliatum

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) reaches 2-5 feet in height and has erect hairy stems. It has wrinkled, narrow leaves with yellow resin dots (medicine packs) and the flowers have a purplish white color. It is a very old flu remedy which has what we call “side-benefits” in herbal medicine. One of these is it’s effectiveness in treating very deep “bone-breaking” pain in… Read more →