Monday, April 18, 2016

Rosemary Gladstar Class at The Rosemary House

by Molly Sams
The one and only Rosemary Gladstar
On April 2nd I had a defining day in my herbalism practice. I was able to take my first class with Rosemary Gladstar. It was everything I wanted and more. We focused on backyard herbalism and adaptogens. I was thrilled to sit down and attempt to absorb every bit of information. Like many classes, however, it took a little more energy than I expected.

First thing was the projector. Now I am a huge fan of technology. But I swear some pieces of technology smell fear. The projector seemed to giggle every time I would try to reboot it to display the slide show and when we purchased a new HDMI for the projector it seemed to morph so the HDMI cord wouldn’t fit. Finally there was a wonderful woman named Nicki who pointed out that the TV in the corner of the room had an HDMI port and we were able to start the slideshow.

Luckily Rosemary was a perfect presenter and worked through the technological chaos quickly, thoroughly, and gracefully. When we were finally able to bring her presentation up (an hour into the presentation but who is counting!) she worked through the presentation quickly as a review and was able to finish all before lunch.

I was almost in awe with the shear amount of information Rosemary Gladstar shared about adaptogens. While I knew some information here and there about these herbs I had no idea how absolutely vital they are in herbalism and general well being. 

Lovely ladies creating zoom balls for the class.

Next up were her classic zoom balls. While my mother had made these for me before (she knows all too well my addiction) the longevity balls Rosemary made were full of tasty herbie bits such as schizandra, Siberian ginseng, and rhodiola mixed with several nut butters and a few berries. It was amazing and definitely kept the whole class going for the rest of the lesson.


A few of the herbs that really stuck with me were Gotu Kola, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola. As I’ve grown more familiar with herbs I knew some herbs were gaining popularity in our culture – specifically Ashwagandha – but they serve a very real purpose, some Dr. Oz has yet to even touch.

Gotu Kola, is a wonderful herb that works past the blood-brain barrier and may help your synapses communicate faster and with more ease. Naturopaths often prescribe it for early onset Alzheimer’s but should not be taken if you take blood thinners. If you want a substitute you can give holy basil or Tulsi a try. It is gentle, delicious in tea and food, and smells wonderful.

Ashwagandha has been the most popular of the new adaptogens and is usually being advertised next to Turmeric. While I have a few concerns about it gaining popularity (price gain, over harvesting, etc.) there are plenty of reasons why I’m going to be getting a few ounces next time I’m at The Rosemary House. Ashwagandha may help liver function and has even been used to increase sexual vigor. It has been used for everything from diabetes to depression. Like holy basil it has been used for thousands of years, while studies haven’t been done it has definitely earned our attention.

Rhodiola is used to promote clear thinking, increase attention span, and may relieve fatigue. If any of you have sat through an afternoon meeting or long drive with me, you know fatigue is my arch nemesis. While I adore sleep, I also struggle to stay awake throughout the day. Rhodiola has been a nice substitute for my afternoon and evening (yup, you read that right) coffee. I will often mix it in a fruity tea with ginger so it is refreshing, awakening, and delicious of course!

Once we were chock full of herbal knowledge there was lunch. I can always gush about lunch or tea at The Rosemary House. Nancy is an exceptional cook and I swear she can make mac and cheese in to a delicate, wonderful dish. She made Lentil Joes (sloppy Joes with lentils instead of meat) and a wonderful veggie salad. With that we were served lemon tea, which was a perfect way to warm up on a cooler sunny day.

When we were full we went back to the classroom to learn about backyard herbalism. I’m not going to lie I thought this would be mostly review. I was so wrong. In the class I learned that Burdock is used for sunburn and some hospitals (Lehigh Valley in particular) use Burdock to treat burn victims, laying the softened, wet leaves on top of the burned skin - in some cases precluding the need for grafts. This part of the course was truly wonderful because it was so simple. Do you have plantain? Slap it on your arm. Do you like chickweed? Here is a recipe for pesto or a great smoothie. Have more dead nettle than grass? Tincture it and save it for when you need a laxative (you’ve been warned) or you want to detox your kidneys.

The best part of this course was how relatable it was. Rosemary Gladstar tries to cater to her current audience as much as possible. I adored her candor, her opinions, and of course her seemingly endless amounts of knowledge. I feel unbelievably lucky to have spent the day learning from her and I’m thrilled she is still teaching and guiding the new herbies onto the next great adventure.  I'm currently taking her correspondence course, so it was especially fun to be able to spend a day with her, too.


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