We've been thinking of you, sending ripples of support as we move through the dynamic energy of this Aries Season! Anyone else feeling the fire of transformation at their doorstep?
We hope you've been taking gentle care of yourselves and of each other, and that you are feeling ready to embrace this season of change.
This Month we are happy to announce that Josh is officially offering private sessions at Anchor Meditation! For our sound section this month, we are sharing a beautiful testimonial written by the founder of Anchor, Kelly Ryan. We are so grateful for Kelly, and hope her words inspire you to experience a session for yourself!
After Kelly's testimonial, we will explore a host of plants and herbal formulas that are supportive for working with addiction. The energy of spring, and of the Aries season in particular, are fantastic allies for folks looking to create new relationships with drugs and alcohol. We fully believe that adding the power of plants to this equation will amplify your intentions, and truly support your body transition into new ways of being.
A look inside the Portal
by Kelly Ryan
My Private Sound Paths Meditation with Josh was amazing! The session took place at The Portal at Anchor Meditation. I lied down on a massage bed over an amethyst crystal heated mat. He provided a heavy pillow that lightly vibrated, which provided weight and coziness on my belly.
Josh placed a "Muse" Headband gently around my forehead. This headband was to monitor my brain waves. I had no idea what to expect, as I've never done anything like it.
He also hooked up a "MIDI Sprout" to a plant placed next to the massage table I was on. The midi sprout enables Josh to co-create music, and the muse allows my brain to participate! WHOA....!!!
Josh began the session with some aromatherapy, and a brief explanation of what was happening. He demonstrated the sound he was playing, the sound the plant was creating, and described the sound my brain waves would make as "like a harp." Still very unsure what to expect, the session got underway!
Upon starting the session, my monkey mind immediately began racing, as our minds tend to do! The harp sound was prominent! I was thinking a lot about what the heck was going on. The music was beautiful and calming and put me into a state of peace quickly.
After a period of time, I became aware that the harp had ceased playing. I was in a state of deep relaxation, and I guess my busy mind had a little lull.
I believe we manifest things when we are crystal clear about what it is we desire to create for our future, and we feel the feelings associated with having those desires come true! I decided to play around a little bit since there are many things I am currently manifesting. It was SOOOOO FUN! When I realized that there hadn't been harp noises for a period of time, I'd think about the feelings (excitement, freedom, relaxation, satisfaction, peace) that I will feel when I am in Hawaii for that trip I am dreaming of) and the harp noise would come through the earphones with a burst of beautiful music! Spoiler alert, I leave in 2 weeks for Hawaii! I played around with this experiment throughout the session, and was amazed that each time I allowed myself to feel "as if" the things I am creating are actually coming true, the harp would appear!
It feels like proof of what I know to be true about how we co-create our reality, and this feels wildly exciting to me!
I also tried "sending loving thoughts and feelings" to the plant that was hooked up to the MIDI Sprout. The plant was generating beautiful music throughout the session. I have read lots of studies about how you talk to plants and direct your energy towards them effects the plant’s ability to thrive and grow. For example, if you plant 3 seeds and say all negative things to seed #1 (You suck. I hate you. Etc.) it typically does not grow into a healthy plant. If you are neutral to seed #2 it grows a bit but does not thrive. If you harness all positive thoughts and words to seed #3 (I love you. Thank you. You are beautiful. Etc) this seed tends to grow, thrive and prosper.
My experiment of sending love to the plant was a little less obvious than the sounds of the harp, which were brilliant and distinct. I did experience a sense of union with the plant, but it's more difficult to define, and I'm not quite certain if I was just slipping in and out of deeper brainwave states. I believe the plant felt the love though, and I am very grateful to have had this experience!
Thanks Josh for your musical talent, creativity and cool gadgets! I loved every minute of the session, and recommend it for music lovers, plant lovers, meditation lovers, and mind/body/brain enthusiasts and seekers! It would also be lovely for anyone who just wants to relax and receive the healing benefits of sounds, but for me the opportunity to test some of my beliefs surpassed my desire to rest and receive this time around.
Herbs for Addiction
Throughout my journey into plant medicine, I have found that learning about herbs that support folks who are working with addiction to be a great source of hope, comfort, and activation for me.
On a very personal note, I have lost many people I love to drugs and alcohol, and can trace the persistent threads of addiction throughout my life and nearly every life that touches mine.
When I began delving into the science of addiction, I became very curious about my own relationship with drugs and alcohol, and realized that for me, there were various social, biological, and spiritual conditions that predisposed me to have unhealthy, impulsive, and addictive relationships with both.
As an experiment, I decided to take a year off of drinking alcohol, to try to break the chain of addiction that runs through my entire ancestral line, and to re-wire my brain to make healthier choices when I am feeling stressed, scared, under-resourced, or even when I have something to celebrate.
It’s been an absolutely illuminating year that has given me the chance to re-negotiate my relationship to alcohol, and get to the root of imbalance in my system that had me reaching for cocktails in the first place. It has now been a little over a year booze free, and I feel open and curious to see how a healthy relationship might develop and what that looks like. I know this relationship will be on my terms, and carry a new kind of full body and heart consciousness that earlier versions of myself could have never imagined.
I want to pause here to say that I am privileged beyond measure to have the kind of family, community, and economic support to try this experiment in the first place. I am by no means suggesting that giving up alcohol or drugs is as easy as making a hard lined decision to do so, and I am certainly not advocating for moderation if it is clear that abstinence is the healthiest, life-saving, and desired plan of care.
I am just eager to share my experience, and highlight some plants that have worked for ME, as well as plants that have broader applications for addiction.
Into the plants we go!
In general, teas or oxymels (vinegar and honey extractions) are beautiful preparations to reach for when you are working with addiction. This keeps alcohol completely out of your system. It is worth noting, however, that a tincture has about the same amount of alcohol as a ripe banana, so if you do not consider yourself, or person in your care, as an addicted person, and someone who desires 100% abstinence, I believe alcohol extractions, or tinctures, are just fine to use.
To organize what feels like an infinite amount of plants, I am first going to highlight the herbal actions we are looking for, then explore several plants I have found useful under each of these categories.
Adaptogens help our body deal with stress. This can be physical, emotional, environmental, ancestral, you name it. Adaptogens are vital when working with addiction, because often the addicted person is trapped in a cycle of feeling stressed, then not having the right levels of dopamine and serotonin, or the proper function of dendrite receptors to receive these stress relieving hormones. This is when they reach for drugs or alcohol to self soothe and provide short term stress relief, which only depletes the body further of these stress relieving hormones, while depleting and damaging every system in the body.
Adaptogens can help break this cycle by nourishing our adrenal and nervous systems, and basically mamma bearing us into a state of balance.
Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Fantastic for folks just entering sobriety. Makes a beautiful tea. I’ve personally enjoyed at least 1 cup a day this entire past year! Therapeutically, you can try 1-3 cups per day.
Talks directly to the part of our brain that generates stories of heartbreak and trauma and helps us re-write these narratives
Especially helpful for ancestral trauma
Supports the Heart, Cardiovascular and Digestive Systems
Helps with cerebral circulation, memory, and concentration (helpful for folks who experience mental fatigue and brain fog when they stop using)
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
Protects body from toxic effect of substances
Helpful for anxiety
Helps body heal relationship with “time.” Often called the white rabbit plant. If you are finding yourself scrambling to get everything you need to get done in a day, this is a great plant to reach for. It prevents burnout by giving you energy while simultaneously nourishing your adrenals.
I’ve also found Eleuthero to be helpful for the overwhelm and emotional response that come with fatigue. If you are on the verge of a breakdown because mentally you can’t wrap your brain around the size of your to-do list, Eleuthero (perhaps because it is a root medicine) really helps to ground and calm you down.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifers)
I’ve especially loved ashwagandha and turmeric as a soothing golden milk before bed.
It’s calming to the nervous system, and awesome for stress induced insomnia and nervous exhaustion
Energetically, it is great for lifting the spirit and is helpful for depression
Nervines support the nervous system by strengthening and restoring, easing anxiety and tension, calming the body and mind, and stimulating the nervous system when necessary. Long-term alcohol and drug use often frays the myelin sheath of our nerve endings. We end up ingesting more of the substance of choice to calm these nerves, thus causing more damage, and more physical manifestations of withdrawal when we try to quit. This is why someone dependent on alcohol might shake before their first drink of the day. I was beyond excited to learn that two plants in this category actually work to re-coat the myelin sheath of nerve endings and help our bodies reverse this nerve damage. We will explore these two plants, Skullcap and Milky Oats first, and then I will share a few other Nervines I have found especially helpful over the last year.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Helps sever attachments to addictions
Cools and calms the liver (this is important!)
As a result of its interaction with the liver, skullcap also cools and calms ANGER! (it is believed we store Anger in our Livers. This is SUCH an important energy to clear out of the body!)
Amazing for acute anxiety or nervous tension
Fantastic for circle thinking that keeps us in a loop of infinite, anxious thinking. Pairs beautifully with Passionflower and Lemon Balm as a night time formula to help quiet your brain and self critical thoughts
Repairs and coats frayed myelin sheaths
Milky Oats (Avena sativa)
When tinctured fresh, and used over a long period of time, milky oats repair the myelin sheaths as well
This is a beautiful, deeply restorative plant for a person’s long-term plan of care. It soothes and calms the nervous system, but more importantly it FEEDS the nervous system
As it feeds our nervous system, it works to decrease the desire of wanting to use our substance of choice
It can also help with symptoms of withdrawal
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
Motherwort has an affinity for the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, and the liver.
Energetically it is used to heal all relationships with the mother archetype. This can be relationships with our actual mother, the divine feminine, how we show up as mother to ourselves, or our identity as mother to others.
Motherwort calms anxiety, and is an extremely bitter herb, which supports and heals the liver. As we saw with Skullcap, the liver is where we store anger, which feels important to think about. Our liver is not only processing the toxins in our body, it is also processing our heavier emotions. Motherwort works with our cardiovascular system to get our hearts pumping optimally, then supports our liver to process what is flowing through our veins. All while cooling the body, and calming irritability, anxiety, and stress.
Lowers blood pressure and helps with heart palpitations caused by stress
Helps with exhaustion and the kind of stress that stems from feeling there is never enough time in the day
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
I have loved making cold infusions of chamomile each evening, letting steep overnight, then enjoying in the morning first thing when I wake up. I find it calms my digestive system, which is where many people including myself, tend to hold their anxiety. In addition to calming and cooling the nervous system and GI, cold infusions of chamomile help your body hold onto and use the water you drink throughout the day. This is a vital part of restoring the body after and during long-term drug and alcohol use.
Hot infusions of chamomile are also great for calming the digestive system and particularly indicated for restless sleep and nightmares, nervous headaches and anxiety related to withdrawal symptoms
One of my teachers, Rylan Sían, describes Chamomile as the Mother of all healing plants. Coincidentally, chamomile is a wonderful, safe plant to use with children, and also great for reaching and healing our inner child. This can be powerful healing work when working with addiction, as a lot of the trauma that leads us to substance use traces back to our experiences as children.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon Balm brings in the cooling medicine of the moon. It floods the body with light, but not in an oppressive, overwhelming, I need sunglasses way
Can be used as an anti-depressant
Indicated for insomnia caused by grief or sadness
Beautiful as a tea when you are feeling tired, burnt out, and emotionally fried
Has a tonic effect on the heart and entire cardiovascular system
Often we use drugs and alcohol to help us get to sleep, which actually keeps us from reaching healthy brainwave states that restore the body. This ends up making us more exhausted and depleted in the long run. As you break free from the ritual of a glass of wine or two to get to bed, there are a handful of beautiful, restorative plants that can support you as you find healthier bed time rituals. I have especially loved using passionflower, which I gushed about in our last newsletter. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and Hops (Humulus lupulus) are also fantastic sleep allies.
Plants that support and protect the Liver are extremely important when working with addiction. As we discussed, our livers are the organs in our bodies that help us process toxins. After and during drug and alcohol use, it is vital to take care of our livers!
Burdock (Arctium Lappa)
Helps move toxins and heat out of the blood
Taken as a food (try pickled burdock!) it is a nutritive, and works to strengthen all body systems and assists in general recovery
Supports the liver and is especially helpful for skin issues associated with heat in the liver
Useful as a lymphatic, which gets lymph moving through the body, and is therefore supportive to the immune system. This is important when we are transitioning off of using substances as our immune systems are extremely compromised
In addition to Burdock, Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) and Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale) are fantastic liver herbs to reach for.
The last category of plant powers I have found especially helpful, are nutritives. Nutritive plants work to restore and support our adrenal glands, they help our body absorb nutrients, and they support the detoxification process.
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle makes a great herbal infusion (tea steeped for 4-10 hours)
Fantastic tea to drink when you are overworked and stressed, or feeling like you need a little boost
It’s especially helpful to drink as a spring time tonic, as we gather the energy we will use for the vibrant times of spring and summer
PACKED with minerals and nutrients that support every system in our body
Some other beautiful nutritive herbs are Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) and Wild Oats (Avena Sativa), which are the dried aerial parts of the milky oats we discussed earlier.
Home Again Formula
The last piece I want to share with you is a formula we’ve made to specifically support folks working with addiction.
My intention for this blend is for it to ground a person deeply in their body, and allow their heart to defend, honor, heal from, and reach for, a sense of "Home."
The combination of adaptogens and nervines are specifically helpful for trauma, and the lymphatic properties of burdock support the body as it deals with stress and helps it to process and heal from toxins. The honey and flower essence blend inspires courage, boundaries, a sense of safety in the home, and forgiveness.
Home Again Formula
8 parts Albizia
5 parts Hawthorn
3 parts Linden
2 parts Burdock
1 Lemon Balm
Tulsi, Cinnamon and Rose infused Wildflower Honey
Flower Essences of Yarrow, Willow, Motherwort, Borage
Since addiction can often be thought of as a dis-ease of the spirit, there are SO MANY flower essences that are helpful, which we will get into in another post!
In the meantime, there is a list of flower essences for addiction, as well as flower essences for friends and family of addicted persons, at the end of a pathology report I began working on last year, which investigates herbal applications for Heroin Addiction. I am happy to share this document as another resource for our community, although it is just the beginning to my investigations of herbal medicine and heroin. I look forward to having so much more information and resources to offer in the future.
Wow this has been a lot!
We hope you will keep this post tucked in your back pocket for times when you are needing extra support surrounding your relationships with drugs and alcohol. We passionately support your endeavors and look forward to being a resource and loving ally along the way.
Thank you from our whole hearts for taking this journey with us, and special thanks to one of my mentors, Dana Aronson of Wild Kin Botanicals, for so much of this information, and for all the work she does to empower and heal Drug and Alcohol Users.
As always here is a fresh meditation track from Josh! We suggest making a cup of Tulsi tea, putting on some headphones, and letting yourself have a restorative moment or two.
With Much Love,
Nora and Josh