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Herbal Wisdom - February 2016 - Santa Fe

Winter Herbs

By Tomas Enos and Erin Galiger


All of the plants have taken their most precious life down underground, energy stored in sugars and starches, nurturing their inner core.  Following the natural seasonal program we were hard-wired to at birth our traditional keepers of knowledge tell us to look for the roots of our strength.  The foods and herbs that call to us have been used here for hundreds of years.  Four roots stand out as our winter allies.


  • Inmortal (Asclepias asperula) is a native to our Southwest region that is a member of the milkweed family.  As the deep cold sinks even deeper many people experience difficulty shaking lung infections resulting in persistent coughing, chest congestion, and breathing difficulty.  Inmortal has been a friend that helps to relieve those symptoms and build our lung strength.  As the name implies Inmortal can assist in breathing at high altitude when the air is dry and cold.


  • Aralia (Aralia racemosa) is a member of the ginseng family and assists in building our inner strength, in particular our lungs.  At the outset of a cold or where there is lingering bronchitis Aralia helps to remove hypersecretions of phlegm.  It is also very effective in clearing “smokers cough”.  As you would expect of a ginseng member the qualities help to bring the person to their center thereby reducing the stress factors that contribute to general weakness and lung deficiency.  Aralia is also known by the name of Spikenard is an excellent remedy in honey or tincture bases.


  • Hierba mansa (Anemopsis californica) is a potent plant unique to our area that is anti-inflammatory, astringent, and tonic.  Wherever there may be inflamed mucous membranes from cold or flu, sore throat, or stomach upset hierba mansa is a classic effective remedy.  Used as a gargle, tea, or tincture this root helps to shrink and resolve hot, moist conditions.


  • Osha (Ligusticum porteri), also called bear root, is an important perennial herb that inhabits the dry, upland meadows and ravines of the Rocky Mountain. The beneficial part of the osha plant is the root, which has long been used and considered sacred by Native Americans for cold, cough, and other respiratory ailments. The root contains oils, including camphor, saponins, ferulic acid, terpenes, and phytosterols. Osha root helps clear mucus from the sinuses and lungs by increasing expectoration; this relieves congestion and makes breathing easier. Osha root also increases blood circulation to the lungs, which increases dilation during constriction.  Because of the range of mechanisms it has, osha root is, arguably, the best American herb for lung and throat problems. 


For sinus congestion try placing fresh clippings of pinion pine, Artemisia (Taos sage), and juniper leaves in a pot of hot water; place your head over the pot with a towel covering the opening and breathe slowly and deeply for as long as possible.  All of the plants mentioned (which we carry) above are excellent antibacterials and antivirals, and the steam bath breaks up congestion.  

Tomas Enos studied with Michael Moore in 1990 and then created Milagro Herbs. Erin Galiger has worked with herbs for 10 years.  Their philosophy of health and healing is holistic and rooted in the ancient tradition of “Solar Living,” synchronizing our bodies according to the biological time clock, circadian rhythms, and seasonal patterns found on Earth. 419 Orchard Drive (off Paseo de Peralta next to Kakawa    Chocolate House)

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