GIVEAWAY: Summer Maladies and First Aid Correspondence Course

Enter to Win Blazing Star Herbal School’s
Summer Maladies and First Aid Correspondence Course

Have a burning question about parenting, looking for a recommendation about life in Western MA, or need some advice on what to do about something? Share below to be consideration for our weekly Question & Answer column and be entered to win a Summer Maladies and First Aid Correspondence Course from Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA. Deadline to enter to win: Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 by 7pm (EST).

Have you ever wanted to learn about herbalism but can’t find the time for classes?  Hilltown Families sponsor, Blazing Star Herbal School in Ashfield, MA, offers several correspondence programs for folks who are either to far away or prefer to learn after the kids have gone to bed.  This summer Hilltown Families is partnering with Blazing Star by offering our readers the opportunity to enter to win one of their correspondence courses from their Do-it-Yourself Herbalism Series (valued at $150)! Details on how you can enter to win are below and deadline to participate is Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 by 7pm (EST).


Blazing Star Herbal School (BSHS), based out of Ashfield, MA, offers unique and exciting programs in herbal studies to give both the student and professional an opportunity to delve deeper into the art and science of herbalism. BSHS courses have been highly acclaimed for inspiring students to find their unique healing path through personal relationship with the plant world. BSHS is dedicated to teaching traditional herbal medicine in a way that supports a more sustainable future for all members of the green world and shows respect for the integrity of nature.

BSHS offers a unique perspective on herbalism, weaving social and political aspects of health and healing through the study of medicinal herbs and food practices, inspiring students to find their own healing path by creating a personal relationship with the plant world. The school also serves as a local and national resource for education and networking.  Learn more about Blazing Star Herbal School at or email Tony(a) Lemos at


Summer Maladies and First Aid Correspondence Course

Written with the family or homesteader in mind who’s looking to integrate nourishing herbs and herbal medicines into their lifestyle, improve their health, and increase their self reliance, while connecting with the land in which they live and all it has to offer. In this hands-on medicine making course the focus will be on creating an at home first aid kit for summer maladies. Topics include: cuts and scrapes; burns (sun and fire); bug bites, (ticks, mosquitoes and bees); muscle aches (Sprains/strains); bleeding and bruises; poison ivy and poison oak rash; dehydration (sun poisoning); seasonal skin care; seasonal allergies (chronic and acute treatment plans); among other topics. Four weeks of reading, assignments, and medicine making participants can accomplish at their own pace. (Value: $150)


Your chance to win Blazing Star Herbal School’s Correspondence Course, Summer Maladies and First Aid, is as easy as 1-2-3(4)!  To enter to win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING THIS POST ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below;
  • FULL NAME (first/last);
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) (must include your town to be eligible);
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address);
  • From our favorite entries (so make them good!) we’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 by 7pm (EST).

Q&A: 30 Recommended Folk Remedies to Make in the Summer


With active kids running and play outdoors, many come across poison ivy (picture here) and end up with itchy red patches on their exposed legs, arms and bellies. Both Melissa Miller of Amherst and Jennifer Hartley of Florence suggest jewelweed as a folk remedy! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

We recently asked our readers to share a folk remedy they like to make in the summer months for their families using fresh herbs and plants.  Here are thirty remedies recommended by readers both far and near:

  1. “I like to make rhubarb and honey syrup and keep it in the back of the fridge for putting in hot water in January when I have a cold, or when I need to remember that spring will come.” – Dina Stander
  2. “My favorite folk remedy this year is lemon balm elixir. It’s so mellowing and calming!” – April Horton (Jacksonville, VT)
  3. “I am always making vinegars and honey’s and my favorite summertime recipe so far has been my Solstice Spice Honey which includes orange zest, lavender, cayenne, passion flower, fresh muddled strawberries & blueberries, lemon balm, English mint, and a spring of sage- mmm mmm good!” – Auron Aurelius
  4. “One of my favorite medicinals to make is a wild Atlantic seaweed apple cider vinegar. Of course harvesting seaweed is a lovely summer activity, but so is harvesting honey! Kava kava honey and ashwaganda honey are two of my most desired medicinal treats.” – Brianyn MacLeod (Leverett, MA)
  5. “I made violet syrup in the spring and will save my hot peppers and garlic to simmer in chicken broth come cold season.” – Sara Barry (Haydenville, MA)
  6. “I have a huge sage plant and have been meaning to make sage vinegar- good for your bones. Maybe sage honey too- good in tea for a sore throat.” – Judy Bennett (Greenfield, MA)
  7. “Arnica really helps with all the bumps and bruises of an enthusiastic child.” – Jessica Morris, Northampton MA
  8. “A jewelweed pulp on poison ivy blisters.” – Melissa Miller (Amherst, MA)
  9. “Vinegar infused with Holy Basil for mood party salads.” – Mauricio Abascal
  10. “One of my favorite summertime remedies to make is a tea from lemon balm, ginger (esp. the local ginger from Old Friends Farm) and local honey. It is best served cold and is a stimulating and refreshing digestive aid! My other favorite root remedy is raw onion for bruises and minor scrapes (though may sting). It works like a charm to prevent bruises from forming if used immediately after an injury. Just cut a fresh raw onion and put it on that bump and you will not get the bruise as it is a mild styptic.” – Heather Hall (Northampton, MA)
  11. “I make an elderberry syrup from the elderberry bushes in my yard. I simmer them down with honey and strain, then can the syrup and use it all winter to keep away illness. It really works! And it’s delicious (my husband is famous for elderberry cocktails!).” – Marissa Potter (Shelburne Falls, MA)
  12. “Plantain (any of the yard varieties) works wonders if someone gets a bite or sting from little winged creatures – it is even good for pets (neighbor had a dog that stepped on a bee).” – Katie Winston
  13. “Camomile tea for sunburn on your face.” – Marianne Beach
  14. “Rhubarb honey syrup with lemon balm and mint for upset tummy.” – Marianne Bullock (Greenfield, MA)
  15. “I love making rich and creamy little green pots of Malva cream from my old friend Common Mallow (Malva neglecta). She wants to be wanted and has amazing potential, healing capabilities and love to give.” – Jessica Morgan (Loveland, CO)
  16. “Our family collects elderberries to make into a winter time elixir.” – Heather Polson (Northampton, MA)
  17. “A favorite remedy to make in the summer is tincture of St John’s Wort flowers. These magic yellow flowers make a beautiful crimson remedy – antibacterial and antiviral.” – Anneliese Mordhorst (Chesterfield, MA)
  18. “My son loves to grow mint in our garden and uses it to make his special summer drink- 2 varieties of mint mixed with lemon, lime, and local honey. Mint aides one’s digestion so that is a nice added benefit. – As mom I have two favorite summer herbs: plantain leaf and parsley. I love the benefits of the plantain leaf- pick it, chew it, and place it on any insect bite to help take out the itch and speed up the healing process. In Western Massachusetts you can find plantain leaves in your backyard or growing in almost any patch of grass. Parsley is my other favorite summer herb and it is easy to grow in your garden, inside in a pot, or pick it up at your CSA or local farmers’ market. Parsley is very versatile and a powerhouse full of vitamins and iron . You can use parsley to make pesto, add finely chopped parsley in an omelete, mix it with salad greens, or serve a refreshing cup of parsley tea. So many tasty ways to serve parsley and a great way to increase everyone’s iron intake in your family.” – Paula Yolles (Florence, MA)
  19. “I float lavender in my birdbath to keep it from getting dirty and make sure the birds are well hydrated and have clean water during the hot summer months.” – Chris Curtis (South Hadley, MA)
  20. “In the summer, I’m a big fan of crushing up jewelweed and applying it to skin immediately after any exposure to poison ivy. I also gather jewelweed seeds to use in place of nuts in pesto (This takes a while.).” – Jennifer Hartley (Florence, MA) Read the rest of this entry »

Herbal Medicine is the People’s Medicine

Herbs On My Mind. Snow On the Ground.
By HF Contributing Writer, Tony(a) Lemos

Pussy Willow (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Pussy Willow (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The excitement of Pussy Willows this time of year is an exciting one for many New Englander’s (and transplants too), and even more so for herbalists. The seed catalogs are all dog eared. Lists upon lists have been made. Plans of new gardens have been drawn. Books have been referenced… will this be the year I install my chamomile coated napping bed in the garden?

The maple syrup sap is running, the snow is melting, and there’s mud on our boots. Instead of being stuck in the snow, our tires are spinning in the mud.  Most of the local folks here in Ashfield, MA know about the local food movement and are pretty savvy when it comes to eating local.  Some Ashfield families are members of CSA’s, or personally know the farmers who grows their food (Maribeth and Derek from Sangha Farm; Anna and David from Natural Roots). Many of us shop at farmers’ market’s (Honey from Dan, Blackcurrants from Kate, Peaches from Donna), and are even getting savvy about buying other products locally at the farmers market (Gourds from Liz, Yarn from Roberta) and we support our kids by shopping at the Kids Market in front of the General Store in the summer. Not bad for a small town.  Well on our way to sustainabilty.

Now that we grow our food how about growing our families medicine and becoming self sufficient in one more area.  Why go to the drug store for medicine when you can grow and craft your remedies from a wide variety of ailments in your own back yard? It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s relatively cheap. And I can tell you that you don’t have to be a master gardener to do it!

Herbal medicine is the people’s medicine.  The earth’s medicine. Herbs have been an integral part of medicine from the beginning of civilization. Over 80% of the worlds population still uses herbs as their primary means of health care. Medicinal herb gardening is easy, very enjoyable and rewarding both in the beauty of your gardens, and medicines that can be made for free. It is also a great family activity.

From a young age my daughter has always wanted to know from which plant medicines come from and how each formula is made. Her imaginative play often includes concocting plants into medicine for her dolls. If you are interested in teaching kids about herbs I have written a 100+ page curriculum called “An Herbal Summer.” Email me at for more information.

Photo Credit: Tony(a) Lemos

Photo Credit: Tony(a) Lemos

Making Herbal Medicines

Medicinal herbs can be used in many ways.  Sometimes steeped in water to make a mineral rich herbal tea,  in honey to make an herbal honey,  in apple cider vinegar to make a calcium rich brew, or you can mix with other ingredients to make natural home remedy such as cremes, salves and oils. There is nothing quite as empowering as knowing how to make your own medicines. Herbs are magical but preparing and using them doesn’t have to be mystical.

To start with chose a few of your favorite herbs to grow. Common herbs to chose if you are just starting out are:  Read the rest of this entry »

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