Herbal Medicine Residential Study Program at Esalen

Esalen gardensDate: July 12 – August 8, 2020
Location: Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA

The Residential Study program is a 28-day immersion in Esalen’s integrative approach to personal and social transformation.  Learn how to begin or expand an herbal practice at home through exploring the plant world at the Esalen gardens. Experience the touch, taste, and ‘personalities’ of common garden plants that can your vitality and ease common ailments like indigestion, headaches, muscle strains and colds and flu. You will gain a broad overview of home-scale herbalism and learn techniques and guidelines for incrementally expanding your herbal repertoire in a fun, joyful, and safe manner.

Over this month-long immersion, you will spend time in the beautiful gardens, identifying key patterns in plant identification and learning how to use your senses to discern some of the medicinal qualities of cultivated and wild plants.  Through experiential learning, you will gain confidence in how to harvest, dry and process fresh medicinal herbs.

Every week, you will experience new ways to take and make herbal medicines,  including teas, decoctions, tinctures, nut butter balls, syrups, medicinal oils, creams and salves.  You will also learn how to infuse more nutrition into your regular diet with medicinal pestos, herbal vinegars, tangy and refreshing shrubs, culinary oils, herb-infused jello and nourishing broths.

The majority of time will be spent in the field with the plants or in the kitchen processing herbs.  Additional activities include lectures, and focused study to create a personalized health-promoting herbal regime designed to fit your needs and lifestyle.

You will leave with an individualized plan of which herbs, and in what form, can support your health and wellness.  You will also have samples of herbal preparations to take home, and the recipes to make them again on your own.

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Herbal Medicine Field Day, Spring 2020

Field classDate: Saturday, June 13, 2020
Time: 9:30am – 2:30
Cost: $75, including materials and supplies for in-the-field medicinal preps
Location: field site within 10 minutes of Grass Valley/Nevada City

Root your herbal know-how with a field day in the Sierra Nevada foothills! Learn to identify commonly used medicinals – cultivated, native, and “weedy” varieties – that grow well in our climate and can be used for health and wellness.  Read more


ArtStay at Emandal: The Craft of Herbal Skin Care

Dates: Next date TBA
Cost: $575 – $635, including lodging and farm-to-table meals
Location: Emandal, 16 miles East of Willits in Mendocino County

Making your own skin care from garden herbs is a joyful and rewarding practice. Learn how these beautiful plants can nourish and protect your skin, and how to prepare them into therapeutic oils, toners, steams and creams. Over the weekend at Emandal, you’ll enjoy a series of herbal skin treatments and have the opportunity to make your own customized set of herbal skin and body care, including face cream, body cream, a facial scrub, lip moisturizer, and more. You will also learn recipes and techniques for making your own herbal hair care and herbal first aid products.

Emandal is a rustic and beautiful family farm, and this course is part of the ArtStay program, where all guests are engaged in various arts and enjoy happy hour storytelling, family style meals together, dips in the Eel River, and miles of hiking trails. Book early for best choice of accommodations.  Read more.


 Introduction to Herbalism

mimosa tinctureDates: Fall 2020, dates TBA
Location: Nevada City
Cost: $150 for the four-class series

This series is designed for beginning home herbalists who want to feel more confident using self-prescribed herbal medicine for health and wellness.  Topics include general principals of home-scale herbalism, tools of the trade, discussion of various forms of herbal medicine, safe and appropriate application, as well as how to make your own herbal preparations at home.  An emphasis will be placed on locally available plants with a long history of safe and effective use.

The core series includes four classes:

  • Getting Started with Home Scale Herbalism
  • Tincture, Tea, Powder, or Pill: How to Take Herbal Medicine
  • Making Tinctures at Home
  • Medicinal Oils and Salves

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Medicine Making for the Cold & Flu Season

elderberryDate: Fall, 2020 date TBA
Location: Gaia’s Hearth, Nevada City

Be prepared for the cold and flu season this year! Learn how to prepare safe and effective herbal preparations that can help

(1) keep your immune system working well
(2) prevent illness after exposure to seasonal colds and flu
(3) naturally treat discomforts of common colds and flu

This is a hands-on class, where you will be making a classic elderberry syrup, a cough soothing oxymel, a fever relief tea, and an immune-boosting herbal broth that can be folded in to winter soups, grains, and more. You’ll leave class with each of these remedies to stock in your home herbal medicine pantry, as well as the recipes to make them again on your own at home. We will also be reviewing how to make herbal vinegars, glycerites, honey and syrups without refined sugar.  Most of the herbs we will be using can be grown locally in the Sierra Nevada foothills, so it’s a great way to learn how to localize your medicine!

This class will also include additional tips and strategies to prevent and treat colds and flu at home uing herbs and other gentle remedies.

This is not an introductory level class – participants should have some basic knowledge of how to make herbal preparations like tinctures and teas.  You don’t need to be proficient, but note that there will not be introductory level explanations of these processes, so if you are unfamiliar, this class may not be the right fit.


Wild Food & Medicine CSA

Spring CSADates: Dates TBA
Location: 5-minutes from downtown Nevada City
Cost: $150

The Wild Food & Medicinal Herb CSA (Community Supported Awareness) provides hands-on education for those who want to connect more intimately with their local landscapes and move towards more sustainable practices with respect to food and medicine.  CSA participants will:

•    learn how to safely use abundant local plants for food and medicine
•    experience their local bioregion more intimately
•    join a greater community to share knowledge about ethical wildcrafting

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A Weekend Retreat at Esalen: Organic Skin Care From the Garden

Esalen gardens Date: Next date TBA
Location: Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA

Take a personal retreat and discover the joy of making your own organic skin and body care in the beautiful gardens at Esalen. Over the weekend, you’ll enjoy a series of herbal skin treatments and have the opportunity to make your own customized set of herbal skin and body care, including skin cream, facial scrub, lip moisturizer, and more. After completing the class, you will have a set of organic herbal skin care products to take home, the recipes and know-how to make them again on your own, basic knowledge of how to prepare herbs, and the ability to make great gifts.   Located on the beautiful coastline of Big Sur, Esalen offers breathtaking views, inspiring gardens, and healing hot springs.  Read more.


Didn’t find what you were looking for? Check out other classes that are frequently offered.