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February 2008

Photo Post: Medicine-Making: Pills, Liniment, Oil

Ddjwhole Ddjtincture
Pillswholeherbs Ddjpowder
Pillshoney Pillswet
Pillsfinished Brahmioil

Some people spend frosty weekends inside baking cookies. I make herbal medicine.

Last weekend I restrained myself from computer work so I could catch up on some medicine-making projects required for completion of the East West Herb Course.  It was gratifying to return to working with herbs in the less cerebral sense. After months of flash cards, charts and reading, the opportunity to smell, touch and taste plants was a welcome change.

Click on the above photos to see larger versions. The top pair are the herbs and newly-macerating tincture of Dit Dat Jiao liniment, a topical treatment for bruises and other trauma. The second and third pairs are different stages in the production of some tonic pills including licorice, lycii berries, black atractylodes, astragalus, dang gui, and panax ginseng, bound with honey. The first of the last pair are the completed pills rolled in slippery elm powder. The final photo is of gotu kola, calamus root and sesame oil, the ingredients for a simple Brahmi Oil, which is an Ayurvedic topical preparation that treats nervousness and exhaustion, among other things. When it was finished, the golden oil shown above had turned a lovely shade of green.

"The Gaze": Happy Birthday, ... Whoever You Are


For my birthday, my teacher, a wonderful man who has become very important to me and my formation within the past year or so, gifted me with an existential challenge. It was one line, and appeared in my e-mail in box in his characteristic blue:

So, who are you? -- who who probably are you?

Since the moment I met him, he has shown a peculiar skill for bewildering, even vexing me – I think, surely he takes pleasure in it – and this one line of text, so naked, so blunt, so "unfond," was no different.