I just got back from an amazing weekend in Callaway Gardens at the American Herbalist Guild Symposium. My brain is stuffed to capacity with sooo much additional knowledge that I still have to process all that I have learned. 🙂

Some of you may have not heard about the American Herbalist Guild – The American Herbalists Guild was founded in 1989 as a non-profit, educational organization to represent the goals and voices of herbalists specializing in the medicinal use of plants. Our primary goal is to promote a high level of professionalism and education in the study and practice of therapeutic herbalism.

This symposium was more than the average herbal class, it was like Grad School!!! Seriously! Not only that, all the speakers/teachers were the pioneers of the herbal revolution and the AHG – the BIG guys and gals, the ones that wrote the books!!! Crazy, good stuff.

My first class was in Leslie Tierra’s of East West School of Herbology. The class was on Tongue Diagnosis. Did you realize how much you can know about a person just by looking at their tongue? Holy Moly!! I won’t gross you out with all of the pictures but will show a few examples. The good thing about what I learned in her class was reiterated in another teachers class the next day, how cool is that?!

Basically you can look at your own tongue, just take a selfie, and see if there is anything out of the ordinary. A “normal” tongue should be pale red or pink, not too thick or too thin, not cracked or crevassed, tongue coat is thin and white(opague), sublingual veins are not seen or dark, tortuous or distended.

Something like a thick coating on the tongue that may be white or yellow(could be yeast issue, dampness, dryness, accumulation of excess fluids in the body) A sticky coating could mean excess phlegm and congestion.

White coating
Yellow coating

A pale wide and thin tongue body may indicate a Qi and Blood deficiency. Pale and swollen – almost too big to fit in mouth could be a cold deficiency – cold limbs, frigid appearance, clearing throat, diarrhea. This person could use some warming herbs that are stimulating like ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper and tonifying herbs such as teasel, ashwaganda, damiana, fenugreek.

A Bluish purple tongue could indicate blood stagnation with symptoms of fixed, stabbing pain, hard immobile masses or lumps in body, dark complexion, dark urine/menses.

Red – deep red tongue could be extreme heat or fire – shortness of breath, disturbed mind, profuse sweating, yelling, hitting. This person would need cold herbs such as self heal or pansy in a tea.

Red red tongue
Red red tongue

Makes you just wanna go hmmmmmm……China-Life-Web_tongue_chart

Next I went on to a plant and mushroom walk with the famous Christopher Hobbs!!!


Visit his website at www.christopherhobbs.com Bio from his website:

DR. CHRISTOPHER HOBBS is a fourth-generation, internationally renowned herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, author, clinician, botanist, mycologist, and research scientist with over 35 years of experience with herbal medicine.

Christopher has a doctorate from UC Berkeley in phylogenetics, evolutionary biology and phytochemistry. He is also a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild.

Christopher started off the walk, which included 80 people, by saying, “One time I did this walk, I was naked, yes naked so feel free to do what you wish.” I was like oh my goodness don’t you dare take off your clothes anyone, a-n-y-o-n-e!!! Thankfully, no one did. Could you even imagine? Well never mind.

He talked about honey mushrooms, amanita poisoning, how to smell a mushroom and to not even think about it if it smells like phenol. Christopher also mentioned this cool app called SNAP LEAF and an app for mushrooms where you can snap a picture and upload it to this app and someone gets back to you with the ID. Wowsi! There is another great resource for mushrooms called Mycoweb – keys for diagnosing mushrooms.

I really want one of his books – //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=ss_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=belvisfar-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1609615700&asins=1609615700&linkId=6UCZ3UIN6U4FI5JW&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true“>Grow It, Heal It It’s only $15.95 on Amazon now!!!

grow it
Looks amazing

We found the mother load of Reishi mushrooms(Ganoderma luciderm!)


BUT so sad, there was a good chance they sprayed pesticides and herbicides on the area around the mushrooms. It was literally right out the front door of the hotel. I did bring one home just for show and tell.

Christopher told us his best way of preserving the mushrooms. He said you should make a decoction, reduce it and then DEHYDRATE the liquid into a powder. Again – mind blowing! It preserves the most polysaccharides.

We talked about the benefits of reishi, shiitake, turkey tails, kudzu, usnea, sweet gum.

Another fabulous book that he mentioned by Dan Benske is Chinese Herbal Medicinal Materia Medica. That one is a bit expensive.

Last herb I will tell you about today is the Eastern White Cedar – yep you know you probably have this in your yard. 260px-Thuja_occidentalisCEDAR_NORTHERN_WHITE_fruitMed

Thuja occidentalis can be used to make a tea, just a tea!!!! Used for an anti viral, anti inflammatory, anti rheumatic, colds & flu, in place of echinacea. This cedar is warming and dispersing, wonderful for sore joints. BUT again only as a tea because as it says in the name THUJA(thujones) will be toxic in large doses. By making an infusion as a tea you are not releasing the thujone properties.

I am taking a break from writing. I may get back to the recap tonight otherwise it will be when I get done with herb class this weekend. Please leave comments, I LOVE comments and don’t forget to visit some of our links!

Have a super night and stay warm,


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What a fabulous symposium! I LOVED reading what you have to say about it in this post. And I think the Chinese are wonderful herbalists. (One thing they did get wrong though – it’s not the year of the snake. *shakes head* I think it’s the year of mushrooms 😉 Actually, they have been everywhere on our property – a lot more than anytime in the 21 years we’ve lived here, just sayin’. Great photo of the Reishi mushrooms. Thanks for sharing, and have a great evening!
I can’t wait to hear more of your takeaway from the classes.


Oh thank you Toni! Were you at the symposium too? And yes the year of the mushrooms is right although last summer we had chanterelles for months and months!!!


Like!! Thank you for publishing this awesome article.

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