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THE PRACTICE OF SPIRITUAL HERBALISM AND HOW IT RELATES TO SEXUAL HEALTH

In The Art & Practice of Spiritual Herbalism: Transform, Heal, and Remember with the Power of Plants and Ancestral Medicine, Karen M. Rose explores cultural traditions of heart-based herbalism. Offering a perspective informed by tradition, science, and spirit, Karen discusses each system of the body through a transformational lens. Karen draws on the wisdom of intergenerational connections and how our ancestors’ special relationships with plants influence our own. The excerpt below introduces the intersection of spiritual herbalism and sexual health, tying it all together with poignant spiritual insights as Karen does throughout the book. 



The following is excerpted from The Art & Practice of Spiritual Herbalism: Transform, Heal, and Remember with the Power of Plants and Ancestral Medicine by Karen M. Rose. Copyright © 2022 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc. Reprinted in arrangement with Quarto Publishing Group.


Standing in Your Power: Sexual Health

Having a general understanding of fundamental sexual health concerns and knowing how to treat them is empowering. An impetus for my healing journey was understanding my body and knowing that I could heal myself, not turn my power over to a doctor to tell me what was happening in my body. It’s essential to know our own anatomy. 


Women and, more so, Black women have not been able to put their trust in the Western medical-industrial complex. There is a deep distrust of medical practitioners, knowing that we were experimented on to “advance” medicine. Lack of cultural competency among practitioners, poor cross-cultural communication, and language that disenfranchises patients seeking care create further barriers. Existing models of care ignore the unique legacy of Black bodies. There is no consideration of the effects of generational/ancestral/historical trauma held in Black bodies and spirits. Likewise there is no acknowledgment that Black women are more than their trauma and gifted with resilience in our physical and emotional bodies that translates into our existence.


Complicating the invisibility of women’s bodies, we live in a world where our reproductive and sexual health is seen through the lens of patriarchy or not spoken of at all. Black women and femmes particularly are oversexualized or ignored. 


Despite Western medicine’s many advancements, gynecological treatment has not grown at the same speed. Studies in this area are not heavily funded. As an indigenous herbalist, I am grateful to the midwives and wisewomen who have come before me who have assisted women through all life stages and have provided me a rich source of information on healing women’s bodies. 


Traditional education models have played a role in our disconnection from our sexual selves and sexual health. We may have had sexual education in high school, yet most of us left high school without a proper understanding of our sexual health. 


It is essential with any sexual health issue that we are the ones who can initially identify that something isn’t right, and we can seek care promptly. Empower yourself by understanding your body and its symptoms. It was crucial to me when I had my daughter Lauren to teach her to identify her body parts. When she said something was not feeling right, she would say that it was her ovary, her womb, or her cervix. 


Stand in your power. Be the authority over your body. Healing is becoming comfortable with describing to caregivers what’s happening in your body. Know when there is a lack of balance in your sexual health system, such as when you have a yeast or bacterial infection. Know what your discharge looks like, smells like, and tastes like, and the changes that occur throughout the month. We can become aware of these symptoms before going to the doctor and then walk into our doctor’s offices empowered with information ready to share.


Sexual Health

Our sexual health is related to the health of our entire bodies. Sexual energy is not separate energy that can build in a moment. Instead it is long term and parallels the health of the body. Our body holds one source of energy, which includes our sexual health. Before we can address libido, we need to first look at a person’s overall lifestyle, where their primary energy gets directed. Whatever is remaining is what we have for sex and intimacy. 


The digestive system and the sexual-health system are closely connected. Taste your sexual fluids, and you can taste what you’ve eaten. Diet is critical for being in our best sexual health. If our digestion is not functioning well, we are not feeling our most sensual. If we are sick or digesting low-vibrational food, the first thing that suffers is our libido. 


When we are not well, the body sends all its energy toward the repair of those systems. Chronic illness depletes our sexual energy. Suppose you have a cold or flu; notice how your libido declines. Our vital energy first focuses on repairing, fixing, nourishing, and taking care of other bodily issues.


Plants for Sexual and Reproductive Health

Plants that heal the sexual and reproductive system function in an integrative way, healing body, mind, and spirit. These herbs feed the body and provide extra energy and vitality to the entire body. Some of these herbs are aphrodisiacs because they nourish the kidneys, increase stamina and desire, and enrich the libido. Simple, nourishing herbs can change a person’s sexual health. Also mentioned are plants that heal, nourish, tone, and support the womb. They help with efficient blood flow, reduce inflammation, and balance the body from puberty to menopause and beyond, nourishing us through all transitions.


Red Raspberry

 

The epitome of self-preservation and self-love, red raspberry teaches us the efficient exchange of power and flow from fullness. It allows us to witness when we have extended ourselves beyond capacity—to give and to hold what we need for ourselves. 


Red raspberry is widely known for balancing sexual health issues. It helps us maintain our strength through all transitions, and it nourishes the creative life force energy of the feminine. Rich with tannins and deeply astringent, red raspberry tightens all things that are overflowing, including how we bleed. When we bleed heavily, we are overgiving our life force. Red raspberry facilitates efficient bleeding, mentoring us in using power. 


In our herbal apprenticeship program, we speak of raspberry as a power workout. As it tones and strengthens the uterus, it conveys the vital lesson of overgiving, not letting our power escape us. It protects us from giving in excess, showing us how to be in the flow of giving and receiving so we maintain control. 

As with all plants in the Rosaceae family, red raspberry has thorns, reminding us that individuals should approach beauty with respect. It is protective of the feminine and can be hung in places where protection is needed. 


Sacred Womb Tea


For more than a decade, we have used this tea to nourish and heal the womb. We recommend it for healing fibroids, for cysts, for use during bleeding, especially in heavy menses, after bleeding to tone the uterus, for uterine prolapse, and to prepare for conception. The tea is formulated with astringent, nourishing, and toning herbs that aid in strengthening the uterus. Yield: Enough for 4 cups (940 ml) of tea.


Ingredients

1 tablespoon (3 g) dried nettle leaves1 tablespoon

(3 g) dried oatstraw1 tablespoon

(3 g) dried lady’s mantle1 tablespoon

(3 g) dried red raspberry leaves1 tablespoon

(3 g) dried spearmint leaves 


Directions

  • Blend all the herbs in a bowl.

  • For each cup of tea, use 1 tablespoon (xx g) of the herbal mixture per 1 cup (235 ml) boiling water. I recommend infusing the herbs overnight as a nutritive infusion.

  • Drink the tea 2 to 3 times a day for best results.



SEE THE VIDEO IN THE HERBARIUM!

Interested in learning more? Members of The Herbarium can access the full book excerpt (more on sexual health, the full raspberry monograph, and a moon meditation) and join Karen in a video to learn about spiritual herbalism as well as more from this chapter in the book about sexual health! Join Karen as she leads us through a meditation honoring and working with the moon cycles. You’ll find the Art & Practice of Spiritual Herbalism excerpt and video in The Herbarium.


Interested but not yet a member of The Herbarium? Get access today with a 3 day trial for only $3!


The Herbarium is our acclaimed ever-expanding, illuminating virtual collection of over 200 (and counting!) searchable monographs, unique intensive short courses on focused topics, and numerous articles, videos, ebooks, podcasts, and helpful downloadable resources. The Herbarium is crafted to help you learn and grow in your herbal journey!



Get a copy of Karen’s book, The Art & Practice of Spiritual Herbalism: Transform, Heal, and Remember with the Power of Plants and Ancestral Medicine, via her website here or on Amazon.

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GABRIELA ANA

Health Coach

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