Sharol Tilgner

author & pollinator
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since Dec 30, 2011
Who is Sharol Tilgner?: I am an herbalist, licensed naturopathic physician, farmer/gardener, teacher and herbal medicine maker. My mission is to inspire and empower you with the healing wisdom of herbs. Learning about herbs gives us a tool to live a vital and energetic life. I have spent much of my 58 years wildcrafting, growing, preserving and using medicinal herbs. I am a fourth generation Oregonian, an organic/biodynamic farmer, physician, and herbalist. I teach others to grow, and preserve their food and medicine and stay healthy via natural methods. I reap tremendous joy from teaching people to take charge of their health care. Writing is one of the best ways to reach people, and share my knowledge as a physician/herbalist/farmer. I use blogging, books, free website information and classes as a way to share tools, as I endeavor to co-create a beautiful world.
Dr. Tilgner's past includes director of the Portland Naturopathic Clinic pharmacy, molding an old cattle ranch in Cottage Grove, Oregon into an organic herb farm and founder and prior owner of the herbal manufacturing company Wise Woman Herbals. She also founded the Pacific NW Herbal Symposium, The NW Herb Fest, was the editor of Herbal Transitions and associate editor of Medical Herbalism. She has produced 2 herbal videos entitled Edible and Medicinal Herbs, Volume 1, and 2 " and is author of the books , "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth", "Herbal ABC's,the Foundation of Herbal Medicine" and "Herbal Formulas."
Dr. Tilgner is a nationally known speaker who prior to becoming a farmer, lectured at medical colleges and conferences across the United States. She is an herbal consultant to both physicians and the herbal industry.
Roseburg, Oregon
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Recent posts by Sharol Tilgner

Ultimately we want something that works clinically for what we are treating. There are some plants that work better fresh, but most plants will work dry.  It can depend on what we are using it for also. One plant will work dry for a specific situation and need to be used fresh for another situation.  I make tinctures from dry material if I can, as it is much easier to do, and yes, I can make it stronger as far as density of product.

One  issue that comes up with dried herbal tinctures is how old the dried product is. Some herbs will be fine if we make a dry tincture out of them immediately after drying, but if we wait 6 months, a lot is lost in quality.  Some herbs I find to be better made fresh but dry is ok, I just prefer them fresh. These are the tinctures I usually add both fresh and dry herb to.

If a product only works fresh clinically for me, fresh tincture is what I use and I don't bother to add dry to the tincture at all since the dry  is worthless in my opinion in some cases. Even though it is more work to make a fresh tincture or fresh oil, I do when I need to. Ultimately, if I can dry the plant and use it as a tea, that is the form I like best and it is the least expensive for people. However, teas have issues some times too for a variety of reasons.

Fresh plants are different than dried, just as fresh food is different. Making a dinner from food that sat in the refrigerator for a week or food that has been dried first (getting older on the shelf all the time) makes a difference. It is shown that nutrients are lost in storage and during shipment of food for a variety of reasons. Same happens with herbs. So, fresh or freshly dried is going to be best for most herbs just as with food, but not all. The better you store them, the longer a dried herb will last before tincturing it too. Often you are depending on someone else to have taken good care of the dried herb, keeping it in a cool room and out of the sunlight etc. There is a lot of poor quality dried herb on the market and it is best to grow and dry/process your own herbs.

Plants do have energetic qualities. Ultimately we all share the one eternal flame as our source, but we each, including the herbs have our own special vibration that spirit gave us. It is this energetic quality that we attempt to harness in homeopathics , flower essences and some tincture makers attempt to capture as well. The energy of the maker is infused into the product also.

I don't just look at known active components. There are countless examples of herbs that have been released as products on the market where they were sold by their most active components, only later to be found to not work as there were other unknown constituents not in the product that were in the whole herb. We know so little about what it is about  an herb that makes it work the way it does. We know even less about what we are. Ultimately, we all have to follow the path that works for us, gives us a life we find rewarding while on the path and gives us results that enrich our lives. Some people prefer eating packaged food, while others only want freshly prepared food.  Some foods are better eaten fresh such as a sugar snap pea or carrot while other such as a cannellini bean or brown rice cook are great as a dried food that is cooked up later. Some herbs such as Arnica, St. John's wort, Pasque flower, Echinacea purpurea, Bugleweed are examples of herbs I usually use fresh. There are herbs such as Garlic that should only be used fresh if for killing pathogens but can be used dry for other things. Even the herbs I mentioned that I used fresh would have some applications where you can use them dry, but I mostly use them fresh, so that is how I make the tincture. With the Ech purp, I add dry in at the last maceration as dry is useful as long as made from freshly dried root and not old root. Ech. angustifolia by the way will last a long time on the shelf, unlike Ech. purp. If they are made appropriately as tincture they are both great as tincture, but if you use them both as 6 month old dried root to make the tincture he E. purp will not be as good as the E. ang. as the E. purp does not last on the shelf as well.

Plants will share information with us if we show you we worthy. That has happened very few times in my life, but it has happened and this is the most profound data you can get. So, if you really want to know how to best utilize a plant, ask the plant. Show you are worthy by spending time with them, get to know them. Take care of them. Open your heart. Be open to what they share no matter what it is. Be thankful.
5 months ago
Here it is Daniel. This is always hard for  people to understand the first time and it helps to have someone who has made tinctures this way to show you the first time.

The Formula/Calculation/Weight to Volume Method of Maceration
If you want to make a tincture that is the same strength each time, you need to use a bit of math and follow a formula to ensure you make the product the same each time. Herbalists use this method for consistency of product. An herbal production company uses this method out of necessity. You know what percent of alcohol and water you will have in the final product. You also know the strength will remain fairly consistent. This is also the method I use for most fresh plant tinctures I make at home, so I can account for the water in my product.
When using the formula method you take the amount of herb that you are going to tincture and multiply it by a set number used specifically for that herb to get the amount of solvent that will be used to arrive at a specific final product strength. Once you know the total amount of solvent you will add, you multiply that by the percent of alcohol and the percent of water you want in the final product. This gives you the total amount each of water and alcohol to add. This is fairly straight forward for dry plant tinctures. When making a fresh plant tincture it becomes more complicated as you now have to account for the amount of moisture in the plant. This necessitates, weighing a fresh plant sample and drying it, followed by re-weighing the dried herb to find out how much moisture is in the fresh plant. This moisture content is then used in your calculations to decide how much alcohol and water to add to the amount of plant you decide you will be using.

Example Of Making Alfalfa As Fresh Plant Tincture
You asked specifically about adding the actual herb into the product for Medicago sativa or Alfalfa as an example. Collect a sample of Alfalfa. Weigh the sample and dry it. I use a small oven set very low to dry it in a few hours. When completely dry, I remove it and reweigh it. The difference in the first and second sample weight gives us the moisture content that we use in our calculations. Now decide how much herb in total to use. Once that is decided, calculate the amount of alcohol and water to add, subtracting the moisture in the plant from the water. This math is lengthy to explain and is in my book in great detail. If you don’t like math, I suggest you take a class from a local herbalist who will show you how to go through this process, as it is hard for some people to grasp it without doing it with someone. If you are a math whiz, it will be easy for you. We will use a 1:1 fresh, plus dry formula here. The fresh herb will be processed through the menstruum 3 different times and the dry herb will go through a last and fourth time. Whatever that weight of fresh herb is going to be, we will start by using about 25% of that weight to add initially to the solvent. There is a lot of moisture in Alfalfa. It is about 73% in the Willamette Valley usually, although it changes depending on the climate where it is growing at the time (this change can change the amount of herb that is added each time through the menstruum). Each time you add Alfalfa to your solvent/menstruum, more water will be added from the moisture in the Alfalfa (that is okay as we take this into account in our calculations). This means the first time we add herb to the solvent, there will be less moisture in the menstruum than the last time we add herb. So,  start with a smaller amount of herb in a situation where the moisture content is really high.

When processing fresh herb, you have to account for the plants seasonality. If the season is not long enough for us to collect it multiple times currently, we may have to figure out if we can grow it at two different times in our area, stagger the crop or if we can’t do either of these things, we might be able to get the herb from someone that is at a higher or lower altitude than us. Different altitudes will usually change when it is harvested enough to prolong the time period to give us enough time to process our tincture over a longer period of time. To make good fresh tinctures we really need to have an understanding of growing the plant, harvesting the plant and where  we  might otherwise be able to procure the plant if needed. Even if we never grow or harvest the plant, it will help in ordering it from herb farmers if we know this data.
The first amount of herb processed can sit a shorter time in maceration than subsequent ones, as the solutes are being extracted into a solvent that has nothing else in it yet. Each time the herb goes through maceration it will take longer to extract usually. I gauge when it is done by how it looks, smells and tastes each time. Once we press out the first maceration of Alfalfa, we are ready to add the second fresh plant. This time we can add about 30%-35%. When the second Alfalfa maceration is pressed out, we can add the last amount of fresh Alfalfa and we are done adding fresh plant.  When this is pressed out we now add dry Alfalfa to menstruum. Dry plant is added to the extract if we feel the fresh extract is not strong enough. We are limited by the moisture in the plant as to how strong we can make the plant as a fresh plant tincture. Therefore, we may want a stronger tincture. We may want the vitality we get from the fresh plant, but as long as dry plant will add something worthwhile to the tincture (it does not always-some herbs should only be used fresh) adding dry is the way to make it stronger.  The average amount of dry I add to Alfalfa is 5%. Once this dry plant has macerated long enough, we press it out and are ready to filter it if we wish to filter (companies almost always filter, not everyone filters when made at home).

5 months ago
Hello Daniel,

As Derek mentioned the numbers represent plant:menstruum (liquid). Yes, they have multiple macerations. This means you put the original plant material through and then you press that out after a period of time and put more plant material through. This is a more time intensive method and takes more planning. The strengths I list will give you a very strong tincture.

Most of the fresh plants have a minimum of 2 macerations, although they can have more to get the strength listed. This is why Wise Woman Herbals has such strong tinctures. You can too if you are willing to go to the extra effort. This usually necessitates calculating out how much ultimate herb, alcohol and water you will use though. It is easier for people to simply use the folk method. With the folk method, you can also add extra macerations of herb, but if making fresh plant tincture and you get the percent of alcohol too low, due to not calculating how much water is in the plant and how much alcohol and water to add,  you can end up with not enough alcohol to preserve or extract constituents. The complete directions are in the book in the tincture making section. Learning to make a fresh plant tincture and calculating the amount of moisture in the plant, and then accounting for that moisture in the mathematical calculations to ultimately end up with the total alcohol and water to add has in my classes been one of the harder things for people to grasp, but once they get it, they now know how to make a really strong tincture. Over the years, I experimented with each herb to see how strong I could make the tincture before it would start to settle out too much. At some point the amount of herb particulate matter simply becomes too great and you can't keep it in suspension. (There are also constituent reactions that cause this at lesser strengths in some tinctures too.) The strengths I ended up with were not a matter of guessing, they were years of experimenting leading me to a specific strength. They are listed as the amount of actual herb to total liquid. The FDA made new rules at one point and told herbal companies they had to switch their labels form listing herb added:liquid added to  herb added:final liquid in product. I have no idea what the current rules of the FDA are as they could have changed again. Additionally, not all companies abided by the FDAs new rules, so I don't know what people are using on their bottles that are sold now. It also makes it hard to compare one company to another if they are using different rules to list this ratio.

As long as math is not a deterrent, I suggest you try making tincture first with dry herb and menstruum and then after you have that under your belt, make fresh plant tinctures. Fresh herb tinctures using the calculation method are much harder than dry. Keep in mind that the more dense the herb material (hard roots) is the less times it will go through the liquid usually and the lighter and less dense (fluffy leaves) the more times it will need to be macerated. When you first start with the dry herb tinctures it is a good idea with roots to only add 30-35% of the root material to the liquid initially and let it sit a few days to see if you can add more. It will take a few days for the liquid to penetrate the root material and allow you to see if it soaked up most of the liquid or if there is room to add some more dry root material. With the dry  leafy or flowery items, I suggest you add only 20% at first and wait to see how much menstruum (liquid) is soaked up. If using Mullein leaves, start with about 15%.

If math is not your thing, just use the folk method. You won't have a specific strength, but you still get an okay tincture. I don't have that listed in the book, but the directions are at my website for free:  I also have the percolation method directions at my website if you want to try your hand at that.
5 months ago
Amy asked me to chime in on this discussion and although I did not have time to read through everything she sent, I hope this is helpful.

The only time an herb can work directly on a virus is if that herb has direct contact with a virus. This is why research in a petri dish with a virus does not equate to it being antiviral in the body.  Systemically, in the body a virus hides inside our own cells. There is rarely going to be direct contact with a virus unless it is on the external skin or mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract, such as in a herpes infection that is flaring up and the herpes is at skin/mucous membrane level (where you see the sore). The rest of the time it is hiding in the nervous system and no antiviral herb can get at it. This is why viruses can not be killed similarly as bacteria. The way that herbs called antiviral herbs actually work in the body is through the immune system. This is why herbalists will usually identify these herbs as immunomodulators rather than antiviral herbs. They modify the immune system either through support, stimulation or even decreasing an over-active immune systems. Sometimes the same herb is known to both decrease and increase the immune system and is called an amphoteric herb, meaning it has two opposing possible activities. This is why these herbs are often called immunomodulating rather than immune stimulating. We are just beginning to understand from a scientific point of view how some of these immune system herbs are working. There are herbs known to be immune stimulating such as Echinacea that have caused some people with autoimmune diseases to get worse. However, I have also seen people with autoimmune disease use Echinacea and decrease the symptoms of their autoimmune disease. By the way, we don't fully understand autoimmune diseases either. The idea of what an autoimmune disease is and how it comes about is changing quickly and newer ideas make more sense than the older ideas still popular in mainstream medicine. Many people who end up with autoimmune diseases were reacting to toxins and/or had inflamed and leaky guts that started the process of them reacting to foods, herbs or an infectious condition that instigated an autoimmune condition. These people will often react to more and more things including themselves. Some of them will react to many herbs in a negative manner, not just immune system herbs.  So, although I am weary of using Echinacea and other herbs considered to be stimulating to the immune system in someone with an autoimmune disease, I would not rule it out completely. Each situation needs to be evaluated on its own merit. I use elder flowers and rarely use elderberries, but I have not seen any autoimmune flare-ups with the berries or flowers. That does not mean people are not getting flare-ups, but I have not seen them. I do see many people on the internet warning of possible fare-ups and indeed any herb that acts on the immune system is an herb to be watched with someone who has an autoimmune condition. That does not mean it automatically is going to cause an issue. Also remember that using scientific data from research done outside of the body, or on individual constituents can also not be assumed to work the same as taking a whole herb and ingesting it. The most meaningful research is clinical research where individuals are given the whole herb and monitored for results in a double blind study. Other bits of research are useful and can point us in the direction of ideas, but can't be completely taken seriously.
9 months ago
I would like to warn people that Yohimbe (included in the aphrodisiac list) has caused serious health issues for unaware individuals who have used it. Yohimbe bark has a history of use in Africa for potency. However, much of what you find on the market currently is not even the herb Yohimbe and does not contains the active alkaloid yohimbine. Perhaps this is good, since it’s constituent yohimbine can be unsafe for many people to use. The alkaloid, yohimbine, has been used successfully with male erectile dysfunction, orthostatic hypotension and narcolepsy. Although the mechanism is unclear, it appears to work by blocking alpha-2 adrenergic receptors in the brain. In the periphery, yohimbine has been suggested to inhibit alpha-1 and alpha-2 adrenoceptors as well as enhancing the release of nitric oxide from cavernosal endothelial cells.
Safety is a big issue with this herb. Case reports of side effects from yohimbe or the alkaloid yohimbine have included progressive kidney failure, lupus-like syndrome and atrial tachycardia which required a cardioversion to stop it, and an erection that necessitated an emergency room visit and insertion of a shunt. From 2000-2006 in the state of California, 238 cases of adverse reactions to yohimbe/yohimbine consumption were reported to Poison Control. The most common issues were gastrointestinal distress, tachycardia, anxiety, agitation and hypertension. I personally have seen a case of atrial tachycardia due to ingestion of Yohimbe that required a cardioversion.
Contraindications: The side effects of the alkaloid yohimbine include high blood pressure, increased heart rate, manic reactions, bronchospasm, palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, shivering, sweating, nausea, flushing and headaches which all can be attributed to its central adrenergic activity. 15-20 milligrams of yohimbine alkaloid can induce hypertension; 12 milligrams can induce a hypertensive crises if taken with tricyclic antidepressants; 10 milligrams can induce mania in bipolar disease; 15milligrams have been associated with bronchospasm. The National Institute of Health also warns consumers about taking yohimbine supplements if they suffer from schizophrenia, anxiety, depression or post traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, they warn consumers about taking yohimbine or Yohimbe supplements with some of the antidepressants and antipsychosis drugs: “People should not combine Yohimbe with monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors as effects may be additive. Yohimbe should be used with caution when taken with medicines for high blood pressure, tricyclic antidepressants, or phenothiazines (a group of medicines used mostly for mental health conditions such as schizophrenia). People with kidney problems and people with psychiatric conditions should not use Yohimbe”.
Personally, I think as a general rule, it is better for most people to simply not use Yohimbe.
9 months ago
Okay aside from the fact that the older we get the more likely we are to die period, the folks who are fittest are less likely to die in most instances. It always comes back to being in shape. Getting moderate exercise, getting sun, clean water, fresh air, healthy food, joy in your life. These are things shown to support a healthy human being. Then when you are ill, it is best to rest until fully well. If I feel I am getting sick from an infectious virus, I actually rest before getting fully sick. That in itself is enough to allow my body to heal before an infectious process takes hold. When I don't do that, I  may end up sick. I think too many of us ignore that we are feeling under the weather and just keep plodding through our day. That very first inkling of feeling under the weather is when you want to go home, take a hot bath and sip your tea of choice for cold/flu with some lemon for vitamin C and when relaxed and toasty warm from the bath, hop in bed and stay there until you feel better, which often comes after a long deep sleep. It is in the depths of sleep that our body is best able to regenerate and protect itself.
9 months ago
Sorry, but that report from WHO was 1/30/2020, not 1/31/2020. They are by the way always a little behind as they are needing to verify their reports.
9 months ago
Update On Corona Virus 2019-nCoV From WHO - World Health Organization

As of 1/31/2020 the World Health Organization has listed 7736 confirmed cases in China and  a world-wide total of 7818 cases in 19 countries. It is suspected that there are actually 12,167 cases of the novel corona virus at this time. Of the known cases, 1,370 of these cases are considered severe and there are 170 deaths. The number of deaths are less than those first thought to be taking place. It currently appears to be at around 2%.

To give you some perspective, in the 2018-2019 flu season the United States Center for Disease Control estimates 35.5 million people were sick with influenza, 16.5 million people going to a health care provider for their illness, 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths from influenza. As with the current Corona virus, those who are older are the ones most likely to succumb to the flu and die. 75% of the influenza deaths were in those 65 and older.
9 months ago
I hope you enjoy it Charles. You have a good New Year too!
9 months ago
When you go into surgery, you want to be sure to discuss anything else you do with your surgeon also. The anesthesiologist, surgeon as well as oncologist should be involved. For example, if you take an herb that causes decreased clotting that can be an issue during surgery. You might be on other drugs before, or during the surgery that could interact with the herbs you take and cause an issue in a variety of ways. Unless, they are necessary, I generally recommend people stop all drugs and supplements ten days prior to surgery, to decrease chances of interactions and bad outcomes. Sometimes there are situations where people need to take an herb or supplement before surgery, but all herbs and drugs need to play nicely together and the herb/supplement can't cause a negative reaction during surgery. We don't even know all the interactions for many herbs/supplements.  You need your whole team involved in this, and need to work with someone who already knows the full story behind the health situation. Getting quick advice from someone who does not know the full story is a recipe for disaster.
9 months ago