“It’s Gone!” she said.

“It’s gone,” she said.

We were nearing the middle of a session combining coaching with shiatsu, qigong, and herbal counseling. In this particular session, most of our work was shiatsu and coaching, and she had started giving me some more details about a problem she wanted to share when suddenly the rest flew out of her mind.

“Shall we just wait a minute?”

“No, I can tell by the way it happened that it’s gone for a while, like, maybe a few days.”

“Would you like me to help you with that? We can use a qi projection technique I’ve developed working with people after concussions.”

“Sure. Why not?” she replied, open but slightly skeptical. Skeptical but open is a good combination.

“Oh,  so here’s what I was going to say….” And there it was, seconds after I began the projection, in greater detail than originally.

“That was pretty cool,” she said.


Should I share this??

At the beginning of a recent Skype-based coaching session, the person I was working with complained that his brain wasn’t ready for the task he wanted to do. He clarified that this was fatigue, not brain fog. I mumbled something incoherent about not believing in what I was about to do. “What?”

“Um, even after all these years of QiGong, I still have a strong inner skeptic, so to satisfy her,  I have to tell you that I don’t believe in distance healing, but, ummm…., I can use QiGong to help you with this.”

“Yowza!!! That’s a bit intense!”

I made some adjustments, and continued. Then he was ready to focus on the task, but there were some anxiety issues. So I focused on acupoints and sections of meridians that help with that, and he completed the tasks he had set for himself. It turned out to be a very productive  session.

While I, um, don’t really believe in distance healing (Satisfied now, O Inner Skeptic?), I have actually been doing it for almost as long as I’ve been doing shiatsu. Receiving it, too, although I really don’t believe in this stuff. (O Inner Skeptic, please just let me write.) It just works; that’s all.

You see, sometimes things come up while I’m driving. When my kid feels nauseated, I need to hold her Pericardium 6 point, and it’s sometimes helpful to hold Gall Bladder 21 and Kidney 1 as well. If I’m driving and she suddenly feels nauseated I can’t hold them with my fingers, so I hold them with my mind. If something comes up for my husband while I’m driving, I hold points with my mind to help him. So does my daughter. And if my foot cramps up when I’m driving, my husband and daughter hold points with their minds to help me. Most often, we focus on acupoints, sometimes on meridians or sections of meridians, sometimes on regions of the body.

I also often use it as a teaching tool, to help my clients and students learn to activate points inside themselves. We do it together first, and then they’re able to do it themselves. I’ve also used it in my work with musicians; outgoing qigong, whether via distance or more direct, can help a musician gain greater control over the color of the music, and also make the sounds brighter.


My New Favorite Fire Cider Add-On Ingredient

Yesterday, I taught a workshop on making Fire Cider at Debra’s Natural Gourmet in Concord, MA, where I shared my new favorite extra ingredient for the first time. Fire Image 3 - Version 2Cider is a wonderful and delicious immune-stimulating, warming beverage that Rosemary Gladstar introduced to the herbal community and named in collaboration with her students. Its origin go back to folk herbal and Eclectic traditions.

Like many ingredients, this one came to me serendipitously. Last summer, when I was setting up to demonstrate making Fire Cider at the Westford Farmers’ Market, I noticed some fallen branches on a nearby tree. The tree was a white pine, Pinus strobes. I  decided that as long as they were there, I should include them. I added about a cup of pine needles to the quart jar that I was filling. Pine needles are full of vitamin C and have been used to stave off scurvy. They are also rich in vitamin A, anti-oxidants, and bioflavonoids.

When you enter a pine forest, what do you notice? Do you feel more peaceful and wider awake? Do you notice your lungs opening, your breath growing deeper and more comfortable? These are some of pine’s gifts. White pine stimulates the immune system, opens the lungs, and is a reliable ally for the entire respiratory tract.

Susun Weed first introduced me to pine vinegar, which tastes like balsamic vinegar. A boon to the avid forager, pine needles offer their bounty even in the middle of winter, when everything else is dormant or blanketed in snow.

In the early fall I decanted my pine-blessed Fire Cider. Wow! The addition of that balsamic  flavor to the spicy, sweet, bitter, and sour lifts Fire Cider from the superb to the sublime.

Watch Rosemary demonstrating how to make Fire Cider here.

Read more about Fire Cider, and why there’s a legal battle to keep the name “Fire Cider” available to all, here.




Make Your Own Fire Cider at Debra’s Natural Gourmet

 Wednesday, January 20, 7:00-8:30 at Debra’s Natural Gourmet in Concord. Make Your Own Fire Cider with Nina Judith Katz.


You’ll go home with a pint of this wonderful, traditional winter remedy, and instructions for finishing it off. I’ll talk about how to use both fire cider and some of the herbs that make it so healthy!  Bring a clean, pint-sized jar and $5.00 to help cover the cost of a smorgasbord of ingredients. Limited to 60 people. Yes, do sign up when you’re in the store or call 978-371-7573. This will be great fun!

Fall Wild Herb Day

September 20, 3:00-7:00 p.m. in Littleton (location available upon registration)

We’ll take a plant walk, make and drink some wild sumac-ade; snack on Autumn olives; learn about when to use alcohol, vinegar, and glycerin for making tinctures; and make two kinds of herbal tinctures.


Cost: $45. per family. You’ll go home with two jars of homemade herbal tinctures worth more than that.

Because this requires a considerable amount of supplies purchased in advanced, pre-registration is required. 

Bring a Swiss army knife or pruning shears and a basket. Since we’ll be out into the early evening, you’ll also want warm clothing. Anyone old enough to handle sharp tools, such as a Swiss army knife or pruning shears is welcome to participate; we will be using our tools both for harvesting and for cutting herb roots and perhaps other parts of herbs.


Helping a Runner Run Boston Strong

This is reposted from the 10 for 10 project blog:


April 2, 2014

Yesterday, I completed my last 20-miler in my training for the 2014 Boston Marathon. This is the first time in three Boston Marathons that I’ve reached this point in training injury-free. While I’ve learned a lot from my injuries, I give most of the credit for my fitness to the work that I have done with Nina Judith Katz, herbalist and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. Nina first started working with me right before my first Boston Marathon in 2009, when I tore a calf muscle 3 weeks before the race. She supported me through the remainder of training, and helped put me back together after I successfully — if foolishly — completed the marathon with my leg wrapped. In 2013 when I started having similar muscle strain early on in training, I returned to physical therapy, but also to Nina right away. From late January on, we worked together, doing a combination of shiatsu, medical qi gong, dietary adjustments and herbal remedies.

The Mind-Body Connection

My physical therapist had identified a lot of tightness in my hips, hamstrings, and calves that was leading to poor internal rotation and repetitive strain on the area of the calf strain. Nina picked up on the same issues, and taught me a qi gong form that I began to use as a warm-up before exercise, an ancient form based on the movements and postures of a bear. The series of slow, martial arts postures strengthen the core and legs, stretch hip flexors and glutes, and use the whole range of motion of hips, ankles, knees, and shoulders. Although based in a more ancient system of diagnosis, the bear form addressed the same areas as those identified by the physical therapist’s exercises. Nina’s treatments always left me feeling looser, calmer, and pain-free, but the mental and emotional preparation we did was equally valuable as the physical healing. Nina explained my chronic running injuries in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine as an imbalance related to (but not caused by) an excess of anger that was manifesting in energetic blockages. When she worked on the troublesome meridian along my outer leg (the iliotibial band, for you sports physiologists), I would feel anger washing over me and my legs would want to lash out. At that point, I had been working for about 18 months with a counselor to address worsening anxiety and depression related to trauma experienced earlier in my life. The qi gong exercise Nina taught me — with its growling, stomping, big movements that culminated in a restful “hibernation” — was the physical manifestation of affirmations focused on taking care of myself, setting clear boundaries, and being able to express and advocate for my own needs and feelings.

Becoming Embodied

As runners, many of us are skilled at pushing through pain and fatigue, at ignoring the information our bodies give us, and sticking to the training plan at all costs. I had learned long ago that constantly pushing myself to the limit — running whether literally or figuratively from one obligation to the next — was a great way to avoid feeling anger, fear, and sadness. Re-tearing my calf last year was, in a way, a “hitting bottom.” I quite literally could not run anymore, losing one of my best coping mechanisms for stress, and suddenly having a lot of time on my hands to look at myself. With 12 weeks of training still ahead of me, I took to the pool for all of my training runs, during which Nina instructed me to do mental rehearsals of running on the road. I kept up a constant monologue in my head, scanning body parts and form, willing the muscles to fire and release, making tiny adjustments to reduce strain or discomfort. Without the welcome distraction of an iPod, I practiced both attending to my senses and fending off boredom on my long pool “runs”. In late February, 2013, when I was able to return to running on the road for my weekly long run, I ditched my earphones at Nina’s insistence. She reasoned that I had to continue to attend to my body, going so far as to say that my injured calf was fearful, and needed to learn to trust that I would take care of it. And, in fairness to my untrusting calf, my track record of taking care of myself was less-than-stellar. I was a patient and caring mother, a tireless worker and community member, but I always put my own needs last, skipping meals, shortchanging myself on sleep, ignoring my introvert’s need for quiet, running, running. As I grew in my ability to listen to my body and to sit in silence with myself, I came to trust myself more. Nina added tools to my self-care toolbox: qi gong, herbs, foot baths, affirmations, chants, and a fledgling understanding of the energies at play within me. As I practiced the bear qi gong, I began to manifest more of that “mama bear” energy in my own life, foraging for what would sustain me, nurturing, hibernating, and occasionally letting a big paw swipe out protectively if my cubs or I were in danger. In addition to mental and emotional preparation, Nina provided me with practical and intuitive suggestions for physical conditioning. Over time, she added more qi gong exercises, so that I had a full warm-up and cool-down routine. For the first time in the 7 years since I had my first child, I was actually able to get in the door after a run and do a thorough stretch, in part because she suggested ways to get both boys engaged in “helping” me to stretch. Additionally, Nina helped me with nutrition, giving me suggestions for energy that were healthier than my usual caffeine-addicted ways, and making sure I was getting enough protein and minerals to support my muscles and bones during high mileage. We also collaborated on a concoction that gave me electrolytes, minerals, and energy while combating the nausea that is common after a hard effort and too many sugary “performance” gels and drinks.

April 2013

I ran the first half of the 2013 Boston Marathon without headphones. Then, I turned on the music and let it carry me home. Around Coolidge Corner (mile 24), I felt something in the crowd’s energy shift, heard sirens, saw looks of concern. As I neared Kenmore Square, I saw runners going in the wrong direction, tears in their eyes. Had they DNF’d so close to the finish? What was wrong? As I crossed over the Mass Pike into Kenmore, my husband Jesse, who was also running that day, walked back along the course toward me. “They’ve stopped the race. There were bombs, and there are people dead at the finish line. We have to go back and tell the other runners to stop.” We all now know the details of the bombing and its aftermath, the lives and limbs lost, the manhunt and lockdown that following Friday, the stories of many of the victims. At the time, though, we were all in shock, just putting one foot in front of the other. Miraculously, I had no pain after the marathon, even after walking back across the river in the freezing cold. The following Saturday, I went out for an easy 6 miles along the Mystic River. I ran and I cried. That was the norm for a while, running and crying. Less than a month later, on Mother’s Day, I completed the Cox Providence Marathon in an attempt to get some closure by actually crossing a finish line.

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston

Things got better for a while, until October, when I found myself again at the end of the marathon course, where it intersects with the Tufts 10K. I made the turn from Mass Ave. onto Commonwealth Avenue and broke down sobbing. Luckily, in a race surrounded by 6,000 other women, there was no shortage of hugs and Kleenex to carry me past the intersection with Hereford St (the turn to the Marathon finish line). After the 10K, when I started building my base mileage for Boston 2014, I noticed that I was having trouble getting out the door for the activity that I usually count on to maintain equilibrium when juggling work and family. I had continued to work with Nina, and as part of my training plan, we began to process the anger, fear, sadness, and survivor guilt that were holding me back. I have heard from many other runners that they faced similar challenges with motivation early in their 2014 training. I feel grateful that I have had the opportunity to prepare mentally and emotionally for the 2014 Boston Marathon through my work with Nina, doing mental rehearsals of the course and all the things I expect to find challenging – the crowds, high emotions, triggers like police and military, and, of course, the turns onto Herford and Boylston approaching the finish line. On my 20-miler yesterday, I got a chance to see how my preparation paid off, as I was pain free and also fear-free, able to stay centered amidst the excitement and tears of charity runners, fire fighters, military marchers, and supporters. The confidence that I have in my ability to care for myself – body and mind – means even more to me than the knowledge that I am ready to go the distance and cross the finish line in 21 days.

Natural Herbal Living magazine

Learn more about herbs and herbalism by subscribing to Natural Herbal Living Magazine, a new magazine geared to people curious about or just starting to learn about herbs, and also to people who have been reading about herbs for a long time and are ready to start making their own tinctures, cordials, salves, and other products.

Each month, Natural Herbal Living Magazine focuses on one herb and provides several articles offering a variety of perspectives about that herb, together with recipes and lots of information. As one of the authors, I’m writing one or two of these articles each month as well. There is also an option to subscribe to a monthly herb box with ingredients for the recipes in the articles. The idea is that by focusing on a single herb each month, you’ll remember more than if you try to learn several herbs a month. Focusing on one, making various preparations with it and experimenting on it will let you get to know that one herb reasonably well. The box makes it easier to make all the goodies described in the issue. As a teacher of herbalism, the complaint I hear most often is that it’s hard to remember everything about all the herbs. Slowing it down to one herb a month and exploring that one in depth makes it easier to retain the information and ground it in experience.

I’m one of the writers, and periodically, I’ll repost my articles on this website. I also wrote a glossary for the magazine, and if you find an herbalism-lingo word that you don’t know, you can click on it and get my definition. (There are advantages to being both an herbalist and a lexicographer!)

To subscribe, click on the banner.

Wild Herb Week

Come join us for

Wild Herb Week

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)


If you come, you, too, will harvest and learn all about yarrow, pictured above, and make a wonderful tincture from it. You’ll also make medicine from many other wonderful plants, as well as snacking on wild edibles. It will be a wonderful opportunity to deepen your connection to the plants around you.

This is our most popular program.

More information is here:
Wild Herb Week.

Patients, Clients, or What?

Occasionally people ask me how I refer to the people I work with. I think of this question in terms of a continuum. At one end of the continuum are patients; next come clients and impatients, who are no longer patient with their health; then come students; and finally, colleagues. I have felt it a great privilege to help some people walk this entire continuum, coming to me first as patients or clients, becoming students, growing more passionate about the work we did together and the independent work that grew out of that, and finally becoming colleagues. Some degree of impatience often helps, as does openness to learning. I want you to work with me and play an active role in your healing; that invariably leads to more dramatic results as well as greater satisfaction for both of us. The root of the word “patient” means “passive” as well as “suffering.” I don’t want you to be passive in the face of your own suffering. You may be overwhelmed, and I’ll be delighted and honored to help you move out of that overwhelmed state and learn tools for healing.

If you want to stay a passive patient, I may not be the best practitioner for you. Perhaps that’s why I never refer to the people I work with as “patients;” I really don’t want you to be patient with illness or pain, and I don’t want you to be passive.

Still, this is a continuum, and I acknowledge that some people need to begin at the beginning of the continuum. That’s okay. Because it’s a continuum, I usually use the word “client” for the people I work with; for many people, it’s the mid-point on the continuum.

Some people come to me primarily for Qigong lessons; I refer to these people as students. Similarly, if you come to my herbalism classes, I’ll refer to you as a student, and if you apprentice with me, as an apprentice. The apprenticeship program isn’t set up yet, but it’s coming.

Allergic to Your Friend’s Cat??

Yesterday, someone said to me, “Be sure to include the way you help with allergies on your website. You know, lots of people want to go over to their friends’ house for dinner, and you can really help them not have an allergic reaction.”

It’s true. If you have a mild to moderate histamine reaction to your friend’s house, I may well be able to help. For some people, it’s simply a matter of taping a seed to a particular acupoint and voilá! You can be in your friend’s house for a couple of hours without the usual discomfort.

For others, there may be an herbal tincture that you can take in advance, and again if you feel a symptom coming on. You may have to try a few herbs to find the one you respond to best, and you may have to experiment a bit to find the right amount of tincture for you. I can offer you guidance through this process.

If your allergies are severe, the best policy may still be to avoid your friend’s home, or to confine the cat or dog to a separate room and ask your friend to vacuum and use an air filter.

I can provide herbal consultations, shiatsu and Qi Gong treatments, and Qi Gong lessons to help you deal with the more severe allergic reactions as well, but if your reactions are severe, prevention will remain the best policy.

My services complement but do not replace your doctor’s medical care.