Check back on this page for monthly homework assignments for our 2020 Intro to Herbal Medicine class.
Turning in Your Homework
Homework can be turned in in person, emailed to email@example.com (to share privately with the teachers), or uploaded to the shared google drive (to make it available to the whole class).
Cisheteropatriarchy in Health Care — Readings
The following two writings on the history of the American Medical Association and how it strategically destroyed women’s roles in healthcare and healing. The first writing is very Eurocentric and doesn’t include a comprehensive history around practitioners and healers of colorin the USA. I included the article about race and the AMA to add some parts of that history. I haven’t found a comprehensive resource covering both. The brief history that the Witches, Midwives, Nurses covers of the destruction of lay healers and witches in Europe, can also be traced into any culture around the globe that was colonized by Europeans — one of the first tactics in colonization is to destroy healers and their knowledge. (Also note that the writing is a booklet and you follow the pages starting on the right cover to the diagnal left, then right etc. once you get to the bottom, you read it right to left moving back up. Sorry for how annoying that is!)
Homogenizing Verses Holistic View of Gender and Sexuality by Julia Serano (excerpt from Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive)
Health Care System Fails Many Transgender Americans on All Things Considered, by Neda Ulaby (watch the videos included on the link)
How the Nazi’s destroyed the most advanced transgender and queer health clinic of it’s day: The Godfather of Gays from Queer Story Podcast, Episode 2
Not required, but if you want to watch Mary Coley’s 1953 film it is on the youtube:
All My Babies- A Midwifes Own Story
End of Year Presentation
In November, we’ll have time to present on a topic of our choosing to our classmates! This can be in the form of a powerpoint, a lecture, an experiential activity, a reading, a writing, a demonstration… the list is endless. We want you to engage in a topic that peeks your interest and to share that with each other in some form. Your homework for this month is to come up with a topic that you’re interested in and email it to us — we’ll give feedback and suggestions and help you narrow down your topic if needed!
Plants ID & Botany
Take some time to do some garden care at our community garden.
Anatomy & Physiology
Pick one system that we’ve talked about (immune health, digestive health, sexual health, first aid, etc) and use ”Focusing“ with that system. Try it 1-3 times. Take notes. Do you notice shifts? (You can refer to the Focusing book if that’s helpful!)
Make some kind of visual representation for yourself representing the four energetics we’ve discussed (hot, cold, damp and dry), incorporating the information we’ve discussed about how herbs and our bodies relate to these energetics!
Pick one herb that we are growing in the student garden. Research this plant! Use the research tools we’ve discussed. Is it easy and fun to research medicinal herbs?
Ableism – Readings
Radical Visibility Zine — Rebirth Garments (excerpt – 6 pgs)
Ableism — Video/Audio
Pick one (or more) to listen to from:
Ageism — readings and media
- In what ways are spaces in your life accessible and to whom are they not accessible? (home, office, stores, yoga studios, libraries, restaurants, places of worship, public transit, friends’ homes, neighborhoods)?
- How does the current pandemic make spaces and places more accessible? Less?
- In reflecting on the ‘End of the World’ podcast, Leah talks about how one of her goals is to get people to think about how they are disabled. Why do you think this is important? How can this help create accessible spaces? How do you view your own ability to access spaces/places/activities?
- Johanna Hedva talks about how our societal attitudes tie our sense of self-worth to feeling like we don’t need care from other people and our ability to be productive in a capitalist lens. When do you notice this coming up in your life, and what are the emotions you tend to feel (eg. fear, panic, determination, shame, defensiveness)?
- What is your relationship like with seniors? Are there elders in your family or community that you are close with? Are there ageist attitudes that show up in your family or community?
- Try a tea, tincture, or snack on a plant that we’ve talked about in class – using the grounding and listening techniques we’ve been practicing. Spend an hour with it (or at least 15 minutes), and write down any notes about your observations.
- Write a thank you note to Ola at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Plants ID & Botany
- Key out six new plants.
Anatomy & Physiology
- Pay attention to how your digestion is this month. What is your hunger like? What foods do you crave? What foods do you eat? How do you prepare your body for eating and digestion? How is your digestion as you eat? After you eat? What patterns do you notice about your digestion? What is in balance? What feels out of balance? Pick an herb or practice to help your digestion and apply it for at least one week. What changes? What feels better? How do you think this herb or practice affect your digestion? What mechanisms of action does it have?
- For extra credit: keep a food journal for the month.
- Wild tending observations: identify the wild space you want to care for and develop your relationship with. Spend time observing and exploring this area, connecting with the plants and other living beings there. Decide on and write down ways that you want to support the life of this wild space.
Readings – Fatphobia
- Virgie Tovar, Take The Cake: I’m Not Ashamed Of Being Defensive (4 pgs)
- Creighton Leigh, You Don’t Give a Damn About My Health Or Gabourey’s: On Fatphobia and Faux Concern (5 pgs)
- Ed Cara, Health At Every Size Movement: What Proponents Say vs. What Science Says (9 pgs)
Video/Audio – Fatphobia
- This American Life, Episode 589: Tell Me I’m Fat (67 min)
- Sonya Renee Taylor, The Body is Not an Apology ~ Radical Alchemy (22 min)
- Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Lizzo On Feminism, Self-Love And Bringing ‘Hallelujah Moments’ To Stage (listen to this one last!)
- How were bodies, body image and fat/thinness talked about with family or peers growing up? How are they talked about now?
- Where do societal expectations around bodies stem from? How do these expectations affect your relationship to your own body? Are there parts of your body that don’t like or avoid, and how does this affect how you care for your body? How does it affect your emotional health?
- How do these expectations about bodies affect your relationship / judgements about other people?
- What do you observe about the interviewer’s/host’s unconscious bias in her questions to Lizzo? What was being revealed?
- And what do you observe in your body when Lizzo answered questions from the center speaking truth to power.
- At the beginning of the interview, the host asks Lizzo about her album cover and Lizzo responds, you’re asking that because I am fat. And the host responds defensively making an excuse for why she asked the question. What do you think would have been a better response? Or what would you have liked the host to say instead?
- Spend more time with skullcap. (You can get some at the East End Food Coop in Pittsburgh; does anyone in Cleveland have a recommendation of a good place to get herbs these days?) Do another “plant sit” like we did in class, starting with a body scan (there are a couple of links below), then quietly and slowly feeling the effects of the tea or tincture in your body. How does it feel similarly, how does it feel different? How do you feel different if you take it more casually?
—- AND/OR —-
Do a plant sit with a different nervine herb. See how that experience feels different or similar.
- Pick an herb you’d like to know more about. Look in books and/or on the internet for “monographs” or “profiles” of that herb. Compare the information and style of different monographs. Here are some recommended sources. You can tell us about anything you want from your research!
- Having talked about cold and hot conditions in the body, we’ll be moving into dampness and dryness next month. In preparation, try to notice phenomena in your body that you might describe as damp or dry.
Plants ID & Botany
- Key out five more plants that you haven’t keyed out.
- Take some time to do some garden care at the MLK Garden. The garden needs to be watered and weeded, and it’s also a space for you to learn about how these different plants actually grow from seed or seedling to full-size plants. Please visit the garden at least once before our next class.
Anatomy & Physiology
- Last month we talked about mental and emotional health. Before our next class take some time to examine how your mental and emotional health interacts with your other body systems. At least one time this month examine how the way you’re feeling in your head/heart affects your respiratory system, your immune system, and one other system of your choice. Do you have physical feelings that result from your emotional health? Where do these feelings reside in your body? How can feeling the physical sensation of an emotion help us work with that emotion?
- Do some kind of anti-capitalist care event for your community. This can be anything — giving extra care to someone in your life, writing or making art and sharing it online, showing up for demonstrations, making medicine or resources to help people in this moment.. We’re leaving it very open ended. We’d love to hear about what you do!
Readings: Capitalism, Mental/Emotional Health
- Janny Scott, Life at the Top in America isn’t Just Better, it’s Longer (16 pgs)
- Jimmy Wu, Capitalism is Dangerous for Your Mental Health (11 pgs)
- Emily Cutler, Breaking Free From the Stigma Paradox (16 pgs)
Videos & Podcasts
- Gabor Mate, Why Capitalism Makes Us Sick – 27 min
- Healing Justice Podcast, Destigmatizing Mental Health with The Icarus Project (Agustina Vidal and Rhiana Anthony) – 1 hour 3 min
Questions: Capitalism, and our personal experiences within
- How has capitalism shaped how we think about what health means?
- How do our ideas about health perpetuate capitalism?
- How has it shaped how we care for each other?
- How do we build anticapitalist care networks?
- What parts of my life exist inside the capitalist system? What parts exist outside of it?
- How does capitalism affect the relationships in my life?
Questions: Mental/emotional Health
- How was mental illness discussed or dealt with in your family growing up?
- What are the stigmas around mental illness?
- How have you seen that in your own attitudes?
- How does it affect your relationship to your own emotional health?
- Make a “Mad Map” of your mental states and the supports that are helpful in different states. (You can do this by/for yourself, or do it with people who you are in relationship with.)
- You can use this guide, Mapping our Madness: A workbook for navigating crisis, extreme states, or just foul moods, as a worksheet or as a starting place,
- Or the practice from the healing justice podcast:
In English or Spanish
- Life in Quarantine
- What have you noticed about your mental health since the pandemic started?
- What have you been struggling with, what have been your strengths?
- What have you observed about other people around you’s mental health during the pandemic?
- What do you think would be helpful for your community for people to feel supported during this crisis.
- Pick a medicinal plant to spend time with for the month, in the same way we did with dandelion and violet — one that calls to you. Find it in the world, observe it, keep it company, eat it, use the medicine, meditate with it, daydream about it. Try out some of the research tools we talked about to learn more about it.
- Think of two foods or spices that you think would be cooling and two that you think would be warming. Try them, and use the tools that we’ve been practicing in and out of class to see what they feel like in your body. Write a paragraph or two for each about what you notice.
Plants and Botany
- Key out five plants. (Turn in a sample or drawing of the plant, plus the steps you took in newcombs and your id.)
Anatomy & Physiology
- Pick a first aid skill that we covered in class – burns, cold/flu care, cuts and scrapes, food poisoning, sprain care. Practice this in a real or pretend first aid situation.
- Make a real or imaginary first aid kit for a situation in your life (eg. workplace, backpacking, child care, etc.). Draw or write a description of your kit and why you included the things that you did.
- What does care look like in your life, and the lives of people you care about? How can we give and receive the best care possible? What are the barriers? What are the resources we have for our care or to share with other people?
- Reflecting on times that your (or someone you care about) access to health care has been limited — feelings, impacts. Imaging those situations having been different — what would that be like?
- What role do you feel more comfortable in: a caregiving role or a care-receiving role? Reflect on that. How could you feel more comfortable in both roles?
Discussion Topic: Wildcrafting
- Plants Gone Wild! zine
- Karyn Sanders podcast: Wildcrafting; an Indigenous Perspective
- Leave it for Native People
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, The Honorable Harvest (excerpt from Braiding Sweetgrass) — This book is widely available as a beautiful downloadable audiobook from the Carnegie Library, if you prefer to listen rather than read this chapter. (It is Part 8.)
Wildcrafting – Questions
- How do we practice a culture of gratitude?
- How might our herbalism affect our ecosystem?
- In what ways can herbalism be a form of environmental activism?
- What do we do if a plant is at risk or endangered?
- How do we balance the use of plants/herbs/food with the protection of them?
- What are ways to have relationships with wild plants that don’t involve gathering them?
Discussion Topic: Cultural Appropriation
- Exploring Yoga and Cultural Appropriation with nisha ahuja (25 min. video)
- Wanting To Be Indian: When Spiritual Searching Turns into Cultural Theft by Myke Johnson (18 pages) — Pick a question to answer at the end of the article
- Standing Rock Medic + Healer Council: Cultural Respect FAQ by Linda Black Elk
- When We Talk About Cultural Appropriation, We’re Missing The Point by Ijeoma Oluo
Cultural Appropriation – Questions
- Write ½-1 page about a family healing tradition you grew up with.
- What things do you participate in that are from a culture beside your own? How do you benefit from that? What harm might you be causing with your participation? How can your participation counteract cultural appropriation?
- How can we disrupt cultural appropriation?
- Myke Johnson asks: “What does it mean for an earth-centered spirituality, that the particular land on which we live is stolen land? What about the grief of the land for her original people? Are there ways to be welcomed here? This is the land of our birth, perhaps for many generations. I believe we do belong on the earth, she is the mother of us all. But how do we live here with honor? Is it the responsibility of all of us who love this land to restore her original people?”
- Seek out violets! Spend time with this plant, visit it, sit with it, eat the flowers, eat the leaves, make a tea of it, make a jelly of the flowers. What do you feel and notice when you spend time with it? What other creatures do you notice interacting with violets? What role does it play in its interspecies community?
- For one a whole meal, think and write about the energetics of each food in your meal –
- What are the flavors you notice, thinking about the five basic flavors (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, pungent/spicy), and any others you want to describe
- Is the food hot or cold? Dry or damp? Does it seem slow or fast?
- If it feels ok, spend some time noticing how the food feels in your mouth.
- Where do you feel the food in your body? How do you feel 15 minutes after eating? An hour? (Set a timer!)
- (Optional) Do this for a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner, a snack (it doesn’t have to be all in one day)
Plants and Botany
- Try out Newcombs with some flowers in the world! Note where you get stuck, what questions feel hard to answer, where you feel uncertain and where you feel more confident!
- Find two different opposite and two different alternately arranged trees. Draw them.
- Go look at trees, choose two trees and spend 15 minutes with each tree. Observe. Write down all the observations you make of the tree so that someone else could go find that tree.
Anatomy & Physiology
- Write one fantastical or real scenario where you could use first aid. (Extra points for hilarity. Like lots of them.)
- Revisit the intentions you wrote in class. Spend some time with them, daydream about them, change them or add to them if you desire.
- Tend to your class altar.