a confused urban herbalist

Because of customs and agricultural regulations, I gave away almost all of my beautiful wild harvested herbs, seeds, and roots to a friend that will put them in the hands of those who need them in NYC. As I packed them up in plastic baggies and ran the empty jars through the dishwasher I reflected upon the peaceful times in nature working close to the earth and harvesting her abundance.

My skin has been reacting to the change in atmosphere. I’m not sure if it’s just the heat, pollution in the air, detergent that the service apartment uses on our bed sheets, or possibly stress in general, but my face has broken out and I’ve got a little rash on my left hand. This is a small reaction compared to how sensitive my skin used to be.

So, on my walk back home yesterday through Sheung Wan, a center for Traditional Chinese Medicine, I tried to find some familiar herbs to sooth my skin. I came upon rose… a cooling herb used both internally as an infusion or sprinkled on the skin like rosewater. I bought a small package for $30 HKD and asked if they maybe had Burdock… or Gobo is how they call it in Japan. I explained it’s a very earthy smelling dark brown root. He didn’t know of anything like that. So, I asked if he had an herb in stock that would be good for detoxing the skin. After explaining what the word “Detox” meant he understood that I had “purple dots on my face” and suggested I go to the Watson’s Pharmacy for some cream. I said ‘thank you’ and went on my way.

Rose Buds in tote I came home to make an infusion. Eric came home shortly after and asked me if the rose was organic. I showed him the Chinese writing on the package and said I didn’t know. He suggested that if it only cost me $30 HKD (about $4 USD) that it most likely was not. Being so cheap, it may have been grown in Mainland China, and he wouldn’t put a hard-to-grow plant like Rose in his body if it possibly came from unregulated China. “But what about your favorite quote?” I said, “What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” He responded that it might kill me and he wouldn’t like that very much.

My brother is coming to visit HK on his way to Shanghai for work. He’s bringing me Reef Flip Flop’s I ordered from Amazon.com and had shipped to his house but when I asked him to bring some packaged Nettle and Red Raspberry Leaf from Mountain Rose Herbs he said “I’m not going through customs with your witchcraft.”

So, till I figure something out I have some sweet smelling Rose decorating my desk and Clinique concealer.

rose inspire


2 thoughts on “a confused urban herbalist

    1. Thanks Tasha! It’s an adventure- and since then I have found a few herbs shops with things I recognize… and still plenty which I don’t. Skin has cleared up with the assistance of Apple Blossom infusion.

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