Foraging and Herbalism Retreat @ Ananda Ashram


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Beating the Fall Blues – Six Simple Tips to Transition into Fall

Here is a collaborative article on 6 steps to help you transition from Summer into Fall. with Dan De Lion,​ Antinanco Earth Arts School,​ and Be Light Living.​

Sassafras Leaf 1

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Seeking the Medicine – Colombia, 2014 – Book Intro

01 Dan ColombiaFor 2 weeks (Nov. 28 – Dec. 5 2014) we traveled to Colombia to seek and expand our knowledge of wild foods, medicinal plants, culture, and shamanic practices within these sacred lands.

It was my first time exploring anywhere in South America as well as the biodiversity of jungle habitat, which I had a chance to meet for several months traveling in India, back in 2012. In Colombia I was very excited to meet new plant friends, and see the overlap of plant species, and plant families between what I had seen in India, as well as recognizing anything familiar back home.

This kind of journey is one that fills me with passion and excitement. To allow the plants to guide me to the people, and the people then guide me to plants. Here is a brief look at my experience in Colombia.

Prior to leaving, I did research and collected a plant list, in which Timothy Lane, of who I thank deeply for his botanical offering, his hours of doing the same thing I did enabled me to research potential species and families to look for.

06 - Colombia Mountain ViewThe list combined consisted of potential edible wild plants I may find, as well as cultivated market fruit species, herbal medicines that I could both find on the ground, and in the markets, as well as famous ethnobotanical plants. The working list of species that I’ve compiled and expanded upon have become the field guide portion of this book. (see index 1) As I sought many forms of medicine in the jungle, market place, and shamanic medicine traditions, I photographed and documented what I had experienced.

Chapter 1: Herbal Preparations and Vaccination Awareness

Whenever traveling as an herbalist, especially one who would prefer to rely on the plants of the ground, it takes lots of study. Within that study is 3 main factors. 1. Mainly the ability to see potential and common threats in the particular area you are traveling in, 2. The ability to have an herbal kit that outlines treatment for those issues because one should never wait, and 3. Access to whatever level of “medicine” you may need, if the need arises. It is of my personal opinion that I should never deny more “corporate” treatments if my methods do not work. Yet, as a novice becomes expert, more can be handled.

Oh yea and 4, perhaps most important, the unexpected =)

03 - plants on roadHerbal Health Care:

In researching the first big scare of South America and the jungle in general, one must first learn what to do in case of malaria. Malaria which usually one treats by taking a preventative dose (which I hear makes people very sick) in fear of the potential of getting malaria. Luckily, it turned out for us that although there were cases of malaria in the areas we would travel to, it was not likely.

As I did my homework on the issue, it generally seemed from observing websites such as the CDC malaria map ( that cases were low in Putumayo area, probably the most rampant area, and even lower in the other areas we would be traveling to. Heeding the official websites message to be careful I developed a tincture to take along for the journey. I knew that I would be able to tend to a strong case of malaria for 4-5 days on what I had brought and chose once again to pass on the damaging preventative medication.

For working with issues such as malaria, one should first know if the ailment is bacterial, viral, fungal, or otherwise in its nature. Treatment for each of these cases are different and require different functions from herbs, foods, and lifestyle changes.

05 - Colombia HutThe second most important thing in a case like this is prevention. Knowing habitat, location, having working bug spray – working, in this case, means a 4 oz bottle where I put a mix of essential oils, almost all of them will work, with 50% almond oil, shake that, and put in a spray bottle. When I apply that I apply it heavily and repeatedly. After 3-4 applications it works amazingly.

The third most important application is treatment during the earliest stages detectable. This means having subtle awareness of signs and symptoms. Beginning herbal treatment 3-4 days after the first earliest symptoms is “too late”, meaning that the first stage of treatment is to know the body.

Herbal Kit Breakdown:

As I was not sure how far I would be traveling into the jungle, In my herbal kit I brought 16 oz. of a malaria specific formula that I made. I knew it would be a potent general antiviral, and antibacterial, and therefore could be used in any cold or flu, stomach upset, infection, or fungus. However, these herbs are also are the more specific herbs toward malaria or yellow fever and used accordingly. It consisted of Sida acuta (turns out this is a roadside weed in Colombia), olive leaf, Artemesia annua, burdock root, and redroot. This gave a well rounded formula, with enough for 2 people to at least begin combatting any issue that would be encountered. Of course with herbalism and a “use-what-you-have” capacity, a plethora of others to add, includingany other antimicrobials.

A particular hero to mention could be boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) which having a long standing tradition of being helpful against flu and fever, has a wide ranging history of treating malaria. And, there have been studies and in vitro experiments with plant extracts which indicate possible anti-inflammatory effects and activity against Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria. (

04 - friends in colombiaYet, I am not a big proponent of “one-herb” solutions, and always prefer to formulate around a strong herb that has the action I seek.

When formulating, I try to consider half “target the microbe” and half “tonify the bodies functions” so in my case burdock for helping the liver and therefore blood, and redroot, which also has antiviral attributes, being predominantly for helping lymphatic opening. Of course activities like sweating, hiking, sweatlodge, and sauna are also helpful for the body adjusting to different microbial environmens in countries and we planned to do much of it.

Basically, when traveling to other countries, usual things to consider are air quality issues and therefore respiratory infections, water borne infections through contaminated water (in which can be filtered and not relied on plastic throw away bottles) and bacterial or viral infections, of which there are many. These issues are very common, and will likely be part of anyone’s travels outside of the country they were born in.

For basic physical trauma issues, I also brought a small medical kit containing some band-aids, gauze, cotton swabs, and 2 pairs of rubber gloves. Of course with first aid, training is primary. I have taken several herbal first aid courses and try best to understand my limits, not my capacities.

Other items included mixed herbal salve for helping skin stay moist, treating any allergic topical issues, and also helping keep infection out of any healing wounds. With a few essential oils which I see as a back-up (Not primary); oregano oil, lavender and peppermint, as well as the abovementioned home made bug spray.

With developing the art of foraging herbalism, “know-how” is an ever expanding thing.

02 - MangosThe scenarios and plants, herbal kit will always change and adaptability is the greatest work. A few easy examples would be such as any evergreen sap for cuts or fungal infections, wild papaya leaves as a tea for intestinal issues (plus the seeds of the fruits),

And the most important reason for traveling and practicing herbalism, seeking teachers while at any location of medicine people, to directly broaden any level of foraging and herbalism applications of wild plants, as well as simultaneously preserve and pass on their knowledge traditions.

In respect!


This writing is part of my “Seeking the Medicine” Herbal Series with lots more to come,

Check out Dans mission with the “Seeking the Medicine” Series

Heres a look of a video exploring the plants around Cali, Colombia, Off the side of the road I was discovering a Sida species.

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Enriching Your Life With Fermented Food – Make Your Own at Home!

Enriching Your Life With Fermented Food – Make Your Own at Home

03 - put in jar

It’s cheap and easy to make your own fermented foods at home. This is an ancient and almost effortless tradition for storing the bounty of the harvest worldwide! Here is a step by step process to make your own fermented foods at home.

Things you will need: Cabbage, carrots, ginger, spices, salt


Heres how to make veggie ferments in 7 easy steps!

  1. Save and set outer cabbage leaves aside (use at end), chop cabbage, carrots, and beets* into a bowl

2. Add 1-2 tbsp salt and leave to sit for 1-2 hours to soften.

kimchee mashing


3. Add desired spices, and enjoy the therapy of squeezing and massaging the veggies to draw the moisture out (for spices, some of our favorites are cumin, black peppercorns, and fresh dill.

4. Stuff the veggies in the jar, making sure the veggies are packed tight and that the water covers the vegetables completely.


05 kimchee line

5. Take the outer cabbage leaves that you saved and fold them under the tapered jar inside the jar on top of the chopped veggies. Work it so that the leaves are submerged and also hold all the little veggie pieces in place.

*If needed, pour a little extra salty water to top it off. Then put the lid for the jar on loose

6.  Cover the jar with the lid loosely, so that the air can pass through, or use a cheesecloth, dishcloth, or any piece of cloth with a rubberband to keep all insects out.

7. Leave it on a counter top for 2 weeks to a month away from direct sunlight, topping off more water if needed to keep everything submerged. Evaporation of the water level often occurs.

Enjoy your kraut or kimchee straight out of the jar, mixed in rice, added as a salad dressing, as addition to eggs, or added on top of a stir fry for your probiotic goodness. Or let us know how you like to eat it below!

fermented food

*you can use any other veggie and spices you choose, to preference

Let me know if you have any further questions on the comment section below…

All pics taken from our “Make your own Kimchee” Video coming soon ! 



Enjoy your fermented goodness,

Dan de Lion


To learn more about the importance of probiotic foods with human health check out:

Return to Nature – Fermentation Video Series

Return to Nature Article – About Vegetable Fermentation

Return to Nature Article – The role of Bacteria in Human Evolution

Return to Nature Article – About Kombucha



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Foragers Autumn Olive Fruit Leather with Recipe

Autumn Olive Fruit leatherHeres a look at some yumdiddlyumptious autumn olive fruit leather.

After wild-crafting and freezing over 30 cups last year (freezing is essential to drive out the tannic taste) I thawed and made autumn olive fruit leather.

The benefits of having fruit leather is that it is a lightweight and storable trail food, which is high in vitamin c, one of the highest source of lycopene (a potent anti-oxidant) and if you don’t strain the seeds out, also high in omega fatty 3 acids.

Oddly enough, this plant is known as an “invasive” plant but the solution is in the problem! All one truly has to do is realize that nature grows food and medicine everywhere.

Here is my proposal for localizing and building a sustainable cottage industry We can easily make organic and sustainably harvested fruit leather. And the best part is that these are not made with any sugar, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. But only the best of raw local honey, wild autumn olives, and maple syrup which we get in bulk from friends.

Also, check out the return to nature autumn olive video explaining how to identify them on our youtube channel: returntonatureskills


Autumn Olive Fruit leather2Dans Foragers Fruit Leather Recipe:

1 tray in Dehydrator:

1 batch per dehydrator tray

1 lb autumn olive thawed

2 tbsp lemon juice

4 tbsp maple syrup


Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

If needed to help blender add 2 tablespoons of water.

Pour the autumn olive slurry into the dehydrator trays for fruit leather.

Spread evenly about an inch away from edges.

Dehydrate until it’s no longer sticky when touched.

Cut into strips and roll, store in a ball jar or paper bag.



Check out the Youtube video: Harvesting Autumn Olive

Check out our article: Foraging the Autumn Olive

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“Kids, Rewilding and the New Mythology” – New Article with Planet Shifter Magazine

Planet ShifterHeres a new Return to Nature Interview entitled, “Kids, Rewilding and the New Mythology”

A conversation with Dan De Lion, of and Willi Paul, of Media

(Click above for the full article)

Heres a peek at what leads up to the first question:

Rewilding means to return to a more wild or natural state; it is the process of un-doing domestication. The term emerged from the green anarchism and anarcho-primitivism political theories, in which humans are believed to be “civilized” or “domesticated” by industrial and agricultural progress. Supporters of rewilding argue that through the process of domestication, human wildness has been altered by force.

Rewilding is considered a holistic approach to living, as opposed to skills, practices or a specific set of knowledge.


“The function of the dream is as the Gaian teaching voice. The Logos is returning.” – Dan

Willi – Please elaborate on this passage for me…

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Yarrow and Indigenous Medicine Perspectives

Yarrow FlowerYarrow – Achillea millefolia (Asteracea) is a great plant ally. Seen here is a photo of yarrow in flower. This plant is commonly worked with as a tea, in a salve, or tincture. A tea or tincture of yarrow is good for cold and flu and heats up the body to induce sweating. It’s also famous as an antiparasitic tea or tincture.

A salve of yarrow has been long worked with topically for wound healing by increasing the speed of healing wounds, reducing scarring, and keeping out infection. In clinical studies it has been shown to regrow the epithelial tissue of skin, confirming what the ancient traditions have already been saying without subjecting rats to torture, or spending millions of dollars.

As a styptic and coagulant, the leaf can be broken up and directly applied to a cut, although it will burn. In the herbal tradition, yarrow and comfrey together combine to hasten wound healing wonderfully; comfrey healing the internal skin layers, and yarrow healing the outer layers. In clinical


With many plants in the aster family, including yarrow it is important to harvest what are called the “flowering tops”; this means stem, leaf, and flowers harvested a few inches up so that the plant can still reproduce itself and go to seed. (Seen Below)

Yarrow flowering tops border

Another great way to work with yarrow is for every time anyone would use hand sanitizer. Instead, you could use fresh yarrow leaf and rub it into your hands. It’s also a great bug repellent too when rubbed on the skin. Chemically this is because those smells are of course plant-chemicals and those chemicals are made by the plant to repel bugs from eating their own bodies, notice how no bugs eat yarrow.

Yarrow Leaf borderRemember, when foraging around, it is best to harvest no more than 30% of what you find in any given area. Harvest sustainably and with care always. Check out my video series on yarrow medicine making and much more at

Here are 2 videos on foraging and identifying yarrow, and indigenous medicine perspective of plant-sense-meditations.



Foraging for Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – Return to Nature – Pt 1

Here is a video discussing ways to work with yarrow to tap into our innate indigenous awareness that has built our brains and bodies.

Yarrow and Indigenous Medicine Perspectives – Return to Nature – Pt. 2


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Foraging Fun @ Princeton, NJ

Happy June!

The Foraging fun continues this weekend in Princeton, NJ!

Saturday – Family Foraging Class 
Sunday – Foraging for Food and Medicine

RSVP for meeting location:


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Herbal Q+A with Dandelion – April 2015 Webinar Recording

Heres class 2 of a live monthly series entitled “Herbal Q+A with Dandelion.” Each month join Dan for a monthly Return to Nature webcast “herbal Q+A” on the 4th Wednesday of each month – If you would like to attend, email to RSVP for the class and receive info on how to join in.

You can email your questions, or post them here in the event forum seen here –

Some ideas for questions can be about herbs, healing, and foraging, plants, remedies, making herbal goodies, fermentation, kombucha, nature, and yoga philosophy (to name a few).

If you appreciate these classes, there is a $15 suggested donation through paypal which you can send to – From there we will send you the link and info for the class.


Check out more interviews with Dan here

These webinars are an educational service Return to Nature provides and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any specific illnesses or ailments. All information provided during the consultation should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult a licensed healthcare practitioner for medical problems.

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Monthly Return to Nature webcast “Herbal Q+A”

Each month join Dan for a monthly Return to Nature webcast “herbal Q+A” on the 4th Wednesday of each month using Skype – If you would like to attend, email to RSVP for the class and receive info on how to join in.

You can also email your questions to, or post them in the event forum on FB seen here –

interviewSome ideas for questions can be about herbs, healing, and foraging, plants, remedies, making herbal goodies, fermentation, kombucha, nature, and yoga philosophy (to name a few).

For the class, there is a $15 suggested donation through paypal which you can send to – From there we will send you the link and info for the class.

All attendees or those who cannot attend live but wish to donate will also receive the play back of the file.

Check out interviews with Dan here!

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