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  • Writer's pictureJames Keskimaki

Sweetness is in the Root

Updated: Jan 3

Sweetroot Seeds

Osmorhiza occidentalis

Sweet Root

Sweetness is just the beginning of the magic!

I first discovered Sweet root years ago on a weeklong plant spirit medicine trip in Eastern Oregon. During these trips we would focus on a different local plant everyday. Sitting and being with them simply by consciously taking a small amount of the plant extracted into a tincture, chewing on a bit of the leaf, flower or root, or simply sitting in their presence. Being in a ceremonial state of mind and connecting deeply to the subtle energy of these beings.

While doing this work we were on a simple diet of quinoa and veggies. No salt or spices, in this way we were recreating and revisioning a version of a traditional Peruvian plant Dieta. In a traditional “Dieta” they have the participant work with one plant for a period of time. While doing this work you are placed on a very strict regimen that eliminates their intake of anything stimulating to the body, mind or spirit, So food is simple and bland, one is in isolation with no access to internet, tv, books, really anything. The point is to really connect with the plant you are learning from, by quieting the mind it allows them to tap into the subtle energies and learn to truly work with the spirit of the plant. These dietas can last from one week to one year.

So with all that said we actually didn't work with Sweet Root but it was growing everywhere. About three quarters of the way through the week-long trip my stomach and digestive system was going crazy. I have since discovered that too much quinoa is no bueno. Finally I asked the facilitator and he suggested trying some Sweet Root tincture. Lo and behold thirty minutes later I was feeling so much better. Another one of those "Herbs Work" moments. I realized how special this medicine is and made it my mission to harvest some before we left. So after everyone pretty much left, a couple of us went out to soak up the magical mountain for the last time and harvest some plants. I made it a mission to find and harvest some of this magical plant. Luckily enough I was able to harvest about 1/2 pound of fresh root, which made me around 12 ounces. This lasted me about six months after giving some away and sharing it with friends and family. Last year I was able to return to the mountain and discovered that it was growing literally everywhere!!! It was a sign from the spirit of the plant.Saying it is all good to take what you need and help the people. It was a beautiful connection and I felt comfortable harvesting about a gallon worth of medicine.

I made a couple different batches of tincture all using Organic Sugarcane alcohol, and raw Oregon wildflower honey. I was a bit hesitant to mix in the honey as the root is already sweet but the honey actually really rounds out the flavor. Out of the two batches I made one I made with fresh root and one with dry root. They definitely were different especially in the bite you got when first taking it. In the end I mixed a little bit together and tried it. They really combined well and I loved the outcome so I ended up mixing it all together.

Here is a rundown on some of the things Sweet Root "Osmorhiza occidentalis" is good for:

-Stimulates the mucous membranes of the intestines to make the gut less hospitable to fungal infections "candida"*

-Topically it can help with athlete's foot, ringworm, jock itch and the fungal infections*

-Being a carminative using 5-10 drops after a meal can add with digestion

-Tincture can reduces sugar cravings and can regulate blood sugar imbalances*

“A bit of harvest advice, this goes for when you are foraging for all plants and mushrooms”

Harvest the roots after it has gone to seed, make sure you harvest from an area where it is abundant and even then be respectful of how much you take. It is best to take plants that are medium sized and are growing on the outer edges or downhill from the main stand. A good practice is to always replant a small amount of the root to keep the stand strong.*

* From Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants By Scott Kloos

Written and photo by James Keskimaki

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