There are people wholl tell you that medicinal plants exist all over: in public parks, along roadsides, and some even in your own backyard. There are people who will lead you on journeys to gather such species and show you what to do with them. There are also people wholl talk about ethics and environmentalism but then go foraging in public places without a permit, eventually damaging the ecosystem. In other words: Every trend has its share of hypocrites. Tellur Fenner is not one of those people. To be sure, Fenner has made a career in botanical medicine. But hes been doing it long enough to know that its a potentially dangerous practice, and it cant be taught in a single afternoon. Thats why his class, Foraged Health: Medicinal Plants of California, is a basic primer rather than a three-hour path to enlightenment. To go out and forage just because you saw it on Oprah is irresponsible, says Fenner, owner of Blue Wind Botanical Medicine Clinic in Oakland. Thats how people die. But if you know what youre doing, plants have tremendous potential. Take Anemopsis californica, also known as lizard tail. It contains oils that are known to promote healing and reduce inflammation. When processed correctly it can be taken internally or used topically. Its native to the Bay Area and can be easily cultivated. Learning to identify such species is one thing covered in Fenners class. He also provides numerous resources designed to be a starting point for further learning.
Sat., Oct. 16, 1 p.m., 2010