In essence, Aryn is a herbal medicine-maker.
Creativity is the touchstone of what Aryn does – a creativity rooted in years of learning, study, and research, and a fair amount of trial and error.
To make herbal medicines Aryn extracts the healing properties from plants, trees, and herbs, and molds them into salves, syrups, elixirs, tinctures, and oils that can be used every-day. Aryn is a passage between the plants and you.
But, as creative as the herbal medicine making process is, it is the constituents of the plants, trees, and herbs that are doing the real healing work. Aryn begins the medicine making process by finding the plants she needs. She does this in two ways. First, Aryn wild crafts. That means that Aryn goes into the fields, meadows, and forests and ethically collects the barks, roots, berries, flowers and leaves that she uses in the making of medicines. It is about knowing where the plants will be (sometimes this means a lot of looking), identifying the plants botanically, and about what plants you can expect to find. And sometimes finding other plants you weren’t intending to find.
It is not enough, however, to just find the plants. The plants, or what parts of the plants used, have to be either dried or infused; that is, the plant medicine has to be extracted and prepared. Drying the plants simply means placing the plants in a dry area, most often a food dehydrator, for up to two or three weeks. Aryn does this, for example, with plantain, calendula, and rose petals to name a few.
Infusing means placing the plants in various-sized, sterilized mason jars and filling the jar with whatever menstrum she is using. For tinctures she uses brandy, for oils and salves she always uses food quality organic olive oil, for herbal vinegar she uses Filsinger’s unpasteurized certified organic apple cider vinegar. The infusing of herbal oils involves putting them into direct sunlight for up to six weeks, with daily attention to moisture build up on the tops of the jars and lids. Each jar is carefully wiped of all moisture daily. Alcohol and vinegar are shaken a few times a day.
Aryn loves to wild craft, not least because it puts her into direct contact with the natural world and the wild plants that she uses in the formulation and manufacture of Sweet Song’s herbal products. She also grows some of the plants in her garden. This garden is becoming filled with the wonderful sight and smell of lemon balm, marshmallow, nettle, mint, calendula, oats, jewel weed, garlic, horse-radish, elder, and lobelia. As well as a few medicinal trees and bushes such as Elder Berry, Prickly Ash, Witch Hazel, Cedar and Barberry. Part of the medicine of plants is just being immersed in nature.
Aryn favors using the plants and herbs that naturally grow around her to make medicine. Bio-regionalism is among the fundamental principles of her herbal practice.
Once the plants have been infused or dried, the next step in the process is the manufacture of herbal medicines and products. This is slightly different depending on whether she is making a salve, a cream, a tincture, an oil, a vinegar, a syrup, a skin toner or serum, or a tea.
Quite often what Aryn makes is determined by the seasons. So, for example, she makes a range of salves, sprays and creams that are specific to problems that people may encounter in the spring and summer. This is true of Sweet Song’s all-natural Bug Spray and Poison Ivy treatments, After Bite, and of Sweet Song’s Sun Cream and After Sun lotion, too.
One product that Aryn makes specific to the warmer months is Sweet Song’s Poison Ivy Remedy. She has been making Poison Ivy salve for over 10 years now, and it is among Sweet Song’s most popular products. Aryn is fascinated by the medicines used by First Nations peoples. She has become somewhat of an expert in treating the rashes caused by poison ivy, oak and sumac. There are several plants which were traditionally used by the First Nations people and Aryn continues to work with and learn more about them each year.
Among Sweet Song’s favourite fall and winter products (although it is useful year round) is the Elder Berry Syrup. Useful in the treatment of colds and flu and can be used as a preventative and once a cold or flu has come on. Aryn also makes a Cold & Flu tea, as well as a number of other tinctures, balms, and salves designed principally for those illnesses common to our colder months.
If the seasons sometimes dictate what Aryn makes, so do people. Eczema is a growing health issue for more and more people. To meet this need she has crafted a salve, oil, and a soap which deal specifically with the symptoms of eczema, although, as a herbalist, Aryn believes that the root cause of eczema is internal, and probably has to do, above all, with diet and life-style. Nonetheless, Sweet Song’s Eczema Salve, made with elder flowers, calendula, viola, slippery elm bark, marshmallow, and chickweed, is useful for dealing with the red rash and itchiness associated with eczema and other skin problems.
Although primarily a herbal medicine maker, Aryn is also interested in prevention. For this reason, she has crafted a range of products to replace traditional skin-care products which she believes are harmful. For example, she makes a range of all-natural, organic skin products designed as substitutions for skin products made with dangerous chemicals. Sweet Song face and body creams, face serums, soaps, facial toners, and a deodorant cream. Not exactly herbal medicines, these all-natural skin and body products are nonetheless made with health in mind – made, that is, with the intention of providing people with a healthy alternative to typical commercial products made with potentially harmful ingredients.
A big part of what Aryn does is educational. Sweet Song is not simply about making and selling products; Aryn is also interested in educating people about plants and about herbal medicine. Passionate about the plants, Aryn has done a number of herbal workshops and herb walks, and she hopes to do more of both in the future. In short, what Aryn does is provide people with the wonderful live-giving and life-enhancing medicines of plants. She makes herbal medicines and healthy, food quality skin care products and she makes them in accordance with the health, well-being, and preservation of people and nature.