Sharol Tilgner

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since Dec 30, 2011
Sharol is a fourth generation Oregonian, an organic/biodynamic farmer, physician, herbalist, & modern day Renaissance woman. She teaches others to grow, and preserve their food and medicine and stay healthy via natural methods. She reaps great joy from teaching people to be in charge of their own health care. Writing is one of the best ways she can reach people, to share her knowledge as a physician/herbalist/farmer. She uses blogging, books, free website information and classes as a way to share tools, as she endeavors to co-create a beautiful world. Dr. Tilgner has finished a new book called Herbal ABC's, that is now available. She is working on a couple additional books of which one should be available in 2019 and the second in 2020.
Dr. Tilgner's past includes director of the Portland Naturopathic Clinic pharmacy, molding an old cattle ranch in Cottage Grove, Oregon into an organic herb farm and founder and prior owner of the herbal manufacturing company Wise Woman Herbals. She also founded the Pacific NW Herbal Symposium, The NW Herb Fest, was the editor of Herbal Transitions and associate editor of Medical Herbalism. She has produced 2 herbal videos entitled Edible and Medicinal Herbs, Volume 1, and 2 " and is author of the books , "Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth", "Herbal ABC's,the Foundation of Herbal Medicine" and "Herbal Formulas."
Dr. Tilgner is a nationally known speaker who prior to becoming a farmer, lectured at medical colleges and conferences across the United States. She is an herbal consultant to both physicians and the herbal industry.
Pleasant Hill, Oregon
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Recent posts by Sharol Tilgner

Thanks for mentioning salt water Ruth! We as a society take salt and water for granted. Many of us don't realize how powerful it is. I often find people skip my suggestions of using saline solutions for respiratory tract infections, but use herbs or supplements I suggest as they think they are stronger and will work better than "plain old water and salt". However, I find salt water is amazing. Research supports its use in respiratory tract infections/irritation also. It decreases inflammation and edema, supporting normal tissue activity, saline solutions can even make it inhospitable for some microbes. Ultimately, the tissues are in better shape and can take over and protect and heal themselves.
3 months ago
Hi Annie,

Regarding grapefruit seed extract (GSE): There are some issues surrounding it. Many of the products sold have been found to have additional chemicals in the extract. Researchers found methyl-p-hydroxybenzoate and tricolsan in the first product on the market that they tested. They compared it to a alcohol extract they themselves made of grapefruit seed and found their extract had neither of these chemicals. Another study followed this one. These researchers compared an extract they made with 6 commercially made extracts, and found that five of the commercial extracts had significant antimicrobial activities, all of which contained the preservative benzethonium chloride. Three of these same extracts were also found to contain the preservatives triclosan and methyl parabene. The researchers found that only one of the commercial GSE tested had no preserving agent, but that this extract as well as the extract they made had no antimicrobial activity. The researchers concluded that the antimicrobial activity being attributed to GSE was due to the synthetic preservative agents contained in them and not the grapefruit seed. In 2001 a researcher found the grapefruit seed extracts could contain as much as 8% benzethonium chloride. (This is from a 2011 blog I wrote about the grapefruit seed extract issue and that data can be found here:
As far as I know, this issue continues today even though this research has been known about since 1999. I am not sure why more people don't know about this. I keep telling folks, hopefully you will too.
3 months ago
It use to be that it was easy to go out and wildcraft Milk thistle seed, but with more people living everywhere and more attention to getting rid of it in my neck of the woods, you don't see it as much now. There was quite a variety of color at that time from brown to almost black. What I find on the market now is a light brown. Still works but just not as strong and vibrant as what I use to get. When I have talked to the people selling it, it all seems to be grown on large farms in South America where it sounds like it is being harvested by machine before fully ripening. I think that is part of the problem. It is not being allowed to fully ripen. This happens to a lot of medicinal seeds on the market unfortunately as it is easier to harvest them before they ripen and fall off or float away with the wind. Do you have any Milk thistle growing wild near you? If so you might check it out. It is ready to harvest as it is getting ready to travel. It will come easily out of the seed head with fluffy tufts. People who harvest a lot of it by hand will collect the heads in bags and then pound on them a little to get the seeds out, throw the whole lot of seed and chaff into buckets of water, and pour off the light stuff leaving the seed, which then has to be dried immediately.
6 months ago
Milk thistle seed has a lot of oil in it and therefore goes rancid easily. When I harvest it, or buy it in the late summer/fall I put the seeds in the freezer where they won't go rancid on me. (By the way, I like the really dark, blackish seeds best, but most of it on the market is a lighter colored seed.) I also put the ground seed in the freezer if it will not be used quickly. I have people use the ground seed in food or for those on the go, take it with a water chaser, being careful not to breathe the powder in before swallowing. The hard seed should not be chewed as it may break your teeth. The seeds are really hard. I use rather large doses for some people. I go up to 1 heaping tablespoon of powder three times per day if needed. There have been very few side effects noted in people using prolonged, large doses. I once saw someone microwave their milk thistle tea and it still brought their liver enzymes down to within normal limits. So, this herb seems to shine even when used in a questionable manner. This is an herb that is helpful to almost everyone due to the toxicity we have created around ourselves. Milk thistle is on the invasive list where I live, so it is frowned upon to raise it. However, you can grow much better seed than that found on the market.
6 months ago
Hi Marshall,  I promised you I would post the data on herbs for hay fever on my blog soon. It is now available. It is very lengthy, so I divided it into two different sections. The first section gives details on how and why herbs are used ahead of hay fever season to prevent hay fever symptoms. You can find it here:   The second  section goes over the herbs used during hay fever season and why and how they are used. You can find it here: Even after writing 5 lengthy sections on hay fever, I still feel like there is so much more that can be said. If you have questions about anything I said, list it hear and I should get an email to inform me.
8 months ago
Yes, Hibiscus is the answer. Yippee, you have won the book!
8 months ago
Permies just finished a book giveaway for the book Herbal ABC's - The Foundation of Herbal Medicine. I have one more book to give away. To win this book you need to be the first to find the answer to the following:

Last week, I answered a question in a post called "high blood pressure and herbs." I spoke about one specific herb that is used for high blood pressure. The first person to list the name of that herb in this posting will win the book.

Permies will give the name and address of the winner to me, so I can ship you the book.
8 months ago
The Scoop on Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids…

Everyone has heard about Comfrey and the concern about the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in Comfrey causing hepato veno-occlusive disease (HVOD). The liver changes the pyrrolizidines into potent alkylating agents that react rapidly with cell constituents resulting in cellular destruction or abnormal cell growth patterns. Accumulation of this cellular damage is known as hepato veno-occlusive disease or HVOD. Research needs to be completed with comfrey and the prevelence of HVOD. Some of the cases that exist are sketchy but are reason for us to act cautiously. What most people don’t seem to realize is there are other medicinal herbs that also contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The FDA has made it illegal to sell any of them for internal consumption. These herbs are Alkanna tinctoria (Alkanet), Anchusa officinalis (bugloss), Borago officinalis (borage), Crotalaria spp., Cynoglossum spp., Erechtites heiraciifolia, Eupatorium cannabium (hemp agrimony), Eupatorium purpureum (gravel root), Heliotropium spp., Lithospermum officinale (European gromwell), Packera candidissima, Petasites spp., (e.g., butterbur), Pulmonaria spp., (e.g. lungwort), Senecio jacobea (European ragwort), Senecio vulgaris (groundsel herb), Symphytum spp., (comfrey), and Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot).  (Eupatorium perforatum (Boneset) will probably be added to this FDA list soon.)

Some growers grow pyrrolizidine low or free Comfrey. Some manufacturers provide low or free pyrrolizidine Comfrey products. Some species of comfrey are known to contain more pyrrolizidine alkaloids than others. Symphytum officinalis is known to contain less than Symphytum uplandicum. However, Symphytum uplandicum has been sold as Symphytum officinalis in the past and the purchasers have not been aware they were buying the incorrect species. The  Comfrey leaves contain less alkaloid than the root generally and plants that do not go through the full winter season are thought to contain more of the alkaloid than comfrey that that lives in regions with a winter.

Comfrey has been used widely in the past. Animals have been fed comfrey to improve their health and to increase their productivity. Chickens fed comfrey have been known to lay more eggs while comfrey fed cows gave more milk. Although, many of us assume that Comfrey must be safe since it has been fed to animals without causing ill effects, the issue is that many people do not know why a farm animal dies and generally they simply bury a dead farm animal rather than dissecting it. Generally it will take days or more likely weeks for the chronic use of a plant with pyrrolizidine alkaloids to harm and kill an animal. That makes it hard to make the connection between the food and the death.

It appears that the pyrrolizidine alkaloids are bioactivated by phase I of the detox system. Although phase I (cytochrome P-450 system) is supposed to make toxins easier to excrete from the body. However, sometimes phase I makes them more toxic and if Phase II is not working up to par (These are all the conjugation actions) while Phase I is working hard, you will get a back up of pyrrolizidines and will be more likely to have HVOD. In research it appears that glutahtione conjugation specifically is very important as part of phase II for removing pyrrolizadines. So, taking glutathione as a supplement or using N-acetyl cysteine or alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C, Milk thistile, Turmeric or other methods to enhance glutathione could be helpful. Support of glutathione conjugation in addition to simply adding glutathione could also be helpful.

More understanding about pyrrolizidine alkaloids is needed regarding how the body processes them, and how the various herbs that have pyrrolizidines in them each effect humans.   Each herb has many other constituents in them and therefore will effect us differently.

Although Comfrey is the most common pyrrolizidine alkaloid containing herb used, there are additional herbs that contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. They each are different in their effects.

Some people continue to use these herbs, while others have decided to use some, but only externally and other herbalists have simply decided not to use them at all. There are varied opinions about how to use them or to use them at all.

The American Herbal Products Association made the following statement in 1996 for pyrrolizidine alkaloids

AHPA recommends that all products with botanical ingredients which contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids bear the following cautionary statement on the label:

For external use only. Do not apply to broken or abraded skin. Do not use when nursing.

Including but not limited to:

Alkanna tinctoria (alkanet), Anchusa officinalis (bugloss), Borago officinalis* (borage), Crotalaria spp., Cynoglossum spp., Erechtites hieraciifolia, Eupatorium cannabinum (hemp agrimony), Eupatorium purpureum (Joe Pye), Heliotropium spp., Lithospermum officinale (European gromwell), Packera candidissima, Petasites spp. (e.g., Butterbur), Pulmonaria spp. (e.g., lungwort), Senecio jacobaea (European ragwort), Senecio vulgaris (groundsel herb), Symphytum spp. (comfrey), and Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot).

* Borage seed oil is specifically exempt from the above label recommendation.

AHPA has been informed that there are comfrey cultivars that are very low in or devoid of PA content, and that there are processing technologies that allow removal of PAs from comfrey. Because AHPA‚s trade recommendation is based on PA content, it would not apply to „PA-free‰ product. AHPA expects of its members that they be able to substantiate and fully document any such safety claims via an appropriate laboratory testing program.

In reality there is a lot that can be said about pyrolizidine alkaloids and there is much conflictive data available in reports and research.  Check out the following links for some additional data:

list of additional pyrrolizidine links:
8 months ago
Flax is soothing to irritated tissue and makes a nice vulnerary (healing agent). However, this mucilaginous plant has amazing drawing power as it dries. In my experience, it works better as a poultice than other herbs to pull out broken glass embedded in the skin. Flax rates right up there with clay for drawing out all manner of thorns, splinters or other small items that are stuck in or under the skin. You mix a little water with the flax to make a paste. Mixing just enough to cover the area that needs the poultice, you then apply it over the area with a bandage to hold it in place. When it dries you remove it and apply another poultice, repeating the process as often as necessary to pull the item out. Often it takes just a couple applications unless the item is deep or it is a glass splinter. Glass is usually harder to remove than wood or even metal splinters. In these cases you need to be more persistent.

Flax is also a wonderful bulking laxative. Its oil content additionally helps with lubrication.

It is high in omega-3 fatty acids.

High concentrations of lignans are found in flaxseed. Lignans bind with low affinity to estrogen receptors and they have weak estrogenic activity. The phytoestrogens from Flax were found in the urine of women after eating Flax no matter if it is raw or cooked flax seed. They appear in the urine  9 hours after initial dosing (25 grams were used in the research) and remained high for at least 24 hours afterward. Soy phytoestrogens do not last as long in the body as the Flax phytoestrogens. After several days of dosing, plasma concentrations of lignans were maintained at an elevated level even when the flax was ingested only once daily.

The latest research indicates that high levels of lignans are associated with lower breast cancer risk.

Clinical trials with flaxseed show that 25 g/day (with 25 mg lignans in the flax) for 32 days reduces tumor growth in breast cancer patients and lignans given at 50 mg/day for 1 year reduces risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women.

8 months ago
I am going to answer this in a little bit different way than you might be expecting. I always  want to get to the root of the problem. Another way to imagine it is to fix things upstream rather than downstream. So, we may not be able to change the genetic factor (at this current time.), but we might be able to correct what that genetic variant has done. I do want to make sure you know that I have very little knowledge of Marfans and it has been many years since I worked with someone with Marfans. Back then I had no idea what to do for them. Now I think I have an idea that could be helpful. You will need to discuss this with your general practitioner though. We have to get some history first here.

Marfans is a disorder of the connective tissue, there is a variant of the FBN1 gene that provides instructions to make fibrilin-1 which is needed to give strength and flexibility to connective tissue. It also is needed to bind to growth factors and release them for repair of tissues and organs. In Marfans, the FBN1 has a variant that reduces the amount of functional fibrillin-1 that is available to make microbibrils. As a result, microfibrils are not able to bind to growth factors, so excess growth factors are available and elasticity in many tissues is decreased, leading to overgrowth and instability of tissues in Marfan syndrome.

There is specifically an excess of TGF-B 1 (transforming growth factor-beta). TGF-B 1 is also in excess in people who are sensitive to mycotoxins, so years ago I researched which herbs would lower TGF-B 1 – or perhaps I should say which herbs will normalize it as sometimes the same herb will increase and lower TGF-B 1 to a normal amount.

So, although I don’t have an experience in treating Marfans, I would suggest you discuss the idea with your physician of using herbs/supplements to lower TGF-B1.  

The herbs I am mentioning here specifically lower TGF-beta 1.Herbs and nutritional supplements that have been found to lower TGF-B might be useful. The drug Losartan which lowers TGF-beta 1 has been used in research to help in Marfans specifically because it lowers TGF-beta 1. I would mention that Losartan is acting on multiple mechanistic pathways besides TGF-B too. Losartan is also used by some physicians as part of the treatment for people sensitive to mold as well as an antihypertensive. (Those who do not use herbs/nutrition.)

I would also provide basic building blocks in the diet for healthy connective tissue to be made.  These could include: Bone broth, grass fed, organic gelatin.

An individual could also take flavonoids, b vits, glutamine, magnesium, vit. K, sulfate (magnesium and sulfate can be obtained by epsom salt baths - some people have trouble changing sulfur or sulites into sulfate that is needed to make collagen), zinc, copper, and vitamin C  -  in your diet or as a multivitamin/mineral to help you  make new connective tissue.

Some natural items that have been shown to decrease high TGF beta-1 are below. You can find many more on my website.

Resveratrol – Ecological Formulations 100 mg from Polygonum cuspidatum root. 1 capsule BID - (Resveratrol is high in red grapes with seeds and skin as well as the herb Polygonum cuspidatum - Japanese Knotweed)

Barley extract (procyanidin B-3 in it) and apples: Procyanidin oligomers in apples and barley counteract TGF-beta1

Panax ginseng

Rhodiola rosea have been shown to lower TGF beta-1.

Ginkgo 24% also inhibits TGF beta-1: This herb has contraindications, so if you do not know them, learn them before using it.

Boswellia serrrata - Has been shown to down-regulate TGF beta-1.

Salvia miltiorrhiza - This is especially helpful if the person also have a kidney transplant or they have CHF as this herb will additionally help in these areas. People with organ transplants have high TGF beta-1 due to medications they take also. They are more complicated to work with.

Taurine: 500mg -2 grams per day. Take in 2-3 doses. - Thorne has a 500 mg Taurine product. The amino acid that is so important for bile conjugation (glycine too) has been shown in research to lower TGF b-1.

Green tea polyphenols - Take 500 mg BID or two cups of strong green tea per day. epigallocatechin gallate (Green tea catechins):(EGCG), a major (and the most active) component of green tea extracts inhibits TGF-beta.

Genistein (high in beans): Lots of yummy beans to eat. Always pre-soak them. Red clover tea is nice also.

(S)-[6]-Gingerol has been shown to lower TGF beta-1. This is found in Zingiber officinalis - Ginger.

Vitamin D & Sunshine: Vit D decreases levels of TGF-β and NF-kappaB. Monitor levels fof vitamin D for correct dosage.

Research shows safflower and canola oil increase TGF b-1   I mention this as these horrible oils are in many prepared foods.

8 months ago