My Herbs Blog
bIt is best to take your herbs as close to nature as possible. My number one favorite way, is of course FRESH and chopped up in food. Parsley in spaghetti, garlic in everything, oregano added to chicken. I usually add my herbs at the very end so that the properties are intact. This works great for the culinary herbs, but when you have medicinal herbs- herbal teas are my next top preference. There is something so comforting and soothing about drinking a cup of tea.
Then, I would have to say- dried herbs in their whole state, as in these hand roll pills is my third top preference for taking herbs, because they are minimally processed, and you get to taste the herb. Taste and minimal processing are key components for a connection with the remedy of choice. These hand rolled "pills" are easy to make, but can take a while. I suggest you have a few workers on hand. Lucky for me, I have a lot of children, and we were able to make a few hundred in an hour! We have a big family, so we need a lot! I am going to give you a recipe for a large batch, because they will last a long time (and not go bad). You can easily cut the batch in half or thirds.
For the little herb pills we made, the main ingredients were Spirulina and Chlorella. Both are algaes. Green foods from the sea. I buy in powder amounts, usually 4 ounce bags. You can find these powders at Mountain Rose Herbs (see my banners in the footer below).
Arthrospira platensis is blue-green algae that is harvested and dried for its healthful value. Spirulina is cultivated and consumed throughout the world as a source of food and nutrition. Our organic spirulina powder can be sprinkled on food or added to spice mixes, smoothies, green drinks, and juices.
For centuries, the native peoples of Mexico, Africa and Asia have eaten spirulina and made it one of their major sources of protein. The blue green algae is plentiful in lakes and inland bodies of water that are warm and alkaline. The plant's chemical makeup is 65% amino acids, including the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA). The high concentration of amino acids has made spirulina a popular nutritional supplement for those who are unable to obtain sufficient calories and protein through diet alone, particularly athletes who burn calories at a high rate. In addition to amino acids, spirulina is also a rich source of numerous other nutrients, including many essential vitamins and minerals. Research into the medical benefits of spirulina is ongoing, but there is no doubt about its nutritional benefits.
- From Mountain Rose Herbs website
Chlorella is not as known and mainstream as Spirulina, but is very similar in that it is a blue/ green sea algae packed with power. This is just a side note, but growing up we have a creek near our house, and sometimes it would become filled with this dark green algae. We never ate it, but I remember thinking how amazingly green it was, and we would play with it, and build things with the sturdy fibers. It was soft and full of life. I am constantly in awe of the splendor of nature and what is provided if we take notice and care.
Chlorella vulgaris is a single-celled algae and considered to be among the oldest living organisms on Earth. Chlorella is enjoyed for its healthful properties and is often added to smoothies, green drinks, capsules, extracts, and even spice blends. Indian chlorella powder has a strong flavor and brews into a dark color.
Chlorella is a single celled algae that some scientists believe may be among the Earth's oldest living organisms, but it was only in the 1960's that Japanese scientists began to study chlorella as a tool of good health. Natural health enthusiasts know chlorella well as an excellent source of general nutrition. The chlorella offered by Mountain Rose Herbs has a cracked outer cell wall which is broken by a high impact cryogenic jet-spray process that pulverizes the algae's cell wall for enhanced digestibility.
-Shared from Mountain Rose Herbs website
You will also need 1 ounce of slippery elm powder, and 1 ounce of cacao powder, plus more cacao for dusting and serving as a flour to keep your hands from sticking. You will pour all your powders into a bowl and mix. Then add 1 cup water, and 1 cup honey. Stir well with a wooden spoon or spatula. You want the mixture to resemble bread down, or dough for making a pie crust. It should roll nice and shape into a ball. If it is too wet, add some more cacao and slippery elm. If too dry, add a bit more water.
After you have a nice shaped ball, then you can dust your hands in the cacao powder, and start pinching off pieces of the spirulina dough and roll into pill shaped balls. Set the balls onto cookie sheets. This part will take a while, especially if you work alone. I did this with 2 other children, and it took us an entire hour to make all the balls. (My kids were not as fast as I). I didn't count how many we had when finished, but I filled up three and a half large bottles with the rolled spirulina pills.
After rolling everything, you need to air dry, or very lightly dry them in the oven. I just turned on the oven light, and set the trays inside for about an hour, and then I set the trays on my kitchen table over night. Our coal stove is running and the house is warm, so I figured they would dry sufficiently overnight and they did. I bottled them pills, by putting a small piece of cotton in the bottom of each jar, before filling (to absorb moisture).
The end result- is delicious! I love them, and could eat as a treat. My kids absolutely love them, and I am happy to know they are super nutritious!
I decided to start a series of blog posts and videos. (I will be posting a related video down below from my YouTube Channel : Sheep Hill Herbs) The topic is 100 things I learned from being an Herbalist the past 2 decades. These are hidden secrets and truths. Honestly stuff that people don't want you to know, because they are free and it cuts into profit. I am all about making a profit, but not at the expense of a person getting well. This is my second post and 2 of 100 to come. Go back in the blog posts, and you will find my 1st post on the DECISION to be HEALTHY.
I learned this lesson the hard way, by spending thousands and thousands of dollars on different tests, and products that maybe gave me some forward movement, but were in the end more of a stress because of cost. On my natural health journey, and in my pursuit to find a vibrant and radiant way of living- I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars. If I added it up, it would be more like tens of thousands of dollars on products and services.
I want to share here what I believe is essential, but not necessary, and the pitfalls in expenditure in the pursuit of wellness. First I want to say that herbs are FREE. Well, many of them are. So many medicinal herbs grow in our backyards, if you take the time to care for, harvest, and cultivate. If you do not have plants, then chances are your neighbor does, or friends and family. Many fruiting trees, and wild plants like chickweed, are called invasive, or a nuisance because of their rapid growth and spread, or messy fruit that falls to the ground, but they are also exceptionally useful and healing in nature.
Herbs you buy at the greenhouse, are really inexpensive as well, and even cheaper are buying seed packets and planting your own herbs. I think this must be God's gift to mankind, because plants grow rapidly, spread easily and essentially are inexpensive. That is why, expensive products are made and marketed because there isn't a lot of profit to be made in a plant that grows everywhere. If you do not want to grow, collect, or find and gather your plants and herbs, then purchasing dried herbs again is not going to break the bank. They are a fraction of the cost of supplements.
Now, I like supplements, and have taken many over the years, but I have found that the supplements, and herbal products, closer to nature, and with less processing, work better and do not exhaust finances. I also think, because of what we know about health care in this country, and the high, exuberant costs, there is a feeling or belief that natural health needs to be expensive to be effective. I have found for myself, that I have received excellent services, bits of wisdom, and forward movement by working with local, community practitioners such as Nutritionists, Chiropractors, and Massage Therapists, that were very affordable, and very knowledgeable at what they do.
I know this- when dealing with a health issue, adding on debt and financial stress is only going to make the burden of the mind and thus hamper the healing of the body. It is my firm belief that God, and the Universe at large would not want that for His people. A loving Father would provide a viable means of healing that is affordable for all. Now there are definite times and needs for intervention, or if a person has been in a bad state for a long time, that expensive services might be needed to "reset" the clock, so to speak. For instance, if a person has had no care for their teeth for many many years, and is riddled with many cavities and other problems, there may be a need to spend a large sum of money to fix the problem and get in a good position to work with nature.
I can totally understand when dire situations call for extreme measures. I am speaking of prevention, and daily living, and revitalizing the system. There are many things that you can do that make significant changes in the body, in a positive direction.
Water therapy is a very effective method for rejuvenating the body, and that can be in the form of foot baths, with dried mustard, alternating hot and cold showers (see https://www.wimhofmethod.com/), swimming in the ocean, swimming in general, hot baths with sea salt and essential oils, tea fomentations, and even just listening to the sounds of the ocean. All of these natural methods are inexpensive and "free" for the taking if you have access, which unless you are in a very restricted country with no movement, you should have access to clean water. Water has been an amazing therapy tool in my own journey, and it is very important to me to go to clean and pure water sources. I am not an environmentalist so to speak, but I believe in taking care of nature, more from a Native American philosophy.
Sun therapy. Sunshine is exceptionally therapeutic and healing. There has been a lot of fear and warning about the sun and staying out of the sun, and covering up in the sun. I believe it is necessary to be careful when going to the beach for the first time in the year, if you have no tan base at all. You will most definitely get burned, and burning the skin is not healthy. However, slowly tanning and building up the bodies natural mechanism for skin protection is very beneficial. Dr. Christopher recommended sun bathing all year round, even in the winter. He would tell his students to use to wash lines and put sheets up on both sides to make a sort of protected area, and then start by sunning the entire body, for even just 1 minute on each side, and then increasing that time as each day passes.
The sun can also be helpful in "pulling impurities" and toxins out of the body. Dr. John R. Christopher said that if you get skin cancer, it really was cancer in the body that the sun pulled out to the skin. I am not sure about this, as I am not a doctor, but I can definitely see the extrapolation of this premise for the sun does wonders to extract all kinds of imbedded "stuff" in our skin from long winter months with very little sun, and heavy clothing. I always feel like my skin looks so much better, and refreshed during the summer months, however, I do go through a bit of a cleansing in Spring when my pores start to re-open and I begin my gardening season.
Lastly- I want to briefly touch on the topic of eating well, and the high cost for Organic. This is a separate topic in and of itself. I will be sharing a lot of tips on how to save on cost and eat really well. I have a family of 7 people and most would be shocked at the low cost of my food bill and the healthy food we eat. I do however spend a lot of time making foods from scratch and that is a big part of the savings. The time spent in my own kitchen is better than time spent in a hospital, or sick and missing out on life.
I am an Herbalist- I study herbs and have used herbs and food as medicine for the last 20 years. I am not a doctor. The information I will share here is based on what I have learned from 20 years of trial and error, study and experimentation. Some things may resonate with you and other things may not. My journey has led me to be 100% devoted to herbal medicine, but that does not mean your journey will lead you to be. I have not been in a void though- I have turned to many guides, Chiropractors, and Natural Doctors, and the Holy Spirit to learn what I have learned. I hope to teach you to love your body, love plants, and trust.
I have been making videos, a sort of collection of "How To's"- How to make tea, How to make Tinctures, How to this, How to that... and I realized that there is some other information that is more valuable, the information that I didn't really read about in books, or that was not told to me directly, that I had to discover as a series of revelations. I decided to start a series of blog posts, and videos sharing 1 of those secrets each day, (or every other day) depending on how organized my schedule is.
For today I wanted to start with this first lesson. It was by NO means my FIRST lesson, in fact it was perhaps 8 years into my journey before I discovered this lesson. I think it was after I heard Gary D. Young (found of Young Living) speak in New York. I honestly only remember one line from his speech and it was this. He said that when he worked with Cancer patients, they had to journal and the first question he asked them or had them journal about was "When did you decide to have cancer?"
Wow! Did I hear him correctly? Decide to have. This might cause many to be angry. We have been taught by media and culture that disease is indiscriminate, like a predator, waiting and lurking to attack. I remember thinking that the unlucky or unfortunate got ill, and that you had no choice if your genetics decided to "give you" a disease. Now I am not talking about children born will illnesses, but there are many aspect of family genetics, and nutrition, lifestyle choices that we make that will affect our progeny, without their consent.
We are all born with some weakness (inherited). Some much more than others. I personally have a family history of bowel disease, heart disease, skin issues, eczema, diabetes even Cancer. I remember a number of years ago when both my parents were going through Cancer treatment, and I was terrified. Terrified for them, terrified for myself, terrified for my children. I remember thinking- this is not my inheritance. I WILL NOT accept this as my inheritance. At that time I was really struggling with my own health. I had numerous food allergies, and constant bowel distress, body stress, fatigue, and emotional strain.
BUT- I decided. It was in the fall, and it was over a series of months of prayer and deep thought, and study and I decided. Not ME! I will be healthy. I will be healthy. I will. I want to say I willed myself to get better and that was it. I did in part will it. There were many many things I did, and I will be sharing them every day. Health has to be a series of decisions made over and over and over again. Repeated decisions of health and thoughts of health and choices that lead to that result. It has to be, because otherwise, what kind of life do we live where evil is visited upon us without any choice.
So when I am working with people in my community and my family with herbs, and they are not getting results, or the wellness they desire. The question has to be asked. "Is there programming here for the opposite of wellness. Do they believe in their core that they deserve to be healthy, or that it is even possible?"
I am here to say that it is possible to believe that health and wellness is a state you can be in. I am not saying that you can be PERFECT and I will talk a lot about perfection. I am not saying that you can cure all disease, especially if you have progressed too far in the opposite direction of optimal health. I am saying though that you can get to a place in your thoughts that you believe and have decided that you will be healthy.
We are all winding down to a time of death. It is inevitable for all of us. Our bodies are physical and we are spirit. Our spirit will go on, and our bodies perish. You can not will your physical body to last forever. You can decide though, the mind frame that you will live with during this life, and the more positive it is, the more your physical body will thank you.
This inconspicuous 198 page book, written in 1979, changed my life and how I help others with herbs. I highly recommend it if you are a practitioner, or someone serious about helping your family and community with herbal remedies. I have a link here to Amazon for purchase. My thanks ahead of time, and the book is inexpensive- but a must have for any herbalist.
I read this book with my husband on our way to Connecticut and back a few years ago. We sometimes do this, where the passenger takes turns reading to the driver. I guess it is like the old fashioned way to do a "book on tape." I find that reading out loud is extremely relaxing. That may just be me.
I wanted to take the time to write a mini review for this book, and I plan on writing more on the books that changed my life in general and my life as an herbalist. This is definitely one of them. There are only certain books that have lasting impact, impressions and ideas that are born from the pages. Some books, many books just grace the bookshelf, with very little impact. Others stand tall, and blend with your soul. I have read thousands and thousands of books. I am an avid reader. I can read a few lines of a story and tell you if the book will be good or not. I can tell from the tone, the language, and the introduction. I am a fast reader, and can skim pages absorbing content quickly.
Reading is the best way to learn, besides hands on actual practice. Reading from books- is so much better than digital books. Real books have energy. They have power. They are "alive." I do have a KINDLE and I do read from it every night, but nothing beats a good solid book in real life. I want to always believe we will have books this way, in solid form.
I digress a little, this post is about how this book has changed my life.
Before studying this book, I chose dosage amounts by a standard measure, applied to everyone. I then learned about nutrition response, and doses based upon energetic responses differ for each individual body. Nutrition response is rather in-depth and requires a certain type of training. I searched for some simpler methods that would help and assist me in figuring out what I needed and how much.
Your Body Doesn't Lie was written by John Diamond M.D. and this is an excerpt from the back of the book.
"Everything you see, hear, touch or smell affects your body's vital energy. Renowned physician John Diamon explains and proves how this happens in this classic, interactive guide to holistic well-being................ Accessible and easy to understand, this invaluable guide will help you avoid physical problems before they occur."
I want to say that this method of testing is complicated, yet simple. The science behind it is complicated. It is a form of kinesiology. Kinesiology is the "studies of human and animal motion include measures from motion tracking systems, electrophysiology of muscle and brain activity, various methods for monitoring physiological function, and other behavioral and cognitive research techniques." (Kinesiology - Wikipedia)
I have seen various methods to test, but the book describes one with the linking of the middle fingers and thumbs on both hands. This works really well for self-testing and testing others. I want to say that you have to have a faith, and belief that you can actually test this way. I think you also have to believe that we are energy. Our bodies are actually energy in motion.
"The whole universe is made up of energy - and at this level everything is vibrating. Hence, we are all made of this energy and the energy packets are "surfing on this sea of universal consciousness." In other words, We Are All Connected and living in a "thought universe." The intangible world affects the tangible world we experience." (https://www.one-mind-one-energy.com/)
If we are energy, then are bodies can respond energetically (via the nervous system and subconscious mind.) I would say that the most clear testing has come when holding certain foods, or herbs next to the body and then performing the muscle test and getting a strong "yes" or "no" as to a lock or match for the body. Let me give you an example. You may have a perfectly fine food- like Cayenne peppers, but a person may get a "no" as to not needing it because they may have too much heat in their body. So just because a food is good, or healthy does not mean that a body needs it at that point in time.
Same works with say lettuce greens. A person may have a lot of water or be holding water in their kidneys, and watery vegetables may give a strong "no" answer and although salads are healthy, that particular food will put the body in a more unbalanced state at that particular time.
In summary. Your Body Doesn't Lie- is an excellent book. It is a classic guide to true wellness. A true gem of a study for people looking to have more clues into how their body works. I recommend for sensitive types, or people who have intuitive, or empathic tendencies. This technique is really difficult for someone out of touch with nature and the messages of their body. It also takes time, and practice to develop this skill. Again- great book!
I wanted to address a question or concern that the herbs you are taking may not be working, or seem to be taking a long time to work. There are a number of reasons that this could be so, but I want to look at 2 big reasons.
The first is that the herbs you are eating, or taking, or applying topically are of inferior quality. Unfortunately this happens a lot. My personal favorite way to "use" herbs is to grow, gather, and collect my own plants, dry them and make medicine from them. The next best method, is if you have a friend, or community Herbalist who is doing this and you get your herbs from them. If you buy herbs in capsules in bottles, you have no way to be sure that you are getting a great product. Of course you could go on the recommendation of others and what has worked for them, but just remember by the time you buy a bottle of capsules, the herb has gone through a lot of processing. Even a great herbal company will lose some potency and effectiveness in the herb just through process.
The best way to preserve is drying immediately and saving the dried herbs as tea, or fresh wilting them, and turning them into tinctures for long term preservation. I do recommend Mountain Rose Herbs as a reputable herb supplier, and have a banner below for their herbs. I also like many other small farms that grow and make small batches of herbal products, like Free Verse Farm in Vermont. I hate to say it, but stay away from big chain store brand herbal products. I do not want to name names, but if it is a box store, don't get your herbs there.
The second main reason your herbs may not be working, is that your mind or your thoughts are working against the herbs. Herbs work. They work so well that if you give even small amounts, of safe herbs to a child or even a pet, the herbs know what to do, and work on fixing a problem. The child or the animal has no preconceived thoughts, fears, doubts or troubles and when they take the herbs that are given to them by a trusted person, the herbal medicines do their job.
If you have suffered from some sort of chronic or long term affliction, you will have built thought patterns of doubt, disbelief, frustration and even skepticism of ever really getting well. So you may take handfuls of herbs every day, and your subconscious mind may be working against you actually getting better. If you are one of these people, and you find yourself frustrated with your results, and lack of progress, you will want to get to the deeper level, the subconscious level of the mind and "reprogram" your feelings about wellness.
I am going to have to say that this is going to be difficult, at first. Your conscious mind will reject the new programming. If you have been afflicted for years, there is a lot to undo. The trick, or technique I am going to suggest will feel uncomfortable and very hard, at first. If you can continue though, on a daily basis, you will find that you are making progress at a faster and more successful rate. I learned about these techniques from a motivational speaker, Jake Ducey. He is not an Herbalist, but I apply much of his teachings to my herbal practice.
The best time to do what I am going to suggest, is right before bed, when you are relaxed. In fact, you will definitely want to help relaxation by doing something with herbs. Burn a smudge stick of Mugwort, put Lavender on your pillow, drink a cup of chamomile tea, take a few drops of Valerian. Or you may need to do all of these things to relax before this exercise.
Then you will lay down in bed, with the lights low. I don't want you to fall asleep yet. Resting, say to yourself, "I am healthy." You can do this out loud, or in your head. As you say it though, you need to visualize, or imagine a picture of yourself, as a healthy self. For instance, I see myself leaping through a sunny field, almost floating through the grass, smiling, feeling free, and wonderful. If you have been sick for a long time, this will be most difficult, but give it a try. Imagine yourself as the healthy way you want to be. You can be anywhere, doing anything, but really get into the feeling of it. FEEL it happening, see it with your mind. Repeat "I am healthy." For the first night, do this 5 minutes, and then go to sleep.
It is really important to be in the feeling of health before falling asleep because this will carry into the deeper parts of your mind, as you sleep. When you wake up, I know you will feel better than ever. Then throughout the day, when you feel tempted, or frustrated again. Remember that feeling of health and the visual you created for yourself, and tell yourself again, "I am healthy."
Continue with this exercise every night, maybe extending it up to 10 minutes before sleeping. Do this as long as you need to see the results you want to see. I cannot tell you how long, but it will be different for each person. I think for myself, I did a certain visual for at least a few months, maybe up to 6 and then as if peeling the layers of an onion, I would "work" on something else.
I still do this technique before bed, as I am wanting to manifest other things in my life, and I know that it all starts with how our subconscious mind has been programmed. I could go on an on about this, but I will say that I had to do this to see my own personally healing. I actually said "I am healthy, wealthy and wise," as my little mantra. I said it over and over, and really felt it. I have seen my health increase many times over, and the wealth of our household. Wisdom- well lets just say I have always been wise.😉
Photo credits for this post, www.unsplash.com
I am not a therapist, or a doctor. I am an Herbalist. I like all the definitions of an Herbalist- from dictionary.com
1. a person who collects or deals in herbs, especially medicinal herbs.
2. herb doctor.
3. an author of an herbal.
4. (formerly) a botanist.
Many herbs that I incorporate into my practice as a community herbalist, are designed to help deal with grief. Let me tell you a story. When I was a teenage, my dog died. I really loved this dog. She went to the Veterinarian for surgery, and she was suppose to come home. When she was there, the Vet put her to sleep. There were complications, and because she was a dog, and not a human, it was "easier" to put the animal to sleep then to not. I was so terribly devastated. This was my beloved animal, and I never got to say goodbye. I didn't say goodbye when she went in for surgery, because it was not suppose to be goodbye.
Consequently, as a child I lost a lot of faith, not that I had a lot, but I lost faith in the God I was learning to call by name. For many years after that loss, I wandered in a Godless dessert not understanding the pain from that event.
I have since learned that God uses all things for the good, even very painful things, and living a life without God is an exercise in futility. Not only that, I feel that it caused me a lot more heartache, and physical deterioration in my own body, mind and spirit.
There are some very wonderful herbs that can help bring about a healing from past traumas. You only need to be a recipient of what they have to offer and let the plants do the work.
Just recently my father passed. This was the biggest grief I have ever faced, but in the midst of the BIG grief, I found God in an even BIGGER way. I also relied on my herbal knowledge to help me through some tough times. My go to herbs during the month of grieving were Lobelia, Lavender, Mugwort, Valerian, Chamomile and Catnip. Now there are many other herbs I incorporated with these plants, but specifically (write their Latin names here) stood out as the stars in my healing through the pain of losing my father.
There wasn't a day that I didn't burn incense (Nag Champa, Frankincese or Sandalwood), in the house. I also really relied on burning smudge sticks such as Sage and Mugwort to cleanse the air and change the energy in my home. With a large family, all grieving a father, grandfather and mentor- the emotional energy was "off" so to say. The subtle smoke produced from burning either incense or a smudge stick worked wonders on my own personal mood, and over-all feeling of well-being.
Lobelia: Lobelia Inflata, and Great Blue Lobelia are both plants that I have personal experience with. I learned about Lobelia, from the great herbalist Dr. John R. Christopher. This was one of his favorites! He called it "The Thinking Herb," and included it in many of his formulas.
I have learned to really love Lobelia, and will share one of my experiences with it. This past winter I came down with a very thick, congested cough, and had trouble breathing in the night. I do not remember everything I was doing herbally, but I remember this:
I woke up, trying to cough, but feeling so thick in my chest. I had a bottle of Lobelia tincture I had made with Apple Cider Vinegar. I knew that if I took a lot, maybe 8 teaspoons, which is a lot, that the herb might cause an emetic reaction. I normally take about 1 dropperful at a time, which is about 35 drops. I began by taking dropperfuls, and waiting a few minutes in-between. I think it was somewhere around the 12th dropperful, which would have been about 3 teaspoons, that I felt a loosening, and a shift where I could then breathe.
At that point, I went to bed, and slept so peacefully; it was amazing!
Lavender: Not sure if I have to say much about this wonderful plant. There probably isn't a person alive, ok- I am exaggerating, but there probably are very few people who have not smelled this heavenly wonder. Lavender if very acceptable as a plant remedy, especially when used for its aromatic properties. Many times I wanted to find something else, and get away from lavender, because it is so "trite." That really does lavender disservice. Nothing compares to the sweet, relaxing fragrance of properly grown, and cared for lavender flowers, especially when distilled into an essential oil. This is probably my favorite method of applying lavender as a relaxation remedy. I like to diffuse it in the air, rub it on my wrists, make dream pillows filled with it, and I often mix some in my herbal tea blends. Lavender is a good herbal friend, and one I would not want to be without.
Mugwort: Artemesia vulgaris, or I have heard it called Cronewort by Susan Weed. This plant is one I only became acquainted with this year. I was set to identify as many plants as possible on my property and surrounding areas, and this one I found nearby. A "weed" I have often over looked, but as I have got to know this plant I realize how stunning and singularly amazing it is for relaxation. The first night I brought it home, I slept with some near my bed, and had very vivid dreams and deep sleep. If an herb helps me sleep, it becomes one of my new favorite plants. I then tried it as a tea, with the same results, and proceeded to make smudge sticks which I have burned in the evening, giving the whole household good night's sleep. It is a plant I would always want to keep on hand, as sleep is very important to overall health and well-being.
Valerian: Valerian, is said to "smell like stinky socks." I am not sure I agree with that, but it does have a very strong, and surprising odor. When I keep it in my herbal medicine chest, it is one of the first herbs, I smell, when I open the door. It is sort of musty and earthy. When I speak of Valerian, I am referring to the root. I have never used any other part of the plant, medicinally. However as a flowering plant, it is quite lovely and often planted for its beauty.
This was one of the first plants I was given when I went to an Herbalist 20 years ago. She gave it to me for stress, and to promote relaxation. I was not so aware of things back then, and did not see the cause and effect between lifestyle and physical manifestation. Since that time, Valerian has been a faithful herb that I take during times of stress, and deep grief. I have made a formula with Valerian, Chamomile, and Lavender. It is a tincture with vegetable glycerin, so it tastes very good! The glycerin is sweet, and the lavender and chamomile shine through, masking some of the muskiness of the Valerian. I give this to my children before bed, when they really need to some calm. My one son in particular had a habit of grinding teeth while sleeping and this remedy worked amazingly to allay that problem.
The last herb I want to talk about is Catnip. This is the very same plant that drives cats wild. It however, has a very calming effect on people. This is due in part to the B Vitamins that this plant possesses. Whenever I find myself frazzled, and unable to sleep, I know it is time for Catnip. Truly I shouldn't let myself go that far, but inevitable it happens, from time to time. Catnip tea is delicious, a bit minty, and soothing a few hours before bed. For a quicker measure, I use a Catnip tincture made with Apple Cider Vinegar. I always have this on hand in large amounts, because it seems to be just what busy, stressful lives require.
I seriously do not know where I would be without the plant world, and the relaxing herbs specifically. I think I would have had a melt down a long time ago, that I never came back from. Herbs are my closet allies for health and wellness, and have proved time and time again, their faithfulness. I thank God for his mercies, and for giving us such a wonderful replenishing medicine.
Oh- how I am already missing the plants of spring, and look forward to the next time I see them bloom. When you can not enjoy a fresh plant, or fresh root, dried is the next best thing. What I have learned, and also experienced is that herbs are the best medicine in tea form. There is something spiritual, earthy and so natural about making a tea/ tisane/ decoction or infusion of plant matter.
Let me first define those for words for you: An Herbal Tea is plant material extracted into water, by sun, heat, or even lunar rays.
Tisane- This is actually another word for Infusion, and is employed when working with the delicate parts of a plant, like the flowers, leaves, stems, seeds, and roots that have volatile oils.
"Infusing extricates the easily rendered vitamins, minerals, tannins, mucilage, delicate volatile oils, and many of the plant's chemical constituents."
-Rosemary Gladstar (The Science and Art of Herbology)
A Decoction- Is a type of infusion, but is used for roots and barks. The plant matter that is harder, and stubborn and needs some more time in slightly boiling water to extract the important materials.
To make a really good, and strong Dandelion Root herbal tea, you will employ the decoction method. Dandelion roots, can be dug up and I do have video on this process you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E71XwW0i03k
Chances are you have not already dug up roots, or enough for an entire winter. I know I have not. I usually use my dandelion roots pretty quickly and have to rely on those I buy. Look for herbs that are strong in smell, color, and taste. It may be hard to taste before buying but if you are able to sample from a small farm, then I would recommend that. More than likely if you buy from a small farm your herbs will be good!
Dandelion roots smell so good! I love opening a bag and taking a deep breath. I think I crave dandelion in all forms, the leaf, the flowers, the roots. My body must need them!
I also learned from Rosemary Gladstar's teachings to never make just a cup of tea. (Unless you are using tea bags). I am going to do a link here for Traditional Medicinals Dandelion tea. This was Rosemary Gladstar's company in the beginning and truly I think the only box tea worth drinking. If you do not want to buy the roots, but want to enjoy dandelion root tea. Try Traditional Medicinals Organic Roasted Dandelion Root tea.
Anyway let us get back to the directions. You will need a large pot with a lid, 1 cup dandelion root (dried), and 1 gallon of water. That is it! Three ingredients. I like to make my dandelion tea strong. It is much tastier, and more effective herbally. Pour your water into the pot and put on the lid. Turn the heat on medium high for a few minutes. Add the dandelion roots and replace the lid. You will want to keep watch on the pot, as soon as the water is boiling, turn the heat down to medium, or a simmer and put the lid back on. Simmer the roots for 25 minutes (with the lid on).
When the simmer is up, remove from heat and let stand another 10 minutes to "steep" further. At this point you can serve the tea hot with honey and milk, or let it cool further and put in a gallon jar in the refrigerator to drink cold. I personally like it both ways.
Lastly- I think it would be prudent for me to share the virtues of dandelion roots, as it is most fitting for this post. According to Dr. Nicole Apelian in her book The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies (which is a great starter book by the way) "Dandelion root is used to aid digestion and benefits the kidneys, gallbladder, and the liver. It stimulates bile production, helping with the digestion of fats and toxin removal. It removes toxins from the body and restores electrolyte balance, which improves liver health and function."
This is not an herb specific post, but related in many ways. On my blog I do receive commission as an Amazon affiliate when a person links from my web page, goes to Amazon and buys something. For this blog- I am recommending this chocolate, and do not have a commission link. This chocolate is just so good, I have to write about it, and because of the herbal component, I really wanted to write about this chocolate.
The crazy thing is- I can not find this chocolate on Amazon, but on the Walmart site. I would never in a million years think that the manufacturer's of this chocolate would market through Walmart, because it is just so good and so natural, but ok.
The brand is called Honey Mama's. I found it at my local discount store, and thought I would give it a try. I have to be honest, they only had 2 flavors, so I have not tried all the flavors. I bought Peppermint, and Nibs & Coffee.
The chocolate is wrapped in a paper wrapping, and is square. It has "PALEO" on the label, which got my attention.
Honey Mama’s are honey-cocoa bars made from five nutrient-rich ingredients. We make each flavor from the same delicious base of raw honey, unrefined coconut oil, cocoa powder, Himalayan pink salt, and sprouted almonds, shredded coconut, or sesame seeds. That’s it!
-Description taken from Honey Mama's website
They are Our bars are naturally free from soy, eggs, dairy, gluten, and grains.
Ok- Now I will describe my experience.
So I opened the package and the bar is divided into segments, and they are thick. It is not a typical chocolate bar. In fact it really is not a bar at all. Almost like blocks. The taste, texture and flavors are heavenly. It is pure heavenly chocolate. This truly must be what chocolate should taste like. There is depth, texture, and richness. It isn't like fudge though, but if I were to liken it to anything it would be fudge. I tasted, and felt healthy! Very healthy, and extremely delicious!
I only tried the Peppermint, which I normally do not like peppermint and chocolate, but I loved it! I also tried the coffee and nibs, which was equally delicious. This chocolate melts in your mouth, but does not leave you feeling guilty, or with a sick "hung-over" feeling. The quality is amazing!
It looks like they carry 9 different bars. I have pictures below of the other 2 I am most interested in because of the herbal component. I am confident they will not disappoint, and will have to make an updated post after I try them. If anyone has tried these or other flavors, please let me know.
This plant is quite lovely, especially in bloom. Of course it is the tactile feel of the leaves which is most appealing. It does not stun us with fragrance, but feel- "oh my!" Just look at the leaves in the picture, they sure do look like little lamb's ears. This plant belongs to the Stachys family of plants. It is very antimicrobial, which I find extremely interesting, because I would not think it. I usually think of the fragrant plants that are turned into essential oils, oregano, thyme, lavender, etc. as being antimicrobial.
My favorite use for this plant is as a bandage, or wrap for external purposes. The leaves work perfectly in a fomentation, or poultice. Instead of using cloth, I love to use Lamb's Ear when it is available. It is necessary to pick fresh and soft, not dried.
One of my children recently had a large bruise on his leg, from playing as boys play and climb, and run, etc. (Or as they should in normal conditions). It was uncomfortable enough, that I had him sit with a fomentation of Ragweed Tea and the Lamb's ear as a bandage/ poultice.
I love to use herbs in their season and they always seem to be available at just the right time and moment. I had a plethora of Goldenrod, also very good for wounds of all sorts. I brewed a beautiful yellow pot of tea by boiling the water, adding big cuttings of the Goldenrod, and letting it steep with the lid on.
Then I soaked the Lamb's Ear in the pot of tea, until they were hot and soft. I carefully removed the leaves from the pot after about a minute of soaking. A tongs works well for this, and you can lay the hot leaves on a ceramic dish. When the leaves were warm too touch, I laid them on his knee, and left there for 10 minutes. I also wrapped the affected area, with another dry towel to keep the heat in. I repeated this 2 more times (10 minutes) each time. We repeated over a few days, and say a great, and fast healing of the bruise.
I hate that I have to give a warning here. The way the world is, there is a warning for everything. Use common sense when applying and trying herbs. There are a lot of great books and courses with age old information, passed down. Some day I will write my own courses, and books. For now, I will recommend Rosemary Gladstar, because she has great plant knowledge.
Why did I do this? Why not just pop a pill, or rub on some salve? Well- I use intuition as a healer, and experience. It seemed like just what the "herbalist" ordered, when I made the Goldenrod tea, and cut my lamb's ear. Practice. That may be another reason......
How I make my roasted pumpkin seeds:
You will need fresh seeds from a large pumpkin. Scooping your own seeds makes the best roasted seeds. (Whenever I have bought them premade- sorely disappointing, When I can not get pumpkins, I use the seeds from Butternut Squash.
What you need:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt, and Herbs and Spices
Mountain Rose Herbs carries all kinds of sea salts, and herbs and spices to mix your own blend for making pumpkin seeds. You can click on one of my Mountain Rose Herbs banners below. I would recommend mixing: Their Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, with their Mediterranean seasonings. I would mix equal parts, 1 cup of each and store in a glass jar with a lid.
After you scoop out all the seeds, rinse under water in a colander. Pick off all the pulpy pieces and compost them. Continue to pick out all the seeds and set on your cookie tray. This can be boring. It is good to have a helper, (like a child) with this job.
Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil- COLD press only. My favorite oil for all things cooking and making herbal remedies. It is pure, healthy, and a gift from God.
"The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven."
*Side note- never buy Olive Oil in plastic.
Then mix a little bit with the spatula so that the seeds are evenly coated. Then you can sprinkle with sea salt, and garlic powder, and whatever else you desire, or even try a specific spice blend, like the one I listed above. (Sarah's Sea Salt comes in Provencal, Caribbean, and Tuscan blends ).
Put the cookie sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. You will need to keep an eye on the seeds. When they are slightly brown, ever so slightly, they are finished. If you here them pop, they went a little too far, remove from the oven immediately.
Then you can cool slightly and serve in a pretty bowl. Best fall treat ever! Way better than candy.
Jenel Schaffer Videos on YouTube