Originally posted on The Herb Society of America Blog: By Maryann Readal With its bright red calyces, green leaves, and okra-like flowers, Hibiscus sabdariffa, also known as red zinger, red sorrel, sour tea, Florida cranberry, and roselle, makes an unusual and striking accent plant in the garden. On a recent trip to Montreal, I was…
In the modern world, it can be challenging to get a good night’s rest. Keeping a healthy daytime lifestyle as well as a calming nighttime ritual are excellent ways to prepare the body for restful sleep filled with exciting and inspiring dreams! There are even traditions in which herbs are used during sleep, not only to bring about peaceful snoozing, but also to create vivid, lucid dreaming landscapes sure to bring happiness, rather than grogginess, to your waking state.
The practice of placing herbs under one’s pillow dates back centuries and was originally thought to protect against evil, bring good dreams, calm bad dreams, foresee the future, or even conjure a lover into one’s life! No matter the reason, herbal pillows are an easy way to help promote peaceful sleep and encourage dreaming. These pillows are simple to prepare and make a wonderful “crafternoon” with your friends or family. The first step is to…
View original post 203 more words
Each year as winter approaches, I reliably find my patients asking me about the best herbal remedies to use during the cold weather months. One of the most common questions I encounter is, “What nutritional preparations can I use to help keep my family strong and healthy throughout the sniffle season?”. There’s a wide array of herbs well-suited to addressing specific and general winter wellness goals, but one of my favorite, tried-and-true choices for general immune support is the elderberry.
And while there are lots of ways to enjoy the healthful benefits of elderberries, one of the best-loved is that longtime herbal apothecary staple, elderberry syrup.
Elderberry Syrup Benefits
The berries, flowers, and bark of the elder (Sambucus) plant have long been prized by herbalists across the globe, and modern studies have also substantiated the berries’ ability to help maintain normal, healthy functioning of our immune system*. This makes elderberry an…
View original post 1,163 more words
As we quickly approach Samhain, it is a useful practice to spend some time with rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and build here into your Samhain practices. In this post, we look into some of the magic and medicine of Rosemary, and I share a number of ancestor and Samhain-focused practices that you can use with Rosemary.
An Ancestral Ally of Humans: History, Medicine, Magic
Before we get into what you can make or do with rosemary, let’s spend some time exploring and understanding this ancient herb. Rosemary has been with humanity almost as long as we have written records. Native to the mediterranean region, rosemary was first found referenced on cuineform tablets from Ancient Egypt that are from 5000 BCE–thus, humanity has at least an 8000 year old relationship with this herb (but I suspect it is much longer than our written history!)…
View original post 1,368 more words
Use this DIY decongestant rub to drive away persistent coughs.
I’m not going to lie, I actually love the smell of Vicks vapor rub, but in the aim of having a DIY home, I had to give this a go myself and it really does work. The other beauty here is that when you put Vicks under your nose, it kind of burns; this does not! It’s also great for headaches – just put a little on your temples and where the pain is on your forehead.
Yield: makes 150g
- 150g coconut oil
- 4 sprigs each of oregano, sage, thyme, and basil, ripped into pieces
- 15 drops of thyme essential oil
- 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
- 15 drops of lavender essential oil
- 10 drops of lemon essential oil
Gently heat the coconut oil and all of the herbs in a double boiler until the oil begins to…
View original post 120 more words
The coming cold and flu season is only one of the hundreds of reasons that immune function should always be at the top of your list of health priorities. The immune system doesn’t just keep sniffles away—it also is the body’s best defense against potentially deadly diseases, such as H1N1 flu, and well-known killers, such as cancer. Your daily habits, including the foods you eat and your exercise and sleep routines, have a significant effect on your immune function. And even if your lifestyle choices are exemplary, environmental toxins, emotional stress, and the wear and tear of aging all conspire to weaken immunity.
How to Protect Your Immune System
The most complex system of the body, the immune system includes the thymus gland, the spleen, bone marrow and a vast network of lymph nodes that are scattered throughout the body. The immune system also maintains a variety of white blood…
View original post 2,346 more words
Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), also known as aronia berry, is a member of the economically important rose (Rosaceae) family, which includes other pome-producing plants like apple (Malus spp.), pear (Pyrus spp.), and quince (Cydonia oblonga). A pome is a fruit produced by the Malinae subtribe within Rosaceae. The genus Aronia includes two species of shrubs that are both native to North America: A. melanocarpa (black chokeberry) and A. arbutifolia (red chokeberry).1 Aronia melanocarpa grows to a height of 4-8 feet (1.2-2.4 meters) and is a cold-hardy, deciduous, thicket-forming shrub that prefers full sun and woodland edges.2,3 Black chokeberry’s natural range extends from the northeastern part of North America and the Great Lakes region to the Appalachian Mountains.1
In spring, black chokeberry shrubs produce clusters of white-to-pink flowers that are 2-2.5 inches long and each form 10-15 pea-sized, purple-black pomes after…
View original post 3,344 more words
by Emma Kathryn
Published in Witch Way Magazine’s May issue
Herbal teas are a fantastic way to bring your magical practice into your everyday life. For me, every aspect of making tea, from the sourcing of ingredients (foraging is my thing!) to the blending of them, is part of that witching process, and I use my magical knowledge as well as my mundane skills to infuse them with, well, magic!
Teas can be drunk for a variety of reasons, least of all because you like them. There are blends that help with the mundane as well as the magical, teas that revive the soul and others the body. And who doesn’t love tea anyway!
A note on teas and blends. When making a single cup of tea, a teaspoon of herb matter is all that is required, which is fine when using a single ingredient but does make it a…
View original post 947 more words
This article was originally written for Mother Earth Living magazine and is published here with permission from the publisher. Mother Earth Living is an American bimonthly magazine about sustainable homes and lifestyle.
Aromatic plant smoke holds an ancient and familiar allure. The alchemy of transforming dried plants into fragrant smoke has a profound effect on the feeling—or energy—of a space or person. There’s a reason that cultures all around the globe burn aromatic plants in ceremony and religious practices. The emotional sway of scent, coupled with smoke, is universal and dare I say, unparalleled.
Throughout history, people have burned a large number of plants in the form of incense, resins, and leafy bundles, for various spiritual and practical purposes. Certain botanicals contain essential oils that act as a deterrent to insects. When these plants are burned, the essential oils carried in the aromatic smoke helps drive away pests like mosquitos, fleas, and biting flies. Additionally, the smoke from such plants is often antimicrobial. In one study, various plants were burned to release smoke into the air, effectively reducing airborne populations of pathogenic bacteria by 94% in one hour. Another study examined the antimicrobial effects of smoke obtained from various South African plants that are traditionally burned, and found the smoke to be more antimicrobial than other extracts from the same plants.
Having lived in the humid southeast in various primitive structures, I can personally attest to smoke’s ability to deter mold. You can imagine the importance of aromatic plant smoke before the invention of doors, screens, and contemporary hygiene practices. Burning fragrant leaves and resins helped keep people and their spaces healthy!
People also burn aromatic plants for the enjoyment of the scent or to promote positive feelings. If you diffuse essential oils in your home or light natural aromatherapy candles, you’re using a concentrated form of botanical aroma. Burning smoke sticks, resins, or aromatic leaves is simply a less concentrated way of releasing essential oils—and related aromatic plant compounds—coupled with the visual and olfactory mystique of smoke.
The spiritual and religious traditions of burning aromatic botanicals are rich and varied, traversing almost every religion and continent. The ancient Egyptians burned botanical incense as much as four thousand years ago. Aromatic plant smoke figures into the ceremonies of Buddhists, Christians, Taoists, Pagans, and Hindus.
Throughout North America, various Native peoples have bundled and burned aromatic herbs for centuries. Plants such as white sage (Salvia apiana), sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), and sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) are used in ceremony and for other healing purposes. The practices and rituals vary among groups, with very specific and deliberate traditions.
I am of European descent and am not trained in any one culture’s traditional practices or ceremonies, therefore I am careful to not portray my bundling or burning as traditional Native American in style or practice. Additionally, I gather or grow plants that were traditionally used for aromatic smoke in Europe, and incorporate these into my bundles. As such, I will refer to these aromatic bundles as “smoke sticks,” as this is more universally applied. I’m specifically avoiding the terms “smudge sticks” or “smudging,” as these refer to specific practices, which belong to certain indigenous cultures in the Americas.
Many indigenous groups believe that aromatic plant bundles should not be sold but instead should be traded, gifted, or homemade. All the more reason to learn how to make your own!
Harvesting and bundling aromatic smoke sticks is actually quite easy and fun. Consider hosting a gathering with a group of friends—each bringing material from her own garden or neighborhood—and combining the botanical bounty into collective aromatic smoke bundles. Every time you burn a stick, the warmth of your friendships will be rekindled!
Read complete article at: Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine ~ Homegrown and Wild Harvested Aromatic Smoke Sticks
Does the odor of sage evoke warmth, cheer, and holiday feasts for you? Sage has long been used to add savor, magic, and medicine to winter meals. Culinary sage is available at any grocery store, and sage is one of the easiest of all herbs to grow — whether in a pot, on a windowsill, or in the garden. So, grab some sage, inhale deeply, and let me tell you more about this old friend.
Sage is Salvia, which means “savior.” As a member of the mint family, it has many of the healing properties of its sisters. Of special note are the high levels of calcium and other bone-building minerals in all mints, including sage, and the exceptionally generous amounts of antioxidant vitamins they offer us.
Everywhere sage grows — from Japan to China, India, Russia, Europe, and the Americas — people have valued it highly and used…
View original post 983 more words