You have a physical aspect to your heart, and an energetic and emotional aspect to your heart as well. It may seem like more of a metaphorical connection until you think deeply about it. That piercing aches in your chest that come periodically for some and often for others certainly points toward this inextricable connection. The emotional and energetic health of your heart can have a big impact on the physical health of your heart, and vice-versa.
Herbs can be an invaluable ally when it comes to both of these aspects of heart health, and what’s really amazing is that the same herbs can help with both. Nature certainly knows what she is doing!
My favorite herb for heart ease is tulsi. Tulsi is the Queen of Herbs, and she is a wonderful heart soother. She can aid in reducing inflammation and regulating blood pressure, but she can also help ease emotional tension and stress weighing your heart down. As both an adaptogen and a nervine, tulsi holds your hand and has your back.
I’ve brewed up a heart ease “potion,” a tincture that pairs tulsi with two other herbs that work on much the same dualistic levels for the heart: linden and hawthorn. Both of these lovely herbs are nervines often used to address blood pressure and cardiovascular health, as well as anxiety, stress, and depression. There are also folkloric and spiritual connections between all three of these herbs and protection.
Here is the recipe if you’d like to make this heart supporting tincture, too! I used the folk method, measuring in parts.
I will probably take a dropper full of this at a time in tea, ginger ale, or fruity seltzer water. It will be brimming with the intention of bringing ease and strength to my physical and emotional heart.
Have you worked with tulsi to ease and strengthen your heart?
Note: check with your physician before taking significant amounts of these herbs if you have high blood pressure, any heart conditions, or if you take any heart or blood pressure medications.
Follow along for more Tulsi wonder on Instagram with the Plant Wonder Collective! Participants share posts on the featured herb throughout the month. You can find us via
Not long ago, I shared a post that was a brief overview of nervine herbsand how they work to relax, tone, soothe, calm, and even gently stimulate the nervous system, digestive function, and circulation. Nervines are such gentle, steady friends!
I thought today I would touch on another, often overlapping category of herbs and botanicals: adaptogens.
Where nervines primarily help calm, adaptogens are known for helping to stabilize and protect. They are extremely grounding; help to protect from fatigue, overwhelm, and burnout; aid against anxiety, depression, and chronic stress; support and protect brain function; build resilience and uplift; and aid the immune system. Basically, adaptogens are powerhouse holistic mental and physical health supporters! Though every person’s constitution and health situation is different and they must use caution before trying any new substances, many adaptogens are generally as safe as most nervines are in normal doses.
If you prefer a less clinical perspective, think of it this way. While nervines can offer you a steady, calming pulse of reassurance and mental and physical support, adaptogens can hold you up, offer you inner strength, sharpen your mind, and keep you going. Adaptogens have your back.
So, who are these adaptogenic allies? Here is a list of a few of my favorites!
Most of these adaptogens can be found where you purchase herbs online if you can’t find them in person—Mountain Rose Herbs is often where I go to look for herbs on this list.
And now it’s recipe time! I thought I’d share two adaptogen recipes: a tea and a tincture. The tea is a great one to sip in the morning—you might even want to replace coffee with it sometimes for a more stable energy boost. In both the tea and the tincture, I’ve added some nervines too for taste and added benefits.
Simple Strength Adaptogen Tea:
1 part green tea
1 part tulsi
½ part mint
½ part cardamom
¼ part fennel
1 part ashwagandha
1 part astragalus
1 part nettle
½ part mint
. . . . . . .
Place herbs in a clean glass jar. Fill about ½ inch above the herbs with vodka, using a wooden spoon to make sure the herbs are fully covered. Place waxed paper and canning lid or bpa-free plastic lid on jar and store in a cool, dry place. Shake the jar each day, and if the herbs rise above the vodka or appear to have absorbed too much, add a bit more to cover them. (You can also move your mixture to a larger jar mid-process if needed.) Allow to macerate for 4-6 weeks. Strain into dropper bottles; take one dropperful either in a glass of water, in another beverage, or under the tongue.
If your health situation supports it, then daily doses of a couple of adaptogens that are suited to your needs can be an amazing holistic health approach. Many people sip on an adaptogen-based beverage every day instead of coffee to build up a strong foundation and mental and physical reserves. (I actually enjoy drinking coffee that has adaptogens right in it!)
Are you new to adaptogenic herbs? If not, which are your favorites? If so, which do you think you’d like to try?
Cold brewing is a pretty popular method for making coffee. It’s easy, it takes the bitter edge out of the coffee, and your brew is ready and waiting when you get up in the morning. But cold brewing isn’t necessarily everyone’s go-to method when it comes to herbal tea. While cold brewing isn’t ideal for every situation, it can definitely be an incredible tool for making herbalism simple, accessible, and an easily integrated part of your daily routine! (And for the record, it is my go-to more than half of the time!)
When is cold brewing herbal tea ideal?
There are plenty of scenarios in which cold brewing your herbal tea overnight in the fridge is a great option.
If you’re using fresh herbs like lemon balm, mints, and rosemary, cold brewing brings out all the freshest, greenest flavors and energies and pairs well with fresh fruit.
When working with bitter herbs like chamomile and nettles, cold brewing works wonderfully to cut the bitter edge. This also goes for black and green teas—and it renders them slightly less tannic and caffeinated, if that’s what you’re going for. And if you’re a sweetener or sugar type, you might even find that your cold brewed teas don’t need any added sweetness like hot teas do!
Some herbs are more mucilaginous and simply do better in cold water, or are at least very well-suited to cold water. Marshmallow root, licorice root, and hibiscus fall into this category.
For convenience, I love to cold brew big jars of my daily sips overnight. I use this method especially for daily nourishing and supportive tonic teas I want to sip through the day. They’re just there, ready and waiting when I need them—no excuses or barriers to getting my “health potion!” And if I’m going to be on the go, I can just grab my jar and take it with me, for even more convenience.
Obviously cold brewing your tea is especially useful in hot weather, or anytime if you’re simply a cold beverage person. You don’t have to wait for the hot tea to cool down if you brew it cold!
When is cold brewing not the best method for herbal tea?
Sometimes, there are certain factors that make cold brewing teas less than ideal. Here are a few occasions to think twice about cold brewing.
If you’re using your tea to treat a cold or cough, hot tea may be best. Hot tea extracts quickly to address your symptoms, it can make a stronger tea more quickly, and the heat may soothe your nose, sinuses, mouth, throat, and lungs more effectively.
There are certain botanicals that just don’t brew well, or as well, in cold water. Roots, woody herbs, and seeds tend to need hot water in the form of a regular hot brew, or even a decoction, to extract all the flavor and constituents effectively. Some examples of these herbs include chai-type spices (cloves, dried ginger, allspice), dandelion and burdock roots, astragalus, reishi, dried hawthorn berries, dried rose hips, and many others.
Even a few tender herbs sometimes do better when brewed hot, too, if you’re looking to extract vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients more fully to make a true “nourishing infusion.” Nettles are a good example of this—though I personally dislike the taste of them as a hot tea enough that I’ll take my chances with the lesser amounts of nutrients in a cold brew! Raspberry leaf and red clover are other herbs that must be brewed hot if your goal is to extract the most nutrients possible.
Cold weather is also, of course, a possible factor. Sometimes you prefer a cozy, warm drink to encourage circulation and warm you up!
What do you need to cold brew herbal tea?
Cold brewing herbal tea does not require much in the way of equipment, tools, or skills. The most important part is a container—large glass jars work best—and herbs! You can even begin getting your feet wet by cold brewing about 3 store bought tea bags at a time per quart jar. (Jasmine green tea bags are my favorite to do this way.)
You will also need a way to strain your tea, whether you opt for a mesh kitchen strainer, a metal tea strainer, or environmentally-friendly paper tea bags (my usual choice for convenience). You can also bypass all these separate items by using a French press (reserved only for tea and not used for coffee) or a cold brewing jar.
My method for cold brewing herbal tea is very simple and takes little effort or thought. I either place three store-bought tea bags into a quart jar, fill with water, and place in the fridge overnight, or I fill a large eco-friendly paper tea bag with dried herbs and use the same sized jar, also brewing in the fridge overnight.
Here are some ideas if you’d like specific recipes for loose leaf, dried herbs to cold brew. In these recipes I’m using a quart jar and the parts are probably heaping tablespoons.
1 part chamomile, 1 part lemon balm, ½ part lavender
1 part mint, 1 part nettles, ½ part rosemary, ½ part lavender
1 part calendula, 1 part chamomile, 1 part elderflower, ½ part ginger
1 part tulsi, 1 part hibiscus, 1 part mint
Have you ever tried cold brewing your herbal tea? Which herbs are your favorite to cold brew?
July is flying by! I blinked and now we are halfway through this month already; I kind of can’t even get my bearings. My twins’ fifth birthday began the month, there are other family goings-on, and it’s already back-to-school shopping time as my kids go back to school at the end of this month! (We have a different school calendar than most where we live.) Needless to say, my brain is a bit scrambled. But I’m here to talk about a favorite herb of mine for this crazy time of year—it’s not a nervine, but it pairs well with them and has an incredibly soothing effect during this hottest part of the year. It’s hibiscus!
There are actually many varieties of hibiscus, but the species most commonly referred to and used for consumption is Hibiscus sabdariffa. This hibiscus is also called roselle or sorrel. It is likely native to North or West Africa but now grows in many places throughout the world, and has been long used in Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Hibiscus is considered a sour herb with cooling and moistening properties. It is especially helpful for heart health, blood pressure regulation, inflammation modulating, summer cooling, and nutrition as it’s dense with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Hibiscus tastes delicious—hibiscus tea is strongly reminiscent of cranberry juice! My kids love making hibiscus and berry sun tea during the summer months and then chilling it in the fridge for a sweet, cooling summer beverage. When you’re making your own blends with hibiscus, think about combining it with chamomile or mint, cinnamon, honey, and your favorite fruits.
Hibiscus doesn’t do well as an alcohol tincture, so tea or food tend to be the most common ways it’s consumed. (It used to be commonly made into jam, and in some regions is eaten pickled!) Though that summer connection with hibiscus is strong, I also love using it as an ingredient in wintertime non-alcoholic mulled “wine” tea as it has that sharp, deep berry flavor that mimics wine and tastes great with warming spices.
But since we are still very much in the heat of summer in the U.S. where I am, I’m going to share a super simple and refreshing hibiscus drink I love to make. It’s a very flexible recipe; use whichever ingredients you like or have on-hand!
Do you enjoy hibiscus? What are your favorite types of hibiscus drinks, or even foods if you’ve tried them?
• Rosalee de la Foret, Herb Mentor monograph
• Apothecary At Home’s hibiscus herb-of-the-month club box
Today’s blog post is all about my unique take on a method of herbalism study called “herbal simpling.” I am including a related resource at the end of this post, so please read on to learn more and see if you want to check it out!
I often call myself a “hygge herbalist.” The concept of hygge resonates with me deeply, and though I have an ancestral connection to it, I don’t think that’s necessary at all to feel hygge in your bones. Hygge has a strong link to rustic, folk DIY endeavors that you derive a deep sense of fulfillment from, and this is definitely the angle I approach herbalism from. It’s something that soothes my soul.
I also love learning and growing as an herbalist, in my self-paced, cobbled together type of self-education. In this vein, I really gravitate to the approach called “herbal simpling,” which is as simple as it sounds. Basically, you develop a relationship and deeper understanding of each herb by studying them one at a time. You take a deep dive with each herb by reading, tasting, meditating, and creating with it.
This approach can be very cerebral and academic, or it can be very cozy and grounding. I do prefer the latter. I like making friends with each herb as I get to know it. Not only does it help build a foundation in herbal knowledge you can be proud of, but it helps you feel so very familiarly comfortable and, yes, friendly, with the herbs as you learn about them. You come to know who to lean on when you’re feeling down, who to rely on when stress has worn you thin, who peps you up when you have a cold or soothes you best when you’re in pain. Each person is unique, and so different herbs work best with one’s unique needs and states.
Herbal simpling can even be a welcoming methodology for the hobby, casual, intimidated, time-constrained, or resource-lacking herbalist. (Because yes, even in any of these circumstances, you can still be an herbalist if you want to be!) You can choose your particular study methods based on your constraints, interests, and needs. You can choose herbs you have easy access to as the subjects of your study (think the grocery store tea and spice aisles). You can choose the aspects of herbs to study that interest or pertain to you.
So, if you’d like to give herbal simpling a try, I am including a link to a useful Pinterest board below this post that you can use for that very purpose! It’s a collection of free and low-cost simpling and materia medica pages or journals, so you can choose which one/s meet your needs to use as you begin your herbal simpling journey. Or, you can use these examples as a starting point to develop your own worksheet that meets your specific needs.
So, which herb are you going to get to know first?
In the northern hemisphere, summer has just begun! In my neck of the woods, it is almost unbearably hot this time of year; that summer sunshine can be intense. So, for June’s herb profile, I thought I would talk about a favorite cooling herb of mine: mint.
I was actually also inspired by the Plant Wonder Collectiveon Instagram to talk about mint, too, because it’s their herb of the month. If you aren’t already following along with their monthly herb features, I highly recommend that you do! They share collective recipes, DIYs, information, and botanical love featuring a different herb each month and showcasing many varied contributors. I’ve just recently begun following along and I am so enjoying it!
Anyway, back to mint! It’s actually interesting because many people are referring specifically to peppermint when they mention mint, but there are actually many varieties of mint. Sweet mint, spearmint, wild mint, water mint, apple mint, pineapple mint, brandy mint, chocolate mint, orange mint, horse mint, foxtail mint, mojito mint, and many others grow in a variety of areas around the world. (Interestingly, the specific species of peppermint wasn’t officially recorded in the Western pharmacopoeia until the mid-1700s!)
Mint should not be written off as simply a flavoring. It can be a potent ally in so many ways! Mint varieties can vary from warming to cooling, but peppermint is cooling, and drying. The properties of mint include digestive, mood boosting, uplifting and calming, memory and focus enhancing, gently energizing, pain easing, cold relieving, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, antibacterial, anti-fungal properties, and more. In folk belief, mint is associated with healing, prosperity, vitality, communication, dreams, awakening, protection, purification and cleansing, love, and positivity.
A note on growing your own mint, if you are considering adding it to an herb garden: it is best in containers! Mint is easy to grow and absolutely flourishes…a little too well. It will take over any space where you plant it and overtake its neighboring herbs. So, it’s best to plant mint in its own separate containers rather than in a shared herb bed. That said, mint is incredibly beginner-friendly and a great starter herb for those just testing the gardening waters!
Though some might associate the flavor of mint with winter holidays, I love it for its cooling effects in the summer! There is nothing better than a cold infusion of fresh mint and its cousin lemon balm, kept in a jar in the fridge to be sipped throughout the day. Also, a sun tea of mint, hibiscus, and lime is super refreshing and cooling on a hot day.
Here is one more recipe, for Summer Mint Moon Tea. I like to moon-brew (overnight infusion) this combo of herbs and enjoy it before bed as a cooling, calming, soothing sip. Its combination of cooling, calming, memory-aiding, dream-inducing, and heart-soothing herbs makes for sweet summertime dreams.
Summer Mint Moon Tea:
2 parts mint (peppermint or spearmint)
1 part lavender
1 part rosemary
1 part mugwort
1/2 – 1 part rose petals
Are you a mint-lover? How many varieties of mint have you tried? Do you have any unique ways you like to work with mint?
I can’t believe it’s almost June! May has really flown by. Before mental health month is over, I thought I would jump on the blog and talk a bit about one of my favorite types of mental health support: nervine herbs!
Many nervine herbs are gentle and safe for frequent use and can be a part of your daily mental health support regimen. Nervines are known for their benefits to the nervous system, hence the name. They support, tone, nourish, and soothe, offering us calming, anti-anxiety, digestion soothing, pain relieving, and grounding benefits, among many others.
Here are a few of my favorite nervine herbs:
Rosemary (relaxing / stimulating)
Most of the preceding list of herbs are normally categorized as relaxing nervines. Relaxing nervines do just what they sound like: they help to relax your nervous system. Stimulating nervines don’t stimulate in the caffeine sense; instead, they are uplifting and stimulate digestion. And some nervines do both at the same time! Also, each different nervine has its own particular chemical constituents that aid in different ways on top of the nervine qualities. For example, hawthorn is amazing for heart health, passionflower and skullcap are helpful in aiding sleep, and chamomile is known especially for helping with pain, cramps, indigestion, and fever.
As with anything, consult your doctor as needed and don’t take huge doses of any herb over short periods of time. But do think about branching out and trying different nervines to see what works well to support your particular needs.
And since summer is fast approaching here in the northern hemisphere, I am going to leave you with a simple, cooling and soothing infusion recipe featuring nervine herbs. This is a favorite of mine! You can make this with fresh or dried herbs (I grow all of these in my mini herb garden); drink it hot or cold (my summer preference is definitely cold); and sun brew, cold brew overnight in the fridge, or infuse with hot water (I usually prefer to cold brew or sun brew). Regardless of how you make it, the soothing properties of these nervine herbs are a refreshing way to take in a bit of calm.
Soothing Summer Tea:
•Lemon balm – 2-3 parts
•Peppermint – 1 part
•Spearmint – 1 part
•Rosemary – 1 part
•Catnip – .5 part
•Chamomile – .5-1 part
If making with fresh herbs in a large jar, go heavier on the lemon balm and mints and lighter on the other herbs. Also, if drinking this cold, it’s great with a slice or two of lime tossed in. It’s crisp, refreshing, calming, cooling, and supportive — mind and body relief!
Obviously mental health is a complex issue and each person’s medical and therapeutic needs are extremely different. Herbs won’t solve or prevent problems or fulfill all your needs, but they can be a wonderful ally as part of a daily holistic approach.
Which nervine herbs are your favorite mental health allies?
Hello, Herbology Faeries! It has been busy around these parts and I’ve had less time for the blog than I would have hoped this past month…but I am back today with another herb profile. Today we’re talking about an herb I lean on a LOT for support and grounding: tulsi!
Tulsi, or Holy Basil, is a pungent, aromatic, and somewhat warming herb. Though tulsi has reached herbal popularity heights in Western herbalism, it is a sacred plant in India and is native to subtropical climates. It thrives best grown in warm, sunny regions.
It’s easy to see why tulsi is so revered in India and beyond. Tulsi is an herb that does it ALL. It is a relaxing nervine and an adaptogen, meaning it addresses stress, anxiety, depression, and overall health and functioning. Tulsi is also incredibly helpful for pain, infections, viruses, heart health and blood pressure, allergies, high blood sugar, digestion, cognitive health, the immune system, and more. It is one of those herbs you can’t go wrong with as a daily tonic. (Some suggest caution if fertility is a priority for you, as tulsi may affect that.) Not only offering these health benefits, tulsi is also grounding and soothing to the spirit.
Tulsi represents spiritual and physical health, the well-being of the home and community, and mindfulness and the body-mind connection. Maia Toll says very aptly in her book The Illustrated Herbiary that tulsi reminds you to “come home” to your body and to honor your body and your spirit. If you ever feel like you need a reminder that you are enough, tulsi is definitely the ally to seek out.
You can use tulsi in teas, tinctures, oils, honey, and even as a culinary herb to flavor foods. Tulsi pairs excellently with spicy botanicals like ginger and cardamom, or with cooling herbs like mint and hibiscus. Honestly, though, I’ve rarely felt there was a combination of herbs that didn’t blend well with tulsi.
Instead of offering a recipe, I’m going to suggest a couple of simple options to help you get to know tulsi. The first is to purchase some tulsi and make a strong cup of hot tulsi tea. In my opinion, this herb stands so well on its own and is so incredibly grounding and nourishing, you will benefit from getting to know it on its own. I’m not kidding—sipping a strong mug of hot tulsi is like wrapping up in the softest blanket. It is pure comfort.
The other option I’m suggesting is this: if you need the simplest, cheapest, or most low-energy means of introduction to tulsi, you can find boxed tulsi tea without too much trouble. Traditional Medicinals sells a delicious Tulsi with Ginger tea, Numi makes a Tulsi blend, and Pukka has a Tulsi Clarity tea—you might even be able to find one of these at the grocery store, depending on your location. Trying a store bought variety of herbal tea is a super accessible, and no less legitimate approach!
So, are you a tulsi / holy basil lover already? If not, are you planning to give this amazing herb a try?
Hey there, Herbology Faeries! Since spring is almost here, I thought I’d share a new herb profile today about the herb I most associate with early spring: nettle.
Nettle, or stinging nettle, is a sign of early spring because in many places it flourishes during this time. Nettle is also a beneficial spring ally in aiding with seasonal allergies, nourishing and toning body systems after the winter, fighting inflammation, and much more. Folk traditions see nettle as a protective ally, helping with not only healing but also courage and banishing, and it’s not hard to see why when you encounter its prickles!
I know there are many who forage fresh nettles in the spring. There are many benefits to consuming local, fresh nettles. That said, not everyone has local nettles available or are not able to get out there and brave the stings to collect them fresh. That’s okay—high quality dried nettle can be purchased from small online apothecaries or Mountain Rose Herbs.
Nettle is a salty, slightly bitter, cooling and drying herb. It is nutrient dense, full of fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Not only is nettle used to support allergies and to nourish the body, but it’s said to aid menstrual issues, eczema, fatigue, arthritis, and more. It’s a wonderful herb to consume daily as a holistic health aid for maintaining energy and health. The main safety considerations with nettles are the stings if you are working with fresh nettles (use gloves and blanch the leaves before consumption), and the diuretic effect the herb has—you might need to adjust your intake based on how strongly this affects you.
I do drink nettle in tea—it goes well combined with herbs like mint and rose. I am also intrigued with the idea of using nettle as food! You see many instances of this online: nettle pesto, nettle soup, even dried nettle used in baking. I am experimenting with using nettle in homemade ramen recipes for a salty, mineral-y kick and added nutrition!
Here is a simple springtime tea recipe featuring nettle, to get you started with this wonderful ally!
Daily Nettle Boost:
• 1 part nettle
• 1 part tulsi
• 1 part peppermint
• 1/2 part rosemary
This can be hot-brewed by the cup if you prefer it in small doses. You can also hot or cold brew it in a larger batch in a glass jar. If cold brewing, the longer you let it brew, the more helpful constituents will be infused into your tea. I’ve run across some sources that say you should hot brew nettle and let it infuse for 4+ hours to reap the full benefits, but I prefer my nettle a bit weaker and more palatable than that—to keep me coming back to it!
Have you tried nettles? How do you like to prepare them, or how do you think you would like to if you’re new to them?
Herbalism can be for EVERYONE. I feel like this is an important topic that doesn’t get addressed enough! So I’m here to talk about it today.
Herbalism, especially as it appears on social media, can seem overwhelming and prohibitive to some of us. Those of us who have neurodiversities, mental health issues, physical barriers, financial barriers, or even those of us who are busy or burned-out from jobs, parenthood, caregiving, and other aspects of life…can encounter feelings of inadequacy when it comes to approaching herbalism.
BUT! What I sometimes call “hobby herbalism,” but sometimes also refer to as “low-energy herbalism,” is still legit herbalism. To that end, I have some reassurances for us today.
You don’t have to be a gardener to be an herbalist.
I don’t have the time or space for a large garden, and I don’t have the attention span to keep a garden alive. And many others have far bigger barriers than mine! It is FINE if you buy herbs instead of growing them. Bonus points if you can find local places to purchase herbs, or at least buy from ethical sources and small businesses.
You don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach.
Herbalism doesn’t have to look the same for any two people. It doesn’t have to mean making soaps from scratch, hand-dyeing fabric and sewing your own clothes, foraging in the forest, drinking tea and taking tinctures every single day, or any other particular thing (unless you want it to). Seriously, cut corners and do what you need to as long as you do it safely. Example: I often cold brew herbal teas overnight or add tinctures to diet ginger ale because that’s what I have the spoons for.
You can start small, and if you want, you can STAY small.
This is just expounding on the previous points, really, but it bears repeating. You can be a grocery store herbal tea bags using, small biz tincture buying, non herbalism class taking, non herbal business running, on again / off again home herbalist without feeling like you’re not doing it right. You’re doing it right for YOU. Herbalism meets you where you are.
Do you have any herbalism time-savers or corner-cutters that make your practice more approachable for you? Does the idea of “low-energy herbalism” speak to you?