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Herbs and Herbalism

Herbs to Bounce Back

This mama was SICK for Christmas. I caught a nasty stomach virus and was down for the count for a couple days. Ever since, I’ve felt weak and depleted! My muscles feel sore and weak, I am feeling extra worn down, and my stomach is still not back to normal. So, I thought I would turn to my apothecary and make some restorative tea today to help me bounce back.

Some of my favorite herbs for building back strength after an illness include (but are not limited to!) nettle, oatstraw, dandelion root, and tulsi. You could combine all four into a soothing tea, or turn to your favorite tinctures and tea blends that contain these allies.


Here is a little bit of information on how these herbs help after an illness!

Nettle is a powerful nourishing and nutritive adaptogen that excels at building strength. Among so many benefits, it helps with fatigue, rebuilding deficient nutrients, building blood, and flushing things out.

Oatstraw aids in some of the same ways as nettle, with a bit of a different approach and the benefit of being a relaxing nervine. It is incredibly replenishing, tasty, and helps with burnout and exhaustion.

Dandelion root does important work by aiding liver function. It is nutritive, helps rebuild gut flora, aids in digestion and flushing things out, and is incredibly grounding to boot.

Tulsi is my go to herb for many things! It is an incredibly helpful adaptogen and a relaxing nervine, aiding in balancing things out and bringing you back to center.


What are your favorite herbs or remedies for rebuilding strength after illness?


Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Alchemy of Herbs

HerbMentor monographs

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Herbs and Herbalism Hygge Recipes

Hygge Hearth Tincture

Inspiration struck this morning and I decided to start a tincture that will be ready just in time for Yule! It has all the happy, cozy, hygge vibes with digestion support, stress relief, balancing, and immune boosting to boot.

Mint is the star of the show here, paired with “really good Ceylon cinnamon” (please tell me you read that in Ina Garten’s voice 😂). I adore the sweet combo of cooling mint and warming cinnamon! With these I combined fennel seed, rosemary, and ashwagandha root. 

Then I topped it off with not the usual vodka, but GIN for more cozy, botanical, wintry vibes.

Here is the full recipe! For once, I actually loosely measured instead of doing it in parts!

Add herbs to a 16 oz glass jar. Cap and shake the jar thoroughly to mix herbs. Top with gin, filling to near the brim. Cap with a plastic canning jar lid or parchment paper and canning lid. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking daily, and strain after 6-8 weeks. Store in dark glass jars or dropper bottles if you can. 

You can take this tincture in tea, coffee, still or sparkling water, ginger ale, juice, or even cocktails! Ginger ale is my favorite vehicle for tinctures—if you prefer, use your favorite homemade or natural ginger ale.

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Herbs and Herbalism plant wonder collective Recipes

Lemon Balm Simple Syrup Mocktails & Cocktails

Happy Tuesday! Whether you’re here from my Instagram post or you found this blog post first, welcome to the lemon balm party!

Lemon balm is a subtle but sweet and tasty herb for making simple syrup. I decided to brew some up and then experiment with using it to create some tasty mocktails and cocktails.

I used fresh lemon balm to make a small batch of simple syrup with my usual recipe: dissolve ½ cup of sugar in ½ cup of water on the stovetop over medium heat, add in about 1 cup of the herb, remove from heat and steep for 30 minutes, strain, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. 

Then came the fun part! Of course, you can use the syrup in any kind of tea (black, green, herbal) for a bit of sweetness and the calming, soothing effects of lemon balm. But I decided to take a few diy concoctions for a spin! My favorite combination was ginger ale, a splash of apple cider (apple juice works too), and about a tablespoon of lemon balm simple syrup. If you find your lemon balm syrup’s flavor turned out too subtle, though, you can always just combine it with seltzer or ginger ale so it can be the star of the show. 

There are plenty more ways to combine lemon balm simple syrup in other mocktails and cocktails, too. Here are some of my favorite combinations!

Follow along for more Lemon Balm wonder throughout the day and join us this month through our hashtags and at @plantwondercollective on Instagram!

#plantwondercollective

#pwclemonbalm

Meet the participants!

@plantwondercollective

@florasfeastbotanicals

@wineberryadventurescouts

@herbalfae

@mamalibelula

@theherbologyfaerie

@herbal_pirate

@katwb444

Plant Wonder Collective: Connecting you to nature through food, drink, play, garden, medicine, magic and art.

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Herbs and Herbalism plant wonder collective

Herb Profile: Lemon Balm

Happy September! It’s a new month (one of the best ones!) and time for a new plant profile. Since I’ve officially joined in on the Plant Wonder Collective on Instagram, I’m going to begin featuring the PWC herb of the month in my plant profile blog posts to coincide. So, for September, let’s take a look at lemon balm!

I think of lemon balm as being one of the most “chill” herbs I’ve had the pleasure to befriend and work with. The spirit of this plant is so happy, cheerful, and uplifting. And its scent and taste are, too! It should come as no surprise, then, that lemon balm is considered a relaxing nervine herb. But it is so much more than that, too!

Originally native to southern and Central Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, lemon balm is now much more widespread in its naturalization. One thing I find fascinating about lemon balm is its varied recorded historical uses—from the Greeks and Romans, to the Middle Ages, and beyond. It was a favorite strewing herb and had many medicinal, culinary, and even perfuming applications. In folklore, lemon balm is associated with protection and joy (echoing its medicinal qualities) and is associated with the goddess Diana.

Lemon balm has a primarily sour taste (though many find it sweet as well) and is energetically cooling and drying. It has a wide range of properties—relaxing nervine, antiviral and antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, digestant, and probably more. Lemon balm is well known as a gentle, safe aid for stress, anxiety, indigestion, nausea, and insomnia. It is also helpful for colds, fever, flu, and other infections, as well as topically for rashes, small wounds, and bug bites. It is great for the heart, cognitive function, and pain, and can help with depression and seasonal affective disorder as well.

One thing I’ve observed about lemon balm is that it smells and tastes much more potent and lemony when fresh. Dried lemon balm is equally useful and you’ll find it in many herbal teas, but nothing compares to fresh lemon balm. If you don’t have access to garden space, this is one herb you’ll definitely want to consider growing in a sunny windowsill!

I’ll be sharing more lemon balm recipes both here and over on Instagram throughout September, but I’ll leave you with one of the simplest and most soothing tea recipes I’ve encountered. It’s a classic you’re sure to have seen before on other recipe blogs or books, or even in a supermarket tea. There is a reason for that! It tastes wonderful cold or hot, it’s safe for kids and adults, and it is a gently relaxing tea to help with stress, anxiety, depression, digestion, colds, and insomnia.

Simple Soother:

1 part lemon balm

1 part chamomile

½ part lavender

That’s it! You can use fresh or dried herbs interchangeably in this recipe; I use what I have on hand. I like to cold brew big jars of this overnight and sip it any time of the day. I also share it with my kids, because they love it!

Are you a lemon balm lover? What is your favorite way to work with lemon balm?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Herb Mentor monograph

• Rebecca Beyer, Wild Witchcraft

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

• Tina Sams, Herbal Medicine for Emotional Healing

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Herbs and Herbalism plant wonder collective Recipes

Tulsi Heart-Support Tincture

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

@plantwondercollective

#plantwondercollective

#pwctulsi

Plant Wonder Collective: Connecting you to nature through food, drink, play, garden, medicine, magic and art.

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Herbs and Herbalism

Herb Profile: Mint

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 Collective on 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

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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?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Alchemy of Herbs

• Apothecary At Home’s Peppermint monograph

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

• Patti Wigington, Herb Magic

• Tina Sams, Herbal Medicine for Emotional Healing

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Herbs and Herbalism

Recharging Your Battery With Nervine Herbs

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:

Chamomile

Rosemary (relaxing / stimulating)

Tulsi

Lavender

Lemon balm

Linden

Hawthorn

Elderflower

Rose

Passionflower

Skullcap

Peppermint (stimulating)

Cacao (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?

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Herbs and Herbalism

Herb Profile: Tulsi

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?

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Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Alchemy of Herbs

• Herb Mentor’s Holy Basil monographs 

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

• Maia Toll, The Illustrated Herbiary