Monday, December 21, 2009

10 Herbs & Spices for the (Winter Time) Herbal Medicine Chest

This is a list of 10 herbs and spices that are a wonderful addition to your (winter) home remedy medicine chest. I will be posting remedies throughout this week containing these ingredients as well as more useful information about other herbs, spices and essential oils to use during the winter time months.


Astragalus is a popular Chinese herb. It is immune stimulating, an antiviral as well as a general liver strengthener. It is used in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) for treating a person with external factors that are affecting one's ability to stay in balance energetically and pgysically. It is a general tonic herb for promoting vitality and building strength. Astragalus protects the body from stress. Be it emotional, physical or spiritual.

Black Pepper

Black pepper is an often overlooked spice. Yet is it useful for so many different things. It is anti carcinogenic and is also useful in treating stomach ailments. Good for gas and a full tummy. It is also a wonderful remedy for skin ailments believe it or not and can help with tooth pain! Most of all it is a warming herb and can help reduce inflammation from different types of winter ailments.


This is a good spice to get your circulation flowing. It is good for many digestive problems as well as a good immune tonic. My favorite thing to use it for is sinus troubles! Clears you right out! FAST! Tortilla soup is my long held remedy for sinus trouble! (That and fire cider!)


Cinnamon is reminiscent of the winter season for good reason. It is stimulating & warming. Did you know cinnamon has anti viral, anti bacterial and anti fungal properties? It is an appetite stimulant as well as a good remedy for flatulence and ailments of the gastrointestinal tract. It is also useful in treating colds/flu and urinary tract infections. This spice is my favorite in tea on top of some freshly whipped cream on a cold winter day!

Fennel Seeds

Fennel Seed tea is a favorite for coughs, bronchitis and sinus issues. It is good for breaking up nasty chest and nasal congestion. It is useful in treating asthma and pertussis It is also an antispasmodic and good for relieving stomach cramps and promotes good digestion. I love the taste of fennel!


Of course garlic is the most common cure all of all the herbs and spices out there. Consuming more garlic can help you build immunity and is basically good for strengthening every organ system in your body! It is a good think to consume if you get sick but good to load up on in the winter months. I love it roasted until soft as butter and spread on toast. I can eat several bulbs in one sitting this way.


Ginger is a wonderful root. It is warming in nature and a wonderful addition to your cupboard for the winter season. No herbalists home should be without ginger root! It is good for stomach ailments, respiratory issues as well as a great circulatory and digestive tonic. It can be made into an infusion, compress, infused oil, eaten,etc. A must have!


Horehound is a root that is good for all respiratory ailments. I like it for making cough syrups and pastilles. As well as in tea. It is something I use for chest colds with my children and they love it. It is the best thing for sore throats besides hot tea!


Stimulating and warm, nutmeg promotes calm. It is good for inducing sleep and for digestive issues. It is a good promoter of the circulatory system. (This spice is toxic in high doses so uses sparingly!) Of course who can resist some eggnog at this time of year!?! Nutmeg is sure to make you merry and promotes good spirits.


Rosemary is useful for probably 100 ailments. From colds to flu and arthritis pain as well as skin irritations. It is a good herb to uplift the spirits and for those recovering from illness. I like to use it too soothe nerves and help relieve muscle pain. It can be eaten, infused into oil and drunk as a tea as well as made into oils or salves.

Try experimenting with any one of these herbs & spices and think about adding some of them to your herbal medicine chest for winter time. They are very versatile and can be used in not only seasoning your food but for medicine too!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Bliss Warming Analgesic Massage Oil

This is a recipe I have used for a warming, soothing winter time herbal infused oil. It is also useful for sore muscles. Wonderful for cold weather! I like it best for a deep tissue massage oil but you can use it in several different ways that I discuss below.

What you will need to make the oil;

10 oz jojoba, apricot or sweet almond oil (apricot is my personal favorite)

1 large piece of ginger root, peeled and cut into smaller chunks/ grated
2 tsp mustard seed oil
1 tsp arnica infused oil
2 oz. st. john's wort infused oil

5 drops cinnamon essential oil
5 drops black pepper essential oil
5 drops chamomile essential
10 drops ginger essential oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil

mesh strainer
12 oz. glass bottle with a lid

Place the ginger root into a pot and cover with 8 oz of jojoba oil. Using the double boiler method or a crockpot & simmer this over low heat for 2-3 hours. Cool and strain reserving the oil. Combine the rest of the ingredients with the ginger infused oil and mix well. Store in a glass bottle. Be sure to remember to label the contents of any herbal concoction you make to avoid confusion later on!

Use liberally as needed on achy joints and for a relaxing and warming massage oil! It can also be used in the bath. Or make bath salts by combining equal parts of Winter Bliss Oil to equal parts of Epson salts. (2 cups each will net you 2 soaks @ 2 cups of salt per bath)

This oil is especially good for those suffering from arthritis or gout and makes a lovely winter time oil to treat yourself with! It is also useful for strains, sprains and tired feet!

~A Week of Winter Remedies~

This week I am going to be writing about winter herbal remedies, stocking the (winter) medicine chest and herbs that are indicated for different winter ailments! I hope you will stop back in!

I think it's really important to arm ourselves with herbal knowledge and stay away from chemical drugs. Although I truly feel there is a time and place for western allopathic medicine, I also believe we can heal ourselves with plant medicine. I feel herbal medicine is gentle medicine and a (re)emerging healing art.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Twitter feed for my articles!

I have decided I don't want to clutter up this blog with my articles but I do want to share them! So, I just set up a twitter account here to post links to my articles at! I will probably be posting 3-5 herb related pieces per week, so check it out! (look for the box on the right side bar to see my feed and then be sure to follow me!)

You can also follow my blog and get updates to your email/ a feed to your Google reader when I publish new posts by following me. (Look at the bottom right of this page!)

Thanks for your support!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Herbal Blog Party

Check out December's Herbal Blog Party!
The theme for this month is herbal aesthetics with some neat projects! Check it out!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grow a Medicinal Herb Garden on your Windowsill

Winter getting you down? Want to get a jump start on spring starts? Plant a medicinal herb garden in your window! All you need is 3 things. Dirt, seeds and sunny spot!

Here's an article I wrote about planting a windowsill herb garden! Check it out!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Using White Pine as a Healing Medicine

Here is an article I wrote about using white pine for skin and respiratory ailments. Who would have thought pine could be such a healer?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pine Keeps You Fine

A good article by Susun Weed on pine!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Queen Anne's Lace Jelly Recipe

Queen Anne's Lace Jelly *

18 large Queen Anne's lace heads
4 Cups water
1/4 Cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
1 Package powdered pectin
3 1/2 Cups + 2 Tbsp. sugar

Bring water to boil. Remove from heat. Add flower heads (push them down
into the water). Cover and steep 30 mins. Strain.

Measure 3 Cups liquid into 4-6 quart pan. Add lemon juice and pectin.
Bring to a rolling boil stirring constantly. Add sugar and stir
constantly. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Boil one
minute longer, then remove from heat.

Add color (pink) if desired. Skim. Pour into jars leaving 1/4" head
space. Process in hot water bath for 5 mins.

Makes about 6 jars.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Formatting, etc.

I am going to be playing around with the background and formatting of this blog in the next few days. Please bear with me!

Red Clover Lemonade

Our yard is currently full of red clover. After being away from the Northeast for so long I find the clover comforting in a way. Like an old friend.

Here is a recipe for red clover lemonade you can try! Red clover is a wonderful tonic herb that will nourish you body and soul! It is packed full of nutrients such as calcium, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and niacin among others!

Red Clover Lemonade

4 cups fresh Red Clover blossoms

1 gallon water

1 c. honey

1 ½ cups lemon juice

1. Gently simmer Clover blossoms in a covered pot for 10 minutes.

2. Add honey, stirring until it dissolves.

3. Cover and let steep and cool for several hours or overnight. (This makes a strong, potent tea, maximizing the calcium and other nutrients in the Clover.)

4. Add lemon juice and chill.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dandelion Burgers!?!

I am a little obsessed with dandelion recipes at the moment as our yard is full of them!!!

Check out this recipe out for dandelion burgers! Looks pretty interesting, eh? I have not tried this yet but I thought it was blog worthy!

More interesting dandelion recipes and a more in depth overview to come!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cream of Dandelion Soup

Cream of Dandelion Soup

4 cups chopped dandelion leaves

2 cups dandelion flower petals

2 cups dandelion buds

1 Tbsp butter or olive oil

1 cup chopped wild leeks (or onions)

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups water

2 cups half-n-half or heavy cream

2 tsp salt

1. Gently boil dandelion leaves in 6 cups water. Pour off bitter water. Boil gently a second time, pour off bitter water.

2. In a heavy-bottom soup pot, sauté wild leeks and garlic in butter or olive oil until tender.

3. Add 4 cups water.

4. Add dandelion leaves, flower petals, buds, and salt.

5. Simmer gently 45 minutes or so.

6. Add cream and simmer a few minutes more.

Garnish with flower petals.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

honey preserved dandelion blossom spread

Dandelions are one plant I have always loved since I was a kid. Over the years I have deeply missed the plentiful blooms of this plant out west. They are starting to sprout up all over here in New England so I am collecting any and all dandelion recipes to try this year!

I am going to make some of this honey preserved blossom spread over the weekend! Has anyone tried this recipe?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tumbleweed and playing catch up!

I have been out of town for the past week. I will be catching up on my blog the next few days or so!

In the meantime I am going to be posting links to some of my articles here! Like this one here about the delicious tumbleweed!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Aloe Vera Lore

Aloe Vera is often called the"burn plant" for obvious reasons. Did you know growing and keeping an aloe plant near or in your home offers protection and prevention of fires and burns? It may just be an old wives tale or superstition but a good one none the less as you really can't go wrong with keeping one nearby.

Monday, April 20, 2009

10 uses for Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Skullcap is a native North American plant. It is a perennial herb that grows near water in more humid climates. It can be found growing wild along river banks and streams as well as cultivated in home gardens.

Dubbed "mad dog", skullcap has historically been used to treat rabies.

10 uses for skullcap;

-It can be used as an anti inflammatory

-Relieves tension headaches

-Helps lower blood pressure

-Can induce menstruation (*some say it is not safe during pregnancy and can be used to self induce an abortion*)

-Sedative,gentle nervine~ it is very relaxing (excellent when combined with valerian root)

-Can help with PMS symptoms

-Useful in reducing anxiety and depression

-Helps reduce insomnia

-Pain reliever

- Fever reducer

Skullcap is best used as a tincture or infusion. It should not be used long term.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Violet Lore

A Little Violet Lore
Courtesy of the American Violet Society

Violet Magic :

A garland of violets around the neck protects from deception and inebriation.
Used in love philters and spells, it restores health after a long illness.
If you are given violets plants as a gift, it's very auspicious. If this gift comes from your lover, the better.
When violets bloom in the fall, they mean to warn us about imminent dangers.

When violets appear in your dreams, fortune is not too long away.
Dreaming Violets? A Violet in your Dreams.... You will marry someone younger than yourself!
I see that dreaming of violets has two meanings. You will marry someone younger, and fortune is not too long away.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Zoom Balls and Speed Fudge

Guarana is a tropical plant native to the Amazon forest. It is a natural stimulant and used in many modern day energy drinks and diet pills.

This zoom ball recipe is by the famed herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. Michael Moore also has a recipe for guarana fudge I have included as well. I have made the zoom balls but not the fudge. I may give it a whirl one day soon! (feeling very low energy here)

**These should not be taken by pregnant or nursing moms or those sensitive to caffeine** KEEP OUT OF REACH OF PETS AND CHILDREN!

A Rosemary Gladstar recipe
  • 3 cups tahini (drain excess oil from the top)
  • 1 cup cashew or almond butter
  • 2 cups honey (more or less to taste)
  • 5 oz guarana powder
  • 2 oz eleuthero powder
  • 1 tbl cardamom powder
  • 1 oz Chinese ginseng powder
  • 1/2 oz nutmeg or mace powder
  • 1 oz bee pollen
  • 2 vials royal jelly
  • 1 package carob or bitter chocolate chips
  • 8 oz unsweetened shredded coconut- toasted
  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 # bittersweet dipping chocolate
  1. Mix tahini, nut butter and honey until smooth. Combine the herbal powders, bee pollen and royal jelly and add to tahini mix.
  2. Add chips, coconut and almonds - mix in well. Mix in enough cocoa powder to bring the dough to the desired thickness.
  3. Roll the dough into small balls. If you want to coat the balls with chocolate, chill them in the refrigerator of easier dipping. You can also spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and cut into squares.
  4. Melt the dipping chocolate in a double boiler. Drip the balls 1 at a time and place on waxed paper to cool.
  5. Store the balls in baking tins in a cool place. They will last for weeks.

by the late Michael Moore ( )

Mix together:
5 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 cups milk

Add later:
1 cube sweet butter
6 ounces powdered Guarana Bean
Various nuts (if desired)

Boil sugar,salt and milk to the soft ball stage. Remove from heat for 10 minutes, add 1 cube sweet butter. Mix in 6 ounces of powdered Guarana Bean, and stir constantly until the glistening surface starts to look like frosting and stiffens. Add nuts (if desired), scrape onto greased surface, cool until set, and cut.

WARNING: This stuff tastes GREAT, but speeds like a mother.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Herbal Cough Drops

I know cold season is almost over but I was so excited to have found this cough drop mold earlier this week! It's not a necessity but will make the process easier for sure! Just had to share it here for those interested!

I love herbal cough drops for soothing sore throats. I ended up buying some organic ones from the drugstore this year, but I have enjoyed making them in years past. I think they are much better than store bought ones. Here is an article I wrote awhile back with step by step directions for making herbal cough drops.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Basics of Herbal Medicine Making

Sorry I have been taking a bit of a break from blogging the last few days!

I am just starting an exciting new venture here though. I am writing an ebook!!! It will be called The Basics of Herbal Medicine Making, my goal is to have it done and available by June 1st! It is going to be packed full of lots of good info. and recipes of course! Geared more toward the beginner herbalist. I plan to write a series of ebooks that can be used for self studying AND be affordable.

Stay tuned for more details! :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Herbal Tarot

I gave this tarot deck to my partner for his birthday! It's really a lovely deck if you are into tarot and herbs. I had no idea Michael Tierra collaborated on a tarot deck. I really love the artwork and symbolism. Very lovely! I am really looking forward to borrowing it and working with this deck!

Marmalade Time!

I am going to be making marmalade with the family this weekend, something I want to start a tradition doing each spring with the kids!

While I was thinking abut it earlier and gathering supplies I decided to search for some herbal marmalade recipes! Here's a few I found that I thought I'd share!

These would make delicious Mothers day (or anytime) gifts!

Lemon Lavender Marmalade

Minted Pineapple Lime Marmalade

Rosemary Orange Marmalade

Ginger Marmalade

Rose Hip Marmalade

Green Tomato Ginger Marmalade

Surely chamomile would make a wonderful marmalade mixed with ginger, lemon or oranges. I can't wait to try each and every one of these!!! :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

seaweed bars

I have a long "to do" list going of herbal projects going and such for this spring and summer. I am going to post that one day soon for the fun of it and to keep track of things. :)

This recipe is on the top of my list!! Even though I don't really like sea veggies all that much I am really wanting to try this one for my kiddos for a healthy snack!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chickweed Salve

Good first aid for cuts, nicks, bites and scratches, itches and rashes.

12 oz fresh chickeweed

1 pint olive or sweet almond oil

½ oz beeswax

In ovenproof container combine Chickweed and oil.

Place in 150°F oven for 3 hours; strain and add ½ oz melted beeswax to oil (always melt waxes in top of double boiler to avoid fire); stir as mixture thickens.

Dandelion Miso

We have been enjoying this locally made dandelion and leek miso.Mmmmm, it's so good! I really like it as a base for delicious veggie soup! Or you can just make a simple (and instant) broth with it. It would be good for traveling! You can order some yourself here if you want to try it! (I have no affiliation with the company just wanted to share info. on a great product!) I am definitely stocking up on some for our family and friends!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Broccoli Sprouts

I thought this article was very interesting about broccoli sprouts helping heal the gut! I know it's not herb related but I thought it was still blog worthy! I love me some sprouts!!! :) so I will likely be posting about that here and there on this blog and about my various sprouting adventures!

Unfortunately I have had a bummer time transitioning from dry sunny desert sprouting (easy) to damp darker New England sprouting (much more problematic). Grrrr! If anyone has any tips or advice I am all ears.

The Elusive Elder

I am hoping to find some elderberries this year now that I am in New England. When I finally do I am going to make this!

In the meantime does anyone have a source for homemade elderberry syrup/jam for sale?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Damiana Liqueur

I'm a big fan of the herb damiana. It is a wonderful aphrodisiac and I have also used
it to overcome fertility issues. Here is a recipe I am going to try in the next few weeks!!!

This is delicious and was one of the first things I tried upon delving into the
world of herbal medicine! Boy did it get my attention! Anyway I have been dying to make
some since then and that was sadly 15 years ago and I have been hanging on to the recipe
for a long while needless to say! So I have decided my man (who is studying herbs)
and I will make some in the very near future. Well as soon as I get all the ingredients gathered.

Damiana liqueur has been used for centuries in Mexico and also by ancient
civilizations such as the Mayans. It can be used as a tincture or infusion.

1 fifth brandy

4 oz damiana

2 oz lemon grass

4 oz cinnamon sticks

1 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. ground nutmegs

1 c. honey

1 oz marijuana tincture (optional but recommended- I will post the directions
for this specifically sometime this coming week!)


large wide mouth mason jar w/ a lid

Place the herbs in the wide mouth jar. Cover with the brandy and screw on the lid.

Let this sit for 4-6 weeks.

Strain through cheesecloth and sweeten with honey.

Enjoy! ;)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Favorite Herbals

As some of you may have noticed I have been adding my favorite herbal links on the right side of the blog titled "Herbal Allies". If you have any good sites or blogs to share please leave me a comment!

Otherwise I thought it would be fun to write a post about herb books. Herb books were once the foundation of my bookshelves when I first started studying herbs. My collection just grew and grew. My teacher had a lending library so I always got to check them out first through her. (It did not help that I worked next to a used bookstore for 4 years too!) I also love finding old out of print herb books from the 70's. LOL! I am known for buying extra copies of my favorites for friends and family members. Though I have culled some of the herb books in recent years they still are favorites of mine to read!

These are my top 10 favorite herb books;

1.) A Family Herbal- Rosemary Gladstar

2.) The Herbal Home Remedy Book-Joyce A. Wardwell

3.) Herbs and Things- Jeanne Rose and Michael Moore

4.) The Way of Herbs- Michael Tierra

5.) The Herbal Medicine Maker's Handbook- by James Green and Ajana Green

6.) Medicinal Plants of the Desert & Canyon West- Michael Moore

7.) Healing Wise- Susun Weed

8.) Herbal Remedies for Women- Amanda Mcquade

9.) Herbal Healing for Women- Rosemary Gladstar

10.) Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth- Sharol Tilgner

Of course A Modern Herbal by Margaret Grieve should receive mention as well as it is a classic and basically the herb bible!

This wonderful little book was also the very first book that got me interested in herbal medicine. I actually came across my copy the other day and that is what got me thinking about this post topic in the first place!

I could go on and on about herb books. It's hard to narrow it down as there are so many good herbalists and books out there! But these are my top 10!
What are your favorites?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

How to make a Solar Infused Herbal Oil

Making a solar infused herbal massage oil is super easy and economical. Not to mention extremely satisfying.

What you will need is;

4 oz. of carrier oil (I like almond or jojoba)

1 oz of herbs (good ones to try are rosemary, lavender, arnica)

A glass jar with a lid

mesh strainer

Combine the herbs and oil in the glass jar and make sure the lid is tight. Set this out in a sunny spot in your window for several weeks. When you have determined the oil is done, strain through the cheesecloth and be sure to wring any excess oil from the herbs. LEt the oil sit overnight uncovered. The next day you can add essential oils (or not) up to 15 drops per 4 oz or as desired. Essential oils are optional but nice for making massage oil, bath oils, etc!

Some good oils to infuse for a nice massage oil are lavender (calming), lemon balm (rejuvanating), calendula flowers (Wonderful skin emollient) arnica (pain relief), rose petals (joyful) . Don't be afraid to experiment!

EDITED- One of my readers made a good point about my method in that everyone's process will not be as speedy as I am used to making solar oils in the strong desert sun! (oops! )

You indeed may have to adjust some of my recipes to where you are.

It may take many weeks or months for your oil to solar infuse depending on where you live. I would set your bottle/jar in a window or on a counter or shelf that gets sunlight during the day.

I am going to edit the above post.

**Alternately, you may also choose to infuse herbs into oil on the stovetop! I will talk more about that in a future post!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Wild Weed Salad- A Poem and a link

Spring is here and how fitting that I came across this delightful poem today! I was just writing an article earlier today about foraging for wild weed salad greens!!! Yum-o! Some of the most delicious salads I have eaten have consisted of wild weeds such as sorrel, lambsquarters, chickweed, wild mustard, curly dock, dandelion,purslane,etc! Since you usually pick these sort of greens and eat them within a day of harvesting they are extra nutritious and give one a real energy boost!

Wild Weed Salad

A wild weed salad for lunch today
To tempt tired taste buds, won't you stay?
Come wander down the hedgerows lush,
The ritual gathering, quiet, no rush
Pink tiny leaves of dandelion
And cleavers clinging from the vine.
Wild sorrel sour to give an edge
Shy cervil nestling 'neath the hedge
Fine fennel, pungent, tall and bold
Calendulas, their petals gold
Sow thistle stems and leaves to eat
Wild mallow, rounded, green and sweet
Relaxing, cooling lemon balm
Blue borage flowers to add some charm
Fat hen leaves, pointed, greenly splayed
Wild onions sweet, we'll need the spade
Some modest violets peeping through
A handful of their green leaves too
Lush chickweed, tangy adding zest
Fat juicy purslane leaves are best
Rosettes of plantain, ribbed and green
A wealth of herbage, strengths unseen
A feast of goodness we'll be fed
With dressing 'French'
and homemade bread.

This wild weed salad poem-recipe was written by well known New Zealand herb devotee, Carmel Hare. She lives in Auckland, NZ, where she has developed a medieval herb garden modeled on the Bonnefort Cloister Herb garden, the Cloisters, New York. Her garden is open to visitors, many of whom get to sample her famous "survival salad" made from wild herbs and weeds. Carmel believes that many valuable trace elements and vitamins are found in abundance in wild herbs and weeds.

Such is the popularity of her Wild Weed Salad that she decided to detail the recipe by way of her poem.

I also came across this delightful article by a local teacher here in New England and wanted to pass it along too! Wonderful stuff!

Herbal Tooth Powder

I love this recipe and wanted to share it here!

1/2 cup Baking Soda
1/2 cup white clay powder
1 teaspoon Myrrh powder
1 teaspoon dried Raspberry leaf
1 teaspoon dried Yellow Dock root
1 teaspoon flavoring herbs of your choice (Fennel -- Peppermint, Spearmint, Wintergreen)
5 drops Essential Oil of Tea Tree

Yield: about 1 cup

Myrrh powder is added to this recipe to help prevent periodontal disease. Baking soda, an ingredient in many commercial products, lessens the mouth's acidity. Raspberry leaf is good for the gums and mildly astringent. Tea tree oil is effective against gingivitis and plaque buildup. Yellow dock is cleansing.

Pour the Baking Soda and White Clay powder into a medium-size mixing bowl. In a spice mill or coffee grinder, grind the dried herbs into a powder. Add all the dry ingredients, including the Myrrh powder, to the Baking Soda/Clay mixture. Mix well with a wire whisk. Add the Tea Tree oil, again mixing well. Place a clean hand towel over the bowl, covering it completely. Let sit overnight. The next morning, mix well again with the wire whisk. Package in an opaque wide-mouthed jar. It will last indefinitely if you keep moisture out of the package.

To use: Wet your toothbrush, then sprinkle a small quantity of powder onto your brush. Brush thoroughly and gently in an up and down motion. Brush the tongue too. Rinse, and feel the freshness of your mouth.

The Herbal Home Spa by Greta Breedlove, pgs. 171 and 172

Plantain Chips Recipe

I found this recipe (by "Wildman" Steve Brill) on the plant foraging group I belong to here and wanted to pass it along! This is for chips made from the plant plantain. (not the fruit plantain) I am going to try this in a couple of weeks and can't hardly wait! Let me know if you try it yourself and how it comes out!

Roasted Plantain Chips

Unlike the banana-related plantain chips of the supermarket,
this wafer-thin chips are made with the leaves of the unrelated common
plantain. They’re great, and it took me only 26 years of downplaying
this plant’s food value to discover how to prepare it properly, using
a method my wife uses for kale.

2 cups young common plantain leaves, or kale
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, ground
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds, ground
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
A dash of hot sauce

1. Stir all the ingredients together.

2. Spread onto 3 cookie sheets covered with non-stick mats (or oiled
cookie sheets) and bake about 6 minutes, or until very lightly browned
and crisp, in a preheated 425 degree oven. Stir occasionally, being
careful not to let the leaves burn.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Plantain is a simply amazing plant.

Happy Foraging!

"Wildman" Steve Brill
America's Best-Known Forager
320 Palmer Terrace, Apt. 2A
Mamaroneck, NY, 10543
(914) 835-2153

Sunday, March 22, 2009

10 uses for catnip

Catnip isn’t just for cats. A perennial herb from the mint family catnip is a useful medicinal herb that can treat all kinds of maladies. It is very easy to grow in the home garden or indoors in pots year round.

The following are 10 easy ways to use catnip;

1- Catnip tea soothes coughs.

2- Can be used as a mild sedative or sleep aid.

3- Catnip is useful for calming the digestive track.

4- Catnip essential oil can be used as an effective insect repellent.

5- Fresh catnip leaves can be added as a delicious addition to salads.

6- A good tonic herb for regulating the menstrual cycle and also for the relief of pain from menstrual cramps.

7- There are 4 popular varieties of catnip available besides common catnip; camphor, mint, lemon and Greek.

8- Effective in treating asthma and bronchitis (as an infusion, extract or even smoked).

9- Catnip can be given as a tea mixed with breast milk to infants suffering from colic.

10- Chewing the fresh leaf can help relive pain from a toothache.

Catnip is most commonly used as an infusion (tea). Steep 1 oz of dried herb (or 2 ounces crushed fresh) in a tea ball with 1 quart of boiling water. Let steep covered for 5 minutes. Sweeten and add milk to taste if desired. Drink 1-2 cups.

It can also be used as a tincture.

Mormon Tea (Ephedra nevadensis)

Also known as squaw tea or desert tea. Mormon Tea is a common shrub of the southwest United States and Mexico. It is called Mormon tea because the early Mormon settlers used it as a coffee/caffeine substitute. It is an astringent plant that is also useful for bronchitis and asthma. It is also useful for stomach and kidney ailments and is a slightly energizing drink.

To brew mormon tea simply take a handful of leaves (green or brown) and cover with boiling water. Cover and steep for 5 minutes and sweeten to taste. This is a great remedy for those suffering from shortness of breathe due to colds and asthma.

Alternately mormon tea can be chewed.

How to make an herbal tincture

Tinctures are extracts of herbs made using dried or fresh plant material. The medicinal properties of the herbs are extracted using alcohol and sometimes glycerin or vinegar. Making and using herbs in this fashion is very effective both in cost and as a catalyst for healing. Some herbs are better used as an infusion (such as red raspberry leaf, peppermint and oatstraw) but many more are much more effective in the form of a tincture.

To make a tincture you will need the following supplies;

Wide mouth jar w/tight fitting lid

A piece of wax paper big enough to cover the top of the jar

80-100 proof vodka or Everclear (I generally like to use Everclear)

4-6 tbsp. of specific herb/roots

A piece of cheesecloth large enough to fit over the mouth of the jar


You will want to place the herbs in the jar then cover with about 4x as much alcohol. Place the wax paper over the opening of the jar then screw on the lid tightly. Let this mixture sit for 2-4 weeks in a cool dry place. You will want to shake it occasionally. (Once a day if possible, but a few times a week is ok)

After about 2-4 weeks, strain through cheesecloth with a rubberband wrapped around the lid. Be sure to squeeze out the excess liquid from the herbs and reserve the liquid. Be sure to label all tinctures and keep out of reach of pets and children.

Generally tinctures can be taken a teaspoon at a time 2-3x a day (depending on the herb and ailment ). Be sure to research any herb and dosages you are tincturing.

I will be discussing certain herbs and tinctures here and how to use them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Herbal Infused Chest Rub

There’s no need to use nasty petroleum based chest rubs when you can easily make your own herbal infused chest rub at home. Here is a recipe for a wonderful and effective chest rub that will help ease chest congestion. It is safe enough for kids to use too so it works for the whole family!

What you'll need;

A double boiler (you can use a regular saucepan if you don’t have a double boiler just do NOT heat up too high, use low heat!)

Small glass jars or tins

Cheesecloth/ mesh strainer

Dried lavender and peppermint (2 Tbsp. each)

Essential oils- camphor, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary (10 drops each)

6 oz oil (I like sunflower or jojoba oil but you could use olive or almond)

1 oz coconut oil

1 oz shea butter

1 oz beeswax (or vegan alternative)


First heat your oil and add the dried herbs together. Let steep for about 30-45 minutes.

Strain with the cheesecloth or strainer reserving the oil. (Compost the herbs)

Return to low heat and add in coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax, stirring constantly until blended well.

Remove from heat and add the essential oils.

Pour into small glass jars. Allow to solidify then be sure to put lids on and label.

Rub a small amount on your chest as needed! This works great!

(You can find all the supplies you need online at or any soap making supply shop)

Herbal Support for PMS

This is a good recipe for a soothing mellow tea to use to alleviate PMS. Traditional Medicinals also has a good PMS tea which you can find at your local health food store for about $5 a box. I like to make my own PMS tea when I can.

Mix the following in equal parts to a clean dry glass jar. Using 1 oz of each herb will yield a big jar full. Enough for several months. Just be sure to store it out of direct sunlight in a cool, dark place.

Herbs for PMS tea;

Dandelion root






Red raspberry leaves

Red clover flowers



Lemon Balm

Use a tea ball or brew 1 tsp. per cup. This tea is very lovely. Drink 2-3 cups per day or as needed. You can use any of the herbs listed here and make it according to your tastes but I like variety!

Drinking tea is a very effective way to self heal so it is my favorite way to treat a lot of things (including PMS).

Herbal Allies

If you’re like me, maybe you have been called to work with certain plants. This would be what some herbalists call an “Herbal Ally”. I can vividly remember the first time I was called to work with a plant (violets). It isn’t just a passing curiosity or wanting to just learn about a certain plant. It is actually a definite pull and calling to learn, know and listen to what the plant is telling you. I encourage you to pay attention next time it feels like a specific plant is calling to you. It may just want to teach you something. Once you discover an herbal ally it will teach you things you never expected in ways you never knew possible. It is also possible that your ally will choose you, not the other way around! It’s a good idea to keep a journal and write down your thoughts, findings and lessons from your herbal ally. This will help you preserve and validate the experience. It is a great way to learn about plants on a deeper spiritual level as well.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Welcome to my newest herb blog!

Yes, it's yet another herb blog! Unfortunately has not proved easy navigable and I also keep getting spammed! So I decided to come over to!

This blog is my attempt at sharing plant knowledge with those who want to learn more about using herbs and native plants for medicinal, spiritual and emotional healing. Of course I don't make medical claims here but I will write about my experiences and theories!

I urge you to use love, good energy and common sense when using herbs. There is nothing better than being able to make your own medicine from the plants you grow or wild harvest yourself.

Learning about herbal lore, history of uses and ethnobotany are also a passion of mine so I will be including little tidbits here and there pertaining to those subjects as well!