As an herbalist, I believe strongly in the power of the entire plant, the entire organism. Are there times when the extract of one constituent of one plant is preferable? Surely, I can't say that there aren't. However, nothing, when possible, can compete with the whole food, the whole being of one herb.
Those constituents which might be irritating, caustic, or too strong are tempered by the ingeniousness of natural order--mucilage to counter alkaloids and tannins, relaxants to counter stimulants, nutritives to rebuild, astringents to re-tone. Food is indeed our medicine and, likewise, our medicine--as often as possible--should be food.
But like so many called to the healing arts, the body of the healer (I'm using that term incredibly loosely) is too often neglected and, at least in my case, the brain is too full of possible remedies to create a simple solution. Too often we complicate our own situation--the price of sticky subjectivity.
This weekend, I spent my mornings in the gardens, both cultivated and wild, vegetable and herb and flower. Around 9:30am, once the heavy work of the day was done, dew dried from flowers, I collected wild roses, calendula, catmint, chamomile, self-heal, red clover, lady's mantle, looked for St. John's Wort (or St. Joan's Wort, as Susun Weed says; either way, too early for it), then gathered thyme, sage, basil, and rosemary. I tinctured last season's hawthorn berries, this season's plantain leaf, and used the last of the Ashwagandha. I put up plantain/self-heal infused jojoba oil to add to last year's calendula oil, later into salves, when the heat of summer has passed.
I was taught to offer something to these plants as I harvest them. Sometimes it's a stray piece of hair, leftover milk from breakfast, a bit of compost, seaweed, pretty stones or shells. Most often it's a song (easier to carry, though perhaps not in tune), most often, inexplicably, it's James Taylor's Sweet Baby James (may...
At this point, I just have to remember to believe in magic. It's not too difficult once you graciously (and gratefully) forget everything you've been taught and remember everything you've learned, inherited, and intuited in that space between awake and asleep.
A friend, recently back from retreat in San Diego, brought back a (sustainably foraged) gift of white sage. White Sage (Salvia Apiana), as you may or may not know, has long been a sacred herb, used for healing, for clearing energy and (as an antimicrobial and antiviral) purifying a space vulnerable to illness. Indigenous people have used sage for ceremonial purposes in North and South America, but (if you really wanted to) you could trace its use back to ancient Babylonia.
We aren't going to do that, though. I trust the plant; that's all the legitimacy I need.
ANYway. What a gift! All this fresh sage (which is only native to the Southwestern US). I set it aside with the intention of making smudge sticks, and headed out for my hike. Now, in the snowy remains of winter, there is little green and growing. However, another windfall of white pine littered my hike and I gathered what I could carry on my walk home.
Et violà: East meets West in a windfall of a gift that reminded me that most of t...
For some reason, we have such a hard time moving one logical knowledge set across a very narrow space into another.
Take, for instance, coffee. Or tea. They're stimulants; they wake you up. If you depend on them for too long, then suddenly cut the supply, you get a headache (often, anyway). In the right amount, they help the body eliminate waste. Too much? The opposite effect occurs. Coffee can relieve constipation, black tea can relieve diarrhea.
These widely accepted characteristics of these herbs (tea is an herb; coffee, while a fruit, is also an herb, if we apply the logic we use for rosehips, for elderberries, hawthorn berries, etc), should make it easy for us to apply the same logical deductions to the value of other herbs.
But this old knowledge, this (yes) *conservative* knowledge is so distrusted by a vast majority of us (not so much in other countries--I mean, look at Germany--they're always on the forefront of herbal (re)discoveries).
(And, by the way, if you're looking for a place to retreat, to find yourself, to be in one of the most powerful, natural places on earth, I urge you to go when you can and stay as long as you can. Seven Centers changed my life).
So. That being said, we can move on. ;)
Herbs can be essential in a yoga practice by supporting the physical, energetic, and spiritual aspects of the entire individual. The vital constituents of herbs contain a life essence which, in Ayurveda, is called Soma.
The following is a traditional Soma formula that has been handed down, practitioner to practitioner, essential for rebuilding the ojas, or the life essence of the body.
I love, love (dare I say luuuurve?) making my own remedies, from home- to skin/self-care products.
I mean, serious DIY herby dorkness happening over here.
So, I thought it high time to share my DIY laundry soap recipe with you sweet, fellow herby-nerds.
The following homemade laundry soap is safe for you, for sensitive skin, and your septic system. It can even be used in front-loading washers.
Now, to the Borax controversy... Contrary to some information out there, BORAX (sodium tetraborate) is not toxic (at least, not as a cleaning product; don't go eating it, by any means). BORIC ACID is toxic.
Ever wonder why winter is so nostalgically and closely associated with fragrant and comforting herbs (spices, actually) like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and why they feature so heavily in our cold-weather baking?
For one, they’re extremely warming (try putting a little cinnamon or ginger on your tongue and see what happens), which is good for the body in the midst of winter. These heating herbs bring blood to the surface of the skin, acting as a radiator of sorts, warming the body.
Warming herbs also tend to soothe the stomach, aid digestion, and regulate blood sugar. That’s right—that heavily spiced pumpkin pie latte may actually help your digestion and keep your blood sugar from spiking and crashing.
Well. Maybe not...
Obviously, adding these herbs and spices to desserts helps, but it’s not the ideal way to take them (unfortunately). So let’s break down a few of the most common warming herbs; see if you can integrate them into a variety of foods and beverages.