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Plantain is extremely hardy. It thrives in poor soil and in rich soil, in sun and in shade. It is a plant that is impossible not to grow if you are inclined to try it. Over the years, Ive heard numerous testimonials on the wonders of the humble Plantain poultice. Ive fortunately never needed to use it myself for anything other than a minor cut, sting or bruise, but every herb walk produces a number of tales about its miracles. Reports say Plantain has healed serious infections, poisonous spider bites, snake bites and even gangrene with its ability to stop bleeding, draw out toxic material, neutralize poisons, reduce inflammation and promote healing. Taken internally, Plantain clears the gastrointestinal passage, quiets inflammations and eliminates excess mucus. It is useful for stomach ulcers, diarrhea and dysentery. It is also an alterative, an herb which over time purifies and fortifies the blood. Grows as a weed in the NE
Sage is warming and strengthening. Its very name, salvia, means to save, and it is excellent for rebuilding vitality during prolonged illness. It clears congestion and soothes sore throats, tonsillitis and laryngitis. It fights infection and is useful for coughs. It energizes the entire system, and is a yang, grounding herb which may help menopausal women with hot flashes. As a poultice or compress, Sage draws toxins out. It is a robust, versatile healer. Several varieties grow easily in the NE
From the time of the ancient Greeks through the Middle Ages, it was considered imbued with magical powers, and it was used to ward off evil and illness. Some claim that the red spots on its leaves appeared at the beheading of John the Baptist (wort is an Anglo Saxon word for herb). In the last thirty years St. Johns Wort has undergone extensive clinical and laboratory testing which has confirmed that the herb has powerful nerve regenerative abilities. It also has marked anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. As a home remedy and first aid item, St. Johns Wort oil is the remedy par excellence for nerve damage, trauma to the muscle tissue and cuts and wounds. It is excellent for bruises, sprains, burns and other injuries. St. Johns Wort tincture is used for nerve disorders, stress and pain and is probably best known these days as a mild but effective anti-depressant. It gently elevates the emotional state without causing addiction or harmful side effects. The one side effect the herb is known for is causing photosensitivity in animals. Caution; if you are regularly ingesting St. Johns Wort you should avoid extensive exposure to direct sunlight. Can cause photosensitivity. Grows easily in the NE
Open a jar of Valerian and youll get reactions such as Close that jar! It smells like dirty socks! True, it does have a peculiar odor and taste due to its concentration of volatile oil, isovalerenic and valerenic acid. However, Valerian is one of our most powerful herbal nervines. It is highly recommended for nervous excitement, insomnia, muscle tension, tension headaches and nervous palpitations. It is very good for circulatory problems (especially cardiac palpitations and high blood pressure) because it slows and calms the action of the heart while increasing its force. Given that Valerians unconventional taste is difficult to mask, it could be quite the task to get your root down. Being a rather earthy person, I find the flavor of Valerian root reminiscent of the moist mountain earth in which it grows. Valerian may also be used for pain, nervous conditions, muscle spasms, digestive problems and creaky joints in animals. Many cats love Valerian better than Catnip. Grows easily in the NE
A beautiful, common roadside weed, Yarrow is recognized by its creamy-white flowers. Yarrow stalks are traditionally used to consult the Chinese oracle book, the I Ching, and the plant has a long association with magic and healing. It is a generalized tonic for the female reproductive system, and it is useful for reducing excessive menstruation. It eases menstrual and stomach cramps and works to stop both internal and external bleeding. Yarrow is also an anticatarrhal, a diaphoretic and a heart tonic, so it is useful for colds, fevers and high blood pressure. Grows as a weed in the NE
- Longevity and Stability
- An herb, once tinctured, will retain its medicinal properties far longer than in most other preparations. Alcohol tinctures will last for many years. Tinctures made from Vinegar have a shorter shelf life, but are effective for at least a year, and often much longer.
- Unlike bulky raw botanicals, tinctures store compactly. They are excellent for car first aid kits and for traveling.
Ease of Administering
- Tinctures are ready to administer with no further preparation. The tinctures are dispensed directly under the tongue or mixed with warm water, tea, or juice.
Ease of Preparation
- Anyone is capable of making high quality tinctures. There is no mystery or complicated process involved in preparing them. What are required are good quality herbs, a high quality solvent, a measuring cup, and a little time.
- Though Tinctures are fairly expensive to purchase (you are paying for the quality time and expertise of the herbalist and wildcrafters who collected the herbs) they are relatively inexpensive to make yourself. If you need to take a tincture over a long period of time for a chronic situation or as a tonic, you should consider making your own. Those little one-ounce bottles that tinctures come in can get quite costly.
Alcohol is a potent, effective menstruum that extracts fats, resins, waxes, most alkaloids, as well as many other plant components. Furthermore, alcohol serves as an excellent preservative maintaining the integrity of the herb for many years. The body rapidly assimilates alcohol Tinctures and their effects are quickly felt.
When using alcohol, water is included as part of the menstruum because both substances are needed to extract different plant chemicals. The ratio of water to alcohol determines the actual menstruum. The standard menstruum is 50 % alcohol to 50 % water (a 1:1 ratio), though this varies. Any good 100 proof alcohol naturally supplies this ratio without you having to do anything. It becomes a little more complicated, however, when the ratios of alcohol to water change.
of the proof represents the actual amount of alcohol to water in the alcoholic beverage and is 2 times the % of alcohol (80 proof is 40% alcohol and 2 X 40 is 80 proof). Example: 100 proof vodka = 50 % H20 & 50 % alcohol.
There are several kinds of alcohol used for Tincture making. Brandy, vodka, and gin are favorites because each can be purchased as 100 proof. For preservative properties and extraction purposes, you must use at least 25 % alcohol by volume. When making Tinctures dont scrimp on quality; buy the best alcohol youre able to afford.
Many professional herbalists prefer making tinctures from 190 proof alcohol. This gives you a whopping 95 % alcohol / 5 % water ratio. This high percentage of alcohol allows more control over the percentage of alcohol to water used for extracting the specific components from the herb. I have included the STANDARDIZED method; however, for home use, I recommend the Simplers way. Use a 100 proof (more or less) alcohol. It will simplify the process considerably and is every bit as effective as the standardized method.
Indicated for gastric congestion, nausea, vomiting, gas, loss of appetite, diarrhea,
- volatile oils, tannins, fixed oils, courmarins.
- Warms and harmonized digestive functions; powerful carminative; local anti-inflammatory; diuretic; stimulates lactation
- essential oil, warm, acrid, bitter.
- broad warming stimulant to digestion. A strong warming remedy for congestive digestion with abdominal pain and distension, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting, loss of appetite. valuable strategy in cases where poor digestion and assimilation appear to be at the root of a chronic debility.
- Carminative, digestive stimulant
- Warming, stimulates circulation to the stomach
Cooling Remedies Such as Bitters
- Bitters are a powerful strategy for the treatment of a number of inflammatory and digestive disorders.
- Good to use for both diarrhoea or constipation, scanty dark urine, thirst but little drinking,
- biliary disorders, including gall balder disease and even some cases of high cholesterol.
- Also for many liver conditions. And intolerance of greasy foods and alcohol
- Previous exposure to high levels of alcohol and recreational\prescribed drugs
- Reactive hypoglycemia
Examples of digestive bitters
- Dandelion root and leaf
- gentian (g. lutea) ~ the archetypal bitter remedy, sure safe and without side effects, is was used as a foundation for any prescription seeking to use cooling, drying and digestive stimulant effects.
- Golden Seal, barberry, gold thread
- Milk Thistle ~ protective against liver poisons, (notably the death cap mushroom) also shown to be effective in treating hepatitis, and cirrhosis.
- Yellow Dock can be seen as a mild version of cascara or rhubarb, having the same bitter and choleretic properties, but less laxative action. Used for the bile-bowel axis; in other words if there is a condition that suggests liver/bowel disorder, yellow dock is an herb of choice.
- Cascara Sagrada ~ glycosides, tannins, bitter principles, volatile oils. Stimulating laxative, .
- Chamomile ~ mild enough for children, strong enough to be effective for the most cranky adult. used for digestive stress. relaxes the gut, regulating peristaltic movements, relieves colic, nervous hyperactive, diarrhoea and spastic colon; the volatile oils is also a carminative, reducing flatulence.
Astragalus, known as Huang qi in Chinese Traditional Medicine, is an outstanding herb for building immune strength and energizing the whole body, particularly the spleen and lungs. It stimulates the deep immune system and helps to rebuild the bone marrow reserve that supports and regenerates the bodys protective shield. It is used to both prevent and treat long-term infections including chronic colds, repeating flus, candida and Epstein-Barr syndrome. Astragalus promotes circulatory health and stimulates regular metabolism of dietary sugars, so it is used by people with diabetes. Can be grown in the NE
A simple, delightful recipe, bath salts add trace minerals to the bath water, soften the water, and gently cleanse the skin. Bath salts are made from a combination of mineral salts. Most people are surprised, and some mildly offended, to learn the major ingredient in most bath salts is Borax. Borax is a natural mineral salt mined in only a few places in the world. Put it in a large box with a picture of the 20 mule team on the front and it_used for laundry; put it in a small, fancy jar and it's used as a cosmetic.
Ingredients for Bath Salts:
- 2 cups Borax
- 1/8 cup Sea Salt
- 1/8 cup White Clay
- Essential Oils to scent
(1) Mix borax, salt, and clay together. Use a wire egg whisk to distribute all the ingredients evenly.
(2) Scent with your favorite essential oil. The mix will absorb a lot of oil so buy your scent in a 1 oz bottle.
(3) Cover with a porous cloth and let sit several hours to dry. Mix with egg whisk again. Package in glass bottles or fancy tins.
Growing in abundance around my home in the California coastal range is the gorgeous aromatic bay tree. This recipe is an inspiration from the bay wood forest of that home. For a bracing astringent and for a perfect aftershave tonic to tighten and firm pores try this wonderful "ALL NATURAL" bay rum tonic. It makes a great gift also.
- Bay Leaves (fresh works far better)
- A few Cloves, Allspice, and Ginger
(1) Pack a wide mouth jar full of bay leaves. Fresh leaves are really the best to use here. Add just a few cloves, allspice and ginger, enough to give it a bit of a spicy aroma.
(2) Completely cover the herbs with rum ( an inch or two above the herbs).
(3) Let sit for 3-4 weeks in a warm place.
(4) Strain and rebottle the herbal liquid. You may add a drop or two of essential oil of bay to strengthen the scent; especially if using dry bay leaves.
Cosmeos' shrine is most often found in the least conspicuous room in the house, the bathroom. Here one is likely to find the anointing oils, luscious creams, the facial cleansers, and all the wonderfully scented paraphernalia so fond to the heart of this sensuous goddess. Within the confines of your bathroom, in the temple of Cosmeos, you can create ceremonies to awaken the goddess energy. One of the most satisfying of these ceremonies is the Ritual Bath. It has all the benefits of an exclusive European-style spa, but is accomplished inexpensively and conveniently in your own home. The entire treatment can be completed within an hour. The results? Glowing skin, radiant spirits, and a deep, harmonious feeling of peace.
Step One - Getting Ready
Begin by placing a candle in your bathroom, light some incense, and put your favorite music on your stereo.
Step Two - Filling The Tub
Fill your bathtub with very hot water. Use a generous portion of your favorite Bath Herb Mix (see recipe section). Add 4 tablespoons of you favorite Bath Salt mix (see recipe section). Your bath water should be richly scented and permeated with the healing essences of the herbs.
Step Three - Anointing
Generously apply either massage oil or creamy massage oil (see recipe section) to your entire skin. Using a luffa or natural hemp mitt, vigorously rub your entire body. This therapeutic skin treatment, called dry brush massage, is used in European style spas and sanitariums. It is both a marvelous cosmetic aid and a therapy for sluggish circulation and skin related disorders. When you have thoroughly and vigorously massaged your entire body, you are ready for immersion.
Step Four - Immersion
Slowly immerse yourself into your herbal bath water. Let the candle light lure your dreams; the soft music entice you. While soaking, use the bag of bath herbs as a gentle scrub. Massage it soothingly over your body.
Step Five - Re-emergence
After a time which should seem like forever, when you feel fully ready to re-emerge into the world, slowly step from the tub. Towel dry, then anoint your entire body with your special cream (recipe above). Dust a bit of your heavenly body powder (see recipe section) under your arms and everywhere else it feels good.
This is the nicest powder recipe I know of. It is a natural deodorizer because of its absorbent properties, can be scented with any scent you like, and is simple and inexpensive to make.
- 1 cup White cosmetic grade Clay
- 1-2 cups Cornstarch
- Optional; Essential Oils
- Optional; Lavender and Rose flowers
(1) In a large bowl, using a wire whisk, mix the clay and cornstarch together.
(2) Add essential oil. It will absorb quite a bit, so buy your essential oil in 1 oz bottles.
(3) If you wish to use herbs, finely grind the lavender and roses (or other herbs) to a fine powder. Sift. Then grind again. They must be as powdered as possible or they will give a gritty feeling to the powder. A coffee or seed and nut grinder will work fairly well.
(4) Cover the body powder with a porous cloth and let sit for several hours to dry. Package in powder containers, spice jars with shaker tops, or fancy tins.
Because of the ravaging effects of Alzheimers disease, there is often fear among the elderly every time they forget something. Children forget, too, to put their cloths on, where they left their jackets and shoes and what time bedtime is even though its been the same time every night for several years. Teenagers are notorious for forgetting everything they dont want to remember. As we age, we tend to `forget more and remember less. I do notice as we grow older, that there is a resistance to remembering certain details and facts, a selective memory process, and wonder if this isnt a natural process meant to draw us into ourselves, away from the mundane, into the inner journey of knowing. Perhaps our inner clock is telling us its time to forget those details so important to the world but that are hardly worth thinking about and to get on to the more important quests of life. For long term mental acuity, the following herbs are extremely beneficial and should be used on a regular basis by anyone who finds themselves frequently in `brain fog (well discuss how each of these herbs helps with brain function):
- Gota Kola
- Siberian Ginseng
Burdock is definitely an herb to have available at all times. The roots make both a delicious food (called gobo in Japanese shops) and a powerful medicine. Burdock is an alterative, an herb that steadily improves the quality of the blood, cleaning toxins from the system and increasing the uptake of nutrients and proteins. It is rich in iron, minerals and mineral salts. It purifies and strengthens the liver, promotes healthy kidney function and stimulates the appetite and digestion. It expels uric acid from the body, so it is helpful for gout and rheumatism. It can also be very helpful for treating dry, scaly skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. During pregnancy, Burdock strengthens both the mother and the baby. Grows as a weed in the NE
- increase nerve and muscle tone, are drying, remove excess moisture, can reduce bacteria, yeast, or viral over growth
- Ex: oak bark, blackberry, black walnut
- stimulating, tonify nerve supply to digestive organs, increase flow of secretions and enzymes
- ex. dandelion, mugwort, wormwood, gentian, cascara sagrada
- coating, soothing, relaxing
- ex. marshmallow, slippery elm, comfrey, barley, oats
- removes congestion, regulates chi
- ex. wild yam, chamomile, yarrow, fennel, peppermint
- heat clearing
- chamomile, oregon grape root, golden seal, gentian, fenugreek.
- cool the digestion, warm surface, release gas, relax sphincter, increase bowled peristyles.
- Ex. peppermint, spearmint, fennel caraway, dill, cardamon
- Stimulate and regulate the bowels,
Bitters work by:
- Activate the gastric secretion of hydrochloric acid and other digestive enzymes. This increases the nerve tone of the muscles in the entire digestive tact and improves blood circulation
- increase the strength and tone of autonomic nervous system. which energizes the entire digestive track, (without thinking about it).
Bitters are used for:
- poor fat digestion
- poor protein digestion
- weakness due to chronic illness
- loss of zest for life, lowered vitality
- poor appetite
- excessive craving for sweets
Laxatives and bowel tonics
- An area where herbs really excel is in strengthening and cleansing of the bowls. They work by stimulating the bowel wall, increasing peristalsis.
- Bowel tonics have a very mild laxative activity.
- Laxatives such as ale, senna, buckthorn bark and butternut bark can help stimulate bowel movement during times of constipation
- Cathartic herbs strongly clean out the bowels; use cautiously and sparingly!
This richer, thicker oil is really half way between a cream and a massage oil. I especially like it for massaging the face, hands, and feet.
How to Make:
(1) Make herbal oil using recipe above.
(2) To each cup of herbal oil add the following:
1/4 cup Cocoa Butter
1/2 cup Coconut oil
1 tsp Lanolin
(3) Warm over low heat just until all in
gredients are melted together.
(4) Scent with your favorite essential oil.
- A. Step One - Miracle Grains
- Lightly cleanse your face and neck with Miracle Grains (see recipe section). Use the grains to gently massage and stimulate the skin. The grains will massage off dry, dead skin, increase circulation to the facial surface, and provide a nourishing "meal" for your face. Rinse the grains off with warm water.
- B. Step Two - Herbal Facial Steam
- Select an Herbal Facial Steam that's best for your skin type (see recipe section). Bring the herbs to a boil in a large pot of water. Remove from heat source. Completely cover the pot and your head with a large thick towel. It will be VERY hot under that towel. Try to steam for at least 5-8 minutes. To regulate the heat, raise or lower your head or lift a corner of the towel to let in a little cool air. If you need to come out to catch a breath of cool air now and then, do so. But it is best to stay under the towel for as long as possible. Your face should be rolling with steam. It really does feel fabulous. A facial steam is the best possible way for deep pore cleansing. Each of the herbs used are rich in nutrients that nourish and tone the skin. The aromatic oils of the plants are released by the heat and also absorbed by the skin. And best of all, it feels so good!! Your face will feel smooth and glow with radiance. Immediately after you complete your Facial Steam, rinse your face with COLD water and/or gently pat with Rose Water or Queen of Hungary's Water; ( see recipe section). Gently pat dry.
- C. Step Three - Facials
- Facials are excellent for stimulating deep circulation to the facial skin by drawing fresh blood to the surface. They are excellent for deep pore cleansing and help heal blemishes and acne. Facials also help to tone and firm the skin. There are several kinds of facials available. My favorites are made with a base of clay, honey, and/or yogurt. I find clay particularly suitable when one wants a drawing, firming type of facial. The clay is also very high in minerals and nourishes the skin. But more than the mineral content of the clay is the very substance of which it is made. Clay is mineral deposits that are thousands of years old. Those unique deposits of earth, of clay, have seen a thousand sunrises and moon sets; been washed by powerful rainstorms, impregnated by lightning and thunder. We mix that clay with a little water and put it on our faces in the name of Cosmeos. Now that is pretty powerful medicine!
- Honey, too, has its magic. It is a marvelous cosmetic for the skin. A natural moisturizer, bacteria can not live in honey. Honey both moisturizes and cleanses the skin.
- Yogurt has slight astringent properties and helps restore the natural acid mantle of the skin.
- Select the facial for your skin type. If choosing a clay facial, mix with just enough water to make a nice paste. The thicker the clay/water mix, the more drying the facial, and vice versa. Apply and leave on until completely dry.
- If choosing the honey pack, apply a fingerfull to COMPLETELY dry skin. Be sure all your hair is out of reach; it gets very sticky when full of honey! I usually "turban towel" it out of sight. Gently massage honey into the skin. Massage, Pat, and Rub on face. Let your senses tell you what strokes to use. Your skin will be so invigorated and stimulated it fairly glows.ï¿½ Rinse honey off with warm water. It comes off very easily, but be sure to rinse off completely or you will fell sticky for the rest of the day. The fresh flow of blood brought to the surface of the skin by the honey facial will create a deep, warm, lasting glow.
To Determine What Type of Facial to Use
- For DRY SKIN: choose a white cosmetic grade clay. White clay, though lightly drawing, is very gentle to the skin. For a more nourishing facial, mix with yogurt and/or avocado.
- For OILY SKIN: choose either green, red or yellow clay. These clays are much more drying than the white variety. They are also very high in minerals thus feeding and nourishing the skin. They are excellent for problematic skin such as acne, pimples, and oily skin types. In natural therapeutics, these clays are often used for poison oak, ivy, bee stings, and insect bites.
- For ALL SKIN TYPES: honey makes an excellent facial. It brings fresh blood to the surface, removes impurities, smooths and softens the skin.
- D. Step Four - Tonic Astringents
- When the facial is completed, rinse off with warm water. Be gentle to your skin while rinsing. Use soft circular motions. Massage your skin, do not scrub it. The honey will rinse off easily,; the clay requires a few rinses. Immediately after rinsing the facial off it is necessary to give a final rinse with a light astringent to tone and close the pores. If you have dry skin use Rose Water, a very light, gentle astringent. If your skin is medium to oily use The Queen of Hungary's Water or Bay Rum After Shave (see recipes).
- E. Step Five - Massage and Cream
- The finishing touch is to grace yourself with a light, delicate facial massage using a special formulated cream for your skin type (see recipe).
- The above treatment from steps 1-5 takes about 45 marvelous minutes and for best results, is done at least once or twice a month.
An Excellent Skin Care Program to Follow Would Be:
- Daily--* Cleanse with cleansing grains
- * Close pores with an astringent
* Massage in a light cream.
- Weekly--* Do a honey mask or a clay mask suitable for your skin type.
Monthly--* Treat yourself!! Follow entire program for radiant skin!
All of the following recipes are made with the finest of natural ingredients. Each of the ingredients contributes to the integrity of the final product. One of the wonders of making your own skin care products is that you can have the finest quality for the least amount of money. You also have control of what goes into the product and onto your face. Do not be fooled by the many ingredients used in commercial type skin care products. Many of the natural ingredients are added only so that the consumer (us) is impressed. Notice how far down the list of ingredients the natural ones are. The further down, the smaller the amount. Also, note how many ingredients listed are preservatives, coloring agents, synthetic scents, and chemicals. It is true that all chemicals and ingredients with "synthetic" names are not necessarily harmful. But my simple advice is: if you don't know what it is or does, don't smear it on your face.
One final thing before you get started on these recipes; have fun, be creative! These recipes are meant to be played and tampered with. Add the extra pinch of herb, a new exotic scent, a touch of this or that. Just like a good cook follows an exact recipe only once, then adds her own creativity and inspiration, so these formulas are best awakened with your own dreams.
- When experimenting with these recipes:
- (1) Always experiment in small batches.
(2) Know what each ingredient does in and to the formula.
Glycerin is a sweet, mucilaginous constituent of all fats and oils of both animal and plant origin. A highly nutritive substance, glycerin is very sweet and soothing to the mucus membrane lining of our systems. Because of the sweet flavor and the fact that it does not contain alcohol, it is useful in making tinctures for children, alcoholics and people averse to drinking alcohol. Though it has good preservative properties and dissolves mucilage material, vitamins and minerals, it does not dissolve the resinous or oily components as well as does alcohol.
To make a glycerin tincture use 2-3 parts of water to 1 part of glycerin ( a 2/3:1 ratio). This is the standard proportion of water to glycerin used as a menstruum. The amount of herb remains the same and the preparation is the same as described below. When buying glycerin (available in natural food stores) be certain it is 100 % vegetable glycerin; it is of much higher quality.
Bathing in herbs is truly like immersing one_body in a giant cup of tea. All the pores are open and receptive. The skin, our largest organ of absorption and elimination , absorbs the healing essences of herbs and you emerge renewed, refreshed.
How to Make:
(1) Place a large handful or two of the herbal mixture (see formulas below) in a muslin bag, handkerchief, or large tea ball. Tie the container onto the nozzle of the tub and turn water on HOT. Let the hot water stream through the herbs making a strong, healthy tea, then adjust water temperature. I like using cloth bags for the herbs so I can use the herbal bag for a wash cloth while bathing.
(2) For shower, tie herbal container onto shower nozzle. When soaked through, untie it, and use as your wash cloth.
- 3 parts Peppermint
- 1 part Sage
- 1 part Rosemary
- 2 parts Calendula
- 1 part Bay leaf
- 1 part Eucalyptus
- 2 parts Lavender
- 2 parts Roses
- 2 parts Chamomile
- 1 part Hops
- 1 part Comfrey