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
Ease of Administering
Ease of Preparation
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,
Cooling Remedies Such as Bitters
Examples of digestive bitters
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:
(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.
(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) 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):
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
Bitters work by:
Bitters are used for:
Laxatives and bowel tonics
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.
To Determine What Type of Facial to Use
An Excellent Skin Care Program to Follow Would Be:
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.
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.