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How to use Sage Balm

fresh sage leaves

Herbal balms are a simple, natural way to care for your skin. Similar to herbal salves which are made with oil and wax, balms also contain vegetable butter, making them extra rich and moisturizing. Balms can be used for both healing and beauty. I use them all the time for everything from daily moisturizer to gardening nicks and scrapes to seriously dry hands and feet.

Garden Sage is a great herb to use topically, alone or in combination with other herbs. Because Sage has antiseptic properties, it can be used to treat cuts and wounds. Sage is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and has been shown to help with acne as well as easing the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis.

Of special interest to me as I’m hitting the big five-oh this year and spend so much time out in the sun digging in the dirt, Sage contains calcium, which aids cell renewal, and vitamin A, an antioxidant that provides protection against free radicals that damage skin cells and cause premature aging of the skin

<– This is Sage oil that’s just been strained, ready to be made into Sage Balm. It’s one of my new creations that will be available when our online store reopens in the Spring.

But you don’t have to wait ’til then to try some! If you’re into DIY, here’s a great article to help you get started making your own herbal bodycare:


How To Make Salves, Ointments and Balms

by Lucinda Warner, Herbalist and Naturopath at Whispering Earth


Hit me up with questions if you have them! I’m happy to talk balm anytime 🙂

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Kitchen Herbalism: Sage

sage leaves closeup

When you think of herbal medicine, do you think of Sage?

Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis), the same Sage that’s on your kitchen spice rack, is antibacterial, anticatarrhal, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral. It’s thought of as “cleansing” and has been used throughout history to treat illness and wounds, but is also used as a tonic reputed to bring good health and longer life.

It contains minerals and vitamins that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties including potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, and vitamin A. Fresh sage leaves are a good source of vitamin C.

Sage stimulates cell renewal and increases blood circulation, which is why you’ll see it as an ingredient in skincare as it may help minimize facial wrinkles.

It’s usually recommended to gather Sage leaves before the plant begins to flower, but some believe Sage’s medicine is at its best when flowering. Personally, I love using herbs in flower in my medicine. If you don’t have garden space, Sage can be grown in a sunny spot indoors.

This time of year, you’ll see Sage in many recipes because it helps the digestion of fatty foods. Sage tea after the meal helps with digestion too, so try a cup if you’ve overindulged and are feeling uncomfortable.

Sage wine is an old remedy used to calm the nervous system that I think deserves a comeback. Add a fresh leaf to your glass of white wine to enjoy the aroma and flavor.

For a stronger, more medicinal wine, add 4 fresh leaves to a bottle of white wine, let steep for 2 weeks, then strain. If you don’t have fresh, use a tablespoon of dried herb.

Salud! To your health!

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Herbal Alchemy: Calendula oil

calendula oil

al·che·my: a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.

Herbal oils are a good home remedy to keep on hand, useful for everything from skin moisturizing to first aid.

Infusing herbs into oil is actually a simple process, but every time I decant the resulting colorful (and sometimes fragrant) oil it seems like magic had a hand in its creation.

If you’ve never tried making your own herbal oil, Mountain Rose Herbs has a helpful blog post with directions for both the solar infused and quick heat infused methods.

If you’d like to try a different technique that’s closer to how true medicine makers do herbal oils, herbalist Kami McBride has a Calendula oil video tutorial on YouTube that’s really informative.

She talks about why she loves herbal oils, what she uses Calendula oil for, and then demonstrates how she makes oils with the addition of 100 proof vodka and a blender. This process has a few more steps but you will have a really excellent oil! The video is half an hour long and definitely worth your time. Enjoy!

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Can’t find Spring? Make it yourself

forsythia flowers

If you have access to a forsythia bush, you can make your own Spring a little ahead of the calendar.

Forsythia flowers will bloom early if you cut some stems and bring them inside. They’ve lasted over a week on my kitchen table and have been such a treat to have as we’ve just gotten another foot of snow!

It’s really easy- Here’s how:

Cut forsythia stems on a mild day when the temperature is above freezing and put them in a bucket of warm water.

Once inside, cut another inch off the bottoms of the submerged stems. This second cut, performed underwater where air cannot get in, will promote water uptake.

Keep them in a bright spot and you’ll start to see flowers in about 6 days.

Happy Early Spring!

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World Fire Cider Making Day!

fire cider, tradition not trademark

Fire Cider is a popular traditional herbal remedy freely shared, made, produced and sold by hundreds of herbalists across the world. The remedy has taken on many different amendments over time, somewhat like chicken soup. Many people have their favorite version, but the base consists of fresh garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish and chile peppers that sit in vinegar for the desired amount of time, are strained, and then a bit of something sweet is usually added at the end. The remedy is used to help warm up the body, and generally acts a stimulant and antimicrobial used during cold and flu season. Recently, a large company decided to trademark the name and is forcing small businesses who have made and sold it to change their product names. Some of the companies and individuals in question have made and sold this remedy for many years longer than the company that trademarked it has even existed. Many people feel this is a dangerous precedent to anyone who creates and shares recipes anywhere on the web or in books and this led to a filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office asking that the mark be deemed generic. Until the company agrees to freeing Fire Cider from trademark restriction, a boycott of their product has been launched.  -from the Free Fire Cider blog

February 2 is the half-way to Spring mark and is also World Fire Cider Day of Action. Join thousands of anti-trademark fire cider supporters by making your own batch and boycotting Shire City Herbals to show you believe traditional herbal remedies belong to everyone and cannot be owned.

Here’s the basic recipe:

fire cider recipe

 

I use golden cayenne peppers and substitute black radish because we grow those. I also love adding beets for that fiery red color and use maple syrup as the sweetener. Other great additions/substituitions to the basic recipe are:

  • Rosehips
  • Elderberry or Schisandra Berry
  • Elder flowers or Hibiscus
  • Leeks or Green Onions
  • Thyme, Oregano, Basil or Parsley
  • Mustard Greens or Seed
  • Astragalus or Burdock root

 

January 25, 2017 marked the 3 year anniversary of the Fire Cider trademark battle. For information about this ongoing issue and the boycott against Shire City Herbals, please go to Tradition Not Trademark’s Free Fire Cider website.

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Lookin’ this good, everybody gonna swoon

Spring Lettuce in the garden

It’s actually almost embarrassing how in love with Lettuce I am…. 

One of the first things I can eat out of my garden in the Spring, Lettuce’s amazing variety of colors, textures, and flavors is enough to put me into a swoon.

And more than just a pretty face, Lettuce is rich in vitamin A and potassium plus has some vitamin C, calcium, iron, and copper.

(*except Iceberg Lettuce, which is very low in nutritional value)

 

Lettuce fits into my small-space garden rule which requires plants to do double-duty: Besides eating it, you can wear it 😉

A lettuce face mask helps restore skin’s natural pH, soothes rough skin, and can help heal pimples.

 

Put lettuce in a blender to pulp, then massage onto skin. For a fancier version, add a little olive oil and lemon juice. Olive oil is a great moisturizer, and lemon juice a gentle astringent that cleans and refines pores.

 

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