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Let’s Bee the Balm

herbal balm

Borrowing from Caroline Casey, host-creator and weaver of context for “The Visionary Activist Show” on Pacifica radio station KPFA, “The world is on fire, so let’s bee the balm!”.

The idea of bee-ing the balm is why I started gardening with medicinal herbs. Besides being medicine for me, they’re also medicine for bees and other insects, animals, other plant communities, and the earth itself. Gardening (like veganism) is direct action.

I take it literally too, as I make vegan skin balms. I’ve been in that place where you try to be blind to an ingredient you don’t want that’s in a product you need. Using that product leaves you feeling, you know, not great.

That’s why I became such a stickler. It’s why I had to give up making water-based creams. They really require synthetic preservatives and I couldn’t continue to compromise my values, which in turn compromises any value I might give to my community and the planet. It stressed me out.

The gift in that was I had to learn my craft in a whole new way, to get more creative. Which led me to where I am now, making *plantastic* salves and balms that soothe the mind as much as the skin. I never hide ingredients behind a “proprietary blend” label. I’m proud to share everything I use and it’s all listed on my website and on the label because I want you to feel good too.

 

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The Solstice Tide

Rosa mundi

Summer Solstice is on June 20th this year, but you can already feel it in the air! The sky is still light at 9:00 at night and the garden is overflowing with roses.

Heirloom roses are better than gold to me– they smell incredible (seriously, better than any rose scent you’ve ever smelled) and are really useful in herbal medicine.

(yes, yes, you can eat them too)

Today I’m using rose petals to make a richly moisturizing skin salve for my dry, cracked, achy gardening hands. Combined with red clover, violet, marshmallow, and meadowsweet, this salve will be exactly what my summertime skin needs.

Happy Solstice! And remember, it’s always a good idea to salve up after all that sun 🙂

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Wear Your Herbs: Echinacea

echinacea

Because I’m limited to how many plants I can have in my small space, I look for plants that are multi-talented and can be used in different ways.

Echinacea (or Purple Coneflower, currently blooming all over the garden and bringing in hungry goldfinches) is one you probably know as an immune-stimulating medicinal herb, but its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties have an important place in your first-aid kit too.

Plants for a Future, a charity researching and providing information on ecologically sustainable horticulture, lists Echinacea in its database saying the plant has long been used by North American Indians as a universal application to treat the bites and stings of all types of insects.

It’s used also as a pain killer and healing agent for burns, to reduce pain and prevent infection in recent wounds, and to clean out wounds that become infected.

Use the tincture, or make yourself a nice healing salve.

The past few years, I’ve been making an olive-oil based salve with Echinacea flowers, Rose petals, Comfrey leaves, Yarrow leaves and flowers, and Holy Basil leaves and flowers. The blend works well, soothing irritation and speeding up the healing time on the nicks and scrapes I get so often from my habit of gardening without gloves.

Are you using Echinacea topically? I’d love to hear your experiences!