Posted on

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!

Posted on

Chamomile in the Springtime Garden

chamomile

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is one of the first signs of green in my Springtime garden, and a very welcome sight it is!

A member of the Daisy Family, Chamomile contains calcium, potassium, vitamin B2, flavonoids, coumarins, and salicylates. The flowers are used for their antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and vulnerary properties.

The flavor is described as both sweet and bitter. You’ll notice its appley aroma which is just how it tastes, but if you make the same mistake I did and steep your tea extra long (medicine-making style), it becomes really bitter!

Chamomile is used in skin care to soften dry skin, clean pores, clear acne, and reduce puffiness. It’s also a key herb to use for healing wounds and inflammations such as burns, itches, and bug bites.

Try using Chamomile in a steam to ease nasal congestion. Used as a bath herb, Chamomile can relieve stress and calm cranky children.

I also like to use Chamomile to make a massage oil that soothes sore muscles and aids relaxation. This oil is wonderful on sore, swollen feet!

 

* If you are sensitive to Ragweed you may be allergic to Chamomile. Be careful when you first try it. Otherwise, it’s considered very safe.

Posted on

D.I.Y. Herbal Spa Meetup

bathtub spa
"The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day." -Hippocrates

 

BIG THANKS to Jennifer Goodheart at Acadia Herbals, Brittany Wood Nickerson of Thyme Herbal, and everyone at the “D.I.Y. Herbal Spa Meetup” on Sunday! SO much fun to relax and swap tips and recipes with other bathtub goddesses while sipping Jennifer’s delightful Jasmine-Lemongrass tea 🙂

(Join our herbal group at Meetup.com if you’d like to catch the next meetup!)

Brittany advocates using salt scrubs to keep skin exfoliated and moisturized for its optimal health, and explained how this also supports our lymph and nerves.

She demonstrated an easy-to-make recipe that I know will leave you feeling just sparkling:

  • 1 cup finely ground sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon peel powder
  • add a few drops of lemon, sweet orange or grapefruit essential oil if you’d like to make it aromatic

I talked about my great love for tub teas (of course!) and all my favorite ingredients for a bathtub spa including salts, baking soda, oatmeal, and apple cider vinegar.

Vinegar restores skin and scalp’s natural pH and is said to draw pollutants out of the body. A soak in a bath with a little vinegar can help relieve sore muscles, itchy skin and sunburn (*but be aware that vinegar can irritate open sores and sensitive skin).

Herb-infused vinegars are really simple to make and make a fabulous addition to your herbal pantry. Some of my favorite blends are:

  • 3 parts rose petals, 1 part spearmint
  • 1 part rosemary, 1 part lavender
  • 2 parts lavender, 1 part lemon balm,  1 part lemon peel

All you need to do is add 1 oz. (weight) herbs to 2 cups apple cider vinegar. Let it steep for 1 – 2 weeks, then strain.

To use, add ½ to 1 cup of vinegar to the tub when it’s filled. Makes a great salad dressing too!

Posted on

Bathtub Therapy

bathtub therapy

Stressful day? Try some “Bathtub Therapy” (or, when the going gets tough, the tough get into the tub)!

Baths can be so soothing, both for body and mind. When I’m feeling fritzed, there’s nothing better than sinking into a big tub with a cup of tea and good book.

I like to soak in herbal teas as well as drink them! San Franciscan herbalist and aromatherapist Jeanne Rose calls herbal baths “the organic antidote to impure air and harsh water conditions”. She recommends taking a herbal bath 2-3 times a week to smooth and hydrate the skin, and keep it healthy and young looking.

I tend to have lots of different herbs on hand, so can make lots of different bathtub teas to suit my mood. Some of my favorite blends are:

  • 2 parts red roses, 1 part jasmine flowers, 1 part patchouli leaf
  • 2 parts lavender flowers, 1 part comfrey leaf, 1 part marjoram leaf
  • 2 parts calendula flowers, 1 part lemon balm leaf, 1 part lemongrass leaf
  • 2 parts chamomile flowers, 1 part catnip leaves, 1 part lavender flowers

But you don’t have to have a huge herbal apothecary- Common kitchen ingredients like apple cider vinegar, oatmeal, and sea salt are perfect for turning your bath into a therapeutic spa experience.

Vinegar and salt (½ cup-1 cup) can be added directly to the tub as it’s filling, but oatmeal and herbs I put in a muslin bag before tossing into the tub. An easy substitute if you don’t have a bath tea bag is to use a washcloth. Wrap a large handful of herbs up in the washcloth and tie it with a string.

(I let the bath tea keep steeping in the tub with me while I soak.)

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your soak. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your luffa!

SaveSave

Posted on

Autumn chill? Add a little spice!

spicy herbal tea

Autumn seems to have started early for me! I’ve been cold and craving spicy teas like this awesome Herbal Chai for a couple of weeks already!

Ingredients:
1 part Star Anise
1 part Ginger (1 part if dried, 2 parts if fresh)
1 part Cardamom (whole pods or crushed)
1 part Cinnamon
1 part Black Pepper
1 part Licorice root

Directions:
To prepare this tea combine herbs with water in a medium saucepan. Use 1 Tbs. tea for every cup of water. With the lid on, heat the water and herbs gently until steam or small bubbles begin to emerge, do not let it boil. Continue to let it steam/ simmer for 20 minutes. At this point you can strain the tea and enjoy or continue to let it steep with the lid on until you are ready to drink it.

(recipe by Brittany Wood Nickerson, Thyme Herbal)

 

Another favorite is Té de Canela (or cinnamon stick tea, which I learned from Jessica Morgan, Morgan Botanicals). So simple, but soooo delicious!

Ingredients:
4 cups water
3 – 4 cinnamon sticks

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, heat the water and cinnamon sticks over medium-low heat, until the water turns a golden amber color. Sweeten if desired. (I like this one nice and strong, so simmer for about 1 hour, then leave on stove to steep all afternoon as I sip it, as Brittany does above).

 

Mmmmm…. I’m feeling warmer already…. 🙂

Posted on

Do you Drink or Wear your tea?

Holy Basil (aka Tulsi)

I’ve been growing Holy Basil in the garden for three years and only fall deeper in love with each passing season! When you meet this plant, you understand instantly why it is so revered; its fragrance is truly heavenly! Being so useful medicinally while being so pleasant to consume really does seem a kind of miracle…..

Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) is also commonly called Tulsi (which is Sanskrit for “the incomparable one”) and is worshipped by Hindus throughout India. In Ayurveda, it’s used as herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf, or mixed with ghee for the common cold, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, poisoning, and malaria.

Essential oil can be extracted from Holy Basil and is used in skin care and herbal cosmetics for its anti-biotic, disinfectant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

 

D.I.Y.

If your skin is acne-prone like mine, you’ll love what Holy Basil can do for you! Make a tea with dried Holy Basil and use it like a toner. It helps clear up acne and blemishes, while making your complexion appear brighter.

You can also use the tea as a hair rinse to add luster to dry hair and soothe an itchy scalp, as well as for a breath-freshening mouth rinse.

I like to add Holy Basil to bathtub tea too. Talk about a reviving, skin-soothing soak!