Elderberry Dreaming on a Winter’s Day

December is here already and I am as shocked as everyone else. I’m back in Denver and the nights are cold and windy. There isn’t any snow in the city and I hate to say that I am glad!

I can hear people sniffling and coughing around me as I’m out and about. It’s a good reminder to keep my immunity strong! Small things like washing your hands frequently (many people don’t wash door handles or light switches) and eating nutrient dense foods like soups and stews will be a big help in staving off other people’s germs.

I also drink elderberry tea every morning, switching up the other ingredients depending on what I have going on.

My 3 favorite Elderberry blends:

1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Hawthorn berries, 2 inch piece of Citrus peel – I make this on those days of over-indulgence, where there may just be a cookie or two enjoyed

1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Yarrow flowers, 1 tsp Peppermint– This is my go-to when I begin to feel that chill or fever coming on and I need to kick it out

1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Rose petals, 1 inch piece of Citrus peel– This is my base tea on most days. I drink as is or add an herb or two that is calling me that day.

Steep herbs in 8 ounces of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink while warm.

I’d love to hear what herbs you like with elderberry!

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellnes grows

 

Treating the Common Cold with Essential Oils

In Chinese Medicine, we distinguish whether the common cold is either wind-heat or wind-cold.

This differentiation is important because we treat each syndrome differently. This recipe is good for those with wind-cold. Some of the symptoms may include a slight fever, slight sweating, chills, body aches, no thirst, itchy throat, and an occipital headache.

Concentrated Essential Oil Blend:
3 drops rosemary essential oil
3 drops lemongrass essential oil
2 drops ginger essential oil
2 drops pine essential oil
3 drops thyme linalool essential oil

Instructions: 

  1. Put 5 to 7 drops of essential oil blend in a bowl of hot water, place a towel over your head and lean over the bowl inhaling deeply
  2. For topical use, dilute essential oils in 2 ounces carrier oil and rub on neck, shoulders and lymph nodes

Here’s to feeling better this fall season!

On the Road Again

I am on the road again. This time driving back to Denver from Northern California. I’m a little sad to leave my epic coastal home to come back to “Babylon,” but I am more than a little excited to see my Colorado friends. I’m also thrilled to finish up the first line of products for Baker Botanica….and hopefully have some ready for release in the next month or so! We’ll see how it all goes.

Also wanted to let you know that my book, Plant Songs, is in the production phase. This means that I’m working on the cover art and formatting for the book. I will have a printed copy of Plant Songs in hand in January 2018! Agh!!! It’s so exciting and scary at the same time!

It feels good to wrap up these projects by the end of the year (and to have put out the first season of The Herb Walk Podcast).  It has been a whirlwind year of intensity and amazingness! I look forward to a more mellow December to assimilate it all.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

Citrus Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce Recipe

I, like many people, love Thanksgiving although I hate that it is through colonization and genocide of millions of people that we celebrate this day of gratitude. Those that know me may grow tired of my tirades against all so-called holidays that have been turned into excuses to do nothing more than consume.

That being said, on Thanksgiving I do love to share my favorite foods with those I love and am most grateful for! One of my favorite dishes is homemade cranberry sauce. It is super easy to make, and tastes way better than that weird gelatinous canned version I grew up with.

Citrus Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce

16 ounces cranberries

1/2 cup orange zest 

1 cinnamon stick

3/4-1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Dissolve sugar in water and orange juice. Add cranberries and stir for 10-15 minutes. Add citrus peel and cinnamon (in muslin bag) and continue to stir for another 15-20 minutes. Add more liquid if cranberries thicken too much. Turn off heat when it is to the consistency and taste you desire. Enjoy on top of a big slice of pumpkin pie!

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Image credit:©Erin Clarke/Well Plated

Giving Thanks for Nature

These rainy Humboldt days have me pining for a little of that Colorado sunshine. I will be back there soon enough and then I will miss the grey misty coast. I will just enjoy the moisture while I can and give thanks for the opportunity to enjoy both places.

The thing I love most about being an herbalist is learning about plants that grow around huckleberryme, wherever I happen to be. Autumn in Humboldt means rain and that means mushrooms, moss, and lichens. The berries are almost gone and any lingering flowers have given up to the dark days ahead. It is beautiful!

If you get the chance, go outside today and see what is still growing around you. What is hanging on to the last days of summer’s warmth? Give thanks for the abundant life that surrounds you, even when it looks like the dormant days of winter are ahead.

 

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

We Are So Blessed

“We are so blessed

   We are so blessed

     We are so grateful

       We are so blessed”

I love the Karen Drucker song I am so blessed. I change the lyrics to “We are” instead of “I am” because I know that feels right to me today. One person is not truly blessed until we all are.

There is so much sadness in the world right now. The earthquake on the border of Iran and Iraq and the school shooting in Northern California are just the latest disaster that brings my grief to the surface. Life is so precious and I want to remember how blessed I am every single moment of the day. I want to be grateful with every breath and courageous in every action.

This doesn’t always happen and instead I am overwhelmed and fearful. My anxiety rises and my breathing shallows. I consciously breathe deep and long, feeling the connection between my lungs and my kidneys. In Chinese medicine, the qi (energy) of the kidney rises up and grasps the lung qi, guiding it down to the lower abdomen. I feel my breath reach my belly and low back. AHHH! I begin to relax as my shoulders drop and the tension in my jaw releases. Another deep breath. Gratitude.

To strengthen both my lung and kidney qi and give me energy to assimilate the world, I huang qi (astragalus slices).aa7569a1like to work with the herb Huang Qi (Astragalus membranaceus). Huang Qi is a popular qi tonic whose virtues are not overrated. I like to add 3 slices of the Huang Qi to rice and soup stocks, along with 1 Hong Zao (Ziziphus jujuba), and 3 slices of Dang Shen (Codonopsis pilosula).

Huang Qi reinforces wei qi defensive energy- “immune system”), while Hong Zao and Dang Shen tonify qi, improve digestion and calm spirit.

When our qi is strong and our spirit is calm, we are able to absorb the turbid energy of those around us. We can transform anger and fear into compassion. When this happens, our words and actions will be benevolent and we are one step closer to a blessed world for us all.

For the love of plants,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Feels So Good Foot Bath Recipe

As the days darken and the nights grow cooler I look forward to evenings cuddled up with a book, cozy blanket and hot cup of tea. A couple of times a month I make these nights even more special with warm foot baths. I blend together my favorite flowers, hydrosols and essential oils and escape into my own aromatic oasis. Foot baths are super easy to prepare and are more rewarding than you can imagine.

Ooh, That Feels So Good Foot Bath

Bring a stockpot full of water to a boil.

Turn off heat and add a handful of your favorite fresh or dried herbs

Let herbs steep for 10-15 minutes.

Strain out enough liquid for you to enjoy a hot cup during your foot bath

Pour the rest of the tea in a plastic or resin tub large enough to place both feet

If necessary, add more warm water to cover up to your ankles.

Once the footbath is at a comfortable temperature, add 1-2 tablespoons of Diluted essential oils to the water and swirl to mix with water.

Place both feet into tub, sit back and enjoy your cup of tea.

My favorite herbs for a relaxing foot bath:

Rose petals, Lavender and Calendula flowers, and Skullcap

I like to use coconut oil as my carrier oil for essential oils in most baths because it feels so yummy and moisturizing. It’s great for rough areas like our heels so it’s perfect for foot baths.

My favorite essential oils for a relaxing foot bath:

Lavender, Vetiver, Frankincense (ethically harvested), Hemp, Ylang Ylang, Rose Geranium

Only 1-3 drops of essential oils is needed per 1 ounce of coconut oil. Remember it takes a lot of plant material to make a small amount of essential oil. Use sparingly and respectfully.

This is a super simple recipe, yet relaxing to mind, body, and spirit. Take the time for yourself tonight. You deserve it.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Find (& Spread) Peace and Harmony

I just spent five days at the Pacific Symposium at the Catamaran Resort in San Diego. The Pacific Symposium brings Chinese medicine scholars from all over the world together to share their love of this ancient medicine.

As always, I come back full of enthusiasm and reverence for this life I have chosen. I am reminded that we are dynamic energetic beings that are deeply connected to all life in the universe. We are of one source of energy or qi, navigating time, space, and matter as best we can.

We are also broken people. On a constant quest for self, we have forgotten our innate connection to everything else. Chinese medicine reminds me that we are wood, earth, fire, water, and metal. We cycle with the planets, moon, and tide. We cycle together, in rhythm and harmony.

It is evident that we are out of rhythm, out of sync with this universal energy. We all feel it and it is manifesting in the extreme violence, fear, and sadness that is pervading our society. It is overwhelming. Thankfully we have a multitude of tools to help bring us back into balance.

Breathe– the most obvious and for me sometimes the hardest

I hold my breath all the time. Throughout the day when I begin to feel tired, anxious or fearful I notice I am holding my breath. Check in with yourself and see if you too are holding your breath.

Practice Gratitude– not for what you have, but for what nature provides

I find that when I have gratitude for air for breath, trees and plants for food, medicine, shelter, and clothing, and water for all of life, it brings me a sense of peaceful wholeness. Breathe and notice what you are grateful for.

Take your Herbs– food is medicine

I have had subtle and profound changes in my life from taking herbs. I sip a cup of warm chamomile tea after dinner and I begin to relax. I add a pinch of cinnamon and ginger to my morning oatmeal and I am warmed by their presence. From basil in our pesto to pepper on our eggs, herbs have been an integral part of our daily lives.

Keep it Simple– life is easier than we make it

Breathe, say thanks, and remember our plant medicine. If you practice these three things I promise life will be a little easier. I’m not saying it is going to solve all the world’s problems, but it will make your day a little better. Remember when we are more balanced, we will be less aggressive, afraid, or apathetic. Sometimes that is all we can do for the world.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Plant Spirit Communication

These holy days of honoring our ancestors always make me a little sad. I have lost a lot of loved ones (two and four legged) and my altar usually overflows with pictures and names of friends and family that have passed over. I am in San Diego this year so my altar is small and sparse, with only my medicine bag, some gemstones, and a few oils and elixirs I like to travel with. Although I can’t honor them the way I normally do, I still thank them for all the wisdom and love they have given me.

In Chinese medicine, many aromatic plants have the ability to “open orifices.” This means that they can expand our consciousness and open our heart and mind to new thoughts and experiences. Aromatic plants also transform dampness, which can bring us more clarity of thought and action. While the opening and transformative powers of aromatic plants help connect us to our own spirit, they can also help with communicating with our ancestors and other spirits as well.

There are a few aromatic plants I call upon when I want to deepen my insights, meditations, and communication with the spirit realm.

Marigold– the aroma of Marigold is the only flower that the dead can smell; opens communication between earthly and spirit realms

Clary Sage– brings clarity of thought and feelings; increases visionary awareness

Rose– transforms all grief and heartache, helps to see the beauty of life

Frankincense– opens chest and lungs, reduces constriction caused by loss and grief

Cinnamon bark– warms and invigorates, strengthens gate of fire, provides grounding for deeper meditation

I hope you find the aromatic plants that call to you and discover all they have to offer.

May you, and your ancestors, be nourished.

For the love of plants,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Herbs & Spices for Samhain

Today we celebrate Samhain, a day between times, where the Celts celebrated the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter. It is the feast of the dead, a time of the thin veil, where spirits, ghosts and beings of other worlds walk among us. To appease them, remember to leave food and drink offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering dead.”

Today is also known as witches day. An auspicious day where medicine made is very strong as it is infused with all the celestial energy of timeless space. Add herbs and spices of the season to honor the coming dark, cold time.

Some of my favorites herbs for Samhain are the warm carminative spices of ginger, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I decoct the spices with freshly harvested roots of dandelion, yellowdock, and angelica for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and throw in a pinch of mugwort leaves to help with dreamspace and astral travel. Sip throughout the night as you celebrate the spirits around and within you.

For the love of plants,

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Smithsonian