I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by how quickly the year has gone by. I am not where I imagined myself to be by the end of 2019. Since my timeline projections for opening the Bakers Medical dispensary have not been achieved, I find myself anxious with the nearing of December. I also thought I would feel more settled in Oklahoma and be farther along with the formulation of my Baker Botanica herbal products. My attitude towards these displeasures has intensified with each passing day.
There is a cliché about time going by faster as you age. I would have agreed with you last week when I was rushing around from one task to the next. Then on Friday I broke my toe. I was moving too fast, not paying attention, lifting a heavy object, and WHAM! Broke my right big toe.
Time doesn’t move nearly as fast when I’m laid up on the couch, only able to accomplish tasks that can be done by computer or phone. No pacing the office, walking back and forth from the office to the dispensary, making tea when my heart desires. My mind, once unsettled with thoughts of “too much to do” has become disturbed in a different way. The reality that I have to stay seated to ensure my toe will heal quickly is an affront to my mental state.
Which makes me remember that I haven’t been exercising enough. Now that I can’t put any weight on my foot, I have the overwhelming urge to run, jump rope, do plank, anything but sit around. What I really need to do is chill, breathe, meditate, and drink my herbal tea.
Once my Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) arrives I will make a poultice and put it on my foot to speed the healing of the broken bone. If you’re interested on how to make a poultice, check out my Youtube video.
The word symphytum is derived from sympho, “I grow together.” Comfrey is commonly called knitbone and I look forward to experiencing her medicine first hand. Over the years I have used Comfrey many times in salves and I like to add it to digestive teas. In recent years, the internal use of Comfrey has declined to containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids, but I will still add it to a tea blend if the anti-inflammatory benefits of knitbone are required.
For now, I’m going to accept my limitations of movement and be grateful for the opportunity to slow down.
While you’re slowing down, enjoy this interview with Mindy Green, aromatherapist and herbalist, from Season One of The Herb Walk.
I’m going way back to the beginning of Season One of The Herb Walk Podcast where I interview herbalist and author Brigitte Mars.
Brigitte is an herbalist and nutritional consultant of Natural Health with almost fifty years of experience. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University and The School of Health Mastery in Iceland. She has taught at Omega Institute, Esalen, Kripalu, Sivananda Yoga Ashram, Arise, Envision and Unify Festivals, and The Mayo Clinic. She blogs for the Huffington Post and Care2. She is also a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild.
Brigitte is also the author of many books and DVDs, including The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing, The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, The Sexual Herbal, Healing Herbal Teas, Rawsome!,and co-author of The HempNut Cookbook. Her DVDs include Sacred Psychoactive, Herbal Wizardry for Kids of all Ages, Natural Remedies for Childhood Ailments, Overcoming Addictions, and Natural Remedies for Emotional Health. Her latest project is a phone app called iPlant that helps budding herbalists to identify plants in the wild.
May you find this interview inspiring and fun! You can see both me and Brigitte (and many more great teachers) at this year’s Red Earth Herbal Gathering in Boulder, CO September 13-15, 2019
Those of you who read my blog know that I’m not a sugar coated unicorn-loving optimist. If anything I see unicorns as the symbol of white masculinity. Maybe if unicorns weren’t almost always depicted as white I’d feel differently.
This blog post isn’t about unicorns or white masculinity.
Today is one of those testy days. I got sick yesterday, which is pretty rare for me. There’s also some stress in our lives (good and bad) that have altered my sleep patterns. Not to mention a weekend of good times at the Baby Bathwater Institute Members Only Mastermind that definitely over stimulated me!
To bring myself back into balance (in body and mood) after too much stimulation I always come back to my herbs. They always know exactly what I need. This is what’s in my medicine cabinet today.
I’m rolling this blend on my chest, neck, and behind my ears. The therapeutic properties of Douglas Fir, Tulsi Basil, Eucalyptus radiata, Scots Pine, and Clary Sage help me take deep breaths and let go of the irritation and agitation I feel.
– GET OUT THE FUNK TEA– This is a blend that is my go-to when I’m sick. I don’t measure any of the herbs, but you can blend 1-2 teaspoons of each herb together and add as much as you want to a quart jar that you drink throughout the day. I’ll probably drink 2-3 quarts of tea over the course of the day. Blend together elderberries, citrus peel, peppermint, yarrow, and ginger.
– WATER– I can’t tell you how much water I’ve had today. Although my throat hurts I drink water and/or tea constantly to stay hydrated.
– REST– Guilt and commitments make me think I need to push through, regardless of how tired I am. Reality tells me that I should rest so I recover faster. Most of the time it’s okay if work waits until after a nap (which I am going to take right now).
Cannabis is now all over the media. That makes me really happy! As an avid Cannabis user, educator, and advocate, even I am more than a little concerned about the ever-growing hype about CBD (cannabidiol, one of the many phytocannabinoids in cannabis). Yes, CBD has therapeutic properties. No, it is not the panacea miracle drug that so many people claim it to be. Yes, CBD is effective for extreme childhood seizure disorders. No, this does not mean taking CBD is going to cure all of your illnesses.
We are a culture of trending health diets and fads. I’m afraid CBD is falling into that category. Plant medicine is for real. Cannabis medicine is for real. CBD does have therapeutic benefits that interact with our own Endocannabinoid System. This does not mean that every hyped up CBD product on the market is going to work. Since most of them are derived from industrial hemp in Eastern Europe or China, they’re probably not going to. Price does not guarantee quality. I see all sorts of outrageous prices on the market! Researchers found that only 30% of CBD products on the market have within 10% of what is actually on the label. 42% had more CBD than listed on the label and 26% had less CBD than stated (Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, Mallory J. E. Loflin, Brian F. Thomas, Jahan P. Marcu, Travis Hyke, Ryan Vandrey. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA, 2017; 318 (17): 1708 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.11909)
We need a holistic approach to health. Including when working with Cannabis. We also need to be able to discern and weed through the marketer’s exploits. A stand alone CBD is only going to be have limited effectiveness. I always go back to what Ethan Russo, neuroscientist and cannabis researcher who theorizes that there is a synergistic effect between all constituents found in plants, including phytocannabinoids (THC, CBD) and terpenoids (aromatic compounds that have known therapeutic benefits and create the pungent smell of cannabis). That means that CBD alone can have some therapeutic benefit, but when we combine that with other constituents in the plants, we have an even stronger effect. When we ingest anything, we also have to take into account our own physiology, metabolism, and healing ability. All of these factors play a role in how plant medicine works within the body.
That’s why all herbal medicine, OTC and pharmaceutical drugs can react differently for each person. And that’s why we can’t make claims that CBD is saving everyone’s life and curing all illnesses. CBD companies shouldn’t be making health claims anyway. It violates FDA rules and many businesses are getting cease and desist letters because of it.
The beauty of what is happening is that there are millions of us that love Cannabis! Millions more have wanted to love Cannabis and have been lied to for decades about how dangerous and addictive it is. Now everybody’s curiosity is justified by the medicinal benefits of CBD! That’s great and all, but now we need to update our weed knowledge now that Cannabis has come out of the closet.
The more people excited about plant medicine the better! With all this enthusiasm- let’s drop some education about cannabis.
1. Cannabiscan be used in phytoremdiation. This means that Cannabis can be used to accumulate heavy metals like cadmium. Because heavy metals can be present in plant material (and even more concentrated in CBD products) it is so important to know where our CBD products come from. Know your supplier! And always ask to see proof of heavy metal and pesticide testing of the CBD used in their products.
2. Terpenoids, like linalool, beta caryophellene, and pinene are found in Cannabis. And also found in other medicinal plants. The same aromatic molecules are in plants like lavender, pine, citrus, and countless others. It is the synergestic effect of terpenoids and phytocannabinoids (CBD, THC, and others) that illicit Cannabis’s effects. Read Ethan Russo’s research article Taming THC.
3. The way we describe Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa is completely wrong. This is too in depth to go into here so I embedded The Real Dirt podcast interview where I speak in detail about the differences between the two species. You may be surprised at what you find out!
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning about Cannabis. Information and enthusiasm is spreading fast. Let’s stay informed, and high. Let’s definitely stay high!
when energy flows, wellness grows
PS: Speaking of Cannabis, I had so much fun interviewing Dr. Michele Ross for The Herb Walk Podcast this week. She is a wealth of information! Our conversation was exhilarating, reminding me how far we have come with cannabis in just a few years. And how far we still have to go! The episode will be released next month and I am so excited to share it with you.
For now, enjoy my episode, The Taxonomy of Cannabis on The Real Dirt instead.
I was all inspired to write about how Chinese New Year is coming up as I celebrate my 43rd year on planet Earth! Then Jussie Smollett was attacked by white terrorists and I have been outraged about how obvious hate crimes are committed daily in the U.S. and there are no repercussions. No fear of retribution when our entire society continues to build upon the foundation that our forefathers set over two hundred years ago; that straight white men are superior.
This isn’t going to be a political post but it will be one deeply rooted in the knowledge that we cannot be silent when injustices are so great. We have to redevelop a reverence for all life on Earth and begin to see ourselves as an integral part of the whole, instead of the masters that can destroy at our will. I don’t have the answers to these problems, but I do have some tools. And they are our herbal allies.
The same plants that we are hell bent on poisoning (dandelions, chickweed, shepherd’s purse and countless others) will be our saving grace.
When we remember our place in the cosmos, we will once again contribute to the balance between Earth and the Heavens. As long as we forget our connection to each other (much less the rest of nature) there will be wars, famines, hate crimes, and down right ugliness. I refuse to participate in that. Instead I will spread love, hope, and the wisdom of the plants.
When I asked who wanted to be written about today Rose (Rosa centifolia)came up loud and clear! She loves to open our hearts and minds with her aromatic properties, all the while telling you to watch out if you treat her wrong. Those thorns are medicine in themselves, a warning and also a reminder to be gentle, to be conscious when you interact with others.
If you’re feeling like I am, you probably need to share a cup of Rose petal tea with someone else and talk through the feelings of despair and disconnection. We all need more love, but what we also need is togetherness. We have to be stronger than this hate. We have to better than this.
Rose Petal Tea
Drop a small handful of dried rose petals in a pint glass. Pour hot water over petals and steep for 15 minutes. Strain out petals and set aside. Drink tea slowly. Add a touch of honey if you need a little sweetness in your life.
Please be nice to each other. And stand up for what you believe in.
Getting to talk about energy and our relationship to nature and the cosmos may be the coolest thing about teaching Chinese medicine classes. I spent the last two days at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism talking to students about the dynamic relationship between yin and yang that is necessary to create and sustain life. We discussed ethereal concepts like qi (vital life force energy), jing (essence) and shen (spirit) and how to choose herbal medicines based on their energetic properties.
In Chinese herbalism, the taste of herbal substances is what determines its therapeutic action. Five Element theory tells us each element has numerous correspondences, including a taste. In this weeks episode of The Herb Walk Podcast, I talk about Chinese herbal energetics and the importance of choosing the right herb for a person’s constitution. Just like all Chinese medicine practitioners, I also mention poo quite a bit and how it relates to the health of our digestive system.
I hope you enjoy this episode and learn some fun information about why loose stools happen. Please Subscribe to The Herb Walk Podcast so you never miss an episode! And if I can ask a favor- to please post a review wherever you listen to podcasts. It would really help me out!
Although I’m 42 (43 in less a month!) I felt like last year was a year of growing up a little bit more. I’ve had to reconsider the trajectory of my career and make some serious decisions on how I want to move forward. I’ve had to face some past traumas that are preventing me from growing the way I want to.
I have always been a feminist. At least as long as I can remember, I had a sense of the inequality between men and women. My family is from the south, and I’ve seen misogyny (and racism) from a very young age and loathed it from the get go. The last couple of years was a reminder of how little respect our politicians have for women. And for indigenous women and women of color, it has become even more blatant. (We have had some victories like Ms. Cynotia Brown)
It’s hard to talk about inequality for women without admitting the inherent system of racism that is the fundamental principal that the United States of America is founded on. If we truly want equality for women, then we have to look at the deeper issue of white supremacy and domination.
What does this have to do with herb blog?Everything! Most of the herbal business models are also built on the foundations of capitalism, which really only work if someone along the way isn’t really being paid a living wage or someone’s indigenous land is now exploited for profit. Yes there are some amazing companies out there to support, but we have to do our research and not blindly buy from any herb or essential oil company. We have to become conscientious consumerisms and organic gardeners if we want our favorite herbs and oils to be around for future generations.
Most important, we have to admit that as white people in America, we have a privilege that non-white people have. We also have a responsibility to try to change the colonization mentality that our ancestors have spread across the planet. We are not at fault for their transgressions but we are to blame if we don’t acknowledge our current role in the perpetuation of their ideals and beliefs.
I encourage you to listen to the book called Waking Up Whiteby Debby Irving. She grew up rich in New England and had to come to grips with her own inherent privilege and racism. I think it’s important for all white people to hear how insidious white supremacy has affected all of our lives. Even for those of us that think it doesn’t pertain to us.
One thing I’m working on all year (and the rest of my life) is the Me and White Supremacy Workbook by author and podcaster Layla F. Saad. For now it is a free download, although feel free to donate generously to her work. The White Supremacy Workbook is going to be essential for my understanding of how I can do better as a white woman.
Ok, kind of deep thoughts for my reflections on 2018 and how I want to envision my 2019. I am excited for what’s ahead! May you find your truth this year and live it to the fullest! The world needs your participation.
when energy flows, wellness grows
Featured Image: Rep. Ruth Anna Buffalo image by Lea Black Photography
I’m super stoked about this podcast episode because it is with a successful stoner sister, Rachael Carlevale. Rachael is the founder of Ganjasana, a ganja infused training that incorporates permaculture, plant medicine, and yoga. It is truly a unique concept for a yoga teacher training.
I don’t want to give the episode away, but as a teaser I’ll tell you she has studied in Peru with Chris Kilham (Medicine Hunter) through UMASS. Rachael won a grant from Cosmic Sister to go back to Peru years later and she an activist for all plant medicine. Oh, and she loves good ganja.
We had a great time recording this interview. I hope you enjoy listening to it! Remember to Subscribe to The Herb Walk Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher!
ps. My visions for 2019 blog post will be released this weekend. It’s kind of a heavy one, y’all….
Last week I totally linked the wrong episode to the blog post. Instead of The Real Dirt episode from Peru, I linked the episode where I discuss cannabis taxonomy and the differences of Indica and Sativa. Although that’s a great interview, I meant to share my first experience at Refugio Altiplano in the Amazon jungle in Peru. The Real Dirt host Chip Baker and I discuss my love of herbalism, how we met at the University of Georgia through the Cannabis Action Network and other engaging topics of plant medicine.
I don’t know about you, but for me it’s hard to get my thoughts in order after all that sugar intake yesterday! I’ve been writing down my Lessons Learned from 2018 and Vision for 2019 and it’s been a little hard rehashing the year. It was challenging for many of us and as we have high hopes for the future, it is going to take hard work on our parts to make it happen.
As an herbalist, I rely on my herbal allies to keep me healthy, sane, and balanced. This means everything from smelling a rose bush or spruce tree when I walk by to drinking a cup of herbal tea to smoking a joint of some fine cannabis. I utilize what I need when I need it.
Right now I need to brew myself an elderberry citrus peel tea, take a bath, and check out for the night. I’m not going to release another episode of The Herb Walk Podcast until January. In the mean time, enjoy this interview of me on the The Real Dirt Podcast. Recorded at Refugio Altiplano in the Amazon jungle in Peru, Chip Baker and I discuss cannabis, ayahuasca, and how we met through the Cannabis Action Network back in the early 1990’s. You can almost feel the mosquito bites through the recording.
Due to my lack of computer savviness, I’ve been having some issues with my podcasts uploading to Stitcher and other platforms. iTunes seems to be ok! My editor is also waay backed up so my episode releases may be delayed as well. I will try my hardest to remain consistent in releasing podcasts this season, but Fear not- all episodes will be released! I’m just chalking these glitches up to Mercury Retrograde and am going with it.
That being said, this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast is one of my favorites, because I got to interview my friend, Nicole Gagliano of Wild and Wise Herbal CSA. Being an herbalist, farmer, and wildcrafter, Nicole’s herbal CSA includes a newsletter and seasonally inspired treats like delicious teas, balms and salves, and even her own distilled hydrosols! Nicole is also a great chef, hilarious, and great to be around. I look forward to the next time we’re together!
Enjoy this episode as we discuss herbalism, conservation, herbal CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), living in Humboldt County, and much more!
One of my biggest pet peeves about the cannabis industry is hearing budtenders (and other people) ask me if I prefer Indica or Sativa. I usually cringe a little and side step the question by saying that doesn’t matter to me, I want to see and smell what you’ve got and then I’ll make my decision.
Sometimes I get irritated and I want to yell, “There is nothing substantial about that question at all!” A few years ago nobody gave a damn whether it was Indica or Sativa. Except for the growers, and now we know we didn’t have the proper understanding of Cannabis species when we spoke about it based on its growth pattern and maturation time.
A couple of weeks ago I was on The Real Dirt Podcast talking to the host, Chip Baker (who also happens to be my husband) about the taxonomy of cannabis and this myth of Indica and Sativa. It was a great episode really going deep into what botanists and ethnobotanists have come to hypothesize about Cannabis. I’m going to go into it a little here, but to hear the juicy details and personal rants, check out the The Taxonomy of Cannabis episode!
The Myth of Indica and Sativa
There is a commonly held belief that Indica are short, stout, broad leaf plants that are physically sedating or relaxing and Sativa are tall, narrow leaf plants that are invigorating and uplifting when ingested. There is actually no truth to this belief, but it continues to be perpetuated online and in dispensaries throughout the world. The (present) reality is that the myriad of cultivars that we smoke/ingest are all Indica.
After years of rigorous research from botanists and ethnobotanists, there are still different theories regarding the evolution of cannabis taxonomy, but what is widely accepted by most is that it is C. indica is the vast majority of biotypes in North America and that C. sativa includes only European hemp. In Robert C. Clarke and Mark Merlin, PhD’s comprehensive text, Cannabis Evolution & Ethnobotany, they discuss the history of cannabis biotypes from several different perspectives, the most plausible being from Karl Hillig, PhD.
CANNABIS BIOTYPES ACCORDING TO HILLIG (2005)
Acronym & Biotype
Possible- seed and crude fiber
Unrecognized or Extinct
Possible- seed and crude fiber
NLHA- Narrow leaf
C. sativa ssp. spontanea
Seed and crude fiber
NLH- Narrow leaf Hemp
C. sativa ssp. sativa
Seed and textile fiber
Unrecognized or Extinct
Possible ritual and medicinal
BLHA- Broad leaf
Unrecognized or Extinct
Possible seed and crude fiber
BLH- Broad leaf Hemp
C. indica ssp. chinensis
China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia
Seed and textile fiber
NLDA- Narrow leaf
C. indica ssp. kafiristanica
Himalayan Foothills- Kashmir to Myanmar
Euphoria- hashish, “marijuana”
NLD- Narrow leaf Drug
C. indica ssp. indica
South & SE Asia,
Euphoria- hashish, “marijuana,” fiber, seed
BLD- Broad leaf Drug
C. indica ssp. afghanica
N. Afghanistan, Pakistan
As you can see from the chart, the only ancestor of C. sativa hails from the Balkan Peninsula. The ancestor of C. sativa ssp. spontanea is a Narrow Leaf Hemp Ancestory from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the modern C. sativa spp. sativa is Narrow Leaf Hemp from Europe. Both the ancestor and the modern C. sativa have been used as seed and crude fiber, not for intoxication/euphoria, as in the case of the Narrow Leaf and Broad Leaf Drug C. indica.
I know this news is hard to accept for some, but we already know that it is the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBC, etc) and the terpenoids (myrcene, pinene, limonene, etc) that elicit the therapeutic, invigorating, sedating, and other affects that are associated with ingestion of cannabis. Since we know that it is the cannabinoids and terpenoids that produce the favorable (and sometimes adverse) effects, why do we keep saying it is because it is an Indica or Sativa?
It is time we stopped disseminating misinformation and educate ourselves about the true properties of cannabis (or what we know so far). Remember there are well over 100 cannabinoids and we have identified only a handful. We still have a very long way to go before we truly understand what contributes to the therapeutic and euphoric effects of cannabis.
How is it November already!? Like many of you, I’m surprised once again of how quickly time passes. We are deep into Autumn and the holiday season is quickly approaching. Many of you know that in Chinese medicine theory, there are 5 Elements or Phases that have several correspondences, including a season. Autumn is associated with the Metal Element, as are the organ systems of the lungs and large intestines, the emotions of grief and acceptance, and the flavor of spicy.
Phase of Life
Spicy (Acrid, Pungent)
Po- Corporeal Soul
Each element has a flavor or taste attached to it. In Chinese herbalism, flavors have very specific actions and can travel to precise areas of the body. Understanding the energetics of herbs and foods is essential in combining effective formulas.
The spicy flavor of the herbs has the specific function of dispersing Qi (vital life force energy) from the external part of the body, called the Wei Qi. You’re probably thinking, Ok, so what does dispersing qi from the external part of the body mean?
When qi is dispersed throughout the Wei Qi, the pores open and sweating occurs- reducing body temperature and pushing external pathogens, or “evil qi” out of the body. When someone has a strong Wei Qi, the pathogens that cause cold or flu are pushed out of the body. If there is a weak Wei Qi, the immune system is not strong enough to fight off the pathogen and frequent and recurrent colds may occur. A weakened Wei Qi can also be associated with Lung Qi deficiency that manifests as seasonal allergies, asthma and even eczema.
After twenty years of studying herbal medicine and ten years as an acupuncturist, I have years of experience working with all of these conditions. My love of aromatic plants and Chinese Medicine is what inspired me to create my Baker Botanica 5 Element Essential Oil line. Resolve, my Metal Element blend includes spicy herbs like Eucalyptus radiata, Douglas Fir, Scots Pine, and Tulsi (Holy) Basil. Terpenes in Holy Basil are proven anti-pyretics (fever reducers) and Eucalyptus radiata is not only safe for children, but also has strong anti-bacterial and expectorant properties. The delicate notes of Douglas Fir and the sharpness of Scots Pine provide additional anti-microbial properties.
The therapeutic properties of aromatic plants are well documented, not only in Chinese medicine, but also from medicines around the world. Today most of us have access to highly medicinal plants and we don’t even think about. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, fennel, cilantro, parsley, garlic, onions, and scallions are found in grocery stores around the world, and although we think of them as culinary herbs, we have forgotten how they have been used as medicine for centuries.
To find out more about spicy herbs, the Metal Element (including our corporeal soul, Po) and more, check out the first episode of Season 2 of my podcast, The Herb Walk with Jessica Baker on iTunes. And please Subscribe and leave a review so I can serve you better!
Season 2 of The Herb Walk Podcast with Jessica Baker is finally here!!
Happy Samhain/Halloween! I am happy to announce the release of Season on one of my favorite holy days, Samhain! Known as Witches’ New Year, Samhain is the end of summer for the Celtic traditions. An auspicious day to release my new season!
In this first episode I introduce the 5 Elements of Chinese Medicine and discuss the Metal Element, the element that is associated with Autumn.
This season I’ll read from my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine, discuss Chinese herbal energetics, and interview amazing people like Rachael Carlevale of Ganjasana, Kelly Green of Refugio Altiplano, Nicole Gagliano of Wild & Wise Herbal CSA, and much more!!
As an herbalist and acupuncturist, I also love to share how we can use the theories of Chinese medicine when working with aromatic plants. The longevity of aromatic plant use in Chinese medicine is well documented. We believe that aromatic plants have the ability to open the orifices (of the heart and the brain), which allows for clarity of thoughts and actions, and deepens the connection to spirit.
In my Free 30-minute Facebook Live about Aromatherapy & Chinese Medicine I will discuss how essential oils affect the jing (essence), qi (life force energy), and shen (spirit); how to dilute essential oils; and common essential oils that bring more clarity and peace into your life. This webinar is not just about lavender and pine (although we love those too).
On Monday 29, 2018 at 7pm (MST) join me as I share about Aromatherapy and Chinese on Facebook Live! Like my business page, Jessica Baker, LAc,to watch the live video and have your essential oil questions answered.
Brrrrrrr…a cold, wet storm has been hovering over Colorado for the last few days. The leaves have turned, and I see the squirrels scurry around preparing for the coming Winter, I have been wearing my scarf and gloves, but for the first time since I moved to Denver, I am not lamenting the coming cold.
I am excited to make more oatmeal congees, where I will add butter and honey, cinnamon, ginger, jujube dates, and citrus peel. I look forward to big pots of beans and stewed roots. I will have early nights of reading by dimmed lights, with a warm cup of herbal tea by my side. Just writing about it makes me want to cuddle up with a good book.
I’ve been drinking a really delicious tea lately and it is perfect for not only warming heart and soul on cold nights, it is also full of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins, which have shown to fight infections and reduce effects of colds and flu. I drink a couple of cups each morning, but you can have up to a quart a day if you so desire.
Elder Rose Immuni-Tea
2 ounces dried Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)
2 ounces dried Citrus peel (Citrus reticulata) organic or unsprayed; I use mandarin or tangerine peels
1/2 ounce dried Red Rose petals (Rosa centifola) organic or unsprayed
1/2 ounce dried Milky Oats (Avena sativa)
1/4 ounce dried Nettle leaf (Urtica dioica)
Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass jar in a cool, dark location. Use 2-3 tbsp of herbs per 2 cups of tea. Boil water and pour hot water over herbs for 10-20 minutes, cover with lid. Strain herbs and set aside to use one more time (if steeped for less than 20 minutes). Add honey if desired. Sip and feel the herbs nourish and strengthen your body, mind, and spirit.
It astonishes me how many essential oil companies encourage excessive use of essential oils. These companies are well aware of how much plant matter it takes to make an essential oil, still they promote undiluted use and harmful large doses (yes, one drop of some essential oils can be a large dose).
The amount of plants needed depends on what plant is being used. The amount of oil that is extracted from each batch will fluctuate due to many factors such as temperature and climate, interaction with insects, soil health, fertilizer use, and other natural and human influences.
Since Lavender (Lavandula angustofolia) is so popular and Rose (Rosa damascena) so expensive and exotic, I will use them as our examples.
Plant Part Needed to make an Essential Oil
Approximate Flowers Needed for a Pound of Essential Oil
Approximate Flowers Needed for 30 ml (1 fl. oz) of Essential Oil
Approximate Flowers Needed for aDrop of Essential Oil
References: Crop Watch, Mountain Rose Herbs
As you can see, there is a dramatic difference between how much plant matter it takes to make an ounce of essential oil. What is evident is that it takes A LOT of material to make a small amount of essential oil.
That is why I am so concerned when I hear companies tell people to use essential oils for everything from anxiety to digestive issues. With the knowledge of how many plants it takes to make even an ounce of essential oils, it is obvious that our current use of essential oils is not sustainable. Why use a highly concentrated essential oil, when inhaling a single flower or drinking a simple cup of herbal tea will do the trick.
If we want the variety of essential oils we enjoy to be available in the future, we should not be using essential oils undiluted, we definitely should not be using them in the irreverent way they are being used now, and we shouldn’t purchase oils from companies that don’t care about sustainability. The greedy practices of MLM companies like Young Living and doTerra, which promote inappropriate and excessive use of essential oils, do not care how their business practices perpetuate habitat extinction and ecological instability across the globe. All they care about is making more and more money off of destroying our precious plant species.
A prime example is how last year Young Living was sentenced for violating the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act for the illegal trafficking of Rosewood (Aniba roseaodora) essential oil. This is a serious crime, as Aniba roseadora is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Sure Young Living was fined $760,000 for their offense, but the Justice Department calculates the market value of Rosewood essential oil they sold to be between $3.5-$9 million. Young Living made a pretty penny off their crime as they contributed to the decimation of one of our many endangered species. Way to go! Not really the values of a company I want to support.
In my 5 Element Essential Oil Blends I use the least amount of essential oil possible to elicit the aromatic properties I want in each of my 5 Element creations. I think it is extremely important to educate people on the importance of conservative use of our plant medicines. The enthusiasm for these precious oils is potent, and I know you want to use these precious oils. It is absolutely imperative, we use them wisely. If you want to learn more more about aromatherapy and on how to properly dilute essential oils, watch my video on Dilution & Frequency of Essential Oils
We have to use our dollars wisely and hold companies (and each other) accountable for our actions, or I fear there won’t be many plant species for our future generations. It will take all of us doing our part. I’m glad we’re on this journey together.
My husband and I took a road trip to Tennessee for our 11th wedding anniversary (we celebrated our 11th year on the Harvest Moon). As we drove the thousand plus miles to Chattanooga, there were moments when I was overwhelmed with emotion at the beauty of our planet.
This was my first (I think) driving through Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky. Growing up, we would drive back to Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida to visit family during our summer or holiday breaks, but I don’t remember going this way. I love a new adventure, and even miles and miles of farmland had me enthralled.
The changing of the seasons was palatable, with chilly nights and fallen leaves. With each new terrain, I gave thanks for the opportunity to witness the natural shifts that occur in nature, and within myself. Like a child, I saw everything with new eyes, in awe of the miracle of existence.
As I drove through sunflowers, cornfields, and hay bales I was inspired me to create a tea as pleasing as the journey east with the love of my life (and our hound dog, Alice).
Milky Silk Rose Tea
1/2 ounce dried Rose Petals, unsprayed- for loving life fully
1/2 ounce dried Milky Oats- for nourishing life
1/2 ounce dried Citrus Peel- for regulating energy
1/2 ounce dried Corn Silk- for remembering what’s really important
1/2 ounce dried Elderberries- for strengthening vitality
Mix all dried herbs together and store in a glass jar in a cool, dark place. Take 1 tbsp of herbs and steep in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Strain out herbs, sip, and think of what a wonder it is to be alive, right here, right now. What are you grateful for? How can you help others to see the miracle that is their life?
I am still beaming from my weekend at the Red Earth Herbal Gathering. It will be hard to explain the myriad of emotions I felt as opened myself to gathering with women with the intention for ritual and healing, but I will try. I will describe my experiences if not for personal catharsis, then to entice you to join us next year.
I arrived at Peaceful Meadows Retreat early on Friday morning because I was in charge
of the Wellness tent and needed to set up before attendees came. I was given a shaded area near Registration and right beside the Kid Village. As I unpacked my supplies, I could feel the relaxed, joyful energy of the land and it infused me instantly. I knew deep healing would take place in this sacred place.
As women and children arrived and registered, the Sacred Gateway opened and we were all smudged and cleared with floral water as entered the doorway. Once inside, we burnt our worries and fears and wrote our intentions on fabric to link together with other peoples dreams and wishes. At the end of the entryway, we were greeted by women who offered us henna tattoos, card readings, and aromatic spritzers and elixirs. By the time I made it through the gateway I felt elated and rooted simultaneously. I glided to my campsite on the far edge of the large pond and watched geese take off and land.
Opening Circle was Saturday morning in the meadow near the Red Tent and the Womb Room. Teachers, volunteers, and sponsors were introduced so I spoke about my class, Rooted in Integrity: Working with Essential Oils and the free services we were offering at the Wellness tent. Besides basic first-aid, we had tinctures and elixirs for menstrual cramps, allergies, coughs, and emotional support. I offered tuning fork treatments for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, which was well received by recipients and so healing and fun for me.
I was only able to catch part of the keynote speaker, Lorene Wapotich, on Friday night. Her talk on creating sacred space and ritual resonated with us all. Because of Wellness duties, teaching, and relaxing by the pond with my friend Willow (and her 3-year old daughter Athena), I only attended a couple of classes the entire weekend. Saturday morning I chose to listen to Ann Drucker teach on Maya Spiritual Healing with Plants. I experienced her teachings last year at Red Earth, so I knew I wanted to be in her presence again. As I had hoped, we gave each other limpias, plant brushings and plant baths. We called in the Maya spirits with plants and chocolate, prayed over each other, and laughed and cried all our cares away.
Saturday night Shaela Noella led a song circle around the campfire. One by one women went around the fire and sang whatever they desired. Bethy Love Light, conscious hip hop artist, performed some songs and many women led songs that were call and response or sing-along. All were beautifully performed. I am still in awe of all the talent by the fire that night. When it was my turn I gathered the courage to sing a song I wrote earlier this summer. It is to the tune of Let It Be and is my devotional to Mother Nature. It felt good (and scary) to stand and sing in front of friends and strangers.
Before I taught my essential oil class on Sunday morning, I attended the Green Tent, an offering from Rachael Carlevale of Ganjasana. The Green Tent is a combination of of yoga, ganja, and ceremony. Rachael is wonderful and her class was the perfect way to start the day.
For my class I chose to teach about how important it is to use essential oils sparingly and reverently. Most of the women in the class didn’t know about sandalwood being harvested to extinction or how much plant material it takes to make very little essential oil (roses are an extreme example, but it takes 20-50 rosesto make 1 drop of rose essential oil!)
I always teach that herbal teas, oils, and tinctures should be the first line of defense, and
then use essential oils when stronger medicine is needed. Essential oils should not be used for every scrape and ailment, not only because of developing oversensitivity to the oils, but because the planet’s resources cannot sustain the current trend of essential oil use. I encourage students that use essential oils for aromatherapy massage to dilute essential oils in carrier oil before applying to the skin. To ensure that essential oils from plants like cedar wood, sandalwood, and even lavender, are around for future generations, we must dilute our essential oils and cease the practice of “neat” application. The students in the class were thankful for educating them about the environmental impacts of large-scale essential oil production and they left class with alternatives for essential oils when working with aromatic plants (incense, aromatic steams, fresh flowers, infused oils).
After my class, it was time for the Red TentInitiation, led by Ixeeya Lin and Astrid Grove. The Red Tent is a place where women gather to give and receive wisdom. Also called the Moon Lodge, the Red Tent was traditionally where menstruating women gathered during their moon time. In offering this space, the facilitators of Red Earth did not necessarily seek to recreate the traditions of other times/cultures, rather they wanted to create space within our present reality to honor the sanctity of women’s experience of menarche, menstruation and menopause.
Outside of the Red Tent, we lined up from oldest to youngest and as snake women began shedding our skins as we spiral danced into a circle. As we entered the tent, we were brushed with plants, smudged and welcomed into the sacred womb. I won’t describe the rituals performed in the Red Tent because they were intensely personal, sad, powerful, and healing. I left feeling more rooted and secure in myself than I have in many months. Joy surged through me as I remembered my own divinity.
Everyone was over-stimulated, full, grateful, and exhausted, so Closing Circle was short and sweet on Sunday afternoon. I finished packing up my campsite and Wellness tent. I was filled to the brim with joy and relaxation, deeply grateful for the power of women healing together, and eager to see my husband again.
Please join us next year at the Red Earth Herbal Gathering! We would love to share these healing practices with you.
My feet ached after three nights of dancing to one of my favorite bands, STS9. Two of those nights were at Red Rocks Amphitheater, which boasts 380 stairs to the top. Needless to say, I needed to soak my feet!
I pulled out my resin foot bowl, filled it hot water, threw in flowers, sea salt, and a couple of drops of essential oil, grabbed a book (Educated by Tara Westover- not the best book when trying to relax, but a must read if you haven’t), a joint, a glass of water, and chilled. It was beautiful.
And not something I do often enough. As I sat there feeling the warmth of the salt water and the aroma of the herbs work their magic, I began to breathe long deep breaths of relief. The intensity of the last couple of months moved through me and freed up tension that entangled my muscles and my mind.
After three eclipses, everything retrograde, and moving into production of my essential oil line, I finally felt like myself again. The effects of a little self-love and recognition for the transformations I have gone through are still marinating, but it feels good. Like I will transcend into loving myself for exactly who I am.
I share my Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soothing Soak recipe with you, but I encourage you to choose whichever flowers and herbs you need that day.
Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soothing Soak
Handful of Sea Salt (can use Epsom salt)
Handful of dried Organic Rose petals
3 sprigs of fresh Tulsi Basil (from my friend Willow’s yard)
3 sprigs of fresh Garden Sage (from my yard)
6 sprigs of fresh Mints (variety from my yard)
2 drops of Lavender essential oil
Muddle the herbs and add to footbath (bin, or tub big enough to fit both feet), along with the salt. Fill the bath 1/4-1/2 full with water that has been boiled. Add enough cold water to have your feet rest comfortably. Add essential oil and disperse it in the water. Take a moment of gratitude as you immerse your soles in the warm liquid. Soak your feet for as long as you feel like it. Keep adding hot water (it’s awesome if you have someone boiling water and replenishing it for you, but that could be wishful thinking). After you dry your feet, apply coconut oil liberally. Pour the herbal water into your grass or garden. Give thanks for the nourishment they provide.
If you don’t have a bin or tub large enough to fit both feet, or your body wants it, make this a bath soak instead of a foot soak.
Take care of those souls. And remember to keep on dancing.