The Herb Walk Podcast: Hawthorn Episode

Tomorrow many of us celebrate Thanksgiving so I thought I’d share the next episode of The Herb Walk Podcast for you to listen to while you’re traveling to see loved ones.

I’m keeping this one short and sweet, a little teaser from the Hawthorn chapter of my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine

Remember to Subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode! I also just uploaded an episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker, where I’m asked about the truth behind the misconceptions of Cannabis sativa and indica.  Next week’s blog I’ll share my thoughts on MJBizCon and a post I wrote for The Real Dirt blog going into more depth about the origins of Cannabis. I think you may be surprised!

With love,

cropped-cropped-jessicabakerpic-e1435871881480

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

An Offering to the Trees

My recipe today is a re-post from last June. As I sit among the trees in the Amazon jungle I am reminded of how powerful a simple offering can be.

The recipe today is a simple offering from my heart to our life-giving Earth.

Sit at the base of your favorite tree (it can be in your yard, the park, or in the forest- just make sure it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or chemicals). Take 3 deep breathes and notice any subtle or profound changes in your body that occur with each breath. What does the exchange of CO2 and O2 with this magnificent tree feel like? With permission, take a leaf, flower and/or twig from the tree and place it in a bowl of fresh spring (or filtered) water. Infuse in the water for as long as you have time, whether it’s 5 minutes or overnight). When you feel ready, gently take out the plant material and take a sip of the infusion. Allow the vitality of the tree to flow through you. What medicine does this tree have to offer? What do you have to offer back?

With love and gratitude,

 cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Four Books on Medicine from the Amazon

I am still in the Amazon jungle about an hour boat ride up the Amazon River from Iquitos, Peru. More than likely at this moment I am listening to the symphony of insects, birds, and monkeys while I lay in my hammock and reflect on the ceremonies of the past couple of nights.

If you are interested in coming to Peru, I highly recommend you bring herb books so you can identify some of the plant life that thrives in this ancient rainforest.

Two books I can’t do without are The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs: A Guide to Understanding and Using Herbal Medicinalsby Leslie Taylor, N.D. and A Field Guide to Medicinal and Useful Plants of the Upper Amazonby J.L. Castner, S.L. Timme and J.A. Duke.

For understanding the medicine of ayahuasca, check out these books, Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science and Biodiversity in the Upper Amazon by Jonathon Miller Weisberger and The Fellowship of the River, A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicineby Joseph Tafur, M.D.

I hope you find these books as helpful as I do.

With love and gratitude,

 cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Conifer Foot Bath Recipe

As I sit among the plethora of trees and other plants in the Amazon jungle I think of how grateful I am for the life I live because of them. As much as I love all trees, there is a special place in my heart for conifers like pine and redwood.

This recipe is inspired by the Tree Walk I took with Deb Soule and Kate Gilday at the International Herb Symposium and for my love of our life giving conifers. Thank you Deb and Kate for your gentle wisdom.

Take a walk through your favorite grove of conifers and breathe deeply, giving thanks for the life they have provided for millions of years. Look down and see if there are any offerings of small branches with fresh green needles on them. If so, gently pick them up and bring a small bundle back to your house. Put the branches in a large pot and cover with water. Put lid on pot and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn down heat and take out one cup of tea for yourself. Cover again and simmer for 20 minutes. Take out another cup of tea for yourself.

Once the water is warm enough to use as a footbath, pour water (with or without branches) into a small tub. Soak your feet for 5-10 minutes, allowing the strength of the trees to come up through your roots, helping you stand tall and true in your convictions. Breathe and give thanks.

With love and gratitude,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Back in the Amazon Jungle Again

I am in Peru with six beautiful women experiencing all the Amazon jungle has to offer. We are back at Refugio Altiplano, a natural healing wellness center, where I spent time last year with my husband and a few dear friends.

Since I am immersed in my jungle retreat and not in Internet range (thank goddess!) I share with you my experience from Peru last year. I will share my most recent experience when I return in the middle of the month.

From July 2017: It’s hard to explain the Amazon rainforest to those that haven’t experienced it. I’ve listened to others tell me all about their trips to Peru and how much they loved the people, the plethora of plants and animals, and none of their explanations could’ve prepared me for how utterly amazing this place is.

My husband Chip and I started it off with a day in Lima, scouring music stores for a Peruvian made guitar and a 10-stringed Andean instrument called a charango. Much to our surprise, we came across a luthier that had both in his shop. My charango is so new I can still smell the varnish on it! On the plane from Lima to Iquitos, the guitar got a little banged up, but it just adds to the story of our Peruvian guitar.

Once we arrived in Iquitos, we met up with our friend Kelly (aka “Sparkles”) that has been coming down to the Amazon for 17 years. After the unfortunate death of the owner of Refugio Altiplano, he was asked if he would be interested in buying it since he had been attending ceremonies there since 2000. Much to his (and our) pleasure, he was able to pull it off and is now the proud custodian/proprietor of a natural medicine-healing center with over 20 years of history of helping people heal.

Refugio Altiplano is over an hours boat ride up the Amazon River on old cattle grazing land surrounded by 1,200 of acres of rainforest preserve. It is a beautiful property with El Centro, a meeting area that includes the kitchen and dining area, several rustic jungle casas, and a maloca where ayahuasca ceremonies are held.

They also have a large medicinal herb garden where they are growing peppers, aloe, and noni, alongside wild sangre de grado (dragon’s blood), una de gato (cat’s claw), chacruna, and ayahuasca. The reverence that Jose, a Mestizo shaman, and the true custodian and guardian of Refugio Altiplano, has for all of these plants is as palatable as the oxygen rich air the rainforest exudes.

It was during the ayahuasca ceremonies that I truly experienced Jose’s love of plantmedicine. Once he began to pray and sing the ayahuasca songs, I could feel the sacredness of his words infusing me with love that transcends time and space. Once Daniel, a very powerful Shipibo shaman, begins to sing an icaro to each one of us, I was already deep into the medicine of ayahuasca. An icaro is a song that shamans sing to induce a profound state of healing and awareness. It is unlike anything I have experienced before. Beautiful and deeply, deeply healing.

The river, the villagers, the shamans, the abundance of medicinal plants, they are now ingrained in my body and in my soul. They are again a part of me, as they always have been, as they always will be.

With love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Open & Bloom Spritz

One of my favorite things about Spring is watching the trees bud. As I watch them unfurl and open, I am reminded of how I also have the ability to blossom and grow year after year. In Denver it is always such a welcoming sight as I know the cold Winter is coming to an end. Living so long in California I forgot how drastically different I feel with each season change.  It feels good to witness my internal and external bloom!

Open & Bloom Spritz

2 drops Magnolia blossom essential oil- for transformation of self and spirit

2 drops Lavender essential oil- for accepting ourselves in times of transition

2 drops Mandarin essential oil- for integrating changes during transformation

2 drops Frankincense essential oil- for holding on to the truths of transformation

Add all essential oils to 1 ounce of spring water in a glass spritzer bottle.

Shake well. Spray yourself as often as needed to help with times of transformation.

 

With love and gratitude,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

A Return to Clarity

I successfully avoided getting sick all winter. Spring is a different story. As the temperatures fluctuate between 25-75 degrees in a single day and the winds blow pollen and pollution all around the city, my body finally succumbed last week. Thankfully I’m on the mend with just a little lingering congestion.

I forget how useless I am when I’m sick. My head was swimming with phlegm and I couldn’t focus on writing, formulating, or seeing clients. Clarity is returning and I can hold thoughtful conversations once again. Besides rest and hydration, my herbs and essential oils were wonderful allies that reduced the severity of it all.

I had to be humbly reminded that sometimes despite all I do, I have to just let it run its course and be okay with slowing down for a few days. With the pollen and pollution continuing throughout Spring I’ll do my best to keep my immune system strong.

I’m back on my daily dose of Nettle tea and medicinal mushrooms like Reishi and Chaga. My good friend Greg sent me some Chaga from Massachusetts that should be in the mail today. I’ll send pictures of them when they arrive! I’m excited to see what they look like in “person” as I’ve only taken Chaga in tincture form.

Stay well out there friends!

With love and gratitude,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Three Faithful (Herbal) Friends

Tuesday I mentioned the frustration I have been feeling the last couple of days. I have had time to reflect on what it is that is causing me such turmoil. Although I really wanted it to be something external, it never is. It is my reaction to situations outside of my control and my own inability to communicate clearly.

Speaking my truth is not always easy. I don’t want to disappoint people and my words don’t always come out right. With each stifled breath, my irritation grows as I censor what I truly need to say.

To help me find the compassion I need to speak truthfully, but with love, I call upon these three faithful friends.

Rose (Rosa damascena)– softens harshness towards myself and others, opens my heart to the divine within us all

Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia)– relaxes tension of mind and body, makes me more flexible to the beliefs/opinions of others

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)– nourishes and relaxes my nervous system, calms my spirit and mind

You can make a simple tea with equal parts of each herb. Let steep for 15 minutes and then sip and enjoy!

For the love of plants,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Finding Peace in Frustration

Today I find myself super irritable. I could blame it on the rising Wood energy of spring or all the political upheaval, but the truth is it is all me. I am letting the little (and big) things bother me. Instead of breathing through the stress, I am stewing it in, allowing my frustration to build until it erupts like a volcano, spewing on whoever is closest.

It’s one of those days when I’m like, “maybe I shouldn’t say anything at all since I can’t find nice ways to say it.” Then I’m like, “fuck that.” Which is my affirmation that I should think before I speak so I don’t say things I will regret.

Today I have to consciously breathe deeply. I have to skillfully navigate the turbulent waters of my own psyche. I have to find positivity among the negative speak of my mind. I have to remember that I am flawed and am a work in progress.

That being said, today I’m just going to find peace however I can. Walking among the budding trees help, so does drinking my herbal tea. I will diffuse my Vetiver and Lavender essential oils and try to be nicer to myself and others. I won’t beat myself up for feeling like this, but I will reflect on what is really bothering me so I can move past the anger and be more compassionate next time. My herbal allies help every time.

If you want to find out more about herbalism or how you can utilize plants for well-being, check out my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine!

For the love of plants,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Citrus Diffusing Blend

The spring winds are kicking up all the construction dust around my neighborhood and I have been feeling a little congested from all the particulates flying around. Along with drinking my nettle tea to reduce irritation from allergens, I’ve also been diffusing essential oils daily.

My go to has been filling the air with crisp, citrusy tones and doing wonders for the irritants in the air.

Citrus Spring Diffusing Blend

2 drops Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) essential oil

2 drops Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil

1 drop Lavender (Lavandula angustilfola) essential oil

1 drop Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) essential oil

1 drop Hemp (Cannabis sativa) essential oil

Mix all drops together in a small glass bottle with diffuser cap. Add 1-3 drops to your diffuser.

*Always dilute essential oils. Purchase your essential oils from companies that understand and honor that they are precious gifts that should not be consumed greedily.

For the love of plants,

jessicabaker 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Energetics of Dandelion

Spring has arrived in Denver with sunshine, wind, and even a little rain. I am in no denial that we can have more snowstorms, but I am excited to see all the new growth popping up everywhere.

The dandelions are back! The bright yellow flowers are reaching for the sun, while that taproot is digging deep into the earth, defying those grubby hands that want to pull it out. I haven’t seen any bees yet, but I’m sure they’re waking from their slumber and will be buzzing around soon. They love dandelion like herbalists do.

Instead of thinking of dandelion as a noxious weed, think of it as one of the first foods that spring has to offer. The umbrella of yellow a reflection of the long, warm days ahead.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Western Energetics:

leaf, flower- bitter, salty, cool

root- bitter, cool

 Chinese Energetics:

entire plant- bitter, sweet, cold

Therapeutic Actions:

Clears heat and toxicity from the blood

Reduces nodules and sores

Promotes urination

Reduces congestion of bile

Promotes lactation

Vitamins:

A, C, E, K, B1, B2, B6

Minerals:

Calcium, Magnesium, Folate, Iron, Potassium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Copper

Fiber:

Contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that enhances the production of healthy gut bacteria

 Dandelion greens and flowers are a delicious addition to your salads, soups, and steamed veggies. May you see dandelion in a more appreciative light!

For the love of plants,

 cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Steamed Spring Greens Recipe

Spring has always been one of my favorite times of year. I yearn for longer days and I thrive when the sun is out! Although it snowed in Denver this week, I can still feel spring stirring in the air. The tulips are blooming and buds are beginning to form on the trees that line the streets. I even saw my first squirrel scampering through the alley. We are all feeling the regeneration that comes along with spring.

In Chinese medicine, spring is associated with the Wood element. The organ systems of the Wood element are liver and gallbladder, which is one reason people like to do liver cleanses in springtime. The energy is generating- as we see the creation of life that begins as plants sprout and grow. The color is green, another obvious sign of spring, the taste is sour, and the emotions that may come up for us are compassion (when Wood is in balance) or anger and frustration (when Wood is out of balance).

When someone is angry or frustrated we say that the liver qi (energy) is stagnant. We can promote movement of liver qi by exercise, meditation (especially moving meditation like qi gong or yoga), eating foods that are easy to digest, and ingesting herbs that are appropriate for your constitution.

One easy way to help move liver qi after a long, cold winter is to eat the tender greens of the herbs that are sprouting around you. Here’s a simple recipe that your liver will love!

Steamed Spring Greens

Gather a handful of leaves of dandelion, plantain, violet, miner’s lettuce, yarrow, and any other edible leaves that grow where you live. Add the leaves to a handful of your favorite store bought greens- kale, chard, collard, etc.

Lightly steam the store bought and harvested greens until they just get soft. Pour 1 tablespoon of vinegar over the greens. Eat and enjoy!

Make sure the greens you harvest aren’t growing in an area that is sprayed with pesticides-many people love to spray our precious dandelion, as if it’s nothing but a noxious weed!

For the love of plants,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Spring Cleaning Essential Oil Spray

Although winter is not over, I am definitely feeling the vibrancy of longer days. I have already begun some spring cleaning and it feels good to clear out closets and drawers of unused clothes and clutter.

My sinuses have felt a little active since cleaning means stirring up dust and dander. Thankfully in Colorado there isn’t a mold issue, like I experience in Northern California, but the pollution of the city is present and I have noticed more congestion (what I call the Colorado dry booger!), sneezing, and shortness of breath.

What has been saving me is is my House Clearing Spray. It not only smells delicious, it also has the infectious fighting properties of aromatic terpenoids.

House Clearing Spray

2 ounces spring water

2 drops Thyme linalool essential oil

2 drops Mandarin essential oil

2 drops Lavender essential oil

1 drop Artemisia alba essential oil

Add drops of essential oils to the spring water. Pour into a 2-ounce glass spritzer bottle. Shake well. Spray your closets, drawers, or any musty places. You can also spritz yourself when you need energetic clearing.

Happy last week of Winter!

For the love of plants,

 cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

If you haven’t ordered my book, Plant Songs yet, now’s your chance!

Waking Up From Winter’s Slumber

Spring is almost here! Thankfully the snow didn’t wash away all of the early fruit blossoms and we may have a bumper crop year of plums and apples. I hope so! Last year we didn’t get any so I hope this year is different.

I see some of my herbal friends starting to wake up from their winter’s rest…dandelion, plantain, violet, self-heal,….I see you shooting your new sprouts! Although they are still small, I see the potential for what is going to prosper on our land this year. It’s always a little different and I love to see who will show up next!

What plants are awakening around or within you?

By the way….have you ordered your copy of Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine yet?

If not (or you want to gift it to a friend), order here!

 

For the love of plants,

 cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Healthy Lung Essential Oil Blend

If you read Tuesday’s blog then you know that my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine is available from the Balboa Press website!

I’d like to share one of my favorite recipes from the chapter on titled Pine: Grow Tall 

Healthy Lung Diffuser

  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 drops pine essential oil
  • 2 drops eucalyptus essential oil 
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 1 drop thyme essential oil

Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Turn off heat and add essential oils. Cover head and bowl with a towel and inhale deeply to open nasal passages.

Let me know how the blend works for you! And also, order my book from Balboa Press if you haven’t had the chance yet!

For the love of plants,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Art Credit: Jason Garcia 

Plant Songs Book Release!

Big News! Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine is now available for purchase through Balboa Press!

Two years ago (almost to the date) I was told I won a self-publishing contract with Balboa Press through a Writer’s Workshop I attended through Hay House Publishing. I am thrilled to announce that my book, Plant Songs is officially released!

Amazon has not updated the imagery in the book (I brightened the photos), so don’t order there YET!

If you want to check out my bookPlant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine,                click here!

And please tell me what you think once you’ve read it!!

For the love of plants,

 cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Time Keeps on Ticking…

The 1st of March! What?! Yep, time is cruising by and spring will be here before you know it. It’s a little overwhelming as I plan my year and already seem like my free time is fleeting! When I feel the apprehension rise, I remember to breathe and stay present in the moment. I refuse to fall into the trap of ‘there’s not enough time’ when in reality time is relevant, and when I slow down in my thoughts and actions, I don’t feel the rush of time passing.

Along with my Milky Oats (Avena sativa) and Nettle (Urtica dioica) tea, I have been wearing my aromatic blends that include essential oils of Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanoides) and Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) which both relax the nervous system and Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Pine (Pinus sylvestris), that helps deepen the breath and strengthen your resilience to change. My plant allies are crucial to navigate life in this fast-paced world! I think you will find them helpful for you as well.

I urge you to find what plants call to you. To deepen your connection to nature, find a class or conference near you. Herb Rally is a great resource that lists hundreds of classes across the U.S. Check them out and start your journey with plants!

For the love of plants,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Bringing Home the Good Vibes

I just returned from the Yucatan Peninsula where I spent a week at a yoga retreat at Papaya Playa Project with two of my favorite teachers, Hannah Muse-Lerner and Ben Good Vibes. It was a perfect week of cultivating peace- daily meditation, asana, and basking in the sun with friends. Pretty much the life I want all of the time!

I forgot to bring my Mayan plant book, which was a bummer at first. As an herbalist, I want to know as much about my plant kin as I can. Then I realized I wasn’t going to leave the beach and I recognized the coconut trees around me, so all was good!

If you haven’t explored the Yucatan I urge you to do so. Especially before it gets too built up! Tulum has changed tremendously over the last 7 years and I couldn’t believe how busier (and more expensive) it was from just last year. It is truly a magical place and I hope it can stay rootsy amongst all the “progress.” My favorite place on the peninsula so far is Coba, an ancient Mayan city, where you can still climb the pyramid, Nohoch Mul. I have had many enlightening moments from the top of Nohoch Mul! One of the most intense being on Mayan New Year in 2012 (I write about it in the Psilocybin chapter of Plant Songs).

Speaking of Plant Songs, it is so close to being released! I was not satisfied with how the color illustrations translated into greyscale, so I had the images lightened and the new copy looks great! Once I have the okay from the publishers that the new version is available I will let you know. Any day now…..!!!!

I can’t wait to share it with you.

For the love of plants,

 cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

For the Love of Cacao

This week in the Yucatan has reiterated how much I want to live in Mexico! I am in love with Mayan culture, the Caribbean ocean, and of course the warm sunny days!

What I also love is the hot cacao every morning with my brunch! No other culture may revere cacao as much as the Mayans. To honor their tradition of hot cacao I share my version with you.

Mayan (inspired) Hot Chocolate

1/4 cup raw Cacao nibs (melted)

1 tbsp Cinnamon powder

1 tsp Cayenne powder

1 tsp Vanilla bean extract

1 tsp Honey

Hot water 

Boil water in a tea kettle. Melt cacao nibs in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Add in cinnamon and cayenne powders. Once cacao is melted and powders stirred in, take off heat. Stir in vanilla bean extract and honey. Add 1/4 cup of melted cacao mixture to 1/4-1/2 cup of hot water. Stir well. Sip while hot. Honor the divinity within the cacao and within yourself.

 

For the love of plants,

 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Divine (Herbal) Intervention

The last few few weeks have been a whirlwind for me. I’ve traveled from California to Colorado, back to California and now to the Yucatan Peninsula. I guess I am feeling the stirrings of spring more than the deep retreat of winter.

With all of this moving around I have been trying to stay healthy, balanced, and sane. I’m doing my best- despite mega viruses, crowds, and societal drama. Besides my daily yoga/qi gong practice, drinking tons of water, and washing my hands like a maniac, I really give credit to my plant allies for playing a huge role.

I don’t leave home without at least one of my aromatic essence blends. My favorite one right now is a blend of Night Blooming Jasmine and White Sage essential oils in a carrier of Calendula infused Apricot kernel Oil. Divine! It keeps me clear and grounded- much needed in all my transitions.

What oils or herbs do you use to help you in times of change? If you aren’t sure, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and see what plant first comes to mind. More than likely, this is who you need in your life. Trust your intuition. You know what is best for you.

For the love of plants,

 cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows