After Party Digestive Tea

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Tashi Dalek! The Lunar New Year is upon us and I love to celebrate the cyclical shift from one year to another! On Monday’s New Moon we left the year of the Yang Earth Dog and welcomed in the Yin Earth Pig. I hope this year’s energy is a little less aggressive wounded dog and more congenial lucky pig. May our collective focus turn more towards generosity and companionship and farther away from personal motives of money and power. 

My birthday was also on Monday and along with honoring the next lunar cycle, I also celebrated my next revolution around the sun! A perfect yin yang balance! I threw an all day Drinky and Smoky Tea Party where we drank loads of Tea (Camellia sinensis), ate pastries, and smoked fatties. In typical Jessica fashion I took photos of me preparing the goodies, but forgot to get images of the final creations! I also had so much fun during the party I only had one series of pictures taken of some girlfriends and myself. Next time I’ll remember to take more photos! 

I will admit I went to bed with a bellyache Monday night. I ate way too many sugary treats, drank too much caffeine, and then had cheesy calzones late in the evening. It was a deliciously indulgent day and I felt the aftermath. As a Chinese medicine practitioner I embrace their theories on food stagnation (bloating, gas, and fatigue due to eating heavy, rich foods) and know that eating like this can wreak havoc on my digestion. That’s when I remember the wonders of Hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida).

If you’ve been overdoing it like me, then you need one of my favorite Hawthorn Berry recipes. Perfect for sluggish digestion after too much fun! This tea is tasty and works wonders to help digest fats and heavy foods. I recommend drinking small 2 ounce cups throughout the day if you tend to overeat. I should have been drinking this tea during my party and I wouldn’t need it so badly now!

Swollen Belly Decoction (aka Belchy and Burpy Tea)

3 tbsps dried Hawthorn berries (Crataegus pinnatifida)

3 strips dried Tangerine peel (Citrus reticulata)

3 cups of water

Simmer berries and peels in water for 20 minutes. Strain out herbs and set aside. Drink 2 ounces of the decoction throughout the day or 1/2 cup after a heavy meal. 

To learn more about Tea and Hawthorn, check out my book Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine! It’s available on Amazon, Balboa Press and other online outlets.

You can also check out this episode The Herb Walk Podcast where I read from the Hawthorn chapter!

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Herbalism As Activism

We are a country divided. I have heard this said over and over again lately and I have seen this polarization play out all over social media- especially Facebook. I have absolutely participated, as I have been quick to anger, to point fingers, and to make generalized statements about people I disagree with.

I am acting exactly like what I loathe and think I am working against. I am allowing myself to get riled up and angry, instead of transforming that energy into something productive. An example being a recent post I made on a Clinical Herbalists Facebook Group about a conference in Alabama that was threatening to kick out anyone being political. 

First of all their statements about what being political are were vague and I thought it was rude of them to threaten to kick people out of their conference for disruptive behavior related to politics. The organizers state  “this conference is for participants to reconnect with the land and our first love of using plants and alternative medicine.” Yes, that’s the reason we attend herbal conferences, but to censor people’s speech about politics (herbal medicine and politics are deeply intertwined unfortunately) is ridiculous. The keynote speaker took offense to their statements as well and has chosen to step down from speaking. 

Second of all, it is a conference called The Deep South Conference without any sort of representation of the people that come from the South. There is one teacher that is a Cherokee man, but all others are Caucasian. Which is not uncommon at herbal conferences in the U.S.- just a little shocking when the name is the Deep South Conference and there is not one single black teacher. The south (if you haven’t been) has no shortage of African American herbalists. 

I don’t think we can separate politics from herbalism. Most of us have learned some form of indigenous herbalism and we take for granted how easy and accessible it has been. It’s why we didn’t think twice (until recently) about burning sage and palo santo. We have never been prosecuted, shamed or killed for practicing our beliefs. We just got to expose ourselves to whatever we wanted to learn and then shout it to the rooftops as if everyone has had the privilege and right to do it. 

As herbalists, we are activists! Even if we don’t want to see ourselves that way, it is our responsible to change, not only what we perceive health to be, but to make sure everyone has equal access to the medicines of the Earth. We must work to make herbal medicine affordable and accessible to as many people as we can. No one should be left out when it comes to working with plant medicines.  But because of political structures that continue to keep up the business of capitalism and a racist foundation that we value one person’s life above another, this is not possible. 

And that is why I have to speak out

If you need some help building Courage or Resolve, remember your herbal allies. It could be a good time to call upon Eleutherococcus senticosis (Siberian ginseng) to help adapt to the changes in your life and relationships as you speak your truth more clearly. Maybe you need Crataegus spp. (Hawthorn) to transform your emotions of frustration and hate to clarity and compassion. It could be that you need to wear aromatic herbs like Lavender and Rose as an amulet or (diluted) essential oil to keep you calm and centered during heated conversations. 

We always have a choice as to how we are going to react. Maybe tomorrow I’ll react calmer when faced with colleagues that don’t want to rock the boat or call out injustice. Instead of attacking them with cynicism and withdrawal, hopefully I’ll be able to have a more intelligent conversation. I’ll do my best.

With love,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Photo taken by Jessica Baker Artist- Apex

Chinese Herbal Energetics

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!

With love,

Jessica

The Real Dirt Podcast Interview from Peru

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.

Have a fabulous rest of 2018! Until next year.

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Image: Maloca at Refugio Altiplano; taken by me

Winter Solstice-Water Element Podcast Episode

The ultimate yin energy is upon us on December 21st as Winter Solstice approaches and we experience the shortest day and longest night of the year. This year, we will also have a Solstice Full Moon to illuminate the night sky. 

In Chinese medicine, the day after Winter Solstice is when yang begins to rise again. As yin was dominant with the lengthening days, yang ascends slowly to overtake yin. Yang dominates after Spring Equinox when yin and yang reside in balance for a brief Earth day. 

The beginning of Winter also moves us from the Metal Element into the Water Element. (This statement needs a little clarification: For many of us that study the 5 elements, the Earth element/phase represents the 18 day transitional period between each season; therefore the Earth element is between the Metal and Water elements, and so forth).

The Water Element has many correspondences, like the season of Winter, the color of black/dark blue, and the flavor of salty. Instead of writing it all out for you- listen to this week’s episode of The Herb Walk Podcast where I discuss Winter Solstice, the Water Element, and deer penises (you’re just gonna have to listen to find out why!)

May your days be merry and bright!

With love,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows 

The Myth of Indica and Sativa

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 Binomial Early Range Uses
PA-

Putative Ancestor

C. ruderalis Northern

Central Asia

Possible- seed and crude fiber
PHA- Putative

Hemp Ancestor

Unrecognized or Extinct Balkan peninsula

Caucasus Mtns

Possible- seed and crude fiber
NLHA- Narrow leaf

 Hemp Ancestor

C. sativa ssp. spontanea Eastern Europe

Central Asia

Seed and crude fiber
NLH- Narrow leaf Hemp C. sativa ssp. sativa Europe Seed and textile fiber
PDA- Putative

Drug Ancestor

Unrecognized or Extinct Hengduan Mtns

Yungui Plateau

Possible ritual and medicinal
BLHA- Broad leaf

Hemp Ancestor

Unrecognized or Extinct Eastern Asia 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

 Drug Ancestor

C. indica ssp. kafiristanica Himalayan Foothills- Kashmir to Myanmar Euphoria- hashish, “marijuana”
NLD- Narrow leaf Drug C. indica ssp. indica South & SE Asia,

Middle East

Euphoria- hashish, “marijuana,” fiber, seed
BLD- Broad leaf Drug C. indica ssp. afghanica N. Afghanistan, Pakistan Euphoria- hashish

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.

To learn more about terpenes and other aromatic and medicinal plants, watch my videos on Youtube!

You can also check out my Baker Botanica 5 Element Essential Oil blends (fyi: the Balance/Earth Element contains Hemp essential oil!)

Follow me on Instagram- baker_botanica and on Facebook at Jessica Baker, LAc

Whether you prefer Indica or Sativa, I always appreciate your support.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured image: unknown (but thank you!)

The Herb Walk Podcast: Metal Element Episode

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!!

Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher and never miss an episode!

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Full Moon Reflection Tea

When you are ruled by the lunar cycles, the Full Moon can be an energizing few days (and nights). I’ve been waking very early in the morning mentally wide-awake, enjoying the time to lie there without feeling like I “should” be doing something. I usually don’t have issues staying asleep, so there is no anxiousness with my midnight waking. It has been a refreshing moment of peace, where I can reflect on where I am at, physically and emotionally.

I’ve been working out more so my body has been sore. A good sore, but one that wants to keep me lying in bed, warm and cozy, instead of getting up to make tea. Emotionally I have been anxious. At times overwhelmed by the weight of the world when I think about the changes that are happening on a global scale. In my lucid waking state, I can observe all of this detached and reserved from judgment.

Being in this calm, perceptive state reminds me of how Reishi mushroom makes me feel. Called Ling Zhi, spirit mushroom, in Chinese medicine, Reishi is known to Calm the Spirit and Nourish the Blood of the Heart. Being a Superior herb, one that can help guide you to your life’s purpose and increase longevity. That sounds great to me. According to the classics (and modern research), Reishi can help me live longer and be more tranquil. Sign me up!

If you’re like me and you need something to help chill you the F*** out (I can only smoke so much weed!), then try a good mushroom extract like Host Defense, created by mycologist and genius Paul Stamets. Or be like me and make yourself a Full Moon infusion, allowing the yin of the moon and the yang of the Full moon nourish and balance the energies within you.

Full Moon Reflection Tea

Place 1 medium sized Reishi mushroom into a pot with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour water and mushroom into a clear jar and set outside under the Full Moon. In the morning, take out the mushroom and drink the tea throughout the day. You can also leave to infuse in the sun the next day and drink one cup that evening and one cup the following day.

The longer you simmer the mushroom, the more bitter the tea will be. Regardless of the taste, the effect is relaxing and revitalizing. Something we all need right now!

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

PS- Remember to join me Monday at 7pm MST for a (Free) Facebook Live video on Aromatherapy & Chinese Medicine. Like my page and I’ll see you there!

The Ugly Truth about Essential Oils

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 a Drop of Essential Oil

Lavender flowers

250 pounds 6 pounds

6 stalks

Roses 10,000 pounds 630 pounds

50 roses

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.  

To hear more about aromatherapy, herbalism, and Chinese medicine subscribe to my Youtube channel (new videos coming soon!) and my podcast, The Herb Walk with Jessica Baker.

With love (and hope),

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Jessica Baker, LAc, RH (AHG)

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

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Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soak

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.

If you want more herbal recipes, check out my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine from Balboa Press.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows