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).
I have been hearing about gnarly colds and coughs still plaguing people all across the United States. These Winter bugs are still here and like I said on my Earth Element Podcast (which no one has heard because I haven’t been able to release it yet….), so I’m saying it again. We are going to hear about people being sick well into Spring. I wish it weren’t true, but people are still run down from illnesses they had weeks ago. And when Spring brings those winds, with it comes pathogens that thrive in the warmer weather ahead.
Let’s not talk about Spring quite yet, since Winter is still in full force. At least for me. Today I’m in Denver and there’s a pretty raging snowstorm right now. I thankfully am not down with anything, but I sure am bundled up, drinking tea, and staying out of this weather!
If you’re one of the many that still have the crud, this chest rub recipe may be for you. It’s quick and easy to make (if you have the infused Oil already made) and can be a fun creation to make with friends or kids.
2-3 grams Menthol Crystals (less if skin is sensitive; do not use on children under 4) You can substitute Mint Essential Oil if you don’t have the crystals.
12 drops Thymus vulgaris Essential Oil
12-18 drops Eucalyptus radiata Essential Oil
Please use organic and ethically wild-crafted and sourced ingredients
Pour infused Olive Oil into the top of a double boiler and add Beeswax. Heat Oil until Beeswax melts and there are no more than small bubbles are around the edges of the mixture. Add Menthol Crystals and stir until melted and well blended. Take mixture off the heat and add Essential Oils, blend thoroughly. Pour into 2 or 3 small glass jars (you will end up with about 6 ounces). Let cool completely before you put on the lid.
Rub on chest, behind the ears and along the lymph nodes on the neck. Skin may experience slight tingling and/or redness due to the Menthol Crystals and Essential Oils.
Remember to also stay hydrated with water and herbal tea. A hot cup of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) or Mint (Mentha species) tea with Lemon and Honey can do wonders to lift your mood, open your sinuses, and soothe your belly.
Cooking with common culinary herbs also help rid the body of unwanted pathogens and toxins. Add handfuls of fresh, organic Rosemary(Rosmarinus officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and Basil (Ocimum basilicum)to your salads, stews, and broths. A perfect reminder that food is medicine too!
Be well out there and be gentle with yourself.
when energy flows, wellness grows
PS: To tide you over until my new podcast episodes release, here’s one of my favorite episodes from Season One. I sit down with my very first herb teacher, Jane Bothwell, of the Dandelion Herbal Center. We talk herbs, plant communication, and why we love Humboldt County (which is known for its own strain of gnarly coughs, the Humboldt Crud). And please review my podcast, it helps get me out there to more people! Thank you!
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.
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 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.
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!)
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!
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.