Milky Silk Rose Tea Recipe

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?  

With love,

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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,

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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,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Solstice Celebration of Life

Today we celebrate Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year where yang is at its peak. For some of us it signifies the beginning of summer, others Midsummer. The fiery nature of summer has been increasing since Spring Equinox and on this most yang day of the year, we celebrate the Sun and all its life giving properties! We give thanks for the abundance of food, herbs, and flowers that provide all the sustenance we need. We are truly blessed to be a part of this world.

After today the days begin to shorten as yang energy decreases and yin energy once again begins to rise. Enjoy this slow process of moving from Fire into Metal. Observe where you may feel out of balance with this seasonal shift. Rejoice when you feel the passion and joy that summer brings.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

The Essence of your Favorite Tree

“I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again”

I feel like this is my theme song the last couple of years! One of my favorite things to do is travel. It makes me feel alive, brings me closer to understanding other cultures, and makes me so grateful to have a planet as gorgeous as our Earth.

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 breaths 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,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

A Peaceful Journey

May has been one full of dramatic changes. It hasn’t just been the weather, where we have had 80 degree days, thunderstorms, hail and snow all within a couple of weeks. The shifts have also been of heart and soul.

Many of us are coming to grips with the undeniable injustices that are occurring all over the place. These horrific acts have always been happening, but now with the internet we know exactly when they happen and sometimes we even get a live feed.

We want to know what’s happening so we can try to change it. I just don’t know if our psyches are able to assimilate all the information that comes at us in newsfeeds, notifications, and pop-ups.

I know for me it is overwhelming and downright obnoxious. Knowledge is power, but a lot of what we see is not knowledge, but distraction and opinion pieces that look like real news. How are we supposed to know what is important and relevant and what is just written to rile us up.

As I sit here upset with the way things are, I remember that I can help change what I don’t like to see in the world. My place is just to remind others, and myself, that it is our relationship with Nature that will bring about the greatest peace. I just have to find peace within myself and then I will be much more peaceful and loving towards others (easier said than done!).

Here’s my Peaceful Journey Blend that I will be dousing myself with all day today, and probably the next 4 years! Remember, use organic and ethically wild-crafted herbs and essential oils whenever possible! And use those precious essential oils sparingly!!

Peaceful Journey Blend 

3 drops Mt. Shasta Lavender essential oil- relaxes NS, reduces anxiety

3 drops Clary Sage essential oil- brings clarity to thoughts and feelings

2 drops Mandarin essential oil- transforms energy

2 drops Frankincense essential oil- reduces pain and sorrow

Add all essential oils to 1 ounce carrier oil (I Love apricot kernel oil). Mix well. Put in a roll-on bottle and anoint yourself when you need clarity and relaxation.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Wild Humboldt Tea Recipe

Among the old-growth Redwoods of Northern California, my herbal journey began in the late 1990s. Having thousands of acres of ancient forests to explore, my primal self was awakened.  

I wanted to live off the land, eat wild foods, wildcraft herbs and make all my medicine. And so I did that blissfully for years. Then a desire to become an acupuncturist came over me and I completed a four-year master’s degree and passed the licensing boards. I opened a clinic and worked closely with my community to provide much-needed healthcare. Seeing clients and helping people heal themselves is the most rewarding experience, but I knew I had to share the wisdom of herbalism and Chinese medicine with as many people as I could.

And so I left the comfort and shelter of the wilderness to live in Denver, with views of towering downtown buildings instead of majestic forests and Mother Ocean. It is now easier to teach at conferences throughout the US and abroad, and I have the opportunity to work at Colorado School of TCM and Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism.( Not to mention I now actually have consistent, high-speed internet which was hard to get anywhere I lived in Humboldt County, Cali.).

I know it was the right decision because everything has fallen nicely into place since I moved here over a year ago. This year’s teaching schedule is filling in nicely and I have the time to both see a few clients and continue to work on my herb book, “Plant Songs.”

This week I’ll leave you with the tea that made me fall in love with herbalism and our plant allies. It is a delicious and nourishing tea that will leave you feeling more than satisfied. Stay wild!

Recipe: Wild Humboldt Tea (wildcrafted with reverence)

Ingredients:

Handful of fresh nettles

Handful of fresh violet leaves and flower

Handful of fresh plantain leaves

Small amount of fresh dandelion leaves

Small amount of fresh prunella flowers

Instructions:

  1. Infuse all ingredients in the sun in a glass quart jar. 
  2. Infuse one to four hours or overnight on a full or new moon if desired.  
  3. Strain herbs out or be like us herbalists and strain through your teeth or just eat the herbs too.

When energy flows, wellness grows.

Being Compassion: The Wood Element

Ahhh, Spring is here! Equinox always brings me to tears of joy as I witness the balance of yin and yang on our planet and feel it harmonizing within me. Winter is damn hard for many of us, and Spring bring us a renewed sense of hope and positivity. The longer days gives us that solar energy everything on Earth needs to thrive. Spring is the time to start bringing your wintertime musings and dreams from the visionary world into the material one. Understanding the nuances of the Wood element can help you with those manifestations.

I wanted to introduce you to the Wood Element in Chinese Medicine, as it represents Spring, and the generation of new life, new energy, and new ideas. The Wood element/phase has gotten a negative wrap (like an ethereal concept of the manifestation of life on Earth can be negative!) with people saying “when the wood element is out of balance, one is angry, inflexible, bossy, violent, loud and rude.” All of these qualities can be attributed to Wood out of balance- but one very important quality of Wood is often not talked about. The Hun- our ethereal souls.

The Hun are described in different ways but many texts say the Hun are three benevolent, 3vin-sagescompassionate beings that guide our actions, thoughts and dreams. When out of balance, the Hun are restless and can become frustrated, relentless or de-motivated. We can help balance our Hun by leading a more simple life. Eat foods that are easier to digest (knowing your constitution is key to good health because appropriate foods will differ between people), minimize the alcohol and drugs, take a deep breath in times of stress instead of spiraling out of control. These can be life changing moments when you just took one minute to care for yourself instead of going down a road of negative emotions.

Spring is the time to eat those tender, young greens! Dandelion, burdock, violet, nettles- all are sprouting right now and inviting you to take a couple nibbles of their new growth. Try it! You may just like it- and your Hun will love you for it!

May the blessings of Spring bring you renewed energy, compassion and insight into why you chose to be here, right now, with all of us.

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

In Honor of Us All

I am very grateful and inspired by the billions of people worldwide that have participated in direct action for the equality of Women, Muslims, LGBT, and anyone that lives south of “the border.” Your compassion and courage is seen, heard, felt and respected!

I am working through my own emotions surrounding those that disagree with or choose not to participate in direct action. I am also sitting with my own feelings about how far I am willing to go to continue the momentum. The blatant disregard for me, as a woman, as a human, as a being of this Earth,  is too much to just sit back and pray that “they” will change their actions.

We have to start by changing our beliefs if we expect our actions to reflect true equality. We have to acknowledge our own conveniences and prejudices if we say we really want equality for all. What does equality for all really mean? Equality for all means the end of a consumer lifestyle that depends on labor conditions we privileged would never work in. Equality for all means a living wage for farm workers that grow and harvest all of our food. Equality for all means no mines and pipelines through other peoples land.

A lot to assimilate before my transformation can begin. We are all just people, most just trying our best to make it in this world. We are in this together. How do we choose to co-evolve?

I always come back to my plant allies when I’m having a hard time accepting things I don’t want to hear. I think of Chen Pi, tangerine peel, used in Chinese medicine to regulate digestion and help with assimilation of both food and emotions. I like to diffuse the essential oil of Citrus peel when I need help digesting the realities of our world. Citrus’ ability to transform energy is not to be overlooked.

Take some time out today to notice how you are digesting the things that affect your life. When we begin to assimilate these experiences, then can they be transformed. I am with you as we shift our perspectives and paradigm.

With love,

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Jessica

Rising Up to the Occasion

Being in Denver has been a drastic change from my rural lifestyle of northern California. The opportunity to step away from daily clinical work and the stresses of running a thriving practice have given me time to write, formulate and come back into myself as Jessica, instead of the professional self of “Dr.” Baker. It has been an insightful transition, as I’ve reflected on my own insecurities surrounding all the aspects of who I am and why I am drawn to working with plants and people.

I have missed the one-on-one counseling of my clients as well as the community vibe of group acupuncture. That is why I’m so happy to announce that I will be seeing clients at Urban Sanctuary. I’m offering private sessions of Western and Chinese herbal consultations, Aromatherapy sessions,and Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.

Beginning in March I will be hosting one Community Acupuncture sessions a month! Urban Sanctuary is a perfect location,. Being a yoga studio, there is plenty of space to lay down on yoga mats, breathe and allow your body to heal. I will also be able to hold classes on herbalism, Chinese medicine and anything else I’m inspired to share. The intention of my work is to help empower others to heal themselves so that our larger community will benefit in ways that can be hard to imagine.

I’m really stoked to be a part of Urban Sanctuary, a boutique wellness studio that offers yoga, meditation, workshops and
traditional health care services in the 5 Points community. The founder, Ali Duncan, created the sanctuary as a way to encourage and educate people on the powers of preventative health and self-healing. Learn more about  Urban Sanctuary and all they have to offer.

Call me at 707.499.8587  to schedule an acupuncture session or herbal/aromatherapy consultation! I’m honored to be part of healing and uniting our community.

With love,

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Jessica

Turn Intentions into Action

It has been years since I’ve written out new years resolutions or intentions. I’ve had them of course-goals and aspirations that I work towards and start to feel guilty about if I don’t achieve them. This year I am done with this type of thinking. I am going to be kinder to myself. I beat myself up way too much and I’m beginning to notice the impact it has on my psyche and my health. I also notice how my negative self-talk effects those around me.

If I judge myself for every little thing- dirty dishes, unmopped floor- then of course that perception is going to spill out to those I love. It also means I’m going to judge the important decisions in my life too- my book should be done, my essential oil products should be out by now, I should teach more, see more clients…etc. Instead of degrading myself I’m going to celebrate the act of doing. I’m going to credit myself for just having the courage to write, create, teach. And I call in the strength and community to help me with the things I can’t accomplish alone.

We can’t do it alone. We need our friends, family, and community to help us achieve our goals and keep our intentions. Surround yourself with those that really support you.Your setbacks and your successes will be championed by those that love you. Be gentle with yourself-but also put yourself out there, go out on a limb, ride that edge-the rewards are infinite!

With love,

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Jessica

When energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Getty Images

Solution for the Holiday Hustle

Herbs and essential oils are some of my favorite allies to combat the stress of the holiday rush. Instead of stalking the malls, I choose to walk among the conifers that have been here for millennia. I inhale their resinous aroma and instantly breathe deeper. Evergreens, like redwoods, pines and firs are some of our oldest ancestors, and their resiliency is transmitted to us, simply by being  in their presence.

I share with you one of my favorite blends for honoring the vitality and strength in all of us.

Holiday Hustle Spritz

2 ounces Spring Water

5 drops Douglas Fir (or conifer of choice) essential oil

4 drops Clary Sage essential oil

4 drops Mandarin essential oil

2 drops Spearmint essential oil

Add each essential oil separately to the spring water, blending thoroughly between each one. Pour mixture into a 2-ounce glass spritzer bottle.

Spray as needed for energy, inspiration and grounding amidst all the holiday madness. Inhale and appreciate that it’s necessary to take time to slow down, breathe and relax.

If you find yourself stressed out, contemplate on what you are getting caught up in. If you are worried about what to buy someone you love, know that your friendship and love are the greatest gifts you can give someone this holiday season. Your presence is all they truly desire.

With Love,

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Jessica

Ritualistic Intentions

My heart is full after attending the 1st annual Red Earth Herbal Gathering in Longmont, CO.  Inspired by the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium, Red Earth honors womens ritualwomen and the cycles we experience throughout our lives.  Always present is the reverence for our medicinal plants that guide and support us along our way.  Astrid Grove and Leela Whitcomb-Hewitt brought a much needed gathering to Colorado and I thank them greatly for it!

One reminder was the importance of ritual in my life.  Some rituals have become so habitual and mundane that I barely recognize the fact that I’m making an herbal tea or aromatherapy blend.  I am reminded to slow down, root deep and expand.  It is in this space, called the WuJi in Chinese medicine, that I have extra sensory experiences and bring the wholeness of the universe into whatever I am doing.  It is in this space that I see reality clearly and tap into what it is I need for the day.

The last few days I have noticed a substantial shift in the way I approach life.  My morning tea ritual is much more intentional and I can feel the difference it has made.  In my practice of yoga and qi gong, I am more aware of subtleties I have been too distracted to notice.  When I diffuse an essential oil or decide which oils to blend I hear the voices of the plants, elated that I am once again listening with the oldest parts of myself.

I encourage you to take a few extra minutes each day to create simple ritual in your life.  If you are the type of person that needs sensory tools to help creating your sacred space, I suggest Frankincense, Myrrh and Amber resins ground up and burnt as an incense, or if you don’t want the smoke to fill your room, you can diffuse the essential oils to elicit feelings of relaxation, expansiveness and meditation.

With Love,

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Jessica

When energy flows, wellness grows

Reflections on the Mountain West Herb Gathering

IMG_0316I cannot say enough positive things about the Mountain West Herb Gathering.  As with any conference there are bound to be unexpected hiccups but my experience as a teacher and attendant was that it was not only a well organized event but extremely heartfelt as well. I’m already getting excited about next year’s gathering.  Thank you Amanda Klenner for putting on such a welcoming event!  Check out her monthly herbal publication Natural Herbal Living

As someone new to Colorado, I am also happy to have met more local herbalists!  Every class I attended was wonderful, but my favorite had to be Healing the Spirit: Using Plants, Song and Prayer in Modern Herbal Practice, with Shelley Torgove and Monticue Connally.  I am glad they are both in Denver so I can learn more from them.  Deep healing occurred in the space created in their class.  There is nothing like singing with the plants!

IMG_0338My favorite part was to see (hear, taste and feel) new and old plant allies.  The mountain yarrow and horsetail looks so delicate and tender compared to our North Coast varieties.  I have found the mountain plants to be smaller, but packed full of vital energy due to their ability to thrive in such harsh conditions.  And the conifers!  I got to taste and smell the differences in some of the pine, spruce and fir.  The medicine in these mountain plants are strong and give us the gift of resiliency.  So needed at this time.

I leave you with a simple tasty tea that can be easily harvested from many places around the world.  Just make sure the trees and flowers haven’t been sprayed or are close to a heavily trafficked area.

Conifer Rose Tea IMG_0181

1/2 cup needles of your favorite evergreen (pine, spruce, cedar, cypress, fir, redwood)

1/4 cup wild roses

1/4 cup wild blackberry or raspberry flowers

Make a sun infusion with needles and flowers for 2-3 hours.  Strain out herbs and drink deeply.

When energy flows, wellness grows

Happy Summer and Abundant Blessings,

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Jessica

Artemisia: Moon Medicine

I don’t know about y’all, but I am feeling the yang energy of Summer approaching.  Thankfully the warm weather has hit Colorado and life is returning to the mountains after what seemed like a long Winter.  Yesterday I went hiking in Eldorado Canyon and saw many of my favorite herbs, including Artemisia, Pine, Yarrow and Rose.  Coming from California, I am used to a much earlier Spring and I was surprised at how small the Artemisia still are.  I could feel their compact potency though and am excited about seeing them grow throughout the season.

Did you know that we use several Artemisia species in Chinese Medicine?  Each species has it’s unique taste, temperature and therapeutic action. Ai Ye, Artemisia argyi, is so important that it is a separate modality of medicine.  We call the burning of Ai Ye, Moxibustion and we use it to warm the meridians of the body and expel cold, relieve pain due to cold stagnation, dispel dampness, stop cough, and calm the spirit.  If you have PMS or painful menstruation due to cold or damp, moxibustion over the abdomen can provide warmth and relief.  (Always have a qualified practitioner advise you on moxibustion application)

The first mention of Artemisia in Chinese medicine was in the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica), probably written around 200CE.  In that text, Ai Ye, was said to make the body light (bring you back to the light being you are), sharpen your eyes and ears, and prevent senility.  Ai Ye was also said to promote hair growth, eliminate evil qi in the five viscera, boost qi and supplement the middle jiao.

Today, we use the essential oil of various  Artemisia species for many reasons.  The essential oil of these plants can be very strong and must be used with caution (thujone content varies with each species).  I like to massage Artemisia alba (Mugwort) essential oil (diluted in hemp oil) on my abdomen before and during menstruation to reduce stagnation due to cold and damp that can cause cramps, bloating and tension.  I also diffuse a couple drops of essential oil in my home as well to help reduce any accompanying irritability.  Adding Lavender can further enhance your relaxation.

To help reduce infectious respiratory diseases, diffuse Mugwort essential oil or burn Ai Ye as you would White Sage throughout your house to repel “evil” energy.  This can also be effective for clearing negative energy out of your space.  You can smudge yourself with it when you need more energy or clarity.

I leave you with a spritzer recipe that I hope you enjoy as much as I do!  Artemis is the Maiden Goddess of the Hunt and the Moon and Achilles was an undefeated warrior that represents courage and strength.  I like to think these two plants work as a yin (Artemis) yang (Achilles) pair that can bring about deep healing and the courage needed to witness your own healing.

The Alchemy of Artemis & Achilles artemisia-vulgaris-1

1-2 drops wild Artemisia essential oil (alba, argyi, or vulgaris preferred)


1-2 drops wild Achillea essential oil (yarrow)

1/2 ounce wild Helichrysum hydrosol

1  1/2 ounces spring water 

Add water and hydrosol to a 2 ounce glass jar with pump spray top.  Add essential oils.  Shake well and thoroughly blend mixture.  Spray on any injuries (physical or otherwise) that need healing.  Great for bug bites, sprains, dermatitis and deep traumas of body or spirit. This blend is a great healer, as it helps to balance the duality of our yin/yang nature.   

When energy flows, wellness grows

Abundant Blessings,

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Jessica

Cultivating Wildness

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to teach at my favorite herbal symposium in existencesympcircle_05 today.  The Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium is the Heart medicine that we all deeply crave.  There is a collective healing that is palatable and at times so thick that you have no choice but to witness the truth of your own pain.  It is beautiful.  I am so grateful for the women that work endlessly to provide this space for us all.

 
A highlight of the weekend for me was stargazing with Stargazer Li.  A fantastic story-teller and mischievous medicine maker, Li has given me an even deeper fascination with the cosmos.   As we lie on our backs and gaze out into the universe, Li mentioned that what if in fact we were looking down at the sky and not up, as we have no idea where we were in the rotation of the Earth.  The sensation created in my mind and body when I thought I was above the sky and not below it was exhilarating.  It made me feel weightless, formless and in the infinite void (WuJi in Chinese medicine).

stunning-images-of-the-universe-from-hubbleIt is moments like these when we remember our wildness.  There are no physical barriers or limitations to what we are capable of achieving.  It is all in our perception, attitude and awareness.  When I am totally aware that I am connected with everything around me, I feel limitless, endless and free.  This is our true nature- connecting, communicating, exchanging with all of life around us.  I am blessed to have stepped into those moments and allowed myself to open up to their gifts.

I leave you with a tea that I hope will inspire you to open up to your own gifts, and to your true, wild nature.  You will need good gloves to harvest these herbs- they are covered in prickles and thorns (like many of our paths in life!)

I’m Wild and Free TeaWild_rose

1 handful wild nettle

1 handful wild horsetail (unopened)

1 handful wild blackberry leaves/flowers/berries 

1 handful wild roses

Make a sun (and/or moon) infusion with  1-2 quarts water.  Strain (or not) and drink deeply.

When energy flows, wellness grows

Abundant Blessings,

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Jessica

Releasing Old Wounds

Growing up, May was always  one of my favorite months.  It signified the end of school and the beginning of a summer of adventure and travel.  Since my Grandma passed away at the end of May in 2004, May had taken on a more somber feeling.  Then last year a friend committed suicide on May 9th.  The anniversary of her death was harder on me than I thought it would be.  The same feeling of shock and despair that I felt when I heard she had killed herself resurfaced and stayed with me for a couple of days.  My shadow side (or Po) has been stirring, revealing things about myself I must acknowledge, accept and let go of.

I have been relying on my herbal allies for the support I know I need.  The amount of gratitude I have for these plants cannot be described in words.  They are the life-giving, soul-awakening, heart-opening experiences we are all desperately searching for.  All it takes is a moment between you and a plant to remind you that you are loved, unconditionally, no matter what.

IMBR-00193067-001St. John’s Wort has been in my life for years and one I use both internally and externally for depression, nerve irritation and pain.  I am referring to neurological pain but also to when people are getting on your nerves.  There are times when I am getting on my own nerves, and St. John’s Wort works wonders.  I am instantly cheered when I take fresh St. John’s Wort tincture.  She has been an integral part of me finding joy in all the dark places my mind has gone this week.  I am lucky enough to have been able to harvest my own the last several years and have had a steady supply of fresh oil and tincture on hand.

Rose is an herb that has always brought me a sense of peace when I drink a tea of her wild-rose-782x534blossoms.  The essential oil of Rose has given me cathartic bouts of crying that I haven’t been able to access in years.  All of the sorrow from a lifetime of loss came spilling over and was almost unbearable.  Adding Lavender essential oil to Rose is what actually allowed me to relax enough to process it all.  It was a beautiful experience and one I obviously needed, but for now I may just go back to just the Rose tea!

There are a few more (Skullcap, Oatstraw, Chaga), but I like to keep my blog as short as possible.  I’d rather you go outside and sit quietly with a cup of tea than read more ramblings.

I leave you with an aromatherapy blend that can be applied to the chest, throat or temples, or anywhere you feel it needs to go.  I like to dilute in 1 ounce organic apricot kernel oil and use as a massage oil or add to my bath.  Use organic and ethically wildcrafted ingredients.

Life Reviving Anointing Oil

1-2 drops Rose essential oil (brings grief to the surface to be released)

1-2 drops Lavender essential oil (relaxes the body, mind and spirit, facilitates release)

1-2 drops St. John’s Wort essential oil (brings joy back into your heart, reduces irritation)

1-2 drops Vetiver essential oil (works on healing deep wounds, chronic soul-ache)

Bring your shadow side to light so that All parts of you can be healed by the universal love that binds us all. 

When energy flows, wellness grows

Abundant Blessings,

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Jessica

Aromatherapy: An Interview with Mindy Green

Mindy Green has been someone I have admired since I began studying herbalism in 1999. mindy greenThe book she co-authored with Kathi Keville, Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, inspired many herbalists to deepen their study of plant medicine with aromatherapy. This book continues to be a valuable resource for anyone that has an interest in herbalism or aromatherapy.

Mindy Green, MS, RA, RH (AHG) has over four decades of experience and success in the natural products and health care industries. Her expertise on botanical medicine has rewarded her with positions at Aveda Corporation and the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine. She is a prolific writer and speaker and has her own consulting company, Green Scentsations, LLC. Mindy is an environmental activist and believes plants in all their forms create healing, globally and individually.

It is with great pleasure that I bring you this interview with Mindy Green

JB: As a lover of plants and herbs, I have at least 10 plants I say are my absolute favorite. What are some of your essential plant allies?

MG: FOR HERBS, I AM A BIG FAN OF THE NERVINES. WE ARE ALL SO BUSY AND STRESSED OUT, WITH LITTLE TIME FOR OURSELVES. I LIKE THE DAILY-USE HERBS THAT GENTLY CALM SUCH AS OAT, LEMON BALM, CHAMOMILE, LINDEN AND MOTHERWORT. I ALSO LIKE THE NOURISHING TONICS – NETTLE, ALFALFA AND DANDELION. OF COURSE, EVERYONE SHOULD BE USING THE ADAPTOGENS – SHIZANDRA, ASHWAGANDA, AND ASTRAGALUS AMONG MANY OTHER OPTIONS. I OFTEN USE MANY OF THESE HERBS IN SOUP STOCK AND OTHER FOOD DISHES… IT JUST FEELS LESS MEDICINAL AND MORE NOURISHING. AFTER ALL, THE MORE WE USE HERBS AS FOODS, THE LESS WE WILL NEED THEM AS MEDICINES. WHICH BRINGS TO MIND A FEW MORE: GARLIC, GINGER AND TURMERIC!

AS FAR AS ESSENTIAL OILS GO, I OFTEN REACH FOR LAVENDER, HELICHRYSUM, CISTUS, ROSE AND FRANKINCENSE. A BLEND OF THESE IS EXCELLENT FOR MATURE SKIN THAT HAD TOO MUCH SUN EXPOSURE IN THEIR YOUTH (ME!).

JB: Essential oil use is getting popular, in part to MLM companies that promote somewhat excessive use of their products. With the immense plant matter that it takes to create 1 ounce of essential oil, are their essential oil companies on the market that are promoting sustainable farming and harvesting practices?

MG: THERE ARE MANY COMPANIES WHO DO KNOW OF THIS CONCERNING ISSUE. WITH ESSENTIAL OILS GOING MAINSTREAM IN MANY RETAIL OUTLETS (MOST RECENTLY IN TARGET), I PUT AN EMPHASIS IN ALL MY CLASSES ON AN AWARENESS OF THE PLANT MATERIALS REQUIRED TO OBTAIN A DROP OF ESSENTIAL OIL. I ALWAYS RECOMMEND A MORE HOMEOPATHIC APPROACH TO DOSING, RATHER THAN THE HEROIC APPROACH THAT, IN MY OPINION, IS USUALLY A WASTE OF PRECIOUS RESOURCES AND A RISK TO PERSONAL WELL BEING ON MANY LEVELS. THIS IS A BIG SUBJECT AND ONE THAT WAS ADDRESSED AS A NEW CHAPTER IN THE SECOND EDITION OF MY BOOK (WITH MY COAUTHOR), 2009 – Aromatherapy, a complete guide to the healing art.

JB: This may not be an area you have insight on, but we are all familiar with natural products like Aubrey Organics and John Masters that are prevalent in natural grocery stores. Are products like these using sustainable practices in regards to the herbs and essential oils in their products?

MG: I AM NOT AWARE OF THE SUSTAINABILITY POLICIES OF THESE COMPANIES, IN PARTICULAR. THOUGH, HAVING WORKED AT A LARGE ENVIRONMENTALLY AWARE COSMETIC COMPANY FOR MANY YEARS, I CAN TELL YOU THAT ESSENTIAL OILS ARE GENERALLY USED AT VERY LOW PERCENTAGES FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS: COST, RESOURCE LIMITATIONS, CONSUMER SENSITIVITIES AND LIABILITY. ALSO, MANY ESSENTIAL ARE EFFECTIVE IN EXTREMELY LOW DILUTIONS, SO NOT MUCH IS REQUIRED, DEPENDING ON THE CLAIMS A COMPANY MIGHT BE MAKING OR WHAT THE PRODUCT IS TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH.

JB: What, if any, challenges do you see with herbalism and the natural products industry in the near future?

MG: I SEE MUCH MORE INTEREST; EVEN MAIN STREAM TV COMMERCIALS ARE BRAGGING ABOUT BEING MADE WITH NATURAL INGREDIENTS AND NOT CONTAINING ARTIFICIAL COLORS, ETC. ALSO, THERE ARE MANY DOCS BEING TRAINED IN INTEGRATIVE CARE, PROVIDING GREATER EXPOSURE FOR MANY ADJUNCT TREATMENTS BEYOND ALLOPATHY. IN GENERAL, I BELIEVE THIS CAN BE A POSITIVE STEP FORWARD, ONE THAT MANY OF US HAD HOPED TO SEE WHEN WE STARTED OUT 40 YEARS AGO. HOWEVER, THIS ALSO REQUIRES MORE AWARENESS OF RESPONSIBLE SUSTAINABILITY PRACTICES AND MORE ORGANIC SOURCING AND CULTIVATION FOR RAW PLANT MATERIALS TO KEEP UP WITH DEMAND. IT ALSO REQUIRES THAT CONSUMERS BE AWARE OF ADULTERATION IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN FOR THE HERB AND ESSENTIAL OIL INDUSTRIES.

 JB: Would you like to add anything about herbalism, aromatherapy, or your services?

MG: THE GROWING INTEREST IN PHYTOTHERAPIES IS EXCITING. I MEET NEW GRADUATES OF WELL QUALIFIED EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND IT IS GREAT TO SEE ALL THE WAYS THEY ARE INTEGRATING THEIR PRACTICE IN MODERN HEALTHCARE, ESPECIALLY WITH NUTRITION AND HERBAL THERAPIES. I WISH THEY WERE IN PLACE WHEN I WAS YOUNG, BUT MANY OF MY CONTEMPORARIES WERE THE INITIATORS OF SUCH PROGRAMS. IT IS WONDERFUL TO SEE THE EVOLUTION OF THOSE FIRST SPARKS OF THE NATURAL PRODUCTS MOVEMENT.

I DON’T SELL PRODUCTS ON MY WEBSITE, BUT PROVIDE SERVICES TO THOSE SMALL COMPANIES JUST STARTING OUT, OFFERING THE WISDOM OF MY EXPERIENCE OVER THE PAST 43 YEARS IN MANY ASPECTS OF THIS INDUSTRY.

JB: Thank you for taking the time for this interview and for your love of spreading the wisdom of the plants.  I have included a link so readers can find out more about your consultation business. 

Mindy Green’s consultation business: www.greenscentsations

National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists: www.naha.org

Alliance of International Aromatherapists: http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/

Blessings,

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Jessica

Gather With Us: An Interview with Herbalist Amanda Klenner

This week’s Herbal Pioneer Interview is with Amanda Klenner, herbalist and publisher a49b59_fdec54436e6342fa87bc92f26db2b804of Natural Herbal Living Magazine. Amanda’s enthusiasm and knowledge of herbalism has inspired her to put on the first annual Mountain West Herb Gathering June 16-19, 2016 in Breckinridge CO to educate about the diverse bio-regions of the Mountain West.

JB: What inspired you to put on the Mountain West Herb Gathering (MWHG)?

AK: We have a beautiful history of herbalism here in Colorado, ignited by Paul Bergner and Feather Jones when they started NAIMH, now known as Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism, which is now run by Lisa Ganora. This school and others have ignited a passion for herbalism, focusing specifically on the bio-regions here in Colorado. There are hundreds of herbalists here, and in the surrounding states with vast knowledge, experience, and passion to share, but there hasn’t been a place for us all to gather, share ideas, and connect.

I decided to start Mountain West Herb Gathering as a place for herbalists to connect and share our ideas, passions, and experiences. It is also a place where we can discuss the environmental changes we are seeing, and talk about what impact this is having on the plants. I am hoping it will be a place to focus on ethical harvesting of native and invasive plants, and help us become better stewards of the land that we work and play on.

JB: How did you choose the teachers for the Gathering?

AK: The teachers were chosen based on their experience in teaching herbalism, as well as their experience with particular plants, microclimates, or modalities. Each herbalist teaching at MWHG has something unique and exciting to share with the herb world, and knows how to present that information in a way that is engaging of not only the mind, but the heart and soul as well. They are experts in their field, and are teaching what they feel passionate about.

JB: You present 2 classes at MWHG, can you please tell us about them?

AK: The first class I am teaching is: A Holistic Approach to Chronic Pain. I have had chronic pain for over 10 years after bulging disks while working in a hospital. That initial injury triggered a few auto-immune diseases, one being Fibromyalgia. I manage my daily pain through lifestyle, diet, and herbs. I know many people who insist that fibromyalgia, and chronic pain, can’t be healed, but they can be managed naturally, if a person has the tools they need to support their body in its natural healing process. This class is meant to be a first step, an idea of the tools we have as herbalists and healers to help others through chronic pain.

Chronic pain is a condition 100 million Americans experience on a daily basis. It is more a more common health problem than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined. It isn’t talked about much, and is often glanced over in holistic health books. Many times this is due to ignorance or inexperience in working with chronic pain. It can seem like a hopeless cause, because there is no quick fix. There is no cure. It is a big, complex problem with many moving pieces, and this is where holistic health can shine. We can incorporate many different healing modalities like yoga, meditation, psychological support, spirit work, exercise, herbal remedies, and custom diets to help manage and reduce chronic pain symptoms.

The second class is A New Hope: Teaching Kids About Their Plant Friends. I have two little ones, my daughter is 5 and my son is 4. They are growing up with an herbalist for a mother, and as such are often out hiking with me into the wild places, and helping me gather plants for food and medicine. They as questions, observe, touch, taste and feel the plants. We talk daily about plants having feelings, spirits, and powers, for lack of a better word. Children see the magic and mystery of the plants, and are able to listen to their intuition when working with the plants. I like to help foster that creativity, and that internal knowing, and help children make life long friends with their plant allies. I like to go to my daughter’s school and teach about the plants, while doing fun kid-friendly activities. I wanted to bring that experience to the table, and share with others some fun kid-friendly ways to learn about the plants.

JB: How can people and sponsors get in touch with you to be a part of the Gathering?          

AK:  People can find more information about MWHG at www.mountainwestherbgathering.com, and register for the conference on EventBrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mountain-west-herb-gathering-tickets-20631884522?aff=ehomesaved .

If people would like to contact me more about the conference, you can e-mail me at mountainwestherbconference@gmail.com.

I hope to see you there this June! It is sure to be a fantastic experience.

JB: Thank you for educating so many of the healing powers of the plants.  I look forward to attending the MWHG!

Abundant Blessings,

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Jessica

A Celebration of Cannabinoids

This blog post continues my interview with neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, Ethan Russo. Ethan has worked with cannabis extensively since the 1990’s img-dr-ethanand continues to pioneer the research on the human endocannabinoid system. He is the former Medical Advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals and Past-President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society. What I like most about Ethan’s work is his ability to scrutinize down to an individual constituent all the while understanding the importance of the synergy of whole plant medicine.

In my final questions with Ethan,  we speak about terpenoids, the future of cannabis laboratory testing and how the FDA is responding to the labeling of CBD products.  It is my hope that these interviews help dispel the deception that has surrounded cannabis since its prohibition and help create a more informed future.

You can read the first part of the interview here Herbal Pioneers Interview with Ethan Russo

JB: The number of terpenes that are significant in lab testing is constantly changing.  Which, if any, chemical constituents are responsible for the enhancement of CBD? THC? 

ER: There have been over 200 terpenoids isolated from different cannabis chemovars, but certain ones predominate, especially myrcene in modern strains, which largely accounts for the “couchlock” that is all too common nowadays, even with cannabidiol strains that should actually be slightly stimulating, but for that.  When limonene is included in sufficient amounts, it tends to “brighten” the effect and exert a pronounced mood elevation that can be quite helpful in many chronic conditions. A rare component these days is pinene. It has a remarkable ability to counteract the short-term memory impairment engendered by THC, an effect that makes cannabis treatment problematic for patients that still need to utilize it while they work or study.

CBD is still a difficult commodity to find in many states. When present in high amounts, it will delay and blunt the peak high of THC somewhat, prolong its effect, and reduce its tendency to increase heart rate and anxiety. Beyond that, it has remarkable benefits on pain and inflammation.

JB: Since pinene is a rare component in cannabis today and has the benefit of counteracting short-term memory loss, and other herbs like pine contain pinene, is research being done on the synergist effects of other herbs with cannabis? 

ER: There may be a lot of experimentation going on out there along these lines. I have current plans for formal clinical trials to examine cannabinoid-terpenoid interactions. The protocol is all set to go—we merely need funding to initiate the experiments.

JB: I have seen the same sample of Cannabis test at different levels from different testing laboratories.  Are you familiar with the laboratory standards of establishing THC and CBD percentages? Are these percentages even remotely accurate?

ER: We need to keep in mind that virtually all the analytical labs are actually contravening federal law by doing these assays. I’m afraid the quality control in the industry is quite hit or miss, with many examples of poor work and extreme variability. There are laboratory certifications available now, and these should be encouraged. Assays of cannabinoids are difficult, and hampered often times by lack of good analytical standards from industry. The best labs develop their own. Terpenoid analysis is even more technically challenging, and few labs offer that at the present time.

JB: The FDA has sent cease and desist letters to some CBD product manufacturers stating that there is some evidence of medicinal use and so cannot be sold as a dietary supplement.  Do you believe research has proven that Cannabis has several medicinal properties? 

ER: It is certain that cannabis has many medicinal properties. Just as a simple example, Sativex® (USAN: nabiximols), a cannabis-based oromucosal spray is approved as a prescription pharmaceutical in 27 countries for spasticity (muscle tightness) in multiple sclerosis. In Canada, it is also approved for pain in MS and in cancer unresponsive to optimized opioid treatment. Another cannabis-based medicine, Epidiolex®, an almost pure cannabidiol extract should be soon approved by the FDA in the USA for treatment of intractable epilepsy in children. However, approval of such a pharmaceutical form of cannabis will not influence the scheduling of other cannabis products. The FDA first went after CBD producers that had no cannabidiol in their products. Now they are issuing cease and desist letters to other companies that are exaggerating the CBD content, or making unsubstantiated medical claims. Rather, structure-function statements should be the maximum claim, as is currently the situation with other herbal products in the USA.

While we’re at it, for better or worse, cannabidiol is still a Schedule I forbidden drug in this country. Claims to the contrary, such as “Our CBD is derived from hemp and is legal in all 50 states,” are a function of tortured legal logic and wishful thinking.

JB: Ethan, thank you for participating in this interview and for your diligence in spreading the truth about cannabis.

To see Ethan Russo speak in person, attend the Medicinal Cannabis Conference in Arcata, California April 23-24, 2016 http://www.medicalmarijuanaconference.net/?page_id=246

For more information on Ethan’s work and our endocannabinoid system, check out

researchgate.net/profile/ethan_russo/contributions

phytecs.com

Happy 420 everyone!  We have witnessed the end of cannabis prohibition and an evolutionary leap of consciousness.

When energy flows, wellness grows

Abundant Blessings,

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Jessica