So Much Trouble in the World (thankfully we have herbs for that)

I was all inspired to write about how Chinese New Year is coming up as I celebrate my 43rd year on planet Earth! Then Jussie Smollett was attacked by white terrorists and I have been outraged about how obvious hate crimes are committed daily in the U.S. and there are no repercussions. No fear of retribution when our entire society continues to build upon the foundation that our forefathers set over two hundred years ago; that straight white men are superior

This isn’t going to be a political post but it will be one deeply rooted in the knowledge that we cannot be silent when injustices are so great. We have to redevelop a reverence for all life on Earth and begin to see ourselves as an integral part of the whole, instead of the masters that can destroy at our will. I don’t have the answers to these problems, but I do have some tools. And they are our herbal allies. 

The same plants that we are hell bent on poisoning (dandelions, chickweed, shepherd’s purse and countless others) will be our saving grace. 

When we remember our place in the cosmos, we will once again contribute to the balance between Earth and the Heavens. As long as we forget our connection to each other (much less the rest of nature) there will be wars, famines, hate crimes, and down right ugliness. I refuse to participate in that. Instead I will spread love, hope, and the wisdom of the plants. 

When I asked who wanted to be written about today Rose (Rosa centifolia)came up loud and clear! She loves to open our hearts and minds with her aromatic properties, all the while telling you to watch out if you treat her wrong. Those thorns are medicine in themselves, a warning and also a reminder to be gentle, to be conscious when you interact with others. 

If you’re feeling like I am, you probably need to share a cup of Rose petal tea with someone else and talk through the feelings of despair and disconnection. We all need more love, but what we also need is togetherness. We have to be stronger than this hate. We have to better than this.

Rose Petal Tea

Drop a small handful of dried rose petals in a pint glass. Pour hot water over petals and steep for 15 minutes. Strain out petals and set aside. Drink tea slowly. Add a touch of honey if you need a little sweetness in your life.

Please be nice to each other. And stand up for what you believe in. 

If you want to read more about Rose and other medicinal plants, check out my book Plant Songs:Reflections on Herbal Medicine

With love,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows 

2019- Change Is Coming (And It’s About Time)

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.

With love,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Rep. Ruth Anna Buffalo image by Lea Black Photography

Spicy Herbs & The Metal Element

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.

Element Metal
Season Autumn
Color White
Environment Dry
Phase of Life Harvest
Organ Systems Lungs/Large Intestine
Flavor Spicy (Acrid, Pungent)
Sense Organ Nose
Tissue Skin
Emotion Grief/Acceptance
Sound  Crying
Entity Po- Corporeal Soul
Animal Tiger

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 Resolve Amazon Picyears 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!

I almost hate to say it, but the holy days are just around the corner. For fresh ideas, check out my Baker Botanica 5 Element Blends (purchase one or the entire set!) and my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine, both available on Amazon.

With love,

JessicaBakerPic 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Berry Blossom Sun Tea Recipe

Here on the coast of Northern California, the mist-covered mornings is a nice reprieve to he harsh sun and dry heat of Denver. The fog hugs the coast in an intimate embrace thanks to what is left of the ancient redwood canopy.  I am grateful for the cool breeze and grey skies.

The rhythm of the waves lulls me to sleep each night and the birdsongs sing me awake each morning. I am reminded me that this is when I am happiest. I know that among the trees and by the sea is where I’m meant to be. One day it will be again. Until then I cherish the moments I am here.

I walk around our land and am surrounded by blackberries (Himalayan, which are quite invasive, but the bees love them), huckleberries, and salal berries. Patches of daisies, roses, and foxglove are scattered along side the plantain, horsetail, and self-heal. It’s an herbalist dream around here. I am grateful to have access to these herbal treasures.

I look forward to the berries that will be plentiful soon! Until then I may take a blackberry blossom or two (if the bees allow) for an afternoon sun tea. I have many iterations of “yard” tea, but the fruit blossom teas are some of my all time favorite!

You can use any blossom that grows (unsprayed) around you.

Berry Blossom Sun Tea

Handful of blossoms from your favorite berry bush:

Blackberry, Huckleberry, Raspberry, Salal Berry, Blueberry, Boysenberry

In full sun, steep berry blossoms in 2 cups of spring water for at least one hour. Sip and enjoy the delicate flavor!

For more tea and other herbal recipes, check out my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine 

My new 5 Element Essential Oil Blends are Now Available on my website, www.bakerbotanica.com    Check them out and let me know what you think!

 

With love,

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Jessica

3 Herbs for Stressful Times

There is so much anger and grief in our society. The realities of inequality are undeniable and cause guilt and shame among those of us that are the privileged ones. If we are actively working towards equality and justice for all then there is no need for shame. If we are complacent in what is happening then we need to turn that guilt and shame into action so we can do our part in making the world a happier and safer place for all.

There’s a lot you can do like donate money (and more importantly time) to an organization that touches your heart. You can sign petitions, march in solidarity, and call your representatives. You can just be a good human and help those you see in need.

If these seem overwhelming, maybe you just need to start working with your herbal allies to give you the courage, strength, or energy to be an advocate for those in need.

Here are my three favorite herbs that help when I feel helpless or overwhelmed:

Reishi Mushroom– a strong decoction or lunar infusion is great to nourish the heart and calm the nervous system. Reishi helps you make clear and conscious decisions.

To make a decoction, place one medium sized Reishi (or 2-3 inch pieces) in one quart of water and simmer covered for 1-12 hours. The longer the decoction the more bitter the tea!

Rose– pretty much my go-to for anything that hurts my heart or brings me despair. A sun tea or infusion of Rose petals brings us back to a place of compassion and love

To make an infusion, place a handful of fresh or dried Rose petals in 16 ounces of water that has slightly cooled after boiling. Cover and steep the tea for up to 10 minutes. For a more delicate floral flavor, steep for only 3 minutes.

Pine(or any Conifer)- conifers activate the area of the third (first) eye and allows us to see beyond our own suffering.

To make an aromatic footbath steep a few Pine, Redwood and/or Fir needles in a large bowl of hot water and allow the aroma to fill the air. Pour out a cup to drink and use the rest of the water in an aromatic footbath. As you pour out the footbath water, wash away the anger, grief, shame, and guilt that prevent you from being an advocate for yourself or others.

Tomorrow is Solstice, the longest day of the year. A time to celebrate the shining light that indescriminately provides life to every being on Earth. 

With love,

JessicaBaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Wild Prairie Rose

Open & Bloom Spritz

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

Open & Bloom Spritz

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

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

2 drops Mandarin essential oil- for integrating changes during transformation

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

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

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

 

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Waking Up From Winter’s Slumber

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

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

What plants are awakening around or within you?

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

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

 

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Healthy Lung Essential Oil Blend

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

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

Healthy Lung Diffuser

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

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

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

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Art Credit: Jason Garcia 

Morning Cup of Tea

It hardly seems like winter this week in Northern California. Instead of our steady fog and rain, we have had sunshine and temperatures in the mid 60’s. No complaints here as I soak up as much sun as I can!

It is getting brighter in the mornings and the days are gradually increasing, making the warmer days of spring more of a reality. I am still taking my daily tonics as people are still getting sick around me and I do my best to avoid going down like that. Especially since I leave for a yoga retreat in Tulum in 10 days!

I have been loving the Tulsi Rose tea from Humboldt Herbals. I worked at Humboldt Herbals many moons ago when they first opened in Old Town Eureka 20 years ago! Time flies, and us with it! Check out all the herbs, teas, essential oils, skin care, and other goodies they have to offer. You can also hear my interview with the proprietress of Humboldt Herbals, Julie Caldwell.

The combination of Rose Petals, Tulsi Bail, Red Raspberry leaf, and Green Cardamom is mildly spicy and so delicious. Sometimes I add a pinch of  Elderberry and Star Anise to keep my immune system even stronger. Either with little honey or unsweetened, this blend keeps me healthy and happy.

May you also enjoy a nourishing cup of herbal tea today!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Shutterstock

My Top 3 Healing Plants of 2017

Nine days into 2018 and I feel great! All of the political and societal problems are still here but I am taking a different approach to “stress” this year. Instead of getting wrapped up in fear and drama, I pledge to step back, take a deep breath, and let my words and actions be led by love. Not a passive, “sending love and light,” but with compassion, truth, and justice. It won’t always be easy to remember, as I can get easily angered, fired up and passionate. I have to keep this promise. My health and happiness depends on it.

The last few months of last year I felt like I was not accomplishing anything. I couldn’t focus or complete any project I started the last couple of years (my book Plant Songs, my essential oil blends, my new website). I realized I was paralyzed by fear and spun by all the confusion and turmoil in the media. Now that I recognize my fears, I have made huge steps forward on so many levels! I have moved into the final phases of production on Plant Songs and I have a renewed sense of faith in who I am and what I can do. I am ecstatic!

So many plants helped me overcome my fear and distraction. Without my connection to herbal medicine, I would be lost and I am forever grateful for their gifts. For me, these 3 herbs were essential the last 6 months and will continue to be there when I need them going forward.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)– I take a 5:1 tincture of fresh harvested St. John’s Wort flowers almost every day. It is essential in winter when there is very little sun and also for when I get discouraged, frightened, or frustrated by politics. I know it is time to start taking it again when I start beating myself up for not being enough. I also love St. John’s Wort essential oil blended with Vetiver and Rose Geranium and diluted in Apricot kernel oil, and applied to my temples or chest when I need some compassion, courage and strength.

Cannabis SativaHemp essential oil has been key to reducing the pain from scoliosis and an injury from a few years ago. Working with meditation, herbs and different physical modalities to change muscular patterns and dissolve scar tissue has taken a lot of energy and willpower. It has also exacerbated pain as my spine shifts and moves. A roll-on blend of essential oils of Hemp, Frankincense and Pine immediately applied to the top of my shoulders, and around my pelvic girdle has done wonders for my healing.

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)– My morning cup of Milky Oats tea starts my day off with the nourishment my nervous system needs. Avena sativa is a nervine and is sweet and nutritive, taking the edge off like no other herb I know. My favorite blend to ease the tensions of the outside world is Milky Oats, Rose petals, Elderberry, and Lemon Balm. It is nutritious, floral and delicious!

May these plants help you as they have helped me. May you give back to them in return.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: High Times