The Herb Walk Interview with Kelly Green

This episode of The Herb Walk Podcast is very close to my heart. I have had the pleasure of being friends with Kelly Green, COO of Refugio Altiplano, for almost 15 years. We met as neighbors on a 5 acre piece of land outside Watsonville, California when I was a graduate student at Five Branches University. Who knew all these years later he would be the proprietor of Refugio Altiplano, a Natural Healing Medicine Center in the Amazon jungle in Peru. 

Kelly’s first trip to Peru 18 years ago led him to Iquitos and unknowingly, Refugio Altiplano. A random encounter at a cafe got him on a boat with a stranger and a lifelong connection to the river, land and people began. Kelly met Jose Huanaquiri, a Mestizo Ayahuascero that is the true custodian of Refugio, on that very first visit and now they share a heartfelt friendship.

As “medical” and ayahuasca tourism becomes more popular there is also a lot of concern and controversy. Unstable guests are permitted to sit in ceremony even when shamans or staff are concerned about their mental stability. There have been some very unfortunate incidents, including the murder of a well-known and respected female shaman who tried to get the murderer arrested by Peruvian police multiple times before he shot her. 

People are not going to stop going to the Amazon to drink ayahuasca, and this is why it is so important that there are places like Refugio Altiplano.  Guests are required to fill out a medical form prior to attending and Kelly and Jose will reject people that do not meet their criteria (many centers don’t reject anyone that has the money to pay). Refugio has a strict policy regarding inappropriate guests and once escorted back to Iquitos, they are not allowed back at the center for any reason. Holding a safe and sacred space for guests is always paramount at Refugio, as they understand the depth of healing that has the potential to occur. 

The staff at Refugio are highly regarded for their compassion and understanding for the experiences the guests are having. The warmth and tenderness that everyone from the guards, to the women in the kitchen, to the shamans, is genuine. They are all available to guests to help with anything you need. The kinship and love that flows from them, from the jungle, from the river, will permeate your soul and stay with you forever. 

If you or someone you know is interested in ayahuasca or traveling to Peru, share this episode so they can learn more.  I suggest listening in a hot damp room surrounding by the sounds of insects to help set the Amazon vibe. If you’ve got mosquitos, even better. 

You can read my blog post on my first experience at Refugio

Listen to my interview from Refugio Altiplano on The Real Dirt Podcast 

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

The Myth of Indica and Sativa

One of my biggest pet peeves about the cannabis industry is hearing budtenders (and other people) ask me if I prefer Indica or Sativa. I usually cringe a little and side step the question by saying that doesn’t matter to me, I want to see and smell what you’ve got and then I’ll make my decision.

Sometimes I get irritated and I want to yell, “There is nothing substantial about that question at all!” A few years ago nobody gave a damn whether it was Indica or Sativa. Except for the growers, and now we know we didn’t have the proper understanding of Cannabis species when we spoke about it based on its growth pattern and maturation time.

A couple of weeks ago I was on The Real Dirt Podcast talking to the host, Chip Baker (who also happens to be my husband) about the taxonomy of cannabis and this myth of Indica and Sativa. It was a great episode really going deep into what botanists and ethnobotanists have come to hypothesize about Cannabis. I’m going to go into it a little here, but to hear the juicy details and personal rants, check out the The Taxonomy of Cannabis episode!

The Myth of Indica and Sativa

There is a commonly held belief that Indica are short, stout, broad leaf plants that are physically sedating or relaxing and Sativa are tall, narrow leaf plants that are invigorating and uplifting when ingested. There is actually no truth to this belief, but it continues to be perpetuated online and in dispensaries throughout the world. The (present) reality is that the myriad of cultivars that we smoke/ingest are all Indica.

After years of rigorous research from botanists and ethnobotanists, there are still different theories regarding the evolution of cannabis taxonomy, but what is widely accepted by most is that it is C. indica is the vast majority of biotypes in North America and that C. sativa includes only European hemp. In Robert C. Clarke and Mark Merlin, PhD’s comprehensive text, Cannabis Evolution & Ethnobotany, they discuss the history of cannabis biotypes from several different perspectives, the most plausible being from Karl Hillig, PhD.

CANNABIS BIOTYPES ACCORDING TO HILLIG (2005)

Acronym & Biotype Binomial Early Range Uses
PA-

Putative Ancestor

C. ruderalis Northern

Central Asia

Possible- seed and crude fiber
PHA- Putative

Hemp Ancestor

Unrecognized or Extinct Balkan peninsula

Caucasus Mtns

Possible- seed and crude fiber
NLHA- Narrow leaf

 Hemp Ancestor

C. sativa ssp. spontanea Eastern Europe

Central Asia

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

Drug Ancestor

Unrecognized or Extinct Hengduan Mtns

Yungui Plateau

Possible ritual and medicinal
BLHA- Broad leaf

Hemp Ancestor

Unrecognized or Extinct Eastern Asia Possible seed and crude fiber
BLH- Broad leaf Hemp C. indica ssp. chinensis China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia Seed and textile fiber
NLDA- Narrow leaf

 Drug Ancestor

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

Middle East

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

As you can see from the chart, the only ancestor of C. sativa hails from the Balkan Peninsula. The ancestor of C. sativa ssp. spontanea is a Narrow Leaf Hemp Ancestory from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the modern C. sativa spp. sativa is Narrow Leaf Hemp from Europe. Both the ancestor and the modern C. sativa have been used as seed and crude fiber, not for intoxication/euphoria, as in the case of the Narrow Leaf and Broad Leaf Drug C. indica.

I know this news is hard to accept for some, but we already know that it is the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBC, etc) and the terpenoids (myrcene, pinene, limonene, etc) that elicit the therapeutic, invigorating, sedating, and other affects that are associated with ingestion of cannabis.  Since we know that it is the cannabinoids and terpenoids that produce the favorable (and sometimes adverse) effects, why do we keep saying it is because it is an Indica or Sativa?

It is time we stopped disseminating misinformation and educate ourselves about the true properties of cannabis (or what we know so far). Remember there are well over 100 cannabinoids and we have identified only a handful. We still have a very long way to go before we truly understand what contributes to the therapeutic and euphoric effects of cannabis.

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

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

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

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

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured image: unknown (but thank you!)

The Herb Walk Podcast: Hawthorn Episode

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

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

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

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

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

Full Moon Reflection Tea

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

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

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

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

Full Moon Reflection Tea

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

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

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

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

Free Class on Aromatherapy & Chinese Medicine

So many people are into aromatherapy and essential oils right now. Which is awesome! Along with the enthusiasm, I believe we need more education about when, why and how essential oils should be used (check out my blog post on how much plant material it takes to make a small amount of essential oil).

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.

I’ll see you there!

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Elder Rose Immuni-Tea Recipe

Brrrrrrr…a cold, wet storm has been hovering over Colorado for the last few days. The leaves have turned, and I see the squirrels scurry around preparing for the coming Winter, I have been wearing my scarf and gloves, but for the first time since I moved to Denver, I am not lamenting the coming cold.

I am excited to make more oatmeal congees, where I will add butter and honey, cinnamon, ginger, jujube dates, and citrus peel. I look forward to big pots of beans and stewed roots. I will have early nights of reading by dimmed lights, with a warm cup of herbal tea by my side. Just writing about it makes me want to cuddle up with a good book.

I’ve been drinking a really delicious tea lately and it is perfect for not only warming heart and soul on cold nights, it is also full of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins, which have shown to fight infections and reduce effects of colds and flu. I drink a couple of cups each morning, but you can have up to a quart a day if you so desire.

Elder Rose Immuni-Tea

2 ounces dried Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)

2 ounces dried Citrus peel (Citrus reticulata) organic or unsprayed; I use mandarin or tangerine peels

1/2 ounce dried Red Rose petals (Rosa centifola) organic or unsprayed

1/2 ounce dried Milky Oats (Avena sativa)

1/4 ounce dried Nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) 

Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass jar in a cool, dark location. Use 2-3 tbsp of herbs per 2 cups of tea. Boil water and pour hot water over herbs for 10-20 minutes, cover with lid. Strain herbs and set aside to use one more time (if steeped for less than 20 minutes). Add honey if desired. Sip and feel the herbs nourish and strengthen your body, mind, and spirit.

To find out more about making infusion, watch my Youtube video How To Make An Herbal Infusion, subscribe to my Youtube channel and watch videos on Chinese medicine, Western herbalism, Aromatherapy and more!

With love,

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Jessica Baker, LAc, RH (AHG)

when energy flows, wellness grows

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

Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soak

My feet ached after three nights of dancing to one of my favorite bands, STS9. Two of those nights were at Red Rocks Amphitheater, which boasts 380 stairs to the top. Needless to say, I needed to soak my feet!

I pulled out my resin foot bowl, filled it hot water, threw in flowers, sea salt, and a couple of drops of essential oil, grabbed a book (Educated by Tara Westover- not the best book when trying to relax, but a must read if you haven’t), a joint, a glass of water, and chilled. It was beautiful.

And not something I do often enough. As I sat there feeling the warmth of the salt water and the aroma of the herbs work their magic, I began to breathe long deep breaths of relief. The intensity of the last couple of months moved through me and freed up tension that entangled my muscles and my mind.

After three eclipses, everything retrograde, and moving into production of my essential oil line, I finally felt like myself again. The effects of a little self-love and recognition for the transformations I have gone through are still marinating, but it feels good. Like I will transcend into loving myself for exactly who I am.

I share my Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soothing Soak recipe with you, but I encourage you to choose whichever flowers and herbs you need that day.

Sunday Evening Come Down Foot Soothing Soak 

Handful of Sea Salt (can use Epsom salt)

Handful of dried Organic Rose petals

3 sprigs of fresh Tulsi Basil (from my friend Willow’s yard)

3 sprigs of fresh Garden Sage (from my yard)

6 sprigs of fresh Mints (variety from my yard)

2 drops of Lavender essential oil  

Muddle the herbs and add to footbath (bin, or tub big enough to fit both feet), along with the salt. Fill the bath 1/4-1/2 full with water that has been boiled. Add enough cold water to have your feet rest comfortably. Add essential oil and disperse it in the water. Take a moment of gratitude as you immerse your soles in the warm liquid. Soak your feet for as long as you feel like it. Keep adding hot water (it’s awesome if you have someone boiling water and replenishing it for you, but that could be wishful thinking). After you dry your feet, apply coconut oil liberally. Pour the herbal water into your grass or garden. Give thanks for the nourishment they provide.

If you don’t have a bin or tub large enough to fit both feet, or your body wants it, make this a bath soak instead of a foot soak.

Take care of those souls. And remember to keep on dancing.

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

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Subtle Shifts from Yang to Yin

I can feel the stirring of Autumn on the wind. Although we may still have a few sweltering days left in Denver, there is crispness to the air as the sun sets earlier each day. Like the plants and trees around me, I am beginning to go inward. Usually I don’t want Summer to end, but after two months of stifling heat I need a reprieve. The Yang energy that peaks on Summer Solstice now wanes until Yin overtakes it after Autumn Equinox. The subtle shifts from Yang to Yin is palpable now, the cool evening breeze replacing stifling hot nights.

All around my neighborhood, I see the vibrant flowers begin to fade, as their energy concentrates into seeds that will become next year’s beauty. I notice the same natural cycles are occurring within me, I feel an urge to concentrate and reserve that fiery yang energy of the Summer sun. I want to soak in the last few weeks of sunny, hot weather and eagerly await the relief of Autumn.

Observe what the cycles of nature are reflecting back to you. How has your energy changed since the beginning or middle of the season? What have you harvested from the experiences of the last couple of months?

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows