The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Brigitte Mars

I am thrilled to announce that my new project, The Herb Walk Podcast, is finally ready to air! It has been a year since I started the interviews, but sometimes good things take a while to come to fruition.

On our first episode I interview Brigitte Mars, herbalist, author, professor, and natural chef. In our hour long discussion, we talk about how she became interested in herbalism, her passion for teaching about herbs and nutrition, cannabis, the spiritual use of plants, and so much more!

Brigitte teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University and The School of Health Mastery in Iceland. She has taught at Omega Institute, Esalen, Kripalu, Sivananda Yoga Ashram, Arise, Envision and Unify Festivals, and The Mayo Clinic. She blogs for the Huffington Post and Care2. She is also a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild.

Brigitte is the author of many books and DVDs, including The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing, The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, The Sexual Herbal, Healing Herbal TeasRawsome!,and co-author of The HempNut Cookbook. Her DVDs include Sacred Psychoactive, Herbal Wizardry for Kids of all Ages, Natural Remedies for Childhood Ailments, Overcoming Addictions, and Natural Remedies for Emotional Health. Her latest project is a phone app called iPlant that helps budding herbalists to identify plants in the wild.

Stay tuned for more interviews with other special guests like Mindy Green, Lisa Ganora, and other fabulous herbalists and educators.

Check out The Herb Walk Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play!

I’d love any feedback, suggestions, or requests for those you’d like to hear interviewed. This podcast is meant to inspire, educate, and preserve the science and art of herbalism for generations to come.

With love,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Strong Woman Tea

In preparation for my class at this year’s Red Earth Herbal Gathering (August 19-20 in Longmont, Colorado- tickets still available!) I want to share this nourishing and delicious sun tea to support women’s health and wellbeing. This is one of my go-to teas when I feel fatigued, overwhelmed, or out of balance. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Strong Woman Tea

2 tbsp Red Raspberry leaf

1 tbsp Milky Oat tops

1 tbsp Marshmallow root

1 tsp Vitex seeds

1 tsp Nettle leaf

Place all herbs into a glass quart jar and cover with filtered tap water or spring water. Set in the sun for 4 hours or so. Strain out herbs and drink the tea over the next couple of days. You will feel great!

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

My Adventures in Peru

It’s hard to explain the Amazon rainforest to those that haven’t experienced it. I’ve listened to others tell me all about their trips to Peru and how much they loved the people, the plethora of plants and animals, and none of their explanations could’ve prepared me for how utterly amazing this place is.

IMG_3166My husband Chip and I started it off with a day in Lima, scouring music stores for a Peruvian made guitar and a 10-stringed Andean instrument called a charango. Much to our surprise, we came across a luthier that had both in his shop. My charango is so new I can still smell the varnish on it! On the plane from Lima to Iquitos, the guitar got a little banged up, but it just adds to the story of our Peruvian guitar.

Once we arrived in Iquitos, we met up with our friend Kelly (aka “Sparkles”) that has been coming down to the Amazon for 17 years. After the unfortunate death of the owner of Refugio Altiplano, he was asked if he would be interested in buying it since he had been attending ceremonies there since 2000. Much to his (and our) pleasure, he was able to pull it off and is now the proud custodian/proprietor of a natural medicine-healing center with over 20 years of history of helping people heal.

Refugio Altiplano is over an hours boat ride up the Amazon River on old cattle grazing land surrounded by 1,200 of acres of rainforest preserve. It is a beautiful property with El Centro, a meeting area that includes the kitchen and dining area, several rustic jungle casas, and a maloca where ayahuasca ceremonies are held.

They also have a large medicinal herb garden OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhere they are growing peppers, aloe, and noni, alongside wild sangre de grado (dragon’s blood), una de gato (cat’s claw), chacruna, and ayahuasca. The reverence that Jose, a Mestizo shaman, and the true custodian and guardian of Refugio Altiplano, has for all of these plants is as palatable as the oxygen rich air the rainforest exudes.

It was during the ayahuasca ceremonies that I truly experienced Jose’s love of plant IMG_3248medicine. Once he began to pray and sing the ayahuasca songs, I could feel the sacredness of his words infusing me with love that transcends time and space. Once Daniel, a very humble and powerful Shipibo shaman, begins to sing an icaro to each one of us, I was already deep into the medicine of ayahuasca. An icaro is a song that shamans sing to induce a profound state of healing and awareness. It is unlike anything I have experienced before. Beautiful and deeply, deeply healing.

The river, the people, the shamans, the abundance of medicinal plants, they are now ingrained in my body and in my soul. They are again a part of me, as they always have been, as they always will be.

With love,

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Jessica

A Delicious Herbal Tea Recipe

This is one of the most delicious sun teas I have ever made. It doesn’t take anything more than a few fresh, organic herbs that you can likely find in most natural food stores:

a handful roses (make sure they are not sprayed)

a handful of holy basil leaves

a handful of peppermint leaves

one lavender stalk (no more or will be too strong for my taste)

Place all herbs in a glass, quart jar. You can make this tea with 4 cups of cool, filtered water or you can boil 1 cup of water and add 3 cups of cool, filtered water for a stronger brew. Sit out in the sun while you are at work. Come home, strain off the herbs and enjoy a nice relaxing cup of tea (or two or three).

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Oh, How Time Flies (or 20 years in Cali)

20 years today I moved to California! And my entire life changed. I found herbalism, the redwood forest, and a whole crew of people I still call family two decades later. This is my passionate plea to encourage you to Go Live Your Life. Take chances, make that move, call that guy, whatever it is; Do It!

If I wouldn’t have moved to Humboldt County, I don’t know what my life would be like now. Would I have found a teacher of herbalism that resonated with me like Jane Bothwell? Would I have gone to acupuncture school? Where would I live now and what would I do for a “living”? I don’t know what I would be like, but I do know that I was shaped by my experiences of two decades in California.

I love my life and am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had to travel, explore and find what it is that brings me great joy. I have lived many, many places and I am happy I have found my place. Thank you to the redwoods, the ocean, the herbs, and all the people that have been fundamental for me to call Northern California home.

With love,

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Jessica

 

when energy flows, wellness grows

How to Make Calendula Salve

Last week I shared a recipe on how to make a calendula infused oil. If you’re ready, we can take this oil and make it into a salve. It’s super easy and fun!

Ingredients:

250 ml Calendula or other Herbal Oil

6-8 ounces beeswax

10 drops Essential oil of choice (optional)

Supplies:

Double Boiler

Wooden spoon

Dark, Glass Jars

Essential Oils

Heat oil and beeswax in a Double Boiler on low heat until beeswax is completely melted.

Test the firmness by placing a tablespoon of mixture in the freezer for 1-2 minutes. For a softer salve, add more oil. For a harder salve, add more beeswax.

Remove salve mixture from heat and add 10 drops essential oil. Stir with wooden spoon.

Immediately pour into dark, glass jars. Put on lids after salve has cooled.

Used on dry, irritated skin, bug bites, or scrapes.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Day out of Time

The Day out of Time is the culmination of the 13 Moon Calendar year from the Tzolkin, or Mayan Calendar (13X28=364). The Day out of Time re-aligns humanity into remembering our inherent connection to eternal time, the cosmos, and to nature. It is a day to remember we are all one, to remember our connection runs deeper than borders, gender, or race. We are connected by the earth, by the sun, by the stars, and by the cycles of the moon.

On this Day out of Time I hope you find yourself immersed in nature, looking at the stars with the people you love, and grateful for this awe-inspring world we live in. If you are in your office (it is Tuesday), try to get outside on your lunch break and sit amongst the trees in the park. Give thanks for the life they provide.

Back in my 20’s, Sound Tribe Sector 9 (still one of my favorite bands, and good friends of mine) used to talk about the Tzolkin and other aspects of Mayan culture. One thing that I heard a lot at their shows was, In Lak’ech, a phrase that basically means, I am another you (I am you. You are me). If we lived our lives as if we are one, that you are me, and I am you, maybe there would be less war, less destruction of the earth, less suffering at the expense of the privileged. Maybe we can start on this Day out of Time.

In Lak’ech,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

How to Make Calendula Oil

After all that talk about how I love making herbal medicine I want to share a super easy infused oil recipe with you.

Ingredients:

250 ml Olive, Apricot kernel or Oil of choice

50-125 grams Dried Calendula flowers (100-300 grams Fresh)

Supplies:

Double Boiler

Wooden spoon

Glass Bowl

Cheesecloth

Dark, Glass Bottles

Put Calendula flowers and Apricot Kernel Oil in the Double Boiler and heat on low for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Pour the mixture through a cheesecloth into a bowl or large mouth jar.

Press excess oil out with a wooden spoon

Pour oil into dark, glass bottles and store in a cool, dark place 

Apply oil to dry, irritated skin or add a spoonful (or two) to a warm bath for smooth, silky skin.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

My Love of Herbal Medicine Making

I love it when my clients say that they make their own medicine or grown their own herbs. I firmly believe that our strongest medicines are the ones we make ourselves. Don’t get me wrong. Part of my business relies on sales of formulas I make and sell, but I am almost giddy when I her that a client wants to make her own tea, tincture, or salve.

I know the strongest medicine is what you make yourself. It’s also not something everyone can or wants to do. It gives me great joy to formulate for people, infuse my magic and love into their blends, and then give them with confidence that the herbs are going to have a profound impact on their lives.

Working with plants has completely changed my life. I am so grateful for their teachings, for their wisdom, for the life they provide us all. I am honored to be a voice for the medicinal herbs, for the wildflowers, and for the trees. There are many online herb schools to choose from. I encourage you to deepen your connection with plants; your life will be forever enriched.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Take Time Out For Beauty

Growing up in the south, I am used to hot summer days. What is new to me is the dryness that accompanies the heat in Colorado. In some ways it makes the heat more bearable and you sweat less, but it is not the appropriate climate for my constitution. Since I have moved to Colorado my skin is dry and reactive in a way I have never experienced. Splotchy red in some places, pimples in another, and underlying it all, the feeling that no matter how much serum or moisturizer I apply my skin doesn’t look or feel hydrated.

Thankfully one of my besties Diane Avitable, has created a botanical Restore & Repair Processed with VSCO with f2 presetFacial Oil through her company, Take Time Out for Beauty. Not only does it smell delicious, with her combination of jasmine and rose, but also for the first time in a year, I wake up with my skin hydrated and glowing! I love it!

I know her facia oil works so well because Diane makes a rich base of botanical oils, the only way your skin can be truly nourished and healed. Restore & Repair is lightweight, bio available, and easily absorbed by the skin. Her facial oil is designed to repair the protective barrier layer of the skin. It calms and soothes irritation, balances natural oil production, nourishes and restores from the inside out! To make it even more amazing, Repair & Restore fights free radical damage, countering the signs of aging, illuminating and enhancing your skins natural glow.

Check out Take Time Out for Beauty and all Diane has to offer! I personally love her Instagram account, follow her today!

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

How to Sustainably Harvest Herbs

Everywhere I’ve traveled our wild herbs s are going off! One of my favorite things to do is to go wildcrafting my own medicine. With popularity of herbs on the rise I have had to curb my natural instinct to harvest medicine because now I don’t know how many others are also going to pick from that spot.

It’s funny how things change. When I first started taking herbal classes in the late 1990’s emphasis was put on wildcrafting and harvesting your own herbs. I was even taught that wild plants had the strongest medicine. Now with all the over harvesting of many of our herbs (ginseng only being one of them), herb teachers talk more about organically growing your own herbs or buying from small organic herb farmers.

We should be growing our own herbs (and food), but I am a little saddened by not having the freedom to harvest in the wild as I once did. For the future of our herbal allies, this is what we must do.

If you still want to harvest a little, here are general guidelines:

Always ask the plant permission first- and then Listen to the answer.

If permission is given, take less than 1% of what is growing.

For herbs where once we used mostly the root, try the leaves and stems too. Instead of killing the plant, you may just find some potent medicine in arial parts of the plant.

Always give a prayer, gift or blessing to the plant for the medicine they provide.

Please do your part to keep herbalism alive and viable for future generations.

With love,

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Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Lemon Balm Lemonade Recipe

July is hot here in Denver and there’s nothing like a refreshing glass of iced cold lemonade. I know, I know. As an acupuncturist I shouldn’t encourage drinking iced beverages, but I am making an exception for this cooling and medicinal lemonade!

Lemon Balm Lemonade (aka: Melissa’s Lemonade)

Handful of fresh lemon balm

6 lemons

1/2 cup honey (more if desired)

1 cup boiling water

3 cups spring water

Ice

Scrub lemons, peel the rind thinly avoiding the white; set aside.

Place the lemon rind, lemon balm leaves and the honey into a small heat-proof pitcher.  Pour the boiling water into the pitcher and stir well, crushing the lemon balm leaves to release their flavor.  Let steep 15 minutes.

Cut lemons in half and squeeze out the juice.  Strain juice into pitcher, add a few fresh sprigs of lemon balm, then add the cooled, strained syrup.  Top with water and ice. Take a long drink and enjoy!

With love,

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Jessica

 

when energy flows, wellness grows

This Land is Your Land

On this day I always sing Woody Guthrie’s infamous song, “This Land is Your Land.” Like the balladeers of yesteryear, I have lived in various parts of our beautiful country and  I am also not patriotic to our country. I am grateful to be “American” because I do understand my privilege. That privilege gives me the opportunity to see the world a little differently.

Every 4th of July I honor the land that has given so much to all of us. I remember the people that were slaughtered and disenfranchised with the colonization of America. I remember that their ancestors are still here, marginalized and still fighting for sovereignty. I remember that we are all dependent on this land, not only for our so-called freedom, but also for our lives. It is Mother Nature that ultimately provides.

Today while you are at the river or the lake, drinking cheap beer and eating hot dogs, take a minute and look at the lake. Really look at the lake, smell the water, feel the wind blowing through the trees, witness the life of the fish you just caught. Give thanks for all the life that surrounds you. Give thanks for all the life they provide.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

The Future is in Your Presence

I’ve heard countless people say they can’t wait for 2016 to be over. The deaths of so many legends (too numerous to name, but I will have a blog honoring those I hold dear) and the astonishingly eye-opening presidential race, left us all a little worse for wear. Disillusioned, we are all looking towards 2017 with anticipation, reluctance, and a lot of wishful thinking.

If we expect 2017 to be better than this year, we have got to become active members of our community. No amount of blogging, signing petitions or reposting on Facebook is going to be enough. The only thing that is going to heal this world is to re-connect personally with those in our everyday lives. It’s easy to engage with someone via social media, where you can get dressed, make coffee and hit the like button all at the same time. This shallow attempt at connection is inadequate at a time when we really need each other. I encourage you take the time to sit down with someone, look them in the eye and say with truth and conviction, “I see you, I honor you, I’m here for you.”

I have to transform the intense anger I’ve been harboring about the political and group-healingenvironmental future into something positive. I’ve decided to direct my fear and anguish into community action. As soon as I find a space in my 5 Points neighborhood I am going to host free herb classes on healing trauma. I feel a strong need to heal my own wounds through sharing my love of herbalism and Chinese medicine.  In time I hope I  can also include free community acupuncture to those that need it most. I haven’t had the opportunity to offer community acupuncture clinics since I moved to Denver and I miss it!

Words cannot describe the energy of  group healing. It will be an honor to share this space with all of you. It will be an offering of peaceful transformation, where fear can turn into strength and anger into compassion. A place where we make the world better one person at a time.

May the last few days of 2016 be full of peace and rest, so that 2017 may be one of compassionate action.

With love,

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Jessica

Photo credit: Facebook

Citrus & Cinnamon Cider

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Citrus & Cinnamon Cider

1 pint organic apple juice

2 3″ pieces of orange peel

2 pieces of star anise

1-2 cinnamon sticks

handful of hawthorn berries

Optional: splash of Cognac in your mug

Pour apple juice into a large saucepan. Add herbs and spices to juice and simmer on low-medium heat for 30 minutes. Strain out herbs and set aside. Sip 6 ounces of warm cider for pleasure or after a heavy meal to help promote digestion. Add 1/2 ounce cognac or brandy if desired.

Winter Solstice Anointing Oil

Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. It is celebrated as the turning of the wheel and the return of the Sun. We are in rhythm with these holy days and we feel our own energy slowly begin to rise as our yang energy increases with the sun.

This essential oil blend honors the holy season of spiritual rebirth with Frankincense, Myrrh and Hemp and celebrates the return of the sun with Saint John’s Wort. It is divine!

Winter Solstice Blendfrankincense-essential-oil

1 ounce Apricot Kernel Oil

3 drops Frankincense essential oil

3 drops Myrrh essential oil

2 drops Hemp essential oil

2 drops St. John’s Wort essential oil

Add essential oils to Apricot kernel oil, one at a time, blending completely between each addition. Pour into a 1 ounce roll-on bottle. Anoint yourself and your loved ones on the top of the head, temples, chest, and lower back.

Invoke the energy of the sun and give thanks for the warmth, light and life it provides.

With love,

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Jessica

Photo credit: Organic Facts

CBD is now a Schedule 1 Drug

It’s a pity that the DEA can’t see beyond their bias and continue to publicly deny the therapeutic value of cannabis. To further their renunciation of cannabis they have had to demonize a cannabinoid dubbed CBD, a THC antagonist (meaning reducing the psychoactive effect of THC), which has helped reduce the suffering of countless people with seizures, pain, cancer, and countless other conditions.

The newest research on cannabinoids is astoundingly positive if you consider neuro-protection, antagonizing tumor necrosis, and reduction of pain without life debilitating addiction a benefit to the medical community. The U.S. Health and Human Services even has a patent on the antioxidant and neuro-protective properties of cannabinoids. The mounting evidence in support of CBD has not stopped the current administration from declaring CBD (cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid present in cannabis) a Schedule I drug.

This decision is right on the heels of entrepreneurs and big business investing heavily in CBD oil and crystalline extract. The ability to sell CBD products online and beyond state borders without restriction seemed an easy way to get into the green rush, without the stigma or taxation of the cannabis industry. The specific scheduling of CBD (cannabis was already Schedule 1), gives no grey area as to whether or not CBD extracts are legal to sell. It appears they have established that CBD products are indeed Schedule 1. This is disappointing and is just another attempt to control the spread and acceptance of legal cannabis.

As a practitioner I am appalled that our government continues to add to the needless suffering of its citizens. As an herbalist I am concerned for what this means for all plant medicine. Making plants and their constituents illegal takes away our right to treat and prevent illness as we see fit. It is our right to have access to herbal medicine. The prohibition of one constituent makes it all too easy to prohibit another.With the recent designation of  hemp and CBD it is even more important that we dutifully educate ourselves on the benefits and application of cannabis.

wcn-jessicabaker-module7-promoI am on the faculty of the Holistic Cannabis Academy and am incredibly impressed with their program. With two tracks- one for practitioners and one for the canna-curious, they provide a high level of education and turn-key solutions for counselors and health providers with modules on business-building and marketing. Their faculty includes prestigious researchers and clinicians like Roy Upton, Ethan Russo, Jonathan Treasure, and Laura Lagano.

Empower yourself and your community by becoming a Holistic Medical Cannabis Counselor or Holistic Medical Cannabis Practitioner through the Holistic Cannabis Academy!

With love,

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Jessica

Photo credit: Vote Hemp

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

An Essential Oil Blend to Ease Your Allergies & Asthma Symptoms

Feeling the fall allergies? They’re pretty bad here in Colorado, and many people with fall allergies also have asthma.

Common allergens like pollen can flare an asthma attack in many of these people. Use this oil blend to either roll on your chest or to inhale as needed to help prevent or stop a mild asthma attack.

Recipe: Deeply Breathe

Ingredients:
1-ounce lavender-infused apricot kernel oil
3 drops neroli essential oil (reduces shock and anxiety)
3 drops frankincense essential oil (stops wheezing, calms spirit)
2 drops ylang-ylang essential oil (arouses kidney to grasp lung qi)

As always, use only sustainably harvested and/or organic essential oils.

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