Conifer Foot Bath Recipe

As I sit among the plethora of trees and other plants in the Amazon jungle I think of how grateful I am for the life I live because of them. As much as I love all trees, there is a special place in my heart for conifers like pine and redwood.

This recipe is inspired by the Tree Walk I took with Deb Soule and Kate Gilday at the International Herb Symposium and for my love of our life giving conifers. Thank you Deb and Kate for your gentle wisdom.

Take a walk through your favorite grove of conifers and breathe deeply, giving thanks for the life they have provided for millions of years. Look down and see if there are any offerings of small branches with fresh green needles on them. If so, gently pick them up and bring a small bundle back to your house. Put the branches in a large pot and cover with water. Put lid on pot and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn down heat and take out one cup of tea for yourself. Cover again and simmer for 20 minutes. Take out another cup of tea for yourself.

Once the water is warm enough to use as a footbath, pour water (with or without branches) into a small tub. Soak your feet for 5-10 minutes, allowing the strength of the trees to come up through your roots, helping you stand tall and true in your convictions. Breathe and give thanks.

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Energetics of Dandelion

Spring has arrived in Denver with sunshine, wind, and even a little rain. I am in no denial that we can have more snowstorms, but I am excited to see all the new growth popping up everywhere.

The dandelions are back! The bright yellow flowers are reaching for the sun, while that taproot is digging deep into the earth, defying those grubby hands that want to pull it out. I haven’t seen any bees yet, but I’m sure they’re waking from their slumber and will be buzzing around soon. They love dandelion like herbalists do.

Instead of thinking of dandelion as a noxious weed, think of it as one of the first foods that spring has to offer. The umbrella of yellow a reflection of the long, warm days ahead.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Western Energetics:

leaf, flower- bitter, salty, cool

root- bitter, cool

 Chinese Energetics:

entire plant- bitter, sweet, cold

Therapeutic Actions:

Clears heat and toxicity from the blood

Reduces nodules and sores

Promotes urination

Reduces congestion of bile

Promotes lactation

Vitamins:

A, C, E, K, B1, B2, B6

Minerals:

Calcium, Magnesium, Folate, Iron, Potassium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Copper

Fiber:

Contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that enhances the production of healthy gut bacteria

 Dandelion greens and flowers are a delicious addition to your salads, soups, and steamed veggies. May you see dandelion in a more appreciative light!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Spring Equinox Brings Balance

Today is the Spring Equinox, an auspicious day when the opposing energies of yin and yang are in balance. On Equinox (Spring & Vernal) the dynamic relationship of yin and yang is synchronized and we may feel this Universal balance within us as well.

If you feel out of sorts or are having a difficult day, it could be a reflection of the imbalances within your life. It could be health, finances or relationships- how are these things showing up for you.

Reflect on what it is you need to do (or not to do) to bring yourself into harmony with the natural rhythms of the inner and outer Cosmos. As always what is happening in one is happening in the other.

One of my favorite herbal combinations for bringing a sense of harmony to yin yang is Calendula officinalis (golden like the sun) and Artemisia vulgaris (herba de la luna). Artemisia is bitter and can be intense if steeped too long, but I love to make a solar/lunar infusion with cool spring water. The herbs infuse with the energies of the sun (yang) and the moon (yin) and I feel this deeply as I drink it throughout the week.

Happy Equinox!

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

Bitter Herbs to the Rescue

Feeling a bit better today now that I’ve had a couple of days away from holiday treats. I haven’t felt the bloating and indigestion that can accompany eating gluten, dairy, sugar and other irritants. I credit my healthy digestion to Digestive Bitters. I’ve been taking Bitters for almost fifteen years, and now they are all the rage (with good reason!) Many of our digestive issues could benefit from taking Bitters before meals as a way to stimulate digestion, transform nutrients, and maintain the integrity of cellular membranes.

Digestive Bitters

1 gram organic dried Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) root

1 gram organic dried Gentian (Gentiiana lute)a root

1 gram organic dried Tangerine (Citrus reticulata) peel

1 gram organic dried Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) seeds

1 inch slice of organic fresh Ginger (Zingiber officinale) root

Add all ingredients to 8 ounces of Organic Vodka. Cover with lid and store in dark, cool location. Shake daily for 2-4 weeks. Strain out herbs and store liquid in dark colored, glass container. Take 8-10 drops of tincture before each meal to prevent indigestion or after meals to reduce gas and bloating.

I’d love to hear how this recipe worked for you!

For the love of plants,

 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Jane Bothwell

I wasn’t going to release another podcast episode until next year and then I thought you might want one to listen to on your holiday travels! In this episode I speak with my very first herb teacher, Jane Bothwell.

We discuss her annual medicinal cannabis conference and her many herbal offerings in northern California and around the globe (she is taking small groups to Hawaii and Greece in 2018). Jane’s herb school, Dandelion Herbal Center, is nestled in the redwoods in beautiful and remote Humboldt County, California. An ideal location to connect with the spirit of plants! Through her Festival of Herbs series, she invites herbalists like Rosemary Gladstar, Pam Montgomery, Christopher Hobbs and others from across the U.S. to visit and share their wisdom to the herbal community. She is a gift to us all and I am so happy to share a little of her story with you!

Enjoy this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast and Subscribe today to catch up on all of Season 1 and find out when Season 2 is released next year!

Aromatic Spices for the Holy Days

‘Tis the season for warming carminative spices! We all associate cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves with pumpkin pie, hot apple cider, and holiday cookies, but they are also some of our most important herbal medicines. The exoticness of their fragrances has fueled their trade and popularity for centuries, making them now common spices in kitchens around the world. Spices, like other herbs, have distinct medicinal properties and have been present in cooking since time immemorial. It is ingrained in our nature to add spices to our food. All of our traditions reflect this connection to food as medicine, whether we celebrate Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa.

Aromatic Medicine for the Holy Days:

Cinnamon/Rou Gui (Cinnamomum cassia)- Spicy, sweet and hot; Chinese cinnamon bark is used to strengthen mingmen fire (gate of life), making it excellent for treating internal coldness that causes abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea

Cloves/ Ding Xiang (Syzygium aromaticum): Spicy and warm; cloves are a key herb for warming digestion and treating abdominal fullness, vomiting, nausea, and hiccups

Star Anise/Da Hui Xiang (Illicium verum): Spicy, sweet, and warm; star anise is wonderful for treating cold digestion that causes abdominal pain with bloating, vomiting, and nausea

I look forward to hearing about (and tasting) how you incorporate spices into your holy day dishes!

For the love of plants,

 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Image credit © Adam Ward

Find (& Spread) Peace and Harmony

I just spent five days at the Pacific Symposium at the Catamaran Resort in San Diego. The Pacific Symposium brings Chinese medicine scholars from all over the world together to share their love of this ancient medicine.

As always, I come back full of enthusiasm and reverence for this life I have chosen. I am reminded that we are dynamic energetic beings that are deeply connected to all life in the universe. We are of one source of energy or qi, navigating time, space, and matter as best we can.

We are also broken people. On a constant quest for self, we have forgotten our innate connection to everything else. Chinese medicine reminds me that we are wood, earth, fire, water, and metal. We cycle with the planets, moon, and tide. We cycle together, in rhythm and harmony.

It is evident that we are out of rhythm, out of sync with this universal energy. We all feel it and it is manifesting in the extreme violence, fear, and sadness that is pervading our society. It is overwhelming. Thankfully we have a multitude of tools to help bring us back into balance.

Breathe– the most obvious and for me sometimes the hardest

I hold my breath all the time. Throughout the day when I begin to feel tired, anxious or fearful I notice I am holding my breath. Check in with yourself and see if you too are holding your breath.

Practice Gratitude– not for what you have, but for what nature provides

I find that when I have gratitude for air for breath, trees and plants for food, medicine, shelter, and clothing, and water for all of life, it brings me a sense of peaceful wholeness. Breathe and notice what you are grateful for.

Take your Herbs– food is medicine

I have had subtle and profound changes in my life from taking herbs. I sip a cup of warm chamomile tea after dinner and I begin to relax. I add a pinch of cinnamon and ginger to my morning oatmeal and I am warmed by their presence. From basil in our pesto to pepper on our eggs, herbs have been an integral part of our daily lives.

Keep it Simple– life is easier than we make it

Breathe, say thanks, and remember our plant medicine. If you practice these three things I promise life will be a little easier. I’m not saying it is going to solve all the world’s problems, but it will make your day a little better. Remember when we are more balanced, we will be less aggressive, afraid, or apathetic. Sometimes that is all we can do for the world.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Time to Move On

As we all process our emotions from the traumatic events of the last few weeks I am reminded of how much we really need our plant medicine. As devastating as hurricanes and mass shootings are (and the loss of Tom Petty- RIP), it is the devastation we are inflicting on our planet that I mourn most of all.

Everyday I participate in practices that only benefit myself and my own selfish desires. Hummus in a plastic container is more convenient that making my own. I use oils that are shipped from Asia so I can make herbal infusions.  I love the freedom of traveling the world to experience other cultures and see their local plants. I will continue to willingly be a part of the problem as long as petroleum is our main source of fuel. There are a million other ways I am part of the problem. This blog isn’t about how guilty I should feel for being a “bad person.” It is a call to action to participate in healing humanity from the societal sickness that is causing the degradation of the planet and the destruction of our spirits.

Humans have this fucked up idea that we are the “top of the food chain.” Christianity has done a great job in perpetuating this falsehood. It’s time to recognize the lies we have been fed to justify our egotistical destructive behavior. It is not our right to treat all other life forms as they are here for our sustenance and pleasure. I have even seen this belief transfer over to herbalism and aromatherapy, where most people truly love our plant allies.

Plants are not solely here for our physical and spiritual health. Yes plants like to help us, but they were not put here just for you to harvest for your tea or salve. Medicinal plants are not alive to serve us. Plants are sentient beings that were part of this Earth eons before mammals evolved. Humans have a very small concept of space, time, and life on Earth. If we expect to thrive on this planet for millennia to come we have to start thinking bigger. Much, much bigger!

Our psyches can’t take the trauma we experience and watch, every day. The internet makes us aware of all the killings, famine, racism, genocide, misogyny, and natural disasters in real time. This is too hard for us to assimilate, affecting everything from our digestion to our mental health. Our societies are not set up for people to grow emotionally, spiritually or mentally. The industrial revolution set up a system to condition us to be indoors (work in a factory, go to school).  We did not evolve indoors. We are not meant to work all day to perpetuate a society that only survives by harming all life on Earth. People are breaking. The paradigm has to shift. We have to get back to what we truly know is important. We have to integrate back into a simple way of living. We have to get back to the land.

I’ve found the best way to acknowledge and process what I’m feeling is to be out in nature. Just walking among the forest or sitting by the ocean reminds me that humans are just a small part of all the other life in this universe. I see myself as part of the miracle of life. I feel the significance of my own being and my connection to everything around me.

When you are feeling sad, fearful or disempowered, I encourage you to get out in nature and take a few minutes to just sit and listen. Inhale deeply and let in the energy of all life around you. Let the breath of the Earth infuse you with a vitality lighter than grief, brighter than sorrow. Exhale and cry, scream, kick and run for yourself and your fellow woman. Weep for Mother Earth and the extinctions we have witnessed. And then listen to the whispers brought to you by the wind in the trees. Hear the songs of the plants, the birds, and the bees. What is being said? 

What do you hear stirring within you? 

For the love of plants, 

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Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows