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

The Herb Walk Podcast: Metal Element Episode

Season 2 of The Herb Walk Podcast with Jessica Baker is finally here!!  

Happy Samhain/Halloween! I am happy to announce the release of Season on one of my favorite holy days, Samhain! Known as Witches’ New Year, Samhain is the end of summer for the Celtic traditions. An auspicious day to release my new season!

In this first episode I introduce the 5 Elements of Chinese Medicine and discuss the Metal Element, the element that is associated with Autumn.

This season I’ll read from my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine, discuss Chinese herbal energetics, and interview amazing people like Rachael Carlevale of Ganjasana, Kelly Green of Refugio Altiplano, Nicole Gagliano of Wild & Wise Herbal CSA, and much more!!

Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher and never miss an episode!

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Steamed Spring Greens Recipe

Spring has always been one of my favorite times of year. I yearn for longer days and I thrive when the sun is out! Although it snowed in Denver this week, I can still feel spring stirring in the air. The tulips are blooming and buds are beginning to form on the trees that line the streets. I even saw my first squirrel scampering through the alley. We are all feeling the regeneration that comes along with spring.

In Chinese medicine, spring is associated with the Wood element. The organ systems of the Wood element are liver and gallbladder, which is one reason people like to do liver cleanses in springtime. The energy is generating- as we see the creation of life that begins as plants sprout and grow. The color is green, another obvious sign of spring, the taste is sour, and the emotions that may come up for us are compassion (when Wood is in balance) or anger and frustration (when Wood is out of balance).

When someone is angry or frustrated we say that the liver qi (energy) is stagnant. We can promote movement of liver qi by exercise, meditation (especially moving meditation like qi gong or yoga), eating foods that are easy to digest, and ingesting herbs that are appropriate for your constitution.

One easy way to help move liver qi after a long, cold winter is to eat the tender greens of the herbs that are sprouting around you. Here’s a simple recipe that your liver will love!

Steamed Spring Greens

Gather a handful of leaves of dandelion, plantain, violet, miner’s lettuce, yarrow, and any other edible leaves that grow where you live. Add the leaves to a handful of your favorite store bought greens- kale, chard, collard, etc.

Lightly steam the store bought and harvested greens until they just get soft. Pour 1 tablespoon of vinegar over the greens. Eat and enjoy!

Make sure the greens you harvest aren’t growing in an area that is sprayed with pesticides-many people love to spray our precious dandelion, as if it’s nothing but a noxious weed!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

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

 

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

Lovin’ those Evergreen Foot Baths

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 water is boiling, turn down heat and take out one cup of tea for yourself and slowly sip. 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 while drinking the tea. Allow the strength of the trees to come up through your roots, helping you to stand tall and true in your convictions. Breathe and give thanks.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Aromatic Wood Element Blend

Spring seems to be in full swing here in Denver, with the days getting up in the 70’s and the nights still dipping into the 30’s. I Love this time of year! I feel the renewed spirit of the Earth, as the longer days warm me deep within my core.

For others, Spring starts getting that Yang rising! Irritability, frustration, lack of focus and burn out can already be starting for those with a Wood element/phase imbalance.

This blend really helps me when I feel tension building in my neck and shoulders or I find it hard to take a deep breath in moments of impatience, anger or worry. As always use organic and/or ethically wild harvested herbs and essential oils.

Let It Flow Blend

3 drops Chamomile essential oil (Tanacetum is great to use too, and way less expensive)

3 drops St. Johns Wort essential oil

3 drops Myrrh essential oil 

3 drops Conifer essential oil (Pinyon pine, Douglas Fir, your choice!)

Add all essential oils (play around with what you blend first- it will give insight into the alchemy of plants as you notice the change in aroma depending on what gets added together first- use the blend even if you don’t Love the smell, these concentrated plant medicines are not to be wasted) to 1 ounces of Carrier Oil like Olive Oil, Apricot kernel or your oil of choice. I like to put my blends in roll-on bottles, that way I can carry with me and use easily anywhere I am. 

I’d love to hear how your blending goes!

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica 

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

 

Eating with the Seasons

As Spring approaches next week, it’s time to start our transition from eating the heavier root vegetables of Winter to eating our fresh Spring greens like dandelion and chickweed. To help guide you into eating with the seasons, I’ve included the tastes that correspond with each season.

Spring (Sour): Cleanse the liver with steamed bitter greens, lemon water and fresh fruit and
vegetable juice. Eat sour foods like balsamic vinegar, sourkraut, and kimchi. Help regenerate liver cells with milk thistle seed. Drink herbal teas with burdock root, dandelion flowers/greens and chrysanthemum blossoms. Begin to prepare the body for the long hot summer ahead by cooling the body down and eating less spicy food.

Summer (Bitter): Eat from the farmer’s market!! Eat cucumbers, green beans, and drink fresh watermelon juice to cool yourself from the summer heat (this is optimistic for our coastal summer!) and over stimulation of the long fun days of summer. Stay hydrated and spruce up your water with fresh mint leaves instead of ice cubes.

Late Summer-0r 18 days between each season (Sweet): Mentioned because this is the season associated with the Earth element in 5 Element theory. It is the time to nourish yourself from all the expansion of summer and begin to draw your energy back inward. This is the time for yellow summer squash, corn, yams and other sweet foods that nourish Earth.

Autumn (Spicy): Add a little spice to your life with green onion, ginger and other invigorating herbs to help fight off anything that might be going around. Drink warm broths with astragalus root, oyster and shiitake mushrooms and fresh ginger.

Winter (Salty): Eat root vegetables like carrot, beet, parsnip in hearty soups and stews. Drink warm tea with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and milk. Stay warm and nourished. Try to avoid too much sugar and caffeine in a time when we should be restorative and quiet.

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

5 Element Recipe post

 

Chinese medicine is rooted in the knowledge that humans are cosmic beings of this Earth that are intricately connected to the rhythms of nature.

Use this blend when you need balance, clarity or harmony in your life.

Elemental Essences

Fire (Summer)- 3 drops St. John’s Wort essential oil

Earth (Center)- 2 drops Mandarin essential oil

Metal (Autumn)- 2 drops Himalayan Mint essential oil

Water (Winter)- 3 drops Pink Lotus absolute

Wood (Spring)- 2 drops Douglas Fir essential oil

Add all essential oils to a carrier oil (olive, apricot kernel, coconut) and put in a 1 ounce glass bottle. Apply the oil to your heart, head or low back when feeling fatigued, overwhelmed or out of sorts.

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows