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

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

The Ugly Truth about Essential Oils

It astonishes me how many essential oil companies encourage excessive use of essential oils. These companies are well aware of how much plant matter it takes to make an essential oil, still they promote undiluted use and harmful large doses (yes, one drop of some essential oils can be a large dose).

The amount of plants needed depends on what plant is being used. The amount of oil that is extracted from each batch will fluctuate due to many factors such as temperature and climate, interaction with insects, soil health, fertilizer use, and other natural and human influences.

Since Lavender (Lavandula angustofolia) is so popular and Rose (Rosa damascena) so expensive and exotic, I will use them as our examples.  

Plant Part Needed to make an Essential Oil

Approximate Flowers Needed for a Pound of Essential Oil

 

Approximate Flowers Needed for 30 ml (1 fl. oz) of Essential Oil Approximate Flowers Needed for a Drop of Essential Oil

Lavender flowers

250 pounds 6 pounds

6 stalks

Roses 10,000 pounds 630 pounds

50 roses

References: Crop Watch, Mountain Rose Herbs

As you can see, there is a dramatic difference between how much plant matter it takes to make an ounce of essential oil. What is evident is that it takes A LOT of material to make a small amount of essential oil.

That is why I am so concerned when I hear companies tell people to use essential oils for everything from anxiety to digestive issues.  With the knowledge of how many plants it takes to make even an ounce of essential oils, it is obvious that our current use of essential oils is not sustainable. Why use a highly concentrated essential oil, when inhaling a single flower or drinking a simple cup of herbal tea will do the trick.

If we want the variety of essential oils we enjoy to be available in the future, we should not be using essential oils undiluted, we definitely should not be using them in the irreverent way they are being used now, and we shouldn’t purchase oils from companies that don’t care about sustainability. The greedy practices of MLM companies like Young Living and doTerra, which promote inappropriate and excessive use of essential oils, do not care how their business practices perpetuate habitat extinction and ecological instability across the globe.  All they care about is making more and more money off of destroying our precious plant species.

A prime example is how last year Young Living was sentenced for violating the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act for the illegal trafficking of Rosewood (Aniba roseaodora) essential oil. This is a serious crime, as Aniba roseadora is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Sure Young Living was fined $760,000 for their offense, but the Justice Department calculates the market value of Rosewood essential oil they sold to be between $3.5-$9 million. Young Living made a pretty penny off their crime as they contributed to the decimation of one of our many endangered species. Way to go! Not really the values of a company I want to support.

In my 5 Element Essential Oil Blends I use the least amount of essential oil possible to elicit the aromatic properties I want in each of my 5 Element creations. I think it is extremely important to educate people on the importance of conservative use of our plant medicines. The enthusiasm for these precious oils is potent, and I know you want to use these precious oils. It is absolutely imperative, we use them wisely. If you want to learn more more about aromatherapy and on how to properly dilute essential oils, watch my video on Dilution & Frequency of Essential Oils

We have to use our dollars wisely and hold companies (and each other) accountable for our actions, or I fear there won’t be many plant species for our future generations. It will take all of us doing our part. I’m glad we’re on this journey together.  

To hear more about aromatherapy, herbalism, and Chinese medicine subscribe to my Youtube channel (new videos coming soon!) and my podcast, The Herb Walk with Jessica Baker.

With love (and hope),

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Jessica Baker, LAc, RH (AHG)

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

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We Are a Circle Within a Circle

I am still beaming from my weekend at the Red Earth Herbal Gathering. It will be hard to explain the myriad of emotions I felt as opened myself to gathering with women with the intention for ritual and healing, but I will try. I will describe my experiences if not for personal catharsis, then to entice you to join us next year.

I arrived at Peaceful Meadows Retreat early on Friday morning because I was in charge

wellness tent red earth 2018
Me and Jax holding it down at Wellness

of the Wellness tent and needed to set up before attendees came. I was given a shaded area near Registration and right beside the Kid Village. As I unpacked my supplies, I could feel the relaxed, joyful energy of the land and it infused me instantly. I knew deep healing would take place in this sacred place.

As women and children arrived and registered, the Sacred Gateway opened and we were all smudged and cleared with floral water as entered the doorway. Once inside, we burnt our worries and fears and wrote our intentions on fabric to link together with other peoples dreams and wishes. At the end of the entryway, we were greeted by women who offered us henna tattoos, card readings, and aromatic spritzers and elixirs. By the time I made it through the gateway I felt elated and rooted simultaneously. I glided to my campsite on the far edge of the large pond and watched geese take off and land.

Opening Circle was Saturday morning in the meadow near the Red Tent and the Womb Room. Teachers, volunteers, and sponsors were introduced so I spoke about my class, Rooted in Integrity: Working with Essential Oils and the free services we were offering at the Wellness tent. Besides basic first-aid, we had tinctures and elixirs for menstrual cramps, allergies, coughs, and emotional support. I offered tuning fork treatments for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, which was well received by recipients and so healing and fun for me.

I was only able to catch part of the keynote speaker, Lorene Wapotich, on Friday night. Her talk on creating sacred space and ritual resonated with us all. Because of Wellness duties, teaching, and relaxing by the pond with my friend Willow (and her 3-year old daughter Athena), I only attended a couple of classes the entire weekend. Saturday morning I chose to listen to Ann Drucker teach on Maya Spiritual Healing with Plants. I experienced her teachings last year at Red Earth, so I knew I wanted to be in her presence again. As I had hoped, we gave each other limpias, plant brushings and plant baths. We called in the Maya spirits with plants and chocolate, prayed over each other, and laughed and cried all our cares away.

Saturday night Shaela Noella led a song circle around the campfire. One by one women went around the fire and sang whatever they desired. Bethy Love Light, conscious hip hop artist, performed some songs and many women led songs that were call and response or sing-along. All were beautifully performed. I am still in awe of all the talent by the fire that night. When it was my turn I gathered the courage to sing a song I wrote earlier this summer. It is to the tune of Let It Be and is my devotional to Mother Nature. It felt good (and scary) to stand and sing in front of friends and strangers.

Before I taught my essential oil class on Sunday morning, I attended the Green Tent, an offering from Rachael Carlevale of Ganjasana. The Green Tent is a combination of of yoga, ganja, and ceremony. Rachael is wonderful and her class was the perfect way to start the day.

For my class I chose to teach about how important it is to use essential oils sparingly and reverently. Most of the women in the class didn’t know about sandalwood being harvested to extinction or how much plant material it takes to make very little essential oil (roses are an extreme example, but it takes 20-50 rosesto make 1 drop of rose essential oil!)

I always teach that herbal teas, oils, and tinctures should be the first line of defense, and

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Me teaching about essential oils and aromatherapy

then use essential oils when stronger medicine is needed. Essential oils should not be used for every scrape and ailment, not only because of developing oversensitivity to the oils, but because the planet’s resources cannot sustain the current trend of essential oil use. I encourage students that use essential oils for aromatherapy massage to dilute essential oils in carrier oil before applying to the skin. To ensure that essential oils from plants like cedar wood, sandalwood, and even lavender, are around for future generations, we must dilute our essential oils and cease the practice of “neat” application. The students in the class were thankful for educating them about the environmental impacts of large-scale essential oil production and they left class with alternatives for essential oils when working with aromatic plants (incense, aromatic steams, fresh flowers, infused oils).

red tent red earth
Red Tent

After my class, it was time for the Red Tent Initiation, led by Ixeeya Lin and Astrid Grove. The Red Tent is a place where women gather to give and receive wisdom. Also called the Moon Lodge, the Red Tent was traditionally where menstruating women gathered during their moon time. In offering this space, the facilitators of Red Earth did not necessarily seek to recreate the traditions of other times/cultures, rather they wanted to create space within our present reality to honor the sanctity of women’s experience of menarche, menstruation and menopause.

Outside of the Red Tent, we lined up from oldest to youngest and as snake women began shedding our skins as we spiral danced into a circle. As we entered the tent, we were brushed with plants, smudged and welcomed into the sacred womb. I won’t describe the rituals performed in the Red Tent because they were intensely personal, sad, powerful, and healing. I left feeling more rooted and secure in myself than I have in many months. Joy surged through me as I remembered my own divinity.

Everyone was over-stimulated, full, grateful, and exhausted, so Closing Circle was short and sweet on Sunday afternoon. I finished packing up my campsite and Wellness tent. I was filled to the brim with joy and relaxation, deeply grateful for the power of women healing together, and eager to see my husband again.

Please join us next year at the Red Earth Herbal Gathering! We would love to share these healing practices with you.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured image: Unsure of artist- but I love it!

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

 

Awakening Community

Life seems a little surreal lately. Maybe it’s all the eclipses, but I have been feeling my shadow side big time. I know challenging times are opportunities for growth and I believe these times are no different. We are all being compelled to see the whole truth about ourselves, no matter how hard it is to wade through the illusions.

Clarity does not come easily, as we have built lies over millennia and the deceptions are ingrained in us. They have become part of our consciousness, part of our DNA. We must do what we can to awaken the truth.

And what is the truth? It’s simple:  We are connected to everyone and to everything on this planet. We are alive to play, to learn, to bond, and to love. We are alive so we may honor the Earth and all her blessings, and so we may honor ourselves.

We have been taught that we are here to succeed, to be better than others, and to fear what is perceived as different. We have been fed these lies for thousands of years, and now those ruses no longer sustain us. We yearn for community so badly, but connection is difficult when we have been separated for so long.

For me the solution is easy (easier said than done). I call upon my plant allies, my herbal medicine to bring me insight into myself so that I may be closer to others. I ask for their guidance in how I may soften so that the harshness of our world doesn’t break me in two. I am comforted as they nourish me with their wisdom.

Clinically I have seen many herbs help those that want a deeper connection to themselves and others. One of my favorite herbal combinations to inspire that one love feeling, can be made into a tea with fresh or dried herbs, or applied topically as an essential oil blend (always dilute essential oils before putting on skin).

If you are making a tea, use 1-2 teaspoons per cup. If making an essential oil blend, use 1-2 drops of each essential oil and dilute in 1 ounce of your favorite carrier oil.

Awakening Community

Clary Sage(Salvia sclarea)- to bring clarity and compassion to an unsettling truth

Pine (Pinus spp.)-to dispel guilt, shame, or anger that may arise upon your awakening

Rose (Rosa centifolia)- to arouse love for yourself and others

What herbs do you call upon when you feel disconnected from your truth? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

With love,

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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

Overcoming Fear- One Inhale at a Time

I’ve been fighting the urge to be in a bad mood for a couple of weeks now. There are all kinds of things I can blame it on- politics, regulatory agencies, conservatives. The reality is, I am irritated with myself.

With all of the injustices in the world I don’t feel as if I’m doing enough. I talk a good talk, but there have been weeks of just feeling hopeless and not accomplishing anything. I haven’t wanted to rush out to volunteer or march because it’s been hard to even be around people. I’ll be honest crowds have been intimidating lately.

And that irritates me- because I know that media and politicians love to spread fear and me not wanting to be in crowds is a direct effect of their propaganda.

I’m over feeling paralyzed and frustrated. I’m over blaming “them” for my discontent.

I’ve been seeing so much on social media about self-care being the most important thing you can do to help others.  I agree, kind of. Yes self-care is the most important thing I can do- at first. Then I have to do more. We have to do more. Just getting massages and taking time to walk in the woods is actually not enough to change the world. Time and time again, it is direct action that works.

I am at a place again where my anger is no longer stifling me, but preparing me for action. The challenge for me is to fuel this action with love and compassion and not fear and hate (which is sometimes easier said than done!) I always have my faithful herbal allies, reminding me that an open mind and calm heart is the only way forward.

Besides fueling myself with black tea (I have been adding rose petals to balance it out- does that count?), I’ve been using my Water Element Courage essential oil blend. I formulated these blends with the intentions and energies of each of the five elements of Chinese medicine. The Water Element is associated with Zhi, our determination and willpower. When we have conviction, purpose and vitality, our Water Element is balanced and we are able to respond with courage and resiliency. When our Water Element is depleted, we may experience fatigue, lack of control, or fear, which further drains our reserves.

The essential oils in the Courage blend can help bring the Water Element back into balance so that we may be the change we want to see in the world.

Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)- for metal/water connection

Wild Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)- for calmness and serenity

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)- for relaxation of body and mind

Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanoides)- for rooting deep into your principles and desires

To order Courage or other 5 Element Blends, check out my new website www.bakerbotanica.com

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Finally! 5 Element Essential Oil Blends

It is an auspicious day that I should have my 5 Element Essential Oil Blends available on the Full Moon in Capricorn! I feel like I have finally made it to the top of a mountain riddled with self-doubt and fear. I overcame it all and finally have my creations to offer the world! Please spread the word far and wide- we’re shifting the paradigm around essential oils!

I started Baker Botanica because I believe we need a sane, educated voice when it comes to essential oils. We need advocates for sustainability within the aromatherapy and herbal industries. We need opposing forces to the MLM companies that dominate the market and promote excessive and unsafe use of essential oils. One of the largest essential oil companies on the market, Young Livingjust got a HUGE fine ($760,000) for illegal trafficking of rosewood oil and spikenard oil in violation of the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act (Check out the sentencing on the Department of Justice website). Is this really who should be at the top of of the essential oil industry? Are these the people who should educate on how to work with plants?!

I also created these seasonal solutions to honor the natural cycles of the cosmos according Passion Baker Botanicato Chinese Medicine. As the seasons shift, so do we. At times these shifts can be difficult or unsettling. The elemental blends are meant to help with the transition and the energy of each season. For example, Passion, is the blend I created for the Fire elementThe Fire element corresponds to Summer, the color red (or pink), joy, passion, love, and creativity, the energies of the heart and pericardium,

If you need your  passion flared or to find more joy in life, the Fire Element Blend was created for you.

May these oils bring you Clarity (Wood), Passion (Fire), Balance (Earth), Resolve (Metal), and Courage (Winter). 

With love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker 

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows