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!

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

 

Finding a Good Herbalist

Yesterday I taught the Vitalist Chinese Medicine class at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism, as I have for the third year in a row. I just have to say how much I Love teaching about qi, the vital life force energy that encompasses all of life; transcending time and space; and taking herbs that help you propel your life forward. I mean how cool is it that I get to talk like that. And have people take me seriously! Even after I have them stick out their tongues at each other!

I love that so many people, including herbalists, are getting excited about Chinese medicine. I have heard more and more Western herbalists dappling with the concepts of Chinese medicine. And I think that’s awesome. I also find it concerning, because although there is a vague grasp of the theories, there is a deficit in understanding how to correctly diagnose the patterns that are causing the imbalances within the body. Giving or recommending an herb without the correct diagnosis can at best, kinda work, and at worst, exacerbate a condition instead of improving it.

I have clients come to me all the time telling me that they were given an herb or formula that either didn’t work or made their symptoms worse. It is usually because of two reasons:

  1. The client wasn’t compliant with the timing and doses given OR
  2. It was the wrong herb or formula based on their constitution and the root of the problem.

Chinese medicine shines in the ability to accurately diagnose patterns and get to the root of the disease. A lot Western herbal practitioners did not learn diagnostic skills, and therefore treat symptoms instead of addressing the cause of the disease. I noticed I lacked the ability to diagnose these patterns until I went to Chinese medicine school and spent years learning the nuances of the medicine.

Many Western herbal teachers are now teaching how to properly diagnose patterns that manifest in the body, but the information is slow to catch up with many herbalists. Most herbs are completely safe so not having the correct herb for someone usually does no harm. What it does do is perpetuate the thought that herbs don’t work. And we know that is not true! If you are an herbalist that works clinically, I urge you to please find a teacher that will guide you in the art and science of pattern diagnosis. If you want to find a reputable herb school or a registered herbalist to work with, check out The American Herbalists Guild directory (you’ll find me there!).  

You can also check out the first season of my podcast, The Herb Walk with Jessica Baker, where I interview some of my favorite herbalists!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows 

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

Holiday Recovery Day

I am a little tired today, hung over from rich food and a little too much chocolate. I thankfully didn’t overindulge like I have in the past (last holiday season my stomach hurt for 2 weeks straight), but I still need a little herbal help today.

It is only around 15 degrees Fahrenheit in Denver so I started it off with a creamy, steaming hot cup of Spicy Chai. The warming spices of Cinnamon, Ginger, Clove, and Fennel coupled with a frothy coconut milk did wonders for my mood this morning! To combat the lingering fatigue that can come with eating rich, fatty foods I took a dropper full of Milk Thistle tincture, along with my Medicinal Mushrooms and homemade Digestive Bitters.

Today I’ll try to take it easy on the gluten and sugar. Instead of feeling like I need to eat them all, maybe it’s time to give away the remaining holiday cookies that my husband’s mom makes for us every year. I will stay away from the last piece of cake and eat only like one piece of chocolate…

Regardless I will continue to take my Bitters and drink copious amounts of Chai.

Stay warm out there!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

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

Autumn Ritual Tonic

autumn-let-go

In Chinese medicine fall is associated with the metal element. Each element has several correspondences like seasons, colors, organ systems, and spiritual entities. For metal the organ systems are the lungs and large intestine and the entity is the corporeal soul, or Po. Our Po is housed in the lungs and is a dense energy that manifests as pride, envy, greed, shame, guilt, or negative judgments when the metal element is out of balance. When we are tormented by feelings of resentment for ourselves or others, this is our Po acting out.

During fall many people also notice the arise of unresolved grief or sadness. Grief also settles in the lungs and can be felt this time of year. I always think of friends and family that are no longer here. I do rituals to honor their life and their passing.

Autumn is the season of letting go of what no longer is and what shall never be again. It is the season of impermanence and acceptance. I have trouble with that sometimes and I find my Po dwelling on the past or I become full of fear and doubt. What helps me is to make nourishing medicine that will strengthen my Qi and ground and calm my Po. I love this grounding root and bark blend. The herbs in this tea strengthen and nourish and bring me back to center. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Autumn Ritual Tonic

2 astragalus roots (Huang Qi)- strengthens lung qi

2 pieces mimosa bark (He Huan Pi)- calms spirit, moves qi

2 rolls of cinnamon bark (Rou Gui)- warms interior, benefits gate of fire

2 burdock roots (Niu Bang Gen)- nutritive, strengthens lungs and digestion

Rinse roots and bark. In a stainless steel or glass pot, simmer plant material in one quart of spring water for 20-30 minutes. Strain herbs and set aside to make another batch. Sip warm tea throughout the day to feel nourished and calm.  

For the love of plants,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Lisa Ganora

This week’s interview on The Herb Walk Podcast is with Lisa Ganora!

Lisa began studying herbs in the Wise Woman Tradition back in 1986 and fell profoundly in love with medicinal plants and natural healing. While studying wildcrafting and medicine-making with traditional herbalists from New England to the Appalachian Mountains for ten years, she began creating herbal products and traveled the festival circuit with an herb booth and as a workshop presenter.

In 1997 Lisa decided to study botany, chemistry, and health sciences at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, and graduated with highest honors and several awards. Lisa combines a deep understanding of traditional, Vitalist herbalism with a scientifically-integrated and holistic approach to natural health.

In addition to directing CSCH, Lisa is also an Adjunct Professor of Pharmacognosy at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona, and has lectured and taught classes at numerous schools and conferences around the U.S. She is the author of Herbal Constituents, the standard textbook of phytochemistry for herbalists.

I hope you enjoy this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast. Download on iTunes and Stitcher today!

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

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