3 Herbs for Stressful Times

There is so much anger and grief in our society. The realities of inequality are undeniable and cause guilt and shame among those of us that are the privileged ones. If we are actively working towards equality and justice for all then there is no need for shame. If we are complacent in what is happening then we need to turn that guilt and shame into action so we can do our part in making the world a happier and safer place for all.

There’s a lot you can do like donate money (and more importantly time) to an organization that touches your heart. You can sign petitions, march in solidarity, and call your representatives. You can just be a good human and help those you see in need.

If these seem overwhelming, maybe you just need to start working with your herbal allies to give you the courage, strength, or energy to be an advocate for those in need.

Here are my three favorite herbs that help when I feel helpless or overwhelmed:

Reishi Mushroom– a strong decoction or lunar infusion is great to nourish the heart and calm the nervous system. Reishi helps you make clear and conscious decisions.

To make a decoction, place one medium sized Reishi (or 2-3 inch pieces) in one quart of water and simmer covered for 1-12 hours. The longer the decoction the more bitter the tea!

Rose– pretty much my go-to for anything that hurts my heart or brings me despair. A sun tea or infusion of Rose petals brings us back to a place of compassion and love

To make an infusion, place a handful of fresh or dried Rose petals in 16 ounces of water that has slightly cooled after boiling. Cover and steep the tea for up to 10 minutes. For a more delicate floral flavor, steep for only 3 minutes.

Pine(or any Conifer)- conifers activate the area of the third (first) eye and allows us to see beyond our own suffering.

To make an aromatic footbath steep a few Pine, Redwood and/or Fir needles in a large bowl of hot water and allow the aroma to fill the air. Pour out a cup to drink and use the rest of the water in an aromatic footbath. As you pour out the footbath water, wash away the anger, grief, shame, and guilt that prevent you from being an advocate for yourself or others.

Tomorrow is Solstice, the longest day of the year. A time to celebrate the shining light that indescriminately provides life to every being on Earth. 

With love,

JessicaBaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Wild Prairie Rose

Glamping with my Herbal Allies

I just returned home from a great trip to Europe! I have been to Amsterdam several times, but never in the summer. The days were warm and long and Roses (Rosa) were blooming everywhere! On the 15-minute train ride from Schipol Airport to Central Station, I could see Elder (Sambucus nigra) flowering along side the tracks. Rows and rows of white clusters waving at me as the train sped by. Seeing one of my favorite herb friends as soon as I landed was an auspicious sign that our trip was going to be incredible!

We spent most of our time on Obonjan Island, a 136- acre private island off the coast of Northern Dalmatia in Croatia.  A mastermind group my husband is a member of rented the entire island, so about 150 of us had the island to ourselves for five days. There are too many highlights to mention, from learning about business from a highly curated group of some of the smartest and coolest people on the planet, to the epicness of glamping on a private island in the Adriatic Sea.

As an herbalist, I think what I was most excited about was that there is an abundance of IMG_1827medicinal herbs growing all over the island. There is an herb garden that may have once been tended, but now is taken over by the Mint (Mentha) that was used in some of the cocktails served at the sea-side and pool-side bars. All along the roadside, Bindweed (Convolvulus thunbergii), Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), and Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota),  grow in abundance, adding beauty and color to the planted Allepo Pine (Pinus halepensis).  The contrast of pink, yellow and white flowers with the vibrant blue of the Adriatic filled me with joy everywhere I looked.

As always I am reminded that no matter where I go, my herbal allies are there. They are a reminder that their are no borders, no boundaries, nothing that separates us from one another. Plants remind us that we are home, regardless of where we are.

To find out more about herbalism through my blog, podcast, and other offerings, check out my website, Baker Botanica.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

 

Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet Again

I am completely blissed out and blessed up from the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium!! It’s hard to describe a place that is so sacred that I tear up every time I think about it. I first attended back in the late 90’s (’98 I believe…) and have been able to return several times over the last two decades. It is at the top of the list of things I must do as often as I can! The symposium keeps me connected, keeps me hopeful, and keeps me sane. The aura that surrounds the symposium is palpable, infused with love, wisdom, and ritual. Altars to various female deities are auspiciously and beautifully arranged and a sacred fire remains lit in the center of the  tipi circle. The magnificence of Black Oak Ranch is undeniable, but it is the magic weaved by the women that create the symposium that encompasses you. It is that feeling that keeps you coming back for more.

The symposium is so special to me that I don’t even want to talk about my experiences teaching or attending. Words can’t do justice to how beautiful the Maiden Ceremony is or how sweet the graduation for the boys that age out can be. My gratitude for the campfire songs and my river spot will have to wait until the spell of symposium has worn off and words replace revelry in my soul.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for another opportunity to be loved, to be transformed and to be uplifted. Your presence is a gift!

I hope once day you’ll join us.

Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet Again. Until next time.

With love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica  

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Photo credit: NCWHS website 

Fragrant Flower Tea Recipe

My daily walks around Denver are so aromatic this time of year. Everywhere there are roses, dogwoods, cottonwoods, and lilacs wafting their gifts my way. The rain has made everyone vibrant and green, coming to life after winter.

All of their beauty has inspired me to share a recipe from the Rose chapter of my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine. I hope Rose fills you with as much love as she has me.

Rose’s Song: Love Yourself, Everyday

Fragrant Flower Tea

Harvest a handful of roses, daisies, calendula, violet flowers and any other edible flower (make sure they are not sprayed with pesticides). If using lavender, use only a small amount, as it can taste soapy. Pour hot water over flowers and cover completely. Steep for 20 minutes in a glass jar with lid on. Strain flowers and collect water in a glass quart jar. Drink the tea throughout the day to open your heart and promote relaxation.

If you’d like to order your copy of Plant Songs, go to Balboa Press or Amazon.

With much love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured Image: Rose created by Jason Garcia 

An Offering to the Trees

My recipe today is a re-post from last June. As I sit among the trees in the Amazon jungle I am reminded of how powerful a simple offering can be.

The recipe today is a simple offering from my heart to our life-giving Earth.

Sit at the base of your favorite tree (it can be in your yard, the park, or in the forest- just make sure it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or chemicals). Take 3 deep breathes and notice any subtle or profound changes in your body that occur with each breath. What does the exchange of CO2 and O2 with this magnificent tree feel like? With permission, take a leaf, flower and/or twig from the tree and place it in a bowl of fresh spring (or filtered) water. Infuse in the water for as long as you have time, whether it’s 5 minutes or overnight). When you feel ready, gently take out the plant material and take a sip of the infusion. Allow the vitality of the tree to flow through you. What medicine does this tree have to offer? What do you have to offer back?

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Four Books on Medicine from the Amazon

I am still in the Amazon jungle about an hour boat ride up the Amazon River from Iquitos, Peru. More than likely at this moment I am listening to the symphony of insects, birds, and monkeys while I lay in my hammock and reflect on the ceremonies of the past couple of nights.

If you are interested in coming to Peru, I highly recommend you bring herb books so you can identify some of the plant life that thrives in this ancient rainforest.

Two books I can’t do without are The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs: A Guide to Understanding and Using Herbal Medicinalsby Leslie Taylor, N.D. and A Field Guide to Medicinal and Useful Plants of the Upper Amazonby J.L. Castner, S.L. Timme and J.A. Duke.

For understanding the medicine of ayahuasca, check out these books, Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science and Biodiversity in the Upper Amazon by Jonathon Miller Weisberger and The Fellowship of the River, A Medical Doctor’s Exploration into Traditional Amazonian Plant Medicineby Joseph Tafur, M.D.

I hope you find these books as helpful as I do.

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

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

 

Open & Bloom Spritz

One of my favorite things about Spring is watching the trees bud. As I watch them unfurl and open, I am reminded of how I also have the ability to blossom and grow year after year. In Denver it is always such a welcoming sight as I know the cold Winter is coming to an end. Living so long in California I forgot how drastically different I feel with each season change.  It feels good to witness my internal and external bloom!

Open & Bloom Spritz

2 drops Magnolia blossom essential oil- for transformation of self and spirit

2 drops Lavender essential oil- for accepting ourselves in times of transition

2 drops Mandarin essential oil- for integrating changes during transformation

2 drops Frankincense essential oil- for holding on to the truths of transformation

Add all essential oils to 1 ounce of spring water in a glass spritzer bottle.

Shake well. Spray yourself as often as needed to help with times of transformation.

 

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

A Return to Clarity

I successfully avoided getting sick all winter. Spring is a different story. As the temperatures fluctuate between 25-75 degrees in a single day and the winds blow pollen and pollution all around the city, my body finally succumbed last week. Thankfully I’m on the mend with just a little lingering congestion.

I forget how useless I am when I’m sick. My head was swimming with phlegm and I couldn’t focus on writing, formulating, or seeing clients. Clarity is returning and I can hold thoughtful conversations once again. Besides rest and hydration, my herbs and essential oils were wonderful allies that reduced the severity of it all.

I had to be humbly reminded that sometimes despite all I do, I have to just let it run its course and be okay with slowing down for a few days. With the pollen and pollution continuing throughout Spring I’ll do my best to keep my immune system strong.

I’m back on my daily dose of Nettle tea and medicinal mushrooms like Reishi and Chaga. My good friend Greg sent me some Chaga from Massachusetts that should be in the mail today. I’ll send pictures of them when they arrive! I’m excited to see what they look like in “person” as I’ve only taken Chaga in tincture form.

Stay well out there friends!

With love and gratitude,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Realities of Cannabis Legalization in California

Emotions are high as cannabis legalization comes to fruition in California. There is eagerness as the green rush (or weed greed, as I call it) brings professionals into a market where there was once only “criminals” or outlaws. The pink shirts can’t wait to make money off the backs of those once vilified and imprisoned for fighting for the decriminalization of cannabis. I openly hope that the pink shirts like John Boehner don’t thrive, as some of these hypocrites were the loudest to criticize cannabis users.

There is fear from those that have made their livelihood off of the private cannabis market and aren’t sure how they fit into the new legal industry. Those that have been able to conduct business unregulated and untaxed are now in the most over-regulated and over-taxed industries in the state. In the Emerald Triangle (Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties) where cannabis cultivation has been what keeps the local economy afloat, I have heard many growers say they are priced out because local agencies require absurd regulations that have never been applied to any other industry.

There is also excitement as anyone 21 and over can legally purchase cannabis at retail stores across the state (or will soon once local jurisdictions get it together to grant permits). I will admit that I am stoked that I can walk into a store and buy a sack of weed and a bar of ganja chocolate. It will be even better when the taxes on cannabis are not so high.

As those that participate in the new public cannabis market, we have to work hard to make sure that everyone that is still incarcerated for cannabis related “crimes” are set free. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that with some of the tax money from cannabis, that we pay reparations for those whose lives were ruined when they were busted for cultivating or dealing weed. In this new world of cannabis freedom, we have to remember that it is not equal opportunity for all as we like to believe.

With love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Three Faithful (Herbal) Friends

Tuesday I mentioned the frustration I have been feeling the last couple of days. I have had time to reflect on what it is that is causing me such turmoil. Although I really wanted it to be something external, it never is. It is my reaction to situations outside of my control and my own inability to communicate clearly.

Speaking my truth is not always easy. I don’t want to disappoint people and my words don’t always come out right. With each stifled breath, my irritation grows as I censor what I truly need to say.

To help me find the compassion I need to speak truthfully, but with love, I call upon these three faithful friends.

Rose (Rosa damascena)– softens harshness towards myself and others, opens my heart to the divine within us all

Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia)– relaxes tension of mind and body, makes me more flexible to the beliefs/opinions of others

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)– nourishes and relaxes my nervous system, calms my spirit and mind

You can make a simple tea with equal parts of each herb. Let steep for 15 minutes and then sip and enjoy!

For the love of plants,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Finding Peace in Frustration

Today I find myself super irritable. I could blame it on the rising Wood energy of spring or all the political upheaval, but the truth is it is all me. I am letting the little (and big) things bother me. Instead of breathing through the stress, I am stewing it in, allowing my frustration to build until it erupts like a volcano, spewing on whoever is closest.

It’s one of those days when I’m like, “maybe I shouldn’t say anything at all since I can’t find nice ways to say it.” Then I’m like, “fuck that.” Which is my affirmation that I should think before I speak so I don’t say things I will regret.

Today I have to consciously breathe deeply. I have to skillfully navigate the turbulent waters of my own psyche. I have to find positivity among the negative speak of my mind. I have to remember that I am flawed and am a work in progress.

That being said, today I’m just going to find peace however I can. Walking among the budding trees help, so does drinking my herbal tea. I will diffuse my Vetiver and Lavender essential oils and try to be nicer to myself and others. I won’t beat myself up for feeling like this, but I will reflect on what is really bothering me so I can move past the anger and be more compassionate next time. My herbal allies help every time.

If you want to find out more about herbalism or how you can utilize plants for well-being, check out my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine!

For the love of plants,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Citrus Diffusing Blend

The spring winds are kicking up all the construction dust around my neighborhood and I have been feeling a little congested from all the particulates flying around. Along with drinking my nettle tea to reduce irritation from allergens, I’ve also been diffusing essential oils daily.

My go to has been filling the air with crisp, citrusy tones and doing wonders for the irritants in the air.

Citrus Spring Diffusing Blend

2 drops Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) essential oil

2 drops Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil

1 drop Lavender (Lavandula angustilfola) essential oil

1 drop Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) essential oil

1 drop Hemp (Cannabis sativa) essential oil

Mix all drops together in a small glass bottle with diffuser cap. Add 1-3 drops to your diffuser.

*Always dilute essential oils. Purchase your essential oils from companies that understand and honor that they are precious gifts that should not be consumed greedily.

For the love of plants,

jessicabaker 

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

 

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

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,

 cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows,wellness grows

Spring Cleaning Essential Oil Spray

Although winter is not over, I am definitely feeling the vibrancy of longer days. I have already begun some spring cleaning and it feels good to clear out closets and drawers of unused clothes and clutter.

My sinuses have felt a little active since cleaning means stirring up dust and dander. Thankfully in Colorado there isn’t a mold issue, like I experience in Northern California, but the pollution of the city is present and I have noticed more congestion (what I call the Colorado dry booger!), sneezing, and shortness of breath.

What has been saving me is is my House Clearing Spray. It not only smells delicious, it also has the infectious fighting properties of aromatic terpenoids.

House Clearing Spray

2 ounces spring water

2 drops Thyme linalool essential oil

2 drops Mandarin essential oil

2 drops Lavender essential oil

1 drop Artemisia alba essential oil

Add drops of essential oils to the spring water. Pour into a 2-ounce glass spritzer bottle. Shake well. Spray your closets, drawers, or any musty places. You can also spritz yourself when you need energetic clearing.

Happy last week of Winter!

For the love of plants,

 cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

If you haven’t ordered my book, Plant Songs yet, now’s your chance!

Waking Up From Winter’s Slumber

Spring is almost here! Thankfully the snow didn’t wash away all of the early fruit blossoms and we may have a bumper crop year of plums and apples. I hope so! Last year we didn’t get any so I hope this year is different.

I see some of my herbal friends starting to wake up from their winter’s rest…dandelion, plantain, violet, self-heal,….I see you shooting your new sprouts! Although they are still small, I see the potential for what is going to prosper on our land this year. It’s always a little different and I love to see who will show up next!

What plants are awakening around or within you?

By the way….have you ordered your copy of Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine yet?

If not (or you want to gift it to a friend), order here!

 

For the love of plants,

 cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

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 

Plant Songs Book Release!

Big News! Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine is now available for purchase through Balboa Press!

Two years ago (almost to the date) I was told I won a self-publishing contract with Balboa Press through a Writer’s Workshop I attended through Hay House Publishing. I am thrilled to announce that my book, Plant Songs is officially released!

Amazon has not updated the imagery in the book (I brightened the photos), so don’t order there YET!

If you want to check out my bookPlant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine,                click here!

And please tell me what you think once you’ve read it!!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows