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

Giving Thanks for Nature

These rainy Humboldt days have me pining for a little of that Colorado sunshine. I will be back there soon enough and then I will miss the grey misty coast. I will just enjoy the moisture while I can and give thanks for the opportunity to enjoy both places.

The thing I love most about being an herbalist is learning about plants that grow around huckleberryme, wherever I happen to be. Autumn in Humboldt means rain and that means mushrooms, moss, and lichens. The berries are almost gone and any lingering flowers have given up to the dark days ahead. It is beautiful!

If you get the chance, go outside today and see what is still growing around you. What is hanging on to the last days of summer’s warmth? Give thanks for the abundant life that surrounds you, even when it looks like the dormant days of winter are ahead.

 

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

We Are So Blessed

“We are so blessed

   We are so blessed

     We are so grateful

       We are so blessed”

I love the Karen Drucker song I am so blessed. I change the lyrics to “We are” instead of “I am” because I know that feels right to me today. One person is not truly blessed until we all are.

There is so much sadness in the world right now. The earthquake on the border of Iran and Iraq and the school shooting in Northern California are just the latest disaster that brings my grief to the surface. Life is so precious and I want to remember how blessed I am every single moment of the day. I want to be grateful with every breath and courageous in every action.

This doesn’t always happen and instead I am overwhelmed and fearful. My anxiety rises and my breathing shallows. I consciously breathe deep and long, feeling the connection between my lungs and my kidneys. In Chinese medicine, the qi (energy) of the kidney rises up and grasps the lung qi, guiding it down to the lower abdomen. I feel my breath reach my belly and low back. AHHH! I begin to relax as my shoulders drop and the tension in my jaw releases. Another deep breath. Gratitude.

To strengthen both my lung and kidney qi and give me energy to assimilate the world, I huang qi (astragalus slices).aa7569a1like to work with the herb Huang Qi (Astragalus membranaceus). Huang Qi is a popular qi tonic whose virtues are not overrated. I like to add 3 slices of the Huang Qi to rice and soup stocks, along with 1 Hong Zao (Ziziphus jujuba), and 3 slices of Dang Shen (Codonopsis pilosula).

Huang Qi reinforces wei qi defensive energy- “immune system”), while Hong Zao and Dang Shen tonify qi, improve digestion and calm spirit.

When our qi is strong and our spirit is calm, we are able to absorb the turbid energy of those around us. We can transform anger and fear into compassion. When this happens, our words and actions will be benevolent and we are one step closer to a blessed world for us all.

For the love of plants,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Plant Spirit Communication

These holy days of honoring our ancestors always make me a little sad. I have lost a lot of loved ones (two and four legged) and my altar usually overflows with pictures and names of friends and family that have passed over. I am in San Diego this year so my altar is small and sparse, with only my medicine bag, some gemstones, and a few oils and elixirs I like to travel with. Although I can’t honor them the way I normally do, I still thank them for all the wisdom and love they have given me.

In Chinese medicine, many aromatic plants have the ability to “open orifices.” This means that they can expand our consciousness and open our heart and mind to new thoughts and experiences. Aromatic plants also transform dampness, which can bring us more clarity of thought and action. While the opening and transformative powers of aromatic plants help connect us to our own spirit, they can also help with communicating with our ancestors and other spirits as well.

There are a few aromatic plants I call upon when I want to deepen my insights, meditations, and communication with the spirit realm.

Marigold– the aroma of Marigold is the only flower that the dead can smell; opens communication between earthly and spirit realms

Clary Sage– brings clarity of thought and feelings; increases visionary awareness

Rose– transforms all grief and heartache, helps to see the beauty of life

Frankincense– opens chest and lungs, reduces constriction caused by loss and grief

Cinnamon bark– warms and invigorates, strengthens gate of fire, provides grounding for deeper meditation

I hope you find the aromatic plants that call to you and discover all they have to offer.

May you, and your ancestors, be nourished.

For the love of plants,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Infused Oil for Irritated Skin

As the leaves begin to fall and the energy of the plants go from making seeds to concentrating in the roots I think about some of the herbs that are harvested this time of year. When you harvest the roots, the plants aren’t able to grow back the following year so it is important to use other parts of the plant if possible. If the plant takes years to flower or grow, don’t take the roots at all if there is another plant you can use instead. If you can, get your root medicine from organic farmers instead of from wild crafted sources. It is up to us to ensure enough medicinal plants for future generations.

Some plants, like burdock and dandelion, grow easily and abundantly and are highly medicinal so they are a great choice if you want to make root medicine. Burdock and dandelion roots are great in a decoction (simmer roots in water for 15-20 minutes), but I also like to infuse them in olive oil to soothe red irritated skin. External use of herbs can be just as important as internal use, remember your skin is your largest organ!

Soothe Skin Oil

Herbs for oil: dandelion and burdock roots, add comfrey root and leaves, calendula flowers, rose buds, plantain leaves, nettles, lemon balm, and/or myrrh gum 

Use dried or wilted leaves, flowers, and roots to avoid the oil from molding.

Fill a clean dry jar 3/4 full of plant material and cover completely with olive, avocado or apricot kernel oil. Make sure the oil is at least 1″ higher than the plant material. Stir mixture and tightly close the lid on the jar.

Place jar in a sunny, warm windowsill and shake at least once a day.

After 2-3 weeks strain the herbs from the oil using a cheesecloth or thin muslin. Squeeze way more than you think you should. You’ll be surprised at how much oil is left in the plants once you start straining.

Pour oil into clean, dry bottles and store in a cool dark place. The oil should last a year. Add Vitamin E to prolong the shelf life of the oil. 

Use infused oil on red, irritated skin or add to bath water for a relaxing soothing bath.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Subscribe to The Herb Walk Podcast!

The first season of The Herb Walk Podcast is a wrap! My dream of sharing my love of herbalism and aromatherapy has been brought to light through this podcast. I’m stoked to have had the opportunity to interview herbalists Brigitte Mars, Mindy Green, Lisa Ganora, Monticue Connelly, Amanda Klenner, and Julie Caldwell. We discussed the importance of conservation, plant spirit medicine, what you can do to further your herbal knowledge, the future of cannabis medicine, and so much more. Whether you want a formal herbal education or are interested in making herbal products for yourself and loved ones, The Herb Walk Podcast has something for you.

Season two will bring more interviews with renowned herbalists and aromatherapists, real talk about the pros and cons of the burgeoning cannabis industry, what you can do to be a steward of the land (hint…grow your own organic herbs), and my experience at Refugio Altiplano, an ayahuasca retreat center deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle.

If you know of an herbalist, aromatherapist, or herb farmer that would like to be featured, drop me a line and I’d be happy to have them on season two. If you haven’t subscribed to The Herb Walk Podcast, do so today on iTunes and Stitcher

For the love of plants,

Jessica

The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Amanda Klenner

I learned a lot about what it takes to put on an herbal conference in this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast. I interview herbalist Amanda Klenner, owner and author of Natural Herbal Living Magazine about how her passion for herbalism began, what it was like to put on the Mountain West Herb Gathering, and much more.

Amanda Klenner is a Bio-Regional Clinical Community herbalist from Westminster, CO, where she loves to wildcraft, see clients, and teach both adults and children about the magic of herbs. She specializes in reproductive and auto-immune issues by combining customized nutrition coaching and herbal protocols, while taking lifestyle and personal energetics and goals into account. You can find her at www.naturalherballiving.com

Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to The Herb Walk Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher today!

So much love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Change Comes From Within Blend

There’s a lot of energy in the air with many people feeling overwhelmed, sad, or angry at what is happening in our country. Monday’s solar eclipse also has some people excited and energized, hoping that this event will shift our paradigm and perspective. Maybe it will, but I think it’s going to take more than an eclipse to change the politics and beliefs of our citizens. It is going to take standing up for our beliefs and giving to organizations that are working towards ending oppression.

This week I know I need something to nourish and relax my nervous system, while giving me the energy to stay active to create the changes I want to see in the world. This essential oil blend has been helping me tremendously. I hope it helps you too.

Essential Oils:

3 drops Lavender- to reduce anxiety and fear

3 drops Frankincense- to ease heartache and grief

3 drops Clary Sage- to bring clarity to thoughts and actions

Add essential oils to 10 ml of carrier oil (I love olive or apricot kernel)

Put essential oil blend in a 10 ml glass roll-on bottle. Apply to heart chakra, third eye, or anywhere else you desire. Don’t wait until you are already overwhelmed or emotional. Use preventatively to help you stay calm, clear, and collected.

With love,

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

 

Strong Woman Tea

In preparation for my class at this year’s Red Earth Herbal Gathering (August 19-20 in Longmont, Colorado- tickets still available!) I want to share this nourishing and delicious sun tea to support women’s health and wellbeing. This is one of my go-to teas when I feel fatigued, overwhelmed, or out of balance. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Strong Woman Tea

2 tbsp Red Raspberry leaf

1 tbsp Milky Oat tops

1 tbsp Marshmallow root

1 tsp Vitex seeds

1 tsp Nettle leaf

Place all herbs into a glass quart jar and cover with filtered tap water or spring water. Set in the sun for 4 hours or so. Strain out herbs and drink the tea over the next couple of days. You will feel great!

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows