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

Elder Rose Immuni-Tea Recipe

Brrrrrrr…a cold, wet storm has been hovering over Colorado for the last few days. The leaves have turned, and I see the squirrels scurry around preparing for the coming Winter, I have been wearing my scarf and gloves, but for the first time since I moved to Denver, I am not lamenting the coming cold.

I am excited to make more oatmeal congees, where I will add butter and honey, cinnamon, ginger, jujube dates, and citrus peel. I look forward to big pots of beans and stewed roots. I will have early nights of reading by dimmed lights, with a warm cup of herbal tea by my side. Just writing about it makes me want to cuddle up with a good book.

I’ve been drinking a really delicious tea lately and it is perfect for not only warming heart and soul on cold nights, it is also full of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins, which have shown to fight infections and reduce effects of colds and flu. I drink a couple of cups each morning, but you can have up to a quart a day if you so desire.

Elder Rose Immuni-Tea

2 ounces dried Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)

2 ounces dried Citrus peel (Citrus reticulata) organic or unsprayed; I use mandarin or tangerine peels

1/2 ounce dried Red Rose petals (Rosa centifola) organic or unsprayed

1/2 ounce dried Milky Oats (Avena sativa)

1/4 ounce dried Nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) 

Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass jar in a cool, dark location. Use 2-3 tbsp of herbs per 2 cups of tea. Boil water and pour hot water over herbs for 10-20 minutes, cover with lid. Strain herbs and set aside to use one more time (if steeped for less than 20 minutes). Add honey if desired. Sip and feel the herbs nourish and strengthen your body, mind, and spirit.

To find out more about making infusion, watch my Youtube video How To Make An Herbal Infusion, subscribe to my Youtube channel and watch videos on Chinese medicine, Western herbalism, Aromatherapy and more!

With love,

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Jessica Baker, LAc, RH (AHG)

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

Elderberry Dreaming on a Winter’s Day

December is here already and I am as shocked as everyone else. I’m back in Denver and the nights are cold and windy. There isn’t any snow in the city and I hate to say that I am glad!

I can hear people sniffling and coughing around me as I’m out and about. It’s a good reminder to keep my immunity strong! Small things like washing your hands frequently (many people don’t wash door handles or light switches) and eating nutrient dense foods like soups and stews will be a big help in staving off other people’s germs.

I also drink elderberry tea every morning, switching up the other ingredients depending on what I have going on.

My 3 favorite Elderberry blends:

1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Hawthorn berries, 2 inch piece of Citrus peel – I make this on those days of over-indulgence, where there may just be a cookie or two enjoyed

1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Yarrow flowers, 1 tsp Peppermint– This is my go-to when I begin to feel that chill or fever coming on and I need to kick it out

1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Rose petals, 1 inch piece of Citrus peel– This is my base tea on most days. I drink as is or add an herb or two that is calling me that day.

Steep herbs in 8 ounces of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink while warm.

I’d love to hear what herbs you like with elderberry!

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellnes grows

 

Treating the Common Cold with Essential Oils

In Chinese Medicine, we distinguish whether the common cold is either wind-heat or wind-cold.

This differentiation is important because we treat each syndrome differently. This recipe is good for those with wind-cold. Some of the symptoms may include a slight fever, slight sweating, chills, body aches, no thirst, itchy throat, and an occipital headache.

Concentrated Essential Oil Blend:
3 drops rosemary essential oil
3 drops lemongrass essential oil
2 drops ginger essential oil
2 drops pine essential oil
3 drops thyme linalool essential oil

Instructions: 

  1. Put 5 to 7 drops of essential oil blend in a bowl of hot water, place a towel over your head and lean over the bowl inhaling deeply
  2. For topical use, dilute essential oils in 2 ounces carrier oil and rub on neck, shoulders and lymph nodes

Here’s to feeling better this fall season!

Harvest Moon Elixir Recipe

Happy Harvest Moon!! May the fruits of your love be blessed with abundance and joy!

I love the Harvest Moon so much that my husband and I chose to be married ten years ago on the date of the Harvest Moon, the first full moon after the Autumn Equinox. We had a private ceremony on the cliffs above Luffenholtz Beach, the first place we went when we moved to Humboldt County twenty years ago. Two decades later our love burns bright.

To celebrate our love for each other and for harvest season I want to share one of my favorite recipes with you. Harvest flowers under the light of the full moon. If you are using dried flowers, prepare the elixir outside. If you have a significant other, harvest and prepare elixir together.

Harvest Moon Elixir

1 bundle of yarrow flowers

2 wild roses

2 organic cannabis buds

Place flowers in a clean, glass quart jar. Fill jar with fresh spring water and cover with a lid. Place jar in a location where the full moon is in sight and can infuse the elixir throughout the night. In the morning, strain out flowers and sip infusion throughout the day. Share with the one you love the most.

For the love of plants,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: Chrystalinks

 

Simple & Nourishing Tisane

I’m paying homage to my first herb teacher, Jane Bothwell, with my recipe post today.

This was probably one of the first herbal blends I ever made, and definitely the first I drank that wasn’t Celestial Seasonings Chamomile, Peppermint, or Sleepy Time.

I remember Jane speaking of each plant with love and reverence. Although I hadn’t really been exposed to herbalism, everything she said made sense. The way she spoke about herbs resonated deep within me and I knew at that very first class that herbalism would be a part of my life.

Thank you Jane for sparking my passion for herbal medicine!

Simple & Nourishing Herbal Tisane

1 handful of Nettles

1 handful of Milky Oats or Oatstraw

1 handful of Spearmint

1 handful of Red Raspberry leaves

If you have access to these herbs fresh- perfect! If not, dried is wonderful too!

Steep herbs in 1 quart of boiled water and steep for 15-20 minutes (or sit for a couple of hours in the sun)

Strain herbs (or not- herbalists like to strain through their teeth, lol!)

Sip and be nourished.

 

With love,

 

Jessica

After Sun Skin Soother

I’ve tried to spend more time outside the last few days to get in as much as I can of the last of summer. My skin is feeling a little tight and dry and I need to make sure it stays moist and supple before the cold, dry air hits Colorado.

This is one of my favorite blends for nourishing skin after a day out in the sun.

After Sun Skin Soother

2 ounces of Comfrey and Calendula infused Apricot Kernel or Olive Oil

5 drops Lavender Essential Oil

5 drops Carrot Seed Essential Oil

3 drops Helichrysum Essential Oil

2 drops Hemp Essential Oil 

Blend essential oils into carrier oil and mix well. Apply to the entire body after a long day in the sun. It’s also wonderful after being in the pool, river, lake, or ocean.

All of these essential oils have properties that will heal damaged skin and repair oxidative stress. 

With love,

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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

Lemon Balm Lemonade Recipe

July is hot here in Denver and there’s nothing like a refreshing glass of iced cold lemonade. I know, I know. As an acupuncturist I shouldn’t encourage drinking iced beverages, but I am making an exception for this cooling and medicinal lemonade!

Lemon Balm Lemonade (aka: Melissa’s Lemonade)

Handful of fresh lemon balm

6 lemons

1/2 cup honey (more if desired)

1 cup boiling water

3 cups spring water

Ice

Scrub lemons, peel the rind thinly avoiding the white; set aside.

Place the lemon rind, lemon balm leaves and the honey into a small heat-proof pitcher.  Pour the boiling water into the pitcher and stir well, crushing the lemon balm leaves to release their flavor.  Let steep 15 minutes.

Cut lemons in half and squeeze out the juice.  Strain juice into pitcher, add a few fresh sprigs of lemon balm, then add the cooled, strained syrup.  Top with water and ice. Take a long drink and enjoy!

With love,

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Jessica

 

when energy flows, wellness grows