The Herb Walk Podcast: Nettle Episode

I don’t talk about my book, Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine very often. To be honest, I’m still kinda shy about it. Besides information on my favorite herbs, I also share some personal stories of my life. Which is really hard for me!

In this episode of The Herb Walk with Jessica Baker, I read from my Nettle chapter. Nettle is the ultimate “Pay Attention” plant. If you don’t, Nettle will remind you every time! I recall my memories of hiking in the Annapurna Mountain Range in Nepal and getting the message of Nettle very clear that if I should pay attention. I’m glad I did!

Only one more podcast episode left until I break for summer. Just as a teaser- it’s all about Tobacco….

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

It’s Thyme to Breathe. Herbal Medicine to the Rescue!

I have been hearing about gnarly colds and coughs still plaguing people all across the United States. These Winter bugs are still here and like I said on my Earth Element Podcast (which no one has heard because I haven’t been able to release it yet….), so I’m saying it again. We are going to hear about people being sick well into Spring. I wish it weren’t true, but people are still run down from illnesses they had weeks ago. And when Spring brings those winds, with it comes pathogens that thrive in the warmer weather ahead. 

Let’s not talk about Spring quite yet, since Winter is still in full force. At least for me. Today I’m in Denver and there’s a pretty raging snowstorm right now. I thankfully am not down with anything, but I sure am bundled up, drinking tea, and staying out of this weather!

If you’re one of the many that still have the crud, this chest rub recipe may be for you. It’s quick and easy to make (if you have the infused Oil already made) and can be a fun creation to make with friends or kids.

Thyme to Breathe Herbal Chest Rub

4 ounce Lavender (Lavendula spp) infused Olive Oil 

35 grams Beeswax

2-3 grams Menthol Crystals (less if skin is sensitive; do not use on children under 4) You can substitute Mint Essential Oil if you don’t have the crystals.

12 drops Thymus vulgaris Essential Oil

12-18 drops Eucalyptus radiata Essential Oil

Please use organic and ethically wild-crafted and sourced ingredients

Pour infused Olive Oil into the top of a double boiler and add Beeswax. Heat Oil until Beeswax melts and there are no more than small bubbles are around the edges of the mixture. Add Menthol Crystals and stir until melted and well blended. Take mixture off the heat and add Essential Oils, blend thoroughly. Pour into 2 or 3 small glass jars (you will end up with about 6 ounces). Let cool completely before you put on the lid.

Rub on chest, behind the ears and along the lymph nodes on the neck. Skin may experience slight tingling and/or redness due to the Menthol Crystals and Essential Oils

Remember to also stay hydrated with water and herbal tea. A hot cup of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) or Mint (Mentha species) tea with Lemon and Honey can do wonders to lift your mood, open your sinuses, and soothe your belly.  

Cooking with common culinary herbs also help rid the body of unwanted pathogens and toxins. Add handfuls of fresh, organic Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and Basil (Ocimum basilicum)to your salads, stews, and broths. A perfect reminder that food is medicine too!

Be well out there and be gentle with yourself.

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

PS: To tide you over until my new podcast episodes release, here’s one of my favorite episodes from Season One. I sit down with my very first herb teacher, Jane Bothwell, of the Dandelion Herbal Center. We talk herbs, plant communication, and why we love Humboldt County (which is known for its own strain of gnarly coughs, the Humboldt Crud). And please review my podcast, it helps get me out there to more people! Thank you!

So Much Trouble in the World (thankfully we have herbs for that)

I was all inspired to write about how Chinese New Year is coming up as I celebrate my 43rd year on planet Earth! Then Jussie Smollett was attacked by white terrorists and I have been outraged about how obvious hate crimes are committed daily in the U.S. and there are no repercussions. No fear of retribution when our entire society continues to build upon the foundation that our forefathers set over two hundred years ago; that straight white men are superior

This isn’t going to be a political post but it will be one deeply rooted in the knowledge that we cannot be silent when injustices are so great. We have to redevelop a reverence for all life on Earth and begin to see ourselves as an integral part of the whole, instead of the masters that can destroy at our will. I don’t have the answers to these problems, but I do have some tools. And they are our herbal allies. 

The same plants that we are hell bent on poisoning (dandelions, chickweed, shepherd’s purse and countless others) will be our saving grace. 

When we remember our place in the cosmos, we will once again contribute to the balance between Earth and the Heavens. As long as we forget our connection to each other (much less the rest of nature) there will be wars, famines, hate crimes, and down right ugliness. I refuse to participate in that. Instead I will spread love, hope, and the wisdom of the plants. 

When I asked who wanted to be written about today Rose (Rosa centifolia)came up loud and clear! She loves to open our hearts and minds with her aromatic properties, all the while telling you to watch out if you treat her wrong. Those thorns are medicine in themselves, a warning and also a reminder to be gentle, to be conscious when you interact with others. 

If you’re feeling like I am, you probably need to share a cup of Rose petal tea with someone else and talk through the feelings of despair and disconnection. We all need more love, but what we also need is togetherness. We have to be stronger than this hate. We have to better than this.

Rose Petal Tea

Drop a small handful of dried rose petals in a pint glass. Pour hot water over petals and steep for 15 minutes. Strain out petals and set aside. Drink tea slowly. Add a touch of honey if you need a little sweetness in your life.

Please be nice to each other. And stand up for what you believe in. 

If you want to read more about Rose and other medicinal plants, check out my book Plant Songs:Reflections on Herbal Medicine

With love,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows 

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

 

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

Time to Move On

As we all process our emotions from the traumatic events of the last few weeks I am reminded of how much we really need our plant medicine. As devastating as hurricanes and mass shootings are (and the loss of Tom Petty- RIP), it is the devastation we are inflicting on our planet that I mourn most of all.

Everyday I participate in practices that only benefit myself and my own selfish desires. Hummus in a plastic container is more convenient that making my own. I use oils that are shipped from Asia so I can make herbal infusions.  I love the freedom of traveling the world to experience other cultures and see their local plants. I will continue to willingly be a part of the problem as long as petroleum is our main source of fuel. There are a million other ways I am part of the problem. This blog isn’t about how guilty I should feel for being a “bad person.” It is a call to action to participate in healing humanity from the societal sickness that is causing the degradation of the planet and the destruction of our spirits.

Humans have this fucked up idea that we are the “top of the food chain.” Christianity has done a great job in perpetuating this falsehood. It’s time to recognize the lies we have been fed to justify our egotistical destructive behavior. It is not our right to treat all other life forms as they are here for our sustenance and pleasure. I have even seen this belief transfer over to herbalism and aromatherapy, where most people truly love our plant allies.

Plants are not solely here for our physical and spiritual health. Yes plants like to help us, but they were not put here just for you to harvest for your tea or salve. Medicinal plants are not alive to serve us. Plants are sentient beings that were part of this Earth eons before mammals evolved. Humans have a very small concept of space, time, and life on Earth. If we expect to thrive on this planet for millennia to come we have to start thinking bigger. Much, much bigger!

Our psyches can’t take the trauma we experience and watch, every day. The internet makes us aware of all the killings, famine, racism, genocide, misogyny, and natural disasters in real time. This is too hard for us to assimilate, affecting everything from our digestion to our mental health. Our societies are not set up for people to grow emotionally, spiritually or mentally. The industrial revolution set up a system to condition us to be indoors (work in a factory, go to school).  We did not evolve indoors. We are not meant to work all day to perpetuate a society that only survives by harming all life on Earth. People are breaking. The paradigm has to shift. We have to get back to what we truly know is important. We have to integrate back into a simple way of living. We have to get back to the land.

I’ve found the best way to acknowledge and process what I’m feeling is to be out in nature. Just walking among the forest or sitting by the ocean reminds me that humans are just a small part of all the other life in this universe. I see myself as part of the miracle of life. I feel the significance of my own being and my connection to everything around me.

When you are feeling sad, fearful or disempowered, I encourage you to get out in nature and take a few minutes to just sit and listen. Inhale deeply and let in the energy of all life around you. Let the breath of the Earth infuse you with a vitality lighter than grief, brighter than sorrow. Exhale and cry, scream, kick and run for yourself and your fellow woman. Weep for Mother Earth and the extinctions we have witnessed. And then listen to the whispers brought to you by the wind in the trees. Hear the songs of the plants, the birds, and the bees. What is being said? 

What do you hear stirring within you? 

For the love of plants, 

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Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Actions Speak Louder than Love

I am disgusted by the white supremists that are emboldened by our current president and conservative politicians, since they have normalized being racist, misogynists, and downright hateful. I am not surprised like many people. If you think this is something new then you are ultra privileged, have your head in the sand, or both.

Racism is learned behavior, taught by generations of hateful people that use the excuses of fear and economy to stay ignorant and mean. Besides donating money to organizations that fight oppression and racism, take the time to work within your community to make a positive change for those that need it most. It’s not easy, it won’t happen overnight, but it is us, the privileged ones, that are responsible for contributing to making America safe for all of us.

One of the ways I help is to spread knowledge of herbal medicine. Knowledge is power, and knowing what herbs we can use to heal ourselves (instead of relying on doctors and the pharmaceutical industry to do it for us) is empowering. It may be the most important thing we can do to lessen the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”

If you are an herbalist, acupuncturist, or other health care provider, I encourage you to give back. Teach a donation based class on community herbalism, give free or low cost treatments to those in need, donate herbs or products to free clinics, just give back in whatever capacity you can.

Don’t let your fear, sadness, or embarrassment keep you from making the world a better place. It will take all of us.

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

How to Make Calendula Oil

After all that talk about how I love making herbal medicine I want to share a super easy infused oil recipe with you.

Ingredients:

250 ml Olive, Apricot kernel or Oil of choice

50-125 grams Dried Calendula flowers (100-300 grams Fresh)

Supplies:

Double Boiler

Wooden spoon

Glass Bowl

Cheesecloth

Dark, Glass Bottles

Put Calendula flowers and Apricot Kernel Oil in the Double Boiler and heat on low for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Pour the mixture through a cheesecloth into a bowl or large mouth jar.

Press excess oil out with a wooden spoon

Pour oil into dark, glass bottles and store in a cool, dark place 

Apply oil to dry, irritated skin or add a spoonful (or two) to a warm bath for smooth, silky skin.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Flowers of Freedom Blend

As yet another “holiday” approaches, we find ourselves celebrating our independence and freedom. Many of us are ghastly aware that these “freedoms” come at an extreme cost to our fellow humans and certainly to our planet. This 4th of July I am going to do what a lot of people are doing. I’ll gather with friends around a bonfire, play guitar, eat too much, and enjoy the privileges so few of us have.

Along with these time honored American traditions, I will also give offerings and thanks to the land that colonists violently took from those that had called this majestic place home. Our “freedom” is muddled with genocide, slavery, rape, clear cutting, mining, and built on hope, dreams, liberty, and freedom. We can no longer choose to remember the illusion of independence, but accept the reality of the actual cost of our being “Americans.”

I don’t say this to make you feel guilty. I say this to make you aware that in accepting the truth, you can change the future; only when you know where you came from can you be guided where you want to be.

The flowers in this blend were chosen to represent the red, white, and blue of the American flag.

Red signifies hardiness & valor

White signifies purity and innocence

Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice

Red- Roses: helps open your heart to love and compassion for all beings

White- Shasta Daisy: assists you to experience the purity and sweetness of life

Blue- Vervain: provides strength in advocating for justice for all

Either make a delicious sun tea out of 1-2 tbsp of each flower or add 1-2 drops of each essential oil (or absolute) in 1 ounce of carrier oil and anoint yourself daily.

Thank you for spreading peace and love throughout the world.

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Herbal Activism at the International Herb Symposium

I don’t know how I can choose what to highlight about the 13th International Herb Symposium. Between all the talented teachers that traveled from around the world to share their love of herbalism with us, the epic dance party, the $20,000 raised by the IHS for the United Plant Savers (UPS), and the chance to gather with friends I don’t see very often, this years symposium is pretty much beyond words.

Since I have to say something, I’ll start by telling you that the International Herb Symposium is a fundraiser for the nonprofit, United Plant Savers. Every two years the symposium is held to educate people about the importance of conservation when it comes to medicinal plants. The take away message from UPS this year is that the enthusiasm for herbs is outgrowing the availability of many of our plant allies. We have to start growing our own medicinal herbs and supporting local organic farmers if we want to be a part of keeping our medicine available to all. There are just not enough resources to keep up with our exponential population growth.

Many speakers, from different lineages, talked about the 6th Extinction that we are in now. It’s real folks and we have to actively be a part of the solution instead of continuing to add to the problem. Heavy news, but given with hope that we can alter the course we are on by consuming less and giving back more. I cry as I recall the words of Linda Black Elk from the Lakota tribe, about how we have profited off the medicine of the Native people of this continent, while they were denied their cultural legacies until the Religious Freedom Act of 1978. We white people have been able to practice herbalism, unobstructed and without reproach, smudging, drumming and chanting without the fear of retaliation from our government for communing with spirit and plants the way we chose to. Privilege comes in ways we aren’t even aware of. It is our responsibility to be on the front lines with Native American tribes, as they protest the innumerable pipelines and mines that infiltrate their sovereign lands. And that will ultimately affect us all. Thank you Linda Black Elk for illuminating the truth about how our freedom has come at the very high cost of yours.

I am inspired and in awe of Jacquelin (Jinpa) Guiteau, Julia Graves, and Michelle LaDue (a fellow acupuncturist!) for their mobile clinics in Haiti. They have treated over 40,000 women, men, and children with homeopathy, essential oils, herbs, and acupuncture for everything from shock to cholera. The essential oils and homeopathy are the most effective because of how many bottles they can carry, and how far the medicine goes. A single drop of essential oil in a community water barrel has stopped the spread of cholera in some areas. Every female in Haiti has some form of vaginal infection from a very young age, and a combination of a 1% dilution of tea tree and lavender is providing relief for the females they have been able to treat. Imagine the feeling of vaginal relief for the first time in your entire life. The power of plants is miraculous! Thank you thank you, Jacquelin, Julia and Michelle. Big heart hugs to you all!

The keynote speaker was Robin Wall Kimmerer, scientist, decorated professor and enrolled member of the Potawatomi Nation. She eloquently spoke of the importance of giving back to our Earth, instead of constantly taking. Robin spoke of developing a new language when speaking about our plant relations. When we refer to other forms of life as “it” then it is too easy to devalue them as we do with all of our “natural resources.” “It” doesn’t have a soul, “he” or “she” does. She suggests a new pronoun for our plants, “ki,” which comes from the ending of a Potwatomi word (I can’t find it in my notes!) and would personalize life, instead of treating “it” as if it’s life is not as important as ours. The plural would be “kin,” which is what plants are to us. They are our ancestors, our relatives, our kin.

I will share more experiences from the International Herb Symposium, since I didn’t even tell you about the ultra-talented Amikaeyla Gaston or the update on the Fire Cider Three. Those will have to come later. For now I leave you with these thoughts:

“What if you were a teacher but had no voice to speak your knowledge? What if you had no language at all and yet there was something you needed to say? Wouldn’t you dance it? Wouldn’t you act it out? Wouldn’t your every movement tell the story? In time you would be so eloquent that just to gaze upon you would reveal it all. And so it is with these silent green lives.”  – Robin Wall Kimmerer

With love,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows