Posts Tagged: herbalism

{DIY} Cleansing + calming bath

Feeling some bad vibes? Cleanse + protect with this soothing bath: Feeling some bad vibes and need to relax, recharge, and cleanse?

Add two cups Epsom salt and/or 2- 3 handfuls of sea salt + ten drops frankincense essential oil + white sage bath tea to your bath water, and soak for about 20 minutes.

(To make the tea, steep a small handful of sage in hot water for about 20 minutes, then strain and pour it in the tub).Feeling some bad vibes? Cleanse + protect with this soothing bath:

White sage tea can be used in the bath in the same way that you would use sage for smudging – to purify, cleanse and protect from negative energies. Sage has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, calming, and deodorizing properties, and smells amazing.

Clinical studies have proven that *frankincense deepens breathing and strengthens the immune system. It’s very calming, and helps relax and focus the mind. Like sage, frankincense is believed to cleanse and protect the body and aura.

While bathing, it’s also helpful to focus on deep breathing, while imagining everything that you no longer want to hold onto going down the drain as you exhale.

*Not recommended if pregnant or nursing

Need some more relaxation tips? Check out this post

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Schizandra Berry for vibrant health and beauty

Hello!

Today I wanted to share one of my favorite herbs, and one of the most powerful and beneficial around: Schizandra berry.
“If used for 100 days successively, Schizandra is said to purify the blood, sharpen the mind, improve memory, rejuvenate the Kidney energy (especially the sexual functions in both men and women), and cause the skin to become radiantly beautiful.” – Ron Teeguarden.  Sign up to save 20% on Schizandra extract from Lucidera - expires 3/18/15
I’ve been taking this herb for several years, and I’m excited that I finally got my hands on some of the highest quality Schizandra out there (and I want to share the wealth!)

It has been one of the top herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, promoting vibrant health and beauty. It’s said to “calm the heart and quiet the spirit” and to “prolong the years of life without aging”

It’s known as Wu Wei Zi, often translated as “five flavor fruit” – and is the only herb with all 5 flavors ( sweet, salty, bitter, sour and pungent ). It benefits, tonifies, and balances all organs and meridians in the body, and is an adaptogen (helping you deal with physical and mental stress.)

“If used for 100 days successively, Schizandra is said to purify the blood, sharpen the mind, improve memory, rejuvenate the Kidney energy (especially the sexual functions in both men and women), and cause the skin to become radiantly beautiful.” – Ron Teeguarden.

It also:

Improves eyesight (In Russia Schizandra is considered eye food, and is a registered medicine for vision difficulties. [Source]

Cleanses the liver

Improves alertness and concentration

Strengthens the respiratory system

Boosts energy at a cellular level

Helps skin retain moisture

Promotes beautiful eyes & hair

Safely detoxifies the body

Helps speed recovery after surgery

Normalizes blood sugar

Improves mood

etc..etc..etc.. (learn about more of Schizandras benefits, here. Yes – there are even more benefits!)

Where to find it, and how to prepare?

I’ve made schizandra berry tea & tinctures with berries from Mountain Rose Herbs* in the past ( Learn how to make your own tincture, here:
http://thelotusroot.com/making-herbal-tinctures/

Lately I’ve been mixing 1/4 of a teaspoon of schizandra powder in hot or cold spring water.

As I mentioned, I just got my hands on some really high quality Schizandra extract from Lucidera* (Organic, American grown in pristine soil, highly concentrated, freeze-dried to retain nutrients, etc..) As luck would have it, Nick, the owner of Lucidera sent out a coupon code yesterday as I was working on this post. I emailed him to find out if I could share it with you, and he generously offered to create an exclusive 20% off coupon code and extend it to March 20th at Midnight, EST. Sign up here to get the code!

*I have no affiliations with these companies. I just love supporting and spreading the word about businesses with sustainable practices, who are going above and beyond with the quality of their products. I love researching this stuff, and being able to share it with you. It hurts my heart when people think herbalism doesn’t work because they’ve only tried low quality herbs.

Let me know if you try schizandra, and what results you get!**
To your health!
Liz

You may also be interested in Triphala – an Ayurvedic herb for healthy skin, detoxing, and more

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**Disclaimer: Not recommended if you have epilepsy, or are pregnant or nursing. May cause gastrointestinal upset in some individuals, although it’s rare. If you have any health conditions, please do your research or check in with a qualified physician before using schizandra.
The information in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

 

Ayurvedic herbs for the skin

Today I wanted to share this video by Prashanti de Jager, one of my favorite herbalists, on the top ayurvedic herbs for clear & healthy skin.

(Spoiler alert: the herbs are triphala, turmeric, brahmi, and neem – more about triphala and how to use it HERE.)

To sum it up:  Any herb or food that is rich in antioxidants, bioflavanoids, or is cleansing to the liver and/or blood is great for your skin. Herbs / foods that support the immune system improve the health of your skin as well.
He also touches on why it’s a good idea to use herbs & herbal based products.

+ Learn more about the health + beauty benefits of turmeric {and a healthy hot cocoa recipe}:  here

+ Learn how to make a delicious turmeric / cocoa / peanut butter smoothie: here

+ Sign up for weekly health & natural beauty tips: here

Day 3 – Nettle leaf infusion

Today is day 3 of my #herbalmedicineeveryday challenge, and I’m making a nettle infusion, inspired by the great American herbalist Susun Weed.

Nettle is rich in iron & vitamin K to name a few things, and it’s gently cleansing to the body. To really get all of those nutrients out of the plant, you need to steep for at least 4 – 10 hours.
Learn how to make your own infusions, here: http://www.susunweed.com/How_to_make_Infusions.htm

I’m giving myself a challenge this month. Are you in?‏

As I mentioned in Mondays post, my challenge for the rest of the month is to get more nourishment into by body by enjoying different herbs every day. I have quite a collection of herbs here in my mini home apothecary, and I really need to start using them more. (Plus, there are so many great herbs to be found at health food & grocery stores.) We’re getting less nutrients in our food these days – the soil is more depleted then ever, and the “medicine” has been bred out of a lot of the food we eat for a long time now (see this article for more info) – so it’s always a great idea to nourish with herbs.

(Yesterday’s gray weather called for a spicy / sweet / chocolatey version of ayurvedic golden milk, with turmeric + other spices – recipe soon to come – sign up here to have it sent to your inbox next week. )

I’ve been fascinated by herbalism since I was a kid, when my dad would bring home mysterious bags of herbs to brew from Chinatown in Chicago.

Another early memory is of Kava drinking sessions with friends in high school. They had a whole ceremony for it – we would have to clap before receiving our wooden bowl of kava to drink (which they called a bup, because it looked like a combination of a bowl & a cup.) Very official.
Since then I’ve slowly been getting to know some of our many plant allies. It never ceases to amaze me how each plant has something different to offer to fix our ailments.

One of these days I’ll make it official and become a certified herbalist – in the meantime I’ll just continue to learn about and experience the healing power of plants.

Anyway, I’d love it if you’d join in on the challenge one day, or every day, for the rest of the month. I’ll be posting daily on instagram (by far my favorite social media platform)

http://instagram.com/thelotusroot

I’m using the hashtag #HerbalMedicineEveryday – feel free to follow it or use it on your own photos to share what herbs you’ve been enjoying.

Not on instagram? Feel free to share your pics on facebook. I’ll be posting on my blog throughout the month, too.

Got an herb you’re not sure how to use? Let me know and I’ll try my best to help you out or do a post on it.
Hit reply or ask anonymously, here. {I’ve been loving all of your questions and if I haven’t answered yet I’ll be in touch soon! Keep ‘em coming!}

Liz

 

herbal medicine everyday

Starting today I’m challenging myself to get more herbal medicine into my body (to get some of the nutrients I may not be getting despite a healthy diet.) For the rest of the month I’ll be enjoying some of the many herbs I’ve bought but haven’t used yet. Feel free to follow along or join me on instagram by using the hashtag #HerbalMedicineEveryday

Starting simple today with some passion tea (hibiscus + licorice root + orange peel + cinnamon + rose hips + lemon grass)

Starting today I'm challenging myself to get more herbal medicine into my body (to get some of the nutrients I may not be getting despite a healthy diet.) For the rest of the month I'll be enjoying some of the many herbs I've bought but haven't used yet. Feel free to follow along or join me on instagram by using the hashtag #HerbalMedicineEveryday http://instagram.com/thelotusroot

How to make chaga tea

How to make Chaga Tea {great for vibrant health + skin} http://thelotusroot.com/how-to-make-chaga-tea/

What is Chaga?

As I mentioned in this post, Chaga is a wild, medicinal mushroom that grows on birch trees. It’s one of the best sources of antioxidants around, and has an extremely long list of health benefits (check out this list). It has a nice mild flavor, it’s a nice alternative to caffeinated drinks, and tastes great hot or cold.

How do you make it?

  • A crock pot is the easiest and safest way to prepare it – since you can pretty much set it and forget it ( I also like that crock pots are ceramic on the inside, so (hopefully) you’re not making your tea in a pot that’s leaching metals)
How to make Chaga Tea {great for vibrant health + skin} http://thelotusroot.com/how-to-make-chaga-tea/

trust me – it tastes better than it looks!

  • Put a couple of small pieces (or one large piece) in the pot, fill it up with spring water (with a little bit of room at the top) and set it on low for about 8 hours (or longer).
  • You’ll know its ready when it’s dark like coffee. You can do it before you go to bed so it will be ready in the morning.
  • You can continue to add water until it doesn’t get dark anymore – then start over with new pieces.
  • It tastes great on its own (hot or iced) or with a little bit of almond milk (or organic cream..etc..)  + the sweetener of your choice

I get my chaga from Keystone Herbs – but if you’re lucky you can find it growing where you live. How to make Chaga Tea {great for vibrant health + skin} http://thelotusroot.com/how-to-make-chaga-tea/

Let me know if you try it!

Liz

How to make an herbal infused oil {diy dry skin relief}

There are many herbs that are fantastic for healing & soothing dry skin. Making an infused oil is a great way to extract an herbs medicinal properties. In this post I’m going to show you how to make an herbal infused oil using the solar method. Once finished – you can even use this oil to give your “oil cleansing method” routine a botanical boost.

Some wonderful herbs for dry skin are Chamomile ( avoid if you have chamomile or ragweed allergies) Calendula & Comfrey. All three soothe & soften dry + irritated skin, promote skin cell regeneration, and have anti-inflammatory properties. There are many more herbs you can use – be sure to do your research before working with any herb, especially if pregnant or nursing.

Start with a high quality carrier oil such as extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed, sweet almond or jojoba.. Just try to make sure it’s cold pressed / unrefined and/or extra virgin. When starting out, I recommend using dried herbs, since the moisture in fresh herbs can cause your oil to go rancid.

DIY Herbal Infused Oil http://thelotusroot.com/how-to-make-an-herbal-infused-oil/ #greenbeauty #naturalskincare #howto

1. Start with a clean and dry glass jar –  fill your jar about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with your herb. (You can always start out with less herbs, if you just want to test a small amount.)

 

2. Fill  your jar with the oil, making sure that the herbs are completely covered. (You generally want to use twice as much oil as the herb).

Cap your jar – label it with the date, and type of herb & oil.

 

3. Place jar in a sunny spot.

Shake every day for at least the first week. It’s a good idea to open the jar every once in a while, check for mold or to see if it smells rancid, and to check for any condensation inside of the lid (if you find any- wipe the lid with a clean, dry towel). Make sure herbs are under the oil.

 

4. In about 3-6 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil with cheesecloth, muslin, or a nutmilk bag.

Squeeze any remaining oil out of the herbs (that’s the most potent part).

For an even stronger oil – start the process again by topping a new batch of dried herbs with the oil you just made.

 

5. Bottle the oil and label your jar with the date finished.

Most infused oils are best used within about 6 months (depending on type of carrier oil you use). Olive oil may last about a year (or longer).

Once it’s finished, keep away from heat and direct sunlight. (Store in amber glass and in the fridge for the longest shelf life).

Do not use if the oil starts to smell off, or if you see any mold growing.

You can use the finished product as a soothing massage oil, or you can turn it into a lip balm, salve, cream, or ointment.

 If you don’t feel like waiting several weeks, you can make infused oil by heating it up in a double boiler – more on that method in a future post.

Don’t have time to do it yourself? Look out for the ingredients I mentioned in lotions, salves and balms.

What do you use to deal with dry skin? Let me know in the comments below!

 

photos: © Liz Davison 2013

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Making hibiscus tea

I just wanted to take a moment to share one of my favorite drinks to help keep cool in the summertime – iced hibiscus tea. Growing up, I loved drinking Red Zinger tea, which has hibiscus in it ( I was that weird kid who stopped drinking pop when I was 12). Hibiscus is known as Jamaica or “Agua de flor de Jamaica”, among many other names throughout the world…It’s high in vitamin C, antioxidants and minerals, so it’s great for the skin and can give your immune system a boost.

organic hibiscus tea

 

Hibiscus tea is made of a part of the flower called the calyx (the part that supports the petals). Y ou can find it at many grocery stores – I got organic hibiscus at mountainroseherbs.com

There are different ways to make hibiscus tea – this is how I make mine:

  •   Add about half a cup of dried hibiscus to a glass pitcher / milk jug or jar and pour almost boiling water in to the top
  •    Let the water cool, and then place in the fridge for a couple of hours
  •    Strain
  • Add your sweetener of choice. Hibiscus is naturally tart, so sweeten to taste. I used a 1/4 cup of coconut sugar and a 1/4 cup of raw honey. Pour over ice and enjoy!

hibiscus tea

It has many health benefits, (studies have shown it can lower blood pressure)  but may also have some side effects, you can read about both here.  hibiscus tea

Do you ever drink hibiscus / jamaica, or do you have a favorite cold drink for the summertime? Let me know in the comments below!

 

photos:  © Elizabeth Paige Davison, 2013

 

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Making herbal tinctures

how to make a tincture http://thelotusroot.com/making-herbal-tinctures/

As I mentioned in my homemade vanilla extract post, I started some tinctures a few weeks ago. Tinctures are highly concentrated liquid extracts of herbs, made by steeping the herb in alcohol, vinegar or vegetable glycerine.

They absorb more quickly than other types of remedies, and are often taken by dropper-fulls under the tongue (sometimes a few times a day). You can also put your herbal extract into tea or warm water.

They’re often labeled as herbal extracts at the health food store. You can make tinctures for relaxing and reducing stress, bringing your whole body back into balance, boosting your immune system or your mood, reducing anxiety, improving memory, sleeping better, for colds or allergies, etc..

When using alcohol, it’s often recommended that you use 80 – 100 proof vodka, brandy or rum. (I used 80 proof vodka.)

If you want your tincture to be non-gmo, make sure the alcohol is organic.

The herbs I used were Schizandra berries, Reishi Mushroom and Chaga mushroom. All three of these are adaptogenic, or tonic herbs.

Adaptogenic herbs help you deal with stress, improve your immune system, and help to bring your body into balance.

Check out this video of Brandon Gilbert from Hyperion Herbs talking about adaptogens (and wearing one of our t-shirts, woohoo!)

how to make an herbal extract / tincture http://thelotusroot.com/making-herbal-tinctures/

To create the tinctures:

  • I put the dried herbs into jars (cutting the reishi into small pieces first) and poured vodka on top. (Some herbs, like chaga mushroom, work best when ground in a coffee grinder first.) I used a 1:2 ratio – 1 part herb to 2 parts alcohol.
  • I labeled the jars with the type of herb, type of alcohol & date started
  • Then I put them in a dark cabinet, taking them out every day for two weeks to shake them.
  • You want to keep the herbs submerged in the alcohol.  If the liquid starts to get lower, top the tinctures with more vodka.
how to make an herbal extract / tincture http://thelotusroot.com/making-herbal-tinctures/

after 4 weeks…

There are different ways to make tinctures – I ended up using the simple folk method that’s mentioned in this video by Mountain Rose Herbs.

Keep in mind that some herbs may be treated differently – be sure to research each individual herb before you start. Take a look at this awesome chart for info on different herbs; which ones are best used fresh v.s dry, the best liquid to herb ratios, etc..)

In this great post, Herbalist Kiva Rose goes into detail about different methods, using dried herbs vs fresh herbs. . etc.

“Making Plant Medicine” by Richo Cech and “The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook” by James Green are also two highly recommended books with

tincture recipes for different herbs. Micheal Moores Materia Medica is also an excellent resource.

After my tinctures have been steeping for 8 weeks, I’ll strain them and will put the liquid into amber bottles that have a dropper – I’ll keep you posted on how it works out.

how to make an herbal extract / tincture http://thelotusroot.com/making-herbal-tinctures/

Have you ever made a tincture? What herbs did you use?

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Portland goodies

A couple of weeks ago, Vincent and I returned to NYC from Portland with our batteries recharged and some fun stuff in our bags. Here’s some of what we brought back:

 

 

I couldn’t pass up that wooden hand or the palo santo sticks from Red Fox Vintage.  Palo santo has been used since ancient times by the Incas, and is burnt to purify a room much like sage. It belongs to the same family as Frankincense, so it has a nice sweet smell and is very soothing. I like it because it’s subtle and doesn’t irritate my lungs like some incense can.

The shopkeeper gets hers shipped from her daughter in Equador. She told me that, unlike a lot of palo santo sold in the US, hers is not chemically treated. Good to know!

 

I found this beautiful paper, handmade from recycled cotton rag, at a local art supply store. The bag on the right is filled with kava kava (also known as awa), which I picked up from The Herb Shoppe.

Kava is a polynesian herb which I was first introduced to by some friends in highschool and later explored more while living in Hawaii. I’ve tried many forms of kava over the years and some is definitely better than others. I’ll be sharing some tricks I’ve learned to prepare it and how to find good quality kava in future blog posts.

It’s a very calming herb and definitely stimulates creativity, so I’m excited to see what happens when the paper & kava come together. I’ll keep you posted!

 

Amber (possibly for a future necklace), ocean jasper, and Mount Tabor leaves.

Lately I just can’t seem to pass up an interesting stone or leaf.

I justify my growing collection of items like this by telling myself they’re good for inspiration.

Now it’s time for me to use some of the materials & inspiration I’ve been gathering and get to work!