All Things Herbal


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Herbal Allies for Pain Management

By Kate Maxey

Pain is something we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. It’s just one of the consequences of being in a body. Pain can be a crippling and exhausting experience of living in a body, however we have many plant allies to help us through the pain process. Utilizing medicinal plants for pain is not a “one size fits all” type of thing and there are many different plants for different types of pain. Here I will talk about nerve pain, musculoskeletal pain and joint pain, all of which you would treat differently when implementing plant medicine.

Nerve Pain

There are more than 100 different types of nerve damage. The various types may have different symptoms and different causes including: autoimmune diseases, cancer, compression/trauma, diabetes, motor neuron diseases, and nutritional deficiencies especially B6 ad B12. Because nerves are essential to all that we do, nerve pain can be debilitating and really affect ones quality of life.

We have come to know St Johns Wort as a treatment for depression and anxiety but it is quickly becoming one of my favorites for nerve pain. There are two species that grow in the northwest area, H. perforatum, which has been introduced from Europe and the native species, H. formosum. Both have similar constituents, however H. perforatum is about twice a strong as the native species so we tend to stick with using that one.   St John’s Wort is useful for general nerve pain, sciatica, back spasms, injuries to the spinal cord and nerves, including nerve injuries to the fingers and toes. St John’s Wort is also great for calming and nourishing frayed nerves due to acute stress or when we are dealing with intense change and feelings of being overwhelmed. It combines well with Arnica and Poplar Buds. The infused oil, which turns a beautiful shade of red, is a great way to deal with nerve pain and is great when combined with essential oils specific to nerve pain like helichrysum, chamomile, marjoram, and lavender. I have seen St. John’s Wort be useful when drunk as a tea for treating symptoms of Fibromyalgia. It is also great as a fresh plant tincture with the dose being 20-30 drops, three times a day.



Hypericum perforatum

Hypericum perforatum


Musculoskeletal pain

Many things can bring on musculoskeletal pain. Muscle tissue can be damaged with the wear and tear of daily activities. Trauma to an area like jerking movements, auto accidents, falls, fractures, sprains, and dislocations can cause musculoskeletal pain. Other causes of pain include postural strain, repetitive movements, teeth grinding, overuse, and prolonged immobilization. Changes in posture or poor body mechanics may bring about spinal alignment problems and muscle shortening, therefore causing other muscles to be misused and become painful. The best we can do is sit up straight and avoid accidents, however we sometimes find that our body takes a beating and we need to reach for plant allies.

One of my favorites for musculoskeletal pain is Pedicularis, which comes in a variety of species like P. densiflorus, P. semibarbata, P. bracteosa, and P. racemosa to name a few and also has many common names such as Indian Warrior, Lousewort, Elephant’s head and Betony (not to be confused with the genus Stachys which is also called betony). The fresh plant extract is the best way to utilize this plant and you can use up to a teaspoon for acute pain making it a higher dose plant. It can also be used as an external liniment applied to problem areas. What I love about this plant is that unlike a lot of pain relievers Pedicularis doesn’t make you drowsy so that you can use it throughout the day and still maintain mental focus and clarity. It reduces muscle spasms and relives tension of the muscles making it useful for tension headaches, jaw pain due to grinding of the teeth; chronic and acute back pain and menstrual cramping. It is also a great plant to use before doing yoga or getting bodywork done for it helps to pre-loosen the musculoskeletal system enabling the body to find a deeper relaxation and letting go of tension. I can certainly feel the difference when I take Pedicularis versus when I don’t when I go to my cranio-sacral practitioner. All in all this is a great plant for when our bodies are feeling tight and unwilling to relax and loosen up.


Pedicularis densiflorus

Pedicularis densiflorus


Joint Pain

Joints form the connections between bones. They provide support and help the body to move. Any damage to the joints from disease or injury can interfere with your movement and cause a lot of pain. Many different conditions can lead to painful joints, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, strains, sprains, and other injuries. As you get older, painful joints become increasingly more common.

Another way to look at the cause of joint pain is to consider the diet of the individual. Excess of rich foods, sweets and meats combined with a lack of exercise and poor digestive power can clog the channels of the body and contribute to the development of arthritis, rheumatism, gout and overall joint pain. Another thing to consider is that if the blood is too acidic, which happens with a rich, meat heavy diet, the cartilage in the joints may dissolve causing joint inflammation and pain.

There are many herbs out there that help with joint pain like turmeric, yucca and devils claw, however due to the digestive element of the problem I will discuss including burdock root in a joint pain regime. Arctium lappa is the latin name of this plant and is a Eurasian weed spread by burs. Burdock is what is called an alterative, which is a plant that not only cleanses the blood of toxins and metabolic wastes, but also gradually alters metabolic function, increasing nutrients to the tissues. As rich foods and meats accumulate in the body, inflammation occurs within the joints. Burdock helps to clear away these inflammatory wastes allowing for the joints to heal and repair themselves. It helps to stimulate the natural flow of lymphatic fluid that supports excretion of toxic by-products from the cells. It is a general anti-inflammatory, digestive stimulant, blood and lymphatic purifier and has a cooling effect on the body. It is great as a tea, which Michael Moore says to do as a cold infusion however a decoction would work too. It can also be used as a fresh plant tincture using ½ to ¼ teaspoon four times a day. It grows very well in the Humboldt area and the root is yummy used fresh in soups, stews and as a roasted veggie.

Arctium lappa

Arctium lappa


Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore

Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra

Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner

Class notes form Christa Sinadinos

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Help with putting the cigarettes down

By Kate Maxey

Cigarettes kill a lot of people. Not only is cigarette smoking the single greatest cause of preventable disease but it is probably the most difficult addiction to kick. We all know the health problems that come with cigarettes, from respiratory and heart issues to impotence and cancer. I am not going to cover the problems with this habit so much as I want to talk about ways to kick it. For some you just might feel that it is time to do it, but maybe you need a little help.

So here are some suggestions in the herbal and psychological realms:

* Social support: Grab a friend to quit with you. If you know of another person who also wants to stop ,do it together. Your odds of continuing cessation will greatly improve. One study found that if someone’s spouse quits with them their chance of continued smoking decreased by nearly 70 percent.

You can also tell your friends and family that you are trying to quit so that they can provide support and motivation. Social media can be useful for this as well.

Psychological treatments:  Behavioral therapy can be beneficial like setting up some sort of rewards system for when you don’t smoke. Whatever it may be try to make your reward something healthy, like giving yourself time to relax or be in nature or buying a special small thing for yourself.  Sweets and fatty foods might not be a good idea as rewards because people tend to put on weight when they quit smoking.

Another idea is hypnotherapy. I have personally had really good experiences with hypnotherapy which is why I mention it here.  It doesn’t work for everyone and the clinical results are mixed, but it is something to look into if you have the extra funds to pay for a few sessions. For more info on this:

*Exercise: Exercise not only helps to relax the nervous system but it helps the brain to be happy and healthy. Aerobic exercise especially helps with clearing out the lungs as well. I have a friend who when she was trying to quit ran everyday, and what really kept her from smoking was seeing all the black tar nastiness that was coming out of her lungs! No good!

*Nicotine Replacement Therapy:  This comes in the form of patches, gum, inhalers, ect and can help with the intense cravings that come with putting down cigarettes.   Clinical studies have shown that NRT is more effective then a placebo treatment, however abstinence rates are only about 50 percent at 12 month follow ups. Also, a smoker can become dependent on these things so it is good to be aware of other options.

*Herbal Treatment:  There are many herbal allies to help with putting the cigarettes down. Here are a list of some of the main ones:

Lobelia: (Lobelia inflata) Lobelia has a general depressant action on the central and autonomic nervous systems and is a great anti-asthmatic.  Clinical studies have shown that a constituent in Lobelia called lobeline, acts similarly to nicotine in the brain, making it helpful with withdrawal symptoms. It also thins the thick mucus that accompanies cessation from smoking. This is a low does plant so it is best to take it as a tincture or you can also smoke it in a herbal smoking blend. (More on this later)

Oatstraw: (Avena Sativa) Oatstraw is a phenomenal nervous system tonic.  I personally believe it should be in our water supply it is so amazing. It calms and balances the nervous system and not only helps with nicotine withdrawal, but it also helps with other addiction withdrawals that come with opiates and alcohol.

Skullcap: (Scutellaria laterifolia)  Is a strong nervous system sedative that works for the acute symptoms of withdrawal. It effectively soothes nervous tension while renewing and reviving the central nervous system.



Yerba Santa: (Eriodictyon californicum) This stimulating expectorant thins and stimulates the free flow of mucus from the lungs when there is congestion with thick mucus.

Elecampane root: (Inula helenium ) Another great lung herb that helps  get the gunk up and out of the lungs. It also soothes irritation in the lungs which is nice for the lungs of a smoker. It is useful for asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, COPD and for chronic coughs.


Elecampane flowers

One great tea recipe for soothing the lungs is:

Coltsfoot 2 parts (A great expectorant and anti spasmodic)

Marshmallow root 2 parts  (A great soothing demulcent)

Hyssop 2 parts (Expectorant, nervine and anti-spasmodic)

Licorice 1 part ( Soothing demulcent, as well as a nice liver and adrenal supporting herb)

Anise 1 part  (A great anti-spasmodic)

Some other great tea blends for the lungs are made by Humboldt Herbals. One is a lung tonic and the other is a nice expectorant tea. you can find them here:

They also carry a great herbal smoking blend that can be useful when you are dealing with the habit of the hand to mouth action of smoking. You know, when you just need to smoke something. They don’t put Lobelia into their blend, but you can add it to this blend or get an idea of some other good smoking herbs.

They also have a great tincture to help with the nicotine withdrawal symptoms that I have seen be very effective for people:

Well I hope this helps. And good luck to all those who have decided to put the cigarettes down!


Medical Herbalism by David Hoffmann

Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner

Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson Haas


Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Bell’s Coconut Curry Soup

delectable soup

by Jessica Shepherd

Chilly outside?  What’s that, your nose is cold and your cheeks are too?–Ahh, then today is surely a day for a warming bowl of soup!

During the winter season a steamy aromatic bowl of soup comforts, warms, and always hits the spot!  What I love about soup is that it’s a very convenient and tasty way to “eat your medicine” either by incorporating herbs, seaweeds, and medicinal mushrooms right in the mix; or by infusing your desired herbs and roots into your soup base broths (or some of us Herbalist’s like to do both!).  I look forward to this recipe being the start of my soup sharing with you!!!

This time of year we are blessed to have an abundant supply of winter squash available from local organic farms in the area (thank you Farmer’s!) and I can’t help but walk by butternut squash at the market and feel inspired for soup making!!!   Apparently someone out there has even deemed January as National Soup Month—who come’s up with these?—hooray for another reason to celebrate soup!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Bell’s Coconut Curry Soup

This soup recipe is one I and those friend’s I have shared a bowl with– (you know who you are!!) just can’t seem to get tired of.  At first taste its classic sweet creamy butternut squash, rounded off by the roasted red bell pepper and aromatic parsnip, to segue into the caramelized onion and garlic flavors that finish off with a generous hit of warming aromatic curry and a kick of spice (long description I know, but it gets the ole’ taste-buds activated!). Yum!

Here’s what you’ll need

2 medium to large sized butternut squash

2 large red bell peppers

1 medium  parsnip

4-5 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger root

½ medium sized yellow onion

4 cups of soup stock or veggie broth

1 can of lite coconut milk

2 tbsp. red curry paste (optional)

2-3 generous tablespoons of  Curry Powder (or whatever blend you make or prefer I share my recipe below so please keep reading!)

1-2 tbsp. of olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a cookie sheet or roasting pan.  Peel the squash, scoop out seeds, and cut into halves.  Then lightly brush some olive oil on them and put on your roasting pan or cookie sheet along with the parsnip which I leave whole.

Cut the red bell’s in half and lightly brush them with oil–set them aside for now as they don’t take as much time to roast as the squash does.  So now, put the squash and lone parsnip in the oven to roast for about 50 min. or more if needed, until the squash is nice and soft—and you can easily poke a fork into it.  After about 20-30 minutes of roasting the squash and lone parsnip,  add the red bell’s to the roasting pan for the remaining 15-20 minutes or so of cooking time.

Meanwhile, get your soup pot (or cauldron) out and fill it with broth and coconut milk bring it to a simmer then turn heat to low.  Next in a cast iron skillet on medium heat, sautee’ your chopped onion, ginger, and garlic until nice and lightly caramelized, then add those to your pot-o-broth and whisk in your curry blend and paste (if using), salt and pepper, stir again and put the lid on.  When the squash, bell’s, and parsnip are done roasting you can let them cool just a bit and chop them into smaller quarters for blending, or just leave them as they are if your blender can handle it, then transfer them on into the amazing curry broth you have going on the stovetop…..roasted squash, red bells, and a parsnip in coconut curry broth

Now this is when I get out my trusty hand-held emulsion blender and begin the blending process slow and steady blending everything down to desired level of creaminess, I like to be able to see flecks of red from the bells everywhere.  You can of course use your trusty blender for this job too, just transfer small amounts at a time and be careful to secure the lid and be cautious with the hot liquid soup.

After blending everything, give it a final “stirring of the pot” and take a little taste test–adjust salt, pepper, and curry belnd to taste.  Also at this point, pause for a second to enjoy the air of your kitchen which is filled with a dancing blend of warming, pungent aromatics with a touch of sweet, all working to get the digestive juices stirring for warm yummy soup!

If you desire to add more of the curry blend, I prefer to whisk it in to ensure mixing it throughout the soup.  Serve it up and Enjoy!

warm soup

Speaking of curry…—yes, I make my own spice blend when it comes to that.  Making your own blend is not only easy, affordable, and empowering its also a perfect opportunity to interact with these amazing spices—their vibrant colors, complex aromatics, and array of flavors are waiting for you to come get creative and play!  And of course the added bonus they offer is their medicinal benefits–I will highlight a few of those healing spices at the end of the post so stick with me!  There are so many recipes out there for curry blend’s it’s incredible–you can always start there for inspiration, and eventually create  your own culinary blend.

from left to right chili flakes, celery seed, coriander seed, turmeric powder, cumin seed, black peppercorn, and the finished blend itself!

from left to right chili flakes, celery seed, coriander seed, turmeric powder, cumin seed, black peppercorn, and the finished blend itself!

And I’m happy to share with you  my herb-n-spice-lovin’ friend’s, my very own “Mellow Yellow Curry” recipe to try (if anyone wants to swap recipes I always love trying new blends too!!!) Of course, this soup can be made with your favorite herb-store bought curry spice blend too!  If I had to recommend one I would surely try Humboldt Herbals Seven Seas Curry blend—they grind it down from whole spices and prepare it in small artisan batches using organic ingredients.

Jessica’s Mellow Yellow Curry Blend

This recipe yields approx. 2 (4 oz.) spice jars–1 for you and 1 for a friend!

1/2 cup Coriander seed, whole

1/4 cup Cumin seed, whole

1/8 cup Celery seed, whole

1 tablespoon Black Peppercorns, whole

1 teaspoon Cardamom seed, whole

1/4 cup Turmeric root  powder

1 tablespoon Chili Flakes

1 teaspoon Clove powder

1 tablespoon true Cinnamon powder (common cinnamon cassia will work too!)

Take all of the whole ingredients (Coriander, Celery seed, Peppercorn, Chili flake, Cardamom seed, Cumin seed) and gently dry-roast them in a cast iron pan for a few minutes (up to about 10min.) moving things around with a wooden spoon so the spices don’t brown too much.  Then remove and let cool.  Next grind the whole roasted spices in your coffee grinder, or heavy-duty mortar and pestle.  Finally, take freshly ground spices and add remaining powdered ingredients (Turmeric, Clove, Cinnamon,) and mix them all together into an exotic and aromatic culinary blend!  Yellow Mellow Curry blend

Jar it up and enjoy not only in the delicious soup recipe above, but also enjoyed: tossed on steamed or roasted veggie’s and taters, can be mixed into cream cheese or greek yogurt for a dip, various curry stews, sprinkled on hard-boiled eggs or egg-salad, chicken, marinades, and more!!

Here are some highlights of just a few of the healing properties of Coriander, Cumin, and Turmeric three of the main ingredients in this curry blend. 

 Coriander seedCoriander seed (Coriandrum sativum): Sweet, nutty, taste with an edge of lemon, orange, and sage.  It is also bitter and pungent and aids the digestive process and the appetite. It eases indigestion, gas, and bloating, stomach cramps and spasms, and general tummy aches.  Aids in decreasing blood sugar levels, helps decrease bad cholesterol (“LDL”) and increase good cholesterol (“HDL”). Offers liver protective anti-oxidants that protect the liver from damage, while also being able to repair and regenerate the liver.  Has diuretic properties and has been used for the urinary tract.  Also has been utilized for insomnia, anxiety, as a sedative and muscle relaxant. Coriander is a valued key ingredient in practically all forms of curry spice blends.

Turmeric root powder Turmeric root (Curcuma longa):  Bitter, astringent, mildly pungent, and warming (also termed as “hot”).  Quite the well known potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant these days.  There seems to be plenty of information circulating out there regarding this  golden-orange roots benefit’s and proven efficacy, and also the many forms available on the market today (capsules, softgels, tinctures etc.).  At a glance, Turmeric has a history of being used for aiding digestion, assimilation of nutrients, and for stimulating bile which aids in the breakdown of dietary fats and hence,  this root also has cholesterol lowering properties.  It has been known to protect the gallbladder and worked with to prevent gallstones or added to a gallstone supportive formula.  Turmeric also protects and strengthens the liver helping with liver ailments including hepatitis, and jaundice, also assisting hormonal imbalances like PMS; and skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.  Used as a stimulant to improve blood circulation and as an analgesic to relieve headache.  As a potent anti-inflammatory it has been used for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions body-wide.  Much of the buzz around turmeric makes mention of its having curcumin–one of the active properties found in the root and its what makes turmeric yellow.  Curcumin has been widely researched and its many anti-oxidant properties are attributed to it, but it is the whole broad spectrum makeup of this plant that delivers healing, not just one isolate of it (opinion varies there, but this is what I believe with all of my heart).  Because of its antioxidant action it is considered the “anti-cancer spice” as it can fight cancer on various levels and is able to: inhibit the activation of genes that trigger cancer, inhibit the spread of tumor cells, kill cells that mutate into cancer, shrink tumor cells, prevent tumors from spreading to other organs, and can enhance the cancer-destroying effects of chemotherapy and radiation; in addition it also shows promise for alzheimer’s disease as it can bind to amyloid-A which is a protein that if not properly broken down and eliminated, can clump together hardening into a plaque that blocks neural activity and causes a host of neurological problems.  It can also slow oxidative damage to neurons; reduce damage to neural synapses, and also reduce levels of toxic metal’s in the brain.  Turmeric is a key ingredient in curry and is what gives it that bright-orange hue.  Turmeric is so well appreciated in India it seems to be used in just about everything!  It should be noted that traditionally they prefer the powder to be cooked verses consuming it raw, as the spice tends to mellow out after cooking.  To do this just heat a little oil in a pan and sprinkle in some turmeric, stirring with a wooden spoon so it doesn’t burn.  In a moments time the aroma will evolve into a more delicate version some describe as ginger and orange, with a slight peppery. Cook for just a few minutes and its ready for use.  There is so much more to get to know about this amazing root, but I will stop there for now, and as usual I highly encourage you, my herbal friends, to continue the learning journey about this plant!  p.s. for those of you who are new to turmeric heads up– it does stain things yellow, your skin too but will fade away in a day or two

Cumin seed  Cumin seed  (Cuminum cyminum):  A member of the parsley family cumin seed is spicy, zesty, bitter, pungent, and cooling.  It is a carminative, so it helps relieve gas and bloating similar to fennel, anise, and coriander to which it is related. It reduces nausea and colic, and is antibacterial against some forms of food poisoning.  Cumin decoctions were prepared and taken to cool the body during hot weather.  It is a mild diuretic, and has been used for mild insomnia and the common cold.  Cumin has been proven to reduce levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (heart-damaging blood fats).  It also displays support for type 2 diabetes as it can effectively lower blood sugar and lower levels of damaging fat and inflammation in the cellls of the pancreas, the organ which makes insulin. Additional research has shown it can delay diabetes caused cataract progression and maturation.  Cumin is also rich in phytoestrogens and is taking stage as a possible bone-protector, and has a definite “osteo-protective effect” supporting postmenopausal women from losing their bone-mass.  Rich in volatile oils and vitamins A and C, cumin too is another potent antioxidant and is one more to add to the anti-cancer/cancer combating list of herb and spices.  India has used cumin for millennia and it is the most popular spice in Mexican cuisine, while finding its way into most every other cuisine world-wide.   And as with most spices, cumin too has a rich history from ancient Greeks keeping it on the dining table in its very own cherished box (they did this with pepper also), to it being used as currency by the Romans–they actually payed their taxes with cumin seed!  Cumin is an essential component of curry spice mixes and is also a well known ingredient in garam masala (and various other masala blends).

 I am always amazed and grateful for the medicine and healing the many “culinary” herbs and spices offer us.  Not to mention, how they are also able to elevate and enhance dishes prepared in the kitchen that please our palette’s, excite our senses, and nourish our bodies.  Put a little spice in your life and get to blending my friend’s!

sources sited

Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PHD with Deborah Yost

The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs by Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa and Michael Tierra

*This post is intended to be an exchange of information in hopes to keep the herbal tradition alive and well.  It is of course not intended to treat, or diagnose, nor is it intended to replace the care and treatment from a licensed practitioner or health care provider.  These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

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Oh all the things you can do with honey!!

By Kate Maxey

So in my last post I went over how to infuse herbs in honey. Now I want to share some yummy recipes using these honeys. For a lot of my body recipes I like to use Comfrey Root honey. Comfrey Root is highly moistening and  contains allantoin, which is thought to stimulate cell growth and repair while simultaneously depressing inflammation. In any of these recipes you can use plain honey, for it alone is moisturizing, anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial if you are dealing with problem skin. Other herbs you can infuse into honey for healthy skin are roses, lavender, chamomile, gotu kola and licorice.

Comfrey Flowers

Now on to the recipes!!

Lip Balm

1 tsp. Rosehip oil

1 tsp. Shea Butter

1 tsp. Comfrey Root Honey

1.5 Tbsp. Beeswax

1.5 Tbsp. Cocoa Butter

½ tsp. Vanilla extract

Melt down Shea Butter, Beeswax and Cocoa Butter and when liquid add oil, honey and vanilla. Stir well. Pour into lip tubes or small jars.

Chocolate Honey Body Scrub

1 1/4 cup Sugar

3 oz. almond oil

2 Tbsp. Cocoa Butter

2 Tbsp. Honey or herbal infused honey of your choice

2 tsp. Cocoa Powder

1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract

5 drops Balsam Peru Essential oil (opt.)

5 drops Ylang Ylang (opt.)

Melt down the Cocoa Butter and blend with honey, oil, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Stir well. Makes 3 4 oz. jars. I am definitely giving this away for christmas time!!

Chocolate Honey Body Scrub

Body Glow Honey

From The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride (one of my favorite books:—Find-Recipes/dp/157324421X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353976029&sr=1-1&keywords=kami+mcbride

1 cup Honey or herbal infused honey of your choice

2 Tbsp. powdered lemon balm

2 Tbsp. powdered chamomile

1 Tbsp. powdered lavender

1 Tbsp. powdered mugwort

1 tsp. powdered rosemary

*Get wet, scrub this all over, and let it soak into your skin for about 15 minutes. Shower off and glow!!

Honey Face Mask

1 Tbsp. Comfrey Root honey

1 Tbsp. Tamanu Oil

1 Tbsp. Clay

1 Tbsp. Sea Buckthorn powder (a good source:

Optional Essential Oils:

1 drop Carrot

2 drops Frankincense

1 drop Rose

Stir all ingredients together and slather on face. Oh so good!!

Honey Face Mask

Hope you enjoy all the yumminess!!

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Ginger Syrup

By Kate Maxey

Ginger is one of my favorite tonic herbs to use. Whether it is in cooking, as a tea or syrup or as aromatherapy, its uses are vast. It is an excellent digestive and assimilation aid and is useful for nausea, gas and bloating and morning sickness. It’s spicy components activate the flow of saliva and the production of digestive juices. It is a circulatory aid and anti inflammatory that helps with headaches, migraines and joint inflammation, as well as varicose veins and cold hands and feet. It warms and moves the blood, so it is a great herb for the cold winter months.  Ginger contains amino acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and C.

So recently I have been making a ginger syrup to put into my water (sometimes with a squeeze of lemon) for a yummy drink.  I have also been known to top vanilla ice cream with this ginger syrup as a warming digestive aid to counter the cold dampness of the ice cream.

So, to start off you want to make a very strong tea of ginger by boiling 2 ounces dried ginger to one quart of water. You want to keep it at a gentle simmer uncovered for 60 -90 minutes, depending on the strength you want it.

Ginger boiling away

While the tea is brewing you can juice your 4 ounces by weight of fresh ginger. I have a champion juicer that I love, but any type of juicer will do.

Fresh Ginger Juice

Then, when the tea liquid is at about half of what you started with, you want to strain out the ginger from the water. I use a stainless steal strainer into a pyrex 16 ounce measuring cup, but muslin cloth or a good ole fashion kitchen towel will work too (just be wary of how hot the tea will be).

Straining the ginger

Then, pour the tea back into the sauce pan and put the fire back on low. Add the 1/2 cup of honey (or more if you want a sweeter, thicker syrup) and stir until well blended. Take the mixture off the heat, pour back into the pyrex cup and add the fresh ginger juice.

Finished product

Finally, pour the syrup into the containers of your choice. I usually use two eight ounce amber bottles, but you can definitely get fancy with your glassware, especially if they will be gifts.

*Side note: You can use this method of syrup making for virtually any herb. I have been thinking about doing a liver/immune system tonic for some fall time support with some Burdock, Dandelion, Astragalus and Reshi.  So play, experiment and enjoy this fun easy way to get your herbs in!!

Ginger syrup

1 quart water

2 ounces dried ginger  —to yield 12-14 ounces strong tea.

4 ounces fresh ginger

1/2 cup honey or more if desired

makes about two 8 ounce bottles