Fragrances for Fall {DIY}

Without question, people adore the cozy smells of fall that brings pumpkin spice, tart apples, crisp leaves and spicy cinnamon. Bring those scents into your own home to celebrate fall without using harsh artificial chemical scents by making your own natural home fragrance on your stove. All you need to do is bring a pot of water to a simmer and add in spices with other fresh ingredients, such as apple peels, cinnamon, and cloves.

Combined together, these ingredients will send an autumn aroma throughout your home. As an added benefit, not only will your home smell like you have been baking (without all the effort) but the simmering water will help to humidify your home, which often suffers from dry air in the fall and winter.

Pumpkin Spice Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 pieces of candied ginger
  • 1 clove of nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the candied ginger, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.

Apple Cider Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 apple peels
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the apple peels, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.

Gingerbread Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 pieces of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of pure almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add almond extract, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.

Mulled Wine Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 orange rind
  • 1 apple peel
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2-star anise

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add orange rind, apple peel, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.

Pine & Juniper Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 5 juniper berries
  • 4 small pine branches
  • 1 lemon peel

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the lemon peel, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.

Bay Wreath Simmering Pot

Ingredients

  • 5 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 sliced lemon

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add cut the fruit, and spices into the water.
  2. Reduce temperature to a low simmer.
  3. Make sure to check the pot of simmering water every half an hour to make sure the pot does not run out of the water. Add additional water to the pot as needed.
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Root Medicine: A Herbalist’s Guide to Digging Roots

Fall is harvest time, not only for winter storage crops like beets and carrots but for all those beautiful medicinal plants we have been watching flower and grow for many months now. Harvest provides a sense of the changing seasons and a chance to prepare our medicine cabinet for the year to come. It’s a special practice to take note of the places we frequent, to watch the full seasonal growing cycle and then to harvest the powerful medicine when it comes time. Autumn is the time of year when plants’ energies are focused back into the roots.  They are no longer producing leaves and flowers. Thus, it this time of year (late September and early October) when the roots’ medicinal qualities are most potent. For herbs such as Dandelion and Burdock, the inulin is highest at this time of year.  It’s good to try and harvest roots before the first hard frost. Once the ground gets hard, it becomes difficult to dig!

burdock-01-web

Some of the species we at Season Of The Witch Herbal Remedies especially seek out and use are Dandelion, Burdock, Yellow Dock, Echinacea, and Elecampane.  All of these thrive beautifully in southeastern Utah and are ever abundant in our fields, woodland paths and backyards! They are also key ingredients in most of our herbal remedies.

Harvesting practices and techniques:

  • Before harvesting- make sure you are 100% confident that the plant you are about to harvest is what you think it is.
  • It’s always good to reflect on how much you will need. This could depend on your use of it–is it just for yourself, family, or are you producing it at a small scale? It’s a beautiful tradition to get into making medicine you will use, so one year’s worth is usually a good place to start. Another perk of doing it on a yearly basis is that you get to spend time with the plants every fall.
  • Consider the age of the plant. Most roots should be harvested within the first few years. When they get older, they become more fibrous and woody, meaning that a lot of the strong qualities of the root are harder to extract. Younger roots are traditionally more medicinally potent in and easier to work with.
  • Think about where you are digging and harvesting: do you have permission? And most importantly, is it far enough away from roadsides and trails? Give yourself enough space so that there is no chance any toxic chemicals, dog urine or human waste could affect the plants.
  • To dig the roots, use a specialized digger (Hori Hori or Dandelion Digger) or a garden fork.  You’ll want to be careful not to break the roots as some of them have large taproots that go very deep. Use the tools to help loosen the soil around the roots, and get your hands deep into the earth. You won’t have much success pulling them from the top.  If you harvest correctly, most roots will pop up after you loosen the soil around them. Try starting about 8 inches away from the plant base as some roots grow outward as well.
  • Once you have harvested, make sure to thoroughly clean and dry the roots. It is best to process right away after harvesting. Either tincture the roots fresh or chop them into small pieces and use a dehydrator or an oven at low temp to dry them completely. If you aren’t careful in your drying methods, roots can easily mold in the storage process.

Some information about our favorite roots:

dandelion plantDandelion: Taraxacum officinale 

– This common weed is found throughout the northern hemisphere, and almost everyone knows this plant! Unfortunately, it gets a bad rap when people try to have a perfect lawn, and so many dandelions are sprayed and killed.

– Make sure you are ALWAYS harvesting plants that are clean and unsprayed. Dandelion is one of the most sprayed weeds out there!

– Usually, the first and second-year roots are harvested.

– Leaves, root, and flower can all be used!

– This is the queen of rebel weeds- dandelion grows in any cracked pavement or sidewalk it can find, and its seeds are spread easily for reproduction.

burdock_medical_mediumBurdock: Arctium lappa 

– First-year roots are preferable– the first-year burdock will not have a seed stalk.

– This plant’s taproot can easily be a foot or two long! Make sure you work the soil around this plant before pulling it out.

– If you wait until after the first frost this root will often become sweeter (this is the exception to what we said earlier!)

– In early spring these roots can also be dug, and they are a delicious edible just as is!

yellow dock

Yellow Dock: Rumex Crispus 

– Younger and tender roots will be better for harvesting; 1-2 years.

– These roots are often about a foot long and are a similar size to dandelion roots.

– Underneath the brown earthy outer bark of the yellow dock is a strikingly bright yellow root- hence the name yellow dock. That’s a great way to ID!

Echinacea-purpurea

Echinacea: Echinacea purpurea 

– Harvest older plants (3-4 years)

– These roots are often thin and come in more of a root ball, so make sure to give yourself plenty of space to dig them up so as to get the whole root.

– Flowers, leaves, buds, and root can all be used and harvested!

ellecampane_wallpaper

Elecampane: Inula helenium 

– Harvest it at the end of the second year as to prevent getting very woody and thick roots.

– Has a large taproot that can be a foot long–use those tools!

– Easy to grow, potent medicinal and the bees love it as well!

Fall Allergies ~ An Herbal Approach

Seasonal allergies can really get you down, and over-the-counter meds can knock you out. Try these natural herbal remedies to soothe pollen induced headaches, scratchy throats, chapped skin, and more.

allergy-teaAs allergy sufferers, we’re acutely aware of seasonal changes in air quality. Earth’s reawakening in spring brings us welcome warmth, but it also delivers not-so-welcome tree pollen. Summer’s riot of plant bounty includes grasses and the associated output of pollen. Fall has its own offenders in the form of ragweed pollen and mold from fallen leaves.

If you’re an allergy sufferer, you may be thinking about closing the shutters and latching the door. Venturing out into this minefield of airborne plant pollens can feel treacherous. Fortunately, Mother Nature has provided us with a phyto-pharmacy that can help carry you comfortably through each season.

What’s an Allergy?

Seasonal allergies are common, affecting more than 35 million people in the United States and more than 400 million people worldwide. Genetics, diet, over-cleanliness and exposure to pesticides and toxic chemicals may predispose a person to develop allergies.

An allergy is an immune system response to a substance that your body is hypersensitive to – for example, pollen, dust, or a particular food. Your immune system’s job is to help defend against pathogens {such as bacteria and viruses} and other antigenic molecules that it comes into contact with. Some allergens are perfectly harmless, but if your immune system recognizes them as antigenic, then it will elicit an immune response or allergic reaction.

When an antigen gains access to your body, white blood cells {in this case, lymphocytes} produce antibodies in the form of immunoglobulin E {IgE}. IgE attaches itself to another type of white blood cell {the mast cell}, preparing your immune system for the next exposure to the antigen. Mast cells are equipped with potent, biologically active molecules, including histamines, which the body releases to stop an antigen in its tracks. This release triggers the inflammatory response that’s all too familiar to allergy sufferers – headaches; puffy, red eyes; swollen and itchy throats; runny noses and sneezing; stuffed-up noses; and exhaustion, irritability, and depression.

When seasonal allergies do occur, simple herbal remedies offer an effective way to help alleviate the symptoms. Additionally, the nutritional and lifestyle choices you make on a daily basis can strengthen your constitutions and perhaps reduce your future susceptibility to allergies. Eating a diet rich in whole foods that provide a good supply of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids is an important component of your overall good health, as is supporting your immune system and liver so they can mount their defences when called upon. You can also integrate herbs, such as dandelion, nettle, and burdock, into your daily diet to help create a stronger constitution for lasting good health.

It’s prudent for all of us to preempt the onset of seasonal allergies by strengthening our immune systems and building up resistance throughout the year, instead of just controlling our symptoms in the midst of a pollen-packed allergy season. After all, an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure. Many remedies support and strengthen the body while also relieving allergy symptoms.

Learning about our bodies and the plants that are available to us in our natural and local environments can lead us on a journey of healing and thrive in the increasingly complex biosphere we breathe in.

nettle-via-g215Nettle Tincture for Allergy Relief

Nettle can relieve allergy symptoms before they become a full-blown nuisance by reducing the body’s histamine response. The key is to use fresh nettle, either in the form of a simple nettle tea or tincture, or freeze-dried nettle capsules.

Yield: about 1 pint.

Ingredients

  • Fresh or freeze-dried nettle
  • Vodka or brandy {80-proof or higher}

Directions:

Chop enough fresh nettle to nearly fill a sterilized pint jar. Gloves are helpful here; it’s called “stinging nettle” for a reason! Add alcohol to cover the nettle by 1 to 2 inches. Cap the jar and give it a shake. Let macerate in a cool, dark cupboard for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking every few days. Using a wire mesh strainer or a few layers of cheesecloth, strain the nettle tincture into a clean bowl. Transfer the tincture to a sterilized jar, cap, and label it. Store tincture in a cool, dry place. Suggested dose is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon 3 times daily during allergy season.

homemade-lozengesHerbal Headache Lozenges

Nasal and sinus congestion can cause headaches with localized pain and pressure over the sinus area. Anti-inflammatory herbs, such as chamomile, meadowsweet, and willow, and anti-spasmodic herbs, such as rosemary and peppermint, will help relax muscles and decrease the inflammatory response while improving circulation.

You can use the following blend of herbs for a natural approach to headache relief. Powder and mix the herbs with honey to make a thick, dough-like paste that you can roll into lozenges. The drops can be prepared ahead of time and are convenient to have on-hand during allergy season.

Yield: approximately 60 lozenges.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers
  • 2 tablespoons dried meadowsweet
  • 2 tablespoons dried willow bark
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons dried peppermint leaves
  • Raw honey

Directions:

Grind the dried herbs into powder using a clean coffee grinder. Place herbs in a small glass mixing bowl and pour in just enough honey to cover the herbs lightly and allow you to mix in all the herb powder. Pour or shape into small rounds no larger than 1/2 teaspoon in size, and let harden at room temperature for several hours. Store the lozenges in a glass jar in the refrigerator, where they’ll stay good for several months. Take as needed.

herbal-syrups

A Cough and Itchy Throat Syrup

Raw honey, lemon, and herbs make wonderful natural syrups soothe a sore throat and cough. Herbs to consider using for irritated coughs and itchy throats include demulcent herbs, such as marshmallow, violet, mullein, and cinnamon.

Yield: about 1 1/2 pints.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried elderberries
  • 1/4 cup ginger root, freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup marshmallow root
  • 1/4 cup dried hyssop
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1-quart water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup raw honey or manuka honey

Directions:

Combine herbs, spices, and water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for approximately 1 hour, allowing the volume to reduce by half {be sure the liquid doesn’t simmer away completely}. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool. Strain through cheesecloth. Add lemon juice and honey and stir. Keep refrigerated in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid for 1 to 2 months. Suggested dose is 1 to 2 teaspoons, as needed.

salves-how-to-makeSoothing Skin Salve for Raw Noses

Salves are healing, moisturizing remedies to consider for allergy symptoms. Salves are generally made with oils, beeswax, and herbs or essential oils. Vitamin E can be added as a natural preservative. For dry, chapped, and irritated skin, use demulcent herbs, such as comfrey, chickweed, and calendula, in an infused oil.

Yield: about 1 cup infused oil; about 5 ounces salve.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup dried comfrey leaves, crushed
  • 3/4 ounce beeswax, shaved
  • 10 to 12 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 to 3 drops vitamin E

Infused Oil Directions:

Place olive oil and comfrey in the top of a double boiler. Simmer for 45 minutes, never allowing the oil temperature to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the oil to cool slightly before straining.

Salve Directions:

Add the beeswax and 4 ounces of infused comfrey oil to the top of a double boiler. Warm just enough to melt the beeswax, stirring until melted. Add the essential oil and vitamin E. Stir. Pour salve into four 2-ounce glass jars or tins for storage. To use, apply a dab of salve to irritated skin. To avoid introducing bacteria into the salve, use a cotton swab instead of your finger.

Herbs To Have In Your Medicine Cabinet This Fall

It’s the time of year, where more often than not we are turning to our medicine cupboard to support our bodies and our families. An abundance of tea herbs, honey, and lemon, fresh herbs like ginger, turmeric, cayenne, and garlic are all great to have on hand throughout the winter. A few herbal tinctures also play useful roles and are key ingredients in the medicine cabinet.

elderflowerElderberry | Elderberry is an excellent superfood-like ally safe to take in large quantities. With elderberry and plenty of rest, our body’s natural response kicks in–that’s why elderberry syrups and tea have long been used to help support optimal immune function. All these amazing herbs come in handy when our resources are low: elderberry helps our body maintain its normal immune response. Because it’s so much like food, it’s incredibly safe for kids, and happens to taste divine when combined with honey–hence the elderberry syrup! This one is a must-have for the kitchen herb cabinet as it’s family-safe.

The flowers of Elder are also quite useful and are used for supporting sinuses and a healthy inflammatory response. While lovely in tea because of its sweet aromatic quality, Elderflower also is great in tincture form and used in combination with other herbs.

ellecampane_wallpaperElecampane | Herbalists rely on Elecampane when it comes to supporting healthy respiratory function. Lungs naturally clean themselves every day by helping to remove mucus through respiration. And in the colder months, they work extra hard. This herb has traditionally supported our lungs by encouraging healthy breathing. Elecampane’s use runs deep within the herbal community, and it is often classified as a tonic. This plant puts all of its energy into its roots, as evidenced by the flower which is spindly and easily unnoticeable–the power is in the roots. A healthy dose of Elecampane is energetically warming and drying, and these qualities can be felt deep in the body. While Elecampane tincture is a great item to have in the cabinet, another great way to use this herb is by making honey drops or candy.

echinacea02Echinacea | Echinacea’s energetic qualities are cooling and stimulating, and the plant has been traditionally used for added immune support. Our bodies often bear the brunt of seasonal changes or busy periods in life, and there are naturally-occurring processes in our bodies that are designed to keep our systems active and vigorous, but extra support from herbs and lifestyle decisions can aid our bodies’ natural processes of being well. Today, modern research on the chemical compounds of Echinacea has shown that the plant can play a supporting role for our immune cells.  Our immune system is the protective shield of our body, and immune cells or white blood cells are the system’s worker bees. To encourage healthy immunity, the extract is taken at doses of 1 teaspoon up to 5 times a day. At these dose ranges, Echinacea is a safe herb for short-term use.

sage-greenSage | Sage has one of the longest histories of use of any culinary or medicinal herb. Part of the mint family, this herb has been traditionally used in supporting the health of mucous membranes, especially the throat. While Sage is rich in volatile oils, its energetic qualities are pungent and warming, unlike mint.  Historically it was used in a throat gargle and very popular in tea. It coats and soothes, while its aromatic, and astringent properties are drying to secretions and toning to the tissue it comes in contact with. It combines well with lemon and honey in tea form or in spray form for a healthy moistened throat.

astragalus-roots-radix-astragali-huangqiAstragalus |  A favorite in Chinese medicine (TCM), astragalus is a superb tonic and adaptogen taken to ensure good health year-round. In Chinese herbalism, it is considered to be one of the best tonic herbs available to support a body running on little energetic fuel.This herb is known for its ability to help strengthen immunity. Traditionally the sweet flavor is nourishing and building to our body, acting somewhat like food. In TCM they turn to this root when a person is craving sweets–seen as an internal call from our body as needing nourishment. This warm, somewhat juicy root provides it. Easy to take in tincture form, it also combines well with other supportive ingredients.

Astragalus is great to add into soup stocks throughout the winter and delicious in powder form when eating it is preferred.

reishi_shotMedicinal mushrooms |  Herbalists have used mushrooms in extracts, soup stocks and as food for thousands of years. They were introduced to us by Chinese herbalists as a tonic for our Qi- the life force within us. Medicinal mushrooms can often be more food-like but they play a significant role in our toolkit. As gentle tonics, we rely on a few of these as catalysts in sustaining healthy energy levels and strong, healthy immunity.  Mushrooms like Reishi are among our favorite adaptogens and have significant widespread use in supporting a balanced immune response. In tincture form, it is best to have a double extracted blend- to get the constituents that both water and alcohol will pull out.

Reishi is also great to have in raw dried form or in powder to use in baking or soup stocks.

hawthorn-flowersHawthorn | Historically the spirit of the Hawthorn tree is an excellent protector. It also acts this way physiologically and emotionally, as it supports a healthy heart. As a gentle cardiotonic this herb supports a healthy emotional balance as it is a mild nervine. It is gently relaxing and encourages us to remain open-hearted in our approach to life.  It aids in allowing the emotional nervous heart to forgive and be a bit more gentle. In supporting our heart physiologically, we are ensuring that it is doing its job to pump blood to all other areas of the body, supporting circulatory processes. This herb is important for the winter months when we hit colder climates and endure more physically.

Hawthorn is one to use daily in a tonic or tea form as its supporting qualities come from long-term use.

rhodiola-plantRhodiola | Rhodiola is an excellent adaptogen, Rhodiola has a supportive role in increasing our resistance to life’s stress. As a nervous system tonic, it helps us in maintaining this balance as well: affirming our spiritual grace and resilience in the face of occasional stress. This herb grows at high altitudes in the arctic areas of Europe and Asia, where it is easy to see how this plant embodies resilience. The root has been used in traditional medicine throughout Scandinavian countries for centuries. It is widely used by herbalists as a restorative tonic to support mental alertness during occasional fatigue and to promote general physical strength and vitality: an excellent tool to have throughout a long winter.

Rhodiola is often taken in tincture form, as the taste does take some getting used to. It can also be used in powder form, disguised with other herbs such as maca or cacao.

We hope you are enjoying the task of all stocking your medicine cabinets for the winter to come!

Herbal Teas For Autumn And Winter

The cool, dry winds, unsettled weather, and decreasing daylight hours that we experience as the season transitions into autumn and winter can be difficult for our bodies and minds. While some of us welcome this rhythmic seasonal change and the downward movement of energy back to the earth and others dread it, we can all benefit by incorporating foods and herbs into our diet that help balance the energetics of the season. By doing so, we can replenish ourselves with the inward movement of energy as we settle into a slower, more deliberate season, enjoying warm soups and stews, bread fresh from the oven, a steaming cup of tea, and nights by the fireplace or curled up on the sofa.

The Bodily imbalance may arise during autumn and the long winter months either due to illness arising from fluctuating weather or passing viruses around, reduced activity, the stress of the holidays, or the decreased daylight hours. We can turn to herbal teas to support our body’s resilience and to correct the imbalance.

The process of blending and the ritual of making and drinking herbal tea is a fine way to tune into the slower rhythms of this season and is therapeutic in and of itself. Sipping a cup of tea allows us to pause for a moment and let the stillness of this time of year nourish us.

tea-by-fireRead on for 4 herbal tea recipes that we can turn to this season to keep ourselves healthy and happy.

Tea Preparation

The recipes that follow use dried herbs. You may already grow herbs in your garden and dry them; if not, you can purchase bulk dried herbs at your local natural foods store or online, or if you are fortunate to have one, at a local herb shop. To make teas, you’ll just need a kettle (or pot) for boiling water, a pot for making herbal decoctions with root herbs, a measuring spoon, a teapot, a tea infuser or strainer, and a teacup (or two or three).

Take note, some of the recipe measurements are in parts. This “part” can be whatever you would like: 1 tablespoon, 1 cup, etc., depending on how big of a batch of dried herb blend you want to make. Just keep the ratio of the parts equivalent to the recipe!

There are two approaches to preparing tea: an infusion, which is used for more tender plant parts such as leaves and flowers or a decoction, which is used for harder plant parts such as roots and barks. Infusions involve boiling water, pouring it over the tea blend, and then steeping for 10-15 minutes.

Decoctions involve simmering the herbs in the water for 15-20 minutes to extract the plant constituents. In both cases, you’ll want to keep the tea covered during steeping/simmering, particularly for aromatic herbs with volatile constituents.

You can drink these teas as-is or choose to sweeten them with a bit of honey or maple syrup. Adding one or two dried apple rings to the tea while it steeps or simmers adds a subtle but lovely sweetness as well

Herbal Teas for Autumn - Winter Nourishment Tea by Herbal Academy

Teas for Autumn and Winter

The words that come to my mind when considering teas for autumn and winter are warmth, nourishment, immune support, and cold and flu relief. We can do much for our wellness just with the foods and herbs we choose as daily nourishment, and teas can be a part of this sustenance.

Herbal Nourishment Tonic

This tea is my go-to, vitamin- and mineral-rich tonic to nourish and support the body through the winter months.

Ingredients:

•2 parts nettle leaf
• 2 parts peppermint or spearmint leaf
•1 part lemon balm leaf
• 1 part milky oats
• 1 part red clover blossom
• 1 part burdock root

Directions:

Blend herbs together. Steep 1-2 tablespoons tea blend in each 1 cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Sweeten to taste with honey, if desired. Several cups of this tonic tea can be consumed throughout the day.  (A longer infusion period of several hours will extract even more vitamins and minerals; you can make a big batch, let it infuse overnight, and drink it throughout the next day, reheating if desired.

Herbal Teas for Autumn - Herbal Chai by Herbal Academy

Warming Adaptogen Chai Tea

This warming tea keeps you toasty as the days turn cool while supporting the immune system and adrenals during the cold and flu season to help fend off illness.

Ingredients:

• 2 tablespoons reishi mushroom
• 1 tablespoon astragalus root
• 1 tablespoon eleuthero or ashwagandha root
•1 tablespoon burdock root
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon chips
• 2 teaspoons dried ginger (or 7 slices fresh ginger)
• 5 cardamon pods, crushed
• ½ tsp cloves
• 2 cups water
• 2 cups milk (dairy or non-dairy)

Directions:

1. Combine reishi, astragalus, eleuthero/ashwagandha, burdock, and water in a pot.

2. Bring to a gentle simmer for 15-20 minutes.

3. Add remaining herbs and milk, and heat for another 10-15 minutes.

4. Strain herbs and serve with honey or maple syrup to taste and a dash of nutmeg on top, if desired.

5. Refrigerate unused portion and reheat later. Drink up to 3-4 cups throughout the day.

Those who enjoy a more traditional chai recipe could add a tablespoon or two of loose leaf black tea (regular or decaffeinated) to this recipe along with the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves. Roasted chicory and dandelion root also add a rich, earthy taste.

Uplift Tea

As the dark nights grow longer and the sun is in short supply, support your nervous system and mental outlook with these uplifting and building herbs.

Ingredients:

• 3 parts lemon balm leaves
• 2 parts St. John’s wort flower and leaf
• 2 parts milky oat tops
•2 parts spearmint leaves
• 1 part Linden leaf & flower

Directions:

Blend herbs together. Steep 1-2 tablespoons tea blend in each 1 cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Sweeten to taste with honey, if desired. Drink up to 3-4 cups throughout the day.

Nip It in the Bud Tea

At the first sign of a cold or flu, nip it in the bud with this immune- and lymph-stimulating tea! Make a big batch in the morning and sip it throughout the day to support your immune system during acute infection.

Ingredients:

•2 parts elderberries
•2 parts echinacea root and/or leaves
• 2 parts calendula petals
• 1 part rose hips
• 1 part orange peel
• ½ part ginger root (or 1 part fresh ginger root)
• ¼ part cinnamon chips
• 1 cup water

Directions:

Add elderberries and water to a pan. Bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat and add the rest of the herbs. Let steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain and drink up to 3-4 cups throughout the day.

Herbal Teas for Autumn - Chai_blend by Herbal Academy

Teas for Colds and Flus

If despite your best efforts you do come down with a cold or flu, herbal teas can provide relief for congestion, sore throats, coughs, fevers, and headaches and make you more comfortable while your immune system does its job.

A Herbalist’s Guide to a Healthy Fall and Winter

Ready or not, fall is here and winter is fast approaching.  Daylight is beginning to dwindle in the northern hemisphere and there is an accompanying nip in the air.  Hopefully, you’ve had the opportunity to burn brightly alongside the carefree summer sun for the past few months and are ready to begin slowing down.

Making the most of the fall in many ways means honing the mind, body, and spirit to prepare for winter.  Before we go there, though, let’s first remember to simply take a breather after the busyness of summer. Our garden plants are slowing their production, the fields and forests no longer drip with fruit and flowers, and the sun slips much earlier behind the horizon giving us less daylight to pack full of work and play. What beckoned us all summer is now disappearing. Nature is giving us permission, leading by example, in fact, welcoming us to slow down and to let go.

I take a breather in a literal sense. I am reminded of the value of a deep breath; of the pleasant spaciousness that remains after I inspire crisp fall air, hold it deep in my lungs, and then let it go. In the 5-element theory of Chinese Medicine, fall is aptly connected to the breath as well as to release. Many lifecycles are coming to an end. Witnessing nature’s small deaths all around us can help us feel comfortable in our own letting go, to perhaps even see the beauty in it. Fall is a time to lessen physical and emotional attachments, to let go of what no longer serves us so that we can go into winter carrying only the essentials. Support yourself this season by incorporating breathing exercises into your daily routine or taking up meditation- both of which can be helpful in letting go.   

In the plant world, perennials are letting go of what they don’t need. Prior to shedding their vegetation, these plants concentrate all of their energy into their roots in order to have the reserves to make it through winter.  Us herbalists take note and head out with our pitchforks, shovels and digging sticks to get down and dirty finagling our favorite roots out of the ground before it freezes. Fall is considered the best time to harvest most roots since they are so power-packed right now.

One of the constituents found abundantly in fall-dug roots is the starch inulin. Inulin is considered prebiotic (aka super food for healthy gut flora). You’ll notice evidence of it in the milky yield of fall dandelion and burdock tinctures or the white liquid that oozes from their freshly cut roots.     

wild-carrot-seedIt’s a good time to shift our herbal preparations towards roots, as well. My daily tea transitions to reflect what’s in season around me. These teas also happen to be just what my body needs in preparation for winter. Instead of whimsical leaf and flower infusions, I begin making heartier decoctions by gently simmering roots and mushrooms alongside a warming spice. These plants are fortifying and they also support my immune system as we head towards cold and flu season.   

Yesterday I threw fresh burdock root, astragalus, licorice, reishi and cardamom into a big pot alongside a pinch of cinnamon, simmered for an hour and was left with a week’s worth of tea.  I chose these plants to support healthy immunity, for grounding and to support all around resilience. However you choose to take it, now is the time to start with immune tonic herbs. In both my personal and clinical experience, it makes a world of difference in how one’s immune system weathers the winter ahead.

I celebrate fall as a chance to regain balance. The equinox signals an exact balance between light and dark, day and night. It’s a chance to recompose before leaning into the cold, dark months of winter. I take the time to enjoy the certain lightness that this state of balance has to offer. I go for more walks, take more deep breaths. I gather roots, but with less haste than my summertime busy work. I harvest seeds from wild carrot and burdock to make tinctures. I prepare fewer salads and more soups. I take the yoga and meditation routines backup that got partially abandoned by summer’s end. I snack on fresh apples and indulge in pumpkin pie. And I ponder and prepare for what I’ll need to keep my body and spirit healthy through the winter months.   

May you enjoy the season’s simplicity and find sweetness in letting go of what you don’t need while tending lovingly to what remains.  May you be prepared to enter winter full of balance, resilience, and spaciousness.   

Crocus

COMMON NAME:  Crocus
GENUS:  Crocus
Species, Hybrids, Cultivars:
Blue; C. biflorus, C. imperati, C. siebert, C. tomasinianus, C. versicolor; yellow: C. aureus, C. chrysanthus, C. korolkowii, C. sulphureus concolor, C. susianus; white: C. fleischeri, C. laevigatus, C. speciosus {fall}. Dutch crocus cultivars-blue: Enchantress, Pickwick, Queen of the Blues, Remembrance, Striped Beauty; white: Jeanne d’Arc, Peter Pan, Snowstorm; yellow: Golden Yellow, Yellow Mammoth.
FAMILY: Iridaceae
BLOOMS: Winter, spring, fall
TYPE: Perennial
DESCRIPTION: A multitude of crocuses are available today in colors ranging from white to blue, purple, and yellow, and with blooming seasons in late winter, early spring, and autumn. The leaves are linear and grasslike; the blossoms cup-shaped and proportionally large. Winter-blooming varieties generally grow to a height of 3 inches. Spring-and fall-blooming species are usually a bit taller, 4 to 5 inches.
CULTIVATION: Crocuses grow from corms, which should be planted 3 to 4 inches deep in early fall. Crocuses prefer soil that is light, sandy, and not too rich, and they will perform best in full sun or light shade. Do not cut the leaves, but let them die down naturally.

Crocuses are native to Spain, North Africa, and Mediterranean regions and have been known and used for centuries. According to Claire Shaver Haughton’s book  Green Immigrants, a jug decorated with crocuses and dating back to 1500 B.C. was found in Crete. The English Gardener, by Leonard Maeger, reported a scroll from 1552 B.C. listing the medicinal uses of crocus.
Because crocus has been well known and loved by many civilizations, there are many stories about the origin of the plant. According to Greek mythology, Mercury created the flower from Crocus, Europa’s son whom Mercury accidentally killed. In another Greek legend, Crocus was a youth who fell in love with Smilax, who rejected him. Crocus was distraught and begged the gods to help him. The gods, taking pity on him, changed him into the lovely crocus plant. At this point, Crocus turned fickle, for he won the love of Smilax but then rejected her, and the gods turned her into a yew.
The oldest cultivated crocus is C, sativus, which is the source of the herb saffron. The Mongols are said to have carried this plant to China. The first record of crocus coming to England was in the sixteenth century when it arrived in the Elizabethan court from the Mideast. It became quite popular there and was mentioned by Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, and the herbalist John Gerard.
A dye made from the stigmas of crocus was quite valuable, and golden cloth dyed with crocus was worn by wealthy aristocrats in both Europe and the Orient. King Henry VIII of England outlawed sheets dyed with saffron. His reasoning was that dyed sheets were not washed as often as white ones, and thus presented a health hazard.
The genus name, Crocus, is from the Greek word Krokos, which means “thread” and refers to the stigmas {the tips of the pistils on which pollen is deposited during pollination}, particularly those of the saffron crocus. Saffron, which is collected from the stigmas of C. Sativa, has been and still is, quite valuable product. In 1983, the price of saffron was $4.59 for 1/40 of an ounce. This works out to be a little less than $3,000 per pound. It has been estimated, however, that it takes over 4,000 crocus blossoms to make up an ounce of saffron.
crocus-stimsIn addition to being used as a cooking herb, saffron has been used in perfumes, as medicine, and as a magical herb in certain religious rites. Many of the medicinal uses of saffron are somewhat questionable. Take, for example, the English custom of eating crocus seeds to help rheumatism on the right side of the body only. If drunk in beer, saffron was thought to strengthen teeth. The Roman statesman and writer Pliny suggested that if saffron was worn around the neck, it would dispel the odors of wine and prevent drunkenness. Because the Greek poet Homer wrote that crocus was used to make the marriage bed of Zeus and Hera, Greeks used crocus petals to decorate their own marriage beds and to strew throughout banquet halls and in fountains.
Saffron tea is still listed in some herbals as being useful in breaking a fever and is sometimes recommended for treating measles victims.
According to the Victorian language of flowers, crocus was a symbol of youthful gladness. Crocus has also been considered a symbol of mirth, perhaps because of the superstition that crocus creates merriment and causes much laughter. Crocus was also thought to inspire love and was often sent to lovers.

An Austrian superstition held that it was unlucky to pick crocus blossoms because it would draw away your strength and make you weak.

November, Autumn, Fall

“The name ‘November’ is believed to derive from ‘novem’ which is the Latin for the number ‘nine’.  In the ancient
Roman calendar November was the ninth month after March.  As part of the seasonal calendar November is the
time of the ‘Snow Moon’ according to Pagan beliefs and the period described as the ‘Moon of the Falling Leaves’
by Black Elk.”

Samhain:

“This association of death with fertility provided the theological background for a great number of end-of-harvest festivals celebrated by many cultures across Eurasia.  Like Samhain, these festivals (which, for example, included the rituals of the Dyedy (“Ancestors”) in the Slavic countries and the Vetrarkvöld festival in Scandinavia) linked the successful resumption of the agricultural cycle (after a period of apparent winter “death”) to the propitiation of the human community’s dead.  The dead have passed away from the social concerns of
this world to the primordial chaos of the Otherworld where all fertility has its roots, but they are still bound to the living by ties of kinship.  It was hoped that, by strengthening these ties precisely when the natural cycle seemed to be passing through its own moment of death, the community of the living would be better able to profit from the energies of increase that lead out of death back to life.  Dead kin were the Tribe’s allies in the Otherworld, making it certain that the creative forces deep within the Land were being directed to serve the needs of the human community.  They were, in Celtic terms, a “humanising” factor within the Fomorian realm.

Whatever the specific elements had been that determined the proper date of the end-of-harvest honouring of the dead in various places, by the ninth and tenth centuries the unifying influence of the Church had led to concentrating the rituals on November 1st and November 2nd.  The first date was All Hallows, when the most spiritually powerful of the Christian community’s dead (the Saints) were invoked to strengthen the living community, in a way quite consistent with pre-Christian thought.  The second date, All Souls, was added on (first as a Benedictine practice, beginning ca.  988) as an extension of this concept, enlarging it to include the dead of families and local communities.  Under the mantle of the specifically Christian observances, however, older patterns of ancestor veneration were preserved.”

autumn22

“first snow
house sparrows
darken the hedgerow”
–   Ellen Compton

 

“I am the ancient Apple Queen,
As once I was so am I now.
For evermore a hope unseen,
Betwixt the blossom and the bough.

Ah, where’s the river’s hidden Gold!
And where the windy grave of Troy?
Yet come I as i came of old,
From out the heart of summer’s joy.”
–   William Morris, Pomona

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln, declared the last Thursday of November to be
a National Day of Thanksgiving.

autumn-witchAutumn Abundance

What a magical time is autumn. A time of transitions, of change, of gain and of loss, we celebrate the culmination of the years work and we grieve the inevitable endings that follow.

The dark months are coming and the wind howls around our cottage as I write this but now is still a time of abundance and celebration and, most of all, a time for giving thanks to the Goddess of the Harvest for all this Earth has given us.

At this time of year we are spoiled for choice with the hedges dripping with all sorts of goodies, but by preserving, freezing and making lovely medicines we can make sure we have something to keep us going all through the winter too.

Eating local wild foods is not only great for our health, as they are often fresher, more vital and richer in nutrients than anything we can buy, but also connects us to a sense of place and belonging and encourages a deeper relationship with our natural environment. Even if it’s just a few berries whilst out walking or a handful of leaves added to a salad or soup, the plants around us are experiencing the same environmental conditions that we are and have adapted well and therefore are able to help us do the same.

At the moment I’m enjoying most of my wild foods in the form of elderberry and rosehip syrups, blackberry crumbles, nettle seeds, hawthorn teas and the young ground elder leaves that are poking up through my newly weeded vegetable beds and taste lovely in carrot and apple soup.

My mornings are starting at the moment with a lovely big glass of ‘hedgerow milk’ which consists of freshly made almond milk, a little local honey, some hawthorn berry powder, rosehip syrup and nettle seeds. Delicious and nourishing it helps me start the day feeling energised, connected to the land and full of gratitude.

Eating local wild foods helps ensure we are getting the right nutrients for our seasonal needs. The berries that are in abundance here at this time of year are filled with anti-oxidants including flavonoids and other polyphenols as well as lots of Vitamin C to help protect our bodies and support our immune systems as the weather gets colder. Many also have an anti-inflammatory action which helps soothe the aches and pains that can accompany colds and flus.

Foraged nuts and seeds such as walnuts, cobnuts or hazels, chestnuts and nettle seeds are nourishing and contain proteins, healthy fats, vitamins such as B’s and E and are a good source of well sustained energy.

And soon it will be time for harvesting roots which help us to draw our energy in and down (just like the plants do at this time of year) and give us much sustenance and grounding ready for the more inward focus of the winter months.

Season of the Witch ~ Herbal Remedies

A Herbalist’s Guide to a Healthy Fall

Ready or not, fall is here.  Daylight is beginning to dwindle in the northern hemisphere and there is an accompanying nip in the air.  Hopefully, you’ve had the opportunity to burn brightly alongside the carefree summer sun for the past few months and are ready to begin slowing down.

Making the most of the fall in many ways means honing the mind, body, and spirit to prepare for winter.  Before we go there, though, let’s first remember to simply take a breather after the busyness of summer. Our garden plants are slowing their production, the fields and forests no longer drip with fruit and flowers, and the sun slips much earlier behind the horizon giving us less daylight to pack full of work and play. What beckoned us all summer is now disappearing. Nature is giving us permission, leading by example, in fact, welcoming us to slow down and to let go.

I take a breather in a literal sense. I am reminded of the value of a deep breath; of the pleasant spaciousness that remains after I inspire crisp fall air, hold it deep in my lungs, and then let it go. In the 5-element theory of Chinese Medicine, fall is aptly connected to the breath as well as to release. Many lifecycles are coming to an end. Witnessing nature’s small deaths all around us can help us feel comfortable in our own letting go, to perhaps even see the beauty in it. Fall is a time to lessen physical and emotional attachments, to let go of what no longer serves us so that we can go into winter carrying only the essentials. Support yourself this season by incorporating breathing exercises into your daily routine or taking up meditation- both of which can be helpful in letting go.   

In the plant world, perennials are letting go of what they don’t need. Prior to shedding their vegetation, these plants concentrate all of their energy into their roots in order to have the reserves to make it through winter.  Us herbalists take note and head out with our pitchforks, shovels and digging sticks to get down and dirty finagling our favorite roots out of the ground before it freezes. Fall is considered the best time to harvest most roots since they are so power-packed right now.

One of the constituents found abundantly in fall-dug roots is the starch inulin. Inulin is considered prebiotic (aka super food for healthy gut flora). You’ll notice evidence of it in the milky yield of fall dandelion and burdock tinctures or the white liquid that oozes from their freshly cut roots.     

wild-carrot-seedIt’s a good time to shift our herbal preparations towards roots, as well. My daily tea transitions to reflect what’s in season around me. These teas also happen to be just what my body needs in preparation for winter. Instead of whimsical leaf and flower infusions, I begin making heartier decoctions by gently simmering roots and mushrooms alongside a warming spice. These plants are fortifying and they also support my immune system as we head towards cold and flu season.   

Yesterday I threw fresh burdock root, astragalus, licorice, reishi and cardamom into a big pot alongside a pinch of cinnamon, simmered for an hour and was left with a week’s worth of tea.  I chose these plants to support healthy immunity, for grounding and to support all around resilience. However you choose to take it, now is the time to start with immune tonic herbs. In both my personal and clinical experience, it makes a world of difference in how one’s immune system weathers the winter ahead.

I celebrate fall as a chance to regain balance. The equinox signals an exact balance between light and dark, day and night. It’s a chance to recompose before leaning into the cold, dark months of winter. I take the time to enjoy the certain lightness that this state of balance has to offer. I go for more walks, take more deep breaths. I gather roots, but with less haste than my summertime busy work. I harvest seeds from wild carrot and burdock to make tinctures. I prepare fewer salads and more soups. I take the yoga and meditation routines backup that got partially abandoned by summer’s end. I snack on fresh apples and indulge in pumpkin pie. And I ponder and prepare for what I’ll need to keep my body and spirit healthy through the winter months.   

May you enjoy the season’s simplicity and find sweetness in letting go of what you don’t need while tending lovingly to what remains.  May you be prepared to enter winter full of balance, resilience, and spaciousness.   

Woodland Fairy Folk

Woodland Fairy Folk

I have been imagining this family of fairies…just awaiting all the pieces…and they found me ~  pine cones at my favorite beach, acorns at a park in town and these lovely pink maple keys on a tree. I gathered and stored…with people wondering why I had pine cones tumbling out of my backpack, acorns living in my purse and  maple keys in the coffee holder in my car?! ~ for woodland fairy folk of course!

So simple ~  no need for a tutorial here! Basically a just pine cone body, an acorn head, maple key wings,  dried grass arms and a stone to glue it all on to ~ fire up your glue gun  and off you go!  I love crafts that can be created, more often than not, with nature from your own back yard (or other’s back yards ; ) !

As I brought these wee fae folk into existence and felt their spritely nature come to life…I knew they  each needed a name. (I must confess…creating fairies has that effect on me!)
Here is the Queen mama Ashley and her babe Vivian…
The king of the fairies…Oberon.
the mystical daughter
and the regal son

These magical fairies made themselves right at home in our backyard…

 
Creating these after my family hit the hay was such a wonderful way to soak up the quiet and let my imagination take over…lost in another world…reminding myself of the gift it is to take time out in solo stillness.
In the spirit of sprites