Category Archives: Remedies

Summer of Herbs: Shades of Green Facial Toner

Of all the treasures and wonders of the summer season, for me, the most revered are the colorful, aromatic, fresh herbs and flowers. Roadsides, railways, gardens, and mountainsides are all alive with wild flowers and plants and dragonflies, butterflies, bees, and winged creatures of all sizes delight in their presence. After months of using their dried counterparts, fresh herbs remind us of the true vitality and essence of herbalism.  photo 3(2)There’s nothing quite like waking up, going out into the sun, and bending down to pick a few leaves of mint, lemon balm, sage, or verbena and making a fresh infusion. A cup of fresh Lemon Balm leaf tea makes the dry version pale in comparison. Working with fresh herbs and flowers is one of the sweetest experiences one can have, and now is the time for these moments. Naturally, we seek to preserve the fresh herb experience much like one seeks to preserve memories through photographs, feelings through a journal, keepsakes through a time capsule buried in the earth for future discovery. This season, I have enjoyed the blessing of a bountiful little herb patch that began with only a few small starter plants and seeds, and has blossomed into a thriving plant community regularly visited by dragonflies, butterflies, and the like. I am astonished each time I visit at the rapid growth and the incessant offering of Calendula blooms, lavender buds, basil, thyme, sage, lemon balm, parsley, and rosemary. The garden’s growth exceeded my wildest dreams and it seems every day the leaves have multiplied once again, and even after leaving behind plenty for other visitors, I am left with an abundance of plant material to take home. One of my favorite recipes that I developed inspired by my own garden is the follow facial toner, called Shades of Green because as it brews, it goes through stages of greens, leading ultimately to a deep, forest green that alludes to its powerful natural healing gifts. I believe the parsley lends a deep glow to the skin, while calendula can heal past damage. The lavender was added for beauty and inspiration, and also lends a cleansing, astringent effect.

ImageRecipe for Shades of Green Face Toner

You’ll need: 1 pint size mason jar, organic witch hazel or vodka, distilled water
Gather enough Calendula blooms and leaves, lavender buds and leaves, and parsley leaves (you can try root here too) to fill the jar to the top, but not over-stuffing completely (there should be enough space for the herbs to move around freely when the liquid is added.) Fill 3/4 of the jar with vodka or witch hazel, and the rest with water. Swirl the herbs around, and leave in a sunny spot for 2-3 weeks. At first, the liquid will turn a bright emerald green, then watch it daily as it absorbs the vitamins, minerals, and magic of the plants – changing to a deep forest green. When the leaves and flowers look as though they have given all their color away, you can begin to use the toner. I like to leave the plant material inside while I use it, then eventually I strain it and store it in a small jar with a spray pump for easier application.
Use: I like to apply a small amount to an organic cotton ball and use it to clean my face – great when camping! Feel free to experiment with the ratios of the herbs – I used more calendula and parsley, and a few lavender sprigs. Go with what you have on hand and let your garden’s supply inspire you. Be well and be beautiful.

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Ginger for All

this beautiful ginger rhizome resembles a sea coral or a bouquet.

this beautiful ginger rhizome that bearded dragon found resembles a sea coral or a bouquet.

I adore those herbs that blur the line between medicine, food, herb, and plant. They defy any standardized definition and bring people medicine without too many bold claims, disguised by their taste appeal and typically, a rich folk tradition passed down in family recipes over the ages. One of the most versatile and well known of these “all-around” herbs is ginger (Zingiber officinale). Countless cultures and peoples look to this root for healing, medicine, flavor, and other gifts. In the U.S.,  ginger is quite a “mainstream” herb (or food, whichever you like to call it), being used in popular treats such as ginger-ale, gingerbread, and ginger snaps. During the holiday season ginger perks up in coffee blends and desserts like no other herb does. I like to believe that it has made its way into so many bellies by virtue of its many healing gifts as well as its delicious flavor. I believe that these herbs have conspired over countless generations to make sure they are a part of our lives because we really do NEED them. After all, it is one of the greatest herbs for winter wellness, bringing heat to the system and stimulating circulation.

Loved by all. An ancient Indian proverb says “every good quality is contained in ginger.” Traditional Chinese medicine views the “hot root” as the ideal remedy for a “devastated” yang, in other words a condition or body type/constitution that is overly cold or damp. It’s no surprise to learn that ginger is an herb of Aries whose element is fire. The root helps stimulate energy and is reputed to have been used by Madame du Barry to help the notoriously sluggish Louis XV reach the heights of lust (yes, it’s an aphrodisiac). Ginger’s effect on the body is cleansing — it promotes circulation and helps rid toxins and stagnancy, a deep form of healing. It is called a gem for the heart because it lowers cholesterol, prevents clotting, and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke!

Ginger brings the Belly Bliss. The rhizome (the root that we eat) is shaped like the digestive tract, and using the doctrine of signatures, early healers instinctively used ginger to help soothe stomach problems and digestive complaints. We follow these early teachings today and can eat or drink ginger as a remedy for diarrhea, flatulence, stomach cramps, and gout. Originally, the Japanese ate pickled ginger (called gari) to ward off any illnesses or bacteria that might be found on raw fish, a practice we still follow today. Indeed ginger is antiseptic and antiparasitic, a warrior food. Ginger is the go-to plant for treating nausea and morning sickness. It also helps the body to metabolize and digest food by stimulating saliva and digestive enzymes.

Warrior Root. For winter-time, ginger is a fierce protector and ally against any yin type illnesses such as colds, flu, chills, poor circulation and frostbite. It is like a match that lights the fire within and burns all the bacteria and viruses to smithereens. The recipes for ginger teas, honeys, syrups, and candies are delicious and unfailing. Juliette de Baraicli Levy recommends using powdered ginger for toothaches!!

Remedy. One of my favorite ways to use ginger is to make a ginger hand/foot soak. I have Raynaud’s syndrome, so this is a great way to get my circulation in my hands and feet going. Using one small ginger “finger,” (about 2-3 inches) and 3 cups of water, I make a strong decoction of fresh grated ginger root. I then add half of it to a large bowl or basin with more warm water to fill. I dip my hands in it while it’s warm and feel the circulation flowing. When you apply ginger externally, it is normal for the area to turn red as bloodflow increases. Then I use the other half of the ginger brew diluted with more warm water for a foot soak. You can also use the water from the ginger brew as a compress to soothe pains, injuries, arthritis, rheumatism, or sore muscles. Simply dip a clean cloth in the brew while it is warm (not burning) and apply directly to effected area. You can also reuse the grated ginger from the decoction as a poultice applied directly on the skin where needed. What is your favorite ginger remedy/recipe?

Wishing you warmth and wellness xx gem

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Cosmic Ritual: Full Moon in Gemini + Lunar Eclipse Tonight

my gemini full moon ritual with sage smudge, a gemini herbal amulet, my journal, and a gemini herbal tincture

As the moon passes through the constellation of Gemini with the sun in Sagittarius, and a partial lunar eclipse, a unique cosmic doorway is opened to us for healing, reflecting, and bringing big cosmic energy into our lives, be it with herbal medicine, gem/stone healing, meditation, or any other pathway you choose. On Wednesday November 28 at 9:46AM Eastern Time there will be a full moon and lunar eclipse. this full moon is called the beaver or frost moon.

Being a Gemini myself, perhaps my affinity with this full moon is strongest of the year. Each full moon is full of powerful energy that effects us on a deep, emotional, and powerful level, as the moon rules emotions, moods, and security. The full moon illuminates certain patterns and tendencies and helps us improve and reevaluate our current ways of living. I think of the full moons as times of intense reflection and also gratitude-giving. Rather than a time for beginning new projects like the New Moon, the full moon is more of a time of fruition and culmination. Some say it is an ideal time for ritual, magic, and imbuing creations with the big energy that is present during the full moon. But you don’t have to be a green witch to do a full moon ritual…

Speech, Communication, Connection.
In the gemini full moon, we are given a chance to reflect and work on communication and social interactions. Ruled by mercury, gemini is strongly associated with the power of speech. The infamous magical incantation “abra cadabra” actually originates in Biblical Hebrew, from the words “abareh,” meaning “I create” and “k’dibre” meaning “as I speak.” Whenever we speak, we are creating realities that have real effects on the world. This full moon is a good time to refine speech and communication and use it for positive creation. Writing in a journal and/or sharing feelings, dreams, and other inner emotions can be healing and help release negative energies during this time. Journaling is a powerful healing tool that can help bring subconscious needs, desires, or feelings to the surface. What makes this moon more special is the lunar eclipse, a time of great connection and oneness with the Earth, with our natures, and with other people. It seems a very good time to actively and wholeheartedly improve and appreciate connections and relationships, with earth, nature, ourselves, and others mainly through speech and communication.

image via our disenchanted souls

Rituals for relaxation and nervous system healing
In medical astrology, Gemini rules the nervous system, arms and hands, and the lungs. Deep breathing and aromatherapy, such as lavender oil are helpful to relax and center. The process of breathing itself is a metaphor for healing, taking in what’s good and letting go of what is unnecessary or harmful. Other ways to clear negative energy are with Sage smudging, ringing bells, and drinking warm herbal teas with lavender, skullcap, vervain, or any relaxing herbs you enjoy. Herbs that are associated with the sign of gemini include: mullein, peppermint, vervain, skullcap, lavender, oats, and parsley. You can make an herbal amulet or talisman with these or other herbs that carry the energy of gemini or its ruling planet, mercury. Another way to work with herbal energetics is by burning herbs for the purposes of cleansing or releasing energies.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anaïs Nin
Gemini is an air sign that is known for change, adaptability, and adventurousness. Now’s the time to tap into this energy and make space for the new. Ridding your mind/heart/life of judgement, negative thoughts, harmful patterns, hurtful people, worries, doubts, anger, grudges, and fears/insecurities is the first step and we are blessed with a wide open door for those changes tonight. It might seem overwhelming or even scary, but that apprehension is a sign of change and growth. After that, a sense of clarity is sure to come. You can then welcome new, positive people, thoughts, and ways of living in with joy and excitement, in true gemini fashion.

For more herbal astrology and full moon teachings, check out my upcoming newsletter The Starry Eyed Herbalist. The First Issue will be printed and mailed in December 2012. Visit me on Facebook. Sign up for my free newsletter. xoxo Gem

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Beloved Herb: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Perhaps one of the most beloved and well-known of herbs, Rosemary has been written about and celebrated for ages. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “there’s rosemary – that’s for remembrance – pray you, love, remember.” Always a romantic herb, Greek and Roman newlyweds wore wreaths of rosemary on their heads, and in the 17th century it was also traditionally used in bridal bouquets as a charm for a happy marriage.

Rosemary’s lovely name comes from the latin “ros” and “maris,” meaning “spray (dew) of the sea.” Indeed, rosemary’s effects on the human body and mind are as refreshing as its name implies. I like to use rosemary in my memory tonic blend, since it has been associated with relieving headaches and preventing alzheimer’s disease, as well as improving memory and focus. In addition, the fragrant aroma brightens up the mood and clears any negative energy in a room. The gypsies often hung sprigs of rosemary for protection against evil forces in their homes. Rosemary is an herb ruled by the sun, so its energy is very vibrant, uplifting, joyous, and bright. Like most sun-herbs, it is helpful for improving circulation in the body.

One of my favorite tales of Rosemary is the one told often in the books of Juliette de Bairacli Levy, an herbal elder whose 100th birthday would have been today. In the film Juliette of the Herbs, she tells a story of her child’s leg being very badly cut up after climbing a jagged wall. The cut was very deep, and bleeding was profuse. Juliette took a bundle of rosemary leaf and put it on the wound, wrapping it. The child fell asleep and his leg was good as new shortly after. Ever since, Juliette felt a great gratitude and connection to this lovely plant, one that is so easy to love.

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Herbs of Renewal

The holy day of Yom Kippur is on the horizon. Just beyond the starry sky, the cloak is lifted, the sky is split, and the cosmic white light is revealed. All new energy, all new hope. The universe is at the edge of a new dawn, as the past is let go in a collective sigh of relief, a collective cry, a cry of sadness for what’s been given away, a cry of joy for what is to come. The white light guides us and comforts us, reminds us of our primal essence, our unfaltering cosmic identity that never can fade, never can fail. The individual journeys all cross each other’s paths in some way, at some point in this whirling wave wind of time. Looking at the physical plane, we see the change in the seasons, the high energy rush of Autumn comes flying in with a gust of wind. Autumn is a poem of renewal and death, of loss and rebirth, or the story of our lives. Inside each of us a heart that never ceases to beat plays the music that calms our souls as we walk sometimes alone sometimes unsure sometimes misguided in our belly bearing existence. But there is always something there to remind us who we really are. The white light is inside and never fades. This day emerging honors the white light eternally. Renewal is where all the parts of life and death meet, and make color on the white light.

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via green spirit

Herbs for Renewal

milk thistle – the herb of renewal. it contains silymarin, a unique component that protects the liver against free radicals and toxins. a happy liver means a happy immune system and a happy whole person free to live fully.

ginkgo biloba – a 200 million year old tree that gets blood flowing to all parts, bringing the waters of life to the brain, hands, feet, and everywhere where a fresh supply of energy and blood is needed.

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milk thistle via herb companion

yarrow – the official wound healer. it physically stops bleeding and repairs tissues, and spiritually it also helps to heal wounds and create healthy boundaries to protect against harm. it tones the liver and flushes out toxins – renewal.

wormwood – a bitter that is truly sweet. it’s believed that wormwood’s bitter taste is due to this plant’s absorption of human suffering and injustice of the world. a true healer, it removes bitterness from inside us and restores peace and self-love.

cleavers – superb lymph cleanser that breaks up lymphatic buildup and toxins which would otherwise lead to cysts/tumors/infections/etc. treats external manifestations of stagnation (skin disorders) internally.

bitter orange – native of China. it is a “CHI” energy tonic that releases energy and gets stuck things moving. vitamins A B C. the building blocks.

fo-ti-tieng – the Chinese Herbalist Li Chung Yun was rumored to live 256 by drinking this tea with ginseng every day. (He also only ate vegetables that grew above ground, drank mineral water, and remained calm at all times.) Fo Ti Tieng contains Vitamin X, which energizes and rejuvenates the brain, nerves, and endocrine system.

citron (etrog) – one of the four species used on the holiday of sukkot (feast of tabernacles). It is said one who suffers from eye pains should gaze at a citron for healing. This fruit stabilizes liver function, helping to let go of depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and fatigue.

Other RENEWAL/REJUVENATING herbs : dandelion, plantain, sarsaparilla.

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