I’m thinking back with much fondness to 2007-2008. Ten years ago was a very special time for me. Foundational. Formative. Dreamy. I spent a completely magical summer interning at Sage Mountain, an herbal retreat center and botanical sanctuary in the mountains of Vermont. A fellow intern and I had the best job: working in the herb gardens under the guidance of an amazing gardener in trade for living on premise and attendance to the workshops and conferences.
It’s no secret that I adore violets. As in absolutely adore them. Some of my favorite medicines to make are the violet ones (rose too, then there’s linden, and chamomile, and red clover…). Violet elixirs, violet tinctures, violet glycerites, I even tried (and failed) to make a violet liqueur. Not only are they one of my favorite springtime plants of the garden and woods, but they are an invaluable medicinal herb. The thing about violet, along with other some other spring herbs like chickweed, dandelion and cleavers, is that it is so gentle and supportive, yet powerful at the same time.
Letting go Like so many other people, I relied on coffee to get me through the day. This my story of how I decided to look deeper into my relationship with coffee, and what I learned in the process. I had utterly and completely exhausted myself, on top of the ‘normal’ exhaustion of tending to a 1 year day and night. This round of deletion began around the holidays, when my husband and I started to look into buying a house. We wanted to but a fixer upper, as we like to work with our hands and it would help us afford to a home in an area of the city that would normally be out of our price range. With the way the housing market was going, I knew that once we started looking for a house we were all in. It demanded constant attentiveness and moving quickly. Coffee helped me face the endless tasks at hand, and kept me chipper and able to multitask. What I loved above even the coffee was walking to my local …
Spleen 6 is a triple-whammy point for the womb. It is named “Three Yin Intersection” because all three of the leg Yin acupuncture channels, the Spleen, Liver and Kidney channels, meet here. This makes Spleen 6 a fabulous point for supporting the uterus and lower abdomen, because all of those channels run through that area and have a direct action on women’s health. Spleen 6, Three Yin Intersection Ruler of the Lower Abdomen (the home of the womb) Meeting of Liver, Spleen and Kidney Channels Supports: Regular menstruation, encourages good flow and timing Circulation of the uterine area and lower abdomen Labor processes Postpartum healing Lower abdominal healing, such as after surgery or trauma Strength and quantity of nourishing Yin and Blood Regulation of all bleeding in the body, but especially uterine bleeding Calming of anxious states with insomnia or palpitations Downward and grounding energy and tuning into pelvis and womb General digestive functions Structural integrity of the lower pelvis, hips, sacrum, and thighs Healing of pelvic pain Because it acts so strongly on the pelvic organs, Spleen …
Each of the five elements have an associated flavor; for Earth it is sweet.
The Earth time of year is with us. And it is strong. The Earth element in Chinese medicine is associated with the season of late summer, the time when summer fades away and the turning inward of fall has yet to happen.
As a practitioner I’m always thinking of ways to get herbs into people, and one easy way to do that is the liberal use of spices. Think about it: the use of herbs and spices in your everyday cooking is like getting dose after dose of herbal medicine. Don’t worry about side effects or overdosing; these food-herbs are ideal for mass consumption. If I do say so myself, this is probably the best smoothie recipe I’ve had in a while. Everyone I share it with says the same thing, “Oh my goodness, this is SO good.” I concur; and can’t get enough of it! Each time I make it, the turmeric and ginger amounts creep up and up. So far I have yet to approach the too-much-turmeric level. This smoothie was inspired by golden milk, the turmeric and coconut milk drink of Ayurveda. I took the rich orange and yellow hues of ginger, turmeric and bee pollen and enhanced them with fruits of the same color: pineapple and mango, with banana and coconut flesh added in for …
Cucumber water is one of my all-time favorite summer drinks. Usually, I add lime or pear slices, but I was inspired by the herb garden at Wildcraft Studio School to gather a bunch of tea herbs to my jar. This fresh herb-infused water was lighter than a brewed tea, and the crisp garden cucumber slices were of course refreshing, but they also added an palatable new dimension of texture to a the water. Cucumbers are a little mucilaginous, don’t you think? That’s a technical way of saying slimy. Cucumber water is a tad cloudy, if you look closely. I’m waxing poetic about the every-so-slight slimy/mucilaginous texture of cucumber water because a) I think that is what makes it so refreshing to eat and drink, and b) said texture is what blends so nicely with the flavors of fresh garden herbs. In short, the weight of the cucumber carries the lighter yet more pungent flavors of the herbs. A match made in heaven (or the garden).
I’m putting on my birth doula hat today to share my favorite ways to stay healthy (and sane) during pregnancy. It was incredibly surprising to me that even though I LOVE herbs and have made so many pregnancy-related teas and formulas over the years, I wasn’t really into taking herbs when I myself was pregnant. I felt that creating a healthy foundation was more important, so that I wasn’t in need of taking herbs for medicine. I certainly enjoyed lots of beverage teas, though, to stay hydrated and for the pure fun of it!
Every year I am astonished at the fine crop of chickweed that grows in my container garden. Come spring, the pots are overflowing with tender, somewhat succulent chickweed tendrils around January to March, when the days are getting a little longer but is still quite damp and cool. Chickweed is an early spring herb and goes into hiding when the sun comes high and hot.
Motherhood isn’t always easy. Sometimes you need a little boost, a bit of support. Of course the help of family and friends is important, as is a supportive community. But for the day-to-day challenges and triumphs, I call on the plants to help me out. It’s easy even for a postpartum-brained lady like myself to formulate a mothering tincture…because the star herb has Mother in its name, Motherwort! I wrote about lovely motherwort in 2008 in this post, if you want to learn more about it’s medicinal side. Actually, there are two stars in this formula; the other being peony. I find that peony is an intensely womb-connected plant and quite motherly itself. Rose elixir, chamomile and a bit of licorice finish out the comforting, nurturing blend. Yum!
While camping at the amazingly beautiful Opal Creek wilderness area I experienced a new type of injury: sandal chaff. Yes, the skin on my feet somehow where rubbed to oblivion by hiking in my trusty 11 year old Chaco’s. The source of the irritation still confuses me; never has such a thing happened prior or since.