School is just about to start, and so are the anxious tummies. I made up a child friendly glycerite that's both safe and effective to tame tummies and lower anxiety.
Want to learn more? Sign up for our September workshop at Mother Nature's Market in Woodstock, New Brunswick.
Join us for an evening session to explore:
*kid-friendly, anxiety busting herbs
*natural tips and tricks to bring calming
*making a herbal glycerite to calm and soothe upset tummies
*preparing and tasting a kid friendly herbal tea
Spaces are limited. Please reserve your spot in advance by stopping by the store (Mother Nature's Market, 618 Main Street), calling 328-1815, or message me!
Plants are all around us...but what are they, and what are they good for? If you've ever wondered what all those weeds are (and I use the word 'weed' very tongue in cheek), why they matter, and how to use them, you'll want to join us on an Herb-an Discovery Walk through Woodstock's downtown! I'll accompany you as you:
*meet dozens of plants
*discuss their traditional and therapeutic uses
*taste some delicious (and maybe not so delicious) weeds
*learn the basics of wildcrafting
WHEN: Thursday, July 25 from 6-8 pm
WHERE: Mother Nature's Market, 618 Main St. Woodstock, NB
COST: $15. Payment at Mother Nature's Market will reserve your spot. Space is limited!
Though this walk covers only a few blocks, it is recommended to dress for the weather and wear comfortable footwear. Children must be accompanied and supervised by a parent.
Follow this link for more info: https://www.facebook.com/events/2326790077539022/
Every winter I mix up a fresh batch of ear oil just in case one of us happens to come down with a case of otitis. Ear pain is miserable, and it's worth it to keep this easy remedy on hand. It's very simple to make. I include garlic, mullein, calendula and St John's wort oil in my recipe. If you're lacking all those herbs, you can make an effective ear oil with simply garlic and mullein (and even just garlic).
Herbal Ear Oil
2 TBSP chopped garlic
2 TBSP calendula (dry)
2 TBSP mullein (dry, though wilted is acceptable)
2 TBSP St John's wort oil (made ahead with fresh herb)
Put the herbs and St John's wort oil in a 250 ml jar. Add olive oil to the top of the jar (see the 2nd pic? That's not enough. The 3rd pic? That's the stuff, right there.).
Cap it. Label it. Place it in a warm, sunny spot for a minimum of 2 weeks, shaking it every day. Keep an eye that mold doesn't form in the jar. This can happen if the herbs were not dried or stored properly. If that happens, chuck it. At the end of the 2 weeks, strain it and bottle it. A dropper bottle will make it easier to dispense it.
To use, warm the oil until it's at body temperature. Test it to be sure it isn't hot....earaches are bad enough without a burn! Put 2 or 3 drops into the ear canal, treating both ears as infections can 'travel'. Use 2 to 3 times daily as needed. You may want to clean out the oil every so often with a couple drops of topical hydrogen peroxide.
Ear oil is NOT to be used for swimmer's ear or if the ear drum has been perforated. If in doubt or if the ear pain persists or worsens, see your doctor.
Yes, it's another unflattering picture, but it's real and it has significance...two things I love. I have become an early riser. I love the quiet as I sip my coffee, daydream and organize my thoughts. The hour to myself before the kids wake is such therapy! Lately, my early morning thoughts have gone toward my emotional progess. I am very much a person who fixes. There was a time I struggled ...with a saviour mentality. Hard times? World poverty? Second cousin twice removed had surgery? Emilie to the rescue! My thoughts and behaviours, trying to be everything to everyone, running ragged to solve problems as big as maternal death in the Phillipines and as small as a friend's rocky marriage left me exhausted mentally and physically. Burnout after burnout left me in shambles. So I stopped. I am able to recognize my level of energy reserves. I am able to recognize my abilities in a realistic way.
I have the desire to take care of everything and everyone, but I now have the sense to say no and feel okay with it. Saying no to some responsibilities has given me the ability to do well in others. For the New Year, choose one task that is suited to you and do it well. If you hate cooking and crowds make you anxious, don't volunteer in a soup kitchen. Let that be another's blessing. Perhaps you'd be better suited to helping the soup kitchen by doing administrative work or cleaning the hall after events. Don't fight who you are. We've all been made differently not to compete, but to compliment each other.
2019 roared in with freezing rain and a heavy snowstorm. Mid-afternoon it finally cleared up and I took my cabin-fevered self out for a snowshoe. Thankfully, I took the loop trail that keeps close to our property rather than hiking far across the fields. The moment I hit my groove and thought I'd shoe to the far fields out of sight of our house, the wind changed. I saw it coming from the far woods like a tidal wave and it hit me with ice pellets as soon as I landed in our... back yard. Winter is tempermental in our area.
I took this picture as I retraced my steps on the loop. I suppose it is fitting to look back on 2018 and learn from the successes and hardships. Where have I been? More importantly, where am I going? I have big ideas for Village Sage Herbals!
The holidays have come and gone, and I admit I am imperfect. Every year I swear that this will be the year I have it all together, house clean, children scrubbed and smiling, myself scrubbed and smiling (!), gifts wrapped, yummies baked, and decorations strung throughout the house and yard. Every year, and again this year, it was not to be. The house got cleaned, and the yummies were baked, but the smile was a tad forced. Although I love the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I am not immune to the stress that comes along with it.
On top of all this, I developed an abscessed gum, which traveled from one side of my mouth to the other. How it managed this, I'm unsure, but there it is. I successfully treated the first abscess with Drastix tincture (topically and internally), but am still working on the second one which seems more severe.
All this to say, stress got the better of me.
In an effort to soothe my frazzled nerves, and also deal with the abscess, I sought herbs that are both calming, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory. I had made Peace Tea before, and felt that it fit the bill perfectly. The chamomile is a gentle herb that is best known for it's calming effect. It's also wonderful for stomach complaints, which often accompany anxiety. What some don't realize is that chamomile is also wonderfully antibacterial, antiviral, and an excellent anti-inflammatory. Lavender has many of the same properties, and is an even stronger calming herb. Last, but certainly not least, comes the lemon balm. With its pleasant minty, lemony flavour, it contributes greatly to the taste of the tea. It is a calming herb, too, and strongly antibacterial and antiviral. It should not be used by those with a hyperactive thyroid, however. In this case, peppermint is a nice substitute!
Give it a try, and let me know what you think!
2 parts chamomile flowers
1 part lavender buds
2 parts lemon balm (or peppermint)
Blend the herbs. Use a spoonful in a cup of just boiled water. If drinking for pleasure, steep covered for 2-3 minutes. Any longer will result in a bitter tea. For a therapeutic tea, steep covered for 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey as desired.
When I think winter herbs, cinnamon immediately comes to mind. An herb that warms the system, I associate it with comfort foods...cinnamon buns, cookies, spice cake, sprinkled in hot chocolate, and oatmeal. Sweet and spicy all at once, it's a delightful addition to savory cooking. Curries and stir fries are amazing with a pinch of cinnamon!
How wonderful, then, that such a delicious herb has a wide array of therapeutic benefits, too! Cinnamon is considered a warming herb, and can be a great help to those who 'run cold' or are dealing with 'cold' afflictions. It is one of the 'anti' herbs. It is antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral as well as astringent, carminative, and demulcent. These actions make it perfect for use during cold season. Cinnamon is often included in cough syrups, cold and flu teas, and elderberry syrup.
For those living with diabetes type 2, cinnamon can be a useful tool. The herb does this in two ways - by increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin, and by decreasing the amount of sugar released into the bloodstream. Cinnamon does this by interfering with certain digestive enzymes, slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates in the digestive system. Cinnamon is also celebrated for its beneficial action on the cardiovascular system, its antioxidant content, anti-inflammatory properties, its positive effects against fungal growth, and its protective action against oral disease and cavities.
There are two basic types of cinnamon to consider. The main difference between the two is the level of cinnamaldehyde in the herb. Cinnamaldehyde is what gives cinnamon its distinctive taste. Though you may think that more is better, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. When using cinnamon therapeutically for chronic ailments, it is best to adopt an 'easy does it' attitude. Ceylon cinnamon is known as 'true' cinnamon. It comes from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree which grow in Sri Lanka and India. It is lower in cinnamaldehyde, and thus is a safer option for long term therapeutic use. Cassia cinnamon is from the Cinnamomum cassia tree which originates in China. It is higher in cinnamaldehyde. It is also higher in coumarin, which in large amounts can be damaging to the liver. It is the stronger tasting of the two cinnamons, and the cheapest. Thus it is the cinnamon most readily available at the grocery store, and is likely used in baking for this reason. In food amounts, cinnamon is quite safe. It should not be used therapeutically by pregnant ladies, however, as it can cause contractions. It is best to consult an herbalist for dosing specifics.
Perhaps the best thing about cinnamon - or at least, the tastiest - is its effect on the digestive system. Cinnamon is a traditional digestive remedy, and combines especially well with ginger. Warming herbs kindle the body, building 'fire' and getting things moving. This is good news for those with a sluggish digestive system who need to encourage things along. It is normal for many cultures to partake in a digestive drink before and/or after meals, and cinnamon is often included in these teas. Try one for yourself with the recipe below:
Cinnamon Digestive Tea
1 part cinnamon
1 part ginger
1/2 part clove
1 part mint
Blend the first three ingredients together. Place 2 tablespoons of this blend into a pot with 2 cups of water. Simmer 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon mint, cover, and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain, sweeten with honey as desired, and sip slowly.
Elderberry - sometimes referred to as the 'medicine chest of country people' - is a big time favourite during cold and flu season. Although the entire plant can be used in some capacity for remedy purposes, the berries and the flowers are most commonly used.
Harvesting berries involves the watch and pounce method. The berries must turn to a dark, almost black colour before they are ready to pick. At this point, one must be quicker than the local birds who are also eager for their share of elderberries. Although birds might eat the berries fresh, it's important for we humans to carefully process the berries before consuming them. Eating fresh berries can quickly turn into a bad case of stomach upset. Drying and/or cooking them is the best way to avoid this. Elderberries can be turned into delicious jellies, juices, wines, and into remedies such as syrups, gummies and teas. In terms of health remedies, the berries are mostly used to aid in respiratory tract ailments - colds, bronchitis, sinusitis, scratchy throats, and especially influenza. In fact, in a double blind study with people afflicted with influenza, it was determined that using Sambucol (an elderberry syrup) vs a placebo resulted in a significant improvement in symptoms and a quicker recovery!
Elder flowers may not be as widely used in our area, but they definitely deserve a mention. They are beautiful, fragrant star shaped flowers. They also have an affinity for respiratory conditions, and are known for their diaphoretic properties - that is, their ability to encourage 'sweating out a fever'. Gargles can be made from the flower to ease sore throats. Elder flower salves and ointments are also used for skin conditions.
If you want the goodness of elderberries, but want something a little different from elderberry syrup, try your hand at an elixir.
Fill a quart jar half full with elderberries. Add in enough alcohol to fill the jar ¾ full and then top with honey. Mix well. You may find you have space at the top of the jar. Add more honey to fill. Seal the jar and label with the date the name of your concoction (nothing worse than staring blankly at a jar with no idea what is in it!). Let sit for 3 weeks, shaking daily. Strain after 3 weeks . Take 1 -3 teaspoons daily to help keep the flu at bay.
Find something you love, and love it hard. Sometimes we have this crazy idea that we need to push push push, and that relaxing means we are lazy or selfish. Don't fall for that. Take care of you. You can't pour into others if your own vessel is empty. Love everyone....even yourself.
Dandelion - not just for wishes! Lawn enthousiasts spend a lot of money and energy getting rid of dandelions, but it wasn't that long ago that home owners were planting dandelions on their lawns. It's no wonder. Dandelion is a fantastic herb.
The first herbs to pop up in spring tend to be bitter, perfectly timed to cleanse the body from winter's heavy diet and sedentary lifestyle. Dandelion, or Pissa-bed (ancient English), is a fantastic tonic. It supports the kidneys, encourages elimination, and relieves anxiety. Unlike pharmaceutical diuretics, it is very high in potassium and replaces this mineral as it flushes the urinary tract, hence avoiding dangerous electrolyte imbalances.
Dandelion is high in nutrients, and can be eaten in its entirety. The leaf is bitter, so young tender leaves are best for salads. The roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute. Even the yellow flower heads can be eaten. Try them battered and fried - yum!