Sunday, February 18, 2018

Essential Herbal March/April 2018 (#98)

This issue was interesting to put together.  Our deadline fell on the same day we were flying across the country for a week with the west coast crew.  It happened, though, and now it's in the mail.  We're working on a cool new website that should be up soon, and the time of year that is typically sleepy and dreamy, is anything but!  Hopefully this explains the dearth of blog posts.  I'll get back to it soon.

Here's the new issue (SUBSCRIBE):

                             First, look at that fabulous Springtime cover by Aimee Bungard!

Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams   
        Where I explain my tenuous relationship with math.
Western Beargrass, Sandy Michelsen
        Traditional uses as food and medicine for an unusual (and beautiful) plant.
Slough with the Old, In with the New, Cathy Calfchild
         Skincare with kitchen cosmetics!
Molly of the West, My Latest Skincare Obsession,  Molly Sams
         Someone is having a good time checking out the Asian markets.
The Best Culinary Herbs You Have Not Yet Tried, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh   
         There are a couple in here that I will be trying this summer for the first time.
Ferns - The Ancient Ones, Debra Sturdevant  
         Ferns have a lot to offer us, in medicinal and culinary ways.
Cold/Congestion Shower Tabs, Tina Sams   
         Still some nasty germs floating around.  Breathe deep in the shower.
Scented Geraniums - A Victorian Delight, Barbara Steele   
         Good info on why you'll want these beauties in the garden.  Also, I just noticed a huge glaring error (on our part - not the info).  Sigh... it wouldn't be TEH without one or two.
         Make some jelly with the included recipe.
Dill - More Than Pickles, Maryanne Schwartz  
         Lore and information, along with a couple great recipes. 
Flower Essences: Healing “Co-creatively,” Jen Frey
         Jen talks about the sparkling Dinoflagellates and an essence she made off the island of Vieques.  Learn about the history of essences, how we communicate with plants (or perhaps how they communicate with us), and how to make your own essences.  
In Memorium: James (Jim) A. Duke, PhD, Susanna Reppert/Brill
         We lost an immense influence and an amazing mind.  Susanna remembers him here.  
The Case for Cannabis - A Natural (R)Evolution (Part 2 of 2), Lisa Camasi 
         In part 2, Lisa shares the different properties that occur in some of the various components     and how to best utilize them for medical relief.
Plant This Instead, Kathy Musser   
         Kathy helps guide us through readjusting our goals when perhaps we don't have the proper site  for the plant we originally visualized in a particular spot.  Lots of ideas!
What are Liberty Teas? Jackie Johnson  
         Most of us don't know that the Boston Tea Party was just one of many such revolts.  There were also many substitutes, and Jackie provides us with some historic blends!
Reflections of Winter, Gale La Scala
         Some people aren't done with winter yet.   And from the other end of the spectrum:
10 Ways to Combat Cabin Fever, Rita Richardson

There you have it.  Subscribe today - HERE
See you all next time!  Be sure to read the blurb about our 100th issue discount page if you're a business that herbies need to know about (no MLM's and at the publisher's discretion).  It's a great way to make some waves. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Southern Folk Medicine - Book Review

This book comes out on the 16th of January, and if you haven't pre-ordered, get it now.  This book is unlike any other you might have on your shelves and you're going to need it.  This changes the way we will be looking at things from here on out.

To begin with, there's a foreword by Rosemary Gladstar.
There's an afterword by Matthew Wood.
And in between, Phyllis D. Light will open your eyes and mind to a whole different way of perceiving body constitution and how herbal energetics (which has always been too open to interpretation for me) correlate with southern blood "types."  The quotes are there because the types are not A, B, O.  They align with the 4 elements.  This system makes sense.
She starts with the history of how the tradition came into being.  You'll notice a connection with Ayurvedic and Chinese systems, but Southern Folk Medicine is its own healing method.

I've only had it a few days, but I know this is a game-changer.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

How we started 2018

My sister's son moved to the west coast over a year ago and in August, my daughter went out to join him.  His girlfriend is also someone we like, so it was time to go visit.  We left in the early morning of New Year's Day.  Not a bad day to travel, by the way.
One of the first things we noticed, rosemary hedges.
From Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz Island on the left.

Here are some of our adventures...

My personal favorite day was in Half Moon Bay.  This was in one of the greenhouses.

We first noticed the passionflowers at a nursery specializing in native plants.  Then saw them everywhere.
As we crossed a footbridge over a small ravine, we saw that wild nasturtiums were rampant.  In this picture, the leaves are most recognizable.  I only had my phone, having left the real camera at home.
We wound up on the Pacific Coast Highway.  Gorgeous and only a little unnerving.
The ocean was stunning from this angle.
At Fisherman's Wharf, we spent a lot of time considering the personalities of the sea lions.

In San Francisco we walked all through Chinatown, and then stopped at The Stinking Rose, where they say that they  "season our garlic with food."  Delish!
Can we talk a little bit about the walk to breakfast?  My companions forbid me from picking anything.

These little lilies were planted with white sage as landscaping where we stayed.

Tea shop on the walk to dinner...
Farmers market.  Just wow!  The variety was amazing.
Selection of olives.  Dates were at the next stand.  They tell us this is the "dead" of winter.  Hmmm...
We met up with a longtime online friend who took us to the very tip top of the Berkeley campus to look out at the bay.
We had the magazine almost put together by the time we got home.  I wrote my field notes while we were traveling.  Still polishing it up for the printer now.
We've just about caught up on orders and emails.  All in all a fun trip.  Of course it was a huge treat to see the young'uns.  That goes without saying.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Relief from Restless Leg Syndrome with Essential Oils

Liz Fulcher,
March/April '16 issue The Essential Herbal Magazine

Ask anyone who’s ever experienced RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) if it makes them crazy, and I’m sure they’ll answer with a resounding “yes!”  I know because I’m one of those people.  Fortunately, it doesn’t bother me at night as is common with RLS, but I do experience it when I’m the passenger in a car (but not when driving which I find interesting) and during air travel.  There is something about the vibration of both these forms of transportation that causes my legs to feel like ants are crawling under my skin.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome? 
According WebMD, “People with restless legs syndrome have uncomfortable sensations in their legs (and sometimes arms or other parts of the body) and an irresistible urge to move their legs to relieve the sensations. The condition causes an uncomfortable, “itchy,” “pins and needles,” or “creepy crawly” feeling in the legs. The sensations are usually worse at rest, especially when lying or sitting.”

Yep, that’s exactly how I’ve experience it.

As a Clinical Aromatherapist and 25-year veteran of using essential oils, they were the first thing I turned to for my own relief from the weird, crawly, itchy sensations, and I’m happy to report that I’ve had wonderful results.

The oils which I have found to have the greatest soothing effect on restless legs are those high in molecules from the Ester chemical family.  Ester-rich essential oils are also highly anti-inflammatory which may be why they work well to calm the spastic sensation that one experiences with restless leg. 

Examples of essential oils high in Ester molecules are: Bergamot, Bergamot Mint, Cardamom, Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Geranium, Helichrysum, Ho Wood, Jasmine, Lavender, Petitgrain, Siberian Fir, Ylang Ylang.

Below are 3 recipes that have really helped calm my own restless leg discomfort.

1. Sleepy Legs Night Cream
12 drops Lavender
10 drops Marjoram
5 drops Roman Chamomile
Unscented Lotion
2 oz glass jar
Directions: Add the essential oils to 2 ounces of unscented cream and stir.  Rub this blend into your legs  anytime you experience jumpy legs. Apply as often as needed.

2. Happy Legs Travel Spray
9 drops Petitgrain
8 drops Sweet Orange
8 drops Siberian Fir
Lavender Hydrosol
2 oz Spray Bottle
Directions: Simply add the essential oils to the hydrosol in the 2 oz bottle and shake well before each use.  Spray in your legs and rub vigorously, then spray again.

 3. Grateful Gams Bath Salt
10 drops Frankincense
5 drops Marjoram
5 drops Clary Sage
3 drops Ylang Ylang
Epsom Salts (high in magnesium which is also helpful)
2 oz glass or plastic jar
Directions:  Add the essential oils to the salt and blend well together.  Sprinkle the full 2 ounces into the already-full bathtub.  Step in and relax.  Follow up with the Sleepy Legs Night Cream.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

January/February 2018 Essential Herbal

We've got a great issue in the mail to subscribers to start the year off right.
This magazine makes a great holiday gift, by the way.  Print in the US and PDF worldwide, we include a gift card, and if you put a message in the comments section when ordering, it will be in the card.  ORDER HERE

Here is the table of contents:
Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams
Off we go into another great year. We’re looking at what’s important, what’s coming up, and what it means to us.
Citrus in Winter, Miranda Hoodenpyl
There’s a lot more to citrus than that glass of homogenized, flavored pulp! Plus there are cranberry orange scones.
Tinnitus—A Holistic Approach, Jackie Johnson
Find out what triggers tinnitus, and some ways to try to remedy the problem.
Herbs as Houseplants, Kathy Musser
Apparently some people can bring their herbs inside. Good advice, plant specific for you determined types. Heck, maybe I’ll even give it a shot.
Hops—Herb of the Year 2018, Kristine Brown
So much more than a beer flavoring! Learn about some of the many, many uses and talents of hops.
Plantago Major… Little Leaf, Major Impact, Cathy Calfchild
Stories of plantain coming to the rescue and a couple wonderful, convenient recipes to try out.
Molly of the West, Where do you get Licorice Around Here?? Molly Sams
It isn’t always easy to find what you need… especially after moving away from a well-stocked private apothecary.
Presidents’ Day and Tea, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
The tea habits and tea sets of America’s First Families.
My Grandmother’s Kitchen, Angela Dellutri
Timeless memories of an Italian grandmother’s kitchen.
The Case for Cannabis—A Natural (R)Evolution, Lisa Camasi
Do you know the components of cannabis that work in different ways? Are you aware of the many benefits and methods of use? Part 1 of 2.
Cottonwood Buds—Infusion Methods and Soap, Marci Tsohonis
Resinous, sticky, healing balm of Gilead, aka cottonwood buds, infused and eventually used to make soap. Learn about how to infuse them.
Men’s Facial Hair Care, Janet Gutierrez
A discussion on various base oils and their respective usefulness, and a luscious beard oil recipe.
Onions (Allium cepa), Sandy Michelsen
Their flavor can add to just about everything savory, but what else can they do?
Winter into Spring Dessert & More with Mints, Rita Richardson
Mint can brighten up even the darkest day. Particularly if pound cake and strawberries are involved…
List Article—What would you take along in an emergency?
We got a lot of really good answers to this thought-provoking question.
If you aren't a subscriber, start today.  We're the magazine for the "everyday herbalist."

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Magazine for the Everyday Herbalist

For at least the last 15 years, our tagline has been, "By, for, and about herbie people and the things they love - HERBS!"
It's time to leave that behind.  It doesn't describe us. 
For one thing, we try not to feed into the current climate of herbal celebrity.  We've always felt that there are many brilliant herbalists working alone, quietly and without fanfare.  In fact, that's exactly what most herbalists are doing.
Also, we realized we've outgrown it.

Our new tagline is, "The magazine for the everyday herbalist."  That's exactly what The Essential Herbal is.  Really, it's who we've always been.

DOWNLOAD MiniMag #1promotional sample from 2012
Over the weekend, we set up a table at a small winter fair, and had the opportunity to repeatedly explain who we are writing for.  That's a great exercise, by the way.  It's been quite a while since I really gave it a lot of thought.  As the years rolled by and the rut deepened, I hadn't really examined whether we were adequately describing the content one might find.

Our generous and talented contributors share information that everyone can use everyday.  They share our goal of helping everyone find some confidence in the knowledge that their grandparents used to take for granted, but that somehow fell by the wayside.
DOWNLOAD sample mini mag from 2016
The Essential Herbal teaches you to bring herbs into the house for all kinds of reasons.  Often it is for food or medicine.  Sometimes it is for the sheer joy of sharing our living space with plants; their scents, appearance, or a combination of all of these things!
We share how to find the plants around you, which ones to look for, and what to do with them.  Teas, salves, tinctures, elixirs, lotions, and literally thousands of recipes and ideas have graced our pages during the past 17 years.  We expect that to continue. 

Because The Essential Herbal is the magazine for the everyday herbalist.  Subscribe today!  Print in the US, PDF worldwide.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Flavors and Fragrances of the Season

Excerpts from Flavors and Fragrances of the Season
Jackie Johnson ND
Planhigion Herbal Learning Center

Nov/Dec '13 issue of Essential Herbal magazine
As fall wanes, and we’re satiated from our Thanksgiving flavors….our taste buds turn to the Christmas season and its alluring tastes and smells.

Most of the spices of the season are warm, which seem to help us ease into the season and the cooler (colder) temperatures.

The most common spice of the season is the sweet, spicy and pungent Cinnamon.  Who doesn’t have at least one favorite recipe that includes cinnamon?  Is it cinnamon or cassia?   Both belong to the same family but which is which?  I was told once that cassia’s bark curls two ways and true cinnamon curls only one way.  Cassia is more reddish, more aromatic, and more bitter, whereas true cinnamon is lighter in color and milder.  Usually what we purchase in ground form is a mixture of them both.   Once nearly as expensive as gold, much research is going on with cinnamon, so enjoy your treats, cuz it’s all good!   Is cinnamon tea with honey really a hardship for anyone?

Typically considered the second most valuable spice in the world (to saffron) is cardamom.  Most people don’t use it much, but maybe this sweet, pungent and warming spice should be.  In the ginger family, try substituting a teaspoon of cardamom in your cinnamon sugar.   As with cinnamon, when cooking, it should be added early.

Here’s an old family favorite my grandmother used to make.  (If I’ve infringed on someone’s recipe, I apologize, but this is how it came handwritten about 30 years ago.)

Spiced Seafoam
3 large egg whites
1 cup white sugar
½ t. cardamom
½ t cinnamon
¼ t cloves

Beat the egg whites until stiff.  Add the sugar a little at a time (while still beating).  Then hand stir in the spices (which have already been mixed together).  Drop in small mounds on a parchment covered baking sheet and put in an oven already at 250 degrees, for 90 minutes.  Then turn off the oven and let them sit in there over night.  Remove in the a.m.

Cloves are yet another favorite – whether they’re in stuck in oranges or added to teas.  It’s another warming pungent, spice that should be added early and sparingly in recipes.  If really too strong for you, snip off the tops and grind the “stem” for a milder version. 

All the spices so far are good for digestion and nausea; cloves can also help adult toothache pain (not kids) when smashed and placed around the tooth until you can get to the dentist.

Coriander (the seed of cilantro) should also be dry-toasted to release its flavor.  Unlike the others, it should be added near the end of the cooking cycle.  Like fenugreek , it was considered an aphrodisiac.

Ginger is one of my favorites.  It was once said that “every good quality is contained in ginger”.   I like to start growing this in the early spring so I have my own available in winter.  Just put a piece of the root (with an eye) in a pot.  Don’t let it get frosted, but set it out in the summer (takes about 10-11 months).  Each batch you grow from the last one is less strong than its predecessor but it’s easy and fun to grow.  (I also slice ginger root into quarter size pieces and freeze it.  When I don’t feel well, I’ll pull out a couple of ginger root pieces, a couple of frozen lemon slices and put them in a quart jar with hot water add honey and drink on it all day.)

A Christmas staple, but gingerbread was also a favorite of General Lafayette after George Washington’s mother served it to him in 1784.  Here an easy recipe adapted from several.

2 ¼ cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup black strap molasses
¾ cup hot water
½ cup shortening
1 egg
1 t soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
¾ t salt

Blend all the above by hand for about 30 seconds and then with a mix (I don’t think they had mixers during the Civil War, but they do make life easier) for about 3 minutes.  Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 9 pan, and bake at 325 degrees for about 50 minutes.  I’ve found it comes out of the pan easier when it’s cool.   (It’s cake-like.)
Mulling spices are popular during winter.   Recipes are as varied as those who throw them together and are dictated by taste preferences.  Don’t be afraid to experiment. 

Favorite #1:
Cinnamon sticks
Orange peels (dried)

Favorite #2
Orange and Lemon peels (dried)
Star Anise (just a little)

These can be mulled in apple cider or juice, or wine depending on your crowd.  Most are served warm, but sometimes I mull in apple juice, cool, add cold orange juice and ginger ale.   If you want a “Wassail” use a red or fruit wine in a crockpot and add some brown sugar, honey and maybe a little brandy.

Sometimes I’ll put the cloves in a small orange or lemon and plunk them in the crockpot. Don’t cover the fruit with them, just a trail or two of them.

All of these drinks make the house smell wonderful while heating them up.   We usually serve them in a crockpot (that can be hidden in pretty Christmas fabric with greens and cinnamon sticks tied together around it).

Another family favorite that does double duty as a house deodorizer is a fruit soup.  There are all kinds of recipes for these, but I’ve found that anything goes – use what you have.

Swedish Fruit Soup
Start with 5 – 10 cups of water (depending on what you put in)
Dried apricots
Sliced orange
Sliced lemon
Sliced apple
Sliced pear
1 or 2 cinnamon stick and a couple of cloves
(If you have a favorite spice, i.e. allspice, nutmeg – take some of the soup out and add a little and let it sit awhile to see if the added spice is something you like in the soup.)
Let this simmer for hours or until everything is blended.  You can add a small amount of tapioca at the end if you like, but I’ve found it isn’t necessary.  This can be served warm or cold.   If you eat too much, you’ll find it’s a great ‘cleanser’.

Happy Holidays however you celebrate it!

This article was quite a bit longer, with lovely recipes for the holidays.  Subscribing to Essential Herbal is easy and worthwhile.  We're the best kept secret in the herbal community.  Share and help us spread the word!


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