Saturday, June 20, 2020

Essential Herbal July/August 2020

WellOur first issue with no printed copies went out today.  I'm a little jangled, because new things of this magnitude are nerve-wracking.  It's a beautiful issue and I'm sure it will be well received.  Below you'll find the cover and table of contents.  If you've never read one of our magazines, there are several samples on OUR WEBSITE, at the very bottom of the page. 
My latest book -Herbal Medicine for Emotional Healing - is also available now!  You can get it from any major bookseller, or on my website.

But back to the magazine...

 TABLE OF CONTENTS:


Cover, Debra Sturdevant
Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams
Dill With It, Alicia Foster Allen
   It’s mint to be – basil today but tarragon tomorrow!  Delicious recipes featuring garden herbs.
Custard, Hot or Cold, Rebekah Bailey
   Baked or frozen, what's your favorite?  Wonderful options for flavors.
Spilanthes, The Oddball Eyeball Plant, Kristine Brown RH(AHG)
   I'm wondering why I never grew this plant before.
Excerpt - Cannoli Be Murder, Catherine Bruns
   Cinnamon Chip Biscotti - perfect for afternoon tea/coffee pick-me-up!
Ginger Elixir, How and Why, Tina Sams
   A useful concoction to have on hand.
Facebook Group List Question
   Did your garden plans change because of the pandemic?
Excerpt - Herbal Medicine for Emotional Healing
   2 recipes from the book and a bonus link to a video of Tina making a third.
Review, Year of Wonders, Jackie Johnson
   A book dealing with a woman's experience with a 1600's plague.
High Summer in the Garden, Kathy Musser
   Showy herbs for the last half of summer and some interesting flowers to add.
Summer Favorites, Marci Tsohonis
   Salad days! 
More Herbs, Less Salt Day, Marci Lautanen Raleigh
   Savory blends to bring out the flavor of foods without much (if any) salt.
Rita’s Ramblings, Rita Richardson
   Musings on flavors old and new.
Wild Cherry, Jenel Schaffer
   The many benefits of the bark of this splendid tree.
Companion Planting, Sandy Michelsen
   Sometimes plants help each other grow, produce, and fight off pests.
Venturing into Eco-Printing, Maryanne Schwartz
   A new obsession here on the farm!

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Herbal Self-Care During Covid-19


Molly Sams
It's been a weird world. I know we are all going through it and I'm sure you are feeling as trapped and claustrophobic as I am. Here is what I've been doing to feel productive, take care of myself, and create an herbal routine to keep me going.

What I've been steeping

I know London fogs are not really considered an herbal tea but I do find it is a great alternative to coffee and helps me break up my routine. I use regular earl gray tea with a little vanilla extract and a bit of half and half or oat milk. I usually steep the tea in my French press as well. That way there is plenty of room for each tea leaf. It makes me feel a little fancier than my usual cup of black coffee. If I want to feel extra fancy I'll steep my earl gray with a pinch of lavender buds.

Again, I know coffee is not necessarily an herbal tea but I do sort of see it as one. Just like any other tea there are benefits to drinking it. However, drinking 25 ounces every day (my former routine) probably didn't really help matters. I do find drinking black tea every other day has helped the jitters. But back to coffee. With coffee I'll mix in a little Ceylon cinnamon to my beans as the water boils. Then I pour the boiling water over the beans in my French press (by the end of this you'll realize my intense love for my French press) and let it steep for about four minutes. It's a nice beginning to the morning and carries me into work.

So I drink both the fogs and coffee hot or cold but I enjoy my hibiscus and ginger tea as an iced drink. For this I take three healthy pinches of hibiscus tea, two to four slices of crystallized ginger (depending on the size), and let it cold-steep over night in, you guessed it, my French press. Then I either bring it with me to work or bottle it and put it in the fridge. I enjoy doing all of these because I still feel like I'm able to have a decent range of drink choices, I still feel a little fancy, and I get to save money.


What's been helping me look good

Getting through this has been pretty tough. I'm an essential worker nowadays at a credit union and I'm required to wear a homemade mask every day to work. The amount of heat and moisture that my mask creates has really wreaked havoc on my already sensitive skin. I've had to change my skin routine a little just to help it out.

I've started doing masks a couple times a week. I use a chemical peel mask once every two weeks to gently exfoliate. I only leave it on for about 3 minutes so I don't get any redness and it leaves my skin feeling refreshed and less flaky. The rest of the week I use gentle mud masques or sheet masks to moisturize.

I also use a healthy amount of hydrolauronic acid to help keep moisture in. Now that I live in Colorado my skin has become pretty dry and reactive. The hydrolauronic acid has seriously helped regulate the moisture in my skin.

Getting my green thumb going

To be honest, I've never been amazing at growing plants. I am a big fan of plants that I say good luck to after I put them in the ground. When you live in a tiny condo with little light, it's kinda hard to keep that philosophy. So I only have two little plants, lemon balm and peppermint. Caring for them, watching them grow in their containers, and soak up what they can of the sun has been a real positive aspect in my life.

If you have a nursery near by call in and see if they're open. Support a local grower while uplifting your spirits all at once.

Hiking and staring at wildflowers


I have been hiking a lot to stay sane. I wear a mask on the trails and luckily there aren't too many people when I hike. I have been able to see some amazing plants and views along the way. If you have hiking trails near you I would seriously suggest going. It makes you realize there is still more to the world than Covid.

Here's a couple photos to tempt you to hit the trails.







If you can, support small, local herb shops and businesses

I have been lucky enough to stay employed so I've been trying to support my favorite herb businesses when I can. When this began I re-upped on some of my favorite skincare products from Colorado Aromatics and splurged on some things I have missed from The Rosemary House. You can also cheer up your loved ones by sending them a gift certificate or a surprise package. If you can, spread some love. It can really help out.

Finally, read, read, read

Dive into a new (or old) herbal book and see what you can learn. I finished a First-aid herbal book and learned so much (good and bad). Now I'm moving on in my massive herbal book queue. Now that we are mostly just staying at home I think it is a great opportunity to learn more about herbalism, try some new recipes, and maybe find a new favorite herb.

This is rough and I know we could all use some help. I hope that if you try any of my recipes or rituals they help you get through this. Stay well and stay safe.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Herbal Medicine for Emotional Healing

I am so excited to share this book with you!  There was no pandemic when it was written.  None of the things that we're all going through were even possible to imagine.  I'd spent months considering exactly which herbs to focus on, gathering my recipes and remedies, and choosing categories that would make the book easy to use.  Little did I know at the time that we'd all be in need of a cup of calming tea or some herbal drops to ease our fears by the time it was ready to release. 
PRE-ORDER

It makes me so happy to be useful and helpful at this moment in time, and you'll want this information and the recipes long after we've pulled ourselves out of this.
Reserve your copy now for mid-June delivery!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Where we've been, where we're going.

First issue - Jan/Feb '02 and our current issue - May/June '20
Act 2, Here We Come!!!
We at The Essential Herbal Magazine are getting excited now, for so many reasons.

For instance there are so many constraints to producing a print magazine that just don't matter for an online publication.  Things like resolution of files, scheduling windows with the printer, mail prep...  Files looking completely different in print than on the screen... Convincing the printer and post office how important a particular date might be to me... All the returned mail that must be tracked down and determining why they came back... Tight, tight deadlines and mail holidays... Lugging heavy boxes up and down the steps...
Turned out the regular carrier was on vacation.  But that didn't change the charge to have it returned OR to resend.
That only happened 10 or 20 times for each issue.
I'm proud of what we accomplished so far.  When we started investigating and planning in April of 2001, there were 2 main herb magazines, both pretty big time.  Of them, The Herb Quarterly still exists.  There was a smattering of online magazines, but they generally put out a couple of issues and faded away.
After we had a good decade under our belt, lots of other magazines jumped in.  Most have also faded away.  One - Herbalrootszine.com is a wonderful zine/course to teach children herbalism, and she's been around for a good long time.  I highly recommend that one!

Along the way we went from 16 pages using cover stock and all black ink, 32 pages, to color covers, to full color glossy print.  We have always ALWAYS been a grassroots magazine based on the welcoming and open sharing of knowledge.
We'll be able to teach or demonstrate how to do things - like this incense.
 In 2005, we started doing something called "list articles."  It was an original and, to my knowledge, new concept where I posed a question to our Yahoo! list, and we put together really great articles using those responses.  The list is gone, but in the current issue, we did it with the Facebook group.  We have always tried to find ways for those who don't have the confidence to write an article to be able to contribute to the conversation. 
We will continue to come up with innovative and original ideas.  We hope you come along!

So why are we excited to drop print and go strictly online?  Well, instead of only visiting you once every 2 months, we'll be sending something on the off months.  This will most likely morph on it's own - just like The Essential Herbal always has.  Right now we're looking at mini-mags, videos (not necessarily from us) recipes, interviews, puzzles - all kinds of things.
A good example would be that in the third issue back in 2002, I think I drew (!!!) step by step instructions to make lavender wands (and a few years later a photo tutorial on this blog and a couple years later, fancy ones).

It kind of cracks me up to think about trying to write a description of how to do this.  and then the drawings.

Now, we could just show you!  Some things are just not that easy to describe in print.  Even though I took some technical writing courses in college, it doesn't translate too easily to creative endeavors.
We intend to stick to 32 pages as much as possible because we know that quite a few of you will choose to print your own from the file we send.  32 pages is very manageable. 

We have gotten so many encouraging emails, and they are appreciated.  Most of us (though not all) are sad to see the print issue go away.  It's a new world, and we adapt to do our part to reduce our footprint.  Come with us.  It's going to be fun.

SUBSCRIBE! 


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Essential Herbal May/June 2020




With this issue, we transition to an e-zine.What a beautiful cover to mark the occasion. 
Inside you'll find so much good stuff, most of which came in before the world turned
upside down, but then we squeeze in an article from the fb group on how to avoid
getting sick in the first place.  Get your copy or subscribe HERE
Table of Contents

Cover,
Katie Eberts
Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams
     Here’s how COVID-19 hit us.  How the PDF zine will work.                               
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme, Alicia Foster Allen
     Get comfy with these herbs in the kitchen!  How to use them and some great recipes.
Coltsfoot, Gale LaScala
     This early riser has lots to offer.  Stake out the flowers now to find the leaves later.      
Menopause, Rebekah Bailey
     This can be a tough journey.  Expect herbal suggestions in future issues. 
Check out Vitex (below) in the meantime. 
 
Hanging out on the elderberry bush...
 Herb Basket Gift, Rita Richardson
     Have you ever put together an herbal gift basket?  Fun and interesting ideas!  
Vital Vitex, Kristine Brown, RH(AHG)
     Lots of terrific information and one of Kristine’s beautiful stories of how vitex was created.      
Basil for Everybody, Kathy Musser
     So many basils!  Which ones will you grow?                                                      
Summer Beverages, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
     Delicious, refreshing beverages that everyone can enjoy.                                 
Arnica, Sandy Michelsen
     Inside (homeopathically) and outside, this pretty, sunny flower eases aches and pains.
Lilacs, Marilyn I. Bellemore
     Have you eaten lilacs? Get ready for a treat.                                                     
An Ounce of Prevention, Tina Sams & The Facebook Group
     We gathered a lot of solid ideas for staying ahead of the virus.        
Resting in the violets...
     
Small Business Ideas,
Susanna Reppert-Brill
     Some great ideas for keeping business moving in the void from a true veteran in the herb world.        
Oceana Soap, Marci Tsohonis
     Gorgeous, luxurious, and gentle, this soap makes us look forward to washing our hands (again).        
May Day, Jackie Johnson
     Tradition and lore of this special day, along with ways to celebrate and recipes to enjoy.
Meet Our Contributors
    
Who are these wondrous creatures who share their knowledge with us?   
With the ground ivy and dandelion...
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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dandelion and Lemon Shortbread Cookies


Eventually I'll try some dandelion flower pasta but the other day I decided to make a very small batch of shortbread cookies.  With the quarantine, ingredients are precious and shortbread is so simple with just a few ingredients.  I'm convinced that shortbread cookies are simply a socially acceptable way to eat large quantities of butter.  Because of that, it's good to know that they freeze beautifully when you know it's time to stop eating them.
Making shortbread is so easy.
Take a stick of butter out of the fridge to soften.
Go outside and pick 1/2 cup of the yellow petals of dandelions.
Now let's get to it!

Set oven to 300 degrees F
You'll need:

1/2 C butter
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C dandelion petals
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 t vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 C flour

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add dandelion petals, lemon zest, and vanilla and mix well.  Blend in the flour.
I placed the ball of dough between 2 pieces of waxed paper and rolled it to about 1/3 inch thickness, and transferred to a parchment covered pan.  It might be a good idea to chill it for 15 minutes now.  (I did not, and had to re-score after the bake.)
Score the dough into pieces and pierce with fork.  It can also be cut into shapes or pressed into a small baking pan or loaf pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until they are firm and just golden.
There are many optional ingredients, like chopped nuts, tiny chocolate, toffee, or butterscotch chips, dip them in chocolate, add a few pinches of lavender, mint, or anise hyssop - they're fun to work with, like these Confetti Shortbread Cookies, Ginger Shortbread, or these Gluten-free Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Hmmm... pretty obvious that I like shortbread!



Saturday, April 11, 2020

Ground Ivy Grimoire



by Kristine Brown, RH (AHG)
  online classes for kids, 130+ issues, and LOTS of free printables

Ground Ivy is commonly known by many names including Gill-over-the-ground, Gill-over-the-hill, Lizzy-run-up-the-Hedge, Gill-go-by-the-Hedge, Robin-run-in-the-Hedge,creeping Charlie, catsfoot, cat’s paw, turnhoof and alehoofe. This plant is not related to Ivy but is, instead, in the Mint family. Many of his names imply his growing habit of being a ground cover while others such as ‘paw’ and ‘hoof’ describe the shape of his leaves. Ground Ivy was historically used in beer brewing, hence the name ‘ale.’ 

Do you have Ground Ivy growing in your backyard? If so, grab a sprig to try out this experiment. Take a leaf and chew on it. Observe what you taste. Does it seem bitter or sweet? Spicy or pungent? Does your mouth salivate or dry up? How does your mouth feel, does the leaf warm it up or cool it off? Most people describe Ground Ivy as bitter, pungent, drying and cooling. 

Nutritionally, Ground Ivy contains vitamin C, copper, iodine, iron, phosphorus and potassium. He also contains triterpenoids, sesquiterpenes, flavonoids, resin, saponin, tannins, the volatile oil pulegone and a bitter principle known as glechomine. 

Medicinally, Ground Ivy is said to be analgesic, anthelmintic, antiatheromatic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, mucostatic, urinary tonic, and vulnerary. 

Let’s take a look at what Ground Ivy is used for…

Ground Ivy is probably most recognized for his usefulness in being able to remove heavy metals such as lead, mercury and aluminum from the body due to his high levels of vitamin C which bind with the soft, heavy metals. Matthew Wood also surmises that Ground Ivy may be useful for doing the same with petrochemical pollutants as well. Ground Ivy has a long history of being used for chelation and is listed in various historical herbals for treating ‘painters colic’ or ‘lead colic’ as lead poisoning was known by. As a hepatoprotective herb, Ground Ivy protects the liver from these heavy metals by binding with them so they can be filtered and removed from the body through the kidneys.

I became familiar with Ground Ivy after I learned he can help with the inner ear issue known as tinnitus which symptoms include humming or ringing in the ear and loss of hearing. Ground Ivy is also used for those suffering from ‘glue ear,’ medically known as otitis media with effusion, a condition that occurs when the Eustachian tubes fill with fluid in the middle ear, often at the beginning stage of chronic respiratory congestion or with a head cold. 

For the respiratory system, Ground Ivy is great for congestion, especially when you have a hot, wet cough as Ground Ivy cools and dries. Other coughs most likely will not benefit from Ground Ivy. Ground Ivy works for both acute respiratory infections as well as chronic respiratory infections, especially when the middle ears are congested, including ailments such as sinusitis and bronchitis. Ground Ivy can also help to soothe a sore throat and makes an all around great remedy for all things cold virus related.
Gall from ground ivy.
As well as working on respiratory issues, Ground Ivy can be helpful for eye issues such as conjunctivitis, acute redness, itchiness, soreness, tiredness, and pain in the eyes. A tea made of Ground Ivy with a pinch of sea salt added makes a soothing eye wash. 

Ground Ivy can be helpful for urinary problems as well. As a urinary tonic, Ground Ivy tones the urinary system, and may be helpful for those suffering from gout. As a diuretic, Ground Ivy gets the urinary tract back on track and can be used as a tea for cystitis, urinary inflammation and urinary tract infections. Kidney issues may find relief with Ground Ivy as well, from kidney stones to infections. 

Ground Ivy is said to help stimulate the bile flow in the gallbladder and liver, and may alleviate jaundice, helping to increase the flow of bile when it seems to be ‘stuck.’ Ground Ivy is also helpful for a congested spleen and lymph. 
As a stomachic, Ground Ivy is soothing for intestinal issues such as colic, intestinal cramping, and gas. Because of his astringent nature, Ground Ivy can be helpful for relieving diarrhea. 

Topically, Ground Ivy can be applied to hot, itchy skin conditions for gentle relief, as well as cuts and scratches since he is a vulnerary and antiseptic. His traditional use for arthritis and rheumatism suggest that topical applications may be helpful for these conditions as well. 

Ground Ivy can also be helpful for sciatica pain, I would use a poultice directly over the affected area along with a tea or extract internally. Dioscorides used Ground Ivy as a “remedy against sciatica or ache in the hucklebone.” Adele Dawson states that she finds that Ground Ivy is not helpful for sporadic, acute cases of sciatica and surmises that Ground Ivy would best be used for chronic cases. 

I am curious to try Ground Ivy more in conditions of the heart as research has shown Ground Ivy to be antiatheromatic, hypotensive, and anti-inflammatory as well as hypoglycemic due to his triterpenoids oleanolic and ursolic acid. 

There are no known contraindications, side effects or adverse effects with drug interactions. It is possibly safe for pregnant and lactating women though no studies have been done. 


Ground Ivy Extract
This extract can be used for respiratory infections, tinnitus, and heavy metal toxicity, as well as urinary, digestive and bile issues. 

Fresh Ground Ivy
Grain alcohol
Water

Fill your jar halfway with chopped Ground Ivy. Add grain alcohol halfway then add water to fill the jar.

Let steep for 4 weeks before using, shaking daily. You may wish to strain off the Ground Ivy at the end of the 4 week period.

Dosage for adults: 30 drops 4-5 times daily. Double for chelation
Children 2-6 - 10 drops; Children 7-12 - 20 drops 4-5 times daily.


Ground Ivy Tea
This tea is used for helping with chelation, tinnitus, and respiratory, urinary, digestive and bile issues. For tinnitus, it may be slow to work; expect results to take 30-90 days to be effective. This tea is also great as an eye wash for eye complaints. 

1 tablespoon dried Ground Ivy
10 oz boiling water

Steep Ground Ivy in boiling water for 15-20 minutes.

Dosage for adults: 2-4 cups daily. 
For children 2-6, 1/2-1 cup daily; 6-12 should drink 1-2 cups daily.

Ground Ivy Vinegar
Ground Ivy vinegar is great for getting a daily dose of Ground Ivy’s minerals. Use it on salads, a tablespoon in a cup of water before a meal to aid digestion. This can also be applied topically to help with hot, itchy skin conditions. 

Fresh Ground Ivy
Apple cider vinegar

Fill your jar with chopped up Ground Ivy then pour the Apple cider vinegar over the shoots to fill the jar. Cover with a lid.

Label and shake daily for 2 weeks.

Dyeing with Ground Ivy
Ground Ivy gives a rich palette of greens when using it as a dye. This is a perfect way to use a bunch of Ground Ivy from your yard if he is taking over! You can experiment in getting different shades by using different mordants. 

Fresh Ground Ivy
Knife 
Cutting board
A large stock pot
Water
13 oz. Alum
7 oz. Cream of tartar
Tongs
Natural dye fabric (cotton, wool, silk, linen are all good - they will dye slightly differently in color)
Rusty nails*
Baking soda*
Section of copper piping or other copper material (if using pennies, make sure they are pure copper pennies made prior to 1982)*

*Optional items to test out different shades - If you want to experiment with the optional colors, place the rusty nails (or other iron objects) into a jar and cover with rain water. 

Do the same for the copper piping in a separate jar. Be sure to label both jars so you know which is which.

Let soak for several days until the water turns a deep rust color.*

To begin, add 1 gallon water., alum and cream of tartar to the stock pot and stir to dissolve. Bring the water to a boil then turn off. Have a big person help you with this step if you are not used to using a stove.

Add the dye materials, stirring to soak and let steep until cool. Strain off the water and set aside the dye materials. You can also begin this at the same time as the next step to save time (in separate pots). 

Chop up enough Ground Ivy to fill your stock pot loosely with the plant material.

Cover the Ground Ivy with water and place on the stove. Bring the pot to a boil then turn down to a simmer, simmering for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool, steeping for 6-8 hours. You may wish to start this step the evening before you want to dye, allowing the mixture to cool overnight. 

Strain off the plant material and compost. If you are doing a dye bath of just this mixture, add your material to the pot and return the liquid mixture to a simmer for 30 minutes. Let sit another 6 hours before straining. 

If you want to experiment with colors, split your dye bath in to 2-4 sections, depending on which mordants you want to try (copper, iron, baking soda, plain). Add about 1/4 cup of the mordants to each dye bath, labeling the dye baths accordingly. Follow the instructions to dye the materials. 

Once the materials have soaked for 6 hours, use the tongs to remove them and rinse them in cool water until the water runs clear. 

Hang to dry.