Wednesday, December 22, 2021

January/February 2022 Essential Herbal Magazine

 Another year begins!
Since we went totally digital with the magazine, the blog has been suffering.  We are also publishing a smaller "Extra" kind of tidbit for the in-between months, so believe it or not, we're still getting our footing.  There's another book in the pipeline and a bunch of other things BUT I will try to get back to the blog because I really miss it.  I kind of think Instagram got in the way more than anything, but being conscious of that may help. 

We just put the latest issue out.  You can subscribe to it HERE, or even just pick up this issue.

There's a lot of juicy content. 
We had a lot of fun putting together the opener for this, our 22nd year.

As the Solstice passes, we wish you and yours a new year filled with everything you need, and most of what you want.

See you next year!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

What's in the Nov/Dec '21 issue of The Essential Herbal? And a taste!

 Our latest issue went out to subscribers yesterday.  It's a beauty, but of course we think that every time we send one out.  I dare say we're right every time, too!
We made up a special little shareable sampler that you can click on at the bottom of this page.  It's just a tiny taste :-)
In the meantime, this is the cover and table of contents for the magazine!

Cover, Gail Faith Edwards, We love to see apothecaries, don’t you?

Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams
What we’ve been up to around here.  Getting used to being busy again.

Ashwagandha, Kristine Brown RH (AHG)
Learn more about this gentle, restorative adaptogen.

Herbs for Your Cat, Julie-Anne Thorne
How to help your cat choose her own medicine in the herb garden.

New Guy on the Block, Jackie Johnson, ND
Chaga –what is it, how to prepare it, and will we overharvest it?

New Thoughts on Elderberry, Tina Sams
Do you know how it works?  All the latest information on this gem.

Homemade Fire Starters with Herbs, Jessicka Nebesni
Useful, fragrant, delightful, and you can make them.

DIY Gifts, group article
We asked our facebook group for ideas.  You’ll love it!

Thyme for Family Traditions, Alicia Allen
Tempting dishes for breakfast (and beyond) to enhance the occasion.

New Deadlines for Contributors
We’re going back to our old deadlines, when the printer and the mailman didn’t need a month and a half.

Which is It? Horticultural Terms, Kathy Musser
Some easy to mix up terms, clarified.

Ginger Root & Carrot Soap, with Lemongrass, Marci Tsohonis
Scrumptious soap recipe, great for winter skin.

Straw Bale Gardening, Dennis Mawhinney
Get bales now to be ready for spring!



Saturday, October 02, 2021

Winter Teas and Cake

I presented a talk at the PA Tea Festival last week about Teas for Winter Wellness.  It put me in the mood to gather a few blends to share.  While I was at it, a bit of cake seemed reasonable too!
If you get the "Just the Essentials" newsletter, they were in the last one.  If you don't get it, go to our website, and sign up for the free email that we send out one or two times a month!

Sage and Ginger Tea
This tea is terrific for clogged sinuses, or post nasal drip that leads to nausea and a sore throat.
5 or 6 nice sage leaves
1 sprig of thyme
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1” of ginger, very thinly sliced.
1 T honey
1 pint of hot water

Steep together for at least 10 minutes. I don't remove the herbs, but use a licorice root stick to push them out of the way.  This is really a delicious tea. 

Note:  Licorice root immediately soothes inflamed mucous membranes.

Flu Fighter
Lots of anti-viral activity here:
3 t Holy Basil
2 t Elderberry
2 t Elderflower
2 t Peppermint
1 t Ginger c/s (not powder)
Use 1 heaping t per cup of tea.  Steep for 5 to 10 minutes

The Big E’s
2 parts Echinacea (root, leave, and flower)
2 parts Elderberry
1 part Yarrow
1 part Peppermint
¼ part Eucalyptus
Depending on how much of this you’d like to make, you can use teaspoons for parts, or tablespoons (or more!) 
It’s a good blend to support your body in cold and flu season. 

Banana Apple Bread with Persimmon and Walnuts
A delicious spicy fall bread that's more like cake, this goes great with a cup of tea, served warm or cool.

2 lg. ripe bananas
1 c persimmon pulp
1 c. sugar
1 egg
4 T butter, softened
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 t each, salt and baking soda
1 apple diced small
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 t finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan; set aside.

In a bowl mash bananas and persimmon together.  Beat in sugar, then egg and butter. In another bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda; add to banana mixture and stir just until all flour is moistened. Add apples and nuts; stir just until well mixed. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 60 minutes. Center will be very moist.  This is why persimmon breads are often called "pudding" but it is perfectly delicious.

If you don't have persimmon, you can just add another banana or some applesauce to make up the difference.

We're looking forward to long sleeves and warm socks, hot drinks, and lots of soups and stews.  Every season has something delightful, and after this past summer, I think almost everyone is happy to turn that page.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Shaming of Home Herbalists

 I am a home herbalist. 
That means that my goal is having the knowledge to offer first aid on things like skin issues, burns, bug bites, etc., and to soothe symptoms of self-limiting illnesses.

Home herbalists can help with sleep, anxiety, and lots of (mild) mood issues.  We can ease the pain of over-used muscles, cramping, indigestion, and nausea.
In short, there are hundreds of issues that we can address.  We know that if they don't improve or worsen, we visit a doctor or a registered clinical herbalist.

We use years of learning, generational knowledge, and intuition. 
Generally speaking, we do not come at this to cure ourselves from some life-threatening illness.  It's just knowledge - like why you add an egg or baking soda to a recipe.  

I've spent the last 30 years working with home herbalists, the last 20 publishing a magazine for home herbalists, and the last 10 writing books for home herbalists.  This life's work was intended to help those who didn't have family showing them plants or teaching them to use chamomile or ginger for their tummies.

Over the last decade, we're being repeatedly told that what we know isn't good enough.  In order to sell classes, new terms are being created to describe that which we all do without even thinking about it.  

Two things happened that really brought this to a head for me yesterday.
I opened an email selling a class that told me that books that (paraphrasing here because I deleted it) list which herbs are good for which issues are not good books.
Imagine having the hubris to say that.  Shame on anyone who wants to trash the books written by virtually everyone who came before them, and taught almost everyone how to incorporate herbs into their lives.

Then I posted on a couple Essential Herbal social media accounts, asking what was the first herb used, and why.  Not one person mentioned their constitution or the taste of the herb (unless it was for food).  They said a relative taught them or that the same place that sent me the email suggested "use this herb for that" - which I found pretty ironic.

I'm sorry to see herbalism being contorted for money.  I hate to see it being complicated so that people feel like they have to spend a fortune to learn it, especially at a time when there is so much information available freely at everyone's fingertips.  I'll keep plugging along, teaching anyone who will listen that they can learn it themselves, one herb at a time. 

I stand by the books I've written, and the 20 years of magazines we've published.  

EDIT:  After speaking to a friend who has been teaching the tastes of plants for over 25 years - to home herbalists - I must add that constitutions and flavors are indeed valuable and can really help people choose which herbs to use. 
My point is that we all come to herbs armed with our own knowledge and learn more each time we come in contact with the plants.  It's even great to take classes and learn more. 
If someone needs to put other herbalists down in order to sell classes, you might want to think about who you're learning from.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Pick As You Go Tea/Tincture

On a quick walk around the yard, I gathered a gang of great herbs for winter, and added just quick listings of their properties.  

Thyme -anodyne, antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, carminative, diaphoretic, disinfectant, expectorant, sedative, and tonic.  
Lemon Balm - antidepressant, antispasmodic, antiviral, antioxidant, carminative, nervine, nootropic, sedative
Sage - antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmotic, astringent, antiviral, carminative
Rosemary - analgesic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antirrheumatic,  antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral,  carminative, digestive, diuretic, emmenogogue, mild laxative, nervine, neuroprotective, stimulant, tonic, vulnerary
Echinacea - antibacterial, anticatarrhal, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antitumor, antiviral, astringent, carminative,  digestive, fever reducing
Elderberry or flower - Properties Flower:  antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, diaphoretic,  diuretic.   
Berry: antiviral,  diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative.  The berries contain proteins that make cells slippery so that viruses cannot attach and replicate.
Horehound - antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, digestive, demulcent, hepatic, stimulant, tonic, bitter, astringent, laxative, sedative.
Goldenrod - antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, aromatic, astringent, bitter, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, stimulating, tonifying and vulnerary
Lavender - analgesic, antidepressant, antifungal, antioxidant, antiviral, diaphoretic, diuretic, nervine, vulnerary

There are a lot of ways that you can have these ready for winter!
They can all be used in tea blends (although horehound is an "acquired taste").
With the addition of things like honey, stevia, or licorice root (especially if a sore throat is present), you might be amazed how delicious the tea is!  
A few nice blends:
Lemon Balm


Holy Basil,

But personally, I make a big jar that includes everything and mix it all up.  You almost can't go wrong!

Another way to quickly put together something for the winter is a blended tincture.  To do this, you'd simply chop up everything you find to use, and add it all together to a jar.  Cover with alcohol, and you're set!  It's always a good idea to have some of them separate, too.  Lemon balm and goldenrod are useful for other things, so keep a little of them out to make alone.  And of COURSE a big jar of holy basil!

Monday, August 23, 2021

September/October 2021 Essential Herbal Magazine



Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams
Rubbing elbows with herbies again, what we’re up to, and some business.

About the Cover a bit about New England Asters

An Apple a Day Keeps the Herbs in Play, Alicia Allen
Apples in everything from salad, tarts, muffins, dinner bake, and so much more!  For instance:  Bacon, Apple, and White Cheddar Grilled Sandwiches…

Uplifting Coffee Cardamom Lip Balm, Jessicka Nebesni
Mmmm… the scent of coffee, right under your nose!

A Really “Cool” Way to Dry Herbs, Dennis Mawhinney
You may not have tried this method for your herb preservation.  Yet.

Book Excerpt - Winnie of the Dell
A new fictional book about a young herbalist is coming out soon.

Nighttime Beauty & Medicine: Evening Primrose, Kristine Brown RH(AHG)
All about Evening Primrose, and how to make an infused oil and salve.

Goat’s Milk Oatmeal Lavender Soap w/ Honey, Marci Tsohonis
A luscious skin-loving soap to make.

Planning Ahead for Christmas from the Garden, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
A whole gang of ideas and instructions/recipes to make for gift giving.

Seasonal Favorites, Kathy Musser
All kinds of wonderful flowering plants that you’ll want to consider planting to come back year after year.

The Plant Family Solanaceae, Jackie Johnson ND
A family of delicious foods and some not so harmless cousins.

Rediscovering Traditional Alchemy & Spagyric Medicines, Sarah Akala
Spagyric medicines are becoming more known in the US.  The process is involved, with distillation, reducing herbs to ash, and blending all parts back together. 

On Our Travels, Maryanne Schwartz
Old fashioned apple dumplings!

Meet our Contributors
A little about the folks so generously sharing their knowledge.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Old Sage Apothecarian Virtual Conference '21

 This 2 day conference is pretty exciting (and the early bird special is good for 11 more days).
Have you been thinking about learning to make soap, lotions, and salves?  Do you already make them, but want to up your game?  How about learning more about business? 

As shown above, I'll be demonstrating Balms & Salves.
Maryanne will be talking about her 20 years of soap wholesaling, and sharing the peaks and valleys.
Lotion Making, Distilling Plants, Choosing your Target Market, Business Roundtable, Soap Coloring and Design Techniques, Whipped/Cream Soap, Soap Dough, Elderberry, and Livestreaming will also be covered.  I'm sure I probably missed something. 
You'll get to network online and ask questions.  AND if you choose the option to purchase the recording, you will have it for a full year, to practice along with us or listen to the business ideas a few times. 
Visit the website today to see if it's something you need!  I hope you'll join us.
Click HERE