DIY Herbal Skin Steam and Aloe-Calendula Cleanser

We all want great-looking skin. A quick skim through any fashion and style magazine gives plenty of evidence that healthy, clear, youthful-looking skin is a hot commodity—you’ll see ads for anti-wrinkle serums and collagen creams, moisturizers, acne-fighting gels, lotions to minimize the appearance of pores. Some products are excellent (and often expensive), while others are the equivalent of modern-day snake oil. Here’s the thing: beautiful, glowing skin (at any age) is not something that we can find in a bottle. It is something that starts from within. If we’re lucky, we’ve inherited great genes. If we’re smart about it, we … Continue reading

How to Roast Herbs for an Herbal Coffee Substitute

If you’re anything like the majority of people in the U.S., you drink coffee on a regular basis—maybe even every day. This isn’t always a bad thing, especially when coffee is consumed in moderation, as it is known to have some health benefits (Liang & Kitts, 2015). But according to the Harvard University Chan School of Public Health, coffee drinkers consume an average of 3 cups per day which can add up to a lot of caffeine, along with some potential downsides, like nervousness and sleep disruption (Harvard University Chan School of Public Health, n.d.). An over-dependence on caffeine is … Continue reading

Three Herbs to Support Digestion After a Long Winter

Human beings are part of the natural environment. We pass through the same natural and seasonal cycles that affect other living beings—animals, plants, and ecosystems. This is reflected in traditional healing systems the world over. Western herbalism has a long history of practices and remedies that are determined by the season, and older systems like Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) also consider seasonal cycles to be important. These systems reflect the idea that the microcosm (in this case, the human being) is a representation of the macrocosm (the natural world), even in tropical locations that don’t experience the same … Continue reading

Herbal Support for a Broken Heart

Heartbreak spares no one. Sooner or later, we all get to know that particular emotion which, for us, might show up as sadness and despair, or anger, or numbness. Our heartbreak might show up in the body as sleeplessness, a lack of concentration and focus, diminished appetite, or even physical pain. Our herbal forebears were no strangers to heartbreak. In the mid-17th century, Robert Burton published an epic, multi-volume text, The Anatomy of Melancholy, drawing on a range of disciplines, including medicine. In it, he pointed out that melancholy is not only grief, but can also encompass sorrow, fear, shame, … Continue reading

How to Make Herbal Hot Chocolate

Growing up in New England, my childhood winters were snowy, cold, and long. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the season. My brother, friends, and I made snow people and snow angels, went sledding and skiing, skated on the frozen lakes… and then came home to perfect, homemade hot chocolate. I’m not talking the pre-sweetened packets, either. Mom warmed milk (those days we had raw milk—and she was always careful not to burn it), whisked in cocoa and sugar, and sometimes even added marshmallows or whipped cream. These days, I’m a southern transplant and don’t get the snow to … Continue reading

DIY Fire Cider

While some think of this time of year as holiday season, I tend to think of it as the season to make homemade fire cider! Fire cider is a traditional immune-supporting remedy with deep roots in folk medicine (but most popularly championed by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar). At its most basic, it’s a zesty infused vinegar, packed with powerful immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and circulatory herbs. The addition of hot peppers and a little local honey makes it both spicy and sweet, hence the name. More Continue reading

7 Useful Herbs You Can Harvest in the Fall

It’s autumn, and we’re deep into the annual cycle of harvest at the close of a growing season. Sure, we’ve been harvesting plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and gorgeous leafy aromatic plants for several months now, but when it comes to herbs, fall is a special time for harvest. The plant energy that was devoted to the growth of aerial parts of the plant in the spring and summer is now turned inward and downward, delivering vital resources to roots and inner bark. This is the time for harvesting fall herbs. Below, let’s learn more about fall harvesting as well … Continue reading

Demystifying Weight-to-Volume Tinctures

Many of us begin our exploration of herbalism by making tinctures using what is often called the Folk Method. And there’s nothing wrong with this method—tinctures made this way can be absolutely effective. They are made and used by the most experienced of practitioners as well as those of us who make tinctures for home use. Today I’m going to explain a different method known as weight-to-volume tinctures. More… Continue reading

Autumn Energetics and Self-Care

Summer is officially a wrap. The barbecues and pool parties have ceased, children are back to school, and you might be reminiscing over your vacation experiences (or looking longingly at others’ vacation photos on social media!). Gardeners have harvested their peak season of tomatoes and melons, while the lettuces and leafy greens emerge from their rows. As one season transitions into another, so do our self-care routines. Let’s look at autumn energetics and how they affect our self-care routines during this season of the year. More… Continue reading

8 Everyday Herbs of the Caribbean

Three months ago, my son and I came to live in Manzanillo, Costa Rica, a small beach town on the southern Caribbean coast. As a Western-trained herbalist, this for me has meant a daily education on an entirely new materia medica featuring herbs of the Caribbean—virtually none of my familiar temperate-climate plants thrive here! Fortunately, there are many people to learn from in the Caribe Sur. One Afro-Costa Rican woman, Alda Cook Campbell, learned about herbal medicine from her mother and grandmother and has been especially helpful as a guide to local plants. I’m very grateful to her for sharing her … Continue reading