Who Else Wants to Learn About Spanish Moss?

For starters, Spanish moss is neither Spanish in origin, nor is it moss! Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is actually an epiphyte, an “air plant” that grows hanging from tree branches, gathering its nutrients and water from the air. Although it’s native to Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, it has become naturalized in many tropical climates, from Argentina to Polynesia (Kew Royal Botanic Garden, 2016). more

5 Child-Friendly Herbs for Topical Use

If you have children (or if you’ve ever been a child, for that matter), you’re familiar with all of the common childhood ailments, from colds and flu to basic boo-boos (like cuts, scrapes, and bruises). As a mother of two, there are a handful of herbs and very simple-to-make topical remedies that I like to keep on hand to address simple daily issues that arise. Let’s look at some of them in this post. more

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 also drink plenty of water, eat a nourishing diet (including plenty of essential fatty acids), and protect our skin from pollution (including secondhand smoke) and harmful ultraviolet rays. Great skin is often a reflection of our overall health and wellness. more

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 even classified as a DSM-5 disorder (Meredith et al., 2013).

If you’re looking for an alternative to a caffeinated brew, the world of herbs offers some great options. There are several commercially-available herbal coffee substitutes, but for the price and the taste, nothing beats roasting your own herbs to make your own personalized herbal coffee substitute. And it’s easier than you might think!  More

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 change of seasons as in temperate climates. More

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, envy, anger, or a desire for revenge—and that botanicals were one of the best ways to support a broken heart. More 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 play in, but this time of year always brings me back to those comfort foods and beverages of my childhood (as it does so many of us).

As an herbalist, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate plants to support the health and wellness of my family and clients, and herbal hot chocolate helps me do just that. I still love drinking hot chocolate, and it’s a sumptuous way to get in my “daily dose” of herbal powders, decoctions, even tinctures—with the added benefit of antioxidants and bitter principles. More 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 as 7 useful herbs you can harvest in the fall. More

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