Breathe Easy Tea

Summer’s here and with it comes sunshine, holidays as well as a few unexpected issues.

You’d think that allergy season would have subsided. Not here though, I still see so many people walking around sniffling with red, watery eyes.

Then there is the issue of the change in weather bringing about systemic weakness to our organisms allowing for spring and summer colds and viruses.

To top it off, holiday travel brings certain stressors: jet lag, new microbes and viruses, unusual foods, lack of routine, sudden increase in physical exertion; all of these can lead to a weakened system.

It seems unusual to point out the benefits of this tea outside of cold and flu season or the height of allergy season, yet I have reached for this formula twice in the last week.

My Breathe Easy Tea benefits the upper respiratory system and is a valuable tool when an expectorant or a decongestant is needed. The tannins in these herbs help to extract excess moisture from the tissues.

Breathe Easy Tea

  • 1 part Yarrow Achillea millefolium
  • 1 part Angelica root Angelica archangelica
  • 1 part Eyebright Euphrasia
  • 2 parts Mint Mentha (add more to taste, if desired)

Grind the herbs in a mortar and pestle or with a juicer or herb grinder.

Store in a cool, dry, dark place.

1 tablespoon of tea per cup of boiling water, let steep for 5-10 minutes covered.

Dose:  1 cup of tea as needed

Medicinal Actions:

Mint: Decongestant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, diaphoretic

Yarrow: diaphoretic, diuretic, astringent, decongestant, expectorant, alterative, analgesic

Angelica Root:  diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, alterative

Eyebright: expectorant, astringent, antiviral, decongestant


For other medicinal herbal tea blends see my Loose Leaf Tea Menu.


Prunella vulgaris

Common Name: All-Heal, Blue Curls, Brownwort, Brunelle, Brunelle Commune, Brunelle Vulgaire, Brunette, Carpenter’s Herb, Carpenter’s Weed, Charbonnière, Heal-All, Heart of the Earth, Herbe au Charpentier, Hercules Woundwort, Hock-Heal, Petite Consoude, Prunela, Prunella, Prunelle, Prunelle Vulgaire, Self Heal, Sicklewort, Siclewort, Slough-Heal, Woundwort
Family: Lamiaciae
TCM Name: Xia Ku Cao
Ayurvedic Name: N/A
Parts Used: leaves, flowering tops
Native To: Northern Hemisphere

Medicinal Notes

The plant has a long history of medicinal use, and traditionally the leaves are applied to wounds to promote healing. According to the 16th-century herbalist John Gerard, ‘there is not a better wounde herbe in the world’. The 17th-century botanist Nicholas Culpeper wrote that the plant is called self-heal because ‘when you are hurt, you may heal yourself’.

According to KewScience:

“Prior to World War II, it was used to staunch bleeding and for treating heart disease. A decoction of the leaves was used to treat sore throats and internal bleeding. It is used as an anti-inflammatory and has anti-allergic activity. In western medicine it is used externally for treating minor injuries, sores, burns, bruises and can also be used as a mouthwash to treat mouth ulcers.

Whereas in European countries herbalists have mainly used selfheal for treating wounds, in Chinese medicine it is mainly used for treating liver complaints, acting as a stimulant in the liver and gall bladder. Self-heal shows antiviral properties, and in China it is used as an anti-cancer drug.:


Identifying Self-heal

Self-heal is a member of the family Lamiaciae. Prunella vulgaris is a perennial herb, with stems often square, crimson tinged, and erect to decumbent, up to 30 cm tall

According to Show Me OZ:

“To use Heal-All, simply cut the desired amount of stems desired to ground level and avoid pulling up the plant as this effectively kills it.  Always avoid harvesting Heal-All from roadsides, pastures, agricultural fields and other sites that may be contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, lead or any number of industrial chemicals because Heal-All is known to readily these chemicals from the soil.”


Self-heal contains a wide array of acid compounds including lauric –, oleanolic –, rosmarinic –(antioxidant), linoleic – and ursolic acid. Contains volatile oils (camphor, fenchone), bitters, saponins, tannins, glycoside (aucubin), flavinoids



 Self-heal is used as an astringent for remedying diarrhea and inflammatory bowel issues such as colitis and Crohn’s disease. The bitter constituents stimulate the liver and gall bladder.
 It is helpful to the urinary system as it clears toxins and excess uric acid via the kidneys. It has been widely recommended for gout. As it contains urosolic acid, it has diuretic properties and claims to anticancer properties as a result of research on this particular acid.
 I was excited to read about its benefit to the reproductive system. Its astringency in known to curb heavy menstrual bleeding, menorraghia.
 Self-heal is known to work well with specific types of headaches caused by tension, vertigo, light-sensitivity and high blood pressure.
 It is a wonder for the immune system. While enhancing immunity and reducing fevers, research shows a potent antiviral action, alongside antioxidant effects thanks to the rosmarinic acid compounds. It is recommended for lowered immunity, HIV, chronic fatigue syndrome and allergies.
 It is an effective antibiotic and is useful against swollen glands, mumps, glandular fever and mastitis.
 Self-heal has detoxifying capabilities, clearing up inflammation, with an affinity for skin issues.
 TCM has long used it to calm hyperactivity in children.
 Externally, Self-heal has been used as a traditional wound remedy; a tea/compress/poultice on a burn, bite, cut, sprain, sting, varicose vein or ulcer. Drops have been used to help inflammatory eye issues such as conjunctivitis.
                                                       Thanks to Anne McIntyre, The Complete Herbal Tutor
Ways to Use: Tincture, infusion, infused oil, powder, salve, compress
Actions: emollient, styptic, tonic, relaxant, antibiotic, liver tonic, antiallergenic, restorative, diuretic, digestive, antioxidant, astringent, hemostatic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary
Taste:  bitter, pungent, acrid 
Energy: cooling, dispersing, slightly moistening
Adult Dose

 Tincture: 1:5; 40% ethanol: 2-4 ml three times a day

Tea: 3g in one day as tea or infusion .

External applications: salve, compress, powder or wash as needed.




It should not be taken in large doses during pregnancy, but it is sometimes appropriate in small doses at that time.

Herbal How To: Lip Balm

Today we’re making Lavender Lip Balm. The recipe stays consistent for all of the variations. Check out my Soothing Lip Balm post for all of the recipes.
36475466_227427728076719_1617258347487035392_n1. Gather supplies (sauce pan, wooden spoon, measuring cup, infused oils, shea butter, beeswax, essential oils, lip balm tubes)

2. Heat 1/4 cup infused oil in a double boiler on low heat (I used lavender-infused almond oil)

3. Add 1/4 cup shea butter
4. Add 1/8 cup beeswax
5. Stir until fully incorporated

6. Add 25-30 drops essential oil (I used lavender)

7. Prepare the lip balm tubes
8. Pour (carefully) into lip balm containers

9. Allow to cool and then apply labels
10. Enjoy!

IMG_7428All of these lip balms are available to purchase here.

(Photo credit for the really nice photos: Zeinep Yessenbekova)

Calling All Arborists

While out harvesting, I came upon this unusual Tamarack (?) Larch (thanks, Tony!). I saw several people gathering the succulent baby cones. I wondered for what purpose they could be used.

I am no expert on trees, apart from the few that I use regularly in my herbal remedies. For this, I must rely upon Tony Tomeo. Tony, Can you help me identify this unusual yet ubiquitous (in one part of our forest) conifer? And perhaps shed some light on the uses of their cones?


Soothing Lip Balms

A friend and client of mine was in attendance at one of my Herbal Workshops. As the workshop was wrapping up, we were discussing what we should do for the next few workshops. One idea that my friend came up with was a beauty workshop featuring Basic Face Wash and lip balms.

I thought this was a fantastic idea, except for the fact that I had never made lip balms before. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t have any idea about flavours, and I had no containers nor labels.

Step 1: I had to actually find out how to make lip balms.

Step 2: I had to decide what flavours to make, and how to do that as well.

Step 3: I had to test all the lip balms on my friends and family and perfect the recipe.

Step 4: I had forgotten to order the containers beforehand, so an extra step had to be added to make up for this.

Step 5: Bekah had to design the labels, draw them, format them, take them to the printers, etcetera

So I got to work, and after a couple of weeks I had completed all of these steps and the recipe had now been through three iterations. Despite having to hand out so many samples and collect so much feedback, it paid off; I’m really happy with the final product, especially the packaging.

What I was so surprised about was just how easy the lip balms were to make. Anyone can make them at home with the right ingredients, and you don’t even need the tubes as small tins or empty lip balm containers work just fine.

Soothing Lip Balm

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) herb-infused oil
  • 1/8 cup (30 g) beeswax
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) shea butter
  • 25 drops essential oil

In a double boiler (or a pot nestled in a larger pot filled with a bit of water) over medium heat, add the oils, butter, and beeswax. 

Stir until the butter and beeswax melts and is fully incorporated.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a moment.

Add the essential oils. Stir.

Pour into clean and sterilised jars, tins, or tubes.


Flavour Recipes

Chamomile-infused almond oil
Shea butter
Chamomile essential oil

Almond oil
Shea butter
Mint essential oil

Rose and alkanet-infused almond oil (alkanet root lends a gorgeous pink colour)
Shea butter
Rose and geranium essential oils

Lavender-infused almond oil
Shea butter
Lavender essential oil

Hemp seed oil
Shea butter

Calendula-infused almond oil
Shea butter
Red grapefruit and mandarin essential oils

Note: Due to Shea butter’s natural graininess, some of this texture may be found in the lip balm. This is completely normal and- with the heat of your skin- will melt, leaving your lips silky smooth.

You can purchase these lip balms here.


(photo credit: Zeinep Yessenbekova)


Bee Hotel

My husband and I were in a meadow harvesting St John’s Wort when we happened upon this bee hotel. Foxglove, you make an awesome restaurant/accomodation for my fuzzy friends!

Herbal How To: St John’s Wort

St John’s Wort is a tricky one.

It is so beautiful with its sunny yellow flowers, perforated leaves and unique purpley-red dye that stains your fingers when the buds are squished.blg 3197

We use St John’s Wort as an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant remedy “sunshine in a bottle”, as a powerful wound healer in our Herbal Healing Salve, as a sunscreen and currently, I am working on a new face cream recipe with St John’s Wort-infused almond oil as an SPF component.

For years, my St John’s Wort oils and tinctures never had the red hue that they should have had.

Proper red-hued St John’s wort oil

I was either using my own harvest from our local forest or quality sourced St John’s Wort from a local herb shop. All of these were used dried.

My oils and tinctures were very often amber or slightly brownish. I didn’t understand why.

After doing some research, it was made clear to me that the drying process degrades the medicinal action of St John’s Wort, therefore, for St John’s Wort to be as effective as possible, it must be processed while fresh. The buds and flowers hold the bulk of the medicinal constituents. This makes harvesting a bit trickier.

In our area, St John’s Wort grows everywhere, but blooms for only two short weeks at the end of June/early July according to the weather and elevation. This gives me two weeks of harvest near my house and an additional week (if I’m lucky) in the hills at a higher elevation.

Harvesting St John’s Wort in a meadow near our house…got two ticks for this one…ughhh

I use St John’s Wort all year in oil and tincture form. It is highly prized here and if it can only be processed fresh for best results, then I have to get myself out harvesting and harvest often during this couple of week window that I have.

I harvest the tops of the plants, gathering as many buds as possible. Leaving them for a couple of days to wilt, I then chop just the buds and flower heads up as finely as possible and infuse them in oil or alcohol. I leave stems and leaves to add to my Keep Calm Tea.

Using this method, my oils and tinctures have been a deep red colour and I feel their potency has markedly improved.