Right now, Chickweed (Stellaria media) is growing all around us. In decent, moist soil, and partly in the shade, chickweed thrives. It has beautiful five-petaled flowers (the petals are so deeply lobed that they appear to have ten petals). A discerning characteristic is a line of fine hairs on the stem that alternate sides at each node.
I encourage chickweed to grow in my garden and harvest it as I happen upon it at every opportunity. Chickweed is at its most medicinally potent fresh, so dried chickweed isn’t really an option for me. I have to be a busy bee and gather as much as I can right now to put up immediately for tinctures and oils. Chickweed is an important ingredient in my Detox Tea and Detox Tea:Warm and Moist, as well as in my Lovely Liver Herbal Extract and You Go, Girl! Women’s Remedy.
Today’s recipe is for a really special skin salve that helps itchy skin, relieves rashes and is a great all-around skin soother.
(Special infusion instructions for Chickweed: Harvest fresh chickweed. Cut or chop into fine pieces. Allow to wilt in a dry place for at least a day, but no more than two. Put in a clean, sterilised jar, filling the jar to the top. Pour in oil until the plant material is fully covered. Put it on a sunny warm windowsill for 6-8 weeks or put in a bread maker on the lowest heat setting for 24 hours. Shake often.)
In a double boiler (or a pot nestled in a larger pot filled with a bit of water) over medium heat, add the oils and beeswax.
Stir until the 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.
Chickweed: astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, vulnerary, antihistamine, affinity for skin conditions: relieves any kind of roseola and is effective wherever there are fragile superficial veins or itching skin conditions.
Chamomile: analgesic, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, nervine, sedative, vasoconstrictor, vulnerary, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, and contains essential oils and antioxidants.
Lavender: affinity for skin disorders such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other inflammatory conditions, synergy with chamomile in treating eczema. Vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, nervine.
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In my last post about Detox Teas, I talked about a detox tea that has really worked for our family and many of my clients. Given the information about plant energetics and how plants and people should be matched according to compatible or opposite energetics to support balance, we know that there is not one solution to every problem.
One of my friends, Adolf Jana, tried my detox tea and found it too cooling and drying. His normal constitution is already cool/dry and this tea exacerbated this and put him out of balance.
Adolf works with clients using nutritional therapy. He sometimes prescribes my teas for clients needing herbal support.
He asked me to reformulate my Detox Tea for one of his clients so that it would be more warming and moistening. Here is the result of that challenge:
Listed next to the herbs are the systems, organs or actions which they influence.
3 parts Chamomile (nervous, digestive, excretory, cardiovascular, integumentary)
2 parts Hyssop (liver, blood, respiratory)
2 parts fennel seed (diuretic, digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular)
2 parts Plantain (integumentary, blood, excretory)
1 part Burdock (integumentary, blood, diuretic, lymphatic)
1 part Angelica (liver, digestive, tonic)
1 part Licorice (adrenal, digestive, tonic, respiratory)
1 part Chickweed (blood, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant)
1 part Cinnamon (blood, antioxidant, cardiovascular)
Allergy season is upon us…it feels like my head is filled with fluff, my eyes are swimming in sand and my lungs coated in pollen grains. I can’t stop coughing or sneezing and my nose is running like a sieve.
Today, I went on a nature hike with my 5th and 6th grade class. There was a ton of pollen in the air, I couldn’t stop coughing and I was completely fatigued trying to breathe. It’s pretty bad for everyone this season. I must have looked AMAZING because one of my 5th grade boys said, ” Miss Krista, you look like you have green under your eyes. You look really unwell.” Imagine that said by a little kid with a British accent. I thought to myself that this little guy has about 10 years to figure out how to talk to women.
We live in a beautiful swathe of nature in South Bohemia. The forest is right behind our house, bordered by farmland. This year, on all the farms surrounding us, beautiful yellow beauties are being grown. Rapeseed…
This is leaving a fine coating of yellow pollen on every surface, including the insides on noses, throats and lungs. Oh, and eyeballs. Ugh….
This time of year, we reach for certain herbs to help support our body’s immune system and hormone system to fight the allergic reaction.
Echinacea: is an immunostimulant and immunomodulator, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. It has an affinity for bronchial and respiratory infections as well as throat and overall oral infections. It has a full complement of polysaccharides, which help protect cells against invasion by viruses and bacteria. Other key constituents are: sesquiterpenes, linoleic acid, tannins, beta-carotene and Vitamin C.
Eyebright: anti-catarrhal, astringent, and anti-inflammatory. Eyebright is an excellent remedy for many of the problems of the mucous membranes. Used internally, it is a powerful anti-catarrhal, and thus may be used in nasal catarrh, sinusitis and other congestive states, such as hay fever, acute coryza, irritable sneezing and lachrymation.
Want to buy it directly from me? Shop here.
This is an excellent face or body cream adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s classic cream recipe.
I personally find this face cream to be gentle, hydrating, and soothing. It isn’t greasy or heavy, yet it feels like it is deeply soothing and calming to my skin.
Combine the oils, butter and wax in a saucepan over very low heat until everything is melted together
Pour into a measuring cup or container and let cool until the mixture is somewhat firm, thick and creamy
Scrape the oil mixture into a blender.
In a separate bowl. Combine the hydrosol, gel and essential oil
Turn the blender in full speed and slowly drizzle the the water mixture into the vortex created by the blender
Continue blending until all the water mixture has been absorbed by the oil.
The blender should “choke” as the mixture thickens and becomes creamy
After turning off the blender, scoop the cream into small jars.
Store the cream in a cool dark place.
Chamomile: soothing, vulnerary, affinity for skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, anti-inflammatory
Shea butter: moisturising, anti-inflammatory, aids in skin’s natural collagen production
Balm of Gilead: antioxidant, heals scars, clears up eczema and psoriasis, anti-inflammatory
Lavender: antibacterial, soothing, anti-inflammatory
My Wellness Herbal Workshop was a great success. My fellow Herbal Warriors and I had a great time together making Fairy Tea and Calendula Salve.
After arriving at my house, each participant was given a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and also an orange smoothie. While they enjoyed the refreshing juice, we went over the recipes for that day’s herbal remedies. Wellness Recipes 22.4
Then it was off to work. The first task was to pick petals off of dried calendula blooms for the Fairy Tea. The green sepals can make the tea bitter. Then we took turns mixing the rest of the herbs with the petals in a big bowl.
Everyone put the tea mix into tea sacks, complete with labels and ingredients lists, so they could enjoy their handmade tea at home.
Next up was the Calendula Salve.
The first task was to make calendula-infused olive oil, the base for the Calendula Salve. This requires the fine chopping up of the calendula blooms. We used a Sana 707 juicer to accomplish the task efficiently.
Using a bread maker, the oil was infused quickly. This oil was used to make the salve.
Beeswax was added and melted into the oil over a very low heat and carefully stirred. Lavender essential oil is added. The warm liquid salve is poured into containers and custom labels are then affixed.
While the salve was cooling we took a garden walk to point out the fresh herbs that were used in the recipes.
The herbal goodies were popped into little bags, ready to take home.
Fairy tea: Lavender, plantain, calendula and lemonbalm
An all-around wellness tea: healing, soothing, calming, gentle and tasty
Calendula Healing Salve: Calendula, olive oil, beeswax and lavender essential oil
A super skin healer: soothing, healing, anti-itch, antibacterial, scar healing
Photo credit: Zeinep Yessenbekova
I was afraid the first time I made a face cream. It seems counter-intuitive to mix an oil and a water together expecting some other thing to appear, as if by magic. I felt like an alchemist.
When I poured the waters into the churning oils in the blender and magically cream was formed, I was super excited. And blown away by how easy it is.
Now I have a range of face creams that I love, people who use them are finding them very helpful for their skin and I never have to go out and buy skin creams. I just refill my jar form my stock of creams. It is pretty cool.
I am teaching a workshop next month on how to make face creams. I’d like to demystify it and show those interested that they too can make face cream in their own kitchen.
The recipes are linked. Please check it out and let me know if you have any questions. It is super simple and I have already made tons of mistakes and learnt tricks to make it excellently each time.
Wrinkle Wrecker Face Cream: An excellent cream for mature, dry or very damaged skin. (sea buckthorn, poppy seed oil, geranium oil)
Acne Eraser Face Cream: A soothing, healing and preventative cream for those with eczema, acne and rosacea. (hemp seed oil, skull cap, hazelnut oil)
Calendula Face Cream: This is the one I use every day, morning and night. It is healing and soothing. I love it! (calendula, almond oil)
Chamomile Face Cream: This one is great for sensitive skin that is easily irritated. It is very soothing and calming. (chamomile, almond oil)
I am eager to come up with new recipes and would love any new ideas.
See my Etsy shop.
I have a cold. It seems like everyone around me does. I’m not really that sick, but it is quite annoying what with my head all stuffed up and my strength waning afterr getting up to make myself tea.
So, I reached for my echinacea tincture to find both bottles empty. (Who is so irresponsible to put back empty bottles into the first aid kit.…Probably me….)
Luckily, I’ve got a laboratory in my garage chock full of good stuff. A quick pop in and a moment to decant, and I’m back in business taking my echinacea every 1/2 hour. Feeling better already!
Topical salves or ointments are some of the best herbal remedies in my herbal arsenal.
They are easy to use, non-invasive and really healing, powerful and effective. The comforting aspect of a balm or salve aids in the healing process and is a great introductory herbal remedy for the more skeptical client (or family member).
Every Herbal First Aid Kit should have at least a few salves. Pictured are some of my most highly recommended:
Healing Herbal Salve: All-around superstar healing salve for any wound. (St John’s Wort, calendula, comfrey, plantain)
Fungi Foe Salve: Great anti-fungal and antibacterial salve gentle enough for all your intimate bits. (Oregano, calendula)
Knit Together Salve: Excellent healer for internal injuries such as sprains, broken bones and muscle tears. (comfrey)
Bye Bye Bruise Salve: Perfect to heal and possibly prevent bruising. This one is amazing to watch work! The sooner you get it on the bump, the more effective it is. (arnica)
Calendula Salve: An excellent skin healer, wound healer, scar repairer and overall comforting, healing salve. (calendula)
Clear Chest Salve: A powerhouse for helping to clear up respiratory distress and infection. A must have for cold and flu season. (white horehound, thyme, sage)
Thyme Salve: Particularly useful when dealing with infection of any kind. (thyme)
Photo credit: Zeinep Yessenbekova
A friend of mine asked me to help her with an herbal remedy for her under eye dark circles.
This was a new request and I was excited to dig into some research in order to help my friend.
I read up on ways to help with dark circles and almost all of my resources had similar thoughts on the subject.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
“Fatigue is the most common cause of dark circles under your eyes. Sometimes, what appear to be dark circles under your eyes may merely be shadows cast by puffy eyelids or hollows under your eyes that develop as a normal part of aging.
Some of the most common causes of true under-eye circles are:
She is up for some trial and error, so we began with a turmeric and almond oil paste. She applies it at night and leaves it on for 30 minutes before washing it off. In the morning, there are still traces of the unique turmeric yellow stain, but this easily vanishes during her shower.
My friend has seen marked improvement with this method after two weeks.
What was amazing, is that nothing fancy is needed:
Slowly add almond oil to turmeric powder until you achieve a thick paste consistency.
Store sealed in the fridge.
Apply to a thick coat to the skin under the eyes.
Leave for at least a half an hour.
Be careful to spot test a place on your skin. Fair-skinned people may experience staining of the skin.
Safety Note: Dr. Mark Jacquot, clinical director at LensCrafters, recently explained that ‘the skin around your eyes is particularly sensitive and can be prone to allergic reactions, irritation, or other injuries’. So please test the area first before continuing.
Turmeric: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, skin protectant, increases circulation,
Almond oil: high in vitamin A, anti-oxidant, easily absorbed into the skin, aids in regenerating skin cells and decreasing inflammation.
You will need: oregano and calendula oils; beeswax; tea tree, lavender and red thyme essential oils; jars
1. Strain and measure out the oils
2. Heat oils in a double boiler
3. Add the beeswax
4. Stir until completely melted
5. Take off the heat and add the essential oils
6. Pour into containers
7. Label and allow to cool
This is a great remedy for any fungal or yeast infections, gentle enough for all your intimate bits
Spring is upon us and with it comes spring cleaning (I washed my windows yesterday-goodbye little kitty paw prints!), getting the garden ready for spring planting and sorting out all of our clogged systems within the body after the winter’s cold and gray days.
With the sunny and warmer days of spring, we are opened up and stimulated to move and clear out the accumulated rubbish, in the garden, in our closets and in ourselves.
Part of a spring detox is healthy, lighter fare in our diet; more fresh fruits and veggies. We take our Detox Tea and this Lovely Liver Herbal Extract. The herbs within, especially burdock root, stimulate the liver to function to its fullest, cleansing the body of accumulated toxins.
According to The Practical Herbalist:
“Ancient herbalists, like Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century, recognized burdock’s power in helping their patients recover from illness. Then, like today, burdock helped with the break-down of toxins and metabolic waste, making it easier for our bodies to eliminate that which we no longer need. Conditions ranging from cancers and hypertension to gout, digestive ulcers, and reproductive problems, burdock has offered support and help in recovery through the ages.”
I have prescribed this tincture for more intense ailments, from eczema to rheumatoid arthritis to severe acne. When our immune system is struggling, when we are fatigued, when we have eruptions or flareups of chronic issues, a good place to start is with liver support. When things build up (even stress), the liver needs help to do its job excellently.
Grind or chop the plant material as finely as possible. I use my juicer to grind the dried plant material and my grain mill to grind the dried roots.
Add the plant material to the jar: Dried- fill 1/2 of jar
Fresh- fill the entire jar
Add the alcohol. Fill to the brim. Keep an eye on it for the next several minutes and keep adding alcohol until all the plant material is covered.
Seal well and label with the plant name, date, percent and type of alcohol and the date 6 weeks out.
Shake the jar daily and store in a cool, dark place.
After 6 weeks, strain out plant material and decant the tincture into sterilised bottles for use.
Label bottles with the tincture name.
Adult dose: 3-5ml 2x day as part of a liver detox
Burdock root (Arctium lappa): antibacterial, anti-inflammation, anti-tumor, anti-fungal, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antipyretic, diuretic, diaphoretic, hypoglycemic
Dandelion root (Taraxacum): diuretic, liver tonic, digestive tonic, antirheumatic, mild laxative, promotes bile flow
Milk thistle seed (Silybum marianum): cholagogic, tonic, galactogogue, alterative
Chicory root (Cichorium intybus): tonic, laxative and diuretic, promotes bile flow
Yellow dock root (Rumex crispus: laxative, alternative, mildly tonic
I made it home to America (specifically, New Mexico) for Christmas with my family. It had been eleven years since we had celebrated Christmas together. My daughters and I came prepared with Christmas gifts in tow, ready to wrap and put under the tree.
We hadn’t seen our family in six years. A lot changes in that amount of time and it wasn’t easy picking out gifts. Luckily, some of my family had given me a list of items they would enjoy. I am not one to make a list for gifts (if you’re reading this, mum, a lot has changed since I was ten). My sister told me that she had absolutely no idea what to get for me. But when I opened her gifts to me, each one was better than the last. She rocked it!
One of the gifts she gave me was this beautiful knife. Every herbalist needs a good knife…one that can cut up roots. This baby does the trick really well. It is beautiful and strong and feels good in the hand even after a basket full of burdock root.
A special thanks to my sister, Misha, for being such a generous and creative gift giver and adding to my Herbalist’s Toolbox.
From the Flotsam and Fork website:
“These carbon steel and boxwood kitchen knives are made by hand in a workshop in Solsona, Spain, near Barcelona, where the Pallarès family has been making knives and blades since 1917.
The carbon steel blade is lightweight, and will hold it’s edge longer than a typical stainless-steel blade. It will develop a lovely patina with use.
Care: Keep the blade dry to prevent rust from forming on the blade. Wipe with a soft cloth after hand washing.”