How To Use The “Folk Method” To Make Herbal Preparations

How To Use The "Folk Method" To Make Herbal Preparations | Herbal Academy | Learn what the folk method is, the differences between it and the ratio method, and how to make an herbal preparation this simple herbal technique.

When it comes to making herbal preparations, one of the simplest ways to go about it is to use the folk method. The folk method is often used by beginner herbalists because it’s a simple and easy method to follow, but that doesn’t mean it’s for beginners only. Many experienced herbalists continue to prefer this method of herbal preparation, especially those that tend to rely on their instincts when working with herbs.

In this post, I’d like to explain what the folk method is, discuss the differences between it and ratio method, and walk you through the steps of making an herbal preparation using the folk method.

What Is The Folk Method?

The folk method is one of the simplest ways to make herbal preparations. As its name implies, it’s what the common “folks” would use. The folk method is simple and easy. There is no difficult math involved, you use what you have on hand, and no extra equipment is needed. As you grow as an herbalist, you will eventually rely on your instinct and knowledge to craft the folk preparations you’re going to use.

While many people may think the folk method is not of high quality because it’s too simple, this is simply not true. Many well-known and well-respected herbalists prefer using the folk method because of its simplicity and the intuition it takes to use it.

Rosemary Gladstar is one of these herbalists. Not to say she never uses the ratio method (because she may), but most times, you’ll find her putting a bit of this herb and a sprinkle of that herb in her formulas. You’ll also notice that most of her recipes call for “parts” which is another indicator of a recipe made using the folk method. Rosemary refers to this method as “the simpler’s method of measurement.”

“… simpler referred to someone who was observant and relied on intuition and an inner knowing for making preparations” (Gladstar, 2008, p. 378).

What’s The Difference Between the Folk Method and the Ratio Method

How To Use The "Folk Method" To Make Herbal Preparations | Herbal Academy | Learn what the folk method is, the differences between it and the ratio method, and how to make an herbal preparation this simple herbal technique.

As with most things, there are pros and cons of each method. Your preference and situation will determine which you will use.

Like I mentioned earlier, the folk method requires no exact measurements. You can follow a recipe that uses roughly estimated parts, or you use your knowledge, experience, and intuition to judge how much of an herb to use in your preparation. With this method, it’s rare that any two preparations will turn out the same. When it comes to determining dosages for preparations made using the folk method, again, your knowledge and intuition will come into play. Most times, though, dosages are titrated up or down based on the situation you’re dealing with.

The ratio method, on the other hand, uses exact measurements of herbs and solvents. Oftentimes, a specific amount of herb is weighed and a certain volume of solvent is measured. This is then combined, and the result will be consistent each time you make it. Dosage suggestions are based on the strength of the herb and the herb to solvent ratio. Stronger preparations will have smaller dosage recommendations while weaker preparations will have larger dosages.

Again, there are benefits to each method, and one is not better than the other.

Examples of the Folk Method

To show some preparations made using the folk method, let’s look at three recipes below. Let me encourage you to try these out for yourself so you can familiarize yourself with this method.

How To Use The "Folk Method" To Make Herbal Preparations | Herbal Academy | Learn what the folk method is, the differences between it and the ratio method, and how to make an herbal preparation this simple herbal technique.

Calendula Infused Oil

This infused oil is one of the simplest herbal preparations you’ll ever make. It’s mad with the wonderful herb, calendula, using the folk method. It can be used as is on the skin or added to other herbal recipes like this simple Calendula Salve.

Calendula Infused Oil

[recipe_ingredients]

Dried calendula (Calendula officinalis) flowers
Carrier oil of choice (olive, sweet almond, fractionated coconut, etc.)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • In a clean, dry pint jar, place enough dried calendula flowers to fill jar 1/3 of the way full.
  • Cover the herbs with carrier oil of your choice, filling the jar to 1 inch from the top.
  • Stir the mixture with a clean, dry spoon, screw on a tight lid, and allow it to sit in a dark, warm spot. Shake every couple days for good measure.
  • Strain the mixture after 4-6 weeks and store in a clean, labeled glass jar.

[/recipe_directions]

Traditional Folk Oxymel Preparation

How To Use The "Folk Method" To Make Herbal Preparations | Herbal Academy | Learn what the folk method is, the differences between it and the ratio method, and how to make an herbal preparation this simple herbal technique.

This preparation comes from our blog post on how to make oxymels, and it shows a traditional oxymel preparation made using the folk method. As you can see from the recipe below, you have no specific measurements, only parts. Therefore, when combining the ingredients, you eyeball the amount of each as you put it in your jar.

Traditional Folk Oxymel Preparation

Recipe adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs

[recipe_ingredients]

Dried herb of choice
1 part apple cider vinegar
1 part raw honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • In a clean, dry pint jar, place enough dried herb to fill 1/4 of the way full.
  • Cover the herbs with the vinegar and honey until the jar is full or slightly less than full (strive for a ratio of approximately 1:3, herbs to vinegar/honey mixture).
  • Stir the mixture with a clean, dry spoon, screw on a tight plastic lid, then shake until well mixed.
  • Store the jar in a dark, cool place and shake every couple of days.
  • Strain the mixture after about two weeks and store in a glass jar.

[/recipe_directions]

Cumin, Coriander, & Fennel Seed Tea

How To Use The "Folk Method" To Make Herbal Preparations | Herbal Academy | Learn what the folk method is, the differences between it and the ratio method, and how to make an herbal preparation this simple herbal technique.

Another recipe made using the folk method is this one for Cumin, Coriander, and Fennel Seed tea. This tea is perfect to benefit digestion during the colder months of the year when we tend to eat heavier foods. This recipe is made using equal parts of herbs. It’s also easy to make in bulk and use whenever you need a digestive boost!

Cumin, Coriander, & Fennel Seed Tea

Recipe from Herbal Teas Throughout The Seasons

[recipe_ingredients]

1 part cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum)
1 part coriander seeds (Coriandrum sativum)
1 part fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Mix all dry ingredients together and add to a glass mug.
  • Cover with 2 cups (16 ounces) of just-boiled water and steep for 20 minutes.
  • Strain and compost the herbs.
  • Sip this tea before or after meals to promote healthy digestion.

[/recipe_directions]

REFERENCES

Gladstar, R. (2008). Herbal recipes for vibrant health. North Adams, MA: Story Publishing.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Vegan foods can get a bad rap for being bland and tasteless. In the Western world, meat has become a predominant part of every meal. Many people have become so accustomed to the salty, fatty flavor offered by animal protein that they find it difficult to imagine how a person could subsist on a diet of vegetables and legumes alone.

Using a vegan spice guide to add the appropriate spices to a dish can mean the difference between cooking that keeps you coming back for more, and boiled, lifeless veggies in a pot. Not only does it add depth and flavor to vegetables, but using herbs and spices in vegan cooking can also open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

When my partner and I transitioned to a plant-based diet and lifestyle, we stopped eating meat cold-turkey (pun intended). Learning to cook with a variety of herbs and spices from the get-go allowed us to be creative in the kitchen and get to know and understand the types of flavors that went well with the foods we were now eating on a regular basis. We both became familiar with combining spices such as cumin, turmeric, garam masala, ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper, for example, to create a spice blend to cook down with onions to form the base of a curry dish.

Creating A Vegan Spice Guide

One of the first things we did when we went vegan was to prepare a vegan spice guide: a list of the essential spices we would always have in our pantry. We opted for organic spices stored in mason jars for easy cooking. Now, we cannot last long when we run low on cumin, turmeric, or nutritional yeast. Taking the time to develop a vegan spice guide and using it to stock our pantry has been integral to our success in transitioning to plant-based eating and helping us to make some beautiful, healthful meals within the comfort of our home.

It can be overwhelming to know which spices to include in your pantry, especially if you are beginning the journey of home-based vegan cooking. With new vegans in mind, I created this vegan spice guide which will walk you through 8 essential spices which can jazz up any vegan dish.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Turmeric

Turmeric tops the list as one of my favorite herbs in my vegan spice guide. I’ve written a whole post about this beautiful spice. Turmeric is a prominent spice in Indian dishes such as curry and dahl. Turmeric also has many health properties, which make it a must-have in the kitchen. At this point in our vegan journey, we add turmeric to everything. It has a slightly bitter taste; however, it pairs well with other herbs such as ginger, garlic, and cumin.

Cumin

Cumin is one of the most versatile herbs in our pantry, which make it a must-have for my vegan spice guide. Cumin makes a great base for most curries. Use cumin seeds fried on medium with some coconut oil for 30 seconds before adding in diced onion, garlic, and ginger for the beginning of delicious curry. My favorite way to use cumin is in homemade veggie chili. Find how to make your own chili spice blend below.

Chili Spice Blend

[recipe_ingredients]

1 tbsp. ground cumin
1.5 – 2 tbsp. chili powder
½ tbsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 pinch smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Combine herbs together in a bowl and mix well.
  • Store in a labeled, airtight glass jar.

[/recipe_directions]

Add this blend with chopped onions to a large pot until fragrant and then throw in the remainder of the chili ingredients. Another tip to enhance the depth of flavor in chili is to add a tablespoon of dark cocoa powder to the pot of chili along with the chili spice blend featured above.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Mustard Seed

I’ve only recently become accustomed to using mustard seed in my vegan cooking, and now it is a staple in my vegan spice guide. Mustard seed can be toasted using coconut oil similar to cumin seed which lends a deep, earthy flavor to dishes.

My favorite recipe that calls for mustard seed is a take on a traditional ayurvedic dish, kitchari, which you can find here. In this recipe, mustard seeds are toasted along with coriander and cumin seeds until they become fragrant. My favorite part about this recipe is that the mustard seeds dance out of the pot!

Another interesting way to incorporate mustard seeds into your diet is to add them with oil and onion to the bottom of a pot to fry. Then I add in some basmati rice and turmeric, covering the rice with oils from the toasted seeds and onion. After that, I cook the rice as usual. This is a simple way to add some interest, color, and flavor to the rice.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Garlic

Although I prefer to use whole, fresh garlic cloves, it can never hurt to have garlic granules in your pantry for times when you’re in a pinch. Even if you are using garlic cloves, who said you can’t double up? If you’re a garlic lover, you’ll find that this spice becomes a part of your everyday life when you’re cooking plant-based meals.

Recently, my partner cooked a simple, slow-cooked stew in which he incorporated large cloves of fresh garlic and garlic powder. It was delicious! When you are purchasing garlic powder, opt for the granules as opposed to the powder. The powder tends to stick and clump together over time, whereas the granules remain separate.

Smoked Paprika

Before transitioning to a plant-based diet, my only familiarity with paprika was that it was the orange spice sprinkled on top of potato salads or deviled eggs at backyard barbecues. Now, it is a go-to for most recipes. The benefit of paprika is that it lends a smoky flavor to vegan dishes which mimics the savory taste of meat. If it is available where you are, choose smoked paprika over the regular spice.

Garam Masala

Next in the vegan spice guide is the beautiful spice blend, garam masala. While you can make a garam spice blend (ground coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg),  it can also be easily purchased at your local health food store. Think of this blend as a finisher for curries like chickpea-based chana masala or other Indian dishes that incorporate tomato. Season your curry with garam like you would salt or pepper, just before you serve. Although it is traditionally used as a finishing spice, feel free to add it to mashed chickpea sandwiches with vegan mayo, chopped pickles, and salt and pepper.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Cayenne

Bear with me on this one. Becoming vegan requires a level of openness to trying new foods. While you may be hesitant to venture into the realm of spicy foods, I can assure you that it is worth giving it a shot. Adding just a dash of cayenne to dishes like vegan spaghetti can add a level of brightness your dish might be missing. Build your spice tolerance up over time by adding small increments of the spice into dishes throughout the week. Before long you’ll be putting cayenne on everything.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Salt and Pepper

Although this might seem obvious, salt and pepper are two necessities in the kitchen. Do not be afraid of using a little salt and pepper in your spice blends as they will help to tie all the flavors together. You do not want to go overboard on salt and pepper. However, I have read that seasoning with a little of each of these seasonings at each step of the cooking process can help to meld individual flavors resulting in a more savory and satisfying dish.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast, or “nooch,” as it is so fondly referred to in the vegan community, is an indispensable component of any vegan spice guide. Though nutritional yeast is not technically a spice, it has quickly become as familiar to us as ketchup in a 1980’s refrigerator. We keep a jar of nutritional yeast on our kitchen table at all times. We use it as a seasoning as we would apply salt and pepper. Sprinkle it over everything from salad to noodles, pasta, and curry. It adds an “umami” flavor which vegans often miss out on when they stop eating rich foods like cheese. Nutritional yeast also forms the basis of many vegan “cheese” sauces and can be used to make a delicious baked mac and cheese.

Becoming vegan has added excitement to my time spent in the kitchen. Plant-based foods are often critiqued as being boring or flavorless, but I can tell you that if you begin to experiment with some of the spices in this vegan spice guide, you will find that vegan cooking is anything but dull.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

The holidays needn’t be a time of relentless hustle, bustle, and unfulfilled, unrealistic expectations. It is easy enough to get swept up in the pressure and commercialism of the holiday season. Even for the most centered among us, you may find yourself getting stressed out about gifts for loved ones or pressured to be merry and bright at holiday gatherings, regardless of your true emotional state. And then, after all the holiday pressure and overindulgence, there is the boomerang effect of guilt and unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. However, I have good news! It is, in fact, possible to enjoy the best of the holidays and to enter the new year with ease, simplicity, grace, and acceptance. It is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons

1. Give Simple Gifts

I grew up in a family that enjoyed the traditions of Christmas to the fullest. I fondly remember the holidays and recall a brightly decorated tree, overflowing Christmas stockings, traditional Cioppino on Christmas Eve, and the titillating excitement of wondering what Santa would bring. Every year, my grandmother would take my three siblings and me to pick out a new Christmas ornament for the tree, and we would wander the ornament shop for what seemed like hours, painstakingly selecting the decoration that most spoke to our young hearts. Some 30 odd years later, I still own many of those ornaments, and each one reminds me of my grandmother’s kindness and patience, as well as sharing in the holiday excitement with my two brothers and one sister.

As my siblings and I matured into adulthood, marriages, jobs, and grad school spread us out across the country, and our holiday traditions have changed with the times and in an effort to simplify life during hectic seasons like Christmas. However, it is my feeling that the heart of the holidays has remained intact in our family, and I believe our practices in simplicity and flexibility have assisted in that.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

One such example is our tradition of gift giving. Perhaps more than a decade ago, my parents, siblings, and I decided to simplify our Christmas gifts. Each family member is assigned to give to one other family member. This practice eventually evolved so that the gifts were restricted to handmade goods only. We rotate who gives to whom each year, and I find this to be a wonderful way to spend time really thinking about the person to whom I am gifting. The gifts are unveiled on Christmas Eve, and each year we marvel at the creativity and care of each offering, no matter how humble. These handmade treasures have included a terrarium; handmade jewelry; hand-drawn, screen-printed clothing; paintings and photography; and delightful edibles such as homemade truffles, a kitcheree making kit, cranberry chutney, and pineapple salsa.  

Last year, I made Kate O’Donnell’s Sunbutter Truffles as a gift for my father-in-law. I highly recommend these delightfully creamy, simple truffles as a gift or addition to your holiday spread.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

Sunbutter Truffles

These truffles feature sunflower butter, which is considered in Ayurveda to be lighter and easier to digest than peanut butter. Sunbutter truffles also contain an adaptogenic boost of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) for extra resilience around the holidays.

[recipe_ingredients]

Filling:

2 tsp melted coconut oil
1/2 cup sunflower butter
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root

Chocolate Coating:

3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons cacao powder
Shredded coconut for outside (optional)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Mix together melted coconut oil, sunflower butter, honey, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add almond meal, cinnamon, and ashwagandha. Mix well. Cover the mixture and freeze for 45 minutes.
  • To make the chocolate coating, combine 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil with maple syrup and cacao powder in a warm saucepan. The coating must remain liquid for dipping, so working out of a warmed saucepan helps.
  • Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove the sunflower butter filling from the freezer, and shape into one-inch size balls, dropping them one at a time into the chocolate coating mix. Coat sunbutter balls evenly (using two spoons helps). Once coated, place them onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle with a bit of dried, shredded coconut if you like. These wonderful truffles are creamy, simple, and divine. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat!

[/recipe_directions]

I share my family’s traditions not to dictate what you and your loved ones should do. It is merely to plant the seed for ways that you might be able to simplify life during hectic seasons so you can relish the joy of the holidays, and hopefully, reduce pressure and stress. I think my family members will agree that by changing this one aspect of how we celebrate, we have become more liberated to enjoy the holidays, and we also suffer less from the stress and financial strain that can accompany the pressures of extravagant gift giving.

2. Let Go. Do Less.

Whatever your traditions may be, winter can provide a wonderful opportunity for reflection, release, and rethinking about what really matters. Something that I love about the holidays is that our collective priorities seem to shift. Professional ambition gets a chance to take a back seat to social engagements and quality time with the family. As we take time away from work and day to day responsibilities in order to celebrate and connect with dear ones, it seems there is a common understanding that productivity is slowed and that it is a time to rest, retreat, and revel allowing us the perfect opportunity to further simplify life during hectic seasons. I would like to emphasize that the choice about what to do with this special time of year lies with you. For some, time away from work is not an option, but if you have that luxury, I suggest you take a moment to truly consider what you want to do with the gift of downtime. What are the traditions that you want to invent, adhere to, or toss aside with the outgoing year?

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

There may be an unspoken pressure to follow suit when it comes to holiday traditions. However, interestingly enough, when one person leads the way in the rethinking and simplification of rituals, that choice often takes the pressure off others, and everyone can enjoy the freedom of eased expectations. For instance, I have shared my family’s gift-giving tradition with friends who have then been inspired to adopt it among their circles. When we encounter ritual, therein lies the perfect opportunity to explore and question what we want to keep and what actions are motivated purely by obligation, expectation, or even guilt.

3. Enjoy The Space Between

It may be comforting to listen to messages from nature as the days turn dark and cold. You may delight in festive food and twinkling lights (I do!), and yet, it is also helpful to remember that winter signifies the end of the life cycle. It is a barren time, and in many ways, time for stripping away, letting go, and reflecting on the year that has gone by. I often feel a tinge of sadness in the quiet days between Christmas and the new year. It amazes me how quickly the years pass, and perhaps I am simply feeling the existential melancholy that comes along with all human shortcomings. I am keenly aware of all that I failed to do and all the unexpected surprises, twists, and turns that the road of life has taken me on. Yet, in this quiet window, when the noise of holiday gatherings dies down, I can often get a glimpse at humbling self-acceptance, and that type of acceptance is relieving. With the pressure to do, be, and create temporarily lifted, there is a chance to realize that we are not our accomplishments. There is a beauty in the quiet, the stillness, and the space between, and in this space, one can find ways to simplify life during hectic seasons.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

Rather than making stringent or grandiose New Year’s resolutions that will be forgotten by Valentine’s Day, the dawn of a new year can be viewed as the ideal time to enjoy some quiet reflection and to clear the way for the activities of the year to come. A few new year’s practices that I enjoy are taking time for silence, cleaning house, throwing away to-do lists, and retreating to somewhere quiet and restful for a few days.

Silence has a wonderful purifying effect, and you don’t have to go on a retreat to practice it. A decision as simple as choosing not to speak from sundown to sunrise for a few days can be a lovely way to reset and step away from the noise. The post-holiday time is also a great chance to purge the excess from your home. Excess clothing, odds and ends, and unnecessary paperwork can all be tossed out, donated, or recycled to make space for the freshness of the new year. I find the transition from one year to the next to be a good time to reassess my to-do lists and expectations. If there are tasks that are truly important, I try to accomplish them before the start of the new year. However, I may look at what I set out to do and realize that some of it can be put off, crossed out, or simply thrown out.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

In regards to to-do lists, a lawyer friend once shared his experience after leaving a high-stress job at a law firm. He was cleaning out his desk and came across a long list full of tasks that he never accomplished. He then realized that although he had never done any of those things, nobody else ever cared or even noticed. He was still completely successful at his job and moving on willingly. Seasonal transitions, as well as life transitions, provide a prime opportunity for revamping, releasing, and making space to rethink our true intentions for the road ahead.

My message to you as you clean up holiday messes, return from travel, and transition into the year to come, is don’t rush in. Before you get caught up in the collective ambition of the new year, enjoy a little time to exhale and pause. Take a moment of silence, a walk in the snow, turn off your phone, throw away your to-do list, and hang out in the in-between for a moment. When you reflect on the year gone by, and all that there is to do and become, I suggest you consider how you can simplify and what you can let go of. By doing so, you give permission for others to do the same, and perhaps we can all move closer to a state of purity and grace as we strive to simplify life during hectic seasons.

3 Ways to Simplify Life During Hectic Seasons | Herbal Academy | The holidays needn’t be a time of hustle and bustle. In fact, it is possible to simplify life during hectic seasons. Here are 3 ways to do just that!

REFERENCES

O’Donnell, K. (2015). The everyday Ayurveda cookbook. Boulder, CO: Shambala Publications, Inc.

Herbal Sleep Cycling: How To Create Your Own Protocol For Deeper Sleep

Herbal Sleep Cycling: How To Create Your Own Protocol For Deeper Sleep | Herbal Academy | Discover the nuts and bolts of herbal sleep cycling, herbs you can draw from for deeper sleep, and how to build your own basic herbal sleep cycle protocol in this post.

Cultivating deeper, more restful sleep can be one of the most foundational pieces to rebalance your overall health. But actually achieving deeper rest in the long-term is more complex than simply “knocking yourself out” with the same choice each night. Herbal sleep cycling is a protocol design I incorporate frequently in my clinical practice and is easy to learn and adapt into your routine at home if you struggle with sleep issues. Read on to discover the nuts and bolts of herbal sleep cycling, herbs you can draw from for deeper sleep, and how to build your own basic herbal sleep cycle protocol.

Why Herbal Sleep Cycling?

I often get asked: why cycle between herbs when using them as sleep aids? Depending on the complexity of the root causes for your sleep troubles, it could take some time for the body to re-adjust to sleeping naturally again. During this time of adjustment, it is helpful to have an arsenal of natural sleep aids you can cycle through so that your body can still receive the adequate, good quality sleep it needs (Winston, 2002).

For example, if someone is struggling with menopausal insomnia triggered by night sweats and hot flashes waking them up, a comprehensive protocol to help re-balance their hormones, restore the nervous system, and calm the heart would often be suggested for months while cooling herbal sleeping aids are used to alleviate symptoms in the meantime. For some individuals, symptoms of menopause can take over a decade to go through, and the likelihood of the same herbal sleep aid remaining effective for them every night throughout that period is slim.

Herbal Sleep Cycling: How To Create Your Own Protocol For Deeper Sleep | Herbal Academy | Discover the nuts and bolts of herbal sleep cycling, herbs you can draw from for deeper sleep, and how to build your own basic herbal sleep cycle protocol in this post.

In herbal practice, it is suggested to avoid taking any herb (or formula of herbs) nightly to prevent building up a tolerance (Hershoff & Rotelli, 2001). In my clinical practice, I have found herbal sleep cycling helps improve the efficacy of herbal sleep aids especially if they are being taken long-term. Every person’s body is unique so discovering the right pattern of sleep cycling can take some time and experimentation to figure out. A good rule to go by is to change the herb (or formula of herbs) you are using every night and cycle between at least three different herbs (or formulas).

How To Build A Basic Herbal Sleep Cycle Protocol

Building an herbal sleep cycle protocol can be as simple or complex as you choose to make it. As a basic template, you should make your protocol around a three-day cycle at minimum, choosing three different formulas or herbs to use on a rotating basis. Here are some key steps to consider as you create your own personalized toolbox for deeper sleep.

Step 1

Before diving into creating your protocol, take a moment and reflect on what the roots of your sleep issues are, your constitution (i.e., do you tend to run hot or cold; are you more dry or moist), and your general symptom picture. Through building your own protocol for deeper sleep, you can tailor it to your specific wellness picture. Even if you are unsure of the exact roots causing your sleep issues at the moment, use this time to reflect on all of the contributing factors you do know of.

For instance: maybe you have no problem falling asleep at night, but you always wake up in the middle of the night from intensely vivid dreams and are unable to fall back asleep. Or, maybe you lay down to sleep feeling anxious with a racing mind every night, making bedtime an uncomfortable process. There are many different categories to sift through here so use this step as an opportunity to clarify what your personal sleep picture looks like (Winston, 2002).

Step 2

Based on your personal sleep and health symptom picture, it’s time to choose the herbs you want to use in your sleep cycling protocol. You can reference the list of herbs and herbal categories below to help you get started. It is helpful to choose your herbs based on which actions are most necessary for you, which herbs are most accessible, and if there are any particular herbs you feel especially drawn to work with.

You can either choose a handful of herbs and then build several different formulas for the varying days of your sleep cycle protocol, or you can incorporate the herbs as simples in your routine. When it comes to choosing the herbal components of your sleep cycle protocol, sometimes one simple herb can be as effective as an intricately designed formula. Consider the desired actions you would like to include in your sleep aid, then assess if one simple herb would be enough to offer this, or if multiple herbs in a formula would be more ideal. It might take a bit of research and self-reflection to discover the ideal action-formula balance for your sleep picture.

Incorporating some kind of sedative herb (or multiple herbs) should be present in every formula to assist in easier sleep. Remember that these formulas are only intended to be taken at night.

Consider the energetics of each herb when deciding which ones to use. If you suffer from night sweats, for instance, you would want to avoid heating herbs like valerian. Note that any naturally stimulating herbs are best avoided around bedtime even if they are caffeine-free (Hershoff & Rotelli, 2001). Some examples of these include ginger (Zingiber officinale), cayenne (Capsicum annuum), and rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea).

Step 3

Herbal Sleep Cycling: How To Create Your Own Protocol For Deeper Sleep | Herbal Academy | Discover the nuts and bolts of herbal sleep cycling, herbs you can draw from for deeper sleep, and how to build your own basic herbal sleep cycle protocol in this post.

After choosing your herbal formulas or simples, you can decide which kind of herbal preparations to use. Some common preparations you could choose from include: infusion, decoction, tincture, herbal bath, and herbal powder. Depending on your symptom picture and when you anticipate needing to take your sleep aid (i.e., before bed vs. in the middle of the night), you should consider the convenience and accessibility of preparing or taking the herbs.

For instance, preparing a relaxing herbal bath and tea formula might be ideal if you need help falling asleep at bedtime, but if you need to take your sleep aid in the middle of the night to help you fall back asleep, taking a tincture would be more accessible. Consider the flavor and taste of your herbs too when deciding which preparations you would like to implement into your protocol. It is fine to use all of the same preparations between each of your cycle nights or use a different preparation each night.

Step 4

Once you have your herbs and extraction methods chosen, it’s time to figure out a basic dosage strategy. This step requires the most experimentation and patience while you figure out what works best for you. Determining the right dosing for your herbal sleep cycling protocol depends on your herbal sensitivity, how “wound up” you are (i.e., how much sedation you need), and root causes of your sleep issues. Pay close attention if you choose to incorporate any low-dose herbs into your formulas (or use them as a simple) and what the standard recommended dosage is for those herbs. Some of the stronger sedative and relaxant herbs, like lobelia and corydalis, have a much lower dosing threshold than other herbs.

A good place to start when determining your dosing strategy with herbal tinctures is to start with the standard recommended dose, then repeat every 30 minutes until sleep is achieved (without exceeding a determined amount of doses, so that you do not pass any herbal safety thresholds). It is critical to do your herbal research here so that you know how to create a safe and effective dosing strategy for yourself. Remain patient and curious as you refine all of the pieces in your herbal sleep cycling protocol over time.

Herbs To Draw From

Herbal Sleep Cycling: How To Create Your Own Protocol For Deeper Sleep | Herbal Academy | Discover the nuts and bolts of herbal sleep cycling, herbs you can draw from for deeper sleep, and how to build your own basic herbal sleep cycle protocol in this post.

Here are some herbal action categories you can reference and pick from when choosing the herbs to use in your sleep cycling protocol:

Sleep support (sedatives): valerian (Valeriana officinalis), California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), lobelia (Lobelia inflata),* catnip (Nepeta cataria), passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), lavender (Lavandula officinalis), hops (Humulus lupulus), corydalis (Corydalis ambigua),* kava kava (Piper methysticum), and skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

*Safety Note: Lobelia and corydalis are low dose botanicals and should be used with caution. It is necessary to note the specific professional dosage instructions for each herb individually prior to using or suggesting to others.

Depression support: lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), and damiana (Turnera diffusa)

Anxiety support (anxiolytics): passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm, ashwagandha, skullcap, St. John’s wort, rose (Rosa spp.), and lavender

Nervous system & stress support: oatstraw or milky oats (Avena sativa), tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), ashwagandha, and skullcap

Liver stagnation support: burdock (Arctium lappa), reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), milk thistle (Silybum marianum), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root, and turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Pain support (analgesics): corydalis, California poppy, Jamaican dogwood (Piscidia piscipula), and wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa)

You can learn more about these herbs in The Herbarium (our herbal membership site) through our library or herbal articles or our extensive list of herbal monographs.

Bonus Step: Supplementing Your Herbs

There are many other natural supplements and support available which you can incorporate into your herbal sleep cycling protocol to help cultivate deeper sleep. Although we will not focus on these in this article, keep in mind that there are other options which could be helpful to add into your routine or combine with your herbal formulas for additional support. Depending on the nature of your sleep issues, certain supplements, herbs, and other support could be more indicated than others.

One Step Closer To Deeper Sleep

Think of herbal sleep cycling as one more beneficial tool you can use to achieve deeper sleep. Remember, herbs interact with everyone differently so it could take a little time for you to discover which herbs will be most supportive for you in your personal sleep cycle protocol. Be sure to always check for any contraindications and herb-drug interactions before using any herbs if you are taking any prescription medications.

Looking to learn even more about using herbs for deeper sleep? Read our articles: 7 Herbal Remedies For Better Sleep and A Simple Solution For More Rejuvenative Sleep.

Herbal Sleep Cycling: How To Create Your Own Protocol For Deeper Sleep | Herbal Academy | Discover the nuts and bolts of herbal sleep cycling, herbs you can draw from for deeper sleep, and how to build your own basic herbal sleep cycle protocol in this post.

REFERENCES

Hershoff, A. & Rotelli, A. (2001). Herbal remedies: A quick and easy guide to common disorders and their herbal treatments. New York, NY: Penguin.

Winston, D. (2002). Botanical/nutritional protocols for insomnia and other sleep disorders. Retrieved from: https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/sites/default/files/winston_david_-_botanicalnutritional_protocols_for_insomnia_and_other_sleep_disorders.pdf

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

Winter is here, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably craving soup! There is nothing better on a chilly evening, wrapped in a blanket with loved ones, than sipping from a bowl of warm, soothing soup. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and cauliflower are gaining popularity in many healthy recipes as they have a plethora of nutritional benefits, are versatile, and are delicious. In this article, we will share the benefits of this healthy and nutritious root and vegetable pairing and offer a recipe for a warming, turmeric cauliflower soup that you can enjoy on cold winter days.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric has been used for centuries as food and as an herb to assist with many imbalances. Its tough, fibrous root (the rhizome) is where its beneficial properties lie and give it its yellow color. Curcuma longa, whose Latin binomial comes from the Arabic name Kurkum, has also been called The Yellow One and Golden Goddess in Sanskrit (Gallant, n.d.).

Besides giving Indian curry its beautiful golden hue, turmeric has been used as a dye in packaged foods such as mustard and chicken broth (Gallant, n.d.). Turmeric can even be used as a natural, plant-based dye for fabrics like silk, cotton, and wool (Kayne, 2016).

Where wellness benefits are concerned, turmeric is most well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties (Gallant, n.d.). Turmeric is in the Zingiberaceae family, which is also home to its cousin ginger (Zingiber officinale). Turmeric is native to India (and a staple in Indian cuisine), but it can also be grown in other warm climates around the world. In ayurvedic herbalism, turmeric is commonly used to balance the doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha (Gallant, n.d.).

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

Benefits and Uses of Turmeric

As mentioned earlier, turmeric is most commonly used to assist the body when inflammation is present. It is believed that turmeric helps to inhibit an inflammatory gene by helping to lower histamine levels, subsequently increasing natural cortisone production by the adrenal glands (Rathaur, Raja, Ramteke, & John, 2012).

It has been found that turmeric can aid in health issues such as osteoarthritis (Kuptniratsaikul, Thanakhumtorn, Chinswangwatanakul, Wattanamongkonsil, & Thamlikitkul, 2009), back pain, and general inflammation (Rathaur et al., 2012), and according to a 2006 study, curcumin is also considered an antioxidant (Khor et al., 2006).

Turmeric can also benefit digestion by assisting the body in producing digestive enzymes that help the body to digest fats, thus supporting liver detoxification (Rathaur et al., 2012). While turmeric has been found safe for many to take in high amounts without side effects (Rathaur et al., 2012), some individuals can be more sensitive to turmeric so it’s best to start at the low end of a suggested dosage and slowly work up from there.

Many studies show that turmeric should be combined with black pepper to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin. Curcumin is a curcuminoid most often researched as turmeric’s primary active compound. The addition of black pepper will aid in the absorption of curcumin in the body and also facilitate the production of digestive enzymes (Shoba, 1998). Traditionally, most recipes with turmeric also include black pepper.

Curcumin is also fat-soluble, meaning that in order to obtain the benefits of the herb you should combine it with a portion of fatty food or substance. This means, if you simply put turmeric in water, you may lose out on curcumin’s benefits (Higdon, Drake, & Delage, 2005). For this reason, coconut milk is used in the recipe below.

It is also believed that turmeric should be heated in order to make the curcuminoids more bioavailable to us (Kurien & Scofield, 2009). This is likely why we most often find turmeric in traditional recipes of soups and curries.

Nutritional Benefits of Cauliflower

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

If you shop in a natural foods store, you may find that a growing number of packaged items are made of cauliflower these days, from pizza crust to mashed “potatoes” to cauliflower “rice.” The list goes on. The use of cauliflower has become very popular in the low-carb diet world as a substitution to grains or legumes making it a fantastic way to increase your vegetable intake. Cauliflower is extremely versatile; I personally enjoy it steamed, raw on a salad, or dipped in hummus. The turmeric cauliflower soup recipe below offers the option to roast and puree the cauliflower, creating a warm, creamy, and delicious soup.

Cauliflower is a wonderful dietary addition as it is widely available and affordable. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants and nutrients (Elliot, 2017). While it is low in calories, it still packs a punch with its high nutritional value and vitamin content with one serving of cauliflower containing over 75% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C (SELF Nutrition Data, 2018). According to Dr. Joseph Mercola (2014), cauliflower is a great source of vitamin K, protein, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. It is also high in fiber which supports healthy digestion and also aids in the detoxification process in the body (Mercola, 2014).

Cauliflower is rich in choline which plays an important role in brain health and development (Elliot, 2017). Another reason cauliflower is known to be a nutritional powerhouse is that it contains the potent antioxidant sulforaphane. Research shows that sulforaphane may also help to reduce high blood pressure and support overall heart health (Yang et al., 2015).

According to the National Cancer Institute (2012) and Abdull Razis & Noor (2013), cruciferous vegetables contain many unique antioxidants and compounds that may reduce inflammation, help protect against cancer cell growth, and even shrink existing cancer cells.

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

How To Make Turmeric Cauliflower Soup

[recipe_ingredients]

2 heads cauliflower, roughly chopped
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 bunch carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1-1 ½ tablespoons fresh minced ginger (Zingiber officinale)
8-10 cloves of minced garlic (Allium sativum)
1 dried bay leaf (Laurus nobilis)
1 small bunch fresh thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
1 small bunch fresh sage (Salvia officinalis)
2 tablespoons dried ground turmeric (Curcuma longa)
1 teaspoon black pepper (Piper nigrum)
Juice from 2 large lemons
32 ounces of broth (chicken or vegetable)
32 ounce carton of unsweetened coconut milk
1 can full-fat coconut milk
½  cup gluten-free flour (King Arthur’s or Bob’s)
½ cup coconut oil
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Cut cauliflower heads into pieces while removing large stems and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast on a sheet pan at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes or until brown.
  • On a separate sheet pan, roast carrots, celery, onion, and garlic with bay leaves, sage, and thyme at 450 degrees F.
  • While vegetables are roasting, sweat ginger (sauteed on low heat) in olive oil.  
  • Combine gluten-free flour to coconut oil to make a roux (thickening base).
  • Slowly add in the stock on low heat while whisking vigorously to make veloute (savory sauce made from a roux and stock).
  • Blend roasted cauliflower, vegetables, and ginger in a blender with coconut milk until extremely smooth.
  • Add lemon, pepper, and salt to taste and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Additional water or milk may be added during this process to maintain the desired thickness.

[/recipe_directions]

REFERENCES

Abdull Razis, A.F., & Noor, N.M. (2013). Cruciferous vegetables: Dietary phytochemicals for cancer prevention. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 14(3):1565-70.

Conrozier, T., Mathieu, P., Bonjean, M., Marc, J.F., Renevier, J.L., &  Balblanc, J.C. (2014). A complex of three natural anti-inflammatory agents provides relief of osteoarthritis pain. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 20 Suppl 1:32-7.

Elliot, B. (2017). Top 8 health benefits of cauliflower. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cauliflower

Gallant, L. (n.d.). Turmeric: “The golden goddess.” Retrieved from http://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/students/turmeric

Higdon, J., Drake, V., & Delage, B. (2005). Curcumin. Retrieved from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/curcumin

Kayne, J. (2016). DIY: Dyeing with turmeric. Retrieved from https://www.jennikayne.com/ripandtan/dyeing-with-turmeric

Khor, T.O., Keum, Y.S., Lin W., Kim, J.H., Hu, R., Shen, G.,…Kong, A.N. (2006). Combined inhibitory effects of curcumin and phenethyl isothiocyanate on the growth of human PC-3 prostate xenografts in immunodeficient mice. Cancer Research, 66(2):613-21. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-2708

Kuptniratsaikul, V., Thanakhumtorn, S., Chinswangwatanakul, P., Wattanamongkonsil, L., & Thamlikitkul, V. (2009). Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,15(8): 891-897. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2008.0186

Kurien, B.T., & Scofield, R.H. (2009). Oral administration of heat-solubilized curcumin for potentially increasing curcumin bioavailability in experimental animals. The International Journal of Cancer, 125(8): 1992-1993. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.24547

Mercola, J. (2014). Top 8 health benefits of cauliflower. Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/22/cauliflower-health-benefits.aspx

National Cancer Institute. (2012). Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet

Rathaur, P., Raja, W., Ramteke, P. W., & John, S. A. (2012). Turmeric: The golden spice of life. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, 3(8), 1987.

SELF Nutrition Data. (n.d.). Cauliflower, raw nutrition facts and calories. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2390/2

Shoba, G., Joy, D., Joseph, T., Majeed, M., Rajendran, R., & Srinivas, P.S. (1998). Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med, 64(4): 353–6. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2006-957450

Yang, B., Xiaolu, W., Song, Z., Chunye, M., Jiuwei, C., & Yang, Z. (2015). Sulforaphane protects against cardiovascular disease via Nrf2 activation. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2015, 407580. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/407580

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) rhizome is most commonly used in the kitchen given its slightly sweet, spicy, and strong aromatic flavors. However, there are many ways you can use ginger every day in your herbal practice, too! From helping soothe muscle pain, enhancing overall circulation, and nipping colds in the bud, ginger has many uses on its own and as a complementary herb in formulas.

In this article, I’m sharing six easy ways to use ginger every day. Read on to discover how you can start incorporating this popular rhizome into your daily routine!

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

1. To Help Support Your Brain Function

A wonderful way to use ginger every day is to help support your overall brain function. At first thought, you might not think to use an herb like ginger when your mind is feeling a little foggy. However, given its antioxidant function and ability to support the downregulation of inflammation in the body, ginger is reputed for preventing and halting the progression of neurodegenerative conditions in addition to improving overall cognitive function (Saenghong et al., 2012). In one study, ginger extract was found to enhance working memory and increase cognitive function in a group of middle-aged women (Saenghong et al., 2012).

An easy way to use ginger for boosting your brain function is through taking the encapsulated powder or an extract daily. Ginger powder is also a lovely addition in a honey paste formula with other neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing herbs. For those who enjoy the spice, chewing on a small piece of fresh ginger can instantly help to stimulate your senses and awaken your cognitive vitality.

2. For Sore Muscles & Joint Pain

Ginger is a wonderful herb to use both internally and externally to help soothe sore muscles. Ginger is commonly used as a base in formulas to address fibrositis and muscle sprains (Hoffmann, 2003).

Due to ginger’s ability to modulate inflammation in the body, it is a useful herb for soothing arthritic-related joint pain in the body (Srivastava & Mustafa, 1992; Hoffmann, 2003). In one study, taking ginger extract internally was found to significantly reduce symptoms of moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis-related pain (Altman & Marcussen, 2001).

You can make your own topical preparation of ginger through our Warming Ginger Cayenne Salve recipe for natural pain relief here.

3. As A Cold-Buster

Ginger is a staple herb in many cold and flu formulas for a good reason. Well-known for supporting the clearance of viruses and respiratory congestion, ginger is a great herb to draw from when you feel the onset of sickness encroaching or if you have already come down with something (Gladstar, 2012).

Using the fresh or dried rhizome in a tea formula is a simple and tasty way to use ginger every day as a cold-buster. You could also prepare a ginger syrup or incorporate ginger in your homemade fire cider brew to give your immune response system a quick boost.

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

4. To Soothe A Sore Throat

Did you know you can use ginger to help soothe pain and discomfort from a sore throat? The inflammation regulatory properties of ginger help relieve irritated tissues in the throat caused by excessive coughing and post-nasal drip (Hoffmann, 2003). Although ginger has a predominantly spicy flavor on its own, when prepared as a tea with raw honey or as a syrup, the spicy and dry properties of ginger become balanced and tolerable to use as a gargle.

Easy Ginger Gargle Recipe

[recipe_ingredients]

1 tablespoon of fresh ginger rhizome (or 1 teaspoon dried and cut ginger rhizome)
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon raw honey or manuka honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  1. If using fresh ginger rhizome, first wash the rhizome then mince or thinly slice it.
  2. Add the ginger and water to a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid, and allow the mixture to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and strain the ginger from the tea into a heat-safe container.
  4. Stir in the honey until dissolved.
  5. Allow the mixture to cool until warm. Use as a throat gargle as needed. The gargle will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

[/recipe_directions]

5. To Promote Circulation & Warmth

A great way to use ginger every day, especially during the cooler months ahead, is to help promote warmth and proper circulation in the body. Ginger is considered a premier circulatory stimulant, making it an ideal herb to use for poor circulation (think cold hands and feet), cramps, and chilblains (Hoffmann, 2003).

Since ginger is a diaphoretic, it carries the unique ability to push heat inside the body outwards to the exterior. This makes it an ideal herb to draw from in chilled and feverish states. One way to use ginger for this purpose is through infusing it into a bath, soaking, then wrapping yourself in a thick blanket for the next hour and “sweating it out.”

Ginger Bath

[recipe_ingredients]

3 tablespoons of dried ginger rhizome powder (or 4 tablespoons of dried and chopped ginger rhizome)
½ – 1 cup Epsom salts

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  1. Fill your bathtub with hot water.
  2. Add the ginger powder (or chopped ginger in a muslin bag) and Epsom salts into your bath, stirring to combine.
  3. Soak in the bath for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Dry off with a towel, then bundle up under a thick blanket or lay in bed under the covers for an hour or so to sweat.
  5. Rinse off in the shower.
  6. Rest and restore.

[/recipe_directions]

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

6. For Mild Tummy Troubles

One of the most common ways to use ginger every day is for an upset stomach. Used for symptoms ranging from motion sickness to general nausea to morning sickness, ginger is a strong herbal ally for an array of tummy troubles (Hoffmann, 2003).

This also makes ginger a popular herb to draw from when symptoms of indigestion, such as intestinal cramping, gas, and bloating occur. Ginger can help the body digest food easier and reduce spasms in the gut (Wood, 2007).

A quick and easy way to help pacify an upset stomach and alleviate indigestion is to chew a small piece of candied ginger after meals or as needed. Sprinkling a few drops of ginger rhizome tincture around the tongue is also a helpful way to use ginger for soothing tummy troubles.

More Than Just A Tasty Rhizome

Although ginger carries many tasty qualities you can incorporate at mealtime, ginger clearly has many applications you can bring into your herbal practice as well! The repertoire of uses for ginger expands beyond what we discussed in this article, too.

Learn more ways you can use ginger in our posts 3 Reasons To Eat Ginger During Wintertime and Licorice And Ginger: Herbal Decongestants.

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

REFERENCES

Altman, R.D., & Marcussen, K.C. (2001). Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatology, 44(11), 2531-8. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710709

Gladstar, R. (2012). Rosemary Gladstar’s medicinal herbs: A beginner’s guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Saenghong, N., Wattanathorn, J., Muchimapura, S., Tongun, T., Piyavhatkul, N., Banchonglikitkul, C., & Kajsongkram, T. (2012). Zingiber officinale improves cognitive function of the middle-aged healthy women. Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, 2012, 383062. http://doi.org/10.1155/2012/383062.

Srivastava, K.C., & Mustafa, T. (1992). Ginger (Zingiber offinicale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders. Medical Hypotheses, 39(4), 342-348. http://doi.org/10.1016/0306-9877(92)90059-L

Wood, M. (2007). Ginger. Retrieved from http://www.woodherbs.com/Ginger.html.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase. Anyone who has suffered from chronic insomnia or disturbed sleep is well aware of the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep not only compromises your outward appearance. It wreaks havoc on your metabolism, mental alertness, emotional balance, and even memory (Albrecht & Ripperger, 2018). Sound sleep is vital for whole body health. Both modern science and ancient wellness systems, such as Ayurveda, underscore this truth.

The ancient ayurvedic sages placed sound sleep at such a high premium that it was deemed an essential pillar of health, along with good digestion and effective energy management. In fact, the Charaka Samhita, one of Ayurveda’s pivotal classical texts, states that by upholding these three pillars, the strength of body and good complexion are preserved even until the very end of one’s lifespan (Dash, 2014).

Although you may intuitively know this, stress, schedules, and a number of other factors may interfere with getting the rest you need. This article will explore lifestyle hacks for sound sleep so that you can wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day.

The Science of Sleep

In addition to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, there is mounting scientific evidence to support the value of sound sleep. In fact, not so long ago, an entirely new bodily system that plays a key role in sleep was discovered. It is known as the glymphatic system, and it functions as a waste clearance mechanism, removing metabolic and protein wastes from the brain while you sleep. This curious system may also be involved in distributing nutrients, such as amino acids, lipids, and glucose to brain cells (Jessen et al., 2015). The interesting thing about the glymphatic system is that it only functions while we sleep. Sleep that is regular, ample in quantity, and timed with the natural rhythms of dark and light, keeps this waste clearance system functioning as it should. The result? Sleep that feels restful, as well as clear thinking and a healthier nervous system. When the glymphatic process is disturbed, the consequences may be as serious as exacerbated neurological disease (Albrecht & Ripperger, 2018).

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep

Of course, getting sleep of adequate quantity and quality is easier said than done. If you find that your sleep is less than stellar, these five lifestyle hacks will help put you back on track.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

1. Be Consistent

One trick to attaining sound sleep is regularity. In Ayurveda, restless sleep and insomnia are often linked to an imbalance in vata dosha, which is associated with the wind element, as well as movement (Frawley, 2000). Vata dosha is easily imbalanced by changes in routine. Irregular lifestyle patterns such as frequent travel and irregular work schedules tend to throw vata dosha out of balance, resulting in sleep troubles. Regular sleeping times and good sleep hygiene (such as the sound sleep hacks describes in this article) help soothe the nervous system and keep vata dosha pacified and less likely to wreak havoc on sleep patterns.

The ayurvedic teachings around the importance of sleep routines correspond with the concept of circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the natural rhythms of the body and correlate to the cycles of day and night. It is natural to sleep at night and to awaken with the light of day. When circadian rhythms are thrown out of whack, a number of health issues may ensue, such as being at a higher risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain types of cancer (Palanisamy, 2015).

According to Ayurveda, not everyone needs the same exact amount of sleep. You may have noticed this for yourself anecdotally. Vata types tend to need the most sleep, kaphas the least, and pitta types fall somewhere in the middle. Kapha types may also benefit from getting up a bit earlier; too much sleep exacerbates their naturally slower constitutions, causing sluggishness and lethargy. On the other hand, the more delicate nervous systems of vata types require maximum rest and rejuvenation. It is especially important that ravenous pittas are not up in the middle of the night, as they are particularly prone to late night eating, which only leads to an imbalance in their digestion, liver, and sleep patterns. Ayurveda teaches that “early to bed and early to rise” is best for everyone. This means that getting up around sunrise is ideal for all, with slight variations depending on one’s constitutional type (Svoboda, 2010).

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

2. Unplug

This lifestyle hack for sound sleep is a game changer. It’s important to give your nervous system time to unwind before bedtime. Just like stopping a fast moving car, it’s not easy to slam on the brakes when you are traveling 100 miles per hour. The same is true for your nervous system. Easing, rather than crashing, into to sleep is generally far more effective.

Why? Melatonin is the reason. Melatonin is important for immune function and sleep quality. Melatonin is released by the pineal gland, and it plays a major role in signaling your nervous system to calm down. Interestingly enough, light exposure, particularly the blue light emitted by screens, prevents the release of melatonin. Therefore, the more time you can spend in dark or dim lighting before bed, the better your chances of falling gently into a sound sleep. Using lamps and area lights in the evening, rather than bright overhead lights is helpful. Also, light bulbs with an orange or red hue are preferable to white or bluish light. Apps, such as f.lux, that adjust your computer screen light throughout the day are useful as well. Ideally, turning away from computer screens and phones in the late evening, and instead of picking up a book, taking a hot bath, or doing other relaxing screen-free activities will help send your nervous system the message to calm down and prepare for sleep (Palanisamy, 2015).

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

3. Eat Better to Sleep Better

Refraining from late night snacking will not only assist with weight management, but this healthy habit also helps you sleep better. Even your fat cells have a circadian rhythm. Research shows that eating less at night can assist in weight loss (Garaulet et al., 2013). This is consistent with the ayurvedic recommendation to have your largest meal at lunchtime, which is attributed to the ayurvedic teaching that one’s agni, or digestive fire, is strongest at midday. Also, by eating lightly at night, you give your body the chance to focus on detoxification and restoration during the night, rather than digestion. Furthermore, by normalizing your metabolic circadian rhythms, you have a better chance at bringing all of your circadian rhythms into balance, lining up patterns of eating, sleeping, and waking (Palanisamy, 2015).

4. Keep cool

Though hot summer days may leave you sleepy, our best sleep is attained in a slightly cool environment. The ideal recommended room temperature ranges from 60 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit with pajamas and in the mid-80’s without pajamas and just a sheet as covering (Onin, Bailey & Parquet, 1994). Furthermore, keeping a cool head may especially help with sound sleep. This is a rather amusing sound sleep hack. One study showed that sleep quality was significantly improved in 16 males who were subjected to head and neck cooling in a hot environment (Lan et al., 2018). If you have the option to regulate your bedroom’s temperature, keeping it on the cool side may help you rest more thoroughly. If not, consider a cool shower or applying a cool washcloth to the head and neck before bed for a soothing, soporific effect.  

5. Consider Herbal Support

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

There are a plethora of herbs that can assist in getting a good night’s rest. Ashwagandha, with its nourishing, tonifying capacities is a great place to start. This starchy root is an ayurvedic classic for all types of nervous system disturbances. Ashwagandha is soothing for a range of imbalances including insomnia, fatigue, general debility, tissue deficiency, poor eyesight, and anxiety. Ashwagandha may not correct sleep immediately, but due to its nourishing and stabilizing effects on the nervous system, it will help normalize sleep cycles over time. One great thing about ashwagandha is that it is safe to take in rather large doses—anywhere from 1-9 grams per day (Dass, 2013). To maximize the root’s strengthening and soothing effects, it is helpful to consume in powdered form. For ease of consumption, you can mix powdered ashwagandha into hot water, hot milk, or a hearty warm grain cereal.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

If you are looking for an herb with potent sedative effects, valerian may be for you. Valerian is a powerful sleep aid and also has the ability to soothe anxiety and relax tense muscles. Since valerian can cause drowsiness, it is best to take only in the evenings, about 30 to 60 minutes before bed. This strong smelling root can be taken as a liquid extract or in dried powdered form (generally best swallowed in capsules). The suggested dosage is 3-9 grams of dried whole root and 2-6 mL of liquid extract (Mills & Bone, 2000). Some ayurvedic practitioners caution against long-term use of valerian, as it can exacerbate depression, melancholy, and mental lethargy (Dass, 2013). Also, oddly enough, some people find that valerian has a heating and stimulating effect rather than a sedative effect. This is a simple testament to the ayurvedic tenant that nothing is right for everyone. Always listen to your body and be willing to adapt your herbal supports based on your own felt experience.

Skullcap (Scutellaria)

Whereas ashwagandha and valerian are both warm and somewhat heavy herbs, skullcap is light, bitter, and cool. However, it is also a great nervous system soother. Skullcap is classically used as support for a host of imbalances including nervous tension, stress, anxiety, premenstrual syndrome, tremors, and addiction. For vata types who require deep nervous system nourishment, it can be combined with heaver herbs such as ashwagandha or valerian. Though skullcap is helpful as a sound sleep hack, it can also be taken during the day to calm a stressed mind or jittery nervous system. As a tincture, you can take 30-60 drops up to three times per day or 1-9 grams of the dried aerial portion (Dass, 2013).

If getting your zzz’s is a challenge, with the help of these sound sleep hacks, we hope you will find your way back to restful and rejuvenating sleep.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

REFERENCES

Albrecht, U., & Ripperger, J.A. (2018). Circadian clocks and sleep: Impact of rhythmic metabolism and waste clearance on the brain. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30274603

Dash, B., & Sharma, R.K. (2014). Caraka Samhita (Vol. 1). Varanasi, India: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.

Dass, V. (2013). Ayurvedic herbology: East and west. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Frawley, D. (2000). Ayurvedic healing. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Garaulet, M., Gomez-Abellan, P., Alburquerque-Bejar, J.J., Lee, Y.C., Ordovas, J.M., & Scheer, F.A. (2013). Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness. International Journal of Obesity, 37(4):604-11. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.229.

Jessen, N.A., Munk, S.A., Lundgaard, I., & Nedergaard, M. (2015). The glymphatic system: A beginners guide. Neurochemisty Research, 40(12):2583-99. doi: 10.1007/s11064-015-1581-6.

Lan, L., Qian, X.L., Lian, Z.W., & Lin, Y.B. (2018). Local body cooling to improve sleep quality and thermal comfort in a hot environment. Indoor Air, 28(1):135-145. doi: 10.1111/ina.12428.

Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2000). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone.

Nedeltcheva, A.V., & Scheer, F.A. (2014). Metabolic effects of sleep disruption, links to obesity and diabetes. Current Opinion Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity. 21(4):293-8. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000082.

Onen, S.H., Onen, F., Bailly, D., & Parquet, P. (1994). Prevention and treatment of sleep disorders through regulation of sleeping habits. La Presse Médicale,  23(10):485-9. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8022726

Palanisamy, A. (2015). The paleovedic diet. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

Svoboda, R. (1999). Prakriti: Your ayurvedic constitution. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Over the last few years, the Danish concept of hygge has become downright trendy. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary shortlisted it as one of the most influential words of 2016. And, since research states that Danes are some of the happiest people in the world, it seems that hygge bears paying attention to. But what exactly is this strange sounding word, and when you embrace hygge during the long, cold winter, can it help bolster your happiness over the dark days ahead?

What exactly is Hygge?

Hygge is not only tricky to say, but it’s also tough to define.

Pronounced hue-guh or hoo-ga, it loosely translates to “coziness” or “comfort.” However, it’s more than just a word. In Denmark, where the term originates, it is more of a way of life that represents “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people” (What is Hygge, para 2).  

According to translator ToveMare Stakkestad, “hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt” (Elliott, 2017, p. 29).

Choosing to embrace hygge can mean different things, such as cuddling up by a warm fire, enjoying a lovely dinner with family and friends, or relishing a refreshing walk in nature. It remains a concept that is difficult to define but easy to recognize. At its essence, hygge is all about feeling good and appreciating life.

Signe Johansen, the author of How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life, says the core of hygge is in knowing that one must make the most of the time they have in this world and to be kind to ourselves and others (Johansen, 2016).

On the other hand, what hygge is is just as important as what it is not. Hygge is not a product you can buy or a service to subscribe to. Once the concept gained popularity, it “quickly became a marketing buzzword to sell Scandi-cool items, such as tea-light candles, fluffy throws and woven hats” (McDonough, 2018, para. 1). In our consumer-based world, be wary of brands trying to sell you things with the promise of “hygge-style” happiness. Hygge is a feeling that cannot be bought.

How to Embrace Hygge

While hygge can be challenging to define, there are some basic tenets to this feeling of warmth, comfort, and happiness. To embrace hygge is to appreciate the small things in life and savor what you have rather than focus on what you lack. As author Louisa Thomsen Brits (2017) states, “hygge is about being, not having” (p. 7).

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Home

Due to the cold and darkness, the Danes spend a lot of their time indoors during the winter, making them particularly aware of their surroundings. Think of your home as your hygge headquarters. But, remember that it’s not just about aesthetics. Your home should have a warm, welcome vibe especially since entertaining is very hygge. Nearly every home in Denmark has what is called a hyggerkrog, which loosely translates to a “nook.”

According to Meik Wiking, author of the popular book, The Little Book of Hygge, as well as founder and CEO of the Copenhagen-based Happiness Institute, “it is the place in the room where you love to snuggle up in a blanket, with a book and a cup of tea” (Wiking, 2017, p. 96). When creating your hyggerkrog think comfy cushions, warm blanket, and soft natural light. Although it does not have to be near a window, light is critical to hygge.

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Light

Lighting is essential in order to embrace hygge. Natural light, that is — particularly in the winter when we get less sunlight (which is in short supply during Danish winters). To embrace hygge during the day, open the curtains and blinds to let as much natural light in as possible. At night, use candles and twinkle lights to create a cozy vibe. A burning fire is peak hygge, but don’t worry if you lack a fireplace, you can recreate the vibe with candles and soft lighting.

Wiking explains that unscented candles are critical in the effort to embrace hygge, simply stating “no candles, no hygge.” He even cites that the Danes burn 13 pounds of candle wax per person, per year, even in places such as classrooms and office buildings (Wiking, 2017, p. 100). “Where Americans see a fire hazard, the Danes see an antidepressant” (Green, 2016, para 10).

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Nature

Rather than despairing over the long, cold winter, the Danes embrace and enjoy it. In addition to being essential to our overall wellbeing, appreciating nature is very hygge. Instead of dreading the colder weather, welcome it hygge-style by getting out and enjoying the fresh air every day. While you might not be interested in hitting the slopes, a quick walk to the end of the street or short nature hike (even in the snow) can boost your spirits. Just remember to dress warmly.

Beyond spending time outside, bring nature inside by incorporating natural elements into your home — flowers, plants, branches, pinecones, leaves, petals, pods, twigs, driftwood, shells, feathers. This is another way to connect with the organic beauty of the world around you and embrace hygge. 

Senses

Embracing hygge is a sensory experience. It is about being open and aware, embracing and enjoying. Hygge is comfort. While you might not be able to put your finger on it, most of us can recognize a hygge feeling or environment.

“There is no formula, no sum of obvious material parts to be blotted together, but if we create conditions that appeal to our senses, we ground ourselves in the moment and harness hygge” (Brits, 2017, p. 93-94).

Getting in touch with all of our senses allows us to truly appreciate our surroundings. Wiking refers to this as “the five dimensions of hygge” (Wiking, 2017, p.195). Hot beverages, comfort food, natural surroundings, peaceful music, a snuggly blanket, and a warm fire are all elements of hygge that awaken our senses. Cuddling up next to a loved one with a cup of hot herbal tea and a good book is hygge heaven. Anything that soothes the spirit can be considered hygge.

How will you use your senses to embrace hygge?

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Comfort and Nourishment

In addition to appealing to our senses, food plays a vital role in hygge. Gathering around the table for dinner with family and friends or enjoying a delicious meal both land high on the list of hygge basics. Socializing with others — usually over a sumptuous meal — is the perfect defense against isolation during the winter. “Sharing a meal is the epitome of hygge. It brings us together, nourishing our bodies and spirits” (Brits, 2017, p. 107).

When it comes to food, the Danes don’t stress over calorie intake, so ignore the fear of indulging and think more about savoring. When you embrace hygge, you can balance special meals with plenty of outdoor exercise for happiness and wellbeing.

“Food is merely the vehicle for gathering around a common table to chat and laugh, which is sure to lift the spirits. Spending time with family and friends is the real nourishment” (Elliott, 2017, p. 31).

Embrace Hygge This Winter

Although hygge does not have a definitive English translation, its spirit can easily be translated into our daily lives. Now that you understand the basics of this cozy concept, how will you embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this the winter?

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

REFERENCES

Brits, L.T. (2017). The book of hygge: The Danish art of contentment, comfort, and connection. New York, NY: Plume.

Elliott, A. (2017). Hygge for all. Vibrant Life, Vol.33, Issue 6. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A512184277/HWRC?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=HWRC

Green, P. (2016). Wintering the Danish way: Learning about hygge. International New York Times. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A474972226/SPN.SP24?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=SPN.SP24&xid=8c149172

Johansen, S. (2016). How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life. New York: NY, St. Martin’s Press.

McDonough, M. (2018). What’s all the hygge? Global habits gain U.S. fans. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A540929851/HWRC?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=HWRC&xid=8c023dcc

VisitDenmark.co.uk. What is Hygge? (n.d.) What is Hygge? Retrieved from: https://www.visitdenmark.co.uk/en-gb/denmark/culture/hygge-meaning

Wiking, M. (2017). The little book of hygge: Danish secrets to happy living. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

An Herbal Tea Recipe For California Fire Victims

An Herbal Tea Recipe For California Fire Victims | Herbal Academy | Here's a delicious respiratory and nervous system supportive herbal tea recipe for California fire victims and those suffering from smoke inhalation.

Our hearts go out to all those who’ve been affected in some way by the latest wildfires that have rapidly spread through parts of California recently. Not only are homes damaged or completely gone, but lives have been lost and many people and animals are suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.

Smoke inhalation is a serious health concern as it can cause irritation, inflammation, and reduced oxygen exchange in the lungs and potentially lead to respiratory failure and even death (Santos-Longhurst, n.d.). While rescue workers strive day and night to try to contain the fires in California, the effects of the resulting smoke may be harder to contain than the fire itself.

When it comes to using herbs to support the body after smoke inhalation, there are several approaches one can take. One of the simplest is to use herbs to support the respiratory and nervous systems by drinking a delicious, soothing herbal tea.

We asked for some suggestions from the Herbal Academy staff herbalists as we discussed the perfect tea blend to support fire victims, and here is what they suggest.

“Wildfire smoke is so drying, and we found this last summer with the fires near us that it really affects the nervous system – my family felt moody and just run down. So it seems like a blend of marshmallow and licorice (for those who do not have issues with high blood pressure) to moisturize and support the lungs along with a nervine such as linden, chamomile, or lemon balm would be simple and helpful. This could be made into either a tea or syrup for easy consumption.” – Angela Justis

“How about a combo of chamomile and lemon balm for nervous system support, mullein and nettle for respiratory support, marshmallow and violet leaf for demulcency? So nourishing, nervine, tissue soothing, respiratory tonic.” – Jane Metzger

With these thoughts in mind, we pulled together the perfect recipe to share with you. In fact, this recipe comes from our Respiratory Health Unit in our Intermediate Herbal Course! This unit features information about the respiratory system, how to keep it healthy, and how herbs can offer support and balance when needed.

An Herbal Tea Recipe For California Fire Victims | Herbal Academy | Here's a delicious respiratory and nervous system supportive herbal tea recipe for California fire victims and those suffering from smoke inhalation.

Cough-B-Gone Tea

Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar (Gladstar, 2012).

Mullein has long been used to help with coughs and other respiratory issues because of its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and expectorant properties. The addition of antispasmodic chamomile, demulcent marshmallow, and honey to this tea makes it very helpful for soothing irritated throats and dry coughs.

[recipe_ingredients]

3 g (0.1 oz) chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) flower
1 g (0.05 oz) marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) leaf and/or flower
1 g (0.05 oz) mullein (Verbascum thapsus) leaf

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Use approximately 5 g (0.2 oz) herb blend per 355 mL (12 fl oz) hot water. Steep in a covered container for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth or a tea strainer to remove hairs from the mullein leaf. Add plenty of soothing honey and sip while hot.

[/recipe_directions]

A Generous Offer For California Fire Victims

An Herbal Tea Recipe For California Fire Victims | Herbal Academy | Here's a delicious respiratory and nervous system supportive herbal tea recipe for California fire victims and those suffering from smoke inhalation.

Sometimes, in especially difficult times like these, it’s hard to know how to help. Unfortunately, we can not make the situation go away or make it right in any way. In fact, we can scarcely imagine the devastation that these fires have had on the lives of those affected – so many losing everything they owned as they escaped. The process of rebuilding whole communities and individual lives will not be without further challenges.

For those of you devastated by the fires, it’s during these high-stress times that it can be easy to ignore your health as you become preoccupied with all that there is to do, but just a few simple steps can help restore balance and protect your health. The Herbal Academy together with Mountain Rose Herbs would like to offer some herbal support.      

Mountain Rose Herbs is offering Herbal Academy readers and community that are California fire victims a 10% discount on the herbs suggested in the recipe above along with any herbs and supplies needed from their website. This coupon extends 10% off of the entire Mountain Rose Herbs site store, so do consider ordering any of the other herbs mentioned in the recommendations above if you wish to try other teas or herbal formulations to address your specific needs. We also welcome any questions you may have concerning the use of herbs. We hope to be a small beacon of hope and support during this most difficult time – we are here for all of you.

Simply fill out this form providing your email address and home address.

FORM FOR CALIFORNIA FIRE VICTIMS

Please note that this is an honor system. We ask that you only fill out this form if you are a California resident in need!

Our thoughts are with you during your time of need!

REFERENCES

Santos-Longhurst, A. (n.d.). What to do when you or someone you know may have breathed in too much smoke. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/smoke-inhalation

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

The holidays are a time to gather, join in community, and be with those we care about the most. We come together around the table to share in festive feasts and stories of the past year and plan for the coming year. We celebrate and show our appreciation for our loved ones, often through the practice of giving gifts during the holiday season.

It is easier than ever to give gifts to those we care about near and far. We are able to order online almost up until the last minute and can even have our gift shipped halfway across the country within a few days. We can find great in-store deals months before the holiday, We are even fortunate to be able to support local makers at a variety of handmade markets popping up in our communities.

Sometimes, though, it can feel overwhelming to choose from the seemingly endless options online, in stores, and at markets. We may feel like the person we are shopping for already has everything they could want, or we simply don’t know where to begin. It could even be that we feel that buying something isn’t special enough.

If you’re someone that finds yourself in this situation, a fitting option is to make your own gifts this holiday season. You can also sneak in a little plant love and natural wellness by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family. Think herbal beverages, natural skincare, candles, and more!

There are countless DIY recipes and how-tos out there, so I’ve done some of the refining for you and curated this collection of herbal DIYs for the holidays below.

Why Do It Yourself?

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

This might seem like a silly question for those of you who already regularly gift your own creations. The benefits of making your own gifts, especially around the busy holiday season, are numerous.

1. Save Money

You can create a very special gift that may cost less than it would to buy it from the store. Or, rather than feeling the pressure to buy something with a higher price tag in order to feel that your gift is worthwhile, special, or more meaningful, you will naturally have those qualities come through in the gift you’ve made yourself.

2. Meaningfulness

A gift found online or from a big box store may be nice, but tends to be just like something anyone could buy on a whim. A way to gift more meaningfully is to make your own gift for your loved one.

3. Learn

You may learn something new in your quest to DIY your holiday gifts! It’s a wonderful opportunity to try a new craft you’ve been interested in or to hone one you have practiced a time or two.

4. Have Fun!

Yes, it can definitely be a fun experience to create handmade gifts. The fun starts with the actual making but continues on to when you get to see the gift opened by the recipient.

How to DIY: Make it a Party!

If you want to have extra help and just more fun making your own gifts, consider making it a party! You can gather friends and/or family together for your own DIY gift night. Assign each guest to choose 1-2 herbal DIYs they want to use. They’ll need to bring the recipe(s) as well as all materials for the DIY and even an appetizer to share. You now have an idea for a holiday-themed get-together with a unifying purpose!

If you’re an herbal entrepreneur, another spin on this idea is to consider hosting a class or workshop on how to make herbal DIYs. This is something people are very interested in, but those new to DIYing can be deterred because of an intimidation factor. Being guided by an experienced teacher can be very helpful!

Herbal DIYs To Make

Pulling from the Herbal Academy’s plentiful blog archives, I’ve created this list of 9 herbal DIYs to try giving as gifts this holiday season:

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

1. Wintertime Herbal Infused Whipped Body Butter

This rich, nourishing body recipe features several herbs known for their skin-loving properties.

Gift For: Anyone with extra-dry skin.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

2. Herbal Culinary Salts

Herbal culinary salts are a unique spin on adding flavor to cooking. The great part is making them is a rather simple process that just involves blending salt(s) with herbs of your choice. They can make a big impression, though, for the right recipient.

Gift For: The foodie or grill master who loves working with new seasonings.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

3. Hand-Poured Herbal Candles

Candle-making is an ancient practice that everyone should try at least once. Making your own herbal candles with some friends is a fun and rewarding DIY that yields a practical gift many can enjoy.

Gift For: The homebody who loves to curl up with a good book.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

4. Marshmallow Root Lip Balm

Making lip balm is often the gateway into DIY natural skincare. It’s an accessible process that commonly consists of ingredients many of us may already have including coconut oil, or that are easily-acquired such as beeswax and other vegetable oils. This recipe for Marshmallow Root Lip Balm is a great option for last-minute gifting.

Gift For: That friend who’s always applying lip balm.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

5. Herbal Homemade Wine & Mead

If you want a more advanced DIY and have some time (several weeks before the holidays), making your own wine and mead could be the perfect fit. If you have a friend or family member who loves trying new adult beverages, then this is for you. The process of making wine and mead itself isn’t hard; it just requires following steps carefully, the right materials, and time.

Gift For: The local brew enthusiast.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

6. Essential Oil Solid Perfume

If you’ve got a bit of a chemist in you, making an essential oil solid perfume will be an interesting DIY gift. This recipe details how to blend essential oils as an aphrodisiac, so this gift won’t be for your mom.

Gift For: Your significant other.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

7. Herbal Tea Blends

Herbal teas are one of those things that can be done in so many different ways. Creating your own unique herbal tea blends, or using the ones in this recipe, is a great way to gift a useful and wellness-promoting gift to show you care.

Gift For: Anyone! Herbal teas are rather widely-enjoyed, so this is a great gift for most, especially this time of year.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

8. Herbal Oxymels

Oxymels are an herbal extraction of apple cider vinegar and honey. If you like to get a little witchy in the kitchen and enjoy working with herbs, making your own herbal oxymels could become your favorite new hobby.

Gift For: The bee lover or biggest sweet tooth.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

9. Pine Resin Salve

This DIY requires getting out into the forest and harvesting your own ingredient of pine resin. It may also require significant forethought to be able to find pine resin at the right time for harvest. If you’re up for an adventure and want a gift that will be sure to be unique, making your own pine resin salve is for you.

Gift For: The earth-loving relative or friend who understands your herby ways. 🙂

Whether you’re interested in herbal DIYs this season to save money, to offer a more meaningful present, to learn, or just to have some fun, you’re sure to experience a little of each if you try any of these herbal DIYs. One thing is certain, your gifts will be one-of-a-kind, and you can’t buy that in stores!

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!