Margi’s Blog

Benefits of Soaking in the Bath

It’s that time of year, and if you’re like most people, you’re feeling the holiday rush. Take a break for yourself and enjoy a long, mood-changing soak in an herbal bath. Luxurious and decadent, soothing and calming or just rejuvenating – there are herbal bath add-in for all purposes. Bathing in water infused with the goodness of herbs, essential oils and other healthful ingredients is a wonderful, healing way to care for yourself. Something we all should do more of!

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Bath salts are a wonderful option and each salt has it’s own properties for enhancing health. Epsom Salts contain magnesium which can help to relax, relieve stress and soothe muscles; while Himalayan Salts draws out toxins, improves circulation, deep cleanses and leaves you with baby-soft skin.

Floating bath oils are a luxurious & tranquil choice, which will moisturize and leave your skin smelling amazing. A few of my favorites:

  • Lemon & Sweet Orange: Benefits oily skin and creates a happy, uplifting mood. (Caution- not if you go right out into the sun)
  • Jasmine: Helps dry, sensitive skin and soothes the emotions creating a sense of hopefulness.
  • Ylang Ylang: Benefits all skin types, is calming to the nervous system and acts as an aphrodisiac.

Remember to use caution, as essential oils are extremely powerful. They need to be diluted before use and used in correct concentrations. For each ounce of carrier oil, mix 1 – 15 drops of the essential oils of your choice. A teaspoon or two in your warm bath and you’re on your way to bliss.

Another option is steeped baths made with leaves & flowers. Any combination of herbs that you fancy is the perfect bath for you! Some options:

  • Rose Petals & Buds: Calm & soothe the heart while relieving inflammation and toning the skin.
  • Lavender Blossoms: Cleansing and relaxing inducing a sense of calm.
  • Elder Flowers: Relieve inflammation while toning and cleaning the skin.
  • Rosemary Leaf: Relieves fatigue and is a cleaning tonic for the skin.

To create an herbal bath, combine a handful of each herb you desire in a large pot. Fill with water, heat to almost boiling and make sure you keep a lid on the pot so the volatile oils do not evaporate. Remove the pot for heat and let infuse for no less that 20 minutes. Strain the liquid into your filled tub and you’re ready to go. The other option is to fill a cloth or muslin bag with your herbal concoction. Fill the bath with the hottest water you have, leave until water is at your desired temperature and get right in.

A lovely thirty minutes of relaxation can greatly affect how you’re going to deal with the rest of your day. So switch off your mind & go enjoy one of life’s little pleasures.

Happy Holidays!

Everyday Herbalism: Nettles for Allergies

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Margi’s Nettle plants

This Spring Margi had a great harvest of Nettles and with it she made Nettles solid extract.  Two large baskets of nettle leaves gathered prior to seeding. Garble, remove leaves with gloves. Simmer slightly covered in water, turning in new leaves as they wilt. Simmer for a few hours until it has cooked down and concentrated. Chop in food processor until leaves are like a paste. Add vegetable glycerine, about half the quantity of liquid. I store in the refrigerator.

Also consume Milk Thistle seeds dry roasted and ground, about a half teaspoon a day to find relief!  This combination is the best for treating seasonal allergies.

The pollen count has been record high this year and even people who have never experienced allergies before, are now suffering through the symptoms: watery or itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion & a runny nose.

Margi has even found that other air born allergies, like pet allergies, can be helped with Nettles and Milk Thistle.  Goldenrod leaf and flower is also great in drop doses for cat allergies says (and he is right) Matthew Wood.

The Nettles solid extract is the best form in which to take for relief, it’s made with vegetable glycerine so it’s sweet, and it is super concentrated so an adult only needs to take 1/8th to 1/4th of a teaspoon 2-3 times a day.  4oz will last you the whole season with sweet relief from all your allergy woes.  Best if started a few weeks prior to allergy blooms.

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Margi’s giant basket

Two HUGE baskets full of Nettles were condensed down to only 3 quarts of solid extract.

Whats also great about Nettles is there are no contraindications, so anyone can take it, and in a smaller dosage it’s fine for children too.

If you go to harvest your own Nettle watch out!  There are tiny hairs on the stinging nettles that contain formic acid, which will sting you and produces a tingling sensation and usually a welt.  It’s this formic acid that we believe, stops the allergic reaction in it’s tracks. Or it is simply magic.

Plantain leaf is also great on an herb walk- just reach down, ask for a leaf and chew it- symptoms gone.

Urtica dioica from Thomé, Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885
Urtica dioica from Thomé, Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885

Here are some other thoughts on Nettles:

Ruled by the planet Mars and the zodiac sign of Aries

“Good to help get in touch with your fiery energy.”

“Drink an infusion daily to break free of stagnant emotional states and to contact the warrior within.”

“Protection against negativity.” quotes from Herbal Healers by Glennie Kindred

“Nettles have been employed as a spiritual talisman in which it was sprinkled around the house to ward off evil or carried in a sachet in order to ‘remove a curse and send it back’” – Mountain Rose Herbs

 

Everyday Herbalism: Margi’s Natural Tick Repellant

Back in May, Margi visited iFarm Boxford to lead a fun, herb walk and forage for lunch.

Below is the little write up by Nick Shrewsbury, from that class and her tips for an all natural tick repellant.

Margi will be back at iFarm Boxford teaching a class on herbal tinctures and infused oils on July 24th

for more information on that  Click Here.

MARGI FLINT’S NATURAL TICK REPELLANT

20 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil

20 drops of Atlas Cedar Essential Oil

.5 oz jojoba oil (or other carrier oil like olive oil)

1oz white vinegar

1 oz Aloe Juice

Instructions: Mix the oils together first. Then add all other ingredients. Place the solution in an atomizer to create a spray. Spray liberally on clothes or pets (cats may not like the smell).  Make sure you shake vigorously before each use.

Avoid the eyes, safe for use on children 2 and up, do not ingest.

***Almost all essential oils are too potent for direct application to the skin. They should be diluted 10-15 drops essential oil to 1 ounce carrier oils. Exceptions to this rule are Lavender, Rose and Tea Tree Essential Oils.***

 

Herbs and Health: Advice from a Master Herbalist

 

Old Wives’ Lore for Gardeners

klamath beetle“A member of the panel of the BBC’s admirable Gardeners Question Time programme, speaking of identifying small creatures in the garden, said that as a lad he was told: ‘If it moves slowly enough, step on it; if it doesn’t, leave it — it’ll probably kill something else” excerpt from Old Wives’ Lore for Gardeners by Maureen & Bridget Boland (page 36)

 

Everyday Herbalism: Chocolate as Medicine?

We all may have indulged a little too much this holiday and as it is the start of a new year, many of you may be starting a new diet or other healthy eating resolution. Which is all well and good, but don’t forget to reward yourself for your good work, or even just the good effort as it may be.

 

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Cacao nibs

Here are a few very good reasons to keep Chocolate in your diet plan!

  • Chocolate increases endorphins
  • Chocolate contains polyphenol antioxidants, magnesium and pre-biotics.
  • Cocoa flavinoids relax the blood vessels and inhibit an enzyme which causes inflammation.
  • Dark chocolate contains 53.5mg of catechins per 100 mg.

 

“Chocolate of good quality… calms the fever, nourishes the patient and tends to restore him to health”. Francis Joseph Victor Broussais, celebrated French physician (1772-1836)

 

Here is one of Margi’s recipes for those cold snowy winter days!

 

Hot-Cha-Chocolate

Mix together

1-2 TB Cocoa

½ tsp Kudzu

½ tsp Licorice powder

1tsp Chicory powder

1tsp Mushroom powder

1tsp Vanilla extract

6-8 oz Almond or other milk

Simmer for 5 minutes covered.

Sweeten with raw local honey.

Add a pinch of Cayenne.

 

Taken from Margi’s book, The Third Edition of the Practicing Herbalist, page 147.

Everyday Herbalism: Margi’s Immune Boosting Tea

Despite the unseasonably warm weather, winter is upon us and with it comes sickness.   To give your immune system that extra boost and keep the sniffles at bay, add this tea to your repertoire.

Our Beautiful Echinacea!

¼ cup herb per quart Jar

 

.75 oz Elderberry

.25 oz Echinacea leaf

.25 oz Echinacea cut and sifted

.75 oz Licorice

.5 oz Spearmint

 

Boil water, place ¼ cup or more of the herbs into a glass container.  Cover.

Allow the herbs to steep for 5-10 minutes.   Strain with a stainless steel sieve, I like the nice wide ones you can find at kitchen stores.

A French press is great also – or a quart mason jar, to then pour into another quart.

 

Infusions will ferment, so store it in the refrigerator for one no longer than two days, tightly covered.

Be sure to compost the herbs, out the window or in your houseplants, simply returning them to the earth in order to receive the medicine. Full circle.

 

 

Dandelion

Dandelion can be used for so many things and if you forgot to harvest them during the spring and summer you are in luck.   With the weather being as crazy warm as it has been the plants are tenacious and are starting to grow again thinking it is springtime!

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Margi finding Dandelions on      her walk in mid December!

Dandelions aren’t just weeds that ravage your nice green grass. Dandelions are a beautiful herb, which have great health benefits.

 

*Cardio vascular health

*Edema

*Osteoporosis

*Liver health and detox

 

These are just some of the many uses for Dandelion.

All parts of the plant can be used, the root, the leaf, the flower.

Many people incorporate the leaves in a salad for their fabulous diuretic and nutritive properties.

 

Pineal Gland

Environmental pollution, poor nutrition, high altitude, stress patterns and a blow to the head also impact the Pineal gland. Cold water hitting the back of the neck keeps you younger by stimulating your core temperature regulatory center. Avoid fluoride; it accumulates in the Pineal gland.

 

Visual Indications for the Pineal Gland

  • Darkened nipples during pregnancy
  • Dark vertical line of the pregnant belly
  • Eye sand, where the Sandman leaves grit in the morning
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Pigment changes circling the lips, splotches on the face
  • Pigment changes anywhere on the skin

Everyday Herbalism: Menstrual Cramps

Erin, the Office Goddess, will do anything for a blog post.   Which includes sharing with the world that she is experiencing menstrual cramps…Image

Good thing she works for an herbalist, Margi to the rescue.

 

Margi’s Recipe for Menstrual Cramps:

Equal parts Black Haw and Cramp Bark

Sprinkle of ginger and cinnamon chips

Use ¼ cup of herb mix to 1 quart cold water

Cold water is very important when using barks and roots if you use hot or warm water they seal themselves up, so you must start with cold water because we want them to open and release their magic for us.

You make a decoction, or a 15 minute brew, by putting ¼ cup of the herbs in a quart of cold water in a pan on the stove and simmer them covered for 15 mins then you take them off the stove to rest for 15 mins

Strain and VOILA! You have a drink to sip to help ease your cramps.

If you are an herbalist during your moontime you shouldn’t come in contact with the herbs, for you will suck the energy right out of them. Our ability to bleed for days without dying is strong magic that is powerful medicine. A woman on her moontime would not be sleeping next to the medicine man for she is most powerful at this special time. At EarthSong Herbals we are not allowed to work with the herbs or tinctures or even the essential oils during this time of the month. You should take this opportunity to relax, and take care of yourself.

Erin’s testimony: This worked great! I get cramps that radiate along my hips, lower abdomen and lower back and this soothed the pain. I would especially get these in the morning so sipping a warm and yummy beverage felt good and took the place of the motrin or midol I would have previously taken. Two thumbs up for this remedy!

 

Meditation for the Pineal gland

Meditation helps to bring balance to the endocrine glands. If you don’t formally meditate, meditate informally. Light a candle, sit comfortably with spine erect at the table and stare at the candle. After a minute or so shut your eyes and bingo! The light shines on your third eye. After a few minutes of letting the thoughts pass through your mind like clouds, get up and you have done a good thing for your stress level and endocrine system.