10 Must Have Items for the Winter Medicine Cabinet

10 Must Have Items for the Winter Medicine Cabinet

The season of our discontent is upon us.

Illnesses.
Maladies.
Ailments.

Cold.
Flu.
Winter blues.

Since the beginning of time, plant medicine — the art and science of using herbs and natural, Earth-based remedies — has been the world’s primary form of promoting health and treating illness.

Today, many of us continue this form of traditional healing as intended, from the comfort and security of our own homes.

The primary focus of building a Winter Medicine Cabinet is to treat those we love — irrespective of the ailment — and to create a sacred home environment in which all those who enter are encouraged, and freed, to experience their own innate healing power through the use of lifestyle, herbs, foods, and the like.

To help facilitate this type of space creation…the following is a list of 10 must-have items I believe should be included in everyone’s medicine cabinet.

10 Must Have Items for the Winter Medicine Cabinet

  1. Homemade Herbal Cold Care Capsules. I feel like my herbal medicine chest simply isn’t complete without these herbal cold care capsules. This is one of my most effective and favorite remedies for combating minor cold and flu symptoms. Making my own allows me the freedom and joy of controlling the quality of ingredients…not to mention…they just WORK!!
  2. Herbal Teas. Warm herbal teas are a great, quick and easy way to ingest the healing power of plants. Not to mention, the entire practice of tea-making is healing all on its own. (Note:: I purchase all of my tea making supplies here and if you’re looking to beautify the art…these gorgeous tea pots are just what you need!) The following is the collection of various herbal teas I keep stocked on the shelf all winter long:
    Echinacea & Roots Tea
    Fidnemed Nighttime Tea
    The Blues Tea
    Winter Spice Tea
    Just for Kids Organic Cold Care Herbal Tea
    Throat Coat Herbal Tea
  3. Essential Oils. Topical application and diffusion of essential oils is a daily practice in my home. Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Clove, Oregano, Thyme, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Ginger round out my winter essential oils kit and provide for a variety of blends and uses. (Note:: I highly recommend the organic essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs…check out their extensive selection of oils here.) As for diffusion, my most favorite diffuser is this Natura Ultrasonic Diffuser from Mountain Rose Herbs…I also have this Nebulizer that I love and use in my children’s rooms.
  4. Smudge Sticks, Resins, and Medicinal Burnables. I love the practice of smudging my home! And during the winter months, I step-up my efforts by burning a combination of white sage, locally-harvested chaparral/pine/juniper/cedar, frankincense, myrrh, and palo santo. (Note:: I only recommend purchasing herbs and resins for burning from Mountain Rose Herbs, click here to check out their vast assortment of burnables.) According to an article published by The Mind Unleased, titled ‘Killer Germs’ Obliterated by Medicinal Smoke (Smudging), Study Reveals, we now know — based on modern scientific research — that the practice of burning herbs may actually have life-saving implications by purifying the air of harmful bacteria. As evidenced by the following,

    “We have observed that 1 hour treatment of medicinal smoke emanated by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs (havan sámagri=material used in oblation to fire all over India), on aerial bacterial population caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min and the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24 hour in the closed room. Absence of pathogenic bacteria Corynebacterium urealyticum, Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens, Enterobacter aerogenes (Klebsiella mobilis), Kocuria rosea, Pseudomonas syringae pv. persicae, Staphylococcus lentus, and Xanthomonas campestris pv. tardicrescens in the open room even after 30 days is indicative of the bactericidal potential of the medicinal smoke treatment. We have demonstrated that using medicinal smoke it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space.”

  5. Homeopathic Remedies. Homeopathic remedies are just another staple in my medicine chest. Working with our bodies’ ability to heal itself, homeopathic remedies are super effective and quick and easy to get on board as soon as symptoms hit. Here are the few must-haves:
    Boiron Homeopathic Medicine Oscillococcinum for Flu
    Boiron Coldcalm Cold Relief Tablets
    Hyland’s Cold ‘n Cough 4 Kids
    Hyland’s Sore Throat Tablets
  6. Detox Bath Supplies. Detox baths are an excellent way to support the entire body during illness! Not only is it a therapeutic practice, it has the ability to induce a deep state of relaxation. These are a few of the detox bath recipes I follow when I’m feeling under the weather…Cure the Common Cold Naturally:: DIY Detox Bath and 3 Natural Detox Bath Recipes   
  7. Elderberries. Elderberries are held in high esteem in areas all over the world. Well-known for their outstanding ability to ward off and cure the viruses of all kinds i.e. the common cold and/or flu virus, elderberries make some of the most effective remedies and should be a part of everyone’s medicine chest in some form! CLICK HERE to see my recipes for homemade elderberry syrup and tincture or you can purchase organic elderberry syrup here
  8. Herbal Smoking Blend. There are many common herbs that have been used throughout millennia to treat illness…primarily ailments of the respiratory system. Herbs such as mullein leaf, osha root, elecampane root, lobelia, peppermint, and oregano when smoked work to support lung health, soothe inflamed tissue of the respiratory tract, and treat infection. (Note:: Click here to check out this pre-made Herbal Smoking Blend.)
  9. Organic, Raw Honey. Honey is so much more than just a natural sweetener. Organic, raw honey, which has not been pasteurized or filtered, can be especially useful for medicinal, antibiotic purposes. Historically it has be used to soothe a sore throat and ease a cough. I LOVE the Immuni-Bee Herbal Honey Spread from Mountain Rose Herbs!!! With the addition of immune boosting powdered herbs…it takes medicinal honey to a new level!
  10. Garlic. Garlic’s power and value as a healing agent is unsurpassed and cannot be overstated…it has been used throughout history as an effective antibiotic. Garlic’s broad antimicrobial spectrum incorporates antifungal, antiparasitic, antiprotozoan, and antiviral attributes in one food source. Garlic is most potent chewed or crushed raw. Nothing science has ever created comes close to doing what garlic can do.

Home library resources:: In addition to stocking my medicine cabinet, I have shelves of books readily available to assist me in my efforts. Any of these books on Herbal Medicine I highly recommend for the home library!

Read more:: Food and Herb Cures :: 10 Natural Antibiotic Alternatives

WHY HERBS?

+Because they work gently and effectively.
+Because you can grow many yourselves, right outside your front door or even in your kitchen.
+Because it’s our birthright to use the gifts of nature with respect and wisdom.
+Because up until relatively recently, at least in the western world, herbs were an integral part of taking care of ourselves.

Health doesn’t come from plastic bottles. Vitality grows naturally from the way you live your life. Deep down, people already know this.

If you want to learn more about herbs as medicine and as food, and if you’re just too busy to enroll in an in-person program, join the Herbal Academy of New England for a comprehensive and convenient online herbal courseyou can complete anywhere and anytime!

Learn what your great ancestors knew about the natural world and begin to build your own apothecary.

Start classes anytime!
Click this link to learn more and register.

Note: Naturally the results will be different for everyone. This is by no means a cure-all. I’m just happy to share with you my experience with these plants and/or oils. Please use conventional wisdom and consult with your medical professional prior to using this or any other herbal remedy. And as we know all too well the FDA doesn’t like any type of claim…therefore, take it for what it is, and remember, this information is purely educational in its purpose.

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my knowledge-sharing/writing/blogging activities, I occasionally may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services I have personally used myself and trust.

Frugal Tips for the Novice Solo Female Backpacker

Frugal tips for the solo female backpacker

Take a course in good water and air;
and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own.
Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.
~John Muir

I have become what some would call a bona-fide solo female backpacker.

My journey began months ago when the draw of solitude — and the desire for a raw connection to the source — reignited my love for life on the trail.

The act of backpacking solo, especially as a female, is often met with concerns of danger, risk, and difficulty…but it certainly doesn’t have to be.

While doubt, fear, and insecurity are legitimate concerns for some — I have found that a woman who hikes alone…

  • enjoys experiences most people only dream of
  • gains deep insight into self
  • renews/restores/maintains physical + mental + spiritual health
  • builds self-confidence + a healthy sense of empowerment
  • learns the rhythms of nature and how they influence her

…in the words of Georgia O’Keeffe“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.” 

The fact that you are reading this article, indicates a longing to share in these experiences, so let’s get to it!

Here are a few of my frugal tips for the novice solo female backpacker. They include tips for trip planning, gear essentials, and safety. It is by no means an exhaustive list; however, I hope it motivates you with confidence and encourages you to pursue your own radical adventures!

Trip Planning

Excellent trip planning — especially as a novice — minimizes the “risk” and dramatically increases the potential for a life-changing experience.

Gathering Information

Thorough research and information gathering is the key to success! And there are a multitude of good sources that I personally use and recommend ::

  • Google It. Googling your questions/interests reveals a plethora of websites + articles that can be used as good resources. We all know, the reliability piece isn’t always there; however, I find benefit in cross referencing.
  • Pinterest. Using the same logic as googling information, I love to plan trips using Pinterest. It’s a great way to find trails that lead to destinations I have a itch for.
  • Guidebooks. Guidebooks (my fave) are very helpful when it comes to picking a well-marked, well-traveled trail (not always the best in terms of solitude, but sorta beneficial for the novice).
  • Experienced friends + reviews. I love talking to friends, and friends of friends (thank you Instagram + FB), who get out more than I do! They are always able to point me toward destinations I would have never thought of. Likewise, reading trail reviews is a favorite pastime of mine.

Location, Location, Location

Keep it close, keep it simple.

Enough said.

Seriously though…as a novice, plan your first few trips close to home and stick with well-marked, well-traveled trails. This one act works beautifully with your psyche to build confidence. (Frugal Tip :: Not to mention, keeping close to home saves on the $$$ of gas.)

Go the Distance

Due to adult responsibilities i.e. motherhood, career, domestic duties…most of my backpacking trips are usually limited to one-nighters. Finding trails with a round-trip distance of 10-20 miles makes the most logical sense.

Gear Essentials

In my opinion, this is where most people loose it…

G E A R!

When it comes to gear, I recommend sticking to the frugal basics. You don’t need the best, most expensive, top of the line equipment to gather from Nature all that you seek.

Reading this story and learning about the life of Emma Rowena Gatewood helped to shape my perspective on necessary gear as a solo female backpacker.

The following is a list of frugal gear that I have found essential (Note :: I have linked to products I personally use and recommend.) ::

  • Backpack. A comfortable and functional pack makes all the difference! This is the backpack I use for overnight trips (this is a much cheaper one I bought for my daughter and she love it) and this is the backpack I use for day hikes (this is a much cheaper option). REI has a great article, click here to read more, regarding guidelines for choosing the right pack.
  • Tent. In order to provide security, a bit of privacy, and protection from the elements…a tent is a necessity in my book. Even as a solo backpacker, I appreciate the extra space — and don’t mind the extra weight — provided by a 2-person tent. This is the tent I use. It’s light enough, super easy to set up, and has stood the test of time.
  • Sleeping Bag + Pad. The main goal when choosing a sleeping bag, in my opinion, is temperature rating. Your sleeping bag needs to reflect the weather of the region you plan to venture into. I have found a 30 degree rated bag to be the best in all of my adventures. This is the sleeping bag I use. And a word about sleeping pads, I went on 4-5 backpacking trips before I finally purchased a sleeping pad. I thought it excessive and hesitated to spend the money, but I was loosing sleep over the issue…like literally. My sleeping pad has made all the difference in the quality of sleep while on the trail, a must if you ask me. This is the sleeping pad I use.
  • Food. Dehydrated trail food is stupid expensive. Sure, I’ve purchased a few meals out of the need for convienence, but by and large I make my own. All of my trail food is of the “1. ready to eat OR 2. no cooking required, only add boiling water” variety. Feel free to follow my Hiking.Backpacking.Walking in the Woods. Pinterest Board for inspiration. These are the recipes and methods I follow nearly 100% of the time ::
  • Water. Water is vital, we know this. Backpacking in my home state of Arizona is tricky when it comes to water supply on the trail. Therefore, I always carry a couple 3L Camelbak bladders (get them here) along with a water bottle (like this one). I also ALWAYS have a water purification system (this is the one I use).
  • Cooking Needs. This is an area where you can unnecessarily spend a lot of money! Don’t get caught up in the hype. This little $10 stove (along with this fuel), this $10 cook set, these utensils, and boom…cooking needs met!
  • Clothing + Footwear. This a another area where you can unnecessarily spend a lot of money and likewise over-pack. For overnight trips I generally have the clothes I wear on the first day, a pull-over and leggings for the cooler evening/night, a clean shirt for day 2 (I usually re-wear my shorts), and a clean pair of undergarments + socks…easy breezy. As for footwear, my hiking shoes and a pair of sandals for camp is all I need.
  • Lighting. A head lamp…I highly recommend it. This is the one I use.
  • First-Aid Kit. An adventure medical kit like this one stays in my pack at all times! While I haven’t had much use for it to date (glory be), it provides peace of mind. On the other hand, my kit of essential oils and herbal pain relief liniment gets used all.the.time. I always carry these lavender and tea tree essential oils and you can click here for my herbal pain relief liniment recipe (it’s a life-saver). Note :: Lavender essential oils have soothed campfire burns on more than one occasion!
  • Knife + Bear Spray. The Leatherman Multi-Tool is just awesome! I couldn’t be without it…it really is the only tool you’ll need! And bear spray, its a must! Not only for wildlife concerns, but ill-meaning human concerns as well. This high-powered pepper spray gives this solo female backpacker lots of peace.
  • Fire Starter + Matches. I love ending the day with a fire! There’s just something magical about it. So to assist me in my efforts I bring along simple fire starter sticks (like these) and there’s always a pocket lighter and waterproof matches in the mix as well.
  • Toiletries + Vitamins. My little bag of basic toiletries includes the following :: sunscreen, tampons, vitamins/supplements, biodegradable wipes, castile soap, a nail file, and tweezers. Note :: Obviously, if you are on any medications those would be included here as well.
  • Electronics. Electronics on the trail for me are limited to my phone. And then, it’s primarily only used for photography. There are a multitude of gadgets suggested for backpacking…I can’t get into it, nor do I see the need. The only piece of gear I recommend here is a portable battery charger for your phone. This is the one I use.

Safety

Safety…

…as a solo female backpacker, the #1 question I am constantly asked by well-meaning friends and family is, “Aren’t you afraid to go alone? What if something happens to you?”

It’s a legit question.

The the honest answer is, “not really.” Sure there is an element of fear (more of a nervous feeling, rather than fear actually) but nothing strong enough to paralyze my passion. Here are a few of the safety guidelines I follow and recommend for the novice ::

  • always tell 2-3 people where + when you are going and when you plan to be home
  • if it’s available, self-register at the trailhead, or ranger station, to document your presence on the trail
  • keep a knife (like the Leatherman tool) and bear spray on your person at all times
  • as a novice, stick to well-marked, well-traveled trails

Basically, when it comes to safety…I echo the words of John Muir “Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.” Don’t be paranoid, simply use good judgement and common sense.

Now…the mountains are calling and I must go!

Herbal Pulling Oil: How to Make Herb-Infused Oil for Your Oil Pulling Regime

How to make your own herb infused pulling oil for use with your oil pulling practice.

If you haven’t yet incorporated oil pulling into your natural hygiene regime…

…chances are, you have at least heard of the practice.

Oil pulling has been used for thousands of years, and is attached to some pretty amazing health benefits! This method for oral hygiene, originated in India and is a fairly simple (I say “fairly” as it requires a bit of patience) detoxification process where you place a couple teaspoons of oil in your mouth — ideally first thing in the morning — and swish the oil around gently for 10-20 minutes before spitting it out into a trash can.

In the beginning of the “oil pulling craze” I was a bit resistant to the practice.

Now…

…I’m a die-hard!

Every morning — upon waking — I ::

  • squirt a little of my herbal magic oil into my mouth,
  • jump in the shower,
  • gently swish as I wash,
  • spit the now toxin filled oil into the trash can 10-20 minutes later,
  • then brush with my herbal tooth powder (click here for the recipe).

Benefits of Oil Pulling

So many wise + articulate natural health bloggers have tackled this topic in-depth. Most of whom have written articles that caused me to consider, then begin including the practice of oil pulling into my own oral hygiene regime.

Read more on the benefits of this ancient method here ::

And here are a few research articles I found equally as convincing ::

Above all, I know first-hand the difference oil pulling has made for me + my family…

…and I love it!

Why Herb-Infused Pulling Oil?

Like most, I started out using the basic coconut oil for my practice.

But in usual fashion, I began to seek out ways in which I could improve upon it.

It began with adding a few drops of essential oils…

…then quickly turned into a combination of plant-based oils + plants + essential oils such as ::

I couldn’t be more pleased with the results! And whether or not you choose to follow this recipe to the letter…I hope it inspires your own creativity!

WHY HERBS?

+Because they work gently and effectively.
+Because you can grow many yourselves, right outside your front door or even in your kitchen.
+Because it’s our birthright to use the gifts of nature with respect and wisdom.
+Because up until relatively recently, at least in the western world, herbs were an integral part of taking care of ourselves.

Health doesn’t come from plastic bottles. Vitality grows naturally from the way you live your life. Deep down, people already know this.

If you want to learn more about herbs as medicine and as food, and if you’re just too busy to enroll in an in-person program, join the Herbal Academy of New England for a comprehensive and convenient online herbal course you can complete anywhere and anytime!

Learn what your great ancestors knew about the natural world and begin to build your own apothecary.

Start classes anytime!
Click this link to learn more and register.

Herbal Pulling Oil Recipe

Ingredients
*Use only organic, food-grade ingredients whenever possible. I have linked to the ingredients I personally use and recommend.

Flavor Combinations

Optional Essential Oil Additions
*These essential oils add tons of antimicrobial goodness, but they can be pricey! If you have them in your herbal medicine chest, add them to the oil…however, they are optional and not necessary for the efficacy of the recipe.

Method 

  1. In a small, non-reactive pot, combine coconut + sesame oil + dried licorice root + dried tulsi.
  2. Infuse herbs into oil over low heat for 4-6 hours. Stir frequently. Note :: Take extreme caution in maintaining the temperature of the stove on low (high temperatures will burn the oil + plant material).   
  3. Remove pot from stove. Cool.
  4. Cover pot with cloth. Allow herbs + oil to sit on counter overnight.
  5. Using a piece of cheesecloth, strain oil.
  6. Discard plant material.
  7. Add remaining ingredients to herbal oil.
  8. Pour oil into a storage container. Note :: I’ve used both this squeeze bottle and this glass bottle. My children prefer the squeeze bottle (and I love it for travel), but I keep a glass bottle of this oil on my bathroom counter.  
  9. Label with “made on” date + ingredients.
  10. Will keep on counter indefinitely.

Enjoy!

Do you include oil pulling in your oral hygiene? What oil (or oil combination) do you use? Share your experience!  

Note: Naturally the results will be different for everyone. This is by no means a cure-all. I’m just happy to share with you my experience with these plants and/or oils. Please use conventional wisdom and consult with your medical professional prior to using this or any other herbal remedy. And as we know all too well the FDA doesn’t like any type of claim…therefore, take it for what it is, and remember, this information is purely educational in its purpose.

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my knowledge-sharing/writing/blogging activities, I occasionally may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services I have personally used myself and trust.

How to Make Pinon (Pinyon) Oil and Salve

How to make pinon oil + salve

I just returned from a backpacking trip to one of the most magical places I’ve EVER been…Fossil Spring, AZ.

In the plant world, this area of Arizona is known as the Juniper-Pinon belt. It contains such a unique collection of flora…in fact, most plants living here are known only to this region! And what an honor it was to share space among them.

In just a few short days, I was able to harvest numerous plants (under the energy of the full moon as a magical bonus).

One of the most notable, was the Pinon.

What’s so amazing about Pinon?

Pinon trees were everywhere along the trail! They provided the respite we so desperately needed to shade ourselves from the intensity of the sun. They also provided a bountiful harvest of healing plant material!

The inner bark, needles, nuts, and pitch from the Pinon have been used by inhabitants of the Southwest for centuries in medicinal preparations.

Here’s what Michael Moore, in his book Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West, has to say about Pinon ::

The needles make a very pleasant tea simply for the taste and have a mild diuretic and expectorant function as well. The inner bark boiled slowly for tea and sweetened with honey is still stronger as an expectorant, useful after the feverish, infectious stage of a chest cold has passed. The pitch is the most specific of all; a piece the size of a currant is chewed and swallowed. The is followed shortly afterward by strong, fruitful expectoration and a general softening of the bronchial mucus…[it is also] warmed slightly over a stove or campfire and applied to splinters, glass, and other skin invaders allowed to set, and peeled off, carrying the problem with it.

I am so thankful that I was able to gather a good amount of Pinon pitch (along with some needles)…

…I find it amazing that during the entirety of our hike, the pitch of the Pinon was drawing me it! I spotted it early on the start of our journey, and it was primarily what my eyes would focus on. My children even started pointing it out on every tree! I was unsure of what I would do with it…

…but it knew I needed to bring some back with me.

pinon pitch on tree...learn how to make your own pinon salve

Harvesting Pinon Pitch

As with all acts of wild-harvesting, ethics is of utmost importance.

I always think it important to spend time with the plant, to ask permission to harvest, and to thank it for its gift…to consider the life + vitality of the plant and to not harvest more than I can reasonably use.

Pinon trees actually produce copious amounts of pitch as a means of healing for their own wounds. And by copious, I mean on some trees the pitch was literally dripping off the bark + branches and on some, I found pitch the size of a small apple!

Sincere and careful caution was taken in removing the pitch, so as to leave enough for the tree for continued protection and healing.

Methods for harvesting pitch are as varied as there are people harvesting. All I had were my hands and a small container. I simply used my fingers to easily collect the soft, pliable pitch from the bark of the Pinon and placed it in my container. Note :: Removing the sticky pitch from my fingers was as easy as rubbing some oil on my hands and it slid right off. 

Benefits of Pinon Salve

It was on the drive home, I determined I would use the pitch to make a salve.

The benefits of Pinon Pitch Salve are pure magic! Due to its ability to draw blood and energy to the site of application, a salve made of Pinon has the power to heal ::

  • psoriasis
  • eczema
  • bug bites
  • boils/skin eruptions
  • splinters
  • severely dry skin
  • sore + overworked muscles
  • irritated/infected skin aliments

Not to mention, the smell of the salve alone possesses a level of healing all its’ own!

Collecting pinon pitch

The Making of Pinon Salve

Through my research, I read of many different methods for making a salve with the pitch of Pinon. I settled on using traditional methods, allow me share my experience!

Ingredients

  • 1 part wild-harvested Pinon pitch
  • 2 parts organic plant-based oil (I used jojoba…mostly because at the time I harvested the pitch, jojoba bushes were growing EVERYwhere and all around the Pinon trees!! If we are mindful and take notice, Mother Nature gives us all the answers we need. So, jojoba it is! However, olive or coconut will function just as well.)
  • beeswax, to hardness of choice

Method

  1. Harvest Pinon pitch to fill a glass jar 1/3 full. Note :: Use a glass jar you won’t mind tossing. It’s nearly impossible to clean after the making of this salve.
  2. Pour in enough oil to fill.
  3. Using a pot, made with some sort of non-reactive material, make a water bath by placing a small piece of cheescloth or a piece of scrap cloth on the bottom of the pan, then place the glass jar full of pitch + oil on top. Fill the pot with 2-3 inches of water. Note :: Do not cover the jar with water. 
  4. Over low heat, slowly + gently bring the water in the pot to warm. Note :: Do not allow the water to boil.
  5. Allow the jar to bathe in this water temperature for 3-4 hours. Be sure to shake the jar periodically throughout the process. Note :: I like to use Pinon sticks harvested from the branches to stir the mixture.
  6. Turn off the heat, cover with a cloth, and let it all sit for 1-3 hours. Then repeat the warming process. Let it all sit, covered, overnight.
  7. Each day, repeat the gentle warming, shaking/stirring, and steeping — ideally for 3 days, but if you’re in a hurry you can make this oil in one day, however it only gets better the longer and more gently it is prepared. Note :: The goal is to meld the pitch + the oil.
  8. You will find the the solid parts of the pitch (i.e. bark, bugs, needles) will settle to the bottom of the jar relieving the need to strain the oil. After the warming process, carefully and slowly pour the Pinon pitch oil into a clean jar.
  9. Add beeswax to your oil. Note :: General rule, 1-2 ounces of wax per 8 ounces of oil.
  10. Using the same double boiler method for making the Pinon oil, slowly melt the beeswax into the oil.
  11. Once the mixture is melted, remove from heat.
  12. Pour salve into salve tins/jars (I love these) if sharing with friends, or leave the salve in the jar it is in for personal use.
  13. Date and label.
  14. Will keep indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place.
  15. Apply to skin ailments as often as needed.

   Handcrafted, wild-harvested Pinon Pitch Salve can be 
purchased here via Roots + Reverie.
Click here to view the listing.

How to Make Your Own Smudge Sticks :: And a List of Plants Commonly Used in Smudge Sticks

Make Your Own Smudge Sticks  And a List of Herbs Traditionally Used

According to countless ancient ways of knowing, all plants possess a sacred spirit

…a spirit that goes well beyond, and vibrates deeper, than its physical constituents.

It is this pure and hallowed nature of plants {and our inter-connectedness} that has led to their traditional/medicinal use in ::

  • healing {physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual}
  • cleansing {a space or our bodies}
  • consecration
  • guidance
  • protection
  • community-building
  • altering, or shifting, consciousness
  • religious ceremonies
  • personal exploration
Contrary to popular thought, the use of plants for these purposes is not a new idea…nor is it new-age, super hipster mumbo-jumbo.
It is rather, a collection of methods humanity has used for millennia in order to maintain connection to the Earth — and to the spirit world as well.
One that has helped to heal and sustain us.

The Power of Smudging

“Nature understands fire and smoke better than words.” -Alfred Savinelli, Plants of Power
If you follow me on Instagram {see my feed in the sidebar}, you already know that I have fallen in love with smudging — the use of smudge sticks in particular! And while there are are a barrage of herbal preparations I use/consume on a daily basis…the burning of plants {a.k.a. smudging} has become one of the most powerful ways for me to experience their blessing.
As Jane Alexander says, in her book The Smudging and Blessings Book, smudging has the practical ability to help us ::
  • clear away negative or stagnant energy in a space {i.e. a home you’ve just moved into, a sickroom, a space in which an argument has taken place…}
  • leave old relationships behind and move on to new ones
  • celebrate different times of the year
  • wake up and greet the day full of confidence, energy, and hope
  • ease into the world of sweet dreams and deep, invigorating sleep
  • bathe away stress
  • look for love
  • feel more centered and protected from the world

Likewise, many cultures and religious structures believe the smoke of burning plants carry prayers to the heavens.

Smudging is a practice which involves the burning of herbs that are bundled, braided, or loose (for our purposes today we are taking about bundling, creating smudge sticks). But no matter if the herbs are bundled, braided, or loose…the process for smudging remains the same — smoke is fanned across the body {using hands or a smudging feather such as this one} or around a space for its intended purpose {i.e. cleansing or healing}.

What plants are available for use in the making of smudge sticks?

Plants used in the making of smudge sticks include, but are not limited to ::

  • sage (many varieties such as white sage and garden sage) — negative energy clearing
  • sagebrush — to treat wounds + headaches + colds
  • cedar leaf — cleansing + purification
  • pine needles — cleansing + purification
  • balsam fir — cleansing + purification
  • sweetgrass — healing + purification + brings positive energy {perfect to burn after smudging with a more potent energy cleanser}
  • mugwort — lucid dreaming + purification + calming
  • juniper — cleansing + purification
  • holy basil (tulsi) — purification + calming
  • rosemary — protection
  • lavender — calming
  • mullein — cleansing sickrooms + heals/improves respiratory function
  • rose petals — meditation + calming + attracts love
  • desert chaparral — negative energy clearing + protection + calm
  • peppermint — healing + protection
  • yarrow — eliminates toxins from the body
  • lemon balm — spiritual cleansing + calm

I highly recommend, when considering what plants to use in making your smudge sticks…look around…what grows near you…use it!

How to Make Smudge Sticks

Making of smudge sticks by Frugally Sustainable

How to make smudge sticks by Frugally Sustainable

Make your own smudge sticks by Frugally Sustainable

DIY smudge sticks by Frugally Sustainable

To make smudge sticks ::

  1. Cut the branches of the plant material you are using into 7-10 inch lengths. (Note :: I like to allow freshly cut branches to wilt for a day or overnight before beginning the next step.)
  2. Measure a piece of thin cord (I like to use this hemp cord, but cotton is just as good.) 4 times the length of the cut branches.
  3. Bundle the branches together (to your desired thickness).
  4. With the tips of the branches pointing down, begin wrapping the cord tightly around the base of your bundle.
  5. Then, wrap the cord around the bundle (while firmly pressing the plant material together) working your way to the tip of the branches.
  6. When you reach the tip, begin working your way back down toward the base.
  7. Tie the two ends of the cord together at the base.
  8. Trim the edges if you’d like to make it look all nice and neat.
  9. Set the smudge stick to dry in a basket or on a drying screen for 7-10 days (or as long as necessary).
  10. Enjoy.

To smudge ::

Light the tip of the smudge stick with a lighter, match, or candle. Once the smudge stick has a steady flame, blow it out so it is smoldering and smoking. I prefer to use an abalone shell (this is the one I have and use) — but a bowl, or any other fire-safe receptacle will do — to hold under my smudge stick {this is recommended to catch any ash}. Fan the smoke over the body and/or throughout your space, using your hand or a feather
I encourage you to wild-harvest (with ethics) or grow your own herbs to be used in crafting your smudge sticks. However, if this is not a viable option for you…I recommend purchasing smudge sticks from Mountain Rose Herbs — they have such a lovely selection of burnables, click here to check it out.
You can also purchase handcrafted Wild Chaparral Smudge Sticks here.

So tell us…what are your favorite plants to use for smudging?

Many plant blessings to you all!

Note: Naturally the results will be different for everyone. This is by no means a cure-all. I’m just happy to share with you my experience with these plants and/or oils. Please use conventional wisdom and consult with your medical professional prior to using this or any other herbal remedy. And as we know all too well the FDA doesn’t like any type of claim…therefore, take it for what it is, and remember, this information is purely educational in its purpose.

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my knowledge-sharing/writing/blogging activities, I occasionally may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services I have personally used myself and trust.

Holy Basil (Tulsi) for Stress Relief :: And Tips for Daily Use

Herbs to Relieve Stress and Anxiety  Holy Basil (Tulsi) Ocimum sanctum

I am quite confident we all are familiar, at least to some degree, with the symptoms of stress and anxiety ::

  • tension
  • emotional instability
  • phobias
  • loss of focus
  • lack of motivation
  • feelings of impending doom or disaster
  • heart palpitations
  • irregular breathing

And, despite the modern wonders of science and industry — with its intent to “make life easier” — the pace of our lives has dramatically increased! We are filled to the brink with worry, stress, and anxiety…and as I see it, causes can be linked, but by no means limited to ::

  • the Internet, social media, mobile devices, and the like — all of which allows many of us to feel as though we are drowning in a never-ending sea of information and data.
  • intensive farming practices that have burdened us with extreme exposure to overly processed foods, a plethora of pesticides, wasteful packaging materials, and an insane amount of toxic industrial chemicals.
  • social isolation.
  • relationship issues.
  • excessive environmental pollution — such as noise, air, water and soil pollution — as a result of urban/suburban housing communities.
  • financial pressures.
  • hostile work environments.
  • an extreme disconnect from the Earth and natural rhythms and cycles.

So, while industrialization continues to blaze a trail forward…

…we find ourselves in the midst of a mental, physical, and spiritual health crisis of global proportions.

A crisis that has led to a pandemic of chronic diseases. Not only stress and anxiety, but obesity, cancer, depression, fibromyalgia, fatigue, inflammatory + autoimmune disorders, allergies, ADHD, oh goodness…the list could go on!

Nevertheless, the question remains, what are we to do when stress and/or anxiety inhibits fulfillment in our lives?

And the truth is, there is no overarching answer.

However, I can confidently say, the solutions for stress and anxiety are more likely to be found in lifestyle, home, and behavior modifications…

…rather than pharmaceuticals, possessions, and money.

Even the simplest shifts in lifestyle, i.e. removing or leaving the source of stress, can provide a huge sense of relief. And while that’s not always a viable option, there are still better choices — all natural choices such as exercise, time spend in nature, meditation, prayer, healthier foods, and plant-based medicines — that can help reestablish balance and peace in our lives.

What’s so great about Holy Basil (Tulsi)?

While I deny a singular “herbal fix-all” for managing the effects of stress and anxiety, there is a magical group of herbal allies known as the adaptogens.

The research on this class of herbs is really extensive and the findings are downright incredible!

The word “adaptogen” was coined by a Russian scientist by the name of N.V. Lazarev in 1947. He defined them as

“agents which help an organism to counteract any adverse effects of a physical, chemical or biological stressor by generating nonspecific resistance.”

This basically means that adaptogens are plant-healers designed to help the body:

  • maintain balance — specifically in the immune, endocrine, nervous, and hormonal systems [continual stress or anxiety builds up cortisone, which leads to a number of imbalances caused by depleted adrenals]
  • reduce the effects of stress — and increase the body’s resistance to it
  • boost immunity
  • encourage liver detoxification
  • combat the signs of aging
  • stabilize moods

While it should be noted, adaptogenic herbs in general will not alter moods…however, they will assist the body toward functioning optimally during times of stress.

Most of the research agrees — in order for the body to respond optimally — adaptogenic herbs should be consumed daily for at least three months. It is encouraging to note, in general, these plants can be taken safely for an indefinite period of time.

Read more :: Adaptogenic Herbs For Stress Relief ~ And a Recipe for Homemade Smoothie Mix

For literally hundreds, if not thousands, of years the following herbs — just to list a few — have been well-known to possess the power that comes with the definition:

  • Eleuthero (formerly Siberian Ginseng)
  • Ginseng
  • Holy Basil (Tulsi)
  • Maca
  • Licorice Root
  • Ashwagandha
  • Turmeric
  • Rhodiola
  • Amla
  • Astragalus

And from this list, I have developed an absolute love affair with Holy Basil (Tulsi).

Holy basil — although closely related to sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) — has a much more sacred history, spanning thousands of years.

Tulsi is also referred to as “The Incomparable One,” “Elixir of Life,” and “The Queen of Herbs.” I think of my daily tulsi tea + tincture as “liquid yoga.” Not to mention, Holy Basil is one of the most sacred plants in all of India, revered for millenia because of her benefits for the mind, body, and spirit due to her highly medicinal and spiritual properties.

Read more :: SACRED TULSI IN TRADITIONAL MEDICINE AND PHARMACOLOGY

In addition to her brilliance as an adaptogen, daily consumption of Tulsi allows her to demonstrate a multitude of healing + supportive properties including ::

  • anti-anxiety + anti-depressant
  • detoxification
  • oxygenates the brain by improving cerebral circulation — producing intense feelings of centeredness
  • protection against toxic chemicals, the toxic effects of heavy metals, and the toxic effects of radiation
  • protection against physical, mental, and metabolic stress
  • reducing brain “fog” from heavy cannabis use
  • easing the symptoms of bi-polar disorder
  • anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal infection prevention

Multiple scientific studies examining this property of holy basil have found that including her in our daily diets (through a variety of herbal preparations) decreases stress hormone levels, corticosterone in particular.

The benefits of growing Holy Basil (Tulsi) at home.

With all of the above mentioned scientific and medicinal benefits of Holy Basil…perhaps one of the greatest of her benefits comes from growing her in the home garden.

In India, with its deep tradition in Hinduism, we see Tulsi worshipped as a goddess and every part of the plant is revered and considered sacred, including the stem, leaves, flowers, roots, and seeds. Even the surrounding soil — which absorbs nearly the same properties as the plant — is considered divine. In fact, Hindi households are thought as incomplete without a Holy Basil plant.

I have found growing Tulsi, especially from seed, to be one of the easiest, most rewarding plants to nurture in my garden. I have positioned my earthen pot of Tulsi in a beautiful sunny location on my back patio and everyday I enjoy her blessed presence!

Now is the the perfect time to sow Tulsi seeds in your home garden.
I only recommend purchasing medicinal herb seeds from the good folks at Horizon Herbs!
Click this link to check out their complete line and to purchase organic, non-GMO Tulsi seeds!

Therefore, as my experience has proven, Tulsi has relevance far beyond the realms of tradition + Hinduism…I see her as playing a HUGE role in addressing numerous modern day issues + health disparities, serving as a constant connection to nature.

Tips for including Holy Basil (Tulsi) in your daily diet.

Consuming Tulsi throughout the day can be as simple as ingesting her leaves straight out of the garden, or brewing a fresh cup of Tulsi tea. Her leaves and flowers can also be dried and ground into a powder (a wonderful addition to warm milk or a smoothie).

If you can not grow it yourself, I highly recommend purchasing
dried organically grown Holy Basil (Tulsi) here, from Mountain Rose Herbs.

All of which are among my favorite ways to utilize her healing goodness — when I am home.

When I’m on the go…

…I ALWAYS carry a tiny glass dropper bottle of homemade tincture in my bag, consuming 10-15 drops (20-25 drops if it’s a bad day) as needed up to 3 times daily (I get glass dropper bottles here).

Read more :: Moon-Based Herbal Medicine Making: How to Make an Herbal Tincture with the Lunar Cycle

You can purchase this lovingly and carefully handcrafted Tulsi tincture 
via Roots + Reverie on Etsy.
Click here to check out the listing.

*Tulsi is not suitable for pregnant women or those attempting to become pregnant.

*Like any medicinal plant, using traditional methods for cultivation, harvesting, preservation and storage are required to preserve Tulsi’s medicinal value.

Note: Naturally the results will be different for everyone. This is by no means a cure-all. I’m just happy to share with you my experience with these plants and/or oils. Please use conventional wisdom and consult with your medical professional prior to using this or any other herbal remedy. And as we know all too well the FDA doesn’t like any type of claim…therefore, take it for what it is, and remember, this information is purely educational in its purpose.

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my knowledge-sharing/writing/blogging activities, I occasionally may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services I have personally used myself and trust.

So fresh that smiles are guaranteed

Herbal Sleep Aid :: How to Make Peaceful Sleep Sachets Using Herbs, Essential Oils, and Crystals

How to make your own peaceful sleep sachets using herbs, essential oils, and crystals

Folklore + ancestral wisdom tells us that the right blend of herbs, essential oils, and crystals can assist the body in experiencing restorative sleep.

And one of my favorite ways to incorporate each of these elements into a daily remedy, is to create peaceful sleep sachets…

…sleep sachets have been used for centuries. By creating a synergistic blend of herbs, essential oils, and crystals one is said to be able to ::

  • induce restful sleep
  • experience vivid and meaningful dreams
  • receive relief from nightmares
  • ward off negative energy
  • help us relax + unwind
  • increase positive vibrations in the space they occupy
  • improve mental health

If you, or someone you know, has trouble sleeping…bless them with the gift of a peaceful sleep sachet!

Healing Properties of the Herbs + Essential Oils

For the highest medicinal value available choose the organic oils from Mountain Rose Herbs…this is the brand/company I trust to provide the ultimate in health + safety for myself, my family, and my friends. 

Healing Properties of the Crystals used as Sleep Aids

Note :: I like using smaller crystal chips in my sleep sachets. I find they are easily incorporated to the plant material and weigh less. I have also linked to my source for purchasing crystals — and the information obtained for the description of each crystal comes from the book The Crystal Bible

  • Clear Quartz — Clear quartz is the most powerful healing and energy amplifier on the planet. It is wonderful when used to enhance the energies of other crystals. I add it to these sleep sachets to amp up the energies of the amethyst, rose quartz, and lepidolite (purchase clear quartz chips here).
  • Amethyst — Amethyst works by blocking stress and negative environment energies. It is extremely beneficial where insomnia is caused by an overactive mind and protects against recurrent nightmares (purchase amethyst crystal chips here).
  • Rose Quartz — Rose quartz is the stone of unconditional love and infinite peace. It gently draws off negative energy and replaces it with loving vibes. Rose quartz is an excellent addition to sleep sachets as it brings deep, restorative inner healing and self-love (purchase rose quartz chips here).
  • Lepidolite — Lepidolite is extremely useful in the reduction of stress and depression. It halts obsessive thoughts, relieves despondency, and overcomes insomnia. It is a calming stone that soothes sleep disturbances and emotional stress, bringing deep emotional healing (Note :: Lepidolite contains lithium and is helpful in stabilizing mood swings and bipolar disorders. It is excellent for overcoming any kind of emotional or mental dependency.) (purchase lepidolite stones here).

How to Make Peaceful Sleep Sachets

Supplies Needed

Ingredients

  • choose any number of herbs from the list above based on personal needs/desires (use equal amount of each herb)
  • choose any number of essential oils from the list above (use 5-8 drops of essential oils total for each bag)
  • choose any number of crystals from the list above (use a few chips of each crystal)

Method

Add the herbs and crystals into a bowl and mix well using clean hands. Transfer mixture into the muslin bag(s) to fill, add 5-8 drops essential oils, and tie it closed. Give the bag a little shake. Set the sachet somewhere near your bed. You can alternatively sleep with it under your pillow or slip it into your pillow case.

Get creative and enjoy!!!

These sachets can be purchased lovingly + magically crafted by hand
via Roots and Reverie on Etsy.
Click here to check out the listing.

Note: Naturally the results will be different for everyone. This is by no means a cure-all. I’m just happy to share with you my experience with these plants and/or oils. Please use conventional wisdom and consult with your medical professional prior to using this or any other herbal remedy. And as we know all too well the FDA doesn’t like any type of claim…therefore, take it for what it is, and remember, this information is purely educational in its purpose.

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my knowledge-sharing/writing/blogging activities, I occasionally may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services I have personally used myself and trust.