Your Skin-Care Routine

When it comes to skincare, it’s not about using the best and most expensive brand. It’s about the ingredients and what they do to the skin. By following a good skin-care routine, you can really change the surface of the skin. It does take time for certain ingredients to work in the skin, but with enough patience and dedication, you have the ability to repair and improve your skin. If you have no skin concerns, for now, you can start a preventive skin-care routine that will make sure your skin stays looking good for longer. Because the reality is that our skin does age, just like our body. It takes 10+ years for sun damage effects to show up on the surface of our skin—brown spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and broken veins. Check what is already in your cabinet and see which things you need to add to your routine. Start making more time for your skin today!

Cleanser: To cleanse the skin and pores, lift off dirt & makeup, and prepare skin for further product absorption. Gel cleansers are best for normal/oily skin types; milk cleansers for normal/dry skin types. Oil-based cleansers can be used for all skin types, especially when used as the first cleanse in the evening, removing makeup, and prepping the skin for a second cleanse.

Toner: To make sure all remains of cleanser are off the skin and brings the skin back to a natural pH level.

Serum: The most penetrating product due to molecule size, serums are usually where you will find active ingredients such as vitamin A and C, peptides, hyaluronic acid, AHA, and BHA. Choose a serum with ingredients that are best for your skin type.

Eye Care: The eye area is the most delicate part of the skin and needs to be treated with care. Apply a pea-size amount of eye cream or eye gel around the eye bone with ring finger.

Moisturizer/SPF: If your moisturizer doesn’t contain SPF, make sure you use one on top of it or apply makeup containing sun protection. SPF blocks the UV radiation from the sun, which is present all year long.

Night Moisturizer: Specific night moisturizers contain more active ingredients than day creams. As your skin is sleeping, it is regenerating so what you apply before bed does count.

Exfoliator: Once or twice a week its important to slough away dead skin cells that have built up on the surface of the skin. By removing these dead skin cells, the skin becomes brighter and smoother.

Face Masks: Once or twice a week, apply a mask. There are clay masks for oily/acne-prone skins, and cream or gel masks for drier/aging skins. They really plump and refine the skin, leaving the skin glowing. For best skin results do an exfoliation before applying a face mask, and leave the mask on for as long as possible or sleep with it on overnight.

lavender spa products

Herbal Skin Care Recipes for Your Face

Try herbal skin care recipes such as Lemon Lip Balm and Rose Petal Facial Toner to freshen your skin and make your face glow.
Your skin says a lot about you. Treat yourself well and your skin should reflect your spirit’s rosy health—but a little herbal skin care never hurts.

Skin and Body Care

We know that what’s on the inside is what counts, but beauty on the outside is also important. It’s what signals that we are fulfilled, joyful, and happy with life. Glowing skin is not the result of cosmetics (though the toners and moisturizers in this chapter can help rejuvenate tired skin), but it is the culmination of a life well lived, a spirit well fed.

As the skin is our largest organ (and an organ of elimination, at that), it needs constant care and nurturing for its continued health. Your skin says a lot about you (as does the health of your hair): Is it tired, dry, and papery?

Greasy, sallow, and pitted? These conditions indicate an imbalance in your body that can be addressed by any of the remedies outlined in the previous chapters. These conditions (and usually the imbalances that cause them) are reversible and can always be resolved using natural methods that heighten your energy and nourish your life.

The skin, hair, and body treatments that follow can be enjoyed by most teens, men, and women. Let the making of these remedies be fun activities that you do frequently, as these products tend to have short shelf lives. Use them often and enjoy your radiant (and healthy) skin and hair.

Facial Care

Herbs and flower preparations have been used for centuries for both men’s and women’s facial care. Since Maria Prophetissa discovered distillation techniques and created what we call the “bain-marie,” chemists and boutiques have sold flower waters and essential oils for beauty applications.

These lovely waters were favorites with ladies throughout the Middle Ages and have never lost their popularity.

With facial care, we generally consider two applications: drying (toning) and moisturizing. Determine your skin type and use whichever remedy will achieve the effect you need. Scent them as desired (lavender is a traditional and lovely facial scent), and enjoy.

Lavender Facial Wash

Yields approximately 1 cup

This is a simple-to-make facial astringent that soothes, tightens, and tones the skin. Follow it with Red Clover Whipped Lotion (the recipe follows) for a rich moisturizer.

1/2 cup fresh lavender flowers
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup distilled witch hazel
1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
2 to 3 drops lavender essential oil

Combine the dry ingredients and the witch hazel in a 1-pint glass jar; steep overnight or up to two weeks. Strain and reserve the liquid; add the glycerin and essential oil. Using a cotton ball, dab the facial wash over your face using upward motions. (After straining the liquid out, try gently scrubbing your face with the flowers and oats instead of throwing them out; they will remove dirt and grime from the crevasses of your skin and exfoliate. Follow with the facial wash. Delightful!)

Red Clover Whipped Lotion

Yields 2 to 3 cups

Make a tiny batch of this lotion at a time, perhaps for special occasions when you want your face to glow. It’s extremely rich and, depending on how much water you add, can be dense or light as a cloud.

1 cup fresh red clover blossoms
1 cup of cocoa butter
1 to 2 cups distilled water or rose water
1 to 2 teaspoons jojoba or sweet almond oil (optional)

Place the herbs and cocoa butter in a bowl. Without heating, use a spoon to mix the blossoms into the cocoa butter. Cover and store in a dark cabinet or pantry. Steep for two weeks.

In the top of a double boiler, gently heat the cocoa butter just until you can strain out the blossoms. Discard them and pour the melted cocoa butter into a deep soup pot (this is to reduce splattering). Using a wire whisk or an electric hand mixer, slowly add the distilled water by the tablespoonful, whisking constantly, until you have the desired consistency. Add the oil if desired, and whisk together. Scrape the lotion into a small container. This lotion lasts several weeks when refrigerated.

Rose Petal Facial Toner

Yields 2 cups

This is a simple and delightful astringent for the face.

1 cup packed fresh rose petals
1 cup distilled witch hazel
1 cup distilled water
Rose water or vegetable glycerin (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a 1-pint glass jar. Steep overnight or up to two weeks. Strain and reserve the liquid. If desired, dilute it with additional distilled water or rose water, or whisk in a few drops of vegetable glycerin. Apply this toner with a cotton ball, using upward strokes.

Dandelion–Elder Flower Blemish Lightener

Yields 2 cups

Adapted from old wives’ recipes, this classic blemish lightener uses buttermilk. Many old recipes call for tansy flowers, but I find elderflower to be just as lovely.

1 cup fresh elderflowers
1 cup fresh dandelion flowers
2 cups fresh buttermilk

Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar. Steep overnight in the refrigerator (refrigeration is important!). Strain and reserve the liquid. Using a cotton ball, apply the lotion to your face in upward movements. Once your face is covered, lie down and rest for 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water.

Store this lotion in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Lemon Lip Balm

Yields 1 cup

Lemon is a luscious, summery fragrance, and many of our beloved herbs offer that scent: lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemongrass, and wood sorrel (Oxalis) leaves and seedpods. Pick your favorites to infuse in the oil for this lip balm.

1 cup fresh lemon balm (or herb of your choice), chopped
1 cup vegetable oil (such as canola)
1/4 cup beeswax
2 to 5 drops lemon essential oil or high-quality culinary lemon extract

Follow the instructions in chapter 4: Medicine-Making Methods for making an herbal salve. Once the wax has melted, pour the mixture into small lip balm tubes or into 1/4-ounce tins. Because these small containers absorb heat easily, do not keep them in pants pockets or in a hot car.

 

 

The Apothecary for Skincare

THE APOTHECARY

  • AVOCADO OIL (Persea gratissima) – A nutrient-packed fruit is loaded with good fatty acids, proteins, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins A, D, and E. Especially helpful for mature skin. Organic.
  • BEESWAX (Cera Alba) – Protectant, helps keep moisture in the skin, high Vitamin A content. Raw, Organic.
  • ALOE (Aloe barbadensis) – Plumps and soothes skin, Vitamin & mineral rich. Organic.
  • AHA’S (Alpha hydroxy acids) – Exfoliator, increases blood flow to skin, balances and evens skin tone.
  • BLACKBERRY (Rubus fruticosus) – Blackberry is a rich source of Vitamin C which can help in collagen production and in reducing the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles. It has an impressive amount of naturally occurring Vitamin E as well as essential fatty acids to deeply support the skin. It’s beautiful darker color is attributed to naturally occurring polyphenols.
  • BLUEBERRY (Vaccinium corymbosum) – Antioxidant. Helps promote the health of capillaries located just beneath the epidermis. Can help minimize redness.
  • CALENDULA (Calendula officinalis) – High Vitamin C content, collagen building. Organic.
  • CHAMOMILE (Matricaria chamomilla) – Anti-inflammatory, soothes skin, Organic.
  • COMFREY (Symphytum officinale) – anti-inflammatory, soothes skin, Organic.
  • CRANBERRY (Vaccinum macrocarpon) – Contain resveratrol, high Vitamin C for collagen-building, antiseptic properties. Organic.
  • COCONUT (Cocos nucifera) – Soothes, reduces water loss in the skin, packed with nutrients.
  • COCOA BUTTER (Theobroma seed butter) – High in fatty acids, hydrates the skin deeply. Raw, Organic.
  • DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol) – membrane stabilizer, improves skin tone. Vegan.
  • GERANIUM (Pelargonium asperum) – Helps improve skintone. Organic.
  • HONEY (Mel) – Moisturizing, antibacterial, raw and unprocessed from the Bodyceuticals Apiary. Non-treated hives. Certified pollinator is friendly.
  • HYALURONIC ACID (Sodium hyaluronate) – Helps to keep tissues hydrated and plump.
  • JOJOBA (Simmondsia Chinensis) – Soothing, gentle and deeply moisturizing for most all skin types. Organic.
  • KUKUI (Aleurites moluccana) – High in essential fatty acids,  readily absorbed, very moisturizing.
  • LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia) – Helps tissues to heal, lessens scarring. Organic
  • OLIVE (Olea europaea) – Highly effective transdermal carrier.   Organic, Kosher.
  • FRUIT STEM CELLS (Apple) – Help to rejuvenate aging skin and lessen the appearance of wrinkles. Clinical trials show that with use, the skin has a more youthful and radiant appearance. Organic.
  • MSM (MethylSulfonylMethane) – Helps to build collagen, assists with cell hydration.
  • NEEM (Azadirachta indica) – Often used for itchy, irritated skin, has antifungal properties and can provide improvement with scars and hyperpigmentation.
  • OAT STRAW (Avena sativa) – Rich in minerals. Organic.
  • PINK GRAPEFRUIT (Citrus paradisi) – High in Vitamin C, builds collagen. Fresh cold-pressed.
  • POMEGRANATE (Punica granatum) – contain sun protective compounds, helps reduce breakouts, show to improve hyperpigmentation.
  • ROSE (Rosa damascena) – Middle note, “flower of love”, farm-grown. Organic.
  • ROOIBOS (Aspalathus linearis) – Antioxidant, Anti-fungal.
  • RASPBERRY (Rubus Idaeus – Contain a high amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and rich in antioxidants. Can help tone skin. Organic.
  • ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Contains vitamin & minerals such as calcium, has cell regenerative properties, helps tighten sagging skin.
  • SEA BUCKTHORN (Hippophae rhamnoides) – High Vitamin C content and carotenoids, amino acids, minerals, vitamin E, polyphenols and omegas. Can help with redness and swelling. Organic.
  • SEAWEED (Laminaria digitata) – Rich in minerals and trace elements, high vitamin content, helps build elastin in the skin.  High quality from France.
  • SPEARMINT (Mentha spicata) – Pure, refreshing, restorative properties. Organic.
  • TEA TREE (Melaleuca alternifolia) – Antibacterial, Antifungal. Organic.
  • VANILLA BEAN (Vanilla planifolia) – A source of B Vitamins, antibacterial, helpful in hair care, smells amazing.
  • STRAWBERRY (Fragaria Vesca) – Contains the antioxidant ellagic acid, which prevents collagen destruction—one of the major causes of wrinkle formation. Has a photoprotective effect. Organic
  • VITAMIN C – Naturally found in Calendula, protects and builds collagen.
  • VITAMIN E – Natural preservative, soothes sensitive skin. Non-GMO.

The Basics: Herbal Oils

Herbal oils are simply oils infused with herbs, much as you would steep rosemary in olive oil for culinary purposes. Healing herbal oils can be taken internally for a variety of ailments, can be used externally for therapeutic or daily beauty routines, and can be incorporated into herbal salve recipes. Dried herbs are preferred since fresh herbs will sometimes ferment.

Basic Herbal Oil:

1 cup finely ground dried herbs {flowers, leaves, roots, barks, and/or seeds}

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herbs and oil. Blend or process until puree for greater extractability. Pour the mixture into a clean glass jar with a lid, making sure the plant material is completely submerged in the oil. If it’s not, add more oil until the herbs are covered by about 1 inch of liquid. Cover the jar and store it in a dark place, shaking it daily, for 2 to 3 weeks. Filter it carefully through cheesecloth, a muslin bag, or a square of linen, gathering up the edges and squeezing out the oil. Compost the herbs. Pour the oil into amber bottles, and label the bottles with the contents and date. Store it in a dark place.

Quick Infused Oil:

Use this recipe when you need an herbal oil fast.

2 cups dried herbs {flowers, leaves, roots, barks, and/or seeds

2 to 2 1/2 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herbs and oil. Blend or process until pureed. Place the mixture in a slow cooker turned to the low setting {about 100 degrees F} and keep it covered. To prevent spoilage, keep the herb submerged in oil at all times; add more oil if necessary. Stir daily for about 3 days. Let the oil cool. Using a fine-mesh strainer or cloth, filter the herb out of the oil, pressing as much oil out as possible. Pour the oil into amber bottles, and label the bottles with the contents and date. Store it in a dark place.

Calendula Infused Oil:

Apply this beautiful golden-colored oil directly to your skin to soothe rashes, sunburns, and skin irritations, or use it as part of a healing herbal salve or cream recipe. Store for up to 2 years if kept out of light and in a cool place.

1 cup wilted fresh or 1/2 cup dried calendula flowers

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the flowers and oil. Blend or process until pureed. Pour the mixture into a clean, clear glass jar, cover, and place in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Make sure the herb is submerged in the oil at all times; if necessary, add more oil. Shake the jar vigorously every day for 2 to 3 weeks. Using a fine-mesh strainer or cloth, filter the herb out of the oil, pressing as much oil out as possible, and compost the herb. Bottle and label the oil and store it away from heat and light.

St. John’s Wort-Infused Oil:

St. John’s wort infused oil helps heal damaged nerves as well as other tissues. Conscientious, regular massage of an injured area with this oil can bring astonishing healing, even to old injuries. Taken internally, it helps heal stomach ulcers.

1 cup fresh St. John’s Wort flowering tops

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herb and oil. Blend or process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a clean, clear glass jar and cover. Make sure the herb is submerged in the oil at all times; if necessary, add more oil. This oil should become bright red as it develops; if it does not, place the jar on a sunny windowsill where sunlight can warm it. Shake the jar vigorously every day for 2 to 3 weeks. Using a fine-mesh strainer or cloth, filter the herb out of the oil, pressing as much oil out as possible. Compost the herb, bottle and label the oil, and store it away from heat and light.

Earache Oil:

This classic formula is a must for every family medicine chest and a first-aid kit. It combines the properties of mullein flowers and garlic to reduce bacterial growth and prevent and ease earaches, wax buildup, and irritation. Remember, though, that ear infections, whether in children or adults, should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare practitioner before you treat them at home.

2 or 3 fresh garlic cloves

2 tablespoons fresh or dried mullein flower

1/2 cup almond, jojoba, or olive oil

Crush the garlic well and break up the mullein flower. In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, flower, and oil. Blend or process until pureed. Pour the mixture into a clean, clear, glass pint jar and store it away from heat and light. Make sure the herb is submerged in the oil at all times; if necessary, add more oil. Shake the jar daily for about 2 weeks. Strain and compost the herb. Bottle and label the oil and store it away from heat and light.

To use, pour some oil into an amber bottle with a dropper, let it warm to room temperature, and put 2 or 3 drops of the oil into the ear that needs treatment. Tilt your head so that the oil flows easily down your ear canal. Massage the back of your ear several times to help disperse the oil throughout the ear canal. Repeat two or three times daily.

The Basics: Skin Ailments

Skin ailments, such as rashes, acne, boils, styes, psoriasis, and eczema are difficult to diagnose and can occur on any part of your body. Keeping your body’s channels of elimination open allows your liver to excrete bile and your gut to dispose of urine and waste efficiently, which is essential to beautiful, clear skin.

Rashes and eczema can be a visible outer response to an allergic reaction. Allergies to foods such as soy, wheat, dairy, and eggs are common. We also react to chemicals in the environment, and many of the – pesticides, herbicides, and ingredients in body-care and cleaning products, for example – are invisible to the eye. Because they are completely foreign to your immune system, it tries to rid your body of them, which can create a strong inflammatory response that shows up on your skin.

Acne and boils, which are infections occurring inside your skin or gut imbalances and impaired elimination.

What Helps:

Buying and growing organic foods and using natural body-care products, laundry soap, and dish-washing detergents are extremely important for maintaining good skin health. And remember to use caution when choosing a body soap. Soap can wash away natural fatty acids that help keep your skin’s eco-system in balance. Believe it or not, many bacteria live inside your skin, not on the surface so the use of a probiotic supplement can help. An imbalance in your skin’s microflora is closely associated with a strong imbalance in your gut’s microflora. Following a healthy, simple diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is a key step to good skin health. A daily intake of “prebiotics,” which are foods high in soluble fiber, such as beans or whole oats, can encourage good overall skin health. I recommend keeping a fiber “report card” for yourself. Your body’s short-term and long-term health depends on a high intake of fiber every day.

Herbs to Grow and Use:

Good digestion is essential for avoiding skin ailments and maintaining a high level of skin health. Many of the herbs mentioned are recommended by herbalists for relieving and avoiding rashes, acne, boils, and other inflammatory skin conditions. The following herbs can be taken as teas {infusions or decoctions}, tinctures, or in capsule form unless otherwise noted below.

Herbs to activate the bile and promote detoxification include aloe, artichoke, burdock, Oregon grape, red clover, and turmeric. Digestive stimulants help increase enzyme production, which brings vitality to the digestive processes and enhances assimilation. These include angelica, artichoke, cayenne {and other spicy peppers}, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and wormwood. Carminatives help relieve gas and regulate digestion to keep things moving smoothly. This includes anise hyssop, basil, catnip, fennel, love-in-a-mist, oregano, peppermint, sage, and thyme. They can be consumed as a warm tea right after a meal.

7 Must Have Herbs for Yogis

Being a Yogi is a commitment to the Self and to living a life that is lived with the essence of health and wellness. Food and lifestyle play a major role in reaching the complete effects of a regular yoga practice, wherein one ceases to be as effective with the absence of another. Experts proclaim that a healthy body and mind is 75% Diet and 25% Exercise. Even though the percentage varies according to the body type and its constitution, nonetheless, the involvement of a healthy Ayurvedic Diet in the span of a Yogi’s life should ideally not be neglected. Since time can recall, the healing system of Ayurveda Science has been employing the use of designated herbs in treating various disorders and for promoting an overall healthy body and soul. These Herbs are countless in number with their specific uses and benefits. While certain Vedic herbs are just so incredibly remedial that they reserve a permanent space in the kitchens of various yogis and even regular people.

As a Yogi, if you are looking for the essential herbs to include in your kitchen and your diet, here are 7 Must-have herbs to check on your list:

Ginger Root:

 

A powerful Ayurvedic herb with anti-inflammatory properties, ginger root is highly useful in treating symptoms of dyspepsia, bloating, flatulence, travel sickness, nausea, and arthritis. It is also effective in reducing LDL cholesterol (bad) and poor blood pressure. This herb is also used to treat menstrual cramps in women for ages. Consume it in a raw form or add it to a curry for gaining its benefits.

Chamomile:

 

Chamomile is a magical herb blessed with anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, analgesic properties and is beneficial for a variety of purposes for the skin, hair, age, and hormones. A cup of chamomile tea at night works like a charm to induce sleep and is a proven Vedic remedy for those suffering from insomnia. It also protects the skin from irritation, tan, pimples, and acne. Additional, Chamomile is also highly useful in treating digestive disorders, reversing the skin aging, inducing detoxification and relaxation.

Rosemary:

 

This green herb is a Mediterranean native and is an excellent source of iron, vitamins, and calcium. Used in multiple varieties of continental culinary preparations, this herb is not just used for its beauty, aroma, and fragrance, but also for improving digestion, enhancing focus, improving cerebral functions, providing anti-oxidants to the body, and more.

Coriander:

 

The aromatic leaves of cilantro and coriander are a regular garnish for a variety of Indian and various other culinary delights. Useful in lowering LDL cholesterol, promoting healthy bowel movements, lowering blood sugar levels, coriander also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties making it ideal for treating mouth boils and pimples. Other than the numerous properties of coriander, it also contains iron and is helpful in treating anemia. It is also used in the treatment of conjunctivitis.

Holy Basil (Tulsi):

 

Holy Basil is a sacred herb in the Indian context. However, its presence is not limited to a prayer offering. The Holy Basil, a.k.a Tulsi is highly useful in treating symptoms of fever, asthma, respiratory issues, cardiac issues, and stress. Additionally, consume it orally in a chewable form to have fresh breath in the morning.

Thyme:

 

Thyme is another sacred herb that was used for protection against ‘Black Death’ in ancient times. In the Ayurvedic context, this herb is one of the most perfunctory herbs ever discovered with a range of antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-carcinogenic, and insecticidal properties. Use the thyme leaves as a garnish in a raw state to find relief from a variety of skin problems, flu-like symptoms, digestive disorders, and respiratory disorders. It is also prescribed as a diuretic to those who have an issue with retaining water in their body.

Indian Gooseberry (Amla):

 

Of the countless benefits of this herb rich in Vitamin C, Amla contains anti-inflammatory properties as well. In addition to aiding in regulating digestion due to the presence of fiber in this herb, it is also helpful in treating mouth ulcers, whooping cough, and cold. When used on the scalp on a regular basis, the herb works as an ideal anti-dandruff medicine. It is also used as a powerful ingredient for weight loss.

Include these herbs in your yogic diet preparations regularly for extracting the most rewarding benefits for your body and mind.

herbs of jupitor

10 Healing Herbs for Anxiety, Inflammation, and More

Ancient cultures have relied on the healing power of herbs for the entire duration of their existence. Even though we live in the modern world and have access to a wide range of medication, herbs have maintained the same potent properties and they can help us deal with various health problems. In this article, we will present a number of popular herbs, which can be used to forget about anxiety and depression, to bring down inflammation and even to keep infections at a safe distance. Keep on reading and discover more interesting information on the subject.

#1 Ashwagandha

If you are suffering from chronic stress, you might want to consider taking this herb. Available in the form of supplements, it can help one cope with daily stress. You can use it to defeat the signs of depression and anxiety, to strengthen your immune system and even to stimulate your libido. This herb is more than recommended to those who suffer from diabetes, as it can keep the blood sugar levels in check.

#2 Neem

Neem is one of the most popular herbs in the world, especially when it comes to the healing of the hair. It is a well-known fact that neem oil can restore the hair’s natural luster, helping you forget all about dandruff and other similar scalp problems. Neem has great antibacterial properties, representing the perfect weapon against acne. You can also use neem to exfoliate the skin, eliminating the dead cells accumulated on the surface; topical applications are recommended for fungal infections as well.

#3 Amalaki

When it comes to herbs that can help with women’s health, this particular one is a top choice. Not only does it assist with flushing out harmful toxins but it is also rich in beneficial nutrients and vitamins (folic acid, vitamin B12). It can improve the overall blood circulation, balance hormone levels and reduce the intensity of PMS symptoms. It can protect against mood swings, stimulate the libido and work wonders against common complaints, such as stress and anxiety. Given its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, it should come as no surprise that it can be used for various skin conditions (psoriasis, eczema, etc.).

#4 Peppermint

Peppermint is one of the best-known herbs in the universe, being appreciated for its multitude of beneficial properties. You can use it to improve gastrointestinal health and escape from discomforting symptoms, such as bloating and flatulence. If you suffer from indigestion, peppermint remains one of the best natural remedies to get back you to normal. This amazing herb can take nausea away, alleviate headaches and improve the health of your hair. The application of peppermint oil on the hair restores its luster, thickening the strands and eliminating dandruff.

#5 Dong Quai

Also known as the female ginseng, this herb has a lot of benefits to offer whereas our health is concerned. It can balance hormones, stimulate the libido in both men and women, not to mention it can make one more fertile. The herb is an excellent choice for women dealing with menstrual cramps, symptoms of menopause, it improves cardiovascular health and it prevents blood clots from forming. It is one of the best choices for those who are looking to boost their energy levels, not to mention it protects against hypertension and stimulates mental health.

#6 Dandelion

The reason why dandelion is so popular has to do with its rich content in vitamins and minerals. The herb has detoxifying properties, stimulating the healthy functioning of the liver. At the same time, it contributes to the healthy release of bile, ensuring a proper digestive process. Dandelion represents a good option for those who are suffering from diabetes, as it can keep the blood sugar within normal levels. It is recommended for bone health, is rich in vitamin K, calcium and other beneficial minerals. Last, but not least, it supports kidney health, acting as a diuretic.

#7 Brahmi

Brahmi is considered to be one of the best herbs for the brain, is recommended to those who are looking to improve their memory and overall cognitive performance. It stimulates all of the brain functions, repairing the nervous system wherever it is possible. You can take it to support your mental health, as it relieves stress, anxiety and other depression. Brahmi is a great natural remedy against the manifestations of neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

#8 Siberian ginseng

Natural remedies, and especially herbs, can help us escape the number one enemy in our lives: stress. The Siberian ginseng is not only an excellent remedy against chronic stress but it works to boost energy levels and give you more mental clarity. You can take it to improve the overall blood circulation and stimulate the healthy functioning of the immune system. It is well-known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, as well as for the ability to increase cardiovascular performance and fight chronic fatigue.

#9 Sage

The healing properties of sage have been appreciated for centuries, with this herb being used for a number of health problems. Today, it is known that sage can stimulate the healthy functioning of the brain, boosting cognitive functions and memory. It is especially useful in those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other forms of dementia.

#10 Holy basil

A different herb from the common basil, this particular herb is one of the best weapons against infections of different sorts. First and foremost, it works to boost the healthy functioning of the immune system, thus acting as a preventative measure against infections. Second, if an infection has occurred, this herb will work to inhibit the growth of infectious microorganisms, whether these are fungal or bacterial. Holy basil can also keep the blood sugar levels in check, to improve anxiety and its manifestations.

In conclusion, these are some of the best healing herbs you can consider for maintaining an excellent state of health. As you have seen, each of these herbs has different benefits to offer and it is great to give all of them a try. There are plenty of herbs for you to try out, including Boswellia, cat’s claw, thunder god vine, and willow bark – all of these are great for arthritis joint pain. Give them a try and see for yourself which one works the best.

pickled-garlic jpg

Rosemary Gladstar’s: Pickled Garlic Cloves

Add pickled garlic cloves to soups, sauces, and marinades to help keep winter illnesses at bay.

Ingredients:

• Peeled garlic cloves
• Apple cider vinegar, enough to cover
• Raw local honey, to taste

Instructions:

1. Fill Mason jar with cloves and cover with apple cider vinegar. Keep in a warm, dark place for 3 to 4 weeks. (I like to put my jars in a paper bag and place in the sun.)

2. After a few weeks, strain liquid and set aside.

3. Pour half the liquid into a small saucepan over very low heat and stir in honey until fully incorporated.

4. Pour this back over the garlic and allow to sit for another 3 weeks in a cool dark place, such as your pantry.

5. Eat a clove of the pickled garlic whenever you wish, but for treating cold or flu, eat 3 to 5 cloves a day.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide.

Herbs to Enhance Female Libido

Aphrodisiacs have been used throughout history and many ancient aphrodisiac mixtures are still popular today. When it comes to herbal aphrodisiac supplements, male sexual health products are often the most abundant in supply. Regardless of the focus on male sexual health products, many herbs and libido-boosting supplements also exist to support female sexual health. Here are 6 herbs you should know about.

1. Saffron

Saffron, a culinary delicacy, has been heralded for centuries as a powerful libido-boosting herb, and research at the University of Guelph supports its aphrodisiac claims. Although it’s expensive, a tiny amount goes a long way. All you need is a strand or two to provide a positive effect.

2. Nutmeg

Commonly used in sweet recipes like pumpkin pie or Indian cuisine, nutmeg has been documented in animal studies to produce increased sexual activity in male rats. Nutmeg has been used as an aphrodisiac by African women and is still used today by women of a variety of cultures. Therefore, it’s likely that the effects demonstrated on males are the same in females.

3. Clove

Perhaps the most beneficial spice for supporting female libido is nutmeg’s cousin, clove. Cloves are used as an aphrodisiac in Asian countries for women who have lost sexual desire and satisfaction. It’s also noted as a potent spice for men with erectile dysfunction and those experiencing problems with premature ejaculation.

4. Passionflower

While this herb has been documented for improving the sexuality of male rats, it also has a reputation for helping out in the female libido department. The benefits may be non-gender specific, meaning that it could possibly affect both genders. Benefits for female sexual health may also be related to its anti-anxiety and relaxation effect.

5. Maca Root

Long used in Asian countries, maca root has a rich history for benefiting male sexuality. It has been shown in at least one scientific study to reduce sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women and does so without inducing hormonal imbalance.

6. Tribulus Terrestris

Much attention has been given to the benefits of Tribulus Terrestris for male sexual health; but Tribulus Terrestris offers a lot to women, too. One study found that Tribulus improved sexual desire in 49 out of 50 females. Another study found that women who took Tribulus experienced heightened sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction. It’s believed that Tribulus stimulates androgen receptors in the brain to help the body respond positively to hormones.

Bonus: L-arginine

Although not an herb, L-arginine may help direct blood to sexual organs, a benefit that could significantly support arousal. On top of that, it’s an essential nutrient that aids blood circulation, heart health, and immune system function. Since it’s a necessary amino acid, it may be easy to receive L-arginine simply by incorporating more protein-rich foods into your diet.

4 Benefits of Tribulus Terrestris for Women

Tribulus Terrestris is a flowering plant that has long been a part of herbal medicine due to its reputation as a wellness booster. A lot of attention has centered around the benefits of Tribulus Terrestris for male sexual health, but not many know that Tribulus Terrestris offers a lot to women as well. Studies show that Tribulus may positively influence mood, sexual health, and the urinary tract.

Benefits of Tribulus Terrestris

1. Boosts Libido

Tribulus has a long history of supporting sexual function in both men and women. One study found that Tribulus improved sexual desire in 49 out of 50 female participants. Another recent study found that women who took Tribulus experienced greater sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction compared to those who took a placebo. Tribulus may also stimulate androgen receptors in the brain, an action that can help the body respond positively to circulating hormones.

2. Energy Enhancer

Women are instrumental in society. The weaker sex? No way. Not only are some women mothers, wives, full-time workers, and homemakers, they are also humans. Every human is bound to experience fatigue at some point or another, both mentally and physically. Some research suggests that Tribulus may provide a greater sense of energy by increasing the amount of oxygen available to cells. While this won’t replace a good night’s rest, it may provide an endurance boost when women need it the most.

3. Mood Support

Mood swings and other mood disorders can be a real bummer and many people have a resistance, rightfully, to prescription drugs. Like kava and mulungu bark, Tribulus is an herb that may positively affect mood, stress, and anxiety. This can be helpful for women who juggle multiple responsibilities or combat issues associated with PMS.

4. Urinary Tract Protection

As a diuretic, Tribulus may encourage urine flow, which helps with cleansing the kidneys, bladder, liver, and urethra. The removal of wastes and the cleansing action attributed to increased urine output and kidney support. Additionally, the release of fluid may encourage the elimination of toxins, something that can have a dramatic impact on mood and energy.

Supplementing with Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus Terrestris is a powerful herbal supplement that provides numerous benefits for both genders, including energy enhancement, mood support, and sexual health. It’s available both as a standalone supplement and blended with other botanicals.

Health Benefits of Vitex

Also, Known As:

  • Chaste Tree
  • Chaste Berry

Vitex agnus-castus

Family: Lamiaceae

Even though it’s sometimes considered a classic “women’s herb,” the Renaissance name for vitex fruits was “monk’s pepper,” so called for their ability to decrease the libido of the abbey’s residents when sprinkled on their food. Since they probably needed it often, the monks no doubt had the “habit” of carrying it, well, in their habits! Herbalists and medical researchers alike now believe that Vitex has the ability to regulate the reproductive hormones, so it has acquired a reputation as a true hormonal tonic.

Description:

This lovely deciduous shrub, which has been known since ancient times, can grow to be a small tree in hot climates. It is cultivated as an ornamental in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Vitex has distinctive, aromatic leaves that are divided into lance-shaped leaflets, and in summer, it bears abundant purple or lavender flowers on spikes. The flowers are followed by small reddish to brownish burgundy berries in the fall, but these only develop where the growing season is long and warm.

Tincture:

Make a tincture of the aromatic fruits {the berries} in strong alcohol {150-proof or stronger vodka}. Take 1 to 2 droppers in the morning around breakfast, or for a stronger effect, try 1 to 2 droppers at night. Avoid taking more than 4 to 5 droppers a day. We recommend only making and using tinctures of vitex: Teas are not the best way to prepare this herb because the active compounds are not particularly water soluble, and the tea is not delicious by any means. For commercial products, including standard extracts, follow the label instructions.

Healing Properties:

Aside from the Chinese herb dang qui {Angelica sinensis}, vitex is the classic female herb and is often recommended by herbalists for relieving unpleasant symptoms of PMS. Clinical studies verify its ability to relieve cramps, breast tenderness, and mood swings associated with the menstrual cycle, even when compared with conventional pharmaceuticals. In addition, vitex is certainly worth a try as a first treatment before taking one of the SSRIs {selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, primarily known as antidepressant medications, such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zolof} or other drugs, because the side effects are minimal.

Vitex extracts are known to act through the stimulation of the pituitary gland to regulate a number of important sex hormones, including progesterone, which it increases. Imbalances of these hormones have been clinically associated with symptoms of PMS, such as breast tenderness. Other symptoms for which vitex is recommended include irregular or excessive menstruation, late periods, spotting, uterine fibroids, and even hot flashes, though studies are not very conclusive in regard to the latter. The tincture is also recommended for relieving acne in teenagers, with variable success.

Safety:

The side effects of vitex are minimal, based on a number of clinical trials and long traditional use. Both research and clinical experience show that regular use of vitex might interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills. Don’t take it if you are using a progesterone supplement, and avoid its use during pregnancy.

In the Garden:

This Mediterranean plant needs full sun and well-drained soil. It tolerates both drought and heat, but it’s also hardy to -10 degrees F and can withstand windy locations. However, if you’re in a four-season climate, it may not flower or bear fruit. Try to give it the sunniest, warmest site you can. And don’t fertilize this one: Rich soil results in pale flowers. If you want to keep the plant small and bushy, prune it back in late winter. It’s a great deer-resistant addition to your garden.

You can start vitex from seed if you scarify, stratify, and/or soak it in warm water and then sow it on the surface of the soil without covering it. But taking cuttings from spring and early summer growth is the easiest way to propagate this plant.

Harvesting Vitex:

You can use the leaves in cooking and in spice blends, and some people use them medicinally, as well. But we recommend harvesting the berries for your herbal remedies. Pick them in the fall, when they turn from tan to a purplish color and separate easily from the stems. Make sure you harvest them before autumn rains and cold weather cause them to mold or blacken on the tree. Separate the berries from the stems before you dry them rather than after.

A Women’s Natural Choice; PMS Relief with Herbs

Irritability, depression, cramping, and fatigue – your monthly cycle can present a host of challenges. Thankfully, Mother Nature offers welcome relief with some effective botanicals.

For some women, the days just before and at the start of the menstrual cycle can be miserable. Rapid mood swings, migraines, bloating, sore breasts, and potentially debilitating menstrual cramps can put a damper on the world and may interfere with your ability to function, work, and play. You may also notice that you’re more prone to digestive upset, infections, and rashes. In the waxing/waning cycle of hormones, those critical days tend to be “weakest” in terms of system support, acting as a loudspeaker for whatever may be out of balance in the body. Although hormones are tricky and every woman has individual symptoms, herbs often offer tremendous support in nudging a cacophony of hormones into a more harmonious chorus.

The Cycle of Hormones

In the typical female cycle, where we consider the first day of your period as day one, you’ll spend the first half under the influence of estrogen. This hormone, produced by follicles {eggs-to-be} in the ovary, helps rebuild the uterine lining as well as stabilize mood, protect bones, keep the reproductive tissue moist, and bolster the immune system.

Once you ovulate mid-cycle {usually between days 12 through 17} – if you ovulate – the corpus luteum makes progesterone. The corpus luteum is essentially the “empty throne” vacated by that cycle’s egg during ovulation, so if you don’t ovulate, no progesterone is produced. Progesterone helps thicken the uterine lining to better carry a baby if you get pregnant, or slough if off during menstruation if you don’t. It also boosts mood, helps you respond to stress, strengthens the immune system, and increases your basal body temperature a bit. Even though you still have estrogen circulating during the second half of the cycle, progesterone keeps it in check.

Although many more hormones play a role in a woman’s cycle, to simplify it here, we can think of most PMS and female hormonal issues resulting from a lack of {or insufficient} progesterone, estrogen dominance, or estrogen deficiency. We will start with progesterone because that has the greatest impact on everything else.

Running Out of Progesterone

Let’s say your cycle works out as it should. You ovulate mid-cycle, and the corpus luteum pumps out progesterone. Your body can convert progesterone into other hormones, including the stress hormone cortisol, making it valuable for stress support. Stress always wins in the hierarchy of your body’s systems – it’s part of our evolution. Reproduction, however, generally ranks last in importance, since it’s not essential to preserving your life. However, as your body begins converting progesterone to cortisol, you can “run out” of progesterone before the second half of your cycle is up, and you may also have less progesterone floating around to do its job. You’re normally low on estrogen as you approach the end of your cycle, so if progesterone also drops out, you’ve lost some serious mood, hormone, and immune support. If everything seems to fall apart every month {raging mood swings, getting sick} before your period and the start of a new cycle – chances are, you need to support progesterone and get your stress in check.

Also, take extra care of yourself as you approach the end of your cycle; make sure you go to bed early, eat well, take your vitamins, go for regular walks, use your favorite herbs, and so on. Vitex, also called chaste tree berry, can help strengthen and lengthen progesterone’s influence, while maca, damiana, and stress-busting adaptogens with an affinity for the reproductive system, such as ashwagandha, maca, and Shatavari, provide additional support. You can take them all cycle long or simply during the last half.

No Ovulation, No Progesterone

Some women don’t ovulate mid-cycle, which can happen due to perimenopause {when eggs diminish}; ovarian cysts, including polycystic ovary syndrome {PCOS}, which gums up the works; rapid weight loss and over-exercising {stress and lack of fat stores reduce estrogen}; and random, weird cycle wobbles.

If this happens, there’s no corpus luteum to produce progesterone, and you may notice symptoms kick in mid-cycle, worsening as you approach your period. You may or may not get your period – some women still bleed on a regular or irregular cycle, but if you haven’t ovulated, it’s technically called “anovulatory bleeding” not menses. You’ll remain in a state of estrogen dominance {more on that below} and won’t have access to progesterone benefits. Symptoms might look similar to running out of progesterone, except they’ll begin earlier and may be more pronounced. Your cycle may also be less regular. When you eventually do ovulate, your flow might be intense {with lots of building tissue}.

Alongside the typical regimen of a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a good lifestyle, try a combination of progesterone support {see above}, estrogen dominance support {see below}, and, if needed for an extra boost, 1 milliliter {30 drops} of organic cotton root bark tincture from days 12 through 15 of your cycle. Cotton root bark helps increase the effects of oxytocin, the hormone that helps trigger ovulation. It just might be enough to nudge things back into balance.

Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance may involve an excess of estrogen influence or simply a normal amount of estrogen that’s unchecked by progesterone. Besides a lack of ovulation, other common aggravators can lead to estrogen dominance, including insulin resistance or being overweight {your body makes another form of estrogen in fat tissues – some is good, too much is not} and overexposure to “xenoestrogens.” These are estrogens that your body doesn’t produce itself {the body produces “endogenous” estrogen}. You’ll find potent, problematic xenoestrogen in plastics and other petroleum products, and in parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, PCBs, insecticides, foam mattresses, and factory-farmed animal products. Excessive phytoestrogens {plant estrogens that in moderation can provide support}, particularly refined soy, may also be problematic. Estrogen dominance can mess with mood, causes migraines, and increase inflammation, cramps, endometriosis, fibroids, cysts, PCOS, a risk for autoimmune disease {including thyroid issues}, and your risk of endocrine-dependent cancers.

Supporting progesterone helps. Modest amounts of phytoestrogens in diet or supplement form may also help – they bind preferentially to estrogen receptor sites but exert a weal effect {around one percent}, bumping out your body’s own estrogen and possibly also providing some protection from xenoestrogens. Favorites include flaxseeds, cooked beans {properly soaked}, red clover, Shatavari, and fenugreek. Most phytoestrogenic foods are also rich in fiber, which helps eliminate excess estrogen. In addition, fenugreek balances blood sugar and helps address insulin resistance and PCOS. Black cohosh is a complicated herb with medicinal action that’s not fully understood, but it may help by balancing brain-ovary hormone communication.

Adding in liver supportive herbs may help this organ process and eliminate excess estrogen as well. These include artichoke leaf, artichokes, schizandra berry, and dandelion root. And, of course, aim for a healthy diet, particularly plant-based or at least plant-focused, yet still low to moderate on the glycemic index. Get regular exercise and limit exposure to xenoestrogens where possible.

Estrogen Deficiency

Although it’s less common, some women suffer from “estrogen deficiency.” This may not necessarily correlate with a blood test; rather, it provides more of a symptom picture. In estrogen deficiency, there will be anemia, anxiety, light and spotty periods, and perhaps a thin body frame. Black cohosh may be a help here, but the big player is dong quai, a classic building, nourishing tonic, and estrogen synergist. It doesn’t contain estrogen but works like a megaphone to encourage and increase the activity of your own natural estrogen. Shatavari, as well as nourishing adaptogens, such as codonopsis maca, ashwagandha, and organic Asian or American ginseng, can also provide support.

It’s also important to test for an address anemia if it’s present. Regardless, consider nourishing herbs, including nettle leaf, violet leaf, and yellow dock, for general support. Estrogen-deficient women may feel better with richer food, red meat, liver, shellfish, and cooked foods.

Symptom Support

With a few exceptions {such as relief for symptomatic cramping or bloating}, most of these herbs are slow-acting and should be taken daily for at least three months to gauge their effectiveness.

  • Menstrual Cramps: Cramp bark tincture works well for most people {2 ml or 60 drops every 15 minutes as needed}. Other antispasmodic herbs include wild yam and angelica root. Studies have found that both ginger and cinnamon capsules are highly effective for cramps as well, and best started one to three days prior to the beginning of the cycle. Daily magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids may gradually relieve pain, inflammation, and muscle tension, including that caused by endometriosis {which, is more difficult to manage}. For pain related to cysts and fibroids, black cohosh and fenugreek may help.
  • Moodiness: Studies support vitex’s use for PMS mood swings, but occasionally it worsens depression and mood, so be on the watch for irritability and melancholy. Black cohosh also supports hormone balance while lifting dark-cloud depression. It’s particularly useful for women who don’t respond well to vitex. In studies, black cohosh worked well for perimenopausal mood swings when combined with St. John’s wort. {Note; black cohosh is often adulterated and overharvested; seek trustworthy organic sources, preferably grown in the United States. Be careful with St. John’s wort, as it interacts with many medications.} Other direct mood support herbs include damiana, albizia, motherwort, holy basil, maca, ashwagandha, and lemon balm.
  • Breast Tenderness: Vitex and ground flaxseeds reduce breast tenderness when consumed regularly, and studies support this use. Also, consider liver-supportive herbs like artichoke leaf and switching to a plant-focused diet with regular exercise.
  • Heavy Periods: At the moment, support nutrient intake with strong nettle infusions, yellow dock tincture or syrup, and iron-rich foods like liver, shellfish, and cooked dark, leafy greens. Staunch excessive bleeding by drinking cinnamon, rose petals, nettle, and/or red raspberry leaf tea.
  • Bloating: Watch your salt intake, especially as you get closer to your period. Focus on plant foods, particularly vegetables. Diuretic herbs and foods help you release some of the water retentions. These include parsley leaf, dandelion leaf, dandelion root, burdock root, and celery stalks.

Putting It Together

Hormones can be complicated. How do you combine all these tips into a comprehensive plan? If you have the time, you can create a tincture blend that includes the best hormone-balancing herbs for you, as well as supportive herbs like adaptogens, mood, and/or liver herbs. Aim for 50 percent hormone-focused herbs with 50 percent support herbs.

If you don’t have the ability to make your own custom blend, you can find something on the market that most closely fits your needs, or choose one to three single herbs. For example, if you have mood swings, you might try vitex and St. John’s wort tinctures or a women’s hormone blend alongside another product geared toward mood support. Some of my favorite herb brands include Gaia Herbs, Herb Pharm, Wise Woman Herbals, Mountain Meadow Herbs, Mountain Rose Herbs, MegaFood, and {for herbals, not vitamins} New Chapter. Also, consider your local herbalist, who may sell a symptom-specific blend.

Typically, you would take the same herbs all month long, but for women who seem to need stronger, more specific assistance, consider a biphasic approach. For days 1 through 14, choose a formula or herbs geared more towards estrogen support {black cohosh, Shatavari, dong quai}. Then, use different herbs to support progesterone {vitex, damiana, maca} from days 15 through 28. To each blend, you can add herbs that help with the specific challenges faced during each half of the cycle. For example, if you feel really sluggish early in the cycle, you may add something for energy like ashwagandha or codonopsis. If brain fog is an issue later on, then lemon balm, bacopa, Rhodiola, and rosemary might be in order.

You might follow that up with a more symptom-focused remedy like cramp bark, ginger, or diuretic herbs, as well as supportive supplements like magnesium, ground flaxseed, or omega-3 fish oil.

herbal tea cup

Herbal Lady Tea

This tasty tea blend offers general support to the uterus. Raspberry leaf, lady’s mantle, and rose petals are gentle rose-family astringents that help tighten and tone. Adding red clover boosts nutrition and detoxification while also serving as a source of phytoestrogens. For general nutrition, feel free to add a teaspoon or two of nutritive herbs such as nettle, oat straw, or violet leaf.

1 heaping tsp raspberry leaf

1 heaping tsp red clover blossoms {optional}

1 tsp lady’s mantle leaf and flower

Sprinkle of rose petals

Honey to taste

Steep the herbs in 16 ounces of water for 10 minutes or longer. {It actually tastes best if steeped in not-yet-boiling water for 30 minutes.} Sweeten to taste and enjoy hot or cold.

A Guide to Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa)

Black Cohosh has been used by Native Americans for more than two hundred years after they discovered the root of the plant helped relieve menstrual cramps and symptoms of menopause. These days it is still used for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes/flushes, irritability, mood swings and sleep disturbances. It is also used for PMS, menstrual irregularities, uterine spasms and has been indicated for reducing inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and neuralgia.

Reduce Menopausal Symptoms:

Herbal researcher Dr. James Duke has this to say about Black Cohosh; “Black cohosh really should be better known in this country, especially with our aging population and the millions of women who are now facing menopause. Recognized for its mild sedative and anti-inflammatory activity, black cohosh can help with hot flashes and other symptoms associated with that dramatic change of life called menopause. It’s also reported to have some estrogenic activity. Herbalist Steven Foster refers to a study that compared the effects of conventional estrogen replacement therapy with black cohosh. That study looked at 60 women, younger than 40 years old, who had had complete hysterectomies and were experiencing abrupt menopause. In all groups, treatment with black cohosh compared favorably with conventional treatment.”

“Native Americans used the roots and rhizomes of this member of the buttercup family to treat kidney ailments, malaria, rheumatism, and sore throats. Early American settlers turned to it for bronchitis, dropsy, fever, hysteria and nervous disorders, lumbago, rattlesnake bites, and yellow fever. It’s also reportedly well known for easing PMS and menstrual irregularities.”

This estrogenic activity, notes Dr. Duke, can contribute to a ‘mastogenic’ effect; the natural enlargement of the breasts. Black Cohosh has also been used to induce labor and should not be used during pregnancy.

Research:

A dozen studies or more conducted throughout the 1980’s and 1990s confirm that the long-standing use of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms has scientific validity. For example, in a German study involving 629 women, black cohosh improved physical and psychological menopausal symptoms in more than 80% of the participants within four weeks. In a second study, 60 menopausal women were given black cohosh extract, conjugated estrogens, or diazepam (a leading anti-anxiety medication) for three months. Those who received black cohosh reported feeling significantly less depressed and anxious than those who received either estrogens or diazepam. In another study, 80 menopausal women were treated for 12 weeks with black cohosh extract, conjugated estrogens, or placebo. Black cohosh improved anxiety, menopause, and vaginal symptoms. In addition, the number of hot flashes dropped from 5 to less than 1 average daily occurrences in the black cohosh group compared to those taking estrogen in whom hot flashes dropped from 5 to 3.5 daily occurrences.

Given these examples, and results of other studies, some experts have concluded that black cohosh may be a safe and effective alternative to estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) for women who cannot or will not take ERT for menopause.

Preliminary studies also suggest that black cohosh may help reduce inflammation associated osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In a review of scientific studies, researchers concluded that a combination of black cohosh, willow bark (Salix spp.), sarsaparilla (Smilax spp.), guaiacum (Guaiacum officinale) resin, and poplar bark (Populus tremuloides) may help relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis.

black cohosh

Latin Names:

Actaea racemosa L, Cimicifuga racemosa, Cimicifuga heracleifolia, Cimicifuga dahurica, Cimicifuga foetida

Also, Known As:

Black Cohosh, Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Squawroot, Bugwort, Rattleroot, Rattleweed, Richweed, Cimicifuga, Sheng Ma, Chinese Black Cohosh

 Properties Of Black Cohosh:

Mild sedative, relaxant, and anti-inflammatory. Contains glycosides (sugar compounds), isoferulic acids and, possibly, phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens). Diaphoretic, antipyretic, antifungal and antibacterial.

Medicinal Use:

Menopause; Hot flashes, irritability, mood swings and sleep disturbances PMS Menstrual irregularities Uterine spasms.

Reducing inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Neuralgia.

Black cohosh has an estrogen-like effect, and women who are pregnant or lactating should not use the herb. Large doses of this herb may cause abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. Women taking estrogen therapy should consult a physician before using black cohosh.

Large doses of black cohosh cause symptoms of poisoning, particularly nausea and dizziness, and can also provoke a miscarriage.

Black cohosh should not be used by those who have full-blown measles or those who are having trouble breathing. It should also not be used by those with excess in the upper regions and deficiency in the lower part of the body.

Side Effects and Precautions:

  • United States Pharmacopeia experts suggest women should discontinue use of black cohosh and consult a health care practitioner if they have a liver disorder or develop symptoms of liver trouble, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice. There have been several case reports of hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), as well as liver failure, in women who were taking black cohosh. It is not known if black cohosh was responsible for these problems. Although these cases are very rare and the evidence is not definitive, scientists are concerned about the possible effects of black cohosh on the liver.
  • Some people taking black cohosh have experienced side effects such as stomach discomfort, headache, or rash. In general, clinical trials of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms have not found serious side effects.
  • Although concerns have been raised about possible interactions between black cohosh and various medications, a 2008 review of studies to date concluded that the risk of such interactions appears to be small.
  • It is not clear if black cohosh is safe for women who have had hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer or for pregnant women or nursing mothers.
  • Black cohosh should not be confused with blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), which has different properties, treatment uses, and side effects than black cohosh. Black cohosh is sometimes used with blue cohosh to stimulate labor, but this therapy has caused adverse effects in newborns, which appear to be due to blue cohosh.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Lovely Lavender for the Nervous System

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia and other species)

There are many species of lavender, and any aromatic species can be used. I grow Lavandula angustifolia in my garden for harvesting and usually grow a few different varieties to experiment with. Lavender is not a herb that grows wild in the northeastern United States.

Lovely lavender calms the nervous system, heals burns on the skin, and disinfects harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. You can drink the tea, wash burns with it, cook with it, and even put it in your bucket to wash your floors and walls. This will not only act as a disinfectant, it will smell lovely and bring a peaceful vibration into your home.

Lavender is a physical ally in so many ways. Scientific research has shown that it contains a class of molecules called monoterpenes. One of these is perillyl alcohol, which has been shown to help stop cancer cells from dividing. Lavender is also a spiritual ally, helping bring ease and sweetness into our lives.

USES:

Use dried lavender flowers and leaves for teas, infusions, baths, oils, sprays, honey balls, or as part of a smoke blend. You can make a soothing lavender bath by adding a half-gallon of lavender tea into your bath water, or grinding dry leaves and flowers and mixing them with sea or Epsom salts. Add one tablespoon or more of this mixture to a bath. Do what’s pleasing to your senses in terms of how strong or mild a lavender aroma you like.

If you are adding essential oil of lavender to a bath, make sure you add it (5-10 drops) after the bath is filled so that it doesn’t dissipate and waste the oil. You can also make your own fresh lavender flower and leaf infused oil. If you use that in your bath, add about a tablespoon when the bath is about half full, and swirl it around to blend it in. It creates a fragrant, beautiful blend and helps in situations on the whole continuum from simple calming to post-traumatic stress healing.

Lavender tea is pain-relieving, muscle-relaxing, anti-depressant, and helps to soothe an aching or breaking heart. For any of these last purposes, it can be used alone or combine it with oat straw.

Lavender helps with tension headaches and anxiety. Herbalist Kiva Rose shares this observation and advice: “Lavender is appropriate as a nervine when a person is anxious, confused and has a wrinkled forehead that can’t relax. The forehead will give it away every time.”

Another lovely way to use your lavender is an infused honey. This helps with agitation, the blues and bitter grief.

Lavender tea helps ease insomnia. It is a relaxing, restful sleep herb. It’s theorized that chemicals in lavender in lavender interact with the reticular activating system (RAS) in the brain that controls the wake-sleep cycle to induce restful sleep. That may be—or it may be the lavender-hued woman who rises up out of the plant to stroke your hairline like a loving mother (probably right over the area of your reticular activating system) who soothes you to sleep. Or perhaps it’s both, and they are different expressions of the same effect!

You can put a small bag of dried lavender under a pillow, and spray lavender water onto pillows and other bedding for restful sleep and especially to relieve nightmares. I’ve had very good results using lavender for children and adults with nightmares. Here is an easy spray recipe:

Lavender Spray – Variation II

  • Dried lavender flowers
  • Quart Jar
  • Spray bottle
  • Water

Put 1/8 cup of good-quality dried lavender flowers into a quart jar. Cover with boiled water. Cap and steep for 20 minutes. Decant promptly, squeezing the flowers to retrieve the past of their oils. Fill your spray bottle with the lavender infusion. Keep refrigerated with not in use to prolong the shelf life of this preparation. You can also add one drop or more of the essential oil to help preserve it.

This spray is an indispensable aid when traveling, whether by plane, bus, train or in your own car. I carry a bottle with me almost everywhere. In any public place, your lavender spray will calm and refresh you, and lift your spirits. Its antiseptic oils will help to disinfect germs. You can spray it on your hands and face. It’s very lovely, and people almost never object to it. In fact, more often than not, they ask for some too. I’d love to hear what creative applications you come up with – share your ideas with me in the comments below.

Source:

Healing Magic, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living