Tuesday, July 6, 2010


the mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) is in full bloom with it's bright pink puffs. it has been around for as long as i can remember - but i just learned about it's medicine today.

i gathered some flowers and cut up some bark and started a tincture. put them all in jar, cover with alcohol - shake it up occasionally - and it will sit for 4 to 6 weeks. then strain the plant material.

it is used as a relaxant nervine and uplifting mood effects. the flower is considered to be one of the best "shen tonics" in traditional chinese medicine. shen means spirit/heart  - the spirit of the person, that lives in the heart. disturbed shen can result in anxiety, insomnia, feelings of great grief, broken heartedness and generally disturbed emotional state.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

arnica & st. john's wort

i just got my package from mountain rose herbs (mountainroseherbs.com) of arnica (Arnica montana) and st. john's wort (Hypericum perforatum). i am infusing them both in olive oil - and then i will make a salve.

infused arnica oil is beneficial for muscle aches, injured muscles, sprains, bruises, dislocations, swelling due to fractures, trauma to soft tissue, rheumatic pain, and inflammation from insect bites. since arnica oil increases the blood supply to an inflicted area, do not appply it to an open wound because it  will cause more external bleeding

use the oil of st. john's wort for relieving pain and injuries to nerves. it can also ease the pain of sunburn. i read somewhere - that the medicinal properties actually soak into the skin and help lessen the pain from nerve injuries.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

rose elixer

i have been wanting to make this rose (Rosa spp.) elixer for a while. 

1 pint jar
 with enough fresh wild rose petals to fill the jar with everclear, vodka or brandy, 
and raw honey.

fill the jar with whole or roughly chopped rose petals. add raw honey to coat the petals - about 1/4 of the jar - then fill with alcohol. cover the top with plastic before screwing on a regular canning lid. if you skip the plastic, your elixir will eventually start corroding the metal lid. i used plastic sandwich bags. shake well. let sit for three to six weeks, shaking regularly. you can strain at the end of that time or you can just pour off the amount you want to use a little at a time.

use this externally on burns and wounds. it has the ability to eradicate the pain of burns very quickly and to dramatically speed healing. the honey helps to hold the elixir in place on the skin and contributes to the soothing effect. rose is blood moving, which helps pain relief and quicker healing. it is also anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and astringent, which helps reduce redness, swelling and any possible infection. a drop or two will calm the itch from an insect bite. it also helps rashes from heat, dermatitis, blisters or poison ivy.

it can be used as a liniment (a medicinal liquid that is rubbed into the skin to relieve muscular stiffness and pain) for relaxing sore muscles, and for sharp, shooting sensations related to nerve pain or slipped discs.

internally it is used for any trauma, panic, fear or stressful situation for child, adult or animal. it’s calming, pleasant and blood moving, helping to move someone out of a paralyzing shock or stuck emotion. it acts as a mild nervine, calming without sedating and restoring emotional equilibrium.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

herbal energetics and actions

i am starting to get a deeper understanding into herbal medicine and herbal energetics. each herb has a different taste (bitter, sweet, salty, sour, spicy) temperature (hot, cold) and humidity (drying, moisturizing). once i determine the energetics - i can then look up to see what the action is. a few herbal actions are: demulcents (act as a protective barrier on inflamed or irritated tissue) sedatives (sedates and strengthens the nervous system) alteratives (promote detoxification, stimulate digestive organs) immune enhancers (help the body fight infection)... these a just a few herbal actions. so by knowing what the energetics and actions are... and by knowing what the physical dis-ease is - you can then match the plant to the person. 

it is also important to know what a persons consitution is. one of my plants to journal on was valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and i learned a hard lesson. valerian is known to be a sedative. i prepared my valerian as a decoction and sipped it before i went to bed - knowing it would make me sleepy and relaxed. i got into bed around 11:00pm.... then it was 1:00... then 3:00. i could not fall asleep - i was figgity and aggitated. the next morning i did some research and found out that since valerian is a warming herb - it works well for people with a 'cold' constitution to promote sleep - but it can have the exact opposite effect on someone with a 'warm' constitution - it can keep them up all night ! it can actually aggravate the system in an already over heated individual. so... i guess i have a 'warm' constitution. i am going to be reading more on energetics, actions and constitutions - and how important these three aspects are.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

plantain & comfrey

i got a ton of fresh plantain (Plantago major) and comfrey (Symphytum officinale) today from a friend of mine. i am going to make some infused oil from both of them. i have the leaves layed out on paper towels on the counter - they will sit there overnight. i want to let them wilt a little and let some of the moisture dry out before starting the infusion because both plants have a high water content in them - and oil and water don't mix. just trying to lessen the chance of mold growing in my infusion. i did not rinse the leaves to clean them - instead i took a very damp cloth and gently got any dirt or misc bug droppings off the leaves. so tomorrow morning i'll do a rough chop on them - put each one in a glass jar and cover with organic olive oil. i push the plant material down with the end of a wooden spoon to make sure they are all submerged and to get rid of any air bubbles. when infusing oils - i don't cover it with a metal lid -  instead i use cheesecloth or a paper towel over the top and hold in place with a rubber band. this will let any additional moisture evaporate. over the next few weeks, i'll open the jar and make sure that all the leaves are still submerged. after three weeks - i'll strain out the herb - and have infused oil that i will use to make skin cream or salve.

here is plantain leaves and the flower stalks. after the stalk completely dries out - i can spread the seed in my garden and hope that a few of them take so i can have fresh plantain here at home.
and here is the comfrey leaves:

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is primarily considered a tonic for enhancing metabolism and digestion and is taken as a tea or soup made from the (usually dried) roots of the plant - or a tincture.

astragalus has antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. it is an adaptoge, meaning it helps protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. it protects and supports the immune system and helps the body fight against disease. astragalus contains antioxidants, which protect cells against damage caused by free radicals, byproducts of cellular energy. astragalus has antiviral properties and is helpful with preventing colds.

i currently have k.c. on astragalus - and thought i would make my own tincture this time.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

red clover tincture

i have talked about red clover (Trifolium pratense) before - i have purchased the tincture and made infusions - but this is my first time making a tincture.

red clover is an anti-cancer herb and has four anti-tumor compounds. it is a very strong alterative. alteratives promote overall health and support our elimination organs. it purifies the blood by acting as a diuretic (helping the body get rid of excess fluid) and expectorant (helping clear lungs of mucous), improving circulation, and helps cleanse the liver.


• contributes to bone health
• high in phytoestrogens and phytosterols it nourishes hormones - it is excellent for women going through menopause
• helps prevent breast cancer, osteoporosis and strokes
• eases anxiety and confusion
• helps muscle and joint pain
• keeps skin healthy

caution: red clover has the ability to thin blood which makes it a poor choice for pregnancy and for those on blood thinners.

Friday, May 7, 2010


i've got valerian (Valeriana officinalis) growing in the yard so i am starting a valerian tincture today. it is best to use the roots - they have stronger medicine in them - but since i only have one plant - i didn't want to take the chance of killing it by pulling it up, separating the roots and then replanting the rest. so i read that leaves and flowers will also work - just not as strong.

valerian is a central nervous system relaxer. it can induce restful sleep without grogginess the next morning. it is an effective stress reducer, helps with nervous tension, depression, irritability, hysteria, panic and anxiety. it also has real benefits for sciatica, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and peripheral neuropathy, including numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and pain in the extremities.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

healing salve

i made a healing salve today. i started with fresh plantain (Plantago spp.), comfrey (Symphytum officinale) and lavender (Lavendula dentata).
 i did a rough chop on the herbs...
and then put them in a pot with 1 cup high grade organic olive oil - you can see i decided to add calendula (Calendula officinalis) in the mix at the last minute.
let them simmer on the lowest flame possible for 45 minutes to an hour - then strain the herbs out. put the infused oil back in the pot and add 1/4 cup beeswax and melt the wax. shouldn't take more than a few minutes. after the beeswax is melted i added ylang ylang (Cananga odorata), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) and rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) essential oil - about 10 drops of each. you can add whatever essential oils you like. pour the liquid into tins.
the salve will completely harden in about an hour. this salve is very healing and comforting for the skin. it can be used for chapped dry skin, surface burns and bug bites.

calendula is soothing, moisturizing and cooling, it can help decrease inflammation and is healing for sunburn and skin irritations.

is incredibly healing for wounds and skin problems. The leaf and root of comfrey contain allantoin, a constituent known to aid wound healing. Comfrey oil or salve will help stop bleeding and soothe wounds. it is also known for its ability to knit things back together, and can heal a cut or wound very quickly. (It is important to be sure your wound is thoroughly cleaned so that you do not heal an infection inside of the wound.)

oil helps relieve skin and scalp irritation, reduce inflammation. Plantain is traditionally used to nourish and treat sensitive, irritated skin and scalp, to help restore injured or tired skin, and as restorative and anti-aging skin treatment. a poultice of hot leaves placed on cuts and wounds helps draw out thorns, splinters and inflammation.

lavender helps to prevent tissue degeneration and stop bleeding in wounds. it balances the skin, making it ideal for any skin type. it can stimulate the growth of new skin cells. it helps the formation of healing scar tissue, while preventing scar keloids (scarring) on the healed skin, making it perfect for any wounds.

Monday, May 3, 2010

calendula oil

calendula (Calendula officinalis) oil is done after two months. i ended up doing a double infusion of this because i had so much calendula. i put dried flower petals in sweet almond oil and let it sit for 4 weeks. i strained the petals out - then added more petals into that and let that sit for another 4 weeks. now i have a batch of heavenly, gorgeous, bright orange calendula oil !

the warm, bright orange oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. it has the ability to help heal wounds and refreshes and regenerates the skin. it prevents skin from over-drying and inhibits the formation of sun-caused wrinkles. due to the high content of carotenes, phytosterols and polyphenols, it also delays premature aging of the skin tissue.

also useful to treat skin inflammations, rashes, dermatitis, ringworm, and diaper irritations.

feverfew tincture

i am going to make a feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) tincture. i have it growing in my yard. i planted one plant quite a few years ago - and it has popped up everywhere. i'll put some leaves in a jar, cover with alcohol, shake it up every few days and in 6 weeks, strain out the plant material.

with the name feverfew you'd think it was a fever-reducing plant, but it isn't. what it does do is help dramatically in cases of migraine, arthritis pain, rheumatism, and muscle spasms. it also appears to help with painful menstruation.

feverfew is edible and medicinal. because of its bitter taste, making a tea isn't an option. to ward off migraines and muscle pain you can eat 3-4 smaller leaves per day, take regularly to receive maximum benefit.

Monday, April 26, 2010

chia sage

i forgot to write about chia sage (Salvia hispanica) from my herb walk. i collected about 8 seeds from the dried seed pod and i am going to try to get it to grow. so far... it is just of pot of soil... so nothing to write about yet. but here is some info on this amazing plant: 

the name Salvia derives from the Latin salvere, which means "to heal". this herb is highly regarded for its healing qualities. an ancient proverb states, "why should a man die who has sage in his garden?"

the chia sage seeds were an important part of native americans diet. in the Mayan language, the word for chia means "strength". chia seeds are rich in nutrients; so much so that a single teaspoon full could sustain a person for a whole day of travel. apache and aztec warriors sustained themselves by bringing the seeds along on conquests.

chia seeds are high in protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, soluble fiber, antioxidants and minerals. they are used for suppressing the appetite, weight loss, leveling blood sugar, and for aiding intestinal regularity. chia seeds readily dissolve into the water, creating a substance that looks like gelatin. this gel-forming action is due to the soluble fiber in the seed. this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when chia seed is consumed, thus creating a physical barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes and slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. fascinating huh ?

the chia sage seed pod - if you shake the pod - the seeds fall out.

herb walk two

i went on an amazing herb walk yesterday. so much is growing due to the heavy rain in sunny southern california.

the black mustard (Brassica nigra) was everywhere. the seed is ground and made into a paste then applied to the skin for treating rheumatism. applied externally, mustard relieves congestion by drawing the blood to the surface for head afflictions, neuralgia and spasms.

also there was plenty of oats (Avena sativa). oats are high in calcium. calcium rich foods and herbs are the basis for remedies that relax the muscles and nervous system.
i saw yerba santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium) which is helpful for coughs, colds, asthma and mucus.
...and yerba mansa (Anemopsis californicum) which can help treat inflammation and infections of the lungs throat and sinuses. they way it was explained to me was that yerba santa will help dry mucus, and yerba mansa will help move it. the white flowers in bloom on the yerba mansa were quite a beautiful sight.
i got to see yucca (Yucca whipplei) which was amazing... since this is what i currently have k.c. on for pain and inflammation from arthritis - and i have seen incredible improvement with her in the past few weeks.
there was so much black sage (Salvia mellifera) and purple sage (Salvia leucophylla) everywhere. below is purple sage flower. sage is antibacterial and antifungal - helpful for mouth sores and sore throats.
i didn't know it - but fennel (Foeniculum vulgaris) was growing wild too. fennel helps with gas, constipation and indigestion. eating a few fennel seeds before dinner can help if you have these issues.
i saw yellow dock (Rumux crispus) for the first time. yellow dock, or curly dock, is helpful for poor liver function and poor digestion. it's high iron amount makes it very helpful for correcting anemia.
... and willow (Salix ___ not sure) willow bark has a high content of salicyclic acid - which is the main ingredient in aspirin today. very helpful for aches and fevers.
it was an amazing beautiful day. i learned a lot... saw a lot. couldn't ask for more.

Friday, April 16, 2010

fresh plant oil

i have so much of everything growing here -  i am making an infused skin oil from fresh plant material. i used calendula (Calendula officinalis), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), lavender (Lavendula dentata), chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and some sage (Salvia officinalis). all fresh from my garden. i did a rough chop on it - put it in a jar and covered with sweet almond oil. some of it was dried and some not so i am going to keep a close eye on this - since i had an experience where mold grew in my oil because of moisture from fresh plant material. oil and water don't mix !

Thursday, April 15, 2010

four tinctures

i started four new tinctures today. burdock (Arctium lappa) root, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root and leaf, lavender (Lavendula dentata) and solomon's seal (Polygonatum biflorum). i have written about what these are helpful for in previous entries. they will sit for 4 to 6 weeks... then strain out herb material and store for use.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

so much lavender... not enough thyme

i haven't posted much lately. still taking care of k.c. the docs want to start her on steroids for osteoarthritis - and a few days ago i got yucca concentrate. the bottle does not say what kind, but yucca plants are members of the lily family (Liliaceae). it contains steroidal saponins which are nature's most powerful anti-inflammatory.

found this on saponins: saponins, precursors of cortisone, which prevent the release of toxins from the intestines that restrict normal cartilage formation. saponins are produced naturally in the body by the adrenal glands. found to treat: skin lesions, sprains, inflammation, bleeding, osteoarthrits, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, colitis, ulcers, gout, bursitis, hypertension, high cholesterol, liver and kidney disorders.

so - i am going to try it to see how she responds. she is still on burdock (Arctium lappa) and astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus). more on that in the post - 'k.c. - january 13, 2010'.

in the meantime - everything keeps growing - i have so much lavender (Lavendula dentata) - i don't know what to do with it. so i harvested some today - and i am drying it for future use. i already have a lavender tincture made - 'lavender tincture - october 21, 2009' - so i am making a quick lavender infusion today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

dandelion oil gone bad

... who knew ? just checked my dandelion oil and the flowers have all sunk to the bottom with about 1/2" of oil above it... with... the dreaded... mold. it covers the top layer of flowers  :(  so i did some research and this is what i found out. i let it sit to long. it only needs to sit for 7 days. then - strain it through a metal strainer - do not crush the flowers to get extra oil out of them.

a few other things i found out about making oils:

•  use cold pressed or expeller pressed organic oils
• refridgerate the bulk of it afterwards so they don't go bad  - put in a few drops of essential oil for preservative (like lavender) 5-10 drops for every ounce of infused oil
• do not let the oils sit in the sun while they are infusing - the rise and drop of temperature from day to night might make it develop condensation. condensation = water = mold. water is the enemy when making infused oils. do not rinse plants or flowers before infusing
• cuts herbs into pieces and crush flowers before infusing - EXCEPT for dandelion, honeysuckle or rose petals
• times till infusion is ready:
dandelion or honeysuckle - 7 days
most other plants - 2 weeks
comfrey, plantain, selfheal, st johns wort - 3 weeks

so... luckily there has been a lot of rain lately so lawns are covered. i have a new batch starting today and i am looking forward to my dandelion oil take 2.

Monday, February 8, 2010

harvesting lavender

lavender (Lavendula dentata) is in full bloom over here. i'm making a tincture and lavender oil.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


out in the garden today i found that my chamomile (Matricaria chamomile) is finally in bloom. i have tried to grow this so many times - and think i solved the problem... no direct hot sun. it gets way to hot here -  so i placed it behind some other plants where it can get nice morning and early afternoon sun - but not the scorching late afternoon sun.

chamomile is a mild sedative, good for insomnia and nervousness. it is a nervine, sedative and antispasmodic. it has anti-inflammatory properties that are good for rheumatism, arthritis, and other painful swellings. lt can be helpful with menstrual cramps or gas pains.

Friday, January 29, 2010

on my back

i haven't posted lately because i got bucked off a horse :(  and have been ailing. after making sure nothing was broken - of course my doctor prescribed anti-inflammatories, pain killers and muscle relaxers. i don't want to to do this - so back to the books to refresh what i have learned to help deal with this. 

i reread jim mcdonald's article on back pain: http://www.herbcraft.org/backpain.html

if you have back or neck pain - this is the most amazing article i have read that addresses these issues.

and then pulled out my solomon's seal root (Polygonatum biflorum) and mullein (Verbascum thapsus) tincture.

Friday, January 15, 2010

chickweed vinegar

got my chickweed (Stellaria media) and started my vinegar  :)

yesterday's finds

i was to excited on my walk yesterday when i found chickweed (Stellaria media) and shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). funny - same walk i have done for years - but my eyes were open this time.

chickweed  - known for it's ability to cool inflammation and speed healing of cuts, minor burns, eczema, and rashes. it is mild diuretic, promoting the flow of urine - can cleanse and soothe the kidneys and urinary tract and help relieve cystitis. it is edible and very nutritious. it contains vitamins a, c, d and b complex. it is high in iron, copper, silica, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. it aids the absorption of nutrients in the body and is good for digestive problems.

i am going back today to harvest some of it and i will make a chickweed vinegar. i fill a jar with the herb, cover it with organic pasteurized apple cider vinegar and let it sit for 6 weeks. then strain the herb out. do not use metal lids when making vinegars - the vinegar will rust the metal and the rust will get into your vinegar. i will use the vinegar for salad dressing to get extra vitamins and minerals.

shepherd's purse -  one of the important herbs for stopping hemorrhages of all kinds - of the stomach, lungs, uterus, and bleeding from the kidneys. it is used for a number of number of condidtions such as heavy menstrual bleeding, nosebleeds, and as a post-partum herb.

i remember this plant from when i was little - i always loved its little heart shaped leaves  :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

more on dandelion

i went out again this morning looking for more dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flowers. found a few more and started my oil.  just put the flowers in a jar and cover them with oil. i used olive oil this time since i had it around. stir it around for the first few days to make sure no flower parts are exposed. do not cover it with a metal lid - instead use cheesecloth or a paper towel with a rubber band. this will let any moisture evaporate and the oil will not get moldy. let it sit for 4 to 6 weeks - strain the flowers out. i can't wait to try this one out for sore muscles, sinus headache, achy joints and stiff neck.

for quick help for a back or headache - make a tea from the flowers. put flowers in a jar - cover with boiling water - let it steep for 20 minutes - strain and drink. add honey if needed. you can use the strained flowers for a sunburn. just press flowers on skin for relief. or save the dandelion tea in fridge and use it as a skin treatment or tonic - but use it within a few days.

dandelion sap - squeezed straight from the stems  - can help with skin warts, cuts or blisters.

the roots can be made into a tincture. it is a detoxifying herb that supports the liver and strengthens the kidneys. it encourages the steady elimination of toxins from the body - a powerful diuretic that does won't deplete the body of potassium.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

that pesky weed....

... i had been pulling for years turns out to be medicine. so i go out to my yard and look for dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). i will collect the flowers and infuse them in oil - it is an amazing oil for arthritis pain. i will also pull a few plants and start collecting the roots to make the tincture just described in the last post.

k.c. :)

this is my doggy, k.c. - stands for 'kinda cute' - but i think she is really cute. k.c. just had a huge tumor removed. it had completely taken over one of her kidneys - and was as large as a grapefruit. the biopsy showed there were cancer cells present - but the doctor also removed a close by lymph node - and it was clean. she is recovering amazingly from the surgery for a 14 year old puppy - and i will monitor her every few months with xrays. i started researching and reading and researching. i got a book that specifically deals with herbs for pets and put together this regimen for k.c.. my thought was - cleanse - and strengthen ! i didn't have time to make these tinctures - so i purchased them to get her started immediately.

burdock (Arctium lappa) - a blood purifier. it helps the kidneys filter out impurities from the blood very quickly. clears congestion in respiratory, lymphatic, urinary and circulatory systems. releases water retention, stimulates digestion, aids kidney, liver and gallbladder function.

dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) - used for the treatment of the gall bladder, kidney and urinary disorders. strengthens the kidneys. an infusion of the root encourages the steady elimination of toxins from the body.

red clover (Trifolium pratense) - purifies the blood by acting as a diuretic (helping the body get rid of excess fluid) and expectorant (helping clear lungs of mucous), improving circulation, and helping cleanse the liver.

astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) - improves depressed immunity, recommended for the treatment of AIDS and other viral diseases, and as an adjuvant in cancer therapy. helps strengthen the body against disease. helps protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. protects the body from diseases such as cancer and diabetes. contains antioxidants, which protect cells against damage caused by free radicals, byproducts of cellular energy. protects the liver.

milk thistle (Silybum marianum) - protects the liver from a variety of harmful substances. prevents toxins from penetrating the interior of liver cells, while promoting the growth of healthy new cells to repair liver damage. has a renewing effect on the kidneys.

i have her taking .5ml twice a day. i am mixing the tinctures into healthful raw wet food.

one dropper full of tincture is approx. 30 drops which is 1ml. - so half a dropper full twice a day.

although this is all new to me - i am feeling really confident in what she is taking and truly believe in the power and medicinal value of these herbs. i know i am helping her to keep as healthy as possible at this time  :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

drying calendula

i had gotten some calendula (Calendula officinalis) plants a month or so ago and i am just starting to harvest the flowers. i spread them out and let them air dry. once they are all dry - i will infuse them in either grapeseed, jojoba or sweet almond oil and then let it sit for six weeks. strain the flowers out and use this amazing skin softening and tissue regenerating oil when ever and where ever.