All Things Herbal

WHERE NATURE MEETS HEALTH


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Herbal Allies for Pain Management

By Kate Maxey

Pain is something we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. It’s just one of the consequences of being in a body. Pain can be a crippling and exhausting experience of living in a body, however we have many plant allies to help us through the pain process. Utilizing medicinal plants for pain is not a “one size fits all” type of thing and there are many different plants for different types of pain. Here I will talk about nerve pain, musculoskeletal pain and joint pain, all of which you would treat differently when implementing plant medicine.

Nerve Pain

There are more than 100 different types of nerve damage. The various types may have different symptoms and different causes including: autoimmune diseases, cancer, compression/trauma, diabetes, motor neuron diseases, and nutritional deficiencies especially B6 ad B12. Because nerves are essential to all that we do, nerve pain can be debilitating and really affect ones quality of life.

We have come to know St Johns Wort as a treatment for depression and anxiety but it is quickly becoming one of my favorites for nerve pain. There are two species that grow in the northwest area, H. perforatum, which has been introduced from Europe and the native species, H. formosum. Both have similar constituents, however H. perforatum is about twice a strong as the native species so we tend to stick with using that one.   St John’s Wort is useful for general nerve pain, sciatica, back spasms, injuries to the spinal cord and nerves, including nerve injuries to the fingers and toes. St John’s Wort is also great for calming and nourishing frayed nerves due to acute stress or when we are dealing with intense change and feelings of being overwhelmed. It combines well with Arnica and Poplar Buds. The infused oil, which turns a beautiful shade of red, is a great way to deal with nerve pain and is great when combined with essential oils specific to nerve pain like helichrysum, chamomile, marjoram, and lavender. I have seen St. John’s Wort be useful when drunk as a tea for treating symptoms of Fibromyalgia. It is also great as a fresh plant tincture with the dose being 20-30 drops, three times a day.

 

 

Hypericum perforatum

Hypericum perforatum

 

Musculoskeletal pain

Many things can bring on musculoskeletal pain. Muscle tissue can be damaged with the wear and tear of daily activities. Trauma to an area like jerking movements, auto accidents, falls, fractures, sprains, and dislocations can cause musculoskeletal pain. Other causes of pain include postural strain, repetitive movements, teeth grinding, overuse, and prolonged immobilization. Changes in posture or poor body mechanics may bring about spinal alignment problems and muscle shortening, therefore causing other muscles to be misused and become painful. The best we can do is sit up straight and avoid accidents, however we sometimes find that our body takes a beating and we need to reach for plant allies.

One of my favorites for musculoskeletal pain is Pedicularis, which comes in a variety of species like P. densiflorus, P. semibarbata, P. bracteosa, and P. racemosa to name a few and also has many common names such as Indian Warrior, Lousewort, Elephant’s head and Betony (not to be confused with the genus Stachys which is also called betony). The fresh plant extract is the best way to utilize this plant and you can use up to a teaspoon for acute pain making it a higher dose plant. It can also be used as an external liniment applied to problem areas. What I love about this plant is that unlike a lot of pain relievers Pedicularis doesn’t make you drowsy so that you can use it throughout the day and still maintain mental focus and clarity. It reduces muscle spasms and relives tension of the muscles making it useful for tension headaches, jaw pain due to grinding of the teeth; chronic and acute back pain and menstrual cramping. It is also a great plant to use before doing yoga or getting bodywork done for it helps to pre-loosen the musculoskeletal system enabling the body to find a deeper relaxation and letting go of tension. I can certainly feel the difference when I take Pedicularis versus when I don’t when I go to my cranio-sacral practitioner. All in all this is a great plant for when our bodies are feeling tight and unwilling to relax and loosen up.

 

Pedicularis densiflorus

Pedicularis densiflorus

 

Joint Pain

Joints form the connections between bones. They provide support and help the body to move. Any damage to the joints from disease or injury can interfere with your movement and cause a lot of pain. Many different conditions can lead to painful joints, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, strains, sprains, and other injuries. As you get older, painful joints become increasingly more common.

Another way to look at the cause of joint pain is to consider the diet of the individual. Excess of rich foods, sweets and meats combined with a lack of exercise and poor digestive power can clog the channels of the body and contribute to the development of arthritis, rheumatism, gout and overall joint pain. Another thing to consider is that if the blood is too acidic, which happens with a rich, meat heavy diet, the cartilage in the joints may dissolve causing joint inflammation and pain.

There are many herbs out there that help with joint pain like turmeric, yucca and devils claw, however due to the digestive element of the problem I will discuss including burdock root in a joint pain regime. Arctium lappa is the latin name of this plant and is a Eurasian weed spread by burs. Burdock is what is called an alterative, which is a plant that not only cleanses the blood of toxins and metabolic wastes, but also gradually alters metabolic function, increasing nutrients to the tissues. As rich foods and meats accumulate in the body, inflammation occurs within the joints. Burdock helps to clear away these inflammatory wastes allowing for the joints to heal and repair themselves. It helps to stimulate the natural flow of lymphatic fluid that supports excretion of toxic by-products from the cells. It is a general anti-inflammatory, digestive stimulant, blood and lymphatic purifier and has a cooling effect on the body. It is great as a tea, which Michael Moore says to do as a cold infusion however a decoction would work too. It can also be used as a fresh plant tincture using ½ to ¼ teaspoon four times a day. It grows very well in the Humboldt area and the root is yummy used fresh in soups, stews and as a roasted veggie.

Arctium lappa

Arctium lappa

References

Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore

Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra

Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner

Class notes form Christa Sinadinos


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California Mugwort Dreamin’& Herbal Recipes

article, photos, and recipes by Jessica Shepherd

First, I’d like to give a big green Thank You to my fellow Herbalist and talented friend Nicole Gagliano of Wild and Wise Herbal CSA for inspiring me to write this article–check out her amazing website full of hand-crafted herbal products featuring local ingredients at http://www.wildandwisecsa.com. Thanks Nicole!

spring growth of California Mugwort

spring growth of California Mugwort

Spring is here and the herbs are rising up with vigorous new growth.  It’s a time we can envision our goals, plant seeds of our dreams, and sprout them into our reality. The opportunity is here to energize, purify, and thrive from the renewal this spring season gifts us with!  To spark your dreams and visions this spring, we can turn to the wild California Mugwort known as Artemesia vulgaris var. douglasiana, to be very specific—as the genus Artemisia includes about 300 species.

Common along the coast and the west slopes of inland foothills, Mugwort thrives in well drained moist to dry sandy soil in open to shady sites, forest edges, and streambanks.  Each season I happily visit certain stands of Artemisia douglasiana along the riverbed that I have come to know and love over the years.  As I approach these special spots, I delight in seeing the silvery blue-gray hue glowing from the cluster of plants sprouting about from the ground.  The plants have a certain magical “silver-glow” about them, almost as if charged permanently by the moonlight.  Artemisia vulgaris is historically associated with the beautiful Moon Goddess and the Huntress herself Artemis, the Greek Goddess whom is credited with the ultimate inspiration for the genus.  But sources say the immediate inspiration was probably Queen Artemesia of Caria (Helicarnassus), a Turkish female botanist who lived about 400B.C.E. Apparently after her husband Mausous’s death, she built a most beautiful memorial that became one of the “Seven Wonders” of the ancient world and the origin of the word “mausoleum.”

California mugwort

New growth spring Mugwort sprigs are soft and slightly furry to the touch—and when rubbed between the fingers just a bit they are left smelling incredibly pungent with a sage-like aroma, mixed with an earthy richness that uplifts, and sparks the spirit.  I look forward to summertime when these stands of plants–which are tiny sprigs right now, will be soaring tall and will have spread far and wide.  Artemisia is a colony plant, so she forms stands of several to hundreds of individuals all interconnected by underground rootstalks.  During summer months as the sun begins to set and the days heat is just letting up, the Artemisia emit off their pungent sage-like aroma and it diffuses into the air.  I have taken many hikes in the hillsides high up from the riverbed and when the breezes come through catching the aroma just right– I can smell the diffusing California Mugwort fumes traveling on the wind.  This herb-scented breeze stops me in my tracks, and I take a deep breath becoming even more reverent and grateful to the land I care for and the plants that offer us so much.

bundle of dried mugwort

Protection, purification, and dreamtime amplification have long been associated with Artemisia vulgaris by many cultures and native tribes.  The sage-like herby aroma of Artemisia vulgaris has been used for smudging, and also as a visionary herb.  Some consider it able “to give one a clearer view on life and impart a deeper sense of peace”–Herbal Tarot book.  For smudging, take dried mugwort and burn it in a fire-safe receptacle such as a mini cauldron, clay vessel, or abalone shell. The smoke can be circulated around to purify oneself and the environment/space around them.

Mugwort is usually the star of any dream pillow and pairs nicely with other calming aromatic herbs like lavender and rose.  Every Spring I gather a tiny bundle of California Mugwort to hang near my bed—not only is a bundle of Mugwort said to offer protection, but having it near the bed will also stimulate your dreams and connection to the dream-state. Artemisia vulgaris is well known to enhance visions in dreams and assist with dream recall—some even go as far to say it can help achieve astral projection. I’m quite fond of crafting an infused oil of Mugwort leaf and flower that can be useful for many things. As an annointing oil it can be used before any sort of ritual or rite of passage, as well as rubbed on the third eye area before bed to enhance your dreaming experience. This can be especially powerful when used with set intentions, or when seeking guidance/messages via the dreaming realm.

I will also anoint with infused Mugwort oil before I travel for protection, especially if I cannot smudge.  The infused oil is additionally wonderful for massaging of stiff muscles like neck and shoulders, or over the abdomen for menstrual cramps or spasms.  Mugwort is well known for its ability to warm and circulate energy throughout the body and is specific for breaking up congestion or stagnation.  And of course the infused oil can be used as a base or an addition to many types of salve recipes etc. *To make mugwort infused oil simply fill a mason jar about ¾ of the way full of dried mugwort leaves and cover with olive oil or sunflower oil, seal it with a lid and put it in a cool dark place—shaking it every few days. Allow it to infuse for 3-4 weeks, the strain through cheesecloth or muslin cotton into an amber bottle and label it and its ready for use!

Because of Mugwort’s ability to circulate blood and move energy in the body it is the prime ingredient in moxibustion– an extremely useful Chinese heat therapy practiced by TCM physicians, Acupuncturists, and some Herbalists. Mugwort is valued in moxa also for its ability to burn quickly and for its deep penetrating heat.  Burning moxibustion over a painful area increases blood circulation, relieves pain, and quickly heals injuries, bruises and more. Sometimes acupuncturists actually burn moxa on acupuncture points as an alternative to needles (do not try this on your own!).  Moxa can be sold in the form of a smudge stick, or it can be made by rubbing aged, dried mugwort leaves, with stems removed, between your palms until a wooly consistency, then formed into balls or tiny cones that are sometimes burned in specially crafted “moxa boxes.

in TCM mugwort goes by the name Ai Ye

mugwort leaf and a few fresh rolled moxa balls

Medicinally Artemisia vulgaris is a well-known bitter and digestive aid.  It is considered a bitter tonic and Mugwort has been used to treat stomach disorders and improve digestion, while also having antifungal and antimicrobial properties.  I appreciate what the late and great beloved herbalist Michael Moore wrote about Mugwort in his book Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West: “California Mugwort is also an antioxidant for cooling fat metabolism.  If you wake up in the morning with a grey sheet over your psyche, your head hurts in the front, your mouth tastes like a three day old Greek salad, your hemorrhoids are aching, and you crave things like pizza, potato chips, or fry bread take the infusion once at night for a couple of weeks.”  That’s right folks, he says take the infusion once at night for a couple of weeks—the cold infusion is rather tasty in my opinion especially if you like the flavor of sage tea.  Michael goes on to recommend the cold infusion for chronic gastritis and ulcers, and the hot tea more for its diaphoretic properties—to break fevers and stimulate discharge of mucus in the sinuses and the lungs.  Artemisia vulgaris is also valued as a nervine having indications for shaking, nervousness, anxiousness, and insomnia.  Because of its warming, blood-moving qualities mugwort can stimulate the uterus and is not to be used during pregnancy internally, nor is it recommended topically unless you are under the direct guidance and care of a trained or licensed practitioner.

stand of California Mugwort

A mugwort liniment can be applied to relieve itching, fungus, or other skin infections and can be applied topically for general skin healing of bug bites and stings, poison oak rash etc.  The acetum (vinegar extract) tincture can also be used as a liniment for sprains, bruises, and is a mild counterirritant.

Because of the pungent aromatic compounds in mugwort (mainly cineole, and thujone) the scent is believed to repel insects, and ticks while also helping to ward off and treat poison oak.  To use as a repellant simply rub the fresh leaves on your clothes, near the ankles, along the waistline, on your sleeves, and at the back of the neck. You can also rub it directly on your exposed skin.  For arthritis, pain, swelling, aches etc. you can add Mugwort tea to a footbath, or a salt blend soak—the tea can also be used as a rinse for skin rashes and poison oak rash.  Mugwort is a marvelous herb to include in your all-purpose herbal first aid salve and dream-time balms.

Here are some basic preparations and recipes to get crafting with the beautiful Artemesia vulgaris var. douglasiana—California Mugwort: *as with all my recipes home-grown, or locally grown/ethically wild crafted herbs are preferred to be used–otherwise–support your local herb store!

Basic Cold Infusion tea: Use approx. ½ ounce of dried leaf per 32 ounces of water. It’s helpful to moisten the dry herb first before suspending it in the water. Infuse covered overnight, then strain off the herbs.

Basic Hot Infusion tea: Use approx. ½ ounce of dried leaf per 32 ounces of water. Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and add in the dried herb. Steep covered for 20 minutes up to an hour, then strain off the herbs.

a "trinity" of herbs basket of California mugwort, St. John's Wort, and Yarrow

a “trinity” of herbs basket of California mugwort, St. John’s Wort, and Yarrow

The Huntress of Healthy Hair Vinegar

Herbal vinegar hair rinses restore the natural acid of the scalp and are great for itchy scalp, dandruff and dull hair. This recipe is adaptable to your preference and what you’ve got growing in the garden!

Equal parts each of the following:

Mugwort leaf

Nettle leaf

Rosemary leaf

Dandelion leaf/blossom

½ parts each of:

Lemon Balm leaf

Calendula flowers

Lavender flowers

Apple Cider vinegar

10 drops of Rose Geranium essential oil

 Fill a quart jar with your herbal blend halfway then cover with vinegar and cap tightly. Keep the jar in a warm spot to infuse for 3-4 weeks. Shake the mixture daily. Strain the vinegar, then add to it the essential oils, bottle and label. Before you bathe, dilute the rinse with distilled/spring water—generally, a 1 part herbal vinegar to 7 parts water dilution. Make the rinse and set aside. After shampooing and rinsing, pour the vinegar rinse slowly through the hair, massaging it into the scalp. Rinse with warm water and then, if you can take it cold water—this stimulates the scalp and leaves your hair glossy and sheen!

Revitalizing Silver Moon Foot Soak

Refreshing and relaxing, stimulates circulation and reduces pain and inflammation of the feet.

¼ cup Mugwort dried leaf

2 tablespoons Rosemary, dry or a handful of fresh sprigs

2 tablespoon Peppermint leaf dried or 3 tbsp. fresh

1/2 cup of Sea Salt or Epsom Salt

6 drops of essential oil of Lavender

2 drops of essential oil of Peppermint 

1 tablespoon of jojoba oil

Mix Salt, herbs, and essential oils together. This makes one foot soak.

Add to a warm footbath tub the aromatic herbal salt blend and the jojoba oil, stir things around a bit to mix– then soak those pups! *You can also brew the herbs into a strong tea in advance. Just use the above listed amounts of herbs to one quart of water, and steep for an hour, then strain into your footbath. If you do it this way be sure to add the jojoba and essential oils together before adding it to the bath to help it disperse better.

Artemesia Healing liniment

Good for bruises, sprains and strains, and skin healing. This is great to infuse in vinegar and if you do, it can later be combined with some Aloe Vera gel (1 tbsp. vinegar to 2 ounces gel) for sunburn or rash.

Equal parts:

Mugwort leaf

Comfrey leaf

Calendula flower

Lavender flower

Combine the herbs and place in a jar that the herbs take up 2/3 the space of. Cover and fill the jar with either apple cider vinegar, or vodka, or witch hazel. Apply with a cotton ball to affected areas—dilute in water prior if needed.

silver-blue hued leaves of California Mugwort

The Huntress-Gatherer Salve

An all-purpose, all-healing salve. When in doubt “put some salve on it!”.

1 part Mugwort leaf

½ part Calendula flower

½  part Comfrey leaf or Plantain leaf

1 part St. John’s Wort Flowers

½ part Yarrow leaf and flower

½ part Western Red Cedar leaf tips, or Fir Needle tips, or Redwood Needle tips

Lavender essential oil 5 drops to each ounce of herbal infused oil

Eucalyptus radiata essential oil 3 drops to each ounce of herbal infused oil (optional)

Combine the herbs and infuse with olive or sunflower oil—use a pyrex filled with the herbs and oil 1 part herbs to 7 parts oil, place pyrex into simmering water in a saucepan and let it warmly infuse yet not “cook” for at least an hour—keep an eye on the water in the saucepan and add as needed. After a few hours of this low-heat infusing method strain off the herbs from the oil and store in an airtight jar with a label. *Another infusing method would be to grind the herbs a bit in a grinder, then blend the oil and ground herbs together in a blender just until warm, then jar it up and soak for 2-3 weeks, after which strain off the herbs. To make salve from this herbal infused oil: simply use 1 cup of herbal oil to approx. ¼ cup of grated beeswax—heat together the oil and beeswax in the pyrex by sitting it in a saucepan of simmering water, let it warm until the beeswax has melted into the herbal oil—stir with a chopstick to mix, remove from heat. Then add in your essential oils, stir well, and pour into jars. Label and share with your friends!

Artemis Dream’s Potpourri Blend

1 cup Mugwort leaves

½ cup Hops flowers

¼ cup Marjoram herb

1 cup Lavender flowers

½ cup Rose Petals

½ cup Lemon Verbena whole leaf (optional)

20 drops of Lavender essential oil

10 drops Ylang ylang essential oil

5 drops of Clary Sage essential oil

Combine the herbs and mix well, then add in essential oils and mix things around again. I like to let this sit in a sealed bag or jar overnight to infuse the scent throughout the herbs. Then stuff into small cotton drawstring bag(s)and keep by the bedside for fragrant dreams and peaceful sleep. You can also store the blend in a pretty glass jar and simply uncork or unscrew the lid to diffuse the fragrance whenever you choose—this is always a great gift!

California mugwort stand with Lupine

California Mugwort Dreamin’ Tea

A tea blend to relax, and calm—sweet dreams to you!

You will need:

½ part California Mugwort

1 part Linden

½ part Spearmint

¼ part Orange peel

1 part Oat tops

1 part Lemon Balm

½ part Chamomile

Mix the herbs together and store in an airtight jar. Use 1 tablespoon of the blend per cup of water. You can make it as an overnight cold infusion, or steep it warm 10-20 minutes or longer if you prefer.

Sweeten with honey if you desire.

California mugwort

“I now grow Artemisias in tubs, borders, trimmed hedges, and as single accents. Never again will I relegate them to the sidelines. Artemesias add sparkle to every planting, enhancing neighboring bright colors, and create soothing oases during the hot days of summer and fall when they reach their peak of form.  Growing artemsias is an herb lover’s dream, uniting utility and beauty.” Jo ann Gardner (from an article she wrote for Herb Companion 2000)

 

*Cautions/Contraindications for Mugwort: Not for use during pregnancy. Bear caution using if you have any pre-existing allergy to the daisy family (asteraceae family). Not advised to be taken in large dosages over extended periods of time. Please consult with your local herbalist or licensed practitioner before using.

Sources Cited:

Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore

Healing with the Herbs of Life by Leslie Tierra

The Herbal Tarot Book by Candice Cantin and Michael Tierra

After the First Full Moon in April by Josephine Peters and Beverly Ortiz

Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar

The Encyclopedia of Herbs by Tucker and Debaggio

Other links to check out:

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mugwor61.html

http://www.crimson-sage.com/item/Mugwort-Native-Californian-Artemesia-douglasii-100236

For Supplies and Herbs check out:

humboldtherbals.com

mountainroseherbs.com

*This article is intended to be an exchange of information in hopes to keep the herbal healing traditions alive and well.  It is not intended to treat, or diagnose, nor is it intended to replace the care and treatment from a licensed practitioner or health care provider.  These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

 


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Spring Thyme Wine Spritzer

J.Shepherd Spring Wine Spritzerrecipe and photos by Jessica Shepherd

Every month our small town has an event called Art’s Alive where many small shops stay open late to feature the talent of a local artist’s work in their store accompanied by live music, free drinks, and tasty eats.  The herb shop I work at (Humboldt Herbals) participates in this exciting art filled event every month.  We always come up with an herbal inspired cocktail to share with everyone that comes out for the fun and this time around it was my turn to concoct the drink.  I came up with a Spring Thyme Wine Spritzer–and it was enjoyed by many!  I hope you too will enjoy this refreshing drink.  Cheers to renewal and a fabulous Spring!

First you need to make a “simple syrup” of lavender and thyme.  Here is what you will need for that:

approx.  a generous 1/2 cup worth of fresh thyme from the garden  (I used a lime and lemon thyme variety)

fresh thyme

1 cup lavender tea –to make this take 1 heaping TBSP. of dried lavender flowers, bring a cup of water to a boil-remove from heat and add the lavender, cover with a lid and let steep for about 15 minutes.  Strain the tea and set aside in a mason jar.

1 cup organic sugar 

To Make the Simple Syrup:

Begin by making the lavender tea, then strain and set aside in a mason jar.

Now out to the garden you go to snip some fresh thyme!  Be sure to either snip fresh growth or pluck the leaves off of any hardy woody stems.  You want to avoid thick hardy woody stems, as they will give the syrup more of a bitter flavor–we don’t want that.

Next, put your 1 cup of lavender tea in a saucepan, add in the organic sugar, then add in your  fresh thyme.  Bring everything in the saucepan to a boil, then turn the heat to a med- low simmer, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain well.  Set the syrup aside in a mason jar and allow to cool.  Refrigerate the syrup if you won’t be using it right away.  Viola’ you have now made Lavender-Thyme Simple Syrup!  This will keep for a few months in the refrigerator.

Now to craft your wine spritzer:

1 cup Pinot Grigio white wine 

1 cup sparkling water 

1/2 cup ginger ale 

2-3 TBSP of Lavender Thyme Simple Syrup (begin with 2 TBSP. taste it, and adjust as you prefer)

Combine all the above and serve it chilled.  As always I encourage you to experiment with proportions of this recipe to your desired taste!

A non-alcholic alternative could be:

To 1 cup of sparkling water add 1-2 TBSP of Lavender Thyme Simple Syrup and serve chilled!  This tastes savory and refreshing, with a delicate floral undertone.

lime thyme JShepherd

Take “thyme” to celebrate Spring with friends and family–no “thyme” is like the present “thyme”!!!


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Flourless Chocolate Spiced Cake with Rose Whipped Cream

Flourless Chocolate Spiced Cake with Vanilla Caviar & Rose Whipped Creamby Jessica Shepherd

This flourless cake is dense and truffle-like, moist and velvety, using in total about 3/4 of a pound of chocolate!    Brace yourself for a most brilliant cocoa-buzz, then prepare for lift off cause we’re gonna top it off with Rose Whipped Cream!

For me that’s what makes this cake–the delicate and exquisite rose flavor of the whipped cream kissed with the addition of vanilla caviar making it taste all the more heavenly. Then pair that with the deep chocolate and spices and  wow, its an incredible treat.  Enjoy this with your lover or your loved one’s!

The cake is a recipe I adapted from a Real Simple food recipe–adding to it a kick of warming spices that harmonize with the cocoa, and of course, home made vanilla extract.

Flourless Chocolate Spiced Cake Recipe

You will need the following organic ingredients:

2 sticks of butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan

1/4 cup raw cacao powder, plus more for dusting the pan

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg powder

1/2 teaspoon of ginger root powder

1/4 cup of heavy cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

5 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar (or your choice of sweetener adjusted to taste)

1 tbsp. rose petals ground, for dusting the cake with

  • Heat your oven to 350
  • Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with the raw cacao powder.
  • Mix 1/4 cup of raw cacao powder and spices together, set aside for now.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the butter with the 1/4 cup of heavy cream over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Then stir in the chopped chocolate, until melted and smooth; remove from heat
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and spiced cacao powder blend, then finally, whisk in the melted chocolate/butter mixture.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until puffed and set, 35-40 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for 1 hour.
  • Once cooled dust the cake with the ground rose petals and serve topped with Rose Whipped Cream!

Rose Whipped Cream

Rose Whipped Cream Recipe

You will need the following organic ingredients:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon of vanilla caviar (optional)

2 teaspoons of Rose Hydrosol

1 Tablespoon of coarsely ground Red or Pink Rose petals

1-2 Tablespoons of maple syrup

Using an electric mixer, beat all the above listed ingredients–except the ground rose petals.  Beat until soft peaks form.

Transfer the whipped cream to your desired serving bowl and dust it all over with the ground rose petals.  Serve with the decadent flour-less chocolate spiced cake!

Let the Rose amplify your heart to the highest! Fiore Amore!

note: you can find rose hydrosol and rose petals and other wonderful things at Humboldt Herbals and Mountain Rose Herbs


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Romantic Ylang ylang: 5 Sensual Recipes to Caress Body & Soul


photo by j.shepherd

article, recipes, and product photos by Jessica Shepherd

Night blooming flowers intrigue me, especially those reaching peak scent production during the night—their romantic fumes perfuming the evening air.  One such flower is that of the “heavenly-sensual” Ylang ylang tree, pronounced EE’-lang EE’-lang, with its botanical name being Cananga odorata.  The tree’s starfish shaped yellow clusters of flowers are not only night bloomers, but are considered the “Queen of Perfumes” emitting a scent often described as sweet, intensely-floral, exotic, creamy-custard, rounded with rich balsamic notes.  Ylang ylang is also called the  “flower of flowers” because it smells like many flowers swirled into one sexy scent.

It takes five years for the ylang ylang tree to even begin producing these fumy blooms and after it does, she will go on producing an average of 45 pounds of flowers annually for somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50 years! Ylang ylang trees in the wild can reach 60ft. if not higher, and are native to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and other lowland countries of East Asia.  The trees also grow, and are cultivated in other warm tropic locations as well, like Madagascar—a top exporter of ylang ylang essential oil.

So how is Ylang ylang essential oil made?  Reaching their “crescendo” of scent during the night, the careful hand collection of ylang ylang flowers ideally begins during these night hours, and usually by dawn the harvest is in full swing.  Harvest timing is crucial, as the freshly harvested flowers begin to lose their scent once exposed to the light. The best essential oil is said to come from flowers that have gone from a green color to reach their mature rich yellow color and that are harvested in dry weather—not during rain. It takes on average 50 pounds of fresh flowers to yield 16 ounces of essential oil.

Once harvested, the flowers go through a steam distillation process also called “fractional distillation”, Depending on the expertise of the distiller, the distillation process is interrupted at precise times to pour off and collect fractions of the essential oil.  It is important to keep this in mind when you go to purchase ylang ylang essential oil because you’ll often find a range of options, including:

Ylang ylang Extra grade—Extra grade is the very first fraction collected from the still, taken after the initial first hour or so of distilling. This fraction includes the smallest molecules making its scent the sweetest and most floral in aroma compared to the other fractions—highly valued in not only aromatherapy, but also for perfumery.  Some aromatherapists find this to be the most delicate in scent and have noted it is the least to cause a headache in highly sensitive individuals verses ylang ylang III.

Ylang ylang I grade: this fraction is collected after approx. 4 hours into distillation

Ylang ylang II grade: this fraction is collected after approx.7 hours of distillation

Ylang ylang III grade: this fraction is collected after approx.10 hours of distillation. These grades (I,II,III) are commonly used throughout the food and flavor industry and additionally in the cosmetic/perfume industry, and sometimes in aromatherapy.  These grades also have a bit of a “greener” smell to them.

Next is the Ylang ylang Complete grade– after the approx. 15 hours of distillation this last fraction of essential oil is collected and then is often mixed with the previous four fractions into one blend called Ylang ylang Complete– encompassing all the different chemical components from each fraction.  Having a rounded delicate floral scent, it too, especially when obtained from an organic reputable source, can be lovely for skin care and aromatherapy.

And finally, the ultimate full spectrum essential oil is Ylang ylang Complete-Fine grade, also sometimes called VOP (very old process). This essential oil indicates that the steam distillation process was never interrupted resulting in a “complete” distillation–not a blend of the separate fractions.  It is deep and delicate in its floral scent, custard-rich, and is a most excellent choice for use in aromatherapy and hand-made body products.

No matter the grade, Cananga odorata is always the botanical name for true Ylang ylang–remember to cross-check your botanical name to confirm you have the correct plant!  All choices of course have their own special value and slight variations in scent.  My current favorites available from Humboldt Herbals are Veriditas Botanicals organic Ylang ylang Extra, and Primavera Life’s organic Ylang yang Complete and from Eden Botanicals all choices they offer are great, but their  Ylang ylang Compete VOP is my recent favorite.

ylang-ylang photo from base formula blog

What are the healing properties of Ylang ylang essential oil?

In aromatherapy Ylang ylang is used for anxiety, stress, anger, irritability, tension, shock, and insomnia.  It is has calming, balancing, sedative properties widely used to combat many forms of stress.  With its romantic aroma ylang ylang has a long history of use as an aphrodisiac and sexual stimulant– relieving tension and imparting joy.  It can help support breakthrough in blockages of fear and timidity around intimacy providing a sense of relaxation and letting go.  It is said the scent of Ylang ylang can “calm the passions of jealousy by generating the ability to feel more loveable.”   The scent encourages enthusiasm, uplift, and is considered anti- depressant. It is one of the best at relaxing the mind and body as it sweetly soothes jangled nerves and emotionally charged states.  Renowned Aromatherapist Valerie Ann Worwood says that ylang ylang “may soften the hard-hearted and allow those who use judgement against others to feel the soft seduction of heaven”—beautifully put indeed.

The scent when inhaled, stimulates the adrenal glands, supports the thymus gland, and also stimulates the immune system and liver. Topically, when diluted, it is antiseptic and antifungal and is a great addition to your herbal “all purpose” healing salves.  Ylang ylang being a sedative, can help lower mildly elevated blood pressure even just a few drops of the essential oil diluted in a carrier oil (jojoba, olive oil etc.) and applied topically over the heart area of the chest can have a remarkable effect in producing relaxation, and calmness. Ylang ylang is antispasmodic and relieves muscle spasms, also relaxes nerves, stimulates circulation, and is effective for musculoskeletal cramps and digestive cramps—making it a nice addition to massage oil blends.

Ylang ylang essential oil is especially suited in skin care for treating dry, mature skin, but will benefit any skin type.  It promotes healthy supple skin, balances oil production, gently stimulates circulation, and strengthens the capillaries. Ylang ylang soothes a dry scalp and indigenous people of the tropics have long mixed ylang ylang in coconut oil to use as a hair and scalp tonic, and to protect hair from salt water damage (add 3-4 drops of essential oil to every ounce of conditioner or ¼ cup of coconut oil).

When using ylang ylang essential oil—remember it is highly concentrated and powerful in its scent intensity.  A few drops go a long way and too much can be over-powering—potentially causing a headache.  So, when I blend with ylang ylang it is always one drop at a time and I smell as I go, gauging the intensity.  I aim for a delicate but rich floral addition, while not letting it dominate over the other scents I have chosen to combine it with.  In my experience people respond most positively to the scent of ylang ylang oil in light amounts. I recommend starting with just 1-3 drops per ounce of carrier oil.  You can always add more drops to your blends, but you can’t take them back out!!  Ylang ylang combines nicely with many other essential oils such as: bergamot, clary sage, vetiver, most citruses (blood orange, mandarin), spice (cardamom), and wood oils (sandalwood, cedarwood).

Now time to enjoy the gifts of Ylang ylang with some recipes to caress your skin and soothe your soul! Craft with Love and Enjoy!

Sensual Ylang ylang Spritzer

photo by J.Shepherd

Use as a mist for your body, bedroom, linens, sheets, and lingerie—divine!

You will need the following:

2 ounce size glass bottle with atomizer top

5 drops Ylang ylang Extra essential oil

3 drops Bergamot essential oil

2 drops Peru Balsam essential oil (optional)

1 teaspoon organic Vanilla extract

1 oz. Ylang ylang hydrosol/or Rose Hydrosol

Put drops of essential oils, vanilla extract, and hydrosol in the bottle.  Fill the rest of the way with purified or spring water.  Shake well, mist as desired to feel the bliss!

Romantic Cananga No. 5 Roll-on Perfume

photo by J.Shepherd

Ylang ylang essential oil was actually used in the famous perfume Chanel No. 5 and other popular fragrances.  With this recipe you can make your own romantic scent to adorn with–minus the yucky synthetics normally utilized in commercial perfumes.  The “flower of flowers” takes center stage, with a touch of vanilla, and hints of robust coffee bean.

You will need the following:

1/3 oz. glass perfume bottle with roll-on top

1/3 oz. of organic Vanilla infused jojoba oil (to make this simply split and chop one organic Vanilla bean, next put in a glass jar, then cover with 4 ounces of organic jojoba oil, seal the lid on and put in a cool dark place allowing it to infuse for 2-3 weeks, then strain off and store in a glass bottle for use on its own or in endless other recipes!)

9 Drops of organic Ylang ylang Extra essential oil

4 Drops of organic Coffee essential oil (optional)

Put drops of essential oils in bottle, then fill with your vanilla infused jojoba oil, put roller cap on bottle.  For an added touch, I left a tiny piece about ¼ inch of chopped vanilla bean in the bottle with all the above.  Shake well before applying your roll-on perfume to pulse points, and neck.

Feelin’ the Love Massage and Body Oil

photo by J.Shepherd

Sensually sweet, with a touch of spice and warmth relieving tension while centering the heart and soothing the soul.  Perfect for a relaxing massage and as an aromatic moisturizing body oil.

You will need the following:

2 ounce glass bottle

1 ounce og. Macadamia nut oil (or any other oil you like for massage)

1 ounce og. Vanilla infused jojoba oil (or jojoba oil)

6 drops og. Ylang ylang Extra essential oil

3 drops Atlas Cedarwood or Sandalwood essential oil

2 drops Cardamom essential oil

Put all essential oils in bottle, then fill with the vanilla infused jojoba oil, and macadamia nut oil.  Cap up, label, and shake well before use.

Sexy Organic Coconut Milk Soak

photo by J.Shepherd

The ultimate “treat yo’ self-soak”!  Not only does this soak smell richly  divine– it completely relaxes the body melting all your tensions away. After getting out of the tub your skin feels like silk from the moisturizing coconut milk and will be delicately perfumed from the ylang ylang all night long!

You will need the following:

1 can of organic coconut milk

½ cup Dead Sea salt

1 teaspoon of organic Vanilla extract

8 drops of organic Ylang ylang essential oil

1 drop of Cinnamon bark essential oil (or Cinnamon leaf)

1 cup of organic dry rose petals

4×6 muslin cotton bag (for the rose petals)

To the can of coconut milk add the vanilla extract, and essential oils, then stir a bit to mix.  Fill your muslin cotton bag with the dry rose petals and tie.  As the tub is filling, pour into it your can of aromatic coconut milk, the Dead Sea salt, and toss in your yummy bag of rose petals.  Be sure and stir everything around just a little bit to mix the coconut milk throughout the bath water.  During my soak I always squeeze the rose petal bag letting the water rinse my face—rosy and delicious feeling.  Prepare for relaxation and euphoria! *Caution your tub and you will be slick after this, and you will also be in a state of euphoric bliss so be careful when getting out!

Love Me More Body Butter

photo by J.Shepherd

There’s nothing better than a body butter to caress the skin—especially one that smells of sweet ylang ylang flowers and cocoa butter.  The consistency of this body butter is on the softer side, making it easy to get out of the jar and slather on.  Highly moisturizing and protective to the skin, it can also on occasion be used as a hair and scalp treatment.  Perfect too for massaging tired hands and feet after a long day.  This smells so delicious!

You will need the following:

2– two ounce size salve jar or other glass jar (recipe yields about 4 oz. total)

2 Tablespoons organic Coconut oil (I used “heaping Tablespoons”)

1.5 ounces organic Cocoa butter

1 teaspoon organic Vanilla infused Jojoba oil or jojoba oil

½ teaspoon organic Vanilla extract

12 drops organic Ylang ylang Extra essential oil

In a saucepan of gently simmering water, place in a pyrex measuring cup and melt down in it the coconut oil, cocoa butter, and jojoba oil.  Remove the pyrex from the water bath, then to the melted oils add the essential oil and vanilla extract stirring well to combine.  Pour into your jars, label, and enjoy!

Sweet Dreams Ylang ylang Laced Lingerie

Last but not least, this one is recommended by the famous Jeanne Rose and is too easy not to try!  Just take a few cotton balls and on each put a drop of ylang ylang essential oil, then tuck it into your lingerie drawer to have your garments smelling kissed of ylang ylang.

Sources Cited:

photo of ylang ylang flower courtesy of: http://www.baseformula.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/ylang-ylang.jpg

The Healing Trail: Essential oils of Madagascar by Halpern/Weverka

Aromatehrapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by K. Keville and Mindy Green (this is one of my “must-have” aromatherapy books!)

Aromatherapy for the Soul by Valerie Ann Worwood

Essential Oils: A Handbook for Aromatherapy Practice by Jennifer Pace Rhind

The Aromatherapy Book by Jeanne Rose

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cananga_odorata

Vibrational Aromatherapy by Deborah Eidson

*This article is intended to be an exchange of information in hopes to keep the herbal healing traditions alive and well.  It is not intended to treat, or diagnose, nor is it intended to replace the care and treatment from a licensed practitioner or health care provider.  These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.


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Help with putting the cigarettes down

By Kate Maxey

Cigarettes kill a lot of people. Not only is cigarette smoking the single greatest cause of preventable disease but it is probably the most difficult addiction to kick. We all know the health problems that come with cigarettes, from respiratory and heart issues to impotence and cancer. I am not going to cover the problems with this habit so much as I want to talk about ways to kick it. For some you just might feel that it is time to do it, but maybe you need a little help.

So here are some suggestions in the herbal and psychological realms:

* Social support: Grab a friend to quit with you. If you know of another person who also wants to stop ,do it together. Your odds of continuing cessation will greatly improve. One study found that if someone’s spouse quits with them their chance of continued smoking decreased by nearly 70 percent.

You can also tell your friends and family that you are trying to quit so that they can provide support and motivation. Social media can be useful for this as well.

Psychological treatments:  Behavioral therapy can be beneficial like setting up some sort of rewards system for when you don’t smoke. Whatever it may be try to make your reward something healthy, like giving yourself time to relax or be in nature or buying a special small thing for yourself.  Sweets and fatty foods might not be a good idea as rewards because people tend to put on weight when they quit smoking.

Another idea is hypnotherapy. I have personally had really good experiences with hypnotherapy which is why I mention it here.  It doesn’t work for everyone and the clinical results are mixed, but it is something to look into if you have the extra funds to pay for a few sessions. For more info on this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/11/hypnosis-quit-smoking_n_1248444.html

*Exercise: Exercise not only helps to relax the nervous system but it helps the brain to be happy and healthy. Aerobic exercise especially helps with clearing out the lungs as well. I have a friend who when she was trying to quit ran everyday, and what really kept her from smoking was seeing all the black tar nastiness that was coming out of her lungs! No good!

*Nicotine Replacement Therapy:  This comes in the form of patches, gum, inhalers, ect and can help with the intense cravings that come with putting down cigarettes.   Clinical studies have shown that NRT is more effective then a placebo treatment, however abstinence rates are only about 50 percent at 12 month follow ups. Also, a smoker can become dependent on these things so it is good to be aware of other options.

*Herbal Treatment:  There are many herbal allies to help with putting the cigarettes down. Here are a list of some of the main ones:

Lobelia: (Lobelia inflata) Lobelia has a general depressant action on the central and autonomic nervous systems and is a great anti-asthmatic.  Clinical studies have shown that a constituent in Lobelia called lobeline, acts similarly to nicotine in the brain, making it helpful with withdrawal symptoms. It also thins the thick mucus that accompanies cessation from smoking. This is a low does plant so it is best to take it as a tincture or you can also smoke it in a herbal smoking blend. (More on this later)

Oatstraw: (Avena Sativa) Oatstraw is a phenomenal nervous system tonic.  I personally believe it should be in our water supply it is so amazing. It calms and balances the nervous system and not only helps with nicotine withdrawal, but it also helps with other addiction withdrawals that come with opiates and alcohol.

Skullcap: (Scutellaria laterifolia)  Is a strong nervous system sedative that works for the acute symptoms of withdrawal. It effectively soothes nervous tension while renewing and reviving the central nervous system.

Skullcap

Skullcap

Yerba Santa: (Eriodictyon californicum) This stimulating expectorant thins and stimulates the free flow of mucus from the lungs when there is congestion with thick mucus.

Elecampane root: (Inula helenium ) Another great lung herb that helps  get the gunk up and out of the lungs. It also soothes irritation in the lungs which is nice for the lungs of a smoker. It is useful for asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, COPD and for chronic coughs.

IMG_0630

Elecampane flowers

One great tea recipe for soothing the lungs is:

Coltsfoot 2 parts (A great expectorant and anti spasmodic)

Marshmallow root 2 parts  (A great soothing demulcent)

Hyssop 2 parts (Expectorant, nervine and anti-spasmodic)

Licorice 1 part ( Soothing demulcent, as well as a nice liver and adrenal supporting herb)

Anise 1 part  (A great anti-spasmodic)

Some other great tea blends for the lungs are made by Humboldt Herbals. One is a lung tonic and the other is a nice expectorant tea. you can find them here:

http://www.humboldtherbals.com/organic-bulk-teas/herbal-tea-blends/expectorant-cough-relief.html

http://www.humboldtherbals.com/organic-bulk-teas/herbal-tea-blends/lung-tonic-tea.html

They also carry a great herbal smoking blend that can be useful when you are dealing with the habit of the hand to mouth action of smoking. You know, when you just need to smoke something. They don’t put Lobelia into their blend, but you can add it to this blend or get an idea of some other good smoking herbs.

http://www.humboldtherbals.com/organic-bulk-teas/herbal-tea-blends/actors-smoking-blend.html

They also have a great tincture to help with the nicotine withdrawal symptoms that I have seen be very effective for people:

http://www.humboldtherbals.com/tinctures-and-glycerites/humboldt-herbals-formula/tobacco-remedy/tobacco-remedy-1-oz.html

Well I hope this helps. And good luck to all those who have decided to put the cigarettes down!

Sources:

Medical Herbalism by David Hoffmann

Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner

Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson Haas


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Spring Nectar Lip Gloss–oooh, la, la!

Spring Nectar Lip Gloss

photos and article by Jessica Shepherd

Nothing compares to the quality of  hand crafted lip gloss made from the most exquisite and organic ingredients.  I recently had so much fun gifting out this Spring batch of lip gloss I made to a group of my lovely herbalist friends.  I felt like I was the lip gloss fairy!  Then watched with a smile, as all the gals tried it out saying “oooh, aaah, feels great and tastes great”!  Sheer satisfaction for me—gifting my friends hand-made herbal treats!  Truly “good for you” gifts!

This lip gloss takes care of chapped or wind-burned lips and contains especially  hydrating and soothing ingredients like cocoa butter, coconut oil, honey, and the deep healing and repair of the herbal infused oils. I also had some locally grown and produced Macadamia nut oil that I was lucky to purchase at a Farmer’s Market in Hawaii, while there on a trip this past March.  Its truly the glossy definition of emollient which means: “making soft or supple; soothing especially to the skin or mucous membrane”.  Personally, I prefer to pass on the petroleum, propylene glycol, paraben’s, and other synthetic chemicals that conventional lip balms, and other body products contain.  I know that what I put on my skin can and usually will, find its way into my bloodstream. So I take pride in discovering ways to make my own healthy plant-based body care recipes, and hope that sharing some of my recipes will inspire and empower you to do the same!

Spring Nectar Lip Gloss

I am calling this a gloss, rather than a balm, because I wanted a slightly softer lip balm that was able to glide easily across the lips and soak right into dry areas.  This lip-gloss offers healing skin repair to chapped, wind-burned, and sunburned, lips while also working to keep the lips supple, moist, and plump.  Yum, it has a great subtle taste from the herbs and added essential oils, making the lips feel lovely and silky smooth!  Keep in mind if you don’t have an herb infused oil on hand, or if you don’t have or want to get the Mac nut oil (you really should treat yourself to it though!)–you can always just substitute any regular organic oil like plain Sunflower oil, or Almond oil, Hemp seed oil, Sesame, Olive oil, you get the idea–any of those will work–just be sure to use the total amount of 6 ounces of oil and follow the directions from there!

lip gloss ingredients

Here is the recipe– and as always organic ingredients are preferred!  

Yields aprrox. 28 tubes

¼ oz empty lip balm tubes, about 28 you’ll need

4 oz. Herbal Infused Oil —  I used a blend I always have on hand which is Lavender, Calendula, and Rose petals infused in Sunflower oil.  To make this:  Take 1 ounce of each dried herb and put them in a quart sized mason jar. Cover with your sunflower oil to fill the jar.  Seal the lid on the jar and let the oil and flowers soak for 2-4 weeks in a cool dark place, visiting your infusing oil every few days shaking it to distribute the oil around, and offer it your blessings and love!  Then after that time, strain off the herbs from the oil, and viola’ you have an infused herbal oil!   You can add 1 tbsp.  of Vitamin E to this to help preserve it and it should keep for up to one year.  It can not only be used in your lip balm base, but also on its own as a body oil or massage oil, and in your other body products like creams, lotions, and salt or sugar scrubs.

2 oz. Macadamia nut oil-- a protective oil to the skin with a high absorption rate, soothes burns, and helps with scars, nourishing to the skin

2 ½ tbsp. Cocoa butter–reduces dryness and helps improve the elasticity of the skin tissue, it also lends a thick and creamy consistency to blends like lip balms, lotions, creams etc. Oh, and of course, it smells like chocolate!

cocoa butter

4 tbsp. of grated Beeswax–increases essential moisture in the skin, has mild anti-bacterial properties,  contains Vitamin A, and is a natural emulsifier suitable for use in all types of body products (lotions, salves, balms etc.)

Beeswax

1 tbsp. Coconut oil- soothing and moisturizing

Coconut oil

2 tsp. Honey- anti-bacterial and humectant– meaning it promotes the retention of moisture

a spoonful of honey

8 drops Lime essential oil–bright and cheery, anti-septic, acts as a “natural preservative” (all essential oils help to add a preservative quality to your home made goodies (creams, lotions, balms etc.) and lengthen their “shelf life”

15 drops Wild Orange essential oil–adds a yummy flavor, cheers the spirits, and is anti-bacterial

10 drops Lavender essential oil–soothing to burns, helps scars, and nourishes

5 drops Rose Geranium essential oil--soothing, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, has a delicate herbaceous rose scent

2 tsp. Vanilla extract--excellent for burns, cooling and soothing, also adds that flavor we all know and love!

To make the lip gloss: Take  a sauce pan and fill it halfway and bring the water to a simmer then turn heat to medium-low.  Take your glass pyrex measuring cup and fill it with specified amount of herbal oil, mac nut oil, and then add in the cocoa butter, coconut oil, and beeswax to that.  Set the pyrex in the hot water of the saucepan, stir with a chopstick here and there until everything has melted together.

melting the butters oils and wax

Now, before adding your other ingredients do what we call a “spoon test” with your lip gloss base—the melted goods you have in the pyrex.  So take a spoon and scoop a little of the hot liquid and set the spoon in your freezer (I usually set it on a paper towel in case of spilage).  Let the spoon sit in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  After that time take it out and dip your finger in it, getting an idea of the consistency of the gloss.  If it seems to liquidy and not solid enough that is a great indicator you want to add more beeswax to make it more solid.  On the contrary, if it is too solid and hard, you want to add a little more oil to your pyrex of melting goods.  I adjust it usually by the ½ tablespoon or so until I do another spoon test and reach my desired consistency.  Once you have that perfected you can take the pyrex with melted oils, butter, and wax and set it on the counter to cool down for a good 10 minutes.

After that grab a clean chopstick and add in your honey and mix well, then add in the essential oils drop by drop mixing well after, and then finally add your vanilla extract.  Stir it all together mixing with love!  Now, from the pyrex you are ready to pour up your lip gloss into the tubes.  I just hold a tube in my left hand and slowly, with my right hand pour from the pyrex, until the gloss reaches the top of the tube, or even spills over the sides if you go too quick—that’s okay you can clean it up!  In between filling a few tubes, be sure to give the oils and wax a stir again to help distribute the vanilla, honey, and essential oils throughout.  At a slow and steady pace you’ll get the hang of it– and before you know it you’ll have filled 28 lip balm tubes!

I let them stand on the counter for a bit before I put the caps on and move em’ around.  You want to allow for a wee bit of time for the lip gloss to cool and “set” or harden in the tube.  You can speed this process up after letting it cool enough on the counter that you can put the lids on with out spilling liquid, just put them in the refrigerator for about a half hour, and it will be “set” and ready to gloss upon your lips!  Of course, my final step is to wipe the tube off of any spilled gloss that occurred during the pouring procees (rubbing alcohol works well for this!), then label it with a fun name and your ingredients.  Your lip balm will stay good or have a “shelf life”  for at least one year!

Spring Nectar Lip Gloss

Spring Nectar Lip Gloss

If I purchase a lip balm, which I do sometimes if I can’t find time to make my own, these are a few of the brands I choose—Wild Carrot Herbals rich and creamy with a few different choices, Terra Firma Botanicals  makes a lip balm called “Love Oil Lip Balm” and its one of my favorites– super silky with an awesome flavor, and then there is  Eagle Peak herbals–they make a wonderful herb infused lip balm using all the top skin loving herbs many of which they grow themselves or ethically wildcraft!

Enjoy and Cheers to your happy juicy lips!!!  Now go give someone a smooch!

Spring Poppy flower

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