Happy August! I know it’s cheesy but I am singing Buster Poindexter - “feeling Hot, Hot, Hot” because it’s August and in East Tennessee it’s just plain ol gross with muggy heat right now. Hope you all are staying cool enough.
There’s so much to put in this newsletter, so bear with me. Some of it is personal but of course personal lives always impact the professional. I have spent 20 years studying herbs and it is not a common passion or field to try and make a career of. In the beginning, I struggled to get people to understand what it was or what I was capable of doing with herbs. I wanted to prove it and myself to people. I was desperate to be a good and thorough example. I overworked and undervalued my time, my study and myself in that quest of proving my passion. I don't know many people who stick with the same field of study for 2 decades anymore. The information and experience I have gathered is not something that you can google, watch a couple of hours of Tik Toks or even read a dozen books and know. I want to be able to share this knowledge and use it to help people not only in my community but where ever I can. As we all know, small businesses have suffered the past year and I wish I were an exception but I am not. I want to celebrate 25 years, 30 years and so forth with you as your "friendly neighborhood herbalist" but in order for that to happen, I need to make some healthy long term changes and I need your support and understanding in those changes. I also need to be able to add to the finances of my family. The bottom line is my bottom line suffered along with many others. I'm not asking that everyone throw your money at me. I am asking that you show your support however you can. Please consider supporting my social media with post likes, or invitations to follow, or commentary. Come take a class when I can offer them or share information about the class. Book me for your garden club talk or host a class designed specifically for your group. Make a recipe I share, take a photo, post and tag the business. There are many ways to support local businesses, do what you feel called to do. Do purchase from me if you want to try a new tea, a skin balm, need a tincture or any of the other things I offer. I promise you I will not fly into space on a phallic rocket ship from these profits, but they will support my continued education and my family. Thank you for reading through my plea and now on to business stuff.
1st- August 17th marks the 20th year Anniversary of graduating from my first year of Herbal Studies. It’s really been 20 years since I had my lightbulb moment and “found” what I was going to hopefully spend most of my adult life pursuing. I still remember unpacking my box of books and just rubbing those covers, most of which I still reference today. I want to share these 20 years with you so I’m doing a month long sale for 20% off all herbal products and consults purchased through the website or personally from me. This DOES not include any products purchased from Centered or Heliotropic Healing. Coupon Code - BetterW/herbs -is entered at the checkout stage from the website. This is good starting Aug 1st and good through Aug 31st. Stock up on immune boosting or stress relief herbs for back to school, try a bath salt, get gift cards to spend throughout the year, teas, or consults! Cell Salts are excluded from the sale. Gift Cards are viable for a year from purchase so you have plenty of time to shop and those gift cards can be used for any upcoming class- Covid willing.
2nd update- As you may have noticed, I’m reworking the website, changing prices and policies. Covid, it’s quarantine and all that happened in 2020 hit so many hard and I am certainly no exception. I am changed personally and professionally, mostly for the better but it came at a price. Several aspects of life found me facing a very dark reality of stage 3-4 burnout despite all the self care that I employed. I’ve been working to heal the underlying issues that brought me to my knees and realizing that often aspects that make me a good or attentive herbalist aren’t in my best interest as a person. I need to set more boundaries and more of a rhythm in my practice, moving to less acute consults and situations. I'll paraphrase that quote from Jurassic Park - “I was so preoccupied with whether or not I could, I didn’t stop to think if I should”. Answering emails, texts or FB messages after business hours or on my personal page because I was too tired to redirect people to the business page or just to get it done. Agreeing to make a custom formula based on a few back and forth emails or bending the rules, I had set up about days I brew because it was an emergency. Fitting classes in during my off time so I could continue to work with clients when those classes or conferences were for work. Mix any of those behaviors in with the stress of virtual school, loosing my office and the state of the world and it wasn't healthy at all. SOOOOOOO, One of the many changes will be with the consults. I’m going to shorten the time of the initial consult from the 2 plus hours to 1- 1 1/2 hours. Anything not covered in that time will be addressed in the follow up check in that is scheduled at the end of the 1st appointment for about 2 1/2 weeks out. In the follow up appointments, we will discuss the progress or set backs that you are experiencing and adjust formulas or doses accordingly. We will continue to schedule check ins as needed. An added bonus of the check in consult is that clients tend to remember more about what is happening in their journey with their health and update me to anything happening that may be outside of what we are working on but could impact the efficacy of the herbs, such as change in other medications, lifestyle or wellbeing. This relationship has shown me to be so critical in working on a wide range of issues and speeding up the movement of smaller more concentrated issues. As to my personal healing, it keeps me from being in a state of “on call” where I would often get multiple people updating with a stream of back and forth emails and me doing mental gymnastics addressing too many files in a small space of time.
Custom product prices are also increasing a small amount. These take extra time and knowledge to create and need to reflect those extras. All new custom products or tweaks to products will need to have a check in consult, either in person or over the phone so I can get a very clear picture of the situation. Check in consults can be bought singular or in packages at a discounted price.
Now I realize that the added expense of check in consults and customizable products may not be in everyone’s budget, so I am diligently expanding the “greatest hits” on my website to address more issues and situations, including but not limited to simple or single tinctures that are made in small batches just like my custom varieties. I will be adding to it in the upcoming months. Stay tuned for more on this.
3rd- Another change is that I will no longer being doing acute check in appointments unless you are a current client, for now that means anyone I’ve worked with in the last 2 years. Most of the acute situations can be addressed with formulas offered on the website. This includes anyone wanting info on COVID preventatives or active COVID cases. Over a year ago, I began doing COVID intakes for people free of charge and even though I feel painfully guilty about it, I can't do it any longer. The stress of making sure I have enough info from strangers to help definitely was a lot to carry.
4th- Days off this month. As you know August is back to school time and as a mom that impacts me quite a bit. I’m taking off August 5th for a slew of parent things as my daughter attends High School Freshman Orientation and also the 19th as I move Brose to college.
5th- New Hours- M- Thursday 9:00- 4:00, Friday 9-12:00. One Saturday a month for appointments rotating times and days. I will be adding in a “late night appointment” day during the week but Cyl’s school schedule will dictate which night, so stay tuned. All orders to be made on a Friday will need to be in by 11:00 am as I am taking the afternoon’s to work on other aspects of the business and will be off line.
Basil (Ocymum basilicum) - July's Herb of the Month
There is no other herb that signifies the height of Summer to me. From it's beautiful color to it's bright taste and even it's little white flowers, Basil just gets me in the Summer feels every single time.
Most people know it's a yummy addition to just about any food coming in from the garden- more on these combos- but most don't realize it's a treasure for the Apothecary as well.
We know that Basil has been a favorite or at least an infamous herb for over 4,000 years. History is full of uses for this plant but also for stories around it's beginnings and it's purpose.
My favorite legend is that Basil draws it's name from the serpent's bite that it cured. The Basilisk was a terrible monster of lore that would kill with a single venomous bite and Basil was the plant to draw out and neutralize the venom. Not only does this appeal to my inner mythologoist but it also points out a very specific action of the herb. Basil does draw out and neutralize venom and poison of insects, plants and jellyfish. I've used it neat or as a spray or vinegar.
Another legend is from Greek Mythology, explaining some of the scientific name. Ocimus organized the combats staged in honor of Pallas who ruled Paralia or Diacria and had 50 sons. It is said that when Ocimus was killed by a gladiator, basil appeared in the ring.
We have so much to learn and share about Basil, this King of Herbs.
Basil is considered the king of herbs because it is grown everywhere from Asia, Africa and Europe. Of course it’s moved along the way of people and grows anywhere there is 6- 8 hours of sun with some heat, the more muggy and sticky the heat, the better. It’s also one of the most versatile herbs you can have in your apothecary or kitchen. Most herbs with the healing power of Basil and his brethren varieties come with attributes that make them less open for uses, like bitterness, caustic in large doses, invasive, emetic or sensitive to grow. Basil is the answer to that meme “hold my beer” because it’s so close to be a perfect plant. All varieties are pleasant tasting either cooked, boiled as a tea, fresh or in a tincture. It can be cooked with sweet or savory foods so it can star or support basically any dish. It’s an annual who often re- seeds itself but isn’t going to take over native areas. It’s flowers even if not native, feed native insects. As long as it gets that sunshine, it’ll grow and grow. There are no counter indications for basil with other medicines, herbs or illnesses in normal amounts. (anything can be overdone in mass quantities but MASS is really key here, like pounds of it daily) It’s not endangered. It’s kind of a perfect plant. Groovy, huh?
Reasons to use Basil are as expansive and impressive as the plant itself. Modern studies only seem to support and back up the empirical uses of basil as well. Basil leaf is high in antioxidants, anti inflammatory actions, they are anti spasmodic, anti microbial, anti depressive and full of vitamin K which among other things helps us retain calcium which is easily leeched from the bones by poor diet, illness, pregnancy and breastfeeding if stores are inadequate. Basil has a distinct affinity for the smallest blood vessels and capillaries making it a wonderful herb for eye health and any issue related to tremors, shaking or restless physical feelings.
Using Basil is so easy. Drink it’s tea, use a tincture and of course COOK with it often. Basil pairs with virtually all juicy fruits- tomatoes, berries, melons just to name a few. It’s wonderful with the floral notes of dark chocolate. It brings some pep to fairly basic flavors like pasta, bread, potatoes, butter, eggs etc. I love to toss it in salads in whole leaf or torn pieces. Infuse a vinegar with it and use that vinegar as a marinade or salad dressings. It’s light flavor tends to be really yummy with poultry.
**Sweet Basil Lemonade
Lemonade. Can you tell Brose is excited?
1 1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice
4 cups Basil tea
2 cups water
Maple Syrup to sweeten to your taste
**There are 34 types of Basil.
**Using basil to make pesto is just a must in the Summer. Pesto is so simple and fresh, it's adds color and spark to just about anything and it's good for you. I love anything that I don't have to be real careful about ingredients and can throw in a "little bit of this and that" - makes me feel like a real chef or potion maker.
2 cups of basil- sweet or Genovese is standard. I don't do much standard though so I throw in Dandy leaves, Kale, Spinach, sage, Lemon Balm, thyme and so much more. PLAY
2 Tablespoons of Walnuts- traditional recipes say pine nuts but pine nuts are expensive and really not sustainable to harvest at the current rate. Walnuts have those great Omegas and taste great but play with the nuts if you want- I will say Cashews are Not my favorite in a Pesto, learned the yucky way
2-4 cloves of garlic- I like 4-6 but I'm just like that, you do you
1/2 cup Olive oil or your oil of choice. I've used most of them and it's always been fine, except Coconut oil, it's too firm
1/2 cup freshly grated Parm- I really like a feta here too and I use loads of Parsley, Oregano, and Basil as my green base. It pops in such a tasty way.
A bit of lemon zest or lemon juice for brightness
Salt and Pepper to taste
**Basil, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Cardamom Cherry Sauce
1½ cup(s) All-purpose flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Table salt
1 cup Low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup Part-skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs, yolks and white separated at room temp
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Lemon zest
1 cup fresh basil, minced or 1/4 cup dried
2 tsp avocado Oil
Set baking sheet on middle rack in oven and preheat to 200°F.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Stir together buttermilk, ricotta, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and basil in medium bowl until blended.
With electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. With rubber spatula, gently stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture just until flour mixture is moistened. Fold in beaten whites in two additions just until no white streaks remain.
Brush oil on large nonstick griddle and set over medium heat (if using electric griddle, preheat to 375°F). Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto griddle, spacing evenly, and cook until bubbles appear along edge and pancakes are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn pancakes over and cook until lightly browned on second side, 2–3 minutes longer, transferring pancakes to baking sheet in oven as they are done. Repeat, making total of 12 pancakes. Serve sprinkled with lemon peel strips.
Cherry Cardamom Sauce
2 pounds of fresh cherries, pitted
1/4 - 1/2 cup sweetener of choice, I used brown sugar. Amount will depend on how sweet your cherries are.
1 Tbsp Cardamom
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract- I think almond or lemon would be fabulous here too
1/2 cup of water
Place all ingredients in a pan and bring to low boil for 10-15 minutes so that the cherries cook and syrup thickens.
**Basil produces a beautiful flower that is totally edible or drinkable for us and the bess ADORE it. However, if you are wanting to get the most basil leaves, you need to cut the flowers back as soon as they appear, since the plant will shift more energy into flower production and the leaves will be stunted. Throw them in your next tea or salad. I grow so much that I let several plants just go to flower for our pollinators
**I’m always studying herbals and herbalists. A few weeks ago I read "The Herb Tea Book" by Dorothy Hall- a celebrated herbalist from Australia. There was a combo of Basil & Borage tea, called a "housewife tea" It's a combo that she reports to act a remedy for the mid morning slump without caffeine. She cautions that it works much better when made from fresh ingredients so now is the perfect time to try it out. I did equal parts Basil and Borage leaf, steeped for 40 minutes ( I kinda got distracted) and strained. I left it in the fridge overnight and in the morning, I added a sprig of fresh mint to marry the flavors better. It's so lovely and does seem to keep me humming along. I'm going to try it with Holy Basil too. Play around and let me know what you think!
**Basil does NOT like the cold. Ever put your basil in the fridge or freeze and it looks like this? Many assume mold and toss when in fact it's a reaction to the cold. If you want to keep your fresh basil for a few days until you use it. Place it in a small jar or cup of water and leave it in a somewhat sunny place. Change the water every day or two and use up soon OR continue to let the basil be in the jar still changing the water and you will see roots begin to grow. You can plant these little guys as soon as the roots get about 1 inch long.
** 1 C of basil has 195% the RDA of Vit K. It helps with blood clotting, bone mineralization & absorption of vitamins
**Basil oil is a beautiful kryptonite to mosquitos. They loathe the oil and it's one the herbs and EO's in my Bug Spray. Spray it around your patio furniture, your body or repeatedly in the air where you are working to keep those little buggers away!
Sneak Peak- Herb of the month for August- Lemon Balm
August 1st- Website Sale starts- 20% off with code BetterW/herbs
August 5th- Off
August 19th- Off
September 25th - Crystalline Expo
October 7th - Private Class at Fox Den - Growing Old Gracefully or Fighting It Tooth and Nail- Herbs to help us age without making us feel old.
Hello June! It's June even if it feels the weather isn't quite participating, I think we got a rushed start and now it's boomeranged back to cooler weather at least for now. Anyway, I hope you are taking advantage of this break and maybe planting a few friends that might not have gotten planted otherwise. I know I am.
I have a few Herbal Happenings.
In the past month, I've been working on designing and installing a few gardens for a client. Please follow the progress on the FB page. We've taken an overgrown and unimpressive few garden beds and are turning them into an edible oasis not just for the humans but we are including plenty of food and water for the pollinators and glorious insect world as well. I'm quite proud of it.
My world is full of transition. As many of you know, our son graduated from High School this week and we are in the last few months of all of us living under one room. It is a bitter sweet time full of anticipation, impatience and nostalgia. Oh be still my mama heart.
As we near Fall, I am working on revamping almost all aspects of my personal world and the professional world. Please be patient as all of it starts to form. For the time being, I have a wait list for new clients, if you send anyone my way, have them email me for more info.
Since we are stretching into the days of Summer, I will be taking a few days off here and there to attend College Orientations and other family functions. I will post on FB and send emails with updates. I will be off on a much needed trip from June 24th through June 30th and back a work on July 1st. All orders must be in by June 18th at noon in order to get them in the mail or available for pick up before my trip. Anything received after that will be on hold until July 1st.
The herb of the month for June will be Lavender. Be sure to check out the FB page for updates and posts. It's such a versatile and beautiful ally.
May Herb of the Month - Chaga
May Herb of the Month is Inonotus obliquus, or better known as Chaga. This is the first fungus that I’ve featured and it’s one of my favorites. Chaga gets it’s common name from the Indigenous people west of the Ural Mountains. Chaga grows primarily in the Northern Hemisphere on Beech trees but can also be found on Oak and Alder. No one can be sure how long people have used Chaga for healing but we do know that the most Indigenous People used it in a variety of ways. The Cree called it Poashkan or Wiskakecakomikih. Used by the Cree, the Gitksan and other native nations, Chaga was burned on the body to relieve inflammation, similarly to Moxibustion in TCM. The sweet smell it releases when burned made it an ingredient in pipe ceremonies or as an incense. As a polypore mushroom, it’s also known as a cinker and used to help start fires. There is much to share about this beautiful FUN GUY.
This mushroom has a long history worldwide as a healer but much of what we know about it’s history comes from studies from Russia and Western Siberia where it grows in their virgin forests. It’s long use in the culture of history of the people of Eastern Europe has many historians believe that Tzar Vladimir Monomakh who ruled during the 12th century used Chaga to cure his lip cancer. The Russians have documented it’s use for cancers such as Hodgkin’s Disease since the 1600’s. It’s been a trusted remedy for liver disease, stomach issues, gastritis, worms, and TB.
Chaga is prized for it’s immunomodulating abilities particularly in it’s polysaccharides and specifically in it’s beta- glucans which boost white blood cells, that regulate and maintain the immune response in the body. It’s also one of the richest sources of anti-oxidants in the natural world. Anti- oxidants fight and protect against oxidation of free radicals which lead to cell degeneration and fatigue, illness, and inflammation. Chaga’s has an abundant amount of- Superoxide dismutase (SOD), zinc and melanin all of which help you not only fight off free radicals, toxins and solar radiation but they will also help protect your hair, your eyes and your supple skin. It’s truly beauty from inside out.
Chaga does NOT look like a typical mushroom with a cap and stem, instead it’s a chunky very dense and almost black “mass” and is harvested with an axe. It resembles black charcoal on the tree and even when it’s ground. If harvesting yourself, take only what is needed. If you leave some of the body behind, you will have more to harvest in later years. In using herbs, we must make sure that we don’t strip them of the land. We owe them everything and must make sure that we honor them always. Unlike other many other mushrooms, there aren’t any toxic lookalikes so once you know what Chaga looks like, harvesting is pretty safe. I will point out that is NOT ALWAYS true with fungi and wildcrafting is a very knowledge based art. There is no such thing as too much info when hunting mushrooms.
It may be harvested any time of the year from living trees. True Chaga has a serrated edge underneath.
Chaga is a fungus meaning that it’s not a plant at all but it’s a FUN GUY that we herbalist are enamored with. on Birch trees but it does grow on others as well. It’s also found around the globe growing on trees such as Oak, Alder or Beech in the Northern Hemisphere. Any reputable company will tell you if it’s wild harvested or grown on a substrate like potato dextrose agar. If they don’t be sure to ask.
I have been playing around with loads of goodies with Chaga. I have several teas, un- coffees, a mushroom balm, chaga tincture, and a new Chaga, stevia and cinnamon tincture that you can take traditionally or add to teas or coffees. It's quite tasty. Please check out the website if you are interested or reply to this email with questions.
Herb Tip Thursdays-
Chaga’s latin name Inonotus obliquus means fiber back with pores pointing to the ground.
Betulin, a triterpene in Chaga is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and adaptogenic.
One cup of Chaga tea has as many antioxidants as 30 LBS of carrots
Chaga is known as the respected father of the mushroom world.
A chaga double extraction helps to isolate the triterpenes and sterols, ensuring you get all of it's mojo.
With its coal-like exterior, Chaga does not seem to be a very likeable food but it actually works well with sweets and savory.
Chaga can alleviate the pain, inflammation and side effects of Chemo.
Chaga is a beauty tonic 'shroom! It revitalizes and rejuvenates hair and skin, due to it's melanin amounts
As an adaptogen, Chaga regulates our autoimmune system's functioning- adapting it's reactions- helping us be well
Rosemary and Other NewsSpring seems to be finally HERE. WAHOOO. I’ve been busy this month, moving and prepping the gardens, getting the seeds going in the green house and harvesting a few different flowering beauties. I also set up a few shelves of herbal things at Denise Thompson’s office Centered, in West Knoxville. Denise is a talented massage therapist, reiki practitioner and beautiful soul sister, go check her out if you can.
I have openings for a few new clients in May. I WON'T be taking new clients after May 25th until late August but will continue all other aspects of business because on the home front, our son is about to graduate from HS and has finally made his college choice and my daughter is getting ready to finish up MS and head to West High in the Fall. New cases and clients take much time and I intend to enjoy the last few months before Brose leaves the family unit as much as I can. All of life is moving through seasons even while we try and find our footing.
So here are the notes I have complied on Rosemary, our herb of the month. Be sure to try the BBQ Spice Rub recipe or reach out if you want to purchase it, if you aren’t a DIYer. It’s so versatile and just in time for grilling season. In May, we will focus on Chaga mushroom. Lots of great info to share.
Awwww, Rosemary is one of my favorite go to herbs. I have 2 massive bushes and 2 more standard size plants currently. Who knows how many I’ll add this year? I love it as a cooking herb, a tea ingredient and it’s a first try for headaches, stomach distress especially food poisoning, and for a lovely tired muscle soak. Try it with a little sage and peppermint for a throat gargle. If you have dark hair, there is no better herb to rinse your hair with than Rosemary. There are so many uses that I can’t list them all but here’s a great overview.
Rosemary is high in vitamins A and B6, vitamin B6, thiamin, and folate. It contains minerals like magnesium, calcium and iron It has abundant antioxidants in the form of phenolic compounds like diterpene, carnosol, and rosmarinic acid. The essential oils in rosemary herb also contain powerful ingredients such as cineol, camphene, borneol, bornyl acetate, α-terpineol, and α-pinene.
Aside from the nutrients mentioned above, the herb contains high dietary fiber. It is low in cholesterol and sodium but high in saturated fats.
Maintains Gut Health
Rosemary has traditionally been used as a natural remedy for upset stomach, constipation gas, bloating as it helps in relaxing the muscles of the intestine. Adding it to your diet can help you regulate your bowel movements and your gastrointestinal system.
One study showed that in test subjects with colitis treatment with rosemary extract was effective to reduce colon tissue lesions and colitis. This helps fight gut diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis.
Rosemary has long been used to help with the effects of food poisoning, making healing a quicker and more painless process.
Rosemary herbal extracts exert anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperglycemic effects so it promotes a healthy weight or weight loss.
According to another study, carnosic acid-rich rosemary can be used as a preventive treatment for metabolic disorders such as PCOS and/or diabetes.
Antibacterial & Antimicrobial
Rosemary is specifically powerful against bacterial infections. It prevents staph infections and also eradicates various gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria completely.
Due to its antibacterial qualities, rosemary intake has been shown to prevent the growth of H. pylori bacteria, a dangerous pathogen that is associated with gastritis, stomach ulcers, and some cancers.
The active components in rosemary are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic in nature. This represents a three-pronged attack against many different diseases and pathogens that could threaten the immune system or damage the integrity of the body.
Rosemary contains a significant amount of antioxidants including rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, betulin acid, and carnosol. Antioxidants in rosemary make a secondary line of defense behind the body’s own immune system.
Carnosol and carnosic acids are two powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in rosemary that have been linked to reducing inflammation of muscles, blood vessels, and joints. This makes it an effective treatment and prevention of many diseases, including blood pressure, gout, arthritis, and injuries sustained during physical exertion or surgery. It is effective in oral or topical form.
Enhances Brain Function
Rosemary has an affinity for the head and study after study has shown that it helps improve memory performance and quality. It is also known to boost alertness, intelligence, and focus. One possible mechanism for this action is that rosemary extract enhances the synthesis of nerve growth factor which is vital for nerve tissue.
Depression and anxiety are related to gut health and the fact that Rosemary works well on maintaining good gut health and it’s relationship to the head makes it a wonderful mild anti depressant.
A study conducted on the anti-depressant effects of rosemary concluded that the herb is effective in improving symptoms of depression. These anti-depressant effects were observed even with repeated administration two weeks later. Furthermore, it may also reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, which helps ease tension in the body.
Rosemary is slightly diuretic in nature, meaning that it can help flush out toxins efficiently during urination. It also breaks up congestion and phlegm, this combined with it’s diuretic qualities makes it a great herb for pitted edema or to help with congestive heart failure.
Rosemary can be added to teas, tinctures and foods. It goes well with fatty foods like meats, butters, oils or high carb foods like white or sweet potatoes, dark chocolate or even vanilla. Rosemary isn’t like thyme, which blends with flavors, Rosemary demands more attention so it needs to have flavors that blend with it. We love it in soups, roasted veggies, enhanced cooking oils or butters plant based or dairy. A little rosemary goes a long way because it is one of the most resinous herbs. It’s also hearty and you can throw it in the soup pot at the beginning and it doesn’t alter the flavor in the end unlike more delicate herbs like parsley. Many people like to strip the leaves and use the left over stems as skewers for mushrooms or shrimp as it imparts a milder flavor this way.
In tea blends, I like to put it with either other bold flavors like mint, cinnamon or tulsi or really mild ones like orange or lemon balm.
Rosemary acts as a stimulant for the body and boosts the production of red blood cells and blood flow.
Rosemary can be topically applied to the affected area to soothe the pain and works to unknot tired muscles. It can be taken internally or externally to help with headaches, migraines, menstrual and stomach cramps, as well as kidney pain.
Cineole in rosemary oil, taken either orally or via inhalation, boosts body activities by enhancing locomotion, according to a study.
Rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid found in Rosemary help to preserve food by destroying toxins and pathogens
Never harvest more than 1/3 of your Rosemary to avoid sending her into shock.
Rosemary HATES wet roots. I always put sand and gravel where I plant her in full or even harsh sunlight.
Popular “myth” about Rosemary is that she will only grow and thrive where a strong woman lives.
Dried Rosemary Bundles make a great cleansing wand and it repels insects.
Rosemary BBQ Spice Rub
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Smoked Paprika
2 TBSP Celery Salt
2 TBSP Onion Powder
1 1/2 TBSP Chili Powder
1 12/ TBSP Ground Cumin
2 TBSP Freshly Ground White Pepper
1 TBSP Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
1 tsp ground Sage
1 TBSP Rosemary
1/2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Garlic powder
Welcome the month of April and all the hope and beauty that she brings! I am definitely looking forward to warmer weather and all the planting and harvesting that will come with it! I have been moving most of my garden beds and redesigning some of the lay out for my yards. All the veggies are getting moved upfront and new stainless steel beds. I'll be incorporating some herbs with them and expanding what I call "the mother garden" which has the bulk of herbs I grow.
It was announced a few weeks ago that The Lavender Festival in Oak Ridge was cancelled again due to Covid, but they assured me that I was still on the agenda to make my debut in 2022, so I have loads of time to plan.
Lots of beautiful Herb of the Month info to share incase you haven't been following it on Facebook, here it is-
Off the Mulberry, we can use the fruit, the leaves, twigs and root bark for medicine and each part has a different affinity and action. Let’s break it down starting with the tasty fruit- In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the berries are known as Sang Shen and are used as tonic herbs to help with Yin deficiency. I don’t practice TCM, but Yin deficiency is known in more Western Herbalism as showing up as adrenal fatigue, burn- out, nervousness, hypersensitivity, anemia and/or excess dampness in the body. A good indication for this plant ally would be if you crave sleep and rest and feel great benefit from those.
Mulberry leaves may help lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and inflammation levels. These attributes may make them useful for fighting heart disease and diabetes. They are used in TCM as a cooling herb that combats against high fevers and feeling drained especially if you are running hot. The leaves as actually a diaphoretic and make you perspire which acts as our coolant.
* Mulberry leaves provide several compounds that may help combat diabetes and and blood sugar spikes.
These include 1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ), which prevents the absorption of carbs in your gut.
* The leaves may reduce high levels of blood sugar and insulin. In one study, 37 adults ingested maltodextrin, a starchy powder that rapidly boosts blood sugar levels. They were then given mulberry leaf extract containing 5% DNJ.
Those who took either 250 or 500 mg of the extract experienced a significantly lower rise in blood sugar and insulin levels than the placebo group
* Some research suggests that mulberry leaf extract may improve cardiovascular health by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure levels, decreasing inflammation, and preventing atherosclerosis — a buildup of plaque in your arteries that can lead to heart disease.
* Mulberry leaf contains numerous anti-inflammatory compounds.
*Some research suggests that mulberry leaf may combat inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are linked to chronic disease. I like the combo of the leaves and fruit together here to balance out the oxidative stress.
*Mulberry leaves can be taken as a tea, tincture or in capsules. Of course, I prefer the first two!
The root bark is an excellent expectorant and antitussive. It clears the inflammation of the lungs, stops coughs and helps bring up the phlegm that you can feel deeply. Decoction or tincture is the best way to take it for this. You can combine other herbs such as everlasting, Usnea or something pleasant like thyme or a mint added to the decoction as it cools.
Mulberry twigs are the anti inflammatory parts of the plant and have a particular use against rtheumatic issues and hypertension.
Used topically it’s renown for lighting age spots and evening skin tone. It’s a safe way to help with melasma or chloasma, known as the “pregnancy mask” that is a result of a spike in hormones creating more melanin.
My favorite way to use Mulberry is of course the fruit! I use the white Mulberry in teas, infusions, recipes and of course just eat them plain. The fruit is used to help fatigue and the feeling of being overwhelmed. It’s a tonic and works best when used over long periods of time. I feel like this herb is particularly valuable now as we all feel a little battle scared from the last year. It’s is an excellent source of iron and Vitamin C. It’s so easy to add a handful to yogurt, oatmeal or salads and I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like or love the sweet yet subtle flavored fruit.
Individuals taking diabetes medications should consult a health professional before trying mulberry leaf due to its effects on blood sugar and there is not enough research about it’s use in pregnancy or breastfeeding to deem it’s safety. It is also counter indicated to use this herb if you are cold and clammy or have been diagnosed with a lung condition.
HERB TIP THURSDAY
Studies in mice on high fat diets demonstrate that supplements from this leaf reduced inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein, as well as oxidative stress markers like superoxide dismutaseStudies in mice on high fat diets show that Mulberry leaf reduced both inflammatory and oxidative stress markers
A test-tube study in human white blood cells likewise revealed that extracts of mulberry leaf and its tea not only reduced inflammatory proteins but also significantly lowered DNA damage caused by oxidative stress
Study using human white blood cells revealed that BOTH mulberry leaf extract and tea lowered DNA damage from stress
The leaves used as a poultice or wash over the eyes is a traditional cure for pink eye.
Mulberry can inhibit the proliferation of human gastric cancer SGC-7901 cells, inducing cell apoptosis and autophagy.
Mulberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, and one cup provides close to the daily recommended intake.
My daughter has requested that I choose Rosemary as the Herb of the Month for April because it's blooming all over our gardens right now, so stay tuned to learn much about it!
The photo in this news letter is of my latest tea- AntiquiTea which contains the beautiful Mulberry Fruit and Leaf -
A blend that I’ve been trying to build for months has finally come together. I’ve been called to create a tea with lotus flowers since October of last year and no matter how many times, I tried nothing ever tasted or felt right. Finally, I came up with this and I think it was well worth the wait.
This tea is a combination of flowers and herbs renown throughout history as healing and holy plants. The base is a white tea that gives a subtle taste and just the tiniest amount of caffeine. It’s really the foundation of the blend especially since it’s packed with polyphenols which work to reduce the damage done by chronic inflammation, they relax the blood vessels and keep them pliable making then less likely to burst or become oxidized. These same polyphenols help us stabilize blood sugar and suppress cancer cell growth. Some studies even point to White tea as a way to promote bone growth and lower the risk of osteoporosis. White tea leaves are the same leaves as green or black tea but they haven’t been oxidized. It’s closer to it’s natural state and more delicate but that’s why the other herbs work so well here, this is a blend of the subtle and slight but so powerful.
Jasmine Flower is as healing as it is beautiful and it adds more anti inflammatory agents to the tea and works it’s magic as a mild relaxant. I like to think of Jasmine as a gentle herb that soothes away the pain whether physical or emotional.
Chrysanthemum is also delicate but it’s focus is on purification, healing and protection. It’s mildly anti inflammatory but it’s protects against anxiety and that particular inflaming that happens in the body with prolonged stress or trauma. It is cooling and tonic for the heart but more for the furnace that happens in the liver and kidneys. Mums are flowers that go to the deepest injuries and soothe.
Mulberries, as you might know are my newest favorite ally for stress and burnout, that feeling of just being singed and overworked. They cool and wash away the ash but bring such a sweetness so we aren’t left bitter about it all.
Last but NEVER least, Lotus Flower. It’s been revered in all ancient Eastern cultures for being divinely feminine and bringing all the good energy, prosperity and health. It’s a plant to help us “open up” whether that’s to the healing elements, minerals and vitamins or the healing attitudes and adjustments that we need, it’s here for us. Many esoteric healers believe there can be no bad energy or curses where the lotus is and medicinally it definitely helps to bring circulation to any atrophy or disease. It is a beautiful plant to enjoy as often as you can or will.
This is lovely hot or cold but interestingly I prefer it BEST, luke warm.
We made it through the first one of 2021 and it was very interesting to say the least. As I promised this is the recap of all the info, recipes and tips that I shared on Parsley, the herb of the year 2021 and the herb of the month for me. I hope you enjoy and learn a bit. At the end of Feb, I'll be emailing the info on Damiana, our second herb. Wishing you all the best.
Every year since 1995, the International Herb Association has selected a herb to spotlight and draw attention to so I thought it was fitting to dedicate our first Herb of the Month in it’s honor, drumroll please….. Parsley.
There are three species of the biennials that belong to the genus, petrosilinum Crispum, flat and curly parsleys are used for their leaves and crispum var. tuberosum or parsley root that is still quite popular in Germany but not much elsewhere. I myself are partial to the Flat variety as it has a higher essential oil concentrate and thus more flavor and more healing mojo.
The use of parsley as a food and medicinal herb go back at least 2000 years and it is only behind salt and pepper as the third most used spice the world over. It’s a staple ingredient in both Mediterranean and Middle East cuisine and it’s making a comeback from days as a plate garnish in our country. I think that parsley leaf is best used fresh in cooking and should be added at the very end of cooking or once the dish is on the plate. I ADORE fresh parsley atop soups, sauces and especially in salads. Be sure to used the parsley within an hour or so of shopping as it looses it’s intense fresh flavor. In medicine making I use both the dried and the fresh but the flavor is NOT the same or as intense once it’s dried.
Parsley is uniquely rich in the antioxidant APIGENIN, which has the ability to not only act as a powerful antioxidant itself but it ramps up the antioxidant attributes of other antioxidants as well. This plus it’s high vitamin A, B and C content, it’s excellent source of calcium and iron and the amount of lutein, another AO which consisting is being studied and used in relation to preventing macular degeneration makes Parsley a must add for many people!
Traditionally known as a powerful diuretic and laxative , Parsley has been showing off some other remarkable benefits such as an additional warrior against cancer and in particular Ovarian Cancer. One study at Harvard Medical showed that Apigenin played an exclusive role as an AO against it, lowering the cancer rates itself by 21% and scientists in Cleveland are using it to develop a chemopreventive agent.
For the heart, Parsley reduced platelet aggregation, the thickening of the blood that triggers artery blocking blood clots by 65%.
In diabetics, it’s been shown not only to protect the liver from damage done by the disease but to lower A1C and daily blood sugar levels as well.
As I mentioned earlier, Parsley is a biennial meaning that you get two years of growth from it. It likes to live in moderately moist, but not wet, well drained, good garden loam with a slightly acidic pH. It is a perfect plant for container cultivation and can be sown directly into the pot or container where you wish it to grow. Full sun of course...water well. It’s a wonderful plant fo young caterpillars to eat, so I grow many plants to share with my young butterflies.
Caution in eating the herb or using it medicinally in pregnant women as it may cause uterine contractions and it has a LONG history of being an anti-galactologue meaning it dries up milk supplies.
It’s so hard to pick some favorite recipes for parsley, it’s such a versatile herb. We use it all the time even if it’s just tossing a handful in the soup, on the rice or to “feel fancy” and garnish the plate. It’s a go to herb.
Parsley can be a salad’s best friend. It adds a little “je ne Sais quoi” a little pop of freshness that really blends with all the veggies and any salad dressing but we absolutely LOVE it with beets. This salad can be adapted with what ever you have on hand and mine is rarely the same twice. It’s fast and filling and looks so gourmet that as my kids say “you wouldn’t be Chopped for this” in reference to their favorite reality cooking show. Sometimes, we add feta or parmesan cheese. A little chicken sliced would be fabulous - anyway, play and enjoy!
3- 5 beets washed and rubbed with olive or avocado oil. I wrap in foil and roast at 425 until soft like a baked potato let them cool to the touch and then slice in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.
1 small head of radicchio, chopped
1/2 head of Napa cabbage chopped
2 large pears sliced
1 cup of chopped flat leaf parsley
honey mustard vinaigrette dressing
walnuts or pecans
I use a platter or a ceramic baking dish to layer the radicchio, then Napa cabbage, then the beet slices, the celery, the pears and top with a sprinkling of the nuts and I dress the platter generously but have more dressing if anyone wants it.
Honey Mustard Dressing
3 tablespoons of mustard - Dijon or something grainy. We used a brown ginger for this one.
3 Tablespoons of rice vinegar or any mild vinegar you have on hand. You can always add more honey if it’s too tart.
1/2 cup of olive or avocado oil
1- 3 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup - play for your tastebuds. I like a sweet dressing to compliment the earthiness of the beets
Mix really well.
You can add parsley to this as well or some dried thyme or dill.
Chimichurri is very popular in Argentinian and Uruguayan cooking and it has to be one of the healthiest and versatile sauces ever. It’s raw so no anti oxidants or vitamins are lost to cooking. It’s Paleo, AIP, whole 30 and vegan. There aren’t many foods you can say that about. Oh and it’s super easy to make, inexpensive and tastes great and once you start you just might not stop but who’d want to…
It’s most used as a sauce for grilled meats, pretty much any grilled meat but it can be a dip for veggies, bread or crackers, a dressing for salads, poured over rice like a gravy, mixed into pasta, really it’s up to your imagination. Last night we used this as a dip for roasted delicatta squash, this morning I put some on a couple of boiled eggs and tonight, it’ll go on grilled chicken and grilled portobellos and I’ll probably smear it on a sandwich of left overs for lunch tomorrow.
Like all good recipes there are no hard and true MUSTS for Chimichurri except it has parsley. Some people switch the vinegars, some the oils, some add avocado and some water. PLAY and make it your own!
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 large cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper or 1 jalapeño - I use chipotle powder because I like the smokey flavor of it
1/2 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper.
Puree it all in a food processor or blender and let it rest for at least 20 minutes so the flavors will blend well. Store in fridge for up to 5 days.
Bitters- January’s Herbal product
I love to repeat the cliche “everything old is new again” when it comes to herbs. For the last 20 years years that I’ve been studying herbs, I’ve seen so many ‘re-discoveries’ of old school recommendations, regiments and remedies resurface ( try saying that fast 3 times) that it doesn’t phase me anymore and sometimes we can beat the trends by just going back and looking through our histories.
Digestive bitters and aperitifs have been used throughout history as a medicine all the way from Ayurvedic medicine in India, TCM in China and through out the Mediterranean and across Europe. They would come in and out of fashion in America throughout our history but most recently have started their comeback due to the artisanal cocktail popularity. In my own home, I’ve been taking them to improve digestion for a few months. The quarantine/holiday/bday diet of decadent and soothing definitely needed me to bring out the big guns to repair what celebrations and isolation did to my gut health.
Bitters or Digestive Bitters are named after their flavor. There are 5 flavors in the world of foods and herbs- Salty, Sweet, Sour, Spicy and Bitter. We in this country get A LOT of the first two and not so much of the others but I’d stake my wager that we get bitter in the smallest amounts and that is definitely to our detriment. Bitter foods and herbs actually do quite a bit for the body- they help with digestion, increase saliva, help support and control the optimal amounts of stomach acid, relieve heartburn and nausea, support our livers which help with blood sugar regulation and our skin health. Seriously it’s bitters for the win. They can be taken before or after a meal. I like to take my tincture before but no worries because I can take them later if I forget. I mix my 20-30 drops in about 6-8 oz of water or a mild herbal tea. Beware they are BITTER but remember that’s the reason they work their magic.
Herb Tip Thursdays- Little blurbs of knowledge about the herb of the month or other things that pop up -
1. Grow extra parsley for the butterflies. It feeds and attracts swallowtails.
2. Dried Parsley is NOT your friend in the kitchen, chop it finely when fresh and freeze.
3. A tea or syrup made of nettle, parsley, horsetail and yellow dock root improves anemia
4. Lost that loving feeling? Folk medicine uses parley root to improve libido
5. Studies show that parsley helps prevent osteoporosis, thanks to it’s high boron and fluorine levels.
6. 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley contain 153% of your RDA of Vitamin K
7. Parsley was once a common garnish because it freshens breath and cleanses your palate between courses.
8. I'm currently taking a course on homeopathic cell salts with Matthew Wood, one of the best herbalists in the country. It's wonderful and A LOT of information. Yesterday, I learned that one of the reasons that dill, chervil, coriander/cilantro, parsley are so great at helping tummy troubles is that they are acidic and the body "reads or acknowledges" this acidity and slows it's own production of acid. Always learning new things makes me happy.
Wife, Mom, herbalist and friend. Feel free to change the order of the description to fit your needs, I do several times a day.