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THE LATEST FROM OUR BLOG
Bitter, Aromatic, and Demulcent Herbs for Digestion + 3 Recipes
This is the time of year when we start thinking about how to best support our bodies as our diets shift to heartier winter eating and those inevitable holiday meals that are just around the corner. Digestive function is a key factor in our overall health and wellness, and can be thrown off by a number of things that are part and parcel of this time of year: not just hearty cold weather meals, but also changes in our routine, less sun and exercise, the stressors (both positive and negative) of family gatherings, holiday travel, etc. This seasonal dietary and energy flux impacts our bodies in a wide variety of ways, and can particularly play havoc on our digestive system. Fortunately, when we pay attention to our own unique rhythm, we can get ahead of these factors and be prepared when our normal balance is off-kilter. There are three herbal actions that are particularly helpful: bitters, aromatics, and demulcents.
Buy Nothing Day: A Stand Against Throw-Away Culture
For many years, we have celebrated Buy Nothing Day. Founded in Canada in 1992, the Buy Nothing Movement arose in protest of mass consumerism and the throw-away culture that accompanies it. The movement has grown and evolved over the past decades to include more than 65 nations. The biggest shopping day of the year—the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday—has become the movement's international day of protest: Buy Nothing Day. Here at Mountain Rose Herbs, we applaud this effort and wholly support Buy Nothing Day! Overconsumption eats up natural resources and puts our planet in peril. As the CEO and owner of Mountain Rose Herbs, I encourage you NOT to shop with us on Friday, November 25, 20222. The fact that we, as a society, have created a national holiday of shopping suggests that our priorities need realignment. Buy Nothing Day is our act of pushback.
Homemade Candles + Winter Bloom Essential Oil Blend (and Vegan Option)
Candlelight is good anytime, but during the winter holidays, it's part of human traditions that date back thousands of years. This year, as the cost of everything, including candles, has skyrocketed, it makes more sense than ever to make our own. I've made candles for fun over the years, including holiday candles, but I'm definitely not a candle-making artisan. Fortunately, we don't have to be experts to produce simple, lovely poured candles. Making our own gives us the freedom to customize the scent with pure essential oils. Candle making is also a wonderful activity with kids, so the winter school holidays are a great time to pull out the wicks, wax, and your favorite upcycled jars. Developing some old-fashioned skills like this one means inflation doesn't have to put a damper on what you love most this time of year: traditions and family.
Herbs to Support Burnout
Burnout. Most of us at one time or another have felt fatigue, jumpiness, irritability, lack of concentration, hopelessness, occasional digestive and bowel disruptions, difficulty sleeping, headaches, and muscle soreness to name a few. It feels like we are always working to keep it at bay. Adopting nourishing nervines and adaptogens into our lives can be immensely helpful to support and balance our nervous systems.* And when I say adopt the herb, I really mean embrace them and they will embrace you back! They work best when used daily over time. If your life includes a lot of stress and/or discomfort, these herbs can help you increase your capacity and resiliency. I'll share the ones I use most in my work as a community herbalist.
Holiday Appetizers: Seed Crackers with Cashew "Sour Cream” Dip
Festive holiday gatherings can be tricky when you have family members and friends with dietary restrictions. In my circle of favorite people, one person is a vegetarian and is also lactose intolerant, several of us don't eat gluten, another person is allergic to almonds and hazelnuts, a couple people are trying to lose weight, and another is in serious training for a national martial arts championship and is on a weight gain and muscle building plan. It's hard to come up with foods that please us all! We've found that an appetizers and cocktails/mocktails party is sometimes the way to go! It's easier to create small bites that people can choose from rather than a single sit-down meal that requires different options for everyone. Great appetizers are where these remarkably healthy and delicious seed crackers come in. They check everyone's boxes and also make a fantastic vehicle for a healthful, festive herbal dip that you can customize to your palate.
A Midwinter Cordial to Support Your Digestive System
In the United States, 'cordial' and 'liqueur' are two words for the same thing; they are sweetened distilled spirits. Although many people know them as cocktail ingredients, cordials can also be potent digestifs. This digestive-aid version of cordials is generally more bitter and less sweet than its cocktail-focused brethren and is loaded with herbs, spices, and other natural flavorings that support the digestive tract. A cordial-digestif can be as simple and delicious as a 3-seed herbal cordial for digestion, or you can make them more complex with layers of herbal flavors and aromas to delight the nose and the palate. Either way, they are ridiculously easy to make. This festive midwinter version with its blend of aromatics and bitters is the perfect finish to a holiday meal, when you have a moment to sit down and enjoy the company of your favorite people.
Homemade Playdough: No-Cook Playdough Colored with Herbal Powders
Recently, I was barred from calling my grandbaby any endearment that includes the word “baby.” Apparently, we are in “big kid” territory now. The term “big kid” doesn’t really lend itself to sweet endearments, but that aside, the no-longer-baby has had one consistent love since the moment those little hands and big brain were coordinated enough to squish clay—this kid loves playdough. However, Nana (me) is not fond of the typical store-bought versions, which can include chemical preservatives, binders, lubricants, surfactants, hardeners, anti-fungal additives, and artificial fragrances and colors. My favorite little dough-lover spends hours each week rolling, shaping, stamping, and building. I don't want her hands in chemicals, preservatives, and additives day in and day out. In her world, a day without playdough is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, which means I had to figure out how to make an excellent, naturally colored playdough that is easy to whip up when the need arises.
Herbalist Shopping List for Beginners
Getting started in herbalism can feel like embarking on a great adventure! The journey is full of excitement, discovery, and learning, but may also include a little overwhelm and uncertainty. If you are new to herbalism, you’ve likely wondered how to begin and what herbs and supplies are best to keep on hand. At the Herbal Academy, we find great joy in guiding budding herbalists and have some tips on this topic. Our online herbalism courses provide a strong foundation of knowledge, and we’ve carefully crafted a supply list that works beautifully in tandem with your herbal education. We are sharing the very list we supply to our Introductory Herbal Course and Intermediate Herbal Course students at registration so that you, too, can stock your herbal cabinet with all the essentials you need to put your learning right into practice!
Copal: A Healer, Protector, & Guide for Dia de Muertos
I grew up with the understanding that “Life” is Ceremony. Copalli—the Nahuatl word for Copal—is a resin extracted from the Copal tree or Protium Copal (Burseraceae.) This material has been used in Indigenous practices for thousands of years. Today, the use of aromatic resin varies from ceremonially burned incense to other uses. These are my memories of how as a young child I was introduced to the tree and how to extract the Copalli. I remember waking up and going to sleep with the smell of Copal. My one-room home smelled like Copalli all day. When Mamá Trini, my maternal grandmother was alive, she was a “Spiritist” or “the one who talks to Spirits.” She used to say “my mission in this lifetime is to be of service.” She did just that in our community in El Salvador. She taught me to show reverence for “Copalli.” Under her guidance I learned to befriend it and how to work with it just like her grandfather taught her. In the summer, we would leave home early morning, and walk a long distance with ofrendas (offerings) for the trees
Elderberry Mulled Cider Recipe For Immune Support
Herbalism is a health practice that can be traced around the globe for millennia. For most of our existence as a species, humans have lived closely with nature relying on the Earth for shelter, food, and medicine. While time-tested methods for making and consuming herbal preparations have carried through the ages, some herbal preparations have evolved to fit the needs of the modern population—like the ease of taking capsules. However, one ancient preparation involving the soaking of herbs in wine or cider has managed to stand the test of time, although it is perhaps a little under the radar.
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