This Autumn I gave my members a choice of three out of five different herbal preparations I made. I think it must have been a hard choice!
When autumn harvest time comes and farmers bring their garlic, onions and hot peppers to market, and some people catch their first cold of the season, I always think of Fire Cider. It’s a blend of spicy and pungent foods and herbs that are powerful anti-microbials, decongestants, circulatory stimulants and immune supporters. These ingredients are infused into raw apple cider vinegar, creating a delicious, warming liquid to sip on cold mornings with honey and hot water, or sprinkle on salads, stir-fries or stews.
Vinegar is also a nourishing food in and of itself with many medicinal benefits. It creates temporary warming circulation of energy, improving a bad mood (especially in children). It helps reduce accumulations in the liver from a rich diet and is a digestive system tonic, helping with nausea. Vinegar relieves damp conditions such as edema, overweight, excess mucus and athlete’s foot. Organic, raw, high quality vinegars (apple cider, rice wine, white wine) are an excellent way of extracting the medicinal properties of plants, especially those that are high in vitamins and minerals.
Elder Berry Syrup!
Elder flowers and berries are among the most popular cold and flu remedy in Europe and I hope you will see why! Elder is an immune system enhancer, but gentle enough to use every day (tho you might want to save it for when folks around you are sick). It’s also a diaphoretic, helping to induce sweating and reduce fevers. The syrup is so delicious, you can drizzle it on pancakes or mix it into yogurt or just drink it straight.
Love Yr Brain: Memory Tonic
Made with these two lovely ingredients pictured above, plus Rosemary from my friend’s garden, Gotu Kola from Mt. Rose Herbs and a splash of vanilla extract to smooth it all together.
And don’t we all need this?! Well, most of us anyway. This combines the famous Ginkgo leaf, harvested at East Farm in South Kingstown with other brain tonic herbs as well as blueberries for their antioxidant value. Ginkgo actually dilates the blood vessels to the brain, improves overall circulation in the body, strengthens arterial walls, reduces inflammation in the blood vessels and prevents blood clotting. Wow! Gotu Kola is also a vasodilator and “gently but firmly increases mental alertness and vitality by feeding and nourishing the brain,” says Rosemary Gladstar. Rosemary (the herb, not the herbalist) is also a memory aid and is good for circulation as well as reducing high blood pressure.
Whoa, that’s a big dandelion root (and picture). Yes, this is the main ingredient in my digestive bitters blend. It also includes local fresh artichoke leaf and chamomile flowers with dried gentian root and angelica root.
These miraculous herbs offer us the gift of a very under-used and under-appreciated taste. Bitter is the flavor that is suggested in Chinese medicine when the weather is turning colder at the end of autumn. “Bitter challenges the body, alerting it through taste that a complex food is being ingested,” says the Urban Moonshine website. When the bitter flavor hits the tongue, it signals the body to produce bile and enzymes for digestion.
Featuring this local weedy beauty: St. John’s Wort, along with Cottonwood buds that I harvested in the Pacific Northwest and dried Arnica flowers from Mt. Rose Herbs.
I brought back the highly effective (so I’m told) essential oil blend from last winter and put it in the oils I infused with these three great sore muscle and nerve pain healing herbs. St. John’s Wort flowers infused oil is great at penetrating into the nerve endings, relieving pain and inflammation and is also an antispasmodic. The arnica flowers in oil are great for pain, inflammation and bruising. Cottonwood buds are also anti-inflammatory and helpful for arthritic joints.
Plus a tea blend I named B. Balance:
Nettles, Horsetail, Oatstraw, Holy Basil (or Tulsi), Mullein, Rose Petals and Rosehips
This is a blend of some of my favorite herbs. Nettles are here again (as in the last two blends) because they just couldn’t be left out of a blend that has so many minerals, specifically ones that strengthen bones, muscles, and tendons. The horsetail is full of silica which is important for tendon and ligament health, especially for you active types and Oatstraw is full of calcium and you know what that’s good for. Holy Basil is my other favorite herb besides nettles. It is the great balancer, formally known as an adaptogen. It helps our bodies adapt to changes and stressors in our lives, and has a special affinity for the immune system, helping to strengthen it over time. The blend is rounded out with rosehips and rose petals, bringing you Vitamin C and a happy heart.