Category Archives: Herbals
Smudge sticks are tightly bound bundles of dried woody, resinous herbs, that are slowly burned as a way to purify and cleanse the air. While the roots of burning a smudge stick, or smudging, is in North American Native purification rites and ceremony, they can be used by anyone to bring the woody smell of the outdoors inside.
If you have a garden, chances are good that you have enough ingredients to make at least one smudge stick. The traditional and most popular herbs used in smudging ceremonies are white sage (Salvia apiana), Cedar (Thuja), Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata), sagebrush (Artemisia californica), and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). However, in my travels I have noticed that the smudging sticks available vary by region and there seems to be a lot of opportunity to branch out (so to speak) with other woody, resinous herbs including, but not limited to:
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), lavender, yarrow, juniper, pine, mullein (Verbascum thapsus), rosemary, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), mint (Mentha), Bee Balm (Monarda), and catnip (Nepeta cataria) to name a few.
On Growing White Sage in a Cold Climate: The other day I harvested a large white sage (Salvia apiana) plant that I have been growing in my garden’s sandy, dry bed. This plant is on the cusp of hardy in my area (I am in zone 5-5bish and its hardiness begins at zone 6), but this year I decided to free it from life in a pot to see how it did in the ground. Unlike the specimens I saw growing wild in Northern Mexico, my plant grew gigantic leaves, most likely the result of the wet season we’ve had. Still, it has a very strong, medicinal odour typical of the plant. I’ve left enough in that soil that should we have a mild winter, it just might live through to the next season.
When Choosing and Harvesting Herbs: Please be careful as some herbs — even the culinary types — don’t lend themselves well to burning and can be toxic or set off dangerous allergic or asthmatic reactions in some people. I have often seen common garden sage (Salvia officinalis) used to make smudges. Years ago I tried to burn some and did not like the smell. I have since read that this is not a safe herb to burn despite its safety in a host of other applications. When in doubt, burn a very small amount outdoors, in order to test the smell and indicate whether you might have a problem with a particular herb. I also have a dangerously strong negative reaction to yarrow, so again, please use caution with this herb.
Harvest herbs on a sunny and dry day. Moist herbs will grow mouldy inside the bundle where there is very little air. Pick herbs on the day you plan to use them; resinous herbs tend to dry very quickly and are nearly impossible to wrap tightly once dry. A final note that when harvesting from the wild please leave enough plant behind that it may live on happily and healthfully. Use a sharp knife or clippers to cut stems and never dig up the root.
Choosing String: Remember that anything you use to bind the bundle will eventually burn so it is advisable to stick with natural materials that will not give off a toxic fume or compete with the smudge smells. I try to use as little string as possible to avoid creating a strong burning string smell. I suggest using thin, organic cotton string when you can. Embroidery floss separated into 4 threads (they typically come as 6 threads) is strong enough. Use a single color of string or experiment by mixing colors. I like using a simple color to bind and a subtle colour that compliments the foliage to make the handle. Red is a common colour for ceremonial usage, which is why you will see many commercially sold bundles bound with it.
How to Bind an Herbal Smudge Stick
The key to making a successful smudge stick is in binding tightly. I liken it to cigar making in that a tight bundle of leaves burns more slowly. I also find that the plant materials shrink as they dry and a loosely tied bundle is more likely to lose bits and pieces along the way or fall apart completely. With that in mind, grasp plants firmly and give the string a tight yank each time you turn or tie.
- Step 1. Clip herbs into similarly sized lengths. Don’t skimp out — thick bundles smoulder slowly and are better looking. Pluck off any diseased or ugly leaves. Arrange the stems into a bundle and tie a tight knot around the stem end to secure. Wrap the string around the stems a few more times and then tie another knot to secure.
- Step 2. Grasp the bundle with one hand and begin winding the string on an angle up to the tip of the bundle. Try to use as little string as possible and pull tightly as you go. I find that large-leaved herbs don’t need much binding, while very thin leaved herbs, especially conifers require more winding to prevent the leaves from falling out. You can leave the foliage loose at the end or fold under to keep everything tight.
- Step 3. Turn the bundle around and begin winding down back to the start, creating a criss cross pattern overtop the first strings.
- Step 4. You can choose now to either go back up and down again, retracing the path you took with another layer of string, or you can bind off and complete. I find that the pass tends to create a tighter bundle and is a good way to pull in and secure any pieces that got away the first time around. Wind plenty of string around the base of the bundle to create a handle. You can use as much string as you want here since this part will not burn. Tie off and clip any loose strings to create a neat and finished look.
- Step 5. Set the bundles aside somewhere dry and dark where there is good air circulation. You can hang them using thin wires or Holiday tree ornament hooks wedged underneath the handles. You can also lay them out flat to dry, but here I suggest setting them on top of a screen or very loosely woven basket that is raised up off of any solid surfaces so that air can flow underneath and around the bundles.
Wait until your bundles are completely dry (this usually takes a few weeks at least) before burning them.
How to Use a Smudge Stick
Holding the “handle” of your smudge stick, light the end (a candle works best), being careful to avoid flyaway ends and falling embers or particularly combustable herbs. Hold the burning end over a clay bowl, ashtray, or other non-flammable container at all times. Allow the stick to burn for a few seconds and when it seems like it is going, carefully, gently blow or wave it to put out the flame. Allow the stick to smoulder for a few minutes; never leave its attendance. To extinguish, smother or crush the smouldering end until it goes out. Try to avoid using this water as this can ruin the stick for further use.
Include directions for use if you plan on giving bundles away as gifts,
Article written by: Sayer Ji
Considering that the conventional treatment of advanced stage pancreatic cancer can result in as little as a 1% 5-year survival rate, new preclinical research on a liposomal turmeric extract that inhibits pancreatic tumor growth by 42% is all the more amazing.
A promising new study published in the journal Anticancer Research, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the International Institute of Anticancer Research, reveals a unique turmeric extract known as liposomal curcumin may provide an ideal chemotherapy alternative in the treatment of highly lethal pancreatic cancers.
Curcumin is the primarly polyphenol in turmeric, and has been the subject of extensive research demonstrating its ability to kill cancer cells, with over 1,500 studies available to view on Greenmedinfo.com relevant to over 100 distinct cancer types, including 24 studies demonstrating its anti-pancreatic cancer properties.
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©2011 Shanna Ohmes
It is well documented that animals in the wild have natural instincts for picking and choosing the herbs they need for not only the healing properties, but also to promote health. My goats would browse herbs (weeds) in the pasture and canyons when we went on our hiking trips with them, nibbling and tasting and choosing which plants were at the right growth phase for their needs.
Dogs in the wild are able to do the same thing. I’ve seen them consume large quantities of wild sand hill plums, cactus fruits and grasses.
The Gypsy people, in their many travels, became experts on herbal medicines for man and beast alike. Juliette De Bairacli-Levy learned herbalism from the Gypsies and helped many farmers and pet owners bring their animals back from the brink of death to full health.
Our dogs today do not have access to the many herbs of the field like their wild cousins, but you as the owner can learn what their needs are and grow your own Dog Herbal Garden! Herbs used in addition to a species appropriate diet, will promote the health of your dog.
Here is a list of basic herbs that you can grow in your garden. You can add many of these to your dog’s diet daily to promote health and prevent disease.
10 Herbs to Grow in Your Garden:
Garlic—Fresh garlic wards off disease and is potent enough to kill fungi and bacteria. Garlic has antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic and even anticancer properties. It also regulates blood sugar levels.
Dandelion—Use the whole plant as a nourishing herb for the liver and kidneys. Dandelion is an excellent source of potassium and is used as a powerful diuretic. As it removes excess fluid from the body, it replaces potassium that is lost in the process.
Chamomile—A calming herb, chamomile is beneficial for the nervous adolescent stage of your dog’s growth. Made into a tea, it eases teething pain in puppies and can help older dogs sleep more peacefully at night, when they are prone to pacing the house. It’s a soothing digestive aid, cleanses the blood, heals skin rashes and speeds wound healing.
Calendula—A magical wound healer, calendula’s antibacterial properties work better than many antibiotics. Reach for calendula to reduce inflammation and for first aid treatment. Make an infusion of the leaves to treat itching and hot spots.
Echinacea ()—The Native Americans revered Echinacea for treating fevers, wounds and snakebites. Purple coneflower is a popular flower in garden landscaping for its beauty, but it’s also a powerful immune system builder. Echinacea is best taken at the beginning of a fever or infection to use the medicinal properties effectively.
Fennel—Fennel seeds are an excellent digestive aid and are used for expelling intestinal parasites. Fennel nourishes and cleanses the cells and tissues in the body. The whole plant can be added to your dog’s meals to enhance health.
Parsley—Parsley prevents disease by maintaining proper pH levels. Parsley is mineral rich and also aids digestion. It nourishes the kidneys and bladder and even freshens the breath!
Rosemary—Rosemary is wonderful for the skin—it has antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. This fragrant herb also aids digestion. It makes a wonderful rinse for your dog’s bath to promote hair growth and enhance rich luster and color tones in the fur.
Sage—Sage has been referred to as a “heal-all” herb since ancient times. Sage can be added to your dog’s meal everyday to promote health. Sage has a rich history in healing the body of many diseases.
—Lavender reduces the buildup of excessive skin oil—a perfect remedy to use on greasy and smelly dogs. Lavender inhibits the bacterial growth in the greasy coat that causes the odor. Make a lavender rinse for your dog’s coat to help with skin irritations and inflammation. Lavender also heals wounds and regenerates tissue.
This year, plan to grow an herbal garden for your dog. In fact, expand the herb garden a bit and you’ll have plenty of herbs for your dog and your family too! Use the herbs daily in your dog’s species appropriate diet to prevent disease and promote health.
- The Herb Garden (groundtoground.org)
- Herbal Medicine for Dog Care : Safe Dog Herbs & Preparation Tips (organic-pet-digest.com)
Did you toss and turn in bed last night, robbed of a rejuvenating deep sleep? Counting sheep didn’t help? Here are some natural home remedies for insomnia that will hopefully help you enjoy a more restful sleep.
Controlling the sleep environment
Maintaining a strict sleep schedule
Natural herbal supplements
Winding down at night and meditation
Although suspenseful cable-TV shows about serial killers can be entertaining, especially after a long, monotonous day at work, watching TV right before bed can release adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) into your bloodstream.
For those who work graveyard shifts, it might be impossible to live the motto: “Early to bed, early to rise,” but even those who have to work in the middle of the night can benefit from maintaining a strict sleep schedule, going to sleep at the same time every day. For those who work normal hours, try to be in bed by 10 p.m. with the lights out.
Tryptophan is the amino acid found in turkey and is possibly the reason that millions of Americans get a restful catnap after a Thanksgiving holiday meal. Tryptophan is broken down into 5-HTP, which is then converted by the body into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, commonly known as the sleep hormone.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a type of counseling called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relieve the anxiety linked to chronic insomnia.
Four Herbs to Know
The following plant medicines are very effective choices in helping us avoid pharmaceutical antibiotics. Along with many other botanicals, these have been used to fight infections for thousands of years. I see them work everyday in my own practice. They have proven to be quite safe when used in the short term at standard dosage. When used in conjunction with the aforementioned health recommendations, these can be valuable allies to keep in your natural medicine cabinet.
- Goldenseal (Hydrastis): Hailing from the northwest United States, goldenseal is a potent antibiotic, well known to help treat sore throats as well as digestive infections which can cause diarrhea. The Native Americans taught us that goldenseal has the ability to soothe the linings of the mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive and genitourinary tracts while effectively clearing bacterial invasion. A few drops locally can stop a sore throat in its tracks.
- Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium): Also from the Northwest, Oregon grape contains a substance known as berberine, which can stop bacteria from adhering to the walls of the intestine and urinary tract. When used as a tea, it is a wonderful way to wash away urinary tract infections; it can be used in dried capsules or liquid tincture to treat digestive tract conditions like infectious diarrhea.
- Andrographis paniculata: This Asian herb with thousands of years of traditional use is now being proven through modern research as being able to disrupt the quorum-sensing system of bacteria. This system helps bacteria attach to each other and thrive as a community. Andrographis basically helps break up the bacterial “party.” As a result, it is beneficial to treat symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections and sinus problems. Numerous studies report its ability to reduce upper respiratory infection symptoms, such as fatigue, sore throat, cough and headache.
- Manuka honey: The sweetness of Manuka honey is already being used in hospitals in protocols for wound care. You can place the honey directly on gauze and cover the wound. Typically, the bandage is replaced three times a day. Although studies show most honey has antibacterial activity, manuka honey seems to be especially potent due to a compound called methylglyoxal. In fact, studies have confirmed its activity against a wide range of medically important bacteria, including MRSA.
A home herbal remedy from umckaloabo is a plant that is often used in over-the-counter cold and flu medicines. Umckaloabo syrup can be used for sore throat, cough, and other ailments. The plant is also used for general respiratory health.,
Acute bronchitis, upper respiratory tract infections, the common cold, and tonsillopharyngitis may all be treated by umckaloabo. Known more commonly as Pelargonium sidoides or umcka, it may also be a viable remedy for acute rhinosinusitus. An antibacterial agent, the plant impedes bacteria from adhering to the mucus membranes.
Umckaloabo is available as a syrup as well as a cough drop or tablet for most of these uses. Its primary purpose when used as a home herbal remedy is to shorten the period of sickness, as well as to relieve the affected person’s symptoms. The remedy also helps break up mucus, fights bacteria, and works as an .
Known to stimulate the immune system, pelargonium sidoides also helps prevent the spread and growth of infection. Some people use the herbal remedy as an alternative to traditional antibiotics for this reason. Tuberculosis has also been successfully treated by the plant. A mainstream treatment in South Africa and surrounding areas, it is also used in Germany, England, and other countries.
via What Is Umckaloabo?. (Dr Oz’s web site)
Making your own natural bath and body products can be a fun hobby. You don’t have to sniff through aisles of products filled with unnatural ingredients and artificial fragrances; instead, you are in charge. You can mix up your own custom blend that soothes your senses and saves the sinuses.
If you decide to create your own bath salts, varieties of purely natural options are at your disposal. When you’ve found your favorite base, I suggest purchasing it in bulk from an online source, simply because it is much more economical. However, it is important to be aware that not all sources of salt are created equal. Unfortunately, there are providers that blend a small amount of premium salt with a lesser grade, and yet it retails at full price. Sometimes minerals can be removed from the salt thus creating an inferior product. Also, beware of bleached white salt because it is a sure sign that valuable minerals have been removed. Since you are investing time into making your own blend, spend a few moments to make sure you’re using a high-quality base.
As a base, I recommend using Dead Sea salt. It is very economical and has so many wonderful benefits. This salt, originating in Israel, contains over 21 minerals essential to our bodies and has been known to ease many skin conditions. Another favorite of mine is Himalayan pink salts. The color is simply beautiful and the benefits are well worth the extra price. This healing, skin smoothing salt is said to contain over 80 valuable elements. Plus, it is said to be the purest salt on the market.
Once you have found your base, it is time to decide on scent. I prefer to use pure essential oils to synthetic fragrance oils. The crumb cake bath fragrance might smell heavenly, but we are trying to make something as close to nature as possible. Your body will thank you for steering away from the chemical alternatives. It is important to be aware that not all essential oils are recommended for bath products, so do your homework. Some of my favorites are peppermint, rosemary, lavender, grapefruit and lime. You can create your own unique blends by adding two or more essential oils to your recipe.
Your imagination is the limit when it comes to the creative process of blending your own fragrance.
If you would like to give your bath salts as a gift, I recommend reusing glass jars that you might find around the house. If the lid gives away the clue to the jar’s first purpose, simply paint over it with acrylic paint. Another fun thing to do is layer Dead Sea Salt with Himalayan salt. The colors are beautiful, and the presentation is quite impressive.
Pure and Natural Bath Salts
- 4 C. salt
- ½ oz. Pure essential oil
I like to use plastic shoeboxes to mix my bath salt in. Simply pour in your salt base of choice and add your essential oil(s). Blend thoroughly with a stainless spoon and cover with lid.
Note: You might find that you prefer either a lighter or a heavier scent; if so, simply reduce or increase the amount of essential oil you use. Just remember: when the salts dry, the scent will be reduced.
Have fun while creating your own blends and relaxing to the finished product!
- spa products – Kolhapur, India (travelpod.com)