Lovely Lavender

” There’s a few things I’ve learned in life: always throw salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck, and fall in love whenever you can.” – Alice Hoffman”

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(Lavender; Lavendula officnialis or angustifolia)

It is hard to even begin writing about Lavender because there are SO MANY USES!! Lavender is one of those herbs that has a long history of credit and is commonly grown in almost every garden and is used in almost every household. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve likely heard about it in a tea, soap, fragrance, or oil.

Lavender is a fragrant, aromatic mint with soft greyish- purple flowers. It is easy to grow perennial and is native to the dry mediterranean has been notably used for its essential oil and other healing properties in Ancient Greece.

Lavender is specific to the nervous system and an overall relaxant. The flowers are used as an infusion, tea or tincture to ease stress, anxiety, insomnia, muscle tension, mental tension, headaches/migraines (usually combined with feverfew). The oil can be used topically for bites, stings and burns – it has been referred to as “first- aid  in a bottle” for its fast, quick response- It is a must-have in any herbal first-aid kit or home remedy cabinet.

It is safe for children, and can be used in combination with chamomile or lemon balm for a nice tea for over active children or a calming oil diffusion for a calming atmosphere. The essential oil can be rubbed on temples or wrists to combat headaches and to promote relaxation after a long day, or added to a bath to unwind and loosen muscles.

Honey & Lavender are an excellent combination topically and internally. There is a wonderful recipe for lavender lemonade, lavender scones, tasty lavender bitters and other culinary creations are becoming more popular!!

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Herbal Insect Repellent: DIY

At the peek of summer, at least where I live, mosquitos, ticks and flies are biting my ankles and swarming my personal space… I happen to be pretty tasty to mosquitos, so even if no-one else is experiencing bites, I absolutely am, and I react with big swollen itchy bumps.

If you grew up like I did, always running around in the woods, camping, hiking and boating, there was surely a large can of “OFF” bug spray laying around that you would completely drench yourself in- so that when you ate your hot dog or s’more it had an after taste of the pungent chemical flavor. The next morning your clothes, hair and sleeping bag smelled of bug spray and campfire smoke. For some, this is a nostalgic smell, but to me NOW this reminds me of a time in my life where I didn’t practice natural chemical-free living.

When I began researching DEET in bug spray I found some pretty surprising facts. Although the EPA ( US Environmental Protection Agency) approves DEET- there are many questions of toxicity and has caused extreme irritation, neurological problems, behavioral changes AND not to mention whatever goes into your skin is processed by your body through your liver! It has been found to be toxic to wildlife and seeps into our water systems. If you are worried about chemicals for yourself, children and your environment, DEET is one worth REALLY researching! Insect repellent is important though, because bugs carry lots of icky diseases!

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Luckily I have created easy wonderful & EASY recipe for a chemical free- all natural and herbal insect repellent!!! There are many variations to this recipe and I encourage you to try different blends to see what works best for you and your family… even your DOG!!!!

 

DIY HERBAL BUG SPRAY



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Ingredients: 

  • Glass Spray Bottle (Glass is important because some essential oils can dissolve plastic)
  • Witch Hazel and/or Apple Cider Vinegar (about 1 cup of liquid total)
  • A few different insect repellent Essential Oils (add about 20 drops of each EO) >> examples: Citronella, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Clove, Rosemary, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Catnip, Tea Tree, Cedar.
  • MY SECRET INGREDIENT: A tincture of Yarrow!! According to one of my favorite herbalists, Susun Weed, a fresh tincture of yarrow is one of the BEST herbal insect repellents.. and I can absolutely attest to this! It is the main base ingredient to my personal blend of Insect repellent. (This is optional, and you can simply use a base of vinegar and/or witch hazel.) If you were using a tincture of yarrow, you would simply dilute the tincture with witch hazel/vinegar and add the essential oils right to the mix!
  • Unlike DEET, this mixture does not stay on the skin very long, and is not water proof, so reapply often!

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Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)

HERBAL TIP: generally essential oils that repel bugs ALSO repels bugs around your home and garden if you plant them!!! You can also make a bug spray with the infused or tinctured dried herbs without essential oils!!!

It works for my family! Does it work for yours!?

 

 

 

 

 

Rosemary

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts…There’s fennel for you, and columbines: there’s rue for you; and here’s some for me: we may call it herb-grace o’ Sundays: O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy: I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died…” 


When I think of rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis), I think of stature, memory, clarity & stimulation. Rosemary is one of the oldest herbs used for medicine & cooking throughout the Mediterranean area to which it is native. Even though Rosemary is an evergreen, it is apart of the aromatic mint family.

The leaves & the oil are the medicinal parts used, and are wonderfully effective. Rosemary has a warm, robust and stimulating smell and a cool woody & spicy taste. It is stimulating for people who have poor circulation in their joints, skin, heart and brain. Inhaling the oil or using it topically can improve respiration, memory, headaches, fatigue cold/ tight muscles and joints and anxiety and increased hair growth.

Drinking the tea or cooking with rosemary leaves helps promote memory and cerebral circulation as well as warming the whole body. I love to add rosemary essential oil into a carrier oil (coconut, olive or grapeseed) to rub on my body and hair and makes an excellent addition to many of the healing salves I make. I also love diffusing rosemary essential oil by itself or with a combination of other oils and simply keeping it with me every time I need some mental clarity.

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Wise Mother Elder

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( Sambucus Canadensis)

Summertime is a special time for an herbalist. It is full of blooming flowers, wild berries, fresh herbs & garden vegetables. The sun is high, rain soaks the soil and birds & bees pollinate all in perfect harmony.

Elderflower begins to bloom in late June- early July. She is the watcher of the garden, the wise sage at the edge, the queen of the underworld and the Elder Mother. She protects and guards the garden, and therefore us when we use her medicine. Many people know her as Elderberry (which fruits at the end of summer) and although her flowers are gentle, they are powerful + effective medicine.

Sweet smelling elderflower has been used in some of the oldest known remedies + teas. The most traditional tea blends (commonly known as Gypsy Tea) that consists of Elderflower, Yarrow + Peppermint. An infusion made from the dried flowers is safe for use in infants and children, and is generally used for mild colds, flus, fever, upper respiratory infections and dry/red skin. It is a relaxant and antispasmodic and therefore a wonderful remedy for coughs and digestional cramps.

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The berry can be harvested in late summer (August) and is most commonly used by making a syrup. Elder flower + berry tastes wonderful and can both be dried and made into a tea, tincture or syrup. It is antiviral, has immune boosting properties and is formulated well with antibiotic echinacea. Not only is it used as a medicine, but as jams, preserves, wine, fritters, cordials and creatively in many other recipes.

Look for Elderflower on the edge of fields, roadsides, gardens, yards and woods. Remember to harvest sustainably and leave many flowers so that they produce many berries for years to come!

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