Meet Your Herbs: Comfrey
Season 3 Episode 8 Transcript
Today's is special Meet Your Herbs episode, when I introduce you to another of my favorite plant friends. Since this season's theme is Get Moving, this is an herb that will help you repair your injured bits if you've gotten moving a bit too much. She's blowsy, spiny, voluptuous, a bit of a misunderstood outcast. Meet controversial Comfrey- poor thing, it's not her fault.
If you want to really understand the background of the Comfrey controversy and what pyrolizzidine alkaloids are, the Borage (and Comfrey) episode of Natasha’s Richardson’s archived podcast Listen is *fantastic*. I will link the episode in this show’s transcript. If you want to really understand Comfrey, grow some! She grows just the way you want your tissues that it heals so well to be- strong, vibrant, protective, and beautifully healthy. Comfrey leaves get HUGE and are prickly almost like a velcro, and Comfrey people are in an acute state that need some knitting back together. It's not a long term tonic plant, but rather it's like that gruff grandparent who is always there for you but really likes to be left alone the rest of the time.
Comfrey’s strength lies in putting your cells back together, and in doing so it stimulates cell replication. So when it comes to wounds this can actually be a problem, because Comfrey can get a wound to heal so quickly that it traps debris and dirt inside, that can cause an infection. So you need to be a little careful when you’re working with comfrey and not just slap it on right away. You really need to make sure that any kind of open skin wound is clean.
But any kind of injury, any kind of damage, can be helped with Comfrey. It’s not just necessarily something that will then become a scab. So- broken bones, strains and sprains, bruises, all kinds of injuries and damage can really be helped with Comfrey. It’s typically used topically, but if you listen to the Comfrey and Borage episode that Natasha Richardson put out with Marcos Patchett, you’ll definitely understand why that’s not always been the case and why it might not need to be the case.
Comfrey is one of the few plants where harvesting the roots isn't really a worry, since it grows so prolifically. You can also use the roots and the leaves similarly, most often infused in oils, but tinctures and even whole plant and fresh plant poultices work really well too. So try it and experience the difference in strength and energy of the different plant parts. Make a connection with your plants, learn how they work with you, instead of expecting them to be for your issues.
This season of Holistic Lifestyling is all about getting moving, and Comfrey is one of those friends always waiting to patch you up so you can keep going. Did you rub your skin off a toe in a damp shoe? Scratch yourself picking berries in the park? Did you reduce a mosquito bite to a scab? Fell out of the canoe and strain a rib? The list goes on and on, and Comfrey is waiting to be asked for help.
Meet Your Herbs: Solomon's Seal
Season 3 Episode 4 Transcript
Today's episode is a special one. This is a Meet Your Herbs episode, because I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorite friends, Solomon Seal.
Here's the thing: If hydration is life, damage causes dryness.
Stuck, constricted, restricted, uncomfortable, lingering dryness can make joints crack repeatedly, restrict our physical and emotional resilience and recovery, reduce circulation and healing and impinge on our ability to shift between movements, and from stillness to movement.
Stuck, constricted, restricted, uncomfortable, lingering dryness can make joints crack repeatedly, restrict our physical and emotional resilience and recovery, reduce circulation and healing, and impinge on our ability to shift between movements and from stillness to movement.
Solomon's Seal root slowly, gently, gets down into the stuck dryness and goes to work. It nourishes, builds, strengthens, heals, all without any kind of fireworks. There's an idea that to be good for us, it has to be big/fast/hard/intense/complicated. But it's amazing how often being passive is the most healing thing. Solomon’s Seal passively, doggedly brings fluidity back to your All of You.
It turns out that a slow-growing, shade-and-water-loving plant is the perfect plant medicine for slow-healing, often-forgotten-about Connective Tissue- the ligaments, tendons, fascia, cartilage, and other hold-it-together bits in your body that never quite get fixed. Connective tissue also creates the transitions between all your structures. Muscles become tendons that merge into bones, and there aren't clear distinctions between them.
Think of Solomon's Seal people as stuck, dry, worn, and propelling themselves forward anyway. That old injury?? It's fine! I don't even notice it!!🤪 they cry, hobbling towards the next To-Do self-distraction. Connective tissue is already slow to heal, so it's easy to dismiss and accept a more limited "normal" once the pain is gone, or adequately ignored.
It's hard to transition out of emotional stuckness too, especially when the world changes regardless of your preferences: People that think they don't want to give up on the day and go to bed yet. Or , say, the kids are moving out? Or there’s new, unwelcome responsibilities at work. How well do you deal? Maybe you'd benefit from Solomon's Seal too. I talked a bit a bout SS in the second season of this Holistic Lifestyling podcast, in episode seven, about herbs that help TMJ, tongue tie, and headaches. The specifics of how I work with Solomon’s Seal are something I share in my new membership- check out Become a Patron at my website paulasherbals.com
Season 2 Episode 7 Transcript
Herbal Stress Blends
Herbal Stress Blends are first
You can find these pre-made formulas in teas and liquid extracts like tinctures, and I mention them first because there's an excellent chance you already have one or more in your cupboard right now. In general, a stress relief formula is going to hit the major stress highlights of:
• emotional upheaval
• mental chaos
• and body tension
So they already have good herbal ingredients to start with! Go ahead and start here, especially if this is what you already have on hand.
Make your tea, or take your tincture, or whatever the remedy is, whenever you need. Before, if you know you're heading into a stressful event; during, if you see it building; and after, to come down and recover well. And also, try your stress relief formula when you're NOT stressed, so you have a baseline to know what to expect! Pay attention to how you feel as you sip your tea, and also how the next 10-30 minutes feel, so you know what to expect.
Now let's talk about Chamomile If you’ve followed me for a while, or taken my Sitting Pretty free workshop for sitting pains, you’ve heard a bit about Chamomile! It’s common, yes, and it’s pretty gentle, but Chamomile is also impressive plant medicine.
The part I want to talk about here is its incredible ability to relax skeletal muscles. What’s great about using Chamomile in a tea is that there’s no waiting around- the aromatic, volatile parts that do such a good job relaxing you evaporate quickly in hot water, so drink them up!
You can also find lovely topical Chamomile products like lotions and liquid soaps. The company Weleda makes a really nice baby line with Chamomile in it, and since it’s gentle enough for a baby’s skin it’s also gentle enough for a face or neck massage, or a nice hot bath. This isn’t an ad, it just a suggestion [transcript note- this is an affiliate link], and you can find other nice topical products with Chamomile in them, besides the Weleda line, though I do suggest using organic ones especially since your face and neck skin is so delicate.
One other Chamomile suggestion I have is a Chamomile Glycerite- it’s a remedy made from fresh flowers, full of their aromatic goodness, in sweet, gentle vegetable glycerin that you can take by mouth directly from the dropper or in another beverage. It's delicious! I’ve gotten mine through Herbiary- I’ll link them in the transcript.
That Weleda baby line I mentioned also uses Calendula because of its ability to quickly and gently heal skin, like from diaper rash. Calendula also is a wonderful lymphatic- it helps move lymph fluid just below the skin.
This is important because we have so much lymph coming from the face and sinuses, and what’s called “glymph” draining from the brain when we sleep, and it all has to exit through small channels in the neck that can get even more restricted from tension.
A nice self-massage using some Calendula infused in almond or jojoba oil, or in a gentle body wash, can help all this drain out normal lymph plus the extra lymph that's created as the body tries to heal damage caused by the tension. In addition, any damage caused by inflammation, or for example forcing tight muscles to move like by chewing with tense jaw muscles, will be helped to heal by Calendula.
Another lovely aromatic that can help with tension is Lavender. In addition to smelling wonderful, which is its own relaxing trigger for me, Lavender has a few specific actions of its own:
1. It’s cooling, reducing inflammation
2. It’s analgesic, meaning it can relieve the pain of tension, inflammation, and headaches
3. It helps heal by stimulating cell reproduction
You can find Lavender in culinary items like teas and even cookies! It’s also very common in topical products, everything from lotions to linen sprays to shampoos. I do always suggest using organic products, to reduce the synthetic chemical load on your skin, and I always suggest NOT using essential oils. They are a precious resource, and I much prefer them in their already well-diluted state.
One of my absolute favorites is the Lavender hydrosol that Barefoot Botanicals in Doylestown PA distills from their own plants in their homemade still. It’s water that’s super saturated with the Lavender essential oil, so it’s safe to spray on your skin, or even over the top of a beverage as a fancy finish to a drink! I’ll link this in the transcript too.
This is a little less well-known herbal remedy- it’s not an everyday plant like Chamomile or Lavender, but boy oh boy is it helpful here. This is Solomon’s Seal- this is a root medicine that encourages our connective tissue to heal.
Connective tissue damage is typically a long-lasting problem because it has so little blood flow- when you look at an anatomy picture of the muscular systems, the white tissue that connect muscles to each other and to bones is this connective tissue, and it’s white because there’s not much blood in it!
Typically, you can find Solomon’s Seal in an infused oil, which is a nice topical remedy to massage into your neck and jaw, and you can also find it as a tincture. This is an alcohol-based herbal remedy that you can use directly on the skin, though it may stain the skin a bit, and/or you can take it by mouth also.
I’ve gotten a really nice infused oil from Avena Botanicals in Maine, and my favorite tincture is from Angel Shockley in VA. She has agreed to let me mention her as a resource for her tinctures but she says, and I quote, “There's only one catch - I don't post tinctures for sale in my shop. Anyone wanting to get some would need to reach out to me.” So on Etsy you’ll look for VAHerbAngel, and I’ll link to her in the transcript as well. Then send her an Etsy message if this is something you wanted to experiment with.
Her Solomon’s Seal tincture is so rich and well made, I swear it tastes like chocolate! I just take a couple drops by mouth almost every day- not very much, because it’s so concentrated and so precious. When I’m consistent with this, my neck and face feel so much better, even if I’m doing an extra lot of talking or computer work.
There’s one more herb here I want to mention, and it's Blue Vervain. It’s even less well known than Solomon’s Seal in terms of general herbal knowledge, but if you’re either in frequent and great discomfort, or getting into herbs and wanting to step outside your comfort zone a bit, let me introduce you to Blue Vervain.
There are a number of plants that might be called Blue Vervain- I’m specifically talking about Verbena hastata. Blue Vervain is an intense bitter, that really shakes up the nervous system. The herbalist Matthew Wood describes it perfectly, so I want to read you the description from his book New World Plants:
“It is suited to people who are very intense, even fanatical, laying impossible standards on themselves or others. They strain to live up to these impossible standards, or to impose them on others. Yet, they have not the strength to sustain this activity, so that they are too intense mentally and emotionally, but suffer from physical weakness.” He goes on to say, “The specific indication to look for is stiffness in the nape of the neck.”
When Matthew Wood calls this a specific indication, that stiffness in the nape of the neck, a specific indication in the herbal world is a direct link. When you see this thing, think of this herb. In general, herbs aren't "for" our problems, but in specific, acute cases there are some very clear lines that we can draw between a problem and a solution, being a particular herb. In this case, Blue Vervain is the first thing to call upon for help when you've got stiffness at the nape of the neck.
Another one of my teachers simply said, “It’s good for whiplash, and tall people.” Which, I guess I'm considered tall, I'm 5'9", so I do keep Blue Vervain. And when my neck, especially the back of my neck, is acting up and I lose range of motion, I turn to Blue Vervain.
Bitters relax muscles, among other actions, and this deeply bitter plant has a specific affinity for relieving tension and heat at the base of the skull. It’s a serious bitter, though. In large or even medium doses it can be an emetic- that means it makes you throw up. I have a bottle from Barefoot Botanicals in Doylestown that is about 2 years old now. It lasts that long because I only take a few drops when I’m feeling stiff-necked, both literally and metaphorically.
It does NOT taste good, I'll warn you of that again. But it is very strong medicine and you don't need a very high dose.
So there you have it- a couple of my favorite herbs, specifically about TMJ, tongue tie, and headaches. I really hope you find relief, both with the movement in the last episode and with the herbal ideas in this episode. And I'd love to chat with you more about this. Reach out on the socials or in email and let me know if any of these are help you! The transcript for this episode will be on the blog on Friday.
Herbs and Stress- Your First Steps
Holistic Lifestyling Podcast Season 2 Episode 3 Transcript
Whether we’re talking about stress or any other body system that can use support, herbal remedies are an important part of a holistic approach to your wellness because how you treat your insides is just as important as how you treat your outsides.
In the last episode, I talked about the external things you can do, the activities you can do with your body to influence and improve your stress responses. If you haven’t listened to this, I recommend you download it now and catch up!
Today I’m going to talk about the internal things you can do to help manage your stress responses. My focus is on the herbs and the remedies that you can work with, but I do want to mention things like a good diet and drinking more water and taking your multivitamin can also all be parts of these more internal supports. I’m not a nutritionist and I don’t want to go there, so eat well and drink more and follow the good nutrition advice of the professionals!
I am, however, an herbalist. Yes, I’m a movement coach and a pelvic floor specialist, and also an herbalist. If this is a surprise to you, then I suggest you check out my season 1 episode 8 where I introduce myself and explain why I’m not a guru! My very first podcast episode, labeled number 00, will also help you understand who I am and how you got here on a podcast about whole body wellness, inside and out.
First Things First
In my capacity as an herbalist, it’s so important to me to say first that plants weren’t invented for our things. Pharmaceuticals were, and they work well in that capacity. But plants are their own complex chemical beings, and it’s more useful to think of them as a friend group. Different people play different roles in your life, but these people also stand alone and have their own lives. Different plants can play different roles in your life, but they can have a very different relationship with another person at the exact same time. Plants don’t exist to solve our health problems.
My classic example of this is coffee. You might drink a cup or 2 in the morning. Someone else might live on it, fueling their bleary eyed workday and demanding more of their body and the coffee bean than is reasonable or healthy. On the other hand, I am one of those people who can’t drink coffee at all- it gives me heart palpitations and makes me vibrate like I’m going to stick to the ceiling and I get nauseous right away. Same plant, different relationships with different people.
The point is, there’s no “herbs for stress”. What there is, is a group of plants who interact with us and our nervous systems in different ways that end up helping us regulate, resist, and be more resilient to our internal and external sources of stress.
When you find a “stress” blend in the tea section at the store or in a tincture bottle at a health food store, or if you sit down with a clinical herbalist who makes specific suggestions or even blends you up a personal formula, the individual herbs in that blend haven’t been randomly chosen- I hope!- simply because they’re “stress” herbs.
3 Categories of Stress Relief
We’ve got 3 basic categories of herbal stress relief-
Let me give you the super short, mini overview:
Nervines influence the nervous system.
They were given the name “Adaptogens” by the Russians in the 1950’s and 60’s while they were trying to figure out how to force more work from their workers in terrible conditions. There is some terrible research behind the knowledge we have now, and I believe we can best honor the people who suffered for these experiments by working with these plants in pursuit of recuperation and health, which honors their more traditional understanding, instead of using them to force long work days days and all nighters and those types of personal abuses that were desirable under communism, and are often sources of misplaced pride in today’s grind culture.
Adaptogens all act differently- they fall on a spectrum between calming and stimulating, but all of them help improve energy levels. Also, which plants specifically fall under the heading Adaptogen is sometimes up for debate, but that ability to have personal and professional experience and discussions is one of the things I like best about herbalism!
Adaptogens you may have heard of include
Tonics or Nutritives are herbs that blur the lines between food and medicine. These are plants that contain very high amounts of things like minerals and other micronutrients that help your body repair and restore itself long term. They are often worked with as teas that steep overnight so they get very strong and concentrated:
Nervines, Adaptogens, and Tonics- these are 3 groups of herbs that play different roles in helping us resist, recuperate from, and build resilience to our stressful lives. The point of giving you this overview is NOT to make you an expert after a few minutes of a podcast!
Rather, I wanted to introduce you to the idea that plants have chemical complexities, almost personalities, and that our familiar, more medical approach of “take 2 and call me in the morning”, that idea that there’s a pill for your condition, doesn’t work with plants.
This isn’t to overwhelm you, I’m not suggesting you now have to become knowledgeable about all the possible plants that might help you manage stress better. Instead, what I hope this does is give you an overview about why there are so many ingredients in stress blends, and also why your favorite blend might be different than someone else’s!
Finding the herbs that work best with you can be like dating- you might just wade in and start sampling all of them, or you might work with an herbalist who matchmakes FOR you, simplifying and shortening the process!
Where to Start
If you are listening to this and now wondering where to start, there’s a couple of simple things you can do first. These ideas are in increasing order of your own personal involvement:
And keep in mind, if you pick an herb to try out- or for that matter, an herbalist to work with- they may not be a good fit. That's perfectly fine. You know more about how they work now, plant or person, and you might be able to suggest them to a friend of yours sometime who they would fit better with.
One final note is that I'm mostly talking about tea here because it’s super simple to put hot water on a teabag, and you can find them most anywhere. Tea is one of the easiest starting points to working with plants, but another pretty common remedy you’ll see on the shelves if you go to a fancier grocery store or an independent health food store or maybe an herbalist’s shop or stand at a farmer’s market, is a tincture.
This is a more concentrated remedy than tea- usually it’s an alcohol-based extract of the plant. Think of putting vanilla beans in vodka to flavor it, but stronger and with the purpose of extracting the therapeutic benefits of the plants, not just flavor. It might not be alcohol, there are other options like glycerine or vinegar, but the point is these are remedies in little bottles with dropper tops that you take by the drop or the squirt, as compared to tea that you drink by the pint or the quart. You might take the tincture directly in your mouth, or you can add it to other drinks to dilute and disguise the flavor- the instructions will give you direction as to how and how much to take.
Because they’re more work to make tinctures are more expensive than teas, but because they’re concentrated they’re also used in much smaller doses so they last longer, and because they're already liquid they’re much easier to work with than tea is. So if you’re feeling like tea is too much work, too many steps with water and containers and hot or whatever is getting in your way, you can venture into the apothecary section of your grocery store or farmer’s market and try tincture-based remedies instead!
I’ve mentioned a lot of specifics today that I’ll link in the shownotes and the show transcript when it comes out later this week. I’m trying to give you a broad overview of how to start working with herbs that can help you manage stress on your own. If the idea of sitting down with an herbalist sounds more your speed, or you come to that decision later on, do a local search and see who might be practicing in your local area. If you come up empty then reach out to me and we’ll see if we can find you a good herbal fit.
Listen to Today's Episode
Meet Your Herbs: Rose
Ah, the Rose. You can probably name me 6 popular references to Rose from poetry and songs without even trying. What's up with Rose's popularity??
Like the rest of nature (humans included!), Rose isn't just one thing. She just does all her things so well! Yes, she's a pretty face with a heavenly smell! And the scent and taste of rose will soften and open a hard heart, which can be startling or overwhelming if someone's not ready for that.
But she also has thorns, for straight up protection. Don't just take from this beauty, she'll fight back- as she should. Plus, her leaves are a fantastic astringent, tightening loose or drippy tissues, the opposite of the opening and softening of her flowers.
A Rose person may have grown themselves too many thorns, trying to stave off the outside world. They might need some softening, some gentle opening, in the realm of the heart and the feelings. And holding themselves so stiffly, so apart from people can leave you cold and stagnant, so Rose leaves can help tone up tissues that aren't flowing right- maybe some in a bathtub, along with flowers, might help improve the quality of menstruation or varicose veins or sluggish lymph. And what a lovely experiment to try!
Healing Injuries Inside and Out
One of my ‘echo lessons’ (those things you’ll hear from me so many times that my voice saying it will sound clearly in your head!) is that
PLANTS WEREN’T INVENTED FOR OUR ILLNESSES
so there’s no “herb for” our problems.
Plants are individual little chemical beings, just like us, and so we all interact with them differently. For proof, look no further than all the different reactions and tolerances people have to coffee.
Having said that, plants can fall into broad categories, and one of those categories are things that can help us heal and recover from injury and inflammation.
Injury is just that- damage caused by outside forces, that can be a short sharp shock, or something worn down by chronic misuse.
The really short version of inflammation is that when there’s injury, roving construction crews notice it and send out the alarm for help, which descends on the site “ants on a cupcake” style. All these “construction ants” do the repair work, while the body ups things like circulation so fresh crews get delivered and the waste like damaged cells gets washed to the dumpsters/lymph nodes- this is where lymph swelling comes from, btw.
Plants can help us in a variety of ways through all of our healing processes. They can:
🌼 help prevent infection of open wounds, decreasing the immune system’s workload
🌼 decrease pain
🌼 cool a site when swelling gets too much
🌼 increase lymph flow when it’s not getting out of a site and things are getting crowded
🌼 normalize the inflammation response when it needs to increase or decrease but isn’t
🌼 support the healing of specific tissues like nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue, or gut lining
Now, I’d like to make it clear here that I’m talking about the kinds of injuries you’d commonly have no problem dealing with yourself. If it’s anything outside of your comfort zone, SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP.
So how, exactly, can herbs help your feet and pelvic floor (and everything else) heal? There’s a couple of specific herbs to tell you about, and a couple of common combos you’ll find at health food or herb shops.
Let’s take your feet as an example. You’ve been listening to this Paula person online, and you’re using your feet more, getting more texture in your walking surfaces, turning them to parallel several times a day, and things are getting a bit uncomfortable. Maybe your feet are tired and a little tender, maybe your hips and knees are getting used in new ways and are a little sore.
First, Arnica. It’s a little yellow flower, usually steeped in oil to extract its medicinal qualities but you’ll also often find it in homeopathic form. (Homeopathy is a totally different modality than herbalism that’s equally valid but way outside my wheelhouse.) I’ve seen Arnica massage oil, cream, lotion, balm, body wash, skin spray- anything topical you can think of. Arnica helps deflect the trauma of an injury. It helps prevent bruising and swelling, it helps you be in less pain and be less shocky. Arnica is a classic go-to immediately after something happens.
Another specific is Solomon’s Seal. It’s less common, but I mention it because it does such a wonderful job helping your connective tissues heal, which is normally very hard to do. Topically you can use it as an oil based remedy to rub in, and it’s also a delicious tincture to take internally. Both work well, separately or together.
Arnica and Solomon’s Seal are first to my mind as specifics when we’re talking injury, but it’s probably more common and accessible to talk about the products you’ll find pretty much everywhere someone is selling herbal remedies. You can absolutely make your own remedies, but when you’re first starting out, and if you find yourself in a pinch without your usual stash, a general healing salve made by most herbalists are great to keep on hand.
Any shop with herbal remedies that‘s worth its salt will have jars or tins of some kind of “healing salve”. This is a blend of oils infused with herbs like Calendula, Plantain, St John’s Wort, Comfrey, etc, that’s had something hard like beeswax added to it so it stays put. These are great things to rub on a boo-boo- not only will the herbs help speed the healing, but the rubbing action helps circulation which is good too. So long as a wound isn’t actively bleeding or weeping or obviously needing professional care, a healing salve can be your go-to initial remedy.
Next to the healing salves should be muscle rubs, which are very similar but have ingredients like Cayenne, Ginger, or Menthol. Massaging them into sore muscles or inflamed areas brings the same benefits as healing salves, these are just designed to penetrate more deeply and bring circulation to sore muscles.
Also worth noting here is Magnesium in all its glorious forms- crystals, sprays, gels, balms, rollers, sticks, and internal supplements like powders, tablets, and liquids. Magnesium does a lot of things so let me explain it like this- your muscles need Mg to relax (like, at all. As in, the opposite of contract), and tension restricts circulation. So I always, always suggest Mg supplements internally or externally for anything that hurts for more than a day. Be warned though, your digestive tract is a muscle too- excess Mg makes it hard for things like the colon to hold onto its contents since it’s, you know, relaxed. Go easy on the Mg supplements till you know your tolerance!
On the topic of inflammation, there's SO MUCH to say! Don't get overwhelmed by how much information is available out there. Here's my Rules of Thumbs:
This is the quick and dirty list of First Steps to working with herbal remedies to help heal injuries and inflammation. There's lots more that can (and has been and will be) said! But when find yourself in the first throes of injury, these are my suggestions.
Meet Your Herbs: Lavender
In my garden, in someone else's garden that I happen upon while exploring, in tea, in cakes, in sachets, in sleep masks, in wands, in wreaths, in lotions, in baths, in the air, in my water...
There's almost no end to the ways I love Lavender. There's also almost no end to the ways Lavender loves us back!
It cools- significantly. I'm decidedly NOT on the essential oil bandwagon (that's a different soap box for a different day) but as a burn remedy Lav EO has its own spot in my kitchen.
It's analgesic- significantly. Again with the burns, and also with bumps, bruises, headaches, sore muscles. Good quality lotions, bath goodies, and hydrosols (a la Barefoot Botanicals- not an ad, just a fan) are my fav applications.
It's antimicrobial, like most of the Mediterranean herbs. In addition to further helping burns and wounds, this gives it a sharp edge to taste and flavor, similar to what Sage, Thyme, and Oregano have going for them- as compared to the incomparable softness of Rose. I like exploiting this in savory cooking, like in roasted meats with cranberry and red wine. Just saying.
It's relaxing, antispasmodic, and generally expansive. Think of thinking, circulation, muscle and joint fluidity- all things that benefit from more openness.
It's soapy, which comes in handy when zhuzhed up with water for washing delicate fabrics or skin, and not so much when over done in baking or beer (voice of experience here. Trust me.)
Having trouble growing Lavender? She's a dry wit- try replanting with a good amount of sand around her roots to avoid wet feet.
How do you love your Lavender? Comment below with your favs!
Meet Your Herbs: Peppermint
Oh you rascal, Peppermint. Every time someone say "Peppermint does this!" we have to add, "Yes, but..."!
Peppermint chills, then it warms. It tingles, and also it relaxes. It aids digestion, but can exacerbate reflux. It's a morning tea AND a before-bed tea. What ARE you??
(Like all the plants) Peppermint is a personality. We can't put it in a single box, any more than YOU can be put in a single box. Instead of "what does it do?" ask "how does it work?"
🌼 Menthol cools tissues, which stimulates circulation. Both of these help relieve pain and inflammation
🌼 Herbnerd word: AMPHOTERIC. Peppermint brings down high things, like energy at the end of the day, and jazzes up low things, like energy in the mornings. It normalizes levels, from any direction.
🌼 It relaxes smooth muscle. Good for full or sluggish intestines (as is the cooling/warming pairing) but NOT always so good for a full tummy. The relaxing might go up towards the esophagus instead of downward. I prefer Peppermint with nausea but bitters after a big meal.
Peppermint People run to both extremes, and could use a bit of balance in their lives. Always run to one extreme or another? Balance the Peppermint with another herb- hot Peppermint + Licorice for cold people, cool Peppermint + Green Tea for hot people, maybe.
Meet Your Herbs: Nettle
Here we have Nettle, flowered and going to seed, and if you look closely👀 you can also see the little spikes that sting you! I might not have gotten the focus quite right, but there's quite a bit going on in this pic.
We talk about exotic superfoods like they must come from far flung regions to be useful, when we ignore, poison, cut down, and don't even recognize the ones that are right under our noses!
As a food medicine, the all-around amazingness of Nettle is hard to match, let alone beat.
Nettle draws out the superhero in all of us too, by nourishing us to our max.
Who's a Nettle person? We could all be Nettle people. Do you have a Nettle patch?
Meet all the Herbs I've covered so far in my free Resources Hub
Meet Your Herbs: Valerian
When I'm outside and a breeze washes over me carrying a sweet, heavy, delicious scent and I know the neighbors don't have Roses, it still takes me a minute to remember Valerian.
The very same plant with it's 'dirty gym socks' roots has the most spectacularly smelling flowers!
Lots of people try Valerian root because "it's for sleep problems." People, listen to me:
Plants Were Not Invented For Our Illnesses!
Ya gotta understand who Valerian is, not think of her like a drug.
Valerian helps relax our muscles by warming them up, like an internal hot water bottle. This is NOT good if you already run hot!
Sure, the relaxing effect can help promote sleep. But the heat can also keep you up all night.
Match the plant to the person, not the disease.
Meet all the Herbs I've covered so far in my free Resources Hub
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
And, some of my posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them I'll earn a few cents. Thank you for supporting my work.
This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical, mental health or healthcare advice. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, heal, cure or prevent any illness, medical condition or mental or emotional condition. Working with us is not a guarantee of any results. Paula Billig owns all copyrights to the materials presented here unless otherwise noted.