> Roots & Flowers

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Essential Oils for the Immune System

Essential Oils are highly concentrated distilled plant essences. Many essential oils have anti-viral and immune-modulating properties.
The antiviral action of certain essential oils is one of their most valuable attributes-especially since allopathic medicine has little to offer. Essential oils with terpenoid compounds are very specific, notably the citruses and pine oils, as well as some oils in the phenol group.

Essential Oils For The Immune System:
Lavender, lemon, bergamot, thyme, chamomile, pine, sandalwood, myrrh and vetiver stimulate production of infection-fighting white corpuscles.

According to the People's Desk Reference For Essential Oils, (The PDR) the following single oils are suggested:
Lavender, lemon, marjoram, frankincense, eucalyptus, melaleuca (Tea Tree Oil) and rosemary.

The following blend helps build the body's natural resistance.

3 drops lavender

3 drops tea tree

2 drops bergamot

2 drops eucalyptus

10 drops Caulophyllum inophyllum

1 ounce carrier oil (calendula-infused is especially effective.)

Use as a body oil daily in the bath as part of a health-maintenance program, or to treat acute conditions such as cold or flu.

Try adding some to a small spray bottle diluted with spring water. Carry with you to disinfect surfaces in public places or disinifect the air.


Equal amounts of the following essential oils:
Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Clove and Lemon.
Mix with base of olive oil.
Put a tablespoon of each in a 2 oz. bottle and then fill the rest with olive oil.
You can make a larger batch in a quart jar following the same proportion method.


Diffuse for short periods of time (1/2 hour or less) in the work or home environment. Apply to the bottom of the feet or dilute with a massage oil base for a stimulating massage under the arms and on the chest at the base of the neck.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fire Cider Recipe

Fire Cider is an inexpensive, effective way to treat or stave off colds & flus, and to break up congestion.


1 quart Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 cup Horseradish root grated

1/8 cup of Garlic chopped

1/2 cup of Onion chopped

1/2 cup of Ginger grated

1 tsp Cayenne


Place all ingredients in a quart jar and cover with Apple Cider Vinegar.

Cover tightly.

Steep for 8 weeks.

Strain into clean jar.

How to Use Your Fire Cider?

~ Rub into sore muscles and aching joints.

~ Soak a clean cloth in Fire Cider to place on a congested chest.

~ Drink it straight or diluted in a bit of water or tomato juice.Start out with a tsp or so to test your tolerance level.
~ Mix with a bit of honey to ease a cough.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ode to Peppermint!

Peppermint is one of my favorite plants to grow and use. My kids love it too. It's beautiful and fragrant and something about crushing the freshly picked leaves and inhaling their perfume just lifts the spirits.
Plus, peppermint has many medicinal uses that make it one of my favorite herbs to have on hand during cold & flu season.
The essential oil of peppermint (up to 2.5% in the dried leaf) is mostly made up from menthol (ca. 50%), menthone (10 to 30%), menthyl esters (up to 10%) and several monoterpene derivatives (pulegone, piperitone, menthofurane). Traces of jasmone (0.1%) give the oil its characteristically "minty" scent. The aromatic chemicals in the mint are concentrated when the plant is grown in areas with long, warm, bright summer days.

Essential oil of peppermint can be applied to the skin or mouth to relieve pain. The essential oil in peppermint teas relieves the pain associated with colitis and colic. Traditionally, peppermint tea has been used for relieving bloated tummies and trapped gas.

In an animal study, scientists found that a combination of oils from peppermint and eucalyptus was able to kill the avian influenza virus, also known as bird flu.

In another study, patients who were exposed to a spray that included peppermint oil got relief from the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

In the Fall and Winter I like to add some peppermint oil to a small spray bottle diluted with spring water. I carry it with me to disinfect surfaces in public places or disinifect the air.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Make Some Herbal Vapor Balm

With Autumn's arrival, and the start of a new school year there will naturally follow a new host of cold & flu bugs and exposure to all sorts of other germs. Of course our best course of action is to keep our immune systems strong by eating well, decreasing stress, washing our hands and getting plenty of rest.
During the coming winter months when our bodies are vulnerable to colds and flu, herbs can help keep us healthy.
Today I'm making one of my favorite natural cold remedies to have on hand this winter:

Herbal Vapor Balm
I got this recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs and I just LOVE it!

Interestingly enough, two of the common active ingredients in commercially-made vapor rubs are Eucalyptus essential oil and Menthol. But, the classic ointments also contain things like Petroleum and Turpentine oil. Luckily, we can make a homemade version utilizing all-natural elements and botanicals!

- 1/2 cup organic Olive Oil
- 1/2 – 1 tsp organic Menthol Crystals
- 1 oz Beeswax, coarsely chopped or use pastilles
- 15 drops organic Eucalyptus essential oil
- 10 drops organic Peppermint essential oil
- 10 drops organic Rosemary esse
ntial oil
- 2 drops organic Tea Tree essential oil
- 2 drops organic Thyme essential oil

Heat the Olive oil and beeswax in a double boiler until the beeswax has melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little. Add Menthol crystals (1/2 tsp for a gentler balm, 1 tsp for a stronger product) and essential oils, stir, and quickly pour into jars. Immediately place lids loosely over the jars so that the oils do not escape. Note: The menthol crystals may be irritating when inhaled so use in a well ventilated area or wear a mask if needed.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Cleaning for Your Body

A Healthy Liver Means a Healthier Life
We all want to live a long and healthy life, right? If you're like me, you watch what you eat, try to get plenty of fresh air and exercise, minimize stress, get enough sleep, etc. For me, one of the not so obvious things I do for good overall health is a good spring cleaning. When the blossoms start coming back around and the nettles and dandelions start popping up I feel the pull of those bitter tasting herbs.

Happy Liver = Happy Body

Chugging along through the winter months in particular can slow down our metabolism. For many, this leads to weight gain, especially for those living in harsher winter climates where physical activity is significantly reduced.

As spring approaches, one of the best ways to kick-start your metabolism and give your health a boost is to give your body a little spring cleaning of its own and detoxify your system.

The most important step to begin detoxing the body is cutting out most refined and processed foods which contain trans-fats, sugar and additives such as artificial colors and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

I try to eat more raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and vegetable protein like beans, lentils and quinoa. By choosing organic foods, you can reduce your exposure to pesticides. Some readily available all natural detox-friendly foods include kale, beets, and spinach, which can be prepared in delicious salads.

Also, never underestimate the power of physical exercise! Since the skin is the largest elimination organ your body has, working up a sweat is yet another great way to promote cleansing and body detoxification! And don’t forget to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and assist the kidneys in flushing out toxins.

As always, we can look to nature to support our detox efforts.

Dandelion contains bitter principles that have a tonic effect on the liver and digestive system. It is also a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, D, C, and B, as well as iron, silicon, magnesium, zinc and manganese.

Fennel has been used since ancient times. Apart from its naturally supportive properties for digestion, fennel also helps to maintain liver, kidney and spleen health.

Milk Thistle is probably the most well known liver tonic. It is often useful for those who don't want the diuretic effects of dandelion.

One of my favorite juice combinations for the liver and kidneys:

1 medium apple
handful dandelion greens
1 6 inch pc Burdock Root (you can find this in the produce section usually called Gobo)
2 sprigs of parsely

Run all of these through your juicer and enjoy!

There are also many herbal liver and kidney tonics available. One of my favorites is Detox Drops from Native Remedies.

Please share your favorite Spring Cleaning rituals with us!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nettles ~ Put Some Sting In Your Spring!

Today my daughter and I harvested our first batch of nettles of the spring! It was so exciting for me because I crave them all year.
We've been harvesting nettles each spring since she was a toddler. She's now 13 and still an expert! In fact, unlike myself, she doesn't even wear gloves. She squeezes the outer leaves and rubs them between her fingers and pops them in her mouth! (I don't suggest trying this unless you are prepared to get stung - or unless, like I suspect of her, you've made some enchanted pact with the forest nymphs!)

I harvest the tender tops from the time they first appear in spring through mid-summer when they begin to set flowers.
I use gloves and scissors and snip of the new tops into a paper bag.

What Do I Do With Stinging Nettles?

I enjoy fresh nettle infusions during the spring. The taste is decidely different than from dried nettle. I love it!

I steam them and eat then drizzle with chopped garlic, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. SWOON!!!!

I dry some for storing so I have nettle infusions all year long.

I also make up a big batch of Nettle Infused Vinegar

Nettles ~ The Nutritional Powerhouse

Stinging Nettles are a rich source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, cobalt, copper, potassium, trace minerals, chlorophyll, the B-complex vitamins, and more.
Because of their dense concentration of minerals and amino acids, Nettles help to build healthy bones, hair, skin, and teeth, as well as being an excellent tonic for pregnant, lactating, and menopausal women.

Nettles are a tonic for the kidney, adrenal, and thyroid glands, so they can help increase and stabilize energy levels. Used regularly for several months, they can prevent hay fever and other allergies.

If you should get stung while harvesting nettle look for some yellow dock leaves (pictured below)- they always grow near nettle. Simply crush the leaves and rub on the sting.

I'd love to hear how you use spring nettles!

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Make Tea Not War

Spring is here and I am busy planning and planting and wildcrafting. One thing I always keep in mind during these seasonal tasks is making my treasured tea blends.
Mostly, I grow my or forage my own herbs, but I ammend what I harvest from my herb garden with beautiful organic herbs from Mt. Rose Herbs. Also, the Mt. Rose website is an excellent source of information and inspiration.

Take a look through their Herbal Tea Section for some wonderful ideas for tea blends.
One of my favorite examples is their Peace Tea.

This is a gentle and calming nervine blend; a chance for reflection while providing an opportunity to imagine a peaceful world. Takes the stress out of life for a while. A wonderful infusion drink for meditation and quiet moments.
Contains: Organic Chamomile flowers, organic Spearmint, organic Passionflower herb, organic Rose petals, organic Lavender flowers and organic Cinnamon bark.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c