LAVENDER ~ LOVELY LAVENDER

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Lavender was one of the first herbs I ever worked with. And, if I’m honest, I have to say we were not very good friends at the start.

I was manufacturing a personal care product line, and selling it both online and at open air markets. I felt as though I needed to carry a lavender line. It is a very popular scent and a well-known therapeutic oil. People love it!

Unfortunately, the oil brought on a mild headache every time I got near it. Ugh!

It was particularly bad when I made lavender soap. The steam that arose when I poured the oil in with the hot soap was quite powerful. It had a profound effect on me.

I remember thinking, “Who the hell uses this stuff to promote rest and relaxation? It’s just awful!” LOL.

But if you ask the average person what lavender oil can be used for, they would likely respond that it provides a calming effect. Aka = rest & relaxation!

Time has passed. My relationship with this botanical has evolved. And her seductive powers have won me over.

I am no longer sensitive to her aroma. I can not only use her for self-care, but I am fond of her. She is now affectionately known to me as Lovely Lady Lavender ❤ 😉 ❤

I am rather an avid fan of a bit of lavender balm rubbed on my wrist just before I lay down to sleep at night. She lulls me. It’s wonderful.

I cannot imagine my home without a bottle of lavender oil in it. I like to have a bag of dried lavender flower buds in the house as well. But the oil is essential (no pun intended). There are just so many ways to utilize this delightfully fragrant ‘nectar’.

Perhaps my favorite use for it is to soothe and heal burns. I make a simple lavender balm, using this plants essential oil, and keep a jar of it in my kitchen for this purpose. In my opinion, it is by far the best way to alleviate the pain and redness of burns. There are many home remedies out there which provide top notch remedial effects for burns, but none compare to lavender.

Simply rub some oil, either diluted in a carrier or brewed into a balm, on the affected area immediately after a burn occurs. This will reduce redness, blistering, scarring, and pain. She is that good 😉

This also works well for sunburns. I’ve used it MANY times.

As if these uses for lavender are not enough reason to keep her around, there are many, many more.

She is one of the best herbal remedies for muscle and joint pain. I remember sitting at an outdoor market one day and talking to the vendor next to me about what types of balm she could use for her arthritic hands. Unfortunately, I was out of the product I was making for this purpose at that time. I made a comment, in friendly jest, about her using my lavender balm instead. I said, “It may or may not take away your pain, but one thing for sure, your hands will smell just lovely today!”.

She chuckled and took some of the balm and rubbed it on her hands. About 20 minutes later she bought 4 jars! She said the pain had completely lifted. This was the moment I learned what a useful ally lavender is for muscle and joint pain. It works. Give it a try.

Taken as a tea, this herb is fabulous for digestive issues. This yummy beverage can also be served to friends and loved ones who are suffering from stress or grief. It will hit the spot and lift the emotional struggle a bit for sure.

Infuse her in your favorite cooking oil and use it to sauté veggies, chicken, or fish. This also makes a great replacement for other oils when baking. I avoid sweets almost completely, but a piece of lavender shortbread will weaken my willpower every time 😉

If you indulge in the sweet stuff from time to time, try infusing this tasty herb in sugar. It’s fabulous on grapefruit! Yep. Yep.

I prefer to infuse mine in pink Himalayan salt, and use it as a rub for chicken. I allow the chicken to ‘marinate’ in the salt overnight, grill it, and then roll it, ever-so-lightly, in a gourmet bbq sauce. YUMMY!

Lavender infused butter is the perfect companion for farm fresh, organic potatoes. This is a must-have. Really. For sure.

AND …

Finally …

She just smells good. Like really very good. Making her the perfect aromatic addition to handmade personal care products 😉

If you have a favorite use for lavender, or have been wanting to try her out remedially, cosmetically, or for culinary uses … tell me about it in the comments! I’m excited to hear your input 😉

And … connect with me on facebook and pinterest to stay abreast of any other happenings here at Bohemian Apothecarist.

As always, your presence is greatly appreciated. I adore that you are here. And I just know that we are going to have great fun together ❤

DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed health professional. You are solely responsible for researching herbs to determine how you choose to use them. If you decide to make them a part of your health care plan, I take no responsibility for the results of that decision.

ELDER ~ AN HERB QUEEN

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“When you settle a share of land, first plant an Elder tree, then make your home there.” ~ T. Elder Sachs

The beautiful Lady Elder is considered a Queen among herbs. She is believed to watch over her fellow plants and the spirits which reside on the property that sits under her charge.

As seen in the quote above, T. Elder Sachs recommends planting an Elder tree on your property before you begin to establish a home there – with that I wholeheartedly agree!

Of course, if you are already settled in to your property – it is not too late, it is never too late, to make a space from which Lady Elder can reign 😉

Her botanical name is Sambucus nigra, and each of her parts is to be used in its own way and understood separately.

Her flowers can be infused and used to treat fevers, severe bronchial and lung issues, chronic congestion, allergies, candidiasis, and ear infections.

Elder flower infusions are also very effective when working with eruptive skin conditions like measles.

They can be used to tone the mucous linings of the nose and throat; thereby, increasing their ability to resist infection.

Start taking a flower infusion a couple of months before hay fever season begins and you will see a decrease in the severity of your hay fever attacks.

The berries from this herbal wonder are used for food, to alleviate allergies, and combat colds and flu. They improve overall respiratory and sinus health. Their anti-inflammatory properties make them suitable as a pain reliever in most cases, and they can help with nausea.

As with all berries, this little lovelies support the normal production of white blood cells.

Because they contain bioflavonoids, alkaloids, vitamins, minerals, and anthocyanins they promote healthy immune system function.

The energetics of the bark are bitter and toxic.

While this part of the tree can be used medicinally, it is best to use a different herb to accomplish that which it does well.

If bark that is aged less than one year is used cyanide poisoning can result.

In days gone by, the bark was used as a diuretic, cathartic, emetic, and purgative.

The leaves of the elder tree can be used to make an ointment that will successfully treat sprains, bruises, and chillblains.

This ointment is a superior emollient as well.

Boil the leaves in linseed oil to create a great remedy for hemorrhoids.

An infusion made with them makes a good diuretic, and they are said to be even more purgative and nauseating than the bark.

The leaves, bark, and berries of the beautiful Lady Elder can all be used to produce dye.

The leaves make a gorgeous green. The bark produces black dye, and the berries create the loveliest purple color. If you prefer lilac, simply add a little salt to the water – and just like magic there it is!

PLEASE NOTE: Red elder is toxic – soooooo as always, proper identification is key!

I’d love it if you shared your thoughts on this post. Along with any input you may have about the amazing Lady Elder 😉

And … connect with me on facebook and pinterest to stay abreast of any other happenings here at Bohemian Apothecarist.

As always, your presence is greatly appreciated. I adore that you are here. And I just know that we are going to have great fun together ❤

DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed health professional. You are solely responsible for researching herbs to determine how you choose to use them. If you decide to make them a part of your health care plan, I take no responsibility for the results of that decision.

MAKE YOUR OWN HERBAL CAPSULES

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I regularly make my own herbal capsules, and I thought you might be interested in the what, why, and how of it 😉

I have a sort of love affair with this task. It is a very edifying process for me. I find the repetitive nature of the work meditative, I like the feeling that making my own remedies gives me, and I feel healthier (more alive if you will) when I am taking good care of my body. When I make remedies for those I love, it feeds my inner-nurturer. It all feels good, indeed!

If those are not enough reasons to spark your interest in making herbal pills, here are a few more for you …

  • It makes herbs easier to access. A small bottle of capsules can be carried just about anywhere.
  • You are more likely to maintain consistency when taking capsules, as compared to other forms of herbal remedies.
  • Many herbs provide nutritional value in addition to the remedial properties we revere them for. Therefore, you can meet dietary needs with them as well (think spinach powder 😉)
  • Making your own herbal capsules saves you money. Quite a bit of money. Actually, like a bunch of money!! (Point made? LOL)
  • Many commercially available capsules contain fillers. Homemade capsules do not. This allows you to get more herb per dosage, which is most often a good thing. Not to mention that you are not putting useless (or even harmful) fillers in your body. YUCK!
  • For those who struggle with the taste of other herbal remedies, like tinctures, a capsule is a great alternative. Of course, there are times when a different form of herbal supplement is necessary. For example, I don’t know of an herb you can take in capsule form to remedy a cough. But there are MANY issues which can be addressed with capsules.
  • When you make your own herbal capsules, you can tailor them to YOUR specific needs.
  • When you make capsules yourself you can be certain that the herbs you use are fresh and organic. Who knows what they are putting in commercial brands of herbal capsules! I do know that, in the interest of profit, many of our food sources are highly contaminated and our medical system is corrupt. I can’t imagine that companies who are mass-producing herbal remedies are any different than those who provide these services to us. After all, they are all in bed together! And I would rather not support them anyway. Herbalism is a ‘for the people, by the people’ system, and keeping it that way greatly reduces the likelihood of its distortion.

I think those are some pretty good reasons to make herbal capsules at home. Don’t you?

If getting started on this task makes you feel a bit overwhelmed, fear not! You don’t have to have much (or really any) herbal knowledge to get the ball rolling. Simply start by making some single herb capsules that are known to work for the majority of the general population.

Here’s a few ideas for you …

  • Beet Root = general nutrition and lowering cholesterol
  • Hawthorn Berry = overall heart health and regulating blood pressure
  • Spirulina = general nutrition (as in ‘eat your greens’)
  • Milk Thistle = overall liver health
  • Chaga = energy and adaptogen
  • Turmeric = inflammation reduction

A bit less overwhelming? Of course it is!

The investment to start is pretty minimal as well …

All you need is a capsule making machine, some empty capsules, and the herbs of your choice (in powder form). You can pick all of these things up in one fell swoop, at Mountain Rose Herbs. I love them. Their business is built on good stewardship and integrity. AND they provide outstanding products and service.

Both the machines and the capsules come in two different sizes (0 & 00). I prefer the larger capsules (00). They just make sense to me (unless, of course, you have difficulty swallowing capsules). It is rare that a dose smaller than a 00 capsule is needed. As a matter of fact, most often I take several capsules a day.

If you choose to purchase your supplies from a source other than Mountain Rose Herbs just be sure they are reputable. The quality of herbal powder you use is very important. Your capsules will be much more effective if they are made with fresh, organic material. The quality of the capsules themselves is also very important. Temperature and moisture levels can cause them to swell or shrink. This will make it so they don’t fit properly into the capsule making machine, rendering them useless. Keep this in mind when storing them at home as well. I store mine in a canning jar with the moisture packs that Mountain Rose Herbs ships them with. This method has always worked well for me.

Your machine should come with step-by-step instructions. They are crazy simple to follow. Like even a monkey could do it. Keep in mind monkeys are pretty smart though, LOL!

Following is a pictorial for you that is also pretty simple to follow 😉

Your capsule making machine will have two sides. Your capsules will have two parts.
One part of the capsule will fit into one side of the machine.
The other part will fit into the other side of the machine. Fill both sides of the machine with the appropriately sized capsule pieces.
Place your capsule making machine on a plate or tray. Pour the herb or herb blend of your choice over the larger side of the machine.
Use the card supplied with the machine to scrape off the excess herb powder. Tap the machine on the surface of your plate/tray to compact the herb.
Use the tamper provided with the machine to tamp the herb down into the capsules. And then fill. And repeat until your capsules are full.
Scrape remaining herbal powder off the machine.
This will leave you with a nicely filled half capsule in the machine. Ready to compress together and form a finished piece.
Using both hands press down on the top of the machine, compressing the two halves together.
Separate the two halves of the machine. Your capsules will remain on the smaller side of the machine.
Turn that half of the machine face down toward your plate/tray and squeeze the levers on the bottom side of it to release your capsules. Pick up each capsule and gently squeeze them together to create a seal between the two halves.
Now place your capsules in a jar and label it. It is wise to put the date the capsules were made, the botanical name(s) of the herb, and the source of the herbal product on the jar. It is easier than you can imagine to find jars of herbal products long after they were made and have no clear recollection of how old they are or where they were sourced from. If you are wondering why I did not label my jar this way … it is because the capsules I have shown in this post are ones that I take daily. Faithfully. And they are not around very long at all.

Voila! You have successfully made herbal capsules!

I knew you could do it! It’s so easy. I told you even a monkey can do it. You had a monkey to help you didn’t you? LOL

You are now an Herbal Capsule Making Wizard. I don’t actually have any credentials which permit me to bestow this title upon you. BUT if you agree that I am able to do so, and I agree that I am able to do so … I am CERTAIN that makes it so. At least in our eyes. And I’m good with that. I assume you are as well, considering that there is no other place you can go to be declared on Herbal Capsule Making Wizard 😉

AND …

For those who feel like they want to try their hand at creating capsules containing a blend of herbs, as opposed to a single herb, following you will find a few herbal powder blends for common health issues.

They are taken directly from an article written by Ronald Goedeke. He is a leading expert in anti-aging and alternative medicine.

Each recipe makes 30 servings. Number of capsules per serving depends on capsule size. I would start with one serving three times daily. Adjusting my dosage from there in accordance with my reaction to the herbs.

NOTE: The Sleep and Calming Blend should not be taken throughout the day. Instead, take 1-3 capsules at bedtime. Start with one and work your way up from there, as they may cause you to have trouble ‘getting started’ in the morning. Also know that valerian acts as a stimulant in a small percentage of people. When taking it for the first time, be sure that you do not have an early start (or a busy schedule) the following day. There is the off chance that it will keep you from getting any rest at all!

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY BLEND FOR PAIN AND SWELLING

Turmeric powder (Curcuma longa) – 22.5 g

Ginger powder (Zingiber officinale) – 9 g

Black Pepper – 1 g

Boswellia – 12 g

Devil’s Claw (root) – 6 g

SLEEP AND CALMING BLEND

Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) – 12 g

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate) – 6 g

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) – 18 g

Hops (Humulus lupulus) – flower – 9 g

IMMUNITY BLEND

Ashwagandha – 12 g

Mushroom (any of the following, or a combination): Reishi, Cordyceps, Maitake, Shitake – 6 g

Olive Leaf – 12 g

Astragalus – 27 g

Citrus Bioflavonoids (dried citrus rind) – 10 g

ANXIETY BLEND

Passionflower – 6 g

Rhodiola Rosea – 6 g

Lemon Balm – 12 g

Ashwagandha – 12 g

St. John’s Wort – 12 g

ENERGY BLEND

Ashwagandha – 12 g

Siberian Ginseng – 12 g

Panax Ginseng – 12 g

Green Tea – 12 g

Gotu Kola – 6 g

When making capsules don’t get too crazy about stockpiling them. Powdered herbs will lose their potency more rapidly than other forms of dried plant material, as in this form maximum surface area of the herb is exposed to air. I generally make enough for 2 or 3 months at a time.

You may find that after a few months these potent little allies have done their job so well you no longer need their assistance. Having too many capsules left over is wasteful and defeats the frugality of making your own capsules in the first place 😉

Don’t forget to let me know if this post was helpful to you or not in the comments! Or share any thoughts, concerns, or wisdom you may have concerning herbal capsules and producing them at home. I am excited to hear your input as always.

And … connect with me on facebook and pinterest to stay abreast of any other happenings here at Bohemian Apothecarist.

As always, your presence is greatly appreciated. I adore that you are here. And I just know that we are going to have great fun together ❤

DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed health professional. You are solely responsible for researching herbs to determine how you choose to use them. If you decide to make them a part of your health care plan, I take no responsibility for that decision.