A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

Winter is here, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably craving soup! There is nothing better on a chilly evening, wrapped in a blanket with loved ones, than sipping from a bowl of warm, soothing soup. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and cauliflower are gaining popularity in many healthy recipes as they have a plethora of nutritional benefits, are versatile, and are delicious. In this article, we will share the benefits of this healthy and nutritious root and vegetable pairing and offer a recipe for a warming, turmeric cauliflower soup that you can enjoy on cold winter days.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric has been used for centuries as food and as an herb to assist with many imbalances. Its tough, fibrous root (the rhizome) is where its beneficial properties lie and give it its yellow color. Curcuma longa, whose Latin binomial comes from the Arabic name Kurkum, has also been called The Yellow One and Golden Goddess in Sanskrit (Gallant, n.d.).

Besides giving Indian curry its beautiful golden hue, turmeric has been used as a dye in packaged foods such as mustard and chicken broth (Gallant, n.d.). Turmeric can even be used as a natural, plant-based dye for fabrics like silk, cotton, and wool (Kayne, 2016).

Where wellness benefits are concerned, turmeric is most well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties (Gallant, n.d.). Turmeric is in the Zingiberaceae family, which is also home to its cousin ginger (Zingiber officinale). Turmeric is native to India (and a staple in Indian cuisine), but it can also be grown in other warm climates around the world. In ayurvedic herbalism, turmeric is commonly used to balance the doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha (Gallant, n.d.).

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

Benefits and Uses of Turmeric

As mentioned earlier, turmeric is most commonly used to assist the body when inflammation is present. It is believed that turmeric helps to inhibit an inflammatory gene by helping to lower histamine levels, subsequently increasing natural cortisone production by the adrenal glands (Rathaur, Raja, Ramteke, & John, 2012).

It has been found that turmeric can aid in health issues such as osteoarthritis (Kuptniratsaikul, Thanakhumtorn, Chinswangwatanakul, Wattanamongkonsil, & Thamlikitkul, 2009), back pain, and general inflammation (Rathaur et al., 2012), and according to a 2006 study, curcumin is also considered an antioxidant (Khor et al., 2006).

Turmeric can also benefit digestion by assisting the body in producing digestive enzymes that help the body to digest fats, thus supporting liver detoxification (Rathaur et al., 2012). While turmeric has been found safe for many to take in high amounts without side effects (Rathaur et al., 2012), some individuals can be more sensitive to turmeric so it’s best to start at the low end of a suggested dosage and slowly work up from there.

Many studies show that turmeric should be combined with black pepper to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin. Curcumin is a curcuminoid most often researched as turmeric’s primary active compound. The addition of black pepper will aid in the absorption of curcumin in the body and also facilitate the production of digestive enzymes (Shoba, 1998). Traditionally, most recipes with turmeric also include black pepper.

Curcumin is also fat-soluble, meaning that in order to obtain the benefits of the herb you should combine it with a portion of fatty food or substance. This means, if you simply put turmeric in water, you may lose out on curcumin’s benefits (Higdon, Drake, & Delage, 2005). For this reason, coconut milk is used in the recipe below.

It is also believed that turmeric should be heated in order to make the curcuminoids more bioavailable to us (Kurien & Scofield, 2009). This is likely why we most often find turmeric in traditional recipes of soups and curries.

Nutritional Benefits of Cauliflower

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

If you shop in a natural foods store, you may find that a growing number of packaged items are made of cauliflower these days, from pizza crust to mashed “potatoes” to cauliflower “rice.” The list goes on. The use of cauliflower has become very popular in the low-carb diet world as a substitution to grains or legumes making it a fantastic way to increase your vegetable intake. Cauliflower is extremely versatile; I personally enjoy it steamed, raw on a salad, or dipped in hummus. The turmeric cauliflower soup recipe below offers the option to roast and puree the cauliflower, creating a warm, creamy, and delicious soup.

Cauliflower is a wonderful dietary addition as it is widely available and affordable. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants and nutrients (Elliot, 2017). While it is low in calories, it still packs a punch with its high nutritional value and vitamin content with one serving of cauliflower containing over 75% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C (SELF Nutrition Data, 2018). According to Dr. Joseph Mercola (2014), cauliflower is a great source of vitamin K, protein, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. It is also high in fiber which supports healthy digestion and also aids in the detoxification process in the body (Mercola, 2014).

Cauliflower is rich in choline which plays an important role in brain health and development (Elliot, 2017). Another reason cauliflower is known to be a nutritional powerhouse is that it contains the potent antioxidant sulforaphane. Research shows that sulforaphane may also help to reduce high blood pressure and support overall heart health (Yang et al., 2015).

According to the National Cancer Institute (2012) and Abdull Razis & Noor (2013), cruciferous vegetables contain many unique antioxidants and compounds that may reduce inflammation, help protect against cancer cell growth, and even shrink existing cancer cells.

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

How To Make Turmeric Cauliflower Soup

[recipe_ingredients]

2 heads cauliflower, roughly chopped
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 bunch carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1-1 ½ tablespoons fresh minced ginger (Zingiber officinale)
8-10 cloves of minced garlic (Allium sativum)
1 dried bay leaf (Laurus nobilis)
1 small bunch fresh thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
1 small bunch fresh sage (Salvia officinalis)
2 tablespoons dried ground turmeric (Curcuma longa)
1 teaspoon black pepper (Piper nigrum)
Juice from 2 large lemons
32 ounces of broth (chicken or vegetable)
32 ounce carton of unsweetened coconut milk
1 can full-fat coconut milk
½  cup gluten-free flour (King Arthur’s or Bob’s)
½ cup coconut oil
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Cut cauliflower heads into pieces while removing large stems and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast on a sheet pan at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes or until brown.
  • On a separate sheet pan, roast carrots, celery, onion, and garlic with bay leaves, sage, and thyme at 450 degrees F.
  • While vegetables are roasting, sweat ginger (sauteed on low heat) in olive oil.  
  • Combine gluten-free flour to coconut oil to make a roux (thickening base).
  • Slowly add in the stock on low heat while whisking vigorously to make veloute (savory sauce made from a roux and stock).
  • Blend roasted cauliflower, vegetables, and ginger in a blender with coconut milk until extremely smooth.
  • Add lemon, pepper, and salt to taste and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Additional water or milk may be added during this process to maintain the desired thickness.

[/recipe_directions]

REFERENCES

Abdull Razis, A.F., & Noor, N.M. (2013). Cruciferous vegetables: Dietary phytochemicals for cancer prevention. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 14(3):1565-70.

Conrozier, T., Mathieu, P., Bonjean, M., Marc, J.F., Renevier, J.L., &  Balblanc, J.C. (2014). A complex of three natural anti-inflammatory agents provides relief of osteoarthritis pain. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 20 Suppl 1:32-7.

Elliot, B. (2017). Top 8 health benefits of cauliflower. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cauliflower

Gallant, L. (n.d.). Turmeric: “The golden goddess.” Retrieved from http://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/students/turmeric

Higdon, J., Drake, V., & Delage, B. (2005). Curcumin. Retrieved from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/curcumin

Kayne, J. (2016). DIY: Dyeing with turmeric. Retrieved from https://www.jennikayne.com/ripandtan/dyeing-with-turmeric

Khor, T.O., Keum, Y.S., Lin W., Kim, J.H., Hu, R., Shen, G.,…Kong, A.N. (2006). Combined inhibitory effects of curcumin and phenethyl isothiocyanate on the growth of human PC-3 prostate xenografts in immunodeficient mice. Cancer Research, 66(2):613-21. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-2708

Kuptniratsaikul, V., Thanakhumtorn, S., Chinswangwatanakul, P., Wattanamongkonsil, L., & Thamlikitkul, V. (2009). Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,15(8): 891-897. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2008.0186

Kurien, B.T., & Scofield, R.H. (2009). Oral administration of heat-solubilized curcumin for potentially increasing curcumin bioavailability in experimental animals. The International Journal of Cancer, 125(8): 1992-1993. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.24547

Mercola, J. (2014). Top 8 health benefits of cauliflower. Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/22/cauliflower-health-benefits.aspx

National Cancer Institute. (2012). Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet

Rathaur, P., Raja, W., Ramteke, P. W., & John, S. A. (2012). Turmeric: The golden spice of life. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, 3(8), 1987.

SELF Nutrition Data. (n.d.). Cauliflower, raw nutrition facts and calories. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2390/2

Shoba, G., Joy, D., Joseph, T., Majeed, M., Rajendran, R., & Srinivas, P.S. (1998). Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med, 64(4): 353–6. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2006-957450

Yang, B., Xiaolu, W., Song, Z., Chunye, M., Jiuwei, C., & Yang, Z. (2015). Sulforaphane protects against cardiovascular disease via Nrf2 activation. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2015, 407580. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/407580

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) rhizome is most commonly used in the kitchen given its slightly sweet, spicy, and strong aromatic flavors. However, there are many ways you can use ginger every day in your herbal practice, too! From helping soothe muscle pain, enhancing overall circulation, and nipping colds in the bud, ginger has many uses on its own and as a complementary herb in formulas.

In this article, I’m sharing six easy ways to use ginger every day. Read on to discover how you can start incorporating this popular rhizome into your daily routine!

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

1. To Help Support Your Brain Function

A wonderful way to use ginger every day is to help support your overall brain function. At first thought, you might not think to use an herb like ginger when your mind is feeling a little foggy. However, given its antioxidant function and ability to support the downregulation of inflammation in the body, ginger is reputed for preventing and halting the progression of neurodegenerative conditions in addition to improving overall cognitive function (Saenghong et al., 2012). In one study, ginger extract was found to enhance working memory and increase cognitive function in a group of middle-aged women (Saenghong et al., 2012).

An easy way to use ginger for boosting your brain function is through taking the encapsulated powder or an extract daily. Ginger powder is also a lovely addition in a honey paste formula with other neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing herbs. For those who enjoy the spice, chewing on a small piece of fresh ginger can instantly help to stimulate your senses and awaken your cognitive vitality.

2. For Sore Muscles & Joint Pain

Ginger is a wonderful herb to use both internally and externally to help soothe sore muscles. Ginger is commonly used as a base in formulas to address fibrositis and muscle sprains (Hoffmann, 2003).

Due to ginger’s ability to modulate inflammation in the body, it is a useful herb for soothing arthritic-related joint pain in the body (Srivastava & Mustafa, 1992; Hoffmann, 2003). In one study, taking ginger extract internally was found to significantly reduce symptoms of moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis-related pain (Altman & Marcussen, 2001).

You can make your own topical preparation of ginger through our Warming Ginger Cayenne Salve recipe for natural pain relief here.

3. As A Cold-Buster

Ginger is a staple herb in many cold and flu formulas for a good reason. Well-known for supporting the clearance of viruses and respiratory congestion, ginger is a great herb to draw from when you feel the onset of sickness encroaching or if you have already come down with something (Gladstar, 2012).

Using the fresh or dried rhizome in a tea formula is a simple and tasty way to use ginger every day as a cold-buster. You could also prepare a ginger syrup or incorporate ginger in your homemade fire cider brew to give your immune response system a quick boost.

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

4. To Soothe A Sore Throat

Did you know you can use ginger to help soothe pain and discomfort from a sore throat? The inflammation regulatory properties of ginger help relieve irritated tissues in the throat caused by excessive coughing and post-nasal drip (Hoffmann, 2003). Although ginger has a predominantly spicy flavor on its own, when prepared as a tea with raw honey or as a syrup, the spicy and dry properties of ginger become balanced and tolerable to use as a gargle.

Easy Ginger Gargle Recipe

[recipe_ingredients]

1 tablespoon of fresh ginger rhizome (or 1 teaspoon dried and cut ginger rhizome)
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon raw honey or manuka honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  1. If using fresh ginger rhizome, first wash the rhizome then mince or thinly slice it.
  2. Add the ginger and water to a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid, and allow the mixture to simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and strain the ginger from the tea into a heat-safe container.
  4. Stir in the honey until dissolved.
  5. Allow the mixture to cool until warm. Use as a throat gargle as needed. The gargle will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

[/recipe_directions]

5. To Promote Circulation & Warmth

A great way to use ginger every day, especially during the cooler months ahead, is to help promote warmth and proper circulation in the body. Ginger is considered a premier circulatory stimulant, making it an ideal herb to use for poor circulation (think cold hands and feet), cramps, and chilblains (Hoffmann, 2003).

Since ginger is a diaphoretic, it carries the unique ability to push heat inside the body outwards to the exterior. This makes it an ideal herb to draw from in chilled and feverish states. One way to use ginger for this purpose is through infusing it into a bath, soaking, then wrapping yourself in a thick blanket for the next hour and “sweating it out.”

Ginger Bath

[recipe_ingredients]

3 tablespoons of dried ginger rhizome powder (or 4 tablespoons of dried and chopped ginger rhizome)
½ – 1 cup Epsom salts

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  1. Fill your bathtub with hot water.
  2. Add the ginger powder (or chopped ginger in a muslin bag) and Epsom salts into your bath, stirring to combine.
  3. Soak in the bath for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Dry off with a towel, then bundle up under a thick blanket or lay in bed under the covers for an hour or so to sweat.
  5. Rinse off in the shower.
  6. Rest and restore.

[/recipe_directions]

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

6. For Mild Tummy Troubles

One of the most common ways to use ginger every day is for an upset stomach. Used for symptoms ranging from motion sickness to general nausea to morning sickness, ginger is a strong herbal ally for an array of tummy troubles (Hoffmann, 2003).

This also makes ginger a popular herb to draw from when symptoms of indigestion, such as intestinal cramping, gas, and bloating occur. Ginger can help the body digest food easier and reduce spasms in the gut (Wood, 2007).

A quick and easy way to help pacify an upset stomach and alleviate indigestion is to chew a small piece of candied ginger after meals or as needed. Sprinkling a few drops of ginger rhizome tincture around the tongue is also a helpful way to use ginger for soothing tummy troubles.

More Than Just A Tasty Rhizome

Although ginger carries many tasty qualities you can incorporate at mealtime, ginger clearly has many applications you can bring into your herbal practice as well! The repertoire of uses for ginger expands beyond what we discussed in this article, too.

Learn more ways you can use ginger in our posts 3 Reasons To Eat Ginger During Wintertime and Licorice And Ginger: Herbal Decongestants.

6 Ways To Use Ginger Every Day | Herbal Academy | Ginger root is most commonly used when cooking in the kitchen, but there are many ways you can use ginger every day for health and wellness.

REFERENCES

Altman, R.D., & Marcussen, K.C. (2001). Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatology, 44(11), 2531-8. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710709

Gladstar, R. (2012). Rosemary Gladstar’s medicinal herbs: A beginner’s guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Saenghong, N., Wattanathorn, J., Muchimapura, S., Tongun, T., Piyavhatkul, N., Banchonglikitkul, C., & Kajsongkram, T. (2012). Zingiber officinale improves cognitive function of the middle-aged healthy women. Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, 2012, 383062. http://doi.org/10.1155/2012/383062.

Srivastava, K.C., & Mustafa, T. (1992). Ginger (Zingiber offinicale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders. Medical Hypotheses, 39(4), 342-348. http://doi.org/10.1016/0306-9877(92)90059-L

Wood, M. (2007). Ginger. Retrieved from http://www.woodherbs.com/Ginger.html.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase. Anyone who has suffered from chronic insomnia or disturbed sleep is well aware of the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep not only compromises your outward appearance. It wreaks havoc on your metabolism, mental alertness, emotional balance, and even memory (Albrecht & Ripperger, 2018). Sound sleep is vital for whole body health. Both modern science and ancient wellness systems, such as Ayurveda, underscore this truth.

The ancient ayurvedic sages placed sound sleep at such a high premium that it was deemed an essential pillar of health, along with good digestion and effective energy management. In fact, the Charaka Samhita, one of Ayurveda’s pivotal classical texts, states that by upholding these three pillars, the strength of body and good complexion are preserved even until the very end of one’s lifespan (Dash, 2014).

Although you may intuitively know this, stress, schedules, and a number of other factors may interfere with getting the rest you need. This article will explore lifestyle hacks for sound sleep so that you can wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day.

The Science of Sleep

In addition to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, there is mounting scientific evidence to support the value of sound sleep. In fact, not so long ago, an entirely new bodily system that plays a key role in sleep was discovered. It is known as the glymphatic system, and it functions as a waste clearance mechanism, removing metabolic and protein wastes from the brain while you sleep. This curious system may also be involved in distributing nutrients, such as amino acids, lipids, and glucose to brain cells (Jessen et al., 2015). The interesting thing about the glymphatic system is that it only functions while we sleep. Sleep that is regular, ample in quantity, and timed with the natural rhythms of dark and light, keeps this waste clearance system functioning as it should. The result? Sleep that feels restful, as well as clear thinking and a healthier nervous system. When the glymphatic process is disturbed, the consequences may be as serious as exacerbated neurological disease (Albrecht & Ripperger, 2018).

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep

Of course, getting sleep of adequate quantity and quality is easier said than done. If you find that your sleep is less than stellar, these five lifestyle hacks will help put you back on track.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

1. Be Consistent

One trick to attaining sound sleep is regularity. In Ayurveda, restless sleep and insomnia are often linked to an imbalance in vata dosha, which is associated with the wind element, as well as movement (Frawley, 2000). Vata dosha is easily imbalanced by changes in routine. Irregular lifestyle patterns such as frequent travel and irregular work schedules tend to throw vata dosha out of balance, resulting in sleep troubles. Regular sleeping times and good sleep hygiene (such as the sound sleep hacks describes in this article) help soothe the nervous system and keep vata dosha pacified and less likely to wreak havoc on sleep patterns.

The ayurvedic teachings around the importance of sleep routines correspond with the concept of circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the natural rhythms of the body and correlate to the cycles of day and night. It is natural to sleep at night and to awaken with the light of day. When circadian rhythms are thrown out of whack, a number of health issues may ensue, such as being at a higher risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain types of cancer (Palanisamy, 2015).

According to Ayurveda, not everyone needs the same exact amount of sleep. You may have noticed this for yourself anecdotally. Vata types tend to need the most sleep, kaphas the least, and pitta types fall somewhere in the middle. Kapha types may also benefit from getting up a bit earlier; too much sleep exacerbates their naturally slower constitutions, causing sluggishness and lethargy. On the other hand, the more delicate nervous systems of vata types require maximum rest and rejuvenation. It is especially important that ravenous pittas are not up in the middle of the night, as they are particularly prone to late night eating, which only leads to an imbalance in their digestion, liver, and sleep patterns. Ayurveda teaches that “early to bed and early to rise” is best for everyone. This means that getting up around sunrise is ideal for all, with slight variations depending on one’s constitutional type (Svoboda, 2010).

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

2. Unplug

This lifestyle hack for sound sleep is a game changer. It’s important to give your nervous system time to unwind before bedtime. Just like stopping a fast moving car, it’s not easy to slam on the brakes when you are traveling 100 miles per hour. The same is true for your nervous system. Easing, rather than crashing, into to sleep is generally far more effective.

Why? Melatonin is the reason. Melatonin is important for immune function and sleep quality. Melatonin is released by the pineal gland, and it plays a major role in signaling your nervous system to calm down. Interestingly enough, light exposure, particularly the blue light emitted by screens, prevents the release of melatonin. Therefore, the more time you can spend in dark or dim lighting before bed, the better your chances of falling gently into a sound sleep. Using lamps and area lights in the evening, rather than bright overhead lights is helpful. Also, light bulbs with an orange or red hue are preferable to white or bluish light. Apps, such as f.lux, that adjust your computer screen light throughout the day are useful as well. Ideally, turning away from computer screens and phones in the late evening, and instead of picking up a book, taking a hot bath, or doing other relaxing screen-free activities will help send your nervous system the message to calm down and prepare for sleep (Palanisamy, 2015).

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

3. Eat Better to Sleep Better

Refraining from late night snacking will not only assist with weight management, but this healthy habit also helps you sleep better. Even your fat cells have a circadian rhythm. Research shows that eating less at night can assist in weight loss (Garaulet et al., 2013). This is consistent with the ayurvedic recommendation to have your largest meal at lunchtime, which is attributed to the ayurvedic teaching that one’s agni, or digestive fire, is strongest at midday. Also, by eating lightly at night, you give your body the chance to focus on detoxification and restoration during the night, rather than digestion. Furthermore, by normalizing your metabolic circadian rhythms, you have a better chance at bringing all of your circadian rhythms into balance, lining up patterns of eating, sleeping, and waking (Palanisamy, 2015).

4. Keep cool

Though hot summer days may leave you sleepy, our best sleep is attained in a slightly cool environment. The ideal recommended room temperature ranges from 60 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit with pajamas and in the mid-80’s without pajamas and just a sheet as covering (Onin, Bailey & Parquet, 1994). Furthermore, keeping a cool head may especially help with sound sleep. This is a rather amusing sound sleep hack. One study showed that sleep quality was significantly improved in 16 males who were subjected to head and neck cooling in a hot environment (Lan et al., 2018). If you have the option to regulate your bedroom’s temperature, keeping it on the cool side may help you rest more thoroughly. If not, consider a cool shower or applying a cool washcloth to the head and neck before bed for a soothing, soporific effect.  

5. Consider Herbal Support

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

There are a plethora of herbs that can assist in getting a good night’s rest. Ashwagandha, with its nourishing, tonifying capacities is a great place to start. This starchy root is an ayurvedic classic for all types of nervous system disturbances. Ashwagandha is soothing for a range of imbalances including insomnia, fatigue, general debility, tissue deficiency, poor eyesight, and anxiety. Ashwagandha may not correct sleep immediately, but due to its nourishing and stabilizing effects on the nervous system, it will help normalize sleep cycles over time. One great thing about ashwagandha is that it is safe to take in rather large doses—anywhere from 1-9 grams per day (Dass, 2013). To maximize the root’s strengthening and soothing effects, it is helpful to consume in powdered form. For ease of consumption, you can mix powdered ashwagandha into hot water, hot milk, or a hearty warm grain cereal.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

If you are looking for an herb with potent sedative effects, valerian may be for you. Valerian is a powerful sleep aid and also has the ability to soothe anxiety and relax tense muscles. Since valerian can cause drowsiness, it is best to take only in the evenings, about 30 to 60 minutes before bed. This strong smelling root can be taken as a liquid extract or in dried powdered form (generally best swallowed in capsules). The suggested dosage is 3-9 grams of dried whole root and 2-6 mL of liquid extract (Mills & Bone, 2000). Some ayurvedic practitioners caution against long-term use of valerian, as it can exacerbate depression, melancholy, and mental lethargy (Dass, 2013). Also, oddly enough, some people find that valerian has a heating and stimulating effect rather than a sedative effect. This is a simple testament to the ayurvedic tenant that nothing is right for everyone. Always listen to your body and be willing to adapt your herbal supports based on your own felt experience.

Skullcap (Scutellaria)

Whereas ashwagandha and valerian are both warm and somewhat heavy herbs, skullcap is light, bitter, and cool. However, it is also a great nervous system soother. Skullcap is classically used as support for a host of imbalances including nervous tension, stress, anxiety, premenstrual syndrome, tremors, and addiction. For vata types who require deep nervous system nourishment, it can be combined with heaver herbs such as ashwagandha or valerian. Though skullcap is helpful as a sound sleep hack, it can also be taken during the day to calm a stressed mind or jittery nervous system. As a tincture, you can take 30-60 drops up to three times per day or 1-9 grams of the dried aerial portion (Dass, 2013).

If getting your zzz’s is a challenge, with the help of these sound sleep hacks, we hope you will find your way back to restful and rejuvenating sleep.

5 Lifestyle Hacks for Sound Sleep | Herbal Academy | Wake up more rested, alert, beautiful, and ready to take on the day with these 5 lifestyle hacks for sound sleep. Beauty rest is more than a turn of phrase!

REFERENCES

Albrecht, U., & Ripperger, J.A. (2018). Circadian clocks and sleep: Impact of rhythmic metabolism and waste clearance on the brain. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30274603

Dash, B., & Sharma, R.K. (2014). Caraka Samhita (Vol. 1). Varanasi, India: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.

Dass, V. (2013). Ayurvedic herbology: East and west. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Frawley, D. (2000). Ayurvedic healing. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Garaulet, M., Gomez-Abellan, P., Alburquerque-Bejar, J.J., Lee, Y.C., Ordovas, J.M., & Scheer, F.A. (2013). Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness. International Journal of Obesity, 37(4):604-11. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.229.

Jessen, N.A., Munk, S.A., Lundgaard, I., & Nedergaard, M. (2015). The glymphatic system: A beginners guide. Neurochemisty Research, 40(12):2583-99. doi: 10.1007/s11064-015-1581-6.

Lan, L., Qian, X.L., Lian, Z.W., & Lin, Y.B. (2018). Local body cooling to improve sleep quality and thermal comfort in a hot environment. Indoor Air, 28(1):135-145. doi: 10.1111/ina.12428.

Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2000). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone.

Nedeltcheva, A.V., & Scheer, F.A. (2014). Metabolic effects of sleep disruption, links to obesity and diabetes. Current Opinion Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity. 21(4):293-8. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000082.

Onen, S.H., Onen, F., Bailly, D., & Parquet, P. (1994). Prevention and treatment of sleep disorders through regulation of sleeping habits. La Presse Médicale,  23(10):485-9. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8022726

Palanisamy, A. (2015). The paleovedic diet. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

Svoboda, R. (1999). Prakriti: Your ayurvedic constitution. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Over the last few years, the Danish concept of hygge has become downright trendy. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary shortlisted it as one of the most influential words of 2016. And, since research states that Danes are some of the happiest people in the world, it seems that hygge bears paying attention to. But what exactly is this strange sounding word, and when you embrace hygge during the long, cold winter, can it help bolster your happiness over the dark days ahead?

What exactly is Hygge?

Hygge is not only tricky to say, but it’s also tough to define.

Pronounced hue-guh or hoo-ga, it loosely translates to “coziness” or “comfort.” However, it’s more than just a word. In Denmark, where the term originates, it is more of a way of life that represents “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people” (What is Hygge, para 2).  

According to translator ToveMare Stakkestad, “hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt” (Elliott, 2017, p. 29).

Choosing to embrace hygge can mean different things, such as cuddling up by a warm fire, enjoying a lovely dinner with family and friends, or relishing a refreshing walk in nature. It remains a concept that is difficult to define but easy to recognize. At its essence, hygge is all about feeling good and appreciating life.

Signe Johansen, the author of How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life, says the core of hygge is in knowing that one must make the most of the time they have in this world and to be kind to ourselves and others (Johansen, 2016).

On the other hand, what hygge is is just as important as what it is not. Hygge is not a product you can buy or a service to subscribe to. Once the concept gained popularity, it “quickly became a marketing buzzword to sell Scandi-cool items, such as tea-light candles, fluffy throws and woven hats” (McDonough, 2018, para. 1). In our consumer-based world, be wary of brands trying to sell you things with the promise of “hygge-style” happiness. Hygge is a feeling that cannot be bought.

How to Embrace Hygge

While hygge can be challenging to define, there are some basic tenets to this feeling of warmth, comfort, and happiness. To embrace hygge is to appreciate the small things in life and savor what you have rather than focus on what you lack. As author Louisa Thomsen Brits (2017) states, “hygge is about being, not having” (p. 7).

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Home

Due to the cold and darkness, the Danes spend a lot of their time indoors during the winter, making them particularly aware of their surroundings. Think of your home as your hygge headquarters. But, remember that it’s not just about aesthetics. Your home should have a warm, welcome vibe especially since entertaining is very hygge. Nearly every home in Denmark has what is called a hyggerkrog, which loosely translates to a “nook.”

According to Meik Wiking, author of the popular book, The Little Book of Hygge, as well as founder and CEO of the Copenhagen-based Happiness Institute, “it is the place in the room where you love to snuggle up in a blanket, with a book and a cup of tea” (Wiking, 2017, p. 96). When creating your hyggerkrog think comfy cushions, warm blanket, and soft natural light. Although it does not have to be near a window, light is critical to hygge.

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Light

Lighting is essential in order to embrace hygge. Natural light, that is — particularly in the winter when we get less sunlight (which is in short supply during Danish winters). To embrace hygge during the day, open the curtains and blinds to let as much natural light in as possible. At night, use candles and twinkle lights to create a cozy vibe. A burning fire is peak hygge, but don’t worry if you lack a fireplace, you can recreate the vibe with candles and soft lighting.

Wiking explains that unscented candles are critical in the effort to embrace hygge, simply stating “no candles, no hygge.” He even cites that the Danes burn 13 pounds of candle wax per person, per year, even in places such as classrooms and office buildings (Wiking, 2017, p. 100). “Where Americans see a fire hazard, the Danes see an antidepressant” (Green, 2016, para 10).

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Nature

Rather than despairing over the long, cold winter, the Danes embrace and enjoy it. In addition to being essential to our overall wellbeing, appreciating nature is very hygge. Instead of dreading the colder weather, welcome it hygge-style by getting out and enjoying the fresh air every day. While you might not be interested in hitting the slopes, a quick walk to the end of the street or short nature hike (even in the snow) can boost your spirits. Just remember to dress warmly.

Beyond spending time outside, bring nature inside by incorporating natural elements into your home — flowers, plants, branches, pinecones, leaves, petals, pods, twigs, driftwood, shells, feathers. This is another way to connect with the organic beauty of the world around you and embrace hygge. 

Senses

Embracing hygge is a sensory experience. It is about being open and aware, embracing and enjoying. Hygge is comfort. While you might not be able to put your finger on it, most of us can recognize a hygge feeling or environment.

“There is no formula, no sum of obvious material parts to be blotted together, but if we create conditions that appeal to our senses, we ground ourselves in the moment and harness hygge” (Brits, 2017, p. 93-94).

Getting in touch with all of our senses allows us to truly appreciate our surroundings. Wiking refers to this as “the five dimensions of hygge” (Wiking, 2017, p.195). Hot beverages, comfort food, natural surroundings, peaceful music, a snuggly blanket, and a warm fire are all elements of hygge that awaken our senses. Cuddling up next to a loved one with a cup of hot herbal tea and a good book is hygge heaven. Anything that soothes the spirit can be considered hygge.

How will you use your senses to embrace hygge?

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

Comfort and Nourishment

In addition to appealing to our senses, food plays a vital role in hygge. Gathering around the table for dinner with family and friends or enjoying a delicious meal both land high on the list of hygge basics. Socializing with others — usually over a sumptuous meal — is the perfect defense against isolation during the winter. “Sharing a meal is the epitome of hygge. It brings us together, nourishing our bodies and spirits” (Brits, 2017, p. 107).

When it comes to food, the Danes don’t stress over calorie intake, so ignore the fear of indulging and think more about savoring. When you embrace hygge, you can balance special meals with plenty of outdoor exercise for happiness and wellbeing.

“Food is merely the vehicle for gathering around a common table to chat and laugh, which is sure to lift the spirits. Spending time with family and friends is the real nourishment” (Elliott, 2017, p. 31).

Embrace Hygge This Winter

Although hygge does not have a definitive English translation, its spirit can easily be translated into our daily lives. Now that you understand the basics of this cozy concept, how will you embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this the winter?

How To Embrace Hygge During Winter | Herbal Academy | In this post, you will discover the basic concept of hygge, and how to embrace hygge to aid in your happiness this winter.

REFERENCES

Brits, L.T. (2017). The book of hygge: The Danish art of contentment, comfort, and connection. New York, NY: Plume.

Elliott, A. (2017). Hygge for all. Vibrant Life, Vol.33, Issue 6. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A512184277/HWRC?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=HWRC

Green, P. (2016). Wintering the Danish way: Learning about hygge. International New York Times. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A474972226/SPN.SP24?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=SPN.SP24&xid=8c149172

Johansen, S. (2016). How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life. New York: NY, St. Martin’s Press.

McDonough, M. (2018). What’s all the hygge? Global habits gain U.S. fans. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A540929851/HWRC?u=mlin_b_bpublic&sid=HWRC&xid=8c023dcc

VisitDenmark.co.uk. What is Hygge? (n.d.) What is Hygge? Retrieved from: https://www.visitdenmark.co.uk/en-gb/denmark/culture/hygge-meaning

Wiking, M. (2017). The little book of hygge: Danish secrets to happy living. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

An Herbal Tea Recipe For California Fire Victims

An Herbal Tea Recipe For California Fire Victims | Herbal Academy | Here's a delicious respiratory and nervous system supportive herbal tea recipe for California fire victims and those suffering from smoke inhalation.

Our hearts go out to all those who’ve been affected in some way by the latest wildfires that have rapidly spread through parts of California recently. Not only are homes damaged or completely gone, but lives have been lost and many people and animals are suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.

Smoke inhalation is a serious health concern as it can cause irritation, inflammation, and reduced oxygen exchange in the lungs and potentially lead to respiratory failure and even death (Santos-Longhurst, n.d.). While rescue workers strive day and night to try to contain the fires in California, the effects of the resulting smoke may be harder to contain than the fire itself.

When it comes to using herbs to support the body after smoke inhalation, there are several approaches one can take. One of the simplest is to use herbs to support the respiratory and nervous systems by drinking a delicious, soothing herbal tea.

We asked for some suggestions from the Herbal Academy staff herbalists as we discussed the perfect tea blend to support fire victims, and here is what they suggest.

“Wildfire smoke is so drying, and we found this last summer with the fires near us that it really affects the nervous system – my family felt moody and just run down. So it seems like a blend of marshmallow and licorice (for those who do not have issues with high blood pressure) to moisturize and support the lungs along with a nervine such as linden, chamomile, or lemon balm would be simple and helpful. This could be made into either a tea or syrup for easy consumption.” – Angela Justis

“How about a combo of chamomile and lemon balm for nervous system support, mullein and nettle for respiratory support, marshmallow and violet leaf for demulcency? So nourishing, nervine, tissue soothing, respiratory tonic.” – Jane Metzger

With these thoughts in mind, we pulled together the perfect recipe to share with you. In fact, this recipe comes from our Respiratory Health Unit in our Intermediate Herbal Course! This unit features information about the respiratory system, how to keep it healthy, and how herbs can offer support and balance when needed.

An Herbal Tea Recipe For California Fire Victims | Herbal Academy | Here's a delicious respiratory and nervous system supportive herbal tea recipe for California fire victims and those suffering from smoke inhalation.

Cough-B-Gone Tea

Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar (Gladstar, 2012).

Mullein has long been used to help with coughs and other respiratory issues because of its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and expectorant properties. The addition of antispasmodic chamomile, demulcent marshmallow, and honey to this tea makes it very helpful for soothing irritated throats and dry coughs.

[recipe_ingredients]

3 g (0.1 oz) chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) flower
1 g (0.05 oz) marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) leaf and/or flower
1 g (0.05 oz) mullein (Verbascum thapsus) leaf

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Use approximately 5 g (0.2 oz) herb blend per 355 mL (12 fl oz) hot water. Steep in a covered container for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth or a tea strainer to remove hairs from the mullein leaf. Add plenty of soothing honey and sip while hot.

[/recipe_directions]

A Generous Offer For California Fire Victims

An Herbal Tea Recipe For California Fire Victims | Herbal Academy | Here's a delicious respiratory and nervous system supportive herbal tea recipe for California fire victims and those suffering from smoke inhalation.

Sometimes, in especially difficult times like these, it’s hard to know how to help. Unfortunately, we can not make the situation go away or make it right in any way. In fact, we can scarcely imagine the devastation that these fires have had on the lives of those affected – so many losing everything they owned as they escaped. The process of rebuilding whole communities and individual lives will not be without further challenges.

For those of you devastated by the fires, it’s during these high-stress times that it can be easy to ignore your health as you become preoccupied with all that there is to do, but just a few simple steps can help restore balance and protect your health. The Herbal Academy together with Mountain Rose Herbs would like to offer some herbal support.      

Mountain Rose Herbs is offering Herbal Academy readers and community that are California fire victims a 10% discount on the herbs suggested in the recipe above along with any herbs and supplies needed from their website. This coupon extends 10% off of the entire Mountain Rose Herbs site store, so do consider ordering any of the other herbs mentioned in the recommendations above if you wish to try other teas or herbal formulations to address your specific needs. We also welcome any questions you may have concerning the use of herbs. We hope to be a small beacon of hope and support during this most difficult time – we are here for all of you.

Simply fill out this form providing your email address and home address.

FORM FOR CALIFORNIA FIRE VICTIMS

Please note that this is an honor system. We ask that you only fill out this form if you are a California resident in need!

Our thoughts are with you during your time of need!

REFERENCES

Santos-Longhurst, A. (n.d.). What to do when you or someone you know may have breathed in too much smoke. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/smoke-inhalation

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

The holidays are a time to gather, join in community, and be with those we care about the most. We come together around the table to share in festive feasts and stories of the past year and plan for the coming year. We celebrate and show our appreciation for our loved ones, often through the practice of giving gifts during the holiday season.

It is easier than ever to give gifts to those we care about near and far. We are able to order online almost up until the last minute and can even have our gift shipped halfway across the country within a few days. We can find great in-store deals months before the holiday, We are even fortunate to be able to support local makers at a variety of handmade markets popping up in our communities.

Sometimes, though, it can feel overwhelming to choose from the seemingly endless options online, in stores, and at markets. We may feel like the person we are shopping for already has everything they could want, or we simply don’t know where to begin. It could even be that we feel that buying something isn’t special enough.

If you’re someone that finds yourself in this situation, a fitting option is to make your own gifts this holiday season. You can also sneak in a little plant love and natural wellness by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family. Think herbal beverages, natural skincare, candles, and more!

There are countless DIY recipes and how-tos out there, so I’ve done some of the refining for you and curated this collection of herbal DIYs for the holidays below.

Why Do It Yourself?

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

This might seem like a silly question for those of you who already regularly gift your own creations. The benefits of making your own gifts, especially around the busy holiday season, are numerous.

1. Save Money

You can create a very special gift that may cost less than it would to buy it from the store. Or, rather than feeling the pressure to buy something with a higher price tag in order to feel that your gift is worthwhile, special, or more meaningful, you will naturally have those qualities come through in the gift you’ve made yourself.

2. Meaningfulness

A gift found online or from a big box store may be nice, but tends to be just like something anyone could buy on a whim. A way to gift more meaningfully is to make your own gift for your loved one.

3. Learn

You may learn something new in your quest to DIY your holiday gifts! It’s a wonderful opportunity to try a new craft you’ve been interested in or to hone one you have practiced a time or two.

4. Have Fun!

Yes, it can definitely be a fun experience to create handmade gifts. The fun starts with the actual making but continues on to when you get to see the gift opened by the recipient.

How to DIY: Make it a Party!

If you want to have extra help and just more fun making your own gifts, consider making it a party! You can gather friends and/or family together for your own DIY gift night. Assign each guest to choose 1-2 herbal DIYs they want to use. They’ll need to bring the recipe(s) as well as all materials for the DIY and even an appetizer to share. You now have an idea for a holiday-themed get-together with a unifying purpose!

If you’re an herbal entrepreneur, another spin on this idea is to consider hosting a class or workshop on how to make herbal DIYs. This is something people are very interested in, but those new to DIYing can be deterred because of an intimidation factor. Being guided by an experienced teacher can be very helpful!

Herbal DIYs To Make

Pulling from the Herbal Academy’s plentiful blog archives, I’ve created this list of 9 herbal DIYs to try giving as gifts this holiday season:

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

1. Wintertime Herbal Infused Whipped Body Butter

This rich, nourishing body recipe features several herbs known for their skin-loving properties.

Gift For: Anyone with extra-dry skin.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

2. Herbal Culinary Salts

Herbal culinary salts are a unique spin on adding flavor to cooking. The great part is making them is a rather simple process that just involves blending salt(s) with herbs of your choice. They can make a big impression, though, for the right recipient.

Gift For: The foodie or grill master who loves working with new seasonings.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

3. Hand-Poured Herbal Candles

Candle-making is an ancient practice that everyone should try at least once. Making your own herbal candles with some friends is a fun and rewarding DIY that yields a practical gift many can enjoy.

Gift For: The homebody who loves to curl up with a good book.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

4. Marshmallow Root Lip Balm

Making lip balm is often the gateway into DIY natural skincare. It’s an accessible process that commonly consists of ingredients many of us may already have including coconut oil, or that are easily-acquired such as beeswax and other vegetable oils. This recipe for Marshmallow Root Lip Balm is a great option for last-minute gifting.

Gift For: That friend who’s always applying lip balm.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

5. Herbal Homemade Wine & Mead

If you want a more advanced DIY and have some time (several weeks before the holidays), making your own wine and mead could be the perfect fit. If you have a friend or family member who loves trying new adult beverages, then this is for you. The process of making wine and mead itself isn’t hard; it just requires following steps carefully, the right materials, and time.

Gift For: The local brew enthusiast.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

6. Essential Oil Solid Perfume

If you’ve got a bit of a chemist in you, making an essential oil solid perfume will be an interesting DIY gift. This recipe details how to blend essential oils as an aphrodisiac, so this gift won’t be for your mom.

Gift For: Your significant other.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

7. Herbal Tea Blends

Herbal teas are one of those things that can be done in so many different ways. Creating your own unique herbal tea blends, or using the ones in this recipe, is a great way to gift a useful and wellness-promoting gift to show you care.

Gift For: Anyone! Herbal teas are rather widely-enjoyed, so this is a great gift for most, especially this time of year.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

8. Herbal Oxymels

Oxymels are an herbal extraction of apple cider vinegar and honey. If you like to get a little witchy in the kitchen and enjoy working with herbs, making your own herbal oxymels could become your favorite new hobby.

Gift For: The bee lover or biggest sweet tooth.

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

9. Pine Resin Salve

This DIY requires getting out into the forest and harvesting your own ingredient of pine resin. It may also require significant forethought to be able to find pine resin at the right time for harvest. If you’re up for an adventure and want a gift that will be sure to be unique, making your own pine resin salve is for you.

Gift For: The earth-loving relative or friend who understands your herby ways. 🙂

Whether you’re interested in herbal DIYs this season to save money, to offer a more meaningful present, to learn, or just to have some fun, you’re sure to experience a little of each if you try any of these herbal DIYs. One thing is certain, your gifts will be one-of-a-kind, and you can’t buy that in stores!

9 Herbal DIYs for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Sneak in a little plant love by making herbal DIYs to gift to friends and family this holiday season. Here are 9 herbal DIYs to get you started!

5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays

5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Make your home smell good this holiday season without having a negative impact on your health. Here are 5 safe and natural ideas to get you started!

It’s that special time of year when we open our homes to friends and family from near and far to gather together and celebrate the holidays. During this time of year, we want to make our homes cozy, warm, and welcoming for the holidays. Soft blankets, pumpkin pie spice, twinkling lights, and hot cocoa add to the warmth and cheer of the season.

But for many of us, the aromas of the pumpkin pie, hot cocoa, and fresh pine of the tree wrapped in twinkling lights are what bring back memorable moments shared in past years. Scents are powerful, and these holiday smells add to the comfort we seek to share with loved ones in the present.

I’ll admit, it was only a handful of years ago that I would bring home holiday-scented candles, potpourri, and room sprays galore from big box stores! Little did I know, they were made with artificial fragrances created by chemicals that were harmful to my health.

Since then, I’ve learned how to make my home smell good using natural products. While I still get to enjoy the classic scents of the season, I can do it without the negative impact to my health.

I’d like to share 5 simple ways you can make your home smell good for the holidays naturally!

What to Avoid When Making Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays

First, we need to understand what the term “fragrance” means. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), fragrance or “parfum” on a product label represents an undisclosed blend of various scent chemicals (Environmental Working Group, n.d.). This includes dispersants of fragrance which contain phthalates, a hormone-disrupting chemical that’s a health risk to all ages (Powers, 2007). Phthalates have been linked to cases of breast cancer, low sperm count, and other negative health issues (Stuart, 2016).

While we think we are making our homes smell good for the holidays, we are consequently damaging our health. The good news is, this isn’t a case of “the damage is done, so why stop now?” Repeated exposure to phthalates doesn’t mean phthalates stay in the body for long periods of time like many other toxins (Stuart, 2016). This means we can improve our health simply by not bringing these synthetically fragranced products into our home!

4 Natural Ingredients to Make Your Smell Good for the Holidays

Nowadays, to bring the warmth and cheer of the holidays to life, I turn to the direct source instead of synthetically made fragrances. Here’s a look at the natural ingredients I use to make our home smell good all year round.  

Spices

5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Make your home smell good this holiday season without having a negative impact on your health. Here are 5 safe and natural ideas to get you started!

What’s not to love when it comes to spices? We use them everyday to add flavor to our meals, but alone, they are incredible just the same. Take a look at a few favorite spices I use to make my home smell good for the holidays.

  • Cinnamon sticks (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
  • Whole nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
  • Cardamom seeds (Elettaria cardamomum)
  • Star anise (Illicium verum)
  • Whole cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • Vanilla beans (Vanilla planifolia)

Herbs

5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Make your home smell good this holiday season without having a negative impact on your health. Here are 5 safe and natural ideas to get you started!

While I love having fresh herbs within reach to use in my homesteading recipes, I know from experience that not all herbs do well indoors during the winter months. Luckily, the dried version can be just as potent when it comes to scent! Peppermint (Metha x piperita), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), and sage (Salvia officinalis) are some of my holiday favorites!

Fruits

5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Make your home smell good this holiday season without having a negative impact on your health. Here are 5 safe and natural ideas to get you started!

Who doesn’t love the smell of citrus and other fruits? Oranges, apples, grapefruits, and lemons are wonderful to use in holiday decorating, and they smell divine. To use them in holiday potpourri and decor, simply dry them in a dehydrator. If you don’t have a food dehydrator, drying them in the oven is easier than you think!

4 Quick Steps to Drying Fruit for Holiday Decorating:

  1. Slice fruits around a 1/4 an inch thick with a paring knife.
  2. Arrange sliced fruit on a bakers drying rack and place in the oven.
  3. Bake at the lowest setting possible, usually between 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes to 2 1/2 hours.
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and using an oven safe spatula, scoop dried fruits on the lined sheets to cool before use.

Essential Oils

5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Make your home smell good this holiday season without having a negative impact on your health. Here are 5 safe and natural ideas to get you started!

This ingredient list would not be complete without the powerful scent of essential oils. When kept in a cool place away from direct sunlight, spiced essential oils can last for years — making their investment worth it! They also provide a great refresher to fruits you may have decorated with before that aren’t as fragrant as they once were.

To refresh dried fruits such as grapefruit, place dried grapefruit slices in a sealed bag or container. Then add 10 to 20 drops of their corresponding essential oil. Shake well and remove fruit to release their renewed scent. Use caution not to get undiluted essential oils on your skin.

Now that you know some natural ingredients that can be used, let’s look at how to put them together to make your home smell good for the holidays.

5 Clever Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays

#1 – Holiday Citrus Diffuser

Skip the pricey holiday flower displays and save money with a gorgeous aromatic centerpiece of citrus bowl diffusers. Pick a few sprigs of peppermint from your herb garden along with sea salt and fruit from the kitchen, and you’ll have yourself a one-of-a-kind centerpiece. Your holiday guests will rave about the sweet, fresh aroma and creative presentation!

Holiday Citrus Diffuser

[recipe_ingredients]

4 oranges
1 cup coarse sea salt
8 drops peppermint essential oil (Mentha x piperita)
8 drops sweet orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis)
12 fresh peppermint leaves

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Slice each orange in half and hollow it out using a spoon or paring knife.
  • Pour 1/8 cup sea salt into each orange bowl.
  • Add 2 drops of peppermint and orange essential oil to each orange bowl. Mix well.
  • Garnish with fresh peppermint leaves.

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Enjoy the aroma from each holiday citrus diffuser for five to seven days. When you are done, remove the leaves and pour the sea salt into a glass jar. Grate the rind of the orange halves into the salt, add a teaspoon of carrier oil (such as sweet almond oil), and use as bath salts.

#2 – Holiday Non-Toxic Candles

5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Make your home smell good this holiday season without having a negative impact on your health. Here are 5 safe and natural ideas to get you started!

Did you grow an herbal garden during the warmer months too? If you answered “yes,”  then you likely have a good amount of dried herbs to savor during the winter months ahead. So why not use them to make holiday herbal candles? All it takes is a few essential oils, natural wax, and a handful of herbs. Learn how to make your home smell good for the holidays with DIY hand poured herbal candles in our post, DIY Hand Poured Herbal Candles.

#3 – Orange Clove Carpet Powder

One of the biggest challenges to living a more natural lifestyle is cleaning the home. During the holidays, frequent guests can really give our carpets a lot of wear and tear, and you can bet carpet cleaners with all their odor-masking fragrances likely contain phthalates, too!

I’ve found essential oils and baking soda make the perfect solution for keeping carpets fresh and looking new! Orange essential oil, also called sweet orange oil (Citrus sinensis), does wonders on odors and tough stains. Derived from the outer peel of the common orange, it, like most citrus oils, acts as a natural degreaser and combats stains without harsh chemicals. I’ve used it in my natural carpet stain remover on new and old stains with great success! Combine it with a spicy holiday favorite essential oil such as clove bud (Syzygium aromaticum), and you’ll have yourself a non-toxic tool to refresh your carpets and make your home smell great!

Orange Clove Carpet Powder

Yields: 1 cup

[recipe_ingredients]

1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 teaspoon clove bud essential oil (Syzygium aromaticum)
1/4 teaspoon sweet orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis)
1 airtight 8-ounce container

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Combine a half cup of baking soda with a 1/4 teaspoon each of clove and orange essential oils in a small mixing bowl. Stir until all baking soda clumps have dissolved.
  • Pour orange clove carpet powder into an airtight container.
  • Sprinkle Orange Clove Carpet Powder over rugs and carpet and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Vacuum the powder to reduce odors and release the warm spicy scent of clove and orange.

[/recipe_directions]

#4 – Christmas Tree Room Spray

5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Make your home smell good this holiday season without having a negative impact on your health. Here are 5 safe and natural ideas to get you started!

Don’t you love how a mist or two of a room spray can make a space smell amazingly better in seconds?

After learning about the hazards of synthetic fragrances in mainstream room sprays, I began to make my own, and surprisingly, all you need is three ingredients instead of a label full of questionable ingredients!

I’ve been using this natural Christmas Tree Room Spray recipe for a few years now. You’ll love how it brings to life the fresh scent of pine (Pinus sylvestris; Pinus strobus L.). You can literally spray it on your Christmas tree or keep a bottle in the bathroom to freshen the air when needed.

Christmas Tree Room Spray

Yields: 5 ounces

[recipe_ingredients]

3 ounces distilled water
2 ounces vodka
12 drops of pine essential oil (Pinus sylvestris)
1 fine mist five-ounce spray bottle

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Using a funnel, pour water and vodka into a spray bottle.
  • Remove the funnel and add 12 drops of pine essential oil into the bottle.
  • Close the lid and shake well to combine.

[/recipe_directions]

Note: Not for topical use!

#5 – Holiday Spice Potpourri

5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Make your home smell good this holiday season without having a negative impact on your health. Here are 5 safe and natural ideas to get you started!

What I love most about potpourri is that it not only creates a lovely aroma, but it’s also visually pleasing. Making potpourri is a great excuse to go foraging for acorns, pine cones, and berries. (For an autumn inspired potpourri, why not bring home brightly colored leaves?) You can even customize your potpourri to match your home decor, current season, or holiday you’re celebrating.

Holiday Spice Potpourri

[recipe_ingredients]

5 whole nutmeg
6 cinnamon sticks
3 dried apple slices
3 dried orange slices
1 tablespoon whole cloves
3 bay leaves
2 pine cones
5 star anise pods
4 drops sweet orange essential oil (Citrus sinensis)
6 drops of cinnamon leaf essential oil (Cinnamomum verum)
4 drops of nutmeg essential oil (Myristica fragrans)
6 drops of clove bud essential oil (Syzygium aromaticum)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • In a metal or glass bowl, combine all spices, fruit slices, and pine cones. Carefully mix together.
  • Add essential oil drops and scoop into a bowl or two for display. You can even package your Holiday Spice Potpourri in small linen bags to gift for the holidays.

[/recipe_directions]

Whether you are opening your home to guests for the holidays or wanting to bring the joy and warmth of the season to light, these five methods to make your home smell good for the holidays will not only make a great impact on your guests but a good impact on your health as well. Start with a quick carpet refresher, then create one-of-a-kind citrus diffusers, candles, and more to make your home smell good all season long.

5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Good for the Holidays | Herbal Academy | Make your home smell good this holiday season without having a negative impact on your health. Here are 5 safe and natural ideas to get you started!

REFERENCES

Environmental Working Group. (n.d.). Fragrance: Health concerns of the ingredient. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702512/FRAGRANCE/#

Powers, J. (2007). Common air fresheners contain chemicals that may affect human reproductive development. New York, NY: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Stuart, A. (2016). Go lo tox. Available from https://www.lowtoxlife.com/