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!

How To Make & Use Homemade Magnesium Oil To Benefit Your Health

How To Make & Use Homemade Magnesium Oil | Herbal Academy | Magnesium is an essential nutrient that can be used internally or externally for health purposes. Learn how to make a homemade magnesium oil in this post.

Do you experience insomnia, constipation, leg cramps, or general stress and anxiety more than you’d like? If so, magnesium may be of some assistance to you.

Magnesium is an essential nutrient, but in this high-stress, fast-paced world we all seem to be lacking sufficient amounts of it. Did you know that other than getting magnesium naturally from food sources (such as spinach, almonds, pumpkin seeds, avocado, or yogurt) or taking it internally in your favorite multivitamin or supplement, it can be applied topically for additional health benefits?

In this blog post, we will explain some magnesium health benefits and teach you how to make your own homemade magnesium oil at home!

Magnesium Health Benefits

How To Make & Use Homemade Magnesium Oil | Herbal Academy | Magnesium is an essential nutrient that can be used internally or externally for health purposes. Learn how to make a homemade magnesium oil in this post.

Responsible for over 600 enzymatic reactions including energy metabolism and protein synthesis, magnesium plays an important physiological role in the body and is essential for the health of the brain, heart, and skeletal muscles (De Baaij, Hoenderop, & Bindels, 2015). Magnesium also assists in calcium uptake and absorption (Balch, 2006).

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium for adult men 19-30 years old is 400 mg, and for adult women, the RDA is a little less at 310 mg. For men 31-50+ years old, the RDA increases by 20 mg, and for women in that age range, it only rises by 10 mg (Berkheiser, 2018).

Magnesium deficiency is estimated to affect around 10%–30% of a given population (DiNicolantonio, O’Keefe, & Wilson, 2018). One supposed reason is that despite our constant pursuit of healthy eating, our food is grown in soil that has become devoid of many nutrients due to industrial agriculture and over-farming. Most fertilizers do not contain magnesium, leading to an insufficient amount of this mineral in the soil, thus resulting in food being grown without much magnesium content. Cooking and processing foods can also deplete magnesium, and the foods that magnesium naturally occurs in (whole grains, greens, nuts, and seeds) are, unfortunately, not as prevalent in the Standard American Diet (Dean, n.d.).

While the cause of magnesium deficiency isn’t known, there are a few contributing factors that may be correlated. As humans in this current culture of overwork, many of us are struggling from lack of sleep, constant stress, dependence on prescription drugs, and high alcohol, caffeine, and sugar consumption. These lifestyle factors cause our bodies to burn magnesium faster, therefore, contributing to a deficiency (Robbins, 2012; Tarasov, Blinov, Zimovina & Sandakova, 2015).

A deficiency of magnesium interferes with the transmission of nerve and muscle impulses (Balch, 2006) — leading to many health issues. Along with poor digestion and possible cardiovascular issues, a person with magnesium deficiency may experience muscle weakness, confusion, mood changes, muscle spasms, and insomnia (Balch, Stengler, & Balch, 2004).

Supplementing with magnesium can help to support the nervous and musculoskeletal systems in several ways.

  • It can offer support during acute constipation by easing muscle tension in the gastrointestinal tract. Magnesium improves gut motility and retains water in the colon  (Balch et al., 2004).
  • In a double-blind trial of 81 people (ages 18-65) with migraines, a dose of 600 mg of magnesium per day was found significantly more effective than a placebo in reducing the frequency of migraine headaches (Peikert, Wilimzig, & Kohne-Volland, 1996).
  • Magnesium is often used after vigorous exercise or sports to help the muscles recover and discourage soreness. Taking magnesium has also been shown to decrease symptoms of muscle pain and specifically leg cramps (Berkheiser, 2018).
  • Many women may also find assistance with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms such as back pain and menstrual cramps (Gaynor, 2009).
  • Magnesium can also help encourage sleep by helping the mind and body to relax (Berkheiser, 2018).

Which Type of Magnesium Should You Use

How To Make & Use Homemade Magnesium Oil | Herbal Academy | Magnesium is an essential nutrient that can be used internally or externally for health purposes. Learn how to make a homemade magnesium oil in this post.

There are several forms of magnesium, but it is best to listen to your body when choosing the right form for you.

  • Magnesium citrate is best for intestines and moving the bowels (it has a laxative effect so less is more for some people). My favorite form of magnesium citrate is a powdered form called Natural Calm. Taken right before bed, it is wonderful for relaxing your body and ensuring a good night’s rest.
  • Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium (which is believed to be more bioavailable) and does not affect the bowels.
  • Magnesium malate and magnesium taurate are the best forms of magnesium for the heart, according to magnesium expert Morley Robbins.
  • Magnesium chloride and sulfate are best used for foot or full body baths. Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, is quite affordable and a readily available form of magnesium for most people. Since Epsom salt is a sulfate, if you are sensitive to sulfur or sulfates, this may not be the best choice for you.

Sourced from Hay, Khadro, & Dane, (2014).

Internal Versus External Magnesium

How To Make & Use Homemade Magnesium Oil | Herbal Academy | Magnesium is an essential nutrient that can be used internally or externally for health purposes. Learn how to make a homemade magnesium oil in this post.

According to most findings, taking magnesium internally as a supplement is the most effective way to counter a magnesium deficiency. However, some evidence shows that for individuals with challenged digestive systems, applying magnesium externally on the skin may help to bypass the digestive tract, allowing them to absorb the magnesium more quickly and completely (Hay, Khadro, & Dane, 2014).

How effective are external magnesium applications at boosting serum magnesium levels? While there are many studies that support the use of topical magnesium, there are just as many that show a lack of support for it. The effectiveness of external magnesium is a topic of much debate with no clear answers — at least not yet.

A 2017 review by Grober, Kisters, Vormann, Werner, and Petty (2017) evaluated current literature and evidence-based data on transdermal magnesium application and found that the use of external magnesium wasn’t supported by science. They suggested that future research needed to be done on a larger number of human subjects using higher concentrations of magnesium for longer durations as a way to investigate whether a transdermal application is able to increase magnesium levels in the body.

Although high-quality studies are lacking that show the effectiveness of topical magnesium use, anecdotal evidence supports the external use of magnesium.

Personally, I prefer soaking in a warm bath of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) in an effort to relax. Ancient people have been using soaking therapies for years in the form of Dead Sea salt baths, mineral springs, mud packs, steams, and other natural topical applications. According to some studies, prolonged soaking in Epsom salts can increase blood magnesium concentrates, measured by rising urine levels (mean 94.81 ± 44.26 ppm/mL to 198.93 ± 97.52 ppm/mL) (Epsom Salt Council, n.d.). Despite these findings, this study was only published online via the website of an Epsom salt council, without any backing from a scientific journal.

At the end of a long day, I love relaxing my body and mind in a warm bath with salts and essential oils, but as a busy working mother and entrepreneur, there isn’t always time for lengthy self-care treatments. In place of a nightly bath, I like to use what I call “Bath-in-a-Bottle.” Bath-in-a-Bottle is simply homemade magnesium oil.

What About Magnesium Oil?

How To Make & Use Homemade Magnesium Oil | Herbal Academy | Magnesium is an essential nutrient that can be used internally or externally for health purposes. Learn how to make a homemade magnesium oil in this post.

Magnesium oil is a blend of magnesium chloride flakes and water. When these two are mixed together, it creates a “brine” or a substance that has an oily feel. This easy-to-absorb form of magnesium may be able to raise magnesium levels in the body when applied to the skin (Whelan, 2018).

I apply magnesium oil to my sore legs, back, stomach, or feet before bedtime. There are some wonderful high-quality magnesium oils available for purchase now, but it is very easy and inexpensive to make a homemade magnesium oil in the comfort of your own home.

Most research has been done on supplementing magnesium through dietary and oral supplements. However, a 2015 study reported in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, found that transdermal application of magnesium chloride to people with fibromyalgia reduced their pain symptoms. The participants in the study were asked to spray magnesium chloride on their arms and legs twice a day for four weeks. Research shows that most magnesium is housed in muscle cells and that some people with fibromyalgia lack adequate amounts. (Whelan, 2018). The conclusion of the study suggested that transdermal magnesium chloride applied topically may be beneficial to patients with fibromyalgia (Engen et al., 2015).

How To Make & Use Homemade Magnesium Oil | Herbal Academy | Magnesium is an essential nutrient that can be used internally or externally for health purposes. Learn how to make a homemade magnesium oil in this post.

How To Make Homemade Magnesium Oil

[recipe_ingredients]

½ cup magnesium chloride flakes
½ cup distilled water (to extend the shelf life)
Glass spray bottles

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Bring ½ cup of distilled water to a boil.
  • Add ½ cup magnesium flakes to a glass measuring cup or bowl.
  • Once water has boiled, pour it into the bowl of magnesium flakes and stir until the flakes completely dissolve.
  • Let this mixture cool and transfer to labeled spray bottles for daily use.
  • Store your homemade magnesium oil at room temperature for up to 6 months.

[/recipe_directions]

To Use:

Start by using just a few sprays on your skin; initially no more than five. Over the next few days, gradually work up to 10-20 sprays a day. I like to apply my homemade magnesium oil in the crook of my arms, back of my knees, and stomach for best absorption.

It is also wise to do a patch test on your skin (particularly if you have sensitive skin) before applying the spray all over your body. A lot of people may initially experience tingling or a slight itching sensation where the oil is applied. This can be relieved by applying aloe vera on the site or coconut oil about 20 minutes after applying the oil (to give it a chance to absorb properly).

How To Make & Use Homemade Magnesium Oil | Herbal Academy | Magnesium is an essential nutrient that can be used internally or externally for health purposes. Learn how to make a homemade magnesium oil in this post.

REFERENCES

Balch, J.F., Stengler, M., & Balch, R.Y. (2004). Prescription for natural cures. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Balch, P. A. (2006). Prescription for nutritional healing. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Berkheiser, K. (2018). Magnesium dosage: How much should you take per day? [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/magnesium-dosage

Dean, C. (n.d.). The magnesium miracle. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

https://drcarolyndean.com/magnesium_miracle/

De Baaij, J.H., Hoenderop, J.G., & Bindels, R.J. (2015). Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease. Physiol Rev, 95(1),1-46. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00012.2014

DiNicolantonio, J.J., O’Keefe, J.H., & Wilson, W. (2018). Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart, 5(1): e000668.

Engen, D.J., McAllister, S.J., Whipple, M.O., Cha, S.S., Dion, L.J., Vincent, A.,… Wahner-Roedler, D.L. (2015). Effects of transdermal magnesium chloride on quality of life for patients with fibromyalgia: A feasibility study. Journal Of Integrative Medicine, 13(5), 306-313. doi:10.1016/s2095-4964(15)60195-9

Epsom Salt Council. (n.d.). Report on absorption of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) across the skin. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/report_on_absorption_of_magnesium_sulfate.pdf

Gaynor, B. (2009). Pre-menstrual Syndrome and Diet [Abstract]. Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, 8(1), 65-75. doi: 10.1080/13590849862302

Gröber, U., Kisters, K., Vormann, J., & Werner, T. (2017). Myth or reality-transdermal magnesium? Nutrients, 9(8): 813. doi: 10.3390/nu9080813

Hay, L., Khadro, A., & Dane, H. (2014). Loving yourself to great health. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.

National Institute for Health. (2018). Magnesium fact sheet for health professionals. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/

Peikert, A., Wilimzig, C., &  Kohne-Volland, R. (1996). Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: Results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study. [Abstract]. Cephalalgia 16, 257-63.

Robbins, M. (2012). How to restore magnesium in 3 steps. [Online Article]. Retrieved from http://gotmag.org/how-to-restore-magnesium/

Tarasov, E., Blinov, D., Zimovina, U., & Sandakova, E. (2015). Magnesium deficiency and stress: Issues of their relationship, diagnostic tests, and approaches to therapy. Ter Arkh, 87(9):114-122. doi:10.17116/terarkh2015879114-122.

Whelan, C. (2018). Magnesium oil. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/magnesium-oil-benefits

How to Create a Simmering Herbal Potpourri

How to Create a Simmering Herbal Potpourri | Herbal Academy | Banish every day odors throughout your home without causing health hazards with this simmering herbal potpourri recipe, perfect for the holidays too!

Does your home ever get that stale feeling? Does it smell like a cast iron skillet or a dusty antique store?

Let’s be honest — odors happen!

If the weather isn’t ideal for opening the windows, then you may be looking for some help to freshen the air in your home! So, where do most of us turn for help? Room sprays.

In case you haven’t heard, the Environmental Working Group rates the average room freshener at a range of D to F for significant hazards to health and the environment (Amerelo & Geller, 2018).

The good news is that you can make your own natural room spray to freshen up a space. However, room sprays are best used for a quick fix, such as a spritz or two to deodorize the kitchen or bathroom, and just like most quick fixes, the results aren’t long-lasting.

Instead, you may be searching for a solution that cuts through nearly any and all odors with lasting results. One option is to make a simmering herbal potpourri to help banish odors throughout your home without causing health hazards.

How to Create a Simmering Herbal Potpourri | Herbal Academy | Banish every day odors throughout your home without causing health hazards with this simmering herbal potpourri recipe, perfect for the holidays too!

What Is A Simmering Herbal Potpourri?

A simmering herbal potpourri is basically an herbal potpourri mix of dry ingredients that you boil in water. Unlike chemical fragrances that mimic the real deal, the aroma of an herbal potpourri will last throughout the day and even after you’ve stopped simmering.  

Is It Safe To Boil Potpourri?

Boiling potpourri is safe, as long you as follow a few guidelines.

  • First, choose a large pot to simmer your herbal potpourri in.
  • Next, be careful not to overfill the pot with ingredients or water.
  • Keep an eye or an ear on the herbal potpourri while it simmers, being sure to not let the water get too low.  

What Do You Need To Make A Simmering Herbal Potpourri?

While having fresh herbs within reach to use in your recipes is ideal, I know from experience that not all herbs do well indoors during the winter months. Fortunately, dried herbs can be just as potent when it comes to aroma! Here’s list of aromatic herbs perfect for simmering herbal potpourri grouped by scent.

How to Create a Simmering Herbal Potpourri | Herbal Academy | Banish every day odors throughout your home without causing health hazards with this simmering herbal potpourri recipe, perfect for the holidays too!

Culinary Herbs:

This group of herbs is full of familiar scents. They are often grown for culinary purposes, and I’m sure you have enjoyed many of them in flavorful dishes.  You’ll find minty, citrus, and even candy-like scents, all of which are wonderful in herbal potpourri. If you have a culinary garden, you’ve just found a new way to use the herbs growing in it!

  • Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

How to Create a Simmering Herbal Potpourri | Herbal Academy | Banish every day odors throughout your home without causing health hazards with this simmering herbal potpourri recipe, perfect for the holidays too!

Woodland Herbs:

In this group, you’ll find herbs that remind us of a walk in the woods. Each will add a breath of fresh air and woodland scent to your simmering herbal potpourri recipes.

  • Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
  • White pine (Pinus strobus L.)
  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
  • Juniper (Juniperus spp.)

How to Create a Simmering Herbal Potpourri | Herbal Academy | Banish every day odors throughout your home without causing health hazards with this simmering herbal potpourri recipe, perfect for the holidays too!

Floral Herbs:

These herbs are some of the most popular for soap making and perfumes, and I can see why — each have a unique, incredibly soothing floral scent.

  • Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
  • Rose (Rosa spp.)
  • Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  • German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
  • Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia)

How to Create a Simmering Herbal Potpourri | Herbal Academy | Banish every day odors throughout your home without causing health hazards with this simmering herbal potpourri recipe, perfect for the holidays too!

Spicy Herbs:

In the cooler months of the year, I crave spicy herbal aromas. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and cardamom have my name written all over them! Who doesn’t want to add a little spice to their life? Try a spicy herb or two in your simmering herbal potpourri.

  • Cinnamon sticks (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
  • Whole nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
  • Cardamom seeds (Elettaria cardamomum)
  • Ginger root (Zingiber officinale)
  • Star anise (Illicium verum)
  • Whole cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • Vanilla beans (Vanilla planifolia)
  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.)

How to Create a Simmering Herbal Potpourri | Herbal Academy | Banish every day odors throughout your home without causing health hazards with this simmering herbal potpourri recipe, perfect for the holidays too!

Fruits

Many of us share a love of citrus, and a simmering herbal potpourri is a great way to enjoy your favorites. You can simply toss the peeled rinds into a pot after enjoying the fruit or can dry fruit slices in a food dehydrator to store in a dry potpourri mix. You can also dry fruit slices in the oven if you don’t have a dehydrator.  Here’s a quick list of aromatic fruits to use in simmering herbal potpourri:

  • Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Lime
  • Apple
  • Lemon
  • Pear
  • Pomegranate

How to Make a Simmering Herbal Potpourri

When making a simmering herbal potpourri, keep in mind that ingredients and their amounts can vary. Each blend may be used as a new aroma to remove odors from the home or simply to enjoy on a rainy day. You’ll want to keep your dry ingredients at one to two cups total, allowing room in the stock pot for water and to reduce the risk of boiling over.

Here’s an example of a simmering herbal potpourri recipe I love to make.

Simmering Herbal Potpourri

[recipe_ingredients]

1 lemon, sliced
1 apple, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks  
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon lavender
4 cups water

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Gather your ingredients, slice or peel fruits, and tear or rub the leaves of culinary herbs to release their fragrance.
  • Place each item into a medium stock pot and pour in four cups of water. Bring the herbal potpourri to boil.
  • Boil two to three minutes, then reduce to a low simmer.
  • Simmer for up to four hours, while adding an additional half a cup of water every half hour as needed to avoid burning the ingredients.

[/recipe_directions]

Creating a simmering herbal potpourri is not only purposeful, it is a beautiful experience. Foraging for woodland herbs, hand picking culinary herbs, slicing fresh fruits, and gathering whole spices is a rewarding adventure, and the result is an aromatic infusion of ingredients made just for you!

How to Create a Simmering Herbal Potpourri | Herbal Academy | Banish every day odors throughout your home without causing health hazards with this simmering herbal potpourri recipe, perfect for the holidays too!REFERENCES

(Amerelo, M. and Geller, S.). (2018). Chemicals in everyday products rival cars as source of air pollution. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2018/02/chemicals-everyday-products-rival-cars-source-air-pollution

4 Fall Herbal Tea Recipes To Cozy Up With

4 Fall Herbal Tea Recipes To Cozy Up With | Herbal Academy | In this article, we're sharing four flavorful fall herbal tea recipes to cozy up with during the cooler months of the year.

It’s easy for herbalists to rejoice with the turning of fall since cooler weather invites warm tea back into our daily routine. Whether you love to cozy up with a good book and a warm mug of tea, prepare an entire nourishing quart of tea to sip throughout the day, or enjoy a simple cup of tea as part of your morning ritual, herbal tea is a fall staple. In this article, I’m sharing four fresh, new, and flavorful fall herbal tea recipes to cozy up with soon.

4 Fall Herbal Tea Recipes To Cozy Up With

1. Vanilla Rooibos

The first of my fall herbal tea recipes is an herbal twist on a classic fall favorite. This vanilla rooibos herbal tea recipe brings in a couple new and tasty ingredients with no artificial or natural flavorings. The immune-boosting, floral aromatic of the elderflower (Sambucus nigra) is a surprisingly wonderful pairing with the naturally energizing and tannic red rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), (Hoffmann, 2003). The lightly toasted coconut flavor with the subtle sweetness of the vanilla (Vanilla spp.) extract makes for a delightful tea to cozy up with this fall.

Vanilla Rooibos

[recipe_ingredients]

1 teaspoon red rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) leaves
½ teaspoon vanilla (Vanilla spp.) extract or powder
1 teaspoon dried elder (Sambucus nigra) flower
1 teaspoon toasted shredded coconut
1 cup of freshly boiled water

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Add the rooibos, elderflower, and coconut together in a tea strainer over a heat-safe container.
  • Pour freshly boiled water over dry ingredients and allow to steep for about 10 minutes.
  • Strain the ingredients from the tea then stir in the vanilla extract. Sweeten if desired.
  • Enjoy!

[/recipe_directions]

2. Goddess Drink

The next of my fall herbal tea recipes was spontaneously created years ago, and I jokingly called in my “goddess drink” since it felt so nourishing to yin energies and the entire quality of the tea reminded me of something a goddess herself would regularly drink. The name stuck, and the tea continues to provide a sense of “goddess-like” nourishment to all who have enjoyed it. White peony (Paeonia lactiflora) root and shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) root are both classic tonics for the female reproductive system while carrying a neutral flavor. The aromatic from the rose (Rosa spp.) buds offers a subtle floral note and a heart-relaxing effect while the nut milk creates a delightful creaminess.

Goddess Drink

[recipe_ingredients]

1 tablespoon dried white peony (Paeonia lactiflora) root
1 tablespoon dried shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) root
3-5 dried rose (Rosa spp.) buds
2 cups water
Cashew or coconut milk
Raw honey to taste

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Add the water, peony root, and shatavari root to a small pot and place on the stove over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 40 minutes.
  • Turn off the stove and remove the pot from the hot burner. Immediately add the rose buds to the pot of tea and cover with the lid. Allow the rose buds to infuse for about 5 minutes.
  • Strain all of the herbs from the tea and pour into a heat-safe container. Add a splash of cashew or coconut milk and raw honey to taste (depending on how sweet you like your tea to taste).
  • Relax, sip, and feel nourished.

[/recipe_directions]

4 Fall Herbal Tea Recipes To Cozy Up With | Herbal Academy | In this article, we're sharing four flavorful fall herbal tea recipes to cozy up with during the cooler months of the year.

3. Tulsi Sunrise

Another of my favorite fall herbal tea recipes is this part sweet, part spicy golden tea that truly feels like a warm cup of sunshine on a cool fall day. Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is considered a mild adaptogenic herb, helping boost our body’s ability to both defend against and adapt to the effects of stress (Hoffmann, 2003), making it an ideal herb to draw from as you transition seasons and in the morning to set the tone for the day ahead. The remaining herbs lend an inflammation-soothing, antioxidant-rich, and flavorful complement to the tulsi base. Feel free to play with the amount of lemon juice and honey you add depending on the amount of sour versus sweet you prefer.

Tulsi Sunrise

[recipe_ingredients]

1 teaspoon dried tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) aerial parts
¼ teaspoon turmeric (Curcuma longa) root powder
½ teaspoon dried lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) aerial parts
¼ teaspoon dried ginger (Zingiber officinalis) root
½ teaspoon dried orange (Citrus x aurantium var. sinensis) peel
1 cup freshly boiled water
½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Raw honey to taste

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Add the tulsi, turmeric, lemongrass, ginger, and orange peel into a tea bag and place in a heat-safe container.
  • Pour the freshly boiled water over the tea bag and allow to steep for about 10 minutes.
  • Squeeze the excess tea from the tea bag and remove it from the mug.
  • Add lemon juice and raw honey to taste. Stir well to combine.
  • Sip and enjoy!

[/recipe_directions]

4. Cinnamon Oats

Sometimes a simple trio of herbs is all you need to make a delicious tea perfect to cozy up with this fall. The last of my fall herbal tea recipes combines cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) and oatstraw (Avena sativa) — two of my go-to “comfort” herbs for their naturally sweet and soothing aromatics and flavors. This tea replicates the warming, cozy feeling of preparing a steaming bowl of oatmeal on a crisp fall day. Oatstraw is a wonderful herb to nourish the nervous system while the cinnamon chips provide a warming, circulatory boost (Hoffmann, 2003). Adding a pinch of licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root helps tie the two together with a touch of sweetness.

Cinnamon Oats

[recipe_ingredients]

½ teaspoon cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) chips
1 tablespoon oatstraw (Avena sativa) leaf and stem
A “pinch” (about ~⅛ teaspoon) shredded licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root
1 cup freshly boiled water

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Add all of the herbs in a tea strainer and place in a heat-safe container.
  • Pour freshly boiled water over the herbs and allow to steep for about 10 minutes.
  • Strain, sweeten if desired, sip, and enjoy!

[/recipe_directions]

Time To Start Brewing

After learning 4 new fall herbal tea recipes to cozy up with, now it’s time to start brewing in the kitchen! Curious to learn more about which herbs are great to use during fall? Read my post on 5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall.

4 Fall Herbal Tea Recipes To Cozy Up With | Herbal Academy | In this article, we're sharing four flavorful fall herbal tea recipes to cozy up with during the cooler months of the year.

REFERENCES

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

Herbal Tea or Herbal Infusion: What’s the Difference?

Herbal Tea or Herbal Infusion: What's the Difference? | Herbal Academy | When should you use an herbal tea or herbal infusion? What's the difference? While the two are mostly similar, there are a couple of differences to note.

It’s finally here: the time of year when there’s not much better than a cozy fire, a snuggly flannel, and a hot cup of herbal tea… or herbal infusion.

Fall is the perfect time of year to introduce the healthful practice of enjoying an herbal tea or herbal infusion daily. Not only is this the season when our bodies crave warmth, but it’s also when herbs from a season of growing are harvested and processed for use in the kitchen. Another benefit to herbal teas and herbal infusions is the extra nutrients they provide our bodies. This is especially important when we’re facing lots of bugs and viruses that go around this time of year.

You may already be on board for a comforting mug of herbal chai tea in the morning or a warming cup of chamomile tea before bed, but what about an herbal infusion? Perhaps you’ve not heard this term before, or you have and simply don’t know the difference between an herbal tea and herbal infusion. While the two are rather similar, there are subtle differences that have earned them separate terminology.

The Difference in Herbal Teas and Herbal Infusions

Herbal Tea or Herbal Infusion: What's the Difference? | Herbal Academy | When should you use an herbal tea or herbal infusion? What's the difference? While the two are mostly similar, there are a couple of differences to note.

An herbal tea and herbal infusion are essentially the same thing—the two distinct differences being (1) the amount of herb used and (2) the steep time. Simply put: herbal teas use less plant matter and are steeped for a shorter period of time than infusions, while herbal infusions use a larger amount of herbs and are steeped for a longer period of time. Because of their longer steep time, herbal infusions may contain a higher nutrient content than herbal teas (Gladstar, 2008).

How to Make an Herbal Tea or Herbal Infusion

Herbal Tea or Herbal Infusion: What's the Difference? | Herbal Academy | When should you use an herbal tea or herbal infusion? What's the difference? While the two are mostly similar, there are a couple of differences to note.

Herbal Tea or Herbal Infusion: What's the Difference? | Herbal Academy | When should you use an herbal tea or herbal infusion? What's the difference? While the two are mostly similar, there are a couple of differences to note.

The makings for a good cup of herbal tea and a batch of an herbal infusion are rather simple—more of an art than a science. To make an herbal tea, simply prepare water as recommended for the type of tea you’re having and steep your herbs for a few minutes. Steep times will vary depending on the herbs you’re using, but the average is 5-10 minutes. After steeping, strain the herbs out or remove the tea bag, sweeten if desired, and enjoy. Herbal tea is typically prepared by the cup and is enjoyed right away. For helpful hints on making one of the best cups of tea you’ll ever have, check out this article on How to Build a Nutritive Tea.

To make an herbal infusion, you can add hot or cold water, depending on the nature of the herbs you are using. Learn more about the particulars of cold water infusions here. Since hot water infusions are more common, that’s what I’ll break down in this article. Herbal infusions are often made by the quart, so one can make a larger amount and enjoy several cups from one batch. It is commonly recommended to use about 1-3 tablespoons of herbs per cup of water or 1 ounce of herb by weight per quart of water and then steep for several hours or even overnight (Mountain Rose Herbs, 2018). You then strain the herbs, and the result is a delicious, nutritious herbal infusion! It’s recommended to drink herbal infusions within 24 hours to ensure optimal nutritive content and freshness (Weed, n.d.). You can learn more about herbal preparation shelf-life in this article, What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life.

When to Drink an Herbal Tea or Herbal Infusion

Herbal Tea or Herbal Infusion: What's the Difference? | Herbal Academy | When should you use an herbal tea or herbal infusion? What's the difference? While the two are mostly similar, there are a couple of differences to note.

There’s really no right or wrong way to drink an herbal tea or herbal infusion; it’s really up to your personal preference. Many choose tea as a beverage to pair with a snack, have after a meal, or perhaps to sip on before bed. Herbal infusions are often enjoyed in a more utilitarian manner: as a nutritive drink taken once each day to introduce a high content of minerals into someone’s diet. If you’re someone who is short on time and wants a high return on your investment, infusions could be a great way to assimilate a variety of nutrients into your body, and you only have to make one batch a day.

While you may gravitate toward one preparation or the other, as long as you are filling your body with the benefits of herbs, it doesn’t matter which you prefer! An herbal tea and herbal infusion both have benefits for different situations and for all types of people. Bottom’s up!

Herbal Tea or Herbal Infusion: What's the Difference? | Herbal Academy | When should you use an herbal tea or herbal infusion? What's the difference? While the two are mostly similar, there are a couple of differences to note.

REFERENCES

Gladstar, R. (2008). Herbal recipes for vibrant health. North Adams, MA: Story Publishing.

Mountain Rose Herbs. (2018). Herbal infusions, tea, and decoctions. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/traditional-herbal-infusions

Weed, S. (n.d.). How to make nourishing herbal infusions. [Online Article]. Retrieved from http://www.susunweed.com/How_to_make_Infusions.htm

Herbal Beer: An Ancient Drink for Modern Times

Herbal Beer: An Ancient Drink for Modern Times | Herbal Academy | In this post, we are sharing how to make a refreshing brew of herbal beer, as well as its use in history and its benefits in modern times!

It’s funny — I never thought I would write anything positive about beer. My husband homebrews, so it has always been his thing. It was never something I cared too much about since I’ve never had much of a palate for beer. I’ve always preferred wine as my alcoholic beverage of choice — until recently when I started The Craft of Herbal Fermentation course through the Herbal Academy.

This course has four different units covering different fermentation methods that can be used to produce a variety of drinks and foods. The entire course was incredible, and I learned a lot. And guess what? My favorite unit was the one on herbal beer! In fact, I wish it had never ended!

In this post, I’d like to share a bit about what I learned about making herbal beer, its history and use in ancient times, and its benefits during modern times.

Is It Really Beer?

Herbal Beer: An Ancient Drink for Modern Times | Herbal Academy | In this post, we are sharing how to make a refreshing brew of herbal beer, as well as its use in history and its benefits in modern times!

There’s been some kickback to calling what we are talking about “beer.” To be grammatically correct, beer is defined as,

An alcoholic drink made from yeast-fermented malt flavored with hops (Oxford Dictionary, n.d.).

Since the herbal beer I’m speaking of does not have hops in it, it’s technically not a beer. The correct term for an herbal beer is a “gruit,” which is an herb mixture used for bittering and flavoring beer, popular before the extensive use of hops. Some brewers still choose to call it “beer” because that is what it was considered in ancient times until Reinheitsgebot.

Reinheitsgebot, a law that was passed by the Bavarians on April 23, 1516, stated that beer should only contain three ingredients: hops, barley, and water (Alworth, 2016). It was introduced to prevent price competition with bakers for other grains. The restriction of barley as the beer grain ensured that bread would remain affordable, as wheat and rye were for the bakers to use (Holle & Schaumberger, 2011). The law also is suspected to have some religious bias involved. It is believed that the German Puritans wanted to avoid the use of beverages such as gruit that were used in pagan rituals,” (Oliver, 2011)  and although there is no documented evidence, some believe that they chose hops for its ability to dampen the libido — resulting in an easy way to regulate premarital sexual activity.

Herbal Beer: An Ancient Drink for Modern Times | Herbal Academy | In this post, we are sharing how to make a refreshing brew of herbal beer, as well as its use in history and its benefits in modern times!

When beer was first created, it was known to be sacred. The alcohol content was sometimes extremely high, oftentimes psychotropic, and contained many herbs (Buhner, 1998). Our ancestors used these fermented beverages in sacred ceremonies to communicate with their ancestors and to address physical, mental, and spiritual needs (McGovern, 2018). They would often reach altered states of consciousness in a safe space with guidance to work out their inner demons and to shapeshift into a more consciously elevated part of themselves and remove or prevent the hardening of their minds (McGovern, 2018).

Our ancestors believed that everything was alive and interconnected — from the rocks, plants, and trees to the yeasts that fermented these sacred ales. To them, ingesting these brews was as if they were ingesting the sacred essence from which is the divine (Buhner, 1998).

I personally think this is such a beautiful way of working with ancient drinks such as herbal beer. I resonate with this way of thinking so much more than simply associating beer with the dive bars of modern times or college frat parties. The difference is in the level of respect and reverence for something sacred that, over centuries, has in many ways become just a drink to get drunk on, or many times, has a negative connotation to it. I get why. I have seen people I love become slaves to alcohol, and it’s ugly. I can’t help but wonder if our culture had the same reverence for beer today, would we have as much excess with it in the world? I guess that’s a question we can’t really answer, but it is one I have pondering. So different from today, our ancient ancestors believed that if proper respect and ceremony were not honored, the beer would not ferment, or at worst, it would cause illness (McGovern, 2018).

The Art of Making Herbal Beer

Herbal Beer: An Ancient Drink for Modern Times | Herbal Academy | In this post, we are sharing how to make a refreshing brew of herbal beer, as well as its use in history and its benefits in modern times!

When making herbal beer, ancient people didn’t have yeasts in packets they could buy at a store as we do. Instead, they collected wild yeasts by setting out a sweet offering for yeasts to come feast on. These wild yeasts were less controlled and tended to be more potent, much like all wild things. Our ancestors created a ceremony to prevent these wild yeasts from spoiling the brew. I can’t help but believe that anytime you put that much intention into something, you are so much more likely to have a desirable outcome. These wild yeasts were protected and preserved in families as if they were a member of the family. So beloved, these wild yeasts were shared with a newly married couple so they could create their own strain to be passed down through their family. You can learn more about how to collect wild yeasts here.

Today, craft breweries are everywhere, and making beer is appreciated as a true artisan craft again. Aside from the actual enjoyment of drinking beer, the pure bliss that comes from creating and brewing your own beer is magical. When I’m in the kitchen making it, I feel like I’m tapping into something ancient and sacred. As an herbalist, I find that brewing with beneficial plants brings closer a powerful connection to something big and ancient. Bringing the ancient art of beer making, a perfected science through years of trial and error, along with the creativity of mixing flavors and botanicals, is so much fun!

Herbal Beer: An Ancient Drink for Modern Times | Herbal Academy | In this post, we are sharing how to make a refreshing brew of herbal beer, as well as its use in history and its benefits in modern times!

The joy of making beer doesn’t just stop at bottling. The exhilaration that comes from sharing your creation with family and friends is fun, and it fills the room with a vibe that is created by connecting through this ancient beverage. Drinking an herbal homebrew with your homies is powerful and sharing in this communal event is a sacred ceremony. Everyone is a bit lighter, happier, more open, joyful, and relaxed.

Anytime my husband or I have created this ancient fermented drink and have friends over to share it, it is a beautiful time. Many times, our friends may not all know each other when they first arrive, but between the food, the homebrew, and the overall vibe/ambiance, a community comes together — everyone leaves as friends. It is quite magical! It may start somewhat quiet, but an hour or so later, conversations are buzzing around the room, people are laughing together, a fire gets lit, and instruments come out. Dancing, laughter, singing, and continued conversation fill the air. It’s a beautiful evolution of the evening, and friendships are made or are deepened. A community is created!

Learn The Art of Herbal Fermentation for Yourself

If you’re curious, and I’ve peaked your interest to learn more, check out the Herbal Academy’s The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course here. There are also a couple of books that I have really enjoyed on the topic of ancient and herbal beer such as Ancient Brews by Patrick McGovern and Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner. 

Make Your Own DIY Herbal Beer

Herbal Beer: An Ancient Drink for Modern Times | Herbal Academy | In this post, we are sharing how to make a refreshing brew of herbal beer, as well as its use in history and its benefits in modern times!

Herbal Beer: An Ancient Drink for Modern Times | Herbal Academy | In this post, we are sharing how to make a refreshing brew of herbal beer, as well as its use in history and its benefits in modern times!

I’ve included a recipe below for a lightly sour, refreshing brew. It’s the one that opened me up to actually enjoy the different tastes that you can enjoy in beer. I hope you enjoy it!

Summer Red Herbal Saison

[recipe_ingredients]

1 cup dried lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
3/4 cup dried lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora)
1/2 cup dried hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.)
1/4 cup dried linden (Tilia spp.)
1 pound brown sugar
Safe Ale US-05 Dry Ale Yeast

Equipment:

Big pot for boiling water
1-gallon glass carboy
Airlock
Beer bottles/caps
Bottle capper
Funnels
Strainer
Auto-siphon
Hydrometer
Star San sanitizer

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Sanitize all of your equipment with your Star San sanitizer.
  • Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add all of the herbs. Cover and steep for one hour. Strain and cool.
  • Once cooled, add sugar and dissolve.
  • Do a gravity reading and log it with the date and other brewing details for later reference.
  • Pour your wort (otherwise known as a sweet infusion) into your carboy (or brewing vessel). (You should only fill to the base of the bottle’s shoulder.)
  • Add your yeast and put your airlock in place.
  • Put your carboy in a dark, cool place around 68-70 degrees.
  • Check daily to see its activity. Once it stops bubbling for a few days and is clear, give it a taste to see if the sweetness is gone. If so, do a gravity reading again to compare your alcohol reading to your original reading.
  • Sanitize your beer bottles, caps, and auto siphon to prepare for bottling.
  • Prime your beer bottles with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar prior to filling with your beer.
  • Using your auto siphon, fill your bottles (being careful to not suck the residual yeast at the bottom of the carboy) until 2 inches of air space is left in the bottle.
  • Cap, label, and store in the fridge.
  • They will be ready to drink in a couple of weeks.
  • ENJOY!!

[/recipe_directions]

Herbal Beer: An Ancient Drink for Modern Times | Herbal Academy | In this post, we are sharing how to make a refreshing brew of herbal beer, as well as its use in history and its benefits in modern times!

REFERENCES:

Alworth, J. (2016). Attempting to understand the Reinheitsgebot. [Online Article]. Retrieved from http://allaboutbeer.com/article/happy-birthday-reinheitsgebot/

Buhner, S. H. (1998). Sacred and herbal healing beers. Boulder, CO: Siris Books.

Holle, S. R., & Schaumberger, M. (2011). The Reinheitsgebot – One country’s interpretation of quality beer. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.morebeer.com/articles/Reinheitsgebot_Brewing_Germany_Purity_Law_Bavaria_1516_Malt_Barley_Water_Hops_Yeast

McGovern, P. E. (2018). Ancient brews: Rediscovered and re-created. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.

Oliver, G. (2011). The Oxford companion to beer. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Oxford Dictionary. (n.d.). [Website]. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/

How To Make An Oxymel

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages for a variety of respiratory and immune system issues including coughs, mucus, and difficulty breathing (Hippocrates, 400 B.C.E.). Made from vinegar and honey, oxymels are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

Keep reading to learn how to make an oxymel using a few different traditional methods. Note that because oxymels use raw honey, do not give them to children under 12 months old.

Why Use An Oxymel?

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

You might be wondering: why use an oxymel over other herbal preparations?

Derived from the Greek word oxymeli, which translates to “acid and honey,” oxymel use has been documented since the age of Hippocrates as a means to use and extract herbs that are not so pleasant in flavor when taken through other methods (Hippocrates, 400 B.C.E.). These herbs tend to be the more pungent aromatics, such as garlic (Allium sativa) and cayenne (Capsicum annuum), that also lend a supportive role for the immune and respiratory systems (Green, 2000).

Both apple cider vinegar and raw honey are common kitchen allies that can be used to help soothe the throat, calm a cough, or bolster the immune system through colds and flu. When combined with herbs that carry complementary actions, oxymels offer a potent, yet tasty, support for times of sickness or compromised immunity.

In the words of Hippocrates: “You will find the drink, called oxymel, often very useful… for it promotes expectoration and freedom of breathing” (Hippocrates, 400 B.C.E.).

4 Ways To Make An Oxymel

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

At its core, oxymels are simply an herbal extraction of apple cider vinegar and honey. In essence, the simplest way to make an oxymel is to combine a vinegar and a honey herbal infusion you have previously made. Although this is not a traditional oxymel preparation, it is an easy and convenient method, especially when you have premade vinegar or honey infusions already on hand.

Time Saver Oxymel Preparation

[recipe_ingredients]

1 part herbal infused vinegar
1 part herbal infused honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Combine infused vinegar with infused honey in a sterilized glass jar. Mix well with a clean, dry spoon until both preparations are fully combined.
  • Label and store in a cool place free of moisture for 6 months.

[/recipe_directions]

Note: Oxymels should be stored in glass jars with plastic lids as the vinegar in the mixture will corrode a metal lid. If you don’t have plastic lids available, you can place a piece of parchment or wax paper between the jar and the lid.

There are several traditional ways oxymels can be made. Below are three different methods to prepare oxymels as a delivery for tinctures, decoctions, or as a means for extracting dried herbs.

The classic, standard oxymel recipe uses 5 parts honey to 1 part vinegar, but many modern recipes will call for more of an equal balance between vinegar and honey. Feel free to play with the proportions depending on the focus of your formula and your taste palate.

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

Traditional Folk Oxymel Preparation

[recipe_ingredients]

Recipe adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs

Dried herb of choice
1 part apple cider vinegar
1 part raw honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • In a clean, dry pint jar, place enough dried herb to fill ¼ of the way full.
  • Cover the herbs with the vinegar and honey until the jar is full or slightly less than full (strive for a ratio of approximately 1:3, herbs to vinegar/honey mixture).
  • Stir the mixture with a clean, dry spoon, screw on a tight plastic lid, then shake until well mixed.
  • Store the jar in a dark, cool place and shake every couple days.
  • Strain the mixture after about two weeks and store in a glass jar.

[/recipe_directions]

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

Oxymel Base For Tinctures

[recipe_ingredients]

2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups honey
Herbal tincture of your choice

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Combine the apple cider vinegar and honey in a pot and simmer to the consistency of a syrup.
  • Remove from the heat and add in your herbal tincture using a ratio of 1 part tincture to 3 parts oxymel (Ex: 30 drops of tincture to approximately 1 teaspoon oxymel) as needed or desired. Stir well to combine.
  • The oxymel base can be stored in a dark, cool place or in the fridge. Stir or gently shake before using.

[/recipe_directions]

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

Oxymel Using Vinegar Decoction

[recipe_ingredients]

8 oz dried herb of choice (choose plant parts that are ideal for decocting such as barks, berries, and roots)
8 cups vinegar
3 cups raw honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Place the dried herb and vinegar in a pot and bring to a boil. (Be careful not to inhale the vinegar steam too much or put your face over the top of the pot!)
  • Reduce heat and allow to simmer gently until the liquid is reduced to roughly 5 cups.
  • Strain the herbs from the vinegar and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Add the honey to the herbal decoction. Mix thoroughly to combine.

[/recipe_directions]

Time to Start Brewing

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

Making an herbal oxymel is a simple and convenient herbal preparation that creates an ideal balance between vinegar and honey for supporting the immune and respiratory systems. With so many different ways to prepare an oxymel, there is a bit of room for creativity and experimentation with every batch you brew!

Get started making an oxymel today with our recipe for Homemade Fire Cider — just in time for the cool months ahead. Learn more specifics on herbal extractions through our posts How To Make An Herbal Honey and Making Herbal Vinegars.

How To Make An Oxymel | Herbal Academy | A classic but often overlooked herbal preparation, oxymels have been used for ages and are a tasty and simple herbal preparation to make.

REFERENCES

Green, J. (2000). The herbal medicine-maker’s handbook: A home manual. Berkley, CA: Crossing Press.

Hippocrates. (400 B.C.E.). On regimen in acute diseases. Retrieved from http://classics.mit.edu/Hippocrates/acutedis.html.

How to Make A Homemade Flower Essence

I never understood the potency of flower essences until I made one myself — carefully picking each beautiful, delicate flower from the plant, intentionally setting it in spring water, and placing the bowl under the sun in the center of my garden. It was a magical meditation as the golden rays of the sun penetrated the petals and my skin simultaneously. In that moment, I could feel something powerful was happening.

Often times, the best way to learn about something is through experience. That’s why, in this post, we will go over five steps you can take to make your own homemade flower essence.

The Power of a Homemade Flower Essence

A flower essence is a solar water infusion of the flowering part of a plant. This type of infusion harnesses the sun’s energy to pull beneficial properties and essences (or life force) out of the plant material and into the water.

Flower essences are primarily used to support the emotional, mental, and spiritual body, and they embody the concept of self-care. You can find out more about flower essences in our post, How To Use Flower Essences for Emotional Support.

Dr. Edward Bach discovered and created the first line of flower essences in 1935. He found that when he supported the personalities and emotions of his patients, instead of their symptoms only, their emotional upsets and bodily stresses would dissipate naturally as the body shifted back into a state of balance and began to work effectively again (The Bach Center, n.d.). Dr. Bach also believed strongly in the power of self-care and was passionate about empowering everyone to tap into their ability to support themselves and others. This is why he created a simple flower essence line.

Learning how to make a homemade flower essence can be very empowering and can help to support you in your self-care journey.

How to Make Homemade Flower Essence

How To Make A Homemade Flower Essence | Herbal Academy | Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your own homemade flower essences this year!

To make a homemade flower essence, gather the fresh blossoms of a plant you can identify as safe for human consumption. Be sure to choose a clear, sunny day to gather your blossoms, preferably in the early morning, when there may still be dew on them. The blossoms are then placed on the surface of a bowl of spring water and left outdoors in direct sunlight where they can be infused by the heat and light of the sun for several hours. This process is thought to transfer the energy pattern of the flower into the spring water, embodying the beneficial essence of the plant. This “mother essence” is preserved with brandy before being further diluted to form the “stock” bottle, which is the dosage bottle (FES Flowers, n.d.).

Below is a more detailed step-by-step breakdown of this process.

Supplies Needed:

One medium sized glass bowl
One large, clean, dark glass bottle
One or more one-ounce amber or cobalt dropper bottle(s)
Pure spring water
High-quality brandy
Labels

Step 1 – Choose Your Essence

While you may want to explore further resources on flower essences to pick the right essence for you, choosing an essence can be as simple as picking a flower that is growing in your garden or in the environment you live in that is intriguing to you. Sometimes the things we feel attracted to call to us because we could benefit from adding them into our lives. Flower essences are considered non-toxic because they contain only small traces of actual physical substance and have no direct impact upon the body’s biochemistry (FES Flowers, n.d.). However, it is still important to make and consume flower essences with care.

Safety Note: Only harvest flowers from plants that you have positively identified and know to be safe for use. Also, be sure to harvest organically grown plants and in a sustainable way.

How To Make A Homemade Flower Essence | Herbal Academy | Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your own homemade flower essences this year!

Step 2 – Harvest Flowers

Plan to make the flower essence on a clear, sunny day, when there are no clouds in the sky. It is also important to check in with yourself as preparing a flower essence can feel like a magical experience, not a mechanical one. Tune in to your mind, body, and spirit and see if you can be completely present in the moment. Make sure you are in the right place energetically to put good intention into the flower essence making process. If astrology is important to you, you may want to consider those aspects as well when choosing the day to make your homemade flower essence.

When picking the flowers to use, it’s traditionally recommended to use a leaf from the plant to cover your fingers so you don’t touch the blossoms. Try to avoid using clippers or tools. If you find this difficult, you can wear gloves instead and/or use tools if you need. This is not required, but suggested, so that your body’s energy or other sources of energy do not transfer into the flower essence.

Make sure the plant(s) you choose to pick from are organically grown. If wild crafting, choose a place where the plants grow in abundance and are not exposed to pollution from the city. Choose fresh, vibrant blossoms from the plant, and pick flowers that grow in profusion. Only pick a few blossoms from each plant to ensure the plant can live a healthy life after your harvest.

Step 3 – Prepare the Menstruum

Fill a glass bowl with spring water. If you do not have access to a spring, bottled water is okay to use. Avoid distilled water because some believe the ionization process destroys the water’s life force necessary to hold the flower’s essence.

How To Make A Homemade Flower Essence | Herbal Academy | Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your own homemade flower essences this year!

Step 4 – Infuse the Essence

Place the flowers on top of the spring water in the bowl until the entire surface of the water is covered. Place the bowl in direct sunlight where no shadows will cross over it (including your own) for three to four hours. During this time, the essence of the flowers will be infused into the water through the energy of the sun.

Step 5 – Strain & Bottle

After three to four hours, skim the flowers off of the water using a leaf from the plant if possible. The water left in the bowl is now called the “mother essence.” Pour this into a clean, amber glass bottle, filling the bottle halfway with the mother essence and halfway with brandy. The final mixture in the bottle should be half mother essence and half brandy. The brandy is used as a preservative and an anchor to hold the subtle essence vibrations in the water.

Don’t forget to label your bottle! Write mother essence, the date, ingredients, where it was made, and any other important information on the label. Store it in a cool, dark, dry place. If made well and stored correctly, mother essences and stock bottles should retain their potency for six to ten years (Devi, n.d.).

Note: Use brandy that is at least 80-proof alcohol. If you would like to avoid using alcohol, you may use apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin instead. However, it should be stored in the refrigerator, and this will shorten the shelf life to one year.

To Use Your Homemade Flower Essence

How To Make A Homemade Flower Essence | Herbal Academy | Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your own homemade flower essences this year!

The mother essence is to be diluted and never consumed directly. To dilute it, place two to ten drops of the mother essence in a one-ounce amber or cobalt bottle with a glass dropper and fill the remainder of the bottle with half brandy and half spring water. This is called a “stock” bottle. From this stock bottle, take two to four drops under the tongue, up to four times a day, as needed.

Tap Into Your Creativity

Allow yourself flexibility and freedom when creating your homemade flower essence. As mentioned before, this is believed to be a magical experience, not a mechanical one. There is no one-way to make a flower essence. The method we detailed in this post is known as the “Sun Method” of preparation. However, some herbalists enjoy making flower essences under the full moon, or during different unique and profound astrological times. Feel free to experiment and play around with things that resonate with you!

Last year, I felt inspired to make a sunflower flower essence during the solar eclipse in North America. I used big, bright sunflowers from my organic garden, placed them in spring water in direct sunlight about an hour before the eclipse began, and skimmed the flowers off about an hour after the eclipse ended. I live in Portland, Oregon, where the solar eclipse was in 97% totality, meaning that the moon almost covered the sun completely, casting many eerie but beautiful shadows in the area.

The traditional way to make a flower essence is to ensure that no shadows will go over the bowl. However, I felt like the eclipse was a very powerful energetic moment in time that I wanted to capture in my essence. I also really feel the sunflower essence embodies the solar eclipse energy of light and shadows. The essence of sunflower, Helianthus assuus, assists in balancing the light and shadow side of the self, dissolving low self-esteem in those that need it, and welcoming in light or dissolving the self-glorified ego and welcoming in loving compassion (Kaminski & Katz, 1996).

Remember

Making a homemade flower essence should be a fun, empowering activity to support your journey into herbs traditionally used for self-care and ritual. Flower essences are strengtheners of our own soul forces, enabling us to learn and grow from life’s challenges. They are not a quick fix. They are wonderful plant allies, inviting us on a transformative journey, and can be our guides along the way.

How To Make A Homemade Flower Essence | Herbal Academy | Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make your own homemade flower essences this year!

REFERENCES:

Devi, L. (n.d.). The essential flower essence handbook. Retrieved from http://spirit-in-nature.com/learn-more/the-free-online-essential-flower-essence-handbook

FES Flowers, (n.d.). Frequently asked questions about flower essences. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://fesflowers.com/files/1714/2678/9743/FAQ.pdf

Kaminski, P., & Katz, R. (1996). Flower essence repertory: A comprehensive guide to North American and English flower essences for emotional and spiritual well-being. Nevada City, CA: Flower Essence Society.

The Bach Center, (n.d.). Our founder, Dr. Edward Bach. [Web Page]. Retrieved from https://www.bachcentre.com/centre/drbach.htm

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

Have you ever pulled an older herbal salve out of your bathroom cabinet and wondered if it was still effective? Or perhaps you’ve thought about making a large batch of herbal tea to store in the refrigerator and drink over the course of several days, later second guessing yourself because you weren’t sure how many days the tea would remain drinkable. What about the hydrosol that’s been sitting in the back of your refrigerator that now has a little white cloud floating in the bottom of it?

Questions about herbal preparation shelf-life are common, and while shelf-life and preparation potency will vary based on several factors such as the solvent used to make the preparation, how the preparation is made, stored, and used, and time itself, having a guideline can be helpful, especially if you’re new to making herbal preparations.

In this post we’re sharing some basic guidelines on herbal preparation shelf-life. We’ve even made a free printable for you so you can have these guidelines handy in one place. Feel free to download, print, and store this chart in your herbal journal or on the inside of your bathroom cabinet (or wherever you store the majority of your herbal preparations) so you can easily reference it the next time you have a question about herbal preparation shelf-life!

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

How Solvents Affect Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life

Solvents are the menstruums used to extract the properties of herbs. Oil, alcohol, water, glycerin, vinegar, and honey are all examples of commonly used solvents. All solvents have a recommended shelf-life, and these recommendations determine the starting point of the shelf-life of your herbal preparation. The shelf-life of substances all vary based on how long it takes for microbes to grow in them, or in the case of oil, how long it takes for oxidation (rancidity) to occur. We’ll discuss the shelf-life of some common herbal solvents below.

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

Water-Based Preparations

Water-based herbal preparations are those that are comprised mostly of water. While teas, infusions, and decoctions may be the first preparations that come to mind, compresses, fomentations, hydrosols, and poultices fall into this category as well.

Because microbes multiply in water rather quickly, it’s recommended to use water-based preparations almost immediately. Refrigeration and freezing can help to extend shelf-life of these herbal preparations.

We recommend using poultices and refrigerated herbal teas and infusions within 24 hours and refrigerated decoctions within 48 hours. Steeped herbal compresses and fomentations have a shelf-life of 24 hours; however, those that are decocted can be refrigerated for 48 hours. Steam-distilled hydrosols are believed to have a shelf-life of 12-24 months (Jacobson, 2015) depending on the botanical used, its pH, and distillation and storage conditions (Robbins, n.d.).

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

Oil-Based Preparations

Oil-based herbal preparations are those that are comprised mostly of lipids, such as herbal salves and infused oils.

While microbes can multiply in oil once contaminated, microbes are not the main threat to the shelf-life of oil-based herbal preparations — it’s oxidation (rancidity). Oil rancidity naturally occurs with time, and can also occur due to improper storage and usage. We’ll discuss these three factors that affect herbal preparation shelf life later in this article. Water is another substance that can impact the shelf-life of herbal infused oils as it can lead to microbe growth within your oil. While this is normally not an issue if dry herbs are used, it is a concern for herbal oil infusions made with fresh herbs.

The shelf-life of oil-based preparations made with dried herbs varies greatly depending on the oil you choose, therefore, herbal infused oils and salves have a shelf-life that ranges from 6 months to 3 years. For infused oils that oxidize easily, you can add antioxidant products like vitamin E and rosemary oil extract to help extend shelf-life a little longer as these products have been shown to slow the process of oxidation (Riaz & Rokey, 2012).

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

Alcohol-Based Preparations

Alcohol-based herbal preparations are those that use some form of alcohol as the solvent. Herbal tinctures and herbal liniments are both considered alcohol-based preparations even though two different types of alcohol are used (ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol, respectively).

Alcohol preparations have a long shelf-life as alcohol slows decomposition of materials (Green, 2000) and bacterial growth, thus, increasing herbal preparation shelf-life, but for alcohol to properly preserve a tincture, the final alcohol percentage should be at least 25%. Herbal tinctures and liniments made using the appropriate amount of alcohol are shelf-stable and do not need to be refrigerated.

We recommend using alcohol-based herbal tinctures within two years. However, some alcohol tinctures and liniments have a shelf-life of 3-5 years, particularly those made with a high percentage of alcohol. Shelf-life can be extended with proper storage and usage as well as by thoroughly filtering the tincture to remove as much plant sediment as possible (Green, 2000).

Vinegar-Based Preparations

Vinegar-based herbal preparations are those that use vinegar as a solvent. Herbal vinegar tinctures are preparations that fit into this category.

Vinegar has long been used as a food preservative and natural household cleaner due to its acidity, which inhibits the growth of certain bacteria (Entani, Asai, Tsujihata, Tsukamoto, & Ohta, 1998; Rutala, Barbee, Aguiar, Sobsey, & Weber, 2000).

We recommend using vinegar-based herbal preparations within six months. Vinegar preparations in general are shelf-stable when made with no less than 5% vinegar (Cech, 2000; Green, 2000) and do not need to be refrigerated, although, refrigeration can help extend shelf-life. Like alcohol tinctures, vinegar tincture shelf-life can also be extended by thoroughly filtering plant sediment from the liquid.

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

Sugar-Based Preparations

Sugar-based herbal preparations are those that are made with some form of sugar, whether that be cane sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Herbal honeys, electuaries, and lozenges are all examples of sugar-based preparations.

Sugar has been used for many years as a food preservative. Like alcohol, sugar inhibits bacterial growth through its osmotic effect of drawing water out of the cells of foods and microorganisms so that microorganisms can no longer survive; the higher the sugar concentration, the better its preservative effects (ACS Distance Education, n.d.).

Herbal honey made with dried herbs has a shelf-life of one year, is shelf-stable, and will not require refrigeration. Electuaries, because they use powdered herbs, have a shelf-life of 6-12 months when refrigerated and used properly. We recommend using herbal lozenges within six months when stored properly.

Glycerin, while sweet, is not a true sugar, but we’re including glycerites in this section based on taste alone. Herbal glycerites are shelf-stable, do not require refrigeration, and have a shelf-life of one year when they contain at least 55% glycerin (Cech, 2000).

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

Dry or Powdered Preparations

Dry or powdered preparations are those that utilize dried or powdered herbs in the majority of the product. Loose powdered herbs, capsules, and pastilles are examples of herbal preparations that fall into this category.

Under appropriate storage conditions, dried herbs can retain their potency for 1-2 years. However, once an herb is powdered, the properties begin to degrade at an even faster rate, cutting shelf-life in half (Kress, 1997). For this reason, we recommend using powdered herbs within 6-12 months. Proper storage and refrigerating or even freezing powdered herbs can help to extend herbal preparation shelf-life by a couple of months.

Capsules have a one-year shelf life when stored properly. We recommend using refrigerated pastilles within six months.

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

Mixed-Solvent Preparations

Mixed-solvent preparations are those that contain two or more types of solvents. Herbal syrups (water and honey), creams and lotions (oil and water), oxymels (honey and vinegar), and elixirs (alcohol and honey) are some preparations that fit into this category.

When creating preparations with mixed solvents, it’s important to know the recommended shelf-life of each solvent and to estimate your preparation’s shelf-life based on that information.

When it comes to herbal syrups, plan on using refrigerated 2:1 (decoction:sugar) syrups within several weeks (Gladstar, 2012), while a refrigerated 1:2 syrup can remain shelf-stable for up to a year (Cech, 2000). Oxymels should be refrigerated and used within six months when made with fresh plant material (Andress & Harrison, 2000); however, when made with dried material, they are shelf-stable and should be used within 1 year. Elixirs can remain shelf-stable for 1-2 years. Creams and lotions, when refrigerated, will have a shelf-life of 1-2 weeks unless some form of preservative is added (Berry, 2016).

How Manufacturing Affects Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life

Don’t let the word manufacturing confuse you into thinking this section is only for herbal businesses who sell their products to the public. It isn’t! This information also applies to home herbalists who make products to use with their families or give them away to friends.

When making herbal preparations, you want to be mindful that you are working in a clean environment and with clean materials. The cleaner your hands, surfaces, and utensils are, the less chance for bacterial contamination of your herbal preparation. Using dry herbs as opposed to fresh herbs can help decrease the chance of bacterial growth due to the presence of water in fresh plant material. Avoiding overheating of herbal preparations, particularly herbal infused oils, can increase the chance of oxidation. Also, when storing any liquid preparation for an extended period of time, shelf-life can be extended by straining the liquid through a coffee filter several times to thoroughly remove plant sediment (Green, 2000).

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

How Storage Affects Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life

Storage also affects herbal preparation shelf-life in regards to the effectiveness of the preparation. Like herbs, herbal preparations should be stored out of direct sunlight, in a dry place free from moisture, and in a cool environment (not above 110 degrees) as light, moisture, and heat are all thought to reduce the effectiveness of the herbal properties contained in the preparation.

Refrigeration (below 40° Fahrenheit) can also help to extend the shelf-life of herbal products as bacteria grow more slowly in cold environments (United States Department of Agriculture, n.d.).

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

How Usage Affects Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life

How an herbal preparation is used day in and day out will also be a determining factor when considering shelf-life. The cleaner you can keep the preparation by minimizing the chance of microbial contamination, the longer the shelf-life will be. For example, using your finger to scoop salve out of a tin is less sanitary than using a cotton swab, and dropping drops of tincture directly into your mouth is less sanitary than adding drops of a tincture into a small amount of water to drink.

How Time Affects Herbal Preparation Potency

Time affects all herbal preparations in terms of potency and effectiveness. The more time that passes, the less potent the preparation becomes. As soon as a plant is harvested, it and its properties begin to fade. Solvents can help extract and preserve a plant’s properties for a time, but effectiveness naturally wanes as time passes.

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

Use Your Senses To Tell When An Herbal Preparation Has Gone Bad

In this post and in the printable below, we’ve tried to be conservative with our recommendations for herbal preparation shelf-life. However, there is wiggle room when it comes to the shelf-life of various herbal preparations. Using your five senses can help guide you as to whether something has gone bad.

Think back to how your preparation looked, smelled, tasted, or felt when you first made it. Compare that to how it looks, smells, tastes, or feels now.

Does it look different from when you first made it? Has the color changed? Do you see cloudy matter floating in the liquid? Is there mold growing on the surface?

Does it smell different? Most freshly made herbal preparations will have an herby scent, smelling similar to the herb itself, or a scent reflecting the solvent used (tinctures smelling like alcohol, oxymels smelling like vinegar).

Does it taste strange? Perhaps a little sour, fizzy, or alcoholic when it was once sweet or savory?

Does it feel different? Is it gooey or slimy feeling? Has it gone from smooth to grainy?

Using your senses can help you to guess whether an herbal preparation is past its prime and should be remade. Remember to err on the side of caution, and don’t forget to label your preparations!

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

Guidelines Are Just That

Remember, guidelines are not a set of hard rules to follow. They’re suggestions, and like we mentioned earlier, our suggested guidelines err on the side of safety.

The more you make and use herbal preparations, the more confident and comfortable you’ll become with the process. In fact, you’ll most likely develop your own system for making preparations. This system will help you to keep track of when your preparations are past their prime and ready to be replaced whether that’s through tracking dates, using your senses, or your own intuition.

Download Our Free Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life Graphic Below

If you’ve enjoyed the information in this post and would like to keep it in an easy to recall format, we’d love for you to download this free printable below.

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

Click To Download

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What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf-Life | Herbal Academy | Ever wondered if an herbal preparation from the back of your cabinet was still effective? Learn all about herbal preparation shelf-life in today's post.

REFERENCES:

Andress, E.L., & Harrison, J.A. (2000). Preserving food: Flavoring vinegars. [PDF]. Retrieved from https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/uga_flavored_vinegars.pdf

ASC Distance Education. (n.d.). Sugar in food preservation. [Online article]. Retrieved from https://www.acsedu.co.uk/Info/Alternative-Living/Self-Sufficiency/Sugar-in-Food-Preserving.aspx

Berry, J. (2016). 101 easy homemade products for your skin, health & home. Salem, MA: Page Street Publishing Co.

Cech, R. (2000). Making plant medicine. Williams, OR: Horizon Herbs.

Entani, E., Asai, M., Tsujihata, S., Tsukamoto, Y., & Ohta, M. (1998). Antibacterial action of vinegar against food-borne pathogenic bacteria including Escherichia coli O157:H7. Journal of Food Protection, 61(8), 953-959. doi:10.4315/0362-028x-61.8.953

Gladstar, R. (2012). Rosemary Gladstar’s medicinal herbs. North Adams, MA: Story Publishing.

Green, J. (2000). The herbal medicine-maker’s handbook: A home manual. New York, NY: Random House.

Jacobson, L. (2015). Hydrosols, hydrolats, aromatic waters – oh my! Everything you wanted to know about hydrosols. [Online article]. Retrieved from http://www.usingeossafely.com/hydrosols-hydrolats-aromatic-waters-oh-my-everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-hydrosols/

Kress, H. (1997). Shelf life of dried plants. [Web page]. Retrieved from https://www.henriettes-herb.com/archives/best/1997/shelf-life.html

Riaz, M.N., & Rokey, G.J. (2012). Extrusion problems solved: Food, pet food and feed. Philadelphia, PA: Woodhead Publishing.

Rutala, W. A., Barbee, S. L., Aguiar, N. C., Sobsey, M. D., & Weber, D. J. (2000). Antimicrobial activity of home disinfectants and natural products against potential human pathogens. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 21(1), 33-38. doi:10.1086/501694

Robbins, W. (n.d.). Hydrosol shelf life and storage tips. [Online article]. Retrieved from https://www.aromaweb.com/hydrosols/hydrosol-storage-tips.asp

United States Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Refrigeration and food safety. [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/PDF/Refrigeration_and_Food_Safety.pdf