Strawberry Basil Infusion: A Last Taste of Summer

Strawberry Basil Infusion: A Last Taste of Summer | Herbal Academy | Enjoy the last taste of summer with this delicious and simple Strawberry Basil Infusion. It's a perfect fit for those final days of summer!

Who says tea always needs to be sipped hot?

Infusions, like the one below, are a great way to rejuvenate your body after a hot day in the sun while also imparting the flavors and benefits of these hydrating summer edibles!

August is a busy time of the year! Harvests are gathered and prepared for the upcoming cool days, and students get ready to head back to school. Here at the Herbal Academy, we are preparing for back to school season, too — welcoming new students throughout the next month! It is a time to return to our education — even as adults! While the August days continue to be hot and humid, the colors of summer are just starting to fade into deep browns, oranges, and golds.

Now is the time to soak in these last days of summer with a tasty, refreshing drink. Herbs help us celebrate and bring their colors, flavors, and health benefits along with them. Cheers to the final days of summer, the last grill outs, and family vacations!

As summer fades into fall, we are celebrating with a delightfully refreshing Strawberry Basil Infusion. This recipe can be found in our free Herbal Tea Throughout the Seasons Ebook.

Strawberry Basil Infusion: A Last Taste of Summer | Herbal Academy | Enjoy the last taste of summer with this delicious and simple Strawberry Basil Infusion. It's a perfect fit for those final days of summer!

Strawberry Basil Infusion

Serves 4

[recipe_ingredients]

1 small organic cucumber
5 large organic strawberries
6 fresh basil leaves

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Begin by washing all ingredients in cool water.
  • Next, slice cucumbers and strawberries into thin slices and cut basil leaves into thin strips.  
  • Place all ingredients into a quart-size wide mouth Mason jar. Cover with filtered or sparkling water and stir.  
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes before pouring yourself a tall glass. Feel free to leave the ingredients in as you sip.

[/recipe_directions]

Get 11 more seasonal herbal tea recipes in our free ebook, Herbal Teas Throughout The Season, right here: theherbalacademy.com/download-free-ebook-herbal-teas-throughout-seasons.

Strawberry Basil Infusion: A Last Taste of Summer | Herbal Academy | Enjoy the last taste of summer with this delicious and simple Strawberry Basil Infusion. It's a perfect fit for those final days of summer!

3 Steps for an Herbal-Infused Pedicure for Beautiful Nails and Soft Feet

3 Steps for an Herbal-Infused Pedicure for Beautiful Nails and Soft Feet | Herbal Academy | Enjoy some self-care and pampering with this 3-step herbal infused pedicure — a perfect way to get your feet soft, beautiful, and “summer ready.”

Do you live in a warm climate and sport sandals daily or tread often in bare feet? Regardless of the climate you live in or the frequency with which you walk barefoot, your feet can easily become tired and worn. Don’t neglect the bottom of your soles, heels, or nails! Each can truly benefit from a monthly herbal-infused pedicure.

Unfortunately, a trip to the spa for a pedicure isn’t always the best (or cheapest) option. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that outbreaks of skin infections on the legs and feet of patrons following spa pedicures have caused concern about spa safety, as microorganisms in foot spas can enter through the skin (Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.). Due to these risks, I often turn to an all-natural, three-step herbal-infused pedicure at home to support beautiful, strong nails and soft soles.

Herbs and Essential Oils Recommended for Nails

3 Steps for an Herbal-Infused Pedicure for Beautiful Nails and Soft Feet | Herbal Academy | Enjoy some self-care and pampering with this 3-step herbal infused pedicure — a perfect way to get your feet soft, beautiful, and “summer ready.”

What herbs and essential oils help support healthy and strong nails?

The following herbs and essential oils are lovely to use in homemade recipes for nails. Each can be applied to nails by adding 1 to 2 drops of the essential oil to 1 teaspoon of fractionated coconut oil or used fresh from the herb in a foot soak or scrub.  

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)

Eucalyptus globulus comes from the large, aromatic eucalyptus trees of the Myrtaceae family. The tree’s leaves are steam distilled to produce the earthy, fresh oil that is popular in personal care products and spa treatments. It is one my favorites to use for the feet, as it lends an invigorating tingle. The clean scent of eucalyptus can also be effective against stinky foot odors.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

This beautiful and fragrant perennial is loved by bees and humans alike. Likely one of the most popular herbs (and my most favorite), lavender is highly versatile. From skin care products to relaxing routines, this herb can infuse many areas of your life with its benefits. Lavender has antiseptic and antibacterial properties that make it quite beneficial for skin and nails (Foster, 1993). Plus, it has an amazing soft floral scent that promotes relaxation acting as a mild sedative (Edwards, 2000). You can’t go wrong by including fresh or dried lavender in a herbal-infused pedicure routine!

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary is a rather good-sized herb, similar to a woody bush. Its natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties make it a great addition to homemade skincare recipes for the feet (McIntyre, 1996). I love to combine it with lemon, peppermint, or lavender for lovely fresh scent. Rosemary helps to stimulate blood flow in the skin, which is great for tired feet and legs (McIntyre, 1996)!

3 Steps for an Herbal-Infused Pedicure for Beautiful Nails and Soft Feet | Herbal Academy | Enjoy some self-care and pampering with this 3-step herbal infused pedicure — a perfect way to get your feet soft, beautiful, and “summer ready.”

3 Steps for an Herbal-Infused Pedicure for Beautiful Nails and Soft Feet | Herbal Academy | Enjoy some self-care and pampering with this 3-step herbal infused pedicure — a perfect way to get your feet soft, beautiful, and “summer ready.”

3 Steps for an Herbal-Infused Pedicure

Step 1: Soak & Trim

Start by pouring the contents of an herbal-infused pedicure soak (recipe below) into a large basin or fill the bathtub with a few inches of warm to hot water. Find a comfy seat and soak your feet in the herbal mixture for 10 to 15 minutes. I like to read a book or magazine while my feet are soaking. The warm water and herbs will help soften your feet and nails, making it easier to trim your nails. After soaking, pat your feet dry on a towel, then trim and file nails in a rounded shape that follows the shape of the nail bed.

3 Steps for an Herbal-Infused Pedicure for Beautiful Nails and Soft Feet | Herbal Academy | Enjoy some self-care and pampering with this 3-step herbal infused pedicure — a perfect way to get your feet soft, beautiful, and “summer ready.”

Herbal-Infused Pedicure Soak

[recipe_ingredients]

4 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh or dried lavender buds
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh lemon peel zest
4 drops eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus essential oil
1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
1/4 cup Epsom salts

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Heat water over the stove top until a soft simmer begins, then remove from heat and add herbs. Cover with a lid and let steep for 10-15 minutes.
  • Strain herbal-infused water and set aside.
  • Combine 4 drops of eucalyptus essential oil with sweet almond oil and mix into Epsom salts. Add this mixture to the herbal-infused water.
  • Add to herbal-infused pedicure soak to a basin or bath and use immediately. Enjoy!

[/recipe_directions]

Step 2: Scrub & Exfoliate

After soaking your feet and trimming your nails, it’s time to exfoliate with Citrus Rosemary Foot Scrub. Scoop a small amount of foot scrub into your hand. Massage into your feet using small, circular motions, and be sure to include the cuticles! Next, wrap each foot in a warm, damp hand towel and allow to soak for 5 to 10 minutes to reap all the herbal benefits.

Citrus Rosemary Foot Scrub

[recipe_ingredients]

1/4 cup pink Himalayan salt, coarse
1 cup sea salt, fine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 drops rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1/8 cup coconut oil, fractionated
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon lemon peel zest
2 tablespoons grapefruit peel zest

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Combine 1/4 cup pink Himalayan salt and 1 cup sea salt in a medium-sized glass mixing bowl. While stirring, add in lemon juice and grapefruit juice. In a small bowl, combine fractionated coconut oil and rosemary essential oil. Then, add this to the salt mixture and stir until combined thoroughly.
  • Chop or tear a fresh sprig of rosemary and add to the scrub along with lemon peel zest and grapefruit peel zest. Stir once more to combine and follow the steps above to use.
  • Store excess foot scrub in an airtight container and use within a week or two.

[/recipe_directions]

Remove the damp towels from your feet and wipe away the foot scrub. Rinse with water and pat dry. Cutting cuticles is not recommended, as it can put you at risk for infections and ingrown nails. Yuck! Instead, use an orangewood stick to gently push cuticles back from the face of the nail.

Step 3: Replenish & Moisturize

To nourish the nail and cuticles, apply a small amount of replenishing cuticle oil from the recipe below onto each cuticle. Rub the oil into the cuticles and nail beds. Use up to three times a week as needed for dry, cracking cuticles and nails.

3 Steps for an Herbal-Infused Pedicure for Beautiful Nails and Soft Feet | Herbal Academy | Enjoy some self-care and pampering with this 3-step herbal infused pedicure — a perfect way to get your feet soft, beautiful, and “summer ready.”

Replenishing Cuticle Oil

[recipe_ingredients]

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon vegetable glycerine
1 teaspoon jojoba oil
6 drops of lavender, Lavandula angustifolia essential oil
4 drops of lemon, Citrus x limon essential oil
2 drops of rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil
1-ounce glass dropper bottle

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Using a funnel, add 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerine, and 1 teaspoon jojoba oil to a glass dropper bottle.
  • Remove the funnel and add the essential oils.
  • Place the dropper on the bottle and give it a shake to combine.
  • Apply using the instructions above.

[/recipe_directions]

Following the cuticle oil treatment, buff each nail and apply a moisturizer to your feet such as my recipe for a green tea body butter or texas cedarwood lotion. Repeat these three steps for an herbal-infused pedicure monthly or whenever you make time for self-care.

Whether you’re treading barefoot or just taking time to a little time for yourself I hope you find these methods for an herbal-infused pedicure useful. I know what a difference a little “me time” can make. And taking care of our feet at home sans the spa is so affordable you can enjoy a pedicure anytime!  

3 Steps for an Herbal-Infused Pedicure for Beautiful Nails and Soft Feet | Herbal Academy | Enjoy some self-care and pampering with this 3-step herbal infused pedicure — a perfect way to get your feet soft, beautiful, and “summer ready.”

REFERENCES:

Edwards, G. (2000). Opening our wild hearts to the healing herbs. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing.

Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Preventing pedicure foot spa infections. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/preventing-pedicure-foot-spa-infections

Foster, S. (1993). Herbal renaissance. Layton, UT: Peregrine Smith Books.

McIntyre, A. (1996). Flower power. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, Inc.

How To Make DIY Herbal Culinary Salts

How To Make DIY Herbal Culinary Salts | Herbal Academy | Start stepping up the game at mealtime by making your very own DIY herbal culinary salts. They are incredibly easy to prepare and delightful to use!

So many recipes instruct you to “add salt and pepper to taste” or “finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.” But what if we could add herbs with every finishing touch? And what if this practice made the flavor of our dishes all the more complex and delightful? Herbal culinary salts are incredibly easy to prepare and widely underused! In this article, I’ll share all the basics that you’ll need to know to make your own DIY herbal culinary salts and start stepping up your game at mealtime.

2 Steps To Making Your Own Herbal Culinary Salts

1. Picking Your Salt

Before we dive into the herbal details, first consider the base of your blend: salt! Depending on the type of salt you use, the flavor and nutrient profile of your blend could vary substantially. Although traditional white sea salt is always a great and simple go-to, consider the different properties, benefits, and flavors that other types of sea salts have to offer as well.

How To Make DIY Herbal Culinary Salts | Herbal Academy | Start stepping up the game at mealtime by making your very own DIY herbal culinary salts. They are incredibly easy to prepare and delightful to use!

Here are some details on a few of the more commonly found varieties:

Himalayan Pink

The color hues of this sea salt range from light pink to dusky rose to deep red. Formed about 600 million years ago when a great inland sea evaporated, Himalayan Pink salt’s gorgeous palette comes from a variety of trace minerals including iron, magnesium, copper, and potassium, among others, which have been trapped in the salt crystal matrix (Bitterman, 2013).

Celtic Gray

Celtic gray sea salt is blue-gray in color and carries a distinctly mineral-rich flavor. Derived from Brittany, France, this salt gets its distinct color from the earthen clay from which it is harvested. Its traditional uses in cooking range from finishing on savory dishes to being finely ground and added to baked treats to create a “richness” in other flavors (Bitterman, 2010).

Black Hawaiian

Jet black in color, black Hawaiian sea salt actually gets its unique hue from activated charcoal added during or after the drying process is complete. Although it is traditionally derived through evaporation over volcanic soils (hence its other common names, “volcanic” or “lava” salt), this aspect does not impact the color of the sea salt (Bitterman, 2010). The flavor is earthy and slightly tannic.

How To Make DIY Herbal Culinary Salts | Herbal Academy | Start stepping up the game at mealtime by making your very own DIY herbal culinary salts. They are incredibly easy to prepare and delightful to use!

Fleur de sel

Translated as “flower of the salt,” this unique sea salt is made by evaporating saline water in the open air with energy from the wind and sun (Bitterman, 2010). Since these salts already have a high about of moisture in them, the crystals are able to resist instantly dissolving when sprinkled over a plate of steaming food. This means that the flavor profile will be more pronounced and the salt will maintain a slight crunchiness.

Red Hawaiian

There are several different types of red Hawaiian sea salt ranging from brick red to pale or dark salmon in color. As the red color implies, red Hawaiian sea salts are rich in iron. Like black Hawaiian sea salt, the color is not derived from the salt itself but from the red volcanic clay, called Alaea, that is mixed with the salt during natural evaporation in tidal pools. The flavor of these salts is oceanic with a mineral undertone (Bitterman, 2010).  

Persian Blue

The pale sky blue color of Persian blue sea salt alludes to its mild, silky, and slightly sweet flavors. Although it is rich in trace minerals, its distinctly blue color is derived from the natural compression of the salt over long periods of time. Considered one of the more rare sea salts available on the market, Persian blue sea salt also carries a high price tag (Bitterman, 2010).

Smoked

While smoked sea salt does not lend any additional nutritional content, the smoky flavor is rich, distinct, and favored by chefs all over the world. The process of smoking sea salt is typically done over hot coals at a low temperature. Through this process, the salt takes on a slightly tan or gray color (Bitterman, 2010).

2. Herbal Inspiration

After considering your sea salt base, it’s time to choose your herbs! You can formulate the herbal portion of your culinary salt blend using the tips in my article How To Build A Nutritive Tea in a similar way. Let me encourage you to stay creative as you create your formula as you know your own palette best!

How To Make DIY Herbal Culinary Salts | Herbal Academy | Start stepping up the game at mealtime by making your very own DIY herbal culinary salts. They are incredibly easy to prepare and delightful to use!

Here is a list of herbal pairings and simples you can use or draw inspiration from:

  • Nettles (Urtica dioica)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), oregano (Origanum vulgare), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and sage (Salvia spp.)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
  • Moringa (Moringa oleifera) and spirulina (Arthrospira platensis)
  • Dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinale) (pairs well with nutritional yeast too!)
  • Blend of different algaes and seaweeds such as bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), nori flakes (Porphyra umbilicalis), bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus), etc.
  • Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) and spearmint (Mentha spicata)
  • Juniper berries (Juniperus communis), rosemary, and sage
  • Fennel seeds (Foeniculum vulgare), chopped ginger (Zingiber officinale), lemon peel (Citrus limon), coriander (Coriandrum sativum), and caraway (Carum carvi)
  • Rose petals (Rosa spp.)

How To Make DIY Herbal Culinary Salts | Herbal Academy | Start stepping up the game at mealtime by making your very own DIY herbal culinary salts. They are incredibly easy to prepare and delightful to use!

DIY Herbal Culinary Salt Tips

Building your own herbal culinary salt is a fairly intuitive process but having a couple tricks up your sleeve can make things a lot easier.

  • Start With Less Salt: Herbal culinary salts are a great way to cut back on your salt intake without compromising flavor in your favorite dishes. When preparing your blend, a general ratio to guide your blend is 1 part powdered or roughly ground dried herb to ½ – 1 part sea salt. When you are first blending your mixture, use approximately ⅓ part sea salt to start then taste and adjust the amount of salt as desired. Remember: you cannot take salt out of the mix once you have already added it in, but you can add more to taste!
  • Pick An Herbal Focus: A great idea when you are deciding which herbs to use for your DIY herbal culinary salts is to pick an herbal focus. This could be an herbal action such as nutritive boost, digestion support, or inflammation soothing. You could also focus your formula on a certain color such as the emerald green salt blend recipe below.
  • Use Fresh Or Dry Herbs: You can use either fresh or dry herbs when making your DIY herbal culinary salts! Read the two recipes below to learn two different methods of preparing herbal culinary salts, then apply those techniques with your own herbal and sea salt formula. Shelf life should stay about the same regardless of whether you choose to use fresh or dry herbs.
  • Mix & Match Your Salts: If you are intrigued by several different types of sea salts, feel free to mix and match your salts together in one batch! Or divide your recipe in half and use half with one type of salt, half with the other.
  • Experiment With Different Consistencies: You can play around by blending your herbs and salts either together or individually. Both your herbs and salts can be left on the roughly chopped and “coarse” end of the texture spectrum, or can be finely powdered and added to a shaker.
  • Stay Curious & Creative: With most at-home herbal experimentation, it’s a good idea to stay curious about how things will turn out! If the herbs you chose don’t end up pairing as well as you thought they would, take note, then consider if there is any way you could amend your formula to make it more balanced and palatable. At the same time, don’t be afraid to try those seemingly wild pairings you’ve been dreaming of, too! Stay creative with your herbal culinary salt preparations. Make smaller batches at first as you are experimenting and refining your recipes so there is less waste involved if one formula cannot be re-balanced.

How To Make DIY Herbal Culinary Salts | Herbal Academy | Start stepping up the game at mealtime by making your very own DIY herbal culinary salts. They are incredibly easy to prepare and delightful to use!

2 DIY Herbal Culinary Salt Recipes To Try

Need a little inspiration to get started? Here are two different methods and recipes to make your own DIY herbal culinary salts at home.

Emerald Salt Blend

Recipe adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs.

[recipe_ingredients]

1 part dried nettle leaf or seeds
2 parts dried rosemary leaf
1 part dried alfalfa (Medicago farfara) or oatstraw (Avena sativa)
1 part dried thyme or oregano leaf
½ part coarse Himalayan pink or Celtic gray sea salt

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Measure the amount of each herb (each “part” could be a teaspoon, tablespoon, cup, etc.) and in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder, powder each herb individually before combining all of the herbs in a bowl.
  • Use a measuring cup, spoons, or kitchen scale to measure the quantity of the herbal mixture. Divide this measurement in half. The result is the amount of sea salt you will add to your recipe. (For instance, if you end up with about ½ cup of powdered herbs, then you will need about ¼ cup of sea salt.)
  • Combine the sea salt with the herbal powder mixture.
  • Add this mixture back to the grinder and pulse so the herbal powder and salt granules are well combined. You can leave the salt blend on the coarser side or finely grind it, depending on your preference.
  • Pour the mixture into an airtight glass container, a salt grinder, or a salt shaker.

[/recipe_directions]

Lemon-White Sage Finishing Salts

Recipe adapted from The Healing Kitchen by Holly Bellebuono

[recipe_ingredients]

1 handful of whole fresh sage (Salvia spp.) leaves (use any variety of your choice)
1 cup coarse pink Himalayan sea salt
2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon zest

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well combined.
  • Option 1: Lay the mixture out to dry on a tray or baking sheet with good airflow for 2 to 4 days. Placing your tray under a ceiling fan is ideal if possible. The salt quickens the drying process while absorbs the flavor of the herbs along with the moisture (Bellebuono, 2016).
  • Option 2: For faster drying, use the oven method. Turn on your oven and heat to the lowest setting. Pour the mixture on a baking sheet and spread evenly. Put the baking sheet in the oven, keeping the door open slightly with a prop if needed (such as a wooden spoon with a long handle). Let the mixture heat for a couple hours, stirring frequently. The herbs should be dry and crisp when they are ready. Take the baking sheet out of the oven, leaving it to cool completely. (Note that although this method is faster, some of the essential oils in the herbs will evaporate, which reduces the overall flavor and aroma.)
  • Once the mixture is dried, you have the option to grind your herbal culinary salts in a coffee or herb grinder before storing to reach your desired consistency.
  • Store your herbal culinary salts in an airtight glass jar and use as needed on your favorite dishes!

[/recipe_directions]

Time To Get Blending!

Are you feeling inspired to try your hand at blending your own DIY herbal culinary salts? With an abundance of different sea salt and herbal options, the possibilities are endless!

Looking to try herbal salt-blending experience in body care recipes? Check out our posts on Tips For Creating A DIY Floral Body Polish and DIY Lavender Bath Salts.

How To Make DIY Herbal Culinary Salts | Herbal Academy | Start stepping up the game at mealtime by making your very own DIY herbal culinary salts. They are incredibly easy to prepare and delightful to use!

REFERENCES

Bitterman, M. (2010). Salted: A manifesto on the world’s most essential mineral, with recipes. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group.

Bitterman, M. (2013). Salt block cooking: 70 recipes for grilling, chilling, searing, and serving on himalayan salt blocks. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing.

How To Make Vegan Herbal Syrups

How To Make Vegan Herbal Syrup | Herbal Academy | If you’re a vegan and you’re interested in making vegan herbal syrups, you’ll find several alternatives to honey detailed in this article.

Herbal syrups are a common herbal preparation. Not only are they easy to make and tasty to use, but they require minimal ingredients that can be found in most homes. Other than herbs, all that’s needed to make herbal syrups are water and some form of sweetener. Many herbalists prefer to use raw honey to sweeten their syrups, not only because it has a great flavor but because it adds its own health benefits to the syrup.

But what about herbalists who are vegan or those who choose not to use animal products? What do they use to make vegan herbal syrups?

Many vegans consider any product that comes from a bee to be off limits. When it comes to making homemade herbal syrups in which honey is commonly used, many vegans are looking for an alternative — a honey substitute.

If you’re a vegan and you’re interested in making vegan herbal syrups, you’ll find several alternatives to honey detailed in the article below.

But First, A Note On Sugar Consumption

How To Make Vegan Herbal Syrup | Herbal Academy | If you’re a vegan and you’re interested in making vegan herbal syrups, you’ll find several alternatives to honey detailed in this article.

While researching honey alternatives for this article, I kept coming across repeated information about sugars and how they negatively impact one’s health. However, various types of sweeteners have been used for hundreds of years in herbal preparations without any report of negative effects on health.

While I’m not here to disagree with the fact that sugar is sugar and excess sugar consumption has a negative effect on the body — I would like to note that consuming sugars in herbal syrups is a bit different than consuming sugar from food sources simply due to quantity.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women, 9 teaspoons for men, and between 3-6 teaspoons (depending on age and caloric needs) for children (Johnson et al., 2009). The average dosage for most herbal syrups is a teaspoon or less for a 150-pound adult — less for children. While the majority of negative health effects from sugar stem from over-consumption or consuming sugars high in fructose, small doses of sugar from herbal preparations seem unlikely to impact one’s health in a negative way when used occasionally.

With that said, if you’re concerned about sugar’s negative effects on health, going with a sugar-substitute that is gentle on your blood glucose, gut, and liver and keeping your intake a low as possible is your best bet.

4 Honey Alternatives for Making Vegan Herbal Syrups

How To Make Vegan Herbal Syrup | Herbal Academy | If you’re a vegan and you’re interested in making vegan herbal syrups, you’ll find several alternatives to honey detailed in this article.

There are many alternatives for making traditional herbal syrups into vegan herbal syrups. Below, are several honey alternatives to consider, but keep in mind, this list is not comprehensive list by any means.

Keep in mind that the honey alternatives mentioned below vary in their degree of benefit to health so it’s important that you look into any you’re interested in using to make vegan herbal syrups more closely to see if it’s a good choice for you. Some of the sugars listed below contain nutrients; however, a large amount of these sweeteners must be eaten in order to obtain a significant amount of the nutrients. Obviously, this leads to too much sugar in the diet and isn’t recommended.

1. Vegetable-Sourced Glycerin

Glycerin is a thick liquid that is colorless and odorless. It is sweet to taste, soluble in water, and is metabolized in the liver (Lundquist, Tygstrup, Winkler, & Jensen, 1965), therefore, doesn’t cause insulin spikes like other sugars (carbohydrates) (Harvard School of Public Health, n.d.). While it doesn’t have significant health benefits, it also has minimal negative side effects, although large amounts of glycerin can increase fluid loss, leading to eventual dehydration (PubMed Health, 2018). Glycerin can replace honey in an herbal syrup at a ratio of 1:1. It’s typically extracted from plant or animal sources and is often used in food or skin care products. To use glycerin in vegan herbal syrups, be sure to purchase a vegetable-sourced glycerin that is certified non-GMO, as many vegetable-sourced glycerin products come from GMO foods.

2. Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar (often called coconut nectar) is another honey substitute that can be used when making vegan herbal syrups. Coconut sugar comes from the sap of the coconut tree (like maple syrup comes from the sap of the maple tree). It contains 17 amino acids as well as a variety of minerals and vitamins B and C (Philippine Coconut Authority, n.d.). It has a low glycemic index and can easily replace honey at a ratio of 1:1.

How To Make Vegan Herbal Syrup | Herbal Academy | If you’re a vegan and you’re interested in making vegan herbal syrups, you’ll find several alternatives to honey detailed in this article.

3. Stevia

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a plant whose leaves contain sweet glycoside compound called Rebaudioside A (Reb A) that are present fresh or dried (Gunnars, 2013). Stevia can be used as a honey substitute when making vegan herbal syrups, but it is a little trickier to use than some other options on this list. The most important thing is to pay attention to the type of stevia you are using. Stevia can come in raw, unprocessed form, powdered form, and extract form. Each of these are processed differently and can impact health in various ways, so be sure to research to find the form of stevia that is best for you. When using stevia as a honey substitute, it will contribute different tastes and dosages to your herbal syrup so you’ll need to experiment a bit to get your syrup tasting the way you want it. The end product will basically be a concentrated sweet tea. It will not be as thick as most syrups, and it will have to be refrigerated and used within 1-3 days as stevia doesn’t provide any preservation to the product like other sugars do.

4. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is another honey substitute that can be used to make vegan herbal syrups. Maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees and contains minerals, antioxidants, and even omega-6 fatty acids (SELFNutritionData, n.d.). While maple syrup is higher on the glycemic index than all of the other honey alternatives on this list, it’s still vegan and can replace honey at a ratio of 1:1.

Other Honey Alternatives

How To Make Vegan Herbal Syrup | Herbal Academy | If you’re a vegan and you’re interested in making vegan herbal syrups, you’ll find several alternatives to honey detailed in this article.

While the above four honey alternatives are not the only choices you have when making vegan herbal syrups, many of the other options I found such as monk fruit, brown rice syrup, and agave, while vegan, were less than ideal simply due to their high fructose content, which has a negative impact on the liver (University of California San Francisco, n.d.).

Each of these sweeteners will vary the taste of the end product as well as the syrup’s final consistency. Herbal syrups made using honey tend to be thicker, while many vegan herbal syrups are a bit thinner and runnier.

While some of these honey-alternatives for making vegan herbal syrups will vary in price, availability, and consistency, there are options to choose from based on your needs.

Finally

While herbal syrups are great ways to take mask the flavor of certain herbs, they do have their limitations. If larger amounts of an herb are needed for a particular issue in order to maintain blood sugar balance, an active immune system, and an overall positive impact on health, it may be better to change to a different type of preparation, such as an infusion or tincture, instead of consuming larger doses of herbal syrups.

How To Make Vegan Herbal Syrup | Herbal Academy | If you’re a vegan and you’re interested in making vegan herbal syrups, you’ll find several alternatives to honey detailed in this article.

REFERENCES

Gunnars, K. (2013). 10 reasons why sugar is bad for you. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-disturbing-reasons-why-sugar-is-bad

Harvard School of Public Health. (n.d.). Carbohydrates and blood sugar. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/

Johnson, R.K., Appel, L., Brands, M., Howard, B., Lefevre, M., Lustig, R.,…Wyllie-Rosett, J. (2009). Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 120(11), 1011-20. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627. Retrieved from http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/circulationaha/120/11/1011.full.pdf

Lundquist F., Tygstrup N., Winkler K., & Jensen K.B. (1965). Glycerol metabolism in the human liver: inhibition by ethanol. [Abstract]. Science, 150(3696), 616-7. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5837100

Philippine Coconut Authority. (n.d.). Technology description. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.pca.da.gov.ph/coconutrde/images/cfs16.pdf

PubMed Health. (2018). Micromedex Detailed Drug Information for the Consumer: Glycerin. [Internet]. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0010489/?report=details

SELFNutritionData. (n.d.). Syrup maple nutrition facts and calories. Retrieved from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/5602/2

University of California San Francisco. (n.d.). The toxic truth: Too much fructose can damage your liver, just like too much alcohol. [Online Article]. Retrieved from http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-toxic-truth/#.Ws-MFiPMzuQ

DIY Herbal Hair Serum For Silky Soft Hair

DIY Herbal Hair Serum For Silky Soft Hair | Herbal Academy | Are you curious how to attain naturally soft hair? Read on to learn how to make a DIY herbal hair serum for silky soft hair at home.

There is nothing quite so luxurious as running your hands through silky soft hair. Although you might think you can only achieve this by visiting the salon, you can actually make it happen in your very own home! Making your own herbal-based hair serum is easy, fun, and effective—not to mention free from all of the chemical additives you might find in a commercial hair serum or at most beauty salons! Read on to learn how to make a DIY herbal hair serum for silky soft hair at home.

Why Use A Hair Serum?

DIY Herbal Hair Serum For Silky Soft Hair | Herbal Academy | Are you curious how to attain naturally soft hair? Read on to learn how to make a DIY herbal hair serum for silky soft hair at home.

Just as the seasonal elements can take a toll on our skin, they can also impact our hair. However, we don’t often think to protect or nourish our hair with the same attention we provide our skin. Beyond simply keeping our scalp “clean,” we also need to ensure the rest of our hair is cared for using other natural methods like this DIY herbal hair serum.

Using an herbal hair serum daily has many benefits beyond simply enhancing the beautification of your hair. Hair serums can help promote moisture for dry hair (or “dead ends”), prevent hair from breaking further, and encourage a healthy balance in our hair’s natural oil production (Barve & Dighe, 2016).

Although you do not need to use it every day, if you enjoy the ritual and results, you can use it daily with no detrimental effects! It is essential to use hair serums in the wintertime or after exposure to drying elements like ocean water. When you know your hair will be exposed to a harsh and potentially damaging chemical, such as chlorine in a swimming pool, apply a generous amount of herbal hair serum before going in the pool to help protect your hair ahead of time (Buck, 2014).

Try incorporating a silky soft herbal hair serum into your self-care routine after you wash your hair when the hair is damp or dry. Since many shampoos and conditioners can actually strip our hair of its natural oils, using a hair serum after cleansing helps reestablish a healthy amount of oil in the hair in addition to protecting against dirt and grease that can accumulate throughout our day (Falconi, 1998).

A little bit goes a long way when applying an herbal hair serum, so start small! Rub a couple drops into the palms of your hands and then massage through the hair shaft. Avoid rubbing the oil directly into the scalp, since this can make your hair more greasy instead of the silky soft hair texture you are looking for.

Nourishing Ingredients to Include in your Silky Soft Hair Serum

DIY Herbal Hair Serum For Silky Soft Hair | Herbal Academy | Are you curious how to attain naturally soft hair? Read on to learn how to make a DIY herbal hair serum for silky soft hair at home.

Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis)

Although jojoba oil is referred to as an oil (and feels just like one), it is actually considered a wax! Jojoba has a multitude of well-known applications in skincare but can also be used for hair as well. In this DIY herbal hair serum, jojoba is the primary base oil. Even though jojoba is pricier than other oils out there, the properties this oil over other commonly used hair oils like grapeseed or sunflower is unparalleled. Jojoba increases hydration in the hair, which helps prevent breakage and promotes the restoration of damaged hair (Goldstein & Goldstein, 2014).

Argan Oil (Argania spinosa)

There is a reason argan oil is also known as “liquid gold,” “green gold,” “the oil of 100 virtues,” and “miracle oil” by users around the world (Kamar & Ransley, 2016). Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, phytosterols, and antioxidants, among other compounds, which lends it vital nourishing and moisturizing qualities. The tree itself only grows wild in a barren, dry, and harsh landscape in southwestern Morocco. These adaptive properties of the argan tree offer us insight on the hydrating action within the fruit’s oil. (Learn more about the Doctrine of Signatures in plants here!)

Vitamin E Oil

Supplementing with vitamin E is a common practice to promote healthy hair, skin, and nails, but did you know you can also use vitamin E oil topically to support silky soft hair? Outside of our hair cuticle lies a protective layer of fat which can be stripped away by harsh shampoos or other hair products, causing our hair to lose its shine. Vitamin E can help restore this layer of protective fat, thus bringing back our shiny, silky soft hair (American Academy of Dermatology, 2011). Adding vitamin E oil to your DIY herbal hair serum can also help prolong the shelf-life slightly (Mountain Rose Herbs, n.d.).

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

This DIY herbal hair serum recipe calls for rosemary essential oil to help strengthen hair and add a calming, yet stimulating, aromatic element. Rosemary is well-known to help stimulate hair growth when massaged into the scalp, but when applied to the rest of our locks, it can also assist in strengthening hair to prevent further breakage (Gladstar, 2001).

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Typically known for its powerful tissue regenerative qualities, Calendula infused oil also carries a strong emollient property which helps create silky soft hair with shine (Gehring, 2011). Although rinsing with the infusion of Calendula can help lighten your hair color, using a small amount of this hair serum will not create the same effect.

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)

Gotu kola is a premier circulatory stimulant, nervine, and commonly used to promote healthy tissue repair and growth; in traditional Ayurvedic practice, gotu kola is infused into oil and then massaged into the hair to support thick hair growth and create luscious locks (Khalsa & Tierra, 2008). Using it topically in this DIY herbal hair serum can help increase circulation to the area which prevents increased hair loss, especially when it is stress-related (Preedy, 2012).

DIY Herbal Hair Serum for Silky Soft Hair

DIY Herbal Hair Serum For Silky Soft Hair | Herbal Academy | Are you curious how to attain naturally soft hair? Read on to learn how to make a DIY herbal hair serum for silky soft hair at home.

Materials:

2-ounce glass pump bottle or tincture bottle (clear or frosted if you want to see the dried rose petals inside)
Crockpot
Dish towel or cloth pot holder
Small glass heat-proof jar with lid

DIY Silky Soft Hair Serum

[recipe_ingredients]

3 tablespoons jojoba oil (about 1.5 oz)
1 tablespoon argan oil (about 0.5 oz)
25 drops vitamin E oil
A pinch of dried rose petals
10-15 drops rosemary essential oil
Approximately 0.5-1 tablespoon dried gotu kola
Approximately 0.5-1 tablespoon dried Calendula

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Place dried gotu kola and Calendula in a heatproof glass jar and then cover with jojoba oil until the oil completely covers over the herb. Screw on the lid.
  • Fold a kitchen towel or cloth pot holder and place it in the bottom of the crockpot. (This is a safety measure so that your glass jar does not heat up too fast and crack). Place the jar on top of the towel in the crockpot and then fill the crockpot with water until it reaches at least halfway up the side of the jar. (You may need to put a small weight, such as a rock or crystal, on top of the jar to keep it from floating around).
  • Turn the crockpot to the “keep low” or “low” setting and allow the herbs to infuse in the oil overnight (or for approximately 6-10 hours). The temperature should not exceed about 140 degrees.
  • Turn off the crockpot and allow the jar to cool to room temperature in the water bath.
  • Strain out the dried herbs from the oil.
  • Pour the oil into the glass bottle.
  • Add the vitamin E oil, rosemary essential oil, and dried rose petals, and then fill the remainder of the bottle with the argan oil.
  • To use, rub 5-10 drops of herbal hair serum in your hands and then smooth throughout damp or dry hair (2-inches away from the root and down toward the end of the hair shaft) as desired.

[/recipe_directions]

**You can easily double or triple this recipe to make a larger batch for gifting or to repurpose the Calendula and gotu kola-infused oil for another herbal preparation.

Get Creative!

DIY Herbal Hair Serum For Silky Soft Hair | Herbal Academy | Are you curious how to attain naturally soft hair? Read on to learn how to make a DIY herbal hair serum for silky soft hair at home.

If you want to mix up the essential oils you use to bring in a different scent or purpose, get creative and play around with your recipe a little! If you are new to using essential oils, we encourage you to read our post on How To Use Essential Oils For Hair Care.

This DIY herbal hair serum also makes a beautiful gift. You can portion the serum into smaller, 1-ounce bottles, and try switching the pinch of dried rose petals for another pinch of your favorite herbal flowers.

Curious to learn more ways to attain silky soft hair? Read my post on Top Nutritional Tips For Healthy Hair here.

DIY Herbal Hair Serum For Silky Soft Hair | Herbal Academy | Are you curious how to attain naturally soft hair? Read on to learn how to make a DIY herbal hair serum for silky soft hair at home.

REFERENCES

American Academy of Dermatology. (2011). Going to great lengths for beautiful hair: Dermatologist shares hair care tips for healthy and damaged hair. (2011). Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/going-to-great-lengths-for-beautiful-hair-dermatologist-shares-hair-care-tips-for-healthy-and-damaged-hair.

Barve, K. & Dighe, A. (2016). The chemistry and applications of sustainable natural hair products. Switzerland: Springer.

Buck, S. (2014). 200 tips, techniques, and recipes for natural beauty. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press.

Falconi, D. (1998). Earthly bodies & heavenly hair: Natural and healthy bodycare for every body. Woodstock, NY: Ceres Press.

Gladstar, R. (2001). Rosemary gladstar’s herbal recipes for vibrant health. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Goldstein, M.C. & Goldstein, M. (2014). Healthy oils: Fact versus fiction. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood.

Kamar, A. & Ransley, A. (2016). The complete book of argan oil. Marvel Oils.

Khalsa, K.P.S., & Tierra, M. (2008). The way of ayurvedic herbs. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Mountain Rose Herbs. (n.d.) Vitamin E oil. Retrieved from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/vitamin-e-oil/profile.

Preedy, V. (2012). Handbook of hair in health and disease. The Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers.

5 Ways to Clean with Lemons

5 Ways To Clean With Lemons | Herbal Academy | Do you love the fresh smell of lemons? You can have a clean, sparkling home with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemons!

I crave the feelings of satisfaction and coziness that comes after giving my home a thorough cleaning. When the carpets look lush, the floors are shiny, and everything’s in its place, I feel peaceful and calm!

And the best part? When I’ve cleaned my home the green way, with safe, natural cleaners, those feelings of satisfaction are multiplied. It just feels good!

Unfortunately, for most of us, one of the biggest challenges to living a greener lifestyle is cleaning the home. Unbeknownst to the consumer, many popular household cleaners are dangerously toxic (EWG, n.d.a.). According to Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization focused on environment and public health, there is no federal regulation of chemicals in household cleaners and the average household contains 62 known toxic chemicals (EWG, n.d.a.). With the thousands of cleaning supplies available to consumers, the thought of not having a safety standard is overwhelming. It’s therefore important to take the time to evaluate the ingredients in your cleaning products and make sure you’re comfortable with their safety ratings. EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning is a database that allows you to do just that. 

As you scroll through that database or scan the cleaning product aisle, you might notice that many cleaning products on the market include lemons on the labels. Well, there’s a reason for that! Citrus fruits like lemons are powerful cleaning tools. They break down grime, disinfect (Berthold-Bond, 1999), and smell amazingly fresh! Lemon can be a very effective cleaning agent that can add citrus power to natural cleaning products, and you may want to consider incorporating it into your own cleaning routine.

Why Clean with Lemons?

Whether you need to polish your faucets, clean your countertops, or brighten linens, lemons have you covered. They are an amazing, green cleaning agent that contain:

  • Citric Acid – a mild acid that fights water spots, hard water stains, and bacteria (Berthold-Bond, 1999)
  • Lemon Oil – a uplifting, sunny scent and antibacterial disinfectant (Siegel-Mailer, 2008)
  • D-Limonene – a powerful degreaser and solvent (Berthold-Bond, 1999)

You can reap the benefits of lemon as a cleaner without harsh, unsafe chemicals found in many store-bought cleaners. Why not pick up a handful of lemons and add a twist to your cleaning routine? You can start with the following five money-saving, eco-friendly ways to clean with lemons.   

How to Clean Your Home With Lemons

5 Ways To Clean With Lemons | Herbal Academy | Do you love the fresh smell of lemons? You can have a clean, sparkling home with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemons!

1. Detox Your Microwave

The microwave can get pretty gross, and while you could spend a chunk of time trying to clean it, you could also zap it clean with just few steps to dissolve food splatters without scrubbing. The combination of lemon and steam will degrease, loosen grime, and nix unpleasant odors.

  1. Pour ½ cup of water into a medium microwave-safe bowl. Slice one lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Toss in the halves.
  2. Place the bowl inside the microwave and set the timer for three minutes to allow the water to boil.
  3. Let stand for five minutes before carefully removing the bowl. Wipe down the inside the microwave with a cloth, and voila! Sparkly clean.

2. Lemony Fresh Kitchen Sink

One would think the kitchen sink is relatively clean, considering the amount of time we spend cleaning other things in the sink. However, the moist environment and leftovers from cleaning all of those other things can create the conditions for bacterial growth—most notably in the drain or down the garbage disposal. Luckily, we can get the sink and its parts clean without harmful chemicals. Let’s start with the disposal!

Refresh the Garbage Disposal

[recipe_ingredients]

2 cups ice
1 cup sea salt
1 lemon

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Fill the drain with two cups of ice.
  • Pour one cup of sea salt over the ice.
  • Lift the faucet to release a stream of cold water and turn on the garbage disposal. Let each run until the ice is gone. Then turn off the faucet and disposal. The coarse salt and ice will work together to remove grime in the disposal and drain.
  • Peel a lemon and slice in half. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl and set aside. Fill the drain with the peels and the halves.
  • Turn on the hot water and let the disposal run for 15 seconds or until clear. The lemon peels will help clean and deodorize the disposal and drain.

[/recipe_directions]

5 Ways To Clean With Lemons | Herbal Academy | Do you love the fresh smell of lemons? You can have a clean, sparkling home with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemons!

Next, create a natural cleaning scrub by combining the lemon juice you reserved with baking soda to create a thick, wet paste. Use it with a bristle cleaning brush to clean the sink surface and around faucets where dirt and grime can build up.

Sink Scrubbing Paste

[recipe_ingredients]

1 cup baking soda
5 drops lemon essential oil (Citrus limon) or 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon liquid castile soap

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Combine baking soda and lemon essential oil or juice in a small glass bowl.
  • Sprinkle mixture over the sink.
  • Drizzle a teaspoon of liquid castile soap over the baking soda mixture.
  • Wet a bristle cleaning brush and scrub the sink and faucet.
  • Rinse well after scrubbing.

[/recipe_directions]

3. Clean Cutting Boards with Lemon and Salt

The antibacterial properties of lemon juice make it a great cleaner for surfaces on which we prepare food. The lemon juice naturally cleans without leaving a chemical residue, and you never have to worry about contaminating food with harmful chemicals. Mineral oil, which is a common ingredient in wood cutting board cleaners, receives a “D” from the EWG for safety  (EWG, n.d.b.). The technique below is a safe way to naturally clean, condition, and deodorize cutting boards made from wood.

5 Ways To Clean With Lemons | Herbal Academy | Do you love the fresh smell of lemons? You can have a clean, sparkling home with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemons!

Cutting Board Cleanser

[recipe_ingredients]

Half of a lemon
2 tablespoons coarse salt

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  1. Sprinkle the cutting board with two tablespoons of coarse salt.
  2. Place the lemon half cut side down on the cutting board and scour the surface, while lightly squeezing to release the lemon juice as you go.
  3. Let the salt and lemon mixture sit for five minutes. Then scrape the into a bowl and discard.
  4. Last, rinse the cutting board with a clean, wet sponge and allow to dry before use.

[/recipe_directions]

4. Brighten Fabrics and Remove Stains

Lemon juice is an effective all-natural bleaching agent. It even works well on rust and sweat stains. The citric acid helps to bleach away stains and brighten fabric. (Avoid use on colorful fabrics as it may cause discoloration). Use the tips below to effectively remove stains and brighten fabrics with lemon.

  • Spray white areas on tennis shoes with lemon juice and place in the sun to whiten.
  • Soak your delicates in a mixture of a half cup lemon juice, 1 cup baking soda, and a gallon of hot water for a mild whitening treatment. Let stand for thirty minutes before washing as normal. *not recommended for silk
  • Apply a generous amount of lemon juice to ink stains on clothing as soon as possible, then wash in a normal cycle in cold water.
  • Treat underarm stains by mixing 3 parts lemon juice and 1 part water. Apply to stains and wash as normal.
  • Add 1 ½ cups hydrogen peroxide and ¼ cup lemon juice to whites during the soak cycle to brighten whites and keep them looking fresh.
  • Air-dry whites in the sun to boost lemon’s effectiveness.

5. Deodorize Your Refrigerator

With all the foods we stuff into our refrigerator (and sometimes forget), it can gain some unpleasant odors. Lemon can help deodorize the refrigerator in no time at all. Start by tossing out or composting old foods and set the rest aside. Then use the Citrus Surface Cleaner below to naturally clean surfaces. Towel-dry the surfaces before returning the contents to the refrigerator. Then, pour 1 cup of baking soda into a small bowl. Add 8 drops of lemon essential oil and place it on a shelf or in the door of your refrigerator uncovered. It gives a fresh breeze of lemon scent every time you open it!

Citrus Surface Cleaner

[recipe_ingredients]

3 ounces distilled water
3 ounces distilled white vinegar
4 drops lemon essential oil (Citrus limon)
4 drops lime essential oil (Citrus aurantifolia)
1 lemon or lime peel, optional
1 – 8-ounce glass spray bottle

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Pour three ounces of water and three ounces of vinegar into a glass spray bottle using a funnel.
  • Remove funnel and add 4 drops of lemon essential oil and 4 drops of lime essential oil. Note that essential oils will not fully disperse in this water-based mixture, therefore, use caution when spraying, avoiding exposure to skin and eyes.
  • Add optional citrus peels. Keep in mind you may need a larger bottle due to the displacement of the liquids.
  • Place the spray nozzle on the bottle. With the spray nozzle turned off, shake well to combine. Be aware citrus essential oils should be stored in glass containers.
  • To use, shake before each use. Spray on desired surface and wipe clean with a cloth.

[/recipe_directions]

Grab a Few Lemons and Get Cleaning!

That’s right! All it takes to give your cleaning a boost is a handful of lemons. Clean your home and say goodbye to harsh chemicals and hello to green cleaning. This common citrus fruit is a versatile solution to cleaning many areas of the home. So, grab a few lemons on your next trip to the market and get started with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemon. Find more green recipes for the home in the Beginners Guide to Natural Living Book.

5 Ways To Clean With Lemons | Herbal Academy | Do you love the fresh smell of lemons? You can have a clean, sparkling home with these 5 effective ways to clean with lemons!

REFERENCES

Berthold-Bond, A. (1999). Better basics for the home: Simple solutions for less toxic living. New York City, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Environmental Working Group. (n.d.a.). Household Cleaner Ratings and Ingredients. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/findings#.Wk6WKjdG1PY

Environmental Working Group. (n.d.b.) Guide to Healthy Cleaning: Mineral Oil. Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/guides/substances/3634-MINERALOIL#.Wk64mzdG1PY

Siegel-Mailer, K. (2008). The naturally clean home. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

Forget bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens—chai is one of my favorite things. For me, a great cup of chai is right up there with puppies, autumn leaves, and twinkling Christmas lights. I don’t know if it’s the perfect blend of sweet, warming spices, the creaminess of the milk, or the happy caffeine buzz that follows, but a well-made cup of chai can definitely improve my outlook on the day. Ever since I visited South India in 2011, I have been making chai at home, seeking out that ginger-infused perfection that I encountered in India. I can’t say that I could make it as a street chai wallah yet, but I have learned a few things about chai over the years. Hopefully, the recipes and tips you find in this article will not only inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai but will teach you how to tune your chai recipe to your Ayurvedic dosha as well.

If you are a novice to Ayurveda and the concept of doshas, you may want to read my Introduction to Ayurveda blog post on the Herbal Academy blog first.

To begin, let’s cover the basic chai ingredients and their health benefits. You see, chai isn’t all taste and no substance. Each of the ingredients that goes into making a perfect cup of chai has its own nutritional benefits. Also, as you will see, by understanding the energetics of the various spices, you can make choices about what to emphasize or downplay to find the perfect cup of chai for your dosha.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

Basic Chai Ingredients

Black Tea (Camellia sinensis)

Black tea is heating and stimulating, and some people find that they are better off avoiding caffeine entirely as it is simply too drying and agitating for them. However, the milk, spices, and sweetener in chai help balance some of the intensity of the black tea. Furthermore, tea certainly has many positive attributes. Tea varieties including green, black, and white tea are rich in antioxidants and other phytochemical, and possess the astringent and bitter tastes that are lacking in many American diets (Palanisamy, 2015). Black tea is a very good choice for kapha types, who tend to need a little stimulation to help them get up and go.

Ginger (Zingiberis officinale)

Ginger has a spicy, sweet taste and a heating energy. It decreases vata and kapha doshas and increases pitta dosha. Ginger increases agni (the digestive fire), partially by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes (Pole, 2013). It also increases the rate of gut motility, meaning that it helps food move in a more timely manner through the digestive tract. Ginger is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps to dissolve ama, a word for toxins in Ayurveda (Palanisamy, 2015).

Cardamom (Eletarria cardamomum)

With its bright, mildly sweet, warm flavor, cardamom is probably my favorite spice on this list, and no cup of chai is complete without cardamom. Cardamom has a slightly warm quality, but it is not as heating as some of the other spices, so it will not aggravate pitta as long as it is not used excessively. In fact, cardamom stimulates agni without aggravating pitta. It also has a clearing effect on the mind and helps regulate the energetic flow of vata in a healthy downwards direction (Pole, 2013). Also, cardamom has a special role as an ingredient in chai because it helps support digestion of dairy and mitigates the vata-provoking effects of black tea (Dass, 2013).

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia)

Cinnamon is a well-known circulatory tonic and digestive aid. Its warm, sweet nature is particularly soothing for vata. It helps to dispel coldness in the extremities and enkindles agni, the digestive fire (Pole, 2013). Cinnamon has also been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal effects (Palanisamy, 2015).

Clove (Caryophyllus aromaticus)

Speaking of antimicrobials, clove is also excellent for fighting bacteria, fungus, and parasites (Palanisamy, 2015). Clove is also an analgesic, meaning that it can help reduce pain. It is particularly good at clearing congestion from the lungs, and its analgesic properties are well-known in the application of clove oil to treat a toothache (Pole, 2013). Due to its clearing and purifying nature, clove is particularly beneficial for kapha dosha.

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)

Black pepper, with its hot nature and ability to stimulate digestion, is very useful for both vata and kapha. Black pepper is “useful for low appetite, sluggish digestion, abdominal pain, toxins…” (Pole, 2013). Black pepper also stimulates agni and circulation, having an overall warming effect on the body.  

Overall, the chai spices are wonderful digestive aids, and as you can see, each spice also has additional benefits as well.

Now that we have covered the basic chai ingredients, let’s explore some recipes!

No matter how much of a kitchen maestro you may be, sometimes it helps to have a solid base recipe to use as a springboard. This recipe is shared courtesy of Athena Pappas, an accomplished Iyengar yoga teacher in San Francisco. I once overheard that she ‘made the best cup of chai in town,’ so when I started researching recipes for the perfect cup of chai, I knew her recipe had to be included. Here it is!

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

Athena Pappas' Chai Tea

Spice measurements can be adapted to taste.

[recipe_ingredients]

4 cups water
1 tablespoon grated ginger
10-12 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom pods
8-10 cloves
12-15 black peppercorns
⅛ stick cinnamon
2 -3 tablespoons strong black tea, such as assam or ceylon

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Put spices in a mortar and pestle and give them a little smash or two, just to crack the cardamom pods.
  • Bring water to boil. Add ginger and spices. Reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Add tea and simmer for another 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and add whole cow’s milk or almond milk to taste. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into mugs. Add honey to taste.

[/recipe_directions]

The Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha

As Athena notes in the recipe above, spice measurements can be altered to taste. Furthermore, I will add that the balance of the spices can alter the energetic qualities of your cup of tea, making it more or less suitable for your dosha. Here is a basic rundown of some alterations to fine tune this recipe to suit your dosha.

Chai for Vata

Ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon are particularly balancing to vata because they possess a combination of sweet and spicy tastes. Clove and black peppercorn are fine for vata, but as they are both quite pungent (meaning hot and/or purifying), it is best not to overdo these spices. Vata types may want to use the lesser amounts of these spices. For vata, you may also want to use a little less black tea, as vata types tend to have fragile and easily stimulated nervous systems. For a very sensitive vata, they could even forgo the tea entirely and turn this into a sweet, spiced milk.

Chai for Pitta

Chai is overall warming in nature, which may aggravate pitta. However, the cool, sweet nature of the milk does help reduce the heat of the tea and spices. Also, since maple syrup is a little cooler than honey, pitta types may want to sweeten with maple syrup. Other ways to make a perfect cup of chai for pitta dosha are to decrease the cloves and black peppercorns and to add a teaspoon of fennel seeds. Fennel is cool, sweet, and pacifying to pitta dosha. Pittas can also add a splash of rosewater in their mug to finish, or a pinch of saffron to be really fancy. These ingredients have a very calming, cooling effect on pitta dosha.

Chai for Kapha

Unlike vata and pitta, kaphas thrive with increased heat and stimulation. Kapha’s cool, heavy, slow nature benefits from hot spices. Kapha types can use the maximum amount of all the spices in this recipe and would be fine to use the full 3 tablespoons of black tea. Kapha would also do well to use a little less milk and honey, as those ingredients are both sweet, and thus increase kapha dosha. Milk, in particular, is a very kapha-increasing food. Almond milk would be a better choice, particularly for someone with a very strong kapha constitution or someone experiencing a head cold with excess mucus.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

It’s All About The Steep Time

I tried out Athena’s recipe several times and found it to be aromatic, classic, and flavorful. Taking the time to simmer the tea and spices is well worth it as the simmering process really brings out the flavor of the spices, making this a fabulous, aromatic cup of chai tea. However, if you like to have chai first thing in the morning and don’t want to wait to simmer the spices, you can complete that part of the recipe in the evening. Simply let the spices steep in water overnight, and then finish the recipe by adding tea, milk, and honey in the morning.

The expert chai makers of AppalaChai agree with the importance of allowing for a long steep to truly bring out all the flavors of the tea and spices. AppalaChai is a small company that provides delicious, organic chai concentrate too many cafes and coffee shops throughout Western North Carolina and parts of South Carolina. This is what Tommy, co-founder of AppalaChai shared about their process:

“Currently, when we make our batches of concentrate we make sure we cook the spices long enough to extract as much from them as we possibly can. We then steep our black tea for some time before we add the sugar. All of our spices are organic as well as our black tea and evaporated cane sugar. Each batch is infused with “Maha Mantra” as well as some other rituals learned along the way including lots of love.”

Tommy’s explanation of AppalaChai’s process underscores the importance of taking time, using quality, organic ingredients, and of course the magic ingredient—love!

Chai Shortcuts

While time and love certainly pay off when it comes to chai alchemy, sometimes time is limited so I will share a few ‘cheater’ methods for chai preparation . These methods are great if you are pinched for time or lacking a few ingredients, and each shortcut will still yield a flavorful cup.  

One shortcut is to keep a jar of ground tea masala spices on hand. Powdered tea masala blends can be purchased from Indian grocery stores or you can make your own.

Renowned Ayurvedic practitioner Dr. Vasant Lad gives a nice recipe for tea masala in his book, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing (2009), that is essentially a blend of ginger, cloves, black pepper, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom (all in powdered form).

Powdered Chai Tea Masala

[recipe_ingredients]

2 cups water
1 cup whole cow’s milk (can substitute with any fatty milk)
1-2 tablespoons black tea leaves
1-2 teaspoons tea masala

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

Bring two cups of water to boil in a small saucepan. Add the black tea, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Next, add a cup of milk and the tea masala powder. Turn the heat back on high. When the liquid starts to approach boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 more minutes. Then turn off the heat, strain the tea into cups, and sweeten each with honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar.

[/recipe_directions]

This is a quick and easy recipe that takes just a few minutes. You can also give this recipe a little extra kick by adding freshly grated ginger in the very beginning along with the water.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

Additional Chai Variations

Although classic chai is truly my favorite, the classic Indian beverage offers loads of room for creativity, and there is ample opportunity to add additional herbs and spices to benefit your well-being.

Sometimes when I feel my vitality flagging, I like to add a teaspoon of a powdered adaptogenic herb such as ashwagandha. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is very pacifying to vata dosha due to its sweet, warm energy and tonifying effects on the body and mind (Dass, 2013). Ashwagandha possesses the bitter and astringent tastes in addition to sweet, but I don’t generally notice the taste in my chai because the tea and masala spices mask it well. Ashwagandha is a highly revered rejuvenative herb in Ayurveda, and adding a bit to your chai can make it perfect for vata dosha.

Another chai tea variation is to add a tablespoon of freshly grated turmeric root for some extra blood-cleansing, anti-inflammatory benefits. To make it a turmeric chai, I recommend following Athena’s classic chai recipe and adding the fresh turmeric late in the game along with the tea. This method accents the earthy, fresh turmeric flavor.

For a truly magical and unique chai, I recommend visiting Alchemy in Asheville, North Carolina and having a cup of their turmeric chai. This cup of golden magic is the original creation of Emmy Bethel and can be ordered with or without black tea. I have enjoyed Alchemy’s turmeric chai on a number of occasions and had the honor of speaking to Emmy herself about this wonderful creation. I asked Emmy why she decided to add turmeric to a classic chai recipe and she explained that turmeric not only has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, but foods with the yellow color are also considered to be spleen-stomach tonics in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Emmy explained that this special chai recipe is deeply nourishing and meant to tone and nourish the spleen-stomach, which is similar to the concept of agni (digestive fire) in Ayurveda. Emmy did much experimenting and refining in order to get this recipe just right, and Alchemy currently uses dried turmeric root powder as well as turmeric and black pepper extract for this very special recipe. The team at Alchemy also adds a special South American root called yacon, which has prebiotic benefits, meaning that it feeds the good gut bacteria.

Lastly, chicory root makes a great black tea substitute for those who are avoiding caffeine. Chicory granules can be purchased in bulk from various herb suppliers and health food stores. Chicory has a rich, roasted flavor similar to coffee, but it is, in fact, a cooling blood and liver cleanser. Chicory is an especially nice option for pitta types who tend to get cranky livers and problems related to excess heat and metabolic wastes in the blood. It is also a good option for vata types, who may find black tea to be overly drying and stimulating.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there is more than one way to make a perfect cup of chai tea. One of the beautiful things about chai is that once you have the basic ingredients on hand, it is fairly simple, and as long as you don’t stray too far from the basics, it’s hard to go wrong!

I hope that this article has given you a sense of how you can play with spices and herbs in order to suit your cup to your tastes and Ayurvedic dosha. You may also find that your perfect cup of chai tea changes from one season to the next, emphasizing warmer spices in cooler months and accenting the cool spices in the hot time of year. All you need is a handful of quality ingredients and a few moments to spare—a warming, healthful hot cup of spicy tea is not far away.How to Make the Perfect Cup of Chai for Your Dosha | Herbal Academy | If you enjoy chai tea, we hope the tips you find in this article will inspire you to make the perfect cup of chai according to your Ayurvedic dosha.

REFERENCES

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

Lad, U., & Lad, V. (2009). Ayurvedic cooking for self-healing. Albuquerque, NM: The Ayurvedic Press.

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

Pole, S. (2013). Ayurvedic medicine: The principles of traditional practice. London: Singing Dragon.

26 Handmade Valentine’s Day Ideas: Gifts, Recipes, and DIYs to Show Your Love

26 Handmade Valentine's Day Ideas: Gifts, Recipes, and DIYs to Show Your Love | Herbal Academy | We have pulled together 26 handmade Valentine’s Day ideas that will help you find the perfect floral gift as well as unique herbal-inspired ways to celebrate this day of love!

Valentine’s Day and flowers go together with delightful ease! This combination is no surprise—flowers and other plants have long been embraced for their beauty and symbolism in romantic relationships. At this time of year, many of us look to spread a little love to those around us, and we might even desire to give ourselves some much-deserved love too! We have pulled together 26 ideas for a handmade Valentine’s Day that will help you find the perfect floral gift as well as unique herbal-inspired ways to celebrate this day of love!

26 Handmade Valentine’s Day Ideas

Have fun creating sumptuous body care preparations to share with a loved one or yourself this Valentine’s Day. You can even package these recipes up and give as a Valentine’s Day Spa gift set. These recipes are simple to make and filled with decadent ingredients that nourish the senses and the body!

Infused Butters, Massage Oils, and Balms

26 Handmade Valentine's Day Ideas: Gifts, Recipes, and DIYs to Show Your Love | Herbal Academy | We have pulled together 26 handmade Valentine’s Day ideas that will help you find the perfect floral gift as well as unique herbal-inspired ways to celebrate this day of love!

There is something special about anointing the body with aromatic oils and balms. Find options below for your own handmade Valentine’s Day creations.

1. Rose Vanilla Massage Oil

Graced with both roses and vanilla, this Herbal Academy favorite is just as sensual and delightful to make as it is to use! Enjoy the recipe as well as tips for creating a wonderful evening.

https://theherbalacademy.com/make-your-night-memorable-with-a-rose-vanilla-massage-oil/

2. Hibiscus Rose Whipped Body Butter

Made with hibiscus and rose-infused avocado oil, this recipe brings two aphrodisiac herbs to play in a moisturizing whipped body butter. Divine!

http://www.lifeinfused.space/hibiscus-rose-whipped-body-butter/

3. Marshmallow Lip Balm

Lip balms are wonderful for keeping soft and kissable lips. Infused with the soothing, mucilaginous goodness of marshmallow, this lip balm is a great companion to nights filled with plenty of kisses!

https://theherbalacademy.com/homemade-marshmallow-root-lip-balm/

4. Chai Rose Lip Balm

If your sweetie loves the warm spice of chai, this lip balm is for them! Blended with the lovely floral overtones of rose, this lip balm promises to be totally yummy.

https://www.holistichealthherbalist.com/chai-rose-lip-balm/

5. Perfume for Winter Romance

Aromas speak to the heart and soul and evoke emotion. Composing a special perfume for a loved one or yourself is a lovely way to say you are special and I love you!

https://theherbalacademy.com/essential-oil-solid-perfume/

Luscious Skin Care

26 Handmade Valentine's Day Ideas: Gifts, Recipes, and DIYs to Show Your Love | Herbal Academy | We have pulled together 26 handmade Valentine’s Day ideas that will help you find the perfect floral gift as well as unique herbal-inspired ways to celebrate this day of love!

Masks are an important part of any spa experience, while fragrant waters and toners can be enjoyed after Valentine’s Day has passed. Discover how easy it is to make these preparations with the recipes and techniques offered below!

6. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Face Mask

Chocolate and strawberries? Yes, please! Who knew these two delicious items could come together to make a wonderful skin treatment. Enjoy!

http://pistachioproject.com/2015/02/chocolate-covered-strawberry-face-mask.html

7. Hibiscus Face Mask

Another delightful mask with a lovely pink color, this is filled with the goodness of hibiscus and aloe vera. Wonderfully soothing and nourishing for winter-dry skin.

https://naturalfitfoodie.com/hibiscus-face-mask/

8. Make Your Own Rose Water

Rose water has long been revered as a soothing, fragrant beauty product. Its soft pink color, beautiful aroma, and many useful applications make this herbal preparation perfect for a handmade Valentine’s Day!

https://theherbalacademy.com/how-to-make-and-use-rose-water/

9. Rose Infused Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is great toner for skin, especially when infused with the goodness of rose. Discover how easy it is to create your own infused witch hazel for an easy gift!

https://www.holistichealthherbalist.com/rose-infused-witch-hazel/

Floral Polishes, Scrubs, and Powders

26 Handmade Valentine's Day Ideas: Gifts, Recipes, and DIYs to Show Your Love | Herbal Academy | We have pulled together 26 handmade Valentine’s Day ideas that will help you find the perfect floral gift as well as unique herbal-inspired ways to celebrate this day of love!

These recipes bring a little bit of luxury to body care and are perfect for creating something special to share on your own handmade Valentine’s Day.

10. Floral Body Polish Recipes

This post is filled with information to help anyone create a body polish with ingredients that appeal to the individual recipient. You will also find 4 recipes to try, including a scrub made with roses and chocolate!

https://theherbalacademy.com/tips-creating-diy-floral-body-polish/

11. Calendula Sugar Scrub

Calendula is well known for its benefits as a skin herb and this delightful recipe brings those benefits to the skin as a scrub! Discover how to make your own scrub to share.

https://theherbalacademy.com/how-to-make-a-homemade-sugar-scrub-with-calendula/

12. Floral Body Powder

Body powder enhanced with the fragrance and benefits of flowers is a treat to be sure! Find plenty of suggestions for creating your own blend with herbs and a base blend custom suited to your recipient.

https://theherbalacademy.com/homemade-floral-body-powder/

13. Herbal Blush

A herbal blush made with hibiscus, rose hips, and arrowroot—this is a special treat for anyone who loves herbs! It can be customized to the individual skin tone bringing a bit of herbal delight to every day.

https://www.deliciousobsessions.com/2015/08/natural-diy-blush/

Divine Herbal Bath Blends

26 Handmade Valentine's Day Ideas: Gifts, Recipes, and DIYs to Show Your Love | Herbal Academy | We have pulled together 26 handmade Valentine’s Day ideas that will help you find the perfect floral gift as well as unique herbal-inspired ways to celebrate this day of love!

Soaking in a warm, fragrant herbal bath is a wonderful experience nourishing the body, mind, and soul. Including botanicals in the bath provides delicious aroma along with skin benefits.

14. Aphrodite’s Bathing Herbs

Enjoy a bath blend recipe just for Valentine’s Day, fit for Aphrodite, along with a tasty cordial and sensuous massage oil recipe!

https://theherbalacademy.com/love-potions-charms/

15. Nourishing Milk Bath

It is said that Cleopatra regularly bathed in milk and honey. Milk baths are wonderfully soothing to the skin, providing a silky experience like no other. Discover the benefits of milky bathing and learn how to make your own milk bath to share!

https://theherbalacademy.com/diy-nourishing-milk-bath/

16. Lavender Bath Salts

Reputed for its cleansing and relaxing properties, lavender makes a wonderful addition to any bathtub blend. This recipe goes well beyond a simple combination of salts and lavender to offer a delightful experience in the tub!

https://theherbalacademy.com/diy-lavender-bath-salts/

DIY Sweets, Eats, and Drinks

Roses, chocolate, honey, berries, cinnamon, and vanilla are all delightful additions to the Valentine’s Day table. What could be better than sharing these truly delicious items with a loved one?

Herbal Aphrodisiacs and More

We are serious about enjoying our herbs here at the Academy and Valentine’s Day recipes make it so easy to do just that!

17. Rose Petal Honey

Beloved by herbalists and so very simple, herbal infused honey is a wonderful way to enjoy herbs. Discover how to make your own honey infused with the goodness of rose petals!

https://theherbalacademy.com/make-use-rose-infused-honey/

18. Valentine’s Lollipops

These lollipops are not your kid’s simple lollipop! Enhanced by heart-friendly and adaptogenic herbs, this recipe offers a unique way to incorporate herbs into the day.

https://theherbalacademy.com/rose-petal-rhodiola-valentines-day-herbal-lollipops/

19. Enjoy Herbal Aphrodisias

Find four of our favorite recipes that are filled with aphrodisiac herbs including a love elixir, mousse, libido tea, and rose vanilla honey—yes, more herbal infused honey! These recipes will surely give your Valentine’s Day a delightful boost!

https://theherbalacademy.com/love-it-up-with-herbal-aphrodisiacs/

20. Discover Rolled Herb Pills

Learn how to make your own rolled pills and fill them with aphrodisiac herbs such as damiana, rose, vanilla, maca, and ginger—yum!

https://theherbalacademy.com/rolled-herb-pills-video/

And Now for Chocolate…

Chocolate, romantic love, and Valentine’s day are tightly linked and bringing herbs into the mix just makes it all the more sweet!

21. Herbal Chocolate Recipes to Inspire Love and Passion

These 3 recipes are filled with chocolate, herbs, and a passion for something divine. With options that include the spicy heat of peppers, sweet rich spice of cinnamon and ginger, as well as floral blends, there is something here to appeal to everyone. Enjoy!

https://theherbalacademy.com/3-herbal-chocolate-recipes-inspire-love-passion/

22. Hot Chocolate for Valentine’s Day

Take hot chocolate to another level! Paired here with calming, adaptogenic ashwagandha and cinnamon, this hot chocolate is perfect to sip on a chilly Valentine’s Day afternoon.

https://theherbalacademy.com/valentines-day-hot-chocolate/

23. Herbal Truffles for Good Circulation

Good circulation is important for overall health, including sexual health. These truffles are a delicious way to support circulation with tasty, warming herbs nestled in a ball of delicious chocolate. What could be better?

https://theherbalacademy.com/herbal-truffles-for-good-circulation/

24. Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Speaking of chocolate, if you are looking for a wonderfully healthy way to enjoy chocolate this Valentine’s Day, look no further! Touched with maple syrup in a base of avocados and bananas,  this recipe creates a smooth delicious pudding that will satisfy your sweet-tooth.

https://theherbalacademy.com/healthy-chocolate-pudding-for-valentines-day/

Don’t Forget Breakfast

Wake up to a bounty of love and start the day off right!

25. Tulsi Love Latte

Not your regular cup of joe, this delightful morning treat is filled with tulsi basil, rose, strawberries, vanilla, and cinnamon all warmed together for the perfect way to say hello to the day!

https://theherbalacademy.com/vintage-valentine-diy-and-morning-latte/

26. Strawberry Rose Granola

Enjoy roses, strawberries, and chocolate all in your breakfast bowl! With the goodness of oats and coconut, this granola recipe offers a delicious way to greet loved ones in the morning.

http://www.lifeinfused.space/strawberry-rose-granola-gluten-refined-sugar-free/

Whether it is creating gifts for a loved one, making special treats to enjoy, or even putting together a spa experience, these ideas will give you plenty of inspiration for composing and enjoying your very own handmade Valentine’s Day! We hope that you will join us in creating a day filled with love!26 Handmade Valentine's Day Ideas: Gifts, Recipes, and DIYs to Show Your Love | Herbal Academy | We have pulled together 26 handmade Valentine’s Day ideas that will help you find the perfect floral gift as well as unique herbal-inspired ways to celebrate this day of love!

7 Ways To Use Tulsi Everyday

7 Ways To Use Tulsi Everyday | Herbal Academy | Since tulsi is becoming a more popular herb around the world, we've put together 7 ways you can use tulsi everyday at home.

There is a reason why “holy basil” is another common name for tulsi (Ocimum sanctum). Hindu culture even considers tulsi to be “The Queen of the Herbs” and a manifestation of the goddess Lakshmi in plant form (Krishna & Amirthalingam, 2014). But why exactly is tulsi considered to be so sacred?

With an abundance of clinical applications and health-supportive properties that have been applied in Ayurveda for thousands of years, tulsi has been shown to nourish body, mind, and spirit through balancing and protecting against stress in the body (Cohen, 2014). Now, tulsi is steadily becoming a more popular herb around the world. How can you incorporate tulsi into your life? Read on to discover 7 simple ways you can use tulsi every day at home.

 

7 Ways to Use Tulsi Everyday

7 Ways To Use Tulsi Everyday | Herbal Academy | Since tulsi is becoming a more popular herb around the world, we've put together 7 ways you can use tulsi everyday at home.

1. As an Adaptogenic Tea

Tulsi is considered to have mild adaptogenic properties and can be enjoyed daily as a tea. An adaptogen is an herb that helps support a healthy stress response by balancing different processes in the body including the hormonal cascade, how the immune system functions, and brain chemistry. This helps bring the body back into balance when you feel like things have gone off track. For instance, if you notice you are reacting to a stressful event instead of responding to it, you experience migraines from the same triggering comment your spouse makes every time, or your appetite shuts off for the entire week a proposal is due.

In this sense, tulsi can directly help the body “adapt” to physical, chemical, metabolic, and psychological stressors (Cohen, 2014). You can utilize the adaptogenic properties of tulsi by drinking it daily or as needed acutely in stressful situations. Since tulsi is also a powerful nervine, it can help stabilize and restore a frayed nervous system.

Adaptogenic Tulsi Tea

[recipe_ingredients]

1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons dried tulsi (or a handful of fresh tulsi leaves and flowers)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the tulsi in a heat-safe container.
  • Allow the tea to steep, covered, for 15-20 minutes.
  • Strain tulsi from tea and enjoy daily.

[/recipe_directions]

A crucial reminder: Adaptogens should not be substituted for healthy lifestyle practices such as good sleep habits, exercise, and diet. Having a daily cup of tulsi tea is a powerful adjunct to these necessary self-care practices.

7 Ways To Use Tulsi Everyday | Herbal Academy | Since tulsi is becoming a more popular herb around the world, we've put together 7 ways you can use tulsi everyday at home.

2. As a House Protector

Used in Indian ceremonies as a holy plant  for over 5,000 years, tulsi is a powerful herb to keep in your home or personal space. A “tulsi puja” is a daily practice performed in Hindu tradition to protect the energy of one’s house and keep it pure. A tulsi plant is grown and maintained in the house and every morning a prayer is said in front of the plant by offering water, smudging, sounds, and burning incense.

Cultivating a plant like this in your own home also helps foster a sense of connection to nature’s creative powers (Krishna & Amirthalingam, 2014). One way to use tulsi everyday is to try growing and caring for a tulsi plant in your home or garden to connect with it on a deeper level, both spiritually and physically. Tulsi is a fairly easy plant to grow and cultivate. Although it typically thrives in a humid climate it can still be successfully grown in dry climates, both indoors and outdoors. Since it is in the mint plant family (Lamiaceae), you can pinch off the inflorescence right above the first set of leaves as soon as it shows signs it is about to flower. This encourages the plant to continue producing leaves and grow into a more bushy habit. Learn more about growing tulsi from seed here.

Not in the place to care for a houseplant? Not a problem! You can also wear tulsi as a protective talisman or place on your altar. Just as tulsi can protect against toxic accumulation in the body and protect the energy of your home, it can also be used to protect your own personal energy and physical body.

Try taking a couple sprigs of fresh tulsi, or a handful of the dried leaves, and place them on your altar with an intention or prayer. You can also take a small pinch of tulsi and wear it in a pouch around your neck as a talisman for protection. Traditionally, women would foster the energy of positive attachment by wearing the stems of tulsi as a rosary (Lad, 1986).

7 Ways To Use Tulsi Everyday | Herbal Academy | Since tulsi is becoming a more popular herb around the world, we've put together 7 ways you can use tulsi everyday at home.

3. As a Mouthwash

While you may have already spotted tulsi in the ingredients list on your natural toothpaste, but did you know that tulsi’s broad-spectrum antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions make it a truly effective mouthwash as well? One clinical trial demonstrated that using tulsi extract as a mouthwash is as effective in reducing Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria responsible for tooth decay, as 0.2% Chlorhexidine and Listerine (Agarwal & Nagesh, 2011). If you use tulsi everyday as an oral rinse, it has the potential to help clear plaque and bacteria build-up in the mouth (Hosamane et al., 2014).

Basic Tulsi Mouthwash

[recipe_ingredients]

1 handful (about 1/2 cup, packed) fresh tulsi leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried tulsi leaves)
1 cup water
optional: 1 teaspoon vodka

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Place tulsi in a jar.
  • Bring water to boil, then pour over tulsi in a heat-safe container. Cover and allow the tea to infuse for 20 minutes.
  • Strain tulsi leaves from the liquid using a fine mesh strainer into a bottle or jar.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • If desired, add vodka to help preserve the mouthwash for up to 5 days if refrigerated.
  • Rinse and gargle with mouthwash daily for 20-30 seconds.
  • Store covered in the refrigerator. Mouthwash will keep for 2-3 days without adding vodka.

[/recipe_directions]

4. As a Brain Tonic

Tulsi demonstrates anti-depressive and anxiety-regulating effects which can positively impact our cognitive function and memory (Cohen, 2014). Commonly used as a nervine, or an herb that helps regulate and balance the nervous system, tulsi is believed to strengthen the nerve tissue. A simple, traditional preparation to promote clarity of mind is to prepare the tea with honey (Lad, 1986).

Curious to try a brain tonic formula with tulsi at home? Check out our New Year’s Herbal Tonic Recipe here.

7 Ways To Use Tulsi Everyday | Herbal Academy | Since tulsi is becoming a more popular herb around the world, we've put together 7 ways you can use tulsi everyday at home.

Tulsi for the home - herbal academy

5. As an Infused Ghee or Honey

A traditional Ayurvedic preparation of using tulsi everyday is to take dried tulsi powder and mix it into a spoonful of ghee, oil, or honey. It is reported that this preparation slows the assimilation of the herb by carrying it further down the digestive tract, as opposed to simply taking a capsule of the herb (P. Bergner, personal communication, 2016). The solvent of ghee or honey also offers a harmonizing action for the slight bitterness and drying action of the dried tulsi leaf.

Tulsi Paste

[recipe_ingredients] 

½ teaspoon ground tulsi leaf powder
1-2 teaspoons ghee, oil, or honey

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Mix the ground tulsi leaf powder with the ghee, oil, or honey until well combined. Adjust the amount of ghee, oil, or honey used for your desired taste and consistency.
  • Traditionally, a tulsi paste is taken 1-2 times per day.

[/recipe_directions]

You can also prepare a tulsi-infused honey via a longer infusion method using either dry or fresh herb. Read our post here for step-by-step instructions on making simple herbal honey recipes.

6. As a Fresh Juice

The fresh leaves of tulsi can actually be consumed as a juice! This tasty and refreshing method of using tulsi is profoundly rejuvenating for the immune system. Traditionally, the juice is mixed with honey to resolve colds, fevers, and respiratory issues. Drinking the juice of tulsi can also help the body adapt to stress by bringing balance to different processes of the body (Krishna & Amirthalingam, 2014). You can also use the fresh leaf juice externally as a poultice for fungal infections on the skin (Lad, 1986).

Fresh Tulsi Juice

[recipe_ingredients]

1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh tulsi leaves

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Wash the fresh tulsi leaves.
  • Add tulsi and water in a food processor or blender and mix until a fine paste has formed.
  • Strain mixture into a cup using a fine mesh strainer, pressing to release the juice from the plant matter.
  • Enjoy daily!

[/recipe_directions]

7. By Eating the Fresh Leaves

This one is simple! If you care for a tulsi plant in your home or garden, having access to the fresh leaves in abundance is natural. Eating the fresh leaves of tulsi is an amazing way to boost your immunity. In India, a common practice is to chew 3-4 leaves first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to help boost the immune system. While you can simply swallow the leaves whole in a big gulp of water, chewing is recommended to help release phytonutrients.

Are you ready to use tulsi everyday?

Tulsi is an ancient, powerful, yet gentle herb with many supportive uses that can fit easily into your everyday life! Whether you use tulsi as a tea or infused honey for your own personal health or grow it to protect your home, we hope that this article has inspired you to use tulsi everyday in your home.

7 Ways To Use Tulsi Everyday | Herbal Academy | Since tulsi is becoming a more popular herb around the world, we've put together 7 ways you can use tulsi everyday at home.

REFERENCES

Agarwal, P. & Nagesh, L. (2011). Comparative evaluation of efficacy of 0.2% Chlorhexidine, Listerine and tulsi extract mouth rinses on salivary Streptococcus mutans count of high school children—RCT. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 32(6), 802-8.

Cohen, M.M. (2014). Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 5(4), 251-259.

Hosamane, M., Acharya, A.B., Vig, C., Trivedi, D., Setty, S., & Thakur, S.L. (2014). Evaluation of holy basil mouthwash as an adjunctive plaque control agent in a four day plaque regrowth model. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, 6(5), e491–e496. http://doi.org/10.4317/jced.51479

Krishna, N. & Amirthalingam, M. (2014). Sacred plants of India. UK: Penguin.

Lad, V. & Frawley, D. (1986). The yoga of herbs: An Ayurvedic guide to herbal medicine. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Rätsch, C. & Müller-Ebeling, C. (2013). The encyclopedia of aphrodisiacs: Psychoactive substances for use in sexual practices. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.

Herbal Compresses and Fomentations: What They Are & How To Use Them

Herbal Compresses and Fomentations: What They Are & How To Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal compresses and fomentations are easily overlooked, however they have great potential for helping to ease discomfort. Here's how to make and use them!

Pulled muscles and painful spasms, a bad run-in with the pavement, or a nasty cough all call for a little extra loving care—a gentle touch. The somewhat lost art of topical herbal applications can offer that loving care in the soothingly useful form of herbal compresses and fomentations.

These applications are simply made by soaking a cloth in a strong herbal solution and laying it over the area needing attention. They are often applied warm. Herbal compresses and fomentations can be used to help soothe injuries and inflammation and allow the body to focus on healing. They work by helping to bring blood to the area or directing it away depending on the temperature used, while the addition of herbs can help to enhance these actions (Tilgner, 1999).

How to Make Herbal Compresses and Fomentations

Herbal compresses and fomentations are simple to make. Both preparations start with a strong herbal infusion or decoction. Herbal infused oils or vinegars can also be used. If you wish, you can even add tinctures to the blend. This can be especially helpful for using what is readily on hand, as many times we are guided by what we have available in the moment.

Basic directions for making herbal compresses and fomentations:

  • Use 3 to 4 tablespoons of herbs per cup of water.  
  • If you are using roots, barks, or berries, begin by making a decoction of this hard plant material (find instructions here). Next, add lighter plant material (such as leaves and flowers) to the finished decoction and cover with a lid to keep any volatile oils from escaping into the air. Let steep for up to 30 minutes.
  • If you are just using lighter herbs such as leaves or flowers, place the herbs directly in a heat-proof container, cover with boiling hot water, and cover. Let steep for up to 30 minutes.
  • Strain the herbs out of the liquid. Use cheesecloth to strain out any particles if making a compress for skin issues.
  • Add up to 30 drops of tincture per cup of infusion.
  • Dip a piece of clean cloth in the warm infusion and then squeeze out excess liquid.
  • Apply the compress or fomentation and feel the soothing relief!
  • When the compress cools, dip it into the warm infusion again, squeeze out excess, and reapply.  

Follow the directions above as a guideline, using the herbs that best suit your situation. You can make a large batch if you wish. This is a good idea if you have a larger area to cover or want to do repeated applications. Extra liquid will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. It can be re-warmed as needed, making repeated applications easier.  

Applying a Compress

Herbal Compresses and Fomentations: What They Are & How To Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal compresses and fomentations are easily overlooked, however they have great potential for helping to ease discomfort. Here's how to make and use them!

Cold Compresses

Cooling compresses are wonderful when pain presents with inflammation and heat such as headaches, burns, bruises, bites, sore throat, and road rash (Mars, 1999). This type of compress constricts the blood vessels and eases inflammation to soothe the area (Tilgner, 1999).

To apply a cold compress, simply wait for the tea or decoction you have made to cool. Then soak a clean cloth in the solution, wring out the cloth, and apply to the area. As the cloth warms to body temperature, it should be changed out with a new clean, freshly soaked cool cloth.

Hot Compresses

A hot compress helps to bring blood to the area while easing muscle tension (Tilgner, 1999). This makes hot compresses helpful for soothing strained or pulled muscles, muscle spasms, menstrual pain, headaches, breast pain such as mastitis, sore throats, and even congested lungs (Romm, 2003).

To apply a hot compress, let the herbal brew you have made cool to a temperature so that you can safely work with it. Soak a cloth in the liquid until saturated and carefully wring out the cloth. Gently apply to the affected area. Be sure that the compress is not so hot that it will burn the skin or make the person uncomfortable. Leave the compress on until cool and repeat as needed.

Let the situation and person guide you toward the best choice of temperature to use when applying a compress. As herbalist Brigitte Mars explains, “the best indicator [of which temperature to use] is to ask the person needing treatment if they think cold or hot will give best relief” (Mars, 1999, pg. 130).

Leave the compress in place for at least 10 minutes. Longer application can be even more helpful. The cloth can be changed out as it cools (for hot compresses) or warms (for cold compresses). Repeated application 2 to 3 times per day may be especially helpful for bringing soothing relief in persistent situations.

Applying a Fomentation

Fomentations are generally very relaxing for muscle spasms, pain, and can help to ease strained muscles. The definition of a fomentation is varied among herbalists. For example herbalist James Green says that  “A fomentation (a.k.a. compress) is a form of poultice that is composed of liquids or lotions, absorbed in woolen or cotton cloths and usually applied hot” (Green, 2000, pg. 471). Rosemary Gladstar explains that a fomentation is made by rotating hot and cold compresses (Gladstar, 2012). I was taught that a fomentation is a compress that is kept hot. This definition of a fomentation will be explored below!

Fomentations are applied in the same way a hot compress is applied, with the herbal infusion-soaked cloth placed first on the affected area and then covered with a towel or even a piece of plastic wrap. Follow with a hot water bottle (not too hot please!), a hot rice pack, or heating pad. Cover this with a towel as well to seal in the heat and keep everything in place. As with the hot compress, be sure that the fomentation is not so hot that it is burning the skin or uncomfortable.

Strive to leave this whole set-up on for 20 to 30 minutes. Longer is fine, especially if it feels good!

Herbs to Choose

Herbal Compresses and Fomentations: What They Are & How To Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal compresses and fomentations are easily overlooked, however they have great potential for helping to ease discomfort. Here's how to make and use them!

Recently a family member took a hard fall during while going over a ski jump. He came home banged up with badly bruised ribs and a pulled muscle in his shoulder. Wanting to help soothe him as soon as possible, I made a quick visit to the herb cabinet to see what herbal allies I had on hand. A quick search yielded powdered ginger (Zingiber officinale), St. john’s wort flowers (Hypericum perforatum), and lavender blossoms (Lavandula spp.) which I made into a strong infusion. A few squirts of both Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and cramp bark(Viburnum opulus) tinctures also found their way into the brew. We applied this as a hot fomentation to help bring blood to the area and ease the painful muscle spasms he was experiencing.

Herbs with antimicrobial and vulnerary actions can be employed for soothing rashes, abrasions, and other skin afflictions.

To help soothe the skin and encourage healing, you might employ marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), rose (Rosa spp.), Calendula (Calendula officinalis), and lavender (Lavandula spp.) (Rose, 2007). To ease pain and encourage relaxation, consider anti-inflammatories and antispasmodics like meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), cramp bark (Viburnum opulus), mullein (Verbascum thaspus), ginger (Zingiber officinale), and linden (Tilia spp.). Circulatory stimulants such as arnica (Arnica montana) – do not use on broken skin, ginger (Zingiber officinale), and yarrow (Achillea millefolium) are used by herbalists to help bring blood to the area and clear stagnation such as with bruising (mcdonald, n.d.).

Please keep in mind that some herbs can cause contact dermatitis and may also have contraindications for use in certain situations such as with medications or pregnancy. It is important to research the herbs you choose before use!

Herbal compresses and fomentations may be easy to overlook as an herbal preparation in our rushed modern schedules, however they have great potential for helping to ease discomfort. Keep these age-old preparations in mind for the next time you find yourself in need of that little extra touch, as a bit of herbal loving care goes a long way!

Did you know that our courses teach how to make a wide array of herbal preparations? If you want to discover more, check out our online courses and enjoy learning how to get practical hands-on use with herbs!

Herbal Compresses and Fomentations: What They Are & How To Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal compresses and fomentations are easily overlooked, however they have great potential for helping to ease discomfort. Here's how to make and use them!

REFERENCES

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

Green, J. (2000). The herbal medicine maker’s handbook. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press.

Mars, B. (1999). Natural first aid. Pownal, VT: Storey Books.

mcdonald, j. (n.d.). Herbs for back and joint pain. Retrieved from http://www.herbcraft.org/backpain.html

Romm, A. (2003). Naturally healthy babies and children. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.

Rose, K. (2007). Choice Injury Herbs. Retrieved from http://kivasenchantments.com/choice-injury-herbs.html

Tilgner, S. (1999). Herbal medicine from the heart of the earth. Creswell, OR: Wise Acres Press, Inc.