5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall

5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall | Herbal Academy | Make the transition from summer to fall a bit easier with the help of the following five herbs.

Although the days still feel long and hot, the crisp air of fall is right around the corner. There is a tendency for many of us to say that fall simply “snuck up” on us! Since weather patterns can be somewhat unpredictable at times, it can be helpful to utilize herbs that ease the transition between the warmer and cooler months. The more we work with supportive herbs as these changes start to take root, the more gradual the transition from summer to fall will feel. Read on to discover some of the ways herbs can help you transition seasons from summer to fall.

Energetic Transitions

5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall | Herbal Academy | Make the transition from summer to fall a bit easier with the help of the following five herbs.

5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall | Herbal Academy | Make the transition from summer to fall a bit easier with the help of the following five herbs.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), summer is the only season that is divided between “early” and “late,” each with its own corresponding element. Early summer is connected with the fire element, late summer is connected with the earth, and fall corresponds with metal.

Although we will not dive deeper into the symbology of these elements in this article, bringing them to mind can help us differentiate between seasonal changes in terms of energetics. The hot and fiery early summer days give way to the slow and earthy latter days of summer and the crisp and cool “metal” days of fall.

Adopt an Herbal Ritual

5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall | Herbal Academy | Make the transition from summer to fall a bit easier with the help of the following five herbs.

Keeping a constant, daily herbal ritual can help keep you grounded throughout all of the changes that can occur during seasonal transitions. Daily rituals like this do not have to be complicated or drawn out. In fact, they can be as simple as preparing an herbal tea or taking an herbal tincture with intention every day. Adopting a simple herbal ritual like this can help stabilize you through all of the shifts that seasonal changes can bring.

5 Herbs to Help You Transition Seasons

Here are a handful of herbs that can help you transition seasons from summer to fall. Simply incorporating one herb can be helpful, or you can play around with formulating with different herbs and extraction methods.

5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall | Herbal Academy | Make the transition from summer to fall a bit easier with the help of the following five herbs.

1. Oats (Avena sativa)

In order to ease the transition between the warmer days of summer to the cooler days of fall, utilizing herbs that help nourish and stabilize the nervous system is key. Oats (including both oatstraw and milky oats) is an ideal herb for helping restore frayed nerves and calm anxiety (Holmes, 1989).

Think back to the easiest transitional periods of your life: when although everything was changing all at once, you felt balanced and handled each challenge before you with grace. One reason why we can respond to big changes instead of reacting is when we operate out of our parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) instead of our sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”).

Using nervine herbs like oats daily can help you transition seasons from summer to fall gradually by allowing our parasympathetic nervous system to take the lead. Oats act as nervous system trophorestorative, or an herb that helps bolster up and restore the nervous system, so that you can experience that state of grace and ease when the cold fronts of fall appear this year (Holmes, 1989).

Fresh milky oats tincture or an overnight infusion of oatstraw are two great herbal rituals to utilize during periods of seasonal transition. Learn more about oats in our post here.

2. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)

With any sort of seasonal change, emotions tend to run high and energies surrounding the heart can feel more strained than normal. Hawthorn is a valuable herb that can help you transition from summer to fall by strengthening the cardiovascular system as a whole and setting protective boundaries for the heart’s emotional energies (Bergner, 2012).

Our bodies respond to the onset of colder weather as a direct stressor, contracting and tensing the muscles in the body to keep warm. Colder weather can also increase blood pressure and blood clotting. Hawthorn can help strengthen the heart muscles themselves and increase blood flow to the heart without boosting blood pressure (Holmes, 1989).

You can use hawthorn leaf, flower, or berry as a daily heart-tonifying tea or tincture. Hawthorn berries also make a tasty herbal-infused honey. Learn more about hawthorn in our post here.

5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall | Herbal Academy | Make the transition from summer to fall a bit easier with the help of the following five herbs.

3. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

The first cold days of Fall can come as a shock to our body after the long, warm days of summer. In response, the muscles in our bodies can contract and “tighten up,” creating unintended congestion in our circulatory system. Ginger is commonly used as a premier circulatory stimulant to help get blood moving properly throughout the body and prevent stagnation (Holmes, 1989).

Energetically, ginger is considered a warm to hot herb (fresh ginger is more on the warming end and dried ginger is hotter). As a diaphoretic herb, ginger helps warm the exterior of the body and clears general symptoms of an environmental cold (Holmes, 1989).

Since sudden temperature drops push us to spend more time indoors and help common cold viruses to proliferate, feeling under-the-weather is a common symptom associated with the shift from summer to fall. Ginger lends support here by stimulating the immune system and fending off viruses in general (Holmes, 1989).

Ginger tea and ginger-infused syrup are both wonderful daily herbal rituals you can incorporate into your routine during the transition to cooler days. Learn how to make and use ginger syrup in our post here.

5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall | Herbal Academy | Make the transition from summer to fall a bit easier with the help of the following five herbs.

4. Burdock (Arctium lappa)

While the beginning of spring is always touted as the best time of year to clear stagnant energy and revitalize the body using liver detoxifying herbs, we can actually benefit from liver supporting herbs during all of the seasonal transitions, including summer to fall.

Burdock is considered an alterative herb, lending support for liver and skin health in particular (Hoffmann, 2003). Since burdock root is bitter in flavor, it stimulates the flow of digestive juices to assist in smooth digestion and bowel movements.

Burdock root is an herb that can help you transition seasons from summer to fall by bringing the body back into a state of balanced health (Hoffmann, 2003). Some of the main indicators of systemic imbalance are skin issues, so when the skin starts to clear after working with burdock consistently for a while, you are likely moving in the direction toward greater balance.

Incorporating burdock root in your herbal bitters formula is a great way to use this herb daily for seasonal transition support. Since burdock root is ideally harvested in the fall, you can also cook and eat the fresh root itself! Learn more about harvesting and using burdock in our post here.

5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall | Herbal Academy | Make the transition from summer to fall a bit easier with the help of the following five herbs.

5. Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum)

Since colder weather can incite our body’s stress response to ramp up, utilizing mild adaptogens like tulsi can be extremely helpful. Adaptogenic herbs help support a healthy stress response through balancing different processes in the body.

Tulsi works hand-in-hand with nervine restorative herbs like oats to help keep us in our “rest and digest” state through the challenges that seasonal changes bring. Tulsi is also used traditionally to open the heart and mind to allow clarity and receptivity into the body, both key pieces especially for those that feel guarded or clouded during seasonal transitions (Lad & Frawley, 1986).

The mild cooling action of tulsi can help ease the last few hot days of summer, especially when enjoyed over ice. Using tulsi as a tincture can allow you to take advantage of its invigorating vital stimulant properties. Discover 7 Ways To Use Tulsi Everyday in my post here.

Easing Into Fall

By drawing from herbal allies like those mentioned in this article and creating an herbal ritual that works with your lifestyle, it’s easy to use herbs to help you transition seasons. Looking for more ways to help transition through the seasons with herbs? Download our free ebook Herbal Teas Throughout The Seasons.

5 Herbs To Help You Transition Seasons From Summer To Fall | Herbal Academy | Make the transition from summer to fall a bit easier with the help of the following five herbs.

REFERENCES:

Bergner, P. (2012). Herbs for the spiritual heart. Medical Herbalism, 16(4), 1-6. Retrieved from: http://medherb.com/eletter/Spiritual-heart-only.pdf.

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

Holmes, P. (1989). The energetics of western herbs (Vol. 1). Cotati, CA: Snow Lotus Press.

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

Ayurvedic Guide to Building Digestive Power

If you consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner, don’t be surprised if she asks you a hundred and one questions about the state of your digestive system—no matter what brought you into her office! Regardless of where your imbalances manifest, Ayurveda places incredible emphasis on the state of digestion, also known as agni.

According to the Ayurvedic paradigm, a digestive imbalance is considered to be the root cause of most illness (Frawley, 2000). Conversely, a strong and balanced digestive system puts you at much greater odds for attaining and maintaining optimal health. This article will explore Ayurvedic methods for supporting digestive health, and ultimately, building digestive power.  

How Hot Does Your Fire Burn?

To begin, it may be helpful to outline why Ayurveda places so much emphasis on digestion. Our digestion is our processing system for almost all of our nourishment. Of course, some nourishment is received via the air, and our skin has its own absorption as well. But, as we all know, one cannot live for long without food or drink. Furthermore, though it is wonderful to have food and liquids of high-quality, if we can’t make use of that nourishment through good digestion, it does us little good. Taking this one step further, strong digestion builds healthy blood, and healthy blood is carried all throughout our bodies, giving rise to healthy organs. Thus, our gut is the first portal of nourishment and addressing the digestive system, or regulating agni, is the foundational approach to most diseases (Frawley, 2000).

The state of digestion is classified into four major categories in Ayurveda:

  • mandagni (low digestive fire),
  • tikshnagni (high digestive fire),
  • vishmagni (variable digestive fire), and
  • the elusive unicorn of Ayurveda: samagni (perfectly balanced digestion) (Frawley, 2000).

It is rare (but not impossible) to find perfect equanimity in digestion. Signs of healthy digestion include, but are not limited to:

  • only a very thin coating on the tongue,
  • pleasant breath and body odor,
  • good energy,
  • healthy circulation,
  • regular daily bowel movements, and
  • a healthy appetite for meals (Frawley, 2000).

It is quite common for agni (the digestive fire) to be imbalanced in one direction or another. This article will primarily explore methods for building digestive power, which is appropriate in instances of mandagni (low digestive fire), and sometimes, in cases of vishmagni (variable digestive fire).

Signs That Your Digestion Needs Building

In general, weak digestion is an expression of kapha dosha. Those with a kapha constitution are more prone to slow or sluggish digestion. However, anyone can experience mandagni. Furthermore, late winter and spring is the time of year ruled by kapha, so you may find your digestive power flagging a bit at that time of year in particular.

For vatas, the digestive power is often variable. At times, vata’s intense hunger may need calming down; at other times it can use a little agni boost. So, these guidelines may be helpful for those with variable digestion as well. Pittas, on the other hand, tend to have a very powerful and warm digestive system. A pitta digestive imbalance is characterized by intense hunger, burning indigestion, and perhaps diarrhea. Therefore, these guidelines are less suitable for pitta types or those with a pitta digestive imbalance.

If you are really perplexed about the condition of your agni, it is always wise to consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner. However, these are some general signs of low digestive fire:

  • poor appetite,
  • tendency to gain weight even when eating very little,
  • a thick coating on the tongue,
  • feeling heavy or sleepy after eating,
  • foul breath and body odor,
  • excess mucus and congestion, and
  • frequent colds and flu (Frawley, 2000).

How You Eat Is As Important As What You Eat

There are classifications of foods and herbs that are particularly effective at building digestive power, which I will enumerate later in this article. However, before digging into the details of what goes onto your plate, it is well worth considering how you take in your food.

These are some basic guidelines for cultivating healthy eating habits. All of these guidelines are outlined in the Caraka Samhita, one of Ayurveda’s most renowned classical texts. Like many classical texts, it is a bit unclear exactly who wrote it, however, it is one of the fundamental pieces of Ayurvedic literature.

1. Eat the Proper Quantity

It is important to eat neither too little nor too much. Being undernourished will ultimately weaken all the bodily tissues and will cause any number of vata imbalances. However, eating too much will dampen the digestive fire and will likely lead to excess weight and sluggish digestion.

You may wonder how to tell when enough is enough. The Caraka Samhita leaves us a clue: “The amount of food which, without disturbing the equilibrium, gets digested as well as metabolized, in proper time, is to be regarded as the proper quantity” (Sharma & Dash, 2014, Vol I: p.106).

This may sound a bit obscure to most readers. One modern interpretation, and one that I personally use, is the 75% rule. The 75% rule states that you should not fill your belly with food and liquid beyond 75% full. Of course, there is no way to exactly measure this. It is a felt sense. However, I  recommend letting the burp be your guide. If you are eating your meal slowly enough to pay attention, there will typically be a place in your meal where you have a small burp. The next time you sit down for a meal, see if you can detect the burp. If you detect it, put your fork down, and observe if you end up at a nice 75% mark — the Goldilocks principle of satiety!

Eating just the right amount of food will prevent feelings of heaviness after meals and will allow you to digest your food more efficiently, thus preserving the strength of your agni.

2. Eat in a Peaceful Setting Without Distraction

Mindfulness has become a buzzword these days, but there is a lot to be said about being aware while we are eating, especially when it comes to building digestive power. In modern times, this means unplugging from technology during meals. It also means not working while eating and engaging in only pleasant and light-hearted conversation at meal times. The Caraka Samhita takes a strong stance on this by suggesting, “One should not talk or laugh or be unmindful while taking in food” (Sharma & Dash, Vol II).

While the position described in the Caraka Samhita is rather austere, we can learn from these ancient teachings and use meals as a time to be quiet, to be reflective, and to simply enjoy the wonderful nourishment in front of us. Of course, there is something to be said for enjoying a pleasant meal with friends and family. However, as an Ayurvedic practitioner, I advise keeping conversations light-hearted, as well as steering clear of business lunches, when possible, which distract us from savoring our food.

An Ayurvedic Guide to Building Digestive Power | Herbal Academy | Come join us as we explore Ayurvedic methods for improving digestive health naturally, and ultimately, building digestive power.

3. Eat at a Moderate Pace

Interestingly enough, the Caraka Samhita advises not eating too fast as well as not eating too slow, this affects one’s ability to properly taste and enjoy his/her meal. (Sharma & Dash, Vol II). Furthermore, on eating too slowly is problematic, as the food will become cold and digestive irregularities may result (Sharma & Dash, Vol. II). One helpful rule of thumb is to put the fork down between bites. I find that this greatly assists in eating at a moderate pace.

4. Do Not Eat Until the Prior Meal Has Been Digested

For most, this means waiting at least three hours between meals and snacks. This is also where the concept of true hunger comes into play. Many Americans are accustomed to frequent snacking. However, from the Ayurvedic standpoint, eating too frequently dampens agni and will inhibit building digestive power. Speaking metaphorically, you want to give the fire a chance to burn its fuel before piling on more fodder. The Caraka Samhita clearly explains that eating too soon after the last meal will cause all the doshas to become aggravated, as the partially digested food will mix with the new food and cause a clogging of physical channels.

Also, the Ayurvedic standpoint here is that allowing enough time between meals stimulates the agni, helps the body clear ama (toxins), sharpens the mind, and restores the balance of the doshas (Palanisamy, 2015).

There are a number of other guidelines for healthy eating listed in the Caraka Samhita as well as contemporary Ayurvedic texts. However, the four listed above cover quite a bit of territory and are an excellent place to begin. Once you have mastered those, a couple of other guidelines are to have mostly warm and moist foods and also to take no more than a half cup of warm water with meals. Ice water, especially with meals, is contraindicated as Ayurveda teaches that it will weaken the agni.

The latter guidelines are based on an understanding of the nature of agni. Since agni is warm and fiery by nature, to boost agni and ignite that fire, it is ideal to choose foods that mimic the nature of agni. Warm and moist foods are considered to be easier to digest and to have a more encouraging effect on the agni. Thus, when building digestive power, it is wise to eat moderately, eat with awareness and gratitude, and focus on warm, moist, cooked foods (Svoboda, 2010).

An Ayurvedic Guide to Building Digestive Power | Herbal Academy | Come join us as we explore Ayurvedic methods for improving digestive health naturally, and ultimately, building digestive power.

Rasa For Building Digestive Power

The word rasa has many meanings in Sanskrit. One of its meanings essentially translates to taste, and more specifically, the taste of food when it first hits the tongue (Lad & Lad, 2009).

There are six main tastes according to Ayurveda:

  1. sweet,
  2. sour,
  3. salty,
  4. bitter,
  5. pungent, and
  6. astringent.

For building digestive power, the pungent, sour, and salty tastes are best (Sharma & Dash, Vol 2). This does not mean that if you are trying to increase agni you will exclusively eat these foods. However, it is wise to emphasize foods with the pungent, sour, and salty tastes with some regularity if this is your aim.

The pungent taste is especially good for increasing agni short-term, whereas the sour taste is best for increasing agni long-term. The salty taste is helpful for stimulating appetite — giving food good flavor, and like the pungent and sour tastes, it has a warming energy, which inherently stimulates agni.

Examples of the pungent taste include chile, onion, mustard, radish, and garlic. The pungent taste is excellent for stimulating agni and for burning up excess kapha, which may manifest in the form of mucus, watery secretions, or a thick tongue coating. Kapha types may use the pungent taste liberally, vatas are best off taking it in small doses, and pittas should minimize hot, spicy food as it is intensely aggravating to pitta dosha (Morningstar, 1995).

The sour taste is found in foods such as vinegar, yogurt, cheese, citrus, and pickles. This taste stimulates salivation, as well as the agni, which is why it is helpful to have a small amount of pickles or chutney along with your meals. However, just like the pungent taste, too much of the sour taste will aggravate pitta and may cause a mild inflammation of the gut (Morningstar, 1995). However, if your digestive power is weak, you can likely benefit from a bit more of the sour taste. Keep in mind that, small amounts frequently taken with meals are better than consuming large amounts of vinegar and pickles at once.

The salty taste is found in rock salt and sea salt, as well as sea vegetables (Morningstar, 1995). Again, it is wise to not eat huge amounts of the salty taste, but if you are looking to boost agni, having a bit of salt with your meals on a regular basis will stimulate the digestive fire. Another interesting fact about salt is that it is quite grounding, and thus beneficial for vata dosha (Morningstar, 1995).

There is one more aspect of working with taste, agni, and the doshas, that is important to understand. Though the pungent, sour, and salty tastes have an overall stimulating effect on agni, one must always consider individual constitution. For example, if someone has low digestive fire and also a very strong kapha constitution, the pungent taste may be suggested in liberal amounts. However, it would be unwise to recommend that this person take in large amounts of the salty and sour tastes, as those tastes drastically increase kapha dosha. As always in Ayurveda, protocols are tailored to the individual. In this instance, the pungent taste would be recommended along with plenty of bitter and astringent foods, as the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes all pacify kapha dosha.

Conversely, someone of a vata constitution who has weak agni would benefit from ample amounts of the sweet and sour tastes, and smaller amounts of the pungent taste. The salty and sour tastes pacify vata with their warm, moist, and heavy nature. Too much hot, spicy food is overly drying and stimulating for vata dosha, and would thus be recommended in smaller amounts. For pitta dosha, the aim is generally to cool the digestive fires, so the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes are best.

Spices To Light Your Digestive Fire

Finally, spices are crucial when building digestive power. While the list of beneficial spices is long, here are a few ideas to get you inspired.

An Ayurvedic Guide to Building Digestive Power | Herbal Academy | Come join us as we explore Ayurvedic methods for improving digestive health naturally, and ultimately, building digestive power.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger is one of the most versatile and potent digestive spices. For my vata clients, I recommend fresh ginger tea. For kapha clients, dry ginger is best. This can be taken as a tea, in cooking, and even in capsule form. Ginger has a pungent and sweet taste, a heating energy, and depending on whether it is fresh or dried, either a nourishing or purifying effect on the body. (The fresh root is nourishing, whereas the dried root is purifying (Dass, 2013).) One easy way to take fresh ginger as a digestive is to make thin slices of the root, squeeze a bit of lemon or lime on top, add a pinch of salt, and simply chew before meals. This is a sure way to give the agni a little head start at mealtime.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel is special in that it stimulates agni without aggravating pitta dosha. People of a pitta nature generally have an inherently robust digestion, but even pittas can use an agni boost from time to time. Fennel is the perfect choice. Fennel has a sweet and slightly pungent taste, a cool energy, and an overall nourishing effect on the body (Dass, 2013).

Since it is sweet and nourishing, fennel is also an excellent choice for those of vata constitution (Dass, 2013). Dried and powdered fennel makes a lovely tea. Also, chewing on a few dry roasted fennel seeds after meals is a wonderful way to take in this pleasant and effective digestive spice.

An Ayurvedic Guide to Building Digestive Power | Herbal Academy | Come join us as we explore Ayurvedic methods for improving digestive health naturally, and ultimately, building digestive power.

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)

If you are looking for a heavy hitter, black pepper is a great choice. Black pepper is ideal for kapha dosha and those with a particularly sluggish digestion. This is because black pepper has a pungent taste, a heating energy, and a purifying effect on the body (Dass, 2013). These spicy little peppercorns are excellent for stimulating agni and helping the body to burn up ama (metabolic wastes and/or undigested food matter). Adding ground black pepper to your veggie curries and soups is an easy way to weave a little Piper nigrum into your daily meals. Also, black pepper is part of the potent digestive trifecta known as Trikatu, which consists of equal parts dry ginger, black pepper, and pippali (Piper longum). Trikatu is one of the premier herb blends used in Ayurveda for boosting agni.

If you are building digestive power, you may use spices generously in cooking. However, it is helpful to be aware of the energetics of the spices and how they affect your dosha so you can make the best choices. Some other excellent digestive spices include cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), cumin (Cuminum cyminum), coriander (Coriandrum sativum), and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum).

Taking It All In

If building digestive power is your aim, it is wise to consider how you eat, what you eat, and the appropriate use of spices and seasonings. Ayurveda is not one-size-fits-all, so there are general guidelines that we can all follow for strengthening agni. Yet, one must always consider the constitution of the individual and tailor food choices and spices that are balancing and harmonizing.

On the whole, the pungent, sour, and salty tastes are best for stimulating agni, as well as foods that are warm, moist, and light. Also, we can all benefit from greater mindfulness around our eating. So, a great place to start for everyone is with the guidelines for healthy eating outlined in this article, remembering that how you eat is as important as what you eat.

An Ayurvedic Guide to Building Digestive Power | Herbal Academy | Come join us as we explore Ayurvedic methods for improving digestive health naturally, and ultimately, building digestive power.

REFERENCES

Dash, B. & Sharma, R.K. (2014). Caraka Samhita (Vols. 1 & 2). Varanasi, India: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office.

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

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

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

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

Morningstar, A. (1995). Ayurvedic cooking for westerners. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

8 Best Herbs For Seasonal Lethargy & Fatigue

8 Best Herbs for Seasonal Lethargy & Fatigue | Herbal Academy | Does seasonal lethargy & fatigue have you down? There's no better time than summer to turn to herbs that can cool us down and help re-energize the body.

With the summer heat waves starting to set in, there is no better time to turn to herbs that can cool us down and help re-energize the body for all of our hot weather adventures! During the hot months of summer, we can accumulate excess heat in the body, resulting in symptoms such as hot skin, profound thirst, excessive sweating, flushed skin, restlessness, and an overall feeling of seasonal lethargy & fatigue (Ching, 2017).

Keep reading to discover a handful of herbs for seasonal lethargy & fatigue that can help you beat the heat this summer!

Beat The Heat: 8 Herbs For Seasonal Lethargy & Fatigue 

The following is a list of herbs that can be very helpful throughout the dog days of summer. Strive to use cooling overnight or solar infusions poured over ice, instead of hot infusions, when preparing teas for any of the herbs below.

8 Best Herbs for Seasonal Lethargy & Fatigue | Herbal Academy | Does seasonal lethargy & fatigue have you down? There’s no better time than summer to turn to herbs that can cool us down and help re-energize the body.

1. Hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.)

A classic summer heat cooling tonic, hibiscus makes a beautiful and refreshing herbal iced tea for seasonal lethargy and fatigue. Slightly tangy in flavor, hibiscus is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and can help clear excess summer heat symptoms including feelings of irritation and being generally overheated (Wood, 2008). Commonly combined with rose hips as a sour, cooling tea, hibiscus is a great herb for seasonal lethargy and fatigue.

A solar infusion is a great way to prepare hibiscus tea in summer. Watch the color transform from a light purple to a deep reddish-magenta color over the course of the day in a sunny window or outside in the sun (covered to prevent any bugs from diving in!). After infusing for the day, simply strain, pour over ice, and enjoy!

Looking for another tasty herbal beverage to help beat the heat? Try our Hibiscus-Clove Cooler recipe here.

8 Best Herbs for Seasonal Lethargy & Fatigue | Herbal Academy | Does seasonal lethargy & fatigue have you down? There's no better time than summer to turn to herbs that can cool us down and help re-energize the body.

2. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Although lemon balm is another member of the mint family and shares similar properties as peppermint and spearmint, its unique lemony flavor and mood-supporting capabilities set it apart from other mints. Lemon balm is mildly relaxing in nature, offering support for both the nervous system and the mind to help with those heat-induced frazzled or lethargic days (Bergner, n.d.).

Commonly used for mild depression, lemon balm can help lift the mind and stimulate our natural vitality when we feel fatigued from summer heat (Skenderi, 2003; Bergner, n.d.). Even though summer is believed to be the time of ultimate relaxation, when the heat of summer is especially intense, this can be processed in the body as a stressor.

When our bodies are subtly stressed out for days on end like this, that feeling of “burn out” can appear as a result. This is another reason why herbs like lemon balm are great for seasonal lethargy and fatigue.

Try our Lemon Balm Lemonade recipe for a tasty and refreshing way to beat the heat this summer.

3. Mint (Mentha spp.)

While mints tend to vary in their heating and cooling properties, when used in a cold infusion or taken over ice, they are profoundly cooling! Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) are two of the most commonly found mints and both can work wonderfully for helping beat the heat in the summertime.

As a vital stimulant, mint is perfect for enlivening our inherent energy and helping push us out of seasonal lethargy and fatigue-ridden slumps (Bergner, n.d.). The mild cooling diaphoretic action of mint can help push built up internal summer heat to the surface without overheating the body any further. Note that this diaphoretic action is more pronounced when mint is taken as a hot tea and milder in effect when taken over ice.

A quick and easy way to beat the heat with mint is to pour an infusion of mint into ice cube trays and freeze for later. You can use these in any cooling beverage of your choice as needed such as this Cooling Cucumber Mint Limeade For Hot Summer Days.

8 Best Herbs for Seasonal Lethargy & Fatigue | Herbal Academy | Does seasonal lethargy & fatigue have you down? There's no better time than summer to turn to herbs that can cool us down and help re-energize the body.

4. Tulsi/Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)

Tulsi is also a member of the mint family but carries a distinctly different aromatic flavor from peppermint, spearmint, and lemon balm. Slightly sweet, pungent, and bitter, tulsi can be used as a refreshing summer tonic by itself or paired with other herbs like ginger, rose, or even green tea (Camellia sinensis).

Tulsi stands out from other cooling herbs with its beneficial effects on our cognitive function and memory (Cohen, 2014). As an adaptogen, tulsi can help our body adapt to stress while promoting energy and endurance. So when you’re in a “summer slump” from the heat and experience seasonal lethargy and fatigue, tulsi is a great herb to enlist.

A refreshing way to drink tulsi during the summer is as a chilled juice of the fresh leaves. Read my article, 7 Ways to Use Tulsi Everyday, for a simple recipe on how to make a fresh tulsi juice.

8 Best Herbs for Seasonal Lethargy & Fatigue | Herbal Academy | Does seasonal lethargy & fatigue have you down? There's no better time than summer to turn to herbs that can cool us down and help re-energize the body.

5. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Although ginger is considered an extremely HOT and dry herb when taken as a hot tea, if you pour it over ice with other cooling herbs like mint, lemon balm, or peach leaf, ginger turns into the perfect revitalizing tonic for summer days. The slightly spicy and aromatic nature of ginger also lends a delightful flavor to many herbal formulas.

The circulatory stimulant action of ginger can help promote movement of stuck energy and fluids in the body (Bergner, n.d.). This, in turn, helps clear symptoms of seasonal lethargy and fatigue while also helping disperse throughout the body the cooling actions of the other herbs with which it is combined.

Try my Brain Boost Tonic recipe using ginger and tulsi over sparkling ginger kombucha or water kefir for a refreshing way to beat the heat of summer.

6. Peach (Prunus persica)

While peach fruit is a sweet highlight of summer for many folks around the world, the leaf and pit can be used as herbs for seasonal lethargy and fatigue too! Although the fruit is commonly given all the (well-deserved) attention for its sweet a delicious flavor, the leaves are actually quite tasty and enhance the flavor of many tea formulas in flavor.

As a member of the rose family (Rosaceae), peach offers similar cooling, relaxing, aromatic, and soothing qualities that rose does. Specifically indicated for heat-related conditions and irritability or tension, peach leaf and pit can help clear excessive heat symptoms in the body while soothing the nervous system (Rose, 2008a; Rose, 2008b).

Peach pit is also used for its ability to help regulate body temperature and soothe seasonal lethargy or heat-aggravated symptoms, especially on hot summer days (A. Whitney, personal communication, 2016). Herbalist Kiva Rose also quotes peach pit as “deeply restorative for burned out people still in the process of burning themselves out,” (Rose, 2008a, para. 4).

Both the leaf and the pit can be made into a cooling infusion or tincture to help beat the heat of summer. Always keep a more modest dosing strategy with peach since there are potential toxicity issues from the cyanogenic glycosides and other contraindications when taken in larger doses. The cyanogenic glycoside content tends to be higher in the pit and when the parts are partially dried (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013). Never harvest any parts that have fallen on the ground, use them when they are partially dried, or slowly dry them (which can cause fermentation).

For the fresh leaf and/or twig tincture (1:2, 95%) stick to around 5-15 drops, no more than three times per day (mcdonald, 2003). For the pit tincture, stick to energetic doses of approx 1-3 drops at a time. For the leaf tea, it is suggested to drink around 1/2 cup per dose, up to three times per day (Kasting, n.d.; mcdonald, 2003).

8 Best Herbs for Seasonal Lethargy & Fatigue | Herbal Academy | Does seasonal lethargy & fatigue have you down? There's no better time than summer to turn to herbs that can cool us down and help re-energize the body.

7. Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)

Lavender is another one of those mixed energetic herbs that tend to be hotter when taken as a hot infusion and cooler when used in a cold infusion or over ice.

Although lavender is more relaxing in nature, its vital stimulant properties help invigorate our body’s natural energy stores, making it an ideal herb for seasonal lethargy and fatigue when taken over ice (Bergner, n.d.). Lavender is also considered a brain tonic herb, helping improve our memory and fortify, or tonify, the functions of the brain (Bergner, n.d.). So if symptoms of mild brain fog or cloudiness accompany your seasonal lethargy and fatigue, lavender is a great herb to use.

Lavender lemonade is a popular and almost instantly cooling beverage to help beat the heat of summer. There are several different ways to prepare it, two of which include making a lavender infusion then mixing with lemonade (kind of like an “Arnold Palmer”) or adding a lavender-infused herbal syrup into your lemonade.

8 Best Herbs for Seasonal Lethargy & Fatigue | Herbal Academy | Does seasonal lethargy & fatigue have you down? There's no better time than summer to turn to herbs that can cool us down and help re-energize the body.

8. Rose (Rosa spp.)

In general, fresh rose is considered a cooling and moistening vital stimulant, making it an ideal herb for seasonal lethargy and fatigue (Bergner, n.d.). There are some subtle energetic nuances between the different colors of roses to keep in mind, too. To help beat the heat of summer, white rose is considered slightly cooler than other varieties, while dried red rose is slightly more astringent (Holmes, 1989).

Rose is known for its ability to help clear heat from the body and relieve general irritability (Holmes, 1989). In addition, rose can assist in lifting the mind and supporting mild depressive states which can be connected with feeling seasonally overheated and worn out or “lazy” from too much sun.

As herbalist Peter Holmes states: “Volumes could be filled describing the many preparations of rose,” (Holmes, 1989, p. 334). Simply adding fresh rose petals to a solar tea infusion with herbs like hibiscus makes for a beautiful and rejuvenating beverage.

Another refreshing way to beat the heat with rose is to spritz the face and skin with rose water (or hydrosol) for a quick cool-down as needed. You can make your own rose water with our recipe here.

A Vital Note

If your symptoms of lethargy, fatigue, and other excess heat signs are prolonged throughout the year and do not arise in direct relation to the seasonal heat, there could be a deeper issue happening with a different root cause.

Note that signs of summer heat are different from other excess heat symptoms. Signs of seasonal summer heat imbalance are not the same as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Always consult with your healthcare professional and clinical herbalist for any chronic fatigue and lethargy symptoms or other long-standing patterns of imbalance.

Staying Cool This Summer

Looking for even more ways to beat the heat and stay cool with herbs this summer? Read our posts Keep Cool This Summer With A Homemade Floral Body Powder and 3 Cooling Herbal Teas For Summer.

8 Best Herbs for Seasonal Lethargy & Fatigue | Herbal Academy | Does seasonal lethargy & fatigue have you down? There’s no better time than summer to turn to herbs that can cool us down and help re-energize the body.

REFERENCES

Bergner, P. (n.d.). NAIMH Action Database. Retrieved from: http://naimh.com/Actions/naimh-actions-database.htm

Cohen, M.M. (2014). Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 5(4), 251-59. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.146554.

Ching, N. (2017). The art and practice of diagnosis in Chinese medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Singing Dragon.

Gardner, Z. & McGuffin, M. (2013). Botanical safety handbook (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Holmes, P. (1989). The energetics of western herbs: Volume 1. Boulder, CO: Snow Lotus Press.

Kasting, M. (n.d.). Peach (Prunus persica). Retrieved from: https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/peach/

mcdonald, j. (2003). Peach leaf. Retrieved from: https://www.henriettes-herb.com/archives/best/2003/peach.html

How To Make Framed Botanicals to Decorate Your Home

How To Make Framed Botanicals to Decorate Your Home | Herbal Academy | Bring plants into your home in a whole new way by decorating your walls with framed botanicals. Get the steps and details here.

Framed botanicals in your home can conjure up memories of summer’s floral bounty, even in the depths of winter. Try framing a collection of wellness supporting herbs to serve as a decorative herbarium or frame culinary herbs to hang in the kitchen or give as a gift to a food-loving friend.

Framed botanicals can also serve as heartfelt mementos. For example, to celebrate my niece Poppy’s birth, I picked a dozen beautiful flowers – including poppies – that were in bloom the day she was born. I framed them, and they’re now hanging on the wall of her nursery. I also recently picked and pressed a dozen wildflowers during a family vacation to the mountains. Those flowers are now a part of our framed botanical collection, and when I pass the dainty little bluebells, I’m reminded of our joyous time in the Rocky Mountain wilderness.

From May through September I pick, press, and frame dozens of alluring plants to decorate my home and to give as gifts. With just a few materials and some simple instructions, you too can display everything from lush fern leaves to delicate baby’s breath to cheerful poppy flowers. Keep reading to find out how!

Best Plants for Drying

How To Make Framed Botanicals to Decorate Your Home | Herbal Academy | Bring plants into your home in a whole new way by decorating your walls with framed botanicals. Get the steps and details here.

The first step in making your own framed botanicals is to press and dry your selected plants. Some plants will press better than others, so experiment with the flora in your vicinity to find your favorites.

I’ve found that umbel-shaped flowers, such as Queen Anne’s lace and yarrow, press particularly well. Poppies retain their color splendidly, and naturally flat flowers, like violets and daisies, offer a timeless beauty. You can also experiment with pressing individual leaves; fern leaves look particularly exotic when framed, and I’ve been eyeing the oversized staghorn sumac leaves growing near my home. Avoid pressing flowers with multiple layers of petals and lots of moisture, like zinnias and large dahlias, because they often get moldy in the press.

When making botanical art, you’ll only want to harvest and press the most beautiful, blemish-free specimens. Try to find the most eye-catching flower or two on a plant. Don’t forget to offer thanks for such a beautiful gift! If harvesting plants from the wild, take care to only pick plants that are growing in abundance and are not endangered and leave any flowers for which you only see a sparse bloom here and there. It’s also a good idea to ask permission to harvest plants from private property.

Harvest your plant material in the morning or evening when the plants are vital and healthy after the dew has already evaporated. Part of the pressing process involves removing moisture, so you don’t want to harvest after a rain or in the very early morning when dew is most plentiful. I typically harvest the flowerhead along with about 7 to 8 inches of stem and foliage, if possible. It’s fun to display the leaves along with the flowers, and this also helps with future identification. If you want to create a framed herbarium, then consider harvesting the same plant during various life stages so that you can include the seeds and possibly the fruit, too. It is also possible to frame a clean sliver of the plant’s root.

How to Press Botanicals

After you’ve harvested the plants of your choice, you’ll need to press them to remove moisture and retain the plant’s color and shape. You can use a dedicated plant press (find step-by-step instructions for making your own plant press here) or you can put the plant material inside a phone book, dictionary, or other large book. If you want to protect the pages of the book from becoming stained, then sandwich your plant specimens between two pieces of blotting paper, newspaper, or even plain-old computer paper. I use brown butcher paper and have been happy with the results.

Don’t overlap your plant specimens within the press or book, which can make them dry in odd shapes. If using a press, then after it’s loaded you will want to tighten the straps or bolts and set the press aside for 3 to 4 weeks during which the plants can dry without interruption. If using a book, then close the book and weigh it down with a brick or other heavy weight. Let it sit for 3 to 4 weeks for the plants to dry thoroughly.

How to Frame Pressed Botanicals

How To Make Framed Botanicals to Decorate Your Home | Herbal Academy | Bring plants into your home in a whole new way by decorating your walls with framed botanicals. Get the steps and details here.

After 3 to 4 weeks have passed, it’s time to unveil your pressed plants! It’s always exciting to see which plants pressed well (and which didn’t). You’ll often be surprised that a simple little “weed” looks splendid, whereas a fancy cultivar may have lost its color and turned brown. Every unveiling is a learning opportunity and a chance to spark your creative fire.

To begin framing, you’ll need the following materials:

  • 1 pair of rubber kitchen gloves
  • Glass cleaner and paper towels (for cleaning the frame’s glass)
  • 1 frame (I prefer using floating glass frames, but you can also experiment with mounting the pressed flowers to white paper or linen to mount inside a traditional frame with matting.)
  • Tweezers
  • Mod Podge craft glue
  • 1 small paintbrush (or 5 cotton swabs or toothpicks)

Directions:

  1. Put your rubber kitchen gloves on to avoid getting fingerprints on the inside of the glass, which is difficult to clean after the frame is reassembled.
  2. Take both pieces of glass out of the frame and clean them thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. Arrange your pressed botanicals on one piece of glass, trimming pieces to fit if necessary. Use tweezers to help pick up and arrange the delicate plants without ripping the petals or smudging the glass with your fingers. 
  4. When you’re happy with your arrangement, use a small paintbrush to dab little dots of Mod Podge glue on the back of each flower, stem, and leaf to adhere it to the glass. Mod Podge dries clear, but you’ll still want to avoid having too much excess glue shine through the flower petals and foliage. With practice, you’ll find a balance between enough glue to hold the plants in place and using so much that it looks messy. Be careful not to smear glue on the inside of the frame.
  5. Let the glue dry for 20 to 30 minutes before laying the second piece of glass over the first and sliding both pieces into the frame.
  6. Secure the glass in place, and then hang your framed botanicals in a spot that will bring you joy.

How To Make Framed Botanicals to Decorate Your Home | Herbal Academy | Bring plants into your home in a whole new way by decorating your walls with framed botanicals. Get the steps and details here.

Depending on your style, you can either frame a combination of flowers in a joyous collage or you can frame one beautiful specimen for a minimalist, modern feel. Try arranging multiple framed botanicals in one space for a prominent gallery wall or hang framed botanicals over a window so the sun’s rays can shine through the plants’ foliage. The design options are virtually endless, so let loose and have fun preserving summer’s floral beauty with this simple and inexpensive botanical craft project.

How To Make Framed Botanicals to Decorate Your Home | Herbal Academy | Bring plants into your home in a whole new way by decorating your walls with framed botanicals. Get the steps and details here.

5 Best Places to Sell Herbal Products

5 Places To Sell Herbal Products | Herbal Academy | Does selling herbal products intimidate you, or do you simply not know where to start? Here's 5 outlets you can use to sell herbal products successfully!

One of the biggest questions facing an entrepreneur is, “How do I make money?” The key difference between being a hobbyist and an entrepreneur is just that: money. If you are an herbalist, you most likely didn’t get into this line of work for money; you came into this field with a passion for plants, helping others, being your own boss, working outside, natural wellness, or any combination of these reasons. Of course, the reality of trying to make a living as an herbal entrepreneur sinks in and one has to consider how to do so.

If you are an herbal entrepreneur who makes your own products — from salves to tinctures to teas, and everything in between — have you considered selling your goods to others? Perhaps you offer your creations to friends and family but haven’t yet ventured to other outlets. This may be something you want to consider as a way to make money doing what you love.

If selling your herbal goods intimidates you, or you simply do not know where to start, there are a number of places you can look into to sell herbal products. Thankfully, the technology and connectivity of today’s marketplace make selling herbal goods rather accessible and something you can truly succeed in if you’re able to invest the time and energy.

Below, I’m sharing 5 outlets that I currently sell herbal products in (and you can too!), along with some tips and tricks on how to succeed in each outlet.

5 Places To Sell Herbal Products | Herbal Academy | Does selling herbal products intimidate you, or do you simply not know where to start? Here's 5 outlets you can use to sell herbal products successfully!

Before You Begin To Sell Herbal Products

Any kind of business comes with rules and legalities that must be followed. When you begin to sell herbal products, it is no longer a hobby; you are now in business. Rules and regulations vary from state to state and country to country, so be sure to do your research relative to where you live.

Finding a local tax expert, especially one who specializes in small businesses, is an important step. Tax experts can help you not only file your business taxes each year, but figure out where to be taking deductions so you maximize profit. There are also organizations like SCORE and the Small Business Association that provide free mentorship and even funding for your business.

Some suggestions of what to look into before you sell herbal products in any form include:

  • Herbal Product Categories: The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulates herbal products as food, dietary supplements, or cosmetics, depending on the product. You’ll need to know which category your product falls under, and thus which regulations apply.
  • Product Labeling: Study the FDA’s guidelines on labeling products. There are a few categories your products could fall under, including cosmetics, drugs, and food. Be aware that failing to follow their regulations on your labels could lead to FDA enforcement action. For example, making drug claims are not allowed. This would include saying a salve is “healing” or that a tincture “cures headaches.” Be sure you know the difference between a drug claim and a structure/function claim, and be aware that even structure/function claims require supporting information be filed with FDA. There are ways to use creative language that gets your message across without breaking FDA guidelines, and sometimes simple is the safest way (from a regulatory compliance perspective) to describe a product. There are even regulations in regards to what information must be included on your product labels, such as manufacturing location, the amount of each herb used, text font size, and more.
  • Product Manufacturing: Study the FDA’s guidelines on current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs).
  • Insurance: You will want liability insurance to protect your business in case a customer has an issue with something you made. Additionally, most farmers markets and retailers will require you have a minimum of (typically) $1 million in liability insurance. This may sound like a hassle (more money!), but it is the smart thing to do to.
  • Choose a Business Structure: This article from the Small Business Administration discusses options for structuring your business such as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. There are plenty of resources to help you navigate this step and determine which business structure is best for your business.
  • Licenses, Permits, and Registrations: Your county/state will likely require a business license before doing business in your area. There may be additional licenses, permits, and/or registrations needed.
  • Taxes: You will most likely be paying sales and use tax if you are selling your herbal goods. Be sure to look into what this entails so you have everything covered when tax time comes.

The above certainly doesn’t include everything, but it is an introductory look at what to consider before you begin to sell herbal products. If you have more questions, the Herbal Academy delves into this topic in their Entrepreneur Herbal Course. You can also reach out to your local board of health and consulting experts for more advice.

5 Places To Sell Herbal Products | Herbal Academy | Does selling herbal products intimidate you, or do you simply not know where to start? Here's 5 outlets you can use to sell herbal products successfully!

5 Best Places to Sell Herbal Products

1. Online

ETSY

Etsy is often the first outlet that many creatives look into when beginning to sell their offerings. Etsy is an online platform the herbal entrepreneur will likely find user-friendly and fitting for their products. Doing a quick search on Etsy will show just how many herbalists use the site as their online store.

The rules of Etsy state that everything on the site must be either handmade or vintage. This definitely narrows the pool of who can be on the site, but with Etsy’s popularity, there are still thousands of makers who sell natural skincare, soaps, natural wellness products, and other goods you may be looking at selling. However, there is still room for success on Etsy when you’re prepared.

Setting up an Etsy shop involves the following:

  • Name Your Business: If you don’t already have a business/product line name, you will need one for Etsy.
  • Take Photos: Take the best quality photos you can of your products. This is the first and sometimes only chance you have to bring in a customer. Taking high-quality, well-lit, and well-staged photos can make or break your shop. Etsy allows several photos per product — so consider taking some with a sleek white background as well as some that feel more “organic,” with botanicals surrounding the product, for example.
  • Product Description: Etsy gives space for you to share all about your product. Writing a concise but colorful description will help the potential customer to know why they should buy your product. Be sure to highlight what makes your product unique, the ingredients included, size of container, and any other pertinent details.
  • Fees: Unlike some other online platforms, Etsy doesn’t require a monthly fee to sell on their site (as of this writing in June 2018). For each item you list, there is a $0.20 fee per item, which means you pay $0.20 for each unit you sell. There is an additional fee of 3.5% per transaction. So for each item you sell, Etsy takes $0.20 + 3.5% of your earnings.

These are the basics involved in setting up an Etsy shop. Other things you must consider include shipping fees, using appropriate tag words to help your products be found, filling out the “about” section and including all social media links, and writing out very clear shop policies. A tip for being found and standing out on Etsy is to pay for advertising/promoted listings through the platform. I sell much better when I budget even just $1/day in advertising.

It will likely take several hours that turn to days of work to set up your Etsy shop, but once everything is up and running, you can focus on creating what you love and sharing it with your customers!

E-COMMERCE WEBSITE

You will likely also want your own website when you sell herbal products online. This may come after you set up a shop on Etsy, or it may even come before. The reason for doing both Etsy and your own website is that you’re widening the pool from which you draw customers. Some people will find you from Etsy and others will find your website by searching in Google for products like yours.

Similar aspects apply when selling on your website: take bright, well-lit photos, have thorough descriptions, include an “about me” page that shares the person behind the products, and provide easy-to-find information on how to contact you with questions.

2. Farmers Markets

Farmers markets may be the friendliest and most comfortable place for the herbal entrepreneur to sell herbal products. To find a farmers market near you, simply do an online search or ask your local chamber of commerce or another party that would know what’s going on in town. If you live in a larger city, you may find there are farmers markets numbering in the double digits each week, as it is common for larger neighborhoods within a city host their own markets.

As you determine if a farmers market is a good fit, it is wise to consider the type of customer that is attracted to a farmers market as well as how tourist season might impact your sales. This can help you decide either which markets to apply to and what products to sell. Another thing to consider is how many other vendors might be selling similar products. Often, the farmers market manager(s) are cognizant not to flood the market with too much of the same vendor, but be sure to do your own research here.

This outlet is one you have to time right in order to get in for the season. Farmers markets typically open in May or early June and run through October. Applications vary but are usually available in the winter to early spring. If you’d like to sell at a farmers market, find the one(s) you’re interested in and see if you can sign up for a mailing list to be notified when applications open. If this isn’t an option, add a notification to your calendar so you don’t miss this opportunity. Once farmers markets fill up, you’re out of luck and will have to check back next year, unless someone drops out that season and a spot opens up.

Once you’re in, there are basic things you will need. Be sure to follow the rules and regulations of the market you are selling at as well as proper business licensing laws required by your county. Some basic things you will likely want to have/consider having for a market:

  • Tent: Usually a 10-foot x 10-foot pop-up tent.
  • Table(s): Decide what size and style best suits your needs.
  • Displays: Check out a local craft store or a site like Etsy to find cute and functional displays. Keep in mind: “Eye level is buy level.”
  • Signage: This includes the business signage you’ll hang on your tent as well as product pricing (people don’t want to have to ask what things cost!). You may also want an A-frame sign to put out front to draw people in.
  • Credit Card Reader: This is becoming more and more important as many people don’t carry cash. Whatever processing system you use on your website can potentially be made mobile and many companies provide free credit card readers. All you need then is a smartphone to take credit card payments. Keep in mind that you will have to pay credit card processing fees associated with whichever company you choose.
  • Business Cards: I get asked all the time if I have a business card at events. People who don’t buy from me in person often go online later and will make a purchase. I put a coupon code on my business card to incentivize buying from me online.

Selling at events requires an upfront investment to get going — buying all the above things to set up your own mini store for markets — but is often worth it just for the networking and connecting with customers in person. I sold exclusively online for the first couple of years with my herbal business. Once I sold at my first market, I was hooked. I loved being able to share my products face-to-face. You may be surprised to realize that suddenly you are in the position of being a salesperson, but if you believe in your product and make it with your own hands, this role may come naturally. It’s incredibly rewarding to connect with customers and have them come back week after week at the farmers market, sharing their love for your products.

3. Craft Fairs

These are very similar to farmers markets in terms of what to bring, setup, interacting with customers, insurance and legal requirements, and so on. The difference is that craft fairs and festivals are usually one and done events that happen seasonally, often on the weekend. What I’ve found, though, is these types of events bring in higher volumes of people than an average farmers market, which means there is an opportunity to reach many more potential customers and make more money in a day at a craft fair.

When you sell herbal products at a craft fair, you will likely need to bring more product with you. If you operate your booth solo at farmers markets, you may want to have an extra person helping you when selling at craft fairs.

5 Places To Sell Herbal Products | Herbal Academy | Does selling herbal products intimidate you, or do you simply not know where to start? Here's 5 outlets you can use to sell herbal products successfully!

4. Retail

Retail stores can be an intimidating but incredibly rewarding outlet to sell herbal products in. Selling in retail stores is also referred to as “wholesale,” which, you guessed it, means wholesale pricing. Most retailers have a certain margin they need to make and will not consider stocking your product if they can’t get that margin. It is common for this niche of herbal goods to have around a 50% margin for the manufacturer (you), meaning you would set your wholesale costs at twice the cost to make the product, and the retailer would typically mark up the price 100% to make a 50% profit margin on your products. For example, if it costs you $2 to make a salve, the wholesale price would be $4, and your profit would be 50% of $4; the retailer would mark up the price to $8, and their profit margin would be 50% of $8. You may be able to sell your goods to a retailer for closer to 40% or even 30% less than retail — figuring out what works best is up to you. It may also make you realize you aren’t charging enough for your products. I’ve found that makers of all kinds, especially those just starting out, do not factor in the cost of their time, and thus end up undercharging for their goods.

Something to keep in mind with retail sales is that you are typically selling in higher quantities (bulk) than when you sell herbal products directly to a consumer. This means your order size is going to be large. On top of that, the time you spend moving large amounts of products, say $300 in products to one retailer, is likely less than the time it would take to make that much at a market where you spend time setting up, selling, and taking down.

I have found retail to be my most profitable outlet when factoring in the time and work required. In order for farmers markets or craft fairs to compare with my retail sales, they must be well-attended with great weather and people who want to buy my product. I sometimes do much better at a market than in retail, but the overall reliable income lies more with retail. If you line up eight retailers who order just $200 in product each month, that is $1600 per month on wholesale!

The great part of retail sales, too, is that opportunities really are endless. Once you’ve tapped out local stores, you can sell herbal products in other states (being mindful of their regulations, of course). Selling in local stores is not only good money, but it can be great marketing as it can help drive your online sales. Once customers have tried your brand, they may go directly to your website to buy from you or recommend your goods to friends and family.

If you’re interested in selling your products through a local store, one of the best things you can do is to find out who the buyer is and bring in samples of your product. Cold calling or emailing stores could work, but more often, going in and actually giving them something to try will yield a quicker and more positive response. This can be tricky for those who don’t feel like salespeople, but just remember that you stand by what you make, you know what’s in it and how it was made, and that is often what matters most to buyers. I like to bring samples of my best sellers or what I think would do well in a particular store, tell them about the products, and then leave them with the samples and an order form. I usually follow up within a week. Sometimes, if it feels right, I will ask right away while I am there if they’d like to go ahead and place an order, and I’ll fill out the order form with them in person.

Once you have an order and a relationship with a store, clear communication and reliability are key. Delivering orders when you say you will (within a reasonable amount of time from when the order is placed) is very important. Popping in from time to time to straighten out the display, ask how things are going, and checking to see what you can do for them will help strengthen the relationship. Retailers are often busy and hectic, so being a reliable presence will make all the difference to them.

5 Places To Sell Herbal Products | Herbal Academy | Does selling herbal products intimidate you, or do you simply not know where to start? Here's 5 outlets you can use to sell herbal products successfully!

5. Local CSA

Selling herbal products through a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is a great option for those who make and sell herbal products but aren’t farmers or don’t have their own CSA. Many CSA programs seek local products to include in their subscription box of vegetables to add value. Bread, eggs, flowers, and herbal goods are some of the models I’ve seen.

Most CSAs run for about 20 weeks in a year — throughout the growing season from May or June through October. They include a box of seasonal produce each week to their customers, and either deliver at drop-off points in the local community (think: natural food stores) or have customers pick them up at the farm.

To sell herbal products in a CSA, first, make sure you have a plan together before you pitch to local farms. Start by making a list of seasonal items you would include with each box. Then, decide if you would be able to offer unique items each week, or if it would be a better arrangement to propose being a “guest maker” in the box once monthly. Since customers of CSAs are typically the same each week, as most models have them sign up for the full season, you wouldn’t want to give the same type of product (such as a salve) every time.

Finally, reach out to the farms in your area with which you’d like to partner. It may be wise to do a pilot program with one farm and see how that goes. Then, you can expand if this approach is a good fit for you.

Finally

As you can see, there are plenty of places for you to sell herbal products. Hopefully, this breakdown has helped demystify the process of turning a passion or hobby into a viable business. One of the biggest things to keep in mind as you grow your business is to be patient and keep at it. Choose one of the aforementioned outlets to focus on first — whichever fits your situation best — and put your energy and time into working out the kinks there. Then, you can decide if you should try to sell herbal products in other places.

As you learn your business, what you have time and passion for, who your audience is, and your margins, you will have a better sense of what outlets are best to devote your time to sell through.

Above all, you want to enjoy what you’re doing. It’s likely that you got into this work because of a passion and connection to herbs and other reasons that aren’t focused on money. It will be important to keep your love for your work at the forefront so you don’t lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you do this, you’ll soon learn that you can make a living doing what you love!

Happy selling!

5 Places To Sell Herbal Products | Herbal Academy | Does selling herbal products intimidate you, or do you simply not know where to start? Here's 5 outlets you can use to sell herbal products successfully!

How To Use Flower Essences for Emotional Support

How To Use Flower Essences For Emotional Support | Herbal Academy | Do you feel energized, hopeful, or at peace? Here's how to use flower essences to capture seasonal energy and support the emotional side of wellness.

How do you feel when you notice spring and summer flowers in bloom or the trees budding and bursting with life? Do you feel energized, hopeful, or at peace? Flower essences capture this subtle seasonal energy, and they are used to support the emotional side of wellness.

Flower essences are created by infusing newly opened flowers into water. This process extracts the flower’s scent, color, and texture — its vitality — out of the blossoms and into the water. The vitality of the flowers in bloom becomes a subtle, yet powerful, preparation to help support your nervous system, which impacts every other system of your body.

In the 1930s, Dr. Edward Bach, created the original 38 flower essences. His essences were broken up into seven different categories, which give you a sense of the type of emotional support flower essences can offer:

  1. For Those Who Have Fear
  2. For Those Who Suffer Uncertainty
  3. Not Sufficient Interest in Present Circumstances
  4. Loneliness
  5. Over-Sensitive to Influences and Ideas
  6. For Despondency or Despair
  7. Over-Care for Welfare of Others

Let’s look a bit further at how flower essences can be used to support emotional health and wellness.

How Flower Essences Support Emotional Wellbeing

How To Use Flower Essences For Emotional Support | Herbal Academy | Do you feel energized, hopeful, or at peace? Here's how to use flower essences to capture seasonal energy and support the emotional side of wellness.

Using flower essences allow us to come into connection with who we are and give us the opportunity to act from our vital force. They support us by removing the obstacles to wellness, or negative ritual patterns. In essence, they are balancing to a person’s emotions.

One flower essence producer likens flower essences to music or art in that the messages are carried out in their specific mediums (Flower Essence Services, n.d.). For example, when I listen to music, visit a museum, or the botanic gardens, I feel moved by what I hear, see, and smell. Flower essences serve us in similar ways, allowing access to emotion, movement, process, and transformation.

Flower essences bring their highest vibrational energy into our system, balancing emotional patterns and responses when they are needed. The essences help us to see how different it can feel to address our emotional body from a place of balance and light. By taking the essences regularly, they teach us new ways of being that best serve our minds and bodies.

One way to imagine the flower essences at work is to think of a river. We carve streams and rivers of reaction and pattern throughout our lives. If one of those rivers of response doesn’t serve our highest good, the essences can help carve out a new route that does. They can show us our best selves through this process of release, integration, and learning.

For example, sometimes before bed, my mind can race through the list of to-dos I need to complete the next day. This can keep my mind agitated, activated, and awake. When I use White Chestnut flower essence, it allows the racing, circling thoughts to calm. That repetition of thought, that habit, does not serve me. With the assistance of White Chestnut, I am supported in quieting down the mental chatter. Then, I feel tranquil enough to sink into sleep.

Flower essences support us by helping to address emotional imbalances, stress, deeply ingrained habits and patterns, and general wellbeing. As emotional beings, we feel the world around us and can always use a little support. Flower essences help us reroute outdated patterns and create space for more vital, true connections to ourselves and to our self-expression.

Part of my love for flower essences comes from sitting in the unknown, trusting the plants, and deeply listening to their wisdom. Flower essences allow me the time and space to get quiet. This may be a moment with each drop of flower essence, or it may be a meditation. It can serve as an opportunity for a breath, to pause, and to slow down. Essences can support us in many ways, and I’ve found in my own wellness journey that their presence is transformative beyond words.

According to Dr. Bach, flower essences can support daily stress, acute pain or trauma, overwhelm, racing thought patterns, known and unknown fears, guilt, and confidence building. You can find these indications within his seven categories. Though these are just a few indications for flower essences, the range is immense and abundant.

Flower essence maker Mimi Kamp says that flower essences can be “used for emotional, mental, spiritual, and even at times physical imbalances, crises, support, and opening” (Kamp, n.d., para. 2).

Flower essences can be a true partner in wellness. They can coincide and partner with herbal therapeutics, counseling, western medicine, and deep spiritual practice.

How to Take a Flower Essence

How To Use Flower Essences For Emotional Support | Herbal Academy | Do you feel energized, hopeful, or at peace? Here's how to use flower essences to capture seasonal energy and support the emotional side of wellness.

The proper dosage for a flower essence or flower essence formula is 4 single drops at a minimum of 4 times a day. However, you are welcome to take your essence more than 4 times a day. In fact, you may notice that when you first start working with a formula or single essence, you may feel drawn to taking it more often. There may be a craving sensation that occurs that reminds you to take your essence. Keep your flower essence close and use it freely. I carry my flower essence dosage bottle with me everywhere I go. I tuck it away in my pocket, place it on my desk if I am working, or on my side table when in session with a client.

Flower essences are incredibly safe. They can be used by children as well as pets. There is no way to overuse a flower essence, which allows a freedom in tuning into what your body is asking. Sometimes taking a flower essence can feel challenging. If you are having a reaction upon taking a flower essence that is one of deep grief, bouts of sobbing, or feeling of heartbreak, you may want to stick to only 4 drops, 4 times a day. Be kind to yourself in these moments as you are doing deep work. If you feel discomfort, this might be a nice opportunity to meditate, go for a walk, or pull out your journal to reflect. If you experience relief right away and feel drawn to taking it more often, you can take your flower essence as often as you would like. I suggest taking one of your doses as you are settling into bed — you may use it topically or orally — and notice how your body, as it quiets, experiences your essence.

To see a lasting change, the recommended approach is to work with a flower essence, or a combination of flower essences in a formula, for 2-4 weeks. To touch the deep patterns, the deep work, 6 weeks or more is recommended with your flower essence or flower essence formula.

*A note about stock bottles versus dosage bottles: A stock bottle is what you will find at apothecaries or grocery markets. To make a dosage bottle, the bottle you will use daily, you will add 1 drop of the stock bottle to 15 mL (or ½ ounce) of spring water. To make a larger batch, add 2 drops from the stock bottle into 30 mL (1 ounce) spring water. If creating a formula for yourself, add one drop of each essence from their individual stock bottles into a bottle with 15 mL (or ½ ounce) spring water.

Finding the Flower Essence For You

How To Use Flower Essences For Emotional Support | Herbal Academy | Do you feel energized, hopeful, or at peace? Here's how to use flower essences to capture seasonal energy and support the emotional side of wellness.

There are many resources for finding the right essences for you. One way is to research individual flower essences and what they have to offer you. I recommend that you pick up any of the three recommended resources below, get comfy with a cup of tea, and explore the possibilities of bringing flower essence support into your wellness practice.

  1. The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy by Mechthild Scheffer
  2. Flower Essence Repertory by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz
  3. The Bach Flower Remedies by Edward Bach, MD

Another way to learn and play with flower essences is through intuitive work such as using a pendulum. Once you are comfortable with the pendulum’s yes and no, you can touch each essence and ask if that is an essence that you need to bring in balance and grounding. Once you’ve cleared and grounded yourself, you can ask those essences if they would be supportive in a formula for lasting change. Through this method, you can feel the essence in your body and then research the essence to get more insight into why it is well indicated or appropriate for you. For more information on pendulum practice, please read this description from Australian Bush Flower Essences.  

You can also use a flower essence kit when getting started with flower essences. There are many flower essence kits available by flower essence makers around the world. Aside from Bach’s foundational essences, I find power and depth among Perelandra Center for Nature and Research’s offerings as well as Mimi Kamp’s series.

A commonly used essence called Five Flower Remedy, or Rescue Remedy, is a great essence to have on hand at all times. It is a combination of five different flower essences and was created by Dr. Bach. This essence is helpful in the case of stressful or emergency situations bringing forth calmness and stability. It can support you in your daily commute to work, worry over an upcoming presentation or meeting, and even with headaches or anxiety flares. Five Flower Remedy is a great place to start your understanding of how flower essences work.

Lastly, flower essence practitioners hold space for their clients to share their story and notice what is alive in them. Within this space, practitioners are able to listen deeply and select well indicated essences that are client-specific. By sitting with our clients, we can use an unbiased ear to guide our clients to a formula that can bring about subtle, gentle, yet profound shifts. If you feel this would be helpful, you may want to seek out a qualified flower essence practitioner. Ultimately, the goal is to hold space for yourself to explore your emotions and needs, and how flower essences can help.  

Finally

Working with flower essences is a step towards full body wellness. When we address the emotional body, our physical body thanks us. When engaging with flower essences, I come to understand myself more clearly. I invite you to bring your curiosity and an open heart to your exploration of flower essences. I wish for you all of the awareness, understanding, and compassion you can give yourself. You deserve this sweet support. Enjoy stealing moments for quiet, for listening, or for transformation. I’m ever grateful for the flowers, their generosity, wisdom, and presence, and I hope that they can support you in your wellness journey, too.

How To Use Flower Essences For Emotional Support | Herbal Academy | Do you feel energized, hopeful, or at peace? Here's how to use flower essences to capture seasonal energy and support the emotional side of wellness.

REFERENCES

Bach, E. & Wheeler, F.J. (1997). The Bach flower remedies. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, Inc.

Flower Essence Services. (n.d.). What are flower essences? [Online Article]. Retrieved from www.fesflowers.com/product-info/flower-essences/what-are-flower-essences/

Kaminski, P. & Katz, R. (1986). Flower essence repertory. Nevada City, CA: Earth-Spirit, Inc.

Kamp, M. (n.d.). Introduction to flower essences. [Online Article]. Retrieved from  http://essenceofthedesert.wordpress.com/introduction/.

Scheffer, M. (1999). The encyclopedia of Bach flower therapy. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

The Spring Cleanse: How To Use Herbs to Support The Body’s Detoxification Process

The Spring Cleanse: How To Use Herbs to Support The Body’s Detoxification Process | Herbal Academy | With spring being a season of growth and rebirth, we're sharing how you can use supportive herbs for cleansing this spring for a healthier you!

With the warm weather upon us, we all want to feel our best. Spring is a season of growth and rebirth, and for many, it brings with it the idea of “doing a cleanse” to shake off the — literal and figurative — weight of a long, cold winter.

A quick online search for “spring cleanse” yields a staggering number of results — many from sketchy sources touting unrealistic results. We don’t need to undertake drastic measures to “cleanse” our systems. Our bodies have an amazing ability to detoxify themselves, and we can use common herbs to assist that natural cleansing process. When it comes to a spring detox, think in terms of gentle supportive herbs for cleansing, not deprivation and drastic measures.

The Spring Cleanse: A Mind-Body Connection

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is governed by the Liver and is traditionally a time of release. The liver, which is greatly affected by stress and emotional disturbances, has the primary function of filtering toxins out of your blood before they enter the rest of your body (Eden, 2008).

In addition to being one of your body’s detox organs, your liver also controls the flow of chi (qi) through your body. If you think of your organs as a solar system, your liver is the sun. It is the center of your body’s natural purification system — intricately connected to other organs like the gallbladder, kidneys, lymphatic system, colon, and skin, which all filter different toxins from the body (Groves, 2016).

A Healthy Starting Point with Herbs

The Spring Cleanse: How To Use Herbs to Support The Body’s Detoxification Process | Herbal Academy | With spring being a season of growth and rebirth, we're sharing how you can use supportive herbs for cleansing this spring for a healthier you!

Before turning to supportive herbs for cleansing, it is critical to start with healthy lifestyle choices. While it may sound cliché, eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough rest, and staying hydrated are essential to maintaining your body’s natural functions.   

“To really make vital changes to your well-being, look beyond a simple ‘take some herbs’ approach… Diet, lifestyle, and mind-body balance are the pillars of health and no amount of tinctures or capsules can take their place” (Groves, 2016, p. 21). No cleanse will be able to undo the damage of years of poor habits, so keeping yourself healthy (through as many natural means as possible) is the best starting place for any herbal program.

If you are thinking about using herbs to support your body’s inherent ability to remove toxins and metabolic wastes, it is important to conduct thorough research and consult a clinical herbalist, naturopath, or doctor before using any herbs, particularly if you are suffering from any serious medical conditions.

Supportive Herbs for Cleansing

Below is a list of herbs commonly used for detoxification.

Herb Liver Movers/Alteratives Liver Protectors Lymph Movers/Alteratives

(Lymphagogues)

Parts Used Cautions
Dandelion

(Taraxacum officinale)

X Leaves, root Diuretic; caution using with other medications
Burdock (Arctium lappa) X X Leaves, fruit, root, seeds Can cause dermatitis (rare)
Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus) X Root Less is more; avoid during pregnancy, breastfeeding
Turmeric

(Curcuma longa, C. domestica)

X X Rhizome Not for use with blood-thinners or gallstones; can cause skin rashes
Schizandra

(Schisandra chinensis)

X X Berries/fruit Large doses can cause heartburn; can interact with some medications
Artichoke (Cynara scolymus, C. cardunculus) X X Flowerheads, leaves, root Do not take with peptic ulcers; dosages restrictions during pregnancy
Ginger

(Zingiber officinale)

X X Rhizome
Milk Thistle

(Silybum marianum)

X Flowerheads, seeds Can cause allergic reaction (rare); seek medical assistance if using during chemotherapy
Red Clover

(Trifolium pratense)

X X Flowerheads
Calendula

(Calendula officinalis)

X X Flowerheads Can cause allergic reaction (rare)
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) X X Root, flower Can cause allergic reaction (rare)

(Compiled from Groves, 2016 and Chevalier, 2016)

Using Herbs for a Spring Cleanse

Primary Systems: Herbal Support for The Liver

While your skin may be your largest organ, it is not the most efficient when it comes detoxification. That title falls to your liver, which is constantly filtering toxins and metabolic wastes out of your blood before it enters the rest of your body.

Bitter herbs can support your liver’s natural detoxification function, encouraging the organ to clean blood more efficiently and excrete more bile for digestion. Often referred to as alteratives or blood cleansers, herbs such as dandelion and burdock are detox rockstars, working to keep your detox channels open and moving so waste and toxins are removed from your body. Turmeric, milk thistle, ginger, schizandra, and artichoke leaf can aid in liver protection and regeneration (Groves, 2016).  

Unlike drugs, which take over for your body, burdock nourishes and strengthens your natural filtration system, enabling it to work optimally to clear away waste as it is meant to do (Bennett, 2014).

To stimulate the large intestines, yellow dock can be used alone or combined with other alterative herbs such as burdock and dandelion roots. Yellow dock has been shown to improve the flow of bile, further contributing to its detoxifying abilities (Chevalier, 2016). Yellow dock is best used in small amounts on a short term basis (Kuhn & Winston, 2008).  

Dandelion is another supportive herb for cleansing that gently stimulates the liver and gallbladder, encouraging the former to remove waste from the body and the latter to excrete bile when needed for digestion. Calendula, often a go-to for skin inflammation, is also prized for its detox properties and has long been used to aid the liver and gallbladder in cleansing as well (Chevalier, 2016).

Secondary Systems: Herbal Support for Skin and Lymph Systems

The Spring Cleanse: How To Use Herbs to Support The Body’s Detoxification Process | Herbal Academy | With spring being a season of growth and rebirth, we're sharing how you can use supportive herbs for cleansing this spring for a healthier you!

Think of your skin and lymphatic systems as the backup cleaning crew for your liver; these separate, but closely interconnected systems support one another. Your lymphatic system cleans fluids from your body, dumping the waste into your bloodstream for removal by your liver. However, because it lacks a pump to move lymph (fluid), physical movement, including exercise, massage, and skin brushing, is critical to stimulate lymphatic movement and drainage.

Exfoliation and hydration are also excellent for purifying the skin. While your skin might not do the heavy lifting, it is still an important detoxification organ. Lymph-stimulating herbal baths, steams, saunas, and exfoliation also help detoxify the skin with detoxification. Clay, juniper, ginger (topically or in a bath), seaweed, Epsom salts (bath), plantain, aloe leaf, and prickly pear pad poultices can also aid in exfoliation and toxin removal (Groves, 2016).

DIY Bitters Tea Recipe To Stimulate The Liver

This bitter herbal tea has a taste reminiscent of coffee. It’s filled with supportive herbs for cleansing and is a great way to boost your liver function.

Bitters Tea

Adapted from Body Into Balance by Maria Noel Groves

[recipe_ingredients]

2 teaspoons burdock root
1 teaspoon roasted chicory root
1 teaspoon dandelion root
Optional: ½ teaspoon yellow dock as a gentle laxative

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Place 2 cups of water in a small pot or saucepan.
  • Add roots.
  • Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat and continue to simmer (covered) for 15-20 minutes.
  • Strain out the roots and serve hot or let cool a bit and serve over ice.

[/recipe_directions]

You can learn more about making your own herbal bitters in our two-part series: Bitter Integrations: Part 1 and Bitter Integrations: Part 2.

With gentle herbs that support the body’s detoxification organs, there is no need for extreme measures or starvation detox schemes. Spring is the perfect time to learn more about supportive herbs for cleansing and try a recipe or two. Have you tried a bitter brew or similar herbal detoxifying blend? Let us know what your favorite herbs are to support a spring cleanse on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.The Spring Cleanse: How To Use Herbs to Support The Body’s Detoxification Process | Herbal Academy | With spring being a season of growth and rebirth, we're sharing how you can use supportive herbs for cleansing this spring for a healthier you!

REFERENCES

Bennett, R.R. (2014). The gift of healing herbs. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.  

Chevalier, A. (2016). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine [3rd ed.]. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

Eden, D. (2008). Energy medicine. New York, NY: Penguin.

Groves, M.N. (2016). Body into balance: An herbal guide to holistic self care. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Kuhn, M. & Winston, D. (2008). Winston & Kuhn’s herbal therapy and supplements [2nd ed.]. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health.

TCM World. (n.d.). Liver/Gallbladder according to five element theory. [Online Article]. Retrieved from https://www.tcmworld.org/what-is-tcm/the-five-major-organ-systems/tcm-lifestyle-wisdom-for-liver-health/

How To Build A Nutritive Tea

How To Build A Nutritive Tea | Herbal Academy | You can build a nutritive tea for your health and wellness by using the many herbs out there that are not only rich in vitamins and minerals, but also aid in our absorption of certain nutrients!

While many of us search the supplement aisles to round out our nutritional needs, we often forget about the many herbs out there that are not only rich in vitamins and minerals but also aid in our absorption of certain nutrients. Now I’m not telling you to throw all your supplements in the trash! However, consider adding a daily nutritive tea to your regular wellness practices for a herbal nutritional boost.

I often relate to my clients that nutritive teas can help fill in “nutritional holes” in our daily diet. These are easily overlooked, and boosting our daily nutritional intake can make a big impact on certain imbalances we may be dealing with. Read on to discover how to build a nutritive tea at home!

Nutritive Herbs

Here is a list of some basic nutritive herbs to draw from when you build a nutritive tea. There are many other nutritive herbs you can use as well, just be sure to do your research to see how they will fit into your formula and with your personal health picture.

Alfalfa (Medicago farfara)

Alfalfa is a classic nutritive herb used since the early days of traditional Greek medicine for its nutrient boosting and nourishing properties (Holmes, 1989). Its moistening nature and mild grassy flavor make it palatable, and easy to balance in flavor with other herbs when formulating. Alfalfa is a broad spectrum nutritive herb rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K, calcium, cobalt, iron, and magnesium (Pedersen, 1987; Young, n.d.).

When taken with a meal, alfalfa can promote nutrient absorption of calcium and protein in particular (Holmes, 1989). It also aids in overall digestion and our body’s ability to break down nutrients by encouraging the release of gastric secretions. Alfalfa is considered a very safe nutritive herb that also contains blood building properties. (Learn more about nourishing the blood in our post here.)

Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Nettle is a staple nutritive herb you may already have incorporated into your practice, or maybe even stung yourself on accident in the field! Its nutritive qualities are largely due to its high content of trace minerals, chlorophyll, proteins, and the enzyme secretin (Holmes, 1989). Nettle is also a great source of vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, C, D, E, K, calcium, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, and zinc (Pedersen, 1987; Young, n.d.).

Nettle is naturally sweet and nourishing and also makes a fabulous blood builder. Since nettle is drying in nature, be sure to balance this energetic with a moistening herb(s) when you build a nutritive tea. Despite the fact that you use the aerial parts, nettle’s beneficial properties are extracted best when lightly decocted. When building a nutritive tea with nettle, be sure to use an overnight infusion method to extract its minerals. (Read more about nettle in our post here.)

How To Build A Nutritive Tea | Herbal Academy | You can build a nutritive tea for your health and wellness by using the many herbs out there that are not only rich in vitamins and minerals, but also aid in our absorption of certain nutrients!

Oatstraw or Oat Tops (Avena sativa)

Oatstraw and oat tops (also known as “milky oats”) have a slightly sweet, smooth, and comforting taste and are moistening in nature. According to Ayurveda, oat’s naturally sweet flavor indicates its restorative qualities which help promote physical strength, weight gain and growth, and protein anabolism enhancement (Holmes, 1989). The key nutrients in oats are vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E, K, calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, silicon, and selenium (Pedersen, 1987; Young, n.d.).

Since oatstraw and tops are considered safe nutritive builders, they are commonly used with children, the elderly, and long-term for people in extremely deficient states. Oats are also well known for offering soothing nervous system support and helping calm anxious minds. (Get to know more about oats in our post here.)

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Red clover has many beneficial properties including being a staple nutritive herb. Its energetics are slightly mixed between being moist and dry, while taste-wise it has subtle sweetness and underlying “jammy” note. Some of the nutrients red clover is noted for are vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, C, calcium, chromium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, and other trace minerals (Pedersen, 1987; Young, n.d.).

From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), red clover helps nourish our yin, blood, and fluids, which, in turn, helps the blood carry more nutrients throughout the body (Holmes, 1989). This makes it a great addition when building a nutritive tea for helping balance nutritional deficiencies. (Learn more about red clover in our post here.)

Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus)

Well known for its female reproductive system supportive properties, raspberry leaf is also a broad-spectrum nutritive herb. Raspberry leaf is rich in calcium, iron, and magnesium in addition to vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E, manganese, niacin, selenium, and other trace minerals (Pedersen, 1987; Gladstar, 2001; Young, n.d.).

Note that because it is quite astringent in nature, you’ll want to balance it with other herbs when you use it to build a nutritive tea (Holmes, 1989). (Learn more in our post 3 Raspberry Leaf Benefits For Women.)

Dandelion Leaf (Taraxacum officinale)

The key nutrients in dandelion leaf are vitamin A, C, E, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc (Young, n.d.; Holmes, 1989; Tierra, 1988). Not only is dandelion leaf a stellar nutritive herb, its bitter quality also makes it a fabulous herb for supporting and stimulating digestion.

Since dandelion leaf is quite bitter and can be diuretic in nature (and you want to make sure you assimilate your nutrients, not just pee them all out!), it’s best to use it as a supporting herb when you build a nutritive tea formula. (Read our post, All About Dandelion (For Your Materia Medica) here.)

How To Build A Nutritive Tea | Herbal Academy | You can build a nutritive tea for your health and wellness by using the many herbs out there that are not only rich in vitamins and minerals, but also aid in our absorption of certain nutrients!

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

Rich in silica, horsetail is a nutritive herb commonly used for supporting the growth of tissues, bones, hair, skin, and nails. Horsetail is also replete with vitamin A, calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium (Pedersen, 1987).

As for energetics, horsetail is cold, dry, and somewhat bitter so be sure to balance appropriately when you build a nutritive tea (Holmes, 1989). Given its high silica content, which can create urinary irritation in some, horsetail should not be taken for more than several weeks at a time (Holmes, 1989).

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed has a neutral and slightly grassy flavor with moistening qualities (Tierra, 1988). Although you might have guessed this from the name, chickweed is a prolific weed! It helps promote nutrient absorption and nourishes the blood (Holmes, 1989).

Rich in vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, silicon, zinc, and other trace minerals, chickweed is a premier nutritive and restorative herb (Pedersen, 1987; Holmes, 1989). Best of all, it is safe and gentle enough for the whole family.

Violet (Viola spp.)

Violet is a common nutritive herb that is well-known for its beautiful, edible flowers. Although the flowers are lovely, the core nutritive value lies in the leaves. The key nutrients in violet include vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium (Young, n.d.).

Bonus: violet is also known to have a relaxing effect that helps soothe frayed nerves and restlessness (De Bairacli Levy, 1997). (Learn more about The Virtues of Violets in our post here.)

Flavor-Harmonizing Herbs

How To Build A Nutritive Tea | Herbal Academy | You can build a nutritive tea for your health and wellness by using the many herbs out there that are not only rich in vitamins and minerals, but also aid in our absorption of certain nutrients!

While you can enjoy your nutritive tea without boosting the taste, sometimes adding a flavor harmonizer can really pull the formula together. Most of the nutritive herbs above tend to be neutral in taste so adding a touch of flavor or sweetness can be a nice complement. Here are 3 common flavor harmonizing herbs you can consider using when you build a nutritive tea:

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

A favorite natural herbal sweetener of many herbalists, licorice root lends its distinctly sweet accent well to nutritive tea blends. In addition, it is soothing to the respiratory system and the gut. Opt for the shredded root or small chopped root pieces rather than those that are longer and uncut. Since you are not decocting your nutritive tea, these forms will extract better in a simple or overnight infusion.

Spearmint (Mentha spicata) or Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Mint is a great flavor addition for a nutritive tea. Spearmint is slightly sweeter and lighter in nature, while peppermint is a bit spicier and stronger. Both of these mints also direct a slight focus on digestion.

Cinnamon Chips (Cinnamomum spp.)

Incorporating cinnamon chips in your nutritive tea formula offers a subtly sweet and spicy flavor. When used in a small amount in your nutritive tea blend, cinnamon does not overpower the flavor but becomes a lovely accent. In addition, cinnamon can help blood sugar levels stay balanced (Holmes, 1989).

How to Build a Nutritive Tea

How To Build A Nutritive Tea | Herbal Academy | You can build a nutritive tea for your health and wellness by using the many herbs out there that are not only rich in vitamins and minerals, but also aid in our absorption of certain nutrients!

Although there are many different herbs you can draw from, building a nutritive tea can be a simple, fun, and intuitive process once you get the basics covered. Here are a few detailed steps you can follow to help guide your tea building process:

1. Choose your herbs. When building a balanced tea formula, it is generally recommended to use up to 7 different herbs. You can always reduce or add to this list later on. Although you can still make a great formula with more than 7 herbs, or even just 2 herbs, sometimes the focus of your formula can become lost or the properties of the herbs can become repetitive when too many different herbs are involved.

Sometimes it can be hard as herbalists to cut out herbs from formulas because we love and want to use them ALL! But remember that formulation is simply experimentation. And you can also re-formulate in the  next batch you make, observing any changes in flavor, energetics, and herbal actions as you play around.

2. Select your primary herbs. Once you list all of the herbs you want to use, pick 1-2 of those herbs to be your primary or leading herbs in the nutritive tea. Your primary herbs are the core focus of the formula while the rest of the herbs you choose support or guide their focus. While these herbs do not have to be the ones you use in the greatest quantity of in the formula, oftentimes they are. 

3. List the energetics + specific actions of each herb. List the energetics of each herb on your list followed by any particular action(s) you want to use the herb for in this formula. When you build a nutritive tea formula, you might want to pay attention to specific nutrients you are looking for in different herbs and write them here as well.

4. Compare your herbs and adjust your formula. Based on the list of actions and energetics you just made, compare all of your herbs for any redundancies between them. It is fine to have some overlap in action, but you can use those parallels to remove certain herbs from your formula, too. You can also factor in the accessibility, price, and availability of the herbs here as well. 

5. Proportion your herbs. Once you have your list finalized, you can start to proportion your herbs in parts. This step takes some practice and refining over time so be easy on yourself the first couple times you try it! When deciding the ratio of parts, some things to consider are: whether the herb is primary, secondary, or tertiary (flavor enhancing herbs are tertiary when you build a nutritive tea), energetic balance (balancing a dry herb with a moistening one for instance), and the general flavor of the herbs individually and the blend as a whole.

Next to each herb write how many parts of it you would like to use in your nutritive tea formula. For instance: if alfalfa is one of your primary herbs, you might use 2 parts; if you only want a touch of sweetness from licorice, you might use ¼ to ½  of a part. Be sure to compare all of the parts once you finalize the list and make any additional adjustments as you see fit. (You can learn more about what “parts” are here.

6. Determine the exact quantities (optional). If you want your formula to be proportionally exact, follow this step to determine the exact quantity of the herbs you use. This step is optional since once you have your parts determined, you can also just use the folk method of approximating parts using measuring spoons and cups.

When determining the exact quantities, start by deciding the total quantity of nutritive tea you want to have at the end. Then divide this number by the total number of parts (down to the decimal if you used ½ of a part, for instance). The number that this simple equation gets you is the number you then multiply individually by each part.

Example: You are building a nutritive tea with 2 parts of alfalfa and ½part of licorice. This equals 2.5 parts total. You want 30 grams total of nutritive tea. Divide 30 by 2.5 to get 12. Then multiply 12 by 2 part alfalfa to get 24: you will use 24 grams of alfalfa in your formula. Multiply 12 by ½ part licorice to get 6: you will use 6 grams of licorice in your formula. 24 + 6 = 30 grams (your desired total amount of nutritive tea blend).

How To Build A Nutritive Tea | Herbal Academy | You can build a nutritive tea for your health and wellness by using the many herbs out there that are not only rich in vitamins and minerals, but also aid in our absorption of certain nutrients!

Nourishing Daily Practice

For many herbalists and tea lovers, drinking a daily nutritive tea becomes an enjoyable and nourishing daily practice. The nutrients in herbal teas are arguably more bioavailable and concentrated than tinctures and powdered herbal supplements too which helps keep us inspired to keep drinking (Groves, 2016).

Since nutritive herbs tend to be gentle in nature and milder in taste, many clinical herbalists recommend drinking a quart per day for several months. Be sure to note any herbs you include in your formula that might not be indicated for long-term use without taking a break in between (such as horsetail), and alternate between a formula that includes those herbs and one that does not.

In general, the longer the herbs steep, the more nutrients can be extracted, so doing an overnight infusion or letting the herbs continue steeping all day as you sip the infusion with a tea straw are both great options (Groves, 2016). The standard ratio used is 20-28 grams (or roughly 4-6 heaping tablespoons) of herb to 4 cups of freshly boiled water, but you can use up to a cup (approximately 16 tablespoons of leafy herb) for an even stronger brew.

A Nutritive Note

It is important to remember that nutritive herbal tea can help fill in the gaps with nutrient imbalances but that the exact vitamin and mineral content extracted is variable herb-to-herb and each time you brew. When in doubt, consult your clinical herbalist for a second opinion and go to your primary care physician to test for specific nutrient deficiencies or other concerns.

Now comes the fun part! Formulating and experimenting with different herbs to build a nutritive tea is always exciting and ever nourishing. Be sure to share your photos and recipes with us by tagging us on social media using hashtags #herbalacademy or #myherbalstudies.

Learn more about combining the art of drinking nutritive tea with other herbal practices in my post 6 Steps To Revitalize Your Health With Herbs This Spring.

How To Build A Nutritive Tea | Herbal Academy | You can build a nutritive tea for your health and wellness by using the many herbs out there that are not only rich in vitamins and minerals, but also aid in our absorption of certain nutrients!

REFERENCES

De Bairacli Levy, J. (1997). Common herbs for natural health. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing.

Holmes, P. (1989). The energetics of western herbs. Cotati, CA: Snow Lotus Press.

Gladstar, R. (2001). Rosemary gladstar’s family herbal. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Groves, M.N. (2016). Body into balance: An herbal guide to holistic self-care. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Pedersen, M. (1987). Nutritional herbology: A reference guide to herbs. Warsaw, IN: Whitman Publications.

Tierra, M. (1988). Planetary herbology. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Young, C. (n.d.). Just say no to synthetic vitamins and processed foods! [Online Article]. Retrieved from: http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/May05/healingwise.htm.

Ayurvedic Tips For Spring Wellness

Ayurvedic Tips For Spring Wellness | Herbal Academy | Do you know that by observing seasonal changes we can attain optimal wellness? Enjoy maximal spring wellness by observing these Ayurvedic tips!

Ayurveda recognizes the cyclic nature of life. In order to achieve wellness, it is important to be tuned in to our environment as well as to be cognizant of our inherent constitution, called prakruti in Ayurveda. This article will elucidate Ayurvedic tips for spring wellness.

Though our prakruti (inherent constitution) is fixed, our present nature, known as vikruti, is influenced by a number of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to: diet, lifestyle, sleep patterns, energy expenditure, time of life, time of day, and seasonal changes.

Each season is dominated by one of the three doshas: vata, pitta, or kapha. By observing seasonal changes and how our bodies and minds are affected by those fluctuations, we have a better chance at attaining optimal wellness and balance in every season.

Spring is characterized by a predominance of kapha dosha. Therefore, Ayurvedic tips for spring wellness are centered around managing kapha dosha. Of course, if you have a particular health concern, or are strongly vata or pitta imbalanced, it is always helpful to consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner, as Ayurveda is highly individualized.

Doshas and Seasons

Ayurvedic Tips For Spring Wellness | Herbal Academy | Do you know that by observing seasonal changes we can attain optimal wellness? Enjoy maximal spring wellness by observing these Ayurvedic tips!

In order to understand what is meant by a dosha predominating in a season, it may be helpful to back up and recall the defining qualities of each dosha, as discussed previously in What’s My Dosha?.

Vata is characterized as light, cool, dry, mobile, and subtle. Therefore, the autumn season is the season in which vata dosha is most influential and when vata imbalances are more likely to occur. This is because autumn tends to be a fairly dry season. The winds pick up, leaves dry up and fall off the trees, and temperatures become cool. Vata is also associated with the end of the life cycle, and autumn marks a turning toward the end of the year. For these reasons, fall through mid-winter is considered to be the vata time of year.

Pitta is characterized as hot, sharp, intense, and oily, and late spring and summer is the pitta time of year. “The pitta season is the summer, a time of great heat. The sun stimulates the metabolism of life” (Halpern, 2012, p. 133). As the weather gets warm and moist, pitta moves into its ruling position. This is the time of year when our bodies and our agni (digestive power) is strongest. It is, of course, easy to become overheated during this season. Consuming cooling foods such as cucumber, coconut, rosewater, and watermelon is helpful, as well as being careful not to overexert physically, and to be cautious of excessive sun and heat exposure.

Most pertinent to this article is the kapha dosha. The qualities of kapha dosha are cool, moist, heavy, and dense. The kapha season is considered to be late winter through spring, when cold, moist weather with snow, rain, and darker days prevail. Furthermore, when temperatures begin to warm, and we move into spring, kapha is actually considered to be aggravated, meaning that kapha imbalances are likely to manifest.

Kapha type imbalances are most likely to occur in the kapha time of year. This is true regardless of one’s natural constitution. However, those with a strong kapha dosha should be especially wary. Signs of kapha excess include weight gain, lethargy, water retention, and excess mucus. Winter and early spring is the typical cold and flu season. Interestingly enough, colds and flus usually cause kapha symptoms, such as excess mucus, nausea, and lethargy.

It is easy for our energy to sink and our bodies to become sedentary in the dark, cold months. With shorter days and uninviting weather, it is natural to be less physically active. The desire to sleep extra and turn inward is a perfectly natural physical response, and to a certain extent, this is healthy. It is useful to have periods of time in which we are more restful and inwardly focused. However, it is wise to not let those tendencies drive you too far into darkness, particularly if you are someone who is prone to seasonal depression, lethargy, weight gain, and seasonal allergies.

Balancing Kapha: Tips For Spring Wellness

Ayurvedic Tips For Spring Wellness | Herbal Academy | Do you know that by observing seasonal changes we can attain optimal wellness? Enjoy maximal spring wellness by observing these Ayurvedic tips!

Symptoms of kapha excess may be familiar to you, but you may be wondering how to avoid the common pitfalls of kapha season. It’s really quite simple in theory: simply do the opposite! Since kapha is cool, moist, heavy, dense, and cloudy, the kapha reducing protocol involves foods, herbs, and practices that are hot, dry, light, and mobile. While a bit of holiday hibernation may be cozy, as we turn from mid to late winter, it is time to get moving and to nip kapha excesses in the bud before they blossom in spring!  

It’s important to keep in mind that staying healthy in the spring actually begins by taking appropriate care in the winter. Kapha dosha accumulates in the fall and middle winter and is aggravated in late winter and spring, so kapha imbalances in the spring typically took root the season before. However, if you think you have a kapha imbalance, and it’s already spring, all hope is not lost! Here are some practices for keeping kapha at bay so that you can enjoy maximal spring wellness.

1. Eat Foods That Are Light, Warm, And Well-Spiced

Since kapha is cold, dense, and heavy, eating foods that are light and warm will help keep bodies and minds feeling easy and free during kapha season. Once the decadence of the holidays pass, it is the perfect time to emphasize foods with more cleansing and reducing qualities.

Examples of kapha-pacifying foods are hot spices such as cayenne, black pepper, mustard, and dry ginger. Clearing aromatic teas and spices such as tulsi tea, rosemary, thyme, and oregano are helpful. Thin, broth-based soups are also recommended, as are steamed or dry roasted vegetables. Leafy greens, such as kale, collards, mustard, and dandelion greens are ideal. Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli are also very good.

Heavier foods, such as meats, nuts, and dairy should be used sparingly. Legumes and whole grains that are light and dry, such as buckwheat and rye, are indicated. Sprouted grains are also beneficial, as the sprouting process increases lightness and prana.

Ayurvedic Tips For Spring Wellness | Herbal Academy | Do you know that by observing seasonal changes we can attain optimal wellness? Enjoy maximal spring wellness by observing these Ayurvedic tips!

2. Get Physically Active

One of the best remedies for excess kapha is rigorous physical activity. Whereas vata dosha requires stillness for balance, kapha thrives on ample movement and stimulation. Examples of physical activity that are beneficial for kapha dosha are jogging, dancing, skiing, active yoga asana, and cycling. Of course, if you live in a climate where weather conditions limit outdoor activities, you may have to be especially savvy in choosing your winter and early spring sports. However, taking the time to make an exercise plan that will last you through snowstorms and hail will be well worth your while.

3. Mix It Up

Spring is the perfect time to clean out your closet, give your home an extra scrub, and get inspired about new activities and adventures. Kapha loves routine. Healthful routines have immense benefits. Yet, it’s important not to get stuck in the kapha doldrums by succumbing to monotony. Challenging as it may be, remember that good kapha-reducing habits actually begin in the winter. Therefore, don’t wait until the sun is shining to be active and even a little spontaneous. The kapha time of year is perfect for pushing ourselves to sweat and move!

4. Stay Connected

And I don’t mean to your smartphone! It’s easy for our spirits to sag when we feel isolated. Depression and lethargy are two markers of a kapha imbalance. Though getting out and socializing may take an extra push during dark and sleepy days, making the effort to spend time with friends and family will help keep your mind and heart nourished and engaged. As winter turns to spring, this tends to become a lot easier. However, again, don’t wait until the daffodils bloom to meet up with a friend or call your family.

Ayurvedic Tips For Spring Wellness | Herbal Academy | Do you know that by observing seasonal changes we can attain optimal wellness? Enjoy maximal spring wellness by observing these Ayurvedic tips!

5. Consider A Cleanse

As spring approaches, you may want to consider an Ayurvedic cleanse. While cleansing has become trendy, Ayurveda has a very sound and time-tested approach to cleansing. First of all, Ayurveda teaches that cleansing isn’t right for everyone, and that there are certain times of year in which cleansing is safer and more beneficial than others. For instance, deep winter is not a good time to cleanse, as our bodies are inherently weaker at this time and in need of strengthening and nourishment. However, as the temperature starts to warm and the snow melts, there is often a natural tendency to do a little spring cleaning — both inside and out.

Even in the spring, cleansing is contraindicated for the elderly, as well as pregnant women, very young children, and those who are weak and debilitated. Although an Ayurvedic kitchari cleanse is less extreme than a lot of cleansing regimes that have become popular, it still has a lightning and reducing effect on the body. Therefore, it is important to have enough strength to withstand this practice.

If you are of strong body and mind, you can try out doing a simple kitchari cleanse in the spring. These are some basic guidelines:

  • Eat kitchari. As a first time trial cleanse, you may want to try this for just one to three days. Kitchari is a simple Ayurvedic dish made of basmati rice, split mung dahl, ghee, and spices catered to one’s dosha. Vegetables are sometimes cooked in with kitchari. A kitchari cleanse classically means that you eat only kitchari for every meal. However, cleanses can be altered slightly based on the needs of the individual. Sometimes steamed vegetables, seeds, or fruits may be included in the cleanse. For great kitchari recipes, I recommend Dr. Vasant Lad’s book, Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. You can choose a kitchari recipe that is specific to vata, pitta, or kapha dosha.  
  • Sip on CCF Tea. You may also want to have the classic Cumin Coriander Fennel (CCF) Tea with your cleanse. This is a simple tea that can be sipped between meals. It helps to gently stimulate your agni, a word for digestive fire in Ayurveda, and to cleanse your body of ama, or toxins. This is how I like to make my CCF tea:

Classic CCF TEA Recipe

[recipe_ingredients]

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 cups purified water

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Bring water to a boil in a medium size saucepan.
  • Add the spices and turn heat to medium. Leaving the lid off, keep the liquid at a rolling boil until you have approximately 3 cups of liquid left.
  • Strain liquid through a wire mesh strainer and sip warm or at room temperature.

[/recipe_directions]

If you feel your digestion needs a little more stimulation, you can add a little fresh ginger root to your CCF tea. Add the grated ginger in with the CCF seeds and prepare as directed above. If you suffer from dry skin or dry hair, you can add 1 teaspoon of whole licorice root to the tea blend and boil it along with the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds. Although this is a small amount of licorice, pregnant women, those with high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, electrolyte imbalances, or renal impairment are best to avoid licorice (Pole, 2013).

CCF tea can be consumed liberally, really any time of year. If you are taking it as part of a cleanse, you can sip on a cup between each meal, so you end up having about three cups per day.

It’s Not All or Nothing

It’s important to remember that Ayurveda isn’t an all or nothing endeavor. A cleanse may be helpful for you in the spring. However, you can also make a big impact on your level of wellness simply by incorporating some of the basic principles I have outlined in this article. Remember that late winter and spring is the kapha time of year, so stay active, stay warm, keep it clean, and lighten up! The more that you can begin to enjoy these kapha balancing practices in the winter, the better you will feel in the spring!

Ayurvedic Tips For Spring Wellness | Herbal Academy | Do you know that by observing seasonal changes we can attain optimal wellness? Enjoy maximal spring wellness by observing these Ayurvedic tips!

REFERENCES

Halpern, M. (2012). Principles of Ayurvedic medicine. Nevada City, CA: CA College of Ayurveda.

Pole, S. (2013). Ayurvedic Medicine: the Principles of Traditional Practice. Philadelphia: Singing Dragon.

Herbal Aphrodisiacs: What They Are & How to Use Them

Herbal Aphrodisiacs: What They Are & How to Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal aphrodisiacs have been sought after, admired, and rumored for their effects on libido — but do they work? Learn what they are and how to use them!

Have you ever heard of eating oysters, birds nest soup, iguana, or the many other bizarre foods that people believe to be arousing? Aphrodisiacs have been long sought after, admired, and rumored for their effects on libido — but do they actually work?

An aphrodisiac, named after the Goddess Aphrodite, is a substance that, when consumed or applied topically to the human body, has the ability to increase libido, potency, or sexual pleasure (Kotta, Ansari, & Ali, 2013). Many herbs naturally support our body, mind, and spirit in opening to the pleasures of life — most notably sexual union with oneself or another. Herbal aphrodisiacs have been used for thousands of years and continue to be used and loved by many cultures today (Nair, Sellaturay, & Sriprasad, 2012).

Fundamentally, and for the most favorable results, stimulating the libido is a threefold process:

  1. First, we must be well nourished, and our bodily functions and organs in good health.
  2. Secondly, our nervous system needs to be balanced, bringing us back into a parasympathetic state of rest and relaxation.
  3. Thirdly, our blood and bodily fluids need strong circulation flowing freely to grant us excitement and eager feelings of ecstasy and eroticism.

Working with a variety of herbs, we can find one or a combination that supports this threefold process and suits us best.

It is important to note that invoking pleasure into one’s life by working with herbal aphrodisiacs is not necessarily a means to an end. We can practice being in touch with the many nuances of pleasure and eroticism. After all, that is what sex ultimately is: connecting to our vital force — the source from which all life is birthed. We can use the practices and rituals listed below to create more healing energy for awakening our creativity and spirit by showing ourselves proper self-care and creating better boundaries for our own self expression before we tend the fires of love with another individual.

Ways To Use Herbal Aphrodisiacs

Herbal Aphrodisiacs: What They Are & How to Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal aphrodisiacs have been sought after, admired, and rumored for their effects on libido — but do they work? Learn what they are and how to use them!

Tea or Infusion

We have the freedom to be creative with the herbs we choose and make for ourselves or our loved ones. Creating a comforting tea or infusion is one of the most simple and effective ways to flood our body with nourishment.

A gorgeous flower that radiates the sensual feminine spirit and sacral chakra energy is hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and H. sabdariffa) from the Malvaceae family. Native to China, hibiscus is nutrient dense and particularly high in vitamin C giving it a tart taste (Maurer, 2013). Hibiscus makes a delicious tea, iced or hot, and its astringent, demulcent, and cooling properties are wonderful for the nervous system (Maurer, 2013). Hibiscus is a well-rounded plant in its threefold process of nourishment, nervous system support, and fluid circulation.

Herbal Aphrodisiacs: What They Are & How to Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal aphrodisiacs have been sought after, admired, and rumored for their effects on libido — but do they work? Learn what they are and how to use them!

Herbal Cordial or Elixir

Herbal cordials and elixirs are usually a combination of herbs, alcohol, water, and honey, and are a delightfully sweet and inspiring way to enjoy plants. Cordials or elixirs can be added to beverages, cocktails, and desserts. They can also be taken by dropper, shot glass, or spoonful. As with all herbal preparations, it’s important to follow proper dosage recommendations on the product label. If making your own herbal elixir, be sure to do your research and note proper dosage for yourself and when sharing with loved ones. If you’re unsure about proper dosing, you can inquire with an experienced herbalist.

An herb native to Southern India, cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) from the Lauraceae family is popular throughout the world today. While not everyone thinks of cinnamon as an aphrodisiac, it has aphrodisiac effects through its physiologic actions on the body. Cinnamon is warming and stimulating, increases blood flow, and has the potential to lower blood pressure (Grieve, 1971). A cordial or elixir is a lovely way to harness cinnamon’s beneficial effects, as it tastes delicious with honey.

Herbal Aphrodisiacs: What They Are & How to Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal aphrodisiacs have been sought after, admired, and rumored for their effects on libido — but do they work? Learn what they are and how to use them!

Herbal Smoke

A powerful way of taking herbs is through an herbal smoke. By blending and rolling your own herbal cigarettes, sans tobacco, one can enjoy the many soothing and deeply meditative effects of herbal smoking. Being mindful of the sacredness that smoking truly possesses, one can enjoy it as a sensual treat and ritual with a lover.

One such herb beloved of the Aztecs and Mayans, and loved by many herbalists and enthusiasts, is damiana (Turnera diffusa) from the Turneraceae family. Damiana is a restorative to the nervous system, bolstering exhausted nerves and fostering relaxation (Gladstar, 2001). It also stimulates circulation to the pelvic region (Josey, 2016), it thus activates the connection between the third eye and the sacral chakra. As a highly spirited plant ally, she is uplifting, releasing feelings of depression and anxiety. Damiana is also known to strengthen the reproductive system and restore sexual vitality (Gladstar, 2001). You can enjoy damiana smoked on its own or blended with complementary herbs.

Herbal Aphrodisiacs: What They Are & How to Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal aphrodisiacs have been sought after, admired, and rumored for their effects on libido — but do they work? Learn what they are and how to use them!

Herbal Bath

A self care practice and ritual to many, herbal bathing can be enjoyed solitary or with a lover. If you do not have access to a bathtub, this practice can be enjoyed as a foot soak.

Bathing relaxes the muscles, shifting our entire cellular body composition. When we send the message to our muscles to relax, the nervous system shifts from an active state of engagement for survival to a state of rest. When adding herbs to a bath, the therapeutic benefits can be felt by all our senses. Milky oats (Avena sativa), from the Poaceae family, is one such grass. This herb packs a gentle yet powerful punch of nutrients including iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, E, B, and K (Grieve, 1971). Milky oats is deeply nourishing and restorative to the hypothalamus gland and overall nervous system in relation to our reproductive organs as well as softening to the skin and nourishing to nails and hair (Bennett, 2014).

When preparing an herbal bath, treat it as if you’re preparing to bathe in tea. Fill a natural cloth or muslin pouch with a handful of desired herbs and tie closed. Place the pouch into the bath while running hot water or hang it over the faucet tied with a string and let the hot water run through. Another option is to brew an herbal infusion on the stove ahead of time before straining and add the tea to the bath water (cool a bit so as not to burn yourself!). For extra romance and magic, scatter organic rose petals over the surface of the bath water.

Herbal Aphrodisiacs: What They Are & How to Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal aphrodisiacs have been sought after, admired, and rumored for their effects on libido — but do they work? Learn what they are and how to use them!

Massage Oil

A massage is quite possibly the sexiest and most intimate of plant-infused therapies. What better way to create a safe space, charge up your sexuality, and direct tender devotion to yourself or a lover! Many herbs infuse well in oils, particularly those with less water and with more aromatic compounds. Have fun exploring the world of herbal massage by experimenting with various infused oil recipes to find one that works for you.

A most symbolic shrub adored through the ages is rose (Rosa spp.). With so many different species in existence, roses are truly known for their enigmatic beauty and softly comforting scent. They are often added to herbal remedies and decadent edible treats for these reasons. Roses represent the heart chakra and deepening of our connections of love. They are balancing to hormones, aid in circulation, and cooling to energies of heat in the liver (Bennett, 2014). Roses are a wonderful ally and are easy to infuse into your favorite carrier oil to enjoy during a massage.

Other Aphrodisiac Herbs to Explore

As we learn more about herbalism, we learn more of ourselves. There is never one answer that fits all people or all scenarios, especially when considering herbs for the human libido. Of course, herbs each have their unique mineral and nutritional profiles, yet the spirit within a plant is where true connection resonates. They are our allies, demonstrating so graciously acts of sexual cooperation as well as the mysteries of life by pollination and exchanges of cellular energy.

We can witness these teachings through observation of the plants themselves and their effects on us. Other aphrodisiac herbs to explore and enjoy include cacao (Theobroma cacao), kava (Piper methysticum), peach leaf (Prunus persica), vanilla (Vanilla planifolia), yohimbe (Pausinystalia johimbe), ginger (Zingiber officinale), maca (Lepidium meyenii), nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng).

Take the time to get to know your favorite plants and how they speak to you. Be mindful of your own body and its needs in a way that is self-supportive and loving. Herbal aphrodisiacs are gentle, yet effective, but we must also use them with care and respect, and with a mind toward truly getting to know them and their effects. Experiment, be safe, and have fun!

Herbal Aphrodisiacs: What They Are & How to Use Them | Herbal Academy | Herbal aphrodisiacs have been sought after, admired, and rumored for their effects on libido — but do they work? Learn what they are and how to use them!

REFERENCES

Bennett, R. (2014). The gift of healing herbs: Plant medicine and home remedies for a vibrantly healthy life. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Gladstar, R. (2001). Rosemary Gladstar’s family herbal. North Adams, MA: Storey Books.

Grieve, M. (1971). A modern herbal volumes I & II. New York, NY: Dover.

Josey, S. (2016). Working with the sacral chakra [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.goldenpoppyherbs.com/blog/the-sacral-chakra/

Kotta, S., Ansari, S.H., Ali, J. (2013). Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 7(13),1-10. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.112832.

Mauer, S. (2013). Sacred plant medicine apprenticeship. [Class Handouts]. Gaia School of Healing and Earth Education.

Nair, R., Sellaturay, S., Sriprasad, S. (2012). The history of ginseng in the management of erectile dysfunction in ancient China (3500-2600 BCE). Indian Journal of Urology. 28(1),15-20. doi: 10.4103/0970-1591.94946.