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Celtic Traditions of Imbolc

As it feels that we are just scratching the surface of our winter season here in Denver, today, February 1st, the Earth stirs under our feet. While Spring won’t arrive until another month and a half, we may feel today we can celebrate the Celtic holiday, Imbolc. Also known as Candlemas and Brighid’s Day in Celtic tradition, February 1st marks a time of promise and growth of light. The Earth is awakening, as is creativity and inspiration within us. Let your Spring maiden re-emerge and begin to spiral outward with energy and love. This particular holiday represents the coming of spring and is a perfect pinpoint and reminder that we are halfway through winter solstice and the spring equinox. 

Now, let’s all take a minute and let that excitement sink in as I say it again, we are halfway through winter. Goodbye carrot nose snowman and hello fertility goddess, otherwise known as St. Brigid! As we feel the heaviness of the pandemic and darkness of these winter months it’s important to surround ourselves with inspiration and let the light in wherever it can. St. Brigid and Imbolc are a great example of how we too can celebrate seasons changing as we look forward to brighter and warmer  days ahead. 

Imbolc ritual drink: 

1 part oatmilk

1/4 part honey

1/4 part whiskey

30 drops of Love Tincture for radiance

In Celtic and Gaelic culture, various households show appreciation for the new budding vegetation and the fertile soil that St. Brigid brings. A popular way to celebrate the coming of spring and St. Brigid, by preparing a meal and bed in hopes she will visit on the night of January 31st to bless the home. Some also provide a wand next to their bed made of birch to help aid St. Brigid’s process of promoting regrowth. The birch tree itself represents beginnings, renewal and purification.  Similar to the feeling one may get at the start of a fresh new season, the thought of warmer days, and hope for light and peace at the end of these dark and unsettling times.

Rosemary is used on Imbolc for purification and to enliven your spirits.

Riuals and Herbs for Imbolc

Herbs to celebrate and incorporate into your Imbolc ritual that symbolize growth, purification, and connect us to the sun’s energy include basil, dandelion, heather, rosemary, and chamomile. You may also light a candle to invoke sun energy into your spirit. I love sipping on my Imbolc Ritual Drink (above) and setting out herbs, burning candles, writing in my journal, and feeling protection and introspection as I am wrapped in my Brighid’s blue scarf from Ireland. Adding in a little bit of your favorite tincture or misting yourself with a renewing aromatherapy mist can also enhance your rituals that you weave into your day.

May you feel the light shine and embrace the new growth in the world, seasons, and in yourself! 

Horny Goat Weed: Not just an aphrodisiac

As I sit here reflecting on this past year, a sense of deep compassion overcomes me as I think about the wellbeing of our global community. We are well into the pandemic, actually, approaching the year anniversary of when America went on its first shut down. It seems like stress is at its highest, energy and morale are at their lowest, and the feeling of being stuck and wondering what to do is ever present in people across the world. One might also guess how this impacts sexual arousal, confidence, and relationships.

This is a critical time to allow ourselves to lean on our plant allies and feel supported by them. While these friends will not take away what has happened, some may surprise you, and are certainly worth adding to your health cabinet. How about a boost of energy, zing of clarity, heightened vitality, and much needed rejuvenation…oh wait, and increased libido?! This plant may be exactly what you need to heal during these chaotic times. An herb at the top of my list is horny goat weed… and as the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” you may be pleasantly surprised at what knowledge you unlock and find inside of this common ornamental (and medicinal) plant.

Horny Goat Weed, less commonly known by its Latin name, Epimedium grandiflorum, is… I’m sure you have guessed it by the title of our blog, an aphrodisiac! It’s not just any aphrodisiac though, horny goat weed is one of the most recognized natural remedies for sexual dysfunction in the world. Low libido and erectile dysfunction are at the forefront of sexual arousal disorders affecting about 43% of women and 51% of men respectively and according to a study done by the Journal of Family Psychology, stress is an active participant in creating such outcomes (Bodenmann, 2010).

Epimedium grandiflorum, Horny Goat Weed

How exactly does horny goat weed increase sexual arousal? Icariin (ICA) is a flavonol glycoside found within horny goat weed that has been under the microscope as the compound responsible for…

  • Boosting production of nitric oxide, a substance that helps blood vessels dilate, throughout the bloodstream and especially for the penis.
  • Halting the action of PDE5, an enzyme that decreases blood supply to the penis.
  • Mimicing and boosting testosterone levels in the bloodstream, which normally act as a vasodilator of the penile arterioles.

Although it has a high affinity to the penile arterioles, its effects can be felt throughout the entire body and applies to erectile tissue in women as well. For over 2000 years horny goat weed has been traditionally used to also treat rheumatism, cancer and fatigue in some Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea. 

In a recent study, scientists found that icariin and its derivatives possess anticancer activity through increasing apoptotic activity, angiogenesis inhibition, metastasis inhibition and more. In conjunction with Western treatments such as chemotherapy, the results found in the synergistic effects were even greater. Reports additinally show that morale and energy increased after treatments while fatigue decreased. This demonstrates that taking horny goat weed whether in treatment or not, has a positive effect overall for not only our sex life, but also our energy levels.

Pounce Powder

So, whether you are trying to excite things between you and your partner or you just want to seize the day with a little energy boost, our Pounce Powder and Ignite Tincture in our Sexual Vitality Kit will help you achieve those goals. Don’t sit on this wonderful herb, open your heart and mind and allow the effects take you where you want to go. Remember, you get by with a little help form your friends 😉

Sources:

Bodenmann, G., Atkins, D. C., Schär, M., & Poffet, V. (2010). The association between daily stress and sexual activity. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(3), 271. 

Spring Goddess Salad

Happy Spring Equinox! Hope you can join me at my class on herbs that are fabulous for Spring detox to get the season off to a fresh new start, with a rejuvinated and supported mind body and spirit. To support your season, enjoy this delicious simple Spring Goddess Salad recipe below. For more botanical education building, we wrote an article last Spring on my favorite 6 Herbs for Spring Detox if you’d like to read more. Cheers to the new that is to come.

Botanical Bites: Prepare, Mix, and Serve…

1 bunch of fresh dandelion greens chopped

3 green onions thinly coined

1/4 cup of sunflower & hemp heart seeds mixed

1 Tbs slivered almonds or cashews

Drizzle of olive oil

Juice from 1/4 of a lemon, freshly squeezed

Sprinkle of sea salt and ground pepper

Fresh dandelion flowers to garnish dish

My favorite is dandelions. I love when they pop up above the ground in their courageous beautiful yellow brilliance, under the Spring sun. Their jagged rosette of leaves, packed with minerals and vitamin. Dandelion embraces harsh changes that may feel unfamiliar or new with the changing of the seasons, unfurls and grows nourished by the sun, and shines with determination and purpose. May you embrace your new.

For the Love of Botanical Chocolate

Valentine’s Day is here, which, depending on how you feel about it, either conjures visions of red roses, greeting cards, cupid’s arrow, and candies, or makes you gag and want to stop reading at the mention of the syrupy word. But don’t leave! We are going to talk about chocolate! Before we dive in it’s worth noting how chocolates became synonymous with Valentine’s Day. The cacao plant has been used for eating and drinking for thousands of years, most notably in the Mayan culture where it was often mixed with herbs and spices. But in relation to Valentine’s Day, History.com states that in the 1840’s, when Victorians were big on courting and lavish gifts, Richard Cadbury, the British chocolate manufacturer, discovered a new concoction that made for tasty “eating chocolate”. He saw his opportunity to market this new chocolate to those looking to woo their love interest, and over the years chocolates became a go-to gift, especially on Valentine’s Day, which was becoming more popular during this era.

 

Dear Chocolate . . . You Complete Me

There are other, more scientific and sensory-based reasons why chocolate is one of the top selling products in the U.S. for Valentine’s Day. Chocolate not only tastes wonderful, but also has a decadent feel on the palate that can be described as sensuous. In fact, chocolate is one of the only foods that has a melting point the same as that of the human body. So, to say that chocolate melts in your mouth is literally true! I like to think that chocolate scientifically and spiritually melds with us and therefore I am meant to consume it often!

 

The Wondrous Cacao Plant

Anytime I travel I make it a point to visit chocolate factories or chocolate artisan shops to sample different types of the treat. Chocolate comes from the cacao bean, which comes from the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), native to the deep tropical regions of the Americas. When I was in Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, I visited a chocolate plantation and viewed the trees with the large cacao pods hanging on them. In Belize I witnessed the cacao pods being harvested and the different processes used to make chocolate. And I’d like to give a special shout-out to one of my favorite chocolatiers: Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco. 

Did you know that different soils yield different flavors of chocolate? And even the fermentation process and the roasting process, which is different among manufacturers, creates distinct flavors in chocolates. But the Mayans are the ones who really embraced the cacao tree and made it a large part of their culture. Their word for chocolate is Xocolatl, and the drink they historically enjoyed with it was rather bitter, especially compared to what many people enjoy today; milk, swiss, and white chocolate. Traditional and artisan chocolates do not contain milk. They are darker with a higher content of cacao. The Mayans just mixed the cacao right in with hot water and drank it.

 

Chemical Effects of Chocolate on the Body

Another reason that chocolate is popular and widely consumed is because of its positive-feeling effects on the body. Cacao contains different properties that give our body phenethylamine, a chemical compound that makes us feel good. It also raises our serotonin level which is also responsible for pleasurable feelings. Subconsciously that’s what makes us want to grab a piece of chocolate when we are feeling blue. Contrary to popular belief, chocolate doesn’t contain caffeine, but a sister compound to caffeine called Theobromine, which acts similar. Theobromine is a stimulant, so be cautious with how much chocolate you are eating; it can keep you up at night and dark chocolate is actually a trigger-food on the migraine headache list. As with everything, enjoy it in moderation. Recently, a trend has emerged called ‘ritual chocolate’, in which it is not oxidized or processed, but just raw cacao powdered down. When eaten this way one actually experiences a euphoric feeling. The Mayans are like, duh–we told you it was good that way. Chocolate rituals are starting to pop up around Colorado and elsewhere.

 

Physical Effects of Chocolate on the Body

Dark chocolate contains more flavonols than chocolate with lower percentages of cacao. Some chocolate companies will still call their product dark 

chocolate because it has a certain percentage of cacao, but they may have processed it by alkalizing, which causes the cacao to lose the flavonols. But you actually want those flavonols. They are a chemical component that helps your circulation. Among many other benefits, good circulation is needed for a healthy sex life. Our blood vessels in our genitals need circulation for arousal, feeling, and performance. So, ensure you are getting high quality chocolate, or craft chocolate. You can justify the higher price by saying it’s for the benefit of your sex life! 

 

Here’s a thought-provoking example of the power of flavonols in chocolate: In Panama there is striking evidence that flavonol-rich cacao contributes to overall well-being. A study looked at a community of people in Panama that were drinking five cups of cacao a day, with high flavonol content. It was discovered that there is not one instance of high blood pressure in the group, no increase in blood pressure with age in any of the subjects, and very low hypertension. This is significant because it is very opposite of what we see in people in the developed world.  

 

In the Botanical Bedroom: Plant on Plant Love

Chocolate is already amazing on its own, but you can really have fun experimenting with adding different flavors and complexities to it in the form of herbs and spices. And when you add botanical benefits to a plant extract that has benefits of its own like helping circulation–it’s just a win-win. You can make unique blends that are great for appetizers, desserts, or gifts. 

 

Bridget’s Recipes for Botanical Chocolate

HERBAL: Some of my favorite herbs and spices to mix with chocolate are ginger and cayenne. Cayenne even doubles up on the circulatory system component, adding to the already-present flavonols and delivering blood supply to areas of the body faster. 

FLORAL: I suggest rose petals, lavender, and damiana. This is actually the lovely concoction that makes up my Frolic bitters. Damiana is traditionally an aphrodisiac in Mexico; that’s why this particular blend of bitters is meant to arouse the senses. I also include Damiana in my Sexual Vitality Tea.

COMBINATION: You can experiment with adding opposite flavors in chocolate, such as cayenne and rose, and get ready for the amazing burst of flavors in your mouth!

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a double boiler, or crock pot, add chocolate chips, and melt at a medium consistent temperature. 
  2. Be sure to stir constantly as chocolate can burn easily.
  3. Grind and powder your herbs and use a sieve to add them to the melted chocolate. 
  4. Pour into your chosen mold (hearts for Valentine’s Day, anyone?) and let cool.

What Should You Believe About Yoni Eggs? Part 2

What Should You Believe About Yoni Eggs?
Part 2

I’m continuing my series on yoni eggs from Part 1

Atoms, Ions, Physics and Gemstones

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.” ~ Nikola Tesla

It is widely believed that stones carry vibrations within them that affect our bodies in different ways. The energy coming from the stone has to do with the negative or positive ions within. In Yulia Van Doren’s book, Crystals: The Modern Guide to Crystal Healing, she states, “From scientists we have learned that every atom in the universe is constantly in motion, and metaphysicians teach that every object is surrounded by its own vibrating sphere of energy, an ‘aura’. Crystals are unique within nature as their atoms follow the most symmetrical pattern possible, creating what is called a ‘crystal lattice’. It is their perfect atomic symmetry that makes crystals such powerful holders and transmitters of energy and vibration. Because being a human is a much ‘messier’ atomic arrangement, our atoms and auras are harmonized by interacting with the unique symmetry of crystals.”

Something that I have always found fascinating is the science behind the energetics of different gemstones. Everything has a specific energy to it, in terms of looking as far down as the different electrons of that item. Gemstones are made up of different elements and each element is basically an atom. The electrons jump between the different electron shells, or orbitals. As they jump they omit a certain amount of energy. And within an element there is continual movement of their electrons–a constant disco.

Where does that energy go? Well, if the electrons of the gemstone are dancing around near another object with jumping electrons, they interact with each other. Our own bodies contain electrons so if we are holding a gemstone, or the gemstone is near us, the electrons from both sources are having a party.

So, you can see that science demonstrates that gemstones have energy levels when you examine at the electron level. So it’s natural to wonder how that energy affects us. Different energies do have different impacts on the body. For example, sound waves affect us when we hear them. Relaxing sounding music can physically help us relax, reduce stress, and create beat waves in our brain. So wouldn’t it make sense that gemstones could affect us when we hold them? There are many ways that we consume energy: through food, listening, holding an item, etc.

While I’m not a physicist, this is my understanding of energy properties from my studies and schooling. A film that really influenced me is What the Bleep Do We Know?, which is a documentary that focuses on the connection between quantum physics and consciousness. If you are looking for more research on the subject I would also recommend the book, The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto.

How to Use a Yoni Egg

Are you ready to try a yoni egg? It’s quite simple, once you understand the mechanics inside yourself. Insert the egg inside the opening of the vagina, not pushing it all the way in, then use your muscles to squeeze it and lift it up inside. Think of your vaginal canal as an elevator, bringing the weight up and into the vagina! Next, you will need to learn how to squeeze only the vaginal muscles–not the anal muscles. It is common to be squeezing the anal muscles when you are first trying to find the PC muscle. Over time, having the egg inside will help you learn to isolate the muscle group you are focusing upon. Practice holding the egg inside you, and moving it back up as gravity moves it down when you are standing.

A misconception out there may be that a yoni egg needs to be inserted all day, or even overnight. That is pretty excessive and I suggest that doing the exercises over a period of five minutes is an ideal daily practice, with the option to repeat a couple of times a day. This is true for PC muscle strengthening as well to receive the benefit for the pelvic floor.

To remove the egg, gently push the vaginal muscles. You can also do a deep squat to the floor and gently push. Or, you can use the yoni eggs that have hemp yarn attached to them for ease of removal. This eliminates another worry – the egg getting ‘stuck’ (which would be rare) or having trouble coming out.

Another concern I have heard out there is that bacteria could be harbored in the pores of the gemstones. As with any man-made object that is inserted into the vagina, you should always ensure it is clean first. Yoni eggs can be cleaned with the same cleaner used on adult toys, or you can place it in a pan of recently boiled water. It’s not however recommended to boil the egg, as it may crack the stone. Boil water, take it off the burner, let it set until you can put a finger in the water, then let your stone soak for 12-15 minutes. You can even add a few drops of tea tree oil if you like. Keep in mind that anything that goes into your vagina can introduce bacteria but a healthy vagina knows almost always knows how to deal with it!

Gemstones That Make Good Yoni Eggs

There are many gemstones that are applicable and helpful for different things, but I’ll mention two of my favorites here.

Rose quartz – this stone is said to represent love and peace, is linked to the heart chakra, and promotes inner healing, self-love, and romance. I include it my Fertility Set. I feel like this stone is always a good choice because every woman could use more self-care and self-love in their life!

Bloodstone – this stone is said to be helpful with aiding the circulatory system, and helps with organ function. I include it in my Menstruation Set. I recommend wearing it for a couple of days right before your period, and again on the last light day of your period.

Note: When buying yoni eggs, ensure you are purchasing from a company whose stones are certified by Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It’s important you are getting the pure stone, without impurities or dyes.

6-month Yoni Egg Experiment

In conclusion, you will have to decide for yourself if you feel that gemstone yoni eggs are beneficial and right for you. I can’t give you a guarantee. But there are many things in life worth subscribing to that do not come with a guarantee. But I can tell you that I, and many others do believe yoni eggs have a positive impact on women’s health. In fact, I will soon be conducting my own yoni egg experiment and sharing the findings, feelings, and results along the way! Stay tuned for my personal yoni egg journey in which I’ll use a different type of stone for 2 months each, for six months, and I’ll share my thoughts along the way. If you’d like to join me, pick your favorite 3 yoni egg stones (available online in the women’s health products beginning November 12th).

Please share your questions, or experiences with yoni eggs in the comments!

Learn more about my Women’s Health Sets that include teas, tinctures, smudges, yoni eggs, and more.

6 Spring Herbs for Detoxification

The days are getting warmer, the evenings grow longer, new growth has sprouted, and the wind blows in the new season of Spring. A perfect time to cleanse our body, build our immunity, and rejuvenate our systems from harmful internal and external toxins. This is the perfect time to help aid our organs including the liver, kidneys, lungs, and skin. When we don’t properly cleanse, our system goes into a state of overdrive constantly trying to keep up cleaning one mess after another. We can slow down leading to fatigue, digestive issues, skin issues, allergies, and a decreased immunity. So let’s give back to our hard working self with these 6 herbal detoxifiers that will help us filter, repair, and rejuvenate!

1. Burdock Root

This fibrous root belongs to the daisy family. The Daisy is a wonderful blood thinner and purifier helping to remove toxins and cleanse our circulatory system. Packed with antioxidants, this herb is used topically for common skin problems such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis. The burr heads are often prickly and can catch to clothing and animal fur, which is why the Turkish believe this plant was seen to ward off evil and was woven into fabric for protection.

2. Dandelion

This pesky weed never quits. Dandelion flowers are nutrient dense full of Vitamins A,B,C, and D. This herb is a diuretic, supplementing the kidney, liver, and gallbladder in their natural function to detoxify through the urinary system. High in iron, potassium and zinc minerals this plant will bring a breath of new oxygen into your cells and increase energy production. If you are allergic to ragweed, chamomile or daisies you should avoid this flower.

3. Milk Thistle

Also known as ‘Holy Thistle’ this plant is great for liver cell repair and cell growth. Researchers have seen this herb especially helpful for those with alcohol use, hepatitis C, and chemotherapy treatment. Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory, this herb was also reportedly used as an emergency antidote for mushroom poisoning, venomous stings, and snake bites.

4. Nettles

Nettle is a nurturing tea great for springtime allergies with natural antihistamine properties to relieve symptoms such as sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. It helps bring mucus out of the body both in the lungs, and bowels providing a mild laxative effect great for occasional constipation.   Eczema sufferers may also benefit from including nettle in their herbal repertoire.

5. Yellow Dock

The bright yellow bark of this invasive weed stimulates digestive function. By increasing stomach enzymes and the acid necessary for breaking down our food, this herb allows us to absorb and assimilate our nutrients fully, containing food in our digestive tract and reducing food particles from leaking into our bloodstream. Yellow Dock has been found to contain many Phyto-nutrients which help strengthen the blood and drain our lymphatic system. The young leaf can commonly be found in salads being called a “survival food” by Native Americans.

6. Cleavers

This sticky weed is great for women who suffer swelling due to edema or water retention in breasts, feet, and stomach. This herb has a natural slimming effect as it trims your waist through its diuretic influence to promote urination. Used topically this cooling, soothing, and astringent herb may be an effective addition to healing salves and ointments.

Damiana, Damiana, Damiana!

As Valentine’s Day is here our thoughts turn to love. And what better herb to support our sexual desires than Damiana.

Damiana is a low-growing plant with yellow flowers and fragrant leaves. It is native to southern Texas, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. It blossoms in the early to late summer, followed by fruits that taste similar to figs. It is said to have a strong spice-like odor most likely due to the essential oils present in the plant.

Damiana has been used by the Mayan people of South America as a traditional aphrodisiac and to boost sexual potency for centuries. Typically drank as a tea before lovemaking, Damiana stimulates and increases sensitivity to the genital area, increases energy levels, restores libido and the ability for women to achieve orgasms. Who doesn’t want more of those! It is also said to promote erotic dreams!

This is a supportive herb for everyone who is looking to enhance their sexual wellbeing using herbs. Damiana is said to support men experiencing premature ejaculation and impotence. Some men have reported that drinking Damiana makes them more attractive to women! 

In addition to the aphrodisiac effects, Damiana is also used for support with mild depression or nervous exhaustion, help alleviate urinary infections, ease painful or delayed menstrual periods, and promote relieve from headaches specifically associated with menstruation and hormone imbalances.

In addition to drinking as a tea, Damiana can be made into a tincture or smoked like tobacco. Regardless of from, Damiana induces a relaxed state of mind and is said to have an effect similar to that of cannabis. Don’t live in a state that has legalized marijuana – Damiana may be a great alternative.

NOTE: Damiana should not be consumed by pregnant women, children under 13 or people with diabetes, thyroid, iron deficiency or bipolar conditions.

Damiana Tea Recipes…

Simple Damiana Tea

  • 1 – 2 heaping tsp. of dried damiana leaves
  • Raw honey to taste

Steep damiana leaves for 20 minutes in 1 cup of boiled water in a tea ball, French press, or loose. Strain leaves if loose, adding the tea into a clean coffee mug. Add raw honey to sweeten (optional). DO NOT USE REFINED OR GRANULATED SUGAR OR SUGAR SUBSTITUTES as this can damage the benefits of the tea. Enjoy!

Floral Damiana Tea Blend

  • 1 part damiana leaves
  • 1 part rose petals
  • ½ part cinnamon chips
  • ¼ part jasmine flowers
  • Raw honey to taste

Mix ingredients in a glass jar. Store in a cool, dry place. Use 1 tsp of loose tea in a tea infuser per cup of boiling water. Steep for at least 20 minutes. Sweeten to taste with honey.

New Year Focus Teas

Happy 2018! 2017 has come to an end and we now turn our attention to a new year and new beginnings. Like many of you, I’ve made some New Year’s resolutions. And like many of you, I’ve already broken at least one of them.

What is it about a new year that has us wanting to resolve to better ourselves and our lives? In a word – TRADITION.

The practice of creating New Year’s resolutions is steeped in tradition started by the ancient Babylonians over 4000 years ago. The Roman’s joined in when Julius Caesar changed the calendar establishing January 1 as the beginning of the new year around 46 B.C. Unlike today’s practice, the ancient practices were centered around religion as promises to do better for the coming year were made to gods and deities. Most people today make resolutions only to themselves and focus on self-improvement.

So why is it so hard to keep our resolutions? For me, it a lack of a plan, daily focus and motivation, and tracking and celebrating our successes. While herbs can’t help with the planning and tracking, herbs from the mint family can be used to help focus and motivate. Mint is included in the Lamiaceae or Labiatae family of plants. Two of the most common mint plants are Peppermint and Spearmint.

 

Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)

Peppermint is a cross between watermint and spearmint. It is indigenous to Europe and the Middle East, but is now grown in several regions around the world.

The leaves and flowering tops of the peppermint plant are used in herbal teas, tinctures, candy flavoring, lotions, gum and distilled for essential oil.

Peppermint is said to be antispasmodic, antimicrobial, an analgesic and carminative and as such offers benefits to the respiratory and digestive systems. In addition, the aroma of peppermint is said to promote memory enhancement and stress relief. Check out more information about Peppermint in our blog post from last holiday season!

 

Spearmint (Mentha spicate)

Spearmint is also known as garden mint. Spearmint is native to much of Europe and Asia (Middle East, Himalayas, China etc.), and naturalized in parts of northern and western Africa, North America, and South America, as well as various oceanic islands.

The leaves of the spearmint plant are used in cooking, herbal teas, tinctures, candy flavoring, lotions, and distilled for essential oils.

Spearmint is a pleasantly aromatic herb, packed with numerous health benefiting vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. The herb parts are also very good in minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. In addition to having similar digestive benefits as peppermint, the compounds in spearmint are said to relieve fatigue, stress and nervous conditions.

Mint Tea Recipes…Mmmmm!

While you could make a tea using only peppermint or spearmint, below are a couple of recipes that combine mint with additional herbs. These easy herbal infusions can be mixed up in advance and prepared with ease on those days when you really need it.

Lavender and Mint Infusion

  • ½ cup dried mint leaves
  • 2 – 3 tbsp. dried lavender flowers

Mix ingredients in a glass jar. Store in a cool, dry place. Use 1 tsp per cup of hot water. Infuse for approximately 20 minutes. Add honey to sweeten if desired.

Be sure to really breathe in this tea in between sips–the aroma will turn your whole day around.

Nettles and Mint Infusion

  • 1 cup dried nettle leaves
  • 1 cup dried mint leaves

Mix ingredients in a glass jar. Store in a cool, dry place. Use 1 tsp per cup of hot water. Infuse for at least 20 minutes. Can be infused over night to bring out the full benefits of nettle. Add honey to sweeten if desired.

Written by Becky Wilson, Bridget’s Botanicals

Rainforest Remedies

During my trek through Belize in August I was introduced to the fascinating plant Jackass Bitters, what more or less seems like a cure-all in the Mayan rainforest. Sure enough as it’s name indicates, this plant is quite bitter, and contains a potent anti-parasitic bitter compound called sesquiterpene dialdehyde. During my adventure, I was fortunate enough to meet with a Mayan healer, Aurora Garcia, who walked me through a medicinal plant trail and taught me about a variety of herbs including this one. She shared that their culture has used Jackass Bitters as a tonic at the start of every year to ensure good health. “For 7 days drink a freshly prepared cup of tea made from 1 leaf.” It has been used in Mayan medicine internally for parasites, digestion, diabetes, malaria, and high blood pressure; externally as an insect repellent by rubbing the leaves all over exposed skin. I gave this a go since I forgot my bug spray on on of our hikes, and sure enough it seemed to work! Meeting with Aurora was so centering and amazing, as I read a book about her great Uncle, Don Elijio Panti, a famous Mayan Healer. Learning about healing traditions through oral teaching and stories is incredibly powerful, especially knowing that it is knowledge that has been passed on for centuries…the mysteries of the forest medicine are revealed to those those who work with it day in and day out. 

I look forward to returning to the lush forest filled with medicinal plants, beautiful Mayan culture, and the solid, centering rocks of the rivers. I first read about Belize in the book Sastun, my first exposure to medicinal plants of Belize back in 2010 before my first trip. I was excited to finally meet this plant, as I have heard about it for quite some time, yet did not encounter it on my first visit to Ix Chel Farm. Cheers to the many more adventures yet to come, plants to meet, and culture to soak in!

 

A Taste of Tobago

Though a small island, the rainforest of Tobago is packed with medicinal plants, gorgeous birds, and stunning waterfalls. Check out more pictures from our trip! …My favorite plant in Tobago was called Christmas bush. Fitting for the fact that the holidays had just passed. The fresh leaves of this plant are boiled and made into a tea, mixed with a bit of salt and a few tablespoons taken before bed, used for the common cold (I wish I had some now!). A trick that I use for the common cold is lots of echinacea, tea tree oil nasal steams, veggie broth, nourish me tea, and lots of sleep. Christmas bush grows commonly near the roadside or fields rather than in the forest. In fact every plant that our guide showed us that was bush medicine used by the locals, himself included, were easily spotted from the road.
…The forests of Tobago are surrounded by the beautiful ocean. It’s ebb and flow of the always brings me to a place of comfort, listening to its predictable, gorgeous, soothing flow and rhythms. Such a beautiful place on Earth. I’d go back in a heart beat, as long as I booked a flight from Trinidad to Tobago instead of taking the long and sea-sickening ferry ride!