A Few of My Favorite Herbal Things

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A couple of weeks ago I had an idea for a new blog post: a gift-giving list of some of my favorite herbal things. I wanted to publish it in early December so everyone would have time before Christmas to look into some of these ideas for their friends and loved ones. Then, before I got a chance to put together my list, along comes Michael’s blog post of his favorite herbal things. Great minds think alike, I guess!

Read on for a few of my favorite herbal gift ideas for 2008:


CHILDREN'S BOOKS:

Wildcraft! game Wildcraft!, $34.95 from Learningherbs.com

I first learned about this game last June and immediately ordered it. The game is fabulous – fun, cooperative, beautiful to look at, and a great way to learn herbs for health and healing. Our 7 year old grandson took to the game like a duck to water and immediately began to "heal" all our wounds and aches as we traveled about the board. Highly recommended! Find out more about this beautiful game and order it here.

 

Medicine Woman art by Jesse Wolf Hardin I’m a Medicine Woman, Too!
By Jesse Wolf Hardin
$18.50, from Animá Center

What a beautiful book this is! It’s simply gorgeous with illustrations and text and a wonderful tribute and encouragement to budding healers. I'm a Medicine Woman, Too! is full of wisdom, beauty and encouragement, not only for young girls, but for women of all ages. The author's exquisite illustrations quickly draw the reader in and cleverly teach about healing plants. Highly recommended for empowering all medicine women!


HOLIDAY RECIPES:

Chinese Trail Mix

Although this isn’t available commercially, it’s easy to make, delicious to eat, and is oh so good for you.

Mix equal parts (more or less) of the following:

  • jujube dates
  • longan berries
  • lycii berries
  • walnuts
Jujube dates
Jujube dates:
The delicious large red jujube dates tonify both Qi and Blood, treating poor digestion, weakness, low energy, nervous exhaustion, insomnia, diarrhea from Coldness and poor appetite, digestion and memory. Nourishing to the Spirit, they calm and stabilize emotions when feeling irritable, sad or crying for no reason. They are added like licorice to sweeten and harmonize other herbs in a formula. After cooking the dates in a tea or soup, eat them for their full medicinal value (remove pits first). They help weight gain and help malnourished children thrive.

 

Longan berries Longan berries: These delicious berries quickly tonify Heart Blood (like no other herb I know), alleviating palpitations, anxiety, forgetfulness and insomnia, particularly due to overwork or from excessive thinking, studying, reading or talking (all of which use a lot of Heart Blood and blood sugar in the brain – these berries are high in glucose and sucrose, which quickly replenish blood sugar).

 

lycii berries Lycii berries (gou qi or goji berries): This small, red, sweet-tasting berry tonifies Blood and Yin of the Liver and Kidneys, treating anemia, dizziness, poor eyesight, night blindness, blurred vision, sore back, knees and legs, impotence, seminal and nocturnal emission, tuberculosis and peri/menopausal complaints. Very high in beta-carotine, it promotes regeneration of liver cells, inhibits fat deposits in liver cells, lowers cholesterol, prevents artherosclerosis and enhances immunity. I always toss them in my hot cereals, soups or oatmeal cookies (instead of raisins), and frequently give them to patients as a snack. It is one of the best herbs to include in Kidney tonic formulas.

 

walnut by Digon Walnuts: The Chinese use walnuts to tonify Yang, strengthening the Kidneys and alleviating low back and knee pain and frequent urination. They also warm the Lungs and help the Kidneys to "pull down" Lung Qi, treating chronic cough or wheezing due to Deficient Lungs and Kidneys (this type of cough or wheezing is determined when it’s harder to inhale than exhale, there’s dribbling of urine upon sneezing, or there are accompanying symptoms of low back ache, frequent urination and/or night time urination).

Walnuts also act as a mild laxative, particularly in the elderly, anemic or those with Kidney Yang Deficiency. Constipation that doesn’t respond to normal herbal laxatives in people who are tired, anemic, cold, have clear, frequent urination, low back pain, low sex drive, lowered metabolism and/or edema of the legs usually respond to walnuts since they lubricate the intestines and provide enough heat and energy to move the stools. Walnuts also increase body weight and dissolve stones in the urinary tract. In paste form and applied externally, they treat dermatitis and eczema.



The following three recipes are from my
A Kid’s Herb Book. They may be made by children and/or adults for wonderful holiday/winter treats.

Ginger-Ale Fizz

This ginger fizz tastes very much like the old-fashioned ginger ales. Try it over the holidays, adding 1/8 tsp cinnamon powder!

  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root, or ½ teaspoon ginger powder or ¼ to ½ tablet Planetary Formulas Ginger
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup carbonated water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or honey (raw is preferable)


Bring ginger and water to a boil.

Turn down heat to low and simmer covered for no more than 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Strain.

Add carbonated water.

Stir in sugar or honey. Let cool.


Chai

This delicious spicy tea is regularly drunk in India everyday. It makes a great winter brew to keep you warm all season long. It is especially good for vegetarians or for people who easily feel cold. To make it less spicy, just add more milk. Chai also helps digestion, gas, and colds with a lot of chills.

Combine together in a pot:

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
  • 7 peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • 15 cardamom seeds
  • 1 peel from a whole orange (dry or fresh, preferably organic -- conventionally grown citrus fruits are commonly heavily sprayed with pesticides)
  • 1 pint water


Cover the pot and simmer 10 minutes.

Add ½ cup milk and simmer covered another 10 minutes.

Strain and sweeten with honey.

Adults may brew this with black tea if they wish. That is how it is traditionally made in India.


Mulled Cider

Imagine playing or reading by a crackling fire on a cold winter's night. Wouldn't a warm mug of mulled apple-cinnamon cider be a perfect addition? Mulled cider is enjoyed throughout much of Europe during the winter months. It is especially enjoyed on festive occasions -- winter parties after ice skating or sledding, Christmas parties after caroling, on New Year's Eve and during other celebrations.

Combine together in a pot:

  • 2 cinnamon sticks broken into pieces
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2 teaspoons chopped dried orange peel
  • ½ teaspoon allspice.
  • 2 cups apple juice or cider


Heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Cool to drinking temperature.

Strain. Pour into mugs and add a whole cinnamon stick to each mug.



PRODUCTS FOR BEAUTY AND HEALTH:

Ecco Bella lotionsEcco Bella Lotion

This body lotion is moisturizing without being oily and smells luscious, too. Made in Italy from natural ingredients, it comes in several "flavors" – lavender, lemon verbena and my favorite: vanilla. I slather the vanilla all over and walk around smelling like a pastry shop. Yum! Visit Ecco Bella online here.

And now that I think of it, after giving your loved one Michael’s recommended flower bath, you can slather them in your favoritely scented Ecco Bella lotion yourself! Or you can give a massage with it, roll in it, do an Ecco Bella-style "mud wresting match" -- you get the idea!


Planetary Herbals' Schizandra Adrenal
This formula is especially fabulous for this time of year, the Kidney time (from mid-November to early February). Based on the traditional Chinese formula Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, it also has herbs added to "astringe" the adrenals. Altogether this formula anchors energy in the kidneys/adrenals, helping all kidney functions.

Planetary Herbals' Reishi Supreme
The incredible formula strengthens the Lungs and and its Wei Qi, which circulates at the exterior of the body to keep pathogens out. Once our family was flying our son, Chetan, to college. Chetan and I ate the same thing but Michael didn’t. Within two hours Chetan and I came down with flu symptoms -- chills, tight neck, sore throat, skin sensitivity, etc. I immediately began high doses of Reishi Supreme and within four hours I was completely over the symptoms. Our son, however, refused the herbs and got a really bad flu! (Now he asks for herbal help!)

Planetary Herbals' Menochange
Based on the traditional Chinese formula Bupleurum and Peony (Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan) it also has wild yam, black cohosh and vitex and motherwort added. It is used to treat patterns of Liver Qi stagnation and Yin deficiency often associated with menopause.

Planetary Herbals' Echinacea-Goldenseal with Olive Leaf
This is actually the traditional Chinese formula Chuan Xin Lian with Echinacea, goldenseal and olive leaf added. It is a strongly cooling formula that is anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and heat-clearing for all three warmers.

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