With the holidays and the season for gift-giving upon us, I thought I'd put together an Oprah-style list of "My Favorite (Herbal) Things" for all you generous hearts out there. Here goes:
ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR HERBAL BOOKSHELF
All of Michael Moore's classic Trinity Herb Books:
Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West - 2nd edition (2003), $24.95 from Museum of New Mexico Press
Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West (1989), $11.53 from Amazon
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West (1993), $22.50 from Museum of New Mexico Press
These are arguably the greatest herb books written in the 20th century. In his inimitable witty style, Moore wrote these from first-hand experience seeking out, gathering, making preparations and administering herbs from throughout the North American Continent. Michael Moore (not the filmmaker -- but they do resemble each other somewhat) is one of America's greatest living herbalists. Even if you are not an herbalist, you may find reading these a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Highly recommended!
Find it on sale now at the link above!
This beautiful book is for the most part exclusively available from our website. It was written for our son when he was a small child and who is now 25. It is an herbal for kids. It is beautifully illustrated with herbal stories, herbal projects and even herbal song ditties I wrote to sing along with kids. The many projects include making an herbal tea, oil, salve. It is magnificently illustrated and sure to be a Christmas delight for both children as well as the giver. Especially suitable for kids from ages 4 to 10.
A DELICIOUS HERBAL ALTERNATIVE TO COFFEE?
For your own and another's overworked adrenal glands (what better time to address this than around the often stressful holidays?):
CAFFEA: an ideal healthful alternative to caffeinated beverages
Let's face it: we in the west are addicted to coffee. But while most of us rely on it for that instant "pick-me-up," consider that it is a beverage that works by depleting energy reserves instead of building them. As you feel yourself becoming persuaded by the coffee lobby who is flooding the media with the health benefits of coffee based on its high amount of antioxidants, you should also be aware that coffee works by increasing stress in the body. Now do we need more stress in our lives? Stress in itself causes the increased secretion of stress hormones which in turn deplete our adrenal reserves and contributes to a wide number of disease imbalances.
Caffea is an instant full-bodied roasted beverage that can be taken daily and is made from roasted dandelion root, semen casia tora, roasted beet and roasted barley. It may sound strange, but besides being delicious to drink it gently detoxifies the liver and kidneys, benefits the stomach and pancreas, and helps in regulating blood sugar.
Most people know of the benefits of dandelion root. It is high in essential minerals and vitamins, especially potassium, and has been used for treating the liver and reducing inflammation and promoting the elimination of excess fluid in the body.
The Chinese herb seed cassia tora was the inspiration for this formula. I once was invited to the home of some older Chinese friends and noticed the man of the house roasting some seeds in a frying pan. He said it was the herb, zue ming zi or casia tora seeds, and that after roasting these would be ground to a powder and brewed as a tasty roasted beverage that also lowers blood lipids, reduces weight, improves eyesight, aids detoxification and prevents heart attacks.
Caffea can be drunk as an alternative to coffee or simply because it tastes so darn good! It's available at the link above, $18.00 for 8.6 oz (makes over 100 cups).
The East West School of Planetary Herbology Herb Course
If herbalism is your passion and you want a really big gift that will continue to give healing for you and others throughout your life, you might consider enrolling yourself or a special person in the East West Herb Course.
Read what our graduates have to say about it here.
THEN THERE'S THAT VERY SPECIAL GIFT TO HONOR THAT VERY SPECIAL SOMEONE:
Fragrant Flower Bath
To one gallon of freshly boiled water, add a handful of each of the following dried herbs: lemon balm herb, rose petals, calendula flowers, lavender flowers. Steep covered for 15 minutes while drawing a bath in a specially decorated bathroom space with incense, colored fabric (to tastefully disguise such aesthetically disrupting areas as the toilet, sink or the messy medicine cabinet), a bouquet of flowers (yes men like flowers also), and beeswax candles. Pour the prepared flower water along with several drops of essential oils of rose and lavender into the bath. At the last minute you may add fresh flowers and flower petals (organically grown, please!) to float on the surface of the water. Be sure that the temperature of the water is warm and pleasant before leading your honored recipient into the room.
By candlelight, help your guest out of their clothes and guide them into the tub. Gently ladle the water using your hands or a specially chosen beautiful bowl over their head and back. (Really, try not to employ your everyday kitchenware in this experience, lest you risk the romantic spell being broken.) Allow your loved one to peacefully soak in the wonderful, perfumed water, lingering over the experience as long as they like.
Have a special extra-soft bamboo fiber towel ready for when they arise from the bath. You may also consider a special bathrobe as well. The towel and bathrobe are their take away gift. Every time they wear the robe or use the towel, they will think loving thoughts of you and this wonderful and loving moment you have created just for them.
Afterward, present them with a Go Ji Berry and Ginseng Liqueur which you made yourself using the following recipe:
- 1 lb. (450 g) Go Ji berries (Lycium Chinensis)
- 1 full sized root of sliced Chinese Red Ginseng (this can be approximated)
- 3 cups (710 ml) 80-proof of your favorite vodka (I love Stolichnaya vodka)
- 1 1/4 cup (300 ml) granulated natural mineral rich, sucanat sugar
Rinse the berries and roughly chop them into small pieces. Place the berries and ginseng slices in a glass container and pour the vodka over them. Close tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Stir or shake this mixture once a week for two to four weeks. Strain through a metal colander into another glass bottle or container with a tight cap. To this, add the sugar. Let this liqueur age for at least three months.
(It's too late to complete this recipe as described for this coming Christmas, but you can perform all the steps and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then carefully pour perhaps a third of this liqueur into a small, decorative bottle, and add more sugar as necessary for sipping now. You can enjoy the rest of the properly aged product in time for Spring Fever romance!)
Sip this exotic spirit with your special recipient in liqueur glasses as part of your romantic experience. You may enjoy this liqueur any time as an aperitif and blood and energy tonic. It can also be poured over ice cream.
An evening like this is nothing without music. Here are some suggestions:
- the love-adagio from Mahler's Fifth Symphony
- the Polovtsian dances from Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin
- the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight piano sonata op 27 (be sure to stop this before it goes to the subsequent movements)
- the wonderful selection of soft piano pieces on Carol Rosenberger's Perchance to Dream album
What you do afterwards is yours to orchestrate, but one suggestion is to apply the following "love oil" to each other's sensitive areas. Go gentle with this at first to determine if it will be a pleasant sensation. Be sure to liberally apply it on each other's sacrum. Take time and allow the pleasure to slowly engulf and fill your entire being.
2 ounces each of
- apricot kernel oil
- wheat germ oil
5 to 10 drops each of the following pure essential oils:
- ylang ylang
- black pepper
- clary sage
Have fun experimenting adding these to the base oil. Begin with 3 to 5 drops and increase each according to your own preference (but stay on the low end with the cinnamon, black pepper and ginger). You may purchase the essential oils mentioned above from Mountain Rose Herbs. Alternatively you might try Kama Sutra's massage oils.
Happy holiday gift-giving!