natural motherhood, part 6: herbal baby care

i know that some of you out there love the super-informative posts, but i also know that there are a lot of folks who really love the project-y d.i.y. stuff—-this post is for both of you but will be a special treat to the latter.  (i’m right there with you, hands-on people!) for this entry, i wanted to take a good long look at all of the stuff we put on our babies (creams, ointments, lotions, oils, soaps, powders, balms…..oh my!) breaking everything down into the good, the bad, and the ugly.  a walk down any baby care aisle in the grocery store bombards us with all this crap (yes, most of it is crap), but because “that’s what you put on babies,” that’s what we all buy.  if you’re at all concerned about what goes into your baby, you should pay mind to what goes on her as well—pores, after all, are like little gateways to the bloodstream. Read the rest of this entry »

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an herbal ABC part two: 45 tools of the trade

this entry is the second part of a glossary-type series on herbalism.  if you missed the first part, 50 herbal actions, check it out!  so, let me tell you how persnickety i can be—i have agonized over this list, trying to think up five more things so that i’ll have another list of 50, but i realized this morning that that would defeat the point 🙂  you either need things or you don’t, and there’s no point adding crazy crap to the list just for the sake of a number….still….50 would have been nice!

so a few caveats before i give you the list.  first and foremost, this is not to be understood as a list of things that you have to have if you’re interested in herbal medicine; rather, this is a fairly exhaustive list of the kinds of things you might think about possibly acquiring.  you can be an herbalist with nothing more than a hand to pick a plant and a mouth to stuff it in, but it sure does help to have some tools.  also, i want to note that thrift stores and garage sales are prime locations for acquiring a lot (if not most) of these tools.  pick things up cheaply and little by little.  trade for things.  the one place that i would suggest investing is in a good knife.  books are also very important, but that’s more a game of quantity than one of quality (since better books don’t necessarily cost more). Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: tinctures

when folks begin to stick their little toe into the big river of herbalism, tinctures are usually one of the places they start.  if you’ve ever been into a health food store, then you’ve probably seen tinctures before—they’re the little amber dropper bottles with bold plant names on their labels and little black squeeze droppers at the top.  they’re often in eye-shot of the registers because they are alcohol-based medicine (although i pitty the fool who downs an ounce of wormwood tincture thinking they’ll get a buzz…..blerrrg!).  they also come in glycerine as well, but these are harder to find and are usually less effective. Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: infused oils

one of my favorite things to do with herbs is to make infused oils.  you can make many different kinds with many different purposes—anything from cosmetic oils to cooking oils to healing oils to personal lubricants.*  under the right conditions, herbal oils will store for a long time, which is good considering the cost of most base oils and the time that it takes to infuse the plant materials.  when you infuse herbs in oil, you extract those medicinal plant constituents which are fat soluble as well as the essential/volatile plant oils.  one very important thing to keep in mind about infused herbal oils is that they are not essential oils. essential oils come in very small bottles and they are a highly, highly concentrated plant oil.  it takes tons upon tons of plant material to extract any significant amount of essential oil, and many of them are too strong to be used directly on the skin.  when i say infused oils, i mean using a base or carrier oil to extract goodies out of a relatively small amount of plant material.  Read the rest of this entry »

good sources for herbs and supplies

one of the many joys (insert sarcasm here) about living in a small southern town is that there are very few local resources when it comes to fresh, quality herbal products.  sure you can get some out of this world basil from the snow’s bend farm stand at our local farmer’s market, and sure if you really know what you’re doing you can wildcraft your own plants, but when it comes to the bulk of a budding herbalist’s needs, you really need to know where to turn for quality products.

*note:  when i say “herbalist” i don’t only mean someone who has gone through years of school and now treats clients–I also mean women who know to treat their own bladder infections with cranberry and moms who know that fennel tea will help their breast milk let down.  we’re all herbalists to some extent 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »

it’s better than tea–it’s an infusion!

one of the very first herbal preparations that i was ever introduced to was susun weed’s herbal infusion.  an infusion is like a tea, but stronger, and it’s a great substitute for your daily multi-vitamin!  with infusions, you can draw both the nutritive (vitamins, minerals, chorophyll, essential fatty acids, etc.) and the medicinal (tannins, alkaloids, flavonoids, etc.) properties from dried herbs, and in much larger amounts than a fifteen-minute-steep tea. Read the rest of this entry »

elderberry syrup–for colds, flu, and ice cream!

at the moment, i have sitting before me roughly 50 student papers that need grading, so i’ll blog instead.   seriously, my house is never cleaner than it is when i have papers to grade.  i find myself doing anything but the task at hand, and i often joke with coworkers that i should just give them all c’s…that way i will be mostly right, and when the A students come crying to me about their grades, I can say “oops!” and change them.   just a fantasy, but, you know…. ok so i was thinking of another really good foundational recipe that i could start everyone out on, and elderberry syrup seems to be it.  if you read the post on iron syrup from last night, this will be old hat.  if not, it will still be very, very easy! so a little about elderberries—elderberry is a fruit that we don’t seem to be too familiar with in the united states, and boy is that a shame!  it grows wild on the roadsides, but most people don’t know what it is and don’t know that you can (and should) eat it. Read the rest of this entry »