This herbal alchemy thing is not a game! I really believe in the extraordinary power of plants. By blending roots and flowers and leaves together with intention, I am actually making medicine for the body. From the time I was a kid, I was instilled with this respect for the natural world’s healing abilities. My mom would give us chamomile tea for upset stomachs, aloe vera gel straight from the plant for burns, and an array of aromatherapeutic oils for different ailments.
I can’t remember exactly when I started blending herbs for my own health and enjoyment, but it’s been quite some years now. I started making kombucha about ten years ago, and I have always enjoyed infusing the tea with delicious and nutritious plants to add to the probiotic benefits of the fermented tea.
So, how do you know which herbs are right for you? There are so many, each with a multitude of healing properties, and of course each of our bodies may have different reactions to the plants. I can’t prescribe something to you as a doctor would, but I can tell you what has worked for me, and why I make the blends I do!
Let’s start with my Spiced Herbal Coffee. Why is it called herbal coffee? Well, it’s dark and rich like coffee, and it goes great with cream and honey. I like raw local honey from Sonoma County with coconut milk! Also, you can add half and half or almond milk, or whatever kind of creaminess and sweetness you like. The roasted chicory root is great for your digestion and since I am now using chicory root powder instead of chunky chicory root, the powder dissolves in the hot water and gives a nice body to the beverage. Dandelion root is great for liver function and digestion, breaking down fats. Ginger root is wonderful for digestion, easing the stomach, as well as being very warming. Cinnamon is good for cholesterol and is warming as well. Pau d’arco is known for its active ingredient, lapachol, which is an excellent immune booster, even known to kill cancer cells.
How about my Artemis Brew? I created this specifically for women, although men love it too. I like to think of myself as a missionary for raspberry leaf! I have found such relief from raspberry leaf tea for uterine cramps. This is great to drink all month, but specifically right before and during your moon time (menstrual bleeding). This brew is bolstered by rose hips, the fruit of the rose plant, containing high doses of vitamin C, which is good for the immune system. Rose hips are also high in vitamin A, which is good for the skin. Also they are known to work as a gentle laxative, good for constipation. Hibiscus helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure + is high in anti-oxidants (vitamin C), fighting free radicals that damage cells in our bodies. Rose petals are known to be calming, to ease menstrual cramps + have a soothing effect on the stomach. Pau d’arco is part of this as well, one of my favorites. Known to be an antibiotic, antifungal, antitumor, antiviral, digestive, diuretic, fungicidal, antidiabetic, analgesic, astringent and parasiticide. Pau d’arco is great for the immune system and to combat yeast in the body.
My Kava Dreamtime Brew features the euphoric kava-kava, from the South Pacific islands, used ceremonially to make people feel euphoric, tranquil + sociable. Known to reduce anxiety, help depression, used as an anesthetic, to treat sleep problems, among other benefits. Kava is banned from some countries because of potential harm to the liver and because it is such a strong medicine. It is not recommended for pregnant women or children under twelve, and not recommended to be combined with alcohol. This is a serious plant! Chamomile is good for soothing the stomach, known to be used as a sleep aide. Mugwort is also known for easing anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Good for menstrual cramps + to regulate hormones during menopause. Lavender is good for insomnia, restlessness, to ease headaches, upset stomach and to stimulate the appetite. Again, this strong brew is not recommended for pregnant women.
My Ritual Smoking Blend is surprisingly one of the most popular things I make! I love the ritual act of smoking, though I don’t smoke cigarettes. This is a great alternative to tobacco, or to be blended with cannabis. Mullein is an expectorant, which means it is good to remove phlegm from the lungs. It helps clean you out! Mugwort, again, is a dreamy herb and causes a euphoric feeling when smoked. Lavender and Spearmint offer subtle flavor notes, reminiscent of being in an open field of wildflowers and herbs. Raspberry leaf is a traditional herb smoked by Native American tribes, and very commonly found in herbal smoking blends.
I hope this information is useful and inspiring! Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions! I am in my test kitchen today brewing up two new herbal teas and one new smoking blend. Get excited! I will be featuring blue cornflower, chrysanthemum, calendula, and red clover flower… Coming soon!