Wednesday 13 May 2009

Hooray for Fresh Herbs!

In keeping with my commitment to continually expand my knowledge base of natural healing aids, I attended a workshop on medicinal herbs, and wanted to share my new found wisdom.

The theme of the workshop was the importance of fresh herbs. Maria, the workshop facilitator, could not say enough wonderful things about fresh herbs. Whether it be growing them, cooking with them, drinking them in tea, or slathering them on our bodies, fresh herbs are essential to optimal health. Did you know that all the living greens we ingest go straight to the liver, and contribute to the body’s purification processes? Ultimately, consuming living green things, in whatever form, makes for cleaner blood, happier organs, and a healthier life. So doesn’t it make sense for us to incorporate fresh herbs, rich in nutrients, into our diet, versus consuming processed foods and beverages?!

Due to time constraints, we specifically focused solely on two aspects of herbs: teas and salves.

Let’s start with tea. Simple to prepare, yet huge health benefits. Here's the steps to making a herbal tea:

Clean fresh herbs (you don’t need to wash them, unless they have a lot of dirt on them)
2) Boil water in a pot,

3) Put the herbs in the boiled pot, put the lid on, and let steep for 15 minutes.

Voila! The tea we prepared required no sweetener whatsoever; it was so tasty all on its own.

Note: It is best to use fresh herbs, as opposed to dry, to produce the most flavourful tea.

**From personal experimentation post workshop, I would suggest using a maximum of three herbs per tea. Too many herbs can be overwhelming for the body.

For heat conditions such as high blood pressure, headaches, skin eruptions, and blotchy red skin, the following herbs are useful: chamomile, mint, raspberry leaf, and lemon verbena. These herbs are considered cooling to the body, and help with the conditions mentioned above.

Useful herbs for hair growth are: rosemary, stinging nettles, and horse tail.

Good grounding teas can be made with these herbs: dandelion and burdock root.

Comfrey is a particularly excellent herb for treating muscle and joint pain.

Lots of choices for making teas!!

For chronic, long standing health ailments you can make a tea infusion. You take a big handful of fresh herbs, put it into a 1L jar, add boiled water, and leave it for at least four hours, or overnight.

Let’s move onto salves (aka cream or ointment). At the workshop we made a salve using herbs of comfrey, lavender, and calendula. This herb combination is excellent for helping to heal minor scrapes, and burns, and is a lavish treat for the skin; your skin will literally drink it up. It was so delicious, that I have been savouring the last of my take-home sample!

To make a salve, you need the following supplies:

Fresh herbs (4 cups) (you can change the amount of herbs, but keep the ratio the same)
Olive oil (4 cups)
Beeswax (1 cup)
A big pot
A big bowl (ceramic, glass, or stainless, that will sit on top of the pot and not fall in)
A big plate or covering for the bowl
a few glass jars (with wide openings, so you can access the salve once in the jar)

Making a salve takes a bit more time and energy than making tea, yet definitely easier than I originally thought.

Here's what you do:

1) Fill the pot with water and boil
2) Put the big bowl on top of the pot and fill bowl with oil, beeswax, and herbs
3) Keep the burner on low heat, cover the bowl with plate, and heat the mixture for a half hour
4) Once this is done, strain the liquid mixture into the jars, and allow the salve to harden and cool


Drinking medicinal teas daily can aid in treating a wide range of health ailments, and many of them taste great too! As for the salves, who wouldn't want to slather themselves in a purely light natural cream?! Both require small investments, with a huge payoff. Hip hip hooray for fresh herbs!!

For more information on Maria, check out her website:

Friday 27 March 2009

The Spirit is Alive in Sedona, Arizona

This post is dedicated to an aspect of self-care that, for many, may not seem like self-care, yet indeed is so nourishing for the body, mind, and soul.

Yes, I am speaking of vacation travel. Whether it be two hours North, or to another continent, taking a much needed break from the 'every day' will help you to relax and re-energize. In my view, this is an essential part of self-care, and i highly recommend you incorporate it into your life in one way or another.

A couple weeks ago, I ventured Southwest to Sedona, Arizona for one week. For those who don't know, Sedona is known as the mystical town North of Phoenix, abound with mountainous red rocks, psychics, crystals, bodyworkers, and energy vortexes.

I had had a calling to go there since 2006, and now the timing felt right. I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do there, but I was sure I would figure it out. I opted to stay in an ashram, as this felt like the most conducive environment for my contemplative journey.

I will say that if you are interested in doing self-reflection and introspection, Sedona is definitely a place to put on your list!

Upon arriving in Sedona, I was immediately taken by the beauty of the town. Just glance at my photos to understand what I am referring to here.

Now most reviews of this lovely town talk of 'touristy' things like the pink jeep tour, taking the trolley around town, walking the strip of shops filled with items such as 'wild west' cowboy hats, and getting a tour of Bell Rock. I chose to create my own adventure, leaving the touristy attractions behind.

I created self-tours. Every morning I drove to the same area just outside of town, pulled off to the side of the road, parked, and hiked for 10 minutes up the mountain to a secluded spot where i would sit and ponder. Sometimes i would be there for 20 minutes, sometimes longer. Sometimes i would write, sometimes i would listen. The final day, I took all my crystals there to get some much needed sun energy rejuvenation.

I visited five different vortexes, some with masculine energy, some female, some with both, and i would walk, sitting when i got tired, pondering, reflecting, listening. I was amazed by the strength of the energy in certain spots. The energy was so powerful it twisted the juniper tree branches like spirals of a staircase! I noticed my thoughts were very action oriented when i was at the masculine energy vortex, and more flowly while at the feminine energy vortex. I tried not to think too much about it, instead i opted to observe.

I spent time with a psychic which was an experience i will remember forever. I am not quite sure what happened in those two hours; however, I think i am forever changed!

I stumbled upon a lovely raw organic cafe, Raw Bliss , which is also a place I will remember forever. The energy there was pure bliss, and the food simply divine.

I went to a massage therapy school in town (how could i not?!), and got a treatment by one of the instructors. That was the relaxation part to counter all the hiking I did in the mountains. I am a firm believer in balance!

I had thought provoking conversations with people that really got me questioning my beliefs, my vision, my goals, and I think this is an important ongoing process that is a necessary part of life for each and every one of us.

The last few days of my trip were filled with utter joy. A joy that is difficult to express in words, but a feeling i feel deep inside. This trip opened my heart. I think most of us live primarily in our heads, and for me, my journey to Sedona was about finding my heart. And I am happy to report that I did just that!

So back to my original thought: I cannot stress enough the importance of a getaway from the 'every day'. Not only is it a great way to relax, release, and recharge, but an essential part of maintaining a healthy balanced life!