Together in Unity and LoveNov 27, 2020 07:35AM ● By Kathleen Gould and Madalyn Johnson
The holidays have always been a time for reminiscing about the previous year and feeling gratitude for our many blessings. Although 2020 has been challenging, we can still find so many things to be grateful for.
This year saw many small businesses struggle, and some even closed forever, but there are things we can definitely do to help. Rebuilding our communities is very possible if we work together in unity and love. Instead of buying and supporting big corporate businesses, why not take time to shop locally? Supporting our local small businesses grows our community and helps it to flourish once again.
The stress of this year has also taken a toll on our bodies, minds and spirits, so remember to take care of yourself and your family’s health as well. Exercise, meditation, prayer and healthy foods go a long way to keeping us centered and in a grateful mindset.
Whole plant herbs can also play a huge part in nourishing our minds, bodies and spirits. These beautiful gifts of the earth are the original superfoods. In addition to their many herbal constituents, plants are naturally full of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, free radical scavengers, and antioxidants. During times of extreme stress, look especially for these categories of herbs:
Nervines—These nourish, strengthen and feed the central nervous system to help combat stress, anxiety and depression. Examples are motherwort, lemon balm and passionflower.
Adaptogens—These work to counteract the effects of stress in the body, helping to protect the neurological, endocrine and immune systems. Examples are ashwagandha, Schisandra, Eleutherococcus, Astragalus, holy basil, and many of the medicinal mushrooms.
We often think only of herbal teas or supplemental capsules, but there are so many ways to incorporate herbs into your life. You can cook them into your food; use herbal tinctures; make a really strong herbal infusion; strain into your bath to soak in those healing constituents through your skin; make them into beautiful oils, salves or creams for topical use; make a sachet; and the list goes on. Here are a few recipes to get your creative juices flowing for yourself or for great holiday gifts.
The following is a basic chocolate recipe—who doesn’t like chocolate?—that can be “herbed up” in your own special way.
1 cup organic cocoa butter
1 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
¾ cup local raw honey (or maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract (homemade hopefully: Vanilla beans soaked in vodka or brandy)
Pinch of Himalayan salt
Start by melting the cocoa butter in a double boiler. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Whisk in the honey or maple syrup very slowly. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until thickened, just a couple minutes. Now you are ready to mold this or to customize it. A few optional add-ins: cinnamon, maca, peppermint oil, orange zest from two oranges and powdered orange peel, coconut flakes, ground fennel seeds, lemon zest, and the list goes on and on. What flavors do you like? Maybe a nice box of assorted herbal chocolates is in order! After you add these “special” ingredients, spoon liquid into your favorite molds and freeze them for an hour or 2 until solid.
Staying in the chocolate world, how about a Maca Hot Chocolate? We make this at the SW Herb Shop frequently when we have morning classes. For a gift, you might want to add the mixed powders to a decorative glass jar and attach a note with directions on how to complete the drink. This recipe can be doubled or tripled to fit your needs. This too can be customized. Do you like savory, sweet or aromatic?
Mix your powders together:
1 tsp maca powder
1 tsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder, but try cacao; you’ll never go back!)
½ tsp cinnamon
Add 2 teaspoons to a cup of warmed milk (any type of milk you like) and whisk. Add a small amount of honey if you like a sweeter version. Whipped cream or marshmallows take it up a notch—warm, delicious and energizing!
Another nice gift idea that does not include cooking is the making of dream pillows. If you’ve never tried it, we encourage you to give it a go! The combinations are endless, depending on your wants or needs. Simply take a large tea bag (5-inch by 4-inch) or a 10-inch piece of fabric, such as a remnant from a project you did, an old shirt of mom or dad’s, or maybe outgrown baby clothes that have great memories. Mix your herbal blend together. Stuff your tea bag and seal it or put a tablespoon or 2 in the center of your fabric piece and gather it up with a ribbon. Put the sachet on your nightstand … or if you dare, in your pillowcase. Sweet dreams! A few favorite dream herbs are blue lotus, calea, mugwort, damiana, chamomile, hops, lavender, lemon balm, motherwort, ashwagandha, holy basil, white willow and catnip.
Happy Herbal Holidays from all of us at SW Herb
Kathleen Gould, registered herbalist, and Madalyn Johnson are proprietors of SW Herb Shop and Gathering Place. Gould has been an herbalist for 30-plus years and has extensive experience in herbal medicine. For more information, call 480-694-9931, or visit SWHerb.com or Store.SWHerb.com.