Monday, February 27, 2017

Herbal Home Fresheners for Spring

     Spring is just a month away, but here in Florida it feels almost like Summer.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hit pretty hard with the “spring cleaning” bug, wanting to organize my storage, clear out things I don’t need, etc.  I figured that if I’d been feeling this burst of clean energy (sorry for the pun), you might be feeling it too.  So here are a few recipes I turn to when I want to freshen up my home. 

A Quick Word on Ingredients

Lavender is one of my favorite herbs to use around my home because it helps to repel bugs.  Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, just about anything.  Lavender is also very calming, stress reliving, promote healthy and restful sleep, and its antiseptic, so it literally cleans the air while deodorizing!  I am very cautious about it, however, because I have a cat.  Cats do not process lavender well and over time a harmful build-up can occur in their livers.  So I do my best to keep my cat out of direct contact with lavender as much as possible.   

Lemon Balm also helps repel bugs and helps to clean the air.  The scent uplifts the mood, and to harmonize the body and mind.  It has been known to help those who feel pressure easily and have a tendency to emotionally shut down. 

Hops is not the most pleasant of scents, but for people who have problems getting to sleep (and staying asleep), hops can be invaluable.  Hops is an amazing sedative that also works to duce anxiety, relieve pain, reduce respiratory distress, relieve headaches, soothe menstrual pains, and many other things.  This is a great herb to include in a sleep sachet to help with sleep apnea.  I do have one major caution when looking at this herb.  If you are prone to depression, please do not use hops.  Its sedative effects can also increase symptoms of depression. 

Rosemary is another herb that is amazing to include in just about everything.  It helps to uplift the mood and energize your mind, it improves memory, relieves stress, lowers anxiety, improves concentration, and is such a powerful antibiotic that it can help purify the air and prevent the spread of bacterial infections.  There is a major caution to think about with this herb, however.  If you or someone in your home is prone to seizures, rosemary essential oil (as well as eucalyptus and camphor) is so stimulating to the brain that it may bring about a seizure.  I have actually witnessed this first hand.  So please use caution if you know someone who is prone to seizures.  However the herb itself is typically safe to use as long as you do not use too much of it at once (it takes 70 lbs of rosemary leaves to make 5 oz of essential oil).

Pine is a great, fresh smelling scent.  It’s also very cleansing!  It has amazing antiseptic properties and helps to promote improved circulation as well as immune function.  Pine helps to boost mental energy and reduce the symptoms of stress.  It also removes anxiety and tension while refreshing the spirit which makes it an excellent mood enhancer.  It can also help to improve memory and concentration.

Citrus of all kinds are great at keeping your home smelling fresh.  Citrus is also an excellent mood booster and energizer.  It helps to improve focus and alertness while calming and relaxing.  Citrus, in general, helps to open up creativity, calm the occasional restlessness, and increase joy. 

Other Herbs to consider using for these recipes include basil, thyme, anise, cinnamon, clove, or really any culinary herb you can think of.  You can also consider using rose petals, jasmine flowers, chamomile flowers, lemongrass, and sprigs from aromatic trees (spruce, juniper, etc).

Baking Soda is a deodorizer, not a cleaning agent.  It will help remove ugly scents from your carpet and furniture, but it will not remove stains.

High Proof Alcohol of any kind can be used in the room sprays, but I prefer vodka as it is virtually scentless.  It also helps to preserve your spray and it evaporates quickly preventing residue from forming when it lands on surfaces.  You can also use a good quality vanilla extract in place of the vodka.  This will sweeten the scent and mellow out harsher/stronger smells.

Essential Oils not only make your home smell great, but they can also help balance your emotions and improve your mood.  I’ve included a few good mixes at the bottom but feel free to experiment and try your own!

Carpet and Furniture Freshener

½ cup Baking Soda
1-2 tsp ground, Dried Herbs (I prefer to use Lavender, but there will be some good mixes below)
10-15 drops essential oils of your choice (I’ve listed some good blends below)

Combine ingredients and sprinkle the powder directly onto your carpet 5 minutes before vacuuming.  You can also sprinkle the powder after vacuuming as well, or even on your furniture.  It works particularly well to help get the musty smell out of your mattress.  Just sprinkle the powder directly onto your mattress and cover with a fresh, fitted sheet.  You’ll experience the fresh and wonderful scent every time you get into your bed.  Depending on the herbs you use, you can even use this powder for your pet bed.  Cats do not respond well to lavender, so for this use, I would recommend leaving lavender out.  Lemon Balm or Mint might be a good substitution.

This powder is good as long as you can smell the herbs well.  As far as containers go, some people use recycled parmesan cheese containers, some people use salt and/or pepper shakers, some people use mason jars with holes punched in the top.  I almost always prefer glass storage containers, but for this I just use a stainless steel spice shaker that you can find just about anywhere, and it’s pretty darn cheap.

  Fresh Scented Room Spray

¾ cup Water
2 tablespoons High Proof Alcohol or Vanilla Extract (for a sweeter scent)
20-30 drops essential oils of your choice (I’ve listed some good blends below)

Combine ingredients in an 8 oz spray bottle.  Shake well and spray away!

These sprays should last for several years as long as the water is pure (distilled is the best, but if you have access to good quality tap water, feel free to use it) and the oils are good quality.  This is not an internal use product, so feel free to store/use in a plastic bottle.

Herbal Sachets

What you need:
Muslin or Cotton Bag (you can make your own, or buy them)
Dried Herbs of Your Choice (whole herbs, not ground)
10-15 drops essential oils of your choice (I’ve listed some good blends below)


Combine herbs and oils in a bowl.  Carefully pour them into a bag.  Secure the bag well (sewing works best, but you can buy a strip of iron-on tape if you are not interested in sewing).  Place your sachets in a sealed container in a warm, dry, dark place for a few weeks to cure.  You can put the sachet in your pillow case to help you sleep, in your linen drawer to help keep your linens smelling fresh, in the pocket of a winter coat during the long summer, you can even put them in your bath to help relax you after a particularly stressful day.  There are so many possibilities for these little bags.  You can also use the herb and essential oil mixture as decorative potpourri.  

Essential Oil Blends to Start With:

1.Invigorating Citrus                                             2.Simply Clean
    10 drops Mandarin Essential Oil                           5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
    5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil                          5 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil 
                                                                                         5 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
3.Essentially Citrus                                              4.Lavender Citrus
    5 drops Mandarin Essential Oil                             10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
    5 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil                             5 drops Lime Essential Oil
    5 drops Lemon Essential Oil                                   5 drops Lemon Essential Oil
    5 drops Lime Essential Oil   
5.Spring Flowers                                                 6.Focus and Clarity
    10 drops Jasmine Essential Oil                             10 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil
    5 drops Geranium Essential Oil                             5 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
    5 drops Lavender Essential Oil                              5 drops Pine Essential Oil
7.Woodland Mist                                                8.Cheerful Chai
    10 drops White Fir Essential Oil                            5 drops Cardamom Essential Oil
    5 drops Juniper Essential Oil                                  3 drops Cinnamon Essential Oil
    5 drops Pine Essential Oil                                       3 drops Clove Essential Oil
    5 drops Frankincense Essential Oil                       2 drops Ginger Essential Oil
9.Stimulating Living                                         10.Romance
    10 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil                           10 drops Sandalwood Essential Oil
    5 drops Lavender Essential Oil                                5 drops Jasmine Essential Oil
    5 drops Basil Essential Oil                                       5 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
    2 drops Peppermint Essential Oil                            2 drops Patchouli Essential Oil

    Dried Herb Mixes to Start With:

1.Simply Citrus                                                        2.Spring Flower Garden
    ½ oz Grapefruit Peel                                                 ½ oz Rose Petals
    ½ oz Lemon Balm                                                     ½ oz Jasmine Flowers
    ¼ oz Lemongrass                                                       ¼ oz Lavender
    ¼ oz Lime Peel                                                           ¼ oz Hops
    ¼ oz Orange Peel

3.Soothing Sleep                                                       4.Spice It Up
    ½ oz Lavender                                                           ½ oz Cardamom
    ½ oz Hops or Lemon Balm                                       ¼ oz Cinnamon
                                                                                           ¼ oz Clove
                                                                                           ¼ oz Ginger

5.Eastern Influences                                                 6.Lavender Citrus
    ½ oz Jasmine Flowers                                                 ½ oz Lavender
    ¼ oz Anise                                                                    ¼ oz Lime Peel
    ¼ oz Cardamom                                                           ¼ oz Grapefruit Peel
                                                                                             ¼ oz Lemon Balm
7.Bug Away                                                             8.Fresh Linen
    ½ oz Lavender                                                            ½ oz Juniper Berries
    ¼ oz Lemongrass                                                        ¼ oz Lemongrass
    ¼ oz Lemon Balm                                                      ¼ oz Lemon Balm
    ¼ oz Basil                                                                    ¼ oz Mint
    ¼ oz Thyme
9.Creative Inspirations                                             10.Simply Relaxation
    ½ oz Orange Peel                                                          ¼ oz Lavender
    ¼ oz Lime Peel                                                              ¼ oz Rose Petals
    ¼ oz Rosemary                                                              ¼ oz Cinnamon
    ¼ oz Pine                                                                        ¼ oz Lemon Balm
    ¼ oz Mint

         I hope you enjoy making your home smell fresh and inviting!  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Experience Essential Oils: Citrus Fresh Essential Oil:
Experience Essential Oils: Lemon Balm or Melissa Uses:
Mother Nature Network: 8 Health Benefits of Rosemary:
Organic Facts: 7 Proven Benefits of Lavender:
Organic Facts: Health Benefits of Hops Essential Oil:
Organic Facts: Health Benefits of Pine Essential Oil:


Wednesday, February 22, 2017


     Sometimes I notice trends in what people ask me. This week I noticed a certain trend that was associated with migraines. I have had a good handful of my friends and associates asking my advice on how to deal with their migraines. So I figured that I would put a good portion of the general parts of my advice here, where everyone can find it.

     So what is a migraine? According to Medical News Today a migraine is “a severe, painful headache that can be preceded or accompanied by sensory warning signs such as flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in the arms and legs, nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and sound.” You can probably tell by this, simplified, definition that migraines are not your typical headache. The scientific community, and western medicine, do not know what causes migraines, but they do identify that migraines are an imbalance of the chemicals in your brain most likely brought on by abnormal brain activity. Some people blame hormones, others stress, but either way they are painful and can last a number of days.

     The triggers to migraines are as widely varied as the people who experience them, some people can't even pinpoint their triggers. However, there are a few that I can list here:
  • Dehydration
  • Allergies including seasonal allergies, food allergies, and food sensitivities
  • Bright or flickering lights, loud or unexpected noises, smokey rooms, temperature or pressure changes, and strong smells including certain perfumes
  • Physical and emotional stress, including tension, anxiety, excitement, and depression
  • Physical states such as jet lag, exhaustion, or exercise
  • Smoking, or exposure to smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Skipping meals or fasting
  • Hormonal triggers such as birth control, PMS, or other menstrual cycle fluctuations
  • Tension headaches
  • Certain medications such as birth control, hormone replacement, and some sleeping medications
  • Lack of sleep

     Though the symptoms are varied as well, but there are some more common symptoms that typically indicate migraine. Some of these even occur hours, or days, before the migraine starts. Some of these can even occur after the migraine is over. Most of these symptoms are unique to migraines and not experienced through the course of a normal, tension headache. Also, many of the symptoms of migraine can be confused with minor stroke, so if you are a sufferer of chronic migraine and experience a stroke-like symptom that is unusual for your migraines, please get to an emergency room and get checked out. The list of common migraine symptoms follows:
  • Moderate to severe pain, most often throbbing, usually confined to one side or the other
  • Increased pain during physical activity or when exposed to bright light, flickering light, loud noise or any of the previously mentioned triggers
  • Inability to perform regular activities due to pain
  • Feeling sick or being physically sick
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sound, and smell
  • Some people experience sweating, temperature changes, stomach ache, or diarrhea
  • Soreness and/or tingling in one side
  • Vertigo or double vision
  • Auras (perceptual disturbances) are common

     A word on auras. Auras are disturbances in your sensory perception. Many of the more common ones include visual changes such as loss of vision on one side, zigzags in objects, or a lost of contrast in structures. Auras can also be confusing thoughts or experiences, the perception of strange lights, pins and needles in the extremities, difficulty speaking, unpleasant smells, or muscle stiffness.

     Is there a natural way to combat these horrible headaches? Yes, there is, but which one works is all dependent on what causes the particular migraine. The first option is to identify your triggers and do your best to avoid them. As an example, if you get a hangover headache after just one drink, you might be experiencing a migraine. The best way to deal with this particular migraine is to avoid alcohol. Not all triggers are that easy to avoid or even that easy to identify. So what can be done about other migraines?

Hydrate! The number one cause of almost all headaches is dehydration. Even if your migraine is not directly triggered by dehydration, your migraine can be worsened by it. Make sure you drink plenty of water. This goes double for those of us in warmer climates who may sweat out more water than they think.

B Vitamins! B vitamins are linked to reduced stress, loss of weight and even a reduction of headaches. Many people have reported a reduction in frequency of migraines after supplementing with either B12 or B2 (riboflaven).

Relaxation! A lot of headaches and migraines are caused by stress. Using relaxation techniques can help prevent them. Try getting regular massages, meditation, prayer, weekend trips to the forest or beach, etc.

Acupuncture! Acupuncture is amazing at all kinds of pain management. Migraines respond well to acupuncture treatments, but make sure to follow all of the dietary rules that may come with it, or your migraines may come back.

Herbs! There are a good number of herbs that may prove beneficial for migraine sufferers.
  • Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium has traditionally been used for headaches, including migraines, fevers, colds, and a number of other ailments. There are a few contraindications, so check with your local herbalist and/or doctor before adding this herb to your daily regimen.
  • Butterbur Petasites hybridus got it's common name because it was once used to preserve butter during the warmer months. However, it has also been used for a number of physical ailments including headaches and migraines.
  • Peppermint Mentha balsamea essential oil is a fairly effective oil for most pain, including that of headaches and migraines. A tea of the leaves can also be mildly effective in certain situations.
  • Willow Salix spp. is one of the plants that contains the active ingredient used to make aspirin. It has been used for headaches and migraines in many cultures for hundreds of years. It's also great for muscle ache, arthritis, and a number of other painful ailments.

     There are a number of herbs and solutions out there for quite a few migraine sufferers. I hope this helps you start down to road to health and relief.

Healthline: Migraine Herbal Home Remedies from Around the World:
Migraine Trust: Acupuncture:
Medical News Today: Migraines-Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments:
Prevention: 16 Highly Effective Migraine Solutions:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Rose Elixir

     Herbal elixirs are fabulous things to keep around the house.  Not only are they great for first aid and sore throats, but they’re tasty and can be made into some fabulous cocktails and delicious food.  I even pour some over my favorite desserts.  Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I figured that I would introduce herbal elixirs with one of my favorites, Rose Elixir. 

     Rose elixir is one of my most indispensable items in my home first aid kit.  Not only is it great for burns, poison ivy, bug bites/stings, rashes, sore muscles, and minor wounds.  It’s also great for sore throats, menstrual cramps, panic attacks, shock, and helps to calm people down after trauma.  Combining this with Rescue Remedy is a very effective way to help people stay calm in traumatic situations. 

A quick word about the 3 basic ingredients:

Rose is a great herbal ally to keep in mind.  Its astringent (which makes it great to use in beauty products), anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and cooling.  Rose helps to elevate the mood and move the blood.  It is a fairly well-known aphrodisiac that also helps to calm and soothe the nerves.  Just remember that when you use roses, you want to make sure they haven’t been sprayed with herbicide or insecticide. 

Honey is one of the best first aid remedies around.  It’s antifungal, antibiotic, antimicrobial, helps initiate the healing process in skin, speeds up the healing process, nourishes skin, and is full of vitamins and minerals.  Honey can improve athletic performance and makes a great sugar substitute.  Honey is also a great, natural preservative. 

Vodka/Brandy is used to help extract the beneficial constituents (natural chemicals) from the rose petals, but it also acts as a preservative.  When shopping for alcohol for elixirs, you want something that is a minimum of 80 proof.  Any drinkable alcohol can be used, vodka and brandy are my usual choices, but sometimes I switch it up and use gin (for that refreshing juniper flavor), tequila, or rum.  Whatever you feel is good for you. 

Rose Elixir

1 pint Mason Jar
Rose Petals
Plastic Wrap

Fill the Mason jar with rose petals, leaving ½ inch at the top.  Fill 2/3 of the way with alcohol of choice.  Fill last 1/3 with honey, leaving a little space at the top.  Cover the jar with plastic wrap before sealing it with the lid.  Roses have a tendency to eat through metal, the plastic wrap will protect your seal.  Allow your elixir to sit in a cool, dark place for 3-6 weeks.  Shake daily.  After the time is up, strain the elixir through a sieve/coffee filter.  Enjoy!

Vanilla Rose Martini

3 oz Vanilla Vodka
1 oz Rose Elixir
Rose Petal garnish

Combine the Vodka and the Elixir in a shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a rose petal.


Honey Rose Lemonade

1 cup Honey
1/2 cup Rose Water
1/2 cup Rose Elixir
1 cup Lemon Juice
2-3 cups Sparkling Water

Combine honey, elixir and rose water in a pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and stir until completely dissolved.  Allow mixture to cool.  Add in lemon juice and dilute with sparkling water.  If you want it sweeter, add more honey dissolved in warm water. 

     Like all of my recipes, these can be modified to suit your needs or taste buds.  You can use whatever herbs you want.  Some good ones to try when you feel adventurous include hibiscus, elderberry, lemon balm, rosemary, violet, or lavender.  Get creative!  Have fun!  And let me know what you think in the comments below!

Bach Flower Remedies: Rescue Remedy Information:
Healthy Green Kitchen: Rose Petal Elixir:
Herbs of Grace: A Rose is a Rose:
Medicine Woman’s Roots: Wild Rose Elixir:
Organic Facts: Health Benefits of Honey:
Steth News: The Many Benefits of Rose Elixir:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Nothing Says “I Love You” Like Damiana

    Valentine’s Day is just around the bend, and it just so happens to be put right into one of the more stressful times of the year (tax season), which means some of us may need a little help getting “in the mood.”  Damiana, Turnera diffusa, is one of those amazing herbs that provides a bit of relaxation and stimulation in just the right ways.  It also has a few other benefits that make it worth looking at for those few who don’t need the aforementioned help. 

Herb Overview:

Family: Turneraceae
Genus: Turnera
Species: diffusa, aphrodisiaca
Common Names: Damiana, Mexican Damiana, Mexican Holly
Parts Used: Arial Parts (everything above the ground)
Properties and Actions: Increase libido, relieve depression, reduce blood sugar, calm nerves, reduce spasms, dry secretions, stimulate digestion, antiseptic, kidney tonic, energy tonic, general tonic, increase urination, and mild laxative.

     Damiana is native to Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies.  It was used by the Aztecs as an aphrodisiac, by Mexican women to stimulate lovemaking, and is commonly included in herbal remedies for prostate health.  Science has not determined its usefulness yet, but traditional medicine has made this herb the go-to for most sexual issues for both men and women.  Some people have also recorded that they experienced a mild euphoria after consuming damiana, almost like the effects of cannabis.  The euphoric effect and the sexual stimulation make this a great herb to use in place of alcohol as well.  Some people have also reported that after taking damiana, their alcohol cravings have been reduced. 

     All playfulness and speculation aside, what does damiana actually do?  Traditional medicine uses damiana as a sexual stimulant and to treat both erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia.  This is most likely due to the fact that damiana increases circulation to the sexual organs in the human body, and increases their sensitivity as well.  Damiana is also a great hormone balancer and is used quite often to help women who suffer from premenstrual tension (PMT) as well as women who are going through menopause.  It is a natural anti-anxiety and anti-depressant, the effects of which can be most clearly witnessed when you are actively feeling down or out of sorts before drinking the tea.  In many cases, the feeling of well-being will be almost immediate.  Many people have smoked damiana in order to wean themselves off tobacco, and with a great degree of success.  Since damiana is both antiseptic and diuretic, it is often used in the treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs).  Many traditional medicine systems also use damiana for bronchitis and asthma. 

Cautions and Warnings:

     As with all herbs, respect should be given and caution should be used.  Damiana does tend to increase libido as well as fertility in women, and sperm count in men.  Consume this herb with family planning in mind.  Some people have reported erotic dreams shortly after beginning regular consumption, however these tend to dissipate after a week or so.  Damiana also has a history as an abortifacient herb (can cause abortions), so please do not use damiana while pregnant.  There is a chance that, with prolonged use, it could interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use iron.  But this usually only happens when consumed more than 3 days a week for long periods of time.  However, this is definitely an effect that should be monitored if you are prone to anemia.  Also, since damiana does have the effect of lowering blood sugar, if you are diabetic you should exercise caution with this herb.  Avoid it if you are hypoglycemic or taking medications to lower your blood sugar.  This effect is only a concern when consuming the tea, tinctures should be safe, but your blood sugar should be monitored just in case. 

     I hope everyone has a wonderfully romantic Valentine’s Day this year!  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below!

Annie’s Remedy: Damiana:
Happy Herb Company: Damiana:
Henriette’s Herbal: Properties and Uses of Damiana:
Herbal Resource: Damiana – A Medicinal Herb:
Herb Wisdom: Damiana:
Mayo Clinic: Anorgasmia in Women:
Mayo Clinic: Erectile Dysfunction:
Raintree: Damiana:


Greetings from the Bat Lady!

     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...