Thursday, May 31, 2018

Honey Syrups and Summer Cocktails

     Honey is a great ingredients for drinks now. It's a great way to, not only increase the flavor, but also bring some local ingredients to your summer cocktails. But it doesn't mix very well in it's normal state. So here are some ways to make honey syrups for your cocktail bar, and a few recipes afterward.

The Syrups:

Just Honey
This is the basic recipe for a honey syrup. It has a fairly mild honey flavor, and if you want to boost the honey flavor over the top, simply double the honey in the recipe. You can also use whatever other natural sweetener you'd like instead of honey (agave, turbinado, etc).

Honey Syrup

1 cup Water
1 cup Honey

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring them to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly until honey completely dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature (about 30 min). Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Honey and Rose
This recipe combines the amazing flavors of honey and rosewater. For a simple twist, try it with orange blossom water instead.

Honey Rose Syrup

¾ cup Water
1 cup Honey
¼ cup Rosewater

Combine the water and honey in a saucepan. Bring them to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly until honey completely dissolves. Remove from heat, pour in the rosewater, stir, and allow to cool to room temperature (about 30 min). Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Herbed Honey
This recipe starts with a basic herbal tea and combines it with honey for a great, herb infused flavor.
Choose whatever herbs you'd like. I like to use single herbs sometimes, or sometimes I make a mixture of herbs to use. Mint is great, so is Lemon Balm. Try Lavender or Hibiscus. Or make it with Chai Tea Spices, or Apple Pie Spice. Quite often I'll also throw in some herbs that no one thinks about like Thyme, or Basil. Anything goes!

Herb Infused Honey Syrup

1 cup Water
1 cup loosely packed Herb(s)
1 cup Honey

Combine water and herbs in a saucepan. On medium heat, bring just to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. Add in honey and bring mixture to a boil, continuously stirring, until honey is completely dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Strain out herbs and store syrup in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Fun with Fruit
This can really be done with any of the previous recipes, but if you just want fruit and honey, here it is! Try with cucumber, berries, apples, citrus, you name it!

Honey Fruit Syrup

1 cup Water
1 cup Honey
1 cup Fruit

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring them to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly until honey completely dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature (about 30 min). Strain out the fruit and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 

The Cocktails!:

Blackberry Thyme
     It's a great thyme for Blackberries! (Sorry for the pun) This modern take on a traditional Tom Collins uses a honey syrup made with fresh blackberries and thyme. To make the syrup, use 1 cup blackberries, 1 cup thyme, 1 cup water, 1 cup honey, and follow the above honey fruit syrup recipe (but throw the thyme in with the fruit). It's delicious and refreshing, perfect for a summer party!

Blackberry Thyme Collins

1.5 oz Gin (or Vodka if you prefer)
.75 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Blackberry Thyme Syrup
Top with Club Soda

Combine Vodka, Lemon Juice, and Syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Pour into a pint glass, top off with fresh ice if needed. Pour the club soda over mixture. Garnish with a fresh blackberry and thyme sprig.

Rose and Grapefruit
     The traditional Paloma is a great cocktail made with tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda. In this version we are making our own grapefruit soda by using a Grapefruit Rose Syrup. For the syrup, simply follow the above Honey Rosewater Syrup recipe, but throw in ½ cup of fresh Grapefruit to the mixture as it boils. If you want it to have more of a rose flavor, double the rosewater at the end.

Paloma Rose

2 oz Tequila
.5 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Grapefruit Rosewater Syrup
Top with Club Soda

Rim a pint glass (or margarita glass) with salt and fill it with ice. Combine tequila, lime juice, and syrup in a shaker with a little ice. Mix and strain into the pint glass. Top off with club soda, garnish with a thin Grapefruit wedge, and enjoy!

Misty Mornings
One of the more popular drinks this year is a Moscow Mule, which is typically made with Vodka and Ginger Beer. This take on it uses a Lavender Earl Grey Syrup, lending it a slightly British flair. For the syrup, use 1 cup water, 1 cup honey, ½ cup lavender, and ½ cup Loos Leaf Earl Grey Tea.

Misty Morning Mule

1.5 oz Vodka (Sweet Tea Vodka works well with this)
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Lavender Earl Grey Syrup
Ginger Beer (non alcoholic)

Fill a copper mule mug (or pint glass) with ice. Combine ingredients (save the ginger beer for last, you won't need a whole can) and give it a few stirs. Garnish with a lime wedge and lavender sprig. Enjoy!

Jalapenos add a little kick to any cocktail, and this take on an old fashioned has a great kick. For the Hibiscus Ginger Syrup, use 1 cup water, 1 cup honey, ¾ cup Hibiscus, and ¼ cup fresh Ginger slices.

Jalapeno Hibiscus Old Fashioned

2 oz Bourbon
1 oz Hibiscus Ginger Syrup
2-4 Slices Fresh Jalapeno
3 dashes Aromatic Bitters

In a shaker, combine Bourbon, Hibiscus Ginger Syrup, and Jalapenos. Shake moderately. Strain into a rocks glass with a giant ice cube in it. Add a dash (or 3) of bitters. Garnish with a cherry and a slice of jalapeno.

A Winning Combination
Cucumber and melon go together so well, especially during the summer. So of course I have to include a Cucumber Melon Mojito on this list! For the Cucumber Mint Syrup, use 1 cup water, 1 medium cucumber, 1 cup of fresh mint, and 1 cup honey.

Cucumber Melon Mojito

1.5 oz Rum
1 oz Cucumber Mint Syrup
1 oz Pureed Watermelon
.5 oz Lime Juice
Top with Club Soda

Combine Rum, Cucumber Mint Syrup, Pureed Watermelon, and Lime Juice in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour mixture (including ice) into a pint glass and add a little more ice if needed. Top with Club Soda and garnish with fresh Mint leaves. Enjoy!

     In any of these recipes, feel free to change the ingredients around. Play with different fruit, sweeteners, and herbs. All of these can also be made using fresh juices instead of alcohol for the kiddos. Try using pineapple juice instead of Bourbon in the Jalapeno Hibiscus Old Fashioned, use orange juice instead of Tequila in the Paloma Rose, or simply leave out the vodka in the Misty Morning Mule. Have fun, play around, and let me know what you think below!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dit Da Jow

     My husband and I both grew up using Tiger Balm for muscle aches and pains. However, after learning that it's a petroleum based salve, I started looking around for other muscle ache formulas to try. It's not that Tiger Balm doesn't work, it's just that I don't want to deal with the horrible side effects from petroleum jelly.

     Petroleum jelly is not absorbent in and of itself. It does seal the skin, so that the other ingredients can be fully absorbed, and not accidentally rubbed off. This sounds like a good thing, but what it does is clog the pores so that there is major build up which can lead to acne and other skin conditions. It also prevents toxins from being released from the pores. This can lead to toxicity problems, including kidney and liver problems down the road. However, petroleum jelly is also closely linked to various cancers, including breast cancer. Because of this, and it's high chance of being corrupted with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are major endocrine disruptors, it's use in beauty products is banned in several countries. And all of this is without touching on the fact that petroleum is derived from crude oil (along with paraffin oil, liquid paraffin, and mineral oil), as if we needed another reason to avoid the stuff.

     So now that we know why I try to avoid Tiger Balm, lets get on to what I found that works in it's place. It's a lineament called Dit Da Jow. There's a bonus as well, while Tiger Balm works wonders on sore muscles, it didn't work well for bruising. However, Dit Da Jow does. It seems that everyone who practices martial arts has their own recipe, often passed down in their family. After much research, I came up with this recipe that works well for my family. Now this is, traditionally, a Chinese formula. However, I think several American herbs increase the effectiveness of this formula, so you will see some of those in this recipe. Also, since this is a Chinese recipe, I will list the Chinese name for the herb as well as the English one. Dit Da Jow is great to rub on sore mussels after a workout, on arthritic joints, and to relieve the pain of rheumatism. This lineament helps to reduce pain and swelling, increase circulation, and speed up healing of bruises, wounds and other injuries.

A Word on Ingredients:

Dragons Blood (Xue Jie) helps to stop bleeding, promote the healing of wounds, and reduce pain. This herb is great for bruising.

Frankincense (Ru Xiang) has been used in Chinese medicine to heal injuries and pain due to Blood or Qi stasis. It works best when used with Myrrh as they have a synergistic relationship.

Myrrh (Mo Yao) invigorates the blood, prevents gum disease, and alleviates pain. It works best when used with Frankincense as they have a synergistic relationship.

Arnica (Shan Jin Che) is highly toxic, and not suitable for internal use. However, many herbalists and holistic practitioners maintain that this is one of the best herbs to speed the healing of bruises. It also helps soothe pain associated with trauma and arthritis.

Plantain (Che Qian Zi) is used all over the world for quite a few issues. It's known best as a wound herb, however, and works well to reduce inflammation and speed healing.

Comfrey (Comfrey) has been traditionally used to heal wounds, sprains, and broken bones. It's excellent at speeding the healing of these injuries and reducing inflammation.

Nettle (Xun Ma) helps to purify the blood, but it's also packed full of Vitamin K which helps stop bleeding and speed the healing of wounds.

Calendula (Jin Zhan Ju) is similar to Arnica, but much more mild and safe for internal use. It's a great wound herb and helps speed healing as well as reduces inflammation.

Angelica (Dong Quai or Dang Gui) is considered to be a cure-all blood purifier. It helps to move the blood and aid recovery, especially when dealing with wounds and sores.

Clove (Ding Xiang) along with it''s many other amazing properties, clove helps ease muscle cramps and reduce inflammation.

Turmeric (Jiang Huang) is one of the best known anti-inflammatory herbs in the world. It also helps speed the healing of sprains, wounds, and bruises.

Dandelion (Pu Gong Yin) is super high in Vitamin K which helps stop bleeding, improve bone mass, and limits neuronal damage in the brain. It's a great tonic for blood, skin, and digestion. It's also used in Western herbalism to help soothe sore muscles.

Cayenne (La Jiao) helps improve absorption of this formula, but it also reduces inflammation and is a mild pain reliever.

Dit Da Jow

1 tablespoon Dragons Blood (Xue Jie) powder
1 tablespoon Frankincense (Ru Xiang) powder
1 tablespoon Myrrh (Mo Yao) powder
1 tablespoon Arnica (Shan Jin Che) flowers
1 tablespoon Plantain (Che Qian Zi) leaf
1 tablespoon Comfrey (Comfrey) leaf
1 teaspoon Nettle (Xun Ma) leaf
1 teaspoon Calendula (Jin Zhan Ju) flowers
1 teaspoon Angelica (Dong Quai) root
1 teaspoon Clove (Ding Xiang) powder
1 teaspoon Turmeric (Jiang Huang) powder
1 teaspoon Dandelion (Pu Gong Yin) root powder
¼ teaspoon Cayenne (La Jiao) powder
80 proof (or higher) Alcohol, Vodka is preferred

Combine herbs in a 16oz mason jar. Cover with vodka. Label and leave in a dark, cool place for 6 weeks to 6 months. Make sure to shake it once a day. 6 weeks is minimum, but the longer you let it sit, the stronger the lineament will be.

This recipe is not for internal use. Rub it on your sore muscles and/or bruises. Make sure to rub away from your heart to help break up stagnation.

I hope this Dit Da Jow recipe works for your aches and pains. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!


5 Reasons to Avoid Petroleum and Mineral Oil in Your Skincare: Beauty Editor:

Authentic Dit Da Jow: East Meets West International:

Dit Da Jow Herbal Remedy (for pain relief and rapid healing): Wellness Mama:

Dit Da Jow Ingredients: Plum Dragon Herbs:

So, What Is Wrong With Petroleum Jelly?: Skinplicity:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Vitamin D Deficiency

     We are in the middle of an epidemic here in America. One that has gone mostly unnoticed, and is just starting to really gain the respect of many health care practitioners. Vitamin D deficiency has become a major problem, is linked to other major problems, and until recently has not been seriously considered a problem at all. Now epidemic is a scary word, and one that we see thrown around quite a bit these days. However, I don't use it lightly. Over 90% of adults in America are Vitamin D deficient, and that deficiency is linked to quite a few other health conditions that have become prominent in recent years. Conditions such as osteoporosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disease, depression, insomnia, arthritis, asthma, fibromyalgia, autisim, and even more.

     So why is this particular vitamin so important? Vitamin D helps your body absorb and use calcium, it plays an important role in proper neurological and muscle function, helps balance blood sugar, combats heart disease, and it helps to keep your immune system healthy. Now there are two kinds of Vitamin D, the one we synthesize, in our own bodies, when exposed to the sun is D3. There is another kind of Vitamin D that you can get from consuming plants and other animals (D2), however it's not as bioavailable to us as D3.

     10 minutes a day, in the sun, is all you need in order to allow your body to create enough Vitamin D, according to the experts that is. Living in Florida, the “Sunshine State,” you'd think that we'd get enough sunlight to do just that. Well, we get the sunlight, but there are other problems that prevent us from getting the correct amount of Vitamin D that we need for optimal health.

     Most people will pinpoint the increased time we spend inside, as a society, as the main reason for the rise in Vitamin D deficiencies. It's true that the inventions of air conditioning, the internet, video games, and personal computers, as well as an increase in desk jobs, do contribute to our lack of venturing outside. However, our lack of outdoor activities are only part of the problem. Quite a few of the problems actually stem from poor dietary choices, even when those choices are made for all the right reasons.

     Most of us feel pressure to be skinnier than we are. Fad diets have been on the rise for decades, and not all of them are healthy choices. Most of them leave out many of the good nutrients along with the bad, or substitute nutritionally deficient food choices for already poor food choices. Combine this with the concern about cholesterol levels and obesity, and you get a crazy amount of low-fat or no-fat diets. But fat and cholesterol serve quite a few important jobs in our bodies. Cholesterol helps to keep our brains healthy, helps to keep our skin plump and supple, and without fat or cholesterol we cannot synthesize and absorb Vitamin D. Vitamin D is fat soluble, which means that it is dissolved (and stored) in fats and oils. Our bodies need fat in order to use and store Vitamin D. However, polyunsaturated fats (the not so good for you fats) also block absorption and use of Vitamin D. Most processed foods, and foods not cooked in your home, are full of polyunsaturated fats. Choosing your food with care, and thinking about what fats are needed, and which fats are not, is a great way to increase your Vitamin D. For a list of foods that are high in good fats, check out a previous post of mine here.

     That isn't to say that fat is better, and that we should stop watching what we eat. Obesity can be a major concern when looking at Vitamin D levels. Because Vitamin D is stored in fatty tissues, obese people need more Vitamin D in order to be able to use their Vitamin D. Our bodies put this amazing Vitamin in storage before using it. Obese people simply have more storage to fill up than an average sized person. This means that obese people have to consume/synthesize more Vitamin D in order to stay healthy.

     Another reason for the recent increase in Vitamin D deficiency is simply fear. We, as a society, have become absolutely scared of cancer. One of the links that has been made between cancer and our skin is the sun. Now being careful in the sun is really important because the more you burn the higher your risk of skin cancer gets. However, wearing sunscreen of SPF 8 or more reduces your body's ability to synthesize Vitamin D by 90% or more. Once you reach SPF 30 or more, you reduce your synthesization by 99%. The, previously mentioned, 10 minutes a day recommended by experts, should be without sunscreen for maximum effect. Also, if you increase your intake of good fats (omega-3 fatty acids) you can reduce your risk of burning, as they help to protect your skin from the inside out. Amazingly enough, these are the same fats needed for synthesization and storage of Vitamin D in your body. Also, you are much more likely to develop skin cancer when you are deficient in Vitamin D.

     The last reason for Vitamin D deficiency that I want to touch on is pharmaceutical usage. Quite a few, commonly prescribed, drugs actually block or consume Vitamin D in your body. If you suspect that you may be at risk of being Vitamin D deficient, talk to your doctor to determine if your prescription may be contributing to the problem.

     Oddly enough, we are one of only two beings on this planet that actually synthesize Vitamin D in our bodies. The other one is rather fascinating, mushrooms. Just about any kind of mushroom synthesizes Vitamin D in the same way as us, and it's the same Vitamin D that we synthesize, D3. Mushrooms also synthesize this after they've been harvested, so laying mushrooms in the sun before cooking them increases the amount of D3 they contain. It's a great way to increase your intake and reduce your chances of becoming deficient.

     You can also get more Vitamin D from healthy fish, eggs, dairy, fatty meats, liver, cheese, and a few vegetables. However these, and most supplements, are Vitamin D2 and therefore not as bioavailable to us as Vitamin D3 is. If you plan on supplementing, try to find one that lists D3. Another good source of Vitamin D is cod liver oil. It may not taste the best, but it's super good for you in so many ways, probably because it's pretty high in Vitamin D.

     I hope I have helped you understand the nature of Vitamin D deficiency, and provided a good start to help you overcoming or preventing it. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.


5 Illnesses Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency: Everyday Health:

8 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency: Healthline:

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?: Wellness Mama:

Many Reasons Why Vitamin D Deficiency Has Become Epidemic: Vitamin D Wiki:

Monday Health & Wellness; Vitamin D: Modern Alternative Health:

Vitamin D Deficiency:

Vitamin D Deficiency: Medline Plus:

Vitamin D Deficiency: WebMD:

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms & Sources to Reverse It!: Dr. Axe:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Nourishing Infusions

     If you look at enough herbal information you may notice a few things. First off, herbs aren't just for one specific ailment, they can work for a wide variety of problems when extracted in the correct medium (vinegar, alcohol, oil, or water) and taken in the correct manner. But what I want to really focus on, right now, is the vitamin and mineral content present in those same herbs.

     Quite a few herbs are also superfoods, and if they're not officially classified as such, they should be. Most herbs are packed full of vitamins and minerals, many of which are hard to come by in the grocery store. But how do you get the full benefit of these nutrients? A typical herbal tea, brewed for flavor more than effect, is only steeped for 5-10 minutes and contains relatively little plant matter. This isn't going to bring a powerhouse of nutrients to the table. Herbal infusions, brewed for a specific effect, are steeped for 30-45 minutes and may contain a few more nutrients, but more often still are lacking in those. Modern science tells us that vitamins and minerals take a longer time to extract than the more effect specific volatile oils and flavors of the typical teas and infusions previously mentioned. So that leaves us looking for an infusion that takes much longer and requires much more plant matter. Enter, nourishing infusions.

     Nourishing infusions take about 6-8 hours to steep, this helps to extract the nutrients that we're looking for. Particularly the minerals, as they are the slowest to extract. An average cup of nettle tea, steeped for 5-10 minutes with only 1 teaspoon of dried nettle leaf, contains around 5-10 mg of calcium where a cup of nettle infusion, steeped for 6 hours containing much more of the leaf, can contain up to 500 mg of calcium. Not to mention all of the other vitamins and minerals contained in nettle leaves. This shows just how much more nourishing of an infusion a nourishing infusion can be.

     Now that we know how long to steep our nourishing infusion, let's chat about how much of it we need, and how much of the herb we need to make it. Most herbalists recommend drinking about 5 quarts of various nourishing infusions a week. I try to go above and beyond, and drink a quart a day, but often end up missing the mark and getting a little over a pint a day (I have a tendency to leave my infusion at home when I have things to do in the mornings...oops), which comes out to about 3 ½ + quarts a week. When I recommend people start out with nourishing infusions, I tend to recommend starting with a pint a day, and working their way up to a quart (which is 2 pints). When you're brewing this infusion a pint at a time, use ½ cup of herb(s) in your container (I use mason jars because the measurements are on the sides) and fill it up with boiling water, close it and let it sit on the counter overnight. If you are feeling like you want to go for the gusto, for each quart I use 1 cup of herb(s). When I'm good and don't forget my infusion, I make a pint at a time. I brew one pint before I go to bed at night, then I brew a second pint when I wake up. This way I have 2 pints of infusion throughout the day, and I can add more variety to my daily routine (I'll often opt to use different herbs with each brewing).

     So what herbs are good to use for nourishing infusions? Realistically, you can use any herb listed as nourishing, as a tonic, or as a nutritive. However, keep in mind that the flavor of some herbs changes drastically over time. Chamomile, for instance, is very sweet when steeped for only 10 minutes. However, when left for 20 minutes or longer, it gets very bitter. The whole point of these infusions is to get more vitamins and minerals into your diet, so you don't want to create a blend that you won't actually drink, because it tastes overly bitter, or just odd. You can also sweeten these infusions, though most sweeteners may take away from some of the benefit, as long as you're getting those nutrients into your system you're doing good. I have some of my favorite blends listed for you below, but I want to introduce you to some great nutritive herbs and give you some tips on making your own blends.

The Herbs:

Nettle Urtica dioica- This herb is well known to be packed full of minerals and great for people suffering from allergies. It is also a diuretic, so you may experience dry eyes or frequent bathroom trips when taking larger amounts of this herb. Try adding some marshmallow leaves (or roots) or licorice to your nettle infusion to help reduce those effects.

Oatstraw and Milky Oats Avena sativa- Yes, this is the same plant that oatmeal comes from. Which means that it's super loaded down with healthy nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and a wide variety of vitamins and other nutrients. Oatstraw works better over time, and milky oats work better in the short term, to help sooth the nerves and relieve symptoms of fatigue. Oats help to nourish the whole body and is especially good for people who seem to be chronically burnt out.

Red Raspberry Rubus spp.- High in vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. Red raspberry is especially good for females, as it works to balance female hormones, and tone the female reproductive system. It's beneficial for women during all stages of their lives and reproductive cycles, but especially helpful preparing for pregnancy and during pregnancy.

Red Clover Trifolium pratense- Another feminine herb, red clover is also packed full of nutrition. It increases fertility in both men and women, but works especially well for women who have problems conceiving. It's also great for improving the memory and preventing cancer growth.

Hawthorne Crataegus spp.- This herb is best known for it's support of the heart, but it's also super packed full of nutrients. The berries are also super tasty. You can use leaves or berries for the nourishing infusions and both help to support the physical heart as well as the emotional one.

Alfalfa Medicago sativa- This herb is best known for it's sprouts, which have been consumed, in health food, for decades now. It's well known to be high in vitamins, especially A, C, E, and K4. It's also packed full of minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, and phosphorous. However, adding alfalfa to your infusion is an easy way to boost your vitamin and mineral intake.

Comfrey Symphytum officinalis- This herb strengthens and heals bones, skin, ligaments, tendons, and the mucosa (mucus covered surfaces of the body). The infusion is high in protein, minerals, and most vitamins. It's also contains compounds needed for an excellent short term memory.

Spanish Needle Bidens spp.- A local herb, Spanish needle is considered a weed for many a gardener, and a buffet for many a local bee. It's so nutritious that the “founding fathers” of America thought to grow it as a cash crop, instead of spinach. However, they decided to go with spinach instead, because it was so abundant in the wild. The flowers make for a pretty tea, but all aerial parts can be used for a nourishing infusion.

Peppermint Mentha piperita- Mints are all so wonderful, and you can really choose whichever you want for your infusion. Each one has a slightly different flavor and overall effect, but they're all super nutritious and have many of the same qualities that make it great for immune boosting, stomach problems, and allergies.

Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis- This herb is calming and relaxing, helping to relieve anxiety and depression. It also adds a pleasant, lemony, flavor to the infusion. Lemon balm is nourishing and balancing for the nervous system.

Tulsi Ocimum tenuiflorum- Also known as Holy Basil, this herb is an all around favorite of mine. It helps to lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and helps to calm an overexcited nervous system. It's also super tasty and mixes well with just about every other herb out there.

Catnip Nepeta cataria- Not just for cats, Catnip helps to calm down anxiety in humans. It's actions are very mild and can be used with children, it may even help keep nightmares at bay. In the Middle Ages, catnip was believed to help prevent insanity in humans. However it is super nutritious and can be eaten raw or made into a nourishing infusion to add a boost of vitamins to your diet.

Moringa Moringa oleifera- This plant has recently gained a reputation as a superfood. And a well earned reputation at that. It's not only packed full of healthy vitamins and minerals, but also amino acids and protein. Adding moringa to your nourishing infusion can help boost your vitamin and mineral intake dramatically.

Marshmallow Althaea officinalis- This is one of my favorite herbs. The most common parts used are the leaves and roots. I tend to prefer the roots. It's naturally sweet, soothing, and packed full of healthy nutrients. This herb helps to bring moisture to drying blends as well. I tend to add marshmallow to quite a few nettle blends. Steep it either hot or cold, however, if you want to take the most advantage of it's moistening properties, let it steep in a cold infusion.

Violet Viola spp.- Such a pretty little flower, violet is also a great powerhouse of nutrition. The leaves and flowers are both useful in many ways. It's great for the heart, but it's also very soothing for the spirit. The leaves are high in vitamin C, but the flowers hold their own appeal as well. One bonus of using the flowers is that they add a beautiful shade of purple to your infusion. Like marshmallow, you can steep it either hot or cold, but to take the most advantage of it's moistening properties, steep it in a cold infusion.

     Now any of these herbs can be used singly (and herbalist Susan Weed recommends just that), but quite often I blend them to improve flavor, or to tailor them to specific needs (a great woman's nutritive blend involves red clover, red raspberry, and nettle). Adding in some flavorful herbs not listed here can also be good. Quite a few nutritive blends I've stumbled upon elsewhere include cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger. Just make sure you are familiar with the herbs you are using, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact your friendly neighborhood herbalist for more information and safety concerns. Herbs are great powerhouses of nutrients, but they're also potent medicines and should be used with respect.

The Blends:

Lovely Lady
This tea is wonderful for ladies going through every stage of life. It helps balance female hormones, increases fertility, improves the chances of implantation, and helps prepare both mother and unborn infant for labor. It's super high in folate (which is necessary for both female and infant health) and iron. This tea is my go-to for just about every woman I talk to, as well as myself, and the only feedback I've had is positive. One lady even believes this tea to be the main reason her first labor was relatively fast and easy. Sometimes I vary it a little by doubling the nettle leaf and alternating the red clover and red raspberry. Drinking red clover every day for one week and red raspberry for the next. And for the last trimester of a pregnancy I usually recommend leaving out the red clover and doubling the red raspberry. I'll also increase the peppermint when morning sickness is especially rough, or when plagued by nausea for some other reason.

Lovely Lady Tea

1 part Nettle Leaf
1 part Red Clover
1 part Red Raspberry Leaf
½ part Lemon Balm (or Peppermint)

This blend is a good, all around, multivitamin blend. It's great for everyone in the whole family and packed full of nutrients.

Daily Vitali-Tea

1 part Nettle Leaf
1 part Moringa Leaf
1 part Alfalfa
½ part Oatstraw
½ part Peppermint

Stress Free
This blend is not just full of nutrients, but all the herbs are considered to be adaptogens as well. They help us to adapt to daily stress, and help to bring us into balance. This helps to reduce our anxiety levels (something every American needs) and improve our outlook. This blend also includes hawthorne, which helps to strengthen the heart, and catnip, which Medieval cultures believed could prevent insanity.

Stress Free Nutrient Tea

1 part Hawthorne Berry and/or Leaf
1 part Nettle Leaf
½ part Tulsi
½ part Lemon Balm
½ part Catnip

Cold Brew
This blend is made up of herbs that work best when brewed without heat. Marshmallow, violet, and milky oats all contain compounds that break down fast when exposed to warmer temperatures. Because they work best cold, they may take longer to brew, so I give them 8-10 hours instead of 6-8. This blend works especially well for people who have problems with heartburn and GERD.

Cold Brew Nutrients
(should steep 8-10 hours)

1 part Marshmallow Root
1 part Violet Flower
1 part Violet Leaf
1 part Milky Oats

In any of these recipes, feel free to change the ingredients around. Play with different herbs, but play smart. Herbs are wonderful allies in our search for better health, but they can also be potent. Use them with respect but have fun, play around, and let me know what you think below!


Difference in Tea vs. Infusion: Bulk Herb Store:

How to Incorporate Nourishing Herbal Infusions into Your Diet: Bulk Herb Store:

How to Make Nourishing Herbal Infusions: Mountain Rose Herbs:

How to Make Nourishing Herbal Infusions: Susan Weed:

Nourishing Herbal Infusions the Wise Woman Way: Nourishing Herbal Infusions:

Nourishing Infusions: Fresh Cup:

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Rabbit Tobacco

     Sometimes the plants just speak to you. Not like we speak to each other, but with different means. You might find yourself attracted to a plant for no known reason, you may notice a plant that you've never noticed before, or you may just think a certain plant is pretty or cute. There's an herb that grows in my yard, and on quite a few trails here in Central Florida. My husband is completely enthralled with this herb. It was the first herb that he learned to identify in the wild, and every time he sees it he gets so excited. It's rather adorable. But for some reason, I had never thought to find out what it's medicinal uses could be. Once I did look it up, I found that it's almost the perfect herb for my husband who grew out of childhood asthma just to have a different set of breathing problems as an adult, and who has a tendency to work himself so hard that he has major muscle cramps.

     Rabbit Tobacco, Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium, is also known as Sweet Everlasting because of it's sweet smell and the fact that even after the plant is dead, the seed heads remain on the stalk and look like little white flowers, so that it appears to be alive even after it's dead. There is a whole group of herbs that are considered the “everlastings,” and they are used all over the world for various things. From pillow and mattress stuffing to medicine. Here in America, it has mainly been used by the Native American tribes of the South East, and has become a Southern Folk Medicine for a great variety of ailments. But what's with it's other name?

     There are two explanations for the name “Rabbit Tobacco” from Native American traditions. In one story, rabbit discovered how wonderful this herb was for wounds when it became tangled up in a briar patch. As all native people know, rabbit skin is super thin and easy to tear, even just when running away from a predator. So finding such a useful herb was very good and important for rabbit. This story explains some of the medicinal uses of the plant, and some of it's connection to rabbits, but it does not explain the “tobacco” part of it's common name. However a Native American observation does explain this. Long ago, Native Americans noticed that rabbits would congregate around where these plants tend to grow. So this must mean that it was their connection to the Creator, just like Tobacco is the Native American connection to the Creator. So the plant was deemed Rabbit Tobacco.

     I found a great video that might help anyone who wants to be able to identify this plant. It may also provide a good introduction to the beautiful world of Rabbit Tobacco.

Medicinal Uses:

Common Names- Rabbit Tobacco, Sweet Everlasting, Cudweed, Old Field Balsam, Sweet White Balsam, Indian Posy, Life of Man, Poverty Weed, Fussy Gussy

Parts Used- The whole plant.

Summary of Actions- Anaphrodisiac, Antiphlogistic, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Expectorant, Sedative, Vermifuge.

Upper Respiratory- Used internally, as a tea, to treat most chest complaints, especially those involving mucus in the chest. The tea also helps to sooth throat ulcers. You can also burn the leaves, as incense, and waft the smoke into your face. This is done to help treat symptoms of asthma. An alternative to this is to boil some water and add Rabbit Tobacco leaves to the boiling water. Cover your head with a towel and put your head over the boiling water. Breath in the steam to help ease your asthma symptoms or to help clear up congestion.

Smoke It!- Aside from burning Rabbit Tobacco as incense, it's also used in several smoking blends, along with other herbs. Most of these help people who are trying to stop smoking cigarettes, but often these blends can also help alleviate symptoms of asthma and clear chest congestion. The smoke is not harmful to the lungs, but if you're worried about the heat of the smoke being too warm, feel free to burn the leaves as incense and waft the smoke into your face. This makes sure the smoke is much cooler when it gets to your lungs.

Digestive- A tea made from the leaves is slightly bitter in taste. Anything that tastes bitter is going to help with your digestion. The bitter flavor helps to release bile into your digestive tract. The bile helps to break down hard to digest foods. This helps prevent flatulence, ease stomach aches, and improves nutrient absorption. Rabbit Tobacco, specifically, is also an antispasmodic and diuretic, helping to ease intestinal cramps and improve kidney function. This herb is often called upon when digestive issues involve cramps or spasms.

Skin and Wound Care- Native Americans of Virginia have used Rabbit Tobacco as a wound herb for a long time.

Muscle Cramps and Twitching- Rabbit Tobacco is great to add to a bath for muscle cramps and spasms. It's also great to use in a sweat lodge or sauna, for the same symptoms as well as fevers. It also makes a great fomentation for sprains and bruises.

Sleep Pillows and Sedative Effect- Rabbit Tobacco is a traditional stuffing for mattresses, cushions, and pillows. It works especially well in a sleep pillow because it has a slight sedative effect. Sleeping on a sleep pillow stuffed with Rabbit Tobacco can help ease you into a calm, fulfilling sleep. A sleep pillow made from Rabbit Tobacco is also a traditional remedy for those who suffer from “consumption,” or tuberculosis.

Aphrodisiac or Anaphrodisiac?- Some sources list fresh Rabbit Tobacco juice as a mild aphrodisiac, but even more sources list it as an anaphrodisiac, having the opposite effect. However, those sources that consider it an aphrodisiac tend to use it specifically in cases of impotence, so maybe it only works as an aphrodisiac in those cases.

Contraindications and Warnings- None known, though several people avoid the use of this herb for various reasons.

I only included a basic introduction to this amazing herb. I hope you have learned a new appreciation for how beautiful Rabbit Tobacco is. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


A Few Late Summer (Possibly Underappreciated) Plants: Elephantopus:

An Engaging Herb, Rabbit Tobacco: The Annotated Flora:

An Intuitive Study of Rabbit Tobacco: Rabbit Tobacco:

Helpful Herbs & Plants with a Purpose- Rabbit Tobacco: Steemit:

Plant Database: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium: Go Botany, New England Wild Plants:

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium: Plants for a Future:

Rabbit Tobacco, Everlasting: Alternative Nature Online Herbal:

Sweet Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium): Identify That Plant:

Sweet Everlasting: Illinois Wildflowers:

Sweet Everlasting: Prairie Moon Nursery:


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     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...