Sunday, March 22, 2009

10 uses for catnip

Catnip isn’t just for cats. A perennial herb from the mint family catnip is a useful medicinal herb that can treat all kinds of maladies. It is very easy to grow in the home garden or indoors in pots year round.

The following are 10 easy ways to use catnip;

1- Catnip tea soothes coughs.

2- Can be used as a mild sedative or sleep aid.

3- Catnip is useful for calming the digestive track.

4- Catnip essential oil can be used as an effective insect repellent.

5- Fresh catnip leaves can be added as a delicious addition to salads.

6- A good tonic herb for regulating the menstrual cycle and also for the relief of pain from menstrual cramps.

7- There are 4 popular varieties of catnip available besides common catnip; camphor, mint, lemon and Greek.

8- Effective in treating asthma and bronchitis (as an infusion, extract or even smoked).

9- Catnip can be given as a tea mixed with breast milk to infants suffering from colic.

10- Chewing the fresh leaf can help relive pain from a toothache.

Catnip is most commonly used as an infusion (tea). Steep 1 oz of dried herb (or 2 ounces crushed fresh) in a tea ball with 1 quart of boiling water. Let steep covered for 5 minutes. Sweeten and add milk to taste if desired. Drink 1-2 cups.

It can also be used as a tincture.

Mormon Tea (Ephedra nevadensis)

Also known as squaw tea or desert tea. Mormon Tea is a common shrub of the southwest United States and Mexico. It is called Mormon tea because the early Mormon settlers used it as a coffee/caffeine substitute. It is an astringent plant that is also useful for bronchitis and asthma. It is also useful for stomach and kidney ailments and is a slightly energizing drink.

To brew mormon tea simply take a handful of leaves (green or brown) and cover with boiling water. Cover and steep for 5 minutes and sweeten to taste. This is a great remedy for those suffering from shortness of breathe due to colds and asthma.

Alternately mormon tea can be chewed.

How to make an herbal tincture

Tinctures are extracts of herbs made using dried or fresh plant material. The medicinal properties of the herbs are extracted using alcohol and sometimes glycerin or vinegar. Making and using herbs in this fashion is very effective both in cost and as a catalyst for healing. Some herbs are better used as an infusion (such as red raspberry leaf, peppermint and oatstraw) but many more are much more effective in the form of a tincture.

To make a tincture you will need the following supplies;

Wide mouth jar w/tight fitting lid

A piece of wax paper big enough to cover the top of the jar

80-100 proof vodka or Everclear (I generally like to use Everclear)

4-6 tbsp. of specific herb/roots

A piece of cheesecloth large enough to fit over the mouth of the jar


You will want to place the herbs in the jar then cover with about 4x as much alcohol. Place the wax paper over the opening of the jar then screw on the lid tightly. Let this mixture sit for 2-4 weeks in a cool dry place. You will want to shake it occasionally. (Once a day if possible, but a few times a week is ok)

After about 2-4 weeks, strain through cheesecloth with a rubberband wrapped around the lid. Be sure to squeeze out the excess liquid from the herbs and reserve the liquid. Be sure to label all tinctures and keep out of reach of pets and children.

Generally tinctures can be taken a teaspoon at a time 2-3x a day (depending on the herb and ailment ). Be sure to research any herb and dosages you are tincturing.

I will be discussing certain herbs and tinctures here and how to use them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Herbal Infused Chest Rub

There’s no need to use nasty petroleum based chest rubs when you can easily make your own herbal infused chest rub at home. Here is a recipe for a wonderful and effective chest rub that will help ease chest congestion. It is safe enough for kids to use too so it works for the whole family!

What you'll need;

A double boiler (you can use a regular saucepan if you don’t have a double boiler just do NOT heat up too high, use low heat!)

Small glass jars or tins

Cheesecloth/ mesh strainer

Dried lavender and peppermint (2 Tbsp. each)

Essential oils- camphor, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary (10 drops each)

6 oz oil (I like sunflower or jojoba oil but you could use olive or almond)

1 oz coconut oil

1 oz shea butter

1 oz beeswax (or vegan alternative)


First heat your oil and add the dried herbs together. Let steep for about 30-45 minutes.

Strain with the cheesecloth or strainer reserving the oil. (Compost the herbs)

Return to low heat and add in coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax, stirring constantly until blended well.

Remove from heat and add the essential oils.

Pour into small glass jars. Allow to solidify then be sure to put lids on and label.

Rub a small amount on your chest as needed! This works great!

(You can find all the supplies you need online at or any soap making supply shop)

Herbal Support for PMS

This is a good recipe for a soothing mellow tea to use to alleviate PMS. Traditional Medicinals also has a good PMS tea which you can find at your local health food store for about $5 a box. I like to make my own PMS tea when I can.

Mix the following in equal parts to a clean dry glass jar. Using 1 oz of each herb will yield a big jar full. Enough for several months. Just be sure to store it out of direct sunlight in a cool, dark place.

Herbs for PMS tea;

Dandelion root






Red raspberry leaves

Red clover flowers



Lemon Balm

Use a tea ball or brew 1 tsp. per cup. This tea is very lovely. Drink 2-3 cups per day or as needed. You can use any of the herbs listed here and make it according to your tastes but I like variety!

Drinking tea is a very effective way to self heal so it is my favorite way to treat a lot of things (including PMS).

Herbal Allies

If you’re like me, maybe you have been called to work with certain plants. This would be what some herbalists call an “Herbal Ally”. I can vividly remember the first time I was called to work with a plant (violets). It isn’t just a passing curiosity or wanting to just learn about a certain plant. It is actually a definite pull and calling to learn, know and listen to what the plant is telling you. I encourage you to pay attention next time it feels like a specific plant is calling to you. It may just want to teach you something. Once you discover an herbal ally it will teach you things you never expected in ways you never knew possible. It is also possible that your ally will choose you, not the other way around! It’s a good idea to keep a journal and write down your thoughts, findings and lessons from your herbal ally. This will help you preserve and validate the experience. It is a great way to learn about plants on a deeper spiritual level as well.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Welcome to my newest herb blog!

Yes, it's yet another herb blog! Unfortunately has not proved easy navigable and I also keep getting spammed! So I decided to come over to!

This blog is my attempt at sharing plant knowledge with those who want to learn more about using herbs and native plants for medicinal, spiritual and emotional healing. Of course I don't make medical claims here but I will write about my experiences and theories!

I urge you to use love, good energy and common sense when using herbs. There is nothing better than being able to make your own medicine from the plants you grow or wild harvest yourself.

Learning about herbal lore, history of uses and ethnobotany are also a passion of mine so I will be including little tidbits here and there pertaining to those subjects as well!