Friday, January 30, 2015

New Studio

     I am excited beyond measure that I now have a studio at Whiting Mills in Winsted, CT.  I now have space outside of the home to make product, display and sell as well as teach classes and provide herbal consultations.

     The mill was once a men's hosiery factory and now houses over 40 artisans.  The energy is creative, bubbling and inspiring.  I am having a blast setting up my space.  It has become obvious that this setting up will be an ever evolving one as shelving and furniture is acquired.  But, it is fully functional already.  Looks charming if I do say so myself and smells delicious.  After moving in all of my products it has permeated the studio with a heavenly citrus aroma.

Standing at the door looking at all the possibilities.

Set up with room to grow.
Stop by for a cup of tea.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dude's First Aid Kit

     So, after nursing my son (aka Dude) back to health on his visit home I sent him back to the Marines's with a first aid kit.  He tends to get cold/sinus issues rather easily and this is his custom kit.  It included a bottle of elderberry syrup, a bottle of Guido's decongestant formula , a bottle of poke root tincture and because he plays hard and works hard my Oh my aching..... relief liniment.
      The elderberry he was instructed to take at the first hint of anything.  I stressed first hint as he tends to ignore the first hint, the encroaching battle, and the all out was on his body because he's tough and waits until he can't breath and is forced to go to the emergency room.

     Though he knows that the Netti pot makes him feel much better quickly he will not use it so I did not include one in his kit.  He prefers a steam which I set up for him when he is home. Knowing that he would not do this on his own I skipped this as well.  It is after all about compliance.
     The elderberry and decongestant I know he will take.  It's quick and easy.  And some how more manly.
     The liniment I put it in a roll on container.  We use it at home for a host of ailments.  My father-in-love took a bottle home for his sore muscles and found great relief. I use it for those overworked muscles, those tight shoulders and menstrual cramps.   It is a combination of crampbark, st. john's wort and prickly ash bark tinctures.  I use equal amounts of each because that is easy to remember.
     Crampbark - Viburnum opulus  main actions are antispasmodic, sedative, astringent and a nervine.  It is extremely effective at relieving any tense muscles, whether smooth muscles in the airways, intestines or uterus, or striated muscles in the limbs or back.  It can be taken internally or applied topically to relieve muscle tension.  It works wonders to relieve menstrual cramps caused by excessive contractions of the uterus.  This is how we first employed it at our house with great success.  Then we discovered that rubbing a little into sore muscles relaxed them and provided relief from pain.  The roll on bottle makes it super easy to use and a little is all you need.
     St. John's Wort - Hypericum perforatum  Though this herb gets lots of press both good and bad as an anti-depressant it has a host of other benefits.  One of which is as an anti-inflammatory.  Topically it reduces nerve pain.  It works great for sciatica and joint pain.
     Prickly Ash Bark - Zanthoxylum americanum is a circulatory stimulant.  It is a prime remedy for rheumatic and arthritic problems.  It stimulates blood flow to painful and stiff joints, promoting the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the area and removing waste products.
     The combination of the three herbs work well together.  The crampbark relaxes the muscle,  the St. John's Wort  reduces the inflammation and nerve pain and the Prickly ash bark brings blood flow to the area relieving the pain and helping the other herbs work better.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Cold Sharing

     My son was home on leave from the Marine's for two weeks.  During that time holidays, his birthday and a flip of the calender occurred.  I took a vacation from my accounting job.  I took a step back from my lotions & potions.  A step that included taking inventory, prepping taxes and setting intentions and plans in motion for the new year.  I also spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  It is a joyous place for me and with my son home yearning for home cooked meals I was elated.   With his arrival came his friends to visit and raucous laughter.
     He also came home with a cold and sinus issues.  He generously passed his germs to the rest of the house.  Dis-ease quickly passed through.  It only stops briefly here.  I was prepared.  The elderberry syrup has been out on the counter for all to enjoy. I always cook with lots of herbs and throw astragalus and reishi in many recipes.  And when my son arrived home I pulled out the heavy hitting allies along with the netti pot.
     I started everyone on Guido's decongestant formula.  Guido Mase came to the Connecticut Herb Association last year and showed us how to make this simple tincture of goldenrod, elder flower and catnip.  I also pulled out the pokeweed tincture.  This is administered as a single drop once a day (It is that strong).  Susun Weed discussed this lovely plant as a way to boost the immune system and get the lymph flowing.   A couple days of this plus an herbal steam and my son was as good as new.  And the rest of us each "suffered" for a day or two.
     What about these herbs made me turn to them?
Pokeweed - Phytolacca decandra is a beautiful plant that grows wild on our property.  It's red stems and deep purple berries grow to towering heights each summer before dying back in the fall.  It contains triterpenoid saponins which are strongly anti-inflammatory and lignans which are antiviral.  It is used to treat respiratory tract infections, such as sore throats and tonsillitis as well as swollen glands and chronic infection.  It is a lymphatic "decongestant" stimulating the clearance of waste products.  It is also used to induce vomiting.  It is highly toxic in overdose. Use only under care of a practitioner and do not take if pregnant.

Goldenrod - Solidago canadenis is a gorgeous plant radiating sunshine as fall approaches.  It is often falsely blamed for allergy flare ups when in reality it is rag weed causing the problem.  With its sunny disposition it can handle the bad press.  It is used by many as an emotional healer for those with a lack of endurance and strength to persevere through difficulty.  It is taken for sore throats, chronic nasal decongestion, upper respiratory catarrh and may be combined with other herbs for influenza.  It is also used for hay fever and cat allergies where eyes are red and itchy, and there is congestion, sneezing and a runny nose.

Elder Flower - Sambucus nigra  The flowering tops are ideal for coughs, colds and flu.  An infusion is relaxing and produces a mild perspiration that helps to reduce fever.  They tone the mucous linings of the nose and throat, increasing resistance to infection.  They are used for chronic congestion, allergies, ear infections and candidiasis.  If taken  a month or more before the start of hay fever season it will reduce the severity of hay fever attacks.

Catnip - Nepeta cataria  yes, the same plant your cat loves.  It settling to the stomach, sedative and fever reducing.  It is pleasant tasting and has a gentle action making the tea suitable for children in treating colds, flu and fever especially when it is mixed with elder flower and honey.