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What are Resins and Gums in Plants?

The diversity of natural chemical compounds in plants is remarkable. For many years, scientists thought they could be broken down into simple primary and secondary categories: the primary compounds being those that contribute directly to growth and development, and the secondary ones being byproducts that don’t directly contribute to those primary functions. Most of the aromatic oils, gums, and resins that humans have adored for thousands of years fell into this wide category of secondary natural compounds. Why do plants produce them? Understanding the roles these compounds play in plants helps us understand how to use them most effectively. We went to our friend, fourth-generation botanist and plant physiologist Karen Hall, to get a better understanding of natural gums, resins, and gum-resins in plants.

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Posted by Heidi

Rose Foaming Face Wash for Dry Skin

In my early 20’s, I began to experience blemishes, breakouts, and red, splotchy skin. This turned into a difficult and embarrassing time for me and I became increasingly self-conscious. In an effort to take control of the situation, I tried many different soaps known to be “good for acne”, tea tree spot treatments, and other things that I thought were supposed to help. At my wits end, I scheduled an appointment with a local esthetician. During my initial consultation with her, she informed me that my issue was dry skin, and all of the things I had been trying were actually driving me further down the rabbit hole instead of giving my skin the help it was asking for. I learned that dry skin can lead to occasional blemishes just like overly oily skin does! This revelation saved my skin and my sanity.

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Posted by Jessicka

DIY Extract Blend for Sleep

Have you ever read about an herb, gotten excited about the potential benefits, taken it, and then didn’t feel any sort of effects from it? That’s mostly been my experience with skullcap. I mean, I like the plant, but it’s not the calming nervine rock star that I was hoping it’d be. Of course, there’s many different species of skullcap, so perhaps I just haven’t found the right match for me. For a lot of my friends, skullcap really seems to do the trick. I thought, perhaps someone with my constitution just needed to find another plant ally for those calming nervine effects I was looking for. Fortunately, I ended up stumbling upon blue vervain.

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Posted by Mason

Hard Apple Cider Cocktail Recipe

Spring is the perfect time for a simple, satisfying craft cocktail. This cassis cider cocktail brings authentic flavors and intentionality to the bar cart, beginning with ingredients that make you feel good. Finnriver’s special release, Black Current Social Justice Cider (available in the NW Cider Club Discover Washington Box) lends a deep garnet color, with semi-sweet fruit and tannin structure. Herbal bitters, from Mountain Rose Herbs add bright flavor elements, while supporting digestive function. The result is a delightful craft cider cocktail with pre-meal digestif qualities that can lead seamlessly into your evening meal.

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DIY Eucalyptus Shower Bombs

Bath Bombs can be a soothing addition to the bathing experience, and I’ve always wondered how left out people without tubs must feel. As the empathetic person I am, I started to ponder ways in which everyone could enjoy the wonders of a fizzy, aromatic bathing experience. That’s when I dreamed up the idea of shower bombs. As it turns out, however, there were many others who’d had this dream before I did. In the past year, I’ve seen “shower bombs” begin to make their way on the shelves of my local grocery and natural food stores. Yet, my passion for DIY was too strong to simply buy one. I was on a quest to create the perfect shower bomb!

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Posted by Jessicka

6 Sustainable Laundry Swaps

Laundry time is supposed to elicit feelings of cleanliness. However, a few years ago as I began to take a closer look at the ingredients found in my conventional laundry care products, it made me feel far from clean. It became apparent that the “laundry list” of unpronounceable ingredients could not be good for my skin or even going down my drain, for that matter. One thing was sure, my laundry room was a chemical-laden nightmare, and I was in desperate need of an overhaul!

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Posted by Jessicka

How to Make Turmeric Congee

These days, digestion has become a big topic of conversation. Whether it’s “getting regular,” what fermented foods to eat, or what strain of probiotics are the best, people are talking about their guts and how to get them healthy. For more than three thousand years, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Asian cultures have been using congee, a delicious, digestion-harmonizing dish of porridge. Typically made with rice but also other grains and legumes, congee is pure comfort, especially on cold dreary days.

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How to Make Homemade Chocolate Bars + 2 Herb-Inspired Variations

I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth. I’ll take an entrée over a dessert any day of the week. Thus, I’ve never understood people’s obsession with chocolate. I mean, sure, I enjoy a bite every now and then if an organic, small batch, artisan-made piece of a chocolate bar is offered to me, but I don’t seek it out. Recently, however, as tends to happen for me, an idea and inspiration struck. I could make my own chocolate! Better yet, I could make a chocolate bar sans refined white sugar, which is my main repulsion to most sweets. I declared to my household that I would make a chocolate bar with maple syrup as the sweetener. My daughter found this to be a less than revolutionary statement. “Dad, that’s what you always use.” Hey, sometimes I use honey…

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Posted by Mason

Aromatherapy Blend for Grief

No matter how fulfilling or joyful our lives are, experiencing sadness and grief is a natural part of our being. When we have the blues, it shows us that we care enough about something to give it our energy. Experiencing this also exercises our ability to navigate through the full range of feelings that we are lucky to possess as humans. As a wise woman once told me, “Not everything is rainbows and unicorns all the time.” At first sound, the statement sounded cynical but the more I pondered it, the more I realized that I was wrong. What it really means is that sometimes it’s okay for things not to be okay. And while the blues can be unpleasant, there are ways to naturally work through them.

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Posted by Jessicka

Natural Sensory Play for Children: Hearing

While some people may be naturally born with heightened senses, most of us must hone and practice these skills throughout our lifetime, and particularly when we are children.

During my years of mentoring in environmental nature immersion, I’ve seen countless children develop “super senses” (hear, see, feel, smell, intuit) that astounds their parents. I love stories like the one when a father was flabbergasted by his seven-year-old daughter. “She could hear the sound of an owl hooting way off in the distance,” he excitedly said, “long before I even could sense it and her observation skills are through the roof – I can’t keep up!”

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Posted by Anna

New Essential Oil Kits for the Aromatherapy Explorer

 

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