Smoke cleansing—burning botanicals, resins, wood, etc. for health and/or spiritual purposes—is an ancient practice that is common in a wide variety of cultures and faiths around the world. For instance, I was introduced to smoke cleansing through the practice of “fire saining,” a Celtic tradition that resonates well with my cultural and personal history. However, the form of smoke cleansing that most people are familiar with today is “smudging.” The commercialization of smudging is unfortunate on multiple fronts—it is cultural appropriation of North American indigenous practices, it has created serious issues around illegal and/or irresponsible wildharvesting of traditional smudging herbs, and it disregards the wealth of other forms of smoke cleansing that are just as ancient and powerful. Many times, looking to our own culture, faith, community, or heritage in our relationship to the botanical world can help us identify herbal allies that are particularly aligned with us as individuals. Our ancestors had personal relationships with these plants; they have been part of our people—our DNA—for time immemorial. Smoke cleansing can be a powerful, renewing, and healing practice for many people, particularly when they are embracing a form that resonates with their genuine self.Read More
My husband recently went on a summer-mocktail quest. It started because he made homemade ginger beer, which was good, but lacked some important refreshing element; it was a bit “much” on a hot day. Still, it was inspirational. The delicious, summery, layered mocktail that my honey ultimately came up with utilizes ginger beer (homemade or store-bought) and some of the most refreshing, cooling herbal allies. It also celebrates both summer berries and the beautiful roses of the season with a berry and rose simple syrup. Make tea and simple syrup the evening before so all you have to do is find some shade and settle in for a revitalizing, enjoyable day. Bring on the sun, we’re ready!Read More
I remember the first time I ate a bagel. It was 1982 and I was teenager from the mountains of Oregon on her first trip to the East Coast. I saw Amadeus on Broadway, I ate Cuban food for the first time, and I went to a wonderful outdoor marketplace that was populated by a fascinating mix of locals, Amish farmers, and Orthodox Jewish craftspeople. While the farmers hosted an auction of horse-pulled buggies and farm equipment outside, I wandered the home-goods end of the event, where I discovered a man making handmade bagels. He had a steaming pot of water at his elbow, and a big catering oven at his rear, and was hand-forming rings of wheat dough as he chatted to passersby. I got sucked in by the smell and bought a perfect bagel accompanied with a side of herby cream cheese. And then there were arias, and the heavens opened, and a great light shown down… which is to say, it was amazing!Read More
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.Read More
In herbalism, herb is the root word. Of course, herbalism encompasses much more than herbs such as basil or rosemary. It also includes tree barks, roots, seeds, and even non-plant life such as mushrooms. I know some herbalist friends who are downright repulsed by mushrooms, but there’s another type of herbalist who is entranced and enamored with these fungal friends. I happen to be one of those weirdos. While I'm not a mycologist, I’ve always enjoyed learning about and including mushrooms in my diet and herbal lifestyle because of their health benefits, lore, and mystery. Science confirms that there are a great many benefits to consuming mushrooms. Let’s explore a few of these mushroom allies.
I have to admit, it was really difficult for me to believe that soap nuts could actually work. My skepticism caused me to walk by them at my local natural grocery store for years. I liked the idea of an all-natural laundry solution, but I figured soap nuts would not be effective enough to take on the stains and scents of my active lifestyle and dirty gardening clothes.
When choosing or crafting a natural moisturizer for your face, it helps to understand the benefits and drawbacks of the different oils included in the recipe. Facial skin tends to be more delicate and sensitive than the rest of the body, and it can be a little tricky to adequately nourish your complexion without either smothering your pores or causing irritation. This is why organic rosehip seed oil is one of the most universally loved choices for gentle moisturizers.Read More
When spring arrives, I turn to my trusty blender and say, “Let’s do this.” As I move and shake my way out of hibernation (and try to shed some extra winter insulation), smoothies become the perfect breakfast and/or lunch for me. These nutritious drinks keep me feeling light, but still nourished and focused, and I love discovering new ingredients to add to my favorite blended recipes.Read More
Humans have been brewing beer for millennia, and in that time, we have incorporated countless ingredients into our ferments. From bright, citrusy witbiers to rich herbal gruits, there’s a flavor profile to suit most any taste—and many of the ingredients to achieve it can be found in your home apothecary or kitchen spice rack!Read More
In our neighboring state of Washington lies one of our organic farms—650,000 acres of herbal splendor amidst an otherwise desert landscape. Thanks to the pristine Columbia River, this region has an unlimited supply of the highest quality water any agricultural operation could desire. Here, head farmer Phil has the space and resources to grow one of our most popular herbs: stinging nettle.Read More