As we round the corner into mid spring, what are some of your favorite rituals that you associate with this season? Do you start to garden or make it a point to go hiking? Do you start your spring cleaning? Go bird-watching?
In spring I carve out a little time to go harvesting for herbs. Sometimes this might be right in my backyard as I have lots of beneficial volunteers, such as nettles and nasturtiums! Other times I might go out harvesting with my herbal study partner, Cindy, of Following Seasons Botanicals (she makes THE BEST soaps as well as distills her own floral waters and creates many other amazing aromatherapy and skin care products). We go out to some of her favorite local spots between here and the desert to ethically harvest and make medicine with whatever goodies we come back with.
Just a few days ago I was lucky enough to visit her just after she had taught a class at a local farm where they let her and the students harvest all of their California Poppy plants which had been growing all over their property. I now have a jar of fresh CA Poppy tincture brewing! It is one of my absolute favorite herbs for sleep. Used on its own or in combination with other sleep herbs, this plant has a wonderful calming affect on the nervous system. It's also a safe herb for children both for calming as well as for treating colds and flu.
Cindy and I have been studying herbalism together for years. While she has been practicing a holistic lifestyle since she was very young, I didn’t find my way into whole foods and herbalism until I was in my later twenties, so I really value learning from and with Cindy, who really incorporates what she learns into her entire lifestyle. When it comes to our health and wellness, our mind, body and spirit work together to create a whole. If we really want to heal ourselves on any one of those levels, we really need to connect with all three in order to see lasting improvement.
Foods, plants, herbs, and having experiences in nature can fill in the gaps in our health and wellness that we are missing. Science is finally starting to catch up to what our traditional cultures all over the world and dating back thousands of years have always known: healing can be done with help from nature. Food literally is the best medicine. If you don’t start there, nothing else you do will be as effective as it could be. When you are constantly eating foods that are causing your body stress, your body is forced to spend too much time trying to process the problem foods. This leaves your immune system in an elevated level of stress which means your body will have less ability to deal with any other issues going on. After food, herbal medicine can lend amazing healing properties, and can be used on both a physical and spiritual/energetic level. Growing, cultivating and harvesting your own food and medicine takes you one step further to a larger understanding of the cycles of nature, the cycles of your own body and emotional states, and connects you on a broader scale to the world around you. It is this larger connection to Mother Earth and all its inhabitants that humanity is lacking right now. We can begin to heal this lack by connecting to the plants around us! If you can’t get outside to smell some spring flowers or take a walk, you can start as small as thanking the veggies on your dinner plate for providing you with the nourishment you need today. I promise, start small and it will slowly have a snowball effect!
Essential oils (EOs) are yet another wonderful way to start connecting to plants. I know moving to a slower, whole food lifestyle or learning how to harvest plants to use as food and medicine can be a little intimidating. So how about simply incorporating the beautiful scents of medicinal plants into your daily life? Essential oils don’t just smell good—they are medicinal, anti-microbial, anti-depressant…. I could go on and on, but that is for another blog. While EOs are very concentrated medicine and need to be used with care and respect, they don’t need to be intimidating! There are many safe and easy ways to use them.
One of my favorite (and easiest) ways to incorporate EOs into my routine is to use EO soaps in the shower. The scented soap starts my day on the right foot as I wash away any negative energy and breathe in the uplifting aroma. Remember I mentioned that Cindy makes amazing soaps? Cindy is a Master Soapmaker. In addition to her apothecary business, she also operates the Soapmaking Historical Guild out of Old Town State Park in San Diego where she does live traditional soap-making demonstrations using a cauldron over the fire while dressed in 1800s attire. Yeah, she is pretty awesome! Well, she carries a line of EOs that she uses in her soaps and skin care products. (No, it is NOT DoTerra or Young Living—she actually created connections with the farmers and distillers she has chosen to work with, which not only cuts out the middle-man but also ensures more accountability in quality.) She creates a variety of different soaps to choose from with different scents and skin healing properties, sometimes incorporating wild-harvested herbs as well.
Would you like to incorporate the beauty of EOs into your daily ritual too? Or give it as a gift to someone you love?
For Mother’s Day I have created two different gift sets for you to choose from, both of which come with a bar of Cindy’s handmade soap! The first features a pair of Abalone earrings paired beautifully with a Bergamot-scented soap which is a light citrus scent perfectly suited to spring. The second is a pair of Mother-Of-Pearl earrings paired with a coconut oil soap scented with Frankincense, which is especially suited as a facial bar.
Are you as excited as I am? These bundles will come beautifully packaged and ready to give as a gift! Take a look at both gift sets here! (And feel free to gift yourself as well as the moms in your life—I’m sure you deserve it too!)