Long before I became a Licensed Acupuncturist and Reiki Master/Teacher, I was a punk rocker/zinester who was delving into all things healing (do the two coincide? Sure, why not!) I was also exploring my roots, which is a melting pot of sorts – Filipino, Spanish, Irish, and Chinese. I was driven to learn more about all parts of what made me the human being I now am. At least, genetically.
From Filipino babaylan-handmade amulets and indigenous herbal remedies, to my Irish pagan roots, I was exposed to all kinds of herbal healing and magick. And, Western herbs became my first official dip into the ocean of all things healing.
Since then, I have learned much about Chinese Medicinal herbs and different types of remedies spanning different cultural backgrounds and modalities. I am grateful for the jungle tours that taught me which plants had medicinal properties, and even how to make eating utensils and cups out of bamboo, simply by using a bolo knife! I have my uncles/titos to thank for that.
So, it would make perfect sense that I would eventually amass a practical apothecary in my cozy New York City apartment of healing salves, tinctures, herbs, and remedies!
The best way to take your herbs is through food. For me, that often means herbal infusions (which is when you take a large amount of dried herb, put it in a mason jar, pour boiling water over it, cap it with a tight lid, and allow it to steep 4-10 hours, or overnight). I first learned about herbal infusions from Susun Weed. What results is a mineral and vitamin-rich drink that is incredibly nourishing on many levels! She focuses more on Western herbs, which is what I learned more of, in the beginning of my herbal learning, which is clearly reflected in this article’s list of yummy herbs.
I will talk more about herbal infusions, including how to make them, in the next post. So, keep your eyes peeled!
In the meantime, I want to share my top 5 fave herbs for healthy living:
Nettle Leaf – This is a powerful and nourishing herb. Great for the adrenals and kidneys, for when you’re feeling tapped out and run down. It helps build energy, healthy heart and blood vessels, along with beautiful skin, and thick hair. It’s a wonderful source for vitamins A, D, E, and K, has 500 mg of calcium, plus loads of magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, and zinc, which is helpful for bone building. I know when I ever get on the verge of exhaustion, I make sure to get a good night’s sleep, and brew a nettle infusion to take to work with me. Yes, when I’m doing treatments in the office, I often have some sort of infusion to keep me company as I do my notes at my desk. Fun fact: The power of nettle is that iy can demonstrate that all things have their place in creation, and that those things which may be experienced as painful can be integrated and transmuted.
Lemon Balm – Ah, this herb is so calming! It’s a fave of mine for reducing anxiety and nervousness. It’s calming abilities is what it’s most known for. It also helps promote sleep, and improves indigestion. In addition, it builds the immune system and helps with detoxification, and helps with headaches and rashes. It can also be used for chronic fatigue syndrome. One of the more dramatic uses I’ve seen it successfully used for is hyperthyroidism, particularly, Graves Disease. I once had a patient who, with a combination of her meds (which she claimed were not improving her symptoms, even though she’s been on them for some time), acupuncture, and Chinese Medicinal herbal formulas, I had her do lemon balm infusions, to help regulate her thyroid levels. I can’t say results will be the same for everyone, but it sure was a winning combination in this particular case! The reason lemon balm is helpful for these types of thyroid conditions is because it inhibits TSH, which in turn can help to reduce the excessive secretion of thyroid hormone. Interestingly enough, this herb is also used to raise thyroid hormone levels in patients with hypothyroidism. Lemon balm strengthens rather than stimulates thyroid function, restoring normal levels to patients with autoimmune thyroid disease. Even so, its effects are mild in the treatment of hypothyroidism, so thyroid treatment in relation to lemon balm is cited more for hyperthyroidism. Fun fact: it is a symbolic plant used to help attract love to you!
Oatstraw – This is another soothing herb. It’s considered a nervine, which means it calms the nerves. It eases anxiety and improves our ability to live with uncertainty. It reduces high cholesterol and increases libido. It helps stabilize moods and digestion with its steroidal saponins, which nourish the pancreas and liver. A cup of oatstraw infusion contains more than 300 mg of calcium, along with A and B complex, and is a natural source of iron and magnesium. It’s best known to enhance libido and mellow the mood. It is beneficial against osteoporosis with an ability to regenerate the nervous system, which plays an important role in a woman’s hormone cycle. Oatstraw is a traditional herbal bath for the treatment of spasms, nervous disorders, joint pain and skin disorders. Fun fact: it is magically used for money and prosperity work.
Hibiscus – Enjoy hibiscus tea regularly when trying to maintain low blood pressure, or to protect yourself from severe hypertension if it’s already too high. Studies have shown that drinking as little as 2-3 cups of hibiscus tea each day can lower your blood pressure levels, working similarly as some anti-hypertensive prescription medications (without the potential side effects). Hibiscus flower tea is made from the dried calyces of the hibiscus flower. Calyces contain high levels of antioxidants, which are essential in our diets. The reason being is that they help rid our bodies of free radicals (destructive molecules that can damage our cells and DNA). Antioxidants helps protect us against chronic disease, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. They also help reverse the inflammatory process in your body. Fun fact: it promotes tranquility, attracts love (and even lust), aids in divination, and is used for protection against evil.
Raspberry Leaf – This herb is the best known, most widely used, and safest of all uterine and pregnancy tonics. I took loads of raspberry leaf infusions during my recovery from fibroid surgery. Why? Raspberry leaf contains fragine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus, herself. It increases fertility, which makes it a great combo with red clover buds, creating a super herb combo when trying to conceive. It also alleviates pains of pregnancy and childbirth. Raspberry leaf can also be used for diarrhea, fevers, and even as a mouthwash. Topically, it can be used for sores or rashes. Fun fact: This herb is used for love and protection, and considered a love inducing food. Bathe in an infusion of raspberry to keep your current love relationship alive.
Now it’s your turn!
What is your favorite herb for healthy living?
Let me know in the comments, below!
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