Linden Leaf and Flower for Head Colds, Aches, Dry Skin, Sleep, and More

You know those head colds where it starts off with your nose running like a faucet and uncontrollable sneezing?  And then once that stops, your nasal passages just swell up and seal shut,  but your nose continues to run and drip down the back of your throat?  Yeah.  I had one of those last week.  I don’t think I ever ran a fever, but I did feel a bit worn down and lethargic for a day or so.  It was fairly mild, as colds go, but that nose thing was very distressing.

Honey, Lemon, Ginger teaI was on vacation, so had limited herbal remedies on hand.  I started taking Airborne. I also made myself a soothing cup of honey, ginger, and lemon tea (boiled water poured over chopped fresh ginger, a spoonful of honey, and a squeeze of lemon).  Later I made a hot toddy, and wow, that was potent!  (1/4C each of of whiskey and fresh lemon juice heated, plus 1/4C honey.)  Tasty, instant warmth, a pleasant buzz, and peaceful sleep shortly thereafter.  Although these remedies were comforting, they were only temporarily.

The swollen shut, runny nose continued, but I was on the mend the next day and felt much better, plus we were heading home.  As soon as I got home I started looking through my herbs for another remedy to treat the stuffy, drippy nose.

Linden Leaf and Flower TeaEnter Linden Tea!

It is an incredible feeling when you ingest an herb that seems as if it was made just for you.  It totally matches your constitution, relieves the imbalances causing your symptoms, almost makes you feel more like yourself than you did before.  Incredible!

I chose this herb because of its moistening and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which I thought would be a good match for my currently dry winter constitution. Plus it was listed in numerous information resources as a good cold remedy.

This tea almost instantly moistened and reduced the inflammation in the hot, swollen tissues of my sinuses, while simultaneously tightening the tissues and stopping the leaky, drippy mucous. Half way through the first cup I realized I could actually breathe through my nose!!!  And it wasn’t dripping!  It also induced the most lovely relaxation, ahhhh.  The relaxation was very similar to what I get when I drink Chamomile tea. This herb actually reminds me a lot of Chamomile.

Also soothes dry, itchy skin, gut inflammation, and musculoskeletal pain

Coincidentally, I also had a couple of other nagging issues that were relieved with the Linden Tea.  I have been experiencing a tender tummy lately, and achy joints and muscles,  probably due to some gut inflammation. This problem completely cleared up the day after drinking the Linden tea, and I awoke with absolutely no stomach pain and no musculoskeletal pain.  I was astounded to feel so good after having spent months in some degree of pain.

I also had begun to develop extremely dry skin this winter, which was quite different from my usual oily skin type.  I had a particularly nagging spot under my chin that itched and was extremely wrinkled. In fact, I was noticing a lot more wrinkles on my face in general. I had attributed the change to perimenopause and changing hormones.  However, after drinking the Linden Tea, I noticed a distinct change in the softness of that patch on my chin, and it wasn’t itching.  I was intrigued to say the least!

After doing some additional research on Linden, I decided to switch up the daily nourishing infusion I had been drinking to include some Linden, since it seemed to be so good for my current constitution.  My latest infusion recipe includes a base of Oat Straw, with some Violet Leaf, Red Clover, and LINDEN!  I have so far had one quart of this infusion over two days time, and that itchy patch on my chin has completely cleared up, my skin is softer and less dry (less wrinkles too!), and my body continues to be pain free.  I have also slept easily and all through the night, when I had been averaging only 5 or 6 hours and waking frequently.

Had I had a fever, or more chest congestion with this cold, I think I may have mixed it with Yarrow and Mullien.  As it was, I only seemed to need the Linden.

In my research, I learned that Linden is also considered a tonic for the heart – some consider it second only to Hawthorne.  Additionally, there is quite a bit of spiritual lore related to this magnificent tree. Read more about the medicinal and spiritual properties of this herb from the links at the bottom of the article.

Some Personal Lore

When I was a child, my grandmother lived on Linden Street. In the front yard was a large Linden tree with low enough branches that I and my cousins could climb into it when we played all sorts of fun games, like hide-and-seek for one.  Sometimes we played “house” and one branch would be the  kitchen, and the other the living room; our bikes were our cars when we had to go to work.  It made a fine place to sit with a book on a lazy afternoon, also.

There are  Linden trees where I live now, too.  I smell them every year when they bloom.  This is the year I will spend time getting to know her better.  And I need an Ogham stick from her wood!  Lot’s more to learn, and I’m sure I will be writing about her often.

More information:

Tasty Magnesium Rich Herbal Infusion

I’ve been showing signs of magnesium deficiency, so I made a magnesium-rich herbal infusion, steeped over night.  It’s really tasty!

Part of my symptoms are related to the peri menopause I’m sure, but I suspect magnesium deficiency is at the root of it. I’m having a lot of fatigue, grumpiness, digestive issues, muscle spasms, tingling in my hands some times, occasional heart flutters…

And it seems the worse I feel the less likely I am to take care of myself properly. WHY do I put off taking care of myself?

So I made this herbal infusion. It is mostly oatstraw and horsetail for the magnesium and other minerals that support healthy connective tissue and nervous system, a little nettles for kidney support, and some licorice root and ginger for flavor as well as liver and digestive support.

It’s really good!  To me anyway. Maybe because I need these particular herbs right now.  If you make this and it doesn’t taste good to you consider that one or more of the herbs may not be right for you at this time.

After just one glass, I swear I feel better already!

Here is how I made it.

This much Oatstraw
This much Oatstraw
This much Horsetail
This much Horsetail
About half as much Nettles
About half as much Nettles
Three slices fresh ginger, chopped
Three slices fresh ginger, chopped
One piece Licorice Root, broken up
One piece Licorice Root, broken up
Put in a french press and pour boiling water over the herbs. Let steep over night.
Put in a french press and pour boiling water over the herbs. Let steep over night.


Then enjoy a cup or two over ice the next couple of days! Keep refrigerated after you steep it and it should be good for about 2 days.

More information…



Winter Nourishing Herbal Infusion

My new favorite winter nourishing herbal infusion is a combination of equal parts violet leaf and linden flowers, with a hefty pinch of nettle seeds. Pour a quart of boiling water over, seal, and let sit for 4 hours or more. Strain and drink. Yumm!!!

Nourishing herbal infusionThis blend is addressing my winter constitutional dryness beautifully, moistening up those mucous membranes, easing digestion, helping to purify the blood, and nourishing my kidneys and adrenals, which tend to be weak. Plus I think it tastes really, really good. I’m loving it!

What are your favorite winter infusion and tea blends?

Who Needs a Fancy Yogurt Maker?

When you could have this little homemade beauty? This was my first batch of homemade yogurt and it turned out really well, I’m happy to report.  And so did the cream cheese I made from it!

To make your own homemade yogurt, you will need 1/4 C starter yogurt for every quart of milk.  Buy a cup of good quality plain yogurt with live cultures from the store to use for this purpose.  The milk can be any kind as long as it is not ultra-pasteurized. Ultra-pasteurized milk has damaged proteins that will not work well to make yogurt.  Get organic if you can; raw is even better.

Heat your milk to 185 degrees, let it cool to 110 degrees, stir in the starter yogurt, and then keep it warm, between 90 and 110 degrees, until it has transformed into yogurt, usually about 12 hours later.

Most homemade yogurt instructions tell you that you need to have a thermometer so you can keep the yogurt at the proper temperatures. But hey, I’m a wise woman!  I don’t use fancy thermometers either!

When initially heating the milk to the requisite 185 degrees, I just use my senses to tell me when it is the right temperature.  185 is steamy, but not boiling.  This step is for the purpose of killing any bad bacteria, which I’m guessing is not a big problem if you are using pasteurized milk anyway, but I still do it.

When the milk is slightly warm or even a little cool, it is probably within the 90-110 range.  Just gauge it based on your own body temp as a starting point.  Your body temp is around 98.6, so if it is exactly the same you won’t feel either cool or warm when you stick your finger in, if it is a few degrees warmer, it will feel slightly warm, a few degrees cooler, it will feel slightly cool.  You get the idea.

To keep mine between 90-110 degrees while it was setting up, I wrapped a heating pad set on low around the jars and put a towel around the whole bundle.  My home is air-conditioned, so it was important to have heat source, but if you are in a warm climate and don’t have air-conditioning, you may not need this. My heating pad automatically turns itself off after a certain number of minutes, and every hour or so, I would turn it back on.  There are many other ways to keep the culturing yogurt warm — set in warm water in a cooler, set in an oven set on 100 or so, etc.

I kept half the yogurt to eat with fruit and in smoothies, and the other half I turned into cream cheese.  To make cream cheese, line a strainer with a clean cloth and set over a bowl, pour in the yogurt and let the whey drip out and into the bowl.  It takes a long while for all the whey to drip out, and toward the end you’ll probably need to take the yogurt filled cloth out of the strainer and tie it to a large wooden spoon or other such device and hang it over a taller pitcher to finish dripping.

When the cream cheese is firm, store it in an air tight container in the fridge.  You can eat it plain or stir in some flavors as you like.  You know that shelf in the grocery store with all the flavors of cream cheese?  Use that for ideas, or make up your own combos.  My favorite so far is dried apricots and ginger. Yum!  Next, I want to try some savory herbs.

Keep the whey also.  This can be used to soak beans and grains before cooking (to increase their nutritional value) and as a starter for fermented (pickled) vegetables.  For more information about using whey in food prep, see Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.

Whey is also very medicinal as a topical on itchy rashes, as is the full fat yogurt.  This helped clear up a severe, long-lasting, angry, red and itchy rash on my arm last summer when nothing else helped.

Herbal Coconut Diaper Rash Balm

My new little grandson, barely 2 weeks old, has had his first minor diaper rash. ‘Cause he likes to poop in the middle of the night while he’s sleeping and nobody knows about it until the next morning! Here is a simple herbal balm I made that cleared it right up.

I used raw, organic coconut oil as the base, and infused some dried Balm of Gilead (poplar buds), dried yarrow, and fresh chopped plantain from the yard. Yarrow is known to be quite anti-bacterial and good for skin ailments. Plantain draws out infection or toxins and helps heals skin beautifully, and Balm of Gilead is well known as a skin healer and soother. the coconut oil itself is also anti-microbial and very nourishing to the skin. There are many, many other herbs adn oils that could have been used here, but these were the ones I had on hand and that came to mind when I started mixing.

Since I needed this balm immediately and didn’t want to wait weeks for it to infuse, I decided for the first time to use a heat infusion method. I followed Frances’ suggestion to use a crock pot set on low for a couple days.

I put the coconut oil in a small jar and immersed it in the warm water in the crock pot to melt it, then added the herbs, stirred it well, put the top on, and sat it back down in the warm water bath (along with a couple other infusing oils so as to get maximum use from having the crock pot on for so long). I let it infuse for two days, opening the cap to wipe away moisture condensation (from water in the fresh plantain) and to stir it occasionally.

When it had taken on a nice green color and I deemed it done, I strained the oil through a mesh strainer first, then strained it again through a clean cloth to get all the tiny little herb particles out.

Coconut oil will stay solid at room temperature, about 76 degrees or less. In our air conditioned homes, this makes a perfect salve. If it were going to be stored in a warmer place, I would have melted some beeswax into the mixture to keep it solid at higher temps too.

While it was still warm and liquid, I put it in a squeeze bottle to keep fingers out of the mixture to avoid introducing bacteria so it will last longer. I have no idea what the shelf life is. Since there are no preservatives, we will keep a close eye on it for spoilage.

My daughter took the filled bottle with her before I took a pic, but here is an empty one.  I picked up a bunch of these at the discount store for about $. 50 a piece.

This balm has a lovely light coconut scent and feels really nice on the skin. In addition to diaper rash, it could be used for many other purposes. It could be really great for moisturizing elbows and feet, or soothing any minor skin abrasion.

Rose Toner and Spritzer

For the blog party on staying cool in the summer, hosted at Alchemille’s Garden

I spell “cool in the summer” a-i-r c-o-n-d-i-t…. oh, wait… that’s not herbal, hehe

As you probably know, there are literally hundreds of ways to use herbs and plants and food to stay cool in the summer. My favorite is just taking a lazy walk in the cool shade of big leafy trees, especially near a stream or a lake or a river or the ocean. Or better yet, taking a dip in that water or sitting and digging my toes into the cool mud or sand alongside it. Just getting close to the heartbeat of Mother Earth, where the growth is lush and the water runs free is enough all by itself.

I also like to add herbs and plants to almost every other thing I do in the course of living. I wanted to share one cooling thing I’ve been using lately that is so easy and simple.

How to make Rose Petal Toner & Spritzer

This takes maybe 5 minutes to make, plus infusing time.  Just put fragrant dried or fresh rose petals in a jar, pour witch hazel over them, and let them sit for a couple of weeks. The result is a heavenly rose-scented, pink, cooling toner.

I use it on a cotton ball to cleanse my face and neck after my shower each day. I have to say that my skin has never been so soft and clear as it has since I began using this. Works better than any expensive facial product I’ve ever purchased.

I also put it in a spray bottle to spritz all over when ever I want to cool off a little. It’s nice spritzed right in the face (be careful not to get in eyes) and on the neck, arms, belly… where ever you need it. Freshens and cools instantly. And it smells soooooo good!

Use fresh or dried roses

I made herbal gifts for the holidays last December and had lots of dried rose petals left over. I wanted to use them before they lost their potency, so was wracking my brain for what would use up a lot of them all at once. I decided to infuse them in witch hazel, which I also had plenty of.  Now roses are blooming all over outside.  I’m sure a fresh infusion will be just as lovely!

Some Darn Fine Sassafras Root Beer

I have Sassafras trees! Everywhere! I feel so rich and so blessed. I dug a sapling root on Sunday to make root beer and dried some leaves for tea. I have to say I’d be quite content to just go around smelling them all day every day… ahhhhhh, there’s nothing so lovely as Sassafras.

Sassafras Tree photo here

So once I smelled them, I had to also taste. The leaves are sweet and mild and extremely mucilaginous. I hear they are often used to thicken soups and stews and gumbo, and I can see that they would be very good for that purpose. I dried all the leaves from the sapling I dug up, and I plan to make some leaf tea soon. I hear it is almost as good as the root tea.

But the root… now that is something straight from heaven. Smells and tastes strongly of root beer — as you may know, it IS the original genuine flavor for that lovely beverage. I used it to make some tea and two versions of root beer.

Now, I didn’t quite know exactly what I was doing, but just followed my instincts and some vague recollections of stuff I had read in the past.

First, I washed off the root thoroughly. Then I used a knife to peel off the outer bark. From what I have read, the inner side of the outer bark is the part with the good stuff in it. The peelings went into the pan; the stick remaining I gave back to Mother Earth. I ended up with about an ounce of bark, which I covered with water to fill a 2 quart pan.

Peeled Sassafras Root photo here

I then boiled it until the water evaporated to about 1/2 of what I started with. The water turned a lovely red color and the whole house smelled sweet like Sassafras. We tried some of the resulting decoction plain right out of the pan and it made a very good tea all by itself. Since I wanted to make root beer, though, I added some sugar (not sure how much, just till it tasted sweet enough).

Boiling Sassafras Root photo here

For the first version of the root beer, I filled a glass half way with the sweetened Sassafras decoction and then the other half with sparkling water. Abracadabra! Instant root beer. My grandson loved it and hubby and I thought it was really good, too.

For the second version I put the rest of the decoction into a pyrex glass 4 C measuring cup and added some yeast while it was still warm (about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon), stirred it, covered it, and set it on the shelf to ferment. I just used regular bread yeast ’cause that’s what I had on hand. I let it sit for about 24 hours. When I got home the next day I pulled out my home brew and dipped a wooden spoonful out to taste.

Oh, my! Gotta have me some more of that! The fermenting really brought out the strong root beer flavor and added a fizzy kick. It is one of the most delicious things I think I’ve ever tasted. The sparkling water version can’t even come close. There are probably more sophisticated ways to make this, which I’ll be wanting to learn about now, but I think it’s not too bad for my first try.

To store it, I poured it into a recycled (sterilized) olive oil bottle that has a rubber stopper on it, and put it in the fridge to stop the fermenting.

Bottled Sassafras Root Beer photo here

**UPDATE 5/26:  Check out Kiva Rose’s recent post on an easy way to make lacto-fermented herbal brews.  Her method uses whey instead of yeast.  Fermented herbal infusions could easily replace soda in any household.  I’m excited to try it!

While I was out getting the Sassafras Sunday, I also found and harvested some wild grape leaves, which I promptly cooked and served with dinner, as well as bunches of violet leaf and sweet clover. The herb gardens are prolific and overgrown already, so I also cut some rosemary and sage. While my root beer boiled and brewed, I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging herbs to dry and making rosemary and sage smudge sticks. Oh what a glorious day it was!

Yummy Garlicky-Peppery Wild Greens

My absolute favorite spring green (so far… I’m sure there are others I haven’t discovered yet) is Bittercress (Cardamine spp). I found this little beauty last fall growing in my yard. I’m not sure what made me notice it, but I remember being intrigued right away. The intrigue soon turned into an adventure of “let’s identify this plant!”

First, the taste

I started the identification process by tasting a small leaf. Since I had no idea what kind of plant it was, I had no intentions of swallowing it just then, just tasting it and then spitting it out.

When you first chew, it tastes garlicky, then as you hold it in your mouth you slowly start to feel peppery heat that continues to rise in intensity for about 15 seconds, then the heat subsides and leaves the absolute best garlic-pepper aftertaste lingering for a long time. Mmmmmm!

With that first taste, from somewhere in the depths of my brain out came the word Brassica. I had to go look it up, though, as I couldn’t quite remember what it meant, even though I knew it was one of the common plant families. I must have read about Brassica in one of my botany books and retained the sense of it, if not a full blown definition. For those of you who haven’t learned it yet, Brassica is a subdivision of the Brassicaceae family, which is the latin name for the Mustard family.

As my books reminded me, all of the Mustard family are edible. Yippee! I definitely wanted to eat some of this tasty little plant. But first I had to make sure it was indeed a Mustard before I would think about adding it to a meal. I felt intuitively that it was good for food, but as a beginner I didn’t feel confident enough to go on my gut feeling alone.

Next, observe carefully

It wasn’t in flower at that time, in the middle of Fall, so identification was going to be a bit difficult. If it had been in flower, I would have been looking to see if it they had 4 petals and 6 stamens, 2 short and 4 tall (identifying characteristics of Mustard family flowers, from Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification by Thomas Elpel).

But alas, no flowers, so I had to look for other identifiers. I noticed carefully it’s physical characteristics and where it liked to grow. Below is what it looked like in the Fall when I found it. Notice the leaves are opposite and roundish along the stem. You may not be able to see in these photos, but the stems grow in a whorl from a central point. The leaves also have little hairs on them, easily felt with the tongue when tasting.

Bittercress photo here

Bittercress photo here

Finally, research it

I needed to start with some names of possibilities that I could then plug into Google and also look up in the indexes of my books. I did a general search for Brassica, but that was too broad to narrow down. To get some ideas, I posted my photos to one of the herbal forums I frequent and asked my online friends what they thought it was. I got lots of different suggestions, but the one that seemed closest when I looked it up was “Cuckoo Flower” (common name for the latin Cardamine pratensis), which was also a Brassica. It was a bit difficult at first to find any online photos of the Cuckoo that was even close in appearance to my specimen, because it looks quite different when it is flowering in the Spring than it does in the Fall with just leaves, and most of the pics I found were of the Spring flowering plant.

I determined after a lot looking and comparing different pictures that my little plant was definitely a Cardamine, but probably not the Cuckoo. The information on the Cuckoo did, however, lead me to information on some of the other species in the Cardamine genus. I determined from online photos that my plant was Cardamine hirsuta (hairy bittercress).

Below is a Spring pic of Cardamine hirsuta (white flowers) nestled around the Henbit (purple flowers). Notice how the leaves on the flower stalk are narrow and pointy and darker in color. You can’t see it in this photo, but the leaves nearer the ground are still similar to the way it looks in the Fall photo above.

henbit.jpg photo here

How to eat Bittercress

So… plant identified safe to eat, now what to do with it? Well… it’s super yummy on sandwiches. It also ads a zesty kick to Chickweed pesto, which I think by itself tends to taste a little bland. And of course, it adds tons of flavor to a fresh wild greens salad. I haven’t tried it cooked yet, but I bet it would be delicious that way too. You can eat the entire plant, leaves, stems, flowers, seeds… the whole thing tastes great. The flowers and seeds are more peppery and spicy; the green leaves more garlicky, but still peppery.  I think this is the most savory wild green I’ve had so far.

Depending on where you live, you may have some nearby right outside your door. Why not go take a look? Go on now… and let me know if you find any!

Easy Aloe Herbal Aftershave for Men

I’m handcrafting all my holiday gifts this year. For the guys on my list (if any of my family is reading this, shhhhh…. don’t tell!) I’m making a luxurious soothing herbal aftershave. It’s so easy to make, but boy is it great for his skin!

Many men hate to shave because every time they do their faces get extremely irritated. We have paid lots of money for some of those commercial aftershave lotions, but this recipe is pretty inexpensive and so much more soothing.

Here’s what you do.

Step 1 – Gather the herbs and materials

Get some either fresh or dried sage and lavender blossoms/ leaves. You can use other herbs, too, but I chose these because together they smell rather “manly” and they are fairly easy to get. There are many other herbs that also smell manly or are soothing to skin, so feel free to substitute here. A good one to add is calendula blossoms — very good for skin. If you have the herbs you need growing in your garden that’s great! Just pick a few large handfuls of each. Otherwise, you can likely get what you need at any health food store that sells dried bulk herbs, or you can order them from Mountain Rose Herbs. For dried herbs you need less than fresh, maybe about a cup of each (or more for a stronger scent, it doesn’t have to be exact).

Buy a couple of bottles of witch hazel extract from your local drug store (or order from Mountain Rose Herbs). This is a gentle toner for the skin. If your man’s skin is less sensitive and you want a more “bracing” after shave, you can substitute rubbing alcohol for the witch hazel.

Buy some aloe vera gel. I ordered mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, but I believe you can also buy this at most health food stores as well.

Make sure you have a little apple cider vinegar on hand (probably already in your kitchen cupboard)

Step 2 – Infuse the herbs in the witch hazel (or rubbing alcohol)

Put the herbs in a quart size jar (canning jars work great for this). You can use a bigger or smaller jar, just adjust the amount of herb you add accordingly. None of it has to be exact.

Pour witch hazel over to cover.

Add 2 Tbs vinegar (this helps with the extraction of the herbal essence).

Stir and then pour more witch hazel to cover again.

Cap and let sit for 1-2 weeks, shaking the jar whenever you think about it.

Step 3 – Put it all together

After it has extracted for a week or two, strain the herb out of your witch hazel.

Add an equal amount of aloe vera gel, then stir or shake. The amount of aloe can be adjusted, using more or less, for varying degrees of moisturizing quality. For mostly toning, you would use more herbal infused witch hazel and only a little aloe, say 2 cups of witch hazel to 1/2 cup aloe. For more moisture, you could use, say, 2 cups of aloe to 1 cup of witch hazel. Or any combination in between! But half and half is a good place to start.

Pour into bottles. You could recycle old cologne bottles for this, or you can buy those plastic travel bottles from any discount store. You can also order a variety of different sized bottles in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Make sure whatever bottle you use is very clean. Pour boiling water over and in them and let dry thoroughly before filling to make sure they are sterile. Also, to prevent germs getting into the mixture after your man begins to use it, it is best to use either a pump type bottle, a spray bottle, or one with a flip type lid — this prevents germs from being introduced by hands making contact with it every day. The alcohol in the witch hazel acts as a preservative, and if you are careful of the type of bottle you use to prevent germs, it should be good until he uses it all up. This recipe makes about 2 quarts, which is a lot.  If making for just one person, I would half or quarter the recipe to be sure it stays fresh until he uses it all, then you can make up another batch.

Infusing the herbs adds a lot of subtle soothing and nourishing essence to the aftershave, but in a pinch you could skip the herbal infusion and just mix the witch hazel and aloe, which makes an even easier alternative that he will also appreciate for its soothing aftershave properties.

That’s all there is to it. That was easy!!

Liquid Vitamins

I’ve written before about how much energy you can get from drinking nettle infusions, but I don’t think I mentioned what a great replacement for synthetic vitamin supplements this (and other) nourishing infusions are.

I just can’t overstate the value of deep nourishment for providing the raw materials your body needs to stay healthy. Most everybody these days understands this to some degree, and many think that if they pop a vitamin everyday that they have their nutritional needs covered. But there is just so much that vitamin supplements leave out, and so much of them that your body simply can’t use effectively and ends up just flushing out. And vitamins are expensive. What a waste!

A much better alternative in my opinion is to supplement with nourishing herbal teas and infusions.

Herbal teas can be made with either fresh or dried plants. Teas are steeped a short period, usually about 10 minutes or so, and then the plant material is strained out or otherwise removed. Depending on the plant used, teas can be quite medicinal and also provide many micronutrients.

But to get large volumes of nutrients from a plant, infusions are a better choice. Because infusions are steeped for a long time, usually 4-8 hours or so, for daily use they are always made from dried nourishing plants (ones that can be used like food moreso than as medicines) so as to avoid extracting large volumes of active ingredients such as volatile oils and alkaloids that could be harmful in large quantities. In dried plants, the active ingredients are less, but the vitamin and mineral nutrients are still very concentrated. You extract these nutrients by pouring boiling water over them, which breaks the cell walls and releases the nutrients into the water as they steep over a 4-8 hour period. Then you strain the plant material out and drink the liquid, which is really just a strong tea.

Nourishing herbal infusions are some of the highest quality supplements you could ever add to your diet. Unlike commercial vitamin supplements, the nutrition in an infusion is highly bioavailable, which means your body can actually absorb and use them. If you start drinking infusions, you will likely see a difference in your skin, hair, nails, and overall energy levels very quickly.

Different nourishing herbs have different levels of various nutrients and work as helpers to different systems of the body. For best results, find a few different types of infusions that you like, and then rotate them.

My favorite herbs for nourishing infusions are red clover flowers, stinging nettle, and oatstraw. All these herbs have many, many healthy benefits, too many to name them all, but here are a few reasons I use them.

Red clover blossoms work like a blood purifier in the body, help to balance the hormones, and have very strong anti-cancer properties. I like the taste of this one best of all because its flavor is very similar to regular Lipton black tea.

Stinging nettle has a strong nourishing action on the kidneys and adrenals, and is helpful for eliminating toxins from the body, which can boost energy levels and is helpful for those suffering from allergies or eczema. It gets rid of edema. It also has a lot of high quality, easily assimilated protein which helps to build beautiful strong hair and nails. It’s high mineral content builds strong bones. It is a uterine tonic and can help diminish PMS, cramping, and extremely heavy periods. I could go on and on about this one…

Oatstraw is high in calcium, helping to build strong bones, and it soothes and nourishes the nerves. It tastes really good too, almost, but not quite, sweet. It is really good hot with a little honey added.

To make an infusion, simply put about an ounce of dried herb in a quart canning jar (this is about a large handful) and pour boiling water over it. Stir and pour a little more water, then cap tightly. Leave it to sit for 4-8 hours. Strain out the herb and rebottle the liquid. Drink as often as you like, either hot or cold. Always store in the refrigerator so it doesn’t spoil too quickly. It will be good for about 2 days in the fridge.

If you find the taste of herbal infusions is too strong for you, try this. Fill your glass halfway with plain water, then pour in some of your infusion to finish filling the glass. This will dilute the infusion to taste more like a milder tea. This is a good way to get your daily nourishment and increase your daily water intake!

Also try drinking nourishing infusions between meals and see your cravings for junk food and between meal snacking virtually disappear!  Great for those who want to drop a few pounds.