Wise Weeds Botanicals

Friday, September 18, 2015

Flowers & Herbs Make "Scents" to Use in Daily Life

The very scent of essential oils soothes, calms, awakens or otherwise affects individuals in very positive ways, regardless of whether or not they are even aware of aromatherapy as a practice.

The use of fragrance goes back thousands of years. Originally, people used herbs, and the oils derived from them, directly as a part of their spiritual or religious practice, and often, more indirectly as medicines.

Even today, herbal incenses continue to play an important role in various meditative practices, especially among Japanese and Tibetan Buddhists. The use of aloeswood, cassia, cloves, sandalwood and other precious herbs in incense relies on a heat source to gently free up the essential oils of the herbs.

Native Americans use herbs such as sweet grass, white sage, sagebrush and tobacco as "smudges." A smudge acts as a kind of big incense stick, releasing fragrant smoke to cleanse and purify sacred space and the people entering such space. Many religions use resins such as frankincense and myrrh to cleanse temples or churches, especially during holidays.

While it is relatively simple to burn the actual herbs themselves, when using the herbs as incense. Or to release the scent of the herbs, by pouring boiling water over them, to produce a tea, infusion or tissane. If a plant grows in your locality, you can probably prepare it for these types of use.

In most instances, the ancient world's use of botanicals did not include the use of actual essential oils. Rather, instead, many of the ancients used fats and oils infused with plant materials.

However, the use of essential oils is more complicated because one doesn’t just use the raw herb itself.

Today we have access to oils derived directly from plants, whether from their flowers, seeds, stems, leaves or bark.  Because these oils are highly concentrated, a few drops goes a long way.

Peppermint, Mentha piperita, essential oil is derived from the flowering herb by steam distillation. Inhaled in steam, peppermint oil can provide relief from head colds and bronchitis. Its antispasmodic action also makes it useful in situations where someone has asthma. This is a refreshing scent, which seems to increase concentration, and helps relieve mental fatigue, lack of concentration and unclear thinking.

Catherine Novak is a Certified Medicinal Herbalist, who teaches about aromatherapy, and using herbs to create better health and balance in our lives. She is also the owner of Beads N Botanicals, a local shop in downtown Urbana, IL. 

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Keeping Healthy with Kitchen Herbs

Keeping Healthy with Kitchen Herbs:
Herbs a la Simon & Garfunkle: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
Keeping healthy with kitchen herbs means thinking of ways to use your kitchen spice shelf as a medicinal resource. If you do little cooking, or if your spices are more than a year old, you'll need to get a fresh supply. Good quality spices make for tastier foods as well as more effective medicine. (Please note: if you have a serious medical condition, please consult a medical practitioner.)
Sometimes the simplest of kitchen spices that we take for granted are among the most useful medicinally. Of the following four herbs, three of them contain very strong essential oils that can really aid in fighting off illness.
Parsley, while not as strong as its other companions, nonetheless is a very useful herb. Parsley, Petroselinum crispum, a member of the Umbelliferae family, acts as a diuretic, expectorant, emmenogogue, carminative and, according to some, may even be an aprodisiac. (So in a restaurant, eat parsley, rather than throwing it out.)
            Medicinally, parsley has several uses. First, because of its diuretic action, it helps the body gently get rid of excess water. As an emmenogogue, parsley can be used to bring on the menstrual period, so it is recommended that pregnant women avoid consuming medicinal dosages of it. Another use of the herb is as a carminative, which can ease flatulence.
Sage, Salvia officinalis, decreases secretions of all kinds—whether from lactation, sweating, salivation or especially from excessive mucus secretions of the sinuses and bronchi. Brew a strong tea from sage leaves for a good gargle for sore throats, for sage is antiseptic.
Sometimes when I have a runny nose and I want to sleep without dripping all over the place, I will brew up a cup of tea about a half hour before going to bed. I find this often drys up my sinuses enough to allow me to sleep easier.
Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, is an antioxidant, astringent, somewhat antibacterial, carminative, antiseptic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenogogue (stimulates menstruation) and nervine.
            Its antioxidant properties are one of the reasons rosemary is used so extensively in cooking. In the days before refrigeration, spices helped to preserve food.
            Because rosemary helps increase blood circulation and strengthens the capillaries (small blood vessels), it can have an uplifting and strengthening effect on your brain, and therefore, the herb has a reputation for being good for poor memory.
            Rosemary is a diaphoretic for colds, flu and fever. It can help to relieve tension headaches. You can also inhale it for bronchial/lung infections or sinus infections. Rosemary is contraindicated (in other words, do not use) in medicinal doses during pregnancy. In Europe, rosemary is known as a liver herb. It especially helps the body in digesting fats.
            Powdered rosemary is antiseptic and can be placed on minor cuts and scrapes.
Thyme, Thymus vulgaris, like almost all spices, is a good carminative. Using it helps the body eliminate gas, nausea, stomach aches, and even helps prevent vomiting.
            It's a powerful antiseptic. Drunk as a tea or eaten in food, its essential oils are excreted through the lungs, kidneys and skin.
            If you use the actual distilled essential oil instead of the herb, use no more than three drops per day, more likely one to two drops per day. The essential oil is a powerful fungicide--try it in a humidifier. Applied directly to the skin, the essential oil would be irritating. Mix several drops in a neutral carrier oil such as olive, apricot kernal or jojoba oil, to cut it. Thyme is contraindicated (in other words, do not use) during pregnancy in medicinal quantities.

Catherine Novak is a Certified Medicinal Herbalist, who teaches about wild-crafting edible plants and using herbs to create better health and balance in our lives. She is also the owner of Beads N Botanicals, a local shop in downtown Urbana, IL. 

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Friday, September 04, 2015

Reiki Can Revitalize Body, Mind & Spirit

Reiki is “universal energy” – therefore, it is safely used any time – any place.

When we talk about working with the healing power of Reiki, we really need to treat ourselves in our totality: body, emotions, mind and spirit. Remember, the body is a self-healing organism. Reiki practitioners and other healing practitioners merely provide assistance in the healing process. Therefore, Reiki does NOT cure dis-ease, but assists the client in their own healing process.

If you’re wondering how emotions can impact a person’s health and well being, think of a time when you were so worried about something that you were “sick to your stomach” with fear.  Or a time when you were so angry that you “saw red.”

Emotions have a direct impact on our health. Fear, anger and depression can sap our bodies’ energies. Being angry can drive up blood pressure. Being fearful can weaken one’s kidneys. Being angry can even affect how well one’s liver functions.

Our state of mind also impacts our health in direct and not-so-direct ways. Creative visualization can translate into miraculous healing. On the other hand, some people take what their doctors say so much to heart that they will die, right on schedule (as in the cases of “terminally ill” patients with only one, three or six months left to live). Some individuals refuse to take such dire predictions seriously and continue to live years beyond their predicted demises. (Read Louise L. Hay’s books, You Can Heal Your Life and The Power is Within You).

Reiki supports the body’s natural ability to heal itself and can help revitalize body, emotions, mind and spirit. By balancing the body’s energies, Reiki can re-establish spiritual equilibrium and mental well-being, and allow for a state of total relaxation.

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Thursday, September 03, 2015

Looking to clear energy in your office, home, dorm room or apartment?

Looking to clear energy in your office, home, dorm room or apartment?
There are many occasions when you may want to perform a major purification of your residence or workplace. Smudging has been used for centuries to rid area of negative energy or spirits. It usually involves burning certain dried herbs to form a smoke bath that cleanses and purifies people, objects and homes.

The ritual of smudging can be defined as "spiritual house cleaning." The smoke attaches itself to negative energy and as it clears it takes the negative energy with it, releasing it into another space where it will be regenerated into positive energy. 

Smudging before you move in will give you the opportunity to clear out the energies of the previous tenants/owners. You can cleanse and then bless/dedicate the space to your household. Smudging after moving in gives you the opportunity to ensure that any negativity from a previous residence is cleared from your possessions.

But what if you can't burn anything in your dorm room, office, apartment or home? Either the dorm rules prohibit any open flames, your workspace doesn't allow smoke or someone is asthmatic and can't handle the smoke.  You can still clear stagnant energy by using a Smudge spray made with herbs and essential oils.

I've been making and using smudge sprays for my business, home and clients for several years now. They're a great way to freshen up the energy of a space. I've used them to calm down an area after drama queens (whether teenagers or adults) have spewed negative vibes.

Some clients use them in their workplace as a subtle but effective way to clear out negative back biting. Others have used the smudge spray to freshen up the energy in nursing homes. Teachers clear chaotic energy in their classrooms. 

Smudge Sprays at Beads N Botanicals

Cleaning House: the Ins & Outs of Smudging

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