Herbalism or herbal medicine is the art of utilizing plants for their therapeutic properties. Put simply, certain plants around the world are known to have positive health effects and other benefits when used correctly. For starters, let me explain that for the past few years, I’ve studied greatly the art of herbal medicine, and in my studies, nothing stands above the natural plant that a medicine or remedy is derived from, which is why when it comes to modern medicines, I will always opt for the natural remedy over the artificial pharmaceutical. Sure, some modern medicines are necessary, but many have a worse affect than the original ailment. Because not only are natural medicines gentler, they have less side effects, and to be real, medicine began with plants. Modern medicine has been around for 200 some years, while herbal medicine has been around since the dawn of time. And through my studies and herbalist experience, nothing is truer. There is truth and power, and medicine in plants.
So these days, I focus on working with natural and whole ingredients in just about everything I possibly can, like making my own natural body care products, or my own teas as medicine, or creating essential oil-infused topical salves for a range of ailments. There’s a self-sustaining aspect I appreciate, but mainly, it’s the ability to control the quality of my medicine that I have the greatest passion for. I hate the idea that many of the foods on the grocer’s shelves and in the pharmacy are loaded full of additives, chemicals, and other unnatural ingredients that tend to have adverse effects, especially when it comes to medicinals, because as I’ve said, they have a tendency to have worse side effects.
One of my absolute favorite companies is Butterfly Express, who specialize in a massive catalog of essential oils, herbs, fine oils, infused waters, supplements, books and more. I’ve worked with their oils for about a year now and have found few other companies who rival their quality and their catalog of choices. They tend to carry rare oils from lesser known plants, which offers herbalists the ability to heal in a lot of different ways and in many approaches that weren’t available until more recently in time. I reached out and pitched the idea to speak further about herbalism and the importance of essential oils, and they were kind to me in sending some of their oils, carrier oils and herbs.
While I won’t highlight each and every essential oils, I do want to highlight a few of the most impressive ones, mostly due to their power and ability to affect our lives in positive ways; at least my own life and those around me. First, Blue Tansy was perhaps the oil that surprised me the most, because of its unique aroma of floral, sweet fruit, and herb, but also because of it’s intense blue color. Blue Tansy offers benefits toward easing stress, anxiety, pain relief, anti-inflammation, acne, and other skin conditions. I made a beauty balm out of the Blue Tansy, and yes, the salve turned blue naturally, which is gorgeous, as is its scent, but further more, it actually works better than I ever expected.
I chose other oils from Butterfly Express, like Benzoin, Hyssop, Holy Basil, Hemp, Goldenrod, St. John’s Wort, and Valerian, based on their medicinal properties, and how they can assist in a variety of everyday wellness issues like stress, anxiety, tension, depression, cold and flu, inflammation, insomnia, relief for muscle spasms, memory retention, improving liver function, sunburns, bruises, scars and other skin issues.
Many people use essential oils in Aromatherapy, which is a way to employ the oil in a diffuser, which shoots a mist into the air so that when it’s breathed in, your body absorbs the medicinal content of the oil through the lungs byway to the blood stream. I love using aromatherapy for a variety of uses, like for when I’m struggling with anxiety, chest congestion, and creative block. However, I tend to lean more toward salves for uses with essential oils, which can add a big benefit to herbal infused topicals. A topical salve works more directly if the ailment is body related, so if you have sore muscles, you apply directly, or if you have a chest congestion problem, you can simply apply a salve to the chest, or if you’re having tension headache problems, EO’s can be applied to the temple for greatest effectiveness.
If you would like to learn more about Butterfly Express, click here.
I recently created a relaxing recipe that’s best employed via Aromatherapy, found below. I've also included one of my own recipes for a Sleep Aid balm, which is an herb-infused salve.
Aromatherapy Blend for Stress, Tension & Anxiety:
The amount of drops is best determined based on your diffuser capacity and desired concentration. I aim for 1-2% typically.
Alternative oils: Vetiver, Chamomile, Bergamot
Next, this topical recipe creates 4-5oz of salve, but a little will go a long way, and so if you decide to make the full batch, try making 4-5 1oz tins, so you can share! --------->
*This article is for entertainment use, and should not replace the diagnoses of any disease or the subscribing of any medication. Always consult with your doctor or a medical professional for any and all health-related advice.
(Photo by kikocat via Flickr)
Sleep Aid Balm Recipe:
In a double boiler, infuse the herbs in oil. Extract the medicinal properties on medium heat for 1.5-2 hours. Let cool, then strain with cheesecloth. Then, in a clean pan, combine oil, wax and heat in double boiler until melted. Remove from heat, let cool one minute then stir in essential oils. Pour into glass jar or metal tin with tight fitting lid. Leave untouched to cool and set, then once cool, rub into feet and wrists at bedtime. I find that breathing in the aroma of the salve by means of meditation can also help greatly in easing nerves and soothing the racing mind. I find that I fall asleep and sleep through the night with this salve. Avoid the eyes, as the camphor can cause irritation. Always do an allergy test by placing a small amount of the salve on the inside of the arm, and if there’s no reaction after an hour or so, feel free to use a bit more liberally as you see fit.
If you don’t have some of these ingredients, feel free to go without (but don’t skip the Lavender!), or search online for alternatives.
Alternative oils: Vetiver, Patchouli, Cedarwood