Herbal Tips And Tricks

Our Daily Water

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The first day of August means plenty of sunshine and long hot days here in Colorado.  In the intense dry heat it is very easy to become dehydrated.  I find my kids are especially susceptible to neglecting their water-glass which leaves them tired, grouchy and even prone to headaches.

Long ago I learned the magic of simply placing a sprig of mint or lemon balm in my water bottle.  After a half hour or so the water takes on a lovely light taste of the herb.  My kids love herbal waters and I often put a sprig of mint into their water bottles if they are headed out and about for the day.  Yet when we spend the day at home, I have found that filling a pitcher with water and herbs doesn’t seem to attract their attention.  The pitcher is cumbersome for them to use and they often forget about it being in the fridge.  So, earlier this summer I purchased a big beautiful glass beverage dispenser for our family.  Originally I had thought to place it in the refrigerator full of luscious tasty herbs infused in water but it found a prominent home on our kitchen bar, right smack dab in the middle of our living space.  The water is room temperature (unless I add ice cubes) which I find goes down easier than really cold water.  And it doesn’t get forgotten in the fridge.  The kids love going over to the dispenser multiple times per day to fill their glass and they are drinking a lot more water, success!

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Pepperminty Mint!

Making your own herbal waters is so easy.  Simply place fresh herbs (along with fresh fruits and veggies if you please) in your jar or dispenser, add water and wait a bit.  Soon you will have a tasty treat!  The amount of herbs, fruits and veggies you use depends on your tastes and the size of your dispenser.  Ours is large and we like our water very flavorful so I usually use a big bunch of herbs.  The water we have most often is mint because we have a ton of it in the yard yet there are a lot of herbs and combinations to choose from.  It is really only limited by what you have available and your imagination.

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Just Strawberries

After trying many blends our two favorites are ~

  • Chocolate Mint with Tart Plums
  • Lemon Balm with Strawberries

A nasty blend we tried ~

  • Basil with Oranges…  I thought my first glass was kind of fun, my kids wouldn’t touch it after the first sip.

Other ingredient ideas for making tasty infused waters ~

  • Herbs: any kind of mint, lemon balm, chamomile, anise hyssop, borage flowers, lavender, sage, cilantro, basil…
  • Fruits: berries, all kinds, melons (think honeydew or watermelon with mint), oranges, limes, lemons, apples, plums, peaches, pineapple, cherries…
  • Veggies: cucumbers, peppers and ??  I am sure there are many more that would be tasty especially in combination with savory herbs, but I haven’t experimented yet.

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How about you?

Do you have any fancy ways to help your family to drink more water?

Shared On: The Kid’s Co-op, Eco-Kid’s Tuesday, Kid’s Get Crafty, It’s Playtime, Natural Living Monday

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Categories: Food Is Your Best Medicine, Herbal Tips And Tricks, Herbs For Cooking, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Kitchen Creations, Parenting, Seasonal Herbal Crafts, Summer | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Herbal Infusions ~ Healthful Simplicity

Nourishing Mama Mission Four ~

Ever heard of herbal infusions?  Like a tea but much better with a stronger nutritive and medicinal action herbal infusions are true nourishment in a cup.  Plus they are easy to make and easy to drink.  What could be better for a busy mama?

This is the fourth pursuit of the Nourishing Mama Mission and if done regularly over time it is very powerful indeed.

Herbal infusions are incredibly useful for providing the body with easy to assimilate nutrition.  Infusions differ from tea because the plant material is steeped for a much longer period of time than a regular cup of tea.  This allows for all the medicinal constituents including vitamins and minerals to be liberated from the herb.  Regular drinking of infusions over time provides a strong base and deep nutrition for the body.  You can drink 2 to 4 cups infusion every day or even just a couple of days a week as a way to support yourself.

Red Clover Blossom

 

~ Herbs To Use ~

When making and drinking infusions it is best to use gentle, nutritive and tonifying herbs which act mostly as food for the body.  A great way to start working with herbal infusions to start by infusing and drinking one herb at a time.  This gives you a chance to really get to know each herb.  How does it feel in your body?  What does it really taste like?

Good Herbs To Start With Are ~

Stinging Nettle ~ Urtica dioica

This is a highly nutritive plant that stimulates blood flow and is a body wide tonic with an affinity for the kidneys and adrenals.  Nettle’s high vitamin, mineral and chlorophyll content feeds the endocrine glands, builds the blood, provides essential nutrients for a stressed out nervous system and nourishes the liver.  It will strengthen and revitalizes weak kidneys thereby increasing energy.   It’s high amounts of iron and calcium increase hemoglobin in the blood encouraging increased oxygen transport to tissues.  It is high in vitamin K which facilities proper blood clotting.  Nettle activates the metabolism, therefore assisting in the absorption of the very nutrients it provides!  It is an astringent plant that tightens and firms tissues.  This action arrests bleeding and discharge from tissues, increasing their health and strength.

Oatstraw ~ Avena sativa

Oat is a nutritive herb that soothes and protects the nervous system by providing essential vitamins and minerals.  Oat creates a sense of well being, supporting the emotions and integrity of the individual.  Indicated for nervous debility or exhaustion with depression; fatigue, even with a good sleep; dark circles under the eyes; heart palpitations when pushing too hard; and/or stimulant abuse.  It is beneficial for those who have suffered sexual abuse and trauma, resulting in sexual debility.  One quart of infusion drunk daily will provide powerful benefits.

Red Raspberry Leaves Rubus spp. (idaeus, strigosus, parviflous)

The leaves of this plant make a delicious infusion, which is high in vitamins and minerals: especially calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins C, B and E.   Raspberry leaf is an energetic tonic for the reproductive organs..

Red Clover Blossoms ~ Trifolium pratense

This beautiful and commonly occurring ‘weed’ is a phytosterol, alterative and nutritive.  Red clover is a phytosterol with estrogenic activity.  Because of this, it acts as a defense against xenoestrogens (detrimental estrogens that occur in the environment as a result of pollution) by competing for estrogen binding sites.  In fact my teacher Feather Jones explained to us that red clover also aids in creating a more powerful estrogen cycle.  Red clover is highly nutritive with good quality, easily absorbable vitamins and minerals, proteins, fatty acids and flavinoids.  All of which nourish the whole body: particularly providing vitamins for the uterus; minerals for the glands, which act to equalize hormonal activity and relax the nervous system.  It also contains coumarins that decrease blood viscosity, hence increasing blood flow throughout the body.  Do not take red clover for the first trimester of pregnancy or exceed two quarts of infusion per week during the later part of pregnancy due to its phytoestrogenic properties.  Also, when buying red clover look for purple flower tops with a minimal amount of leaves.

Alfalfa ~ Medicago satvia

This amazing plant has a tap root that reaches a full 100 feet down deep into the rich depths of Mother Earth bringing up mineral rich goodness right into it’s leaves and stems.  Infusion made with alfalfa gives all the wonderful nutrition brought up from way down deep into the cup.  Known as “The Father Of All Foods,” alfalfa is a highly nutritive herb bringing health the body by feeding it well.

Chamomile ~ Matricaria spp.

Chamomile is a soothing and relaxing herb that contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B-2, and flavinoids.  It helps relieve anxiety and stress as well as pain and irritation in the gut, being particularly useful for flatulence and indigestion.  Chamomile is also helpful for restlessness and insomnia.   It steadies those suffering from nervous debility.  Drinking chamomile infusion before nursing will impart these wonderful qualities to the breast milk and can help sooth an irritated child and alleviate some of the stress of colic.  If you are making an infusion of chamomile, only steep for 3 to 8 minutes as it will become very bitter.   Don’t worry, this one is still very effective with the short brewing time.  People who are sensitive to ragweed maybe be allergic to chamomile.

 
Red Raspberry Leaf

Red Raspberry Leaf

~ Making Your Infusion Brew ~

Place 1 large handful of dried herb in a canning jar (using up to 1 ounce of herb per quart of liquid, experiment with your tastes).  Cover with hot or cold water, place a cap on top and let steep for at least  4 hours and then strain.  You can dilute your infusion with water or juice, or add honey to taste.  I usually make my infusions before going to bed and then strain the infusion the next morning into a bottle I can carry around with me during the day.  Please be sure to use appropriate containers such as canning jars as they will not break when exposed to the high heat of boiling water.  You can make extra quantities ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.  If your infusion takes on an unusual smell or begins to bubble it has gone bad.  Unused leftovers can be given to plants as a superb growth tonic, and the spent herbal matter makes excellent compost.

Chamomile Flowers

~ Infusion Blends ~

Once you get the hang of making and drinking infusions you may decide to try blending your favorites together to create fun tasty combinations.

Here are some of my favorite blends:

  • Oatstraw & Lemon Balm ~ Simply add a small handful each of oatstraw and lemon balm in a jar.  Cover with water, steep for at least four hours and strain.  This is my favorite infusion right now!
  • Raspberry, Nettle & Spearmint~ Put a small handful each of raspberry leaf and nettle leaf in a jar and a few pinches of spearmint leaf.  Cover with water, steep for at least four hours and strain.  Play with the quantities of herbs to adjust to your taste.
  • Raspberry, Oatstraw & Chamomile ~ Put a small handful each of raspberry leaf and oatstraw in a jar, fill halfway with water and let steep for at least four hours.  About 15 minutes before you are ready to strain the infusion add a small handful of chamomile flowers and fill the jar to the top with hot water.  Let steep for up to 15 minutes and strain.  Add honey if this brew is to bitter.

Look for more tasty infusion recipes in the coming days and weeks.

Blessings and Love!

More Nourishing Mama Mission…

Mama On A Mission ~ Introduction

Nourishing Mama Mission One ~ Cultivating Sacred Space 

Nourishing Mama Mission Two ~ Attitude of Gratitude ~ The Start of the Day

Nourishing Mama Mission Three ~ The Art of Bathing

 

For more information on using herbs safely check out my guest post on

Natural Living Mama “Herbal Medicine Safety Considerations” 

 

Categories: Herbal Tips And Tricks, Infusions, Mama Care And Empowerment, Medicine Making, Natural Family Care, Nourishing Mama Mission, Parenting, Practices For Intentional Living | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Mindful Crafts & Activities For Happy Kids

Finding meaningful ways to engage children in becoming aware of and exploring their emotions is an important step towards raising confident, happy kids.  And the last few weeks the kids and I filled our time together breathing deep, talking about our emotions and playing!  I would like to share some of the wonderful projects we did that helped us engage our whole-selves, become aware of our emotions and find ways to center ourselves.

These projects are perfect to do with young children and even have complete lesson plans for those of you working with a group of kids.  Most of the projects have a bit of science thrown in while all of them offer kid-approved fun and creativity!

An Aromatic State Of Mind

Conduct a science experiment with essential oils to see what oils insight certain feelings.  Then create a unique piece of art work inspired by an aroma of your choice!

Happiness

Happiness inspired by sweet orange essential oil.

Flower ‘n’ Spice Play Dough Mandalas

Create a beautiful fragrant meditative mandala from lovely botanicals.

Flowers, spices and berries pressed into a base of lavender scented playdough for a calming, centering activity.

Flowers, spices and berries pressed into a base of lavender-scented play dough for a calming, centering activity.

Meditation Friends

Create a special mind jar with a friendly face.  This project helps kids learn to breathe and slow down with they feel out of sorts.

Silly friends for helping kids center themselves.

Silly friends for helping kids center themselves.

Meditation Friends II

A special twist on Meditation Friends that allows for even more personalization of your child’s special new friend!

New colorful friends with lots of kid chosen personalitiy.

New colorful friends with lots of kid chosen personality.

Yoga Play With Babar’s Yoga For Elephants

Simple yoga play with a favorite elephant!  We used this super fun book to guide us through a morning of giggly yoga.

Silly yoga fun!


Do you have any special ways to help kids learn about emotions or mindful ways of how to engage themselves?  I would love to hear about them and give them a try!

Wishing you lots of peaceful fun!

Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Fun Crafts, Herbal Tips And Tricks, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Lesson Plans For Preschool And Home, Meditation And Yoga, Mindful Self Care, Practices For Intentional Living | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Sleepy Time Foot Balm For Kids

Who doesn’t like a good foot massage?  A nice rub is especially relaxing before bed.  Massage oils and balms made with essential oils massaged into the bottom of feet at bedtime helps to induce sleep as well as fight infection.

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Did You Know ~ Our bodies are able to absorb a phenomenal amount through the skin on the bottom of our feet.  In fact an old remedy for coughs is to put rub the bottom of the feet with olive oil, put minced garlic on top of the oil and then put socks over the whole thing.  Within a very short amount of time the person’s breath will smell of garlic!  The garlic then helps to fight infection from the inside of the lungs out as the person breathes.

  

Creating Foot Balms With Kids ~ 

What is better than squishing and squeezing a bag of gooey goodness?  This is just what we did recently at preschool.  The kids each created their own sleepy time foot balm in a little baggie for mixing.  Originally we were going to use tins to put the balms in but what fun is that?

squishing foot balm

Gosh, their little hands were so busy, I had a hard time getting a clear picture! But you get the idea right? Squishing up stuff in a bag is super fun!

Materials ~

  • Shea Butter
  • Coconut Oil (optional)
  • Relaxing Essential Oils, Some Examples Are ~
    • cedarwood
    • lavender
    • petitgrain
    • sweet orange
    • ylang ylang
    • vetivert
    • sandalwood
    • frankincense
    • rose geranium

Instructions ~

  • Place a big spoonful (about a tablespoon) or two of the shea butter and coconut oil in a baggie.  
  • Let the children smell the essential oils and pick out a couple of their favorites that make them feel relaxed and sleepy.  
  • Add these essential oils to the shea butter/coconut oil blend.  Because this is a really loose project with no exact measurement for the shea butter/coconut oil blend, I errored on the side of too little essential oil, to be safe, rather than risk using to much.  So I used up to 6 drops of essential per baggie.  This means that if the child choose lavender, cedarwood and ylang ylang for the essential oils, I put 2 drops of each oil in their baggie for a total of 6 drops.  See Essential Oils for more information on using them herbal preparation safely.
  • Seal the bag shut tight!
  • Now for the fun part… Mixing it all up!  It is the child’s job to mix up all that goodness by squishing it around to their heart’s content!

squeezing foot balm

To Use ~

At bedtime rub a little bit of the balm on the bottoms of your child’s feet.  This is  a great time to connect with a little massage and conversation or lullaby.  Then cover your child’s feet with socks.  Off to slumber land they go!

More~ 

Nightmares And Night Terrors, What’s A Mama To Do?

Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Essential Oils, Foot Rubs And Soaks, Healthy Sleep, Herbal Tips And Tricks, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Lesson Plans For Preschool And Home, Mindful Self Care, Parenting, Playing With Herbs, Practices For Intentional Living | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Nightmares And Night Terros, What’s A Mama To Do?

It’s the middle of the night and after a long day you are finally sound asleep when across the vast land of dreams you hear a wail or feel a tug on your blanket.  As you rouse yourself back to the waking world it begins to dawn upon you that, yes, there is a noise or a presence nearby.  Then jerking fully awake a small frightened child greets you with a terrified need to be calmed and comforted.

Sound familiar?  Many kids (and their parents) suffer from nightmares and night terrors.  From my experience it can be a single incident or happen over many nights while the child is working through what ever is bothering them. Over the years both of my kids have had bouts of insomnia often accompanied by nightmares and even, at times, night terrors.  I have tried many things to help them.  Often the most important thing is helping them figure out what is causing them stress and then to guide them on working through their feelings.   When a child is having repeat nightmares it is also really important to look at what influences are in their lives.  Are they watching scary shows?  Is something happening at school that is bothering them?  Are they about to make a big transition in their life?  Or has something changed recently in their life?  When one of my kids was getting ready to start kindergarten she began having night terrors.  During the day we took time to talk about her fears and her excitement.  We also took some precautionary steps before bed at night to help her get a better sleep.  Ultimately her night terrors completely stopped once school started but the steps we took in the mean time helped to lessen her fears.

Here are some of our most successful night-time strategies and helpers.

Journaling And Drawing Pictures

Happy Before Bed

A happy picture drawn before bed. Mommy and V in the sun with rain for taking care of the flower. After V finished this picture she went to sleep with a huge smile on her face and slept peacefully the whole night through.

When something is really bothering my kids I always encourage them to express their feelings.  Write about it or draw a picture!  Both of my kids have journals by their beds with writing and drawing implements.  Give your child a special journal just for their dreams and night-time thoughts.  Encourage them to get what ever is in their head bothering them down on paper.  They can also use their journal to write/draw about things they love and that make them happy.  This will help set the tone for a nice sleep by allowing them to go to sleep with good happy energy.

Flower Essences 

Flower essences are extremely gentle and wonderful for helping people on an emotional, mental and spiritual level.

Rescue Remedy ~

Dr. Edward Bach originally discovered and formulated the first 38 flower essences.  Well known and beloved by many, Rescue Remedy is a blend of five of the original flower essences.  It is powerful during times of emotional crisis.   I have found that it works great for kids suffering from nightmares and night terrors.  My favorite way to administer Rescue Remedy to kids is with a nice simple massage.  Put a few drops of Rescue Remedy in your hand, let it warm for a moment and then rub gently into the child’s feet* or lower back*.  This almost always sends my little ones right off to dream land.  You can do this before bed or when comforting a child in the night.  Adding a few drops of Rescue Remedy to the child’s bedside water-glass is also an easy effective way to ease fears through the night.

Other flower essences to consider ~

  • St. John’s Wort is helpful very sensitive people and brings about a sense of protection and light, indicated where the is a feeling of psychic attack.
  • Chamomile eases build-up of tension during the course of the day which can result in nightmares and restless sleep.
  • Peony helps folks who are influenced by “negative tendencies [and are] tense and fearful.”

This wonderful information is taken largely from “Flower Power” by Anne McIntyre. The study of flower essences is vast.  If they appeal to you I highly recommend delving into this amazing field with a good bit of research.

Monster Spray/Sweet Dreams Spray

Sleepy Time Spray

Make a “monster spray” with your child to keep by their bedside.  Encourage them use the spray when they are scared.  You can also spray it around their room before you leave for night either to scare away the monsters and make a safe, happy place for sleeping full of light and love (saying this out loud while you are spraying the spray helps engage the child and comfort them).   If you think your child will be scared by the idea of a monster spray because it might confirm to them that monsters are in fact real, you can call it something else like sweet dreams spray or sleepy time spritzer.  My youngest was sure that monsters were real so the “monster spray” worked really well for her.  We made it with essential oils she picked out that she found comforting and she knew scared away monsters.  More than once I found her asleep in her bed with the spray bottle clutched in her tiny little hand.

For complete instructions on making your own monster spray visit Aromatherapy Spritzers under How To Use Herbs.  Let your child make their new spray extra powerful by having them decorating a label for the bottle.

Be sure to choose mild essential oils that promote sleep, ease stress/anxiety and appeal to your child.

Some suggested oils ~

  • lavender
  • cedarwood
  • sweet orange
  • ylang ylang
  • vetivert
  • sandalwood
  • cardamom
  • frankincense
  • rose geranium
  • clary sage

Please Note:  If your child is very small and may get into the spray or otherwise misuse it, please store it up out of their reach when you are not in the room with them.  Essential oils are not safe to use internally.

Happy Night Tea (a.k.a Sunshine Tea)

Pot of Tea

We love this blend at our house for times of stress and exhaustion, it is especially helpful for kids to sip before bed.  St. John’s Wort seems to give an extra bit of protection from nightmares while greatly reducing stress.  Chamomile is very gentle and relaxing for kids.  While the lavender just gives the a little special soothing nervine boost.

Combine equal parts of chamomile and St. John’s Wort with the lavender, about 1 tablespoon of each herb per cup of water.  Cover with boiling water and a lid to keep in all the yummy therapeutic essential oils.  Steep for 3 to 6 minutes, no longer.  Strain and add honey to taste.  My kids love it with Lemon Balm Honey!

Other Night Time Teas ~

There are so many wonderful choices when it comes to choosing bed time tea herbs for kids and these herbs/blends are a few of my family’s favorites.  All of them are great for relaxation and easing little bodies to sleep.

  • Lemon Balm is particularly helpful for kids that are emotionally wound-up and over excited.
  • Chamomile all by itself, is a great herb for kids especially for kids with emotional tummy upset.
  • Rose is wonderful for soothing nervousness especially if there is a sense of grief involved.
  • My kids also love Sleepy Time, Tension Tamer and Honey Vanilla Chamomile from Celestial Seasonings.

Foot Massage* 

tooties

Who doesn’t like a good foot rub?  A nice rub is especially relaxing before bed.  You can further enhance the relaxing effect by rubbing essential oils or balms into the feet.  Our bodies are able to absorb a phenomenal amount through the skin on the bottom of our feet.  In fact an old remedy for coughs is to put rub the bottom of the feet with olive oil, put minced garlic on top of the oil and then put socks over the whole thing.  Within a very short amount of time the person’s breath will smell of garlic!  The garlic then helps to fight infection from the inside of the lungs out as the person breathes.

So, putting something nice on the feet before bed gives the person a lovely dose of healing.  I like to rub a couple drops of lavender essential on my kids feet if they need help sleeping.  Always be sure to dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil like olive oil or coconut. Other essential oils to consider are ~

  • cedarwood
  • ylang ylang
  • vetivert
  • sandalwood
  • frankincense
  • rose geranium

Coffea Cruda

Coffea Cruda is a homeopathic remedy which is good for insomnia with racing thoughts like the mind is going a mile a minute.  Both of my kids and I have found relief from disturbing thoughts at bedtime and during the night by taking this remedy.

*In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Kidneys are associated with the emotion of Fear and they govern the feet.

Sweet Dreams!

Sources:

  • Flower Power by Anne McIntyre
  • The Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless

Shared On: The Sunday Parenting Party, It’s Playtime!, Kid’s Co-op, Teacher’s Of Good Things, Kid’s Get CraftyEco Kid’s Tuesday

Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Healthy Sleep, Herbal Medicines, Herbal Tips And Tricks, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Natural Family Care, Parenting | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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