One Cup of Tea and One Plant at a Time

 I have taught a few classes this fall on making herbal oils, salves, and lotions, and I plan to teach some more in the spring. The most rewarding thing about the classes has been the friendships formed. The most common question I've been asked is, "Where do I start with learning about herbs?" I remember feeling overwhelmed too with that question. There's still so much I don't know about plants! The more you learn, the more you realize how vast the world of plants is and how little you know. 

My advice is to start with getting to know one plant or tree that grows near you. Maybe it's mint, a pine tree, a rose bush, a raspberry patch, a quaking aspen, or a willow tree. Plants grow where they are needed. Somewhere near you a plant is growing that will help you or a family member feel better. Start with one plant. Learn its common and scientific names and how it might be used, and any precautions associated with it. Smell it, taste it, bring it into the house, and make a tea with its leaves, or put it in your food or in your bath. Taking time to be outside, and observe the details of God's creations is a big part of the medicine of plants. 

My Chilean Grandma always had a teapot on her stove, and she offered a cup of herbal tea every time we visited. That was the custom in Chile. Her love of plants and herbal teas was my introduction to herbs. Years later, I would learn how healing herbs can be. My first son had worrisome health problems when he was 5 years old. We saw many specialists, got all the tests, and tried many medicines, but nothing was working- he was still hurting a lot and having serious symptoms. After a year of searching, we had tried everything medicine had to offer and felt at the end of our rope. Thankfully, we were introduced to an herbalist. She suggested a few herbs and diet changes. They worked, and our son got completely better, it was an answer to many prayers. I was overwhelmed with how much there was to learn about herbs. Where to even start? My Grandma had shown me a good start- one herb at a time, one cup of tea at a time.

Chamomile was one of my Grandmother's favorites. I listened to a podcast about the nerve-relaxing effects of chamomile oil and had to try making it. I planted chamomile in my garden for the first time. The white chamomile flowers have an apple-like aroma, reminding me of my Grandmother's home. In Spanish the word for chamomile is "manzanilla", meaning little apple. The more we cut the chamomile flowers, the more they grew. They knew they were being used and loved. We dried the flowers and then put them in a base of sunflower and almond oil to make an infused oil. We added dried lavender, calendula, and echinacea flowers, also from our garden. The chamomile-infused oil was then made into a lotion and an herbal salve. It is very relaxing, and one of my new favorites. It doesn't have much of a fragrance. It has helped me wind down before bedtime. I also use it as a face/body lotion in the morning. The lotion has also helped me when I've had stress headaches, relaxing my muscles and nerves enough that the headache goes away. Take a look at the "Shop" tab on the top of the page to check the chamomile lotion and chamomile/lavender salve out. 

My husband is not much of a lotion guy, although he's very supportive of me in making things like lotions and other concoctions. He usually only uses my lotions if he gets split knuckles in the winter. Recently he had a bad headache starting. I suggested the Cayenne n' Coffee Lotion and it took the headache away. I don't know if it will work for everyone the same way, but I was very thankful it worked for him.  The other night he couldn't sleep because his legs were restless, and I suggested he try my Nerve Calm Lotion, and it worked as well. Many people have told me that the Nerve Calm Lotion helps them sleep, but I was extra thankful when it worked for my husband, the person I love most. 

I have restocked my lotions and have new soaps. Let me know what you think!


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