Homeopathy

I LOVE homeopathy. While sometimes our profession stands as a role that we fill in order to serve our community, for me, being a homeopath is who I am – not just what I do. I came into homeopathy by accident. In fact, I was a skeptic at first. Interestingly, I later learned that many Homeopaths were also initially skeptics, the most famous being , who in the 1800′s was hired to debunk homeopathy while studying at university –and yet later became a passionate scholar and practitioner of homeopathy and is known as one of the “Founding Fathers” of Homeopathy in the United States.

I love that Homeopathy fosters deep study into the world sciences. It intersects with many realms of study including:  history both of the planet and Her inhabitants; biology; chemistry; physics; astronomy; social studies & behavioural sciences; languages; music; and many realms of esoterica.  I have discovered Homeopaths to be an incredibly diverse, colourful, brilliant and varying group of individuals.

The word Homeopathy means  similar (homeo) suffering (pathy) . Founded in the late 1700′s by a German physician named Dr. who was dis-enchanted by the extreme and often harmful medical practices of his era (blood-letting & purging),  he began experimenting with medicinal substances  that made up the pharmacy of the day, diluting them in hopes to render them non-toxic.  In his quest, he discovered that prepared in a specialized method of resulted in the medicine to not only be deeper acting in its ability to restore health, but it also worked best given less frequently. Potentised, the “true nature” or deeper virtues of the substance were released.  And to avoid unnecessary side effects or aggravations, just a few drops moistened on tiny pills which are to be dissolved under the tongue were enough to stimulate the vital force, restoring the sick to health.

FOR EXAMPLE

In his refusal to practice as a physician Hahnemann turned to translating scientific texts to earn a living. While translating a text by physician , Hahnemann couldn’t believe that it was simply because of its bitter and astringent properties that Peruvian Bark (Chinchona pubescens) could cure malaria. There are countless plants more bitter, and more astringent than this one, he thought. However, he also could not dispute that it was an effective anti-malarial herb (to this day, the alkaloid quinine is extracted from Peruvian Bark and used as a drug to treat malaria).

To gain deeper understanding of the inner nature of the plant, and the mechanisms behind its anti-malarial action, Hahnemann began taking minute doses of the homeopathically potentised plant himself. Amazing to him, he developed symptoms that resemble malaria: intermittent fever. He did not actually have the disease, just the symptoms of it.  This gave him incredible (and intimate) insight into the plant, and for whom it was well indicated. The process of a healthy person taking a homeopathically prepared medicine to induce symptoms is called a proving (from the German word Prufung meaning test).  While experiencing the “proving” of Chinchona, Hahnemann took notes of all he experienced. Once he stopped taking the medicine, the symptoms went away. He concluded that “Peruvian Bark, which is used for the intermittent fever, acts because it can produce symptoms similar to those of intermittent fever in healthy people.” This was the first homeopathic “proving” that Hahnemann undertook.  With this first experience homeopathy as a formal system of medicine was born as was the maxim “Similia Similibus Curentur” which means ‘similars be cured by similars’.  Before his death, Hahnemann homeopathically proved over one hundred different remedies. You can read more about Hahnemann and provings .

Samuel Hahnemann 1755-1843

Did these provings cause negative effects? Amazingly, no. In fact, provings still take place today, all over the world, among homeopathic schools and practitioners still using Hahnemann’s methodology. No ill effects have been reported in the 200 + years provings have been taking place. In fact, most participants report their health improves after the provings.

HOW DOES IT HELP

Homeopathy works indirectly on the physical body.  Illness starts in the vital force – or chi as it is called in Chinese medicine and prana in Ayurveda – the vital force is the unseen force that gives life to, well, Life. It’s that something that we cannot see, touch, or smell, but depend on until our last breath, and experience the effects of in every moment through our vital expressions.

Homeopathy, like acupuncture and other forms of energy medicine, stimulate the vital force so that the body may self-correct. Homeopathy recognizes that the body knows how to heal itself, in fact it is designed to do so. Many factors such as emotional stress, environmental stress, poor dietary choices, and genetics can compromise a persons vital force and leave them susceptible to illness. Homeopathy focuses on the susceptibility. Why did that person fall ill? What in their nature or make up left them vulnerable to begin with? And from there, we seek to find the appropriate homeopathic remedy to stimulate that individual’s vital force to self correct.

So while illness starts in the vital force, it usually does not stay there. It expresses itself typically in an organ or system of the body. Homeopaths recognize that this location and expression is not random. The body is brilliant  at organizing and expressing disease patterns. This is one of the many skills we learn in our four-year training at Homeopathy school–how to read the language of the body. The wisdom of the body continues to keep me humble.

SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

A homeopathic prescriber is matching the illness expression – not simply the name of the disease. Therefore, five different people with headaches may each receive a completely different remedy. The person with the bursting, throbbing headache who feels angry and impatient may receive Belladonna (remember, it’s homeopathically prepared so non-toxic!) whilst the person with droopy eyelids, malaise, who has a dull, low-grade ache of a headache and feels weak and nervous may receive Gelsemium.

This post is getting long –  I’ll stop here for now - but stay tuned as I’ll be adding plenty of remedy examples and case examples for homeopathy. AND if you haven’t already please go to the upper right corner of your screen to enter your email address to subscribe to my blog now! This will permit you to read entries as I write them and be eligible for upcoming gifts only available to my subscribers.

To read more about homeopathy, go , and .

COMING UP:  
Fascinated by homeopathy? Interested in learning how to apply these non-toxic, holistic and powerful medicines?

I have just a few more spaces in my upcoming five-week Introductory Homeopathy Class. This class begins Thursday February 16th 6:30-8:30 on Salt Spring Island.

For more information or to register go

With Gratitude,

Jamie Capranos

Holly, The Tree of Magic

Here, in the depths of December, the Holly Tree beckons me from outside my bedroom window

Ilex spp. photo taken Christmas morning

The bright red berries covering this beautiful evergreen provide essential food and shelter for the birds that populate the area.  In this seemingly barren season, a walk in the forest quickly reveals the bounty of Nature and just how vital and alive the Earth is at this time of year. Bright red Hawthorne’s, Rose hips, Arbutus berries and Holly berries offer themselves as nutrient dense foods for animals.

Arbutus full of berries

Red, the colour symbolic of fire, heat, passion, blood, and vitality, is found prominently in Nature at this time of year when we (and other animals) most need what it has to offer. Red foods typically contain constituents that are blood building, promote circulation and are full of cell protective antioxidants.

Pyracantha in my backyard. An evergreen and member of the Rose Family. The berries provide food for small animals.

There are literally hundreds of different species of Holly (Ilex spp.) around the world. Most of the plant parts can be toxic. Depending on the species, the toxicity can range from somewhat toxic to very toxic so please do your research (and get a second opinion) before you even consider using this herb internally.

The leaves of this plant vary from spineless, like the one pictured above, or full of spines like the classic Ilex aquifolium.

Ilex aquifolium

Holly can be brought into the home, laid on your alter or other sacred place, or taken orally as a to help transform the places in our lives we’re “prickly” and encourages us to improve our reaction to the world.  The flower essence in particular can be helpful to transform hatred, anger, or aggressive behaviour that is out of proportion to the life situation. I’ve used this flower essence successfully on animals (as well as humans) who are resenting the addition of a new member of the family. Individuals needing this remedy are often oversensitive and fearful and feel the world is out to get them. Holly can help  transform hostility, jealousy, envy, aggression or bitterness.

Most species of Ilex are high in caffeine, a mind-altering alkaloid that many of us familiarize ourselves with every morning with a cup of coffee. However, indigenous cultures traditionally only reserved mind-altering beverages in ceremony, setting a specific intent with which they would call upon the use of herbs that encouraged an expansion of perceptional fields.

Many species of this plant are used for shamanic journeying. Ilex guayusa is used in the mixture for Ayahuasca; its leaves have the highest known caffeine content of any plant known so far.  Probably the most famous Ilex plant is Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) now enjoyed all over the Western world in most coffee shops, but once upon a time it was only used in ceremony by the cultures that populated its native land.  The common thread connecting the use of this species is they help illuminate the places where we are stuck or unresolved with our demons, and facilitate the return of our inner light.

‘Deck the halls with boughs of Holly’

Holly King and Oak King

The Druids held the Holly tree as especially sacred, advising people to bring the plant into their homes as it was considered a good omen. As an evergreen, it symbolized the tenacity of life, and the bringer of light even when surrounded by death. Traditionally the Holly tree was considered protective against harmful energies, respiratory diseases, angry faeries, and thunder and lightning. Protection against lightning has been verified, as the tiny spikes on the leaves act like miniature lightening conductors giving the tree immunity.

Wheel of the Year

Gifts of Holly were given during the ancient pagan Winter Solstice Rituals that took place around December 22nd.  These rituals celebrated the return of the Sun God, in some parts of Europe he was represented as the legendary Oak King. The Oak King would battle the Holly King (sometimes called the Lord of Darkness because he ruled the darker half of the year) who ruled between Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice; while the Oak King ruled between Winter to Summer — each of the Kings ruling each half of the year. These rituals held such power to the “commoners” of Europe that when the Emperor Constantine forced the people to convert to the new religion we call Christianity, he recognised how essential these rituals were to the people so he created new names and meanings to every ancient pagan holiday so to permit the people to continue celebrating their ancient rituals — blanketed with a new Christian meaning. As several theologians point out, there isn’t sufficient evidence that Jesus was born on December 25th, the tradition of celebrating the “Return of the Son” really comes from the ancient pagan “Return of the S.U.N”.

So if you find your own inner light and dark battling within, perhaps consider if the bright Holly is the plant ally for you at this time of year. Just as the season, from one perspective, is known to be dark and barren, by connecting to Nature we can quickly see the richness of the seasons offerings might just be at our front door.

Herbs for Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease

So, with many cases of Hand, Foot & Mouth (HFMD) Disease causing a stir on Salt Spring I’m compelled to write about this common infection that has a dreadful name in order to minimize some of the fear surrounding it.

First, this illness is not related to Foot & Mouth Disease (aka Hoof & Mouth Disease)  found in cattle, sheep, and swine — the only thing in common is a similar sounding name.  This disease cannot transfer to pets or animals. In fact, HFMD is actually very common in small children under the age of five.  It is considered mostly harmless, with complications leading to serious illness extremely rare. The Centre for Disease Control has some useful information about HFMD .  There is no conventional medical treatment for this virus beyond Advil to take down the fever and ease discomfort.

However, there are several herbal and homeopathic remedies that have been in use for countless years to treat this condition  successfully.
HFMD is usually caused by the Coxsackievirus, a virus that belongs to the group of enterovirus — a class of virsues so common that they rank just second to the common cold viruses in causing many acute infections in adults and children.  Children usually only get this illness once, therefore most adults have acquired natural immunity to this disease from childhood and are rarely affected in adulthood.
Just like the common cold, we transmit these viruses via respiratory secretions (saliva, nasal mucous, sputum) or stool of an infected person; or of course sharing contaminated objects (utensils, the telephone, door knobs). The immune system is capable of  fighting this illness on its own, building life-long immunity to the virus.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
At first, the symptoms may resemble the flu -  fever, poor appetite, malaise, and a sore throat may be experienced. Soon (perhaps a day or two later) the individual may complain of pains in the mouth and develop blisters. A skin rash likely appears, usually on the hands or feet; though in some cases knees, buttocks, elbows or genitals. Rarely are all of the above symptoms found in one person, although it can happen.

Below are some time-tested remedies to have on hand that are known to treat Hand, Food & Mouth Disease:

First – keep hydrated - Dehyration is the primary medical risk for small children who are fighting a fever. Remember, a fever is present to burn off the virus. It’s a good thing, and we want to keep the children comfortable, well-hydrated, free from drafts so their bodies can efficiently do what they need to do to heal itself. Water is the preferred choice for hyration, however, I also love warm herbal teas as herbs deliver rich minerals and other immune supporting properties while at the same time hydrating the body.

Here are a list of herbs that are known anti-virals (HFMD is a virus) and are rich in minerals and immune building properties that are served well as medicinal teas:

- Lemon Balm
- Astragulus
- Peppermint
- Garlic
- Thyme
- Sage
- Elderberry
- Licorice

You do not need to combine all of these together (if you can, that’s great). Just choose one, two or more of the above and prepare as a strong tea. To do so, pour one cup of just boiled water over one heaping teaspoon of herb — then steep covered with a lid — for a minimum of 20 minutes. Drink as much as you (or your child) like. These are safe herbs that can be consumed freely.

In addition to a lovely medicinal tea, for HFMD I recommend taking a tincture internally, and also apply externally on the rash common to this virus.

Tinctures that I recommend taking internally and externally are:

- Calendula
- Echinacea
- St. John’s Wort
- Oregano
- Usnea
- Bee propolis (may be very messy used externally)

Painful mouth ulcers can be soothed by tincture of Myrrh and or tincture of Calendula.

It is important to nourish the body while fighting infection and provide a healing environment for the individual so healing can happen speedily.

- Serve soups and stews rich in immune-building foods such as onions, garlic, leeks, ginger, kale, cabbage, broccoli
- Prepare broths from miso, burdock root, astragulus root, celery root, garlic, seaweed
- Remove immune comprimising foods such as sugar (including pure juice), from the diet. .

And of course, rest. Enough can’t be said about the importance of convalescence; while sleeping and resting quietly the body is working hard to recover successfully from illness.  So remember, with the proper support of herbs, nourishing organic foods, quiet and deep rest, the wisdom of the body will do what it is designed to do: recover speedily without complications and develop a stronger and more resilient immune system after the exercise of fighting off an acute infection. Truly an amazing system!

Warm Wishes,
Jamie Capranos

Autumn Rituals: a respiratory tonic

Autumn is definitely my favourite season. While some feel overwhelmed by the chores the season brings, I relish them. I adore decanting, pressing, and bottling all my creations from spring and summer. Nothing is more satisfying for me then sitting back and admiring these herbal potions made with all the plants fresh  and in their prime.

My first aid herb table

Tasting the rich flavour of my herbal elixirs allows me a taste of summer when I need it most — in the depths of winter.

The home apothecary

As I was clearing out and rearranging my shelves, I discovered one of my beloved winter remedies that I’d love to share with you. It’s called Professor’s Blend; a fabulous tonic for the respiratory system. What’s so great about it is it’s easy to make, and the ingredients are (mostly) easy to obtain.

Professor’s Blend (named after the great herbalist Dr. Christopher):

Chop equal parts of:

- onions

- garlic

- horseradish (fresh; from the grocery store in a jar will not work)

- ginger

*optional: a few pinches of cayenne, or even 2-6 whole fresh or dried cayenne peppers
** Also optional: stir some honey to taste (also healing for a sore throat)

Step Two: Place all the above ingredients into a wide-mouthed glass jar, and cover with apple cider vinegar.

The proportion for measuring this elixir is approximately a 1:5 ratio. That means, if you weighed out 100grams of chopped ingredients you’d add 500ml of apple cider vinegar.
If you don’t have a kitchen scale, and the idea of weighing this out sounds like a bother, then simply fill any sized wide mouthed jar 1/4 full of chopped ingredients.

Step Three: Line the lid of your jar with wax paper (vinegar rusts metal lids). Fasten the lid tightly, and shake your tonic daily. Store in a cool, dark place. This is ready to consume within seven days.  I never take my ingredients out of the jar, I let it age, and become stronger over the months. You can do this too.

NOW WHAT: Let it sit in a cupboard, or on your kitchen counter to remind you to take between 1-6 TBSP a day, as a respiratory tonic. The great thing about herbal medicine is it is usually food-based medicine. Thus, use this tonic as a base for salad dressings, toss over rice, veggies, etc. Or, mix in water and drink down.

THE HERBS: Used medicinally, many “foods” are considered herbs: think parsley, thyme, rosemary, basil — and yes, onion, garlic, horseradish, cayenne and ginger. Why the herbs in Professor’s Blend? Well, while I could write a whole post on the each, what is essential about each ingredient is that it is warming, spicy, and diffusive. These actions dispel pathogens including bacteria and fungi. That means they are excellent at warding off any potential respiratory bug, and they excel at clearing the respiratory passages of sluggish mucous, helping us breathe better. They are immune tonics, and prevent sickness. If you are sick with an acute infection, this tonic is an expectorant, encouraging the expulsion of hard-to-cough-up mucous, and helps to drain the sinus passages.

Plus it tastes good.

Enjoy!
Coming up next: herbal syrups, rose hips, and hawthorne – stay tuned!

Warmest Wishes,
Jamie Capranos

Apple Cider Vinegar

As we move towards autumn I notice the smell in the air, the light cast by the sun, and colour of leaves take on a distinct change. I can’t believe the Autumn Equinox is just a week away— a sure sign of deepening into the the fall, which will certainly draw me more internal. Since childhood, there is no sign more telltale that autumn is here then apples ripe on the tree. And apples ripe on the tree indicate it’s time to make apple cider vinegar, one of nature’s most powerful healing elixirs and one of my favourite autumnal home garden projects.

Apple cider vinegar is so easy to make, and each time I do, I think back to the thousands, possibly millions of generations of people who have been doing so, and I find myself drifting into a distant memory of how our ancestors first came to understand its countless health benefits. With a natural acidity, it proves to be an antibacterial, and due to the naturally containing “good” bacteria it assists in breaking down food and is perfect for sorting out upset stomaches and augmenting our infection-fighting medicinal vinegars (read more about those ). Apple cider vinegar makes an excellent hair rinse, especially in the treatment of dandruff or fungus on the scalp and  it makes a fabulous facial toner (for these two purposes, you must dilute with 50% water or else it’ll really sting!).
The National Arthritis Association lists it as a potential remedy for easing arthritis due to its Malic acid content; and it is also listed as a possible solution (some swear by it) for weight loss by breaking down undigested food, balancing blood sugar levels (thus minimizing food cravings), and improving overall efficiency of digestion. And there are plenty of ancedotal claims of people stating it has lowered their cholesterol (it’s natural pectin attaches to cholestrol globules) and even blood pressure. I’ve had many people in my practice try it for eliminating Gout — with success I’m happy to report. How much? Just 2 tablespoons taken a day is the general dose for gaining health benefits from apple cider vinegar. Yes, you can mix it with water and honey to make it more palatable. And you can also add it to salad dressings, veggies and more. Just do not cook it or heat it excessively or else you’ll kill all the good stuff.

Fresh fir needles soaked in home-made cider vinegar for coughs and colds

Apple cider vinegar is also known to relieve constipation, sore throats, coughs, sinus infections, headaches and more. For a more exhaustive list on what apple cider can do for your health, check out this book , written by one of the “authorities” on the subject, the Bragg family. Personally, I am skeptical of any ONE thing being promoted as a cure-all, and I cannot atest for all of the health claims given to Apple Cider Vinegar. But, I do have personal and professional experience with it easing constipation, dandruff, scalp fungus, sore joints, a myriad of digestive complaints, a skin toner, gout, and decreasing food cravings. And, as mentioned on this blog under in February’s post, I adore it most for serving as one of the best extracts for herbal medicines. It really brings home the concept of local medicine if you ask me!
So let’s get to it: HERE’S HOW YOU MAKE YOUR OWN APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

**If you cannot make your own apple cider vinegar, you can purchase some at your local health food store or natural grocer. However, read the fine print on the bottle and ensure that it is organic and unpasturized apple cider vinegar.

1. Start by either pressing your own apples for juice, or purchase some freshly pressed apple juice from a local farmer. Be sure no water has been added. It must be real, whole, unadulterated apple juice with nothing added or taken away. I have never used pasturized juice, only the fresh stuff right from the farm. Confirm these apples have not been sprayed! It’s important the apples have been drug free.

Apple juice pressed from our apples

2. Defrost your juice if it has been frozen. This is a great way to use last year’s batch if you still have some in the freezer. Next, find yourself  a large, wide mouth jar or earthenware crock. Clean it meticulously. Then dry it, and pour your juice into the vessel.

3. Next, you want to cover your vessel to prevent dust, bugs, or other unwanted particles from entering your cider. However, you also WANT some healthy air exchange for it to breathe. Keep in mind that this substance is alive. Anything that is alive, ferments. We want to assist in the fermentation process by allowing healthy exchange to occur, and for that, we do need some air circulation like anything alive does.

I like to cover my vessel with a tightly woven, very clean and dry cloth. I tie it with a string to fasten it, and as always, I date the cider so when it is done, I know how long it took to get the right taste and acidity to my liking.

That’s it! You do not need to add anything to it. The next step is just to let Nature do her magic.

How do you know it’s done? Taste it. It can take anywhere between 3 weeks or 3 months to get the acidity you like. I find that 3 or 4 weeks usually makes for a good cider vinegar. If you like, you can purchase pH strips from the health food store and test it for acidity. You’re looking for a pH reading below 4.5. However it is not necessary to test your vinegar with strips. Let your taste buds be your guide.

NOTES:

- Within a few days – depending on the temperature outside and in your home — a frothy foam may manifest. That’s ok, it means that the natural sugars are being digested by the good bacteria and fermentation is taking place. You can, with a clean spoon, scoop away the foam.

- If blue bacteria shows up on the foam, it doesn not mean the cider is bad. Again, just scoop it away.

- You will notice clumps of concentrated particles begin to form this is called the “Mother“, and is a positive sign. Do not scoop these away! This is the concentrated good bacteria. Some people prefer to filtre these out once their cider is done, and compost them. This is a personal preference. You can also save these, add add them to your next batch of juice to speed up the process of a fresh batch of cider–however in this case they’d need to be used immediately.

NOW WHAT?

Once you’ve reached the acidity you like (determined by taste or test strips), strain it through a mesh strainer and either compost the majority of the “Mother” or hold it back for a new batch (remember it must be used immediately). Bottle the cider vinegar in clean glass bottles. Mason jars will work, so will wine bottles, or anything else you like. It does not need to be refridgerated; but if you do, that’s okay too. It will naturally age, slowly, over time.

Now, use it in salad dressings, pour it over your food, take in water, tea, mixed with honey, or any other which way you like. As mentioned, my favourite is using it for even further health benefits by turning it into a . I hope you find this home project as satisfying as I do.

Enjoy!
Jamie Capranos

cleopatra’s face cream

I’ve never considered myself skilled at making face creams until I experimented with omitting shea butter and cocoa butter – two staple ingredients listed in every face cream recipe I’ve ever come across. It took me a while to realize the reason my creams came out so grainy in texture and seemed to separate quickly could be due to these ingredients.

Then I discovered the wonders of coconut oil.

I use it in cooking, and generally think it’s fabulous for one’s health. And now, I use it in my face cream! It’s an oil that is solid at room temperature, therefore it adds some of the firmness needed to create lovely creams, without being tempermental.

I’m excited  to share my precious face cream recipe with you;  I think it is divine, and I’ve named it Cleopatra’s Face Cream after the legendary lover of roses. I am a serious rose lover too, and in this recipe I used rose water, rose infused oil, and a lot of rose absolute essential oil for the scent. It’s amazing.
Feel free to adopt the name and this recipe as your own — please enjoy, I’m happy to share it!

INGREDIENTS:

* All amounts are approximate, I’m never very strict with amounts*

20g beeswax

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup herbal infused oil (or pure olive, sesame, apricot, almond oil)

1 tsp of rose essential oil (or your own favourite essential oil e.g lavender, rose geranium, vanilla, ylang ylang, jasmine, neroli, chamomile, sandlewood the options and combinations are endless) and of course you can make this unscented too!
The above ingredients account for your oil group.
The remaining two ingredients below account for your water group.

100 aloe vera gel

150ml rose water

Basically, a cream is 50/50 oil and water. The alchemy is in getting these two substances which normally repel one another to infuse and become one. The result is a very beautiful, nourishing substance that is simply glorious.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Place your beeswax and coconut oil  into a glass measuring cup, that measures 2 cups. Then place that into a large pot with simmering water that rises to approximately the 1/2 cup mark. This hot water bath is hot enough to melt the wax and oil (coconut oil is solid unless heated) so you do not burn the wax or oil.

coconut oil and beeswax melting

2. Meanwhile, mix your water group ingredients in a separate measuring cup. Set aside.

3. The wax and oil will eventually become completely liquified. This takes approximately 10 – 15mins. Once no solid particles are visible, lift the measuring cup out of the hot water bath, and leave standing until it is warm to the touch, but not hot. Approximately body temperature. This only takes a few minutes. Don’t walk to far away, you do not want these otherwise solid waxes / oils to harden!

These next few steps need to happen pretty quickly, because as the oils are warm, but neither cold or hot, the molecules are receptive and we need to get them to bond with water.

4. Now, pour your herbal infused oil into the now-warm but not hot wax and coconut oil mixture. Seefor how to make herbal infused oils.

Here I am pouring a St. John's wort infused oil, rose infused oil, and balm of Gilead infused oil (all separate oils I pre-mixed together) into my beeswax and coconut oil that was just melted. Look at how these herbal infused oils sparkle!

Now, having just poured cool / room temperature oils into warm-body temperature oil/wax it may try to harden and look like this:

Don’t worry! Everything is still ok. However, quickly scoop this concoction into an excellent and very powerful blender if you have one– or my preferred method– a 1 litre mason jar and mix with a stick blender. Use a spatula to get all of the oil/wax into your blender / jar.

5. Then, start blending, while gently pouring your water group into the oil group- this is the amazing part! We are encouraging the water molecules to bind with the oil molecules, to homogenize, and become one.

This is what it looks like when water and oil bind together

Very quickly, you have cream! Blend until the water and oil have clearly homogenized.

Because the blender motor is warm, the cream may seem a bit runny. Once you transfer into jars, it will settle into a lovely texture.

Done!

Now you can scoop into little 50ML salve jars which health food stores carry, and give away as beautiful gifts. This makes a lot of cream – approximately ten 50ML jars. Or, simply put in any glass container, and affix with a label (and a date–I always date my concoctions).

Notes:

- My suggestion for clean up is to wipe everything down with newspaper, that way eliminating much of the oil so when you wash up everything isn’t a greasy disaster
- You can also rub excess cream all over your body
- I have never had any cream go moldy. However they can turn moldy or “off” if you use tap water. I always use a distilled water like rose water, and aloe vera gel (which is mostly water).
- This cream has a very long shelf life. However I’d recommend use it up within a year.

Enjoy and have fun!

Herbal Oils

As the strength of the hot sun coaxs flowers to open, it signals me ’tis the season to get busy making herbal oils.

For those new to making herbal medicines, making an herbal oil may seem an intimidating task, but rest assured, once you’ve done it, it soon becomes one of the easiest aspects of medicine making. The rewards of this skill are plenty – herbal oils can be fashioned into so many wonderful healing delights: massage oils, healing salves, chest rubs for colds and coughs, moisturizing lotions, and beautiful face creams to name just a few.

While you can make an herbal oil with dried herbs, I prefer making mine with fresh. I recently made some fresh St. John’s wort oil (Hypericum perforatum). Here’s how I did it– go ahead and apply these instructions to any other herb suitable to make into an oil. Just a few examples of herbal oils that you can make this time of year are: mullein flowers, calendula flowers, lavender flowers, rose petals, plaintain leaf.

1. First, select your location. I found a nice clump of St.John’s Wort with new buds and new flowers coming up. On a dry sunny day,  pinch off a combination of almost-opening buds and newly open buds, being sure to avoid the wilted, exhausted flower heads that are on their way dying. I filled a 1 litre mason jar about a third of the way full of blossoms, brought it into the house, and covered the blossoms by filling my jar almost full with organic sesame oil.

St.John's Wort just picked and covered in oil. I immediately set it on a sunny window sill. All the flowers will eventually settle to the bottom as they become saturated over time with the oil .

2. Then, I set it on a sunny window sill, and covered the lid with paper towel, and secured the paper towel with a mason jar lid ring. There are two purposes for this: 1) the paper towel permits moisture to evaporate in the hot and dry environment of the window sill  2) prevents bugs, dust, and other particles from ending up in my oil.

My medicine making companion placed a crystal atop the jar to charge it with crystalline energy....anything is possible...

- I chose sesame oil because it’s more stable than olive oil, readily available where I live, and it’s a thinner oil than olive oil hence less greasy in texture.
- I filled my jar not quite to the top with oil, because, as some of you know St.John’s Wort continues to produce new flowers and new fresh buds everyday, about a week when it’s in it’s prime. Thus, I want to leave extra room in my jar should the oil level rise as I add new flowers daily, as they are available by mother nature.
- Yes you read correctly — when I’m making a fresh herbal oil from flowers that are hard to come by in abundance at one time, and tend to produce over a series of days, I collect daily and put them immediately into my jar of oil. I also do this with mullien flowers.

14 days have passed-- Hypericin, the anti-viral constitutent gives the oil a bright red colour. Notice the flowers, exhausted, have floated to the bottom of the jar.

3. I leave this jar undisturbed on my windowsill for a minimum of 10 days – 2 weeks. I do not shake it, and I do not remove it from the location. This is called a Solar Infusion. We are using the powerful heat units of the sun to extract and then transfer the medicinal virtues of the plant into the oil. This can also be done on a very low flame on your kitchen stove.

Freshly pressed St. John's wort oil. This will now sit on a shelf in a cool, dark place until I'm ready to use it. The texured lines you see on the bottom of the jar are just the decorations on the glass jar.

4. After 14 days pass, I separate the plant material from the oil by running it through cheesecloth into a clean, dry bowl or measuring cup. I compost the cheesecloth and exhausted flower blossoms, and once again transfer the now-herbally-infused oil into a clean, bone dry jar, and fasten with a lid. I store this oil in a dark place with even temperature until I am ready to use it.

Up next — I’m going to make a beautiful face cream with this St. John’s Wort oil — Check back later!