Saint John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum): This true midsummer flower is strongly influenced by the midday sun. The countless gold-yellow filaments burst out of the calyx like sun rays. They make the flowers, which open only during dry weather, look like tiny suns. The flower petals look as if they might be small airplane propellers and are reminiscent of swirling beams of light and of the light chakras. As a medicinal herb, this plant of the Sunflower family has a soothing effect on the nerves, brings light into the soul, and chases away the darkness.
For centuries, St. John’s wort served as a talisman against evil. At the same time, it was prized for its medicinal power, both helping heal wounds and ease psychological stress. In ancient Rome and Greece, the herb was used to treat inflammation of all kinds, and was even put to use in compounds used on serious battle wounds.
Warning: St. John’s wort may interfere with some prescription medicines. If you take prescription drugs of any kind, be sure to talk with a naturopath or a health care professional familiar with Natural Standard, the top resource for drug-herb interactions, to determine a safe level before taking remedies containing the herb.
This practice of strategically “scraping” body surfaces is performed to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, increase circulation, and boost the immune system. Traditionally this is done with a small, flat jade stone with rounded edges, which can be used on the body, muscles, acupressure points, and/or meridians to release heat, toxins, and so on. You usually scrape in the direction of the meridians only until you see small red dots (called petechia). These red dots indicate that blood has been brought to the surface of the skin, where it is able to release the heat and toxins. Chinese medicine calls this “raising the sha,” which is said to eliminate stagnation and inflammation in the blood and protect the immune system for days or even weeks after the treatment. You can easily learn to do this at home for certain conditions, such as when you are feeling vulnerable to a cold, have tight or sore muscles, or are feeling inflamed in a particular part of your body. For chronic conditions such as cancer or autoimmune disease, or if there are lumps, cysts, or fibroids, I recommend working with a practitioner before performing gua sha.
This is a hand-held facial massage tool that is used to increase circulation in the face and neck, increase absorption of skin care products and reduce fine lines, wrinkles, under-eye swelling, and dark circles. It works by supporting lymphatic drainage away from the face. The roller is typically made with two smooth jade stones, one at each end. Depending on the size of the area you are working on, you can use either the small or large end. To use, simply massage your favorite skin cream or oil onto your face and neck and, using the roller, make small sweeping motions from the center of your face, out toward your hairline or down toward your neck. Do this for about five minutes each morning. If you tend to have puffiness under your eyes or red, irritated skin, you can put the roller into the freezer overnight and use it cold the next morning.
For massage blends, a dilution of 2.5 percent is recommended (15 drops of synergy per ounce of carrier oil). Vitamin E is a good preservative for your massage oils, 10 drops per 8 fluid ounces of carrier oil.
One of the most popular Victorian garden plants on account of its perfume, lily of the valley contains three glycosides; convallarin, convallamarin, and convallotoxin. Convallotoxin is one of the most active natural substances affecting the heart. It causes irregular, slow pulse rates and can cause heart failure. In addition, the plant contains saponins, which cause gastrointestinal poisoning.
There was a superstition that anyone planting a bed of lily of the valley would be dead within 12 months. Gerard recommended it ‘because it restores speech to those who have the ‘dumb palsy’ and is a treatment for gout. The flowers, put in a sealed glass jar and set in an anthill for a month, will yield a liquor which is an excellent ointment for treating gout.’
Magical propensities for drawing peace and tranquillity; repels negativity; empowering happiness; mental powers. Use in magical workings to stop harassment.
This golden tonic milk is based on a traditional Ayurvedic recipe. Made with anti-inflammatory turmeric and sedative poppy seeds (these nourish the nervous system, aiding in a peaceful night’s sleep), along with cardamom and vanilla, it soothes and relaxes the muscles and mind. Drink a mugful before bed to slip into a deep slumber.
1 mugful of almond or oat milk 1 teaspoon freshly grated turmeric or turmeric powder 1 teaspoon ground poppy seeds ½ cinnamon stick 3 cardamom pods ½ vanilla pod 1 teaspoon coconut oil 1–2 teaspoons honey or unrefined sugar
Heat the milk, herbs and spices in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, cover and turn the heat off. Leave to steep for 5–10 minutes, strain mixture into a mug and then stir in the coconut oil and honey or sugar. Serve, stirring between sips.
The salt and herbs in this bath salt work together to relax tired muscles, improve circulation and ease aches and pains.
4 ounces of salts of your choice, e.g. Epsom salts, Dead Sea salts, pink Himalayan salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh or dried pine needles
2 teaspoons chopped fresh or dried eucalyptus leaf
2 teaspoons fresh or dried lavender flower heads
2 teaspoons dried daisy heads
10 drops of essential oil of your choice, e.g. rosemary, lavender, mint, eucalyptus
Put the salts and herbs into a blender and pulverize them together. This allows the cell walls of the herbs to be broken down so medicinal properties can be extracted into the bath water. Transfer the mixture to a glass or ceramic bowl, add the essential oil and mix well.
To use, add the mixture to a square of muslin cloth. Tie into a bundle at the top with string and then tie this to your hot water bath tap, allowing it to sit just below the tap. Run the hot water directly over and through the bundle, allowing the salt to dissolve and the herbs to be retained inside the muslin (so preventing drain blockage).
Add cold water to the bath to the desired temperature. Soak and relax in the bath for at least 30 minutes.
Tip: This mix can be made in bulk (with dried herbs) and stored in a sealed jar in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
This tea promotes relaxation and sleep. Anyone can easily grow each of these herbs in the backyard, and since the herbs are gentle and effective for quieting a busy mind, releasing muscle tension, and promoting general relaxation your body naturally feels tired and falls asleep.
1.25 parts chamomile
1 part catnip
1 part skullcap
1 part mint
0.375 part licorice root
0.25 part hops
Hot Infusion: Pour 1 ½ cups hot water over 2 tablespoons tea. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
Cold Infusion: Combine 2 cups cold water and 1 to 2 tablespoons tea in a lidded jar. Shake the jar to make sure all the tea is saturated. Place in the refrigerator or a cool place for at least 2 hours.