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Posts tagged: be well

How to do an Herbal Face Steam

 

This winter, my body has been calling for extra restoration. Herbal steams are one of my favorite remedies for congested skin, sinuses, or just a stagnant winter feeling. By infusing herbs in boiling water, a steam releases  the herbs’ nutrient-rich volatile oils. Herbal steams have two primary benefits:


BENEFITS / HERBS

Skincare

The heat of the steam opens up pores, melts sebum and blackheads, and releases volatile oils. For skincare-focused steams, I recommend herbs with circulatory, antimicrobial, and brightening properties:

  • Green tea - tone and tighten
  • Calendula - gentle, all skin types, soothe and nourish
  • Lavender - calm and relax, treat acne
  • Rose - calm and relax, treat acne
  • Licorice - brighten
  • Rosemary - boost circulation
  • Yarrow - heal, stop bleeding, heal infection, treat acne
  • Chamomile - calm, relax, gentle, all skin types
  • Marshmallow - soothing demulcent, calming

Immune, lymph, and respiratory systems

Breathing in the herbs’ volatile oils opens your respiratory system, clears mucus, and brings the benefits of these potent oils into your bloodstream. It’s an especially good remedy during cold and allergy seasons. For these steams, I recommend herbs that calm, soothe, and promote immunity:

  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Eucalyptus
  • Yarrow
  • Elderflower

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start with a clean face, cleansing & wiping off any makeup or products.
  2. Fill 11”x7” pot (you want a large pot for this!) with 6.5 cups water or a one inch layer of water in pot. Put on high heat, bring to just under a boil, turn heat off.
  3. Add your herbal mixture and let steep for 10 minutes covered. For proportions use one tablespoon of herbs to every cup of water (so for my recipe, I use 6-7 tablespoons of herbs per pot). Use the benefits guide above to choose herb(s) that fit your needs.
  4. Bring covered pot to an area where you can comfortably sit or stand, and place the hot pot on a heat-proof surface (such as a towel or cutting board). Drape a large towel over your entire head, torso, and pot--tenting yourself. Uncover pot and steam for 2-5 min, breathing deeply and staying tented so no steam escapes. After the steam, your skin will be flushed, pores and sinuses will be wide open.

 

Pro tips:

Right after a steam is a great time to follow with your favorite face mask–open pores will allow your mask to work deeper. You can also use the leftover herbal steam water from the pot to make an herbal bath. For the bath, just pour the pot through a strainer, cheesecloth, or muslin sack or pour the mixture right in and strain after. Your skin will absorb the benefits of the herbal infusion. 

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Herbal Kitchen / Golden Milk

turmeric

 

Happy Fall! Even though the temperature is still in the nineties here in New Orleans, I can feel the shift from Summer to Fall...The geese have made their way from up north to winter in Bayou St. John & City Park, the beauty berries have come in fuchsia (a sure sign of Fall here), and I've been craving my daily cup of golden milk! 

Turmeric is the key ingredient in golden milk, and its benefits are innumerable. It's best known for its anti-inflammatory superpowers due to high levels of curcumin––aiding all sorts of aches and pains specific to the neuromuscular and digestive systems. Turmeric is known to balance skin (due to its liver-nourishing properties), boost brain power, and ward off all sorts of illnesses. It's no wonder that this root gets hailed as one of the most beneficial superfoods on the planet. And don't forget that gorgeous color!

Golden milk is an easy and tasty way to give yourself some nourishing support any time of the year. This bev is packed with antioxidant-rich ingredients and is wonderful first thing in the morning to wake up our livers, or right before bed to ease into deep, restorative slumber. Either way, I've come to rely on this comforting cup throughout the years.

 

turmeric based Golden Milk

Recipe:

1 tsp ground organic turmeric powder 

1/4 tsp black pepper (aids absorption of turmeric––don't skip this!)

2 scoops collagen peptides (ok, this is a new addition for me. I jumped on the paleo-popularized collagen bandwagon, for skin health and inflammation management, and I will say my skin has been loving it! This is optional. I find it adds a slightly creamy consistency to the drink and doesn't affect taste.)

1 T. coconut oil

1 T. raw honey

1.5 cups boiling water

Add all ingredients in a blender, blend for 30 seconds on high, pour into a mug, sit back, sip & GLOW!

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Herbal Kitchen / Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries are ripe right now, and when they come in I absolutely love making a big batch of syrup to keep on hand. It is an easy and fun plant both to harvest and to make medicine with. Elderberries have been an important herb in folk medicine and were one of the sacred trees revered by the druids. They are most renowned for their immune boosting and flu/fever/cold fighting abilities. Other benefits include its high antioxidant activity to lower cholesterol, improve vision, heart health, respiratory health, tonsillitis, and bacterial and viral infections. Talk about a superfood!

What I most appreciate about elderberry medicine is that it works on the immune system to prevent illness, and also has the ability to shorten an illness once it's set in (I find most immune herbs work really well for preventing, but kinda leave you hanging if you don't start on them in time and get sick). As we approach Fall, I always get nervous about cold/flu season, and prefer to prevent & treat it naturally. Fortunately, nature is perfect and gives us ripe elderberries now to prepare us for the cold/immune-challenging months to come!  

Recipe

This syrup will keep for months in the fridge. I made a gallon so I'd have plenty for my friends and family and my own household. If you're using fresh berries, you use a ratio of 1:1 water to berries, and 2:1 water to dried berries (dried elderberries are available here). As always, only forage fresh berries if you are 100% sure you've correctly identified the plant--safety first! Also, my friend Bear gave me the best tip ever for separating the ripe berries from the stem: Simply freeze the berries when you get them home, and the frozen berries will fall right off the stem with zero effort! SO GENIUS! Thanks, Bear! 

8 cups water

8 cups fresh elderberries 

1 cup elderflowers (I like to harvest some flowering tops when I harvest my berries, or you could also order these online dried)

4 lemons, sliced

1 ounce reishi*

1 ounce schizandra*

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Raw honey**

Add all ingredients except the honey in a large pot, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer the mixture for 45 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool to warm, strain, and stir in the raw honey to taste (expect to use anywhere from 1-3 cups honey). Bottle it in a sterile jar with a tight fitting lid, and store in the fridge. I like to take a shot in water everyday as an immune supporting elixir, but it is also delicious in mocktails, iced tea, smoothies, cocktails, and topping a glass of cava/champagne with. 

*I only added these 2 herbs as extra immune boosting support. They are totally optional, and sometimes less is more, ya know what I mean? Keep it simple, especially if it's your first time making it.

**It is important to use raw honey to preserve the shelf life of the syrup, and you do get added benefits form the raw honey. If you are vegan, substitute with your fave sweetener, and maybe start with a smaller batch recipe to experiment with the shelf life. 

Let me know how yours turns out!

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