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Herbs For Challenging Times (+ DIY Recipes)

Updated: Apr 23

When the world appears to be full of heartbreak and suffering and reading the news is so overwhelming and traumatic as you witness the loss, grief and upheaval experienced by so many innocent lives around the world, it can be hard to know what to do and how to respond.


If you feel at a loss for how to make a positive difference in the world at this moment in time… First, pause and take a deep breath… Second, make sure that your body and spirit are well nourished and cared for.


You cannot pour from an empty cup.


Once you are well within yourself you will be able to spread this wellness and comfort outward to everyone whose lives you touch.


Herbs have been used for centuries to promote calmness, strengthen resilience and restore balance during challenging times.


Here are some of my favourites to nourish the body, uplift the heart, and strengthen the spirit.


Take 1-2tsp of your chosen herb(s) and steep in a mug of boiled water for at least 10mins and enjoy a soothing and strengthening tea, take some tincture under your tongue, or continue reading for some bonus ideas on how to incorporate these herbs into your life.





:: HAWTHORN ::

Hope & Protection


A nourishing and strengthening remedy for the physical and emotional heart, Hawthorn helps to ease the pain of grief and heartbreak and provides gentle supp

ort during times of stress and overwhelm. Hawthorn allows the beauty of life to seep back into your heart if you have been disconnected through doubt or fear. Hawthorn also helps you understand when you need better emotional boundaries. It helps you discern when it is necessary to protect your heart and when it is safe to fully open yourself up to love once again.





Hawthorn Berry Brandy


handful of hawthorn berries

a good brandy

a jar


Gather a handful of berries (wait until after the first frost so the berries take on their deep red hue), place them whole in your jar and fill the jar to the top with brandy. Label the top of the jar with the date 6 weeks from now and wait. After 6 weeks, you will have a tonic brandy that goes straight to the heart, and makes a great holiday gift for friends and loved ones.




:: OATSTRAW / MILKY OATS :: Nourishment & Calm


Rich in vitamins A, B, and C, calcium, potassium and magnesium, oats and oatstraw have a direct impact on the nervous system, supporting you in times of stress and anxiety. The rich and balanced nutrient content of oats increases mental clarity, steadies and calms overstimulated nerves, and replenishes the adrenal glands, providing a sense of calm strength and promoting a peaceful state of being. These remedies have traditionally used for individuals suffering from symptoms of anxiety, PTSD, addiction, and withdrawal. Milky oat tops are generally believed to work more quickly for those experiencing acute nervous system exhaustion or burnout, whereas the mineral-rich oatstraw provides sustained support and builds resilience over time.



Oat Bath (method 1)


a large pot

several cups of steel cut oats

water


Line the bottom of a large pot with steel cut oats. Fill the entire pot with water and bring to a boil. Shifting to medium heat, cook the oats for several hours. A thick film will cover the top of the water; this film is especially emollient and eases itchiness and scaliness. Put it aside in a separate bowl and place on the driest part of your body. Strain the oats through a wire-meshed colander lined with cheesecloth, and take the bowl of hot milk and add to your bath. Burn dried lavender blossoms in a bowl or add to your bath for extra soothing. Shut the door and soak for at least twenty minutes, covering every inch of your body with the milky water.


Oat Bath (method 2)


2 litre jar

large handful of oatstraw or dried milky oat tops

water


Prepare an infusion of oatstraw, allowing it to sit for four hours. Add to a hot bath, and soak for as long as you need to feel years of stress and anxiety wash away.





:: HOLY BASIL ::

Warmth & Clarity


Holy Basil (also known as Tulsi) is a sacred herb in Ayurvedic medicine said to be an “elixir of life”, promoting longevity and perfect health. Referred to as an adaptogenic herb in Western Herbalism, Tulsi certainly helps the body adapt to stress and promotes overall wellbeing. A warming and uplifting tulsi tea can help reduce anxiety and promote mental clarity, while its enchanting scent can encourage you to breathe life more deeply into your lungs. Tulsi also offers support when processing traumas and challenging emotions, shining a light into the shadows of your heart, helping you return to love and wholeness.



Brightening Tulsi and Oat Face Scrub


2 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup dried tulsi leaves or powder

2tsp ground almonds

2tsp white/red/green clay (optional)

a blender or mortar and pestle


Place all the ingredients in the blender or mortar and blend until all the oats are ground up. When ready to use, place some of the grains in your palm and add a little water, rubbing into the face. You can also wet the grains and keep the jar in your refrigerator, applying the grains as a mask.


The almonds supply natural oils as the oats gently rub away dead skin; if your skin is oily, you may want to use more clay and fewer almonds. The tulsi leaves / powder are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory so can help prevent breakouts and soothe irritations. It also helps to brighten the skin and even skin tone.




:: COMFREY ::

Grounding & Strength


Comfrey’s large and abundant leaves offer a rich supply of vitamins and minerals sourced from deep within the earth through its strong and extensive roots. Ruled by Saturn, this nutritive powerhouse promotes the healing of the skin and musculoskeletal system. Also known as "Knitbone", Comfrey speeds the healing of broken bones and can strengthen weak or injured ligaments and muscles. Additionally, Comfrey possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce pain and swelling associated with injuries. Saturn is the “Lord of Karma” and is known to grant wisdom through challenges. Herbs ruled by this planet help us stay grounded and resilient while we navigate our karmic lessons. They support us as we endure through hardships so we may grow stronger. With humanity continually living out repeated patterns of war and violence, the spirit of Comfrey can be called upon to help us mend and find wholeness to ultimately step out of the cycle.


NOTE: those who are pregnant or have liver damage should use caution with or avoid using comfrey internally.



Comfrey Infused Oil


comfrey leaves

favourite carrier oil (eg. olive, sweet almond, coconut)

jar


A potent herbal remedy for healing all manor of musculoskeletal ailments, such as breaks, strains and bruises. Apply to the skin to soothe any areas of redness or inflammation.


Half fill your jar with roughly chopped comfrey leaves then pour over your carrier oil until the jar is full. Label the top of the jar with the date 6 weeks from now and wait. After 6 weeks your oil is ready to use. Gently apply to minor cuts, bruises, and sprains to facilitate healing and relieve swelling and pain.




(Recipes inspired by Judith Berger's wonderful book, 'Herbal Rituals')


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