Have You Hugged Your Herbs Today



Herbs make me happy. Just looking at them makes me happy. Reading about them makes me happy. Discovering their personalities makes me happy. Finding out their healing natures makes me happy. There are so many herbs, which do so many wonderful things that, since we are a global culture, it can be overwhelming to start figuring out which herbs to use. It can end up feeling easier, and safer, to do nothing at all.

Herbs have traditionally been used in combinations, not singly like the way we use drugs. In combination, herbs work synergistically together, working better as a group, than the sum of each herb working separately. Sometimes customers come in looking for just one herb, such as Milk Thistle for their liver or Echinacea for a cold, because they heard that those herbs work for those things. However, when in combination, Milk Thistle with Dandelion or Echinacea with Goldenseal or Elderberry, these herbs will do a better job of providing nutrition and healing for what is ailing or just needs support. In a combination there may be four or more herbs; some that provide support and healing and some that also help the herbs move systemically throughout the body. There are some herbs that are just plain nutritious and they may be taken as a daily tea or extract for supplementation reasons, i.e. calcium (Nettles), ongoing stress (Eleuthero), radiation treatment (Astragalus), or just because it is yummy (hibiscus-my new favorite!), but overall herbs work best in combination. Even herbs do better in communities.

We make a Bulk Tea Combination that we call Woman Support. It is also the same combination as our Pregnancy Tea, but because the name limits those who might use it we have it packaged with both names. We sell it in one pound, 1/2 pound & 1/4 pound bags. Though it highlights use by women, it is also a great tea for men, and in our experience they often become very fond of it too. This tea supports women in multiple ways, not the least of which is nutritionally supporting the parts of our bodies that produce hormones. I personally find when I drink it daily that my periods come more smoothly and bleeding is normal, not clotty, not dark, just gets down to business and finishes in a timely manner. As I have ventured into menopause, I find it helps me have less hot flashes and less irregular bleeding, if I do have a period. I also feel more energetic as I know it builds blood and I am excited about the naturally occurring calcium that my body has the opportunity to absorb.

You can purchase these teas off of our website and read more about the other teas we make.

Some people balk at the idea of making a bulk tea until we explain how simple it is. If you plan to just drink a cup of tea, then a few teaspoons in a tea ball will suffice. However, if you want to make up a nice batch to drink throughout the day or have for tomorrow then I recommend using your trusty tea pot or a quart mason jar. Bring a pot of water of fresh pure water to boil. Let the boil end and then pour it over your tea (~1/4 cup for a quart of water), give it a little stir if you want and then cover with a lid or plate to keep all the goodness in your tea.  Let it sit this way for at least 20 minutes. I often let it sit that way overnight – normally it isn’t my original plan but I just forgot it. It is still good!  I strain it through a fine mesh strainer, the size that fits right on top of my 16 oz glass and then I compost the steeped herbs. I leave any remaining liquid and herbs in the container, either on the counter or in the frig, until I am ready to have some more. This keeps my mess to a minimum and my feelings positive about tea making. One last thing, to improve your feelings about bulk tea making, do not fill your mason jar with boiling water on a granite countertop. I have found, on more occasions than I care to recall, that the jar cracked and hot water and herbs floated onto the floor and in utensil drawers…and I am sure you get the picture. Initially I thought it was just a bad jar, but now, because it has happened numerous times, I think it has to do with the coolness of the stone and the hot water in the jar. However, I have never had that happen on a regular countertop or on stainless steel. No need to be afraid, just cautious.

I will share more about the other teas we make in the future but for now, Cheers, and give your herbs the love and affection they so richly deserve.

Herbally Yours,


(Originally posted 12/12/2012)

Ditching That Cough & Loving Your Lungs

Today I had a customer come in with her adult son, who sounded like he was literally coughing up a lung. She was desperate to find him something that actually worked; something that did not just cover up the cough for a little while, something that truly was going to get the healing process started.

After we talked for a few moments, and after I listened to him hack a couple of times, I reached for my family's most beloved cough remedy: Boericke & Tafel Cough & Bronchial Syrup. It is a homeopathic company that has produced a syrup for daytime with zinc, and a syrup for nighttime. The nighttime syrup is basically relaxing, helping to calm and sooth the cough so a person can sleep, which is the true healer. We can't heal properly if we can't rest, allowing our bodies to focus on the illness and treat it. It also does not create "medicine head". You can take it during the day (and I have), and you might feel a little bit more relaxed, but you don't feel like your mind is clouded or foggy.

My mom started giving this syrup to all of us kids when we were pretty young, and it has always worked amazingly. It is something that I do not let myself run out of in my cupboard; too often coughs start at night when I cannot get to the store, and sometimes I can even nip a bad cough in the bud by attacking it right away with this homeopathic combination. It is safe for kids, as it is made from homeopathic ingredients; but they do also have one labeled for children.

This syrup that Boericke & Tafel makes, by itself, often does the trick, but if you have had an ongoing cough that needs some extra attention, the other thing my family has always done is herbal steaming. Truly simple and old fashioned, but very effective.

To make a steam simply boil water with grated fresh ginger for approximately 20 minutes and then pour it into a large bowl. If you have no fresh ginger on hand, wait and sprinkle ground ginger (like you use for baking & may have in your spice rack) into the bowl of hot water after boiling. Grab a large bath towel and stick your head over the steaming bowl of water, then place the large towel over your head and over the entire bowl, trapping the steam and creating a little mini sauna for your face. Stay over it till the water cools or you cannot stand it any longer. It is also an amazing treatment for facial pores. The steam soothes a sore irritated throat, and loosens up dry hardened mucus, as well as thins out thick sticky mucus. You can do this several times a day. For small children, running hot water in the bathroom with the doors shut will do a gentle version of this steam. Gently thump their backs while you steam them, this helps to loosen and dislodge the mucus in their lungs.

Remember to get lots of rest and drink as much water as you can stand. Then drink a little more. It too helps to thin out thick sticky mucus, as well as helps to flush out extra toxins and general nastiness. Taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D and herbal combinations for immune support is also known to speed healing along, as well as potentially help ensure you don't catch the next bug that comes your way.

Happy Healing!


(Originally posted 12/8/2012)

The Make-It-All-Better Salve

Tonight I am going to throw some love to Herb Pharm Original Salve. This is something that I carry with me in numerous places. I have one in my car, purse, in the home and at work! Overkill? Never!

It is wonderful for dry cracked lips, dry fragile skin under and around eyes, cracked painful fingers and heels. Breastfeeding? Smooth it on your nipples for fast relief from cracked and sore spots! Hemorrhoids have met their match with this salve, soothes inflamed, raw and swollen areas quickly.

I personally use it instead of lip balm, it works faster and feels better on my lips then even my nice organic balms that we stock in our market. I also have never used a product that worked better or FASTER on those horrid raw red diaper rashes that happen every so often. When I have made the mistake of feeding some allergenic food too early to any of my babies, and they get that nasty scary looking allergy diaper rash, this salve is what heals their little bums up and makes them feel better. I have also had great responses with using it on heat rash and burns.

With having three wild children, there are tons of falls, scrapes and bruises.  Herbal Ed's Salve is what I slick on all open wounds, after a good cleaning; any scrapes and scratches; all are met with good ol' salve. The kids even make sure I put it on before a bandage. They know what helps!

 What is your favorite make-it-all-better remedy or treatment?


(Originally posted 12/07/2012)

My Poor Baby - a Battle with Growing Pains

Tonight my oldest child lay crumpled up on the couch, clutching his leg and doing lots of dramatic groaning. At first I thought he had pulled something, or maybe was having a Charlie horse, but the longer it went on, and the more he continued to not move (a big deal, as he never ever stops moving), I realized that something else was happening.

I took a step back and thought about the immense amount of growing he has done lately, the fact that he is eight, and a huge athlete, thus using up tons of calories and nutrients. I had been really forgetful, the last few months, with his and his siblings’ super foods and vitamins, only getting the kids to take them every few days instead of every single day. I feel really bad. I started back up right away tonight. I gave him a huge glass of coconut water (full of electrolytes and minerals), then a dose of cal/mag (heavy on the mag). I followed that with a dropperful of chamomile, and then I massaged tiger balm into his painful spots until he was sleepy. Also, every fifteen minutes for the first hour, I gave him homeopathic Arnica under his tongue. Last I checked he was peaceful and sound asleep. I am relieved, there is nothing quite like watching your child in pain when you know you could have prevented it.

Have you run across growing pains in your children? I am here to say it is totally preventable, and if it catches you by surprise, it QUICKLY can be reversed.

So, what is actually happening is that the body is growing and stripping itself of the materials it requires for growth. Normal childhood growth can induce pains if the diet is not sufficiently balanced, but occasionally massive growth spurts take the body by surprise. If this occurs, extra calcium and magnesium should be given right away. Drinking milk at this point is not a great idea as its neutralization of digestive foods would make an already hampered digestive system work at an even lower level. Calcium and magnesium supplements are key. The CALM powders are wonderful, so are the NOW Foods Brand liquid Cal/Mag supplements, as well as their gel caps. I also always try and keep extra plain magnesium on hand, as it can rapidly relax muscles and calm painful spasms. Unfortunately I did not have any this evening. Good sized doses of Vitamin D are important as well, Vitamin D and Minerals go hand in hand as they help each other absorb properly.

Foods that are high in minerals are needed also: spinach, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, beef, chicken, turkey, bananas, apricots, grapes, peaches and melons, to name a handful of items. Making sure they are eating enough variety and enough protein, while at the same time making sure that the really high refined carbohydrates are limited.

White and processed sugar, flour and grains really need to be cut back on, or just plain old cut out. They take up too much energy to move through the body, as well as provide next to nothing for the quickly growing body nutrient wise.

Besides the above mentioned products, my son also will be adding back to his daily supplements Spirulina and his Whey Protein drinks, in which I also add Chlorella powder. Super foods for a super fast growing body!

Please let me know if you have any questions at all in regards to growing pains and nutrition!


(Originally Posted 12/06/2012)

I Love Dr Shen's Yin Chiao

I had a great conversation with one of my children tonight discussing the benefits of Yin Chiao and taking care of ourselves, while all the world is worrying about whether to get their flu shots or not. No one wants to get the flu, and since our family began using Yin Chiao over 12 years ago, we have found it effective in helping to avoid the plagues that come out to roost this time of year.

When I was introduced to Yin Chiao I had never really used Chinese Herbs in my self-care routine before. I had occasionally used Astragalus or Ginseng, but never a Chinese herbal combination. Yin Chiao is a traditional Chinese Herbal Combination, and is, "one of the most relied-upon of all classic Chinese herbal formulas for optimal health during the changing seasons."1 We find it also helpful and healthful when we are in changing situations; like being exposed to sick people, flying on an airplane, or just feeling like we are on the precipice of becoming ill. Oftentimes we come into contact with sick people on a daily basis; talking to them, touching their money or credit cards, and generally being in close proximity. We began to see that if we faithfully utilized Yin Chiao, we could most often avoid becoming sick ourselves. Dr Shen’s, the brand of Yin Chiao we use and sell, recommends that you, “(b)egin taking tablets a half hour before entering airports, airplanes, terminals, or crowded public facilities.”2

“Yin Chiao, developed during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), has been a staple of traditional herbalists and acupuncturists, and a household name in China, for hundreds of years. It is used for imbalances associated with seasonal changes and is one of the most valued of all classic Chinese herbal formulas. This prized traditional formula combines the following immune-boosting and fortifying herbs: honeysuckle flower, forsythia fruit, Chinese mint leaf, phragmites rhizome, burdock seed, platycodon root, soy sprout, licorice root, schizonepeta aerial parts, and lophatherum leaf.”1

Dr Shen’s Yin Chiao is considered safe to use while pregnant or nursing, not contraindicated with other medications and the manufacturer states that, “(t)he herbs in Yin Chiao are among the safest in all of Chinese Medicine.” They consider it safe for children to use and suggest you, “(c)rush 1 tablet for every 25 lbs of body weight and mix with food or syrup.”2 

The herbs come in tablet form, and by my standards they are small, slippery, and easy to swallow. I am not a good pill swallower. If after two days we haven’t gotten better we move onto another Chinese herbal combination, Zong Gan Ling, or as we fondly call it, “the red bottle”. It decreases or eliminates symptoms or a cold or flu, but we can talk about it on another day.

In our store in Spokane, Washington, we had customers who began to tell their hospital co-workers about Yin Chiao and how well it worked for them. Before long we had new customers driving up to our drive-thru window asking for, “that blue bottle of herbs for when you get sick.” Yin Chiao has sold itself over the years and is a product we don’t let ourselves run out of; and it is one of the first things we pack when we travel. One son, who travels a lot for work, doesn’t leave home without it.

It is one of those products that you might consider stocking in your medicine cabinet. Inevitably you will want it when all the stores are closed or you are nowhere near a store where you can purchase it. This might be the season to give it a try. I highly recommend it!

Be aware that California law has mandated that Dr Shen’s add a lead warning to their packaging. On their website Dr Shen’s offers this statement regarding the warning:

Don’t worry about lead warnings found on some brands – they have no more lead than you would find in most chocolate. Trace amounts of lead are found in all herbal medicines made with whole herbs. Some brands contain warnings because they have been the target of California Proposition 65 bounty-hunting lawyers.
— For more information go to: http://www.drshen.com/proposition65.htm”2

Watch a man in a lab coat talk about Yin Chiao! Dr Shen's Yin Chiao Video

Wishing you well!


Planetary Herbals

Dr Shen’s

(originally  posted 12/06/2012)

Slippery Elm

I can't count how many times I have recommended Slippery Elm, be it powder, capsules or tea, to worried moms with constipated babies.  I also have many stories of adults who after years of chronic constipation, at last have found complete relief using this simple plant. The extremely interesting part, to me anyway, is that it goes in two directions for your tummy. Be it diarrhea, or constipation, it "evens" you out. 

I know, how crazy is that?  True story, it really does.  I always keep some powder around, because with having three small kids, there seems to always be a use for it.

We also make it in tea form, because it is wonderful for coating a sore throat, and helping a cough move along. A very gentle herb, it can be used for infants and well as adults, and is highly thought of for those with wasting illnesses who need extra nutritional care.

It is very simple to take; you can purchase pills, and take them through out the day; as well as a powder to mix in with applesauce, smashed bananas, oatmeal, etc, or brewing a tea.

Taken unsweetened, three times a day, Elm Food gives excellent results in gastritis, gastric catarrh, mucous colitis and enteritis, being tolerated by the stomach when all other foods fail, and is of great value in bronchitis, bleeding from the lungs and consumption (being most healing to the lungs), soothing a cough and building up and preventing wasting.
A Slippery Elm compound excellent for coughs is made as follows: Cut obliquely one or more ounces of bark into pieces about the thickness of a match; add a pinch of Cayenne flavour with a slice of lemon and sweeten, infusing the whole in a pint of boiling water and letting it stand for 25 minutes. Take this frequently in small doses: for a consumptive patient, about a pint a day is recommended. It is considered one of the best remedies that can be given as it combines both demulcent and stimulating properties. Being mucilaginous, it rolls up the mucous material so troublesome to the patient and passes it down through the intestines.
— A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M Grieve
The humble slippery elm tree grows bountifully throughout North America. Prior to European colonization, several Native American groups used slippery elm bark to treat wounds, burns, infections, coughs, sore throats, indigestion and diarrhea. Today, slippery elm remains a safe, healthy and effective component of modern integrative medicine. Like psyllium — a much more popular nutritional supplement with similar benefits — slippery elm interacts with liquid to create a thick, colorless, odorless gel. This slick substance coats the stomach and promotes the healthy excretion of mucus in the body. Additionally, this tree’s potently medicinal bark contains powerful antioxidant phytonutrients that reduce inflammation on a local and systemic level.

Constipation Relief
Slippery elm benefits people who suffer from acute or chronic constipation. When it interacts with gastric juices, it creates an effective bulk material for flushing debris from the colon— with far fewer side effects than stimulant laxatives.

Diarrhea Treatment
Bulk fiber sources like slippery elm can effectively relieve diarrhea as well as constipation. This slippery elm use predates modern medicine; it works by thickening bowel movements and soothing spasms in the bowels.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Slippery elm is widely promoted as a potential treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)— a functional disorder characterized by chronic abdominal pain and alternating episodes of constipation and diarrhea.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Slippery elm’s benefits are manifold for people suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. It helps to prevent the episodes of diarrhea associated with these conditions and may restore mucus lost during flare-ups. The tree’s bark also eases inflammation and promotes healing.

Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD)
The bark of the slippery elm tree helps to promote mucus production and may protect the stomach and esophagus from damage associated with GERD (reflux disease).

Stomach Ulcer Treatment
Many naturopathic practitioners recommend slippery elm as an alternative treatment for peptic ulcers caused by H. pylori, a form of bacteria. Slippery elm benefits people with ulcers because it coats the stomach and prevents long-term damage from excess acidity.

Cough and Colds
Slippery elm soothes spasms in the upper-respiratory tract; it is a popular component of herbal cough drops and cough syrups. It also helps to promote the healthy secretion of mucus in the lungs and nasal passages.

Asthma Treatment
While slippery elm’s use in asthma treatment has never been clinically studied, it may be worth a try for people suffering from this chronic condition. When taken orally as a capsule or tea, it may help to prevent the bronchial spasms associated with asthma.
— 12 Slippery Elm Benefits and Uses by Juniper Russo

All in all, a great plant, with many uses!


(originally posted 12/4/2012)






Who Knows You Better Than You

"The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all."   Aung San Suu Kyi

Welcome to our blog! We look forward to sharing with you the new things we learn. We love helping women find their power and to discover that they have within themselves important knowledge for themselves and their families.

If you have topics you'd like us to discuss please let us know what they are and we will try to discuss them in the future.

Embracingly Yours,

Melissa & Tamy

(originally posted 12/4/2012)