My Herbal Life: Yarrow Bath, Spicy Chai Apple Cider, Digestive Biscuits

How to become an herbalist

Have you thought about becoming an “herbalist,” but aren’t sure where to start? Well, here’s a hint: if you’re using and learning about herbs, you are an herbalist. You may not be an “expert” (who is?) but you are an herbalist.  It took me a long time to realize that. For many years, as I studied herbs and used herbs with my family, I wondered when I would become good enough to be called an herbalist. I never really felt prepared; there was always more to learn and know. Well, yep, that’s true. Now I realize there’s no specific road or route to becoming an herbalist. Being an herbalist doesn’t necessarily mean you’re equipped to work with clients, and maybe you never will, but you can learn about and use herbs in your everyday life, allowing them to become a part of your day.

I love being an herbalist. Herbs have become such a natural part of my day, I don’t even have think about it. So I decided it would be fun to share some of the ways I’m interacting with herbs, hopefully inspiring you to incorporate them into your day too!

My herbal day:

Yarrow bath

Yarrow is an amazing herb, and it’s so easy to find and grow. It thrives in less-than-ideal soil and can tolerate drought conditions, which is great for our homestead, since we usually have some very dry months the last half of summer. Yarrow is one of those herbs that I recommend everyone become familiar with. It’s an astringent, stops bleeding and, seemingly contradictory, moves stagnant blood (especially menstrual blood). It can also help with hemorrhoids and spider veins. A bath is particularly helpful with both of these, but drinking a cup of yarrow tea a day can help reduce the occurrence of these two issues. Yarrow is also useful to draw out a fever, opening pores and allowing the heat to exit through the skin; hello sweat!

To prepare an herbal bath

Take 1-2 cups of yarrow leaf and flower, place in a cloth bag and tie tightly. At this point, you can either drop it into a bathtub with about 2″ hot water at the bottom, and allow it to steep for 20 minutes before getting in (add more water as needed) OR place the bag into a large pot of water, cover and bring to a simmer. Cut the heat and allow your herbs to steep for 20 minutes before pouring into the bathtub and adding the rest of your bath water. For a sitz bath, you want to keep the water at the level of your belly button or lower.

Spicy chai apple cider

One of the easiest ways to get stimulating herbs into your life is to make things like chai tea. Instead of chai, today I decided to do a spiced “chai” apple cider using cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, ginger and cloves. I also added rose hips, orange peel and elderberries for deeper flavor, plus it will assist the immune system. As an added bonus, the smells wafting through the house are simply heavenly! I’m planning to bring this (as well as some other herby treats) to share with my students tomorrow I will likely blend it with some rooibos tea to stretch it a little.

Digestive biscuits

Originally developed in the UK in the early 19th century, digestive biscuits were intended to aid people with weak digestion. This recipe veers a little from the original by incorporating anise seed and orange peel, which contribute their own powers to ease digestion and calm stomach upset after eating. The recipe for the Anise Seed & Orange Digestive Biscuits we used was from the Nitty Gritty Life blog. They turned out really tasty although, sadly, we did not have flower-shaped cookie cutters.

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