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As a kid I loved heading back to school. Sure I was sad to see summer vacation go but I was ready to photo collage my binders, start organizing my backpack and catch up with everyone. Now as a parent this time of the year feels very different than when I was a kid. I’m always sad for my favorite season to end (I named my first born Summer after all!).


Back to school means transition, and transitions are tricky for kids. It means an earlier wake-up, rushing out the door, lots of new germs at school and cooler days and longer nights are approaching.


Make the transition out of summer mode and back to school and back to work smoother and saner with these three tips.


1. Strengthen your immune system before cold season starts


As summer wraps up and kids return to school they are exposed to new germs, a faster pace to the day, less sleep and more stress. Basically the perfect recipe for a lowered immune system for the entire family.


This time a year ago my daughter started preschool and I learned ALL about the fun germs kids bring home from day-care, from coughs and colds to hand foot mouth disease. The CDC reports that elementary aged children get 8-12 colds a year. That many colds equals a lot of missed school plus time off of work for parents. So this year I am getting a jump start before cold and flu season hit.


For helping my family build a strong immune system that is ready for cold and flu season I turn to medicinal mushrooms. These fungi are immunomodulating, which means they help prevent you from getting sick by building your body's resistance to stress and balancing your immune system. Some of my favorites are reishi, turkey tail, maitake, shiitake and oyster.


Mushrooms benefit from a long cook and are a great addition to broth, soups, stews or anything that is going to sit on the stove or slow cooker for awhile. I take them in my daily tincture formula for a few months this time of year to really support my immune system.


I don’t recommend medicinal mushrooms when you are actively sick. Instead they work best when taken preventatively or right after a bout of being sick.



2. Soothe back to school jitters and anxious nerves


With the start of back to school season we often have to adjust our schedules and routines for different drop-off times, earlier bedtimes or maybe more time in work mode. For both children and parents a new schedule can mean excitement, but also a source of stress, digestive upset & loss of sleep.


Plants can help soothe our stress and promote sleep during what might be an emotional transition. Sip on calming teas daily during the back to school season. Some plants I like to work with include lemon balm, lavender, tulsi, chamomile and oats.


Not sure how to prepare a cup of medicinal tea? check out THIS post.


3. Nourish your brain


Getting back into the swing of things after vacation mode is no fun. Sometimes you just feel a little hazy and move a bit slower. Nootropics (word of the day) is a category of plants that are cerebral stimulants. These plants help enhance memory and improve mood.


One of my favorite nootropics is rosemary, which is known as the herb of remembrance. It was worn by ancient Greek scholars around their heads to help with memory when taking exams. Rosemary helps with memory and is a powerful antioxidant and circulatory stimulant, bringing blood flow to the brain and the body.


During my 3pm afternoon lull when I start to feel tired and sleepy I like to smell a sprig of fresh rosemary to help wake me up. You can diffuse rosemary essential oil or add a few drops to a spray bottle to freshen up your environment and your mood. Rosemary is also an excellent herb to sprinkle in food or add to tea.

How are you getting ready for the transition back to school? What tips or tricks help you prepare for this time of year? Leave a comment, I want to hear from you!




Pregnancy is a time of great physical, emotional and spiritual shifts. As the belly grows and pulses with new life the mama to be has the opportunity to directly influence the health and well-being of her growing baby.


During pregnancy the body goes through a wide range of changes that can cause a variety of discomforts. Hormones increase, organs stretch and shift to accommodate new life, and blood circulation rises. Herbs provide a gentle and safe way to relieve common pregnancy related discomforts while nourishing and strengthening specific body systems.


Tonic Herbs for Pregnancy


My go to category of herbs to use during pregnancy are herbs known as tonics. These herbs are useful in improving one’s overall health during pregnancy and beyond. Tonic herbs are considered highly nourishing to a particular body system and help restore balance to that specific system. You can imagine tonic herbs as special foods for the body due to their high vitamin, mineral and nutritive quality. These gentle herbs are most effective when used over time. Tonic herbs are best avoided in the first trimester.


Without a doubt my two favorite tonic herbs for pregnancy (and beyond) are red raspberry leaf and nettle. With both my two pregnancies I started drinking 2-3 cups of these nourishing herbs at around the twenty week mark.


Red Raspberry Leaf


Red raspberry leaf has a long tradition of being used to strengthen and tone the tissue of the uterus during pregnancy. It is the most well known herbal tonic for pregnancy and is found in many pregnancy tea blends. It is often referred to as the supreme woman’s reproductive tonic herb.


Raspberry’s high mineral content makes it a valuable herb for pregnancy and breastfeeding. It contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, and vitamin C. Raspberry leaf is rich in naturally chelated iron that the body can easily assimilate, and can be combined with our friend nettle to help with low iron levels and anemia. The leaf is also rich in niacin and manganese, which is a mineral the body uses to make connective tissue. All great things for a pregnant body.


It works to both tone a relaxed uterus or to relax a uterus that is overly toned. By helping to tone the uterus raspberry leaf can help with some of the pain associated with labor and recovery. It helps the uterus in letting go, work more efficiently, and produce a more coordinated uterine contraction. This helps make contractions more regular but less frequent. Since raspberry leaf is astringent it helps to prevent miscarriage and hemorrhaging during labor and postpartum. It can be used for post-partum pains and ease discomfort during breastfeeding. Its high mineral content make it especially nutritive to drink while breastfeeding.


Drink red raspberry tea during the last two trimesters of pregnancy and during the postpartum period.



Nettle

Nettle is also known as stinging nettle due to the little stinging hairs found along its stem and leaves. It is extremely nourishing and is considered one of the best tonics for the overall body.


Nettle is high in calcium, chlorophyll, iron, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Nettle is great for pregnant women experiencing chronic fatigue and low energy associated with low iron levels. Drinking nettle tea in the weeks leading up to labor can help increase vitamin K levels, which is needed for the blood to clot and to decrease the chance of hemorrhaging. Its high calcium content is helpful in dealing with leg cramps, muscle spasms and uterus pains.


Nettle is specifically toning to the kidneys and helps them to process and eliminate waste more effectively. The kidneys are tasked with filtering and cleaning blood, and during pregnancy the body produces up to 50% more blood and increased metabolic waste. Nettles ability to strengthen and nourish the kidneys is extremely helpful during pregnancy. It is mildly diuretic and can help the body get rid of excess fluid, common during pregnancy and with cases of edema.


This herb has many potential uses during pregnancy and beyond. Nettle is thought to increase milk supply and rebuild and nourish the mother after childbirth.



NOURISHED PREGNANCY TEA RECIPE


Ingredients

1 cup Red Raspberry

1 cup Nettle

1/2 cup Lemon Balm

¼ cup Oatstraw

¼ cup Rose petals

⅛ cup Rosehips


Instructions

- Blend all your herbs in a bowl. Store tea blend in a glass jar out of direct sunlight.

- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.

- Add 4-6 tbsp of herb mixture to a quart size glass jar.

- Cover with 4 cups of boiled water and cover with lid.

- Let steep overnight to make a strong medicinal tea.

- Strain out herbs and store extra tea in the fridge for 3-4 days.

- Drink 2-3 cups a day in the second or third trimester! Enjoy hot or cold.


RED RASPBERRY LABOR ICE-CUBES RECIPE


My doula shared with me this idea to make some red raspberry ice cubes to have on hand for labor. This labor aid is a simple way to get in some nourishment during labor. The addition of honey makes it tasty and provides a quick energy boost. Prepare a batch in advance and store in the freezer to have on-hand.


Ingredients

2 tbsp. Red Raspberry

2 heaping tbsp. honey

2 cups water

Ice cube molds


Instructions

- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.

- Steep raspberry leaf in boiled water for 30 minutes or longer. Be sure to steep covered.

- Strain and while tea is still warm stir in honey until blended. Sip and make sure you can taste the honey.

- Add to ice cube molds and freeze.

- Store in the freezer to have on hand for labor.


My morning routine kicks off with a steamy cup of herbal tea. Much of the healing and soothing benefits come from the practice of slowing down and intentionally preparing and sipping on a cup of tea.


People are often surprised to learn that making a cup of tea can be its own art form. Preparing the perfect cup of herbal tea doesn't take much practice, but it does ask that we check in with our intention for this cup of tea. What alchemy do we want to create when we soak these plants in water? What do we want this cup of tea to do for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing?


I'm always excited by how many questions people have about preparing tea during workshops or coaching sessions. Most of us grow up tossing a tea bag in hot water and calling it good. But when it comes to extracting the most medicine out of your tea what method is best? Here are three different ways for preparing a healing herbal tea.



Infusion Method

Best for tea blends consisting of soft plant parts, such as flowers and leaves (i.e. chamomile & peppermint).


- Heat 1 cup of water to just before a boil.

- Pour hot water over 1 tbsp herb mixture and cover.

- Let steep for a minimum of ten minutes and up to one hour.

- Strain and enjoy.


Decoction Method

Best for tough plant parts like roots, bark, berries, seeds and mushrooms (i.e. cinnamon & reishi). Since this method takes more time to prepare it's a good idea to make a few cups at a time.


- Add 4 tbsp of herb mixture and 4 cups of water to a pot.

- Slowly bring to water to a simmer and cover with a lid.

- Let mixture gently simmer for thirty minutes minimum. Most decoctions can benefit from simmering for one or two hours.

- Strain and reserve liquid to enjoy.

- Extra tea can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.


Overnight Infusion Method

Best for leafy greens and flowers. Great when a strong medicinal tea is desired (i.e. nettle & raspberry).


- Add 4-6 tbsp. of herb mixture to a quart jar.

- Cover with boiling water.

- Cap and let sit out overnight.

- Strain the next morning.

- Store remaining tea in the fridge. Good for 3-4 days.


When in doubt, remember these three tips:

- Prepare your tea based on what types of plant parts your using. Softer plant parts will break down by steeping. Tougher plants parts need to be simmered to break down and release their medicine.


- Steep time is an important element for changing the taste, smell and medicinal strength of the tea. The longer it steeps the stronger the medicine.


- Steam is where much of the volatile oils and aromatic molecules (think scent) are released. Be sure to cover your tea while it steeps.


Looking for some tea inspiration or want to load up on your favorite therapeutic blends? Check out the potion shop and browse our organic small batch herbal tea blends. All teas include specific brewing instructions to make sure you get the most out of your blend.

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6 HERBS FOR SLEEP-DEPRIVED MAMAS

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