I'm super excited for today's post. While I'm off in Iceland enjoying 23 hours of sunlight at the edge of mama earth, I've asked an amazing lady to write a special post for you. Let me introduce you to Summer Ashley of The Great Kosmic Kitchen.
I first discovered Summer on instagram, where she posts gorgeous photos and musings on the healing power of plants. Summer (along with her partner Sarah) is a real-deal herbalist, having studied under many of the elders whose books line the bookshelf in my magical cottage. Her connection to the plants and vast knowledge of their healing magic makes her the perfect lady to share today's post about the upcoming summer solstice and how to gently de-stress your precious body.
The Summer Equinox is not just the longest day of the year, it's a time when ancient cultures would take the time to celebrate the Earth’s fertility, and the abundance created by the Gods, Goddesses, and the power of our great Sun. During this time of year, we often find ourselves spending entire days in the garden and getting creative with the fruits of our labor. While we love all the sunny days, it can also be quite stressful if we expend too much outward energy. This is when we turn to our herbal allies for stress, also known as nervines in herbalism.
I like to think of nervines as a siesta in a tea cup.
Though, they can be effectively consumed in many other ways outside of herbal teas. Nervines are herbs that work hard to support our nervous system. They can additionally be tonics, which help tone and strengthen different parts of the body, and they can also be sedatives, which are herbs that help us fall asleep. Herbs often have additional herbal actions, which is why herbalism is so great. You can pick and choose herbs that create a unique formula to help your unique needs.
For this post, I’ll go over a handful of my favorite nervines that just so happen to be growing abundantly this season.
If you can’t grow these herbs, be sure to buy herbs that are clean and sustainable. We love to order in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Lemon balm in full bloom.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinales) can often be found growing wild in Northern California. It is great to use during the day when you are looking for an herb to relieve stress and soothe a nervous stomach, without feeling lethargic. Sometimes stress shows up in the gut, and when this happens lemon balm and chamomile are an excellent combination. We love adding this lemon-y herb to pestos, salad dressings, infusing it into white wine, or just simply drinking it as a tea.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is probably one of the most widely known herbs for relaxation. While many enjoy its therapeutic properties through aromatherapy (smelling it), you can also ingest this herb to induce tranquility. Try creating lavender syrups, or adding it into a floral tea to promote relaxation and ease nervous tension.
Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), also known as tulsi, is a sacred herb in the Ayurvedic healing tradition that has been used for thousands of years. It is in the mint family and helps to calm nerves, create balance, and lift one’s spirits. The plant is so highly regarded in Hinduism that you can find tulsi prayer beads made from the stem or root of the plant. This herb can be cooked into an herbal ghee on the full moon, chopped into pesto, or try putting it in a shrub (which could then be used to make one sacred cocktail). Many herbalists also consider this herb to be an adaptogen, which in short, means this herb helps bring the body back to balance and adapt to stress.
An ornamental passionflower from a friend’s backyard in Northern California.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is adored for its exquisite patterns, that look out of this world. This herb is native to the Americas, and grows abundantly here in California and in the South East. Incarnata is one of the most medicinal varieties, and can be a little challenging to identify. We suggest sourcing this herb from a reputable business, or take a class with a local botanist or herbalist to sharpen up your plant I.D. skills. This beautiful plant is as incredible as it looks. It is a sedative and is great for those who have issues falling asleep, and can be used for those who suffer from anxiety. Please check with your healthcare practitioner or herbalist before using this herb with medications, or any other herb. Herbs are powerful!
To learn more about healing herbs and how to incorporate them into your daily life, be sure to check out the blog I write with herbalist Sarah Benjamin, called The Great Kosmic Kitchen. We also offer one on one herbal meal planning consultations for those of you looking for some herbal guidance.
***Please be mindful when using medicinal plants. This article is not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure. It is meant to inspire! Please check with your local herbalist, your internal guides, and/or healthcare provider to find out what herbs are best for you and your unique body.
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