WORKING WITH AIR – TIPS FOR WINDY DAYS

WORKING WITH AIR – TIPS FOR WINDY DAYS

Not unusual in the high desert in spring, it’s an extremely windy day today. The winds can be fierce in this valley, kicking up dust and pollen and nipping at our ears. For many, like me, excessive wind can bring discomfort, especially if we have “air” type aspects in our personal constitution (the energetics of our mind and body). When I speak of elements here, I am speaking of the qualities and states that one encounters in nature, not the physical elements we learn about in chemistry. The elements I am referring to have been delineated by ancient wisdom traditions like Ayurveda and are the basic building blocks of matter: ether, air, fire, water, and earth.

Each element has distinct characteristics which directly relate to aspects within our bodies and the world around us. Because there is no separation of humans and nature, our health is directly correlated to our ability to tune in to the world around us and work in rhythm with the elements and seasons as much as we can. What happens externally affects us internally.  Understanding and working with each element can help us to achieve greater balance and therefor greater health.

The air element is the concept of motion. It occurs when Ether is given movement and direction through vibrational energy. It represents all the forces in nature that have the ability to move things like gravity, wind, propulsion, the tides, etc. Air has characteristics of lightness, dryness, subtlety, coldness, roughness, and dispersiveness. Like any element, it can bring us more in balance or more out of balance depending on our personal state by causing us to become more dry and more cold or increasing movement. This is why understanding the elements and ways to work with them is so valuable to health!

Kelso Dunes by John Fowler

In Ayurveda, Doshas are the three energies that define every person’s makeup and are associated with particular elements. The Vata Dosha corresponds to air and cold. A person that has a lot of Vata energy will tend toward having dry skin and hair, being cold, typically have a light and wiry frame, and perhaps find it difficult to sit still. Vata’s beneficial qualities include creativity, exuberance, mental acuity, transformation, change, positivity, and flexibility. When Vata is in excess it can bring about anxiety and restlessness, an overactive mind, irregularity in moods and bodily functions, extreme cold and dryness, achy dry joints, digestive problems, etc.

Every Dosha can benefit from knowing how the elements affect us and how to help balance their energy. The Vata Dosha will be especially thrown off balance by wind, so those with a strong Vata Dosha will want to pay even closer attention to working with and managing the wind/air element in their life.

The following tips will help you to maintain balance in your body and emotions during windy weather.

  • Wear something over your ears when you go outside, like a hat, hood, scarf, earmuffs, or ear warmers. It can also be helpful to wrap a scarf around your neck, mouth, and nose if the weather is cold.
  • Be prepared with clothes that block the wind. A windbreaker jacket is great,or a rain jacket can be helpful even if it’s not raining because of its wind blocking properties.
  • Earth and Water elements counteract the effects of wind. Taking a salt bath or use a salt scrub in the shower to help you to ground your energy and warm up.
By Joshua Oluwagbemiga
  • Practice slow and gentle stretching exercises that get you on the ground, like Yoga.
  • Find stability through meditation and stillness. Taking long, deep, gentle breathes through your nose can be very grounding.
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of room temperature or warm water, herbal teas, and other warm drinks. Avoid drinks with caffeine, however, since caffeine increases the wind/air element.
Photo by Tanushree Rao on Unsplash
  • Enjoy a face steam. Check out this blog post for more information on how to do steams.
  • Eat warm and moist foods, like soups, stews, curries, casseroles etc. These will be especially helpful when paired with grounding foods like pasture-raised meats and root vegetables.
  • Imbibe in warming spices that increase your digestive fire, like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, turmeric, ginger, etc.
  • Enjoy a heating pad, one of the microwavable heating pads filled with grains, or a warm water bottle on your skin, especially in any areas you are cold.
  • Offer yourself self-massage. Adding in body oils, like sesame oil or my Liquid Gold Oil can be very helpful, especially when dry, popping joints (a sign of excess air element) or achiness is involved.

Like people, herbs also have elements with which they are more closely associated. In this way, we can work with herbs that counteract the air element when we are needing to reduce the effects of wind on our body. Warming, sweet, moistening, calming, and nourishing herbs are particularly suited to balancing excess wind. Here are some herbs that can be helpful to work with:

  • Tulsi – Also known as Holy Basil, Tulsi is a gently warming, pungent herb that brings a feeling of solidity and groundedness. Tulsi helps bring about more resilience by quieting the mind, focusing thoughts, and uplifting mood. Tulsi is wonderful taken as an infusion (tea). My Tulsi Chai is an excellent way to warm up and soothe the nerves on windy days!
Tulsi by Avinash Sharma
  • Milky Oats – This beautifully restorative herb is actually the seed of the oat plant harvested during the narrow window of time when it is exuding a milky white sap. Milky Oats nourishes and feeds the nervous system. It moistens, provides minerals, and creates deeper resilience when used consistently for longer periods of time. To use, the oat seed should be harvested in the green, milky stage and preserved immediately in a tincture.
  • Burdock Root – Burdock produces and long, deep tap root, which is the part of the plant we use for both food and medicine. Burdock has a sweet, earthy taste which indicates it is well suited for Vata types. It is a very grounding herb. The root is excellent for aiding digestion because of its high inulin, a pre-biotic fiber that feeds the microbiome. Burdock is typically taken as a decoction (roots simmered in water for around 20 minutes). My Awaken Herbal Coffee Alternative is another great way to incorporate Burdock and other grounding herbs into your day.
  • Cinnamon – This beloved kitchen spice is a warming favorite for adding to all things sweet. Interestingly, it is both astringent and demulcent, which means it can help to coat and soothe irritated membranes at the same time as toning those membranes to better keep moisture in the body. You can add ground cinnamon to foods like oatmeal, soups and stews, or warm beverages.
Cinnamon by Rens D on Unsplash
  • Ginger – another beloved kitchen spice, ginger has an affinity for warming the digestive system in a way that can help improve motility and reduce gas and bloating. As a root, it tends to offer grounding properties like burdock and other roots. As an added bonus, it is rich in antioxidants, can help calm inflammation, and has anti-viral properties.
  • Catnip – You may not have expected to see this herb here, but Catnip is an excellent herb for quelling excess air that comes in the form of nervous energy or nervous stomach. Catnip is both warming and cooling at the same time. In the digestive system, it can cool irritation, stimulate better digestion, and relieve gas pains. It has nervine and sedative properties which help to ease restlessness and calm the mind. It is wonderful in tea blends or tinctures. You can find Catnip in this beautiful Garden Nymph Tea blend.

I hope these tips help you to stay more balanced, especially when that wind tries to throw you off course! Want to share how these tips helped you, or anything else you would add here? Share in the comments.

Stay joyfully rooted,
Kimberly

FALL IN LOVE WITH ELECAMPANE – FREE DOWNLOAD

FALL IN LOVE WITH ELECAMPANE – FREE DOWNLOAD

 I am my own healer. I have a radiant voice within that guides me. I can make decisions for myself. I can rely on others as needed, but at my discretion. It is my body, my health, my balance, and my responsibility to make right choices for myself. Right choices include working with competent health-care professionals when necessary, allowing friends and family to help as needed, and, above all, being true to my beliefs, with the wisdom and willingness to change as part of the path of healing.” ~Rosemary Gladstar

Are you ready to amplify your skills as a home healer and enhance your health by aligning to herbal allies and seasonal rhythms? I know so many people are wanting more empowerment over their health and feeling the urge to tune in closer to the plant world and seasonal living. This is exactly why I created my seasonal self-care and wellness empowerment subscription – Plant Magic! Each season (4 times per year) you receive herbal products that I create in large part from the Joyful Roots Ranch herb garden straight to your mailbox. You also receive a beautifully curated mini magazine which includes a depth of information all about the featured herb, seasonal living tips, ritual ideas, recipes, myth and lore, and other magical content (Download an example below). What’s more, you get to be a part of our private Facebook community, which is a huge value in and of itself.

As a peek into the world of Plant Magic, I’d like to offer you a free sample of one of our past Zines which highlighted a beautiful herbal ally, Elecampane. Elecampane is such an amazing, aromatic herb that is mainly used as a warming and strengthening herb for the lungs and digestive system. This Zine contains a plethora of information, but keep in mind that the upcoming Plant Magic zines will include slightly more content and breadth because they will be released once a season instead of every month. You will also receive full value (most likely exceeding the value) in products for each seasonal share. Elecampane is the perfect herb to be sharing right now, as we approach spring and Imbolc, which I also discuss in this zine! Enjoy!

Click the image to download the zine

Plants are so much more than a pretty thing to look at, although they do make our world so much more beautiful! Since humans have been around, we have evolved with plants. Our bodily chemistry was literally made to harmonize with the plant world around us. Because of our deep-seeded (like that pun?) connection with them, plants are powerful allies in our quest to maintain and amplify our health and wellness. Are you looking forward to learning more about the plants which grow around us and we can tend to ourselves? Then I hope to have you join me in making some Plant Magic.

Elecampane Plant Magic
Elecampane Plant Magic Box From The Past
BUILDING RESILIENCE IN VIRAL TIMES

BUILDING RESILIENCE IN VIRAL TIMES

Well, friends, how are we all doing? I must be honest, there have been some really beautiful things that have come from this social distancing like more time outside and around immediate family and the recognition that this change has the power to put us onto a better path. However, today I felt a large wave of grief come over me and I allowed myself time to cry. I have been feeling some grief for a changed way of life, for those who have suffered the loss of loved ones, for those who may be in quarantine alone, for the collective fear around this virus, and some personal grief and fear as well. Since this Coronavirus started to escalate, I’ve been pretty quiet in the online realm. I have been thinking quite a lot, but haven’t come to the point of synthesizing my thoughts onto paper or felt the desire to share publicly. However, I have had a large desire to help my community, which includes you if you are reading this. Writing and sharing what I know is one way I can do that right now.

How about you? Have you been feeling a range of emotions like me, and have you allowed yourself to feel those emotions when they arise? Have you cried lately? For much of my life, I looked at crying as weakness and the interesting thing about that is the tears would often come out full-force in the least opportune times (like in the middle of class) because they were so pent up. It also caused a lot of anxiety in my body. We don’t have to stockpile emotions (or toilet paper for that matter). One excellent way to build resilience in your being is to allow yourself to feel the range of emotions without judgment. Let them surface and find non-harmful ways to release them. Crying is one way to do that. Your tears are literally cleansing your body of stuck emotions, like grief. In these times we are also learning how interconnected we really are. As you recognize and release your own grief, sadness, anger, or whatever you are feeling, you are also doing your part to release that for the collective. We can be a part of a collective healing right now.

I’m writing today mainly to share some herbal tips for building resilience in your body, but as we know wellness is more than just throwing herbs at a situation. This is why I wanted to bring up the power of release in addition to herbal suggestions for supporting your immune system and whole body during these “viral” times. I believe that one of our best defenses right now is to help our bodies be more resilient through mind and body to be more prepared if we encounter a virus. I also want to make these solutions as accessible as possible. I’m going to share a few things that I’m doing at home and hope they are helpful to you!

Sinus Steams

Sinus steams are accessible to nearly everyone and you can usually find plants for this right outside your back door or at a local park. Sinus steams are extremely helpful at getting the volatile oils, or essential oils, of plants into your sinuses and respiratory tract. Volatile oils are some of the healing components of plants and are called “volatile” because they are easily released with heat. Since many viruses live in our nasal cavities and throat, the antimicrobial properties of essential oils can be quite an effective preventative. Herbal steams can help keep nasal passageways moisturized, loosen up mucus, and relieve stuffiness.

I suggest using plant material that is most abundant in your area or most easily accessible at your local grocery stores. Typically I will forage in my high-desert backyard for plants like rosemary, thyme, various sages, and creosote bush. If you live in temperate climates, you may likely have access to evergreen trees even in the winter. Cypress, fir, and pines are all wonderful natural antiseptics and expectorants, meaning they kill microbes and help to loosen and thin mucus. Maybe you are also lucky to have Eucalyptus trees growing in your area. You can use the leaves from these too. As with any time you forage, please make sure you are 100% certain you have correctly identified the plant and that it has not been sprayed with chemicals.

You can also typically find aromatic herbs like thyme, rosemary, and basil fresh in the produce department at the grocery store. Orange, lemon, and grapefruit peels are also highly antimicrobial and will help to ease congestion. If those don’t suit your fancy or aren’t available, check the spice aisle. Cinnamon, cloves, sweet marjoram, peppermint, and dried rosemary and thyme are typically available there.

Thanks for being my model, dad. 🙂

To make a decongesting sinus steam, place your fresh or dried herbs in a heatproof bowl, on your lap or on a table. Have a bath towel handy to put over your head. Carefully pour boiling water over the herbs and then (with caution to prevent burns) slowly place your face over the steam and put the towel over your head like a tent. Breathe in the steam until it is no longer hot or you feel you have had enough.

Herbal Broths

Another favorite immune system supporting remedy in our home is herbal broth. You can use beef or chicken bones, mushrooms, or just use vegetables and herbs to make a stock. Either way, this is a great way to load up on herbs and warm your body too. When experiencing any sort of respiratory infection, it’s best to avoid cold foods and stick with warm, cooked foods and warm drinks.

You can add dried herbs or fresh foraged herbs to your stock or a big pot of water and simmer on low for 6 – 48 hours, depending on what’s in it. For just herbs and veggies, 6 hours is fine. If it includes chicken bones you want to simmer 24 hours and if it includes beef bones you want to simmer 48 hours.

Some wonderful herbs (fungi) to add to about a gallon of water/broth are:

  • Astragulus root (a handful or so)
  • Nettles (a handful or so)
  • Thyme (4 fresh spring or 1 Tablespoon dried)
  • Garden Sage (2 fresh sprigs or 2 tablespoons dried)
  • Rosemary (2 fresh sprigs or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • Parsley (4-6 fresh sprigs or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • Lovage (1-2 fresh sprigs or 1 tsp dried)
  • Bee Balm (Monarda) (1-2 fresh sprigs or 1-2 tsp dried)
  • Shitake, Maitake, and Reishi Mushrooms
  • 1 Bay Laurel leaf
  • Crushed garlic
  • Green onions
  • Chopped onions
  • Chives
  • Ginger
  • Black pepper

Teas

Photo by Ellieelien

In our house, we are pretty much drinking tea all day long right now. I wanted to share a couple of my favorite blends.

As a preventative to illness, my favorite tea has been my Winter Wellness Tea and I’d love to share the recipe with you. This tea is wonderful for drinking daily, prior to showing any signs of illness. If you develop a cough or fever, there are a couple of other blends that can be supportive in those times: a fever blend and a lung support blend.

You can make as much or as little as you like, but I’ll provide you with the ratios. Blend the herbs in a jar so that you can make tea when you like. Once you have your tea blended, use 1-2 tablespoons loose tea for every 2 cups of boiling water. Allow to steep for 20 minutes, then strain.

Measurements are by volume of dried herbs.

WINTER WELLNESS TEA

  • 4 parts Elderberries
  • 2 parts Rose Hips
  • 2 parts Orange Peels
  • 2 parts Chamomile
  • 1 part Rosemary
  • 1 part Ginger

I also have my Winter Wellness Tea available in the shop if you don’t want to make it on your own.

If you develop a fever, the vitalist perspective supports the body’s natural process rather than suppressing the fever. So if chills are present, we want to help the body be productive, open the pores of the skin, and enhance sweating. Herbs that help this process are called Diaphoretic herbs. Here is my recipe for Fever Tea.

For the following teas, use the same brewing instructions as the Winter Wellness Tea above.

FEVER TEA

  • 4 parts yarrow
  • 2 part catnip
  • 2 part peppermint
  • 1 part ginger

If you feel congestion or mucus developing, the following tea will help to support your lungs and respiratory tract.

LUNG SUPPORT TEA

  • 4 parts Thyme
  • 2 parts Mullein
  • 1/4 Part Licorice Root* (optional)
  • 1/4 Part Lovage Root (optional)

    *Licorice root has the potential to raise blood pressure, so you may want to leave it out if you have high blood pressure.

If you don’t have all the herbs I’ve mentioned in the blends, use what you have. I have been enjoying plain old thyme as a single herb tea and I’m finding it very supportive of my lungs. If you can find organic oranges and ginger at your store, the orange peels and ginger make a wonderful tea as well.

Infused Vinegar

Photo by Alekon pictures on Unsplash

Herb-infused vinegars can be very useful as remedies and can also be used in marinades, dressings, and even in cocktails. Apple cider vinegar is a useful remedy in its own right. One well-known remedy that goes well with vinegar is the Four Thieves combination of herbs, written about by British physician John Ayrton Paris in the 1825 edition of Pharmacologia. The legend says that there were four thieves that were robbing the dead bodies during the Plague of Marseilles and when asked how they did not become ill, they described the aromatic vinegar that had spared them.

Many different herbs have been suggested to have been used in the four thieves recipes, but some of the most commonly reported are sage, lavender, rosemary, and thyme. I would also recommend adding in crushed black peppercorns to enhance the bioavailability of the herbs into our bodies.

To make, place 1 tablespoon of each of the dried sage, lavender, rosemary, and thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper in a pint jar. Cover the herbs with room temperature or slightly warmed apple cider vinegar and fill the jar to the top. Cap with a tight-fitting plastic lid. Label and date. Store in a cool, dark place for 4 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain the vinegar through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth and store the liquid in a glass jar with a plastic lid. Remember to label and date this too!

This is just a sampling of what you can do to support your health, but I hope it brings you some new ideas and more resilience your way. I’m wishing everyone health and empowerment and a positive outlook during these strange times. Sending you all my love!

HERBAL SIDEKICKS FOR WINTER HEALTH

HERBAL SIDEKICKS FOR WINTER HEALTH

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but these herbs are so delightful! Winter is perhaps one of the most important times of the year to usher in more of your herbal sidekicks because the dry, cold air of this blustery month makes our respiratory system more susceptible to pathogens. What’s more, influenza prefers the cool, dry air and becomes more resilient in the winter. You’ll want to be more resilient too!

Let’s chat about some ways to fortify our immune systems and support our bodies in this season of cold.

Rest

Photo by Christian Newman

This is a time to burrow in, cozy up, and sip on herbal tea all day long. Rest is not an herb, but I would be remiss not to mention this very important medicine! As the Earth draws her energy inward, the creatures burrow down, and the leaves decay into the Earth, we should take notice. These patterns are indications of what we should also be doing in our own lives. The Holiday Bustle may be so temping, but the most important thing we can do help our mind body and spirit this season is to take cues from Mother Nature and rest. Check out my post here to see what happened to me when I didn’t heed my own advice.

Elderberry

How could I not put this herb first on my list? Elder is sometimes called “The Medicine Chest of the Country People” and for good reason. This tree that grows all over the world, has been studied quite a bit for its anti-viral properties. What’s more, the deep rich purple color is a signature of its high anthocyanin content which makes it a potent antioxidant.

The Scottish Ogham indicates Elder as the representational tree from November 25th through December 22nd which is perfectly fitting! Its affinity for opening our body’s channels of elimination and supporting the respiratory tract make it a perfect ally for this time of year.

Try your hand at making some Elderberry Syrup or an Elderberry Oxymel.

Rosemary

Photo by Paul Hanoaka

Rosemary is not just for remembrance, even though we can probably use a boost of mental clarity any time of year. One of the reasons I love Rosemary so much in the winter is that it helps to improve circulation, especially to the periphery. Bye Bye freezing hands and feet (a big problem for me in the winter)! What’s more, it’s green and silver leaves have such a fantastic aroma completely reminiscent of pine and all things wintery. Because of its carminative actions, it also helps us to better digest our food, a bonus when cold weather slows our digestion just in time for the rich food of the holidays!

There is unclear evidence, yet some sources say not to take rosemary while pregnant. Rosemary should not be taken at the same time as iron supplements.

Check out the Rosemary Tisane recipe in this post for an easy way to use Rosemary.

Cinnamon

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

The scent of cinnamon just brings about Holiday cheer, doesn’t it!? From apple pies to mulled cider, cinnamon is a staple cooking spice for winter, but it is also a wonderful herb for many people during the cold months. That’s because Cinnamon is a warming tonic.

A cup of cinnamon tea, made by steeping a cinnamon stick in a cup of water for ten minutes, can warm the body, help with digestion, soothe sore joints, and lift the mood.

Cinnamon works so well in both savory and sweet dishes. Check out this delectable Corn and Cinnamon Chowder!

Rose Hips

Rose hips are often overlooked after the showy splendor of the rose flower, but make no mistake, the fruit of the rose packs a powerful superfood punch! Rose hips are very high in Vitamin C and are rich in antioxidants. What’s more, the flavonoids in rose hips help to synergize the effect of Vitamin C in our bodies. These nutrients can help boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular help.

Rose hip tea has mucilaginous properties that coat and sooth mucus membranes, making this a great tea for sore throats. The high pectin content of rose hips can also help to eliminate unwanted substances (like environmental toxins) from your body by binding to them as they move through your system.

Sage

Garden Sage, Salvia Officinalis

Salvia officinalis is native to the Mediterranean and has been celebrated for a great deal of time. The word Salvia derives from the Latin salvere “to feel well and healthy, health, heal”, which is quite a testament to the abilities of this herb! What’s more, the hallmark “officinalis” means that this herb was the official herb used in the storerooms of a monastery, giving it claim to its use as a beloved remedy.

Because of its astringent actions, Sage excels at building tissue, moistening, and rebuilding dry skin and connective tissue, relieving arthritis and joint pain associated with cold, damp weather. It is also helpful for soothing sore and inflamed throats and tonsillitis.  It helps to thin and expectorate phlegm from the lungs and dry up postnasal drip and runny sinuses, making this a wonderful winter ally!

Try this recipe for Sage + Thyme Infused Honey to stock your herbal cabinet!

SAGE + THYME INFUSED HONEY

Ingredients

  • Fresh or dry sage leaves
  • Fresh or dry thyme
  • Local raw honey

Equipment

  • Sanitized glass jar with lid
  • Strainer
  • Funnel (optional but helpful)
  • Chopstick or knife

Instructions

If using fresh herbs:
Chop the herbs and fill a glass jar 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full with your herbs.

If using dried herbs:
Fill a glass jar 1/3 to 1/2 full with your dried herbs.

Next steps for fresh or dried herbs:

  1. Fill the remainder of the jar full with your honey. Use a chopstick or knife to stir and remove any air bubbles. 
  2. Allow this to infuse for about a month, turning the jar every couple of days to make sure all of the herbs are covered. If using fresh herbs, you may need to remove the cap occasionally to release any air that may have expanded due to small amounts of fermentation. 
  3. After a month, you can strain the herbs. I recommend first soaking your jar in a warm water bath to make the honey a bit more runny. It’s easier to strain that way. Make sure not to heat the water too much or you will destroy the beneficial enzymes in the honey. Use a fine mesh strainer to remove the herbs from your honey and save the honey in a new clean jar. Cap and label. Enjoy for future use! This honey is especially wonderful for sore and scratchy throats.

Ginger

Ah, the scent of ginger just fills my mind with thoughts of the holidays! There’s good reason why ginger is an ingredient in so many of our beloved holiday foods, like gingerbread cookies! Ginger supports a healthy inflammatory response and has many antimicrobial properties. Plus, the warming action of ginger is great for cold weather.

Drink a cup of ginger tea every day; add ginger to your favorite dishes; or try making a creamy beverage with ginger, like this ginger latte recipe.

Chamomile

Mostly known for it’s soothing action on the nerves, Chamomile is much more robust and multifaceted than is often recognized! Chamomile is a living paradox, both gentle and powerful at the same time. Our digestion can get sluggish in cold winter, so because chamomile stimulates digestive secretions to better utilize food and normalize our digestive function it’s a great winter ally!

What’s more, sleep is so important during this season of rest. Taken before bed, chamomile can help you to get more shut-eye this winter. For a delicious winter cocktail that may be a treat for winding down or a sore throat soother, check out this Chamomile Hot Toddy.

Thanks for being here and may 2020 bring you many magical blessings!

WHAT IS TRULY NATURAL SKINCARE?

WHAT IS TRULY NATURAL SKINCARE?

The term “natural” has been flying around the skincare and wellness community with nearly reckless abandon, but what it natural anyway? In the United States the term can really be used by just about anyone as part of their labeling and marketing. There aren’t a lot of clear rules or regulation around this term, so what constitutes natural and what is natural to YOU?

I’ll tell you what is natural to me and what I’m committed to creating for you at Joyful Roots, but first let’s chat about why it is so important to choose wisely what you put on your skin.

Me at our gorgeous San Pedro River

It’s indisputable that the rate of chronic illness has risen drastically in the last 50 years, to the point where it is no longer just impacting adults and elderly, but our youth as well. Many of us are concerned about what we eat, but we should be just as concerned with what we put on our skin. Why? Our skin is porous and our largest organism. A large majority of what we put on our skin eventually enters our body and bloodstream, bypassing our digestive system (which is a natural filter) altogether and often ends up being stored in our organs and fatty tissue. With the incredible amount of synthetic chemicals and fragrances in the bath and beauty product industry these days, it’s no wonder that it’s wreaking havoc on our health!

What’s more, so many of our body products are literally designed to stop our body from performing its natural processes! Think deodorant, sunscreen, mouthwash, and tampons…plug it up and block it off. Did you know that in doing this we are also plugging up our elimination pathways, the very mechanisms our bodies have created to eliminate toxins and waste?

With the clear lack of chemical regulation and drastic oversight within the skincare industry, it’s up to each of us to decide what we want to put on our bodies and read labels. We need to educate ourselves and make a conscious decision to use products that benefit our health. Can skincare be helpful instead of harmful? Oh yes!! Read on.

To me, the term “natural” means that ingredients are derived directly from plants or animals and have not been adulterated beyond a normal process of cold pressing oils, grinding herbs, a little heat now and then, and possibly fermenting (think apple cider vinegar), or distilling (think essential oils). The product should not contain any petroleum products or synthetic chemicals, even during the extraction process. The ingredient should not be processed beyond its recognizable form. The ingredient should be pure. Think, was it something my great-great-grandmother could have acquired or created? Were people 200 years ago able to make this ingredient with their current technology? There are possibly a few exceptions to this, like CO2 extraction methods for essential oils, but those examples are very few and far between.

Here’s the thing, if you want to have truly natural products that are shelf stable and safe, there are only a few ways to accomplish this. If you don’t have one or all of these criteria, then the product is NOT shelf stable and/or NOT SAFE meaning it could contain harmful bacteria, mold, or yeasts.

None of these natural products will last forever, but in my opinion that’s a good thing. Does anything natural last forever? Joyful Roots makes our products as fresh as possible, sometimes coming directly from our garden to your face. The products may not last for years because they aren’t intended to! You can be sure though that they also haven’t sat in a warehouse somewhere for years before they arrive in your hands, and because of that, we don’t need to formulate for long-term storage (read: lots of preservatives and stabilizers).

The first way to be preservative-free is to be waterless. Waterless products can be oil based or non-oil based. Oil based products are things like massage oil, face oils, salves and balms. They do not need preservatives because harmful bacteria will not grow without moisture. Spores may land on the surface but they cannot germinate…water is life. Non-oil based products are things like glycerin extractions, dried powdered herbs and clays, salts, etc. These products require that the mixture stay completely dry to prevent any unwanted microbes from entering. Take our Sea Goddess Mask for instance. You add your own liquid to a small amount of the powder in a separate container for each use, to keep the rest of it dry and safe.

Sea Goddess Nutritive Face Mask Kelp and Chlorella

Another option is pH controlled formulas – think Apple Cider Vinegar. High levels of salt and sugar can also help to preserve a product, as can alcohol. This is what we use to prevent microbes from brewing in Mystic Mist, along with a closed spray container that helps to prevent contamination.

Most of Joyful Roots products are waterless and there are many good reasons for this. The first is obvious based on this conversation – we haven’t found a preservative we are comfortable using in our products. Bacteria need water to live, and we don’t want to sell you a product that contains harmful bacteria or harmful chemicals – simple as that.

Water is a cheap ingredient. Sure, it may be necessary for certain products, like sprays and mists, but beyond that it’s really not necessary. Waterless skincare means you are getting more concentrated products and more of the active ingredients that your skin and body love!! It’s definitely more bang for your buck.

Of course, we love playing around with botanicals and formulas to create products that you will adore. There are no hard-fast rules here other than that we are committed to providing you with the purest, most natural, most nourishing products we can, while always being transparent about what is in them and how they are created. That is the Joyful Roots commitment to you!

SEASONAL SELF CARE FOR FALL

SEASONAL SELF CARE FOR FALL

Autumn is nearly upon us and the cooler air brings such a refreshing feel to life. Some of us may be missing summer already and some of us may be relishing in the cooler days (like us Arizonans). It is the Harvest Season, ripe with the fruits of our labor and a time in which bright greens liven with the richness of reds and yellows.

Soon, nature begins to signal to us that it is a time to let that which no longer serves us to “fall away.” Trees begin to loose their leaves, exposing bare branches. Annuals begin to scatter their seeds and prepare to wither back into the Earth. Fall is a time for coming back to our roots and shedding away that which no longer serves us. We can begin to use the fall energy to move inward and ground into our being.

With the magic of this season in mind, I’ve put together some ideas for harnessing that fall energy in our lives.

Offer a gift of harvest to the earth

Mother Earth gives us so many blessings and we’ve just arrived at the other end of summer, hopefully with an abundance of gifts from our garden. If not your own garden, you certainly have seen abundance from farmer’s markets, grocery stores, or maybe from a friend’s garden, yes? It’s important to show our gratitude for all these gifts and one way we can do that is to make an offering back to the Earth. You can create an alter and make it as fancy or simple as you like, or you can simply set out a bowl of Milk, honey, berries, or other fruits and veggies. Perhaps you may want to light a candle and offer some words of gratitude as well.

Photo by Camila Cordeiro on Unsplash

Soak Up The Last Summer Sun

Soon the sun will sink lower into the horizon and the cold will be upon us. While you can, this is a wonderful time to catch some extra golden rays. Of course, it’s important to practice sun safety here, but sitting in the sun with as much skin exposed as you can and no sunscreen for a short period of time can give us some much needed Vitamin D. Here is a wonderful compilation of information for more on Sun Safety.

Photo by Alexander Shustov

Walk Barefoot On The Earth

Just as the air will be getting colder, so will the Earth. Ground and root your spirit by taking off your shoes and socks and getting some “Earthing” energy by walking with your bare feet on the ground, or even laying on the ground for a while. Gaia is great at helping us to feel more rooted and stable. It’s not just woo woo, but scientifically shown that being in contact with the Earth positively affects our own electromagnetic state and reduces inflammation.

Photo by Jordan Whitt

Release Your Stuck Energy To Gaia

As I said earlier, Autumn is the season of letting go. While you are Earthing, you can also energetically send the patterns, beliefs, and thoughts down through your body and into the Earth. Visualize these energies that are no longer serving you as a ball of light and give it to Gaia. Picture it traveling out of your body and down into the core of the Earth so that it can be transmuted. Or alternatively, you can whisper that which you wish to get rid of onto a feather or other biodegradable item and bury in the Earth to be released and transformed.

Create a Root Vegetable Stew

As Autumn is the time to get rooted, it’s also the perfect time to eat the roots of vegetables we have harvested (or purchased from the store too). I’m notoriously bad at following recipes, so when I make stew I usually just take what I have on hand and add it to a big pot of broth, add salt and spices that have a complimentary flavor profile, and let it simmer until cooked.

Some root vegetables for fall stews are: sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, fennel, celeriac, turmeric, and rutabaga.

Photo by Steve Tsang

Bring On The Elderberries

Elderberry Syrup Immune Boosting Recipes and Video

Now is a wonderful time to bring elderberries into your life, for added immune support during the cooler months. Rich in antioxidants and biofalvinoids, Elder is adored the world-over.  In our home, elderberry syrup and elderberry oxymels are a staple! We have experienced better resilience when temperatures plummet and sniffles abound!

Plant Garlic

Fall is typically when you plant garlic, depending on where you live. So if you have a space or even a pot, dig around in some soil and plant yourself some garlic for next year. The simple act of putting our hands in the soil can have a huge effect on our well-being.

Photo by Anton Darius

Delight In Earth Tones

Why not surround yourself in colors of fall? Bring some beautiful oranges, reds, yellows, and browns inside your home. Wear them on your body. Maybe create a craft or art with Earth tones and place it somewhere visible in your home. You could even create an indoor Earth tone alter or table centerpiece.

Celebrate The Harvest Moon

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Harvest Moon is on Friday, September 13th. This is a powerful day because it signifies the celebration of the harvest, the darkening of the days, and at the same time 13 is the number of the Goddess. and divine feminine Feminine energy is that of the Earth, the soil, the womb, the dark, the night, the cold, the body, the moon. Many ancient mystery schools recognized 13 as the number of death and rebirth and the knowledge of life. So we have the energy of the feminine and the power of the harvest moon converging for powerful release and transformation!

Take A Moon Bath

Draw yourself a hot bath and add pink salt, sea salt, and/or epsom salts to help pull toxins from your body and wash away that which no longer serves you. You can add dried flowers or essential oils to the bath for the added pleasure. If you add essential oils, you can first mix them into your salt, with a little carrier oil, and then add to the bathtub. This makes sure the oils are evenly distributed and diluted so that they do not harm your skin. Soak for a while and imagine yourself immersed in the renewing glow of moonlight.

Photo by Hanna Postova

I hope this has given you some ideas to start with for your own self-care for ushering in fall. Do you have other ideas to suggest? I would love to hear them in the comments!

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!!