Seniors save 10% every Tuesday ~ Receive a five cent credit for each bottle, jar or bag that you bring in to reuse ~ Join our Bulk Herb Club and save 10% on all bulk purchases, all the time!
October Arts Alive Party & Sales for Survivors Fundraiser - You're Invited!!
JOIN US SATURDAY OCTOBER 1ST FROM 6 TO 9 FOR ART,
JAZZ AND DELICIOUS TREATS!
We're hosting the imaginative art of local favorites
Bob & Donna Sellers
, with the sultry vocals and acoustic jazz guitar of
Blue Lotus Jazz
. We'll be serving organic Mulled Apple Cider made with our
Fireside Mulling Spices
and spiked with a kiss of brandy, organic fruit and a cheese spread made with our classic beloved
Simon & Garfunkle artisan spice blend
, and of course delicious herbal tea.
PLUS, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
We're donating 10% of our sales all day today to the
Breast & GYN Health Project
for their annual Sales for Survivors fund raising initiative.
This support ensures that women who are facing a cancer concern or diagnosis receive the support and education they need. Thanks for shopping with us today to help women in our community and the important efforts
of the Project!
About our Artists:
"Your Life Is A Journey," Story Art By Bob and Donna Sellers
"The Other Table," is one of their latest original Mixed Media/ Acylic paintings. The story unfolds In Opera Alley, Old Town, reflecting a moment in time but does not suggest how the story will end. The question left unanswered is: "What will happen next?" The completion of the story is left up to each viewer who is encouraged to use imagination to create a sense of closure to the drama suggested by the art.
Throughout their 15 years as artists in Eureka, the Sellers have delighted viewers with their use of strong color, local backgrounds and archetypal (familiar) stories that portray the various themes that most encounter along one's journey through life. Humor, introspection and interesting metaphoric stories add interest.
Old Town Trick or Treat, Saturday October 29th
This afternoon Old Town will be inundated with thousands of costumed children as they cavort from shop to shop in search of sweet treats from 2 to 4pm. We'll be passing out goodies to all the children, and anyone in a costume!
Halloween has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain (or "Summer's End" and the beginning of the Celtic New Year) and the Christian holy days of All Saints' Day (currently November 1st, followed by All Souls' Day on November 2nd).
Be creative, have fun, and enjoy the thinning of the veil!
October Learning Opportunities
Drop us a note if there's a particular subject you'd like to see, or if you'd like to teach a class at Humboldt Herbals. Please pre-register for classes by calling us at 442-3541.
Food Heals with Marcia Stroud, MA, Biochemist, Herbalist & Nutritionist
Wednesday, October 12th from 6:30 - 8:00pm ($25)
Thinking about changing the way you eat?
Good health depends on good nutrition - learn how you can eat your way to better health!
In this class, we'll discuss five key principles of healthy nutrition.
* How to determine your nutritional type
* Which saturated fats are healthy
* How the glycemic index relates to overall well-being
* How enzymes, pH, and raw foods relate to overall health
* When raw veggies may not be the best choice and which organic foods are not the healthiest
And, because what you don't put into your system is just as important as what you do, we'll examine ways to reduce your intake of toxins. This course also includes a look at some natural allies to support specific areas such as energy and sleep. And, finally, we'll discuss external body and skin health and their relationship to overall well-being.
Learn About Herbal Medicine with the Humboldt Herbals Community Herbalists!
Humboldt Herbals Herbalista Fall Class Series
Saturdays from 10 - 12:30pm
219 D Street in Old Town Eureka
(next door to Humboldt Herbals)
$45 for each individual class and $20 for individual herb walks (preregistration at least 48 hours before individual classes is required ~ drop in's are welcome for herb walks)
Call now to reserve your place (707) 442-3541
October 1st: Vata, Pitta, Kapha: An Ayurvedic Journey with Marea Zendran (10am to 12:30pm)
The term Ayurveda comes from the roots Ayus, which translates as life, and Veda which translates as knowledge. Ayurveda is the knowledge of life. Join Marea for a lively and engaging class where each student will learn their own unique constitution, the inherent, ideal balance of all three doshas, and what this means in relation to health and ideal state of well-being. You will explore dosha specific food plans and daily practices that will create balance and nourish your whole being. With Marea's guidance, you will also develop your own constitution specific herbal formulas and learn specific herbs to use to nourish the different tissues of the body, called dhatus. You will leave her class with a whole new perspective on the beauty within.
Marea is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist, a graduate of the California College of Ayurvedic Medicine. She has been a lifelong student and teacher of herbal medicine and nutrition. She offers private consultations upon request.
October 8th: Fun With Ferments with Amanda Moore (10am to 12:30pm)
Could sour kraut be the answer?! Come and join us as we discuss digestive health and how it affects not only our physical body, but our emotional body as well. We will ask the big questions ~ How do we nourish ourselves? and even more importantly, How do we digest our life experiences? Together we will make our own customized krauts using a variety of local, seasonal vegetables and herbs! This is a low tech class, so bring a sharp knife, a cutting board and lots of muscle! Different examples of lacto fermented foods will be available to nibble on during class.
Amanda has studied herbal medicine for 17 years, and is continually humbled by plants. As a bodyworker specializing in Maya Abdominal Therapy, it makes sense that she's developed and expanded her love and expertise with lacto-fermented foods. Amanda is passionate about healing the whole body through a variety of methods, and has received training in an array of healing modalities.
October 15th: Plant Medicine Making ~ Internal Preparations with Alyssa Boyd (10am to 12:30pm)
Harness and implement the bounty of the plant world around you when you learn to craft your own herbal medicine. From teas to tinctures to vinegars, honeys to syrups, oxymels to electuaries, you will learn which approach best suits different needs. We will utilize locally grown plants to explore the most effective and superior ways of creating plant medicine as we forage a path in understanding how to determine which plants pair best with various medicine making techniques. We'll also discuss how to determine dosage and appropriate use. Come join in blending the scientific constituents with that of whole plant spirit to craft your own unique medicine for health and harmony.
Alyssa is a Pacific Northwest native with a lifelong love for the region's marvelous plant life. As a graduate of Dandelion Herbal Center and a student of local botany, she enjoys crafting healing formulas with both the native flora and cultivated medicinals. Her free time is spent continuing her herbal education from her favorite teacher--- Nature.
October 22nd: Plant Medicine Making ~ External Preparations with Jessica Shepherd (10am to 12:30pm)
Learn how to make your own infused herbal oils, salve and lip balm! You'll also learn how to make luscious lotions, crèmes and body balms. We'll discuss how to use herbs to make fomentations and poultices, and explore the healing power of an herbal bath. Properties of carrier oils and the best herbs to use topically along with their specific actions will be covered. You'll get to sample all these preparations and make your own products in class! Lots of great recipe ideas will be included in your handout - just in time for the gifting season.
Jessica has been studying the healing arts and working with plant medicine since 1999. A graduate of Dandelion Herbal Center and an Aromatherapist internationally certified through the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy, Jessica is a passionate Botanical Perfumer and artisan crafter of herbal products for body and soul.
Oct. 29th: Sensory Plant Communication with Julie Caldwell (10am to 12:30pm)
Learn how to expand your sensory awareness so you can "hear" what the plants have to say! We'll explore a variety of techniques that will help enhance your experiences with the natural world, hone your innate intuitive skills and assist you in deeply connecting with the life forces that surround you.
Julie is the proprietress of Humboldt Herbals, a business she has happily cultivated for over 18 years. She loves to teach about the beautiful and elegant relationship between People and Plants.
Sunday October 30th: Plant Walk at Elk Head Trail in Trinidad with Julie Caldwell
(1:30 to 3:30pm, rain or shine)
Join Julie for a casual stroll along Elk Head Trail to meet the vast array of medicinal plants that grow along this gorgeous path. We'll discuss their medicinal properties and explore how each plant contributes to the entire trail eco-system.
Coming in November. . .
November 5th: Finding Balance: Herbal Allies for Stress and Mental Wellbeing with Kate Maxey (10am to 12:30pm)
In today's world of go-go-go and chronic stressors we all need a little support to maintain a sense of calm. In this class we will discuss the plants that help us to relax the nervous system and tonify the stress response as well as lifestyle changes that support a more balanced way of being. We will also talk about ways in which stress affects not only our mental health but our physical health as well, with special emphasis on the immune system and endocrine system.
Kate has been studying and utilizing herbal medicine for 15 years. She studied with the Northwest School of Botanical Studies and has worked at Humboldt Herbals for nearly a decade. She has recently graduated from Humboldt State University with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and sees the importance of bridging the fields of Herbal Medicine and Mental Health together.
November 12th: Aromatherapy: The Essentials with Jessica Shepherd (10am to 12:30pm)
your health with aromatherapy and revive your soul with scent! In this class we will discuss brief history, distillation methods, proper dilution & safety guidelines, blending techniques, and some of the various ways essential oils can be utilized to support mind/body health. We'll also discuss the healing properties of select essential oils, and you'll create your very own custom aroma blend in class to take home!
Jessica has been studying the healing arts and working with plant medicine since 1999. A graduate of Dandelion Herbal Center and an Aromatherapist internationally certified through the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy, Jessica is a passionate Botanical Perfumer and artisan crafter of herbal products for body and soul.
November 19th: Cooking with Medicinal Herbs with Candice Brunlinger (10am to 12:30pm)
This class will be all about eating your herbs. We will discuss various ways of incorporating herbs into your cooking and the therapeutic uses of common spices.
Tips will be shared on how to conveniently use herbal broths, syrups, vinegar, oil and honey infusions in everyday cooking and ideas on healthy h
erbal snacks such as gummies, crackers and nut butter balls. You will get the chance to try samples in class and go home with handouts and many recipes to inspire you herbally in the kitchen.
A Weekend of Ceremonial Plant Medicine & Craft with Darcey Blue
Saturday November 19th and Sunday November 20th
Saturday: Creating Ceremony & Rituals with Plant Allies 2:30 pm - 6:30 pm in the Humboldt Herbals Community Classroom (219 D Street - next door to Humboldt Herbals)
Sunday: Healing Fire Ceremony & Prayer Offering Ceremony to the Waters 12pm- 4 pm at Moonstone Beach in Trinidad
Cost: Both days $100, Single Day $60
Call Humboldt Herbals at (707) 442-3541 to reserve your place
Learn the intuitive art of dreaming ceremony and ritual using plants as allies in the process. The Plant spirits are eager to help us in our lives in both mundane and ceremonial ways. We will learn about plant helpers for ritual cleansing, healing, intention setting, medicine bundles, & prayer offerings/earth mandalas. We will also learn and share ways to connect with the plants as spiritual helpers through shamanic journey, heart based perception, soul engagement with nature & dreamwork You will have a chance to both make plant potions and practice techniques learned in class together, and will take home recipes, a materia medica of plants and their spiritual indications, and your own healing medicine bundle.
Please bring to class a 12 x 12 square of beautiful cloth, fabric, leather, for your medicine bundle, and one special stone. It is best if you ask the stones on the land where you live for one which would like to work with you, (as opposed to purchasing one, but if you feel particularly called to one to buy, it is fine, it just needs to speak to your heart & soul.)
Join together in community at the ocean for an afternoon of ceremony facilitated by Darcey Blue. We will come together as a community to build a prayer offering to the waters of the world, and a healing bundle for personal transformation to be offered to our ceremonial fire. The power of prayer is well known as an agent for change and healing, and in community that power is exponential. We come together to set intention of healing for the world waters, the mother ocean, the rivers running free, the glaciers ancient rhythm, the groundwaters wholeness, the cleansing rains. We will also gather round the ceremonial fire to release and transform ourselves as agents of change and healing for the world and our communities.
This is a medicine fire and sacred space, please come dressed for the weather first, and in your ceremonial dress to be present to spirit. Drums, rattles, flutes, & voices are encouraged!
Each person will have the chance to release a burnable non toxic item to the fire during our ceremony. You may wish to craft something that represents what you are transforming/releasing, or bring an object you own that you are ready to release/transform. (only non toxic burnable items -i.e. no plastic, batteries etc)
About Darcey Blue ~
DEVOTEE OF SACRED WILDNESS ~ SHAMANIC HERBALIST
" I want to leave the bounds of the indoors and take you out to smell wild minerals of the wet dirt, to fill your mouth with the spice of tree resin, to drum your heart into a rhythm that allows YOU to hear, feel, see, sense, experience the magic and sacredness of the natural world. I want to show you how to see with more than your eyes, see with your body, your heart, your sensual nature. I want to feed the senses and bodies of my clients with the holiness of the plant medicine- not just the extracts that help them feel better, but with the place where the earth wisdom, sacred space, and plant spirit touches the spark of life within each heart and body."
I am Darcey Blue - Herbalist, Devotee of Wildness, and Shamana Flora. The Plants are my greatest allies and teachers, the Earth my sanctuary, and Sacred Wildness my purpose.
I am a shamanic herbalist and wild crafter of plant medicines, I am a Lover to the Earth and wild earth mama. People call me a plant whisperer. I call myself a devotee of all that is sacred on this wild beautiful earth.
I am here to guide you to the healing wisdom and medicine that the plants and wild, sacred nature hold for you. The wisdom of spirit that is within each of us.
I work with those who are eager to learn from the plants a healing way as old as time itself, and who are ready to take responsibility for and transform their relationship to self, body, spirit, nature, and the Earth.
I was trained as a Clinical Herbalist & Nutritionist at the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism under Paul Bergner, and studied under Rosemary Gladstar and Charlie Kane. I have been using and learning from the plants, both wild and cultivated since childhood, and it is my deep love of the wild Earth that fuels my passion for healing and teaching about plants, wilderness, spirit, nourishment and healing.
I was called to the shamanic path by an old Juniper tree in 2003 and have been talking with plants ever since. I have studied shamanic lifeways and practices for over 10 years in the US and in in Peru. I facilitate workshops and retreats in shamanic work with plant medicine and plant spirits and work with private clients using sacred botanical medicine, ceremony, nature connection and shamanic practice.
My own journey in life has been catalyzed by cultivating the ever deepening relationship with the wildness in the world, and the wildness within my own body and spirit- through the plants, the land spirits, and solitary time in wild natural places- sitting with plants, wildcrafting plants, and journeying with spirit and self awareness.
Check Out These Classes Being Offered in Our Community Classroom!
The Power of Breath: Shamanic Breath Workshop
Sunday Oct 23, 3-5 pm
Shamanic breathing has been found to facilitate profound emotional releases, remove limiting beliefs/past conditionings, open new channels of awareness and clear toxicity from the body. This multidimensional experience incorporates sacred herbs, organic essential oils, conscious breathwork, vibrational sound, soulful music, energy healing, indigenous tools, and crystal therapy to facilitate a personal Sacred Journey into one's soul.
Cost: $50 (sorry no credit cards)
Please send an email to
to register or for additional information.
Vitality Yoga with Jamie Starheart Kessloff
from 6:15pm - 7:30 in the Humboldt Herbals Community Classroom
219 D Street in Old Town Eureka
$10-14 sliding scale
Call/text 707.460.0303 for additional info
In this yoga class we will listen to our individual needs as we awaken and balance our energy centers through Anusara yoga, Polarity movements, Vinyasa flow, longer Hatha held poses, and pranayama (breath exercises). All levels and injuries are welcome and encouraged to come. Jamie's classes include a little sweat, essential oils (optional), yogic philosophies, and alignment guidance to get the most out of your practice, thereby getting the most out of your life.
Jamie received her teacher training of 200 hours in 2005 from Certified Anusara and Para Yoga teacher Mary Bruce at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Arizona. In 2007 she completed a Restorative Yoga teacher training from Mary Bruce, whose teacher was Judith Lassater, developer of Restorative Yoga. Jamie is a Certified Massage Therapist of nine years, Reiki Master of thirteen years, CranioSacral Therapist since 2007, Acutonics Practitioner as of this year, and presently enjoying her schooling at Institute of Integrative Nutrition, as well as furthering her CranioSacral Therapy training with Upledger Institute. These training's and experience are felt in the quality of instruction you'll receive, as well as her time living 200 feet up in several trees in her 20's, (now age 38) to preserve and bring awareness to the Old Growth Forests of our beautiful Humboldt County.
Come nourish yourself Tuesdays at
6:15pm! It's the gift that keeps giving back.
Digestive Healing with Herbs & Spices
by Candice Brunlinger, Herbalist
Fall is here, the colors of the leaves are changing and the weather is cooling. This time of year is when we start to see a transition from our lighter summer meals and seasonal produce to more heavy or dense meals and holiday eating. As we eat more fatty foods, meat, dense fall and winter seasonal produce, baked goods and holiday treats, we can support our digestion using herbs and spices.
Before we get into herbal support it is important to note healthy eating habits to support
digestion. Many cultures throughout the world have important traditions and practices with their meals which are not as common in the busy, fast-paced lifestyle of the modern western culture in the United States. It is common practice to rush through our meals and not give ourselves the opportunity to relax before, during or after, whether we are taking short lunch breaks from work, eating between classes or running around checking off our to-do lists. This practice along with the primary American diet of processed foods, convenient foods, heavy and fatty foods, etc. wreak havoc on our digestive systems and can cause various symptoms including gas, bloating, heavy feeling after meals, distended belly, constipation, loose stool, etc.
Over time, this can lead to serious health issues including nutritional deficiency, thyroid and hormonal imbalances, lack of energy, brain fog, migraines/headaches, chronic inflammation which can trigger or aggravate auto-immune conditions and achy bones, joints and muscles as well as various digestive conditions such as leaky gut, food allergies/sensitivities, colitis, crones, IBS, diabetes and more. These conditions and imbalances are very prevalent, especially in the United States, and are caused by the "American diet and lifestyle".
We can support our body, digestion and any of the conditions mentioned through a healthy diet, by taking the time to support our digestive functions and by incorporating digestive herbs and spices into our life.
Healthy Eating Habits
- Practice mindful eating and limit distractions (studying, watching TV, driving, walking, etc.) Sit calmly while eating and eat slowly, chewing well. Remember to "drink your food and chew your liquids". This means you chew solid food until it becomes liquid (about 20+ chews) and chew or squish your liquids in your mouth before swallowing so your saliva and digestive enzymes can mix with your food to support digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
- Take food combining concepts into account. There are varying thoughts and theories on food combining so I recommend looking into the different approaches and experimenting to see what works well for you. How do you feel after combining different food groups, like perhaps fish and fruit? Pay attention to what your body is telling you and trust that over what the new dietary trend is. I personally believe that there is not a one diet or theory which applies to everyone. What works for some may not work for others and only you can determine that by listening to your body and how you feel after eating.
- Prepare fresh foods and eat seasonally whenever possible to follow our body's natural rhythms. Our modern day food storage is very new compared to the evolution of humans so our digestive functions have not fully evolved to support our meals of convenience and freezer foods. If we return to eating fresh seasonal produce, local when possible, and eating according to the seasons we can return our body to its natural rhythms. (i.e. cleansing greens in spring, refreshing and light foods in summer, fall harvest foods in autumn, heavy and warming soups, stews and meats in winter, etc.)
- Do not eat too late at night to avoid being full when you go to sleep. Our digestive organs detox throughout the night while we are in a deep sleep. If we do not have regular eating and sleep cycles, we prevent those organs from being able to cleanse themselves which can cause various imbalances including digestive, blood sugar and hormonal while affecting energy levels, mental clarity, food cravings, weight management and more.
- Incorporate digestive herbs and spices into food or take digestive bitters 15-20 minutes before or after meals to stimulate digestion and appetite, enhance assimilation and absorption of nutrients and reduce various digestive symptoms.
- Limit cold or frozen foods and drinks with weak or incomplete digestion and with colder weather. Avoid drinking ice beverages with meals as the cold temperature slows down digestive functions. Limit beverages to 8 ounces or less as the liquid can dilute digestive fluids and interfere with breaking down food and assimilation of nutrients. If you do drink water with meals try adding a little fresh squeezed lemon or a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar if you don't mind the flavor, both of which stimulate and aid with digestion.
- Limit or avoid foods which cause inflammation in the body or symptoms of food sensitivity. Every person is different so try not to get caught up in the dietary trends and hypes. Do food journaling and write down or keep track of all the food and drinks you consume and note how you feel after meals and throughout the day, how your energy levels are, how your mood is, your sleeping patterns and your bowel movements. Note any food cravings a swell as it is interesting to see how our food craving are triggered by the foods we eat. Try eliminating common trigger foods for a couple of weeks (wheat, sugar, dairy, eggs, soy, etc.) and reintroduce them into your diet to see if any of these particular foods trigger inflammation or symptoms.
- Keep in mind conditions like Candida, Leaky Gut and food allergies/sensitivities will need more than herbal support for complete healing. Integrating dietary and lifestyle changes, even if only temporarily, will significantly speed the healing, address the cause of symptoms and bring the body into balance. This may include elimination diets, increasing fermented foods, using gelatin and collagen for healing, probiotics and enzymes, etc.
Herbs for Digestion
These herbs are helpful for acid reflex and can be more beneficial than over-the-counter anti-acids as they bring the digestion into balance to address the cause without creating a dependence on their use.
Some examples of plant based anti-acids include
Aloe Juice, Anise, Calendula, Dill, Fennel, Licorice, Marshmallow, Meadowsweet, Mints, Plantain, Slippery Elm.
Try any of those herbs alone or combined as a tea infusion or chew on the spices or a
digestive chew blend
(recipe below) and feel the acid reflex slowly subside.
These herbs can help subside feelings of nausea and even help reduce vomiting, dry heaving and gagging. Some examples of anti-nausea herbs and remedies include
Angelica, Blackberry Leaf, Curing Pills (A Chinese Herbal Tea Pill Formula), Fennel, Ginger, Lemon, Licorice, Lime, Marshmallow root, Peach Leaf, Peppermint, Red Raspberry Leaf, Rooibos, Roses, Oxeye Daisy, Spearmint.
These herbs are best when prepared as a tea infusion and drank as needed or daily to prevent feelings of nausea. Or try breathing in the
scent of mints, ginger, anise, dill or fennel which are also known to aid digestion through their aromatic oils. For a quick, convenient remedy, chew on
some digestive chew (recipe below) or
candied ginger. Or make your own
ginger syrup (recipe below) and try its recommended uses.
Bitter herbs and foods have a long tradition being used culinary and medicinally and are an important part of the diet and cuisine all of the world. The "American Diet" lost the appreciation for the Bitter flavor with the exception of coffee (although, many dilute the bitter benefits with sweeteners and flavoring); however, we are starting to see a trend and bitters are growing in popularity, especially in the cocktail industry.
There is a common saying in the herbal community,
"Bitter is Better", and it refers to the important and crucial role of the bitter taste to support digestion and health. Bitter herbs, beverages and food stimulate digestive functions and fluids to break down and assimilate nutrients. They help prevent or reduce various digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, heavy or sluggish feelings after meals, acid reflex, etc. They freshen the breath and over time can help reduce food cravings and help with blood sugar maintenance.
Some examples of bitter herbs include
Artichoke leaf (strong), Burdock root, Cacao, Carob, Catnip, Chamomile, Chicory, Dandelion root, leaves and flowers, Gentian (strong), Lavender, Mugwort, Oregon Grape root, Saffron, Turmeric, Vervain
Some examples of bitter foods and greens include
Beets & Beet greens, Bitter Melon, Chard, Collards, Dandelion greens, Dark Chocolate, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Mustard greens, Nettle greens
Try incorporating as many bitter tasting foods, herbs and spices into your diet. Start taking a
made with alcohol or apple cider vinegar before or after meals. Incorporate other herbal preparations such as bitter liquors, turmeric ghee, golden milk, bitter herbal teas, etc. If you drink coffee, try it without sweeteners (you can gradually reduce the amount of sweetener over time to slowly allow your taste buds to acclimate, if needed).
If you have an aversion to the bitter taste, just be patient and give it 1-3 weeks. When you wake up those bitter taste receptors located all throughout the body, you will start to appreciate, love and even crave the taste. Then overtime as you notice the healing and balancing benefits you will have an even more appreciation for the bitter flavor.
Herbs and spices with carminative actions help normalize digestive peristalsis to relieve flatulence (gas), bloating, cramps and spasms. Many of the common spices used throughout the world have carminative actions which is one of the many reason we have used them for hundreds to thousands of years in our cuisine. Most of these spices support the body when exposed to gut bugs and parasites and are high in antioxidants to help preserve our food. This was especially important before our modern food storage using refrigeration, freezing and preservatives.
Carminative herbs have varying degrees of temperature in the way they affect the body. Some are more stimulating with a warming or heating energy which enhances circulation and warms digestion and the body. These herbs would be most appropriate for those who tend to run cold, might have slow circulation (get tingly limbs) and feel like they have a very sluggish and weak digestion. These spices are also great to warm up foods with a cold energy such as smoothies, raw foods, salads, iced beverages, etc. to facilitate their digestion. Others carminative herbs are more neutral and cooling and are beneficial for those who tend to run hot, have night sweats, are easily reactive, hot tempered, get flushed skin, etc.
- Warming Carminatives: Asafoetida, Basil, Black Pepper, Cayenne and other Chili Peppers, Cinnamon, Cloves, Garlic, Ginger, Marjoram, Mustard Seeds, Nutmeg, Onion, Oregano, Paprika, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Tulsi Basil, Turmeric
- Neutral - Cooling Carminatives: Anise, Cardamom, Cilantro, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Lemon, Lime, Peppermint, Spearmint
Incorporate as many of these spices into your meals as you can, chew on them or make herbal tea preparations to drink before, during or after your meals. These spices are also delicious in vinegar infusions and taken by the spoonful or used in dressing and marinade recipes, splashed into stir fries and sautéed food.
These herbs help relax any spasms throughout the digestive track and sooth intestinal and stomach cramps. They also tend to help spasms and cramps in other organs such as the gall bladder and uterus.
Some examples of digestive anti-spasmodic herbs include
Black Haw, Cannabis (Medical), Cramp bark, Ginger, Peppermint, Silk Tassel, Wild Yam, Valerian. Ginger and peppermint both make great teas but the other herbs are not as pleasant tasting so they are generally preferred as a tincture, syrup or supplement. Try the ginger syrup recipe below and add other antispasmodic herbs if desired.
These mucilaginous herbs produce a thick, viscus texture which moisturize, sooth, coat and protect the entire digestive tract and are beneficial for healing damaged tissues, reducing inflammation, protecting the lining of the stomach and intestines from harm and cooling heat or digestive symptoms aggravated by spicy foods. These herbs are beneficial for the healing and support of stomach ulcers, lesions, recovery from digestive surgeries and are even showing to help protect against the damage of radiation and chemo treatments which tend to negatively affect digestion. The lubricating nature of these herbs can help with constipation especially when it is caused by dryness.
Some examples of demulcent herbs are
Astragalus, Calendula, Chamomile, Chia, Chickweed, Comfrey, Fennel, Flax, Licorice, Marshmallow, Milky Oat Tops, Oatstraw, Oatmeal/Oat Flour, Plantain, Slippery Elm, Shatavari and all Seaweeds.
astragalus into your diet. If you eat meat and have access to grass fed and organic meat bones, you can make
herbal bone broths to receive natural gelatin and collagen which have a demulcent effect and other healing benefits for digestion.
Otherwise, most of the herbs are best and most effective when prepared as a tea as the mucilage from the plants is water soluble. The roots and seaweeds will yield high mucilage when simmered on the stove or try long steeps (up to 8 hours) any of these herbs. The longer they infuse, the more the mucilaginous they get. Overnight cold preparations also yield a nice thick and viscous consistency. If you do not drink tea, try a good quality herbal capsule and take in between meals with plenty of water.
Digestive nervines are herbs which have a calming or sedating effect throughout the body and specifically address digestion. Many of these herbs have a bitter flavor which is one of their indicators that they support the digestive organs. Since these herbs are calming they tend to help situations when stress and anxiety affect appetite, food habits and overall digestion. They relax the body and bring us out of adrenal mode or survival mode where we are revved up and on the go. This is important especially for those who do not or have a hard time sitting down to relax for their meals. Proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients happen when our digestive organs are relaxed and when we have blood flow concentrated in our core. If we are not relaxed or have stress and anxiety with our meals our blood flow is in our limbs in survival mode in preparation for the flight-or-fight response.
Incorporating these calming herbs before or after meals, even in very small doses can be very supportive for these situations. Some of these herbs are more mild and taste great as a tea while other herbs can be strong and sedating and tend to not taste very good. Those herbs are generally preferred to use in a tincture extract or syrup preparation so you can easily find the right dose for yourself which gently calms the body without overly sedating. Start by taking 5-10 drops and slowly increase dose by 5 drop increments to determine what dose gives you your desired effect to support your digestion.
Some examples of nervine herbs which have a calming benefit for digestion include
California Poppy, Cannabis (Medical), Catnip, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Linden, Oatstraw, Rose, Skullcap, Vervain, Valerian
Herbs for the liver support and detoxing would be a whole other discussion but I wanted to highlight the overlap with digestive and liver supporting herbs. Many of the bitter and carminative herbs which stimulate digestion functions also stimulate liver and gallbladder functions, enhance bile flow and help with overall detoxing or housekeeping throughout the body to cleanse and clear out toxins.
Some examples of liver supporting herbs include:
Artichoke leaf, Buplerum, Burdock root, Chicory, Dandelion root, Dong Quai, Fennel, Ginger, Licorice, Milk Thistle, Orange peel, Oregon grape root, Sarsaparilla, Turmeric, etc. Lemon juice and Apple Cider Vinegar can also very beneficial. Any medicinal or edible plant with a bitter flavor is going to support and stimulate the liver. Use these herbs in food when possible, in herbal bitter extracts, bitter cocktails and liquors, in tea and syrup preparations, or use a high quality herbal supplement.
Herbal laxative herbs have varying ways of supporting and stimulating bowel movements so choose the herbs which have the action(s) you need to regulate bowels and ease constipation. Keep in mind many cases of constipation can be remedied when addressing stress and diet, both of which have a significant influence on bowel movements.
- Moisture Increasing: The demulcent herbs mentioned above fit into this category and help by providing moisture throughout the intestines so food and waste can move more easily. Moisture enhancing laxative herbs and foods include: Aloe Vera Juice, Fennel, Flax, Licorice, Marshmallow, Slippery Elm, Seaweeds, Magnesium/Salts, Ghee in warm milk, and diet rich in healthy fats (butter, oils, omega rich fish, etc.)
- Bulk Increasing: These herbs and foods use fiber to help with water regulation in the bowels and help bulk up the stool for nice firm, healthy movements. It is important to drink plenty of water as the fiber can cause blockages. Bulk increasing laxatives include: Fruit (especially dried fruit and Prunes), Chia, Flax, Psyllium, Triphala and a fiber-rich diet.
- Peristalsis Enhancing: These herbs stimulate the contracting and squeezing motions of the colon to move stool through the bowels and aid with elimination. Use Caution as some of these herbs, like cascara sagrada, can create a dependency so start with the more mild and gentle herbs. If you need something stronger then work with them for short periods of time, usually 3 days, followed by 3-5 days off. Some of these herbs can cause painful cramping so use them along with carminative herbs. Examples of peristalsis enhancing herbs include Aloe powder or food grade Aloe Juice (moderate), Cascara sagrada (strong), Senna (moderate), Yellow Dock (most gentle), etc.
Castor Oil is an old traditional remedy but it is very strong and can be toxic depending on the dose. Try it topically instead of ingesting it by gently warming the oil and doing a lower belly massage in a clockwise motion. Use a hexane free, organic source.
As you can see, there are many herbal actions to support digestion and numerous herbs to choose from. Many of the herbs have multiple ways of addressing digestive imbalances and since many of them are spices and have a pleasant taste and aroma, they can be delicious and fun to use. Many of the herbs are strong in nature and effects so a little goes a long way. Over time, the more you use them, the more benefits you will feel in your digestion along with improved energy, clarity, immune resistance, mood and more.
Herbal Recipes to Support Digestion
Make a tea from any of the herbs mentioned. Some popular teas include mints, ginger, chai blends, chamomile, lemon balm, rose, red raspberry leaf, rooibos, fennel, anise, licorice, marshmallow root, calendula, linden and more. You can brew a tea using just a single herb by itself or combine a few different herbs of your choice to make a delicious and beneficial digestive tea.
2 cups of sliced fresh ginger root
2 cups of filtered water
Honey to taste (approximately 1 cup)
Splash of lemon or more to taste (optional)
Place ginger root and water in a sauce pan, cover and heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 10-20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow it to sit for 1-2 hours. Strain out the roots and return the ginger tea to the stove. Gently re-heat it just until warm and lightly steaming. Stir in your honey and a splash of lemon and mix well. Pour into a bottle and store in the fridge for 1-2 months.
Take the syrup by the spoonful as needed or preventatively before meals. Add a splash to hot water for an instant cup of ginger honey tea or in any tea blend for added flavor and benefits. Make your own ginger ale by adding 1-2 ounces of ginger syrup into sparkling water.
Dry root can be used if fresh is not available but keep in mind dried ginger is more heating in nature so use significantly less root. I would maybe try 1/3 of the proportion but I have only made ginger syrup using the fresh as I have consistent access to it.
2 parts diced candied ginger
1 part fennel, cumin
½ part anise
This is a classic blend for a little digestive boost after eating a heavy meal. You will often see some variance of this recipe served in a little bowl by the register or on the tables at Indian restaurants. Simply take a pinch and chew before, during or after meals. I like to keep a small tin or lip balm container of the chew in my purse so I can freshen my breath and support digestion while on the go. I think the traditional recipe is closer to equal parts of all the herbs but I personally like to have extra ginger and a little less anise. You can also try other spices such as tossing the herbs in a small amount of cinnamon powder or try some caraway, cardamom, coriander or dill.
(If you don't have time to make your own, Humboldt Herbals has a delicious, organic ready-to-enjoy
Digestive Chew blend
Bitter Acetum or Tincture
Fill a jar ½ full with your bitter herbs of choice and favorite carminative spices for added benefits and flavor. Some recipes include adding some apple, pear or orange to help enhance the flavor and take the edge off the bitter taste but that is optional and we want to be sure to maintain a true bitter flavor, if possible. Fill the jar with either apple cider vinegar or an alcohol such as vodka, rum or everclear. Stir the herbs well until they are free flowing and all air bubbles are released. Make sure there is at least 1 inch of extra liquid once the herbs settle. Cover and shake daily if possible.
If using vinegar, allow the herbs to infuse for 2-4 weeks. If using alcohol you can infuse it for 4-6 weeks. Strain out the herbs and bottle up your extract and enjoy the amazing benefits of your bitters before meals. Take as little as a few drops or sprays of the tincture directly on the tongue or up to 1 mil for a strong medicinal dose. Take anywhere between ½-2 tsp of the vinegar by the spoonful, diluted in drinks, or in your meals to facilitate digestion. I like to use it in my salad dressings, marinades, stir fries, sautéed veggies, smoothies, apple cider vinegar drinks, etc. Keep a small bottle on your table at home and keep another with you on the go or at work so you can conveniently take your bitters before your meals anytime. Glass dropper and/or spray bottles are great and come in varying sizes.
Triphala - (Haritaki, Bibhitaki, Amalaki)
This is a traditional Ayurvedic blend of 3 berries all of which help to gently tone and strengthen the digestive tract to improve overall digestive functions. It is beneficial for either loose stool or constipation and works by restoring balance to the digestive organs. It supports healthy detoxification and elimination of toxins and can help with weight management. It is recommended to take anywhere from 1 to 6 grams of the powder blend in hot water, preferably on an empty stomach, before bed. You can start with 1 tsp and slowly increase the dose by ¼-½ tsp increments as long as stools are still firm. If you have loose stools after increasing your dose, then scale back until stool is firm again and that is your appropriate dose.
to find powdered organic Triphala at Humboldt Herbals, or click
for Triphala in a caplet form.
5 tablespoons ground coriander seeds
2 tablespoons ground cumin seeds
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground ginger, fenugreek seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon,
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, cardamom, chili peppers
Use this curry powder for beans, grains, meats, soups, veggies, stir fries, spreads, dips, etc...
Best taste comes from sautéing the powder briefly in oil or ghee before adding to the rest of the food and/or mixing with coconut milk. You can also slowly roast the spices before grinding them for added flavor.
It's always fun to make your own, but if you'd prefer you can buy a delicious
freshly-ground artisan Curry blend
at Humboldt Herbals.
Basic Indian Kitchari
Kitchari is an Indian rice and mung bean porridge that is easily digested and recommended when digestion is funky or weak. You can use any blend of spices depending on your taste preference and digestive needs.
1 cup white Basmati Rice
1 cup whole Green Mung Beans
1-2 tbsp Ghee
1 tsp-1 tbsp Salt (to taste)
1 tbsp cumin seeds, minced fresh ginger root
1 tsp turmeric powder, fennel powder, coriander powder
½ tsp cardamom powder, mustard seeds
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
1 very small pinch of
Garnish with lemon, yogurt and cilantro
Soak beans and rice overnight or throughout the day in water. Drain and rinse off. Place beans and rice in a large saucepan with 7 cups water and/or broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 45min-1hr, or until beans are soft). Add more water or broth as needed. While simmering, sauté ghee and spices in a skillet, roasting them until they smell very aromatic, about 1 minute. Pour the spiced ghee over the porridge and continue simmering until done. Mix in salt to taste, garnish and enjoy.
Lassi or Takara is a diluted yogurt drink that can be a great way for taking herbs. It is gentle, easily digested and a high probiotic snack for in between meals.
Mix 1 part yogurt or kefir to 4 parts water. Add a small amount of digestive spices to taste such as ginger, cardamom, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel, etc. The probiotics from the yogurt benefit and restore digestion and the herbs provide an overall digestive tonic to help relieve general digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, indigestion, etc. Add a little sweetener like honey or maple syrup, if desired.