[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 104 – Dandelion Drop Biscuits

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23rd, 2020 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

Delicious Dandelion Drop Biscuits from Herbal Roots zine

This is a happy little accident that I created when making Dandelion Fritters – I had too much flour to liquid ratio (because I am bad at following recipes) and ended up with a firmer than usual batter.

It’s very versatile and you can add Nettles, Violet flowers and leaves, and/or Chickweed to the batter, depending on what you have available.

I love adding springtime greens to our meals because they are highly nourishing, full of many vitamins and minerals.

Kids will love making these and can often be tasked with picking the flowers and leaves for you.

Dandelion flowers and leaves, and Chickweed in a basket

You can substitute out any of the flours or milk for the flour and milk of your choice.

1/2 cup Coconut flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 clove Garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped dandelion leaves (and/or Nettles, Chickweed, and Violets)

1/2 cup dandelion flower petals (about 20 flowerheads)

1/2 red onion, minced

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup canned whole coconut milk

Chopped up dandelion leaves and flowers, chickweed, and red onion

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the flours together along with the salt and pepper.

Red onion, Dandelion and Chickweed, and flour in a bowl

Add in the garlic, onion, and dandelions. Stir to combine.

Mixture stirred together with egg

Add eggs and mix together well until mixed and crumbly.

A thicker batter that looks like drop biscuits

Stir in milk, once combined they will be thick just like homemade drop biscuits.

Roll into 9 balls of equal size and place on a cookie sheet.

Golden brown Dandelion Drop Biscuits

Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until biscuits feel firm to touch.

Flaky Dandelion Drop Biscuits

These biscuits are flaky and delicious – the red onion gives them a hint of sweetness.

Flaky Dandelion Drop Biscuits

Dandelion Drop Biscuits

Give your ordinary drop biscuits a delicious twist by adding nutritious wild edibles such as Dandelion, Violet, Chickweed, and Nettles to your biscuits!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal flour
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped dandelion leaves (and/or Nettles, Chickweed, and Violets)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dandelion flowers (about 20 flowerheads)
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I use canned whole coconut milk)


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Combine the flours together along with the salt and pepper.
  • Add in the garlic, onion, and dandelions. Stir to combine.
  • Add eggs and mix together well until mixed and crumbly. 
  • Stir in milk, once combined they will be thick just like homemade drop biscuits.
  • Roll into 9 balls of equal size and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until biscuits feel firm to touch.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 103 – Violet Science Activity for Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Science with Violets

Did you know that Violets can be used to create a litmus test? This is a great activity to do with kids to get a mini-science activity into your day.

Are you starting a garden this year? If so, you can expand this activity to use the Violet infusions to test the acidity/alkalinity of your soil.

Fresh Violet flowers
Boiling water
Lemon juice

Baking soda

Soil you want to test

Violet Litmus Test

Fill 1 large jar with Violet blossoms. Cover with boiling water and let sit overnight. Strain off the Violets.

In 2 half pint size jars or smaller, fill halfway with Violet water.

In 1 jar, add lemon juice until water turns purple/red. This is your acid indicator.

In the second jar, add baking soda until it turns green/yellow. This is your base indicator.

Use the rest of the violet water to add your test soil (or any other items you choose to test) by pouring it into as many other jars as you need to complete the tests.

To test your soil, pour a few additional jars of Violet water and add a tablespoon of soil to each. You may wish to test various areas of your yard or even compare it to compost and/or potting soil.

Stir the soil into each jar, rinsing your spoon between jars. Let everything settle then compare the soil jars to the indicator jars.

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week Two

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’m hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening through May 13. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

Each week, I try to recap and create a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access this week’s here.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 102 – Introducing Your Kids to Herbs

Posted in Uncategorized on April 8th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

Introducing Your Kids to Herbs

Curious how to introduce your kids to herbs?

Are you a mom or dad who has just learned about how awesome herbs are?

Or have you been studying them for awhile and now want to incorporate the medicinal uses of herbs into your household?

Maybe you want to use herbs in your everyday activities and meals but your kids are balking at the idea of taking an herbal syrup because they are used to bubblegum flavored medicine.

Does any of this sound familiar?

One of the most asked questions I get asked is “how do I introduce herbs to my kids? How do I get them excited about using herbal medicine?” so I decided I would write a bit about that today.

First of all, you have come to the right place!

I have devoted the last 11 years of my life to helping teach herbalism to kids as a fun activity.

And this is based on 25 years of parenting and incorporating herbs into our everyday lives combined with my journey into herbal medicine myself.

Often when we get excited about something, we start to make it a big deal which makes kids take notice, for better or worse.

Younger kids, ages 2-8, are often more likely to follow right along, because they love to mimic what mom or dad is doing. So many early childhood toys are geared to chores: play kitchens, play vacuums, play brooms and dust pans, play lawn mowers, etc. because children learn by observation and this age is all about observing their parents daily activities.

Once kids hit 8 or 9, they start to really have their own interests, with that hint of independence coming in to play. They may still observe their surroundings, but they are also exploring things that are not so familiar to them.

And once kids are teenagers, it can feel like they reject their parents’ influence altogether, searching for their own way in life, making this a daunting time to offer any of your own interests, as a parent, into their lives.

So, let’s take a look at these age categories and how you can introduce herbs to your kids without rejection.

A young boy and girl use clippers and a basket to harvest catnip

The Younger Years – Ages 2-8

This is a big age range that presents a lot of growth and changes. This age often wants to ‘help’ so offering to let them help you make herbal remedies is a great way to introduce herbs to them.

Keep your message short, talk about nutrition that herbs can offer as you are making an herbal salad, dandelion fritters, or elderberry syrup for pancakes and colds.

Let them sample the herbs when they are pleasant tasting – lemon balm and other mint plants are a great way to start.

Stress the importance of asking before they try something on their own, letting them know that most plants help our bodies, but some might make us feel worse than better.

This is a great age to teach them through stories and songs. Make it a daily activity to sing songs about the herbs or tell stories throughout the day.

If you grow a garden, let them help you out in the garden, from planting to weeding to harvest time. They will be empowered from these activities, taking pride and ownership in nurturing plants along.

This also makes using the herbs a big deal, knowing they tended the garden and then made the medicine from the plants in their care.

Teach them corresponding stories and songs about the plants in your garden and make it a ritual to sing those songs or tell those stories as you tend the plants.

Talk about the medicinal uses of the plants as well, in small snippets.

Create crafts from the plants – do plant rubbings, plant dyeing for play silks, plant impressions in clay – that they can reflect back on the individual plants and recall their uses.

A young girl sketches a New England Aster flower.

The Middle Years – Ages 9-12

This age group starts with a sudden shift. Your happy little helper may no longer be interested in working side by side with you in your daily activities.

They are starting to develop their own interests and activities. Tie this into herbs whenever you can.

For instance, someone who loves to be outdoors might like to go on plant walks, looking for herbs in the woods, fields, or parks near your home.

They may still enjoy creating their own garden, if so, talk about herbs that can help them with any health issues they may have.

As an idea, if they seem to get a lot of stomachaches, introduce them to plants that can help such as chamomile and peppermint.

Even ginger can be grown in a pot on the back patio or in a sunny window.

If they like to draw, enroll them in drawing classes that teach them how to draw plants.

Science enthusiasts would love to try experiments with herbs, from growing plants in various types of soils to litmus papers that can be created from violet.

Little cooks might enjoy cooking recipes from herbs – old fashioned marshmallows, herbal jellies, herb infused cookies and ice cream, herbal popsicles, and more can be created with herbs.

There are so many ways to incorporate herbal fun into this age group. They may also enjoy learning through word searches, crosswords, and other herbally oriented activities.

A teen girl follows a recipe in an herb book to make some tea.

The Teen Years – Ages 13-18

This age can be so hard! And indeed, of all the age groups, it’s the one I hear the most from their parents. Teens are most self absorbed at this age, worrying about their looks, others’ opinions of them, and the struggles of the teen world dynamic.

It’s a time of growing and seeking independence from their parents and so they often push us away.

It’s a delicate balance for some at this age. Consider their worries and struggles from their point of view.

Girls often are into make-up, face masks, shampoos and soaps, and perfumes. They may struggle with acne and try to cover it up.

Boys often worry about acne and body odor, and being physically fit if they are athletic.

These are things to focus on when you introduce herbs to them.

Bath and beauty products, commercially, have a lot of chemicals that can be horrible for our skin, which absorbs those chemicals and sends them to our livers.

Showing your young woman how to make her own natural products using herbs and other natural materials can create an interest.

Also, sharing ideas how to keep her liver strong and healthy so she can have clear skin is another great approach.

Your young man may also be receptive to learning to support his liver herbally to reduce acne as well as learning about nourishing herbs such as fermented raspberry or blackberry leaf and stinging nettles infusions for building strong muscles.

Both may also be interested in herbal adaptogens that help to strengthen their bodies and herbs such as rosemary, ginkgo, and gotu kola for increasing brain power, especially those who are more study oriented.

A young girl sits at a table outside under a tree reading some children's herb storybooks.

But How Do I Get Started?

Wow, all of this sounds great, you may be thinking, but how do I start learning about the specific herbs to teach them???

If after reading this article you are still feeling this way, may I suggest enrolling in one of my online courses?

I have worked hard to start building a curriculum based around my 130+ issues of Herbal Roots zine, designed to help you break down herbal learning in easy to digest chunks.

I currently have three year long courses: New to Herbs Course , The Next Step, and The Native Medicinal Plants Journey, as well as a botany and drawing course, The Science and Art of Botany.

Plans are in the works to launch more courses, and I’m developing a Teen Herbalism Course that I hope to launch later this year or early next year.

Looking for other forms of inspiration? Join me on Wednesday evenings at a virtual hangout with likeminded parents who are looking for inspiration. Hosted by the American Herbalists Guild, this hangout is a gathering place for us to share our stories of what works and doesn’t, get tips and ideas for incorporating herbs and herbal learning into your daily routines, and join together with other parents online. For more information on dates and times and to sign up, head here.

If you have a teen that’s interested in herbalism, I’d love to hear what topics they are interested in, so please email, message me, or leave a comment letting me know!

You are Not Alone!

I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to want to offer your kids knowledge but not know where to start.

I homeschooled two of my children for 10 years and I’ve seen all the ages and stages of growth. I’m currently in the teen years, working to keep their interest in herbs up.

It’s hard, trust me, I know! My goal with Herbal Roots zine is to help you, the parent, to get your kids excited about herbs so that they continue to learn about them throughout their childhood.

And so that they continue to incorporate herbs into their lives when they grow up and have kids of their own.

Tell me, what are your struggles and biggest obstacles when it comes to teaching your kids about herbs?

What has worked for you and what has completely bombed?

I’d love to hear your stories and struggles, please share them with me either in a comment or in an email.

Did you find this article helpful? Please share it on social media to get the word out about Herbal Roots zine!

Herbal Parenting Hangout – Week One

Posted in Uncategorized on April 8th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

I’m hosting a Herbal Parenting Hangout through the American Herbalists Guild each Wednesday evening through May 13. I’d love for you to join us! Bring your stories and tips, questions, and concerns about balancing work, schooling, and all things herbal during this unprecedented time.

As promised, I’ve created a PDF with all the books and links we discussed in the hangout. You can access it here.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 101 – Empowering Your Children

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31st, 2020 by KristineBrown — 2 Comments

It’s time for some sobering, inspiring talk.

My children are fearful. They are 13 and 15.

This year, they went to public school for the first time after a lifetime of homeschooling. Living in Illinois, it was required that our schools close for the next several weeks beginning on March 17 (and talk is that it might be closed for the rest of the school year, kudos to our governor for realizing the severity of the situation).

They are angry that their time with their friends has been taken away. No more sleepovers. No more casual visits. No more Friday nights at the local skating rink.

They are fearful of what is going to happen to us.

To their friends.

To the rest of our family.

To the world at large.

They feel robbed of their childhood as they watch important rites of passages being canceled. Prom is canceled. Graduation is canceled. Ballet recitals are canceled. The list is growing longer and longer. 

My 15 year old turns 16 in August. She has been counting down the days for the past 2 years because it means she can get her driver’s license.

She’s taking it pretty hard that this important event in her life may not happen on her schedule.

All these emotions they are trying to process right now while trying to remember how grateful they should be for what we do have.

Our health. Food. A warm house. Herbal medicine. Knowledge. Technology.

It’s good to realize just how fortunate and privileged we are right now.

We live in a time period where we have multiple forms of entertainment at our fingertips. And even during this pandemic, the food supply has not been cut off.

My partner is considered an essential employee so he’s still working.

We even have a small area of woods at our disposal for taking daily walks away from others in our neighborhood.

So we’re coming up with ways to feel fortunate and take control of the situation while we are on “lock down” in our homes.

My daughter has always wanted to wear her hair in French braids. I am all thumbs when it comes to that style of braiding so she’s never had her hair braided like that.

Until 2 nights ago.

She taught herself! So now, when she wants her hair french braided, she can do it.

My son loves all things video and computer related. I’m trying to add some video content to my online courses.

So I’ve handed him my gimbal and phone and shown him what I need recorded. He is having a blast and I’m getting the content I need!

Sometimes we gather in the kitchen and prepare our meals together.

Other times we gather in the kitchen to make some herbal remedies.

Since my kids were small, they have loved making their own medicine.


It offers empowerment, while giving a sense of control back. They get an opportunity to have a say in the herbs and tastes they can use in their medicine.

And right now, there’s no better time to need a bit of control and empowerment in this uncertain time.

How are you and your family handling this uncertain time?

Are you finding ways to empower your children and give them some control over the current situation?

I’d love to hear your stories!

Starting next Wednesday, April 8, at 7pm CDT,  I’ll be hosting a weekly live hangout for parents. It’s nothing fancy, just a place to share with each other – what’s been working for you, some ideas to incorporate herbal learning into your routine, fun crafts and activities – a little bit of everything. I’d love to see you there!

For more information and to register head here:


[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 100 – Some Herbal Options for Viral Outbreaks

Posted in Uncategorized on March 19th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

**Edited to add in a few extra links.

This is going to be a rather lengthy article! I apologize in advance, there is so much to say on this topic. I tried to be as succinct as I could.

In my last article, I talked about how to help boost and keep the immune system healthy. There’s been a lot of fear and talk about the coronavirus so I thought I would talk about herbal remedies today and how they can be incorporated into healing according to symptoms.

Antivirals for all?

One thing I can’t stress enough is that there isn’t a one size fits all herb for any illness or person. Each person is an individual, and we all react to viruses and healing modalities differently, based on our own individual body types.

For instance, I run cold. I’m forever bringing a sweater, jacket, or even blanket with me (I keep a wool blanket AND a down blanket in my car at all times) because I never know when I’ll get cold. My partner, on the other hand, is always warm. While I may have 2-3 blankets piled up on me in bed, he’ll have the covers tossed aside, sleeping with a sheet or less covering him.

At the same time, some people have very moist bodies, lots of mucus or sinus congestion, with supple skin that never needs moisturizing while others have dry bodies, presenting with dry, flaky skin, dry noses that may lead to nose bleeds, and often chapped lips.

When we think about herbs, we have to think about how that herb reacts with our bodies. The person who has dry skin may benefit from frequent cups of marshmallow leaf tea, which is very moistening and emollient, while the person with the sinus congestion finds the marshmallow leaf tea makes those conditions even worse.

Previously I wrote a post about teaching kids the 6 tissue states. This is a great overview of how herbs work in conjunction with hot/cold, warm/dry, and tense/lax to bring about balance.

Keep these thoughts in mind when you are considering an herb for a virus and pay attention to how the herb you are considering may affect that person based on the energetics of the herb.

What is my experience with the recent new virus, COVID-19?

Like other herbalists who have written about COVID-19 and herbs that may be helpful, as of this writing I have not seen any cases first hand so I do not know how these herbs will react with the actual virus. That remains to be seen once we start working with those who are affected. Herbalists are now starting to see cases so hopefully more information will become available soon.

Before I tuck into my favorite herbs for viruses, coughs, and other respiratory issues, I want to share some links that I’ve found to be helpful and comforting during this time period.

  • For a sobering but important understanding of what’s going on with COVID-19, read this article by Tomas Pueyo.
  • The American Herbalists Guild has put together a list of growing resources regarding COVID-19 here.
  • For a series of informative articles written by midwife, herbalist, and medical doctor Aviva Romm, go here.
  • New York Times podcast for kids explaining the virus.
  • Several herbalists have posted great articles/handouts about various herbs and aspects. Here is a rather short list of the ones I felt had concise information:

So now let’s take a look at some herbs.

General antivirals and how to offer them to your children

The following is a list of herbs that I rely on for helping to ward off viruses. Remember that this is just a drop in the bucket of what herbs we have available that may be effective against viruses.

Not listed in depth but worth noting: Cinnamon also makes a great antiviral, is a pleasant tea and can be combined with other herbs to make them more palatable. Many other kitchen herbs such as Rosemary, Basil, and Sage work similarly to Thyme.

Echinacea* Echinacea spp.

Energetics/tissue states: pungent, bitter, cooling, drying

Part(s) used: whole plant

Why I like this herb: I like Echinacea at the first sign of illness. Often, several high doses at the onset can help to reduce or eliminate the illness altogether. Echinacea is helpful for sore, scratchy throats, boosting the immune system, and works on the lymph system to help clear stagnation, helping to flush it out.

Pairs well with: Spilanthes, Yarrow, Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Elderberry

How to use it: I prefer to use the aerial parts only, as the plant is an “at-risk” native medicinal plant. Because it is easily cultivated, I feel comfortable using it and only harvest my own plants. It can be made into a tea by steeping 1/4 cup dried in 1 quart of water for 15-20 minutes. Drink at the first sign of an illness, 1/2 cup for children, 1 cup for adults every hour for the first day. Tinctures help to get large doses of the herb more easily and I use 1 drop of tincture for every 2 pounds of body weight – a 100 lb person would take 50 drops – every hour for the first day. After the first day, it’s best to back off and use other herbs.

How to get your children to use it: The tea is fairly mild and can be spiced up with a bit of honey and a pinch of peppermint or a tablespoon of Lemon Balm to enhance the flavor. This tea blend can also make a great popsicle.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use though those with compromised immune systems need to use with caution as it can be overstimulating for some.

Elderberry/leaf/bark/flower* Sambucus nigra, S. canadensis

Energetics/tissue states: sour, cooling, drying

Part(s) used: Berry, flower, leaf, bark

Why I like this herb: Elder is very versatile and has traditionally been used for colds, influenza, and other viruses. It is full of vitamin C, which has been shown to be effective in helping to counteract viruses, and is an immunomodulator, helping to balance out the immune system. This herb is often taken to help prevent illness and at the first sign often taken in conjunction with Echinacea to help ward off sickness. The flowers are often found in fever reducing recipes and the leaf and bark have more antiviral properties than either the flowers or the berries. The leaf and bark are not often used due to their potential emetic properties – no one wants to throw up when they are already feeling ill! However, in small doses, this herb has the potential to kill off many viruses. Elder can also help to break up mucus in the lungs and help to move the mucus out of the lungs. Berries and flowers also help to sweat out a fever when used in a hot tea.

Pairs well with: Yarrow, Peppermint, Echinacea

How to use it: Elderberry can be made into a syrup or used in a tea. Elderflower is used as a tincture or tea. To make a tea of berries, simmer 1/4 cup dried berries in 1 quart of water for 20 minutes or steep 1/4 cup dried flowers in 1 quart of boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Elder leaf and bark are made into a tincture and taken 1-30 drops 3 times daily.

How to get your children to use it: Elderberry syrup is generally sweet enough that children won’t mind taking it as is. Tea can be made with the flowers and can be flavored with Lemon Balm or Peppermint and frozen as popsicles.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use though those with a compromised immune system need to watch how their body reacts to it. See the articles I referenced at the beginning for more information specifically on using Elderberry. Elder leaf or bark may cause nausea and should be started out with a half dose, increasing 1-2 drops each time it’s taken until the full dose or nausea is reached. Back down to lower dose if nausea occurs. Use all parts of Elder with caution to determine tolerance and if symptoms worsen or nausea occurs, discontinue use.

Ginger* Zingiber officinale

Energetics/tissue states: sweet, spicy, hot, drying

Part(s) used: rhizome

Why I like this herb: Ginger is spicy and warming, great for those who run cold and are dealing with cold respiratory conditions. It is pleasant tasting and well received by children. Ginger eases a sore throat, helps one to sweat out a fever, and can lessen the duration of an illness. Ginger eases nausea, stimulates the circulation, and helps to warm cold lungs.

Pairs well with: Cayenne, lemon

How to use it: The tea of the rhizomes is spicy and can be sweetened with honey if needed. Brew up a tea of fresh rhizomes about 2 tablespoons chopped to 1 quart of water and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serving size is about 1/4 – 1/2 cup for children to 1 cup for adults, several times daily. You can turn that tea into a syrup by following these instructions and substituting rhizomes for the berries in the recipe. Take 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon syrup several times a day to soothe coughs and sore throats.

How to get your children to use it: The sweetened tea can be made into popsicles if your child is hot and craving cold items. Ginger syrup can also be made into a “soda” drink that children enjoy by adding 2 ounces of syrup to 6 ounces of seltzer water.

Cautions: This herb is contraindicated in large doses for pregnant women and can irritate peptic ulcers, acid reflux and some inflammatory issues. Don’t use in combination with blood thinning medications.

Honeysuckle* Lonicera spp.

Energetics/tissue states: sweet, bitter, cooling, drying

Part(s) used: flowers, leaves, stems

Why I like this herb: First of all, much of the Honeysuckle that grows here in North America is an invasive species. So, the use of this plant helps the native plants to thrive. Honeysuckle is great for hot, damp conditions. Think an upper respiratory infection that is hot and full of mucus, often painful. This herb is great for assisting with fevers as well and is often used for pneumonia, influenza, and colds. This is one of the herbs that has been used in China to help combat COVID-19.

Pairs well with: Peppermint, Yarrow

How to use it: The tea of the leaves and/or flowers is mild tasting and can be sweetened with honey if needed. Brew up a tea of fresh leaves and/or flowers, about 1/2 cup to 1 quart of boiling water or 1/4 cup dried to 1 quart water and steep for 15-20 minutes. Serving size is about 1/2 cup for children to 1 cup for adults, several times daily.

How to get your children to use it: The sweetened tea can be made into popsicles if your child is hot and craving cold items.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use.

Read more about Honeysuckle here (includes a recipe for infused honey).

Lemon Balm* Mellissa officinalis

Energetics/tissue states: sour, cooling, drying

Part(s) used: Leaves

Why I like this herb: Lemon Balm has a delightful smell and taste – it reminds me a bit of Fruity Pebbles cereal. Lemon Balm helps to lower fevers when drunk as a hot tea, and is well liked by most children without any additions. It works well against a variety of viruses, most notably chicken pox, cold sores, colds, and shingles, to name a few. Lemon Balm is also calming to the nervous system so a cup of this tea can help to calm down anxious children (and parents).

Pairs well with: Echinacea, Spilanthes, Thyme

How to use it: Lemon Balm can be used as a tincture, 30-60 drops 5 times daily or made into a tea with 1/4 cup dried herb to 1 quart boiling water, steeped for 15-20 minutes. Drink 1/4-1 cup of tea 5 times daily.

How to get your children to use it: This herb is great as is, most children will drink the tea straight or sweetened with a bit of honey. The tea also makes a delicious popsicle.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use though pregnant women should use with caution as it is an emmenagogue in large doses.

Spilanthes* Spilanthes acmella

Energetics/tissue states: pungent, salty, warming, drying

Part(s) used: aerial parts

Why I like this herb: Spilanthes is great for boosting the immune system and stopping viruses. It has been used against influenza, malaria, dengue, and tuberculosis. You’ll find that Spilanthes has a tingly numbing effect, similar to Echinacea and makes a great throat spray to help soothe sore throats. Spilanthes can also help to reduce fevers.

Pairs well with: Echinacea, Lemon Balm, Thyme

How to use it: Spilanthes is best used as a tincture due to the taste. I generally use 30-60 drops at the onset and repeat hourly. 

How to get your children to use it: This tincture is rather shocking so it’s best to add it to a bit of water, juice or herbal tea to disguise the taste. Some children enjoy the effect of chewing on a fresh flower – they find the tingling tongue and drool hilarious. This is probably an activity best saved for when they are feeling well!

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use.

General demulcents and how to offer them to your children

Demulcent herbs are helpful when the bronchial tubes are hot and dry as they help to cool and moisten the lining, reducing inflammation in the process. They are soothing to dry coughs.

Licorice* Glycyrrhiza glabra

Energetics/tissue states: sweet, slightly bitter, cooling, moistening

Part(s) used: root

Why I like this herb: It is naturally sweet, making it a great flavor enhancer to less than tasty herbs. I also like to add Licorice in with herbs that are drying in nature (see the herbs in the antiviral section) when the lungs are dry and need some mucilaginous action to help moisten dry and inflamed tissue. Licorice is specific for respiratory ailments with dry, hacking coughs, sore throat, hoarseness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and inflammation. This root helps to bring up stuck mucus from the lungs. It is also an antiviral and antibacterial and is often used for pertussis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and influenza.

Pairs well with: Other herbs when moistening and cooling is needed or when needing a flavor enhancer

How to use it: Licorice is naturally sweet and makes a great decocted tea. Add 2 tablespoons cut and sifted root to 1 quart of water and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drink 1/4 – 1 cup up to 5 times daily. A tincture can also be used, 15-60 drops 4-5 times daily.

How to get your children to use it: As Licorice is sweet, most kids will drink the tea readily.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use but should be avoided if you have high blood pressure.

Read a bit more about Licorice here.

Marshmallow* Althaea officinalis

Energetics/tissue states: sweet, cooling, moistening

Part(s) used: leaf, root

Why I like this herb: Marshmallow is cooling and soothing to the mucus lining of the respiratory tract. The sweet flavor makes this another easy to use herb, though the wrong infusion can make it hard to drink so be sure to read the ‘how to use it’ portion! Marshmallow helps to break up stuck mucus in the lungs, cooling inflammation and soothing dry, irritated passages.

Pairs well with: Other herbs when moistening and cooling is needed

How to use it: Add 1/2 cup dried root to 1 quart of lukewarm water and steep for 4-8 hours. If you use hot or boiling water, you will end up with a slimy concoction that few find appetizing to drink. Alternately, you can make a tea from the dried leaf, with 1/4 cup dried herb to 1 quart boiling water, steeped for 15-20 minutes. Drink 1/4-1 cup of tea 5 times daily.

How to get your children to use it: Marshmallow root tea is generally naturally sweet so kids will usually drink it without complaint. Other herbs can be added to flavor it, as well as to add more medicinal value. The leaf tea is a bit bland and can be sweetened with a bit of honey or licorice root. Old fashioned marshmallows can be made with Marshmallow root as an alternate to a cough drop.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use.

Decongestant herbs and how to offer them to your children

If you’re needing herbs to help reduce congestion and to help dry out the mucus, look for some of these herbs to help. Many of the antiviral herbs fall into this category as well so be sure to double check that list.

Onion* Allium cepa

Energetics/tissue states: pungent, warming, drying

Part(s) used: bulb

Why I like this herb: Onion is easy to find and generally in the pantry of every home. Onion can help to dry up mucus and congestion, as well as help to remove it from the lungs. Onion can also help to ward of influenza, colds, and other viruses.

Pairs well with: Use Onion in conjunction with other herbs to reduce coughs and congestion

How to use it: Besides adding it to food, Onion is great as a plaster on the chest, helping to draw congestion out, easing coughs. To make a plaster, slice 1-2 red or yellow onions and sauté them in a bit of coconut oil or butter. When they soften add 2-4 tablespoons of cornmeal and stir until it makes a paste-like consistency. You can also use any flour of choice instead of cornmeal. Place the mixture onto a square of flannel cloth, spread evenly and fold closed. Place the flannel on top of the sick person’s bare chest while they are lying down and cover with a hot water bottle then bundle them up with warm blankets. If the pain is greater in the back, you can place the plaster on the back instead of the chest. Leave the plaster on for about 20 minutes then remove (remove sooner if it seems to be irritating). For best results, follow up with an oil infused with Sage, Rosemary, Eucalyptus or Mint.

How to get your children to use it: Children are generally pretty accepting of the Onion plaster and often find it soothing. You can also make a syrup, the instructions can be found here.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use.

Herbs to help with coughs and how to offer them to your children

Coughs are generally a good thing, helping to bring mucus up out of the lungs but at times they can become overwhelming. These herbs can help to reduce coughing through various actions.

Elecampane* Inula helenium

Energetics/tissue states: bitter, pungent, sweet, warming, drying

Part(s) used: root, leaf, flower

Why I like this herb: Elecampane contains camphor, which helps to clear up stuffed up passages. Elecampane helps to draw out deep stuck mucus, opens up bronchial passages to reduce constriction, going deep into the lungs to break up, thin and move out stuck mucus to remove it from the lungs and ease coughing. Elecampane has been used for pleurisy, colds, influenza, pneumonia, pertussis, and asthma.

Pairs well with: Ginger, Spilanthes

How to use it: Tincture is a popular way to take Elecampane as the root can be quite strong, 10-90 drops up to 6 times daily. Candied root and Elecampane syrup are also quite palatable since the honey helps to mellow out the flavor a bit. Follow the instructions for Ginger to make a tea/syrup and take 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon syrup several times a day to soothe coughs and sore throats. To make candied roots, place 2 cups fresh or 1 cup dried roots in a saucepan with 1 quart water and simmer for about 30 minutes, adding more liquid if needed. Strain off the liquid, reserving 3 tablespoons, then add 1 cup of sugar to the roots and the 3 tablespoons of reserved liquid. Bring back to a boil, stirring often and cook until the roots are transparent and the liquid has almost evaporated completely. Reduce heat and cook until almost dry, turn off the heat and cool. Toss with super fine sugar to coat, spread on parchment paper and dry overnight. Store in an airtight jar. Use in place of a cough drop as needed.

How to get your children to use it: Even though Elecampane is strong, the syrup and candied roots are often a hit for kids.

Cautions: Elecampane should be avoided in large doses during pregnancy. Large doses may cause diarrhea, stomach cramping, or vomiting so don’t overdo it!

Read more about Elecampane here.

Thyme* Thymus vulgaris

Energetics/tissue states: pungent, mildly bitter, warming, drying

Part(s) used: aerial parts

Why I like this herb: This herb is easy to find and is probably in your kitchen cabinet right now! Thyme is useful for soothing sore throats and easing spasmodic coughing – it was one of my go to’s when we had pertussis. This herb also helps to dry up mucus, helping to reduce the amount of mucus that may end up in the lungs. Thyme contains thymol, which seems to be effective against COVID-19.

Pairs well with: Ginger, Cinnamon, Spilanthes

How to use it: For a sore throat, a tea of thyme can be made and used as a gargle. Thyme can be drunk as a tea by adding 1/4 cup dried herb to 1 quart boiling water, steeped for 15-20 minutes. Drink 1/4-1 cup of tea 5 times daily. For sinus congestion or dry, inflamed lungs, try an herbal steam by pouring the hot tea in a bowl and covering your head with a towel while you lean over the steam and inhale it.

How to get your children to use it: The tea is mild enough that most children will drink it. It can be flavored with other herbs to add more interest, or sweetened with a bit of honey if needed.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use.

Read more about Thyme here (includes a recipe for Thyme Honey).

Wild Cherry* Prunus serotina

Energetics/tissue states: bitter, sweet, warming, drying

Part(s) used: inner bark, leaf, fruit, flower

Why I like this herb: Wild Cherry helps coughs that are hot, both dry and wet, soothing and relaxing tight, constricted lungs. Wild Cherry also helps to relax the nervous system, helping sleep to come easier when a cough keeps you up at night.

Pairs well with: Ginger, Echinacea, Spilanthes

How to use it: The original cough syrup! Wild Cherry tastes great, like cherry so it can be taken as a syrup, which can also be cooked down to hard ball candy stage to make cough drops. A tincture can be used as well, 10-60 drops up to 5 times daily. For syrup, take 1-3 teaspoons full as needed for a cough.

How to get your children to use it: The syrup or cough drops are your best bet! They are sweet, taste like cherry and sooth sore throats and coughs quite well.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use but can cause drowsiness if taken in large doses.

Herbs to help relieve fevers and how to offer them to your children

Fevers are another line of defense our body has and help to burn off viruses. As long as your child is comfortable, allow their fever to burn. You’ll often notice that the fever will rise and fall, similar to a thermostat in your house – when it gets too hot, it will allow the body to cool off, but then when it gets too cool will kick up again. The body is helping to burn off the virus. Herbalist jim mcdonald has a great article about fevers, you can find it here.

Boneset* Eupatorium perfoliatum

Energetics/tissue states: bitter, pungent, cooling, drying

Part(s) used: aerial parts

Why I like this herb: Boneset has the nickname of ‘bone break fever’ indicating its use with fevers. Have you ever had the flu to the point that your entire body ached so much that any movement was a nightmare? Boneset is specific for that. This herb also helps to lower fevers, when drunk hot as a tea and has been used for fevers resulting from measles, mumps, scarlet fever, yellow fever, typhoid fever and more. Boneset helps to move mucus that is stuck in the lungs by stimulating the cough reflex while helping to relieve stronger spasmodic coughing by relaxing the diaphragm.

Pairs well with: Peppermint, Yarrow, Lemon Balm, Licorice

How to use it: Boneset works well as a tea but is not pleasant tasting. Some people find they actually don’t mind it when they are not feeling well, as if their body is craving what they need. To make a tea, steep 1/4 cup of dried Boneset in 1 quart boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Drink 1/4 – 1 cup as hot as possible 3-5 times daily. A tincture can also be used, 3-10 drops up to 5 times daily for up to two weeks.

How to get your children to use it: This tincture is rather bitter so it’s best to add it to a bit of water, juice or herbal tea to disguise the taste. They may find the tea palatable if diluted with juice.

Cautions: This herb has pyrrolizidine alkaloids and should not be used more than 2 weeks. If you have any liver issues, do not use Boneset.

Peppermint* Mentha x piperita

Energetics/tissue states: pungent, sweet, cooling, drying

Part(s) used: leaf when in flower

Why I like this herb: Peppermint (and other mints such as Spearmint) is a flavor that is well received by kids and adults alike. It is a refrigerant and helps to cool the body from the inside out, bringing down a fever fast when it has been ongoing and is uncomfortable. This herb also contains menthol which helps to sooth spasmodic coughing. Peppermint works well against colds, influenza, chicken pox, measles, and more to lessen the duration, move mucus from the lungs, and ease pain and inflammation.

Pairs well with: Boneset, Yarrow, Elderflower, Echinacea

How to use it: Peppermint works well as a tea, 1/4 cup dried herb to 1 quart boiling water, steeped for 15-20 minutes. Drink 1/4-1 cup of hot tea 5 times daily for fever reduction. For sinus congestion or dry, inflamed lungs, try an herbal steam by pouring the hot tea in a bowl and covering your head with a towel while you lean over the steam and inhale it.

How to get your children to use it: Children will generally drink a tea made with Peppermint. Spearmint is a bit milder and sweeter and is sometimes better tolerated. Either tea can be made into popsicles.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use. Pregnant women should avoid large doses and nursing mothers should drink with caution as it can reduce breast milk.

Yarrow* Achillea millefolium

Energetics/tissue states: bitter, pungent, mildly sweet, cooling, drying

Part(s) used: aerial parts

Why I like this herb: This herb will help to sweat out a fever, which can be helpful when a fever just continues without breaking. As with most diaphoretics, the herb is best drank hot. Yarrow is antiviral and often used for influenza and colds.

Pairs well with:  Peppermint, Elderflower, Thyme, Ginger, Echinacea

How to use it: Yarrow can be drunk as a tea by adding 1/4 cup dried herb to 1 quart boiling water, steeped for 15-20 minutes. Drink 1/4-1 cup of hot tea 5 times daily for fever reduction. A tincture can also be used for antiviral properties, 10-30 drops 4-6 times daily.

How to get your children to use it: This tea is best flavored with a bit of Peppermint, Lemon Balm, or Ginger and a bit of honey.

Cautions: This herb is generally safe for all to use but avoid use if pregnant.

As I have previously mentioned, this is a very short list of herbs that may be helpful. Again, it’s always important to pay attention to how symptoms are presenting in a person and matching the herbs to best alleviate their concerns.

If symptoms are getting worse, seek medical attention immediately.

*for more information on these herbs, look for the corresponding issues of Herbal Roots zine.

[Herbal Rootlets]: 99 – Building A Strong Immune System

Posted in Uncategorized on March 6th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

This time of the year is especially challenging to stay healthy – after a long winter, the lack of daily fresh air and sunshine providing vitamin D tends to find our immune systems weakened. This is the time of year we often see influenza on the rise.

This season, there’s another viral threat, the coronavirus. Understandably, this new virus has many worried about what it might mean for their families. You may be wondering how you can keep yourself and your family healthy during this outbreak, and what to do if you or your loved ones become sick.

There are many practical things that can be done to help keep healthy and avoid spreading viruses. Many of these things are common sense, practical measures that are often simple but can make a big difference. Sometimes, they are so simple that we overlook them completely.

Simple health measures to keep your children’s immune systems healthy

  • Get plenty of sleep. In our go, go, go society, it can be hard to remember to get enough sleep each night. Create a nighttime routine by counting back from your projected bedtime and including everything your children need to do before bed. Do they like to wind down with a bedtime story? Add that into the time line. Or perhaps a bit of snuggle time to talk through the day’s events. Be sure to add enough time in for that as well as the usual baths, tooth brushing, and getting out clothes for the next day. Once you have a routine planned, set an alarm on your phone for the appropriate time to start the routine. It’s especially important that you and your children get a good night’s sleep to keep that immune system strong.
  • Avoid sugar and processed foods. Remember that saying, you are what you eat? It’s true! Your body runs more effectively when you put good fuel into it. Cut back on processed foods such as chips, sodas, candies, etc. Food dyes, preservatives, and processed foods all weaken and suppress the immune system. Increase fresh, whole foods – fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. I find that if I whip up a batch of fruit salad or a veggie tray with hummus and leave it sitting on the counter, much of the contents disappear within a few hours. Kids love those things, they just don’t love looking for them in the fridge and will grab a bag of chips instead because it’s more convenient. Place healthy food in convenient locations and less healthy food (if you have it in the house) in less convenient locations.
  • Pay attention to food sensitivities such as gluten and dairy intolerances. Even if you don’t suspect any food sensitivities, try to cut back on foods such as gluten, dairy, and corn, as they often cause digestive issues that you don’t realize are happening. I recently discovered this for myself. I never felt I had a dairy sensitivity until recently when I stopped eating dairy and discovered I had better digestion, a complete reduction in fatigue, and a clearer complexion.
  • Incorporate nourishing broths into your meals, whether it’s bone broth, mushroom broth, vegetable broth, or miso. Add in immune boosting herbs such as garlic, astragalus, reishi, turkey tail, maitake, and fire cider.

  • Get some fresh air and exercise every day! For example, instead of driving to school, walk to school if it’s not far. Or park further away from the school so there’s a 10-15 minute walk. Alternatively, take an afternoon bicycle ride or walk around the block.
  • Don’t over schedule activities. Allow your children to have regular downtime so they can relax and recharge. Planning too many back to back after school activities can lead to fatigue, weakening the immune system.
  • Drink plenty of water. Limit sugary and caffeinated drinks like soda, tea, and juice and aim for your children to drink at least half their body weight in ounces daily.
  • Remind them to keep their hands off their faces. Touching eyes, noses, and mouths can spread germs that they’ve picked up directly into their bodies. Help them to be aware of these actions and how they can impact their health.
  • Let them play in the dirt and get muddy! I hear you cringing but really, mud is good for them. There is beneficial bacteria in the soil that can help our immune systems grow and become resilient. Clothes are easily washed and so are kids so let them enjoy the outdoors to the fullest.
  • Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands! This meme has been bouncing all over the internet but it’s a great time to remind your children to wash their hands often. I’m not huge on hand sanitizers but I do like the Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand Sanitizer and keep a bottle of it in my car. It’s great to use after you’ve been to a public location and touching shopping carts.

These are all general common sense things that we should be practicing every day, regardless of the season or viral outbreak, but often getting caught up in the daily grind can make us forget the importance of these things.

Supplementation as another immune building tool

The next step to keeping your children’s immune system strong comes in the form of supplements. It’s always best to get nutrients out of food, but sometimes a little extra supplementation is helpful, especially this time of year when we can’t necessarily get them naturally.

I use these for my family to keep our immune systems strong during the winter months. When we slack off, we always notice a difference. My partner didn’t take his vitamin D this year and has been sick twice, once with influenza that took him out for over a week. I’m linking my favorites with my Amazon affiliates link.*

  • Vitamin D3/K2. I like a combo and use this brand. Vitamin D is technically a hormone but we receive it through sunlight, which is impossible during the wintertime unless you live near the equator. Everyone in my family takes one a day (except my partner who slacked off). Vitamin D is fat soluble so get your levels checked at least once a year. My levels were so high this winter my practitioner asked me to back off taking it.
  • Vitamin C. USDA recommendations are 40 mg but alternative doctors are saying 1,000-2,000 mg is not unreasonable. It’s water soluble so no worries on taking too much, other than getting diarrhea if you take too much too fast. Normally, I don’t supplement with vitamin C as my kids enjoy drinking homemade ‘hot lemonade’ but as a precaution, we have decided to take it to boost our levels. We’ve been using this brand and I really like that it’s made with food instead of a chemically concocted version. But again, there are lots of natural food sources for vitamin C, including lemons, limes, oranges, berries, bell peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and pine (makes a great tea) so if your children consume them regularly, it’s not as important to supplement. However, many alternative doctors are stating that high doses of vitamin C can make all the difference in treatment of viral infections so keep some on hand.
  • Zinc. The daily requirement of zinc for children ranges from 3-11 mg depending on their age and we can get zinc in a variety foods including nuts, beans, red meat, poultry,  and oysters. In supplemental form for fighting off illness, 20-40 mg is suggested. This supplement is often taken at the first sign of a cold to reduce the duration up to 4 days. This is the brand we use to increase our immune system response. Avoid zinc with citric acid in the ingredients as it binds with the zinc, making it unavailable for our bodies to utilize. This is the brand that we use.

These are the basic vitamins and minerals that can help support and strengthen or boost the immune system. If you feel your children aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals through their meals, you might also consider giving them a good multivitamin. I don’t give my children any but if I did I would opt for Naturelo’s Whole Food Multivitamins (they have gummies, chewable, and a version for teens) or Nordic Naturals’ Nordic Berries, though there are many other brands out there that are reputable.

One final supplement to think about offering is a probiotic. A healthy digestive system is important for keeping a healthy immune system. Look for probiotics that are refrigerated with live cultures for the best options.

*If you choose to purchase them, I’ll get a small percentage of the money you pay Amazon without any extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Herbal options for boosting the immune system

As this is getting quite wordy, I’m only going to focus on herbal support for the immune system. In the next issue, I will follow up with herbal antivirals and how they can be used to help fight off viral infections. But for today, let’s take a look at herbal immune boosters and modulators.

First, let’s talk about the difference between an immune booster and an immune modulator. Immune boosters are herbs that boost an immune system, putting it into overdrive to help kick out disease and infection. Immuno modulators have the ability to ramp of the immune system if needed, but also to help slow down an over zealous immune system when it’s already kicked into overdrive but shouldn’t be.

There are lots of herbs that are considered immune stimulators and modulators. The following are my favorites. (The links will take you to the corresponding zine issues in case you want to learn more about any of them):

  • Astragalus is a slow immune system builder and great for using after a long illness. After my family had pertussis, I put us all on Astragalus for the following year. Astragalus is slow to act but very nourishing and supportive for our immune systems. It has a sweet flavor, making it an herb that even children don’t mind consuming. A few root slices can be added into soups, broths, etc. as Astragalus is best extracted with water. Making a strong decoction then adding alcohol to preserve it can give a large quantity of tincture to have on hand for long term use. Astragalus is best taken when you are well, so if you find yourself or your children starting to come down with something, stop using Astragalus and switch to another immune boosting herb then restart once well again.
  • Echinacea is often combined with Goldenseal which is poor combination. It’s better to combine Echinacea with Elderberry in rotation (1 hour take Echinacea, next hour take Elderberry) for better results. When taken at the first signs of illness, the combination of the two often help to knock out the virus before any real symptoms set in. Echinacea is generally taken as a tincture in large amounts for his immune system action.
  • Elderberry syrup is one of the best things to have on hand year round for fighting off viruses! It’s easy to make up, tastes great, and stores well in the fridge. As an immune modulator, Elderberry helps to boost the immune system when needed but also has the ability to slow down an immune system when it’s ramped up too much.
  • Fire Cider is a combination of several herbs steeped in vinegar then sweetened with a bit of honey. It contains Ginger, Cayenne or other hot peppers, Garlic, Horseradish, Onion, and often Lemon, all chopped and steeped in Apple cider vinegar for a month. A shot of this every couple of hours when you feel something coming on generally kicks the virus to the curb. Adding honey to sweeten this concoction helps it to go down easier for kids.
  • Mushrooms – Maitake, Shitake, Oyster, Turkey Tail, and Reishi are a few of my favorites but there are others such as Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps too! All these mushrooms have great immune boosting actions and many can be added to foods, making them easy to sneak into your family.

Hopefully this will help to ease your mind about the current viral season. By combining common sense lifestyle and dietary actions with some supplements and herbs, you are able to easily create an arsenal to help keep your family healthy!

Do you already have a regimen for keeping your family’s immune systems boosted? If so, share them with us in the comments!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 98 – How to Store Your Herbs

Posted in Uncategorized on February 6th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

If you’re new to herbalism, chances are you have a lot of questions. I completely understand, I still have lots of questions and I’ve been doing this for many years! One of the biggest questions I get about herbs is what is the best way to store herbs? Is one way better than another? In this article we’ll look at the best practices for storing dried herbs.

First off, let’s talk location.

There are many ways to store herbs but the general rule of thumb is that light and heat will destroy their properties so it’s best to store them in a dark, cool location in your house. Cabinets, a pantry shelf and drawers all make great storage locations. Try to avoid spots such as on top of your fridge, above your stove and other locations that have appliances giving off heat.

Depending on the container you’re storing them in, placing them behind a cabinet door is often the best place so that direct contact with sunlight is avoided.

Now let’s take a look at vessels.

Dried herbs store best in an airtight container. I like glass jars and use a variety including some larger quart, half gallon and gallon mason jars, as well as a variety of jars I’ve recycled from my pantry after use such as nut butter jars, jelly jars, and Cocoyo jars. Be cautious about using pickle and salsa jars as the scent often lingers and can mix in with the herbs. I once used a garlic jar for a Spilanthes tincture and the tincture tasted garlicky when I tried using it a few months later. It didn’t seem to affect the tincture’s use but it’s something to look out for as it can make your tinctures taste off. However, if you are making an herbal infused vinegar, a pickle jar most likely would be fine.

Another container that works great, especially if you have harvested and dried your own herbs and are worried they might not be completely dry are cardboard oatmeal containers. They seal with their plastic lid, keep your herbs about an inch below the lid to avoid touching the plastic, but the cardboard will help to wick out any leftover moisture so that they won’t mold.

Brown paper sacks can be useful for storing dried herbs as well, just be sure to fold them over and tape them closed.

Packaging to avoid.

Often herbs are shipped to you in plastic bags. While this is logical for shipping – they weigh less, have a lesser chance of breaking open and are more adaptable for packing – for long term it’s best to remove your herbs from their original plastic packaging once you receive them. Often it’s easy to remove their labels with enough sticky residue that they can be easily placed on the jar or paper bag you are storing them in.

Some companies such as Frontier Herbs ship their herbs in mylar packaging. I like to transfer these out as well although I will leave them in this packaging if I’m freezing the herbs.

Open containers are another thing to avoid. Air is the enemy of your herbs, along with light, something an open container will allow. Not to mention, dust, insects and moisture have a greater chance of destroying your herbs as well.

Glass containers with ill fitting lids is another container to avoid, especially if you are storing your tincture in it. Speaking from experience, the first time that container gets knocked over, your tincture is going to end up everywhere but in your container and it’s a sad day when you’ve realized all your prized St. John’s Wort tincture has leaked out and evaporated because of the lid not being air tight.

Hopefully this helps to clear up any questions you have about containers!  How do you store your herbs? Do you have an idea for storing them that I haven’t suggested? Do you have any container mishap stories you’d like to share? Share your ideas and stories in the comments!

A Look Inside My Book

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2nd, 2019 by KristineBrown — 4 Comments

Thank you for all the responses on my book! I am very excited to be launching it.

I realize the preview is not up on the Amazon page yet so I wanted to give you a glimpse inside my book today.

First off, here’s the list of the 40 individual herbs covered:
BlackberryB, lack Haw, Black Walnut, Burdock, California Poppy, Catnip, Dandelion, Ginger, Goldenrod, Gotu Kola, Ground Ivy, Hawthorn, Milky Oats, Monarda, Motherwort, Mugwort, Plantain, Prunella, Queen Anne’s Lace, Reishi, Rosemary, Saint John’s Wort, Spearmint, Spilanthes, Stinging Nettles, Thyme, Vitex, Wild Cherry, Wild Lettuce, Yarrow, Borage, Calendula, Cleavers, Comfrey, Lemon Balm, New England Aster, Passionflower, Poke, Saw Palmetto, and Yellow Dock.

As you can see, it’s mostly herbs that can be found out in the back yard. As you know, I find it extremely important to know the plants that grow around you! There are a few in there that don’t grow all over such as Saw Palmetto but I felt those plants were important and irreplaceable with other herbs.

Now for a peek inside the book! First the Table of contents:

As you can see, the book is broken down into two primary sections. The first section is instructional, listing what you’ll need to get started making herbal remedies, instructions on how to make different remedies, and the herbs covered in this book.

Part two is the nitty gritty – 125 recipes that cover many common issues in households. Chapter Four is Common Ailments, which lists 29 every day issues that might arise and remedies for them:

Chapter Five is for emotional well being. There are 11 recipes in this section:

Chapter Six is all about children’s health! This covers 22 remedies that are common to kids and teens (though they will work for adults too!)

Chapter Seven is Women’s Health. Here you’ll find 12 remedies that cover a variety of women’s health issues:

Chapter Eight is for the men. There are 9 remedies in this section:

Chapter Nine covers aging. There are 22 remedies for common ailments that hit us as we start to age:

Chapter Ten covers personal care. There are 20 remedies broken into five sections: bath, body, face, hair, and mouth.

The final section includes some of my favorite resources and a glossary of herbal terms.

If you are wanting to buy my book, Herbalism at Home, please consider pre-ordering it! Pre-orders help with the success of the book, making it visible to more companies so that it receives a higher chance of being available in bookstores and other retail locations around the country.

Guess What?! I Wrote A Book!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 24th, 2019 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

The past several months I’ve bit a bit MIA and I wanted to take a moment to explain why – after a lot of hard work behind the scenes for the past several months, I am so excited to finally announce that I wrote a book and it’s coming out on January 7, 2020!

Herbalism at Home is a great little book to have on hand in your home if you are new to herbs and are looking for guidance to get started. From the pantry to the medicine cabinet, this book will tell you all you need to have stocked to get started making your own herbal remedies for yourself and your family.

Though the book isn’t coming out until January, it can be pre-ordered now. Want to see more of the book? Head to here to read more about it, see the book and pre-order your own copy now.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 97 – Fire Cider is Free!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14th, 2019 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

For the past 5+ years, a battle has been happening. An unscrupulous company decided that they wanted to claim the term “Fire Cider” as their own, taking it away from fire cider makers around the world (who had been doing so for many years, even before the owners of this company were born). After a long, drawn out court battle, the Fire Cider Three were victorious and a judge ruled that the term “fire cider” could not be trademarked.

Just What is Fire Cider?
So just what is fire cider and why should you care anyway?

Fire Cider is a term that renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar made popular through her many wonderful books, classes, correspondence course and teachings through the years. She chose to share her knowledge and recipes freely with anyone who wanted to learn about herbalism because she cares deeply about keeping the tradition of herbalism going. A fire cider is an herbal remedy that is made with vinegar, much like a tincture is an herbal remedy that is made with alcohol. The ingredients of fire cider can vary but usually the base contains apple cider vinegar, honey, horseradish, onions, garlic and cayenne or other spicy pepper. There have been many variations of the recipe over the years, each herbalist putting their own special twist onto this recipe, adding other ingredients such as citrus peels, turmeric, rosemary, sage, holy basil, goldenrod, prunella, elderberries and other cold and flu fighting ingredients. There is no right or wrong, if it’s part of your arsenal, it’s game for becoming an ingredient, that’s part of the beauty of fire cider! The end result is something that is sweet, sour and spicy, all in one. It warms you all the way to your stomach.

A Toast to Fire Cider

This concoction can be taken straight, added to water or tea for sipping or even used as a food (try adding it to your winter salads for an extra zip). It’s used to help heal people who are sick from colds and the flu, digestive issues, sinus infections, treating people with chronic nausea and many other things. This is the number one herbal remedy that was sitting on our grandmothers’ kitchen shelves all around the world. In fact, it goes back many, many, many generations.

The Ingredients
As I mentioned earlier, traditionally, fire cider is made with a few base ingredients: apple cider vinegar, honey, onion, garlic, horseradish, ginger and cayenne (or other spicy pepper). Let’s take a look at what makes these ingredients so special.


Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – This ingredient is what gives the sour to the “sweet, sour and spicy” in this recipe. But, ACV is more than just adding a bit of pep to the blend. There are books written on the value of ACV because it’s that good for you. Full of trace vitamins and minerals, ACV supports the immune system, helps digest food, prevents indigestion, eases allergies and can help control diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, just to name a few.


Raw Honey – Don’t confuse raw honey with the honey substance that is sold in the grocery store. Do your research on the differences, they are too long to discuss in this article. Make sure your honey is from a local source and is not heated during straining. This will ensure all the nutrients of honey are still there. Honey can be applied directly to wounds and burns to promote healing while soothing pain. Honey is also very soothing internally and is great for soothing sore throats and coughs during an illness. Honey is also antibacterial and antioxidant. Darker honey contains more of these actions than light honey. Local honey can help ease the problems of seasonal allergies because local honey contains pollen from the area, the very pollen that causes your allergies. By taking a daily dose, it acts as a sort of natural vaccination, giving your body a minute dose that can be tolerated and grown accustomed to, helping your body get the ability to fight off the invading pollen from the air. And, just like ACV, honey can also help to lower cholesterol when taken daily. Those with diabetes should be cautious though as honey IS a sugar, even though it’s more natural.


Onion – Onion is quite nutritious and contains vitamins A, B6, C, Folate and the minerals Calcium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium and Zinc. Medicinally, Onion is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant and vulnerary. Onion is great for treating coughs, colds, the flu and many other illnesses.

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Garlic – Known as the poor man’s antibiotic, Garlic is used extensively in times of illness. Medicinally, Garlic is diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, immune stimulant, antibacterial, antifungal, alterative, antispasmodic, cholagogue, vulnerary and vermifuge. He can be used for treating strep throat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fevers, boost the immune system, candida and more.


Horseradish – I LOVE Horseradish for all things sinus, he really gets the sinus passages opened up and loosens up the mucus to help with draining. At the same time, he kills the infection. Medicinally, he is antibacterial, antibiotic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, rubefacient, stimulant (gastric and immune), tonic and vermifuge.


Ginger – Ginger is very warming. We use Ginger for treating nausea, stimulating circulation, treating sore throats and coughs, and aiding in digestion. Ginger is antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, rubefacient and stimulating.


Cayenne – Cayenne is also very warming and stimulating to the circulatory system. Cayenne has been used to save people’s lives during a heart attack, he’s that powerful. Cayenne improves circulation by preventing blood from clotting. He also stimulates the brain to secrete endorphins, relieves pain, and treats arthritis, high cholesterol, colds, coughs, the flu, dysentery and sore throats. Cayenne is  alterative, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, stimulating and tonic.

As you can see, these are some very powerful ingredients! All are very warming and stimulating and really help the body to kick what ails you. Fire cider sounds like snake medicine but with one small difference: it actually works! It’s no wonder so many people consider fire cider to be part of their daily supplement for keeping themselves healthy.

This was just a quick run down of what each of these herbs can do. If you’d like to learn more about them, there are back issues available on Apple, Cayenne,  GarlicGingerOnion and Horseradish.  I have put together a Fire Cider Collection that includes all 6 of  past issues plus information about the history of fire cider and instructions on how to make it. For more information, go to our Fire Cider Collection page. A  copy of the Fire Cider ebook (without the 6 issues)  is also available for free on that page or click here to download it now.

The Not-So-Secret Recipe
And now, how to make fire cider!  I highly recommend watching Rosemary’s video on how she makes fire cider put together by Learning Herbs. You can see it right here. The following is the recipe written out, with my added suggestions but play with the recipe and make it your own!


First, assemble your ingredients. Fresh is best. You will need:

1 onion
2-3 heads of garlic
1 horseradish root
1 small – medium piece of ginger root
Cayenne pepper (can be dried, only takes a tiny amount) or other hot pepper such as habanero
Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw Honey
Optional: other ingredients to make it your own special blend such as citrus peels, turmeric, rosemary, sage, goldenrod, prunella, elderberries


To process, you will need:
A cutting board
A sharp knife
A quart jar to hold all your ingredients
Waxed paper if your jar lid is metal (it will react with the vinegar and corrode the lid)

Got everything assembled? Ok, let’s get started!


Begin by chopping up your onion, grating your horseradish and smashing your garlic. You’ll want to add equal parts of garlic, horseradish and onion and then add about 1/2 part of ginger.


Add these bits to your jar. Add in anything else you want to put in to make your fire cider special: freshly grated turmeric, a few organic lemon peels, a handful of sage leaves, 1/2 cup dried elderberries, a few sprigs of rosemary. It’s up to you, you don’t have to add any extras if you don’t want to!

Place a piece of waxed paper over the top of the jar and then screw on your lid.  Shake well and don’t forget to label your jar! Leave on the countertop for 4 weeks and shake daily.

Once the 4 weeks is up, strain off the spent herbs and compost them. Add honey and stir. Taste and add more if you’d like it sweeter. Generally I find 1 part honey to 3 parts infused vinegar is all that is needed. Stir to completely incorporate the honey and now you’ve got fire cider! Pour it into smaller bottles and share with your friends, family and community! I’ve created a label and recipe card that you can print off here to attach to each bottle.


Watch Jaden make fire cider on our youtube channel.

Hey kids, want to learn more about the healing properties of herbs? Why not start off with issues on AppleGarlicGingerOnion and Horseradish? You can also download our entire Fire Cider Collection for a reduced rate.


We drink to our health! Long live fire cider!

Do you make Fire Cider? Tell us what special ingredients you like to add to your version of it!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 96 – 35 Herbal Activities for a Screen Free Week

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15th, 2019 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

This year, International Screen Free Week is from April 29 – May 5. All around the world schools, communities, families and individuals participate in this event. Turn off the computers, smart phones and electronic devices for a week, go outside and enjoy nature.

Why not make the most of this week and try out some of these herbal activities! These activities can be enjoyed any time of the year so after your screen free week you may just decide to have a screen free day once a week throughout the year!

  1. Play an herbal game such as Go Cultivate!, Herbal Bingo or Wildcraft! Love games? You could also try out Herbaceous or Morels as well. For more game ideas, check out our game list (scroll down on the page).
  2. Go on a spring herbal scavenger hunt.
  3. Make a salad using some of the spring edible herbs.
  4. Start an herbal journal to keep track of the herbs you learn about. or
  5. Make an herbarium to keep track of the herbs you learn about.
  6. Take a walk through your back yard or neighborhood and make a list of all the herbs you see. Don’t forget the trees!
  7. Learn all the botanical names of the herbs you found in your back yard or neighborhood.
  8. Learn the meanings behind the botanical names.
  9. Draw a map of your neighborhood or back yard with a key of where all the herbs are located.
  10. Pick a plant from all the herbs on your list and find out about it. Use our free herbal mascot and herbal profile printable templates to take notes.
  11. Print off a copy of the issue of Herbal Roots zine for each child and learn more about your chosen herb.
  12. Make an oil from one of the identified herbs you found.
  13. Make a salve from one of the identified herbs you found.
  14. Make a tincture from one of the identified herbs you found.
  15. Make an elixir from apple twigs and flowers (peach and cherry work well too).
  16. Make a vinegar from one of the identified herbs you found.
  17. Make a syrup from herbs that help with coughs and sore throats such as basil, sage, or thyme. Hawthorn berries also make great syrup.
  18. Make a video about the herb.
  19. Make a leaf rubbing using your herb. Add it to your herbal journal.
  20. Invite a friend over and make some herbal tea to drink.
  21. Write and illustrate a story about an herb.
  22. Draw and/or paint some of the plants you found.
  23. Make a dye out of some plants. Black walnut (hulls or leaves), avocado pits and/or skins, turmeric, dandelion flowers, coffee, and tea all make great easy to use dyes.
  24. Plant some herbs in your garden. Got shade? Plenty of native medicinal plants love the shade and can be found at local nurseries. Even kitchen herbs have a lot of medicinal value.
  25. Don’t have room for a garden? Grow a few herbs in pots.
  26. Visit a local nature preserve and learn about the plants that grow in your area. Compare them to the plants you see in your neighborhood. Be sure to bring along a bag so you can pick up any trash you might see.
  27. Visit a local park and pick up trash.
  28. Visit your local botanical garden and see how many medicinal plants you can find.
  29. Take a hike and scout out the native plants. Bonus points if you can also find the invasives.
  30. Got Violets? Make some jelly.
  31. Violets stopped blooming but dandelions are growing like crazy? Make some Dandelion jelly instead!
  32. Make a batch of fire cider. Though it’s traditional for winter time, it’s always good to have on hand year round!
  33. Have a daily read aloud story time and fill it with herbal stories.
  34. Play some herbally adapted games such as “Weed, Weed, Herb” or “Herbal Freeze Tag”.
  35. Celebrate Herb Day on Saturday, May 4, by throwing a Herb Day party.
  36. BONUS! Celebrate May Day!