[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 129 – Lots of Lemon Love

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25th, 2021 by KristineBrown — 2 Comments

Luscious Lemons,

Yellow and round,

Ripened by sun,

They fall to the ground.

From fruits juicy and sour,

Medicine is made,

When life gives you Lemons,

Make lemonade!

I just adore anything Lemon, how about you?

In the winter, a cup of hot lemonade is soothing and warming, and so delicious.

It’s great to help boost the immune system, can be spiced up a bit with Ginger, or just made simply by using the juice of a lemon, a spoonful of honey, and a cup of hot water.

It soothes sore throats, eases coughs, and rehydrates the body that is sweating out a fever. During these times, I like to add a pinch of sea salt to the mix as well.

Photo by Brian Davis

Some Lemon facts:

  • Lemon is a sub-tropical evergreen tree from the Rutaceae family
  • Botanically, his name is Citrus medica var. limonum
  • He is in the same genus as Grapefruit, Lime, and Orange
  • Energetically, Lemon is sour, drying, and cooling
  • Lemon contains vitamins A, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B6) and the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and copper
  • Medicinally, Lemon is antibacterial, antioxidant, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antiscorbutic, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, febrifuge, and a stimulant
  • Lemon can help to control excessive appetite, high blood sugar, and sugar cravings
  • Lemon strengthens blood vessels to help prevent circulatory disorders

Lemon Face Mask Recipe

Lemon is great for the skin. Sooth imperfections, lighten blemishes and nourish the skin with this healing face mask.

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon yogurt

1 teaspoon honey

Mix the ingredients together. Apply to your face and let sit for 15 – 20 minutes.

Wet the washcloth with hot water and place over your face. Gently wipe off the face mask and pat dry.

Learn more about Lemon with the Lemon eBook.

Follow along with the storytime read-aloud on my YouTube Channel.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 128 – 5 Days of Pine

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23rd, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Evergreen refers to plants which retain their leaves year round as opposed to shedding them in the fall and donning new ones in the spring. There are many different kinds of plants that fall into this category and can be trees or shrubs. Most species of the conifers (Spruces, Pines, Firs, Hemlocks, Junipers) are evergreen as are Live Oaks and Holly trees. Also, trees which grow in warm climates such as Eucalyptus and trees from the rainforest are also evergreens. Instead of shedding their leaves all at once, evergreens continuously shed their leaves little by little as new leaves grow in.

Evergreen can metaphorically refer to something that is continuously renewed or is self-renewing. This week in honor of the holiday season, we will focus on three of the conifers: Pine, Fir and Spruce, common evergreen trees used as holiday trees.

Pine, Fir and Spruce are from the Pinaceae family. Conifers all contain vitamin C, an important nutrient Native Americans found helpful for keeping themselves healthy during the long winter months.

These evergreen trees are antiseptic, warming, expectorant, decongestant and aromatic.

Sap is often melted down and added to drawing salves, salves which are used for drawing out boils, splinters and other skin afflictions.

The inner bark can be made into a syrup which is soothing to respiratory ailments. It is also used as a tea for treating kidney and bladder problems as the bark is diuretic and demulcent.

Many parts of the trees are used: immature/green cones, sap, inner bark and leaves all have medicinal value.

Medicinally, Pine, Fir and Spruce:

~have an affinity for the respiratory, nervous and endocrine systems

~stimulate deep breathing, relieve coughing and soothe irritated bronchial passages

~washes cleanse and disinfect wounds, cuts, scratches, scrapes, etc.

~infusions draw splinters out of fingers and toes

~boosts the immune system during a cold and decreases the time needed for healing

~works well to relieve muscle soreness and stiffness when used as an infused oil or an infusion in the bath

~can be helpful for clearing up sinus congestion in a steam inhalation

From left to right: Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce, White Pine

Day 1:

Go over the information about Evergreens. Have a plant or fresh branches handy to show the kids. If you have any evergreens growing nearby, take them outside and let them see the trees. Try to make a comparison between the types of evergreens you have: the shape of the trees, the height, the types of leaves, etc. Snip or break off branches to pass around. Encourage them to smell the plant and nibble on the leaves. Ask them how they feel when they smell it (happy, sad, relaxed), how they feel when they taste it (does their mouth dry up or do they salivate? is it sour like lemons or sweet like strawberries?)

Day 2:

Review the uses for Evergreens.

Make some Evergreen Tea. This is a fun and easy project the kids will love to help with. Start by going outside to harvest some tips of your Evergreen tree (Spruce, Fir or Pine) with the kids if there are some growing nearby. (If not, try to locate some nearby at a park or neighbor’s house to have available for the kids to use.)

You will need:

Evergreen branch tips
Cutting board
Sharp knife or Ulu
Hot water
Tea pot
Tea cups

Trim off the fascicles (sheath or caps) of the needles, discarding the section that grew from the tree. Trim enough needles to fill your pot 1/2 full. Chop the needles into small pieces.

Place them in the tea pot and pour the boiling water over them. Let them steep for about 20 minutes.

Strain and enjoy! If the kids prefer it sweetened, try adding a bit of infused honey or plain honey will do too.

Day 3:

Review what has been learned about Evergreens. Talk about what the tea can be used for (boosting the immune system, giving a healthy dose of vitamin C, soothes, coughs, sore throats, congestion; externally can be used as a wound wash or to help draw out splinters).

Memorize or become familiar with this story and tell it. You can also listen to it being read aloud on my YouTube channel:

The Trees That Never Sleep

It was a time when bison and elk roamed freely over the prairies and high lands near the mountains. Winter had fallen on the people of the land and they were cold, hungry and malnourished. The snows forced the game animals away from the hunting grounds and the food stores were getting low. Children cried from hunger and disease. The elders of the people grieved to watch their children and grandchildren fall ill from a lack of vitamins.

One elder, Lone Elk, could bear it no more. He journeyed 4 days to the sacred rock and knelt down praying to the Great Spirit for help. He sang and danced and wept for an answer to the needs of his people for 7 days and 7 nights, stopping only to rest a few hours each night.

Each night, in his hours of sleep, he was visited by a Great Horned Owl who called to him in his sleep, waking him to begin his vigil again.

On the 7th night, he lay down on the rock and fell into a fitful sleep. The Great Horned Owl returned and spoke to him: “Go to the trees that never sleep, gather the tips and take them to your people. Boil them in the snow and drink the infusion and your people will be strong again.”

Lone Elk rose from his pallet on the rock, and found an owl feather resting next to him. He braided the feather into his hair, sprinkled tobacco and corn on the rock and began his journey home.

On his return journey, he stopped at the trees that never sleep and carefully gathered the tips of the tree, thanking the tree for its gift, leaving behind gifts of corn and tobacco and collecting some fallen cones to toss into the forest further down the path to help them sow their seeds.

When he arrived back among his people, he shared his visions and the tree tips he gathered. The elder women began gathering snow and set about making the infusion. Once it was ready, they began serving it to the children and then the adults until everyone had their fill.

Every day they continued drinking the healing infusion until  everyone was well again. In the spring, when the animals, plants and warmth returned, the people gave thanks and planted more trees to give thanks. And every winter when the cold returned, the people drank their infusion of tree tips and never suffered from the wintertime illness again.

Day 4:

Retell or listen to the story “The Trees That Never Sleep.” Ask the kids to retell it with you.

What time of year was it in the story? (winter)

Why were the people becoming ill? (lack of vitamins, food sources becoming low, cold weather sending animals far away)

Where did Lone Elk go? (on a journey to the sacred rock)

How long did he stay? (7 days and 7 nights)

When did he finally dream? (on the 7th night)

Who came to him in his dream on the last night? (the wise old owl)

What did the owl tell him to do? (harvest the tips of the trees that never sleep and make tea for the people to drink)

What did he leave behind when he collected the tips and why? (gifts of corn and tobacco; to give thanks for the trees’ gift)

What did the people do in the spring when they were well again (plant more evergreens to grow all over the land)


Remind them of the evergreens’ medicinal uses:






~soothing to bronchial tubes and coughs

~stimulates deep breathing

~helps to get splinters out

~cleanses and disinfects wounds, cuts, scratches

~relieves muscle soreness and stiffness


Teach them a song about evergreens (if you are just focusing on 1 of the evergreen trees, you can interchange the name of Pine, Spruce, and Fir with the pertinent one):

This Old Tree

(sung to the tune of This Old Man)

This old Pine,
He healed one,
He healed one with his sticky gum,
With some Pine sap, inner bark, needles and pine cones,
This old pine grows near my home.

This old Spruce,
He healed two,
He healed two with his green cones too,
With some Spruce sap, inner bark, needles and Spruce cones,
This old Spruce grows near my home.

This old Fir,
He healed three,
He healed three with the bark of his tree,
With some Fir sap, inner bark, needles and Fir cones,
This old Fir grows near my home.

This old ‘green,
He healed four,
He healed four with needles galore,
With some green sap, inner bark, needles and green cones,
This old ‘green grows near my home.

Day 5:

Sing the song about Evergreens.

Review what you’ve learned about Evergreens this week. Make some pinecone bird feeders to hang outside for the birds to eat.

Pinecone Bird Feeder

You will need:

Large pinecones
2 ft. yarn or twine
2 Tbsp. Peanut butter per pine cone
2 Tbsp. lard or butter per pine cone
Plate or pie pan

Make a slipknot in the end of the yarn and attach it to the top of the pinecone.

Mix the peanut butter and lard or shortening together and smear over the surface of the pinecone.

Pour the birdseed on the plate or pie pan. Roll the pinecone in the seed to fully coat.

Place the pinecones in the freezer for about an hour to firm up the mixture. Hang in a tree outside for the birds to enjoy!

Excerpts are taken from Issue 11 – Pondering Pine. You can find the fully revised issue here.

If you get a cut tree for your holiday celebration, check out this previous article on things you can do with it once you take it down.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 127 – 5 Days of Ginger

Posted in Uncategorized on December 16th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Spicy and warming, Ginger is often associated with the holidays: Gingerbread houses and people and Ginger snaps are all part of traditional customs.

This warming herb is a carminative, anti-nausea, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, rubefacient, antispasmodic, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and antimicrobial.

Medicinally, Ginger…

~is best known for relieving nausea such as motion sickness, morning sickness, chemotherapy induced and postoperative

~is soothing on the digestive system and helps to stop indigestion

~aids in peripheral circulation of the body, stimulating the outer extremities

~eases the symptoms of a cold and lessens the severity of one

~reduces a fever by raising the core body temperature causing perspiration

~helps with painful flare ups caused by fibromyalgia

~relieves uterine and abdominal cramping, including irritable bowel syndrome

Ginger is a tropical plant that can be grown in temperate climates as a houseplant. It will go dormant in the winter, dying back to the rhizomes but sprouting again in late spring or early summer when temperatures and humidity are right.

Day 1:

Go over the information about Ginger. Pass around a Ginger root for your children to smell, taste and touch (look in the fresh produce section for Ginger root). Slice off a few slices and let each nibble a bit.

Ask them how they feel when they smell it (happy, sad, relaxed).

Have them nibble on a slice. As they chew it, ask them how they feel when they taste it (does their mouth dry up or do they salivate? Is it warming, cooling, HOT? Does their mouth feel refreshed?)

Day 2:

Review the uses for Ginger.

Make some Ginger Syrup. This syrup is delicious, warming and a great way to introduce kids to herbal medicine. It can be taken by the spoonful to treat sore throats, coughs, congestion, increase circulation to the outer extremities or mixed with seltzer water to make a natural Ginger ale. Try adding some to your herb tea for a sweetened kick.

If you have some extra time, you can also try making candied Ginger from the leftover Ginger pieces. (see the recipe in Day 5’s activities).

You will need:

2 cups sliced Ginger root

2 cups water

2 cups raw sugar or honey

Place ginger roots and water in a saucepan and heat to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes then cover and let sit for one hour.

Strain off liquid from roots (roots may be frozen and used again or used for making Candied Ginger – see recipe on Day 5). Add sugar or honey to the saucepan and heat. If using sugar, bring to a boil and let boil about 5 minutes to thicken.

If using honey, gently heat while stirring to incorporate honey then shut off heat. Do not boil if using honey!

Pour into a jar and label. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

To make Ginger soda, mix 2 oz. Ginger syrup for every 6 oz. seltzer water.

Day 3:

Review what has been learned about Ginger. Talk about what the syrup can be used for (boosting the immune system, soothing coughs, sore throats, congestion; stimulate circulation).

Memorize or become familiar with this story and tell it:

How Ginger Got Her Zing

Once, a long time ago, before man roamed the earth, the plants and animals reigned supreme. They all were respectful of the Sun and Moon and Stars and most of all, their great Mother, the Earth.

There was, however, a feisty plant named Ginger who was always getting herself into trouble. Each day, she sought out new adventures, which often turned out to be great mishaps. There was the time she tried to fool the Pandas into thinking she was bamboo. She nearly became extinct on that day! She teased and tormented the plants and animals on Mother Earth so much, she finally realized she’d better start searching further away to try her pranks out on.

She looked to the sky and thought to herself, “Aha! I haven’t teased the Moon yet!” So she thought to herself what she could do and decided to grow tall so her leaves could tickle the Moon’s nose.

For two weeks, she grew and grew and grew and grew. Finally, on the night that the Moon was full, she reached her. She stretched her stems out long and with her long tapering fingery leaves, she tickled the Moon’s nose.

“Ahhhh—Ahhhh—-Ahhhh—-Choo!” the Moon sneezed, blowing Ginger back down to the earth.

“Drat it!” thought Ginger, her stems all broken down, “I shall have to try to tease the Stars instead!” So the very next morning, Ginger began growing, growing, growing again. This time, instead of stretching her stems up to the sky, she stretched her inflorescence as far as she could.

Finally, three weeks later, she had grown her flower stalk tall enough to reach the glittery stars in the sky. She poked into the nearest Star, trying to tickle him but just as she did, a comet came shooting by and snapped the inflorescence’s stem in half.

“Oh darn the luck!” moaned Ginger. “Those old stars wouldn’t be much fun to tease anyhow! I know, I shall tease the Sun! He’s such a ball of hot gas, he should get a kick out of it!”

So, for four weeks, Ginger grew both her stems and her inflorescence stalks to reach the sun. Finally, the day came and she reached out, both with her leaves and her flower head and poked the sun with all her might!

“Yeeeeeooooooowwwwww!!!!” exclaimed not the Sun, but GINGER! For the Sun was so hot that he scorched her down to her rhizome toes, sending a zing to her very core!

Ginger sulked under the ground in her rhizomes for three months until Spring arrived and gently woke her up.

From that day forth, she never grew more than two feet tall and never bothered another being in the universe, until that is, humans came along and took a bite out of her rhizome!

And that is how Ginger got her zing!

Day 4:

Retell the story “How Ginger Got Her Zing”. Ask the kids to retell it with you.

What did Ginger like to do? (prank the other plants and animals)

Who did she try to fool into believing she was bamboo? (the pandas)

Who did she try to tickle first? (the Moon)

What happened when she did? (the Moon sneezed and knocked her back to Earth)

Where did she grow up to next? (the Stars)

Why didn’t she get to tickle them? (a comet cut her flower in half)

How long did it take her to grow up to reach the Sun? (4 weeks)

What happened when she reached out and tickled him? (she got burned all the way down to her rhizomes)

When did she come back out of the ground? (3 months later, Spring)

Remind them of Ginger’s medicinal uses:

~carminative (assists in digestion and digestive issues)

~anti-nausea (relieves nausea)

~circulatory stimulant (stimulates the circulatory system)

~diaphoretic (lowers fevers through perspiration)

~rubefacient (increases blood stimulation by dilating the capillaries)

~anti-spasmodic (relieves spasms)

~antioxidant (inhibits oxidation of other molecules in cells)

~anti-microbial (kills germs of any kind, herb must be antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic)

~antibacterial (destroys or prevents bacteria)

~antifungal (destroys or prevent fungi)

~antiviral (destroys or prevents viruses)

~antiseptic (kills germs)

Day 5:

Retell the story together and review all that you’ve learned about Ginger this week. Make a Candied Ginger treat with the leftover Ginger from earlier this week.

Candied Ginger

This is a great treat and also wonderful to nibble on when nausea or upset stomach attacks. Save the strained infusion for making Ginger Syrup!

You will need:

2 cups sliced ginger root

Raw sugar

Fine sugar

Place sliced ginger root in a saucepan and cover with water. Gently cook for 30 minutes. Strain off liquid and set aside.

Weigh the ginger and return to the saucepan. Add the same weight of raw sugar to the pan and add 3 tablespoons of the reserved liquid.

Bring to a boil, stirring often and cook until ginger is transparent and liquid has almost evaporated.

Reduce heat and cook until almost dry, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.

Allow to cool then toss in fine sugar to coat. Store in an airtight jar.

Want to learn more about Ginger? Grab the Herbal Roots zine ebook here.

If you liked these activities, consider joining in on 30 Days, 1 Herb. It will walk you through a month of learning about 1 herb in a similar manner to this week’s activities. It’s completely free to join!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 126 – 5 Days of Peppermint

Posted in Uncategorized on December 7th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

Cool and refreshing, peppermint is a great summertime herb to have around, as it is a natural refrigerant. However, Peppermint is often found hanging around the winter holidays! The coolness is a great representation of wintertime!

Peppermint is full of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, selenium, sodium and thiamine!

This refreshing herb is a antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, carminative, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, antiseptic, aromatic, diaphoretic, anti-emetic, nervine, anti-microbial, analgesic and refrigerant.

Peppermint is associated with St. Nicholas. A Peppermint candy cane is often added to the nature table to represent St. Nicholas’s crozier. On St. Nicholas Day, you may choose to give each child a small Peppermint candy cane while you tell the story of St. Nicholas or do St. Nicholas activities.

Medicinally, Peppermint is…

~soothing to the digestive system, calming and relaxing the muscles such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome

~helpful for relieving headaches caused by tension

~cooling, helping to bring down fevers

~useful for treating toothaches, cavities and other mouth inflictions

~great for treating colicky babies and is typically included in ‘gripe water’

~great for treating nausea and upset stomachs

Day 1:

Go over the information about Peppermint. Pass around some fresh sprigs of Peppermint for them to smell, taste and touch (look in the fresh produce section for packages of fresh Peppermint. Spearmint can be substituted if Peppermint is not available). Dried can work in a pinch.

Encourage them to rub the mint between their fingers and smell it. Ask them how they feel when they smell it (happy, sad, relaxed).

Have them try a leaf. As they chew it, ask them how they feel when they taste it (does their mouth dry up or do they salivate? Is it warming, cooling? Does their mouth feel refreshed?)

Day 2:

Review the uses for Peppermint.

Make some Peppermint Toothpaste. This is a healthy and sweet tasting alternative to fluoride and sodium laurel sulfate laden toothpastes. Kids love to brush with their own creation! Peppermint is antiseptic and will kill germs in the mouth.

You will need some Peppermint essential oil and glycerin, both which can be found at a health food store.

Save small 4 oz jars to store the toothpaste in. You can also purchase 4 oz. jelly jars.

You will need:

3 Tablespoons baking soda 1 Tablespoon sea salt

2 Tablespoons glycerin 1 Tablespoon water

Peppermint essential oil

Mix together the salt and baking soda. Add glycerin and water and stir until a paste forms.

Add a few drops of essential oil and mix again. Store in an airtight container.

Day 3:

Review what has been learned about Peppermint. Talk about using the new toothpaste and how they liked it. Was their mouth cool and fresh after using it?

Do they normally brush with Peppermint flavored toothpaste? Do they like this one better than the toothpaste from the store?

Here’s a song about using peppermint medicinally. Sing it with the kids and have them play instruments as they sing along and march around the room:

Peppermint Tea

Sung to “Skip To My Lou”

Pick the peppermint, brew the tea,

Soothes the tummy for you and me,

Swish in the mouth for tooth misery,

Calm those pains and spasms, please!

Got a headache, what’ll I do?

I’m all tense, how about you?

Pick the peppermint, eat a few,

Headache’s gone after you chew.

It’s so hot, wanna cool down,

My usual smile’s now a frown,

Cools internally, drink some now,

Iced mint tea’s the best hands down!

Day 4:

Sing “Peppermint Tea” again and see if the kids can remember the words. Have fun acting it out: pick some pretend peppermint, pour a cup of tea, rub a sore tummy and jaw; rub your head, shoulder muscles, pretend to pick a leaf and chew it up; fan yourself and wipe your brow; drink some tea and smile.

Remind them of the Peppermint’s medicinal uses:

~antibacterial (destroys or prevents bacteria)

~antifungal (destroys or prevent fungi)

~antiviral (destroys or prevents viruses)

~carminative (assists in digestion and digestive issues)

~anti-inflammatory (relieves inflammation)

~anti-spasmodic (relieves spasms)

~antiseptic (kills germs)

~aromatic (stimulates digestion through aromatic oils)

~diaphoretic (lowers fevers through perspiration)

~anti-emetic (relieves nausea)

~nervine (soothes nervous system)

~anti-microbial (kills germs of any kind)

~analgesic (relieves and/or lessens pain)

~refrigerant (cools internal body temperatures)

Serve some Peppermint tea during snack time. Simply add a few leaves to each cup and cover with hot water. Let them steep for about 15 minutes.

Day 5:

Can they sing “Peppermint Tea” and act it out?

Review what you’ve learned about Peppermint this week. Peppermint is a natural insect and pest repellant. Moles and mice don’t like the smell of Peppermint and will stay away from it. For a craft project, make some Peppermint Sachets. Even the smallest hands can usually sew these up. This is a great project to use up fabric scraps as the squares only need to be about 4” each. They can be a bit smaller as well.

You will need:

Dried Peppermint Peppermint Essential oil (optional)

Cotton fabric Thread and needles for each child

Scissors   or fabric glue*

Cut the fabric into 4 x 4 squares. For each sachet, 2 squares will be needed.

Place the right sides together and sew 3 sides closed*.

Turn right side in and fill with dried Peppermint. If you’d like, you can add a few drops of essential oil to strengthen the scent.

Fold the edges of the open side in and sew closed*.

*As an alternative to sewing, you can purchase some fabric glue at the fabric store, glue around the edges then turn right side out when the glue has dried. The final edges can be tucked in and glued shut after they are filled. Be sure to let the glue dry before attempting to turn and fill.


Want to learn more about Peppermint? Grab the Herbal Roots zine eBook here.

If you liked these activities, consider joining in on 30 Days, 1 Herb. It will walk you through a month of learning about 1 herb in a similar manner to this week’s activities. It’s completely free to join!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 125 – 10 Favorite Herbal Games for Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

It’s already October! The leaves are falling and the temperatures are dropping. Outdoor excursions are getting shorter so it’s time to seek out some fun indoor activities. I love games for keeping minds active and bodies busy. The following are ten of our favorite herbally inspired games to play.

There are not a lot of herbal oriented herbal games available but there are a few! Some I’ve listed teach about herbs and herbalism while others are more plant growing oriented. All are fun for kids to play, especially when they recognize the herbs in the games.

I’ve attached links to lead you directly to the websites where they are available. Amazon links are affiliate links – if you click and buy from that link, I receive a small percentage of the sales with no extra cost to you. This is helpful for keeping this website going!

Herbal Bingo by Herbal Roots zine. This is a free downloadable/printable game of Bingo that helps kids to remember herbs.

Go Cultivate! by Herbal Roots zine. This is a free downloadable/printable game that is similar to Go Fish and teaches kids native herb identification.

Officinalis by Robin Red Games. Though this game is from France, it is translated into several languages. You play as an her­ba­list whose objec­tive is to col­lect medi­ci­nal plants in order to concoct infu­sions that pay big while avoi­ding the toxic plants of your oppo­nents! I really love this game!

Herbaceous and Herbaceous Sprouts by Pencil First Games. Herbaceous is a game of potting up herbs to come up with the best collection. Herbaceous Sprouts is a game of collecting seeds, using tools, and growing sprouts in the community garden. The goal is to become the head gardener.

Morels: Strategic Foraging and Feasting for Two and the add-on game Morels Foray by Brent Povis/Two Lanterns Games This is a game about foraging for morels and other edible mushrooms, and teaches about needing to use caution as some mushrooms are poisonous.

Wildcraft!  by Learning Herbs is a fun adventure that teaches kids how to use herbs for a variety of ailments along the journey to collect berries for Grandma’s pie.

Shanleya’s Quest 1 and 2 Card Games by Thomas Elpel. These card decks are connected to the popular books Shanleya’s Quest 1 and 2 and are great for teaching botany with or without the books.

Have you tried these games with your kids? Which are your family’s favorites?

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 124 – Herbs for Teens: Personal Hygiene

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

When doing research for my teen series, I went straight to the source.

I asked my 16 year old, “What are important healthcare concerns for you as a teen?”

I mentioned that I already had anxiety, stress, the stresses of general hormones and puberty, and skincare problems on my list.

Without batting an eye, she replied, “Smelling good!”

Ahhh, yes! Deodorants, body cleansers, hair care rinses, mouthwashes, natural perfumes – personal hygiene!

Why do teens have a harder time with body odor?

There are a few reasons why teens start to have a stronger odor, especially when they start the process of puberty.

First of all, the increase in adrenal gland production and hormones produces an increase of body sweat produced from the sweat glands. The chemicals in the sweat change during puberty as the hormones created during puberty increase.

At the same time, different glands become active, producing sweat and oils in both the armpits and the groin area. While the sweat itself do not smell, the bacteria breaking down the sweat and oil does create an odor.

Interestingly, while feet have sweat glands, they do not produce oils. The smell of stinky feet is a combination of sweat with the socks and shoes trapping in the moisture.

Why do clean clothes often smell when worn by a teen?

Have you ever washed your teens clothes, only for them to shower and put on the clean clothes and almost immediately begin smelling again?

This occurs when the bacteria from their body has locked onto the fabric and stays put even when washed. When your teen puts on their clothes, their body heat reactivates the bacteria, causing the odor to re-emerge.

How to eliminate set bacteria odors in clothing

There are a few ways to combat bacteria caused odors from setting into clothing and to remove the odors once they have set. Try out one of these methods:

* Try spraying isopropyl alcohol or vodka onto the sweat stains. This can be used as a quick fix as it doesn’t need to be washed out before wearing. The alcohol quickly evaporates, taking the odor along with it.

* Another way to help remove the embedded bacteria is to soak the clothing in a basin filled with warm water and 2 cups of baking soda. Let them soak for 6-8 hours. Follow up by washing as usual.

* This can also be done using vinegar instead of baking soda. Soak 6-8 hours in a basin of warm water with 1 cup of white vinegar added. Wash as usual.

Another tip to help eliminate bacteria is to line dry clothing instead of using a dryer, which can heat set odors into clothing.

Natural deodorants

As teens start producing body odor, they are ready to use deodorant. As a parent, your teen’s health is very important so offering an all-natural deodorant is probably number one on your mind.

There are many natural deodorants available. Some work great, and some don’t work at all. What works for you might not work for your teen and vice versa. Be persistent to find a combination that works best with your teen’s body.

* Salt crystals – These are a block of mineral salt that is dampened then rubbed onto the armpits.

* Aluminum free deodorants – There are many aluminum free deodorants on the market now. If one doesn’t work out, try another brand as I have found that they all vary in effectiveness.

* Aluminum free creams – Similar to deodorants, these are cream based and smoothed onto the pits by hand.

Alternatively, you can make your own natural deodorants. There are loads of recipes online or you can try the recipes in my book Herbalism at Home.

Doing away with stinky feet

Stinky feet can be embarrassing for anyone, but as a teen, it’s often a nightmare. There are a few things that can be done to help combat the odor.

Sprinkle baking soda in shoes after each use to help deodorize and kill bacteria.

Have teens thoroughly dry their feet after washing them and keep the socks and shoes off until they are completely dry.

Stay barefoot as much as possible to help keep the feet aired, allowing the bacteria to evaporate.

Apply a natural deodorant to the bottoms of their feet before putting on shoes and socks or sprinkle a mixture of half baking soda and half arrowroot powder into the socks before putting them on. Alternatively, they can dust their feet with the powder as well.

Masking odors with perfumes

It is often tempting for teens to apply perfume or cologne but that can often lead to overwhelming scents that make it hard for everyone around them to breathe.

Encourage teens to apply only 1 squirt or splash of their favorite scent, using the old adage “a little bit goes a long way.”

Natural perfumes and colognes

If your teen is open to it, play around with creating a natural scent using essential oils to skip the chemical scents altogether.

This is a great way for them to create a custom scent that works well with their body and they enjoy the smell of.

Both young men and women often enjoy creating a scent that they prefer by blending together scents they like. Take a trip to a local health food store or natural grocery store and scout out the essential oil samples.

Let them pick out 2-3 scents that they really resonate with and hold them up together to see if the scents blend well. After choosing those scents, take them home and blend together in a carrier oil such as jojoba oil to create a perfume or cologne that can be dabbed on pulse points. Or, if they prefer a spray, combine it with a blend of half isopropyl alcohol and half distilled water in a spray bottle.

Combatting bad breath

Diet, hydration, and oral hygiene all play a role in keeping  breath from smelling bad. A diet high in processed foods will contribute to foul odors, so this is another good reason (as if we don’t already have enough reasons!) to convince teens to eat foods that are as least processed as possible.

Switching out sugary drinks for water is another way to help keep the mouth fresh.

Encourage teens to keep up with good oral hygiene as well. They should be brushing at least twice a day, and flossing daily. They might also find using a tongue scraper to be beneficial for helping to remove excess bacteria from their mouth.

Many teens have braces, making it extra hard to keep bad breath at bay. Gently remind them to stay on top of their oral hygiene. Setting daily timers on their phones and finding toothpastes and mouthwashes they enjoy the flavor of can all be helpful.

Be sure they are rotating their toothbrushes out every 3-4 months and wiping their tongue scrapers with mouthwash after every use.

There are a variety of natural toothpastes available on the market now that offer a selection of flavors and applications. If your teen doesn’t like paste, try a powder. There are even powders and toothpastes that contain activated charcoal that helps with killing off bacteria while whitening teeth at the same time. Teens who are self conscious of their tooth color may find these offerings to be a good incentive for brushing.

Mouthwashes can also be made very easily with a flavor they find pleasing. Some of our favorite flavors are Cinnamon, Spearmint, Basil, and Lemon Balm. Adding a bit of Echinacea can help to fight off bacteria.

To make a mouthwash, you will need a tincture of the chosen flavor. If you are adding Echinacea to the mouthwash, fill a 1 ounce bottle half full of the chosen flavor tincture and half full with the Echinacea tincture. To use, add 30 drops of tincture into a shot glass and then add a few tablespoons of water. Swish for 1-2 minutes then spit out.

Being a teen comes with its own set of challenges, including body odor, but it doesn’t have to be an embarrassment they have to live with. By applying these tips to their everyday hygiene routines they will feel confident in their ability to conquer odors while their body learns to self regulate.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 123 – Herbs for Teens: Puberty and Reproductive Support

Posted in Uncategorized on September 16th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 2 Comments

Mood swings…Anger. Frustration. Anxiousness. Depression. Confusion An emotional rollercoaster.

Sleep disturbances…Staying up too late. Oversleeping in the morning. Exhaustion.

Body image issues…Acne. Oily hair and skin. Weight gain. Feeling too tall or too short.

Teens are often in upheaval due mainly to one thing: hormones.

This is the time of their lives when their bodies are growing from childhood to adulthood and often it is messy, painful, beautiful, raging.

Handling emotions

During puberty, teens experience surges of hormones which can intensify their emotions. Often teens feel out of control and rage, often without any warning.

It’s important for teens to learn to identify the emotions they are feeling, give them a name, and learn to pay attention to what is triggering them.

Often a melt down over something that seems trivial to us adults, such as a B+ on a homework assignment when they expected an A, can stem from not only those hormones that are out of balance but also from a disrupted sleep schedule, a lack of a balanced diet (is your teen hangry a lot?), being too sedentary, or a combination of any of these.

A teen that can recognize these signals will have a valuable skill that will help him to quickly reduce intense emotions by grabbing a piece of fruit, taking a walk outdoors, or getting a 10 minute power nap. As he moves into adulthood, your teen will see the value in having healthier habits to help keep their emotions in check.

Herbs for hormone health and puberty

This is the perfect time to support the body and reproductive system with herbs! Herbs are gentle helpers that can help to soothe the tribulations of a changing body.

The following are a few herbs that are great for teens:

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that is relaxing and restorative to the body. It supports and enhances the function of the endocrine system, including helping to increase the function of the thyroid, adrenal glands, and the testes in men, making this a super supportive herb for boys going through puberty. Ashwagandha is high in iron making this a great herb for girls who have started menstruating, as it also assists women who are weakened from heavy menstrual bleeding by increasing iron levels in the blood to replace iron lost during menses.

Ashwagandha is traditionally taken with milk. If you are dairy intolerant you can substitute a nut milk of your choice. You can sweeten with molasses or honey but if you need the extra iron, molasses is best. Steep 1 teaspoon Ashwagandha in 8 oz of scalding milk for 15-20 minutes. Add 1-2 teaspoons molasses or honey to sweeten and drink 1 cup twice daily.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranous)

Another adaptogenic herb, Astragalus is very nourishing and restorative to the body. Astragalus works similar to Ginseng but because it is more gentle, it is often suggested for children and teens. As a cognitive enhancer, Astragalus may help to support some cognitive function including concentration, learning, memory, and mood. Astragalus also is supportive to the liver.

Astragalus works best as a water based remedy so add Astragalus roots to soups, stews, and broths, or make a tea out of the decoction. A double extracted tincture also works well, simply decoct the roots in water first then add alcohol to preserve. Dose is 90 drops three times daily. More recipes and ideas can be found in the Astragalus issue.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

This herb tastes great, helps to relax stressed and anxious teens, and helps to release tension. This is a great herb to have on hand to help balance mood swings.

This herb is naturally fruity and sweet, making it a great herb to have on hand as a tea.

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)

I mentioned this herb in last week’s article about stress and anxiety. Besides being a nourishing herb that helps to support the nervous system, Milky Oats helps to balance and regulate hormone function, making it a great herb for teens to add to their daily herbal regimen.

Their naturally sweet flavor makes them perfect as a daily infusion.

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

This is another herb that was mentioned earlier this month when I was talking about acne and liver support. In addition to helping with acne and supporting the liver, Vitex also supports the pituitary gland, helping to regulate and balance hormones. For teens riding out the rollercoaster of puberty, Vitex can help to calm the emotions of both boys and girls. For girls with irregular cycles, Vitex has been found helpful for regulating them

Vitex is slow to act on change in the body and it is suggested it should be taken for 3 months straight before expecting any results.

To use Vitex, take 60 drops in a cup of water in the morning and another 30 drops in a cup of water in the early afternoon.

Willow (Salix spp.)

Years ago I learned from herbalist Henriette Kress that the Willow catkins are often used for extreme hormone fluctuations in teens. Though traditionally Black Willow catkins were used, Henriette has tried out different types of Willow with great success.

To use, make a tincture of 4 oz . fresh Willow catkins in 8 oz. grain alcohol. Teens should take 15 drops three times daily.


Want to get daily tips, recipes, and more on herbs for teens? Follow me on Instagram where I’m posting all month on herbs for teens.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 122 – Herbs for Teens: Anxiety and Stress Support

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Is your teen feeling anxious and stressed?

Do they have trouble sleeping, suffer from panic attacks, have trouble eating, focusing on schoolwork, feel physically sick with nausea, headaches, stomachaches, or diarrhea?

Are they depressed, forgetful, or even careless?

These are all warning signs of too much stress in a teen’s life.

Just what do teens have to be stressed about?





College applications.






Family problems.


World Events.


The list of stressors in a teen’s life can get pretty long and teens often have a harder time adapting to stress than adults due to the hormones raging through their bodies.

What are some ways to alleviate stress and anxiety?

The most important thing teens can do to help their stress and anxiety is to practice good self care habits: eating healthy, drinking lots of water, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, taking up an enjoyable pastime or hobby, and practicing yoga or meditation all can go a long way to help lower stress and anxiety levels.

Eating more healthy

Ask your teen to sit down with you and help you plan out a menu for the week’s meals. Having them be a part of the meal decisions will help empower them to make good food choices, especially when they can have a say in the meals being prepared. Talk about the importance of a variety of foods with eat meal. Try to plan meals that are colorful and have lots of texture.

Get them involved with food prep. On weekends, spend Sunday afternoon chopping and prepping vegetables to be cooked during the week. This will help make mealtime preparations easier, and give them a task to do that shows they are a valued member of the household and their help is important for making weekday meals easier for all.

Drinking enough water

If your teen struggles with drinking enough water throughout the day, fill a jar with the amount they should drink in a 24 hour period and challenge them to get through it in a day. Though water amounts vary, a good general rule of thumb is to drink about half your body weight in ounces each day. This is a great challenge for adults too! Have a jar for each member of the household and keep track – whoever meets their daily quota the most throughout the week could get a reward. The reward could be as simple as a back rub from someone else in the family (perhaps the one who drank the least?) or having a chore completed for them.

Exercising regularly

Help your teen to create an exercise routine that appeals to them. My daughter loves to dance and does ballet, jazz, and modern in an excess of 6 hours a week. My son love to ride his bike, scooter and rip stick. A special treat is going to the skate park so he can do tricks on his scooter. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or monotonous. It should be something fun that keeps them moving.

Getting enough sleep

School schedules can wreak havoc on a teen’s natural tendency to stay up late and sleep in. Homeschoolers can often be more flexible, allowing teens to sleep as long as they need every day. If your teen has to get up early in the morning, make sure they are setting realistic bedtime goals and sticking to them. Stating the obvious – it’s easier to get up in the morning when you’ve gone to be early enough, you feel so much better when you get enough sleep – might make them rebel depending on their temperament. Encourage them to turn off their phones/computers/tablets an hour before bedtime and creating a ritual to help them wind down and get ready for bed.

Taking up an enjoyable pastime or hobby

Encourage your teen to take up a hobby that they enjoy doing. This can be something that gets them active such as hiking, bike riding, or even geocaching, or something a bit more relaxing such as painting, sewing, writing poetry or short stories, or starting a collection (rocks, cards, coins, etc). Doing something enjoyable is helpful for getting their mind off of their stressors.

Practicing yoga or meditation

Doing calming activities such as yoga, tai chi or meditation helps to calm the mind and relax the body and all have many health benefits, including reducing stress. Offer to take a class with your teen at the local yoga studio or explore meditation apps and learn to meditate together. My favorite app for meditation is Insight Timer which offers thousands of free meditations that are organized based on themes to help you find the perfect meditation.

What herbs help with stress and anxiety?

In addition to lifestyle habits, there are many herbs that can help with stress and anxiety. They should be incorporated into the day to support your teen’s mental health.

Try out a few of these herbs in conjunction with the lifestyle habits to help support your teen and reduce their stress and anxiety.

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)

Oats are so great for the nervous system. Taking an oatmeal bath can help to soothe stress and calm the nerves.

Milky Oats are the tops of oats that are harvested while in a juicy stage. These tops are great as an infusion. They are sweet to taste and can be drank hot or cold. Consuming Milky Oats infusions several times a week will support the nervous system and help teens to be more calm and relaxed.

Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina)

Wild Cherry can help to stop a panic attack when taken quick enough. I like to utilize Wild Cherry as a tincture for this purpose as it helps to ease hyperventilation and calm nervous agitation.

To use, take 30-60 drops at first sign of anxiety or a panic attack and repeat every 20-30 minutes as needed.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita, Chamaemelum nobile), Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Lemon Balm, Chamomile and Catnip all are great for easing stress and anxiety, especially when physical symptoms such as nausea, stomachaches, and other digestive issues appear. These can all be drank as a tea or taken as a tincture when your teen needs a gentle herb to help soothe them. Serve the tea with a dollop of honey if preferred or drink as is.

These can all be utilized as a tincture as well. To use, take 30-60 drops.

Rose (Rosa spp.), Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)

The scents of Rose and Lavender are very calming and soothing. These two herbs are very versatile. Sachets of either or both can be tucked into a pillowcase to help encourage restful sleep, or added to an eye pillow for extra relaxation during meditation or yoga. They can be added into a tea blend or taken as a tincture.

Try combining them with some of the other herbs mentioned to make a tea blend.

Watch out for the prickly bracts on the flowers!

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Motherwort is great for frazzled nerves, especially when accompanied by premenstrual syndrome, which can make anxiety and stress even worse. This herb is bitter so it’s best taken as a tincture in a bit of water.

To use, have your teen take 30 drops 2-3 times daily. This herb is helpful for young men too!

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

California Poppy and Passionflower are great to have on hand when your teen needs something to help her sleep. Passionflower is especially great for shutting off the continuous dialogue that can plague her brain when she wants to relax and sleep but is worried about an upcoming test or interview.

Try 30 drops or either or both in a bit of water immediately before bed. Follow up in 30 minutes if sleep is still elusive.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao)

Many people talk about eating chocolate when they are depressed. There is some basis to this as Cacao can boost serotonin and endorphin levels to encourage renewed energy and positive moods.

Cacao acts similarly to herbs that also contain caffeine, though Cacao does not affect the central nervous system in the same way, especially in regards to disturbing sleep as caffeine can, making this herb a great way to relax in the evening without worrying about staying up all night because of the caffeine. At the same time, Cacao can help to energize your teen while calming the nervous system, allowing them to focus and get work done.

Try a cup of hot cacao by mixing 1 tablespoon of cacao in hot water or milk (oat milk is my favorite for this) and adding 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and honey to sweeten. For a bit of spice, add a dash of cayenne!

Reishi (Ganoderma spp.)

It’s important to support the body’s adrenals and nervous system when stressed. Adding adaptogens is a great way to support both. As an adaptogen, Reishi helps our bodies to handle stress and normalize body functions. In addition, Reishi helps promote more restful sleep and relieve anxiety. People who consume Reishi on a regular basis tend to fall asleep faster, sleep deeper and feel more rested upon waking. During the waking hours, Reishi gives energy, focus and calmness which helps to reduce mental and physical stress.

Your teen can try Reishi as a tincture, 30 drops 1-2 times daily (try adding it to the Cacao recipe), or as a decoction, by adding 1/2 ounce dried Reishi to 4 cups of water and soaking overnight. In the morning, pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stain the mushrooms out of the liquid and add honey to sweeten and milk to taste.

Want More Tips On Stress and Anxiety For Teens?

All this month I’m posting on teen herbalism over on Instagram. Follow me and get additional tips, recipes, and ideas for helping your teens navigate their ever changing bodies using herbs. Be sure to go back to the beginning of the month to read through all the posts!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 121 – Herbs for Teens: Liver Support for Healthy Skin

Posted in Uncategorized on September 2nd, 2020 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

Is acne a frustration for your teen?

Do they spend hours in front of the mirror, agonizing about the condition of their skin?

Are they embarrassed about blemishes and try to hide their face from the world?

If so, you and your teen might find this week’s article helpful.

The Bane Of Every Teen’s Existence: Acne

A big concern of many teens is acne.

As their hormones sky rocket, their bodies try to compensate, often causing skin to become oily and susceptible to acne.

Add in a diet filled with sugary, processed foods, a lack of water, little exercise, and poor sleep habits, and your teen has a cocktail of acne madness.

While lifestyle choices alone do not cause acne, they can exasperate it so it’s important that your teen work on creating healthy living habits to help their liver do its job.

What’s The Liver Got To Do With It?

The liver is the toxic dumpsite for the body and often gets bogged down, causing the skin to erupt.

Hormones, which are fluctuating wildly during puberty, processed foods, and sugary drinks all contribute to liver congestion.

Through liver support and nourishment, especially when combined with dietary and lifestyle changes, the skin is also supported and becomes clearer.

Besides controlling the clearness of the skin, a taxed liver can also cause excessive anger, impatience, resentment, and frustration. If your teen is feeling overwhelmed with this emotions, it’s another sign the liver needs some TLC.

How Do You Support The Liver?

There are many ways to support the liver. I have found that a combination of supports work the best.

There are many herbs that are supportive of the liver that can be considered, some are especially great for teens.

And, as I mentioned before, dietary and lifestyle considerations are extremely important as well.

Dietary Support For The Liver

First, let’s take a look at dietary support.

Everything that we consume, whether it be food, drink, supplements, or medications, gets filtered through the liver.

While it would be great to throw out processed foods, sodas, and junk food, having two teens in the house (and having lived through 4 more growing into adulthood), I know how hard that battle can be.

Try to get your teen to compromise – perhaps before every soda they drink, they drink 8-16 ounces of water.

Or for every sugary, greasy, or salty snack they eat, they eat a piece of fruit before they eat the less healthy snack.

If you can get them to commit to this, especially before they consume the less than healthy treat, chances are good they will eat or drink less of that treat.

This is a great habit to get your younger kids into doing as well – having a bit of “growing” food or drink will fill their bellies so that they are satisfied sooner when they start to eat the junk food.

Talk to them about good meal choices as well.

A hamburger and fries from a local fast food restaurant may appeal to their taste buds, but it does not appeal to their liver.

Compromise with one junk meal a week, while the rest of the meals are healthy and wholesome.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and limited amounts of dairy and meat will help to support the liver.

Cruciferous greens such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and mustard greens support the liver as do nuts, fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and sardine, and avocados are all great liver supporting and nourishing foods.

Finally, if your teen likes to have a late night snack, suggest they stop eating 2-3 hours before bed to give the liver time to properly process and cleanse at night.

Exercise and Sleep For Liver Support

In addition to eating healthy to keep the liver healthy, getting enough sleep every night and enough exercise every week are important.

Help your teen to create an exercise routine that they can enjoy, whether it be dance, skating, bicycling, swimming, or another form that is fun for them and help them to create a plan to do that exercise 4-5 times a week.

Exercise helps the liver by increasing oxygenation of the blood, which brings oxygen to the liver and other vital organs more quickly.

It’s recommended that teens (aged 13-18 years) need 8-10 hours of sleep every night.

Unfortunately, many teens stay up late and then have to rise early for school, often squeaking by on 5-6 hours of sleep every night, and sometimes less.

As a body that is still growing, the proper amount of sleep is so important!

If your teen complains about trouble sleeping between 1 and 3 am, that’s another signal that their liver is needing support; according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, that is the time that the liver processes and cleanses itself and if your liver is struggling with that process, it will sometime show up in the form of insomnia during that time period.

Herbal Support For The Liver

Adding some herbal support to the previous protocol will go along way to help support and nourish the liver so it can do its job efficiently and not use the skin as its dumping ground.

Herbs can be great, but sometimes, they can be very slow to act, so consistency is the key to seeing results.

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

This is one of my favorite herbs for supporting teens through acne. It is incredibly slow to start working but once it does, it does a pretty terrific job! Burdock helps with skin eruptions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne. Decoctions or tinctures internally and oils or tinctures externally will help heal the cause of these irritations. They must be taken several times daily for at least 3 weeks before seeing any improvement and sometimes longer but it is worth the time for the results.

For tincture, use 30 drops, 3 times daily in water. Results can be seen in 3 weeks but it can take up to 3 months for lasting results.

For decoctions, follow the how-to’s from my decoction article for making and drink 1 cup 3 times daily. It can be sweetened with honey or sugar and cream or drank as is. For a more favorable drink, try the chai recipe in the decoctions article.

For using the infused oil (for how-to’s on making an infused oil, check out my article on the topic here) or tincture externally, use an eye dropper to place a drop on your finger or a cotton swab and dab it on the pimple 5 times daily.

Combining an internal and external use of Burdock, it will support the liver internally while attacking the blemish externally.

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

Though often thought of as an herb for women, Vitex is helpful for both young men and women during puberty to help soothe hormones, allowing for more even emotions.Vitex has also been found to be helpful for many types of acne, including cystic acne when combined with other herbs such as Saw Palmetto. While Vitex does not work directly on the liver, by supporting the reproductive system and hormones, it helps to decrease the strain on the liver from excessive hormones being filtered through the liver.

Vitex is slow to act on change in the body and it is suggested it should be taken for 3 months straight before expecting any results.

To use Vitex, take 60 drops in a cup of water in the morning and another 30 drops in a cup of water in the early afternoon.

Wild Lettuce (Lactuca virosa)

Herbalist Matthew Wood has done a lot of work with Wild Lettuce and shares his experiences in using this plant with teens for acne:

…any acne where the face is involved and there is a rough, cystic form with deep cysts slowly coming to the surface; the whole causing unsightly roughness and scar tissue. It will clean this up from the inside, reducing the acne…for several weeks. Then a new crop…will boil up at about the third week and cause a new outbreak.”

Continued use of Wild Lettuce will then resolve this outbreak, reducing the scars as the acne heals.

Dosage for tincture is 30-60 drops, three times daily. If taking for longer than 4 weeks, take a 1 week break for every 4 weeks of consumption.

Adding Herbs To Food For Liver Support

In addition to utilizing herbs as herbal remedies, many herbs can be added to foods for additional liver support. Those herbs include Burdock roots (roasted), Chicory leaves and roots, Cinnamon, Cumin, Dandelion leaves and roots, Garlic, Ginger, Stinging Nettles and Turmeric.

Want More Tips On Acne Care For Teens?

All this month I’m posting on teen herbalism over on Instagram. Follow me and get additional tips, recipes, and ideas for helping your teens navigate their ever changing bodies using herbs. Be sure to go back to the beginning of the month to read through all the posts!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 120 – Making Herbal Decoctions with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on August 26th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Teas…infusions….decoctions…what’s the difference between these water based herbal remedies?

When should you make one over the other? Does it even matter?

In past articles, I’ve written about making herbal teas and making herbal infusions.

Today I’m going to tell you all about herbal decoctions.

What are decoctions?

Herbal decoctions are an herbal preparation that is made by gently simmering herbs in water on the stove for a limited amount of time, generally about 20 minutes, though sometimes they are decocted for a shorter or longer period of time.

When are decoctions used?

Just as teas and infusions are used with softer plant parts such as leaves, flowers, and stems, decoctions are used with harder plant parts such as roots, bark, seeds, and nuts, as well as hard fungi such as reishi, turkey tails, and chaga.

Sometimes hard berries such as Hawthorn, Rose hips, or Elderberries (dried)

Because these parts of the plant are harder, they require more effort to extract their medicine.

By simmering them, the cell walls are broken down, releasing the constituents.

Both fresh and dried herbs can be used for a decoction.

If you are decocting with fresh herbs, it’s best to double or triple the amount of herb you would use if dried to account for the extra moisture in the fresh herb.

For instance, if you were going to simmer 1 tablespoon of dried Elderberries in 8 ounces of water, you would increase it to 2-3 tablespoons of Elderberries in 8 ounces of water.

What are decoctions used for?

Decoctions can be used similarly to teas and infusions whenever a beverage is wanted as an herbal remedy.

They can also be used as a base for making other remedies such as syrups, cough drops, or a double extract (when an herb is decocted then tinctured in alcohol).

How to make an herbal decoction.

Making herbal decoctions are as easy as making herbal teas and infusions.

You will want to start with cold water, and place the water and herbs into a saucepan on the stove.

Depending on the herb, you will want to add 1-3 tablespoons of herb per 8 ounces of water.

Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, turn down the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Sometimes a recipe will call for an herb to be decocted by half. For instance, if you start with 16 ounces of water, you will simmer your decoction until the liquid is reduced to 8 ounces.

Some herbs that decoct well.

The list of herbs that can or should be decocted is quite extensive.

One thing to keep in mind is if an herb has a lot of volatile oils, you would be better off creating a tea or infusion than a decoction.

Valerian is a great example of this. The root is highly aromatic (some would say it smells like stinky socks), and is better made as a tea than a decoction.

The following is a list of herbs that are best made as decoctions:



Black Pepper

Blackberry (root)

Burdock (root)




Chicory (root)







Dandelion (root)

Echinacea (root)


Elecampane (root)




Gravel Root

Hawthorn (berry)



Marshmallow (root)

Milk Thistle



Oyster Mushroom

Raspberry (root)


Rose (hips)

Saw Palmetto

Turkey Tail


Wild Cherry

Wild Ginger


Witch Hazel

Yellow Dock

One of my favorite decoction blends

I love tea! I cannot drink coffee and I do not drink soda so I like to mix up my day with a variety of tea blends.

One of my favorite blends is a Dandelion Burdock Chai blend.

Add a bit of honey to sweeten and a splash of your favorite milk to make this a delicious beverage that even kids will like.

Spend an afternoon with your kids, blending together this blend, adding or adjusting the blend to suit your tastes.

1 cup total of roasted Chicory root, Burdock root, and/or Dandelion root

6 tablespoons Fennel or Anise seed

1 tablespoon Cloves

1 tablespoon green Cardamom pods

6 Cinnamon sticks

2 Tbsp dried Ginger root

1 1 /2  tsp black Peppercorns

12 Bay leaves broken into pieces

1 cup water

Crush the Cardamom pods and the Cinnamon sticks with a mortar and pestle.

Mix the ingredients together in a quart jar, shaking and stirring until well mixed. Label your jar.

To make the chai:

Add 1 tbsp mixture per cup of water, simmer for 5-10 minutes then steep for 10 minutes.

Add 1 Tbsp honey per cup. Add 2 Tbsp milk or cream per cup and stir.

Hopefully this is helpful for when and how to make a decoction and gives you the confidence to make some with your children.

Herbal decoctions are easy to make and are another great tool to have on hand for making your own herbal remedies.

Have you ever made an herbal decoction? I’d love to hear your stories!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 119 – Making Herbal Glycerites with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Just what is an herbal glycerite and why would you want to use it?

Have you ever heard of a glycerite? Have you ever used one?

In today’s article, I am going to talk all about glycerites, the pros and cons, and how to make them.

What are glycerites?

Glycerites are similar to tinctures but instead of alcohol, are made from glycerin.

Last week I gave you the run down on making herbal tinctures with alcohol.

You can find that article here in case you missed it.

What is glycerin?

Glycerin is a thick, clear, sticky liquid that is made from fat/oil and generally from soy, palm, or coconut oil though it can be made from animal and petroleum products as well, and is the sugar alcohol, known as glycerol or glyceric alcohol, from these products. It is created by heating the fat under pressure, often with an alkali such as lye, to cause the sugar alcohol to split away from the fatty acids.

Glycerin has had a variety of uses, from its first use in making dynamite, to being used in the cosmetic industry for various products. Though it’s been around since the late 1700’s, it was first used in medicine making in the mid-1800’s.

Today it’s used in many commonly used items including toothpaste, deodorants, makeup, soaps, candles, lotions, yogurt, ice cream, cough syrups, and more.

When purchasing a glycerin, avoid synthetic glycerins, as they are made from petroleum products. Mountain Rose Herbs carries organic glycerin.

Why herbal glycerites?

Sometimes, an alcohol based tincture is not wanted when making herbal medicine for various reasons.

You may choose to not want to give your children alcohol tinctures, or if there’s an adult who is alcohol intolerant, they may be too sensitive to alcohol to be able to consume tinctures.

What other options are there?

If you are wanting to make an herbal remedy that is fairly shelf stable and long lasting, there are two other options: herbal vinegars and herbal glycerites.

I wrote all about herbal vinegars awhile back. You can find that article here.

Herbal glycerites are made similarly to tinctures in that you add the herb to a jar, then fill it with glycerin and water and let it sit for several weeks before straining and using.

Glycerin is naturally sweet, making it a remedy that most children are agreeable to taking.

Glycerins make remedies that are not as strong as their alcohol based counterparts.

While this may make glycerites less desirable for adults, this can be great for making a milder and gentler remedy for children.

Glycerin is fairly stable, solvent, and has preservative properties, making it a fairly good substitute for alcohol.

It does not evaporate as alcohol does.

It works best as a glycerite based tincture when combined with herbs that are high in tannins or alkaloids and less effective for herbs that are high in resins or oils.

Glycerin contains some medicinal properties, including antiseptic actions. When diluted, glycerin becomes emollient, demulcent, and healing.

Glycerin absorbs moisture from the air, requiring it to be kept in an airtight container to avoid an excessive increase in moisture.

How to make glycerites

There are many different ways to make glycerites, just as there are tinctures.

Herbalist James Green has an excellent break down of different ways to make glycerites in his book The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook, which can get as complex as tincture making.

If you want to read more in depth on the various methods of glycerite (and all other herbal medicine) making, I highly recommend his book.

Today I’m going to teach you the simpler/folk method of making a glycerite.

Fresh herb glycerite

Chop your fresh herb up and pack your jar with the herb. (With the Elderberries pictured below, there is no need to chop).

Pour the fresh herb into a blender.

You want to add half the amount of glycerin to begin with so if your jar is a 16 ounce jar, add 8 ounces of glycerin to the blender.

Blend until the herbs and the glycerin are completely combined.

You should not need any water but if you are using an herb that is not particularly juicy, you may need to add a few tablespoons of water to help the mixture blend.

Pour the mixture back into the jar.

Add more glycerin to completely fill the jar and cover the herb mixture.

Shake to combine.

Continue to shake daily for four weeks.

When you’re ready to strain off your glycerite, line a strainer with cheesecloth or other thin cloth and place the strainer over a glass measuring cup.

Dump your glycerite into the strainer and let it strain. This will take awhile as it is very thick.

Once the majority has strained through, you can gather the ends of the cloth and squeeze the cloth to get the remaining glycerite out of the herbs.

Compost your herbs and label the jar with the name of the glycerite, the date it was made, the glycerin/water ratio and information about the herb (fresh, source, etc).

Dried herb glycerite

For dried herbs, you want to grind them as much as possible, using a mortar and pestle or a high speed blender.

You will want to fill the jar you are using about half full of your ground herbs.

Next in a glass mixing jar, estimate how much glycerin you will need.

You’ll want a ratio of about 60% glycerin and 40% water, as glycerin will contain about 5% water already bringing the total of glycerin down to 55% and the total of water to 45%.

You can go higher on your amount of glycerin if you’d like but this is generally a good ratio.

If you’ve filled a pint (16 ounce) jar half full, you will need about 8 ounces of glycerin and 4 ounces of water.

Add these ingredients to a glass measuring cup and stir them to thoroughly mix together the glycerin and water.

Pour some of the mixture into the jar with the dried herbs and use a chopstick or knife to stir, thoroughly wetting the dried herbs.

Gradually continue adding more of the glycerin mixture until it fills the jar, making sure there’s at least 1/4 inch of glycerin/water above the herb line.

Put a lid on your jar and shake well.

Let it sit overnight. The next day, check the level to make sure there’s still that 1/4 inch of liquid above the herbs.

If there’s not, add more glycerin to fill in the gap.

Shake daily for four weeks.

When you’re ready to strain off your glycerite, line a strainer with cheesecloth or other thin cloth and place the strainer over a glass measuring cup.

Dump your glycerite into the strainer and let it strain. This will take awhile as it is very thick.

Once the majority has strained through, you can gather the ends of the cloth and squeeze the cloth to get the remaining glycerite out of the herbs.

Compost your herbs and label the jar with the name of the glycerite, the date it was made, the glycerin/water ratio and information about the herb (dried, source, etc).

Herbs that work well as glycerites

As I mentioned earlier, resinous and aromatic herbs don’t generally work as well as herbs that are rich in tannins and alkaloids.

Here is an incomplete list of herbs that work well as glycerites to get you started:






California Poppy













Ground Ivy




Milky Oats








Red Clover






Stinging Nettles





Wild Cherry


Wood Betony


Yellow Dock

If there’s an herb you want to try to create a glycerite with but it is a resinous or aromatic herb, try making a small amount just to see how it works.

Also, remember that a plant may contain a combination of all these constituents.

Depending on the use, it might still be strong enough to be effective.

I always like to experiment and try it out, even if the books say it won’t work.

Though they are often not as strong as tinctures, glycerites can work well for those who are sensitive to alcohol or for children who don’t need as strong of a dose of herbal medicine.

Have you ever made or used a glycerite?

Share your experiences in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 118 – Making Herbal Tinctures with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on August 13th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Do you use store purchased tinctures for your family on a regular basis?

Or are you curious about using tinctures but the cost of a small one ounce tincture bottle has you balking at purchasing something you are not sure will work for you or your family?

Or have you been purchasing them but want a more cost effective way of using tinctures?

Are you wanting to make your own tinctures but unsure on how to do it?

Today I’m going to teach you how easy it is to make your own tinctures!

Why make your own tinctures

There are many reasons to make your own tinctures.

If you’ve ever purchased them from a commercial source, you know that the cost of tinctures can get pretty expensive, especially if you are using a high dose tincture over a long period of time.

It might surprise you to find out that you can often make a pint to a quart of tincture, which is 16-32 ounces, for about the same cost as it is to purchase a one ounce bottle.

That alone is worth making them!

When you make your own tinctures, you have complete control of the ingredients in your tincture.

You can choose to add organic or wildcrafted herbs, or your own freshly homegrown herbs to make a potent and pesticide-free tincture.

You may also choose to use organic alcohol as well.

Sometimes it can be hard to find a specific tincture so making your own can give you a ready supply of a hard to find herb that may be even more expensive to purchase due to the scarcity of the product.

And finally, making tinctures ensures that you have a steady supply on hand.

No running out at 10 pm when all the stores are closed, it’s as close as your own personal herbal apothecary.

Tincture making is easy to do and a great activity to do with kids as they enjoy chopping up the herbs, filling the jar, pouring in the alcohol, and making their own plant medicine.

Even little kids can help out with this task.

What do you need to make a tincture?

The basic needs to make a tincture pretty simple!

All you need is the herb you are tincturing, a glass jar to put them in (canning jars, old food jars that have been cleaned such as peanut butter or mayonnaise jars), alcohol, and sometimes water plus a label.

Does the type of alcohol matter?

Generally speaking, you can use just about any type of alcohol.

If you read historical textbooks, you will notice that wine is often used as the alcohol for making an herbal extract because that is what people had the most access to.

Ale was another historically commonly used alcohol.

Vodka is generally used today for several reasons – it’s easy to find, fairly inexpensive, and doesn’t have a strong taste.

Brandy is often used when making a tincture, such as Chamomile, that has many digestive qualities as brandy is made from pears which are gentle on the digestive system.

Flavor wise, it pairs well with honey for making elixirs.

Gin works well with herbs that are specific for the urinary system, such as Cleavers, as gin is made from juniper berries which are stimulating to the urinary system.

And grain alcohol is great for herbs that need a higher percentage of alcohol to extract, such as Calendula and Lemon Balm.

As for price and organic consideration, the general rule of thumb is that vodka is vodka but gin and brandy, you get what you pay for, in regards to taste.

Otherwise, alcohol is pretty much alcohol and many herbalists agree that organic isn’t really necessary because the impurities are burned on during the processing.

So how do you make them?

There are many ways to make tinctures, from the simpler’s method to a more scientific method.

I’ll give you a bit of background about both.

The simpler’s method

The simpler’s method has traditionally been used by many herbalists as a simple way to make herbal medicine.

It generally involves using vodka, which contains 40% alcohol, and herbs.

Fresh herbs are chopped and added to the jar to lightly fill it. If using dried herbs, the jar is filled half full.

The jar is then filled with the vodka and a lid is attached.

The tincture should be shaken daily and allowed to steep for at least 4-6 weeks.

After the 4-6 weeks is up, you can strain off the plant material or let it sit.

For seeds, bark, roots and other hard parts, I will often let it sit indefinitely, so that the tincture can continue to strengthen over time.

The scientific method

The scientific method is generally used by clinicians and herbalists who want the most potent herbal tinctures possible.

It takes into consideration the constituents of the herb and the amount of moisture of the herb and generally uses grain alcohol which is 95% alcohol, adding water, vinegar, or glycerine to dilute and further enhance the constituents, depending on the herb.

Making tinctures this way requires knowing the constituents, or chemical make-up, of the herb and how constituents best extract.

There are some great resources available to dive more deeply into this if you are interested. I have two go-to resources that I mostly rely on for this information:

Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech

Michael Moore’s Materia Medica, Herb Formulas, and more, available for free from his website

Both these resources break down the information really well if you want to dive further into making herbal tinctures.

Labeling your tinctures

Once you’ve made your tincture, it’s very important to label them. Here is a rundown of everything you should add to your label:

  • The herb’s name – I like to list both the common and the botanical name
  • The tincture start date
  • Where the herb came from and whether it is being used fresh or dried
  • The herb to menstrum (alcohol/water/etc) ratio – for instance if using fresh herb that was filled full it would be 1:1, or one part herb to one part menstrum, while a dried herb would be 1:2, or one part herb to two parts menstrum.
  • The menstrum percentage – how much alcohol versus water, vinegar, glycerite, etc. This is generally written as a percentage so a simpler’s tincture with a generic vodka would be 40%. If I am creating a tincture with multiple menstrums such as 60% grain alcohol, 30% water, and 10% glycerin I would write it out as such.

All this information should go on a waterproof label with a waterproof marker.

I usually cover my labels with packing tape as alcohol can erase permanent markers.

I learned this the hard way – it’s really hard trying to read a label when it’s smudged beyond recognition.

Watch my YouTube tutorial on tincture making!

I hope this helps you with trying out tincture making!

Have you tried making your own tinctures?

Do you have your children help you make them?

I’d love to hear your experiences and stories, please share them in the comments.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 117 – Creating a Curriculum with Herbal Roots zine

Posted in Uncategorized on August 6th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 5 Comments

Many people have loved using Herbal Roots zine for teaching their children about herbs over the years but did you know that you can develop an entire school curriculum around the zine?

Today I’m going to show you how!

Grab yourself a cup of tea, a notebook and a pen, and get comfortable as this is a long one!

Why use Herbal Roots zine as the foundation of your studies?

Developing a curriculum for homeschooling children can be a daunting task! On the surface, it seems like it would be fairly easy to put together curriculum to create all the school basics but when you start looking at all the options available, it can become quite daunting!

If you want to give your children an education that includes empowering them to take charge of their health, Herbal Roots zine is the perfect choice to build that foundation on!

Not only will you be teaching your children about herbs but there are many subjects that can be teased out of an issue of the zine.

Right up front, Herbal Roots zine covers science with botany, as well as art. There’s also home economics, math, reading, writing, vocabulary, and spelling. From there it’s easy to build upon these subjects to create a complete curriculum.

How to get started

The first thing you’ll want to do is decide on the herbs you want to teach your children about this year. There are many ways to choose these, and there are over 130 issues of Herbal Roots zine, which might seem overwhelming.

So let’s break it down further.

First, will you be teaching for the entire year? Or are you only committing to the first semester?

How many herbs to you want to cover in the course of the time you are teaching? Do you want to go slow and cover one herb a month? Or pick up the pace with one every two weeks? I don’t recommend adding any more than that unless your student is middle or high school aged and very committed to learning about herbs. Then you may want to cover one herb a week though that can be a bit intense.

Next, decide on a theme. While it’s perfectly fine to just choose a handful of herbs that strike your fancy, you’ll find it easier to tie the year together if you stick with a theme. Let me supply you with a few theme ideas to get you started:

Kitchen Herbs – This is a great beginner theme because you are starting with herbs you are familiar with that you probably already have in your kitchen pantry. You could focus strictly on herbs that are used for spices and flavoring, or dive deeper into herbs that are used as food.


Apple (cider vinegar), Basil, Bay Laurel, Black Pepper, Cacao, Cardamom, Cayenne, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Horseradish, Kelp, Lemon, Mustard, Nutmeg, Onion, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Turmeric, Vanilla


Apple, Black Walnut, Blackberry, Cacao, Cayenne, Cranberry, Kelp, Lemon, Maitake, Mulberry, Onion, Oyster Mushroom, Peach, Raspberry,

Backyard Herbs – Another great beginner theme is to focus on the plants that grow in your back yard or neighborhood. These will vary depending on where you live but you will probably be able to find at least 9 if you are focusing on one herb per month.

Black Walnut, Burdock, Chickweed, Chicory, Cleavers, Dandelion, Forsythia, Goldenrod, Ground ivy, Honeysuckle, Mullein, Oak, Plantain, Poke, Prunella, Queen Anne’s Lace, Ragweed, Red Clover, Rose, Shepherd’s Purse, Speedwell, Thuja, Violet, Wild Lettuce, Yarrow, Yellow Dock

Beginner Herbs – If you’re brand new to herbs and want to take it really easy, here are 26 great beginner herbs. I have created two beginner online courses around these herbs, the New to Herbs course and The Next Step course.

Aloe, Burdock, Calendula, Chamomile, Chickweed, Chicory, Cinnamon, Cleavers, Dandelion, Echinacea, Elderberry, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Marshmallow, Milky Oats, Mullein, Peppermint, Pine, Plantain, Rose, Saint John’s Wort, Stinging Nettles, Violet, Willow, Yarrow

Mint Family Herbs – If you want to have a focus on botany, choosing a plant family to focus on  can create a great theme. Mint family herbs are often very familiar and often found in the kitchen due to their digestive actions.

Basil, Bergamot, Catnip, Ground Ivy, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Motherwort, Peppermint, Prunella, Rosemary, Sage, Skullcap, Thyme, Wood Betony, Vitex

Aster Family Herbs – If you want to have a focus on botany, choosing a plant family to focus on  can create a great theme. Aster family herbs are very commonly found in the back yard and are a great starting point.

Boneset, Burdock, Calendula, Chamomile, Chicory, Coltsfoot, Dandelion, Echinacea, Elecampane, Feverfew, Goldenrod, Gravel Root, Gumweed, Milk Thistle, Mugwort, New England Aster, Ragweed, Spilanthes, Wild Lettuce, Yarrow

Herbal First Aid – Have a budding nurse or doctor in your household? Or are mishaps a part of your daily life? You might like a herbal first aid theme!

Aloe, Burdock, Calendula, California Poppy, Cayenne, Chamomile, Comfrey, Crampbark, Eucalyptus, Goldenrod, Gumweed, Jewelweed, Lavender, Milky Oats, Mullein, Oak, Peach, Peppermint, Plantain, Cottonwood, Prunella, Saint John’s Wort, Shepherd’s Purse, Skullcap, Speedwell, Spilanthes, Usnea, Wild Lettuce, Wood Betony, Yarrow, Ginger, Wild Cherry, Willow

Herbs for Stress and Anxiety – Who couldn’t benefit from learning about herbs for stress and anxiety, given our current events? These herbs are all calming and soothing to the nervous system, making this a great theme to study.

Borage, California Poppy, Catnip, Chamomile, Crampbark, Hops, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Milky Oats, Motherwort, New England Aster, Passionflower, Rose, Saint John’s Wort, Skullcap, Valerian, Wild Cherry, Wild Lettuce, Wood Betony

Cold and Flu Herbs – Building your immune system and learning to fight off viruses is very helpful, especially as we are starting to head back into the cold and flu season in the midst of a pandemic. This theme will help you prepare to fight off viruses.

Astragalus, Boneset, Cayenne, Echinacea, Elderberry, Eucalyptus, Forsythia, Garlic, Ginger, Goldenrod, Ground Ivy, Honeysuckle, Lavender, Lemon, Mustard, Peppermint, Prunella, Rose, Rosemary, Sage, Spilanthes, Thyme, Willow

Herbal Trees – We often forgot about the tall plants – the trees – but they are a great source of herbal medicine! Why not dedicate a year to learning about the medicinal uses of trees?

Apple, Bay Laurel, Birch, Black Walnut, Cacao, Cinnamon, Clove, Cottonwood, Eucalyptus, Ginkgo, Hawthorn, Lemon, Mulberry, Nutmeg, Oak, Peach, Pine, Sassafras, Slippery Elm, Thuja, Wild Cherry, Willow, Witch Hazel

Herbal Shrubs – Shrubby plants are another category that are often overlooked when we think of herbal medicine. There’s a lot of herbal medicine to be found in the shrubs.

Blackberry, Crampbark, Elder, Eleuthero, Forsythia, Honeysuckle, Poke, Raspberry, Rose, Sumac, Vitex

At-Risk / Endangered Species – I dedicated an entire year of the zine to this theme. If you want to teach conservation and the importance of cultivation, this would be a great theme to base your homeschool year on.

American Ginseng, Black Cohosh, Bloodroot, Blue Cohosh, Calamus, Echinacea, False Unicorn, Goldenseal, Osha, Pleurisy Root, Slippery Elm, Solomon’s Seal, Trillium, True Unicorn, Wild Yam

You’ve chosen a theme, now what?

Now that you’ve picked out a theme, and chosen about 9-18 herbs to learn about over the school year, it’s time to pull together your curriculum.

Let’s take a look at the subjects you’ll need to teach. Remember that these will vary depending on the age of your child so be sure to check your state requirements for teaching to fine tune your curriculum. To give you an idea, in my state (Illinois), the law recognizes the branches of education to be language arts, math, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, fine arts, and physical development and health.

Breaking that down further, you might come up with subjects similar to these:

Language arts – This can include reading (literature, short stories, poetry), writing, spelling, grammar

Science – Depending on the age, earth science, chemistry, botany, physics, astronomy

Social Studies/History – World history, local history, geography, sociology


Physical Education

Home Ec – Cooking, cleaning, sewing, shop, household management, nutrition, finances, child development, health

Art – History, drawing, painting, printing, dyeing, sculpture, dance

Music – Theory, singing, musical instrument

Now you’ll want to decide how to structure your curriculum. Which of these subjects can you tease out of an issue of Herbal Roots zine? Let’s take a look:

Language Arts

You can use the All About section to read all about the plant then use it for copy work. There is a glossary section that can be used for vocabulary words, or you can pull words out of the All About section to create a list. These sections could also be used to create sentences with mistakes in them – punctuation, grammar, etc. for them to correct.

The lore and poems can be used for short stories and poetry. Seek out other poetry about herbs through books such as Botanica Poetica and Materia Poetica by Sylvia Seroussi Chatroux and Among Flowers and Trees with the Poets: or, The Plant Kingdom in Verse: a Practical Cyclopaedia for Lovers of Flowers by Minnie Curtis Wait and Merton Channing Leonard.

In addition, whenever possible I link to story books that can be added to the curriculum depending on the herb and availability.

For older kids, you could add in some books about botanists such as Anna Atkins and Charles Darwin.


This year could focus on botany and biology to learn about plant life. Have your children learn about the plant’s parts and if you have a live plant, examine one to see all the parts up close and personal when possible.

Books that make a great supplement for botany are Shanleya’s Quest 1 and Shanleya’s Quest 2 by Thomas Elpel, including their corresponding card games. If your child is a bit older, try out his Botany in a Day book. Tell him Herbal Roots zine sent you!

Sometimes in the craft section there are experiment style crafts such as making litmus tests from violets.

There is chemistry to be found in the recipe section if you care to dive into kitchen science.

Learning where the plants are native to and where they’ve naturalized can lead into discussions on geography.

Social Studies/History

While there’s not a lot of historical information in the zines, you can base your history for the year according to your child’s grade level and add in supplemental studies. If your child should be learning about the states, look at the state’s flower – violet is the state flower of many states including Illinois.

if studying native/endangered plants, you could learn about the geographic regions each grows in and study the history of that region.

If the plants come from Europe, Asia, Africa, or South America, study the history for those countries each month. Some great books that give an eye opening look at how the world is different from North America are Material World, Women in the Material World, and What the World Eats which can lead to some great conversations.


While there isn’t a solid math program in the zines, there are fractions and basic math skills in the recipes. You may wish to get a full blown math curriculum (Math-U-See, Life of Fred, Singapore, or Saxon) or go with a book such as Kitchen Math, STEAM Kids in the Kitchen: Hands-On Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math Activities & Recipes for Kids, or Math in the Garden to supplement.

Physical Education

While working with herbs isn’t necessarily physical, if you take a daily walk outside to look at the plants, the walking can become part of the PE activity.

Home Economics

The recipes in the zines are a great basis for home economics, teaching cooking and medicine making.

Learning about herbs and how to use them for health issues helps to teach the importance of boosting the immune system and working with your body to ward off illnesses.

Sometimes in the craft section there are sewing crafts such as making eye pillows or a treasure bag.

Focus on the nutritional aspects of the herbs to learn about basic nutrition. Match that information up with what our bodies need and perhaps start a journal of human nutritional requirements and add the herbs to each requirement as you learn about them.


Each issue encourages drawing the plant. There is also a coloring page to color the herb.

Often there are crafts to create a variety of art projects from sculpture to paper craft to painting. In my two beginner year long courses, there are year long art projects that include dyeing with the plants to create a functional and beautiful textile.


Singing the song about each herb can lead into learning the song on a musical instrument and performing it for family. Or create additional verses. Or both.

How to use Herbal Roots zine on a daily basis

For a further break down on how to use the zine on a daily basis, check out my newest course, 30 Days, One Herb. This gives daily suggestions on how to use an issue of Herbal Roots zine throughout the month while studying about an herb. The course is free but there is an option to purchase it for $1 per day to help support the time and energy I’ve put into the course as well to help with the costs of running an online course website if you’re able to financially contribute.

Will you be homeschooling this year? Do you have a curriculum picked out or will you be putting together a curriculum to suit your family’s needs? I’d love to hear your plans and ideas in the comments!