[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!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 116 – Making Herbal Honeys with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 6 Comments

If you have a picky eater who balks at any herbal remedy you attempt to offer them, try making an herbal honey to make the herbs more tempting.

As Mary Poppins sang, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”!

Why use honey?

Honey is a great medium for herbs! It’s familiar, tastes sweet, and when purchased raw, packs its own benefits, in addition to the benefits of the herbs being infused.

Honey is antimicrobial, which can be used beneficially both internally for infections  and externally on wounds.

When applied to wounds, honey not only can help to fight and clear infection, it can also help to clean wounds, and reduce inflammation.

In addition, honey helps new skin to grow, encouraging wound healing at a quicker rate.

Why use herbal infused honey?

Combine the powers of honey with herbs and you have a great herbal remedy at your fingertips!

Herbal Honeys are one of the simplest forms of herbal medicine. In most basic terms, it is herbs suspended in honey.

Herbal infused honeys help to disguise the flavor of less than tasty herbs, making them easier to get down.

Herbal Honeys are usually added to teas for sweetening and adding a bit of medicine.

They can be eaten on toast with butter or used in any other manner you use honey.

A spoonful of medicinal honey can be used directly on wounds or swallowed to sooth sore throats and coughs, depending on the herbs infused in the honey.

Honeys can also be added to tinctures to make elixirs, which are sweetened tinctures, or can be added to vinegars to make sweetened vinegars known as oxymels, which have a sweet tart taste.

When powdered herbs are added to honey, they become a thick paste that can be rolled into pill form, to create herbal pills and herbal lozenges for soothing sore throats.

Herbs that blend well with honey

Herbs that work well with honeys are limitless. The following list is a few basic herbs that are often used. For more information on the medicinal uses of each herb, check out their corresponding issue.











Lemon Balm



Mints – Spearmint, Peppermint, etc.






Red Clover







Wild Cherry

How to make a herbal honey

Making an herbal honey is very easy!

Fill your jar with the herb you are using. Chop up the herb before filling. Fill your jar loosely. Herbs are best fresh but can be used dried as well.

Pour honey in the jar. Stir with a knife or chopstick to combine the herbs and honey. Top off with honey. Place the lid on your jar.

Label your jar.

Keep out of direct sunlight. Your honey will be ready to use in 4 weeks.

Once your honey is ready to use, you can consume it with the herbs in it, or gently heat it to thin it a bit and strain it through a cheesecloth.

How to make a herbal elixir

Brandy is often used when making an herbal elixir because it pairs well with honey though any alcohol that you usually use for tinctures can be used.

To make an herbal elixir, fill your jar half full of dried herb or full of fresh herb that’s been chopped and lightly packed into the jar. Fill it half full of brandy or vodka and top off with honey.

Stir well with a spoon to combine and encourage air bubbles to rise to the top.

Seal your jar and shake daily. It’s usually ready after 4-6 weeks.

Dosage is the same as for a regular tincture.

How to make a herbal oxymel

Oxymels are very versatile. They can be used just like syrups for making a refreshing soda-like drink, or they can be used as a salad dressing.

They can also be taken as is for the medicinal benefits.

To make an oxymel, you can follow the recipe for making a tincture but replace the alcohol with apple cider vinegar. Decrease the vinegar to 1/4 and increase the honey to 3/4.

You can also combine a ready made herbal infused vinegar with a ready made herbal infused honey to make a quick oxymel. Add 3-4 parts honey to 1 part vinegar.

As you can see, herbal honeys are not only easy to make, but they are quite versatile when it comes to incorporating them in herbal medicine.

I hope this gives you a few ideas on how to create some pleasing concoctions that your family will like and not balk at taking!

Have you ever made or used herbal honeys? Let me know your favorite blends in the comments!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 115 – Making Herbal Cleaners with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on July 24th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

As a mom who cares about the health of your child, you probably spend a lot of time making sure your home environment is as healthy as possible.

You choose foods with the best ingredients you can find, skincare products that don’t contain any harsh chemicals, and laundry products that don’t add harsh chemicals to your family’s clothing.

So, it’s only natural that you want all your cleaning products to be chemical-free as well.

Today I’m going to share a few of my favorite cleaning product recipes for you to try.

These recipes are easy to make and safe to use, making them a great project to create with kids.

Why Make Your Own Cleaning Products?

There are many reasons to make your own cleaning products. Price, effectiveness, and the ability to avoid harmful chemicals are my main reasons for doing it.

Years ago, when my children were small, it could be hard to find natural cleaning products. And today, even though they are available commercially, they often do still contain some questionable ingredients or are priced at a ridiculous rate.

Have you ever purchased an expensive natural cleaning product, excited to find something that didn’t contain a list of science lab ingredients only to take it home and discover that it doesn’t work?

That has happened to me more than once.

Luckily, it’s really easy to make your own natural cleaning products at home with just a few simple ingredients that can often be found at your local grocery store.

Today I’m going to share some of my favorite cleaning products that are easy to make, cost effective, and will help you sleep soundly at night knowing you’re not exposing your family to harmful chemicals.

These recipes and more can be found in my new book The Homesteader’s Guide to Growing Herbs, which was published on Tuesday.

What Kinds of Ingredients Do You Need to Make Your Own Products?

Most recipes contain basic ingredients such as water, borax, washing soda, vinegar, arrowroot powder, and baking soda, plus a few herbs to infuse. Essential oils are optional and can be added for their disinfectant properties or to scent the product.

Let’s take a look at some of the basic ingredients and what they do:

Arrowroot powder – Often added to glass cleaners to prevent streaking, arrowroot powder or corn starch are essential for getting a great streak-free cleaner.

Baking soda – Baking soda is absorbent, deodorizing, dissolves grease and dirt, and is mildly abrasive, making it a great option to absorb odors and spills, scour surfaces, and help to break down stains.

Borax – This powder is a strong deodorizer, great for using to kill mildew and mold odors, and when combined with water, chemically converts to hydrogen peroxide, which can be used to help whiten and brighten dingy surfaces and fabrics. It’s often found in natural laundry detergent recipes, surface cleaners, and rug fresheners.

Castile soap – Sometimes the addition of a saponifying, or sudsing, ingredient are necessary to clean. Castile soap is an all natural soap made from olive oil and is a great addition when a soap is required.

Vinegar – As an acid, vinegar is great for removing acidic based stains, countertop build-up (beware when using on natural stone as it can scratch it), soap scum, glue labels on jars, and hard water deposits. It’s generally found in all purpose cleaners and glass cleaner.

Washing soda – Chemically known as sodium carbonate, which is different than baking soda, washing soda is often used in laundry detergent to remove stains. Washing soda also helps to remove grease, coffee and tea stains, soap scum, and build-up on countertop surfaces.

Now that you’re familiar with many of the ingredients used to make natural products, how about some recipes?

All-purpose Kitchen and Bathroom Surface Cleaner

Yield: 16 ounces

This cleaner works great for cleaning countertops, refrigerators, and bathroom fixtures. Make up two bottles so you can store one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom.

2 cups boiling water

2 tablespoons dried lavender

2 tablespoons dried rose petals

1 tablespoon dried chamomile

1 teaspoon lavender liquid castile soap

1 teaspoon borax

½ teaspoon washing soda

  1. 1.Steep the herbs in the water for 15-20 minutes then strain.
  2. 2.Reheat the water so that it is hot enough to dissolve the washing soda and borax, stirring to combine.
  3. 3.Stir in the liquid castile soap.
  4. 4.Pour the mixture into a 16 oz. glass bottle with a spray top lid.
  5. 5.Tighten the lid on the bottle and label with the name of the formula and the usage information.

To use: Spray on the surface you are cleaning then wipe off with a sponge or cloth.

Variations: My favorite castile soap is Dr. Bronner’s. If you use this soap, you can choose from a variety of scents including lavender, rose, and peppermint to add an extra scent to your cleaner.

Store in a cool location.

Furniture Polish

Yield: 8 ounces

If you’re like me, you have a weakness for beautiful wooden furniture. This natural polish helps to keep wooden furniture looking beautiful.

½ cup basil infused olive oil

¼ cup lemon peel infused white vinegar

¼ cup lemon juice

  1. 1.Combine the ingredients into a 1 cup glass measuring cup and stir to combine.
  2. 2.Pour the mixture into an 8 oz. glass bottle with a spray top lid.
  3. 3.Tighten the lid on the bottle and label with the name of the formula and the usage information.

To use: Spray onto your furniture and wipe off with a soft cloth.

Variations: If you have dark wood furniture, substitute the basil infused oil with walnut hull infused oil.

Store in the refrigerator and use within 6 months.

Glass Cleaner

Yield: 16 ounces

Keep your windows and mirrors sparkling with this natural glass cleaner!

¼ cup basil tincture

¼ cup lavender infused white vinegar

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

1 ½ cups hot water

  1. 1.Combine the ingredients into a 4 cup glass measuring cup and stir to combine.
  2. 2.Pour the mixture into a 16 oz. glass bottle with a spray top lid.
  3. 3.Tighten the lid on the bottle and label with the name of the formula and the usage information.

To use: Spray onto a glass surface and use a cheesecloth to wipe dry. To reduce streaking, use a sheet of newspaper for a final wipe.

Variations: Try different tinctures in this recipe such as rose, peppermint, or sage.

Store in a cool location.

Rug Freshener

Yield: 2 ½ cups

This rug freshener helps to eliminate odors and also helps to keep them free of fleas. Use caution when mixing the diatomaceous earth and do not breathe it in as it can be harsh on the lungs.

1 cup borax

1 cup baking soda

½ cup diatomaceous earth

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried lavender

1 teaspoon dried thyme

  1. 1.Combine the powders together and stir until well mixed.
  2. 2.Pour into a jar with a shaker top (an empty cheese bottle or a mason jar with holes punched into the lid both work well) that is labeled with the ingredients and instructions for use.

To use: Sprinkle powder heavily over your carpet or rug and let sit for 10 minutes. Vacuum thoroughly.

Variations: Switch up the dried herbs with any herb scents you prefer. This recipe can be made in larger quantities if you have many rugs and carpets to vacuum.

Store in a cool, dry location.

How to Get More Household Recipes

Like these recipes? They are from my new book, The Homesteader’s Guide to Growing Herbs, which is available now on Amazon*!

I’ve included several more household cleaning recipes, as well as a myriad of other recipes for around the home and homestead.

Do you make your own household cleaners? What are your favorite cleaners to make?



*This is my Amazon affiliate link. If you purchase through this link, I receive a small percentage at no extra cost for you.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 114 – Making Herbal Popsicles with Kids

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

Looking for a cooling treat that’s easy to make and easy on the sugar content? Make some herbal popsicles, it’s easy as 1-2-3.

My son loves popsicles and when I showed him how easy it is to make them, he took over the job to make sure he’s always got popsicles on hand.

Why make your own popsicles?

Commercial popsicles often are full of a lot of ingredients that you don’t want your child consuming: high fructose corn syrup, artificial food coloring, artificial flavors, and often high doses of other sugars as well.

Whether your child has ADHD, autism, an auto immune disorder, a food sensitivity, or you just don’t want those ingredients in their diet, homemade popsicles are the easiest option to offer a healthy, cooling summer treat without all the added garbage.

Herbal popsicles are also a great way to get your child to take their daily dose of herbs. You can add their daily herbal tinctures into each individual popsicle for freezing so they get their herbs as they get their treat.

The herbal tea used can also be their daily herbal dose as well. By brewing up a tea and adding a few flavorful herbs such as peppermint or lemon balm, many kids will enjoy their popsicles while cooling off.

If they prefer a sweeter treat, you can add a dash of your favorite sweetener, whether it be stevia, maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar, adding a fraction of sweetener that commercial popsicles include.

Kids also love to take charge of their food and health. Learning to make their own herbal popsicles is fun and empowering, teaching kids important self care lessons at an early age.

How to make popsicles

I promise it really is easy!

Brew an herbal tea. It can be a daily tea you want your child to drink, or it can be a tea that is refreshing such as lemon balm, lemon verbena, peppermint, cinnamon basil, cinnamon, or licorice.

Once the tea has cooled, add sweetener if you feel it needs sweetening.

Pour into silicon popsicle molds and freeze. If you are adding their daily tinctures to the popsicles make sure to keep them separated so they aren’t eating too many in a day.

Medicinal uses of popsicles

Besides being a treat, popsicles are a great way to administer herbs to kids. I mentioned earlier that you can add tinctures to them before freezing for an easy way to give them their daily doses of tincture they may be taking.

I also mentioned that you can convert any tea into a popsicle as well.

Popsicles are also great if your child is running a fever and craving something cold. You can use your favorite herbal tea formula for fevers, or try this version that was published in my book Herbalism at Home: 125 Recipes for Everyday Health.

A few other herbs that make great popsicles:

Chamomile – great for fevers, calming, and a sweet taste that kids usually like.

Ginger – spicy and warming, this popsicle can help to soothe an upset stomach and help to cool you off by making you sweat! Great for sore throats too. Add a little sweetener if needed to tone down the spiciness.

Rose – rose petals have a mild flavor and can help to reduce fevers. Add in rosehips for a bit of vitamin C.

Spearmint – great minty flavor that works the same but is a bit milder and sweeter than peppermint. A cooling herb that will help to cool you from the inside out.

Wild Cherry – for a fruity popsicle, make some wild cherry tea. You can add a few tablespoons of fresh cherry juice to enhance the cherry flavor a bit more and/or add a few teaspoons of honey to sweeten.

Some combinations:

Fever reducer: 2 parts spearmint and prunella, 1 part each chamomile, catnip, and blackberry leaf

Lemonade: equal parts of lemon balm, lemon verbena, rosehips, and sumac

Tummy tamer: 2 parts chamomile and spearmint and 1 part ginger


Do you make popsicles? Have you showed your kids how to make them so they can make their own? What are your kids’ favorite flavors?

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 113 – Making Herbal Sodas with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on July 10th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 2 Comments

Whew! It’s getting hot out there. Summer is definitely HERE!

That means it’s time for some refreshing drinks.

And if your kids are like mine, they like SODA!

Great news – you can make a healthier version of soda using herbal syrups and seltzer water! It’s really that easy.

You’ll still want to offer these in moderation as they do contain a bit of sugar in them but you can rest easy knowing there are no artificial colorings or flavorings, caffeine, or high fructose corn syrup in these sodas!

And, they all contain a great dose of herbs and can have some healthful benefits as well.

Making the soda

To make some soda, first you’ll need to make some syrup. Last week I wrote about how to make an herbal syrup, you can see the article here.

You’ll also need sparkling mineral water, or you can use seltzer water or club soda. 

Once you have these two ingredients, all you need to do is combine them! I find a mix of 6-8 oz of sparkling water for every 1-2 ounces of syrup to be the perfect combination of sweet and bubbly.

Some of my favorite sodas

The limits are endless with making herbal sodas. Try mixing a few syrups together to make mixed flavors such as:

  • Vanilla and Wild Cherry
  • Ginger and Elderberry
  • Wild Cherry and Dandelion
  • Burdock and Dandelion
  • Spearmint or Chocolate Mint and Cacao
  • Cinnamon and Dandelion
  • Blackberry and Spearmint
  • Burdock, Sassafras, Dandelion, Vanilla, and Licorice
  • Vanilla and Burdock
  • Elderflower and Ginger

Single flavors are great too. Here are our favorites:

  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Hawthorne
  • Cacao
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnamon Basil
  • Sassafras
  • Elderflower
  • Dandelion

Think about tea blends your kids like and see if you can adapt them to sodas by making a syrup from them first.

I hope this gives you inspiration to change out the types of soda in your household and herbal sodas become a delicious treat that your kids look forward to!

Have you ever made an herbal soda? If so, what is your favorite flavor?

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 112 – Making Herbal Syrups with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on June 25th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 2 Comments

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down….so the popular Mary Poppins’ tune declares.

Sweetening herbs is an easy way to make them more palatable for young taste buds.

And because we are making the remedy ourself, we can control the type and amount of sweetener we use!

Herbal syrups are a great way to get a dose of herbs into your kids and they are quite versatile.

Getting kids involved in the making process helps to empower them.

They will love knowing they can make their own custom herbal medicine that they will love to take.

Ways to Use Herbal Syrups

  • As a cough syrup
  • To help relieve nausea
  • As a sweet tonic
  • Cooked longer to turn into cough drops or anti-nausea drops
  • As an ice cream topper
  • As a pancake topper
  • To make soda
  • Drizzle onto toast, scones, or bagels with butter or cream cheese
  • Drizzle onto Elderflower fritters
  • Drizzle onto a cake as an icing replacement
  • Mix in with plain yogurt for a bit of sweetness and flavor

The possibilities are endless!

How to Make an Herbal Syrup

You’ll want to start by making a strong tea of the herb you want to convert into a syrup.

If you are making a syrup with roots, bark, berries, or seeds, add 4 tablespoons dried root and 4 cups water into your saucepan. Bring the water to a boil then turn down and simmer until you have 2 cups of decoction.

Let the decoction cool then strain through the strainer. You should have 2 cups of decoction.

If you are making a syrup with leaves, flowers, or aerial parts, add 4 tablespoons of dried herb and 2 cups of water to your saucepan. Bring to a boil then turn off and steep for about 20 minutes.

Let the tea cool then strain through a strainer.

Reheat the decoction or tea, add 2 cups (or an equal portion to the liquid you have left) honey and stir to combine.

Pour into a bottle, label and refrigerate.

Use within 3 months.

You can make a syrup with sugar too. I really like coconut sugar for this!

Follow the same steps for making your tea and then add 2 cups of sugar. Continue to simmer the mixture until thickened and reduced.

Some Herbs That Make Great Syrups

Ready to make a syrup but don’t know which herb to try it with? Here are a few of my favorites!

Ginger – great for helping upset stomachs, makes a great soda, and a great vanilla ice cream topper!

Peppermint or Spearmint – also great for upset stomachs and makes a refreshing herbal soda! Try it drizzled on chocolate ice cream or chocolate chip pancakes, yum!

Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis

Lemon Balm or Lemon Verbena – I love this drizzled on top of peach cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. They both make a great soda too.

Elderberry – great syrup as is for a flu fighter, great on Elderflower fritters and pancakes

Wild Cherry – the original cough syrup! Great as a cough syrup if you want something a bit more solid. Pretty tasty as a soda too.

Elecampane – another great lung and cough syrup support herb, and soothes sore throats. Also great as a cough drop.

Violet flowers – soothes coughs and sore throats. Yummy on vanilla ice cream and makes an interesting soda.

Dandelion flowers – great drizzled on pancakes, bagels, scones, etc. or as a cake topper. Pretty delicious as a soda. Tastes like honey.

Maitake – Grifola frondosa, snuggled into the base of a Pin Oak tree.

Maitake, Reishi, Oyster, and Turkey Tails – any combination of medicinal mushrooms makes a great immune system tonic.

Thyme, Basil, and other savory herbs – Savory herbs like Thyme, Basil, Sage, and Rosemary make great cough syrups too.


Have you ever made herbal syrups? What kind have you made and what’s your favorite use for them?

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 111 – Making Herbal Infusions with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on June 18th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Last week I talked about making and blending herbal teas with kids.

This week I’d like to teach you about another water infusion with herbs known simply as herbal infusions.

While teas involve a few teaspoons to tablespoons of herbs steeped in water for under 30 minutes, an infusion uses a larger amount of herbs and a much longer steep time to produce a more medicinal beverage.

Why herbal infusions?

Like herbal teas, herbal infusions help to bring out the water soluble constituents of herbs, including vitamins and minerals, making a strong beverage that can be helpful for relieving chronic conditions.

For instance, Stinging Nettles is an herb that is well known for his use for seasonal allergies.

When drank consistently over a course of several months, or longer, Stinging Nettles has been known to reduce and even eliminate the body’s histamine reaction to allergens, making hay fever misery a thing of the past.

Herbal infusions are supportive of our body systems, strengthening and toning them over time.

Many herbs can be used for herbal infusions, depending on the need. Linden, Hawthorne, Plantain, Milky Oats, Stinging Nettles, Red Clover, Chickweed, Cleavers, Holy Basil, Chamomile, and mints are just a few of the more commonly used herbs.

Typically, one herb is steeped at a time but sometimes they are mixed together for an infusion.

How are infusions made?

Unlike a tea that requires a small amount of herb, infusions require larger amounts of herb to be an effective remedy.

A general rule of thumb is 1 cup of herb for every quart of water.

Some herbalists choose to do 1 ounce of herb per quart and I encourage you to experiment and compare to see what works best for you.

I generally made a half gallon at a time.

I place 2 cups of dried herb into a half gallon jar and then add a large metal serving spoon to the jar to help dissipate the heat when the boiling water is poured in.

This is not required but it does help to pull some of the heat away from the glass jar to prevent it from cracking.

I’ve had a few jars crack over the years, even with a metal spoon in them and I suspect the jars were old and the glass had gotten brittle or weakened over time as I am pretty rough on them (I also used them to store goat milk in the freezer so they were going between extreme temperatures constantly).

The crack was nothing spectacular, no shattering, just a pop and then a line shooting up the side of the jar and I knew I needed to grab a pot to quickly pick it up and put it in before it fell apart and boiling water ran everywhere.

But I digress!

Pour boiling water into the jar to the top, stirring the herbs to saturate them with the water as you fill.

The stirring can be a great activity for the kids to do while you pour the boiling water, just remind them the water is hot, and so is the jar, and to use caution so they don’t get burnt.

Once the jar is filled with the water, I let the jar sit for the next 4-10 hours, depending on the herb.

Most herbs I leave in for 8 hours but some herbs, such as Chamomile, do not need to steep as long.

After the steep time, strain off the herbs and compost them.

Cap your jar and store it in the refrigerator.

Infusions will last in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, sometimes longer.

I often make several different infusions at the beginning of the week then use them up over the course of the week without any problems.

Observe the flavor, color and smell when you place it in the fridge, and each day after and you’ll know when it goes off.

For instance, after infusing Stinging Nettles, the infusion generally turns a deep, almost thick, greenish brown color.

It will stay that way until it goes off, and then it turns a translucent light brown color.

The flavor drastically changes as well.

You’ll want to drink 1-2 cups (8-16 ounces) of your infusion daily.

Depending on their age and weight, kids can drink 1/4-1 cup daily.

The great thing about infusions is they are very safe and okay for larger amounts to be consumed.

So don’t fret if your child finds they love the flavor of an infusion and want to drink several cups in a day.

How to use infusions

So now that you’ve made a few infusions, now what?

Infusions are very versatile as a beverage and remedy.

As I mentioned earlier, I like to make several infusions to have on hand for the week.

Typically I will infuse individual half gallons of Stinging Nettles, Milky Oats, and a rotation of a third infusion such as Linden, Hawthorne, Plantain, or Red Clover.

Then, throughout the week, I’ll drink what my body craves.

Sometimes I’ll drink more than one in a day. For instance, since Stinging Nettles is mildly energizing, I might have a 16 ounce glass of that in the morning as a booster for my day.

Then, when the afternoon or evening rolls around, I might pour myself 16 ounces of Milky Oats or Linden, both of which are calming.

The temperature of infusions can be altered to suit your needs as well. Experiment with drinking your infusions cold, warm, and at room temperature as temperature variation can alter the flavor a bit but doesn’t change the medicinal aspects.

Ten Herbs that make great infusions and their benefits

I mentioned a variety of herbs that are great for herbal infusions.

I also mentioned that some herbs infuse quicker than others.

Another consideration is flavor.

Some herbs such as Linden and Milky Oats are naturally mild and sweet, while others such as Plantain, and Stinging Nettles can take some getting used to.

You might find some herbs taste better if you add a pinch of a more flavorful herb such as Spearmint to them, over even sea salt, or a dollop of honey.

The following list is a run down of ten herbs that make great infusions, why they are often used, their typical steep time, and some flavor enhancement suggestions.


Steep time:  2-4 hours

Flavor enhancement: This brew becomes very bitter, which is part of the medicine, but a small spoonful of honey may help it to go down

Use: A strong infusion of Chamomile is bitter! This herbal infusion is great for digestive issues and helping to dissolve and move stones.


Steep time: 4-6 hours

Flavor enhancement: Some people find a teaspoon of Peppermint or Spearmint added during the steep enhances the flavor

Energetic level: Energizing

Use: This is a great pick-me-up for that afternoon slump time. Drink 8-16 ounces after lunchtime to aid in digestion and to keep your mind alert for the afternoon. Chickweed can also assist with weight loss, when combined with proper diet and exercise.


Steep time: 6-10 hours

Flavor enhancement: Some prefer to add a spoonful of honey to sweeten

Use: Hawthorne is a great cardiac support herb. Adding herbal infusions of Hawthorne to your weekly routine can help to strengthen and tone the heart.

Holy Basil

Steep time: 4-8 hours

Flavor enhancement: Fairly pleasant and none needed

Energetic level: Relaxing to nervous system, can be stimulating to the brain

Use: Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is supportive to the nervous system. Use this infusion when you need to relax and focus on a task.


Steep time: 6-10 hours

Flavor enhancement: Fairly pleasant and none needed

Energetic level: Relaxing

Use: Linden is another great cardiac and nervous system supportive herb. The flavor is mild and many children find it enjoyable to drink, making it a great infusion to give to children who tend to be wound up and need calming support.

Milky Oats

Steep time: 6-10 hours

Flavor enhancement: Fairly pleasant and none needed

Energetic level: Relaxing

Use: Milky Oats contains lots of great minerals like calcium, which are supportive to a strong skeletal system. This herb is also beneficial to the nervous system, helping to sooth and calm frazzled nerves.

Peppermint and Spearmint

Steep time: 2-6 hours

Flavor enhancement: Some prefer to add a spoonful of honey to sweeten

Energetic level: Strongly energizing

Use: Peppermint is a swift kick to the brain and is very energizing. Those coming off their morning cup of joe may find replacing it with a cup of infused peppermint to be the perfect replacement. Kids will most likely prefer Spearmint as it is milder and sweeter, the perfect balance for them. Peppermint and Spearmint both are great for the digestive system.

Plantain – Plantago lanceolata


Steep time: 4-6 hours

Flavor enhancement: Some people find a teaspoon of Peppermint or Spearmint added during the steep enhances the flavor

Energetic level: Mildy energizing

Use: Plantain is great for so many things! This herb is very soothing and healing to the digestive system

Red Clover

Steep time: 6-8 hours

Flavor enhancement: I find the flavor to be great as is, but some prefer to add a spoonful of honey to sweeten

Energetic level: Mildy energizing

Use: Red Clover is very supportive of the female reproductive system and can help to nourish and tonify it. Red Clover is also considered to be useful for preventing and fighting cancer.

Stinging Nettles

Steep time: 8-10 hours

Flavor enhancement: Some people find a pinch of sea salt added at the end enhances the flavor

Energetic level: Energizing

Use: Stinging Nettles is energizing, helping to support the adrenals and lessen fatigue. This herb contains many vitamins and minerals which are extracted in infusions. Stinging Nettles also helps to calm the histamine response, lessening the body’s reaction to allergens and is supportive to a strong skeletal system.

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the herbs that can be infused! Play around with herbs that you like, starting with a 2 hour infusion and working up to an 8 hour infusion to find that herbal infusion sweet spot.

Do you use herbal infusions? What are your favorite herbs to infuse?

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 110 – Making Herbal Teas with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10th, 2020 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

One of the cornerstones of herbal medicine is herbal tea. It’s probably something that is familiar to you, perhaps you’ve had a cup of chamomile tea to soothe a stomach ache, or a cup of peppermint tea for nausea, or even a warming, spicy cup of ginger tea for fighting off a cold.

Today I’m going to talk tea with you.

Why Tea?

Teas work well with children for a variety of reasons: they are often pleasant tasting, making them easy to consume; they provide a gentle dose of herbal medicine; and they are a great way to introduce herbs to adults and children alike who may not be familiar with using herbs as medicine.

Teas are easy to make and can be easily adapted depending your needs from it. Not just for drinking, teas can be used externally as herbal washes for cleansing wounds or soaked into a cloth to apply to sprains and strains as a compress. They can even be frozen to use as a skin soother or made into popsicles for cooling your children off from the hot, summer sun or a hot, wintery fever.

There are a variety of ways to make teas and I will go over some of those today. Next week I’ll talk about herbal infusions, which are another great way of utilizing herbs.

What is a tea?

Technically, a tea is made with a green or black tea but has become a common name used for all sorts of drinks using plants, just as “kleenex” has become a common name for tissue. Herbal teas are also known as tisanes or diffusions. Like a green or black tea, herbs are added to hot water using a tea bag, tea ball, or muslin bag and steeped for 15-30 minutes. Generally 1-2 teaspoons of dried or 3-4 teaspoons of fresh herb are used though sometimes larger amounts are called on. We make a tisane when using stems, leaves, and/or flowers.

If you want to make a tea out of harder materials such as barks, seeds, or roots, a decoction is made. 1-4 tablespoons of dried herb are simmered for 20-45 minutes to help extract the medicinal constituents from the harder plant materials.

Blending herbs together for tea

Making your own teas is a lot of fun! Kids love this process and it’s a great way for them to explore and learn about the uses of herbs.

Create a tea blending session by pouring some herbs into individual bowls. Think about the blend you are trying to create. For instance, if you want to make a nice digestive blend, set out bowls of chamomile, lavender, peppermint or spearmint, dried ginger, sage, rosemary, thyme, plantain, calendula, and fennel.

For the most part, you will want to keep your teas sorted by tisane (leaves, flowers, stems) blends or decoction (roots, seeds, barks) blends but adding a bit of decoction herbs to a tea blend is fine, just know that they may not be as strong, depending on the herb. Both ginger and fennel are pretty flavorful and will still come through in a tisane.

Get a larger bowl to use as your mixing bowl and let your kids dive in. Encourage them to smell each herb, and even taste a piece of it. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, make a small batch of tea for each individual herb to sample.

Match flavors that are similar but don’t be afraid to combine new flavors together. Add some of the more pleasant tasting herbs such as mint or chamomile in with less flavorful herbs such as the calendula and plantain.

Be sure to write down the amounts of each that you mix together. Try combining 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of each herb you’re adding. Again, you might want to make a sample brew before mixing together larger quantities. This will allow you to tweak the recipe without having to commit to a large amount of blend.

Once you’ve hit a blend you like, store it in a labeled jar. You should list all the herbs in the tea, what the tea is for, and how to make the tea.

Keeping a tea journal

Keep a tea journal that lists all your experiments, adjustments, final recipe and any taste notes, especially if you have picky children! If one likes the tea but another doesn’t, make a note of that and try to find out which herb they are not liking so you can adjust the flavor accordingly. Lastly, be sure to write down any observable results. This can be as simple as “it helped our tummy ache go away quickly” or “it took two cups of tea to help me feel better”.

You can use a journal for this, or print off our free 2 page printable for each tea recipe and add them to a three ring binder. You can slide the two together in a clear plastic sleeve for quick future reference that will stay dry while being used – just pull it out of the binder while you are referring to it, then tuck it back in when you are finished!


Once you have a tea blend you like, the sky’s the limit! You can make your blend and serve it hot or cold, pour it into popsicle molds to use on hot, summer days or when your child is running a fever, or sweeten it to make into a syrup for soothing sore throats.

You can make ice cubes out of blends made for skin ailments such as sunburns, insect stings, or sprains and strains.

I hope this gives you inspiration to create tea blends with your kids! they are fun and easy to make and kids love them.

Do you use herbal teas? Do you blend your own? Tell me in comments what your favorite herbal blend is!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 109 – Candied Mint Leaves

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27th, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Got mint?! Besides harvesting and drying them for tea, chopping and adding them to salads, and freezing them in ice cubes, candied mint leaves are a great way to use them up! This is a delightful treat to make with your abundance of mint leaves! You can use any kind of mint – Peppermint, Spearmint, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Balm, and Bee Balm leaves are just a few that taste great candied.

These can help to soothe upset stomaches, freshen breath, or use to decorate cupcakes.

To make the candied leaves, you will need:

Fresh mint leaves, clean and dry
1 egg white
Granulated sugar

Fresh peppermint leaves, an egg, white sugar, and a fork on a wooden cutting board

2 bowls
1 spoon
1 fork
1 whisk or fork
Waxed or parchment paper
Cookie sheet
Tin or glass jar to store them in

Start by whisking the egg white until it is bubbly.

Dip the leaves one by one in the egg white then in the sugar. Using a spoon to help coat the herbs makes it easier to cover them well.

Peppermint leaves covered with egg white and sugar, ready for the oven

Place the herbs on the wax paper covered cookie sheet.

Place in a warm oven (around 225 degrees) and dry gently for about 20-60 minutes or until completely dry (this can take a lot longer when it’s more humid).

Remove from the oven and let cool.

Once they are dry and brittle, store them in between layers of waxed/parchment paper in a tin or glass jar.

Candied Peppermint leaves in a wooden bowl


Peppermint leaves covered with egg white and sugar, ready for the oven

Candied Mint Leaves

Use up some of your mint leaves to create a delicious candied treat that can soothe upset stomachs, freshen the breath, and decorate cupcakes.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr


  • Mint leaves
  • 1 Egg white
  • Granulated sugar


  • Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Whisk the egg white until it is bubbly.
  • Dip the leaves one by one in the egg white then in the sugar. Using a spoon to help coat the herbs makes it easier to cover them well.
  • Place the herbs on the wax paper covered cookie sheet.
  • Put the cookie sheet in the oven and dry gently for about 30-60 minutes or until completely dry
  • Remove from the oven and cool
  • Once they have cooled and are dry and brittle, store them in between layers of waxed/parchment paper in a tin or glass jar.


[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 108 – Continuing Herbal Studies with Kids through the Summer

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21st, 2020 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Parents are sighing a collective sigh of relief as school concludes for the year.

No more sticking to a schedule, dealing with online meetings and Google classroom.

No more worrying about getting your kids to finish their assignments and trying to figure out if all the assignments were accounted for.

At the same time, you may be asking yourself – now what?!

Yes, the school year is complete but now summer is here. And with summer generally comes summertime activities such as sports, swim lessons, play dates, and more.

Unfortunately, many of us are still being restricted to stay at home so summer camps, group outings, and summertime curriculums are all gone for the moment.

What can we do to entertain our kids now? Or at the least, to guide them into a pattern of curiosity and learning when they can’t join in a group activity that helps to foster that.

I’m going to give you some ideas on how to get your kids outdoors and into nature for this summer! And at the end of this article, I have a free gift coming up for the month of June that you’re going to love.

School’s out, now what?

With the weather warming up and many states going into different phases, outdoor time is becoming more available. Whether you can head out to a park or just explore your back yard, here are some fun things that can be done to learn about the plants that grow around you.

I’m going to add lots of links here to free articles and printables that I’ve created in the past that can help you out.

1. If your child loves flowers, they might enjoy keeping a record of when each herb blooms. They could do this in their own journal or you can print off my Herbal Bloom Chart for them to fill out.

2. Go outside and see what plants you can find! You can start off with my free Spring Scavenger Hunt printable or if your child is into making lists, try Building Your Backyard Herb List

3. If your child likes to study one thing at a time, consider picking a herbal mascot – one plant to study for a week, month, season, or year. You can read more about how to Choose Your Own Herbal Mascot and print off my free Herbal Mascot printable. Use the Herbal Profile Template printable to write down more in depth information about your herbal mascot.

4. Does your child enjoy reading? I’ve listed some fun herbal story books that can help to pique their interest in herbs. Read all about Summertime Reading and Herbaling and how to use these books to learn more about the herbs they talk about.

5. Simply take your child outside to play! Natural Outdoor Play is a Gateway to Herbal Learning and being outside will encourage their natural curiosity to learn about what they discover when they are outdoors.

6. If your state allows for small gatherings, consider Throwing Your Own Herbal Party to get your friends involved in herbs. When it’s a shared activity, kids often get even more excited to learn.

7. Here are 35 Activities for a Screen Free Week which can be incorporated into your daily routine anytime you need to distract your kids from the computer.

As you can see, the ideas for encouraging your child to learn about herbs are limitless! Sometimes the hardest part is just getting them outdoors – once that happens, nature takes over and does the rest!

June 30 Day Challenge

Are you like me and need a bit of extra encouragement or motivation to engage your kids?

I feel ya!

It’s always helpful to know that you’re not alone!

That’s why in June, I am offering a free 30 day challenge to give inspiration daily on learning about herbs together with your child.

Every day in June, I’ll send out a quick little email giving you a tip/challenge to incorporate some herbal learning into your day – activities that can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour – that will help to encourage you and your child to explore herbalism at your own pace.

For extra motivation, I’m even going to be offering a free gift to the person who participates the most in the challenge!