DIY Herbal Bath – Natural Herbs For A Home Spa Experience

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Seven Relaxing Herbs to Add to Your Bath-Time Routine

Guest post by Ashley Hamilton-Myers, Mother and Baby Health Blog.

For most moms, the bathroom is a sanctuary: the one room where you can lock the door, fill up the bathtub, and settle in for a few minutes of peace, away from the chaos on the other side of the door.

Natural Herbs for a Relaxing Bath - 7 Herbs for Creating a Custom DIY Bath Recipe

When you do find time to slip away into this magical oasis, you want to make the most of your experience. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on expensive relaxation products, much of what you need to transform your ordinary bathtub into a five-star spa is located in your kitchen cabinets—for less than half the price!

1. Chamomile – Tea connoisseurs have long known the soothing effects of a warm cup of chamomile tea. The herb has been used for a variety of purposes from stomach cramps to burns to migraines. Two of chamomile’s main chemicals are chrysin (an anti-inflammatory) and glycene (an amino acid used to relax nerves). And just as you might add honey and lemon to your tea, you can add these ingredients to enhance the aromatic effects of the chamomile in your bath.

2. Rosemary – The fragrance of rosemary is enough to make any hungry group of kids run to the kitchen for roasted chicken and vegetables, and it can also make any stressed mom run for the bathtub. Rosemary has many healing properties and is found in a variety of herbal remedies, including arthritis and sore throats. When steeped in water, the aroma of this sweet-smelling herb helps soothe sore muscles.

3. Bay Leaves – Any simmering pot of vegetable soup needs a bay leaf or two, so why not include them when simmering in the bath? Bay leaves contain the chemical eugenol, which is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The leaves also act as an astringent, which will help cleanse your tired body.

4. Ground Almonds – Almonds are packed with nutrients. The carrier oil derived from these nuts soothes dry skin and combats wrinkles. When crushed and added into a bath, almonds help inflammation, easing the tension from overworked skin. Plus, you’ll come out smelling like a cookie!

5. Lemon – Lemons have a variety of uses in both aromatherapy and overall wellness. Each part of the lemon has different properties to help with asthma, gastrointestinal distress, and even arthritis. The terpenes in lemons have a calming effect on the body, and the acids in lemon juice have excellent cleansing properties, so you can use the leftovers to clean out the tub.

6. Lavender – Lavender is on the rise as an ingredient in haute cuisine, but it is better known for its aromatic properties, often mixed with chamomile, as both produce a relaxing effect that aids in sleep. The soft purple blooms also contain oils such as linalool that combat acne and scarring.

7. Rose Petals – While rose petals are edible, most of us don’t have a stock of them in the kitchen cabinet. However, you may find them in your garden or purchase them inexpensively (once those long stems are disregarded). Rose petals have moisturizing essential oils that will soften the bathwater and hydrate your skin.

There are two methods for including herbs in you bath.

If you don’t want the herbs in the bathtub with you (they can be messy to clean up and clog drains), prepare your brew beforehand. Place one cup of the herb(s) in a gallon of water. Slowly simmer on the stove top for 15-20 minutes. Strain the infused water before pouring the “tea” into your bath water.

If you prefer to steep with the herbs, there are a number of cost efficient ways to keep the herbs from destroying the drain. Place one cup of the herb(s) into the bottom of a pair of pantyhose. Tie a knot in the open end, and submerge the homemade sachet. (Cheesecloth or another tightly-woven fabric will work too.) Try both methods to see which you prefer, then start mixing and matching your favorite herbs to create a unique bath time experience.

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For great prices on the finest quality, certified organic bulk herbs, visit Mountain Rose Herbs.

Natural Mosquito Repellent Recipes and Other Ways to Deter Biting Insects

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I was outside listening to my boyfriend play the guitar on Sunday and kept getting bitten. It was enough remind me that it’s mosquito season even though I’m not outdoors that often anymore. So I thought it fitting to share a natural bug repellent recipe that I found on Wellness Mama blog.


(photo credit: Good 4 You Herbals)

There are a handful of widely recognized essential oils that possess properties that naturally repel biting insects. These oils include: cedarwood, lavender, lemon, patchouli, neem, peppermint, rosemary, basil, thyme, citronella, lemongrass, pennyroyal, tea tree oil, geranium, catnip, and eucalyptus.

While the recipe from Wellness Mama doesn’t include all of these ingredients, you can use any combination of essential oils you like based on availability or scent preference. Her bug spray calls for including an essential oil blend, boiled water, and witch hazel though you can also make a repellent using an essential oil blend and a carrier oil such as olive oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil or even rice bran oil which I like because it’s light but effective.

Wellness Mama Essential Oil Bug Spray

Ingredients:

  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint  (Natural, organic essential oils available from Mountain Rose Herbs.)
  • Natural Witch Hazel
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
  2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. My personal favorite mix is: Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus… it works great and smells good too!

Be sure to visit Wellness Mama for other terrific recipe ideas including how to make bug repellent from fresh or dried herbs, a super strong insect repelling recipe, and other simple insect repelling ideas. There’s also an article for making your own natural homemade sunscreen!

If you’re not a fan of spray on insect repellents, you may want to try a handmade soap that contains essential oils known for repelling biting insects. While soap is a wash off product, my brother always takes a bar of my Lemon Mint Soap with him camping as it contains lemongrass and peppermint and claims it works great for keeping biting insects at bay.

You can buy natural essential oils for your homemade soap recipes from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can also find a simple handmilled soap recipe for Bug Away Handmilled Soap on Soap Deli News if you prefer to make your own.


(photo credit: Green Girls Market)

If you plan to be outdoors on a patio or garden area often, there are plants you can grow that naturally repel insects as well. These cultivated plants include: citronella grass, catnip, rosemary, peppermint, marigolds, lemon balm, garlic clove, eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender. Naturally having an herb garden that contains these plants by your favorite outdoor spot will mean fewer biting insects.

If you’re looking to harvest wild plant varieties, you can rub vanilla leaf on your skin to deter mosquitoes. This also works with mugwort, sagebrush, wormwood, wild bergamot, sweetfern and pineapple weed.

Note that the applications will only last up to one to hours and will then need to be reapplied. Looking to buy natural, organic essential oils for your own bug repellant? Be sure to check out the quality selection of organic essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Stevia – the sweet herb. Here’s how it grows.

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Stevia is the hot, new sugar substitute as it doesn’t affect blood sugar and it’s not chemically produced. In fact, stevia is an herb you can grow in your own garden and then reap the rewards every fall. Here’s how to grow and harvest stevia for use.

Stevia plant pinched out about ten days ago

It’s recommended that you buy the initial stevia plants that you intend to grow since starting from seed can be tricky and stevioside levels – what makes the plant sweet – can vary widely in plants started and grown from seed. Buying your plants from a local nursery or like me – from a farmer on our city market – ensures you’re buying higher quality stevia. My plant is now over two feet tall and just a few weeks old.

Because stevia is sensitive to colder temperatures, you should wait to plant your stevia after all danger of frost has past and the soil temperatures are consistently in the 50s – 60s or higher. I think mine’s finally ready to go into the ground and sprout more green, leafy sweetness, however I’ve been waiting on this rain that we’ve had for the past week to stop first. Stevia plants will also do well in pots that are 10″ – 12″ in circumference.

When transplanting your plants to a garden area, be sure to plant them in rows 20 – 24 inches apart and space each plant about 18 inches from one another. Stevia grows tall and wide – about 30 inches tall and up to 24 inches wide so you need to allow for this growth.

Use the same soil you would for your regular garden plants adding compost to lock in moisture and add extra nutrients. Low nitrogen fertilizer is best or even an organic fertilizer would be fine. Water your plants frequently during the summer months but take care not to over water.

Harvest your stevia leaves in the fall as late as possible. The cooler fall temperatures help to intensify the sweetness of your crop. It’s recommended that you cut your branches from your plants before stripping the leaves.

You can also use the tips of the stems as they often contain the same amount of stevioside as the leaves from your harvest. If you’re in a climate where stevia will survive a cool winter, prune the plants so the stems are about 4 inches high.

Generally you can get a second harvest from these plants, but a solid third harvest is not as likely, nor will it be as productive. Otherwise be sure to keep cuttings from your harvest to root indoors, pot and keep for planting next spring.

Stevia rooted cutting after 14 days in water : bouturage de Stevia

Once you’ve harvested your stevia leaves you will want to dry them on a screen or net. Good air circulation is a must but this process doesn’t require a lot of heat. You can likely dry your leaves outside on a warm day in full sun in about a 12 hour period.

Once your leaves have dried, simply crush them by hand or in a coffee grinder to release the sweetness for future use. A liquid extract can be also produced by mixing a cup of warm water with 1/4 of fresh, finely crushed stevia leaves which you would then refrigerate after 24 hours.

Don’t have the space to plant stevia? You can also buy dried organic stevia leaves steep in your own tea blends.  The whole organic stevia leaf is also available in powdered form. (Note that most commercial Stevia which is a white crystalline color is actually the dried powdered extract of Stevia and not the whole leaf.)

Have you tried stevia or do you plan on growing this amazing herb in your garden this year?

Make Infused Sugars for a Little Spice to Everyday Life

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Sweeten up your culinary style by creating your own infused sugars. Sprinkle them on fresh baked cookies and pies or use them in place of plain sugar in coffees and teas!
Vanilla Sugar

Here’s a recipe for making vanilla infused sugar. Use more or less vanilla to taste. Click here for the recipe. Also give orange and lemon infused sugars a go by adding the dried zest from three fruits to two cups of your sugar of choice, then grind together in a food processor. Get creative with a variety of other herbs and spices as well. Try adding not just vanilla  bean pods but whole cloves,  star anise, cardamon pods, lavender buds, fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks, crystallized ginger, fresh rosemary, fresh mint, and even organic rose buds to create your own unique blends. Layer these tasty options with your sugar and allow to infuse for at least one week before use, shaking jar daily to insure a thorough infusion. Store in pint jars for future use or for gift giving.