Archive for March, 2013
Posted by|29 March 2013
Let’s face it, essential oils are not cheap! They require a lot of plant material to produce a small amount of oil, and you want to get the most out of your little bottles of aromatic goodness. When stored correctly essential oils can last an extremely long time. Conservatively, you can keep properly stored oils for at least 1 year. I have oils in my collection that I have had around for over 5 years, and they still have a long life ahead of them.
Factors that will affect your essential oil:
Heat and Light:
Essential oils are flammable. Each oil has a unique flashpoint, or the temperature at which it will ignite. These flash points are quite high. A comfortable room temperature storage place will suffice, but I would not store oils above a range or wood stove.
Direct contact with sunlight can affect the color of an oil and consequently the constituents. Storage in a window sill is also not recommended.
Oxygen and Moisture:
Oxidation occurs when an essential oil is exposed to oxygen. Consistent contact with air will deteriorate the oil and increase evaporation. All is not lost if this occurs. The oils can still be used for cleaning product recipes and even some diffusion, but should be avoided for therapeutic reasons and all skin contact.
Moisture is also detrimental to a bottle of pure essential oil, and can enter the oil if the lid is left off for too long. If water does get into an oil, it may become cloudy or the water may bead up at the bottom of the container.
Simple storage tips for your oils:
To avoid heat and light it is recommended that you keep essential oils in a cool dry place. Kitchen and bathroom cupboards can work well. I store mine on a bookshelf that does not get direct sunlight.
Amber or cobalt glass bottles are recommended over a clear glass bottle. Most essential oils already come in a colored glass bottle when you purchase them. Never store essential oils in plastic, since they are corrosive and will eat away at the container.
To avoid oxidation and moisture, keep the lid on the bottles when you are not using them. It’s also a good idea to transfer oils from a larger container that is almost empty to a smaller one. Let’s say you use a lot of lemon essential oil and purchase it in 4oz quantities. When your bottle is half full or less you may want to transfer the oil into a 1oz or 2oz bottle. The less empty space in a bottle the better!
Reducer caps and droppers:
Most 1/2oz and 1oz essential oils that you purchase will come with a drop-by-drop reducer cap on them (see photo above). These are really helpful and can be kept on the bottle. They allow you to dispense the oil one drop at a time. They are made of thick plastic and don’t usually come into direct contact with the oil when they are not being used.
Some oils are just too thick for these handy reducer caps or don’t come with one. In this case, glass droppers come in handy for utilizing your oils. It is important that you do not use the dropper as a lid for your bottle. The bulbs of a dropper are made from a very pliable rubber and will break down quickly if used as a lid. Always use the screw cap lid that was provided with the bottle for storage. You can either clean out your glass droppers with alcohol for storage and future use or designate and label a dropper for a certain oil.
That’s it! Following these easy guidelines will ensure that your essential oils will last as long as you need them. Visit our website to see our full line of essential oils, storage containers, and glass droppers.
Posted by|28 March 2013
Instead of one image for today’s Photo Thursday, we bring you a video produced by one of our local news stations here in Eugene for a series called the Sustainable Table. Come take a little peek inside our organic tea and spice blending room and learn about our sustainability efforts. Thanks, KEZI!
Posted by|26 March 2013
Here at Mountain Rose Herbs, we continuously try to improve both our workplace environment and the natural world. This month, we were able to do both by planting native trees and shrubs!
Our landscaper, Holde Fink with Native and Urban Gardens, works to enhance our bioswale and beautify the backdrop at our facility by planting native trees. He is an Oregon Tilth Accredited Organic Land Care professional who employs no-spray methods and sustainable practices. In the warmer months, employees and furry friends alike enjoy the grassy knoll around the bioswale where they picnic and play.
We also participated in two back-to-back tree plantings through the Mountain Rose River Project, an employee-led volunteer group focusing on riparian restoration, stream health, and aquatic habitat protection.
March 8, 2013 – As a member of GreenLane, we linked up with McKenzie River Trust and a jubilant group of volunteers for a planting on Green Island outside of Eugene, OR. By the end of the day, we had established over 250 native plants!
March 9, 2013 – We sponsored a Friends of Trees planting along Amazon Creek close to the wetlands near our facilities. A total of 41 volunteers planted 104 trees, including Oregon White Oaks, Valley Ponderosas, and White Alders!
Learn more about Mountain Rose Herbs’ sustainability initiatives!
Posted by|25 March 2013
Our foray into the world of urban beekeeping has me thinking about how to keep our bees busy and well-fed for a nice, long season. We live in a fairly diverse, funky, downtown neighborhood with lots of fruit trees (we have six of our own) and established gardens and we know there are other experienced beekeepers all around us, so we’ve been making our list and taking stock of what we have and what we want more of for the most bee-tabulous garden ever!
We have an average-sized, rectangular city lot in an older part of town. Since there are already honeybees and pollinators in our neighborhood, we are able to build on what we actually saw them visiting last year.
I’ve learned that the bees and I are spiritually aligned when it comes to a preference for local native plants and heirlooms—turns out that hybridization has a tendency to reduce both the nectar and the pollen in plant varieties and these are the very parts of the plants that bees need!
The most popular plants in our garden for bees last year were some of our favorite herbs: Bronze Fennel, Lavender, Rosemary, the mints, and our prolific (and sometimes invasive) comfrey. Since our “lawn” is actually a collection of various native grasses, Dandelion, Clover, and other yummy and diverse plants, it was a carpet of bees on warm, sunny mornings.
The bees were attracted to the bold, fat blossoms on the heirloom squash we grew too—pumpkins and winter squash tended to be their favorites and I took many photos of pollen-laden honeybees buried in those big yellow flowers.
I’m planting more Hyssop and Bee Balm (Monarda), and we’ve decided to create a lavender hedge along the curb of our southeast facing front yard. We’ve wanted to do something gorgeous and useful in the front, but it tends to get the sun for most of the day and be pretty dry. We’re going to take advantage of that sunny drainage (and the fact that we are not lawn-waterers), as this is just the environment Lavender loves.
We are also adding more flowering and fruiting bushes—namely red currant and blue elderberry—both native to our area and with the promise of delicious, healthy berries for us (and maybe some interesting flavors for the future honey.)
Hopefully, all this effort will create a multi-season bee buffet—not just for “our” bees, but for all those other creatures who manage to find their way to our little urban farm!
To learn about other herbs your bees will love, click here!
We offer many of these herb seeds to help get your garden growing…
This post comes to us from Kori, our Public and Media Relations Coordinator! A West Coast native, Kori is a seasoned nonprofit activist and community organizer. Having launched six adult kids, she spends her free time in her burgeoning organic and very urban “farm”—taming Heritage chickens, building top-bar beehives from reclaimed materials, baking, brewing, and preserving.
Posted by|22 March 2013
We are thrilled to bring you this line of artisan facial care products from Fawn Lily Botanica, handcrafted right here in the Pacific Northwest! Each carefully crafted recipe is a synergy of luxurious botanicals created to cleanse, tone, and hydrate your skin. You will find the perfect combination of facial care products for any skin type within this line. Choose from:
Click Here to see a complete list of our Facial Care products.
Posted by|21 March 2013
Posted by|19 March 2013
Here’s the second installment in my series about Chinese herbal medicine and the herbs that Chinese and Western herbal medicine have in common. I hope that lots of fruitful conversations will grow from seeing these two traditions work side by side.
Qi, sometimes explained as vital energy or life force, is the energetic current of the body, and we acupuncturists spend a lot of time talking about it. It’s our version of electricity, so to speak. From a biological perspective, I like to compare it to ATP, the force driving our cellular machinery. Qi is moving, immaterial, and heavenly.
Many of the Qi tonics in Chinese medicine are seen as adaptogens and immunostimulants in the Western herbal tradition.
Regardless of what you call it or how you classify it, these herbs are seen as tonics addressing deficiencies of various degrees. Because we’re discussing Qi tonics, these herbs will go to the Lungs, the Spleen-Stomach, or both. These organs are the source of Qi production in the body. This means, they have a particular affinity for the Chinese medicine concept of these organs, not the organs themselves.
Asian Ginseng, known in Chinese as Ren Shen, is one of the most famous herbs. Even people who know nothing about herbs have heard of ginseng. In my opinion, this is well deserved. Ginseng has some miraculous properties.
In Chinese medicine, we say it tonifies the Source Qi, the basis of all metabolic functions in the body. It also benefits the organs responsible for making Qi, the Lung and Spleen-Stomach, ensuring future creation of Qi. It can calm the Spirit-Mind and nourish fluids, too. It is usually used in cases of collapse (cold limbs and the desire to curl into a ball, spontaneous sweating, shortness of breath and the like), digestive insufficiency, and palpitations with insomnia or anxiety.
In addition to the traditional contraindication of avoiding eating turnips or drinking tea (all caffeinated beverages nowadays) while taking ginseng, it is best avoided in patients with signs of excess Heat (red face, fever, bleeding, headaches or dizziness accompanied by a feeling of the top of the head being about to pop off, etc.) or excess phlegm (copious phlegm with a hacking cough). Signs that you’re taking too much ginseng are headaches, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, hypertension, nausea and vomiting.
A more modern contraindication is in the case of parasitic infection. There is a concern that the ginseng would tonify the parasite while it also tonifies (or instead of, perhaps) the patient. In its place, we favor Eleuthero / Ci Wu Jia Shen, which I discuss below.
Ginseng is one of the few herbs in the Chinese materia medica that is considered appropriate for use without other herbs. This is a stark contrast to other herbs in a system based on poly-pharmacy. It is used singly as a rescue measure when someone is on the verge of collapse or grave illness. This, plus its other properties and unique growing needs, has made ginseng very expensive. Accordingly, since ginseng is so precious, we recommend double decoction to make sure all of its medicinal constituents are extracted.
You can also break off the ginseng “tails” or rootlets to make a good cup of tea rather than a medicinal decoction. Used this way with cinnamon bark, you have a great way to fend off the cold chill from air conditioners during the summer. You can also make medicinal wines (or alcohol tincture) from the tails, and drink a shot-glassful daily. Another use for the tails is an addition to your favorite soup stock to “kick it up a notch”.
One final note, American Ginseng (Xi Yang Shen, Panax quinquefolius), of Wisconsin fame, is totally different in the Chinese materia medica from Ren Shen. They are both tonics, but American ginseng is seen to nourish Fluids to moisten Dryness more than Ren Shen, which tonifies the Qi strongly. That aside, it’s also a great addition to soup stocks during the summer when a cooling, moistening effect is desired.
Eleuthero is one of my favorite herbs. I believe it is deeply underappreciated by Chinese medicine herbalists. That said, proper combining of this herb is required for maximum benefit. I wouldn’t use it as the only Qi tonic in a formula for this reason; instead it should be combined with other herbs to accentuate certain properties.
Also known as “Siberian ginseng”, from a Chinese medicine perspective eleuthero tonifies the Spleen and Kidneys, which is very different from the other herbs mentioned here. This means that there’s a tonification happening at the root of the body’s physiology in addition to the splenic level of day-to-day Qi production. The kind of fatigue that eleuthero would be good for according to these functions is a fatigue that comes with sore, weak, aching low back and knees, and a sense of heaviness in the body.
Eleuthero also calms the Spirit-Mind and invigorates the Blood, so it is good for insomnia, profuse dreaming and mild depression accompanied by fatigue.
As I mentioned above, eleuthero has the unique property of tonifying the host without the risk of tonifying parasites at the same time. This makes it a good herb to use in cases of deficiency during treatment of parasitic infections.
Traditionally, rhodiola is a medicinal in the Tibetan materia medica. In Tibet, it is widely used for altitude sickness. Rhodiola has only recently gained popularity in Chinese medicine for its incredible adaptogenic effect. There has been much research on the topic, as a quick Google search will reveal. Personally, I found it useful when I was running daily and needed to improve my recovery time.
Like Ren Shen, rhodiola tonifies the Spleen-Stomach and Lung. It has the additional actions of engendering and activating the Blood, making it a good addition to formulas for physical traumas or burns. These two actions point to why it is such a good herb for athletes and people living very stressful lifestyles.
Sources disagree about rhodiola’s ability to have an effect on the Heart. In this instance, the “Heart” is actually referring to the Spirit-Mind. Some believe that the herb is calming and others that it has no effect on the Spirit-Mind at all.
Since it is a cooling medicinal (like white Ren Shen, but unlike red Ren Shen), it can be used more readily in cases where there are signs of Heat.
Astragalus has three particularly important functions as a Qi tonic. First off, it’s lifting, which means it’s great when there are cases of prolapse due to deficiency and low energy (we say, “when the Clear Yang Qi is not rising to the head.” I think the phrase is a good metaphor.
Secondly, with other herbs to tonify the Blood, it has the ability to build Qi to make Blood. This may be anemia, or it could be a sallow complexion, brittle nails and hair and dry skin. One of my teachers used to say that Dong Quai was the blueprint for the blood and Huang Qi (astragalus) was the energy to build the building. This is a classic pair for treating blood deficiency in Chinese medicine.
Thirdly, it strengthens the Defensive Qi, our version of the immune system. Because astragalus has an up-bearing nature, it is able to reach the most superficial Qi in the body. This is called Defensive Qi because it is the first Qi to encounter pathogens invading from the Exterior through the skin (see my first post’s section about 6 Stages Diagnosis). Being active in the exterior, astragalus is also useful for cases of spontaneous sweating.
Since astragalus has an affinity for the Lungs and Spleen, it is also able to affect water metabolism in the body for edema due to deficiency. This kind of edema will be relatively superficial in the skin layer rather than deeper edema in the flesh.
Astragalus is another common addition to soup stock. It is commonly used with Dong Quai, but adding Goji berries would be appropriate, too.
In my next post, I will write about blood tonics that Chinese and Western herbal medicine share…
About Dylan Stein
We’re excited to share a bit of the Chinese herbal medicine perspective from acupuncturist Dylan Stein. Dylan specializes in dermatology, men’s health, and pain management. In addition to acupuncture, he also passionately practices Chinese herbal medicine and will be joining us over the next few months to introduce us to this ancient healing practice!
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Posted by|18 March 2013
Check out this fact-packed infographic we made that follows the fascinating and complex story of vanilla bean production. From orchid flower to ice cream, the luscious flavor and aroma of this cured fruit is powerfully enchanting. You’ll also find a few vanilla recipes and how-tos to try with our organic vanilla beans!
Click on the picture below to enlarge…
Posted by|15 March 2013
Our Fall Gold Ginkgo has the wonderful distinction of being grown and harvested here in the United States. In contrast to our regular green ginkgo leaf, Fall Gold Ginkgo is harvested during the peak of the autumn season, after the leaves have achieved their delightful golden color. Some herbal traditions recommend the use of leaves that are harvested at this later point in the season when the medicinal properties of the plant are believed to be at their strongest.
Click here to learn more about this beautiful new herb we’re carrying!
Posted by|14 March 2013
Can it really be true?
First sun tea of the year brewing in our new Tea-to-Go infuser! Yessss.
Posted by|13 March 2013
We are so excited about the Mother Earth News Fair this year!
For the first time ever, we will be hosting an entire pavilion at the show…
~ Herbal Vendors ~
Of course you’ll find our herbal garden booth with tons of freebies and herbal samples to try, but this time around we’ll also be surrounded by sustainable and plant-loving businesses including seed companies, herb nurseries, garden tool blacksmiths, beekeepers, homesteading supplies, natural bodycare crafters, and more. We will also be raffling off a gift basket filled with organic teas and tinctures at our booth! Be sure to visit us at booths 916 and 817 for the free tincture bar, herb cart, organic aroma counter, and other botanical goodies.
~ Herbal Classes and Workshops ~
Perhaps the most exciting part of the pavilion will be the Mountain Rose Herbs Stage. Throughout the weekend, our speakers will give herbal workshops and hands-on demonstrations on topics ranging from making plant medicines and organic bodycare recipes, to the healing power of mushrooms. I’ll be giving two interactive workshops called Herbal Medicine Making Basics and 10 (Not So) Pesky Weeds to Know and Love with plenty of samples to go around! You can read more about all of the amazing classes happening at the Mother Earth News Fair here.
June 1-2, 2013
110 9th Avenue Southwest
Puyallup, WA 98371
Saturday Fair hours:
9:00 AM-7:00 PM
Sunday Fair hours:
10:00 AM-6:00 PM
One Day Tickets Pre-order by March 31, 2013: $15 (Price at the gate: $25)
Weekend Tickets Pre-order by March 31, 2013: $20 (Price at the gate: $35)
MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS are fun-filled, family-oriented sustainable lifestyle events. The Puyallup FAIR features practical, hands-on demos and workshops: •Renewable energy •Small-scale agriculture •Gardening •Green building and more We hand-select local and national exhibitors to bring you the best in: •Organic food and drink •Books and magazines •Tools and seeds •Clothing and more The Puyallup Fairgrounds is the site of Washington’s largest single attraction: the Puyallup Fair. The Fairgrounds are located 35 miles south of Seattle and 10 miles east of Tacoma in the shadow of Mount Rainier.
Hope to see you in the crowd!
Posted by|11 March 2013
In celebration of this year’s Spring Equinox, we are excited to partner with our customers Elie and Kristen of the Portland Apothecary for this very special recipe and giveaway! That’s right…they are offering up an entire Spring Share of handcrafted herbal goodies to one lucky reader, plus a gorgeous infused vinegar recipe for us all to enjoy.
Let’s meet the herbalists! Elie grew up on a biodynamic farm in the hills of Pennsylvania, where the rhythms of the four seasons were her first teachers. She helped her mother brew elderflower syrup in the spring, harvested wild raspberries in the summers, pressed apples for cider in the fall and helped her father tap maple trees for sap in the late winter. Since then, her intrigue with the magic and medicine of plants has been a calling and a journey. Elie interned on farms all over the world, attended Aprovecho Center for Sustainability, and completed her course in native plant herbalism at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies.
Kristen was first drawn to Western Clinical & Energetic Herbalism and has studied with amazing teachers for over a decade. Then came gardening and more gardening, and then exploring the wilds to see plant families and their environments. Her studies led to a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which took her down a path so rich in history and plant knowledge that she has committed to being a perpetual student. Kristen is also in private practice as a licensed acupuncturist.
Together, Elie and Kristen created the Portland Apothecary with a vision to help maintain and restore the health and vitality of folks in their community.
Here at Portland Apothecary we love to make seasonal vinegars as a tasty way to get in our daily herbs! For spring, we’ve made our Spring Tonic Vinegar which is nutrient dense and full of minerals, so you can take full advantage of the vitality of the herbs as they emerge from their winter slumber.
The alkalizing nature of the Apple Cider Vinegar is another healthy addition to your diet, as we’re all trying to clean up a bit from winter’s excesses. As with all of our remedies we like to make them versatile in use and also in the way they’re made. With this recipe, we used a variety of fresh and dried herbs that we had on hand, so feel free to do the same. You can easily use all fresh herbs or order them all dried and beautiful from Mountain Rose Herbs for this recipe. We used the following:
Spring Tonic Vinegar
¼ cup dry organic nettle leaf
¼ cup dry organic horsetail
½ cup organic parsley
½ cup organic dandelion leaf
½ cup organic rosemary
Apple Cider Vinegar
**If you are using all dried, or all fresh herbs, simply use equal parts.
Coarsely chop all herbs and combine in a quart jar.
Cover with Apple Cider Vinegar. Place cap on tightly and shake vigorously. Label your jar with your ingredients and the date. You think you will remember, but believe us, you may not! Place in a dark, dry place and shake daily. After a month, strain herbs through cheesecloth into a clean quart jar, squeeze out the herbs to get every last drop, and you’re done. Oh, apart from labeling again. We like to layer our cheesecloth to avoid particles getting through and leaving sediment. Also, if you have a plastic cap, use it, as it will be less reactive with the vinegar than the usual metal caps.
You can either take this Spring Tonic Vinegar straight, a couple of tablespoons a day, or you can toss it with some spring greens or pea shoots to make a really delicious salad.
There are two prizes!
One very lucky winner will be chosen to win the Spring Share ($120 value) from Portland Apothecary including: spring tonic vinegar, muscle liniment, nutritive herbal tea, Wild Rose, White Peony & Hawthorne Flower Elixir, Forest Soap, detoxifying salt scrub, a seasonal tincture formula, and a Spring Equinox Aroma Mister. You can read more about each wonderful item here.
Another lucky winner will receive a big bundle of herbs from Mountain Rose to create the Spring Tonic Vinegar recipe at home! Prize includes 4oz of nettle leaf, horsetail, parsley, rosemary, and dandelion leaf.
And the winners are…
#144 – bamacheryl ~ You are the winner of the Portland Apothecary Spring Share!
#10 - seanna ~ You are the winner of the organic herb package from Mountain Rose Herbs!
You will receive an email from us soon with more details. Congratulations!
How to Enter: There are several ways to enter the Spring Equinox Giveaway! You can submit up to five entries for a chance to win these prizes. 1. Leave a comment here telling us about your favorite spring herb! 2. Post a link to our Spring Equinox Giveaway on your Facebook page and leave a comment here to let us know you’ve shared. 3. Tweet about our Spring Equinox Giveaway on Twitter using the hashtag #HerbalSpringGiveaway and leave a comment here to let us know you’ve shared. Be sure to follow Portland Apothecary and MtnRoseHerbs! 5. Subscribe to the Mountain Rose Herbs YouTube Channel, “like” our new Free Herbalism Project page on Facebook, get on the mailinglist for our recipe-packed newsletter, or follow us on Pinterest, and leave a comment here to let us know you’re following.
You have until Tuesday, March 19th at 11:59pm PST to enter. We will pick two winners at random on Wednesday, March 20th! Prizes can only be shipped within the United States.