Need some new ideas for holiday gifts this year? We asked experts in the field, including members of our advisory board and contributing writers, to tell us their favorite gifts of health to give. Let their ideas inspire you!
I like to give a friend a complete home spa day, which includes a hand and foot bath, a salt glow treatment for the hands and feet, an herbal facial steam, and a white clay mask, followed by a massage with my ultimate face cream. Ideally, this is done sitting outside in the garden with the sound of birds and wind in the trees. But it can also be as peaceful in the quiet of a home with candles lit, soft music in the background, and homemade incense burning. The entire treatment takes less than two hours and is always appreciated as much by men and children as by women.
—Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist
I think the greatest healing gift is the profound love of nature. You can ingest it (as in good foods and herbs), live in it (surround yourself with beautiful houseplants or a garden), retreat into it (take time out to go camping, take herb walks, visit the rainforest), or conserve it (join local and international conservancy efforts, plant a wild area in your own yard).
—Constance Grauds, R.Ph., Herbs for Health editorial adviser
One of my favorites is a relaxing bath blend of essential oils for stress. This could include oils of sandalwood, clary sage, lavender, orange, bergamot, or marjoram.
—Mindy Green, Herb Research Foundation
I like neck pillows containing flaxseeds and various aromatic herbs such as lavender. These are heated in a microwave and then wrapped around your neck. They stay hot for a long time and provide penetrating warmth into the muscles. The aromatic herbs are doubly relaxing. A smaller version of this can be used as an eye pillow. I also love handmade soaps that use glycerin and other non-toxic ingredients and are infused with various combinations of fragrant herbs. Herbal bath salts make a nice complement to a gift basket.
—Robert Rountree, M.D.
I’d give a gift certificate for a shiatsu or acupuncture session, or better yet, for a private session with a really great yoga teacher. A person can get an idea of how they’re chronically holding stress in their body, how it’s creating pain and reduced organ function, and how to start to release it and develop better habits. That’s even better than a massage if it gets people into more awareness and a better daily practice.
—Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac, Herbs for Health editorial adviser
I like the fruit-of-the-month club as a reasonably healthy idea. Subscriptions to health-oriented journals and health-oriented books are good presents, too.
—Jim Duke, Ph.D., Herbs for Health editorial adviser
One of my favorites is Oshadhi’s Eau de Toilette sprays, or essential oils and a little oil diffuser.
—Sara Katz, cofounder of Herb Pharm in Williams, Oregon
The healthy gift that I most enjoy giving is a beautifully prepared meal in the company of mutual friends, with a promise that the guest of honor doesn’t have to do any dishes!
—Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association
Massage gift certificates are great because everyone could use a massage, and it’s nice to be able to select a time when you need it most. I also like CDs with relaxing music to help soothe away stress and tension.
—Michael Amster, M.D.
I’ll often get a nice basket or some type of container and fill it with relaxing products such as natural bath salts or oil, a loofah, perhaps one of those silk flaxseed-filled eye masks, and candles with some pretty holders. I tend to make a lot of my own gifts, so I’ll often custom-make an aromatherapy product suitable for the individual and put it in a nice bottle. Or I’ll make homemade herbal gifts of salves, body products, tincture, or whatever seems appropriate.
—Rasa Sammy, L.Ac.
I like to give Kings American Dispensatory (Eclectic Medical, 1898)—a two-volume set that costs $285. I consider it the best, most complete herbal text written in the English language. It’s available from the American Botanical Council in Austin, Texas. I also like to give Chinese brass mortar and pestles, which can be purchased at some Chinese herb stores. They’re beautiful, make a great ringing sound when being used, and are very handy for breaking up hard roots and seeds.
—Ed Smith, herbalist and cofounder of Herb Pharm
I like to give a copy of Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom (Doubleday, 1997). It’s a great book that really touches the heart.
—Lesley Tierra, L.Ac.
I like to give books to educate my loved ones on how to eat healthier, on gardening, and on natural first aid. Also, books on Feng Shui and Feng Shui tools (crystals, wind chimes, mirrors) and relaxation tapes. I might also make “gourmet baskets” featuring healthy crackers, jams, pistachios, and snacks they might like but have never tried, such as taro chips, macadamia nut butter, and blue popcorn.
—Brigitte Mars, herbalist
My favorite healthy gift to give people is our Fox Ryde Hiker’s Pack. There are a lot of outdoors-type people who really need the contents! It consists of a cotton bandana wrapped around a stick of our Smooches herbal lip balm, a small jar of our BooBoo Balm (for blisters, open wounds, and sunburns), and a jar of our Weekend Warrior Balm (for sore muscles, strains, sprains, and overworked bodies).
—Sheron Buchele, owner of Fox Ryde Gardens in Loveland, Colorado
I like to make homemade herbal gifts. Rolling beeswax candles is easy for anyone to do. Beeswax sheets can be purchased in kits at craft stores. Herbal drawer sachets can be made in minutes by wrapping potpourri in a four-inch round piece of pretty fabric and tying shut with a ribbon. Scented herbal bath oil is lovely and can be made by adding ten to twenty drops of essential oils to four ounces of almond oil and placing in a nice glass jar.
—Aviva Romm, herbalist and midwife
I give gift baskets for special needs (such as an osteoporosis basket with calcium and mineral supplements). I also like homemade chai, herbal salves, bath salts or other body products, and chewable vitamin C.
—Jill Stansbury, N.D.
Amy Baugh-Meyer and Dawna Duncan are associate editor and editorial assistant for Herbs for Health.