Natural Health
Better living through nature

5 Hormone-Balancing Rules That You Need To Know Right Now

Hormones are known as chemical messengers in the body, which can impact overall health. Glands and organs secrete these messengers throughout the body, therefore, it is vital that your hormones are balanced. For men and women, hormones that occur include estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline, and insulin. They travel through the endocrine system, the blood, and to various tissues in the body. Even the slightest imbalance can cause significant health problems. The most common causes of hormonal imbalance could be a poor diet, allergies, genetics, or even exposure to toxic chemicals. But balancing hormones is not as hard as it may seem, and there are many effective ways to keep an eye on them without chemicals or additives.

Photo by Pexels

1. Cut Down On Sugars

To restore your hormones, one important rule is to make sugar an occasional treat. Sugar is known to cause a fluctuation in hormones easily. It can impact blood sugar levels, weight, and even appetite. Excess sugar intake can disturb the balance of insulin in the body, resistance to insulin and leptin can also cause the body to store fat instead of burning it. This happens because the hormone fails to keep the metabolism going, which influences energy levels. By making a conscious rule to cut down on sugar,  you reduce its effect on estrogen and testosterone levels in the body. You can reduce the intake of sugar in everyday food, like coffee, tea, curries, chocolates, etc. And gradually shift to sugar-free alternatives.

2. Get Plenty Of Rest

Science shows that a lack of sleep can impact the normal functioning of the body. Apart from your diet, a lack of sleep could be disturbing your hormone levels. Aim for at least 7-8 hrs of sleep every night so that your body’s hormone levels are balanced. Hormone imbalance can be caused by merely disturbing your body’s natural circadian rhythm. If you are wondering how sleep can impact hormones, it's because just like you, even your hormones work on a specific schedule. Lack of proper rest can stimulate the stress hormone, cortisol, contributing to depression and anxiety. It can disturb your diet and other routines, impacting hormonal well-being.

3. Good Digestive Health

One healthy and productive way to balance your hormones is through your gut. By eating healthy at every meal, you don’t have to worry about your hormones. Aim for good digestive health, as your stomach determines how balanced your hormones will be. If you eat healthily, then you don’t have to worry about fluctuating estrogen or testosterone levels as much. You can do that by eating foods that are good for digestion, like clean proteins, such as chicken, legumes, seeds, and seafood; antioxidant-rich veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and spinach; and healthy fats like ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil. You can even introduce healing spices and herbs into your meals. All these foods can help you build a healthy hormonal balance.

4. Add Probiotics to Your Diet

Another rule to live by for hormonal health is to include probiotic foods in your diet. You can find probiotics in foods like bread, yogurt, kefir, sourdough, sauerkraut, and more. They act quickly to balance hormones by repairing the gut lining and function. Many foods we eat can cause inflammation in the body, but probiotics fight undigested food particles that can impact the body’s overall functioning. They do the work of enzymes in the gut that help break down food into smaller particles, making it easier to digest. These healthy bacteria can boost the production and regulation of critical hormones in the body like leptin and insulin. You can say that, in a way, probiotics are digestive-friendly food that can regulate normal hormone levels.

5. Avoid Too Much Stress

Stress plays a significant role in hormonal imbalance, as well as overall health. That’s right, something as severe as chronic stress can disrupt hormonal balance, and even without realizing it your habits and lifestyle could be impacting fluctuating hormone levels. For example, a hectic work schedule, stressful exercise routines, or an extreme diet, could upset the hormonal balance. Even emotional stress can impact your everyday life and your hormones. Yoga and meditation are a few among many soothing methods that can calm your nerves and regulate normal hormonal function.

These are just a few lifestyle changes that can help balance your hormones. They can either help you overcome the symptoms in the initial state or naturally reduce its effect. However, in some cases, one would require synthetic hormonal treatments, particularly if symptoms are neglected for a long time. These hormone-balancing rules can be made naturally, and without the help of a doctor, however, it is always suggested to first consult with a doctor before any medication to overcome symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Make sure always to keep a track of your hormones and how you are feeling, this way it will help you respond to those symptoms accordingly.

Ayurvedic Principles: Why You Should Wake Up Early

Among the classical Ayurveda textbooks, the one close to my heart is Ashtanga Hridaya, written by Acharya Vagbhata. In Ashtangahridaya textbook, the second chapter deals with Dinacharya (Dina in sanskrit means day, and charya in sanskrit means regimen) or the daily regimen. From the view point of scholar Vagbhata lets look at the art of daily regimen with Ayurveda.

woman doing yoga at sunrise in field
Photo by Andressa Voltolini on Unsplash

Primary charya or regimen mentioned is 'ideal time to wake up' is Brahma Muhurta.

Time to wake up. It is advised to be awake at Brahma muhurta (45 minutes before sunrise). Though it might seem difficult to wake up at such an early hour (around 5 in the morning), the physical and mental benefits you obtain by waking up early are permanent and amazing.

Have you ever thought about why the Ayurveda classics ask you to wake up early?

The fact is when you wake up early in the morning, before sunrise, the predominant dosha according to time is Vata. Vata is powerful and  an active dosha. You can perform your activities with more energy if you wake up at Vata period of the day. But if you are waking up late, the next dosha cycle of the day is Kapha. Kapha is generally in slow pace, and you will have a feeling of heaviness and drowsiness if you wake up in the Kapha period of the day.

Also the morning environment is generally one of peace and serenity. If you want to wake up early, you will always try to sleep at an early hour. This helps in regulating a proper biological rhythm in your day-to-day activities. An improper lifestyle is the major cause most of the diseases in life, such as diabetes, obesity, insomnia etc. Therefore a proper biological rhythm ensures health to the body and mind.

Devote some time in the early hours for yoga or meditation. Practice sun salutations or any meditation technique which nourishes the mind.

The environment is devoid of any types of pollution at this time. Enjoy the cool breeze or chirping of birds and refresh yourself at this early hour.

Ashtanga Hridaya says, "If a person wakes up in Brahma Muhurta his health will always be maintained"  It also says one who wakes up at an early hour gains beauty, praise, intelligence, money, health, and longevity of life.

Have you noticed new born babies? They naturally wake up at the early morning hours. Our body is tuned in such a way by Mother Nature. But we try to change the rhythm or pattern given by nature which is one of the major causes of all the lifestyle disorders. The birds, animals, and those close to nature wake up at Brahma Muhurta.

If you are a person who wakes up at 9 am in the morning, don't force yourself to wake up at 5 am after reading this article. But gradually try to develop a habit of waking up early. For example, go to sleep half an hour earlier than your usual routine, and try getting up at 8.30am on the first day. Follow this routine for a week. Then gradually make you way to 8am. Likewise, gradually adapt to an early hour waking habit.

Remember the slight difficulty you are facing initially can bring about a peaceful, healthier future to you.

All information and resources provided are based on the opinions and experiences of the author, unless otherwise noted. Information is intended to encourage readers to do their own research and come to their own conclusions, and should never substitute or replace the recommendations of a qualified healthcare provider. Always consult your physician before making changes to your diet, exercise, or general wellness plan, even when using holistic methods.

Coriander for Migraines

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, someone living in almost one in four households in the U.S. suffers from migraines, and 85 percent of them are women. Once thought to be triggered by blood vessel constriction, researchers now suspect migraines may involve impaired neural signaling, which qualifies the condition as a neurological disorder. Coriander, fairly-well-studied for its antioxidant value and beneficial effect on arthritis and rheumatism, is showing promise as an effective treatment for migraine.

coriander seeds in bowl with wooden spoon
Photo by iStock/SharafMaksumov

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) seed refers to the dried fruit of a flowering annual in the parsley family that is native to the Mediterranean region, as well as northern Africa and western Asia. While the seed is called coriander, the mother plant is known as Chinese parsley, dhania, and cilantro, the leaf of which is widely used in Indian, Asian, Middle Eastern and Spanish cuisines. Due to the presence of pinene and linalool, coriander imparts a nutty, citrusy flavor to curries and spice blends like garam masala. Coriander is also a flavoring agent in gin (along with juniper berry), Benedictine, Chartreuse and Belgian wheat beers. The seed is also a pickling spice.

An Ancient Remedy Becomes New Again

In the Ayurvedic and Iranian traditional systems of healing, coriander has long been regarded a viable therapy for headache when infused in hot water and the steam inhaled. New research shows that the seed is also helpful in reducing the duration, severity and frequency of migraines. In one study published in 2016, for example, which involved 68 subjects and a syrup made from coriander, the treatment group experienced 50 percent less pain, length of attack and frequency of occurrence than the control group.

In March 2018, researchers at the Kerman University of Medical Sciences of Iran published the results of a double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 88 migraine patients and a traditional Iranian herbal migraine remedy that contains coriander combined with the flowers of the violet and damask rose. At the end of four weeks, the subjects in the treatment group reported reduced duration, severity and frequency of migraines over the placebo group.

A review published in the March 2018 issue of Food Research International notes the neuroprotective activity of coriander and its ability to counter migraine. The authors further describe the seed as anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, anxiolytic, antimicrobial and analgesic, and suggest that coriander is a functional food that modulates disease pathways that otherwise lead to cancer, neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases. These effects are due to a variety of flavonoids, polyphenols and terpenoids. Of particular interest is the terpenoid linalool, which is found in the seed in a concentration of 60-70 percent.

How to Use Coriander

Powdered coriander seed is enjoyed in a variety of foods, such as curry, dhana jeera and other Indian dishes, often partnered with cumin and black pepper. The powdered seed may also be encapsulated. The standard dose for adults is 1-5 grams powdered coriander, three times per day.

One of the easiest ways to take coriander—and the most useful should a migraine strike—is to prepare the seed as tea: steep 2 teaspoons crushed seeds in a cup of boiling water; strain and drink up to three times per day between meals. In cooking, the whole seeds are roasted and eaten as a snack or added to rice, vegetable dishes and soups.

Sensible Cautions

If you have a known allergy to any food in the carrot family, you should not use coriander. Also, because coriander reduces blood sugar, you should not use this herb therapeutically while pregnant or nursing. Check with your health care practitioner before using coriander if you take prescription drugs for hypoglycemia because the spice may increase their effect.

Yellow Dock: Edible Weed and Digestive Ally

Found in all fifty states and on six continents, yellow dock (Rumex crispus) is an edible, medicinal plant that has naturalized in many parts of the world. In other words, it’s a weed, and one that folks often spend a lot of effort eradicating from their lawns and gardens. Yet, like many underappreciated weeds, yellow dock has a lot to offer in both nutritional and health benefits.

Photo by Sarah Baldwin

Health Benefits of Dock

Yellow dock is an important digestive ally, with bitter properties that activate the liver and gall bladder, aiding in the digestion of fats and absorption of nutrients. The root is often used as a gentle, but effective laxative. Meanwhile, the plant’s cooling properties ease inflammation of the digestive tract.

This herb has a long history of use as an alterative, a term that can be a little confusing. This is what folk healers might call a “blood cleanser,” and it indicates a plant that improves the metabolic functioning of the body to encourage the breakdown and elimination of toxins and waste. Thus, yellow dock is indicated in chronic skin conditions like acne and eczema, which often have an underlying cause in liver congestion.

How to Identify Yellow Dock

Yellow dock’s genus name, Rumex, means “lance-like” and describes the narrow shape of the leaves, while crispus means “curly” and refers to the undulating leaf margins. Although most modern herbalists prefer R. crispus, several dock species have historically been used interchangeably. Narrow leaves with very wavy edges and pale green stems are a couple of ways to differentiate R. crispus from other Rumex species. When in doubt, you may need to dig up a plant and take a cross-section of the root, which has a yellow hue--hence the moniker, “yellow dock.”

Dock can tolerate infertile soil and tends to thrive in waste areas. However, we must take care not to harvest this plant from polluted areas, as it accumulates heavy metals such as cadmium and lead from the soil. (In fact, this principle goes for all wild plant foraging!)

Kitchen and Apothecary

A great addition to your home apothecary, yellow dock is easily extracted into a tincture or herbal vinegar. Vinegar is especially good for drawing the abundant minerals from this nutrient-dense plant. Dock is high in vitamins A and C and a variety of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. The plant is also helpful for anemia due to its iron content as well as its ability to promote better absorption of iron.  Try adding yellow dock or dock vinegar to iron-rich foods, such as nettle, chickweed, and seaweed.

A word of caution: yellow dock also contains oxalic acid, which may contribute to kidney stones and other health conditions. But before you panic, consider that many common foods like spinach and rhubarb also contain oxalic acid. Most folks can tolerate eating some raw spinach, but it’s a good idea not to over-consume. To reduce oxalic acid levels, avoid harvesting during very dry conditions and blanch the greens for a few minutes before eating.

Yellow dock leaves make a tangy, delicious addition to omelets, frittatas, quiches, soups, curries, stir-fries, and pasta dishes like lasagna. Stems of larger leaves can be tough, so it’s best to remove them before cooking. You can also add the plant’s root to various recipes, such as soup or roasted roots.

Dock Leaf Chips

One of my favorite things in life is taking advantage of nature’s bounty—weeds—to make inexpensive, healthful culinary delights. As a substitute for kale chips, dock leaf chips are a weedy alternative that are equally chock full of nutrients. The process is simple:

  • Harvest dock leaves, the younger and more tender the better. Remove larger stems.
  • Toss lightly with oil and place in a single layer in food dehydrator trays. Salt to taste.
  • Dehydrate until dry and crispy, which usually takes a couple of hours.
  • Store in a paper bag to preserve freshness.

Note: I prefer the dehydrator because it tends to preserve the color better, but you can also use an oven.  Bake at 250 degrees for just a few minutes until crispy.

Sarah Baldwin is immersed in the world of herbalism, writing and teaching about the physical and spiritual benefits of healing plants. She is the author of The Herbal Healing Deck, an earthy and mystical oracle deck featuring guidance and wisdom from medicinal plants. Sarah is a regular contributor to Plant Healer Magazine and The Herbarium and has also written course material for The Herbal Academy. Her interests include gardening, yoga, meditation, dance, and music.

Aromatherapy Skin Care During Summer

Keep your skin feeling great while looking great by embracing the aromatherapy nutrients needed before and after sun exposure.

Spring has arrived and we are enjoying the warmth and gardening season. Which means a lot of sun exposure! Caring for your skin during this time of year is absolutely a number one priority. Working in the garden can turn into hours when you least expect it. Including a safe SPF is a great start. Despite this, your skin will need nourishing after exposure. Remember your skin is your largest organ. Exposure to the sun, soil and dust can require some mending afterwards. You can create a cooling mist to have handy in your garden basket for those moments when you are experiencing intense heat, or a soothing spray for natural sunburn relief. Your hands will need mending as well, and you can make a hand salve infused with essential oils for this. These additions to your gardening are a great self-care practice.


In many ways, we forget to care for the rest of our bodies and only care for our face and hands. Some may not even think to apply something after you have been outdoors all day. This is where taking the time to make a mist or a salve comes into place.  One of the wonderful experiences I have gotten to embark on is making my own skin care regimen. I have tried frankincense essential oil with lavender, and rose. All of these create a relaxing aroma that leaves my skin feeling fresh and smooth. You can jump to the next level and apply this regimen to your neck and shoulders.  I can easily hide my face with a hat, or wear comfortable breezy pants in the garden, but my neck ends up exposed. I can only handle so much coverage during those hot summer days. My body is usually taking a beating from my love of the outdoors.

I have decided to make self-care easy to do, so that you can create this sort of routine. I believe you can simply add it to your current practice. Here is a recipe to revive your skin during the summer days.

Calendula and Peppermint Revitalizing Mist

Uplift and refresh your skin during the summer with this homemade skin soothing mist.


  • 2 oz (60ml) glass spray bottle
  • 1 oz  (60 ml) Calendula Hydrosol (Calendula officinalis)
  • 8-10 drops Peppermint Oil (Mentha x piperita)
  • 2 ml Soluble dispersant

Directions: Fill glass spray bottle with the directed amount. Shake before using. Spray around face and other body parts exposed to the sun.

Choosing essential oils for simple ailments is a lifestyle change that might require gradual assimilation. Essential oils have changed the way I approach common life events, from emotional health to seasonal allergies, and I’m always happy to learn about effective natural remedies that can replace over-the-counter medications.


Learning the power of plants is a beautiful journey. Our Earth has given us these magnificent herbs; It’s our job to re-introduce them to our modern lives.

If you are out in the sun all day, lavender is a great option, not only for your mind but also for your skin. If you are sore and have achy muscles try German chamomile, it has calming effects and reduces energetic heat, one of its therapeutic properties is the ability to provide pain relief due to it being an anti-inflammatory. These two can be combined and blended with one ounce of cream or carrier oil.

Freshening up is something you might want to do after a walk or while you are knee deep in the garden.  You can create a mist with the hydrosols mentioned in the recipes above. Remember, hydrosols are a gentle alternative to essential oils; they are aromatic waters with many of the same properties. 

A hand salve is necessary for me. It is an option at all hours of the day.  A salve is great when you have washed your hands, worked outside, washed dishes, or if your feet are tired. Is your back is sore? Apply some of your homemade salve. 

Finally, you want to remember everyone’s skin is different and what might work for you could create the opposite experience for someone else. Creating your own products is a personal experience and allows you to understand the intricacies of your own body. You can add or remove whatever you desire, while following a base. I hope you come to love and appreciate your skin, in a way you have never experienced. I recommend researching and getting comfortable with each plant to understand how these essential oils can become a part of your life.

Spring Greens, Herbal Tonics, and Natural Detoxification

Spring has sprung and many of us are still feeling sluggish from our winter hibernation, heavy eating, and lack of sunshine. While we need those heavy and hearty meals during the cold winter months, Spring is the time to lighten up our diets and head outside.

Historically, people grew and harvested their own food and ate with the seasons. Local spring greens and herbs were coveted as they would help to invigorate the blood and rejuvenate the spirits. There are numerous references throughout history which refer to herbs as “blood purifiers” or “blood cleansers”. Wild herbs and greens would be eaten or otherwise consumed in the spring as a tonic to help improve digestion and “cleanse” the blood. Cleansing the “blood” is more of a reference to improving elimination.

Today you hear people talk about doing a “detox” or a “cleanse” using harsh and expensive products which act more to “purge” or force the body into eliminating or “detoxing”. Traditionally people relied on the body’s natural ability to eliminate and would give the body a little nudge in the spring by consuming fresh greens and herbs, getting outside and by breathing fresh air.

flowering allium
Allim spp. flower. Photo by Natalie Vickery

5 Tips to Naturally Improve Elimination

The body is very adept at the process of elimination. However, when the system becomes a bit sluggish, elimination can be enhanced naturally through various means. Here are a few tips to give the body a nudge to improve elimination.

  1. Improve digestion: Eating healthy foods and avoiding those that are refined and processed not only helps to maintain health but will also help to improve digestion. Another great way to improve digestion is by incorporating bitter foods and herbs into our diets. These bitters help stimulate digestive secretions, improve integrity of tissues, increase nutrient absorption and increase elimination.
  2. Deep Breathing: One way the body naturally detoxifies is through respiration. Most people are shallow breathers and respiration is inhibited. By focusing on breathing and taking deep breaths not only can we increase energy and reduce stress, but we also increase elimination.
  3. Stay Hydrated: Water is essential to our well-being. Not only does water carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells but it also helps to rid the body of waste byproducts.
  4. Exercise: The benefits of exercise on health are almost endless. Exercise improves elimination by increasing lymphatic flow, perspiration and respiration.
  5. Sleep: While we sleep our bodies are repairing and rebuilding. A lack of sleep or inadequate sleep can be very detrimental to overall health.

5 Herbs to Help Improve Elimination

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Burdock has been traditionally known as a “blood purifier” and “spring tonic”, helping to improve elimination and used for skin conditions such as eczema, boils and psoriasis. The root acts on the liver where there is sluggishness and is often used for conditions such as gout, arthritis or muscular rheumatic conditions.

Burdock root is mildly bitter and oily and can be combined with other herbs to help improve digestion and may be beneficial for constipation associated with dryness due to poor utilization of fats. The seed has more of an influence over the kidneys and acts as a mild diuretic helping to remove gravel and metabolic debris. The seeds may also benefit the digestive system helping to ease indigestion and the respiratory system where the mucous membranes are dry and irritated.

chickweed greens
Chickweed. Photo by Natalie Vickery

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Although it seems like a very simple and unassuming plant, Chickweed can be quite beneficial when incorporated into our diets. Chickweed’s uses are diverse being both edible and medicinal. As an edible herb this tender little plant has a mild lettuce like flavor with a slight little sour tang and contains numerous vitamins and minerals.

As a medicinal herb, Chickweed is considered a lymphatic herb and is indicated for swollen glands and edema. When applied topically, it helps to soothe tissue where there is redness and irritation. Chickweed acts as a diuretic and can be combined with other herbs to address urinary tract infections.

Plantain (Plantago spp.)

Plantain is one of those herbs that can be found just about everywhere. The young leaves are edible and the Plantago psyllium is the species from which we obtain psyllium seeds and husk. Psyllium is used as a laxative by some and helps to lubricate the bowels while creating bulk. As a wound healing herb, Plantain is top notch. Plantain contains a constituent called allantoin which increases cell proliferation and other constituents which help to reduce inflammation and pain. When taken internally it can benefit conditions such as ulcerations, gut permeability, hemorrhage, diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and infections.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion is one of the first herbs to pop up in the spring and is a traditional wild food. The leaves are slightly bitter as well as acting as a mild diuretic. The leaves can be added to a salad or sautéed and are high in vitamins and minerals. The root is one of our traditional bitter herbs which improves digestion, supports the liver and acts as mild laxative.

Violets (Viola spp.)

Violet leaves and flowers are edible and can be added to salads, vinegar, as a thickener or candied. Steeping the leaves and flowers in cool water over night helps to extract the vitamins and minerals from the plant as well as creating a tea rich in soluble fiber.  Violet is a wonderful herb to use to help reduce inflammation and to soothe irritation in a host of different conditions such as constipation (lubricates the bowels), sore throats, dry coughs, red and angry looking skin conditions, etc. As a lymphatic herb, it can help to reduce swollen glands, abscesses and has also been used topically for mastitis and fibrocystic breasts.

yellow dock plant and seeds
Yellow dock plant and leaves (left); yellow dock seeds (right). Photos by Natalie Vickery

Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)

The root of yellow dock is used medicinally and is bitter, therefore affording it all the qualities attributed to bitter herbs such as improving digestion, absorption, metabolism and nutrition. The young leaves may be eaten raw in small quantities but contain high amounts of oxalic acid which is reduced when cooked. The seeds of the yellow dock plant can be dried, ground and used like flour in various recipes.

So, before you rush out to purchase the latest very expensive and very harsh cleanse, consider incorporating this gentle approach into your daily lives. It is always better to support the body naturally rather than trying to force the healing process.

Disclaimer: Never consume any plant without positively identifying it first.

All information and resources provided are based on the opinions and experiences of the author, unless otherwise noted. Information is intended to encourage readers to do their own research and come to their own conclusions, and should never substitute or replace the recommendations of a qualified healthcare provider. Always consult your physician before making changes to your diet, exercise, or general wellness plan, even when using holistic methods.

Herbal Vinegar: An Easy, Versatile Folk Remedy

Photo by Sarah Baldwin

Vinegar has been one of humanity’s staple brews for millennia, with the earliest known record of its use dating back 10,000 years. Its discovery was likely a happy accident when wine was left out and exposed to air, allowing wild yeasts to ferment the beverage into the health-promoting concoction we know as vinegar. In fact, the word vinegar comes from the French term vin aigre, meaning “sour wine.”

Benefits of Vinegar

There are many different types of vinegar, and most of them possess medicinal properties even without the addition of herbs. Vinegar has been used in folk medicine for numerous issues from indigestion and arthritis to wounds and warts. Many folks consider it to be a health-promoting tonic and imbibe vinegar daily to ease various chronic issues and maintain vibrant health.

Vinegar has been used as an antimicrobial long before the term was created. In times of plague during the Middle Ages, an herbal vinegar known as Four Thieves was used to prevent infection by legendary French robbers who stole from the dead and dying. According to Maggie Oster in her book Herbal Vinegar, recipes for Four Thieves vary, but they often include rosemary, rue, sage, wormwood, mint, lavender, and camphor.

Indeed, modern research has shown vinegar to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-tumor properties. It can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as normalize blood sugar. Adding vinegar to a meal promotes better absorption of calcium, which is especially important for aging women. In fact, vinegar does a great job of extracting minerals from foods and herbs and making them more available to our bodies. Herb-infused vinegars combine the best of both worlds: You get the healing power of plants combined with the added mineral absorption and health benefits of vinegar.

Making Herbal Vinegar

Herbal vinegars are easy to make, very similar to crafting a tincture. Mineral-rich medicinals like chickweed and nettle as well as aromatic leaves like bergamot and lemon balm make great vinegar infusions. You can also choose spicy plants like garlic and ginger or other kitchen-friendly herbs such as rosemary and dill. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a good choice because it’s readily available at health food stores in an organic, unpasteurized form. You can use the simpler's method of chopping up fresh herbs, filling a jar, and covering the herbs completely with ACV. Or, you can weigh out one ounce of fresh herbs for every two liquid ounces of vinegar.

Be sure to use a plastic lid, since vinegar will corrode metal lids quickly. In a pinch, you can also put a layer of plastic wrap between your lid and the jar. Depending on the desired strength and flavor, let the herbs soak for 2-6 weeks, shaking the jar daily. Then simply strain out the plants and enjoy!

Versatile Vinegar

Herbal vinegars have a wide variety of applications both topical and internal. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Just like other herbal extracts, you can use herbal vinegars medicinally. Start with one tablespoon in a full glass of water daily.
  • Herbal vinegars preserve the flavor of your herbs and are a great way to season foods. Splash vinegar on cooked greens, add some olive oil and enjoy it as a salad dressing, or use it to liven up soups and other dishes.
  • ACV is great for the skin, so herbal vinegars can be added to bath water or used as a hair rinse. For example, try nettle vinegar as hair rinse to alleviate dandruff or simply to add luster to your locks.
  • Herbal vinegars make great homemade gifts! Pour the infused vinegar into decorative bottles and add a sprig of the fresh plant. You can also tie a label to the neck of the bottle listing suggested uses or recipes.

Sarah Baldwin is immersed in the world of herbalism, writing and teaching about the physical and spiritual benefits of healing plants. She is the author of The Herbal Healing Deck, an earthy and mystical oracle deck featuring guidance and wisdom from medicinal plants. Sarah is a regular contributor to Plant Healer Magazine and The Herbarium and has also written course material for The Herbal Academy. Her interests include gardening, yoga, meditation, dance, and music.

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