January 10, 2018

How to Treat a Cold with Herbs

I get asked a lot what I do to treat a cold, and I wish it was a simple one word answer.
I make herbal tinctures to have ready on hand when the germs invade, and I also use essential oils, herbal teas and herbaceous soups.

I’m making some tinctures right now, to help me if I catch a cold this winter season. People with autoimmune conditions are more susceptible to catching coughs and colds unfortunately, and have to make an extra effort to keep healthy. They also should be cautious using short term immune stimulants like echinacea. It would be better to follow up with immune tonics like the ginsengs and ginseng-like plants after the cold has subsided.



is an all around star and I use it quite a bit. Everyone knows trees help you breathe better and I also use pine needles. I use eucalyptus in essential oil form as well. It’s the magic ingredient in Vick’s Vap-O rub, without being mixed with petroleum jelly. Get it from the natural source in essential oil or plant form to make teas and tinctures. Peppermint and eucalyptus both relax the airways and open congested passages. I use eucalyptus essential oil in inhalations, and mixed with carrier oil as a massage rub for anything that feels sore and tired.

It depends on your symptoms too. Are you experiencing a dry sore throat or a wet (phlegm, ew) cough? If it’s dry then I soothe with demulcent herbs like marshmallow root, and if it’s a wet cough or condition, I use astringent herbs to dry it up.

Some of the familiar herbs I use in tinctures, teas and essential oil blends I make are:

Trees and Mint family

Pine needles from trees (Everyone knows trees help you breathe better!)
Eucalyptus herb
Oregano/Thyme (hot phenols be careful with essential oils) anti-microbial
Peppermint herb (caution with essential oil it lowers body temperature)
Lemon balm herb

Yarrow herb is a good antimicrobial

Goldenrod is a good astringent

Calendula petals are a good astringent and anti-microbial
Catalyst: Ginger rhizome (fresh is best) use in formulation 5-10% low dilution because of heat

Catalyst: Cayenne use is 1% dilution in formulations because it’s hot.


Licorice root
Mullein herb
Plantain herb
Marshmallow root

Use more demulcents for dry conditions

You can make garlic tincture too if you are brave, just use 5-10% low dilution, because it is a hot catalyst like ginger.

For fevers I use boneset tincture, the bitter herbs work well to quell the heat.

Herbal teas work great because they provide the most herbal contact for a sore throat. Roots need to be decocted or put on a low boil longer, because they are more fibrous.

In cold conditions hot herbs work well. Keep bundled warm and try to sweat it out.

Most antibiotics work on bacteria, not the cold virus, so it’s important to distinguish what you are treating, especially with the overuse of antibiotics, or they aren’t going to work for you when you really need them to.

I hope this helps.

Stay healthy out there friends!

May 16, 2017

Making Ganoderma/ Polypore Mushroom Tincture

A friend from up north gave me a dried mushroom, a *Ganoderma oregonense * to make a mushroom tincture.IMG_6115It is one of the many *Ganoderma* mushroom species that grow in North America. Some of the species include Artists conk, Hemlock varnish shelf, and Lacquered polypore aka Reishi. The Japanese name Reishi or known as Ling-xhi/Lingzhi in Chinese refers to the *Ganoderma lucidum* species, but there are many mushrooms in the *Ganoderma* genus that are used in the same way. They all have adaptogen abilities, which means it helps people adapt to stressors, creating balance to help with many health challenges. These mushrooms have unique and superior nutrition content being high in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids, protein, polysaccharides and many other nutritious medicinal constituents that make it a good immune system regulator.

To learn more about polypore mushrooms==>https://earthelixir.wordpress.com/herbs/medicinal-mushrooms/

How to make and take a tincture==>


June 8, 2015

Chaga Mushroom HQ

Courtesy of: Chaga HQ
May 13, 2015

Invasive Species in North America

Invasive species in North America are having a detrimental effect on the environment, the economy and human health. These alien invasive flora and fauna species are a serious threat to North American native biodiversity.

The dog strangling vine not only chokes out native species, but fools the Monarch butterfly into laying eggs on it that don’t mature, which contributes to population decline.

Get to know invasive species so that you can spot and remove them.

Picture of Dog Strangling Vine


How to Help:

Choose non-invasive and native plants for your garden and remove alien species.

Don’t dump fish pets or garden waste into waterways.

Clean boats and shoes between waterways and after hiking to avoid spreading seeds. Stay on trails and keep dogs from wandering and check for seeds that cling to coats to stop the spread.

Here are some of the invasive species that need to be removed to help keep our environment safe and healthy. 



Norway Maple

Common Buckthorn


Dog Strangling Vine


Yellow floating heart

Tartarian Honeysuckle

Manitoba Maple

Flowering Rush

Japanese Knotweed

Himalayan balsam

Giant Hogweed


Round Goby

Zebra mussels

Asian carp and goldfish


Emerald Ash Borer

April 1, 2015

Herbal Pills vs Tinctures

Herbal pills have come under scrutiny for having no active ingredients and unhealthy additives. Pills are usually filled with dried up and ground herbs, which oxidize and weaken herbal effectiveness as essential oil content and other constituents degrade. 


Herbal Pills:

Are NOT as bioavailable as liquid, meaning that they don’t absorb as well or
as fast into the body as liquid forms such as tinctures

Cannot be tasted, which impairs results 

Pills are not easy to swallow. They are hard to digest and contain unhealthy binders 

Most herbal pill casings are not vegetarian, because they contain gelatin which is from an
animal source most of the time, because it is cheaper. 

Most casings and binders are not kosher 

Improper drying and over processed preparations may cause essential oils
and other constituents to degrade and herbs to dissipate, and may contain

Tinctures absorb better, are more effective and cheaper. If you make them yourself then you have quality control. 

Learn how to make your own tinctures here > http://earthelixir.ca/herbs/diy-herbal-tinctures/



March 8, 2015


Bentley Botanicals

Honey makes a great liquid base for elixirs

Anyone who can make a tincture also possesses the ability to turn that tincture into an elixir. Elixirs are modified tinctures that have most of the alcohol evaporated from the solution. This can be done a number of ways by matter of preference, and there’s advantages to each of them. If you’re unfamiliar with the tincturing process please read my instructional post and come back. As always, feel free to leave comments if something needs clarified. Today, I will explain how to make an elixir using hot water.

Elixirs are made by evaporating alcohol from a tincture and replacing the lost volume with honey or some type of herbal syrup. A tincture will retain potency for around 2-3 years. Though a tincture will never go rancid, the organic chemicals slowly degrade over time even in regular tinctures. Vitamin E oil is commonly used as a natural preservative…

View original post 367 more words

February 24, 2015


This is a picture I took in Mexico of an Oregano plant, also known as Wild Marjoram, but should not be confused with Origanum majorana, which is Marjoram. There are many common names of one plant that are confusing, so it’s best to use the universal Latin name to identify a plant. Latin names are usually in italics, to differentiate in print. The first Latin name is called the Genus, and the second name is the species of the plant. While marjoram and oregano are from the same Genus Origanum,  they are very different species: Origanum vulgare is Oregano, and Origanum majorana is Marjoram. 

The leaves on the Mexican Oregano are scalloped, unlike the smoother edged varieties in my garden. 

What other differences are there between Mexico Oregano and Greek Oregano? 

For starters the Mexican Oregano is grown in Mexico, and the Greek Oregano is grown in Greece. 

Plants that have the same Latin name can have different chemical constituents depending on where they are growing. Habitat influences plants, and alters chemistry because of factors like altitude, soil, climate, rainfall, and a host of other conditions. 

These types of plants are referred to as Chemotypes. They are the same plant in Latin name, but due to habitat may have different plant chemistry. 

Different breeding and natural selection of a Genus like Thymus, Thyme, creates many varieties of species and subspecies. 

The Mexican Oregano may have the same name as the Greek Oregano growing in my garden, but it looks different and tastes different. They may have mainly the same chemical constituents that make up Oregano, but there is enough variation in plant chemical constituents to change flavours and aroma. They may be used interchangeably, but expect different results. 

February 23, 2015


Adaptogens are herbs that help the body adapt to any kind of stressors. They are mainly used for Chronic conditions, which require long-term use for full benefits.

Ginsengs are a good example of herbal adaptogens. The actions aren’t obvious and immediate like herbal purgatives, they are more subtle and accumulative over time.

Take Ginsengs and other adaptogens for chronic stress, illness or if catching frequent colds. Ginsengs are immune tonics that nourish all systems.

Take Ginsengs or other herbal adaptogen tonics internally for 3 weeks,
and then take a break for a week.

Take Ginsengs and other herbal adaptogen immune tonics at a chronic dose:
2-3 times a day for 2-3 weeks
then take a break for 1-2 weeks
and repeat if necessary.

Do not take Ginsengs with anticoagulant drugs,
MAOI’s, Opioids, corticosteroids, Hypoglycemic drugs.

asain ginseng

Adaptogens are Long-term Immune Tonic Herbs

Primary Adaptogens
Aralia nudicaulis– Wild sarsaparilla root
Aralia racemosa– Spikenard root
Astragalus membranaceus- Chinese milkvetch root
Eleutherococcus senticosus- Siberian ginseng/Shigoka root
Ganoderma lucidum- Lacquered varnish polypore fungi
Ganoderma applanatum- Artist’s conk polypore fungi
Ganoderma tsugae– Hemlock varnish shelf fungi
Panax ginseng– Asian Ginseng root
Panax quinquefolius– North American ginseng root

Secondary Adaptogens
Curcuma longa– Turmeric rhizome
Ginkgo biloba- Ginkgo Leaf
Glycyrrhiza glabra– Licorice rhizome
Hypericum perforatum- St. Johnswort herb
Inula helenium– Elecampane root
Rosmarinus officinalis– Rosemary herb
Vitex agnus-castus– Chaste tree berry
Zingiber officinale– Ginger rhizome

Secondary adaptogens go well together with primary herb adaptogens as a catalyst.

Learn more about Ginsengs here

February 19, 2015

Essential Oil Safety Guidelines and Dosages

Essential oils are the fat soluble parts of plants that are separated from the water soluble hydrosol part, which is mainly done by the process of steam distillation. Essential oils are the main part of a plants aroma, and when a plant is separated from any of its chemical constituents, cautions and contraindications will follow. To prevent harmful misadventure, please read important guidelines and safety concerns before starting any treatment.
Always consult with a qualified Aromatherapist before using essential oils.



1. NEVER TAKE ESSENTIAL OILS INTERNALLY, even if they are organic.
Essential oils can irritate, inflame and damage skin, mucous membranes, mucosa and intestinal flora. People have harmed themselves by improperly taking oregano oil internally. Oregano has phenols, which are really hot, irritating chemical constituents that need to be diluted.
The whole herb is always greater than the sum of its parts, and the whole herb is always recommended over essential oils for internal use.
The natural flavours that are listed on product ingredients like orange juice are synthetic perfume from the perfume industry. Essential oils are no longer used for flavouring, because synthetics are cheaper.

Only lavender, tea tree and chamomile are used “neat,” which means you can use them undiluted in certain circumstances, such as treating burns and cuts. Always patch test first regardless, and always dilute these oils anyways just to be safe, they can still be drying and irritating depending on quality and the individual.

***If essential oils come into contact with eyes or mucous membranes like your private parts, rinse well with any kind of milk, yogurt, cream, ice-cream. If milk is unavailable flush eyes with lots of water. Milk works better than water, because the oils are fat soluble and dissolve more readily in fatty substances like milk. Any type of nut milk or coconut milk, cream can also be used for vegans.

4. Never massage directly on veins, varicose veins, spider veins, broken
skin, cuts, bruises, infections, fractures, inflammation or acute injuries.

5. Avoid these essential oils with sun exposure: (Citrus Peels)
Lemon, Lime, Orange Grapefruit, Tangerine,
Melissa, Lemongrass, Citronella, Angelica, and Anise
These essential oils are photosensitizing, which means they can increase the risk of sunburn, and skin rash with direct sun exposure.

6. Never use essential oils on babies under one month old and caution up to one year old.
Always dilute essential oil for use.
In general only use Lavender, Chamomile and Tea tree with children under seven years of age.

Mugwort, Pennyroyal, Thuja-Northern White Cedar, Wormwood

Dosage Dilutions for Essential Oils

This is a general guide for essential oil dilution dosages found in the book “First Steps in Aromatherapy by Jane Dye, 1996, The C.W.Daniel Company Ltd.”

I use a complex calculation for what percentages of essential oil to use in products like lip balms and body butters, but this is an easier guide to follow and remember.
The average blend is usually 1-3% depending on use.

Use small 1% dilution of Essential oil blends for the face, meaning less is
more, because the face is a sensitive place. Avoid using strong or hot oils on
the face.

*Remember the stronger, hotter the essential oil the more you dilute and use less of the essential oil. Base notes smell stronger, last longer and are used less in a blend. Base notes are often resins and roots.

These are general basic guidelines, but important factors to consider are age, weight, height, general health and constitution.


2-3% is approximately ½ drop to 1 ml of carrier oil

Therefore divide by 2 to the amount of carrier oil

4mls carrier oil= 2 drops of essential oil
10 mls carrier oil= 5 drops of essential oil
20 mls carrier oil= 10 drops of essential oil


1 month- 1 year old 1 drop in 10 mls carrier oil
1-year old -2 year old 2 drops in 10 mls carrier oil
2-year old -7 year old 3 drops in 10 mls carrier oil
7-year old -14 year old 4 drops in 10 mls carrier oil

*Essential oils are not recommended for pregnant, nursing women or babies.
Always consult with a qualified Aromatherapist before using essential oils.

February 18, 2015

Herbal Catalysts

When using more than one herb to mix a herbal tincture formulation, adding a catalyst herb is sometimes beneficial.

Catalyst herbs are strong, hot or warming herbs, that require only minimal amounts in a herbal tincture formulation. These herbs act as a circulatory stimulant to boost the effectiveness of other herbs, by increasing circulation due to heat generation. Adding a warming herb is helpful for people with poor circulation or who feel cold.

Caution is advised, because of the strength and Heat of the Herbs.

The stronger and hotter the herb, the lower the dose. Cayenne pepper and other hot pepper varieties are the hottest, so only use 1% in a formula. That’s 1ml in a 100ml formula.

If taking these herbs on their own, make sure it is a low dose for use in tincture and tea.

Consult a qualified Herbal practitioner before taking any herbal treatment.

Follow these general guidelines when preparing herbal tincture formulations with warming catalyst herbs.

Herbal Catalyst Percentages in Formulations:

Capsicum spp.- Cayenne fruit 1%
Cinnamomum spp.- Cinnamon bark 3-10%
Allium sativum– Garlic bulb 3-10%
Rosmarinus officinalis- Rosemary herb 5-15%
Zingiber officinale– Ginger rhizome 3-10%
Zanthoxylem spp.- Prickly ash bark/berries 10-20%

These are general guidelines, and many factors vary.

Consult a qualified Herbal practitioner before taking any herbal treatment.


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