Smudge, Brew, Steam: Simple Tips for Using Functional Plants
PLANT MEDICINE IS PROFOUND AND EFFECTIVE—USE HERBAL ALLIES IN YOUR SELF-CARE REGIMEN TO UPLEVEL YOUR HOME LIFE
Once you step beyond salads and macrobiotic bowls, there's a whole universe to explore in terms of functional plants and their healing power. Diversity on your plate doesn't just have benefits for your tastebuds; there are thousands of potent bioactive compounds in plants that build up a thriving microbiome, bolster the bacterial ecosystem and foster a resilient immune response.
The beauty of plants is that their health benefits even extend if you don't eat them; they can have profound, anti-inflammatory effects on the dermis, nervous system, and glandular systems when used creatively in your self-care routine.
Let these leaves, weeds, and flowers become the staples of your high-vibe pantry (and you might even have most of them on hand). With consistency, these straightforward rituals and herbal remedies can help to bolster your immune response, clarify your skin, soothe your adrenals and keep your cells spry and juicy. Draw up a bath, brew a tea infusion, and steam your face; your luxe, regenerative, and detoxifying homebound oasis beckons.
FUNCTION: TO CALM
These plants have properties that can quell anxiety and promote relaxation at any time of day but are especially helpful at bedtime.
- Tulsi/Holy Basil
- Lemon balm
Herbs for sleep:
HOW TO USE:
Tea Time: Brew any of the herbs alone as a tea or play with combinations to find your favorite blend.
Aromatic Steam: Bring a pot of water to the boil, take off the heat and toss in a few tablespoons of any of the calming herbs above. Place a towel over your head and the pot and hover your face over the herbal brew while breathing deeply but gently. (You can also make a steam using essential oils. Just add three to five drops of your liking and follow the same steps.)
Sundown Bath: An evening soak is a peaceful way to wind down at the end of the day. Draw a bath with any combination of the herbs above added to a generous helping of Epsom salt. If the herbs are loose-leaf, place them in a mesh bag or even a coffee filter to drop into the water. No bathtub? Fill up a bucket or large bowl with warm water and add in your herbs and salt. Soak your feet for 20 minutes.
Bedtime Massage: Don’t have fresh or dried herbs but have essential oils? Add a few drops of essential oils to a neutral carrier oil (high-quality almond, jojoba, olive...anything you don’t mind putting on your skin) and do a full-body self-massage. Start at your feet and move slowly all the way up to your neck and face.
FUNCTION: TO PROTECT
Known for their protective properties, these plant ingredients can be easily sprinkled into tea, coffee, or other recipes.
HOW TO USE:
Steep Often: Brew any of the herbs alone as a tea or play with combinations to find your favorite blend.
Easy Add-On: Sprinkle some cinnamon into your morning latte or add some sage to a tray of roasted vegetables.
Savory Steam: Tea tree, sage, and thyme can be used in your herbal steam. Think of it as a medicinal spa treatment.
FUNCTION: IMMUNE BALANCE
The best defense against any kind of virus is a resilient immune response system. Consider an extra helping of these each day to fortify yours.
- Shiitake mushrooms
HOW TO USE:
Emboldened Broth: Make a plant-based broth using shiitake mushrooms and garlic. Shiitakes contain alpha and beta-glucan polysaccharides. These complex sugars restore cellular function and keep bacteria and pathogens from disturbing the cell's integrity
Sweet Sip: Hibiscus makes for a soothing cup of tea for your afternoon break.
Homemade Elixir: Make your own antioxidant-packed elderberry syrup, to increase potency and bioavailability.
Extra Helping: Think about adding extra flavor and kick to any dish you are preparing by throwing in some garlic, cayenne, or shiitake.
FUNCTION: TO REFRESH
Activating and renewing, these herbs work to stimulate body systems, promote circulation, and eliminate toxins efficiently.
- Bay Leaf
- Lemon peel
HOW TO USE:
Cool Breeze: Brew Digestive Tea or mint leaves in hot water to tame internal inflammation.
Self-Care Essentials: Any of the ingredients above are great additions to your herbal steam, bath, foot soak or massage oil.
BEYOND PHYSICAL BODY: CLEANSE YOUR HOMEBASE
Smudge your space with dried herbs like lavender, pine, cedar, sage, rosemary, rose, peppermint, and lemon balm. Make your own bundle by gathering herbs from around your house or backyard and binding them together with string. Once they are completely dried, place them in a heat-safe dish made out of ceramic, shell, or stone and burn for a clean slate.
While many of the above herbs and ingredients are available at your local grocery store, farmer’s market, or nursery, we compiled some online organic resources here—also, all are available on Amazon.
MORE HERBAL RECIPES TO EXPLORE: