How to take Herbs

Herbs-Organic-CosmeticOne of the most common questions I get as an herbalist is, How do you take herbs? Great question that has many answers.  The 3 most common ways we use herbs is

1. Cooking with Herbs. Add fresh and dried herbs to raw and cooked foods, drinks and baked goods. Add fresh herbs to towards the end of cooked foods, dried herbs in the middle of cooking.  Use 1/2 the amount of dried herbs that would use fresh herbs.

herbal-encapsulated2. Ingesting Herbs in Capsules, Extracts / Tinctures and Teas.  Powdered herbs can be added to smoothies or  taken in gelatin capsules.  Extracts and tinctures are herbs in a liquid form, usually alcohol based.  Teas are made with leaves, bark, roots and flowers.  Loose leaf teas are better quality than bagged varieties.  Make sure you use organic, “fair trade” (ethically farmed) herbs and high quality black, green, red and white teas.

medicine-bottle3. Applying Herbs Topically.  This would include lotions, creams, ointments, balms, and sprays that can be applied to the skin for fragrance and healing.  An essential oil is the concentrated volatile and aromatic liquid form of an herb obtained by distillation.  Use these with another carrier oil such as olive oil or sunflower oil for massage and for healing.  Add a few drops of essential oils to your bath.

Herbs can take time to work, so don’t get frustrated.  Be patient and diligent.

If you have questions about using herbs, stop by and see me  Ubi’s or email me at


nutmeg.flowerNutmeg is an ancient spice and medicine used in the Middle East since 700AD and later by the Europeans in the middle ages.  It is now a common household spice that comes from the Myristica fragrans tree from the Indonesian Banda Islands- or Spice Islands.

The “nut” is an apricot-like fruit kernel dried and ground into a powder or made into an oil.  Make sure you use a quality nutmegpowdered form that is not irradiated or from BWP (broken-wormy-punky) nuts and purchase from a reputable source. The freshly grated powder is the best, freshest form.

Nutmeg as a spice used in baking, cooking, teas & drinks and combines well with Cinnamon, Cloves and Ginger and also produces the spice “mace”.  Mace is the red membrane (arial) that covers the seed and is used similarly nutmeg_plant_macewith a less sweet but more delicate of a flavor than nutmeg.

Traditionally, Nutmeg powder has been used in herbal medicine for digestion (flatulence), nervousness/anxiety and for colds & flu as it breaks up chest congestion.  It can be taken in pill, tea or tincture form, alone or combined with other herbs.  The essential oil has many external uses from arthritis, exhaustion, rheumatism / joints, stimulant and as an aphrodisiac.  It blends well with other essential oils like Coriander, Clary Sage & Lavender and is a fixative for citrus oils.

Use nutmeg in small amounts and excersize caution and moderation as it can have mild hallucinogenic effects.  Women who may be pregnant or lactating should avoid Nutmegnutmeg.

The following information is for education purposes and not for self diagnosis. Always consult with your healthcare professional when needed.

Carminative Clove

SONY DSCOne of the first globally traded spice, Cloves, are still widely used and cultivated worldwide. Cloves are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree- Syzygium aromaticum-native to Malucca Islands (one of the Spice Islands).

Over the course of the centuries, cloves have been used for a variety of ailments, as a breath freshener and of clovetree3course as a spice for cooking and baking.  It has a warm, sweet and aromatic taste used for ginger bread, pumpkin pie & baked ham but they can also make a wonderful addition to split pea and bean soups, baked beans and chili. Cloves are an excellent source of manganese, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium & dietary fiber.

clove_1One of the most stimulating & carminative of the aromatic herbs, Cloves have a long use for nausea, flatulence, indigestion (dyspepsia), anti-inflammatory and used to assist the action of other herbs. It is still used today to treat tooth infections and tooth pain and a mild anaesthetic as well as an anti-bacterial agent used in over the counter mouth washes and throat sprays.

Cloves are available whole, chopped or in powdered form and as an essential oil. The oil is commonly used  directly on the gums and should be diluted with a carrier oil when applied to the skin.  Not recommended taken undiluted in high doses as it can cause vomiting, seizures and liver/kidney damage or for children.  Those with clotting problems or with liver or kidney disorders should avoid cloves.

The following information is for educational purposes and not for self diagnosis.  Always consult with your health care professional whenever needed.

Spicy Cinnamon

ground-cinnamonCinnamon has been valued for centuries as a spice, meat preservative and as a commonly used tea ingredient.  Cinnamon comes from a tropical evergreen laurel tree found in moist, hot climates.  The bark or quills (rolled bark) are used in powdered, cut or whole. There are 2 types of cinnamon on the market-Sweet or True Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) which is sweeter and lighter in color than Cassia Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia).  cinnamontree-292Cassia is thick, single layer of bark and is usually what you find in the grocery stores while True or Sweet is layered and superior in taste.

There are so many uses for cinnamon!  It is warm, spicy and commonly found in baking items, pumpkin and milling spices, and in many tea blends.  Cinnamon has been reported to help with digestion, possible weight loss, lowers cinnamonblood sugar & cholesterol and has antibacterial and antifungal effects.

According to the German Coomission E the daily dose is 2-4g of bark or 0.05-0.2g of essential oil.  Some people may be allergic to cinnamon and may display allergic skin reactions to mucosa and it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The following information is for educational purposes and not for self diagnosis.  Always consult with your health care professional whenever needed.


Sarsaparilla.flowersJamaican Sarsaparilla (Smilax ornate) & Indian Sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus indicus) are brambled, woody vines producing small flowers and black, blue, or red berry-like fruits. The root has been used for centuries by the indigenous peoples of Asia and Central & South America for sexual impotence, rheumatism, skin ailments, headaches, general tonic, joint pain, and against the common cold.

sarsaparilla.berriesEuropean physicians consider sarsaparilla root a tonic, blood purifier, diuretic, sweat promoter, and also use for hypertension, gout, digestive disorders, psoriasis, skin diseases, and cancer.

Sarsaparilla tastes great in tea and can also be taken in capsule form.  Drink ½ to 1 cup 2-3 times a day or 1-2 gram capsules twice daily (for short term use, may cause abdominal discomfort if taken in high doses or for long periods of time.)

The following information is for educational purposes and not for self diagnosis.  Always consult with your health care professional whenever needed.


ginger-rootGinger is a valued kitchen herb used by billions in cooking and medicinal preparations for thousands of years.  One of the favorites in Traditional Chinese Medicine it is claimed to “rescue devastated yang” by warming & stimulating the energy channels in the body.

As a beautiful tropical perennial, ginger grows to two feet or more with a range of pink and white gladiolus like flowers ginger_Plants_Pictures_Cwith many ornamental cultivars with bright red and orange blooms. The root is used either fresh or dried and can be harvested 4 months after plants are established.

Ginger has a wide range of medicinal uses and preparation methods.

Fresh ginger is used in cooking and also as tea for ginger.flowerjpgdigestion disorders.  Use powdered ginger for “drier” conditions like asthma & allergies and dried chopped ginger for “wetter” conditions like colds & preventing infections.  Quality powdered ginger is “oily” to the touch and will slightly clump when pinched. Poor quality or old ginger is dry and grey or brown in color.

Many studies have concluded that ginger contains anti-Ginger-Powderinflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, detoxifying and pain relieving (headaches & migraines) properties.  Ginger cleanses the colon & bowels and aids in nausea, motion and morning sickness (use with caution).  Although it is warming, ginger cools hot flashes, fevers and can soothe external sores and wounds.

Ginger tastes great in teas or fresh in warm or cold water with a lemon wedge. If taken in large doses, ginger may cause abdominal distress and is not recommended for people on anti-coagulants, gallstones and limited use during pregnancy.

The following information is for educational purposes only and not intended for self diagnosis.  Always consult your health care professional whenever needed.



Saw Palmetto

serrepwsSaw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a small palm native to the Southeastern United States. American Indians have used the berries as a staple food and for medicine for thousands of years.

The berries contain powerful phyto-nutrients shown in dozens of studies to relieve the symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Saw Palmetto can reduce prostate size and has anti-inflammatory actions easing urination. Research has also shown that Saw Palmetto may also help grow hair by blocking to the formation of chemicals (DHT) associated with BPH.  It is also used for migraines, heavy/painful menstruation, acne, breast enlargement, coughs/colds, asthma 09saw-saw_palmetto_berriesand chronic bronchitis.

Saw Palmetto is typically used as a tincture or encapsulated at a dose of 1-2g per day (whole berry) for BPH.  The tea can be used as a urinary tonic.  Saw Palmetto combines well with other herbs such as Gravelroot (Joe-Pye),Hydrangea root, Horsetail and Marshmallow root in formulations and tea blends.

According to the German Commission E monographs, Saw Palmetto is likely safe for most people.  Mild side effects have been reported (possible stomach problems and dizziness). Pregnant and lactating  women should avoid using this herb. Do not take for 2 weeks prior to surgeries as Saw Palmetto slows blood clotting.

The following information is for educational purposes and not intended for self diagnosis.  Always consult with your health care provider whenever needed.


Rhodiola Root

rhodiola_roseaRhodiola Root (Rhodiola rosea) or Golden Root is a perennial plant with red, pink, or yellowish flowers having a rose-like scent. It is native to the polar arctic regions of eastern Siberia and also grows in China, Tibet, and Northern Europe. Among traditional people there, it is highly valued as a strengthening tonic to increase physical and mental stamina for altitude sickness, colds and flu.

A powerful adaptogen – a substance that helps our bodies adapt to environmental, physiological and psychological stress- Rhodiola is used much like Siberian Ginseng to reduce stress.  A large proportion of all aging diseases (perhaps 70-80%) is believed to occur because our stress levels are too high, and/or too long-term. High-stress modern living is one of the main factors causing chronic disease and premature aging.rhod_ros1

There have been many Russian & German studies showing that Rhodiola rosea has extraordinary pharmacological properties as an anti-mutagen reducing tumors from 37% -50% inhibition. It is also a  cardio-protective, normalizing the heart rate immediately after intense exercise and is widely used by Russian athletes and cosmonauts to increase energy. It improves the nervous system and mental functions by increasing blood-supply to the muscles and brain, and it also increases protein synthesis. The anti-depressive and anti-stress activity of Golden root is higher than that of St. John’s Wort, Ginkgo biloba and Panax Ginseng, with less side effects.

Rhodiola-RootRhodiola can be taken as a tincture, encapsulated and in tea formulations. If taking for altitude sickness, improve immunity, depression or erectile dysfunction, start with smaller doses as it can be a sedative in high amounts. Larger doses are taken for colds, flu and stress.  Not recommended for pregnant women or those with bipolar disorder. The usual amounts taken are 200 to 600 mg per day.

rhodiola.roseaTry my tea blends and herbal formulations or try a custom blend!






The following information is for educational purposes and not intended for self diagnosis.  Always consult with your health care provider whenever needed.

Energizing Ginseng

asain ginseng rootGinseng, or Ren Shen in Chinese, is probably the most famous herb of all, being prized for it’s therapeutic benefits for thousands of years. The Chinese traditionally used Ginseng as a restorative tonic, stimulant, male aphrodisiac, stress reliever, to enlighten the mind, increase wisdom and longevity. Ginseng has been used in Europe since the 9th century primarily as an adaptogen (helps body tolerate stress) and made it’s way to the West in the 18th century.

There are 2 main species of Ginseng- Chinese Ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American Ginseng (panax quinquefolium). Both are herbaceous perennials, found in shady, woodlands, and have similar therapeutic actions. American Ginseng is milder, and not as “hot” of an herb making it more suitable for menopausal women than it’s Chinese counterpart. Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a close relative and cheaper alternative with similar uses sometimes confused with “ginseng”.

Today we can reflect on the many studies and research in Asia and Europe showing the benefits of Ginseng for many health conditions:

  • Anxiety and Stress

  • Cancer

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Lyme Disease

  • Diabetes

  • Hangover & Drug Metabolism

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Increased Cognitive Abilities

  • Impotence, Infertility and Diminshed Sex Drive

Ginseng root can be taken in teas, tinctures or encapsulated formulas. Care should be taken if you are on prescription medications as many can have interactions. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should not use it. Avoid Ginseng for two weeks prior to undergoing elective surgery.

Interested in using Ginseng?  Order on or stop by Ubi’s and try one of my blends.

The following article is for educational purposes and not intended for diagnosis.  Always consult your health practitioner when needed.

Lovely Lavender

champs de lavandeLavender, Lavendula angustifolia, is native to France and the Mediterranean where it has been cultivated for perfume and medicinal use for hundreds of years. It is a popular garden plant, with gray green leaves topped with purplish-blue flower spikes. Lavendula angustifolia (or L. officinalis), often referred to as English Lavender, is the hardiest and most often used medicinally (try ‘Hidcote’ or ‘Munstead’ in your garden). The French lavender (L. dentata) and Spanish lavender (L. stoechas) are not as hardy in many areas and are more ornamental in value. Lavendula intermedia are crosses between lavenders used in perfumery with ‘Provence’ being the main variety grown in France, and ‘Grosso’ grown in Seqium, WA.

Lavender flowers sweet-scented aroma is both relaxing and stimulating. Internally it is used to relieve headaches, asthma, digestive, insomnia and anxiety complaints. It combines well with other relaxing herbs like passionflower, skullcap and valerian.

Externally, lavender is used for relieving pain, skin conditions and as an powerful, yet gentle antimicrobial. Lavenders ability to heal wounds makes a common herb found in salves, poultices, linoments, sprays and lotions. The essential oil of lavender is useful for insect bites, burns, and excellent first aid remedy. Massaging a few drops of oil on your temples eases headaches, or add to bath water for relaxing muscle and nervous tension.

Lavender is considered mild and safe for adults, children and babies with few adverse side effects reported.

100_0050Try my Lavender Herbal Spray for skin care, first aid and relaxation. Order at or stop by Ubi’s in Tacoma, WA.

The following article is for educational purposes and not intended for diagnosis.  Always consult your health practitioner when needed.