On August 30, 2023, we will experience a super blue moon. Astronomers say it will be the closest, biggest, brightest full moon of the year. To me, this super full moon holds the potential to illuminate stagnant thoughts and emotions, both of which are good self-work for me right now. I am planning to spend the evening seeking clarity from these “peripheral” thoughts so I can move into them or on from them healthily and productively.
To get in this space, I decided to call on some of my trusted herbal allies to help me slow down busy and distracting thoughts. In doing so, I ease my overactive brain so that I may uncover the important things that have been muffled by the noise of life. I decided that the perfect vehicle for this herbal support would be best enjoyed as a moon milk—a blue one, of course. Butterfly pea flowers are the star of the show for this blend since they are responsible for the dreamy blue hue.
Here we are again in the dog days of summer. We all know how important it is at this time of year to pay extra attention to our hydration and wellness. When the days and nights are too hot and your whole body is screaming for something cold and refreshing, herbal extracts and herbal syrups are an easy, delicious way to whip up nutritive, beat-the-heat fizzy drinks at a moments notice. The base of these “functional fizzies” is the same—with just ice, lime juice, and a carbonated water of your choice, you can mix and match simple syrups, herbal extracts, and herbal syrups to get exactly the flavors and wellness boost you need. We’ve got 3 delicious fizzy drink recipes to get you started: a Strawberry Aphrodite Fizz and Gingery Hibiscus Fizz with Ultra Elder extract, and a Gingery Green Tea Fizz with ashwagandha and cinnamon extracts. Keep your favorite simple syrups, extracts, and herbal syrups on hand to make the best summer refreshers.
When the thermometer starts pushing up into the 90s, my good attitude takes a corresponding nosedive. As a Western Oregon pluviophile, I prefer my summer heat in small doses, preferably bookended by big cooling rain storms. So here we are in the annual dog days of summer when the days and nights are too hot, there do not appear to be any rainstorms on the horizon, and my whole self is on a 24/7 quest to pretty much always have something cold, hydrating, and nourishing in my hand to refresh my body and soul. Not only does this wonder-beverage need to be a delicious vehicle to support deep hydration and body and mind wellness, but it also has to be easy to whip up at a moment’s notice. Fortunately, I am married to a talented mixologist. When the weather gets hot, he makes sure to have all the ingredients on hand for easy beat-the-heat carbonated drinks that include herbal extracts and syrups for an added wellness boost.
In modern Western culture, people often disregard dreams as mere fluff that our brains discard as we slumber. But throughout history and cultures, humans have valued dreaming in different ways. Dreams are seen as a door or bridge to the spirit world or the unconscious. They are often full of symbology from our lives, become outlets for our deepest concerns and fears, or offer us tools for self-reflection and a map to our current state of mind and heart. Although we can dream at any stage of sleep, our most vivid dreams occur during our REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle, so depending on how well we sleep, we may spend more than two hours each night in some form of dream state. Sleep researchers tell us that deep non-REM sleep rests our bodies and refills our tanks to start another day and REM sleep is crucial for dreaming, memory consolidation, emotional processing, and healthy brain development.
Sleep comes in two categories: REM and non-REM, and we often cycle between them throughout the time we are sleeping, starting with non-REM and then a period of REM, and then back to non-REM, etc. During the REM cycles, our brain activity and heart rate increase to a more wakeful state, our eyes move from side to side, and our breathing becomes faster and more irregular. This cycle is when we have the most vivid dreams and is also when our amygdala—the part of our brain that processes emotions—is activated. During REM sleep, our brains process emotions as well as new things we’ve learned and also sort through what to do with that information: commit it to memory, set it aside for later, delete it entirely, etc. Additionally, there is a link between REM sleep and brain development, which explains why babies spend so much more time in REM sleep than adults.
Oxymels are an herbal extraction of an acid mixed with honey. Usually, when we think about extracting herbal properties with acids, we look to vinegars. But did you know that if you replace the vinegar with a citrus juice like lemon or lime, you still capture the herbal constituents and end up with a drier oxymel that is perfect for summer mocktails?
Our friend Amanda Crooke from the Center for Herbal Studies has kindly shared a simple recipe for a delicious citrus-based lemon-mint oxymel and a lemony, bubbly mocktail that is the perfect refreshing sipper on a hot summer day. We think these are the ideal recipes to get the summer party started!
When my husband and I got married, we wanted to offer a full mocktail bar for our wedding guests. I love using oxymels for mocktails: the traditional syrup made from an acid and a sweetener (usually vinegar and honey) lends a complex flavor that up-levels any drink. They are also a yummy way to serve herbs to friends and family.
I was already making mocktails out of vinegar-based oxymels, but I wanted our mocktail bar to include options that tasted drier and less vinegary. I decided to experiment with citrus juices as the acid, and the results were delicious! Lemon and lime juice quickly became my favorite ingredient for summer mocktails.