How to Incorporate Plants and Herbs in Your Diet

Herbalism at Home

Guest post by Alexa Gray.  For more of her writing and photography, check out www.superfoodsuperlife.com and www.instagram.com/superfoodsuperlife

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Herbalism is vast, and many dedicate their lives to learning this trade. But we don’t have to be an expert to reap the benefits of medicinal plants and herbs; we can introduce them into our home in a simple way. For many of us, we lead such busy lives that creating rituals and incorporating plants and foods that protect and equip our bodies to handle such stress is essential. My ritual has developed over time, but it started with experimenting with teas and tonics. When we are inspired to do something, we are more likely to incorporate that into our daily habit. This is what happened for me and it brought nature into my kitchen and into my life in such a profound way.

Years ago, I discovered a loose rose bud bag on the shelves of Ron Teeguarden’s Santa Monica storefront. They were so beautiful, bright, floral pink with rich pigments of red. I took the bag of French rosebuds home with me and infused them into a pot of boiling water. I dropped the buds into the water and I watched them dance among the surface (with rose, I discovered that it’s best to let it sit and infuse the warm water for at least ten minutes to really reap the health benefits and sip the true taste). After the hot water turned light pink I strained the tea into a large mason jar. I took one sip and immediately felt a sense of calm – the kind of calm we could benefit from in this busy world of ours. This happens with many herbs if you know which one’s to use.

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There are many different groups and classifications of herbs, but currently I’ve been working with the nervines and adaptogens, which are known for their ability to calm the nervous system and adapt the body to handling stress. 

NERVINES INCLUDE: oat tops, skullcap, chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, catnip, California poppy, passionflower, hops, and valerian.

ADAPTOGENS INCLUDE: Shisandra berries, Holy Basil or Tulsi, Eleuthero Root, Ginseng, Rhodiola, and Reishi Mushroom.

I do advise consulting with an herbalist before taking herbs because some herbs contraindicate other plants or medications that you may be consuming. When you have the green light, it becomes incredibly fun and empowering to experiment in the kitchen. Always start slowly, and work your way up from there.

With an adaptopgen like shisandra berry, the taste is quite tart and astringenent (good for detoxification) and I can tell when my body has had enough. Just as we sense our “fullness” when we eat, if you slow down you can get in touch with how the plant is affecting you. So pay attention and enjoy the journey with plants.

Tips

1. Have fun and experiment (but always consult an herbalist first)

2. Keep your herbs fresh and out in beautiful displays so you will be inspired to use them.

3. Try adding them to every day items such as honey and olive oil.

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4. Add them to your water and drink water regularly throughout the day.

5. Let your body be your guide. Watch how the herbs transform your state and pay attention to what your body likes or is craving. You can keep a journal of notes so you can track this process.