Ayurvedic Herbs: Knock you out and go to sleep sedating tea for insomnia

After a few lovely nights of insomnia this would probably be my drink of choice too! I am quite familiar with insomnia, we have been best buds (enemies ) since my teen years. I have tried every thing, no need to send me suggestions. Please, don’t! I have heard them all!

I recently had a particularly bad bought of sleepless nights …partly due to the cutting in half a certain prescribed medication. I needed to find some form of reinforcement. I recently mentioned in a post that I was playing around with herbal concoctions along the beliefs of Ayurvedic herbal healing. Well I am sharing here my first herbal tea. I know this is not exactly your normal recipe post but I am sure some of you will be more than happy to test this tea out.

Many people are content to drink a cup of  Chamomile tea to help them take a trip to slumber land. For me  Chamomile relaxes me but does not make me drowsy. I needed something that would literally SEDATE me. I researched my book The Yoga of Herbs for herbs that would knock me out. I was so thrilled with my mix, I really felt sedated within 20 minutes and fell asleep easily. I a,m always keeping a jar of this stuff around the house. I make big batches of the dried herbs. If you only want to make one cup used 2 tsp per cup of water.

Nee a crash course in Ayurveda? OK here we go. Ayurveda is a traditional form of medicine used in India which has been around for about 5,000 years. It is considered an alternative medicine in the Western hemisphere. In other words it can work but no doctor will know about it. Still today 80% of the population in India use Ayurveda. The main goal is to treat the mind, body and spirit as one. Treatments and practices include diet, exercise, meditation and massage. Each person has one of three main constitutions (doshas): Vita, Pitta or Kapha. Once you know your main one and which other may be unbalanced, you can prepare medicines to help heal your ailment according to your constitution. The book I mentioned above will help you figure it all out. I am only somewhat familiar with the herbal healing aspect of Ayurveda. The energy and medicinal quality of herbs or spices are classified and used to balance your doshas.

My recipe below is good for anyone if used occasionally so don’t fret about it not being good for your dosha balance.

Ξ Good Night Sedating Tea Ξ

1 1/2 tsp Valerian
1 tsp Passionflower
1 tsp Skullcap
1 tsp Lavender
1 liter of water

Put your water in a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and sprinkle the herbs on top. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the herbs. This amount will be good for 3 days. About 30 minutes before going to bed warm up 1 cup and enjoy.

I am lucky as in my city there is a store that sells such herbs by weight, but if you don’t have such a store there are great online stores  like Mountian Rose Herbs which has a huge selection. Let’s take a quick look at the properties of each herb used:

Valerian: treatment of choice for anxiety and insomnia, sedative, muscle relaxant and aids in preventing panic attacks. The root is the part used and it is very odorous – good or bad, for you to decide. Just keep it in a hermetically sealed jar.

Passionflower: a gentle sedative that soothes nervous tension and alleviates insomnia.

Skullcap: calms excitability and anxiety, mild relaxant, enhances meditation and awareness.

Lavender: calming and soothing, sedative, and has balancing effects on the mind and body.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor am I a trained healthcare professional.  This post is for informational purposes only. This information should not be used as a substitute for a consultation or visit with a physician.

Body Art Henna Recipe

Yes it is Cheap, yes it is Ethnic, but no no no this is not a recipe to eat. I love doing these unusual posts here.

Did I ever tell you I am a henna freak? I have been doing it for about 5 years now. And it has become a personal right of passage into the warm season. The call of the henna resounds in me as the weather improves. Why? Less clothes and more skin showing, therefore more canvas material to show off my art. I am not a great artist but I love it and so do my friends as every year a few of them ask for a design.

Notice older stains on tips, fresh design on palm w/ white glitter.

Photo by mostaque

Now before I go further some of you may be saying: What is she talking about, what is henna? Henna is a plant used to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather and wool. This shrub is native to Africa, Middle-East, Gulf and Indian sub-continent, and has been used by humans since the Bronze Age. I am sure most of you have seen henna hair dyes at one point in your life at the drug store. But henna is an age old tradition when it comes to marking temporarily the skin, usually used in ceremonies such as marriage. Brides-to-be have henna parties where the bride is adorned with intricate patterns local to the tribe or region where they are from. I once read that after the marriage the bride, who moves into her in-laws home, does not have to participate in the house work as long as there are traces of her henna bridal design.

Reduced into a super fine powder, the henna is then mixed with a few other simple ingredients and is left to mature until the dye is released. When applied the paste will stain your top skin layer. As your skin sheds the design starts to fade. A design will last anywhere from 5 days to 3 weeks. Of course there are tricks to make it last longer and I will share them with you a bit lower. But rest assured it is not permanent.

Comparing fresh and old stains

 

Although henna paste is widely available in Middle Eastern grocery stores and ethnic decoration stores I find the quality extremely poor. That is why I learned to make my own henna paste. Also some manufacturers add very harmful chemicals to make the stain black. If you get a black stain toss it as it can be very toxic. A natural henna dye should be shades of brown, orange, burgundy, dark cherry or mahogany. I get my henna from Henna Sooq. The quality is exceptional and it was recommended to me by a friend who is a professional henna artist. It is also on this web site that I got my recipe, slightly adapted, and this site is chalk full of amazing advice like which type of henna to use and how long is the dye release time per type of henna. My favorite one is the Jamila Henna. It is the longest one to prepare but it is so worth the wait. Here is my tried and tested recipe with dye release time for Jamila Henna:

Jamila Henna Paste Recipe

Ingredients:

– 1 tbsp fresh body art sifted henna powder
– 1/4 cup lemon juice
– 1/2 to 3/4 tsp tea tree or lavender or eucalyptus 100% pure essential oils
– 1/2 tsp sugar
– One 1/2 ounce Jacquard Bottle with a .5mm tip

Directions:

  1. Add your henna powder and sugar in a small bowl and mix well.
  2. Heat your lemon juice on the stove or in your microwave. Add it slowly to your henna powder and mix. Only add enough until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Cover your bowl and let it sit for 12 hours on the counter (not the fridge).
  3. Add your essential oils (just one or a mix of those mentioned) and mix well. Cover again and let it sit for another 12 hours on the counter.
  4. Add more lemon juice a little at a time until it is the consistency of toothpaste. Cover your bowl and let it sit for 12 hours on the counter.
  5. At this point we can test if your henna is ready by placing a bit of paste onto your palm and let it sit for 1 minute. Wash it off, and see if you have a bright pumpkin orange stain indicating that it is ready to use. If not then let it sit longer and check every 3-6 hours.
  6. Gently place your henna paste in a small zip-lock bag and cut the tip off one corner. Feed your paste into the Jacquard bottle and place the tip on the bottle. To seal I place a pin needle in the whole of the tip. This looks like a small amount but it will last a long time.

Ready paste batch goig into the application bottle

Applying a design

  1. Pick your design, the internet is an infinite source of ideas but keep it simple at first, and pick your body part. Wash and dry the body part.
  2. By holding the bottle downward at angle, gently press the paste out slowly but continuously. The tip should be held about 1/4 inch above the skin. Practice at first on a paper towel.
  3. Trace your entire design and let it dry COMPLETELY. A hair drier can be helpful.
  4. To help the paste stick to the skin I spray it with hairspray and let it dry again. A mix of sugar melted in lemon juice works too and is applied with a Q-tip.
  5. The longer the paste is on the darker the dye. The traditional way of doing it is sleeping overnight with the paste. I wrap the body part in toilet paper and fix it on with scotch tape. Then I wrap the body part with a medical bandage like when you sprain an ankle and wrap it. If it is a design on your back then with good medical tape tape the design down right on the skin. In the morning unwrap (or if you do not want to sleep with it overnight) and just pick and gently rub the dry paste off.
  6. If you find it pale do not worry as it will get darker over the next day or two. Enjoy and show off your design.

Just finished design on my hand

How to make a design last longer: exfoliate 24 hours before, do not wet the body part for a good 12 hours after the paste has been removed and most important moisturize twice a day so the dry skin does not flake off.

A lot of random tips that I have learned over the years…

  • In between uses I keep my bottle in the freezer. I have used the same mixture for 4 years and the stain is still as deep. Just plan to defrost the bottle early enough before use.
  • Shake the bottle before use and always do a first squeeze on a paper towel as liquid may have accumulated.
  • The pin needle can be useful to fix little mistakes in the design, as well as moist Q-tips.
  • The warmer your body is when you have the paste on the darker the stain will be. So once it is dry wrap yourself in a blanket and drink some tea.
  • The darkest stains will be on the inside of your hands and the soles of your feet. These are warm, moist spots with a constant warm blood flow close to the surface.
  • Art is not about perfection…art can include mistakes which can influence your pattern at times. Your not getting graded on your skill.
  • Dry henna flakes off easily so don’t bend fingers or joints where the paste may be, don’t touch anything with the adorned body part.
  • Feet and vines wrapping around your lower leg in the summer with sandals….AWESOME!
  • Only way to speed up the process of removing a design is by soaking the body part 10 min in water and then exfoliate.
  • Before a shower, bath or swim apply a thin layer of Vaseline to the stain to avoid exfoliation.
  • There are 3 tip sizes but you only need the smallest unless you are a professional.

Past designs I made or received on me

Ginger Garlic Tea Recipe

January 24th Update: Cold is gone but I am suffering from full blown laryngitis. Not in a blogging mind frame. Will be back soon!

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Yesterday morning, without any warning, I lost something very precious: my voice. I have been winning many battles with a virus for a week now but today I think I lost the war. Around 5 am I woke up with a tight congested chest which moved its way up into my throat. I’ll spare you the rest of the details but it seems also if I try to speak around the 4th word nothing more comes out.

So plenty of fluids it is and I took out my humidifier. A little home remedy research reminded me of my magic potion I used to make when I was younger….a hopeful cure all drink. Now I know this is not exactly a gourmet recipe but it is cold and flu season so you just may thank me down the line for this one. And don’t freak out at the garlic, I swear you barely can taste it, TRUST ME on this one. This tea is ideal for indigestion, nausea, and to ward off colds, flu, and sore throats. Here is my just perfected version…

Ginger Garlic Tea Recipe

  • 4 cups of water
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2-3 tbsp honey

Peel the ginger and slice it into thin slices and cut the garlic clove in 2 length wise.
Place the water, ginger and garlic in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Strain the tea and add the honey to taste.

So why does this potion work?

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties.

Garlic has antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

Honey has antibacterial properties, which can help speed healing. It also can draw water out of inflamed tissue, thus reducing the swelling and pain.

Got a fever? Add a good pinch of cayenne pepper.

STAY AWAY from the lemon. This is to acidic and will cause more harm then good. Same goes for tomatoes, all citrus fruits and chocolate.

Lavender Buds for the Body

Everything is coming up LAVENDER for this month’s International Incident Party brought to us by Jeroxie. Yes lavender is the theme this month. I believe a lot of participants were a little concerned with this challenge as lavender may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But I am actually a fan of it, I just so happen to have a jar in my pantry and I have cooked twice recently with it to make a Lavender Ice Cream and a Lavender Lime Cake.

I wanted to use it in a different way this time around. At first I planned on a savory dish but then I came across a few homemade cosmetic recipes using lavender: here and here. I was sold, after all the preparation reads very much like any recipe. I settled on a lavender salve. You can use this lavender body butter lotion anywhere…your face, hands, feet, anywhere you want to soothe your skin. The final product is hard like a salve but easy to scoop out and melts like butter instantly with the heat of your skin.

Lavender Salve

2 tbsp almond oil
3 tbsp shea butter
1/4 tsp vitamin E
1 1/2 tsp dried lavender flowers
1/4 tsp cornstarch (reduces “greasy” feeling)

Direction:

  1. Put about an inch (2.5cm) of water in the bottom of a medium-sized pot and heat to a low simmer.
  2. Place a bowl in the pan of water.
  3. Place the shea butter and almond oil in the bowl and warm slowly over a low heat until the butters are melted.
  4. Stir in with a metal spoon the vitamin E and lavender and leave on a LOWEST heat fro 1h30min (a wooden spoon absorbs the scent of essential oils).
  5. Strain and return to bowl.
  6. Place bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice.
  7. Beat for several minutes using electric beaters until it starts to get nice and thick like whipped cream.
  8. Spoon into cosmetic jars.

How about a little martini while the lavender is infusing on the stove? Most lavender martini recipes I found required the use of lavender syrup. I did not care to make some so I found this instant one instead. If you find it too strong feel free to add a bit of orange juice.

Lavender Infused Martini

1/2 tsp lavender
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar
2 ounces quality gin or vodka

  1. Muddle the lavender in the lemon juice.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a shaker with an ice cube.
  3. Shake about 20 times and strain in a glass.

International

 

Cha Cha Cha Chia Seeds

Last week we discovered together Thai Basil Seeds. This week we will take a look at another unknown seed: the Chia Seed. And yes it is the seeds you planted on your Chia Pet.

Salvia hispanica, commonly known as Chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, that is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. It was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times.

It is being hailed as the next flax seed phenomenon. Chia seed may be eaten raw as a whole seed and is a excellent source of omega-3, antioxidants, calcium and dietary fiber (both insoluble and soluble).The major advantage it has over flax seed is that unlike flax you can extract all its benefits even if consumed whole. It is very popular with diabetics as the gel that is formed in the stomach creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.

Ground chia seed is sometimes added to pinole, a coarse flour made from toasted maize kernels. Chia seeds placed in water or fruit juice is consumed in Mexico and known as chia fresca. Mix a teaspoon of chia in a glass of water and see what happens. The soaked seeds swell and become gelatinous in texture. It is used in gruels, porridges and puddings.

Make basic chia gel. Combine 1/3 cup chia seeds to every 2 cups distilled water in an airtight container. Shake vigorously to combine, allow to set for 90 seconds, then shake again. Store your chia gel in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can incorporate this tasteless gel into any liquid or semi-liquid food such as pudding, salad dressing, soup, jam, yogurt, cereal or dip.

I made mine with milk and a bit of honey to create a tapioca like dessert. Can’t say it was to good but I did that before really reading up on it. Now I would know better on how to use it.

Hair Lightener Recipe

Yes, you read it right! This is NOT a food recipe. But a recipe with kitchen ingredients for your hair. Below you will find a few ideas on how to naturally lighten your hair.

My natural color is medium ash blond. Now I have never dyed my hair drastically. In the summer my hair gets a lot paler in the sun. By mid winter (now) I am depressed with the dullness of my hair color with slightly darker roots not kissed enough by the sun. So I have been debating getting the usual hair dye box at the pharmacy.

But I decided against it and went searching online. I already new about rinsing out my hair with lemon juice to cut extra grease and lighten a bit. But can it be used to really make a difference in the color and give it a lightness? This is what I found at Bliss Plan:

Best for blonds but good for brunettes wanting auburn highlights:

Lemon juice is a more natural alternative than hydrogen peroxide. One fresh lemon will give you approximately 2 tablespoons of a lemon juice. Mix this juice with approximately 6 tablespoons of water and rub it in to your dry hair [more juice if your hair is long, less juice if it’s short}. Allow the juice to remain on your hair for several hours before you rinse it out. If you repeat this for several days you will have very natural hair highlights. Of course, if you also take your lemon juice covered hair out in the sunshine that will speed the process up. The best thing about using lemon juice as a hair colorant is that it looks very natural.

For brunettes:

Yes, hair coloring with tea is possible. We are talking about ordinary tea that we drink every day and use in our favorite iced tea recipe. Tea, though, is funny — it can lighten hair but it can also darken light colored hair. Steep your favorite tea and allow it to sit until cool. Test it out, just like we did with the hydrogen peroxide, and see what happens. Unlike the other methods we’ve mentioned above, this method requires patience because the changes will take longer.

From Natural News:

Olive oil contains lightening agents in addition to its undeniable ability to give hair a certain softness and sheen. It’s excellent for counteracting any drying effects lemon juice may have on your hair. Mix a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a cup of water with one tablespoon of pure lemon juice. Massage mixture into hair and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Rinse well; two shampoos may be required to completely remove the olive oil.

Another old-fashioned method used for brightening hair is chamomile. Regular chamomile tea mixed with lemon juice can be rinsed through hair daily until the desired effect is achieved. Enhanced results can be seen if you boil the tea yourself using chamomile flowers. Using the natural flowers instead of tea bags seems to have a much stronger effect.

Honey is a superb hair lightener because it naturally contains traces of hydrogen peroxide. You can mix a tablespoon of honey with a cup of water and let it sit for 30 minutes to allow the peroxide to develop. Then coat hair completely with the mixture and allow it to sit for at least 20 minutes. After applying the mixture, you can also cover hair with saran wrap and leave overnight. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the mix for an intense overnight moisture treatment.

After using any of these methods, you can enhance your results by sitting with your hair in the sun for about 20-30 minutes. The sun is known for its brightening effect on hair, and the items listed above will further activate the sun’s lightening power.