I. Love. Chamomile. My favorite characteristic of this herb is its smell, German and Roman variations. The scents are light, floral, and sweet. I love it in soaps, shampoos, and lotions and butters.

Chamomile is harvested when the flowers open. Flowers are commonly dried and used in tea blends. Most people know chamomile for its calming effects. It is also very soothing to the GI tract and can be consumed after dinner to ease digestion. Because it is soothing to the GI tract and a nervine, chamomile is a great addition to a blend targeted toward IBS symptoms (or similar symptoms).

Along as a sleep aid, chamomile can aid individuals suffering from mild anxiety.

I also personally love it as a tea. It’s lightly sweet and has a delicate taste. Many use it in sleep blends to help relax an individual before bed. I know science does not back up the theory that warm milk helps one sleep. I know this. I don’t care though. I find it soothing. What I do with warm milk though is I gently steep it with lavender buds and chamomile flowers. If milk does not irritate you, the warmth and the taste is rather soothing. The fragrance is intoxicating. The milk helps me crave midnight snacks less, too.

Another great property of this herb is that it’s safe for children. When my children were babies I would make chamomile tea to add to their bath water when they had colds. It helps calm down any anxiety or distress and can help with sleep.

Want to see what herbs we have in our garden? Take a look here.

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Dotted Horsemint

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Today, I want to talk about dotted horsemint. Why? Because it’s found pretty easily throughout Florida. There’s a small bike path near my parents’ house that has a plethora of horsemint. Horsemint attracts quite the variety of pollinators ranging from bees to wasps. Dotted horsemint is the only herb in the monarda family that is native to Florida. I can appreciate its attractiveness to pollinators and nativity alone.

This herb is VERY aromatic. It can be overwhelming to some. This herb is also very invasive, so if you ever grow it in your garden regular maintenance is a must.

Also, it’s gorgeous. When you research this herb online, many call it rough  but it captures my attention aesthetically just as much as many other plants and herbs in the garden. I think it’s prettier than lavender and sunflowers even.

One very interesting property of horsemint is its high content of thymol. Thymol has strong antiseptic properties and also gives horsemint (and thyme) its strong flavor. So used topically as a poultice is great. It can be consumed as a tea. It’s a diaphoretic and can help break a fever. Thymol is created synthetically in lab settings and used in modern medicine. Even in its nonsynthetic, natural form it is quite strong.

In a culinary aspect, the herb is still useful. If I go to the supermarket, I’m not going to find this stuff dried next to many other common culinary herbs and spices, but I easily substitute this herb for thyme and oregano. It doesn’t taste like mint at all. It really is a perfect addition to any savory dish.

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I don’t know about you, but we consume a lot of garlic in my house. We use it whenever possible in recipes and we use extra garlic in during cold season. It was traditionally believed that, due to its odor, garlic could ward off evils spirits and vampires.

We’ve grown quite a bit as far as superstitions go, but garlic’s potential for benefits is often indisputable. Garlic is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, diaphoretic, diuretic, and cholagogue. Garlic has a heating energy.

photography of garlic on wooden table
Photo by Skitterphoto on

If you can handle raw garlic, it can be used for those harsh winters when colds suck the most. Its anti-inflammatory properties can ease a cold. A cold’s duration can be shortened due to the immune system stimulation caused by the consumption of garlic.

Garlic can also aid in breaking a fever while you have a cold.

Some with gastrointestinal sensitivities can find garlic aggravating to their specific conditions. Medicinal amounts of garlic should be avoided while pregnant and breastfeeding.

two white garlics
Photo by Isabella Mendes on

When chopping garlic for cooking, it is best to let it sit for about ten minutes after chopping/mincing at room temperature before cooking. This allows the enzyme reaction that triggers a boost in the healthy compounds found in garlic. Too high of a heat–or cooking for too long–can damage the beneficial properties.

Want to see what herbs we have in our garden? Take a look here.

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My Herbalist Path

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I finished my intermediate course through the Herbal Academy and I was so exhausted with its rigorous material and starting the new school year that even thinking about writing about this amazing experience drained me mentally.

I love learning new things and herbalism is a passion of mine. That mental drain is quite satisfying because afterwards comes empowerment. This class engages its students with herbal actions, energetics, and safety and side effects. My favorite part was the in-depth diving into physiology and body systems. The organization allows students to better categorize their own materia medica based on these body systems and common ailments of these systems and the energetics and actions of herbs.

There are recipes to use and build upon and quizzes to help you make sure you’re on the right track.

Because the class is so in-depth, you have two years to complete it. I started mine in June and finished it as the school year started, but I wasn’t working other than farm stuff. I could see this taking about a year if I was working though. What’s great is in that two-year time frame you’re given time to download the course electronically to print. I keep mine in a binder. You also always have access to other students and teachers on a members only Facebook page. I love having that choice to be interactive with other herbalists or aspiring herbalists. The teachers are very helpful and respond in a timely manner when you contact them.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

This was my first time working with herb energetics theory. It was very enlightening and made me evaluate my own constitution in a more serious light. When I meet people, I apply what I learned by watching the way they act, speak, and work. It’s just a very new way to look at people and better understand what makes them tick and what makes them slow down and how balanced constitution can be maintained by each type of individual.

The science given to students to study is intriguing. Before this course, my favorite body system was the nervous system. After the class, the nervous system is still a favorite, but I have a deeper understanding of all of the body systems and a very deep newfound appreciation of the digestive system and how amazing and complex it actually is.

I was initially hesitant with paying for a class in herbalism because I had learned so much growing up with herbs and independent research. I just hit this wall where I was finding nothing new and I didn’t really know how to look for anything new. I knew I didn’t learn it all, but I didn’t know how to find anything new anymore. I took a vast amount of knowledge and resources away with this course.

The community is amazing. I had joined other free communities in the past, but the knowledge and expertise found at the Herbal Academy is exciting and a lot more accurate than a bunch of people just googling questions for other people who just didn’t feel like googling that day.

The Herbal Academy offers many other types of courses and as of today, courses are on sale. I recommend at least checking them out in the links I’ll be providing below.

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Hi, everyone! Today, because it’s been so pretty the past month or so, we’re going to talk about our passionflower. This stuff is wonderful. I particularly like this plant because you can use the leaves, flowers, and fruit–and the fruit is ridiculously delicious. It does seem to grow wild in a few areas in Florida. Someone grows it in their yard and then it will magically appear in neighboring lots. It spreads like wildfire. It’s native to Florida, so it naturally does pretty well here.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

Some people have a difficult time getting their passionflower to bloom or fruit. Right now, mine is small and I had three flowers and currently one fruit. If the vine is large it is possible that there isn’t enough sun hitting where it needs to for blooming and fruiting. It really depends on its location. If the vine is huge and shading itself, pruning will help. Good pollination is essential, too. We’re very lucky to have so many bees. Our community, as a whole, does everything possible to attract beneficial pollinators and/or does everything possible to prevent their demise. We have a water source and plenty of attractive plants and trees for bees particularly, so much to the point that we do foresee a hive in our future. Anyway, I feel very fortunate that the passionflower is giving at least one fruit its first year, especially since it is so tiny right now. You should not pick the fruit. It will not ripen off the vine. If possible, it is best to wait until it falls. That way you know it’s ready to eat.

Passionflower is labeled as cool and dry (Ayurveda). It is bitter and is especially fantastic for sleep. There are actually several herbs for promoting a good night of Z’s, but what makes passionflower unique is that it is especially helpful if the reason you’re up when you should be asleep is circular thoughts. I don’t have a chronic case of insomnia, but when I do have a hard time sleeping it is usually because my brain won’t shut up. I already get 4-5 hours of sleep. It doesn’t appear to effect my functioning, but if I’m in any danger of getting less than four hours I act quickly in trying to prevent that. I often concoct a tea infusion with passionflower in the mix.

If you suffer from anxiety due to circular thoughts, this may help. Do keep in mind though that passionflower is technically a sedative. Everyone is different and if you’re taking any for anxiety, you may have to adjust your formula if you don’t want to battle drowsiness. I take it in the late evening when I do take it. I respond very strongly to medications and herbs and I often find myself taking less than recommended for everything in many scenarios. Everybody is different. Start off with less and add as you need to.

Passionflower is also analgesic, so this lessens perception of pain. Passionflower is antispasmodic, but if you’re having trouble sleeping due to muscle pain I would really look into valerian root, another sedative a little more geared for when the stresses of the body, not the mind, are what’s keeping you up at night.

Photographed by Amanda Harman

Again, this herb is bitter so if the tea is too much for you, a tincture may be more bearable.

Passionflower has hypotensive properties. This means it can aid in lowering blood pressure, which helps with its other calming properties.

It is NOT advised to take this on top of other medications one may be taking for insomnia or anxiety.

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Whether you are just getting started in herbalism or have been exploring this natural path for some time, you might realize that there are several directions to take as an herbalist! Perhaps you are interested in opening up an herb shop or selling your own natural body care products. Maybe your passion is for people, and therefore your desire is to become a community herbalist. Or maybe you wish to study herbalism to benefit your own family’s health and wellbeing.
Follow your calling, and match up your personal or career goals with the Herbal Academy’s unique Herbalist Paths. These discounted training packages are designed to help guide you in your journey and your educational needs! Infuse your life with your herbal education when choosing the Family Herbalist Path, prepare for a business start-up in the Entrepreneur Herbalist Path, or learn how to work with clients professionally through the Clinical Herbalist Path.
All Herbalist Paths are offered at a discount and with a payment plan option! Learn more about the Herbal Academy’s programs and paths here.