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Journal

Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Tag: recipe

Herbs for Stagnant Anger

Katie Gordon

You know how anger can live in your body? How that smoldering heat can take up residence for so long that you can physically feel it? Stuck, hot, fiery, like you're living in a pressure-cooker? That, my friends, is stagnant anger. Stagnancy means energy isn’t moving. When energy isn’t moving, our body-mind-soul doesn't function optimally. In Chinese Medicine, anger is related to the liver, energetically and physically. To put it simply, when you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, the liver gets overwhelmed and stressed out. The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of energy, and when it's stressed out, you think it works smoothly? Answer: Nope.

With a stressed out liver, energy stagnates EVEN MORE and anger, along with poor digestion, allergies, and compromised stress response, among other things, often manifests. It's like a hot mess negative feedback loop. This isn’t to say that anger is a direct result of liver stagnation. There are a gazillion things that can cause us to feel angry. However, emotions are energy and supporting your liver with herbs (as well as movement, finding healthy ways to express anger, etc.) can help move that stagnant energy because if energy isn’t flowing freely, you're left feeling stuck emotionally, physically, and even mentally.

So here's a few of my favorite plants to help move stagnant anger. Think cooling, sedating, calming...

This is in no way an all-inclusive list. Keep in mind everyone’s body responds differently to plants. It’s best to experiment with how your body experiences various herbs. Take your time to develop relationships with these plants. Explore what really nourishes you. Listen to the plants themselves and get curious about how to interact with them.

Bitters: Bitters are cooling. Why? I actually don't know. But they are, and the liver loves them. Happy liver = smooth flow of liver qi/energy = less energetic & emotional stagnation (Yes, that's a hugely simplified version of a much more extensive discussion on liver energetic and physiological function. I'm sure I'll talk about bitters in the future A LOT because we should all be using them way more than we do, but for now you get the idea.)

Motherwort: Also bitter. Very bitter. I don't recommend straight motherwort tea if you actually like to enjoy your cup of tea. But as a tincture it's fabulous. It is, among other things, a nervine and antispasmodic, meaning it both acts on the nervous system and relaxes tension. Muscle spasms and tension are often a symptom of a stressed out, stagnant liver. Motherwort moves that constraint. Another beautiful thing about Motherwort is its effect on the heart and the connection it reveals between the heart and liver. Mainly the anger that results at feeling unable to express our hearts, our emotions, our freedom, our creativity, our individuality, and our deep voice. The anger of feeling unheard, unseen, and even unvalued.

Rose: One of my absolute favorite plants in the world for overheated tissues! Now, there are lots of reasons for tissues in our bodies to build up heat, but one of the big ones is anger. When this heat has no where to go (because we don't express it in a healthy, productive way), it stagnates. Cooling, sedating, Rose speaks my language. Considered a relaxant nervine, Rose relaxes the nervous system, and in particular, it works beautifully to relax the liver, relieving stagnation and tension in the liver. I find it works wonders for people experiencing nervous exhaustion and adrenal fatigue as a result of too much heat. I think what I really love about Rose is the sweet, heady, wild, and thorny aspects all combined into one plant. Rose is tough yet compassionate, resilient yet tender, tenacious yet she invites you to soften your edges, set down your sword, and explore those parts of yourself you so staunchly defend.

Lemon: Also cooling, sedating, and sour, lemon has become well known as something we squeeze into our water in the morning to get our digestion moving. Cooling and sedating plants cool and calm hot, irritated tissues as well as a hot, irritated mood. You know that rising heat we feel when we're angry? Our chest and face get hot, we probably start sweating and in cartoons steam comes out of the character's nose? Lemon, especially when blended with other deliciously cooling, sedating herbs like rose and salvia (see below) can help to cool and ground that rising heat.

Salvia: Native species of Salvia, particularly when paired with nervines like lemon balm, lavender, salvia (aka sage) can cool, ground, and shift that fiery energy because it’s a stimulant. Stimulants move stuff around. My personal favorite to use is White Sage (Salvia apiana), which in terms of herbal energetics can be heating or cooling depending on who you ask. This is the reason why it’s really best to experiment with how your body experiences plants. For me, this plant clears heat, stimulates movement (of energy, digestion, tension, fluids, blood, etc.), and grounds me into the present moment.

Of course these plants will support the movement of energy, but what most of us also need to do is learn how to experience, feel, process, and express our anger. But that's for another post.

Here's a recipe for a tea blend to help move some of that stagnant liver qi...

Lemon Calm Tea Blend
1/2 c. hibiscus flowers
1/3 c. lemon balm
1/3 c. rose petals
1/4 c. peppermint or spearmint
1/4 c. rosehips
1/4 c. lemon peel

Combine all of the ingredients well in a bowl or mason jar. Store in said mason jar or some other air-tight container. I brew about 1 Tbsp. per cup of water. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes. This makes a (beautifully pink) iced tea also! And please feel free to play with the ratio of herbs and perhaps add fun things like lavender or lemongrass or vanilla bean or...

 
 
Disclosure: Wild Grace uses affiliate campaigns from Mountain Rose Herbs that may be displayed as text links or images such as banners, buttons and widgets.  When you click on these affiliate program links and make a purchase, a very small commission may be credited to Wild Grace.  The commission that I receive is very small and helps me to defray the cost of buying ingredients to craft skin + body care recipes.  When you do make a purchase using my Mountain Rose Herbs affiliate link, your purchase is the same price you would pay if you went directly to MountainRoseHerbs.com.  I sincerely appreciate your support and if you plan to purchase something anyway, I would be truly grateful if you did so through my affiliate link to Mountain Rose Herbs.

Wild Woman Hair Serum

Katie Gordon

It took me a loooooooong time to embrace my wild, out of control, thick, curly hair. I used to actually cry because I didn't have "normal" straight hair like most of my friends when I was little. Throughout high school and college I either straightened it or just threw it up because I didn't know what to do with it or even how to take care of it.

After trying out SO MANY products - supposedly for curly hair - and years of frustrated, wanting-to-pull-my-hair-out moments, I eventually learned what my hair needs to be healthy (i.e. curly sans frizz). So even though it's still crazy, in the best way possible, my hair's now softer curls rather than dry and frizzy. It's becoming more common knowledge now that our hair, and the rest of our skin for that matter, needs oil just like our bodies need fat. Curly hair especially needs A LOT of oil because it's naturally drier and because of that it's more prone to breakage which leads to even more frizz. In order to care for our locks we need to nourish it with oils that not only smooth our hair but also repair damage that happens as a result of everyday elements (wind, heat, water, etc.)

When I first started adding oils to my morning ritual (yes, getting ready is a ritual) I was worried it would leave my hair greasy or weighed down, but my hair literally drinks this stuff up! This combination of oils is my favorite...and it's not an exaggeration to say it has changed the way I relate to my hair.

For women who run with the wolves...

Some of my other favorite essential oils, are rosemary, jasmine, lavender, cedarwood, peppermint, bergamot, and sage. Think fresh and perhaps a bit floral. I get all of my ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs because I know I'm getting the highest quality organic oils and herbs.

In a small mason jar, blend your carrier oils and give it a little swirl. Then add your essential oils, if you're using them. This is when you can get creative and play with different scents and combinations of oils. Once you're happy with your oil, use a little funnel if you have one to pour your serum into a 2 oz. bottle. I use a dropper bottle because it looks cool and it keeps your bottle from getting oily when you use it. Make sure to label it in some way! I generally find that if things aren't labeled, I won't use them because I forget what it is.

To use your hair serum, rub a few drops between your palms, flip your hair upside down, and "scrunch" your hair from the ends with your oily hands. I find doing it this way keeps the roots from feeling too oily and it adds enough moisture to all of my hair to keep it curly and not frizzy. If you have thick hair don't be afraid to use a whole dropperful of oil. It's like a leave-in conditioner and your hair will love you for it!

Disclosure: Wild Grace uses affiliate campaigns from Mountain Rose Herbs that may be displayed as text links or images such as banners, buttons and widgets.  When you click on these affiliate program links and make a purchase, a very small commission may be credited to Wild Grace.  The commission that I receive is very small and helps me to defray the cost of buying ingredients to craft skin + body care recipes.  When you do make a purchase using my Mountain Rose Herbs affiliate link, your purchase is the same price you would pay if you went directly to MountainRoseHerbs.com.  I sincerely appreciate your support and if you plan to purchase something anyway, I would be truly grateful if you did so through my affiliate link to Mountain Rose Herbs.

On Nourishment + Creative Inspiration (plus a skin care recipe!)

Katie Gordon

I made it to Oregon! I'm getting settled in and loving the Pacific Northwest. I knew being in a new environment like this would have a huge impact on my physical & mental health. Already my body feels different, my hair feels different, my sleep is noticeably better, and I'm allowing myself time to process, shift, and integrate.

The thing I noticed immediately was...I'm exhausted. When you spend so long burning the candle at both ends and surrounding yourself with stimulants (caffeine, people, noise, traffic, Netflix binges, a general addiction to busy-ness) and not nourishing yourself properly (with sleep, tonifying foods, time in nature) you don't even realize how tired you are. Slowly I was losing my creative fire because my nervous system was so depleted, running purely on coffee and external stimuli.

So many of us live with that as our reality. We don't think it can be any other way. But it can. And on my first full day here that I spent on my own, all I wanted to do was sleep, read, make tea, and sit. It was strange (yet comfortable) how quiet it was, and even though I kept feeling like I should be doing something or listening to something or watching something, I tried to let that go and just feel what it was like to be quiet. My nervous system took a huge sigh of relief and layers of tension dropped away.

I'm still integrating, but it's amazing how quickly that creative spark comes back. And how much energy is bound up in our bodies in the form of tension, pain, and stagnation. I'm really excited to test new recipes, research, write, blog, and fully dive into Wild Grace! Expect lots of new content and products in the shop...soon. For now, a poem because I'm feeling inspired by all things sea-related & a recipe for a facial mask (or masque if you want to be fancy)...

"Gather a shell from the strewn beach And listen at its lips: they sigh The same desire and mystery, The echo of the whole sea's speech. And all mankind is thus at heart Not anything but what thou art: And Earth, Sea, Man, are all in each. ~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Sea Limits

For this mask/masque I chose ingredients that most people will either have on hand or can find easily in a health food store or even grow in your garden.

Clay + Chamomile Facial Mask

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mason jar, add your essential oils, cap the jar, and shake well. When you're ready to use it, mix 2 teaspoons of the mask with 2 teaspoons of water. You can also use herbal tea (cooled off), milk, or yogurt. Apply to your skin and let it dry. Rinse with warm water and a washcloth and follow with a moisturizer.

Enjoy your potion-crafting!

Spring Miso Soup

Katie Gordon

Hi All!  It's been SO long since I've posted that I don't even know how to catch you up.  So let's just skip that for now so that I can share with you this awesome miso soup recipe that my amazing roommate and I made tonight.  The original inspiration for this recipe came from my mentor and friend, Nicole. As most of you know, I've been studying Chinese medicine in conjunction with Shiatsu Anma massage for awhile now and I've been getting into macrobiotics/eating and getting in tune with the seasons.  When I stick to it, I've noticed I feel much more grounded and at home in my mind and body.  Now that it's finally feeling like spring here in New England, it seems like a good time to start talking about Spring in terms of TCM.  Just in time for Summer to roll around...

Spring is the time for us to renew our relationship with our liver, which has been working extra hard all winter to digest the fats and heavy foods that have been sustaining us for the last few months.  Energetically, the liver is responsible for establishing a smooth flow of energy through the body and mind.  For these reason, Spring is also a great time to cleanse the liver, but more on that later.  Here are some basic guidelines for spring food:

- Eat light(ly)!  Not just less, but light foods.  Think organic greens, sprouts, lots of fresh veggies (of which there will be lots in the farmers' markets now), and grains. - Simple food preparation.  Steaming and sauteeing are quick and easy ways to cook most of those fresh veggies you just picked up. - Incorporate sweet and pungent flavors to move stagnation and get your chi (or qi if you prefer) moving. - Limit intake of salty foods.  Salt as a flavor has a sinking and contracting energy, which is the opposite of what we want to do in the spring.  Side note: I know miso is salty, but it's an exception because it's awesome and good for your liver.

Keep in mind for this recipe that it's soup, so feel free to vary any amounts (I didn't measure exactly) or add in/leave out whatever you're feelin' or not.

Also, mushrooms are a superfood.  Fact.

Spring Miso Soup:

8 c. water 2-3 c. chopped and whole fresh mushrooms (I used shiitake and cremini mushrooms, chopping up some and leaving some of the shiitake whole to make things interesting) 2-3 green onions, chopped 5-6 Tbsp. red miso* pre-cooked barley** handful of dandelion greens, chopped

Clean your mushrooms, chopping up some or all, and put them in a bit pot with the water, heat to a boil, turn to a simmer, and let them simmer away for an hour or so.  You don't have to do it this long, but it makes a richer mushroom broth and also extracts more of the nutrients in the mushrooms.

Now that you have your mushroom broth, throw in the chopped green onions to simmer for a few minutes.  In a small bowl, mix your miso and some warm water until the miso is completely blended, thinning out the mixture as needed, and add it to the mushroom broth.

Add in your barley and your greens.  Honestly, I didn't measure the barley at all, so just put in however much you think looks good, let it heat, and you're all set!

Notes: *I used red miso, though you can use any kind.  Red and yellow are both great for your liver, and have a bit more flavor in my opinion.  You can even use both.  Feel free to experiment and see what you like. **To make the barley, I put 1 c. pearled barley in a pot with 3 c. water, brought it to a boil, then let it simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.  The package said it would take over an hour, but it definitely didn't, so just keep an eye on it.

Serves 6 or so.

Triple Sesame Bowl

Katie Gordon

Hey y'all.  I know it's been a long time.  I'm not going to apologize because knowing me, this long hiatus might happen again, but just know that I was thinking of you.  Every time I baked cookies (not that it happens too often as of late), picked some lovely vegetables from the garden (I've been trying to keep up with the cucumbers), or finished a completely satisfying meal at home, I'd tell myself to write about it.  And then I wouldn't.

I've been feeling pretty scattered with all the stuff going on in life recently, so I'm working on eating more grounding foods: brown rice, sweet potatoes, seaweed, nut and seed butters, etc.  Here's a bowl I made last night after getting home from work.

Note: For some reason it's taken me this long to realize how awesome it is to cook a lot of rice at once so I have some for the next few days.  It makes it super easy to throw together bowls on those nights you need some nourishment, but don't have the energy to make a big production out of dinner.  Just mix up the veggies and spices you use in the sauce ;) 

cooked brown basmati rice cooked adzuki beans broccoli florets 1 head of baby bok choy

sauce: 1/2 tsp. miso (I use brown rice miso, but feel free to experiment) 1 tbsp. tahini (add more to taste if you like) 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar ground ginger cardamom

drizzle of toasted sesame oil sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds dusting of chinese 5 spice blend

Steam broccoli until just tender, then throw in the baby bok choy and steam for another minute or so.  While waiting for the broccoli to steam, make the sauce.   Mash together the miso, tahini, and apple cider vinegar in a bowl to make a paste.  Sprinkle in the spices to taste.  You can also mix up the spices, using whatever you have on hand or whatever sounds good.  I like to use warming spices (yes I know it's August) because they're good for digestion.  Add whatever spices you choose to taste, then slowly add room temperature water until you reach the desired consistency; mine is usually about the consistency of melted ice cream.

Once the veggies are lightly steamed, add the rice, beans, and veggies to the bowl with the sauce.  Top with the toasted sesame oil, seeds, and Chinese 5 Spice blend.  Take care not to add too much of the oil because it can be over powering.

Makes 1 bowl.