Classes: Herbal Mother’s Day Gifts and Herbal First Aid Kits

Bath tea on the right, extra supplies on the left.

I took the Herbal Mother’s Day Gifts some time ago, but I wanted to wait to post it until the birthday presents I took it for were already in the mail. Due to my impressive promptness with making them, I managed to take Herbal First Aid Kits in the meantime. Both were given by Christina Blume of Blume’s Farm. She actually began her fascination with herbs due to the need in grad school to have one more advanced anthropology class. She chose a class on medicines in other cultures. The herbs spoke to her, causing her to change paths and travel the country learning everything she could. Both of these classes were on the expensive side for the Denver Botanic Gardens, but I did come home with some pretty cool loot.

The first class, Herbal Mother’s Day Gifts, was a fairly small group, which was probably a good thing considering the hands-on nature of the class. Christina handled the preparations that were melted, but we made our own spritzer/cologne and “Easy Bath Bombs.” It turns out that balsam fir and lavender make a sharp, refreshing spritzer. The bath bombs will require a little more practice. The dry and liquid ingredients need to be mixed carefully so they don’t fizz before you drop the finished bomb into your bath. Practice will help me develop the feel of the mixture to pack into the molds. Any failures will still work very well to keep my skin soft in the meantime. While we were working on the bath bombs, I got to chat with the women I was sharing my batch of ingredients with. It turns out they like to learn various crafts together and then use what they learn to make gifts for friends and family. The gifts are pretty universally well received. I’m going to need to remember this next time it’s time for presents.

It smelled slightly of peanuts. Looks pretty though.

The second class, Herbal First Aid Kits, offered more practical goodies for an accident-prone person like myself. Christina showed us a couple of preparations, although there were too many people in the class for us to get to do things ourselves. She also gave me permission to share a recipe from the class. I chose the herbal bactine, or Echinacea Plus Tincture, because of it’s general usefulness internally or externally.

2-3 chopped, fresh Echinacea flowers or 2 tablespoons dried Echinacea root

A small fistful of fresh Calendula flowers or three tablespoons of dried flowers

3 tablespoons of dried Oregon grape root

2 tablespoons dried myrrh power

Grind the herbs in a food processor or blender. Pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and cover with Everclear to one inch above the herbs. Put a layer of waxed paper between the jar and the lid. Shake once or twice a day for two weeks. Strain through a cotton cloth and store in a dark bottle with a tight-fitting lid. This can be used on any cut, scrape. or wound as a disinfectant and anti-microbial. Due to the alcohol content, it will sting when applied. Internally, take 1/2 a teaspoon in a small amount of juice every two hours the first day.

I need to work on my straining skills.

The Everclear is needed for the myrrh. As a resin, it needs a higher alcohol content to actually make a tincture. Most of them work very well with cheap vodka for a lower alcohol content. However, it is also one of the best antimicrobials there is. Apparently, its use for embalming protected the embalmers in the Middle East during times of plague. You may want to make the Echinacea tincture separately as well. With most, tinctures, the alcohol will extract the pertinent parts of the herb. For Echinacea, however, the polysaccharides, which don’t come out with alcohol,  are also pertinent. After you strain the solids out of the alcohol, you will want to simmer the solids in water to extract them. When you add the second extraction to the first, the amount of 50% of the water portion will also need to be added in additional alcohol.

Between the two classes, there were lots of interesting tidbits. Most of her salves are made with olive oil, but the “Sole Softener” recipe calls for castor oil. It is far more penetrating and healing on its own. Given the tenacity of it while I was making the sole softener, I’m not so surprised that a god was named after it. It gets on everything, but my hands felt great afterward. I also found out that essential oils are not necessarily a good idea for use by expecting mothers. For those gifts, you might want to stick with whole herbs, as they don’t have the same potency while still being useful. If you need comfrey root, leave the grinding to the professionals. Apparently it will destroy regular kitchen utensils.

Cooled and ready to be mailed. The one with the fingerprint and the poor straining will be staying with me.

I need to weigh which classes I can afford to take this year and which ones I really should put off, but she has a class for a full home kit coming up that I think would be a good investment. Now that I know where to find my herbs, Mountain Mama’s, although I hear that Vitamin Cottage is also really good and found outside of Colorado Springs, it’s something that I want to play with more. Next time I pick up bits and pieces at the grocery store, however, I might opt not to pick up a saline laxative (epsom salts, great bath salts) and a liquid laxative (castor oil, for the sole softener) in bulk at the same time. The cashier was clearly wondering if my day was going as badly as it appeared.

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