Herbs & Natural Ideas for Summer

I just moved to Texas and it is HOT. Here are a few ideas for cooling off and feeling better in the heat… no matter where you live!

PEPPERMINT – herb: Add fresh peppermint to your lemonade or ice tea. You can also used dried Peppermint to make an herbal iced tea. You can used loose leaf dried Peppermint or Peppermint herbal tea bags. Brew it hot or by making Sun Tea outside. Use about one tablespoon Peppermint per 8 oz of water. Steep for 20 minutes and strain and refrigerate. I like to order herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.

PEPPERMINT – essential oil: Peppermint essential oil is great (and inexpensive compared to other essential oils) to use on the skin to cool off. Essential oils are the volatile oils that are steam distilled from plants and have aroma-therapeutic properties. Add a few drops to your bath or mix with lotion or massage oil to apply to skin. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and add a couple drops of Peppermint essential oil and wipe on hot spots like the back of the neck, wrists, back of knees, etc. Just be sure not to get it into your eyes (wash hands afterward) or too near your eyes or they will water (thanks Jenny for that idea!).

BORAGE: Borage is an herb that has cooling properties. It offers cleansing and detoxifying effects and soothes the nerves. It has a lot of other properties as well such as: alleviating depression, increasing milk flow for breast-feeding moms, and can work as a mild laxative. Make it as a herbal tea or infusion. You can try it in a formula by combining it with other herbs like lavender, rose petals, chamomile, or lemon balm. Borage flowers are also edible and can be infused in honey and eaten as another remedy.

CUCUMBER WATER: For a more cooling and spa-like drink than just plain water, try slicing a cucumber and putting it into a pitcher with spring water and ice. There is no need to steep this, you can drink it right away and throughout the day – make a fresh batch daily.

ROSEWATER FACIAL SPRITZ: You can buy rosewater at many grocery stores in the “ethnic foods” aisle or you can buy Rose Floral Water at a health food store, Whole Foods, or order it from an aromatherapy company. Use it in a spray bottle to spritz your skin before applying moisturizer. You can also add Rescue Remedy to the spray to calm your skin. A few drops of Rose Geranium essential oil are a nice addition as well. Try storing it in the refrigerator for an extra cool spray.

STEVIA: Try Stevia as a sweetener instead of sugar. In the summer, we don’t need extra calories or the blood sugar crash that sugar can give us. Stevia is an herb that is more than 100 times sweeter (up to 300 x sweeter) than sugar with no calories – plus it has the benefit of helping to get rid of bacteria in the mouth – so it prevents cavities rather than causing them like sugar does! Stevia is sold in either a powdered form or a liquid and is very affordable – especially because you use so little at a time (try the KAL brand). Use it to sweeten ice teas, coffee, and bake with. You can also use it to sweeten homemade lip balms! This herb is non-toxic and great for diabetics.

ALOE VERA: Use fresh aloe vera when you can – keep a plant in your yard or home and open a leaf and rub on sunburned skin. Also works great for all types of burns.

LAVENDER – essential oil: Lavender is wonderful for healing burns of the skin, including sunburns. Mix it with lotion or massage oil and apply.

WHITE CLAY: Buy a small amount of white clay at a health food store and mix with water to apply to bug bites to calm itchiness and stings. Also works well for oily summertime breakouts of the skin.

Women’s Herbal Tisane to Soothe the Soul

This is a tea blend I recently created for a family member and it came out really nice! I like it because it tastes somewhat herbal and also part flowery and more like a beverage tea. Use organic herbs if possible.

1 part Oatstraw: calming, nutritive, and coats and soothes the nerves
1 part Lemon balm: treats stress and lifts mild depression and anxiety
1 part Comfrey leaf: overall tonic and healing to wounds, skin, and bones
2 parts Chamomile: safe, mild sedative that relaxes and soothes
2 parts pink Rosebuds: aromatic herb that lifts our vibration and treats lethargy and depression

Mix together all herbs in a bowl and then store in a glass jar in a cabinet or away from sunlight to preserve their medicinal properties. To brew: boil a quart or so of water. Once boiled, turn off heat and remove from stove. Then add a scoop of this tea (about half a cup – more or less depending on how strong you like your teas). Cover pot and allow to steep at least 20 minutes and as long as overnight. Then strain and drink either hot or iced. I keep a pitcher in the fridge and drink my teas throughout the day. Honey is a great sweetener for this tea. Enjoy!!

An Introduction To Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the art of using scents – more specifically essential oils, which are distilled or extracted from plants – to create health spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

There is much debate about why plants produce essential oils because plants do not appear to use these oils for their own functions or survival. In fact, some plants produce hundreds of extra substances that scientists cannot determine uses for within the plant. One of the theories in herbalism is that plants are producing these substances as medicines for humans.

Evidence of the use of aromatic plant oils can be traced back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians who used the oils in the mummification process. Aromatic plants were used in ancient times in Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, Greek, and Roman cultures, to name a few, for both cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Though the popularity of using aromatics declined after the fall of the Roman Empire, the art of using herbs / aromatics was preserved in the monasteries.

Avicenna (AD 980 – 1037) was an Arab scholar and physician who invented the refrigerated coil which was considered a break-through because it allowed essential oils to be steam distilled, though archaeological discoveries in Pakistan have discovered that this process was being used around 3000 BC in the ancient Indus Valley. Avicenna’s invention spread through Europe. Herbs and spices from all parts of the world were then being discovered and and traded and distilled for perfumes, alchemy, and medical interests.

The term “aromatherapy” was coined by a French Chemist named Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in 1928. He accidentally discovered the healing effects of lavender oil after he burned his hand severely during his work at his family’s perfume business and plunged his hand into the nearest container of liquid – lavender essential oil. He was amazed to discover how the lavender healed the burn and left him without a scar. He went on to publish many works on the healing properties and psychotherapeutic benefits of essential oils. Lavender oil is still used in hospitals in France and other parts of Europe to treat burn victims.

Essential oils can be purchased at many health food stores, as well as online. Always use pure (organic if possible) essential oils – buying cheap oils is a waste of money because they may contain solvents or other chemicals. If you are pregnant, you should not use essential oils without consulting an aromatherapist, as certain oils are considered abortifacients. Some essential oils also cause phototoxicity for some people, so it is best to use sunscreen or avoid harsh sun if you are using the oils directly on your skin, especially if you are sensitive to the sun.

When buying oils, check the label for the botanical name of the plant which should be listed by genus followed by species. For example, Jasmine is the common name for the plant whose botanical name is: Jasminum (genus) officinale (species).

In England, aromatherapy has been studied for as means of lessening anxiety and stress for intensive care patients. See article:

Recently, scientists researching essential oils have found that it is effective for killing ‘superbugs’ such as MRSA which are present in hospitals and responsible for thousands of deaths per year, effecting people with weakened immune systems. According to the BBC article,, “The team then tested 40 essential oils against 10 of the most infectious agents found in hospitals, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). Two of the oils were found to kill MRSA and E.coli almost instantly, while a third was found to act over a longer period of time.”


My aromatherapy teacher was Francoise Rapp, a Licensed Aromatherapist and Perfumer living in Paris. She offers webclasses and has excellent material to purchase and download on her site:

Another wonderful Aromatherapist whose books and articles I rely on is Jeanne Rose. She is the Director of the Institute of Aromatic Studies. She offers home study courses and classes in the San Francisco area. She also sells high quality oils on her site: