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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Specialty Bodywork

This information is to help offer a better understanding of types of Ayurvedic and other Specialty Bodywork Treatments offered by Nicole Telkes.  

I offer the following Treatments but have also had training in Zen Shiatsu, Mayan Abdominal Massage and Structural Massage.  This information is for clients to understand the techniques that are applied during their treatments.  Clients may have a sense of the type of treatment they would like to experience, but Nicole will guide you through your choices to make the best one for your situation.  You can go here to see rates for specialty massage offerings shown below.

The goal of Ayurvedic bodywork is to balance the Doshas, or Ayurvedic Body Constitution.  The doshas can be assessed by looking at both the Prakruti and Vikruti.  One assessment looks at your base constitution, determined at birth and the other at your current state of imbalance.  After assessing this, along with whatever symptoms you are coming to the session with, a holistic treatment plan is offered.  I do an assessment blending Ayurvedic Concepts, Greek, Chinese, and even Physiomedicalism to come up with a good treatment strategy for you.  Take the Dosha Quiz here or here 

In my practice, I offer an eclectic approach to Ayurvedic Bodywork.  I specialize in North American Herbalism, so though I have been trained in the traditional Ayurvedic offerings, many times I incorporate native herbs and bioregional plants that I have picked myself and made into preparations.  I do love the traditional Ayurvedic Hands On Treatments because there are so many unique and wonderful ways to apply herbal therapeutics within session.

As a bodyworker and massage therapist I offer the following treatments:
These treatments can be gotten on their own but for maximum effectiveness and results, they should be part of a larger treatment plan.  Incorporated into some of these treatments may be some basic massage, tuning forks, aromatherapy, sound therapy, meditation, chakra balancing, and even tarot with followup herbal and dietary guidelines.

  • Clients may receive Guidelines for Home Pancha Karmas/Cleansing. More Here 

  • Marma Massage-1 hr: 
Marma is a Sanskrit word meaning hidden , or secret. By definition, a marma point is a juncture on the body where two or more types of tissue meet, such as muscles, veins, ligaments, bones or joints. Yet marma points are much more than a casual connection of tissue and fluids; they are intersections of the vital life force and prana, or breath.The idea behind massaging the marma points is to cleanse blocked energy, also called chi, by either arousing or calming the doshas. Like a television with three channels, each marma point has three receptors that align with the three doshas. During a marma-point massage, the points are stroked in a deliberate sequence using specific essential oils.  More here
Benefits of marma massage;

• all the benefit of abhyanga massage
• strengthens the organ systems and tissues
• regenerates tissue
• relieves physical and mental blockages of energy
• helps remove excess ama (toxins)
• prevents aging
• improves lymph
• increases the protection from vata disorders
• nourishes the body
• encourages good sleep
• improves physical stability
• balances the dosha
• helps easy flow of energy through the energy channels. 
• helps to release blocked energy helping prevent disease. 

  • Marma massage with Udvartana 1 hr

This herbal massage treatment includes a full body  massage and full body exfoliation using herbal powders, and salts or sugars and oils to exfoliate and deeply cleanse the skin. The herbal powder/scrub is applied all over the body with therapeutic oils using specific massage movements.

• ideal Cellulite busting treatment
• helps remove lymphatic toxins from the body
• helps remove excess subcutaneous fat (liquefying & burning it up)
• exfoliating & deep cleansing to the skin
• ideal weight management treatment 
• increases basal metabolic rate
• deep cleansing & softening to the skin 
• helps with blemished & oily skin
• helps rid the ama (toxins) from the body
• helps improve muscle & skin tone
• has also all the benefits of abhyanga massage 
• it tones up the skin and muscles after child birth or weight loss
• eases joint pain

  • Marma Massage with Pinda Sveda - Herbal Boluses 1 hr 

(Pinda means herbal bolus…….Sveda means steaming)

This deeply invigorating thermal massage is performed using small muslin bags filled with ayurvedic herbs. These herbal muslin bags are heated and are used to foment the body to produce sweat. The fomentation helps absorb the herbs into the body through the pores in the skin. The body is massage, pummelled and kneaded with the herbal linen bags to clear the body and the mind

This invigorating massage is helpful for the following problems;

• tension & stress
• deeply cleansing and hydrating the skin
• detoxifying
• cellulite
• glowing complexion to the skin
• pain relief including muscular
• chronic pain
• lower back pain
• sciatica
• neck pain
• joint and arthritis-related problems
• reduced local swelling and muscle/joint stiffness
• aches and pains
• sports injuries
• relieving stress
• revitalises the body
• energising the body
• helping mobility
• restoring appetite

  • Abdominal Massage (30 minutes)
Drawing from Ayurveda, Zen Shiatsu and Mayan Abdominal Massage. A powerful non invasive abdominal massage to improve tone and purify the area. This is the ideal treatment for weight loss and digestive problems, pregnancy, and after birthing.  Herbal Steams may also be a part of this work.

• detoxifying
• ideal for post pregnancy toning
• weight loss management
• bloating
• irritable bowel syndrome
• constipation
• heartburn
• indigestion
• low digestive fire (low appetite)
• IBS, crohn’s, colitis
• skin toning

  • Natural Facials Incorporating Marmas( 30 minutes or 1 hr)
During this anti-aging facial the face, neck and shoulders are massaged with ayurvedic oils to suit your skin type using specialised techniques. The facial gives the skin a smooth texture and appearance, together with a healthy glow. This is a natural and effective method of reducing wrinkles.  Types of Products and Formulas used on the skin reflect the doshas and any individual situations that need addressing.
Technical details:

During the treatment marma points are gently massaged which are energy centres in the body. Marma points are connected with each other by energy channels (nadis). Under normal circumstances, energy should flow uninterrupted through the energy channels (nadis) while passing through the marma points. Energy tends to get blocked in marma points due to external influences like stress, tension and lack of rest etc. Blockages of these points will also result in early aging. So one of the aims of the traditional ayurvedic facelift massage is to keep these energy centres and channels free of such blockages so that there is uninterrupted energy flow through them.

There are 37 marma major points in the head and neck area and 98% are vata reducing points. Excess vata will produce wrinkles so by massaging the area with specialist techniques, vata is reduced therefore wrinkles are reduced. Vata dosha is dominant in old age this means that there is vata dosha excess during this period of life.

Ayurveda says, ‘that as long as one is able to pacify vata dosha, one can prolong life and keep old age at bay’.

So with this facial the therapist concentrates on all vata dominant points of the head and face region to pacify the vata dosha.

• it relaxes the face muscles
• it stimulates the microcirculation and lymph flow,
• it promotes the regeneration of healthy younger looking skin,
• it also activates the natural metabolism of the skin tissue and improves muscle tone, thereby improving the skin’s natural capacity to retain moisture
• to help uninterrupted energy flow through energy channels
• anti aging
  • Foot Treatments(30 minutes or 1 hr)

Foot treatments include a herbal Foot bath with fresh and dried herbs, a foot scrub with handmade all natural ingredients, massage, and hot towels.
This traditional Indian foot massage treatment is extremely soothing and relaxing, awakening the vital energy areas in your soles including feet, calves, knees and shins. It is a rejuvenating experience that releases deeply felt tension and leaves you relaxed and balanced. Marma points (energy points) are massaged during this treatment intensifying the healing process of the body. Ideal for stress related problems!  

• reduces stress & anxiety
• nervous conditions
• helps with insomnia 
• detoxifying
• helps reduce oedema
• helps reduce inflammation 
• helps with arthritis & rheumatism
• improves varicose veins
• helps hypertension
  • Karana Purana - Ear Therapy (15 minutes)

Warm therapeutic oil is poured into the ears to lubricate the delicate filaments of the ear canal. It helps dislodge impurities and sharpen hearing. This relaxing therapy helps many ear related conditions it especially ideal for neck and jaw tension, ringing in the ears, itching and dryness in the ears and much more. Our senses are connected to the five elements (space, air, fire, water, earth). Hearing is connected to space and air so it is an area where these elements or vata collects. Hence the treatment is very effective in reducing vata in the body. 
This ear therapy can help the following conditions;

• brings healing energy to the reflexology points on the ears
• alleviates restlessness and nervousness
• brings better sleep and helps with insomnia
• Increases mental clarity
• reduces jaw and neck tension
• calms vertigo
• helps with balance problems
• vata related problems (vata headaches etc)
• reduces ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
• helps with congestion 
• helps with excess ear wax
• ear ache
• deafness
• excess dryness in ear nose and throat
• palpitations
• neck pain

  • Kati Basti (30minutes)Head Massage--Usually incorporated with a Shirodhara Treatment
Experience the classic Indian Head Massage as it has been practiced in India for thousands of years. Using treatment oils to nourish the skin and hair, this therapy involves massage of the head, face, neck, shoulders, upper back and arms. Massaging the scalp stimulates the flow of blood to the hair follicles, improving the supply of nutrients needed for healthy hair growth which can in turn help slow down the balding process. Indian head massage can help stress-linked problems like headaches and eyestrain and other ailments.

Further benefits;
• helps with stress related ailments
• balances the central nervous system
• promotes mental clarity
• improving concentration
• restores joint mobility
• improves blood and lymph circulation 
• ideal for office workers prone to tension
• helps reduce vata dosha
• works over the chakras and marma points of the upper body

  • Shiro Dhara 30minutes (within another treatment usually like head massage-kati basti/ karuna purana, or other)

A stream of soothing therapeutic warm oil is poured rhythmically across the forehead, this settles the mind and profoundly relaxes the central nervous system. It helps soothe and rejuvenate the mind & nervous system instilling a sense of deep meditation and relaxation.
This ancient treatment can help;
• relieve stress/stress related conditions & anxiety
• improve Insomnia
• calm an agitated mind
• alleviate mental exhaustion
• rejuvenate the face and soften worry lines
• regulate mood and depression disorders
• release stored emotions
• improve concentration, intelligence, self esteem and confidence
• stimulate cognitive memory
• strengthen the immune system
• regulate the endocrine system
• stimulate the secretion of serotonin & melatonin
• benefit nervous system diseases, nerve disorders, paralysis etc
• benefit many diseases connected with the head, neck, eyes, ears, nose and throat
• regulate the hormonal system by working on the chakras
• invigorate the physical system and mind
• sharpen the sensory organs
• cool the body and relieve pain.
• encourage endorphin production in the body
• relieve fatigue, anger, chronic headaches & burning sensation in the head & neck
• Improve digestion and constipation
• sharpen the sense organs
• hypertension, ulcerations & inflammation in upper body
• premature greying or loss of hair
• excessive sweating
• excessive sleep
• lethargy
• remove build up of mucus in the body
• weak digestion & low appetite
• anorexia
• high cholesterol
• diabetes
• balance the 3 doshas by working on the marma points
• awaken the third eye 
• increase spiritual awareness & intuition
  • Basti Therapy - Warm, Medicated Oil Pours that Bathe An Area 20-30minutes

(Basti means a bladder or something that holds)

Basti treatments involve applying warm therapeutic oils to a specific contained area (using a freshly made dough ring) on the body and allowing it to penetrate. This bathing therapy creates very deep, penetrating heat that allows the healing qualities of the oil to profoundly infiltrate the surrounding tissues, nourishing and strengthening the muscles, bones, ligament, tendons and nerves etc. The basti therapy works also over chakras and marma points releasing blocked energy and rejuvenating the area.

 Lower Back Warm Oil Bath

This basti assists with ailments such as;

• lower back ache
• osteo arthritis & osteoporosis
• nerve related conditions
• sciatica
• prolapsed disc
• chronic & acute pain
• paralysis of lower regions of the body
• lumbar spondylyosis
• degenerative spine changes compressed discs,
• hip pain & abdominal pain
• vata related problems (lower back is seat of vata)
Neck Warm Oil Pour

This basti assists with ailments such as;

• neck, upper back, shoulder aches and pains
• chronic pain in neck region, frozen shoulder
• cervical spondylosis
• osteoarthritis & osteoporosis
• cervical nerve conditions
• stress related conditions
• blocked energy between shoulder blades
• blocked emotions of the throat
• helping emotions be expressed
Heart and Lung Warm Oil Pour
This basti helps nourish, strengthen and balance the heart functions and rejuvenates the heart area. It also helps to nourish the lungs, clearing channels in the lungs and heart and prevents them drying out.

It also assists with ailments such as;
• nervousness, anxiety, fear & grief
• palpitations
• high blood pressure
• chronic fatigue syndrome
• multiple sclerosis
• heart conditions
• respiratory problems (asthma, bronchial asthma, bronchitis, wheezing etc)
• extreme vata problems
• emotions of deep seated anger and sadness
• helping emotions be expressed
Abdominal Warm Oil Pour

• bloating
• constipation
• detoxifying
• indigestion
• weight loss
(usually done with abdominal massage)
Knee Warm Oil Pours(can be done on ankles, wrists elbows etc)

This basti assists with ailments such as;

• arthritis
• knee pain
• osteo arthritis
• osteoporosis
• rheumatism

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to Choose Quality Herbal Products

By Nicole Telkes, Practicing Herbalist

Director of the Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine Austin Texas

 Buying herbs can be tricky: Herbs are regulated through the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).  Just because the industry is regulated, doesn’t mean that everything on the shelf is of the highest quality or even what it says it is.  In general it’s good to ask a lot of questions when it comes to purchasing supplements.  Many formulas on the market are “kitchen sink” style, where everything natural that could possibly work is thrown in hopes that something may work.  Buying herbs from trained herbalists is very different from buying herbs from the herb industry.  The amount of energy and love that goes into making fresh, hand-picked extracts is immeasurable and cannot even be compared with large herb companies (oftentimes now subsidiaries of pharmaceutical companies).  Whenever possible, support small herb companies, local herbalists and local herb growers.  The herbs you obtain from smaller suppliers will most likely be fresher, more potent, more sustainably harvested and include weedy, local herbs that are not often found in the market or large health food stores.  Just because something is “natural” does not make it safer or better.  Herbalists are able to distinguish when and what herbs may work better for an individual and amend recipes to an individual’s unique situation.  Take care to purchase Organically Grown herbs, or those grown in pesticide-free gardens.  Make sure that any herbs that you buy that are “wildcrafted”(taken from the wild) are picked under strict conservation guidelines.  Over harvesting of many popular market herbs have led to them being placed in “At Risk” or “Threatened” status by United Plant Savers, a group dedicated to the conservation of medicinal plants .    It is very important to know where your plants came from and use as many weedy alternatives to exotic plants that are brought into the country.  Many times herbs coming from overseas are irradiated upon entering the country.   A great website that gives information on additives and preservatives, and levels of toxicity for is the Environmental Working Group at

Dried Plants:  Look for vibrancy in the plant matter, good color, and strong smells.  Old herbs look and smell worn out.  Sometimes if they are dried at the wrong temp(too high) they will be a little brown.

Tinctures: Should smell more like the herb then the menstruum it is preserved in.  Dark colors and deep and pungent in smell.  The color will vary between green, brown and black.  Different plants need different percentages of alcohol to extract.  Make sure the plant was extracted properly based on its constituents.

Oils and Salves: Should also vary in color and smell.  Salves should vary from green to brown in coloration.  Sediment ensures there were actual infused plants in the blend.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cactus Cream

What better way to experience the wonderful healing benefits of our native Cactus, or Opuntia, than as a cream?  We are busy on a line of Cactus-based preparations for an upcoming trip to the Medicine of the People Conference in Northern New Mexico.  The Opuntia cactus has so many uses I could spend all day talking about them.  You can see a short blurb here on Cactus on my other Blog dedicated to Texas Herbs.

I made a wonderful antioxidant cream today featuring the innards of Prickly Pear pads.  The Goo can be used similarly to Aloe Vera.  It is both mucilaginous, and has some astringency.  It is chocked full of anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, is soothing, emollient, and has a wonderful hydroscopic nature.

After scooping out and staining the Opuntia goo, we added a hydrosol of Orange blossom, Local Raw Honey, some homemade Colloidal Silver, and Fresh Rosemary Extract to preserve the fresh goo.

Here you see the oil component of the cream--a blend of our native Sunflowers and Jojoba Oil being added to the Prickly Pear Goo.

This blend of oil had some additional beeswax added  as an emulsifier, which we then blended together

Voila, CREAM!!!

Next we poured them off into some Smaller Containers, and will soon Label!

Be looking soon for other posts about Cactus Cordial, Cactus Cleanser/Mask, and Cactus First Aid Powder

In bodycare, it seems cactus is becoming the new fad.  Here are some links

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Introduction to Botany for Herbalists 

Notes from class

Botany is the study of the plant kingdom, or plant sciences.  It is especially important to understand if you are an herbalist that harvests from the wild.  It is an area that many herbalists struggle with.  To be a good Botanist you must try to study plants as often as you can.  Not only are you learning a new language, but a new way to look at the world around you.  The more closely you look, the more time you take to look the more you will come away with.  Along with botany, comes the study of ecology or how plants work together with other things their environment, including us.  If you are Wildcrafting, or Wild Harvesting plant material it is important to hone your skills as a botanist and ecologist.  All herbalists, whether wildcrafting or benefit from having a basic understanding of botany.  Botany classes can cover everything from the naming of plants, evolution,  growth cycles of plants, anatomy and physiology of plants, plant reproduction, and plant identification.  For the purposes of this brief glimpse I will focus on Plant Taxonomy, heirachical arrangement, plant anatomy, reproductive anatomy, fruits, and learning to read botanical descriptions. 
Identifying through names, or Plant Taxonomy.  
In Botany, Latin is the agreed upon official language to name plants by.  Latin is  called a "dead" language, it doesn’t change and evolve.  The names of the plants stay the same, (or not!). The names of plants oftentimes have to do with a characteristic, color, botanist who is said to have “discovered” a plant, or a bloom pattern.  For example, Calendula is named so because it was thought that is bloomed according the Calender—the first day of the month.  Monarda was named after Spanish botanist,  Nicolas Monartes.  For herbalists we are most interested with the Genus and species of a plant, though learning the Family characteristics of plants is also helpful.  Plant are most often referred to botanically by their Genus and species.   Calendula officinalis or Monarda citriodora.  There may be many species,  so it is somewhat backwards to the way humans name themselves.  For example if I was a plant I would be Telkes nicole my brother would be Telkes chris etc….
Plants are put into what is called a Taxonomic  hierarchy, larger groupings that subdivide to smaller and smaller ones by a series of yes and no questions.
Kingdom /                        (Subclass)
              \               Class /                                    Family
              Phylum /                       (Suborder) /
                            \           Order /
                            Class /                                          Family                        Species
                                     \             (Superfamily) /                      Genus /
                                     Order /                                    (Tribe) /
                                                \              (Subfamily) /
 Family /                                Species
                                                             \              (Subgenus) /
 Genus /
                                                                       \              (Subspecies)
 Species /
                                                                                                              (Varieties and Forms)

Identifying Plants Visually
Some of the first questions to ask to be able identify a plant are:
Is this plant a gymnosperm(cone bearing) or angiosperm(flower bearing)?
More of the time, depending on where you live of course, the plant is flower bearing--or an angiosperm, so the next question would be
Is this plant a monocot or dicot?
There are several characteristics that differentiate a plant but many times it tends towards being dicots more than monocots--so for the purposes of the class that goes along with these notes:
Once you have figured out what division of the Taxonomic heirarchy you are in,  you can start to figure out the family--which in turn leads you to the Genus and species.   Field identification tools utilize leaf shape, arrangement of leaves, if woody the bark will be described, flowers, flower arrangements, and fruits as defining ways to gauge what you are looking at.  Having tools to measure, look more closely at things, and even take pics and samples can be helpful.  One of the easier ways to start to learn to identify plants is through the flowers and/or fruits.  Here,as an example,we will look more closely at the more common dicots of the angiosperm division.

Basic Anatomy of a flowering plant(Angiosperm)
The vegetative portion of plants can be further identified by bark types, leaf structure and arrangements, root types, color, smell and texture
Reproductive parts of a flowering plant(angiosperm): The attached link shows the basic anatomy of a "perfect" and "complete" flower.  Flowers are then described by how they are arranged on a stem as an inflourescense.

Fruit Types: Dry versus Wet fruits

Learning how to read botanical descriptions
1 Start with field guides, not floras
2 Read a paragraph slowly out loud.
3 Reread the paragraph stopping at every word you don’t know and look it up
4 Reread the paragraph again and look at the plant as you reread it again.
Make this a common practice for yourself…waiting rooms, buses, as you are going to bed, right when you wake up.  The more you practice the easier it gets.

2 examples of a description of calendula:

“Calendula is a bushy, aromatic annual, with branched stems and lanceolate leaves. Flowers have yellow to orange ray florets, produced from spring to autumn”

“annual plants native to southern Europe. They grow 1½ to 2½ feet high. Their branching stems are covered with simple, alternate leaves and they produce large flowers in different hues of yellow and orange in the summer. These plants are easy to grow. The main kind is C. officinalis (the Common Pot Marigold), it has light green leaves and short stems bearing single or double, orange, yellow, cream, or white flowers that are 2-3 inches across.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tips for Making Potent Dried Plant Infused Oils

First:  Create as sterile and dry of a space as you can when making oils.  Water and oil= bacteria.  Oil in fact on its own tends to hold bacteria well and can break down easily.  Wash everything thoroughly and dry it prior to getting into this process.

Not all plants extract equally well into oil.  In fact, check and make sure that the constituents you are trying to obtain are soluble in oil.  Books like Lisa Ganora's Herbal Constituents can help with that.  Also, James Green's Herbal Preparations.

Make sure your plants are thoroughly dry prior to putting them into the solvent(oil) and that your plants are as HIGH of a quality as you can get.  When dry they should still be vibrant and colorful .  Browning mushy plants=no good.

I suggest making simples--1 plant at a time you can combine later

Not all oils are created equal. Choose a high quality oil, traditionally Olive Oil is used but Grapeseed, Almond, and Sunflower are also options.  The best oil to use is Organic OR pesticide free cold pressed virgin(if olive).  Cold pressed means NO HEAT was added so the oil is still a food.  The fatty acids and vitamins are still present in the oil.  Heat and synthetically extracted oil lacks this.  They are just lubricants at that stage.  Sunflower Oil is one of my preferred oils--The plant is Native to the U.S., readily available, has a light, cooling energy, and sustainable to use.

Not all oils affect someone the same way. I like using oils that are as neutral as possible if the extract is to be used on larger surfaces of the body.  If the extract is for small areas of the body as a therapeutic extract, then the type of oil is not as important.  As a bodyworker, I try to choose oils that match the bodytype of my client.  When making salves, and more focused types of oils for more localized therapeutic purposes(like eczema etc) then I worry less about the body type.  If the infused oil is going to be made into a body oil, I add infused oils at 30% to a base of a constitutionally balancing oil-- then have my clients slather it on.

Remember that we digest things topically.  Though the affect can be more localized, it can become systemic, especially if the person is using the oils all over the body regularly.    I don't put anything on topically that I can't eat.

GRINDING THE PLANTS IS A KEY STEP.  There are a variety of ways to make an infused oil.  I find that grinding the plant in seems to really add extra oomph and helps the plant to extract better.  Most dried plant oils I add 1 oz of plant material into 4-5 oz of oil.     We have found that grinding the plant before putting it into the oil can be one way to break down the plant, or if you have a vitamix--you can throw the entire mix in and blend together.  Keep in mind that regular blenders have a hard time and can blow out easily.  We have also had more luck with handhelds, especially older models from thrift stores.  Newer models tend to break easily--like within one or two uses when trying to blend plant material.  Our tried and true method prior to the vitamix was to blend the plant material in a wide mouth mason jar with a handheld blender, and add oil and shake.

Some oils may be rubefacient or slightly toxic and need to be at a 1:10 instead of a 1:5.  Also, they may be added at 10% into a body oil(Chile pepper, Arnica, Juniper etc)

The biggest differences in dried plant oil making are in whether you infuse the plant material into hot or cold oil. Some people swear that cold infusions are superior.  The belief is that when you add any heat--over a certain number of degrees you are losing constituents both in the plants, and the oil.  Because I live in the South we have created a psuedo-warm extraction method using the sun, which I leaving the method for at the bottom of the article.

If you make oils, research whether your plant is affected positively or negatively by Sunlight.  When in doubt, protect the preparation from the sunlight.  One of the only plants I know of that is actually activated by sunlight is St John's Wort.

Extraction time can vary based on whether you are using a warm or cold method of extraction.  I prefer using my solar and or cold method method and give the plants about 2-3 days if we are over 95 or so and up to 2 weeks to infuse if it is winter time. Remember grinding is the key to potent infused oils.

If you are doing a warm extraction, try to find an old crockpot at a thrift store that actually has a temp gage. If you cant dont use anything over the warm setting.  Put your oil and herbs into the crock pot at a 1:5 ratio, and let the mix sit for at least 12 hours.  Turn off and cool.

After you are done extracting with whatever method you choose, siphon off and strain the oil.  Store in a cool dark place.  If you can refrigerate, they will stay good longer.  Your oil should be used within a year if outside of the fridge.  It may last longer in the fridge.  Sniff often.  Smells funky? toss

Oil Migrates.  Please know that no matter how clean and how much you wipe the area around your oil infusions, you will need to check for migrating oil--like things getting oily, around the bottle and the shelf.

Pressing Oils.  If you dont have a press you can lose A LOT of oil when hand pressing.  One trick is to put the pressed plant material into a plastic baggy, rip a small hole in the corner and hang the baggy about 1 foot above the jar that is catching the oil--for at least 1 day.  I have been able to catch an extra couple of oz at times.

What to do with the oily marc?  Put it in an old sock and use it as a scrub in the bath before you compost it!

Wildflower School Solar Infusion Method
(or that sun is so dang hot for so long why not take advantage of it)
makes 1 pint of oil which renders about 10 oz

You will need
2oz of dried plant material(like calendula)
10 oz of high quality oil(like Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 pint sized mason jar
A large clay pot
a handheld blender

Put the plant material into the widemouthed mason jar and blend until the plant material is as fine as you can get it.  Sometimes at this point, I will use a larger jar so plant material doesnt fly all over the place.

Put the macerated plant material into a pint sized mason jar.

Add your oil

Put a lid on, flipping the rubber seal(because oil can degrade the rubber seal).

Shake the oil, clean any excess oil off

Put a label on with pertinent info and the date

Set outside underneath a clay pot for a week or so--depending on how hot it is.  In Texas, when it can be 100+ degrees, the oil will be ready in just a few days.

Your oil should taste, smell ,and change color.  If it does not, then you havent captured the plant.
Let it sit longer.

After the infusion is done, strain out all plant material carefully and press as much oil out as you can(see above tips).

Transfer the infusion to amber glass and label with the date the plant was made, and the method.  Not to mention the name of the plant.

Happy Oil Making!


Searching for High Quality Herbs and Preparations

Small Farms and Herbalists Looking for or that Have herbs available to you. This list reflects more of a Microbusiness model---mostly practitioners, growers, and foragers of bioregional and obscure non-market driven herbs. Looking for something unusual or from someone who collects it and prepares stuff themselves? Or cant find something? I will list folks with resources and folks who have projects that are looking for plants.

Debbie Lukas at Siskiyou Mt Herbs lives on the Frog Farm in Takilma, OR,
 We have an herbal pharmacy and apothecary where we raise and wildcraft food and herbs.

MoonTime Farms near Eugene Oregon
The main crops produced are vegetables and specialty herbs. Seeds may be available, and there are tinctures and salves made on the farm.

Autumn Reine Learning Garden 嶸曉植物園 Beijing China
Learning garden for kids to learn about medicinal plants. We are looking for donations of seeds that will grow in this area, hot humid summers and cold dry winters, approximately USDA Zone 5. 

Fellow Workers Farm, Providence Rhode Island
The fellow workers farm is a microfarm and apothecary
specializing in hard to find tinctures, mostly fresh, made strong and by hand, plus consults and sometimes classes. sliding scale available, shipping available.

Wild Spirit Apothecary Austin TX
Wild Spirit Apothecary is an extension of the Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine focusing on bioregional herbs and homegrown treasures. Formulation available. Some seeds are available as well.

Shamana Flora/ Darcey Blue French
Primarily wildcrafted, always ethical and sustainable, botanicals of the southwest deserts and mountains in small quantities. I can provide freshly harvested plant on request and tinctures/oils.
Blue Wind Botanical Medicine Clinic & Education Center. Oakland, CA
Owner: Tellur Fenner-Clinical Herbalist/Educator
Over 200 herbal extracts in stock (check out our website to view our comprehensive pharmacy list) with new additions added regularly. Specializing in (yet not limited to) obscure medicinals found growing throughout the Western United States. Clinicians, inquire about our "practitioner list".

Backyard Remedies: Herbal & Nutritional Support
Owner: Amy Rouse, CCH
Northern California
Specializing in wildcrafted tinctures in certified organic grain alcohol and custom formulations. Premium salves and dried herbs, hard to find medicines, custom wild crafting and medicinal health consultations over the phone and in person.
Check out our etsy store:

Amy Lynn Johnson
Lawrence, KS
18 acre farm with pasture-raised dairy goats and chickens, top bar bee hives, an acre of organic veggies, and several acres of non-gmo alfalfa, oats, and other grains.  This year I am transitioning a 1/2 acre of pasture to a medicinal native prairie plant mecca and starting our first medicinal plant nursery.  Lots of live plants for sale!  Additional fresh-cut medicinals (ethically wildcrafted and organically grown) also available in season.  Check out our offerings and growing practices at:

Pine's Herbals
An herb school integrating Western herbal medicine and Chinese medicine with a focus on clinical skills and medicine making.

ustya tarnawsky

Fairy Ring Herbs
Concord, CA
We have lovingly home grown medicinal herbs from our organic backyard garden. Fresh herbs available to the SF Bay Area, freshly dried available also for shipping. See our website for a list of what is available and what we are growing. We are happy to entertain many possibilities of trade, barter, purchase...

Gail Faith Edwards
Blessed Maine Herb Farm
Athens, Maine
We're a 9 acre botanical sanctuary, certified organic grower and processor of medicinal herbs with more than 2 acres under cultivation, wildgathering from our well managed wild stands. We've a well stocked apothecary of tinctures, formulas, herb tea blends and bulk dried herbs. Visit our website for full listing.

Rosanna King - Lancaster County Pennsylvania
Recent grad of David Winston's 2 year program. have a small herb garden and also harvest wild herbs that grow in abundance for medicine making. currently building my herbal apothecary. I often tincture extra of herbs i have in abundance and love to share these in exchange for herbs/tinctures that i do not have access to. email

King's Herb Nook
Honey Brook, Pennsylvania
small herb farm specializing in potted medicinal plants for you to grow in your garden. large selection at unbeatable prices.

Cheryl Fromholzer
Clinical Herbalist and Herbal Educator at Gathering Thyme
Northern California
I have an extensive herbal apothecary specializing in locally grown and wildcrafted fresh herbal extracts using organic grape alcohol.  I also connect with local growers for fresh herb including Tulsi, Yarrow, Mullein, Calendula, and more. Wild harvesting Yerba Santa is a specialty. Contact me at

Herbal Revolution
Katheryn Langelier
Lincolnville, Me
I am a small one woman business, located in mid-coast Maine. I organically grow herbs and ethically wild gather from the coast, fields and forests of Maine, respectfully using these herbs to create, hand crafted, high quality herbal medicine and body products. I offer a wide selection of tinctures, flower essences, elixirs, tea blends, herbal oils and body products. Herbal Revolution was recently awarded at the American Herbal Guild Symposium Grand Prize for the Best Overall Herbal Products Line.