Happy Spring!

Mugwort

As I’m sure most people know by now, my dad has sold his house and is making the move that both my brother and I have made to Ohio. I am very excited to have most of my family local to me once again, and thrilled that my kids get to grow up with a larger circle of family close by. Even with his scheduled move, we are committed to keeping Benedictine Healing Products open and located in Santa Cruz, and we have spent the better part of the last three months figuring out the best way to accomplish that. We understand that we have a base of very loyal customers who depend on and value our handcrafted products from our family run business and we’ve made these decisions with all of you in our minds.

With that in mind, we still have our ongoing Buy One, Get One special and there are a number of formulas that qualify that I find useful during the spring and summer months. This is a great time to pick a few up for your use!

Hay Fever Allergies – With all the pollen in the air, this is helpful for allergy support.

Mullein

Feverfew – My husband has used this with some success for sinus pressure headaches, which seem to come with seasonal changes for him.

Chickweed Oil – Chickweed has anti-inflammatory properties and is useful for skin irritations and itchiness.

Rose Geranium Oil – A wonderful, all-purpose oil to be used for massages and to promote relaxation.

Finally, these photos are a few snapshots of what is currently growing in the BHP garden. It won’t be long now before I will have to use the photos of my garden!

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Feverfew

Self-Heal

California Poppy

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Staying healthy through the holidays

As much as we would wish otherwise, the holidays end up being a stressful time for many of us. In many ways, it feels like it has gotten harder with the advent of social media and platforms such as Pinterest, where we all can feel like we are hopeless crafters together. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of Pinterest and I have found many inspirations for projects, but it is so easy to get discouraged when my results aren’t anywhere close to picture perfect. (Enter, Etsy.) For me, once the result becomes more important than the experience, it is easy to lose the pleasure of the holiday.

A big part of staying healthy for me is to manage my stress levels. When I am successful, I enjoy myself more, sleep better, enjoy my family more, and am less likely to get physically sick. Continue reading

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Holiday Special

If you are anything like us at BHP, the holidays seem to be filled up running to one special event after another. Invariably, the sweets are too tempting and many times they wreck havoc with how we feel. Our reactions are different for each of us, which is why we decided to put together a holiday special of our digestive products. Three of our best at an amazing price! They will take care of any of your tummy problems, from burping, to gas, to reflux. Our Holiday Kit includes:

Holiday Bitters: stimulates digestion. It should be used prior to a meal, and in place of an aperitif to help the body extract nutrients from food.

No Burp: relieves burping and reflux. Take 1-2 eyedroppers after a meal and repeat dose every 10 minutes if necessary until symptoms ease.

Tummy Ease: helps bloating and gas symptoms, especially after an especially rich meal.

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A message from the Camino

Many of you may know that our wonderful co-worker Sue is currently on pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago and has been since early September. For anyone following her instagram feed @suegeorge322, you will be familiar with the beauty of her photos and her inspiring messages as she moves along her path.

The Camino, for those who aren’t familiar with it (I wasn’t!) is essentially a long walk that medieval Christian pilgrims undertook culminating at the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela, where it is said the apostle James is said to be buried. The modern day Camino may be less about the Christian aspect and more a journey of self-discovery and insight of personal spirituality.

Sue arrived at the cathedral today, so the official part of her pilgrimage is complete, however there are a number of common side trips that many of the pilgrims do, including a three day walk to the sea, which is her next leg.

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From Sue:

I am grateful to be able to experience Northern Spain the autumn months, witnessing a plethora of extraordinary healing plants growing naturally in their full essence. Just to name a few: calendula, plaintain, mullein flower, blackberry, tansy, yarrow, yucca flower, and lavendar.

I feel honored to see the beauty of these plants growing happily on the sacred path of the Camino. I am in awe of their beauty from within. I pay homage to the pilgrims who come to walk in rain or shine and to find the source for which to heal, many of them healers themself. This experience has brought more mindful awareness & gratitude for this experience, for the world, to be part of an extraordinary community in Santa Cruz, and for my love of the healing arts and nature. Much love to all on your journeys!

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Rosemary

I wanted to get back to our common herb posts. Each time I write one of these, I am amazed all over again at how many benefits the common herbs we find in our gardens have. This truly is a testament to eating fresh, varied, whole foods instead of packaged, processed, boxed crap.

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Rosemary is a member of the mint family and is a common herb found in kitchen gardens all over the world. It is hardy, aromatic, and adds a wonderful flavor to food when prepared with it. It has a number of health benefits that it has been used for since ancient times including the ability to improve the memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, alleviate muscle pain, stimulate hair growth and modern science is finally catching up with all the old wives tales. Continue reading

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Making your own tinctures

Making your own simple tinctures is easy and relatively straightforward. It is a way to concentrate the healing properties of the herbs in question and make the finished product shelf stable. Alcoholic tinctures will last years if stored properly and all you need are a few simple pieces of equipment to complete the process.

  • Procure and prepare herbs

Either fresh or dried herbs can be used. If using fresh, make very sure you are using the appropriate herb as there are many lookalike herbs and some are incredibly poisonous. If you choose to use fresh herbs, clean and cut them up in to small pieces prior to putting them in the container you will use to extract. Glass or ceramic is preferred, as the compounds may react to plastic or metal. Also, plastic degrades over time. A mason jar works well. Be sure whatever you chose to use has been washed and sterilized prior to using. Fill the container but be sure not to pack it too tightly. You will be periodically shaking the mixture during the extraction process and the herbs should be able to move easily.

If you choose to use dried herbs, keep in mind that when they reconstitute, they will expand. Roots and other fibrous herbs will close to double in size. Also, try not to use powdered herb, because this is exceptionally difficult to filter out of the final product. In oil it can be an irritant on the skin, especially if you are using it on a sensitive area. In alcohol it will settle to the bottom of your final product.

  • Cover with alcohol or oil

Cover with your choice of alcohol or oil. When deciding on what to use, consider what the end use of the product will be. Will you be using this externally? Or taking it internally? For external products, we prefer Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but any neutral oil will work. Just make sure it is high quality. If you are making an alcohol tincture, any high proof clear alcohol will work. Vodka is obviously the easiest to procure, but if you can get your hands on grain alcohol, even better. Just remember, the higher the proof, the more efficient the extraction process will be.

Once covered, seal the jar and give it a good shake and make sure any air bubbles that are trapped under the surface are removed.

  • Label and let sit

Be sure to label and date your tincture, then let it sit in a dark place for at least three weeks. You can periodically shake the mixture when you check on it. Recommendations on how frequently to shake vary, some people suggest shaking the mixture multiple times of day for the first two weeks, others suggest fewer times. If you forget to shake the herbs, it won’t ruin your tincture, so don’t worry overmuch about that. Remember, the longer the herbs sit, the stronger the tincture will be.

  • Press and filter

This step is the only step where you will need special equipment. Depending on the quantity that you are making, you will want a way to press the larger pieces of the herb to extract as much liquid as possible, then filter it to remove as many of the tiny particles as possible. You could use a press of some sort if you already have one, otherwise cheese cloth or nut milk bags are a good option for a small amount of tincture. For the final filtration, coffee filters are something that almost all of us have on hand and are fantastic at trapping the smallest particles.

Once you are pleased with the filtering process, store the final product in a cool, dark place and it will keep for an extended period of time, at the minimum of three to five years.

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Making time for exercise

Finding beauty in where I exercise is one way to keep myself interested.

I know there are people out there that take pleasure in the act of exercising, but I’m not one of them. I like the results, I feel better after I’m done, but when I exercise with no other reason than my health and knowing that I should, it’s not the most fun thing I’ve ever done. My mom had similar feelings about exercise. She knew it was a cornerstone to her health, but she didn’t love doing it. For her, when she was tired or busy, exercise was the easiest thing to push back. I think for many of us, exercise feels like a chore, rather than a genuine pleasure but there are ways to improve your experience. Continue reading

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Getting ready for going back to school

Summer has screamed by once again and my daughter is all set to start first grade tomorrow. We met her teacher yesterday, dropped her school supplies off, and did a final round of school lunch supply shopping. We start early compared to most of the country, and have been madly trying to cram as much fun into our last few days as possible. In between the fun, there are a few things that we as parents can do to prep our kids and boost their immune systems prior to the first day of school. Here are a few suggestions that may help your child get ready for their first day of school. Continue reading

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Turmeric

Turmeric is a distinctive spice, both in color and flavor.  Like many other spices, it has had a multitude of uses in folk and alternative medicines throughout history however modern medicine has done little research to corroborate ancient theory. It has been used both internally and externally and has a long history of use in Ayrvedic medicine to purify and move the blood, as well as for a host of various ailments. It is well known as an effective anti-inflammatory, which may be why turmeric can be credited with being so effective against so many diseases.

The main active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin and studies have shown that this component is able to subdue a protein called NF-Kappa B which may control as much as 98% of all modern diseases including cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis as well as many others. NF-Kappa B is a protein that promotes abnormal inflammatory Continue reading

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Website contest

We have something exciting to talk about today, we are announcing a contest on our website and the winning prize is $100 in retail credit, to spend however you like. This is the opportunity you have been waiting for to stock up on your favorites, or try something new!

Here’s the deal: write a product review on our website and you will get an entry into the contest. One entry per review and you can review as many different products as you like.

The contest runs from now until May 29, 2015. When the contest closes, we will randomly pick a review and notify the winner via email.

How to do it: in order to review a product on our website, log in to your account. If you do not have an account, you will need to create one. Once created, pick the product you wish to review and click on the reviews tab. Click on Write a Review and fill out the information. Once your review is submitted it may take some time to show up.

One note: we will notify the winner of the contest using the information they provide in their account.

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