How to make a calming herbal elixir or Oxymel from your garden

What a delight it is to wander around the garden smelling and tasting the many lush, edible “weeds,” herbs and medicinal plants that are springing up everywhere. We often throw them into salads, use to garnish a dish, or just simply snack as we tends the to the garden beds. Today we opted to make some medicine. Instead of making a traditional tincture we made an Oxymel which is a kind of herbal elixir that the kids can enjoy it too. An Oxymel is an herbal infusion made with honey and apple cider vinegar instead of alcohol. You can use fresh or dried herbs and it’s an incredibly simple process. It is a lovely way to enjoy herbal medicine – stir in warm water for a soothing medicinal tea, add it to salad dressings or marinades, enjoy in summer spritzers and cocktails, or just take by the dropper full everyday.

I made mine today with the herbs that popping up from last years seeds and plants – California poppy, nettle, lemon balm, chamomile, mint and yarrow. The poppy is wonderfully calming to the nervous system and promotes restful sleep. The nettle is a liver and blood tonic and happens to be one of the riches sources of minerals among edible plants. It can also help with allergies as does yarrow. Yarrow is also famous for making its namesake Achilles invulnerable and has been used for thousands of years to treat wounds on the battlefield. It possesses a myriad of health benefits relating to the blood, skin, digestive and immune systems. Chamomile and Mint also provide a whole host of benefits including improving digestion, and pacifying the liver and nervous system. Lemon balm also soothes and softens anxiety and benefits sleep. I have listed  just a few of the very many qualities these herbs offer us. Overall this particular blend soothes, softens and strengthens the Liver, tonifies the Liver blood, calms our nervous system and promotes a sense of peace.

How to make your Oxymel

  1. Pick the herbs you want to use – cut and place in a jar
  2. Cover the herbs with equal parts Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar – I use a ratio of 1:1, but you can adjust to your own taste, traditionally they were made with more honey
  3. Cover with a lid and shake daily
  4. Leave to infuse for 2-4 weeks or longer – often aligned with lunar cycles
  5. Strain, bottle and enjoy!

Why You Need Bone Broth

Homemade broth is a wonderfully delicious and nutritious medicinal food that will strengthen the body, nourish the blood, benefit the immune system (especially during the cold season) and help prevent bone and connective tissue disorders. It is filled with minerals (such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium), gelatin, other health boosting components such as glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as keratin, hyaluronic acid an many more which benefit the body as a whole and as well as the bones, skin, teeth, hair, nails and joints. It is very nourishing and supportive to the entire digestive system, improving the healing and lining of the GI tract, which is critical when healing from chronic conditions and/or auto immune diseases. Digestive issues have also been linked to may neurological and mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, dementia and autism. I have also found it to be very helpful for the healing of eczema and other skin disorders. It is superb for beauty, fertility, pregnancy and babies.

The broth may taken as a snack, a light meal or used to cook vegetables, grains or meat. It may also be as a base for other nutritious soups. I usually keep half in the fridge which lasts for about a week and then freeze the rest in 8oz mason jars.

How to Make Bone Broth (Easy & Tasty TCM version)

4-5 lbs of bones (chicken, beef, lamb or any combination)

Juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 c of wine,  or 1 T cider vinegar (choose one of these acid options)

2-4 carrots chopped

2-4 ribs of celery chopped

1 onion quartered or chopped

2-4 cloves garlic

peels of any of the above

handful of green herbs such as parsley (add any favorites, marjoram, thyme, tarragon or whatever looks good in the garden or at the farmers market). You may wish to add the fresher herbs like parsley during the last 30 minutes of cooking to keep the flavor bright.

A small handful of Chinese Herbs such as Ginseng (I like American Ginseng), Dang Gui, Dang Shen, Huang Qi or Chen Pi may be added to increase the medicinal properties of the broth.


Combine everything in a crock-pot or a large dutch oven
cover with water
bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer
cook for 12-24 hours.

Remove scum as it arises.
Add hot water as necessary to keep the bones submerged.
It is done when the bones are soft and crumble when pressed.
Strain and pour into jars.
The broth will thicken and gel as it cools.
A layer of fat may harden on the top and this can be removed and discarded or used for cooking.


Snack Time for Kids and Adults

I almost always recommend both adults and kids to eat more fermented foods. It can be tough to do, but this quick snack is exceptionally simple and easy to make. They are great for packed lunches. When my daughter gets them in her lunchbox every bite is eaten at school. You may also like to add them to salads or salsas. All you need is a bunch of carrots, a pint size wide mouth mason jar and I use a Perfect Pickler but there are many similar options that work great.

Fermented Carrot Sticks

•1 Bunch Organic Carrots – can be scrubbed or peeled, leave small ones whole and quarter larger ones

•Salt Brine – 1 heaping TBLS of sea salt dissolved into 1 pint purified unchlorinated water

Pack prepped carrots into 1 or 2 jars. Pour the brine over the carrots making sure all the carrots are completely submerged in the brine. Secure the lid and leave to ferment for about a week, then they can be stored in the fridge for about a month.



Now is the time to boost your Immune System

As we begin the track back to school we get to start thinking about Fall (even if we don’t quite feel it yet. Along with its natural beauty and abundance fall also marks the beginning of the cold season. If you are looking to boost your immune system naturally this year my first and best tip is to make an appointment with your acupuncturist. After that here are the top 10 immune-boosting tips I usually give my patients.

Immune Boosting Foods, Supplements & Herbal Blends

  1. Bone Broth – Check out my post, “Why You Need Bone Broth” to get the recipe for this amazing health tonic. It can be taken by the cupful as a daily food supplement or added to soups and stews. You can even use it like you would stock to cook vegetables, meats and grains.
  2. Cultured Foods – Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir and kombucha are filled with healthy probiotics. These foods are naturally fermented which boosts their nutritional value and makes them easier to digest. It is important that they are naturally fermented and unpasteurized so their immune-boosting probiotics remain in tact. Try to consume cultured foods or drinks at each meal.
  3. Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables – cook as many fresh foods as possible. Make a trip to the Farmers Market to find the freshest seasonal foods.
  4. Eggs – Good eggs from pasture raised hens are filled with nutrients. They contain vital proteins including a wide variety of amino acids, all the B vitamins, vitamins E, A and D, as well as some difficult to get minerals like choline, iodine and selenium. They are also a rich source of omega 3s, carotenoids, biotin, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and iron – just to name a few. All of these nutrients contribute to a healthy immune system
  5. Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) – As one of the most potent immune boosting supplements it is filled with omega 3’s, as well as the critical fat soluble vitamins A and D. It has a powerful antioxidant effect and reduces inflammation in the entire body. This nutrient dense super food should be taken year-round but the dosage can be doubled or tripled an during illness to boost the immune system.
  6. Probiotics – Ideally these should be consumed daily as part of your healthy diet, but when your system is down add a high potency probiotic supplement. You may also want to add a probiotic supplement if you have digestive or skin issues, allergies, asthma, emotional stress, recent use of antibiotics, or general malaise. It is also important to note that babies taking formula should be supplemented with an infant probiotic.
  7. Vitamin C – Best taken through fresh seasonal foods, but during the cold season you may want to add a whole food based supplement. I love the ones derived from Acerola and/or Elderberry.
  8. Vitamin D – Take a high dose for a few days during or at the first sign of weakness to ward off a cold or flu. It may also be taken during any illness to eliminate or reduce the severity of symptoms.
  9. Immune + (or Yu Ping Feng San) – I strongly recommend this for people who are prone to colds and influenza or who work at, attend, or have kids who attend school (especially pre-school aged children).
  10. Echinacea – Prevents colds and influenza, reduces the number of infections, limits the duration of colds and influenza.

What to do if you catch the dreaded cold or flu:

Despite your best efforts you may be coming down with a cold or the flu. Here are the best remedies to take during what we in Chinese Medicine call a “Wind Attack.”

  1. Jing Feng Bai Du San or Lonicera Complex (modified Yin Qiao San).
  2. Oscillococcinum – Homeopathic to take at the first sign of flu-like symptoms.
  3. Cold Calm – Homeopathic to take at the first sign of common cold.
  4. Continue with a your immune boosting foods and supplements and increase doses as necessary.
  5. Acupuncture Treatment – acupuncture itself can halt, eliminate or at least reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms.

The supplements, herbal formulas, homeopathics and essential oils are all available here at Points of Health. Call to order, make and appointment or stop by the clinic to shop.

Natural Cures for a Cold

Summer…ahhh or (ARGGHHH), depending on how you look at it. While on some level it seems inevitable due in part to the parties, the irregular hours, the schedules, the travel, the diets, the camps and the camping, a summer cold can really put a kink in your plans. Here are my favorite tips to help resolve that pesky summer cold in a couple days instead of a couple weeks.

  1. Acupuncture – helps activate and support the immune system as well as prevent secondary infections (the most common being sinus, ear and respiratory infections).
  2. Herbal Medicine – my favorite go to formula for colds/flus is Jing Fang Bai Du San. I always keep a bottle on hand to take as soon as I get the first whisper of a cold, or even if someone around me (perhaps a certain toddler) is sick. Of course, working with an herbalist will help you find just the right formula.
  3. Magnesium + Sea Salt + Essential Oil Baths – this tip embraces the diaphoretic technique aka “sweat it out.” Just draw a really hot bath and toss in a nice handful full of sea salts and magnesium salts, then add a few drops of essential oils such as lemon, lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint. Soak in the water for 15-20 minutes, then wrap up in something warm and let the sweat do its thing.
  4. Cupping – I was lucky enough recently to have some cupping done following a hot bath and it made all the difference; sometimes just cupping is enough to avoid the cold altogether.
  5. Gua Sha – I have found this to be invaluable, especially for people prone to sinus infections. Use the back of a spoon or gut she tool (I love using my jade heart) to massage (scrape) alongside the nose, the cheeks, the eyebrow and the forehead.
  6. Herbal Tea – every mom, dad and doctor will tell you the same thing: the key to getting better and feeling better is staying hydrated. I know I must sound like a broken record about this one since I overheard my daughter telling one of her stuffed animals who had caught a cold, “the most important thing when we are sick is to STAY HYDRATED, now let me make you some tea.” My favorites are ginger, peppermint, throat coat and cold care.
  7. Wellness Tonic – I make this with fresh ginger and lemon, apple cider vinegar, honey and a pinch of pink salt. I make a big batch in the morning in my French press, add boiling water and drink it throughout the day either at room temperature or with some additional boiling water to heat it up.
  8. Cold Calm – is homeopathic formula that works great for adults and kids.
  9. Nasal Rinsing – I recommend that most people do this regularly even when they are well as a cold/flu preventative and at least twice a day during a cold or allergies. I like using my Xlear Sinus Rinse, but you can also use the nasal spray or even a Neti Pot.
  10. REST – no matter how hard it seems to slow down and rest, if you don’t give yourself a bit of a time out to get well you might be looking at weeks or even months of recovery.

I will follow up this post with another about nutrition and supplements during colds/flus but for now suffice it to say Bone Broth. While remedies are safe for both kids and adults, I always recommend consulting with or working under the guidance of licensed acupuncturist or health care professional to determine the safest and most effective treatment for you or your child.

Medicinal Red Chai

Rooibos is a wonderful South African herbal tea, also called Red Bush or Honey Bush. It has up to 50% more antioxidants and polyphenols than green tea. Rich in minerals Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, Potassium and Copper, it has also been shown to increase iron absorption, and improve sleep. Warm or cold this naturally sweet, caffeine free tea is delicious anytime of day and great for kids and adults. Here is one of my favorite recipes for Rooibos Chai.

1c Rooibos Tea

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp green cardoon pods

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp ground ginger

Crush whole spices in mortar and pestle. Mix together the spices, Rooibos, and ginger. Store in an airtight container.

To brew chai simply steep and drink. To make a Chai Latte combine 1-2 tsp chai in 6oz water in a small sauce pan and heat for about 5 minutes, then add 6oz milk  (raw whole milk, coconut milk, almond or any nut milk) and continue heating until warm or hot. Strain and drink. If you like you can sweeten it with raw honey, date sugar, or maple syrup.

To increase medicinal benefits consider adding some tonic herbs herbs.

Immune: Chaga, Reishi, Cordyceps, Astragalus, Polyrachis Ant

Digestive: Triphala, Astagalus, Tangerine Peel

Beauty: Goji, Schizandra, He Shou Wu

Longevity: Ashwagandha, Eucommia, Reishi, Chaga, Cordyceps

If adding whole raw herbs to the chai mix, then increase the cooking/steeping time. Many of these herbs are available as extract powders from Sun Potion and those you can simply stir into the warm tea. Enjoy!

DIY Natural Sunscreen for Summer Days

There is nothing quite as lovely as a long late summer day at the beach. I love the warm salty water, the sun on my skin, the shade of the striped umbrella, the sound of the waves, the freckles, the smoothies, the watermelon, etc. Most of all I love the way we allow ourselves to embrace the present moment when it is absolutely too hot to do anything else. Since having children my experience at the beach is less novel reading and more applying sunscreen, surrendering the sand in and on everything (I do put up a good fight though), and finally watching the way my daughter is completely filled with contagious happiness from head to toe. She does, however, have the palest skin I have ever seen and there is only so much that umbrellas, hats, rash guards and swimsuits can do, so sunscreen is a must. I opted to skip all the toxic chemical stuff and make my own. It came out so great! It works better than anything else I have used (very water resistant). It is amazingly nourishing for the skin and has the added benefit of making you or your little one smell like chocolate. Here’s the basic recipe.

2 ounces beeswax
2 ounces cocoa butter
2 ounces coconut oil (or 1 ounce coconut and 1 ounce shea butter)
2 ounces liquid oil (I use a combination of Jojoba, argan and carrot seed which all have natural SPF properties)
2 ounces non-nano, uncoated zinc oxide
Kitchen scale
Double boiler (I use a glass bowl over a small pot of simmering water)
Squeeze tubes
You can get all these ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs except the Zinc which you can get here.

Homemade sunscreen method
Finely grate the beeswax and weigh out 2 ounces of the grated bits.
In a double boiler, melt the beeswax, cocoa butter, and coconut oil until liquid. Remove from heat.
Slowing whisk in the zinc, stirring until all lumps are gone. When this mixture is slightly cooled, stir in the liquid oil until well combined.
Use a butter knife to scoop the sunscreen into the squeeze bottles. Or store in a glass jar with a lid.

Small Beginnings

Welcome to my newest blog! My aim here is to provide a space to retreat, and find support and inspiration. I’ll be posting everything from natural beauty secrets and meditation techniques, to recipes and tips on how to keep your self and you kids healthy. Join me in this journey of wellness and awareness and together we will nourish the, “attending to great things at small beginnings.” – Lao Tzu