free educational resources on herbalism

hi loves. here are some links to free resources to learn more about the world of herbalism. they are categorized by how you would want to learn – watch, read, or listen. please leave more in the comments to be added!

XO, ALEXRAYE

read first: Herbal Medicine Fundamentals from the American Herbalists Guild

WATCH

READ

articles

  • Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa – blog
  • Matthew Wood Institute of Herbalism – site
  • Herbal Actions – pdf

courses

books

LISTEN

herbal-infused whipped body butter (no heat)

hello loves! welcome back.

today we’re whipping up (i’m hilarious) another super easy diy – herbal whipped body butter!

it’s silky, it’s anhydrous (read: no preservatives), not so greasy, and easily customizable. we love that on this blog.

this recipe yields two 8 ounce batches of whipped body butter, with 4 ounce of infused oil left over to use as you please. please buy cosmetic containers accordingly.

as always, no links provided are affiliates nor do i benefit in any way. they are only provided to help you with trusted ingredient sourcing. 

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picture from pinterest/diyideacenter ; formula mine

please note this is not for intended for use on the face. it can clog pores, so be wary. 

this recipe is so buttery smooth, thanks to mango butter. if you’ve never felt this butter on its own before, you’re in for a real treat. it’s SO SILKY. because of this, you cannot substitute the mango butter in this recipe. you can, however, swap your carrier oils and/or herbs. just keep the total % ratios and it should come out very similar to the original. 

because mango butter is so silky, you actually don’t need to mess with heating it up. score!

before you order or bring out your ingredients — this will require an herbal solar infusion lasting 6 weeks.

the carrier oil i suggest for this formula is marulait’s pricey, and nearly any carrier of your choice will do. just be mindful of its oxidative stability. for example, argan oil and hempseed oil would unfortunately be poor choices for herbal infusions, whereas jojoba oil would be a good one. marula oil is very high in oleic acid* (~76%), deeply moisturizing, super fast-absorbing, and is one of the only oils that remains stable when exposed to light for extended periods of time. that will come in handy when we infuse our herbs in sunlight.

for our skin-supporting herbs, we’ll be blending in calendula and helichrysum, as both are incredibly soothing and skin-supporting, and anti-inflammatory. 

i’ve also chosen these 2 herbs not only because of their skin-supporting qualities, but because their constituents are fat-soluble. solubility is incredibly important in herbalism. if someone working with plants does not understand solubility, the end product could be ineffective. for example, an oil infused with horsetail will never help your skin and hair, because silica needs to be extracted in vinegar. as another example, marshmallow root is fantastic, but since the constituents you want for skin and hair are mucilaginous, it can only be extracted into hydrous bases. does that make sense? i wrote more on it before here.

let’s get into it. 

UTENSILS

  • mixing bowl
  • electric hand-held mixer
  • 8 oz mason jar (“jelly jar”) w/ lid
  • large-mouthed glass jar w/ lid (or multiple to give as gifts, just adding up to 16 ounces total)
  • 6 weeks time

INGREDIENTS

HOW TO

  1. in your 8 ounce glass jelly jar, put your dried herbs inside and pour the carrier oil over top. gently swirl/shake to get air bubbles up and out. 
  2. seal jar tightly and store in a warm, dry, sunny area. let sit for 6 weeks, but gently swirl/shake daily. 
  3. after the 6 weeks are up, strain oil/herb mix. keep the infused oil in jelly jar, sans herbs. 
  4. in a mixing bowl, add 12 ounces mango butter and 4 ounces of your infused carrier oil. 
  5. whip for 5 minutes. check the consistency. then keep whipping 3 minutes at a time until you get the consistency you want. 
  6. transfer to sterilized cosmetic jars (wide-mouth is best). 

store in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight. 

best used on damp skin. 

please leave your customizations for this formula below.

have fun and enjoy!

XO, ALEXRAYE

 

 

herbal-infused hair & scalp rinse

welcome back, loves.

for today’s herbalism-inspired diy, we’re creating an herbal-infused hair & scalp rinse! the base of this will be vinegar, which i’ll explain more below.

this will take 4 weeks to infuse, but i promise it’s worth the wait.

the formula yields six 4 ounce rinses.

as always, no links are affiliates nor do i benefit in any way. the links provided are only to help guide you to my trusted ingredient sources.

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picture from graydon skincare blog / formulation wholly mine

for the menstruum, we’ll be using apple cider vinegar. why? because we want to deliver nutrients, like silica, to the scalp and hair directly. we’ve covered solubility in our comprehensive “introduction to herbalism” post here. please check it out! acv is also great for the scalp and hair, helping to rid of fungal overgrowth, help with dandruff / itchy scalp, and to optimize pH (read: make hair silky smooth to touch).

as for the herbs, we’ll be using horsetail, oatstraw, nettles, and rosemary.

horsetail is rich in silica, to help strengthen the hair. it cannot be extracted into water or oil, making it perfect for this formula.

oatstraw is another herb rich in silica, perfect for a hair rinse!

nettles are rich in silica, sulfur, and other minerals, again making it perfect for a scalp and hair rinse.

rosemary is known in the herbal world to help stimulate hair growth and ease scalp issues, like dandruff.

all together they are a hair & scalp powerhouse, when infused properly.

UTENSILS

  • 32 ounce glass jar with tight-fitting lid
  • 4 oz squirt or spray bottle

INGREDIENTS

HOW TO

  1. in your 32 oz mason jar, add all 5 tbs of dried herbs
  2. in same jar, add 3 cups (or 24 oz) of apple cider vinegar
  3. shake/stir gently to release air bubbles and reduce risk of mold growth. make sure herbs are completely covered. they will swell over time.
  4. sit in a cool, dry area, away from light for 4 weeks.
  5. gently stir daily.
  6. at 4 weeks, strain well and store in sterilized jar.
  7. add 4 ounces at a time to a squeezy bottle for ease of use.

USE

  • on either dry or wet hair, pour/squeeze mix onto scalp and gently massage. let it run down the length of your hair.
  • let sit for 5 to 15 minutes
  • rinse well with cool water
  • enjoy weekly

store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. toss if the appearance or smell takes a turn.

discard unused portion after 6 months.

enjoy!

XO, ALEXRAYE

bipoc-owned herbal shops

hi loves!

representation matters. representation in herbalism matters.

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here is a small list of bipoc-owned herbal shops that i’ve combined from ones my herbalism school has put together and from who i follow on ig. some are owned by my fellow students – super cool!

no links provided are affiliates nor do i benefit in any way, shape, or form.

please leave your favorites in the comments, including your own shop. i’ll keep this updated.

XO, ALEXRAYE

 

ingredients:

herbal products:

herbal-based skin & hair care:

my favorite ingredient sources

hi loves! i hope you’re doing well. this is a quick post to help share some online, trustworthy, ingredient sourcing for at-home DIYs.

there are no affiliate links, no codes, no referrals, nothing. the companies don’t know i’m doing this. i don’t gain anything – just sharing the love!

please share your favorite sources in the comments below.

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dried herbs

oils & butters

hydrosols

preservatives

emulsifiers

essential oils

containers

 

 

4 things on my blog i no longer agree with

… and no, non-vegan items are not included 😉

i’ve decided to publish this because, hey, no one is perfect. if we’re not learning from our mistakes, we’re doing something wrong. we should always strive for improvement.

let’s get straight into it.

  • baking soda hair wash
    • the pH of baking soda is much too harsh (too alkaline) and can cause damage to both hair and scalp over a sustained time period. i no longer advise this version of the no-poo method, but am still a fan of water-only washing and low-poos. calia is a nice shampoo & conditioner brand that’s affordable and has great ingredients.
  • diy sunscreen
    • please do not try to make your own sunscreen. you have no idea if you’re properly protecting your skin. to have that tested and confirmed requires a formal panel, testing, and thousands of dollars. if you need suggestions – i like Badger Balm sunscreens for my body and Josh Rosebrook’s Daily Nutrient Cream for my face. please leave others below in the comments!
    • i’m a supporter of responsible sun exposure. i think it’s crucial to health. that doesn’t mean i’m a supporter of reckless sun exposure. for example, i know i will be outside an average of 30 minutes total every day, and not midday. knowing that, i do not apply sunscreen to my body. however, if i know i will be on a midday hike, i will slather it on.
  • diy lotion w/ no preservatives
    • say it with me – anything containing aqueous ingredients, or anhydrous coming into contact with water, NEEDS a preservative. i get on my soapbox about it here.
    • two things to know: 1. preservatives are not evil. 2. antioxidants are not preservatives. rosemary eo and/or extract and vitamin e are antioxidants and can be used in anhydrous formulations, but they are not preservatives.
  • mixing EOs and herbs haphazardously 
    • as wonderful and easy as it sounds, you can’t just blend random essential oils and/or herbs together. everything has different constituents with varied herbal and drug interactions, in addition to varied contraindications. yes, plant extracts can and will absolutely interfere with prescribed medications. please always talk with both your doctor and your local certified herbalist.
    • other than endangering yourself, loved ones, and even pets (no EOs with pets!), at the very least, you could be – 1. wasting plant material from not understanding constituent solubility properly (ex: trying to drink nettle tea for silica… won’t happen, babycakes. check out my post on this here); 2. wasting plant material from using herbs and essential oils with opposing ‘actions’ in the body (blending chamomile and green tea).

 

is there anything you no longer practice or agree with in the ‘crunchy’ or ‘green’ world? let’s hear it!

XO, ALEXRAYE

herbal-infused body oil

hi crunchies! i hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead.

today let’s blend up 8 ounces of a silky, soothing, fast-absorbing body oil that contains skin-supporting herbs.

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before you order or bring out your ingredients, please note this will require an herbal solar infusion lasting 6 weeks. if you don’t have that kind of patience, this isn’t the DIY for you. i do have other body oil blends you can check out, though. just use the search bar 🙂 i promise the wait is oh-so-worth-it!

the base oil i suggest for this herbal body oil blend is marula. it’s pricey, and nearly any carrier of your choice will do. just be mindful of its oxidative stability. for example, argan oil and hempseed oil would unfortunately be poor choices for herbal infusions, whereas jojoba oil would be a good one.

ok, so why marula?

marula oil is very high in oleic acid* (~76%), deeply moisturizing, super fast-absorbing, and is one of the only oils that remains stable when exposed to light for extended periods of time. that will come in handy when we infuse our herbs in sunlight.

if you use another carrier oil, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – please keep doing what you know and enjoy. after all, mixing up other people’s DIYs is more than half the fun!

for our skin-supporting herbs, we’ll be blending in calendula and chickweed, as both are soothing and anti-inflammatory. aka, perfect for cooler weather when you may get a little dry and itchy.

i’ve also chosen these 2 herbs because their constituents are fat-soluble. solubility is incredibly important in herbalism. if someone working with plants does not understand solubility, the end product could be ineffective. for example, an oil infused with horsetail will never help your skin and hair, because silica needs to be extracted in vinegar. as another example, marshmallow root is fantastic, but since the constituents you want for skin and hair are mucilaginous, it can only be extracted into hydrous bases. does that make sense? i wrote more on it before here.

INGREDIENTS:

other:

  • 16 ounce mason jar for steeping
  • cheesecloth or nut milk bag (what i prefer) to strain oil
  • 8 ounce pump bottle to store oil when finished

HOW TO:

the typical ratio of herbal infusions is 1 part dried herb to 10 parts oil. in this case, due to small batch amount, we will use 2 tablespoons dried herbs** to 8 ounces oil. remember the herbs will swell as they steep, so you want to avoid overfilling the jar with dried herbs.

in your sterilized mason jar, add your 2 tbs of dried herbs, and top with 8 ounces carrier oil. gently tap to release air bubbles and make sure the herbs are completely covered in oil to reduce risk of mold growth.

sit in sun for 6 weeks, very gently “stirring” the jar every day.

strain after 6 weeks. bottle in airtight, UV-protecting bottle.

enjoy all over body, particularly on dampened skin.

happy blending!

XO, ALEXRAYE

*=not suitable for the face for most people
**= must be dried, not fresh, to avoid mold growth in oil infusion

introduction to herbalism: oil infusions

whew, it’s been a couple weeks! hello, crunchies!

welcome back to our little “introduction to herbalism” series! today we’re going to go over OIL INFUSIONS.

and here’s your friendly reminder to ALWAYS check contraindications and drug interactions when using herbs…. always. yes, they’re plants… but no, they’re not all safe all the time. 🙂

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what is an oil infusion? 

an oil infusion is an infusion of herbs where the carrier oil(s) are the menstrum.

why use oil as the menstrum?

if we want to extract essential oil components, fat-soluble vitamins, carotenoids, fatty acids, tocopherols, and/or lipids, a carrier oil is our best option. knowing constituent solubility is crucial. see here if you missed our overview on that.

for example, the wound healing and skin moisturizing properties of comfrey leaf is found in allantoin, and the anti-inflammatory properties of black cumin seed oil comes from thymoquinone. both are oil-soluble only. pretty neat!

TYPES OF OIL INFUSIONS 

folk method / simpler’s method / solar infusion

solar infusions are just what they sound like – an oil infusion left to sit in the sun. some herbalists will say solar infusions need to only sit for 2 weeks, and some say up to 6. i personally think it depends on your carrier oil and the herbs used.

while this is the more widely-used method, i personally think it’s a tiny bit less ideal because many carrier oils go rancid in sunlight. it’s just science. the rate of how quickly they go rancid varies tremendously, but can easily be researched. try starting with looking up studies on their OSI, or oxidative stress index.

for example, argan oil should probably never be used because it’s not very shelf-stable. when kept in ideal, dark, dry conditions, argan oil rapidly loses quality after 6 months, whereas marula oil is incredibly resistant to oxidative stress and will be fine for a solar infusion.

warm bath / crockpot (not ideal but possible)

if you’re short on time and don’t need a potent infused oil, the warm bath or crockpot method is suitable.

it’s not ideal because you’re heating up the oil and herbs to a level that can potentially destroy the beneficial constituents. you’ll want to make sure you’re not using a heat sensitive oil. for example, i wouldn’t suggest you use olive oil for the crockpot method, which can begin to show markers of thermal oxidation past 22C/71F, and 33C/98F can ruin the oil completely (depending on the region the olive oil is from… so interesting!).

cold infusion

i’ve found this to be the best infusion method for me, because you don’t have to worry about oxidative stability and rancidity.

with this method you follow a solar infusion, but rather than leaving it in the sun, you leave it in a cool, dry, dark area for 6 weeks. voila.

HOW TO

the ratios you’ll learn will vary. some herbalists advise 1 part DRIED herb to 10 parts carrier oil. some herbalists say to fill your container up halfway with herbs and the rest with oil, leaving 1 to 2 inches of oil on top so the herbs have room to swell. no matter which you opt for (depending on what herbs you’re using), you want to make sure the herb is completely dried out so you don’t grow mold in the oil.

once your oil is infused using the method of your choice, strain, bottle in dark glass, and label your infused oil (date and contents).

how long it keeps will be up to how well you store it and what types of carrier oils you used. always store infusions away from direct sunlight, out of heat, and in a dry area.

if anything smells off or becomes murky, toss it.

APPLICATIONS

you can use herbal infused oils as they are, or incorporate them into body butters, salves, hair treatments, face serums… let your creativity run wild! they’re a great way to really amp up the benefits of what you’re already DIYing.

herbal infused oils are some of my favorite things to make! what about you? have you made any, or will you now try? can’t wait to hear!

XO, ALEXRAYE

 

disclaimer – these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. anything presented here or on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. i am not a medical doctor. i will not advise on herbal remedies for ailments nor will i advise on herbal safety. your choices are your own.