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

i answer google search terms that brought people to my blog – PT 2

 

welcome back! 🙂 

here we are again, almost exactly 1 year later (ha…), reviewing my blog stats and getting to read what people searched to wind up on this site.

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black walnut hair dye 

this was by far the most searched term that drove organic views to this site in the last year. yes, i have dyed my hair with black walnuts, and yes, it actually works. here’s the original post from 7 years ago (wow). 

norwex cloths

among the phrases in this search term were things like “home cleaning” and “private parts”…. when i first used norwex cloths in 2013, it was because a rep provided them to me to review. i ended loving them so much that i purchased a pack with my own money. those washcloths are still in my bathroom to this day, lovingly being used and in great shape. highly recommend! 

dragon’s blood

dragon what? what blood? good ol croton lechleri sap is fantastic for skin-support. i first wrote about it here, but it’s now found in countless green beauty products. and guys – it can be used undiluted on skin as a liquid bandaid. super cool!

msm face mask

methylsulfonylmethane (msm) is a sulfur compound that is great both externally and internally. if you want to learn more and try it in an exfoliating mask, try this post. if you want to combine it with anti-inflammatory powerhouse turmeric, try this post. and if you want something moisturizing and skin-softening, try this post. happy mixing!

hydrojelly face mask 

hydro-gel face masks have become my favorite, since i live in a high-altitude, dry, polluted city. think: 100% Pure but make it DIY. they’re easy to customize and easy to make, making them a fun diy tailored for your skin needs. the coolest part is they come right off with no scrubbing and no mess. i usually make/use these every other week. here’s a post

water-only washing 

while i personally can’t follow this method anymore, because i live in a high-altitude, dry, and polluted city, i think it’s a fantastic option for those that can. it’s exactly what it sounds like, and no, you won’t end up stinking. my hair ended up shinier and softer than ever, and could actually hold a curl. here’s a post on w.o.w. for hair and one for body

(product name) dupe

i do have a formulation educational series on this blog, which took inspiration from actual green beauty products on the market. while no companies or product names are used, it’s a nice series on learning to read ingredient labels and understand how that translates into a formula. it’s also a nice starting point for those wanting to get into diys, but don’t know where to start. here’s the full series. there’s lot of good info in those posts, if i do say so myself!

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anything else you’re curious about? maybe we’ll have part 3 in another year 😉

XO, ALEXRAYE

introduction to herbalism: teas & decoctions

welcome back to our little “introduction to herbalism” series! today we’re going to go over TEAS & DECOCTIONS.

i tried using instagram stories for the first time ever to take a poll, and 98% of you said you liked this series, so here we are again! 🙂 find me @alexraye_ae if you want to hang out online from time to time.

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what are teas and decoctions?

teas and decoctions are forms of extracting the beneficial, water-soluble components of plant material. knowing your herbs are important, but equally as important is knowing how to extract certain constituents.

when using water, we should only expect to extract the following constituents: tannins, saponins, lectins, terpenoids, mucilages, polypeptides, and polyphenols. we would not expect to extract minerals or fat-soluble vitamins.

how do i know which plant material constituents are water-soluble and which aren’t?

oops – you missed our last post in this herbalism series! here’s a summary:

  • oil
    • essential oil components, fat-soluble vitamins, carotenoids, fatty acids, tocopherols, lipids
    • ex: wound healing and skin moisturizing properties of comfrey leaf (allantoin); anti-inflammatory properties in black cumin seed oil (thymoquinone)
  • water
    • tannins, saponins, lectins, terpenoids, mucilages, polypeptides, polyphenols 
    • ex: astringent property of witch hazel (tannins); antioxidant properties of butterfly pea flowers (anthocyanins – flavonoid)
  • vinegar
    • minerals and trace elements
    • not as potent as using an alcohol solvent, but suitable and extracts different constituents
    • ex: silica from horsetail; minerals in nettle
  • alcohol
    • carotenoids, tannins, terpenoids, sterols, alkaloids, polyphenols (like flavonoids)
    • ex: antioxidant properties of clove (eugenol)
  • glycerin
    • alcohol alternative, but unlike alcohol, it also extracts saponins
    • ex: oxidative stress scavenging properties of astragalus (saponins)

 

TEA:

a tea is a type of infusion. it uses water as the menstrum to extract constituents from softer plant parts, like petals and leaves, where the plant material is strained before use or ingestion. the exception to this rule is aromatic roots, which are better prepared as a tea. an example of an aromatic root is ginger root.

they are considered to be of less medicinal value compared to decoctions.

how do i make a tea?

it depends on the plant material. the temperature of the water is also crucial. this will require some research on your end, depending on what you’re using. overall, though, you would heat up the water first, remove it from the heat, steep the plant material in it, and then strain before use/ingestion.

teas should be refrigerated and used within 48 hours.

here are a couple examples:

  • peppermint tea
    • water temperature: ~170 degrees F
    • steep time: 1 to 3 minutes
  • chamomile tea
    • water temperature: ~200 degrees F
    • steep time: 3 to 5 minutes

DECOCTION:

a decoction is technically another aqueous infusion, but the key here is the concentration. it’s a concentrated preparation of plant material made by simmering and then steeping the more tenuous plant parts, like roots, stems, seed, and barks.

they are considered the more therapeutic of the two.

how do i make a decoction?

unlike teas, decoctions start with the plant material already in the cold water. it’s simmered until the water has been reduced by half, removed from the heat and left to steep until it’s room temperature, and then strained before use and/or ingestion.

decoctions should be refrigerated and used within 48 hours.

some examples of a decoction are:

  • valerian root – promotes sound sleep
  • dandelion root – aids digestion

can i combine teas and decoctions?

yes, absolutely! once the decoction is made and removed from the heat, you can add the other plant materials better used in a tea, letting everything steep together as it cools.

what do you think of this series so far? was this post helpful?

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. 

introduction to herbalism: pt 1

hello crunchies!

you gave some nice feedback that having some blog posts on an introduction to herbalism would be neat, so here i am! i don’t intend for this to be a form of training by any means, but rather a nice little “dip” into the herbalism pool to see if it piques your interest.

where you go from there will be up to you.

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what is herbalism?

put plainly, it is the study of the therapeutic and medicinal application of plants. the field of herbalism as a whole contains a multitude of published research, so never mistake it for a non-scientific field of study. big pharma offerings often start from herbalism findings.

i personally believe there is a time and place for herbalism and a time and place for conventional western medicine. i will never delude myself into believing that plants solve everything all the time. you’d be hard-pressed to find a serious practicing herbalist that does.

where is herbalism practiced?

clinics, kitchens, backyards… sometimes you may not even realizing you’re dabbling in it. ever make yourself a cup of peppermint tea for an upset stomach or gas? herbalism. it’s an enthralling, accessible field.

why learn herbalism?

maybe you want to try an alternative approach to ailments you experience. maybe you just want to learn more about your local flora and how it can be utilized. maybe you want to really “up” your DIY game. OR – maybe you want to eventually open a business or practice.

whether you do it for your own knowledge or to help others, learning herbalism is never a terrible idea.

where is herbalism learned?

there’s always the option of entering into a formal education program, like i have, or you can do an apprenticeship, be mentored by other practicing herbalists, and/or self-teach. if you opt to self-teach to only create things for yourself and your family (no practice, no money coming in, etc), please consider finding a network of practicing herbalists to guide you and help you along the way. their wisdom can go a long way in your learnings. i have learned just as much from my small network on an ad-hoc basis as i have from my formal classes.

if you’re looking to open a practice, please learn formally and get certifications (see next paragraph), in addition to finding a network of herbalists to mentor you. the American Herbalists Guild does recommend at least 1600 hours of formal herbal medicine study, which includes a 400 hour clinical requirement.

it’s important to note that in the U.S. there are no accredited herbalism certifications available, as herbalism is not regulated. you can enroll into a program that provides a certificate (“certified herbalist”), but the certificate will not be a higher education ‘degree’ of any sort. that being said, being formally educated, in my opinion, is a much better option for you and your loved ones. there are recognized and respected schools listed by the American Herbalists Guild, so i would suggest starting there if you’re interested. i say this because there is so much misinformation out there (like “ingesting EOs is safe”- it’s not) and you want to be sure you’re properly trained to help others, if you wish to do so.

no matter what you do, always read and research. David Hoffman is probably the most revered and learned herbalist we have today, and any of his books would be a great place to start. i think this one is really great, and three others i have by him are this, this, and this. two other books recommended by my teacher were this one and this one (NOT affiliates, just trying to help you, if you’re interested).

what will this herbalism introduction series cover? 

right now, i’m planning to share things like this with you:

  • how to make a proper herbal infusion
  • how to make proper decoctions
  • a few herbal applications in DIY beauty formulas

what i am NOT planning on posting is:

  • materia medicas
  • advice on specific herbal applications for ailments
  • advice on herbal contraindications for safety
  • herbal “medical” advice of any kind for any reason

for the topics i will not be posting about, please leverage your own local certified herbalist. need help finding one? check HERE

the last thing i will leave you with today – never assume that because you’re “just using plants” that it’s safe for everyone all the time. it’s not. that’s very important to understand.

all this being said, studying herbalism has been quite a fulfilling journey for me so far and i’m looking forward to sharing a tiny piece of it with you.

what do you think? are you excited for this? i am!  if you have anything you want to specifically cover, LET ME KNOW!

maybe i can get annie back on the blog 😉 let’s talk her into it!

keep learning and BE SAFE.

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. 

guest post: annie from wild moon holistic (#1)

hi crunchies!

today i’m so super excited to have annie on the AE blog! she is a real life, super educated, Certified Clinical Master Herbalist, CCMH™ , Certified Clinical Master Aromatherapist, CCMA™ , aaaaand Certified Nutrition Consultant, CNC™

you can find her blog here and her instagram here

please show her love by following her on both platforms and leaving comments. 

welcome, annie! 

xo, alexraye

***

annie

Hi

My name is Ann Gomez and I am the Herbalist behind Wild Moon Holistic.

While the amazing and talented Alex is off to school, she asked me to pop in from time to time and say hello, share some fun topics,  maybe post a few of my favorite DIY recipes and basically honored me with a few “guest spots” on her blog that I have loved and admired for years.

I think I met Alex (via her blog) gosh in 2013 maybe.  It has been a while.  Back in the day, when I was on my OWN green body care journey. Before I went to school, before I had any idea what to do with an essential oil and long before I realized going product free while reducing the toxic chemical load to my body and environment, would become my life.

Alex always has great articles on low “poo” to no “poo” how to’s that I devoured because at the time I was having a lot of fun playing with RED HAIR, redhairwithpurplechunks

My hairstylist warned me to find shampoos that were sulfate-free.  Back then sulfate-free was NOT a buzz word on bottles of Poo.  You had to spend a lot of money from beauty supply stores to get some (which I did once or twice) and immediately knew I was NOT going to keep that up, northeredhair.

Once I began reading labels that ultimately led me to less-poo to co-washing to no-poo.

Now as an herbalist I wash my hair with tea.  Once I saw and had a better understanding about a few ingredients on those freakishly incomprehensible labels, I became insatiable to learn about all the others.

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During my time in school for my herbalist certifications I learned just how many petrol-chemicals we are exposed too, ones we have no control over and all the ones we do.  Then I remembered the lovely Alex here at Almost Exactly Blog.

I had long before herb school gone no poo and was pretty much off the product train except for maybe a few makeup things I still purchased, but very seriously off the grid.

Even my classmates were intrigued by this crazy lady who made all the things herself.

During school I wasn’t contemplating making products to sell once school was over despite everyone trying to push me in that direction.  All I knew back then (2015) was I had found a school that could educate me in the one area that I never knew I could get an education in;  herbology.

18 months later I graduated with two certifications.  One as a Certified Nutrition Consultant, CNC™, and the other as a Certified Clinical Master Herbalist, CCMH™ and with no clue what to do next.  I was more scared than before I started.  There were so many things to consider in being a therapist. I ran for the hills but continued to get educated.  I had this amazing education and I was determined to do something with it.

I already have a full time life being a single Mom and a fuller-than-full-time job in public service in the water and wastewater industry.  I work with engineers all day and the public. Behind the scenes I show people who will listen how plants can help you heal, be made into medicine and how to improve their health and food choices.

I am the office Shaman. 

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But there was still all those classes and even segments on pollution, radiation, and those frightening petrol-chemicals that always stuck in my head.

I made my family tinctures and salves, teas and started Wild Moon Holistic on Instagram; My future, one day, dream business place holder.  I love herbs and plants and nature and all that it encompasses, but I had no real business experience, nor any idea how to proceed.

During that time essential oils became my new fascination.  I read all I could, bought every book I could find and devoured them.

One year later I was browsing my school’s website and about fell out of my chair when I saw that they had added a certification for an Aromatherapist.

I called that day and enrolled.

yes I did.

6 months later I had a third certification as a Certified Clinical Master Aromatherapist, CCMA™.

Included in my packet of tests and final projects, graded and returned, along with my diploma, was a note from the director, that if I took just 5 more classes I would meet all the requirements for the HHP program “Holistic Health Practitioner” to become a therapist.

Now mind you I already have 3 full certifications, and on their own it was enough to do all I could ever want to do.

That said, I am addicted to personal growth and included in those last 5 classes were business and marketing.  You can guess what I did next I bet.

YUP, I signed back up to finish, 2 months later.

That is where I am at now; back in school, while I am still advancing at my day job.

lady is busy.

What I have now that I didn’t when I finished my herbalist program is clarity.

Clarity, confidence in my goals, in my path and finally a drive to put it all together.

I know reducing those chemicals is a big drive, as is simplicity.  I make my own everything, even our family’s cleaning supplies.

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I started making simple makeup out of plants and flowers.  I started an urban farm in my front yard. I manage a community garden at my job.  Not only do I love using herbs and plants to keep us all healthy and vibrant, I like to grow my own organic plants and vegetables, and flowers. 

someday I want my keep bees, and maybe a few chickens.

Wild Moon Holistic was born out of a love of nature, gardening and a bigger love to share and teach.

I am so glad to be here and meet all of you here on Alex’s blog.

Now that you have a wee bit of background from me, let me know if you have any questions, comments, ideas for me to write about, hit me up on the comments.

I can help with anything from body care and beauty, to therapeutic help, and gosh if you want to learn how to knit or spin yarn, we can do that too.  Want to cook a fabulous and body nourishing meal? sure!  Lets dig in.

I am a photographer with a love for anything Macro.  I love to devour a good classic novel, and all things parenting are of top concern to me and if I can get my picky eater to try a mushroom I bet you can get yours to try one too (or sneak it in a muffin) kidding… kinda.

Its so very nice to meet all of you here at Almost Exactly Blog and a humongous hug to Alex for honoring me with a guest speaker post here.

~Annie

 

***

you can find her blog here and her instagram here

 

travel: carry-on friendly green beauty items

hey crunchies! maybe by the time you’re reading this, my journey to rome will have begun. i’ll be there for a week! what a dream. if you’ve been or live there, please PLEASE leave me some suggestions below!

in the spirit of travel, i thought i’d share my tips with you for carry-on friendly items. yes, i know i have my official tips and guidelines here from 2015… but those are more geared towards d.i.y.-ers. this time we’ll go over purchased items i’m taking with me that are all carry-on friendly.

i fly internationally at least once a month so i promise i’ve been through a ton of security checks and have never run into issues.

for the record, anything under 3.4 ounces will be “tsa-friendly” and you can throw it in a carry-on. that us-based guideline also conveniently works for mexico airport security.

anyway. here we go.

please note none of these are sponsored. these are just what i typically pack and am bringing to rome for a week.

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  • uncle harry’s toothpaste – 3 ounce jar
  • repurposed toothpaste jar, filled with calia conditioner (i co-wash) – 3 ounces
  • dr bronner’s liquid rose soap – 2 ounces
  • badger active sunscreen spf 30 – 2.9 ounces
  • josh rosebrook nutrient day cream spf 30 – 2 ounces
  • clean well spray hand sanitizer – 1 ounce
  • tsi-la roll-on perfume oil – 1/3 ounce
  • my @kietabotanicals multi-use serum in a reused 1 ounce bottle (out for sale this fall but in an actual nice glass jar)

and –

  • north coast organics ‘death by lavender’ deodorant – 2.5 ounces

cof

 

short and sweet post, but hopefully this gave you some ideas.

what are some travel-sized items you’ve found and bring with you? please share below and on instagram (@alexraye_ae)

CIAO, ALEXRAYE

let’s chat – vlog q&a

happy tuesday, crunchies!

i truly hope you all are doing well. we’ve had a couple of crazy earthquakes here in mexico, but all is a-okay now.

the real reason i’m here today – remember that time way back when when i used to vlog every once in awhile? let’s bring that back, except with much better lighting and audio. i bought a fancy new camera that i’m jonesin to use! i’m tired of always being behind a tiny screen, like this –

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and yes, that’s an actual picture of how i spend sunday mornings.

please send me your green beauty questions by this weekend and i’ll compile them by topic for a vlog. they can be related to anything crunchy! feel free to submit questions here, instagram, or via email*. if this Q&A vlog turns out to be a hit, let’s make some more vlog-type posts. maybe we can make some lotion together? who knows. feel free to send ideas for those as well.

looking forward to a “chat” with our little crunchy community!

love!

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*email = almostexactlyblog@gmail.com

 

story time: so i went vegan…

about that title, eh? can we just pause and all roll our eyes at that time i posted that i would never give up animal products? mhm…

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so i did.

let’s stop there – this will not be a post arguing for veganism. i will not shout from the rooftops or throw red paint on you or whatever else stereotypically happens. however, i will talk about how veganism has changed my natural beauty routines. hopefully that’s okay with everyone.

okay, back to our scheduled post.

so i went vegan. suddenly that meant no longer using kefir and full-fat yogurt and raw honey and beeswax. i had to rethink my probiotics. i had to rethink skin and hair care recipes. i had to find ways to keep face masks at wonderful consistencies without raw honey, while also keeping the same antibacterial and hydrating properties. oh – is that coconut oil stuck in my hair? forget about using egg yolks to rinse it out. oh – is that a sunburn? don’t reach for the emu oil.

guys… i love it. i love being pushed to create new items that are just as, if not more, effective. i mean – have you tried this oMega glow face mask? it’s a gem. and hydrosols, even for hair? bam, already vegan. did i need raw honey on my face? turns out my skin likes chia seed oil even more! did i need beeswax in my chapstick? turns out the merry hempsters chapstick (not an affiliate link) feels even better and more hydrating than others i’ve tried.

by the way – golf clap to my fatter wallet for going 100% plant-based. holla for a dolla.

am i vocal about veganism? in a way, sure. i consider myself an ethical vegan and will happily discuss anything anyone is curious about. however, i do think that if you choose to eat cheese, that’s your right. i’m allowed to disagree and still go make my own choices. you’re an adult. you vote with your dollars and i’ll vote with mine. we can still be friends and laugh together, yea? if you’ve found a product that’s become your ride or die but contains beeswax, that’s your choice and your money.

i might miss melted cheese, but my skin and hair don’t miss a thing. matter of fact, they look BETTER! that i can stand for.

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