Herbal Remedies

Scorpio Season Tea

By Alyssa P

CN Buyer, herbalism student, lunar Scorpio

We just entered Scorpio season which for me always signals that we have officially transitioned into fall. Scorpios tend to embody metaphorical death and rebirth within themselves, constantly changing and evolving throughout their lives. Oftentimes, they unintentionally challenge others around them to do the same as well. It’s no coincidence that this sign occurs at the same time as autumn, when the nature is also preparing to go into hibernation mode for the winter before re-emerging in the spring. Scorpios usually find themselves going to the depths of their emotions and have a talent for always seeking out the truth. The flavor of this tea is as deep as a Scorpio’s emotional world, with strong flavors of smoke, berry, and pungent rosemary. The smokiness comes from Lapsang Souchong, an unmistakably unique black tea. Also featured in this blend are rosemary, damiana, and hibiscus. Rosemary is traditionally associated with Scorpios because it is a hearty herb that is still able to thrive in the at times harsh conditions of fall. Rosemary also provides cognitive support, helping to keep your mind as sharp as a Scorpio’s. Damiana is a great herb for sexual health, as Scorpio rules this part of our bodies. Hibiscus provides a balancing berry-like flavor and makes this tea a gorgeous deep ruby color. Like a Scorpio, this tea can be a little intimidating at first but ultimately provides a feeling of deep comfort, depth, and freshness.

Materials:

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Boil 8 oz of water.

  • Pour hot water over tea and herbs.

  • Cover and let steep for 4 minutes.

  • Strain tea or remove teabag, sip and enjoy!

The information in this blog post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

Tulsi Elderberry Syrup

By Alyssa P

CN buyer, herbalism student, beverage enthusiast

It’s that time of the year again when elderberries become the star of the bulk herbs show. Elderberries are known for their immune supporting properties as well as their delicious taste, especially in syrup form. Elderberry syrup is such a fun way to support your immune system and can be taken every day.

This elderberry syrup is inspired by Mountain Rose Herbs’ recipe, a company that supplies many of our bulk herbs and more. Also included is tulsi rama, aka holy basil. Tulsi can act as an immune supporter and is great for stress support as well. The inclusion of tulsi adds some spice and depth of flavor to the syrup and compliments the elderberries well.

Materials

  • Medium pot

  • Measuring tools

  • Strainer and/or cheesecloth

  • Sterilized glass jar

Ingredients

Directions

  • Add berries. herbs, and cold water to a pot and bring to a boil.

  • Reduce heat and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.

  • Remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour

  • Strain berries and herbs using a funnel overlaid with cheesecloth and squeeze out all the liquid. It may still be hot so use caution.

  • Let liquid cool to a bit warmer than room temperature and stir in honey. Make sure the amount of honey is at least half of the total liquid left (1/2 cup honey for 1 cup liquid). This will help to increase the shelf life. If using vodka or brandy, stir that in as well.

  • Store in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge. You should be left with about 1-1.5 cups of syrup or a bit more if you added an alcohol.

This syrup can be taken daily to support your immune system. It tastes amazing on its own or you could use it as a base for mixed beverages. I love adding a tablespoon or two of the syrup to a Ruby Hibiscus Sparkling Water- a delicious drink that’s only two ingredients!

P.S. Find the Mountain Rose Herbs Elderberry Syrup Recipe (and video!) here!




The information in this blog post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

Libra Season Tea

By Alyssa P
CN buyer, herbalism student, Libra ascendant

Libra is ruled by the planet Venus and therefore all things romance, beauty, and partnerships. This tea embodies that energy with floral, tart, and berry flavors and deep purple color. Libra also rules the liver and kidneys, so this blend is formulated to bring some balance (Libra’s symbol is the scales) to those areas as well. This tea is high in antioxidants, which may be beneficial for promoting hair, skin, and nail health. Vanilla rooibos is the base of this tea, which is high in antioxidants. Next, this recipe includes chamomile and Gotu kola, which have been known to promote skin health via anti-inflammatory and calming properties. Schisandra berries have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help support heart, liver, and kidney health. Butterfly pea flowers, in addition to being another source of antioxidants, are potentially collagen promoting, which is an essential factor in skin hydration and elasticity. Butterfly pea flowers provide a sapphire blue color, which when mixed with the other ingredients transforms into a gorgeous deep purple. This recipe provides enough for two, so you can share with someone close in true Libra fashion.

Materials:

  • Teabag or strainer

  • Mug of choice

  • Hot water

Ingredients:

Process:

Add all herbs to a tea strainer or teabag. Pour about 20 oz of freshly boiled water over the herbs, cover, and let steep for at least 5 minutes. Strain out herbs and enjoy with a friend!





The information in this blog post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

Sunday Sip - Elderberry Defense

By Alyssa P
CN buyer, herbalism student, and beverage connoisseur

As the season begins to change, now is a great time to give our immune systems a little love. Goldthread’s Elderberry Defense Tonic is a great place to start. This tonic is both refreshing and nourishing. It features herbs such as elderberry- a delicious and well loved immune supporter and rosehips, which are a great source of vitamin C. Astragalus root is another commonly used herb for immune support and ginger provides anti-inflammatory properties. Lastly, the addition of tulsi helps us to unwind and de-stress.

This tonic is great on its own or combined with sparkling water if you’re craving some bubbles. Nixie’s Lime Ginger sparkling water would pair really well! Adding a dropperful or two of a tincture could also make this drink even more potent. I would choose Urban Moonshine’s Immune Tonic, which features similar ingredients to the Elderberry Defense as well as immune-supporting mushroom extracts. Feel free to get creative with combinations!

Happy sipping!

Virgo Season Tea

By Alyssa, CN Buyer, herbalism student, Virgo sun

Virgo season is here! Time to get organized, focus on the details, go out of your way to help your friends, overthink, and give solicited (or maybe unsolicited!) advice.

Virgos are known for their overactive minds, therefore they need all the stress support they can get. And notoriously Virgos are known for stomach issues (probably from stressing themselves out), so this tea provides digestive aid as well. For stress support, we have lemon balm, maypop (passionflower) for an overactive mind, and holy basil for sustainable nervous system support. Milky oat tops also help reduce stress as well as being all-around nourishing. Lastly, fennel, ginger, and dandelion provide digestive aid.

Materials:

Ingredients:

Process:

Add all herbs to a teapot or tea infuser. I use about a teaspoon of each except for the ginger and fennel- those I use a half teaspoon of. Pour 12-16 ounces of freshly boiled water over the herbs. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain out herbs or remove tea infuser. Add honey to taste. Take a deep breath and exhale any stress.

Sunday Sip - Cycle Balancing Iced Tea

By Alyssa P

CN Buyer, herbalism student, tea enthusiast

As someone with a menstrual cycle, I find that incorporating certain herbs into my routine can make a big difference in how I feel “that time” of the month and beyond. One of my favorite plant allies has been raspberry leaf for this very reason. Raspberry leaf is vitamin and mineral rich and has a toning effect which can help keep uterine cramps at bay. I’ve made it a habit to make a big batch of iced tea overnight to drink daily for at least the two weeks leading up to my period. However, I find that drinking this daily throughout the month gets me the best results. I always feature raspberry leaf in this infusion along with some other cycle balancing and stress reducing herbs. My favorite herbs to add in are rose, spearmint, milky oat tops, and red clover. The resulting taste has a black tea-like base and the rose and spearmint add floral and minty notes.

Materials:

Ingredients:

Process:

  • Add all herbs to your pitcher. I use about 2-3 tablespoons of each herb and my pitcher holds about a half gallon of water.

  • Pour water to fill the pitcher and place in the fridge overnight or for at least 6 hours.

  • Strain tea out when done infusing and enjoy!

P.S. Brittany Wood Nickerson also had a great book called Sacred and Mysterious that details more menstruation supporting herbs and recipes. I like to incorporate herbs inspired by her recipes into this daily infusion.

P.P.S. This tea can be nourishing for all bodies! Not just for those who menstruate :)

Sunday Sip - Hibiscus Cardamom Mocktail

By Alyssa P
CN buyer, herbalism student, and beverage connoisseur

Sit back and relax this Sunday with a cooling, bright, and slightly spicy hibiscus cardamom sparkling beverage. For this drink we are using Portland Syrup Co. Hibiscus Cardamom Syrup and Dram Cardamom and Black Tea sparkling water. Hibiscus can help us cool down from the summer sun and cardamom can aid digestion. Plus the sparkling water is very lightly caffeinated, making this beverage a perfect post-lunch pick me up.

To make: simply add an ounce of the syrup to a glass, pour in the Dram, add ice, and stir! Garnish with a slice of lime if you’re feeling fancy. Enjoy!

Spicy Chai Concentrate for at-home iced chai lattes!

By Alyssa P
CN buyer, herbalism student, and beverage connoisseur

This heat wave has me craving a beverage that will help me stay both cool and energized. Lately I’ve been turning to a homemade chai concentrate that is refreshing, spicy, and not overly caffeinated. Having a concentrate on hand makes my mornings easy since all you have to do is add a milk of choice and ice. Nothing complicated or heated once it’s prepped and it’s already cold from being kept in the fridge. Plus you can make it as sweet (or not sweet) as you would like! This recipe features assam black tea and chai masala spices from Boston Chai Party, a beloved local and Indian-owned brand whose mission is to empower people to make their own high quality and authentic chai at home. Happy chai making!

Materials:

Medium/large pot and lid
Strainer
Glass container for storage
Spoon for mixing
Your favorite glass
Measuring cup(s) 

Ingredients:

½ cup Boston Chai Party Chai Masala Spices
¼ cup Boston Chai Party Assam Black Tea Leaves
4 cups water
Honey, sugar, or another sweetener to taste 
Minor Figures Oat Milk
2-3 fresh ginger slices

Process: 

  • Add black tea, ginger slices, and water to a pot on high heat and stir. 

  • When the water starts boiling, turn the heat to low and stir in the chai spices. 

  • Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes. 

  • Let cool for a few minutes and then strain into a glass container for storage. The mixture will be thick, so it’s helpful to stir as you strain.

  • If you would like to, add some honey, sugar, or maple syrup for some added sweetness. 

  • Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

  • When ready to use, pour about 4 oz into a cup and add around 8 oz of milk or a milk alternative- Minor Figures oat milk is my favorite. Add ice and enjoy your homemade iced chai latte!

DIY Mask Refresher Spray!

Mask feeling a little funky from breathing your own breath? Perhaps it’s especially funky after a few handfuls of Organic Sea Salt + Onion Cashews? CN team member Emily J. has created a super simple recipe for a mask-refreshing spray that you can take anywhere! Let us know if you give it a try : )

DIY Mask Refreshing Mist-page-001.jpg

Founder Interview: Julia Teren of Thesis Beauty

Sarah, CN’s Co-Director of Purchasing recently chatted with Julia about the origin story of Thesis, the messiness of powdered masks and why we should embrace their mess, and why raw oils are the best for our skin.

Shop Balancing Serum Here

Shop Balancing Serum Here

When / why did you get started with skincare formulation?  Have you always wanted to launch your own skincare brand, or was it more of a hobby at first?  As a first-generation American coming from one of the most devastated countries in Europe, becoming a beauty entrepreneur and formulator was beyond my wildest dreams. But I always yearned to break into the beauty industry in some capacity while also messing with ingredients here and there. I turned to serious formulating when my skin started behaving completely out of whack, being dry, oily, itchy, acneic and flakey all at the same time. I tried so many creams, lotions and serums from the brands whose names were roaring in the natural and global beauty scene. I also tried DIY recipes involving pantry ingredients. But to my surprise and desperation, nothing helped. I realized that most brands were focused on the symptoms, not the root cause of skin behavior which is why nothing helps or works long-term. I dedicated 1.5 years to thorough research of the ingredients and skin biology. With my PhD-like approach to things (hence the name Thesis), I developed and tested formulas that cured my skin. I left out pore clogging, cheap carrier oils, animal products, waxes, water and everything that's required to force oil mix with water. The results were shockingly good. And this prompted me to try myself as an entrepreneur and share my remedies with people who just like me were stuck in their search for pure and effective beauty products.

Shop Mermaid’s Cheek Mask Here

Shop Mermaid’s Cheek Mask Here

What is the benefit of powdered masks / cleansers vs other liquid / paste products? Powdered masks hit 3 points at once: No preservatives, No water, Endless Customization. Now, not all powdered products are made equal. You can see some very popular dry shampoos or powdered/anhydrous cleansers and masks that are filled with chemicals. So just because it's a powdered product, you still need to make sure it's natural or go for a brand whose natural and organic integrity you trust. So speaking of a completely natural/organic powdered product, there should be nothing synthetic in it that only functions to the benefit of the texture and shelf life, like preservatives, emulsifiers, pearlizers, colorants, parfum, etc. When properly formulated, natural powders cleanse very gently, yet effectively without stripping your skin, leaving it too tight and dehydrated like traditional foaming cleansers do. Our cleansers are made with edible ingredients which gently lift off dirt and oils, stimulating circulation and helping skin heal. All skin types benefit from gentle cleansing, even oily skin which conventional products cleanse too aggressively thus perpetuating its problems. Moving on, No water means also that you are getting a concentrate and not shipping water around - you have plenty at home. Lastly, Customization means that you are not stuck with one-size-fits-all texture and benefits. You can make your mask thinner or thicker according to your personal preference. And importantly, you can activate powder with a liquid of your choice influenced by your mood, your skin preferences of the moment, so your treatments can be better fine tuned to your personal needs. The ritual of mixing your powdered mask is one of the important parts of your self-care protocol that helps recharge, restore emotional balance and feel in control of your life.

I admit I'm always hesitant to reach for powders because I'm not the neatest person and I always feel like I am going to make a giant mess.  What advice do you have for those of us who are nervous about using powdered products? Can I ramble a bit here? :) Many people seem to be intimidated by the little messes. But have you noticed how a little bit of chaos while mixing a mask, paint or making dough can bring out your creativity and carefree, childish fun? As children we were often scolded for making messes by our caregivers who understandably were very busy and tired and didn't want to deal with additional cleanups. But unfortunately as a consequence we carry this fear of spills, splats and stains through our lives which inhibits our healthy, natural propensity towards experimentation and creativity. Therefore, against your deep-seated fears and nagging inner critic, allow yourself to make some mischievous, glorious, creative messes! Nobody is a hopeless klutz - you just need courage to practice. 

Ok, zooming in on the mask mixing. Tools should help cut the mess. You will need 3 things: a teaspoon, a bowl, and a brush. The whole process should resemble using your powdered proteins or supplements. Use a clean, dry teaspoon to take out powder from the jar. Keep a clean small mixing dish or bowl right under the jar, so you can immediately pour or spill powder straight into the bowl. If you spill some - draw a smiley face on the splat and move on. The size of the dish or bowl should be medium size, not too small and not too flat or shallow. If powder or water splashes it will be all trapped inside the bowl to be used during the mixing stage with no mess around your bowl. Then use your teaspoon to pour in liquid. Pour one teaspoonful of liquid at a time and mix to get the best consistency for your needs. Using a clean cosmetic or art brush mix powder and water with short folding movements. Our masks mix into very smooth, creamy paste that is soft and spreadable. You can apply it with your fingers or your brush. I prefer brush (a retired makeup brush) for more precise application. You may need slightly thinner consistency for the brush compared to finger application. It looks like a lot of text, in reality it would make less than a few minutes of an instructional video. It truly is simple and not as messy as people might fear. So, courage! :)

Shop West Indies Face Scrub + Mask Here!

Shop West Indies Face Scrub + Mask Here!

It seems that all this staying-at-home is inspiring more and more folks to get into masking (as proven by a Facetime call the other day where my friend had a facial treatment on the whole time!).  You have a lot of really wonderful masks in your product line.  Where do you suggest a person start who is just getting into using a face mask as part of their skincare routine? Thank you so much for the compliment to our masks, coming from you that means a lot! That is true - we've seen a spike in mask sales during the pandemic, including export which means people all over the globe are indulging in facial treatments. For a beginner, I would recommend a multitasking product that is also unisex and can be easily shared. For example, West indies facial scrub and mask which can be also used as a cleanser. This way you can experience how a powdered product works three ways, experiment with it and see what function you like best or maybe all of them. Powders that are too fine like some charcoal masks or other super fine powders will give a beginner a hard time because they do tend to splash and fly everywhere, so stick with heavier textures. Our masks are not superfine powders, so they are rather easy to mix.

Speaking of masks... With all this cloth masking wearing becoming part of our everyday lives, anything in particular you recommend to care for the parts of our face that are often covered with a cloth mask for hours during the day? That's a very good question. Like every part of our body, our facial skin also needs to "breathe". I would encourage people to take breaks from masks whenever it's safe to do so. Masks tend to trap a lot of moisture between skin and cloth. I do tend to get itchy sometimes, especially if I happen to wear a synthetic mask (which I try to avoid). With cotton masks though a similar thing may happen, although they tend to provoke less itchiness in my personal experience. Also, wearing the same mask for over 2 or 3 hours promotes growth of germs and fungi hence they should be frequently changed. I would recommend daily nasal rinses at the end of the day and daily gentle cleansing of the skin with the mildest cleanser - non-soap (powdered or oil-based) cleanser in the morning, soapy in the evening or after wearing a mask. I would caution even more than usual against aggressive, skin damaging, abrasive treatments and procedures like harsh acid peels, micro needling, scratchy sugar scrubs and such. Anything that damages the skin area covered by the mask opens the gate for infections - and you don't need to overburden your immune system with more fights than it should be picking right now.

Your Facial Recovery Serum for Dry Skin is one of your most popular product with our customers.  Can you give us an overview of the ingredients and how they work to support dry skin? Thank you, this is one of the first products in our line. I developed it trying to get under control severe flaking, itchiness and tightness of my skin. Store-bought, water-based products, albeit organic, didn't moisturize enough. Also the ones with preservatives, especially phenoxyethanol, caused irritations. My formula resolved all issues very quickly and felt surprisingly good under makeup - although soon it became obvious that foundation wasn't even needed anymore. My criteria for the ideal base for dry skin included only oils that were: 
1. 100% organic
2. RAW, unrefined
3. non-clogging
4. the highest antioxidant value
 and naturally high content of vitamin E and lecithin - the components that help skin rebuild itself. 
That's how Jojoba, Sunflower, Argan, Grapeseed, Macadamia, and Rosehip Oil made the cut. All of them are organic and RAW oils except Sunflower. We recently discovered a source of amazing Pomegranate CO2 Extract which is now a star ingredient in this rejuvenating formula. The new formula is also completely soy-free - we replaced soy-based vitamin E with Sunflower based, more potent mixed tocopherols. We never use water as this ingredient tends to dilute and disrupt many of the nutrients and it also invites synthetic ingredients that are unnecessary and sometimes harmful (preservatives, emulsifiers, etc). Therefore our products are also 100% synthetics-free. With all the seeming simplicity, there is a tremendous amount of research that goes into each ingredient and the proportions, what to put in and what to leave out. I am glad this product is helping Cambridge Naturals' customers enjoy youthful, healthy skin.

Thank you, Julia! Shop her entire line here or in-store!