Monday, January 26, 2009

Valerian... demystified

The root of valerian, a perennial herb native to North America, Asia, and Europe, is used most commonly for its sedative and hypnotic properties in people with insomnia. Multiple preparations are available, and the herb is commonly combined with other herbal medications.

Dosage- (Scientific-y)
Based on the reviewed studies, the effective dosage of valerian root extract for treatment of insomnia ranges from 300 to 600 mg. An equivalent dose of dried herbal valerian root is 2 to 3 g, soaked in one cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. The product should be ingested 30 minutes to two hours before bedtime.

Dosage- (Demystified)
Or, between 1-3 capsules of Valerian root half an hour before you go to bed (just not more than two hours before bed).

As with all herbal products, people are affected differently. I would recommend taking half the recommended dose the first night then increasing or decreasing depending on how well it worked for you.

Side Effects-
Drowsiness (duh), dizziness (duh). In about 10% of people it acts as a stimulant. It also causes nightmares in some people...

I tried valerian root for the first time last night. I work late and I have school early the next morning and I have a hard time falling asleep. I decided to try valerian because I don't like the thought of synthetic sleep-inducers. It's a good thing I only took 1/3 the recommended dosage because I had crazy dreams all night long. Vivid too. I can still remember them. I had hoped it would give me a good night's sleep, but instead I dreamt about cockroaches and people chasing me around with knives. That's not exactly restful. I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying valerian (in fact, I'm gonna take it again tonight just to see if it will affect me the same), but be forewarned. Also, I'm the minority. Most people don't have any problem with valerian.

On the plus side, I didn't wake up groggy.

As with all sleep aids, if you value your liver, DO NOT take it with alcohol, other downers, or antihistimines.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Night Special: Biggest Full Moon of 2009

I thought that this was rather interesting. I personally feel like a "moonchild" and I know many of you out there feel the same way. If skies are clear Saturday, go out at sunset and look for the giant moon rising in the east. It will be the biggest and brightest one of 2009, sure to wow just about everyone.

The word January came from the Roman name for this month. It was named after the God Janus, who was the God with two faces. This was the God of the past and future, beginnings and endings. This is the perfect time to put aside the old and the bad in your life and start anew with fresh new thoughts and goals.

NATURE SPIRITS : gnomes and brownies
HERBS: marjoram, holy thistle, nuts and cones
COLORS: white, blue-violet and black
FLOWERS: snowdrop, crocus
SCENTS: musk and mimosa
STONES: garnet, onyx, jet, and chrysoprase
TREES: Birch
ANIMALS: Fox and Coyote
BIRDS: pheasant and the bluejay
DEITIES: Freya, Inanna, Sarasvati, Hera, CH'ang-O, Sinn
POWER AREAS: Sluggish, below the surface, beginning and conceiving, protection.
Conserve energy by working on your own personal problems that involve no-one else. Time to work on new goals.

Looks like tonight I'll be sitting out at moonrise with my wife, burning a Full Moon incense, and saying a little prayer to God about the forthcoming year.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Starting out, part I

When I first starting learning herbalism, I didn't know a whole lot. I knew about cooking herbs and spices, those great illegal ones, and a few others from a herbie friend of mine ( The more I began to read about them and their qualities, the more I began to understand them. I highly encourage all that use herbs to become intimate with what they are burning or eating or smoking. Not just for safety, but to develop that mystical connection. That intimacy that they came first and we should respect them and the land they grow on.

A few exercises:
1. Burn a little bit of each herb, plant, spice, or oil you have, all by it's self. Right down it's characteristics and how it makes you feel. For example, I think orris root smells a lot like burnt marshmallows, so I put a little in my incense when I feel a nice "outdoorsy" undertone is needed.

2. Know what's dangerous or poisionous and stay away from it! Just before you aren't smoking a plant doesn't mean that you can breathe around it's incense smoke either!

3. When compounding, write down combinations that you really like and the amounts that you used. That way, you can always come back and make it later.

4. Obtain your plants in a way that is respectful and ecofriendly. More on that later.

What's a censer?

A censer is a container in which the incense you make is burned. Charcoal is very hot when it burns and a wooden anything isn't a good idea. The censer can be metal, like those you see in Catholic churches, or it can simply be a bowl filled with sand. Until you find a censer that you personally like, you can just use a bowl half-filled with sand or salt. The sand/salt protects the bowl and the surface it sits on against heat.

My personal censer looks like an Alladin lamp, and I got it at a nearby hippie store. It's my favorite!

Libra Power Incense

I created this incense for a friend of mine, who's a Libra, to enhance his good Libra qualities. I recommended that it be burnt during the full moon, due to its lunar characterisitics, but it's also black when you are done compounding it. Cool, right?

Libra Power Incense
1 1/2 part frankincense
1 1/2 part lavender
1 part myrrh
1 part orris root
1 part sandalwood
1 opium-scented cone incense

Grind everything together until it reaches a powder-like consistency. Burn over charcoal in a censer.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Aphrodisiac Love Incense

Incense making is a hobby, and for me it sort of ritualized. I choose to grind all my herbs by hand, with a mortar and pestle. I believe that the incense is more personal and has more power when done by hand. That being said, I do own a coffee grinder. I usually use it for reducing dried roots to a powder, but if you're in a hurry or if the mortar and pestle isn't your thing, it's a very useful tool.

The incenses I create from dried herb need to be burned over charcoal in a censer. You can find them cheap at most herb supply stores.

Happy compounding!

Aphrodisiac Love Incense
1 part frankincense
1 part catnip
1 part lavender
1/2 part orris root
1/4 part pomegranate peel
1/4 part rose petals
1 drop ylang ylang oil
1 drop patchouli oil

Combine all ingredients and grind to a powder-like consistency. Place in a small glass jar and shake before each use. Burn over charcoal in a censer.

As so begins the Mystic Herbal...

I didn't feel it was right to clutter up my vegan foodie blog with mystic herbs, incenses, and cards, so I decided to create a sister blog. Herbalism is a budding interest of mine and as winter slowly melts into spring, I expect it to become a full-blown hobby.

This blog will contain how-tos, incense recipes, herbal concoctions and potions, and other things of that nature. Please enjoy!