Tag Archives: Plants

Need a New “Nightcap”? Try Vervain (Verbena hastata) – Nerve Tonic


As I recently started a full-time venture that has been mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging, I happily reacquainted myself to my dear, old friend, Verbena hastata, otherwise known as Vervain or Blue Vervain. I first met Verbana hastata in my herbology course in graduate school. It was there that I learned Vervain was a remedy for people who are “high-minded,” “who suffer from strong ideals or opinions they wish to thrust upon others” and for people “who feel driven.” Vervain people’s deep connection to their ideals cause them to criticize others, but they are also very self-critical. People who react well to Vervain, are “constantly exhausted, yet constantly striving” and their bodies often cannot keep up energetically with their overactive minds.  Vervain people like to make lists and they could be labeled as “hormonal,” in that they are very affected by hormonal shifts, for example, they may be prone to get the munchies from time to time (not like I’m speaking from personal experience or anything).

According to Chinese medicine, Vervain is a nauseant bitter that can provoke shivering, a mechanism to help the body relax and let go of tension especially in the neck. Vervain can also help provoke secretion; it especially helps open the pores for a good sweat. Overall, Vervain relaxes the nerves and regulates hormones.

So why am I telling you this? If you happen to be a Vervain (herbalists refer to people as their relfective plants), which I am, (if you couldn’t tell)–it might be helpful for you to check out Verveine tea. Now don’t go drinking it every day, because if homeopathy has taught us anything it’s that something that can cure, can also cause, so only take it as needed once before bed. For example, if you worked a long day and feel tight in the neck and you are up late blogging instead of resting, boil some hot water and have a Vervain nightcap to calm and rejuvenate your nerves overnight. It’s all about balance.

With that said, true to my Vervain self, (as I drink the tea and “relax”/blog), I should be going off to bed to enjoy and take in the full effects of one of my favorite plants.

Sources: Lise Wolff, my dear herbalist; Matthew Wood and his book, The Practice of Traditional Westen Herbalism;  My dear and special friend, Irene’s husband, Rachid, for reminding me of this wonderful remedy and gifting me “verveine tea” straight from Morocco. Moroccans, among many other cultures enjoy the benefits of this relaxing plant.

The Healthy Home: DIY Lavender Wands


The purchase of a home changed my life. I never knew how much my perspective would shift after making such a large investment and commitment to something as basic as shelter. How foolish of me. Although I must admit, I always paid special attention to how our physical landscapes and environments influence our health, behavior, and our sense of “place.” When I lived in places that were dirty, dark, or cold I noticed a difference in my wellbeing.  When I heard yelling from the unhappy neighbors living next door, it was tougher to have sweet dreams or to go home at all.

Despite my awareness of the importance of living in a place that is safe and that reflects and expresses our true personhoods, I have often neglected taking care of my home (and therefore myself). For me, it has been easy to go on living in places filled with piles of laundry scattered here and there. It has also been easy for me to ignore dirty dishes. Generally speaking, it was not a hard choice to avoid developing the spaces I inhabited. That choice wasn’t the fault of my loud neighbor or a landlord’s requirement. It was my own choice. In addition to my lack of ambition, resources were often scarce. Excuses were always many. When can one find the time, the money, or both to make the repairs and enhancements necessary to make a home healthy and beautiful? What is a healthy and beautiful home, and why does it matter, anyway?

Well, it turns out there are many low-cost ways that can transform a space and make you feel good about the place you call home, whether you own or are just staying the night. As a renter, it’s easy to view your home as temporary, but that is not the way you have to treat your stay, and it is certainly no excuse to give up on making your home a healthy place to live. Unfortunately it took me until I actually bought a home to truly respect and honor the sense of place, security, and wellbeing that such a place provides for me.

Today I want to share a simple project that is on my to-do list that will create a feel-good sensation at home.  I find these wands to be the perfect project to look forward to as I wait  for the cold season to make its way out of Minnesota. Traditionally, women placed these bundles of joy in drawers to keep their underclothes smelling fresh and also to repel moths. Nowadays, they would be known as drawer scenters. They make a great gift and add beauty and health to any home. They are called, Lavender Wands.

The materials you will need to create your wands include:

  •  Thin string/fishing line
  • Odd number of fresh lavender stalks
  • 1 yard of ribbon optional

For basic instruction, I found this video to be helpful:

To see a more detailed step-by-step process with pictures, visit Homemade Gifts Made Easy.

Have garden space where you live or have access to a community garden plot? Check out Midwest Living’s How to Grow Lavender in the Midwest.

Can’t wait for fresh lavender to arrive? Check out lavender essential oils in the meantime. Put a drop on a cotton ball and sniff to your heart’s content. Although, be careful not to sniff too much, because while lavender offers relaxing properties, if used too much it will act as a stimulant.

A Healthy Home in the Making


This post is three parts, one part excuse, one part teaser, and one part informative/cool.

Excuse part: While I will do my best to blog about any pertinent wellness news, I write to ask you to please excuse my quiet blogging presence this month. On March 1st, my husband and I bought our first home. Which means during the last two weeks, our free time has been dedicated to all things house-related. If we aren’t eating or sleeping, we are packing, organizing, moving, painting, dreaming, arguing, celebrating, or thinking about the move. You get the idea. You know the stereotypical, new, overexcited DIY-homeowners? That’s us right about now. I never imagined myself to be so enthralled by it all, but I am, and I am riding the wave while I can. I sense a burnout on the horizon so I’m hoping this go-go-go adrenaline will continue to motivate us through April 1st, our official move-in date. Once we are all in one place, I look forward to taking a break from the hustle and bustle and inviting you over to simply relax and ponder the meaning of our existence, you know, the usual. Or, maybe we could be wild and have a party? The possibilities are infinite…

Teaser part: So why am I including this homeowner babble on Mandala Reflections? Well, I have been itching to share some information about environmental health on this blog and now feel like I have the extra push to bring this topic to light. My thesis work for my holistic health studies degree actually started with research on environmental health and healthy homes. I gained a lot of knowledge and insight about the environment and how it affects our health and would love to share what I learned with you in smaller bites. Truthfully on good days, I can hardly wrap my head around the pages and pages of my thesis and notes, so I actually am delighted to have a reason to revisit my work, make it useful for me and for you, and perhaps encounter some more discoveries along the way.

Informative/cool part:

One important aspect of a healthy home is good air quality, indoor and out. So, I leave you with a picture of a desk that was designed by Julio Radesca based on the principles that Kamal Meattle discussed in his TEDtalk on how to use plants to grow fresh air. To give you the quick version understanding, plants help keep the air you breathe clean. Certain plants work better than others.  Julio Radesca’s desk uses a hydroponic system that feeds the plants, which keeps them alive so they can clean the air, so that you can breathe happy.

However you should know, there two things that plants cannot clean. 1) Smoke. 2) Dust. So if you smoke, understand that only you can remove those pollutants from your home.  And, always remember to give your green friends a good wash, at least once a week if you want them to keep cleaning the air for you. What is a good wash, you ask? Spray the leaves with water and pat them clean/dry with a paper towel. Be gentle. If you want to give your plant a great wash, maybe talk to the plant while you wash it. Light some candles, put on some tunes, whatever works for you and your plant. Just don’t light the candle too close to the plant…