Herbal Remedies with Jeanine Endsley
Invitation to Bloom: A shakti Goddess’s Spring Herbal MEdicine Guide
Your In-Depth Guide to 7 Ultimate Herbal Medicines for the times,
with recipes and recommendations by Jeanine Endsley
This is a guide for the woman or eager soul who is ready to sink their roots deep and rise up from the Earth in a nourished, healthy body. In this guide I will share 7 plant allies that can help you thrive and move through these uncertain times with vitality, focus, nourishment and strength. I will also provide some fun, simple and delicious recipes for you to try at home.
“Open the bloom
of your heart and become a gift of beauty to the world.”
Introducing the healing power of these plants into your life is a simple way you can support yourself and celebrate the magic of spring. Spring is the perfect time to begin anew: it begs to remind us that we too are part of the sacred cycle, not separate from it. Spring pleads for our acknowledgment of the tiny buds bursting through the cracks in the sidewalks, the fresh smell of the rain, the earth awakening once again to new life.
I love springtime—I always have and I always will. If we allow ourselves to be so entranced by the rich change of season that brings in the beauty and vibrance of new life, we can’t help but bloom as well. We often get excited about setting new goals and resolutions when the new year comes, but we forget that January 1st is still the dead of the winter season. Spring is where true rebirth begins.
Let’s face it: after the winter blues wash away, our bodies usually need a fresh tuning—a healthy restart. Charge up your system by committing to the health habits and practices that really nourish you from the inside out. Be willing to leave some old ways behind in the compost pile so they can be transformed into something better, like fertile soil ready to hold new life.
There are no greater allies to call upon than our precious flower friends and plant partners. They are so ready to co-create with our bodies. I have experienced the healing benefits of plants as effective treatments for many ailments and I am so thankful to share these 7 plants with you. They are fierce and mighty beings that aren’t afraid to burst through cracks in sidewalks or grow in the harshest of conditions. Some of these herbs I have been studying and working with for years!
So long as we meet plants with respect, humbled by their wisdom and their vast potential, they will continuously amaze us with their medicinal gifts. This is only a small list of plant allies—there’s a whole world of healing plants out there and I highly recommend getting to know some of them, especially those growing around you in your local area. Many herbalists believe that the plants growing naturally in your yard can have the best medicinal benefits for you as they are living in the very climate and adapting to the very same environmental stressors that you are.
Keep in mind that certain herbal formulas may work better for you than others, and herbalism isn’t a one-size-fits-all. See how each plant feels in your body, and set an intention to get to know them patiently and receptively.
These herbs I’ve chosen for you are “hand picked.” They remind us of the abundance of spring and the possibility we have every season to rebalance, reroot and strengthen our bodies. My prayer is that each of these plants reveals itself to you, and that you come to know the fervor and strength of each by its relentless ability to root, rise and stand strong.
Several of these herbal allies are known adaptogens. Adaptogens are agents that help the body to adapt to stressors and environmental changes by interacting with and normalizing the functions of various bodily systems. When stress tries to get the best of us, adaptogens are invaluable helpers that keep us sane and less prone to getting sick.
In this way adaptogens serve as a preventative form of health care, building up our resiliency over time. Every Goddess needs her favorite adaptogens on hand during these challenging times! We are resilient and powerful, and just like spring’s flower blossoms we too were made to radiate our special magic.
I am honored to share with you below a few plants that will help you shine from the inside out: Schisandra, Tulsi, Reishi, Licorice, Dandelion, Nettle and Lilac. They’ve got loads of benefits for you, beauty, and I hope you enjoy learning about them and trying the delicious recipes I’ve included.
When the natural world around us is rooting deep and preparing for the great blossoming of spring, we too feel encouraged to burst forth from the darkness we’ve been hibernating in. So I must ask: What is longing to be birthed through you at this time? What is yearning to come forth from deep within the soil of your heart?
Schisandra (Wu Wei Zi)
Schisandra, also known as the Five Flavor Berry and long referred to as the “quintessence of Chinese herbs,” is a bright red-berried plant that supports vitality and beauty when used regularly over time. It is said to promote beautiful glowing skin, to cleanse and purify the blood, and to boost the mind by supporting a strong memory and sharp cognitive skills.
“Schisandra’s Chinese name tells us that it possesses all five of the ‘tastes’ (sweet, salty, savory, sour and bitter) and therefore possesses the essence of all five elemental energies (wood, fire, earth, metal and water).” (1) Because of this special attribute, Schisandra is held in high regard in Chinese medicine as a super tonic.
It is widely used for concentration and alertness, and studies have revealed that Schisandra does support various mental functions including concentration, fine coordination and mental endurance. Many studies now indicate that Schisandra also has a balancing effect on the central nervous system. (1)
Chinese medicine considers Schisandra to have the greatest influence on lung, brain, liver and kidney functions without the negative side effects that are associated with pharmaceuticals and many of the “inferior” liver cleansing herbs. This berry is also known traditionally to prolong life and support longevity. Schisandra is loaded with antioxidants and protective anti-inflammatory nutrients that help the body maintain vitality. (2)
Furthermore, it appears to be very effective in supporting both detoxification and immunity. Renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar notes Schisandra for its ability to improve immune function, making it an excellent adaptogenic plant for dealing with stress.
Also known for its sexual health benefits, Schisandra can support sexual functions in both women and men. (1) It can be combined with the vitex plant to make a superior reproductive tonic that is energizing and stimulating. The ripe Schisandra berry exudes a very radiant, vibrant feminine energy.
To receive all of these benefits in one tiny berry is miraculous. While most Schisandra grows in China, it is possible to grow this herb in North America as well. Let’s grow this vibrant berried vine in our own yards!
Learn how you can enjoy the many benefits of this sensual superberry with the recipe below.
Try this Schisandra Recipe:
Tulsi (Ocimum Sanctum & Ocimum Tenuiflorum)
Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is the Mother and Queen of Herbs. Considered “the incomparable one,” Tulsi has been used in traditional Indian medicine for thousands of years and is still presently worshipped in India for her healing powers. This small shrub with lavender-like flowers is known for its antibacterial, adaptogenic, immune boosting and nerve soothing capabilities.
Tulsi protects the heart, reduces cholesterol levels, and reduces stress with her antioxidant activity. A study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine reports that Tulsi soothes the nerves and lowers blood pressure by replacing sodium in the body with potassium and loosening tensed blood vessels.
“Holy basil is incredibly beneficial for our health, primarily due to the unique composition of its essential oil, containing eugenol, camphor, flavonoids, nerol, and various terpenes. This rich blend of organic compounds delivers several health benefits. It can help relieve acne, asthma, inflammation, respiratory issues, lower your chances of heart diseases, and atherosclerosis.
“Holy basil is highly nutritious and is a good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. It also contains iron, sodium, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and vitamin B6, A, and K. The miraculous healing properties of holy basil come mainly from its essential oils and the phytonutrients in it. Holy basil has antibiotic, germicidal, fungicidal, and disinfectant properties. It is very effective in protecting our body from all sorts of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.” (3)
Tulsi’s essential oil compounds can not just rid the respiratory system of infection but also clear stagnant congestion in the lungs and reduce symptoms of coughs and colds. Tulsi can also help to heal damage caused to the lungs by the harsh effects of smoking and air pollution. (4)
This antioxidant rich plant has analgesic, sedative, anti-congestive, and disinfectant properties which are known to treat skin disorders without any negative side effects. Its antibacterial properties make it a great dental ally, and it is used in many Ayurvedic formulas to treat the teeth, mouth and gums.
Tulsi may even help treat anxiety and depression. According to a report in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, “Tulsi demonstrates anti-depressive and anxiety-regulating effects which can positively impact our cognitive function and memory.” (3)
The Yoga of Herbs states of Tulsi: “Commonly used as a nervine, or an herb that helps regulate and balance the nervous system, tulsi is believed to strengthen the nerve tissue. A simple, traditional preparation to promote clarity of mind is to prepare the tea with honey.” (5)
Unlike the Italian Basil that we know (and very distinct from Thai Basil as well), Holy Basil has a bitter and pungent taste. I personally love the spicy sweetness of it. The taste is wonderful and earthy and unlike anything else.
It is common practice in India for people to drink Tulsi water, which is simply water infused with Tulsi leaves by soaking them overnight. They also chew on Tulsi leaves to improve overall health as they are believed to have detoxifying effects.
If you’d like to introduce this plant to your life, try bringing a plant into your space or planting Holy Basil in your herb garden. Tulsi is easy to cultivate! This queen is one of my absolute favorite herbs whose soothing qualities remind me of my true nature. There are many reasons Tulsi is revered and considered sacred in India. Through her virtuous blessings she calms, soothes, protects and strengthens.
Try the recipe below for a fresh Tulsi juice. This juice is a simple way to treat cough, cold, and congestion in the lungs. This elixir is often used in India as an effective treatment for a variety of ailments and as an immune boosting tonic. It supports the nervous system while cleansing the body.
Try this Tulsi Recipe:
Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum)
Oh, Reishi. This supreme healer has been helping us live, function and feel better for over 2,000 years. While the Reishi mushroom is still lesser known in the West, this amazing fungus has been revered in China and Asian societies for thousands of years as one of the oldest medicines for general well-being and longevity.
This “mushroom of immortality” can be found growing on trees and logs in the wild. Originally it was reserved solely for use by royal figures. Now Reishi is used to treat a number of ailments: it is a lung healer able to treat coughs from colds and chronic asthma; its antioxidant content helps to strengthen our immune system; it reduces chronic inflammation, helps with insomnia, improves memory and cognitive function, and so much more. (6)
Research on Reishi suggests that it may even be able to treat cancer and improve quality of life for cancer patients. (7) While more research is being done on this, what studies have found so far is very promising. In 2010, Pharmacological Reports published a study highlighting the role of ganoderic acid, a triterpinoid found in the Reishi mushroom, in the inhibition of the development and metastasis of tumors. (6)
Regular consumption of Reishi could serve as a preventative measure against cancer. In 2011, a review of use of Reishi in cancer treatments expanded on these findings, suggesting that its bioactive compounds might even seek out and eradicate existing cancerous cells within the body. (6)
Reishi is a superb anti-stress herb and its adaptogenic qualities support optimal responses to stress and changing environments. This mushroom reminds us that by enhancing our inner life and supporting our body, we can see changes in our emotions and mental well-being too.
As the most loved and treasured herbal substance in Asia, Reishi stands high in ranking with ginseng. It also carries spiritual legacy. Ricardo Serrano writes in his book Meditation & Qigong Mastery:
“Deep in antiquity, it was routinely used by mountain hermits, monks, Taoist adepts and spiritual seekers throughout Asia as it was believed to help calm the mind, ease tension, strengthen the nerves, strengthen memory, sharpen concentration, improve focus, build will power and, as a result, help build wisdom. That is why it was called the “Mushroom of Spiritual Potency” by these seekers. The people of Asia have never lost their faith in reishi…” (8)
Who wants to improve memory and protect their brain as they age? I know that I sure do! And Reishi mushrooms may do just this. In a few studies Reishi extracts were shown to support the production of nerve growth factor, a protein that is vital for healthy neurological function.
Try the recipe below for some easy ways you can try Reishi at home.
Try these Reishi Recipes:
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra)
Did you know that Licorice is rooted in the Earth for 3-5 years before it is harvested for use? That’s quite a chunk of time and it tells us that Licorice is a resilient and committed root! Most people think of candy when they hear the word Licorice, also referred to as liquorice. However, most candies claiming this name do not even have actual Licorice root in them! It is time we get to know the many benefits of this beloved root.
Its Greek name Glycyrrhiza means “sweet root” and Licorice is also called “sweet stalk” in Sanskrit and “sweet herb” in Chinese. This well-known root is an adaptogenic ally that I invite you to connect with in these wild times.
One of the most well-known attributes of Licorice root is its effect on our hormones, specifically cortisol which is produced in the adrenal glands. By inhibiting the breakdown of cortisol by the liver, Licorice acts to reduce cortisol production and works as an adaptogen. Licorice is also an excellent digestive aid that soothes the stomach and and supports a healthy digestive system overall. (9)
Licorice contains many bioactive compounds, one of which is glycyrrhizic acid. This acid has anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties which reduce tension and protect the body from the detrimental effects of stress.
It is considered a tonic plant in many traditional medicine systems. Licorice promotes lung health and respiratory health. It can be used to treat sore throats, coughs, and even asthma and relieve bronchial spasms.
One study published in Food Chemistry Journal found Licorice to have “antioxidant, free-radical scavenging, immunostimulating” properties. (10) It also contains two effective antibacterial compounds that can prevent the growth of bacteria connected with cavities and gum disease.
Licorice is tens of times sweeter than sugar and can make a great herbal alternative for those looking to reduce their intake of refined white sugars. Note that overuse or extended use of Licorice can have adverse effects, so please always talk to a trained Herbalist or Holistic Practitioner if you’re considering using it for an extended period, especially if you are taking pharmaceutical medications.
Below is a delicious herbal cough syrup recipe so that you can enjoy the benefits of this soothing root, alongside other powerful herbs, to treat the many symptoms that come with colds and coughs all year round.
Try this Licorice Recipe:
Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale)
How I love me some Dandelion. A highly nutrient dense king among “weeds,” dandelion grows everywhere! There is nowhere I have been where Dandelion is not! And hopefully you’ve heard by now that many “weeds” actually have wonderful medicinal virtues. The greens, flowers and roots have long been used by many different cultures around the world and are a hearty, nourishing food that grows freely for all to enjoy.
What could be better than using the tools you’ve got right in front of you to do something beneficial for yourself? Use Dandelion straight from your yard (so long as no spraying has occurred) to take your spring cleansing to a whole new level and experience connecting with the medicine right before your eyes, shining underneath the golden sun!
Dandelion is the perfect pal to hang with this spring if you’d like to give your body a healthy flush, as dandelion supports the liver and is a gentle and mild detoxifier. Dandelion is a rich carrier of vitamins A, B complex and C, as well as iron, zinc, and potassium. (11)
It has long been used to detoxify the liver and kidneys, reduce swelling, heal skin problems, soothe the digestive system, ward off fever, improve vision, and as a treatment for diabetes. It is also a galactagogue, meaning it increases breast milk supply in nursing mamas. (12)
Dandelion leaves and flowers can easily be added to salads, sauteed in vegetable dishes, tossed in sandwiches or breaded and fried for a special treat. Yum! They’re sure nutritious no matter how they’re used.
The roots are commonly used as a coffee alternative due to their energizing qualities that some swear by. The leaves support healthy digestion and fluid elimination. (11) The flowers are sweet and honey-like and can be eaten raw.
This plant is a true powerhouse, and one of the best things about it is that you probably have some growing in your yard! Never forage, use, or consume an herb if you’re not sure whether pesticides or germicides. We sure don’t need any more toxic interference than we already get from the world, so be careful harvesting Dandelion from parks or sidewalks where poison might have been sprayed within the last 3 years.
Try the delicious recipe for homemade Dandelion syrup included below.
Try this Dandelion Recipe
Nettle (Uritica Diotica)
Oh, how Nettle nourishes! This sometimes loathed wild green is one of the most nutritive botanicals on the planet. Loaded with minerals, Nettle is a must have herbal ally for vegans and vegetarians due to its high iron content. I always use Nettle in my herbal infusions, as well as those that I make for my son.
A flowering plant that is found worldwide, Nettle is native to northern Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Here in the United States, it is found in every state except Hawaii and can grow up to 7 feet tall! Nettle has been used since ancient times as a food, medicine and tonic.
The Latin name Uritica means “to burn.” Stinging Nettle, which is another name for this plant, contains erect, bristly hairs along its leaves and stems that sting when touched.
These stinging hairs as well as the sharp edged leaves are what give Nettle its distinguishing features. Though disliked by many for its unforgettable sting, Nettle is a powerful medicine and a potent nutritional powerhouse.
As Brigitte Mars, one of my favorite herbalists, writes in her book “Rawsome”:
“Most people will want to wear gloves and use scissors when collecting nettles. However, people in the know have learned that getting stung by nettles is actually therapeutic because the sting increases circulation to the area, relieving pain and inflammation. I have friends who come over to “whack” their wrists in the nettle patch to relieve the soreness from playing guitar all night long.”
“Nettle is packed with vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals along with a hefty dose of potent phytonutrients including deep-green chlorophyll and carotenoids. In fact, more than 100 chemical components have been identified in nettle, including:
- Minerals – iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, boron, strontium
- Vitamins – A, C, K, and B vitamins
- Phytonutrients – chlorophyll, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, quercetin, rutin” (13)
Nettle is highly alkaline, a natural diuretic, a fierce anti-inflammatory, supportive for urinary and respiratory problems, a complete protein with essential amino acids and a protector against colds. The high content of beta-carotene and Vitamin C strengthen the mucous membranes, making it an ally to the lungs and an aid for allergies. (12)
Its benefits could fill another couple pages, and include improved circulation, soothing muscle pain, aiding in detox, better kidney, gallbladder, gastrointestinal and prostate health, and reducing allergies, menstrual cramps,and menopause symptoms.
On top of all of that, Nettle can even help with hair loss and dandruff, balance blood sugar and serve as a natural agent against Alzeihmer’s.
It is best to harvest Nettle when it is a young plant, as it’s more tender and easier to cook at that stage. Avoid using Nettle when it has gone to flower. It’s a very easy plant to grow and young plants can be found locally at organic farms. You can also plant Nettle with seeds purchased from a health food store or quality online retailer.
Try this Nettle Recipe
Lilac (Syringa Vulgaris)
Mmmm, Lilac. One of my absolute favorites in the springtime! They bring me right back to my childhood, reminding me of my days exploring along the river and sticking my nose in Lilac bushes, always in awe of their gorgeous colors and serenely intoxicating fragrance. I am one lucky woman to have a few small Lilac trees in my front yard, and I plan on making all sorts of decadent treats with the flowers, because that’s right folks… they’re edible!
In Brigitte Mars’ book “Rawesome,” you can find a list of edible flowers that is several pages long! Initially my heart swelled when I saw this extensive list. As an herbalist, earth mama, and total conscious foodie, I love to create with flowers and I use them often.
Specific flowers have sleep-inducing qualities and can help to reduce anxiety and depression. Lilacs in particular contain a rare form of lutein, one of only two carotenoids found in the human eye, that has been shown to benefit eye health. (14)
The wonderful aroma of flowers typically arouses positive emotions and feelings of delight and appreciation which calm the nervous system and quiet the mind. (15) I include this bit because in these stressful times we’ve got to take good care of ourselves.
Not only are their fragrances hypnotizing, research shows that flowers can help to boost memory and concentration and just looking at flowers fills my heart with passion, sensuality and peace, and they remind me of my own feminine nature.
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Buddha
Flowers are one of the most enchanting gifts of Mother Earth and there are many ways to enjoy them: eating them whole, as flower essences, for aromatherapy, or used in herbal infusions, sacred floral baths, homemade body care products and so much more.
Consider treating yourself to the therapeutic benefits of flowers, whether in nature or from your local quality florist, but be sure never to eat flowers that were purchased from a store unless you know they are pesticide and germicide free. Most aren’t. While they can be dried or fresh, always try to use organic or wild flowers. Start by picking a small wildflower bouquet this spring, but be sure to respect the plant above all and leave some flower for our precious pollinators!
Try these Lilac Recipes:
One Final Note: From an Herbalist to You
As an Herbal Practitioner, Holistic Massage Therapist, and lover of all things wild and earthy, I highly recommend all of the plants I have shared with you here. This spring I encourage you to study, learn, lean into and harness the treasure trove of simple, tried and true herbal remedies to keep your stress at bay.
I do want to mention that it is important never to use herbs to replace a good diet, exercise and quality sleep. Taking care of yourself is preventative health care, and herbs can be a part of that but not all of it. 20 minutes of meditation a day can do wonders for anxiety. Exercise can release the “feel good” chemicals that inspire a positive mindset. Above all remember to stay hydrated. The benefits of just a few of these healthy practices will undoubtedly support your internal systems and improve your quality of life.
I currently have mason jars full of anti-viral and nervine tinctures (medicines that nourish the nerves/nervous system) which I made with plants I harvested myself, and their benefits have been invaluable for me at this time. The best part is that I didn’t even have to go to a health-food store to get the remedy I was after, I made it with my own two hands! There is no feeling quite like that.
We’ve forgotten that we are capable of making medicine, but there is no better time to start making your own herbal medicine than right now. Once you discover some recipes you like, you will find it is a satisfying and nourishing ritual.
Please always use organic or wild-harvested herbs. If you have the means, start an herbal garden or a vegetable garden, or plant wildflowers to support the bees and our beloved pollinators. As Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
Research, discover, and get inspired about all of the ways you can be more self-sufficient, and strive to do what you can with what you’ve got, wherever you are. You know that saying, “Bloom where you are planted?”
Thank you so much for making it this far with me. I honor your excitement to learn, your willingness to take time to get to know each plant I’ve shared with you, and your beautiful, one-of-a-kind heart, for the unique creation that you and only you are.
You are your own kind of flower. Give yourself permission to bloom in the warm sunlight things spring. It is my prayer that these medicines nourish you in a wholesome and inspiring way, and that you carry this blossoming with you in your heart always.
In deeply rooted love, with reverence to the plants, and in gratitude for our collective healing,
(3) Cohen, M.M. (2014). Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 5(4), 251–259.
(5) Lad & Frawley (1986). The yoga of herbs: An Ayurvedic guide to herbal medicine. Lotus Press.
(8) Serrano, Ricardo B. (2011) Meditation & Qigong Mastery. HolisticWebs.com.
(12) Mars, Birggite. (2004) Rawsome! Maximizing Health, Energy and Culinary Delight with the Raw Foods Diet. Basic Health Publications, Inc.
The following is a full list of all the hyperinks that were included in this article: