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Nine Herbs to Grow on Your Windowsill

Did you know sage can combat carpal tunnel syndrome and oregano is a powerful antioxidant? Many common herbs do more than add flavor toyour meals: they go into overtime to work on asthma, arthritis, andinsomnia.Here's a quick list of nine herbs that are easy to grow, followed by advice on how to get started.

Holly Shimizu, a renowned horticulturist and garden designer, and's advisor on gardening, gives a green "thumbs up" to these.

Aromatic spearmint and peppermint do more than add a little zest toyour cup of tea: they are also a traditional treatment for gall stones. The oils of these effective antioxidants ease muscle tightness, and chewing on mint sprigs can relieve an upset stomach.

Distinguished by its narrow, spiky leaves and piney scent, rosemary varies in color from shiny dark green to pale gray-green all over. Known as the herb of remembrance, rosemary contains several antioxidants that help prevent aging in cells and may work against Alzheimer's disease.

Lemon balm
Also known as melissa, lemon balm relieves chronic fatigue syndrome and can be helpful in treating migraines. A tea made with lemon balm can also work as a sedative and a stomach soother. Its bright green heart-shaped leaves give off a lovely lemony scent.

Thyme's pungent scent comes from the oil in the small oval leaves. Apply a compress of thyme leaves to the aching muscles in your neck,shoulders, and back if you're prone to tension headaches. A cup ofthyme tea taken up to four times a day may be effective againstbronchitis and whooping cough.

Available in numerous varieties, sage is a strongly aromatic, bushyplant with spiky purple flowers. Loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds, sage is effective against carpal tunnel syndrome. Steep two teaspoons of dried sage in a cup of boiling water and gargle with it (after it has cooled) to treat mouth and throat inflammations.

The robust taste of oregano comes from its soft, oval leaves that grow in pairs along the stem. Its power punch of antioxidants canhelp maintain the immune function of those who are HIV-positive. Good for arthritis, asthma, and emphysema, oregano also contains seven compounds that lower blood pressure.

A rich source of the bone-strengthener flourine, parsley works to prevent osteoporosis. Apply crushed parsley leaves to reduce the black and blue colors of a bruise. Parsley comes in two varieties:curly parsley and the taller, flat-leaf Italian parsley. Eat a sprig for a quick breath freshener and to aid in digestion.

Fragrant flowers characterize the spiky leaves and colorful blooms of lavender. Aromatherapists routinely use oil of lavender for pain; mix a few drops of lavender oil with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and massage the painful area. Sprinkle a few drops on your bedsheets to help you sleep, or relax in a warm bath scented with lavender oil.

The downy, gray-green leaves of catnip are a favorite of cats, so keep this herb off your windowsill if you don't want your cats playing in your plants. A member of the mint family, catnip has a mild tranquilizing effect on most people. Try a cup of catnip tea about 45 minutes before bedtime to induce sleep.

Note: All these herbs can grow from one to three feet tall, so keep them trimmed. Herbs are safe in moderate doses, but like any medicine, some can be harmful when taken in frequent, large doses. Herbal oils are intended for external use only. Keep such oils away from small children who might be tempted to taste them.

How to Make Flower Essences

Flower essences originated with Paracelsus, the parent of modern alchemy, who collected dew from plants to treat his patients. They were later developed by Edward Bach, adoctor interested in homeopathy (which also uses ideas from alchemy). This method for making essences describes using the Sun, but you can also use the full Moon (and even tweak it by choosing the Moon when it's in a particular sign) or pure starlight (after the Moon has set). Needless to say, you can also use a particular aspect of the Moon's phase to develop an essence that speaks to particular level of consciousness, type of emotion, aspect of the spirit, or type of magick. This describes making an essence of flowers, but you can use the same technique to make an essence of leaves, whole herbs, roots, crystals, etc.

Get a clear glass bowl that has no markings. Since you have to cover the entire surface of the water with flowers, get a smallish bowl. You'll also need some sort of filter (an unbleached coffee filter works well). A funnel is useful for pouring the resulting essence into a small brown bottle (there is lots of discussion which color bottles preserve best--some people insist on using only brown, others recommend using violet or black). You'll need another clean glass container to filter the essence into. The water you use should not be from the faucet but spring water, rain water, or dew. The bottle you pour the essence into should be at least 30 ml.

When you decide what you want to make an essence of, ask the plant if you have permission to use it. You can do this by using your intuition (sit in front of the plant and let it talk to you) or by using a pendulum. On a sunny morning, fill the bowl half full of water. Pick enough flowers to cover the surface, being careful to keep them as whole as possible; some people believe that it is best not to touch the flowers but to cut them so they fall directly into the water. Leave the bowl in full sunlight for three hours. Make sure shadows don't fall on it in that time, and that children and animals don't mess with it. Remove the flowers carefully (you can use your hand or a leaf of the plant you are making an essence of) and filter the water into the clean container. Fill the brown bottle half full with vodka, brandy, Everclear, 151 rum, or wine (wine won't last as long but has its own energy). Top up with the essence. This is the mother essence. Label with the flower and the date. Store in a cool, dark place away from electrical and other energy sources, and it will keep indefinitely.

You can make stock bottles by putting one to seven drops of the mother essence into a bottle filled with either alcohol or a 50/50 mix of alcohol and water. If you are sensitive to alcohol, you can use glycerine or vinegar. In turn, use essence from the stock bottle to make a medicine bottle, adding 2-7 drops of the stock essence to a bottle of alcohol or alcohol/water mix. You can put them in plain water if they are going to be used relatively quickly. With essences, the greater the dilution, the greater the power.

Flower essences work on a vibrational level to encourage balance. They are not biochemical medicines. Take them two to four drops four times a day. You can put them under your tongue, rub them on your skin, put them in bath water, or mist them into the air. Take ten minutes prior to eating or one hour afterward. You can take them more often if you want. Essences can effect change slowly or quickly, but the change should be subtle--changes in eating, sleeping, dreaming, energy, thinking, feeling, working.

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Positive Energy: The 8th Prescription


Judith Orloff, M.D.

[Excerpted from Positive Energy: Ten Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress and Fear Into Vibrance, Strength and Love, (April, 2004, Harmony Books)]

I learned to honor my energy needs the hard way.
As a psychiatrist who specializes in intuition, I knew how important it was to listen my body.
Yet still I’d vacillate between intense weeks of speaking tours to bouts of utter exhaustion at home.
I couldn’t turn down "irresistible" opportunities.
Here was my dilemma--I trusted my intuition, and was committed to living by it.
But I had a blind spot: as successful as I was at helping others at trusting intuition and leading high energy lives, I was ignoring my own energy crises.
Finally, my fatigue was so profound I had to change.

It's vital that we cherish our precious energy so we don't do violence to our capacity for passion.
I now believe that the most profound transformations can only take place on an energetic level.
I’ve met many patients who’ve spent much time and money on talk therapy, hoping that intellectual insights will bring emotional freedom, but they’re disappointed.
As much as I love the linear mind, my approach, which I call Energy Psychiatry, goes further to also facilitate a conscious rebuilding of subtle energies, the most basic life force in each of us.

Do You Get Drained By Other People’s Energy?

Our bodies are made of flesh and blood, but they’re also composed of energy fields--though, sadly, I wasn’t taught this in medical school.
Each day we encounter a wide range of energies, both positive and negative. Positive energy includes compassion, courage, forgiveness, and faith.
Negative energy includes fear, anger, hopelessness, and shame.
We need to be experts at dealing with energy so we don’t get demolished by draining situations or people who’re energy vampires.

Like me, you may be an intuitive empath, someone who’s so sensitive to energy you pick it up but you’re also drained by it.
This goes way beyond feeling sympathy for a distraught friend--we actually take on their pain, either emotionally or physically.
To cope, we take refuge in solitude.
We empaths are so attuned to others that we can feel what’s going on inside of them.
This can put us on energy overload and aggravate everything from chronic fatigue to overeating.

Growing up, my girlfriends couldn't wait to hit the malls, but I dreaded them.
I always felt overwhelmed, exhausted around crowds, though I was clueless why.
"What's the matter?" friends would say, shooting me the weirdest looks. All I knew was that crowded places and I just didn't mix.
I'd go there feeling fine, but leave nervous, depressed, or with some new ache or pain.
Unsuspectingly, I was a gigantic sponge, absorbing the energy of people around me.

Thank goodness, as my intuition matured, I realized I had intuitive empathy.
Once I learned to protect my energy, empathy has become a gift enhancing my compassion.

Here’s how empathy works: the more people per square foot, the more our energy fields intersect--thus the tendency to become overloaded in high-density areas.
This aspect of intuition is the most neglected.

Empaths, unintentionally, can make even a good doctor's life hell.
They manifest so many "unexplained" symptoms that frustrated physicians write them off as hypochondriacs.
Empaths are notoriously misdiagnosed.
Patients have come to me with obesity who’ve failed diets because they needed strategies other than eating to protect themselves from negative energy.
Others were labeled "agoraphobic" or with "panic disorder," having received only minor relief from traditional treatments.
Some were nearly house-bound.
They'd all say, "I dislike crowded places where there’s no quick escape. Forget department stores, busy streets, elevators, tunnels.
I just avoid them." Sounded very familiar.
So I decided to take a history of how these people processed subtle energy in the world, something all health professionals must be trained to assess.
Voila! I found many were undiagnosed empaths.
For me, this changed everything.
My job as a physician then became teaching my patients to center themselves and protect their energy.

How do you know if you’re an empath? What are the signs?

Quiz: Are You an Intuitive Empath?
Ask yourself:
Have you ever sat next to someone at a dinner who seems pleasant,
but suddenly you're nauseous, have a headache, or feel drained?
Are you uncomfortable in crowds, even go out of your way to avoid them?
Do you get easily over-stimulated by people or prefer being alone?
When someone is in pain, do you start feeling it too ?
Do I overeat around people I’m uncomfortable with?
If you've answered "yes" to one or more questions, it's likely you have experienced intuitive empathy.
Responding "yes" to every question indicates empathy is draining your energy.

Tips for Keeping Your Positive Energy High

In crowds or stressful situations, take a few deep breaths to exhale negative energy from your body
Visualize a protective shield of light around you, letting positive energy in, but keeping negative energy out
Meditate daily to center yourself--visualize roots going through you and planting firmly in the ground
Take daily baths or showers to wash off negative vibes.
Burn sage in a room to purify left over negative vibes
Eliminate energy vampires (people who sap you)
I hope I’ve inspired you to be more sensitive to your energy needs. Understanding how you react energetically in the world is particularly important if you’re chronically tired and want to build vitality.
Knowledge is power.
Meeting your energy needs can balance mind, body, and spirit to create a vibrant life.

Judith Orloff, MD is a board-certified psychiatrist, a practicing intuitive, and author of the new book Positive Energy.

She’s also written the bestsellers Guide to Intuitive Healing and Second Sight.
For more information visit