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Natural Health
Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

Make Natural Beeswax Balms

homemade oil balm 

Homemade balms are one of my favorite natural skincare products. Easy to make, a treat to use, safe, healthy, and wonderfully versatile, they will become a staple in your skincare routine — or a favorite thing to give as a gift — once you get into the swing of making them. 

Balms generally have two main components: oil and beeswax, although people who are allergic to beeswax may use alternatives such as soy wax. 

You can use any natural cold-pressed oils such as olive, almond, avocado, and even coconut if you live in a warm climate. 

Then comes the beeswax part. Generally, the more beeswax you add, the harder your balm will be. I like to have a proportion of 5 parts oil and 1 part beeswax. To measure with precision, I have a digital kitchen scale. 

It's nice to add a few drops of essential oils for good smell and/or relaxing or refreshing properties. I have made olive oil-based balm with menthol and eucalyptus essential oil that smells very invigorating. 

You can also make your own herb-scented oils and use them in making balms (or for other purposes). To do that, place oil in a jar in a sunny spot and add a few sprigs of fresh or dry aromatic herbs such as rosemary, mint, sage, and so on. Leave for a few days to a week, or until the oil smells as strongly as you wish. I am currently using a balm based on grapeseed oil imbued with lavender I had picked and dried myself. It smells divine!

Combine oil and beeswax in a small pot on very low heat and stir continuously until you reach uniform consistency. Pour into glass jars. If you use pretty ones, they can make a great gift. Allow to set at room temperature before using.

Use your balm on any bit of your skin that really needs some thorough care and lots of moisture - cracked heels, dry elbows, chapped lips, rough hands after working in the garden. It works especially great during the winter.

Give your feet an intense beauty treatment: before bedtime, slather natural oil balm, put on cotton socks, and leave until morning. After about a week, your feet will begin shedding dry, dead, cracked skin at a pace that will surprise you. 

Enjoy the new tool in your toolbox of natural homemade personal care! 

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna, her husband, and their four children live on the outskirts of a small town in northern Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Author PageConnect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


Ready to take your beekeeping skills to the next level? In Business with Bees provides the answers you need.

“The only way to save the honey bee is to save the beekeeper. All the rest comes second,” says bestselling author and beekeeping expert Kim Flottum. In this book, Flottum shows you how to save bees, beekeepers, and your business. He takes serious beekeepers past the early stages and learning curves and offer practical, useful advice for converting their passion into a part-time or full-time career with measurable results.

This beekeeping business how-to guide offers all of the in-depth answers to the questions you didn’t know you had. Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Managing Lyme or Possible Tick-Transmitted Diseases with CBD Products

 John Ivanko with Hemp Plants

Getting Lyme disease from a black-legged (deer) tick bite might very well become North America’s version of malaria that runs rampant in tropical and subtropical climates. True, Lyme disease, caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii transferred by a tick bite, is a completely different disease than malaria, caused by a parasite transmitted to humans by being bitten by an infected mosquito. But both can have devastating impacts on quality of life. And there is currently no vaccine against either disease.

Like most homesteaders, my wife Lisa Kivirist, son, and I spend a lot of time outdoors. We forage for morel mushrooms in spring, harvest wood throughout the summer months, and walk back and forth from our farmhouse to our organic growing fields at Inn Serendipity to harvest fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. We live in what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) would probably call a “tick habitat.” And we definitely don’t apply insecticides as advocated by the CDC for tick prevention. Mentioned in my previous article about protection from Lyme disease, we have found some insect repellents to have worked for us so far.

If you get bit by a tick, you may find the bullseye rash often associated with tick bites that carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Sometimes you’ll find a doctor who prescribes a short-term dose of Doxycycline antibiotics immediately after you think you may have been bitten by a tick (even without locating a bullseye rash) that may possibly be carrying Lyme disease or another tick-related disease. Many people, however, never see the bullseye rash. And it’s my personal experience that it can may be extremely hard to convince a healthcare provider to prescribe antibiotics as a precaution. The flu-like symptoms or other peculiar symptoms of tick-related diseases leave many doctors befuddled. My son had just one swollen right knee, off and on, for years before we had to switch healthcare provider who was willing to make a clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease and treat him.

The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi carried by the ticks is quite stealthy. While blood tests are available, they’re not very accurate. The more I asked around, the more fellow farmers and homesteaders seemed to describe symptoms similar to mine, some living with the joint pain, headaches or general fatigue for years.

Living With, and Managing, Lyme Disease with CBD Products

While the CDC and many doctors feel the Doxycycline antibiotics will completely kill off the harmful tick-transmitted bacteria, a swelling number of patients disagree, plagued with chronic joint pain or other nerve-related issues. It’s gotten so bad, that so-called “Lyme literate doctors” offer special care and treatment for patients with Lyme, treatment often not covered by traditional health insurance. Entire books have also been written about different protocols for treating chronic Lyme disease.

A relatively new course of management of some Lyme symptoms are various cannabidiol (CBD) products. If you decide to try CBD, you’ll need to experiment on what works for you based on the concentration of CBD in the particular product, your weight and body chemistry, and what you’re trying to treat. CBD is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, the FDA provides no recommended dosages.

Thanks to the legalization of the growing and sale of hemp in 2018, there has been an explosive growth in hemp, the non-psychoative cousin of cannabis. Many homesteaders have embraced growing hemp, in part, because the new crop recycles nutrients and reduces soil erosion, and because it can be more profitable than growing carrots and tomatoes for market.

“CBD products give people an opportunity to feel healing effects for a wide variety of ailments, using a natural plant extract, that works very well for many,” says FL Morris, President and Founding Member of South Central Wisconsin Hemp Cooperative. “CBD gives a healthy, non-addictive, alternative solution or supplement to prescription and over the counter drugs that do not have local organic farmers creating the source ingredients.”

So far, I consider myself lucky, since I have a doctor who is assisting with some pharmaceutical medication related to managing my odd nervous system functioning. However, I’ve also found some success with several new CBD products now on the market. Consult with your doctor before trying CBD products, since certain medications could have some interactions.

CBD and Honey Ache and Pain Relief from Life Elements

For several years, I struggled with joint pain in my shoulders. It wasn’t caused by over doing it in the growing fields. I fact, the pain suddenly set in after a stressful life event. Stress most likely triggered an episode of Lyme disease, causing the dormant bacteria to suddenly be active and lead to painful and inflamed joints.

CBD and Honey Ache and Pain Relief rub from Life Elements was quite effective at reducing inflammation and ease my shoulder pain. I’ve turned to it regularly when I have seasonal flair-ups of joint pain. Life Elements uses full-spectrum, organic, non-gmo, hemp-derived CBD grown in the US.

CBD Hemp Extract from Luce Farm Wellness 

Luce Farm Wellness Hemp Extract and Other CBD Products

On a 200-year-old, Vermont Certified Organic farm in Stockbridge, Vermont, Rebecca and Joe Pimentel have focused on full-spectrum hemp-infused wellness products. Luce Farm Wellness hemp-infused Body Balm and Warming Rub has helped ease some of my joint pain in shoulders and knees.

I’ve just started experimenting with their full-spectrum Luce Farm Wellness CBD Hemp Extract, using drops from their dropper bottle in my morning coffee. Use of the Hemp Extract may help in better managing my mild, but on-going, odd neurological sensations.

“It is very important for consumers to ask for or look up a certificate of analysis (COA) for any CBD extract product,” advises Morris. “This is becoming available as a QR code on the packaging, should be presented by the retailer, or listed on the manufacturer's website. If the COA is not available, do not buy it. The product could have no CBD content.”

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authored Rural RenaissanceHomemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Both are speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. As a writer and photographer, Ivanko contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, a 10.8-kW solar power station and millions of ladybugs. Read all of John’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Peppermint Foot Chiller for Tired, Hot Feet


Folks, it doesn’t have to be summertime for you to experience dog-tired, hot, sweaty feet.  Just ask anyone who routinely spends a lot of time on their feet . . . landscapers, brick masons, carpenters, massage therapists, sales clerks, waiters, parents of young children, runners, school teachers, hair stylists, exercise instructors, nurses, etc.  Their poor tootsies take a beating all year long! 

Your feet are your foundation – ever think about that?  They literally connect you with the earth, stabilize your being, take you from point A to point B, and enable you to jump, run, ski, bike, swim, and enjoy life, often with grace and style.  It’s very difficult to get along without them.  At the end of the day, after being on them for hours, your poor fatigued, throbbing, sweaty, swollen “barking dogs” are in need of refreshment, rejuvenation, and relief!  For all the support they give, regular soothing care is recommended to keep them (and you) happy!  In this blog, I offer a simple, natural, soothing, aromatic solution that you can make in 5 minutes flat – a few minty spritzes will leave you with comfortable, cool feet so you can step lively once again!

I’m a practicing foot reflexologist and the DIY spritzer recipe below is one that I use nearly every day in my treatments.  I spray a light mist on my client’s feet and lower legs at the end of their session and massage it in real good!  They’re usually quite relaxed after 75 minutes of foot work, so this minty-fresh spray perks them up a bit, hydrates their skin (which is often dry), and sends them out the door with feet feeling ultra-revived!

Bonus uses?  You bet!  This spray doubles as a superior room freshener – perfect to deodorize both bathrooms and mud rooms where stinky shoes are stored.  Simply spritz into the air a few times (and into shoes, too) and say good-bye to staleness and odor. 

Make yourself a batch, won’t you?  This recipe is also perfect for gift-giving – design a decorative custom label with directions, ingredients, and date made.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love to receive a bottle of this pleasingly fragrant spritzer.

Lini-Mint: Peppermint Foot Chiller Recipe

Refreshing herbal relief is a quick spray away with this super-easy-to-make foot chillin’ formula.  Vodka, along with peppermint and lavender essential oils, combine to form a menthol liniment of moderate intensity, with a cool-to-cold energy that evaporates rapidly, removing heat along with sweat and odor and leaving you feeling footloose and fancy-free.  I recommend stashing a small bottle in your gym bag to use as a postworkout foot refresher – especially if there’s no time to shower – it’ll put some spring back in your step!


  • 1 cup unflavored vodka (use either 80- or 100-proof)
  • 30 drops peppermint (Mentha piperita) essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil (optional, but blends beautifully with peppermint, and adds anti-inflammatory, muscle-relaxing properties, too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
  • 1 8-oz dark-glass spray-top bottle


Combine the vodka, peppermint and lavender (optional) essential oils, and glycerin in your spritzer bottle and shake vigorously to blend. 

Label and store on a counter (out of the sun) or in a cool cabinet.  No refrigeration is required, but chilling the formula makes it even more cooling. 

For maximum freshness and potency, please use within 1 year.

To Apply:  Shake well before each use as the essential oils will naturally separate out and float to the top.  Immediately spray on bare feet and lower legs whenever they’re feeling weary, hot, and generally uncomfortable.  Give feet and legs a good rub down.  If you can coerce a friend or family member to do this for you, all the better!  Allow feet to air-dry before putting on socks or hosiery.

Yield:  Approximately 1 cup

Recipe excerpted from “Hands-On Healing Remedies: 150 Recipes for Herbal Balms, Salves, Oils, Liniments & Other Topical Therapies,” (c2012 by Stephanie Tourles).  Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Stephanie Tourles is a licensed holistic aesthetician, certified aromatherapist, and gardener with training in Western and Ayurvedic herbalism. She has also written many other books, including her best-selling, Organic Body Care RecipesHands-On Healing RemediesRaw Energy In a GlassRaw Energy; Pure Skin Care; and Naturally Bug-Free (all available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store). Visit her website to learn more, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

Hands-On Healing Remedies-cover photo jpg


Stephanie Tourles offers 150 original recipes for herbal balms, oils, salves, liniments and other topical ointments you can make yourself to treat a wide range of conditions, from headaches and backaches to arthritis, tendonitis, fungal infections, anxiety, cuts and scrapes, insomnia, splinters, and cracked skin. These preparations are all-natural, effective, safe and fun to prepare. Take control of your well-being and stock your family’s medicine cabinet with your own custom-made healing remedies.

 Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.



All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Milk Baths: Fit For a Queen (or King)

Milk Bath 

Our youngest farmhand, our eight-year-old daughter, decided to be Cleopatra, Queen of Ancient Egypt, for Halloween this year. Getting her costume ready reminded me that it’s been a while since I took a milk bath. "Self care" is a popular term these days, because our society is so perpetually busy that taking something as simple as a bath feels indulgent. Isn’t that sad? Cleopatra was known for her famous milk baths, specifically donkey milk baths. While donkey milk is not a sustainable source in current times, there are other alternatives to still give you the skin loving milk bath experience you desire — no donkey kicks required.

The Roman author and philosopher Pliny the Elder, described the benefits of (donkey) milk for the skin: “It is generally believed that ass milk effaces wrinkles in the face, renders the skin more delicate, and it is a well-known fact, that some women are in the habit of washing their face with it seven times daily, strictly observing that number. Poppaea, the wife of the Emperor Nero, was the first to practice this; indeed, she had sitting-baths, prepared solely with ass milk, for which purpose whole troops of she- asses used to attend her on her journeys."

It is also reported Napoleon’s sister, Pauline Bonaparte, used ass milk for her skin’s health care as well.

Ok, so "ass milk" jokes aside, milk can be such a nourishing treat for your skin! There are many companies that sell dehydrated milk bath powders, or you can use fresh milk from the store or farmer. I personally prefer fresh milk as it’s much more likely to retain the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins and fatty acids than any processed powder can. Now this doesn’t mean go fill your tub full of milk and take a bath — that would be very costly and not practical. But even adding a few cups of (whole) milk to a warm bath can give you a really indulgent farm-to-bath experience.

Soaking in either a cow's milk or goat's milk bath can help exfoliate dead skin with natural lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that releases bonds of old skin cells from fresher, younger cells below, leaving skin soft and smooth. Milk baths can both hydrate and soothe your skin with the natural fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Additional ingredients, such as honey (a humectant, meaning it draws moisture to the skin), salts, flower petals, or oils can all be added to create a custom bath for just a few dollars.

I hope you try a milk bath soon, whether you have itchy irritated skin or healthy skin but would just love a bit of relaxation and a skin loving soak, milk baths are fit for a queen or king.

Nicole Wilkey transitioned from a corporate job to small-scale farmer in 2015. Since then, she has run California-based Flicker Farm to accommodate meat pigs, mini Juliana pigs and pastured poultry, and to sell goat's milk soap and lotion on Etsy. Connect with Nicole on Instagram and Facebook, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.



Soaps made with milk luxuriously lather and gently cleanse without stripping your skin of its natural oils. Expert soapmaker Anne-Marie Faiola guides you through the process of creating your own moisturizing soaps using a wide variety of milks, from cow and goat to vegan nut milks, and she shows you how to achieve decorative effects including swirls, insets, and layers.

The result? A bounty of visually stunning, fragrant, all-natural bars that you and your skin will love!

Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Crochet Through Depression

crochet image

A couple of years ago, following a long period of extreme financial stress, coupled with the constant fear that accompanied living in an unsafe area, I succumbed to a violent combination of depression and anxiety that required professional help and, eventually, medication. 

I used to be very ashamed of this, as if not "having it all together" was somehow my fault, but experienced a painful shift in perspective after a dear friend lost her life to depression-induced suicide. Since then, I resolved to be more open about my own struggles, figuring that it will all be worth it if I can reach even one person with the following message: There is help out there and you deserve to get it! Your life has value! Please don't do something irrevocable. 

Although medication and group therapy helped, I was extremely discouraged by the prospect of having to go through life using pills as a crutch. Besides, I was feeling kind of numb. I couldn't cry when I needed to. I couldn't laugh at things that had previously seemed hilarious. Food didn't taste as good as it used to. I had tried to wean myself off of medication, but the results were disastrous — I was in floods of tears daily and just couldn't function.

Later, when the circumstances of my life objectively changed for the better, I decided it was time to try again. I also began to read extensively about depression and anxiety, and the biochemical cycle leading to these conditions. In particular, I was interested in natural ways to boost serotonin, the vital neurotransmitter linked to feeling stable and emotionally healthy. There are different ways to aid these beneficial pathways of brain chemistry, such as a wholesome, healthy diet, sufficient sleep and exercise, hugging your loved ones often and, yes, crafts. 

There have been numerous research programs focusing on how traditional crafts such as knitting and crochet help combat anxiety and depression. The soothing, repetitive movements, the sensory pleasure of different textures and colors of yarn, the benign interest of reading a pattern, the sense of accomplishment in creating something with one's own hands, all contribute to increased well-being. Even a person who is too depressed to get out of bed (or someone who is depressed because they physically can't get out of bed!) can pick up a crochet hook or a pair of knitting needles and some yarn and work on creating something useful and beautiful. I also highly recommend the book Crochet Saved My Life by Kathryn Vercillo where this idea is extensively discussed. 

Crochet and knitting, of course, are not the only crafts that can enhance emotional health. Basket weaving, cross-stitch, embroidery, traditional pottery, etc - any creative activity with rhythmic, repetitive movements would work on the same principle. 

I had always crocheted on and off throughout the years, but it was my first time to begin using the craft consciously and consistently as a form of therapy. I focused on patterns that would provide me with plenty of variety to keep my mind occupied on things outside myself, and smooth, soothing stitches that would help me get into the flow. 

Naturally, I'm not suggesting that one should just ditch medical treatment and pick up a ball of yarn. It's essential to proceed very, very carefully and take the best possible care of one's mental health, because depression kills. But it is possible to get better and, in many cases, wean off meds and feel like a whole new person. 

In my case, I make a point to have plenty of outdoor time daily to work in my garden and hang out with my chickens. Often I combine all my favorite things as I sit under a tree with my crochet in my lap while the chickens scratch in the dirt and my children play all around me. It feels like a little piece heaven!

I will continue to keep a close eye on my mental health and encourage everyone to find their oasis of peaceful creativity and mindfulness in this chaotic world.

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna, her husband, and their four children live on the outskirts of a small town in northern Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Author PageConnect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blogRead all Anna's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.



The Textile Artist's Studio Handbook is the only book you need for expanding your repertoire of textile crafting and design techniques. This is the go-to guide for the foundations of design and fabrication, including a glossary of materials and covering classic techniques that include weaving, dyeing, painting and more! Plus, where else can you get behind-the-scenes access to setting up the best home textile studio for you? Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Natural Beauty Routine + Lip Balm Recipe

Sage in the garden

Natural Beauty Products Should Be Ubiquitous

I used to be a make-up consultant when I was very young and naive. After a few years of selling products that I realized were full of toxic chemicals I had an awakening. I couldn’t sell them anymore. I wanted to give the gift of confidence and natural beauty, not the gift of future cancer. So I took a financial hit and threw all of my inventory away. And I started looking up every ingredient that was listed on beauty products. It was an education in complex sounding ingredients like parabens, and I’m happy that nowadays most educated women are very wary of mainstream beauty products and their toxic ingredients. It’s not worth the risk of long-term health damage to have the latest beauty product on your skin. 

Glowing, Colorful Natural Look

In my opinion, the most beautiful women have a clean, fresh face that glows with health and a bright smile. My mother also believes that wearing lots of color helps your natural beauty shine through, and I have to agree with her. After looking at my closet, I find that I own a lot of brown, grey, and black clothes. Now that I am in my mid-thirties, I think that beautiful colors and patterns in clothing are a nice addition to my natural beauty routine. Luckily, there are also lots of lovely patterns out there even in eco-friendly clothing and organic fabrics. 

I’ve made a short video showing my simple daily beauty routine. Let me know what you think!

Which Skincare Brands Are Pure & Natural?

How does someone learn which companies make pure healthy beauty products? It can be daunting and confusing, especially with an already busy life. 

Start simple and buy only 100% Certified Organic products. Beyond that, try to get to know the beauty company, where  the products are made, and what standards they have. There are many local make-up and beauty small businesses popping up. Even Amazon sells some handmade products. But it’s best to check in your local health food store and ask if there are any local beauty companies selling there. 

In my e-book, Rosemary’s All-Natural Cosmetics Guide, I share with readers all of the natural beauty products that meet my high purity standards. I am not an affiliate of any of the companies. I also used EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) rating system as a reference point. EWG is a non-profit organization that tests thousands of products for all types of chemicals and ranks them in terms of toxicity. Use their database to look up the products that you normally use, if you're curious. My beauty guide is complete and simple, and will take all of the guesswork out of which products are pure and which are not. As an added bonus, I tried to pick products that were in the mid price range, so that it can be affordable for most people. Most people cannot afford to spend $50 on a daily moisturizer or cleanser!  Some of my tips that are spread throughout the guide are intended for you to simplify your beauty routine. It will also lower your risk of overloading your body with toxins and cancer-causing chemicals. 

Homemade Lip Balm

Make Your Own Homemade Lip Balm

On our homestead, my eight year-old and I make lip balm and fill up our old lip balm containers with pure, wholesome salve for lips! It is a really fun activity for older kids (who can be trusted to be patient and very careful pouring), and the result is your family gets many months of natural lip balm. It is full of organic essential oils and beeswax. Here is my recipe and it has totally simple and pure ingredients. Certified organic lip balm can cost as much as $8 for a small tube, so it can save you a surprising amount of money! Play around with it and try mixing a small bit of lipstick in there for a colorful lip balm. 

Rosemary’s Natural Lip Balm Recipe


5 tbsp Cocoa butter or Shea butter 
1 tbsp Beeswax/beeswax pellets
2 tsp honey
20 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops tea tree essential oil (optional – will help heal cracks)
5 drops Tamanu nut oil (optional)
A pea-sized amount of lipstick of your favorite color (optional)    


1. Melt butter (cocoa or shea) with beeswax in a double boiler on low. 

2. Stir with a popsicle stick or silicone spatula.

3. Turn off the heat and add honey, EOs, and optional lipstick.

4. Stir again.

5. Then immediately pour into lip balm pots or sticks.

6. Each time you fill a lip balm pot immediately cool in the fridge so that the ingredients don’t separate. Enjoy your lip balm!

Rosemary Hansen is an author, homesteading Mama, and a chef. She has spent the last 10 years “homesteading” in the city. She and her family have just started their off-grid homestead in rural British Columbia, Canada. Her books, Grow a Salad In Your City Apartment and Rosemary’s Natural Cosmetic Guide are a great way to ease into a healthy, pure lifestyle. You can connect with Rosemary at her website, or on her YouTube channel. Read all of Rosemary's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.



Seasons change and your skin care routine can, too. In Natural Beauty for All Seasons, natural beauty expert Janice Cox walks readers through 250 body, bath, and hair care recipes that they can make on their own during each season! Not one of the recipes calls for any more skill than being able to boil water. And an introductory section reveals what equipment is necessary and where needed ingredients can easily be found. Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Lemon Balm for Loss and Grief Herbal Healing

Lemon Balm Garden Patch 

When I finally got around to checking the gardens, the Lemon Balm had grown unruly, specifically the greenhouse plot. Unclipped, it continued to rise toward the plastic roof, sprouting seed heads along the way. The base had started to coil, almost snake-like, until the plant was unusable for tea. But I couldn’t bring myself to care about that, or any of the many plants I was responsible for that needed attention and love.

The Mugwort was suddenly taller than I was, the St. Johnswort had been overtaken by weeds, and the hyssop had gone and dried up. It had really only been a few days, but as I’ve quickly learned in this field, plants don’t abide by our sense of time.

Healing from Loss

I recently lost my brother unexpectedly, and as many who have grieved can attest to, felt utterly alone in my pain. Chores seemed meaningless and unnecessary. I couldn’t muster the love I’d previously had for Anise Hyssop and Feverfew, even as they stood vibrant before me. Though surrounded by family, I felt as if sharing my thoughts and feelings would be a burden to them.

So I stayed quiet, alone. But Lemon Balm doesn’t grow alone. Lemon Balm may start as a small thing, but make the mistake of blinking and it will spread across an entire garden plot. The plant called to me, telling me in the ways only pants can, that everything would be alright. And I listened.

While too grown for tea, the stems could be tied and dried for smudging. When combined with a few sprigs each of sage, rosemary, and lavender, I’ve found the smudge has the potential to clear a space, person or thing of negative or stagnant energy, and encourages positive growth through calming and clarifying scents. The plant had not left us, it had simply changed.

Lemon Balm for Healing Tea

Lemon Balm Tea Infusion Colors

 The second patch of Lemon Balm was still usable for teas and when collected, I stuck a few leaves right into my water bottle. My mom had taught me to do this a few summers ago when I was having stress-related stomach problems. I blamed it on school, work, and the woes of socializing, but it was really from not listening. Not listening to my body when it said “slow down and deal with it”.

As I came to learn, Lemon Balm is calming, both physically and emotionally. In the book Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, Gail Edwards notes that it acts as an antidepressant and helps to alleviate stomach cramps. I have personally found that Lemon Balm helps me to direct my focus on and complete one task before another, helping me feel less overwhelmed.

I like to make a big pot of “house tea” when it’s time to wind down, or when I have company and want to offer them something. The blend is multiple mints (apple mint, peppermint and spearmint), as well as Lemon Balm and nettles. The ratio is 2:2:1, respectively. The tea is nutritive and lively, while also working to soothe any worries, internal or mental.

Over the course of a few weeks with smudging and tea time, my house began to feel like home again. There was more laughter and teasing. More planning and movement. More life in general. I’ve come to love Lemon Balm this season, for all its taught me and all it has yet to teach me. How I’ve been able to misstep in my care and yet it still stood, ready to be harvested and used for an alternative purpose. The lessons of Lemon Balm are not lost on me, though I’m sure I’ll need a reminder every now and then; we need to stop and we need to listen.

While I know we will always miss him, the plants are happy, and we are healing. Perhaps, as my mother always says, there is a lesson in this after all.

Mackenzie Varney is an apprentice herbalist on Nezinscot Farm in Maine. She has degrees in biology and health and has lived and worked on farms all her life. Connect with her on Instagram, and read all of Mackenzie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.



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