the author in a meadow of California poppies

Medicine in Plants for the Earth and for Us

We use plants as a source of food and medicine, to revel in its beauty, to use as fuel, forage, fodder and fiber, and we select for genes, whether intentional or not, that help us meet our wants and needs. We often do not consider that plants have their own goals, and that they work together with soil life, other plants, and other organisms to create a fine-tuned, mutually beneficial, holistic ecosystem. We must be intentional to support this fine-tuned system, because the efficacy and abundance of plant medicine is dependent on the resilience of the inter-connected natural world.

people in a food forest garden

Plant Communication

Plants are supported and communicate with each other through the underground network of special fungi called mycorrhizal fungi. The mycelium of these fungi have a symbiotic relationship with plants, trading mushroom immunity for plant foods. Mushrooms offer immune benefits to people as well, and we see again and again that what is good for people is good for the Earth too.

Volatile Oils

Plants also communicate through chemical messages via volatile oils that circulate in the air. We use volatile oils in herbal medicine for their carminative and antiseptic effects, to calm our stomach or heal our lungs, and plants use these essential oils too. Phytoncides, produced in abundance in forest ecosystems, are a type of volatile oil that are used by plants to communicate threat or infection to their allies and neighbours. The phytoncides produced in the forest also have a beneficial affect on us, as we walk through the woods and breathe them in, our white blood cells increase, our blood pressure decreases, and our cortisol levels are reduced, and all of this supports and enhances immune function. [1]

Plant Constituents

Plants also produce many other constituents such as flavonoids for colour to attract pollinating insects and sugars, or nectars, that are used by pollinators and are also traded with the mycelial network below for immunity and protection. Many plants produce specialized chemical compounds such as alleochemicals and phytoalexins to reduce competition or deter predators. [2] When plants are threatened, near-by plants start creating these compounds to help protect themselves. The network of mycelium, intertwined with plant roots, help move plant compounds to eliminate the threat or transmit messages to other plants. [3]

the author in a meadow of California poppies


The antimicrobial, bitter, mucilaginous, and antioxidant benefits we seek from plants, are the constituents that plants have made for their own benefit and for the benefit of many other plants and animals. Each time we take medicine for ourselves, we should remember we take medicine from the Earth. We can give back by contributing to nature’s resilience, whether we own land or not. The backyard garden or tree we plant, or the flowering potted herb we grow on our deck, gives back to what we have taken from, and we create something useful for future generations to benefit from as well. 


Estelle Drisdelle

I’m Estelle, a long-time herbal medicine student and nature lover! I have been learning about plants for many years and I’m so happy the journey never ends. When I first learned about Permaculture and began dreaming of my homestead and farm, the love for plants and their medicine grew from there! I I spend my time studying herbal medicine and running my small business; Understory Farm & Design.


1  Effect of phytoncide from trees on human natural killer cell function

2 Herbal Constituents, Lisa Ganora




When to see a professional herbalist feature

When to See a Professional Herbalist

When is it okay to employ herbal self-care and when should someone seek professional consultation from a qualified, registered herbalist? There is a long and short answer to this question.  Let’s explore the former, with a historical lead up to this question.

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Herbal Medicine in History

Herbs are our most ancient source of medicine, recorded as far back as at least Hippocrates in c. 370 BC.  Healing with plants is a part of every culture; herbal healing traditions are documented around the globe, notably from India, China, Europe and Persia. In other regions such as North and South America, Africa and Polynesia, herbal healing shares the same long history, yet was not as extensively documented.


For the past several centuries in Europe, medicinal plants were a normal part of daily life, both out of necessity and because it was a widespread cultural norm. It was common for homes to have medicinal plants growing alongside the vegetable garden.  It was typically the role of the wife and mother to tend to the basic health needs of her family, and herbs were her tools. In some cases, when she was especially good at herbal healing, her care would extend into the community when no other care was available.  Within each community there was commonly a herbalist who specialized in more advanced health care and who made it their devotion to tend to the sick as a professional herbalist, equivalent to modern doctors, only using plants and other natural remedies in place of pharmaceutical drugs.


Plant remedies were called upon to cure the range from minor to life threatening situations. Herbal medicines were respected as reliable and effective healing agents.  Extensive herbals were written, documenting the clinical use of medicinal plants, handled by specialists in the care of the sick – herbalists. The long standing tradition of herbal healing became an advanced art and science, the most ancient healing profession. It rightfully gained widespread acceptance as the predominant medical system of the day.


During the early 1900’s, the Industrial Age brought the modernization and mechanization of many facets of society, including medicine. Advances in plant research created the pharmaceutical industry and a plethora of drugs were created from plant molecules. Doctors and the general public have since favoured drugs over herbs, and plant medicines gradually faded out of medical fashion.


The 1960’s in America initiated the revival of traditional wisdom; people began to question social norms and to seek alternatives, leaning into time-tested, natural approaches to agriculture, nutrition and healing. The “back to the land” movement brought back organic agriculture and herb gardens, featuring a notable favourite of the time, alongside medicinal and culinary plants.  The re-discovery of plant medicines supported the self-reliance values of the day; individuals and families were able to live a nature based lifestyle, supporting their every need on the homestead. The hippies can be credited for bringing herbs back into our modern cultural awareness.

Contemporary Herbal Medicine

With the herbal revival gaining momentum over these past seventy years, people are discovering the many ways to incorporate herbs into their lives. Herbs have a broad appeal due to their accessibility, general safety and reliable historical and modern evidence supporting their use in health. Plus they are beautiful, interesting and have diverse applications beyond medicine.


Herbs are many things to many people – they are a source of medicine, research, health product manufacturing, gardening, spirituality, home-made kitchen remedies, personal self care and crafts. There is a growing “hobby herbalism” movement sweeping North America.


Modern literature is rife with self-help, top ten herb lists for every possible ailment.  Popular herbalism tends to treat herbs as drug substitutes, naming single herbs as the remedy for such and such a condition. For instance, ginkgo for memory, St. John’s wort for depression, garlic for high blood pressure, echinacea for colds, ginseng for stamina, turmeric for arthritis, valerian for insomnia and so on. While there may be some accuracy to such claims, it is a shallow dive into herbal medicine.  


Plus, these claims and their associated products are promoted largely by the natural health product (NHP) industry, driven by profit.  NHPs are treated like over-the-counter drug substitutes, often with overly exaggerated health claims and dosing strategies that are not effective. 


It is from here that we can begin to make the first distinctions between herbal self-help and professional herbal care.

When to Seek Care from a Professional Herbalist

Firstly, the above named symptoms require deeper investigation to achieve lasting resolution. Chronic and degenerative diseases have many causative factors, complications and considerations to be made to accurately assess and address the root causes and achieve effective treatment. There are no quick fixes.


Secondly, a herb performs more than one action in the body. Due to their biochemical complexity, herbs will have far reaching reactions which need to be factored into any herb choice e.g. St. John’s wort is well known to alleviate depression, it is also anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, enhances liver metabolism, effective for burns and skin diseases, nerve relaxant, nerve restorative, urinary disorders, lung ailments, IBS, diarrhea and hemorrhage, to name a few.  It is contraindicated in some conditions and when taking several drugs.


Thirdly, one size does not fit all. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs which target specific diseases, there are many possible herbs and approaches available, treating the person rather than their disease. Pulling valerian from the shelf for insomnia is far from the bullseye when we consider the many causes of sleeplessness and that there may be a more effective choice.  In some cases, valerian can act as a stimulant, and if not prepared properly, may have very little potency.


You would seek a professional herbalist when you have a chronic illness, with or without a diagnosis. Professional herbalists are medically and clinically trained to offer holistic health care.They will address possible drug interactions, safety issues and determine the cause of your illness rather than just treat the symptoms.


An herbal practitioner has extensive knowledge of medicinal plants.She has studied in detail, every aspect of the herbs in her dispensary – their biochemical make-up, actions, uses, preparations, pharmacology, psycho-spiritual uses, safety, drug interactions, contraindications, energetics, and how to combine multiple herbs. Additionally, she has spent time with the plants, often growing, harvesting and processing them herself, guaranteeing their quality and effectiveness.


An herbal practitioner will customize an herbal, dietary and lifestyle protocol for you. There may be the additional expense of a consultation fee, but in the long run your herbal protocol will be more effective, rather than wasting money on herbs that miss the target. 


An herbal practitioner may be your primary care provider or may work in tandem with your doctor and other health professionals. Registered herbal practitioners in Nova Scotia are governed by the Herbalist Association of Nova Scotia, which is aligned with the Canadian Council of Herbalist Associations, which established standards of education and practice for herbalists in Canada.

Herbal Self-Care

As for herbal self-care, let’s go back to where we left off with the hippies.  There is tremendous value in living connected to the foods and herbs we consume.  When made a part of our daily routine, herbs improve well being and help to prevent illness.  As outlined in my preamble, people have been engaged in herbal self care globally, for centuries.  


As a society, we are not trained to preserve our health, instead we are overly reliant on a single medical authority, chemical drugs and quick fixes.  Cultivating an interest in our own health and understanding basic body functions gives a strong foundation from which to practice effective self-care. Given our failing medical system, we really have no better option.


In addition to using herbs for prevention, individuals can manage certain acute, self limiting conditions with herbs. For example, cold and flu can be treated with herbs, preventing unnecessary trips to the doctor. Herbs reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu, limiting time lost from work, school and family.


Minor injuries, first aid, and temporary states such as nausea and indigestion can all be handled with herbs. When digestive upset becomes chronic or when someone succumbs to a cold or other infections often, then the herbal practitioner should be consulted for support in resolving the larger pattern of illness that has set in.


I have been in clinical practice for 20 years and can attest to the value of professional herbal support. My deep faith in the power of medicinal plants is proven time and again in my own practice, and backed up by the work of other herbal practitioners, both ancient and modern.


I am also a strong promoter of herbal self-care; in fact, I designed a year-long program just for this purpose – to train individuals in basic health awareness and herbal medicine.  My Holistic Herbal Wellness program begins every year in September. Each year, with each new group of herb enthusiasts, I am gratified to witness the self-empowerment that results from the program, and the joy and better health that plant connection brings to people.


Details and enrolment information can be found on the website:

If you would like professional herbal health care, I invite you to visit me in the clinic, or to attend the Bloom student clinic where you will receive care from a registered herbal practitioner along with second year herbal students.


professional herbalist pin

How to Choose High Quality Herbs and Herbal Remedies

Not all herbal remedies on the shelf are equally effective. Make sure you’re getting the best quality herbs and herbal medicine preparations by looking for these signs. 


The potency of herbal medicines depends on many factors, such as growing conditions, proper harvest time, plant parts used, storage, contamination, and freshness. 

high quality herbs coverWhether buying bulk dried herbs, small-batch preparations, or manufactured herbal products, this post will guide you in choosing quality herbal medicines, looking at all factors from the growth of the plant to its preparation in medicine. Some of these criteria may be found on a label, whereas others will be more difficult to determine; talking to your local herbalist or medicine maker is the best source for determining the quality of herbal preparations.

1. Choose the right herb

First, do your homework, or consult with a herbal practitioner. Not all herbs affect everyone the same, and some herbs can be unsafe for people with certain conditions or when taking medications. Before buying herbal preparations, it’s important to choose the right herb, know which parts of the plant have the desired medicine, and which method of preparation is most suitable for your needs. 


Different parts of the plant can have different therapeutic uses. For example, the roots and leaves of stinging nettle contain an anti-inflammatory compound, but only the roots contain the steroid-like compounds, so you would need to choose the right plant and the right plant part to get the right medicine. 

Growing Conditions

2. Plants are free from contaminants

Medicinal herbs should be organically grown or sustainably wildcrafted from an area free of contaminants. Wildcrafted herbs should be harvested in a clean environment away from traffic and other sources of pollution. Has the area been sprayed with herbicides such as glyphosate?


For plants from North America, look for USDA certified, wildcrafted, or other commitments to chemical-free agriculture. The label might say something like “Grown and cultivated without chemicals” meaning they should be free from pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, GMO’s, synthetic chemicals and are free from irradiation and chemical sterilization.


3. Plants are harvested at their peak.

Different plant parts should be harvested in particular stages of the plant’s growth to get the most potent medicine.

Leaves are generally gathered in spring before the plants flower. If all aerial parts are used, then the whole plant is harvested while the plant is in flower. 

Flowers are harvested when just opened, before the wind or pollinators take the pollen.

Seeds are harvested when ripe, with a few exceptions, notably milky oat seeds, which are harvested when the seed is green and not fully ripe. 

Roots are generally harvested after the aerial parts die down in fall. 

High quality herbs are harvested at their peak to get the most medicinal benefit.


4. Only the most potent plant parts are included in the medicine.

Just because a plant is medicinal, it doesn’t mean the entire plant is medicinal, or has the desired therapeutic use. For example, the medicinal part of red clover includes the flower head and the few leaves surrounding the flower, but not all the aerial parts. If the product says “cut and sifted” then the whole plant was used, and the medicine will be less potent. Look for products that say “blossom”.


5. The Herbs Come From a Reputable Company

When purchasing herbs, look for well-established companies with a good reputation, and knowledge of their products. The adage “you get what you pay for” is often true. Herbal products may be adulterated, substituting or adding less expensive herbs to a preparation, weakening its effect.

Companies that process imported bulk dried herbs might be using herbs that have been irradiated or fumigated in transport. 

If the herbs are wild-crafted, the company should also proclaim a commitment to a sustainable harvesting policy. 

6. The Preparation and Dose are Appropriate to the Herb

Even with the best ingredients, prepared herbal products are not all equal. Here are some things to look out for in different types of preparations. 


Dried Herbs

When choosing dried herbs, trust your senses.

High quality loose or bulk herbs should closely resemble the fresh plant in colour, texture, fragrance, and taste. The larger the pieces, the longer they will stay fresh. 


For tinctures, the alcohol must be strong enough to extract the desired medicinal constituents, and the ratio of plant to alcohol is appropriate to the dose. 


Tinctures are a preparation of herbs steeped in an alcohol-water mixture called the menstruum.  Most herbal tinctures can be made with an alcohol strength in the range of 25-40%, but some constituents, especially resins, require a higher percentage of alcohol for extraction. For example, usnea requires at least 70 % to extract its anti-bacterial benefits. Calendula can be extracted at lower percentages for some medicinal properties, but must be extracted at 90% to extract the anti-fungal constituents from the resins.


The plant material in a tincture is called the marc. A knowledgeable medicine maker will know if a plant should be tinctured fresh or dried.


The strength of the tincture is written on the bottle as a ratio of plant to liquid (marc to menstruum).


1:1 means that there is an equal ratio of plant and liquid. 

The first number is plant matter, and the second number is liquid, so a 1:5 tincture has 1 part plant matter for every 5 parts liquid, by weight. Therefore, as an example, a 1:2 tincture is much stronger than a 1:5 tincture. This means the dose would be lower, and you would need to buy less to get the same medicine. This should be noted when comparing herbal tinctures prices, the strength of the tincture should be reflected in the price.


Glycerites, which are water-glycerine preparations, should also have a ratio on the label, which represents the plant-to-glycerine ratio.

Other Products

Herbal preparations vary widely, so here are some other considerations when purchasing herbal products.

  • Does it list all medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients? 
  • Does it contain fillers? Some products may have a high ratio of benign ingredients or less potent herbs. 
  • What is the expiration date? 
  • Is the plant’s scientific name and plant part used on the label? 

7. The Products are Fresh

Last but not least, even the highest quality herbs and herbal medicines don’t last forever. Tinctures have a very long shelf life due to the alcohol content, but other preparations such as glycerites, salves and dried or powdered herbs have a shorter shelf life. 


The shelf life of dried herbs varies. Purchase dried herbs from places that have a high turnover and make orders frequently so you’re not getting herbs that have been on a shelf for a long time. Whole herbs last longer than ground or powdered herbs. Generally, dried leaves and flowers are viable for one year, dried roots, seeds and barks for up to two years.


For herbal preparations, the shelf life is dependant on the life of the solvent used to extract the medicine, ie. the oil, vinegar, honey, glycerine, and how readily microbes will grow in the preparation. Oil-based preparations are most likely to go off due to rancidity, or oxidation, whereas honeys and vinegars will go off because of the growth of microbes. Check the expiration date on products. For products without an expiration date, glycerites can last up to 3 years, and syrups and vinegars can last about a year in the fridge.


In general, medicines will be strongest from healthy plants, harvested at the right time of year, and getting the right plant parts for the medicine you want. 

Keep these factors in mind the next time you buy herbs and you’ll always get the highest quality herbal medicine. It can be tempting to buy cheaper herbs or medicines, but as you can see, you might not be getting what you pay for by buying lower quality herbs. The best way to buy quality herbs and herbal remedies is to get to know herbalists in your area. Many herbal practitioners also make small batches of remedies, and they’ll be able to answer all your questions about the source, method, and ingredients. It’s always best to support local, but if they don’t make the medicines themselves, they’ll know which brands are best to order from.

If you want to harvest your own high quality herbs in the right season, you can download Bloom’s Harvest & Wildcrafting Calendar. It shows you what you can harvest in every month here in Nova Scotia.


signs of high quality herbal medicine pin

lemon vegan meringue popsicles featured image

Quadruple Lemon Vegan Meringue Popsicles

These show-stopping lemon vegan meringue herbal popsicles are tangy, icy, and refreshing. They’re a bit of a labour of love, and you’ll have plenty of extra vegan meringue to make meringue cookies or pavlova, so get your brûlée torch ready!

lemon vegan meringue popsicles cover

These are the fifth and final instalment of my herbal popsicle series, and I really wanted to finish with a bang. What better way than to end with a recipe involving fire?


These are fun to make, but difficult to store, so I suggest taking the popsicles out of the freezer and topping them with meringue right when you’re ready to serve them. You’ll just squish the meringue if you try to put them in a container. Freeze the popsicles and prepare the meringue separately, and gather your popsicle-loving family and friends when you’re ready to assemble them. 


I call it “quadruple lemon” because the popsicle is made with a strong infusion of three lemon-scented herbs, plus fresh lemon juice. 


The vegan meringue is optional, but the sweetness is really nice to balance the tart popsicles. It’s made with aquafaba, which means “water of the beans” because it is made from the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Someone discovered that this liquid behaves like egg whites when whipped, and now it’s a popular vegan alternative to many dishes requiring that special fluff. There’s a Facebook group dedicated to sharing recipes and tips for using this wonderful new vegan egg replacer.

Yeild: 4 popsicles and way more meringue than you need

Base Ingredients

Handful of lemon-scented herbs: lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon thyme + more for garnish if desired

3-4 stevia leaves

½ cup lemon juice (approx. juice of 2 large lemons)

3 tbsp maple syrup (or more to taste)

Vegan Meringue Ingredients

Liquid from a can of chickpeas

½ tsp cream of tartar

1” vanilla bean

1 cup organic cane sugar


Make the Lemon Popsicles

  1. Make a strong infusion with the lemony herbs and stevia by steeping them in about a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes.
  2. In a measuring cup, mix ½ cup lemon juice, ¾ cup of the lemon herbal infusion and 3 tbsp maple syrup. Whisk. Taste for sweetness, add more maple syrup to taste if you like. Don’t forget that if you are doing the meringue, it’s basically sugary air so you won’t need to make the popsicle base as sweet as you might if you’re eating the base without the meringue.
  3. Optional – place thyme sprigs or herb leaves in the molds before pouring in the liquid. 
  4. The maple syrup will settle, so whisk thoroughly and quickly pour into molds immediately.
  5. Freeze


The Vegan Meringue made with Aquafaba

Because you need to open a can of chickpeas and use the liquid for this recipe, you might as well use all of the liquid. This makes WAY more meringue than you need so you might want to also plan to make pavlova or meringue cookies. 

Strain a can of chickpeas and reserve the liquid.


Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds out into a medium bowl. Add the sugar. Mix the sugar and the vanilla seeds.You’ll still have some vanilla clumps at this point, but they’ll blend out in the mixer.


In a stand mixer, beat the chickpea liquid for 1 minute. Add the cream of tartar. Beat until incorporated. 


Start adding the sugar-vanilla mix 1 tbsp at a time. Wait until it’s mixed in before adding the next tablespoon.


The vegan meringue will get thick and glossy as you add more sugar. When all the sugar is added, beat until you can’t feel any granules when you pinch a bit of meringue between your fingers. If the meringue still feels grainy, continue beating it. 


Now for the fun part!

Get everything you’ll need ready: the prepared meringue, a brûlée torch, herb leaves or sprigs for garnish, and people ready to eat popsicles, because as I mentioned, they don’t store well once they’re decorated. Oh, and get your camera because you’ll want to Instagram these ones!

all the lemon vegan meringue popsicles

Loosen the popsicles from the mold. One at a time, take a big spoonful of meringue and make a dollop on top on each popsicle, that goes covers it about ¼ of the way down the popsicle. Swirl it around until you’re happy with the shape. You want to have some texture for scorching, so don’t make it too smooth. I imagined I was trying to get it to look like a soft serve ice cream cone with swirly ridges spiralling upwards. It was less possible in reality than in my imagination, but swirling the spoon around gave some texture to the blob. 

Scorching the Meringue


If you haven’t used a brûlée torch before, I recommend practicing. Smear some meringue on a heat-proof plate and try scorching that first. You’ll find you want the flame parallel to the surface of the meringue or it will deform the meringue. Slowly move the flame toward the ridges of the meringue and you’ll see it will get tiny bubbles and quickly toast and then burn so keep moving the flame around. 


With your brûlée torch in one hand and a meringued popsicle in the other hand, light the torch. Point both the flame and the pop away from you so they’re roughly parallel. Slowly move the flame toward the meringue, and scorch the ridges of the meringue. 


Garnish with a leaf or sprig of lemony herbs. The tiny leaves off the top of a lemon verbena or lemon balm make a cute garnish. Take photos for Instagram.

Using the Rest of the Vegan Meringue

Here’s a detailed tutorial about making this vegan meringue, and how to flavour and bake meringue cookies. 

There are also lots of delicious pavlova recipes out there that you could make with the rest of the meringue.

In case you missed Herbal Popsicle Month, here’s a roundup of my previous herbal popsicles:


lemon vegan meringue popsicles pin

golden milk popsicles

Golden Milk Popsicles with Ginger

These delicious layered golden milk popsicles have two different liquids in the base that are frozen separately in layers. The yellow layer is golden milk made with ginger and other spices, and the other is homemade pistachio milk.

golden milk popsicles coverIf you haven’t heard of golden milk yet, it’s a popular anti-inflammatory drink featuring turmeric. It has become so popular that many coffee shops are now offering golden milk lattes – steamed milk with turmeric and other spices instead of coffee. 

Of course, you can just make the whole popsicles from the golden milk recipe.

The Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Health Benefits of the  Ingredients


Turmeric contains curcumin, known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Curcumin is fat soluble, so you’ll want to take it with some kind of oil or fat. Coconut milk is an ideal vehicle, as well as a good base ingredient for vegan popsicles. To get the most benefit from the turmeric, it’s also good to add a little black pepper. 

Curcumin in turmeric is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, so eating turmeric on its own is unlikely to give you the anti-inflammatory benefits, however, adding black pepper can help. Research supports that combining the piperine in black pepper with the curcumin in turmeric enhances curcumin absorption by up to 2,000% 


Cardamom can also help fight chronic inflammation from its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants protect cells from damage and stop inflammation from occurring.


Pistachios are high in healthy fats, fibre, protein, antioxidants and other nutrients, including vitamin B6 and potassium, and may contribute to a healthier gut, and improved metabolism.


Golden Milk Popsicle Ingredients

Golden Milk Base

1 can coconut milk
½ + ⅛ tsp cardamom powder
2“ ginger, finely chopped
1 ½ tsp turmeric
3 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch black pepper


Pistachio Base

1 c pistachios
1 c water
maple syrup to taste


Chocolate Magic Shell

2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Optional Garnish 

shredded coconut

Golden Milk Popsicle Base

Finely chop the ginger. Pour the coconut milk in a small pot and add the ginger, cardamom, turmeric, and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup.


Strain the liquid. Cool and set aside while you make the pistachio layer.

Pistachio Layer

Blend 1 cup of pistachios and 1 cup of water in a high-powered blender. Using cheesecloth or a jelly bag, strain the liquid. Sweeten with maple syrup to taste.

Fill molds ⅓ with golden milk, freeze. Add pistachio milk to ⅔ full, freeze. Top up with golden milk. Freeze.

Dark Chocolate Dip or Drizzle

Place parchment paper on a cold plate and set aside. Working quickly, remove the pops from the mold one at a time. Hold over a clean bowl while you spoon or pour the chocolate dip over the pops. Rotate the pops so the chocolate coats evenly and drips down into the bowl. The dip will harden very quickly.

Place the finished pop on the parchment and return to the freezer immediately. Repeat with remaining pops, and put them back in the freezer as you finish dipping them.

Another option instead of dipping is to lay all the pops on parchment and drizzle the chocolate in lines across them. 

Optionally garnish with grated coconut or cinnamon.

Pin It:


Plant-Based Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles

These delicious freezer pops are inspired by flavours of Middle Eastern desserts, and enhanced by the fragrant herb, sweet woodruff. 

Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles |

While we were experimenting with herbal iced teas at Bloom, I discovered that rose and sweet woodruff make a great combination, so I wanted to create a delicious popsicle based on that combination. Since rose is often used in Middle Eastern desserts, I looked to that cuisine for flavour inspiration. The result is a creamy popsicle with a subtle floral flavour. And they’re beautiful!

Energetically, rose is good for the heart, and sweet woodruff was traditionally used as a medicinal tea that is beneficial to the heart, regulating its activity.

These herbs in these herbal popsicles may have some minor heart benefit, but I think indulging in these luxurious pops is a soothing treat for your heart in and of itself!

The base is coconut milk infused with the rose and sweet woodruff, and a bit of tahini makes the texture extra creamy. I normally sweeten my freezer pops with maple syrup, but these are sweetened with honey with a nod to baklava. 

I took them to the next level with a vegan white chocolate magic shell and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios. 

Yield: This recipe is for 3 ice pops made with a Zoku. Increase the recipe to suit your number of molds. 

For the Herbal Popsicle Base

220 ml coconut milk

Rose petals

½ tsp rose water

Sweet woodruff leaves

1 ½  tbsp tahini

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp water


For the White Chocolate Magic Shell

adapted from Will Frolic For Food

¼ cup cacao butter

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp tahini

1” vanilla bean

2 tbsp icing sugar


Make the Base

Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicle base |

Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles before dipping |

Place coconut milk, water, sweet woodruff, and rose petals in a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir well. Remove from heat, steep 10 minutes. Strain out the petals and leaves. Stir in tahini and honey. Let cool completely. Pour into freezer pop molds. Freeze.

Finely chop the pistachios and set aside.

Dip the Pops

Over medium low heat, melt the cacao butter and coconut oil together. Remove from heat. Scrape out seeds from 1” of vanilla bean pod and add to the oil mix. Stir in tahini. Sift in icing sugar and stir until smooth. 

Note: Vanilla extract won’t work in this recipe — fat and water don’t mix. 

rose tahini herbal popsicles | bloominstitute.caPlace parchment paper on a cold plate and set aside. Working quickly, remove the frozen pops from the mold one at a time. Hold over a clean bowl while you spoon or pour the chocolate dip over the pops. Rotate the pops so the chocolate coats evenly and drips down into the bowl. Immediately dip the pops in the chopped pistachios. The dip will harden very quickly.


Place the finished pop on the parchment and return to the freezer immediately. Repeat with remaining pops, and put them back in the freezer as you finish dipping them.

Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles | bloominstitute.caAnother option instead of dipping is to lay all the pops on parchment and drizzle the chocolate in lines across them and sprinkle the pistachios on.

Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles |


Plant-Based Rose Tahini Herbal Popsicles |

superfood popsicle feature

“Blood Orange” Schizandra Superfood Popsicles Recipe

These delicious, tangy, floral superfood popsicles look like blood orange because of the red centre and orange shell, but they’re actually cherry-schizandra flavoured. 

superfood popsicle coverYou can easily make the cherry base with any popsicle mold, but I’m sorry to say that the only way that I know of to make the orange shell is with a Quick Pop Maker. I’ll give instructions for the orange shell, but just ignore that part if you don’t have one. The black cherry base is delicious all on its own.

Black cherries are a potent superfood with many health benefits. The juice is high in anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory and naturally pain-relieving. Consuming black cherries regularly can help with joint-related disorders such as arthritis.They also contain tryptophan (of turkey fame) and melatonin, which both promote good sleep. And like other colourful fruits, they are high in anti-oxidants which are good for the immune system, and preventing disease.


Schizandra is an adaptogen, which is a category of tonic herbal medicines that build overall resiliency, and activate digestion and liver function. It is used to combat fatigue under physical stress and to increase endurance. 


Step 1: Make Schizandra Syrup.

¼ cup schizandra berries

1-2 inch piece of orange zest, peeled off with a peeler

250ml water

100 ml honey


Gently boil the schizandra berries in the water for 15 minutes. Strain. Stir the honey into the liquid before it cools. Mix well. Let cool. Store in the fridge. 

Make the shell (optional)

For this option you’ll need a Quick Pop maker and a straw (preferably a reusable one)

Pour OJ into the ice pop mold, wait 30 seconds, drink out the liquid orange juice from the middle. If you’re concerned about hygiene, you can also use a slim turkey baster to suck the liquid out. 


Make the Superfood Popsicles Base

250 ml black cherry juice

3 tbsp schizandra syrup

1 tsp orange flower water

Mix in a 2c measuring cup. 

Pour into freezer pop molds or into Quick Pop mold with prepared Orange Shell. 

Freeze and enjoy! 


superfood popsicles pinAugust is Medicinal Freezer Pop month – check out last week’s recipe for Vegan S’mores Fudgesicles with marshmallow root powder, and stay tuned next week for a sophisticated Baklava-inspired popsicle.

Vegan S’mores Fudgesicles with Marshmallow

These fudgy vegan s’mores fudgesicles are delicious and good for the digestive tract. They contain two special ingredients that set them apart from other fudgesicles, and make them really creamy and delicious.

Vegan S'Mores fudgesicles cover Marshmallow root is soothing for the digestive system. One of its medicinal actions is “demulcent” which is the internal equivalent of “emollient.” If you think of putting a soothing cream on irritated skin, that’s what a demulcent does for the mucous membranes of your digestive tract. It’s cooling, moistening, and anti-inflammatory. 


The other special ingredient is high in fibre, and complements chocolate really well. I’ve snuck it in other chocolate treats like chocolate pudding, and it’s a delicious way to add a bit of nutrition to your treats, and nobody will ever guess what it is. It’s ….. prune baby food!! Sounds crazy, right? I know, but TRUST ME, you’ll love it!

Smooth Move Vegan S’Mores Fudgesicles

For the Base 

200ml coconut milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp marshmallow root powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp prune baby food
2 tbsp cold water

For the Magic Shell Dip

2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt

For the Garnish

100ml coconut milk
2 tbsp marshmallow powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
stevia powder to taste (optional)
Vegan graham crackers



I use a quick-pop maker for these, but you can make them with any paddle-shaped freezer pop mold. I will give instructions for both methods.


Prepare the dip in advance if using a quick pop maker, or just before you take them out of the freezer if using normal molds. Whisk magic shell dip ingredients together until smooth. If the coconut oil is solid, microwave for just a few seconds at a time until it is liquid. Do not overheat it or it will melt your pops!

Make the Chocolatey Vegan S’Mores Base

Get your popsicle molds ready at your cooking station. Marshmallow is a thickener, and you’ll want to work quickly to pour the mix into the molds before the batter gets too thick. 


In a 2c measuring cup, whisk together the base ingredients. 

Pour into molds and freeze.


ZOKU: It’s really important that the “batter” is free-flowing, and not too thick and pudding-like. If it’s too thick, whisk in more cold water, 1 tbsp at a time.

Dip the Pops in the Magic Shell

Place parchment paper on a cold plate and set aside. Working quickly, remove the pops from the mold one at a time. Hold over a clean bowl while you spoon or pour the chocolate dip over the pops. Rotate the pops so the chocolate coats evenly and drips down into the bowl. The dip will harden very quickly.


Place the finished pop on the parchment and return to the freezer immediately. Repeat with remaining pops, and put them back in the freezer as you finish dipping them.


Another option instead of dipping is to lay all the pops on parchment and drizzle the chocolate in lines across them. 

Garnish with Vegan Marshmallow and Graham Crackers

These will be delicious (and less messy) without the graham crackers, but they won’t be as s’more-y. So if you really want vegan s’mores instead of just fudgesicles, the extra effort is worth it. 


For the marshmallow paste, whisk together the coconut milk, marshmallow powder, and vanilla. Chill until firm. Carefully spoon a dollop of marshmallow paste onto each side of the pop, and gently press a graham cracker into the paste. 



I like Arroy D coconut milk, because it doesn’t have guar gum in it. I prefer the texture. 




Make Your Own Herbal First Aid Kit

I took Holistic Herbal Wellness with Savayda in 2014, and one of the most useful things we learned was how to assemble a herbal first aid kit. Because we learned how to make tinctures and infused oils in the course, I knew how to make some of these items myself after the class, and there are also some items on the list that are worth buying. They’re easy to find at most natural health stores. 

Minor injuries like cuts, bites, burns, bruises and sore muscles can happen to anyone at any time, so it’s a good idea to start assembling these items to cover all the bases. 

Start collecting these herbal remedies now so you’ll be prepared for any minor injuries or discomforts.

Rescue Remedy

A commercially available blend of Bach Flower Essences, available in dropper, spray, or lozenges. For shock, emotional and physical, and stressful situations like dentist visits. Take 4 drops immediately, followed by regular dosing until the situation has stabilized. It can be rubbed onto a person who is injured or in shock and can’t take medicines orally, and can be used topically on pets and with house plants. 


Arnica cream Arnica montana

An arnica cream or gel is good to have on hand for bruises, sprains, recovery from operations, dental work etc. It can also be used after mental strain and heart strain.  Can help with back pain. Take 2 tablets every two hours for shock or injury, and even after surgery.


You can find Arnica products that are either homeopathic or that contain extracts. I like the Weleda Arnica cream because it has a high percentage of wild-crafted Arnica, but many people also get great results with a homeopathic cream. Traumeel is a popular homeopathic brand. 


Tea tree oil Melaleuca alternifolia

Antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal. Use on cuts or sores, directly or diluted in a carrier oil.  Also use as a mouth rinse or gargle, douche, sitz bath. Wipe for preventing and soothing bug bites.


Ginger capsules or tincture Zingiber officinale

Use for nausea or motion sickness, stomach flu and morning sickness. 1-2 caps or 20 drops tincture before traveling. Valuable for cramps of any kind and indigestion. Combine with other remedies for fever, colds and flu.


The tincture is easy to make with the folk method. Fill a jar ¼ full of fresh ginger, fill the jar with vodka or brandy. Steep for 2 weeks. Strain out the ginger pieces. Put your tincture in a dropper bottle and keep some in the car in case of motion sickness. 


Echinacea tincture Echinacea angustifolia, E. purpurea

Use at first sign of cold or infection by taking 30 drops, undiluted, on the back of the throat, every hour, until symptoms subside, up to ten times a day.

Can be used topically for inflammation of the skin, skin infections, bites, stings, cuts, and infections.  Dilute 60 drops tincture in ¼ cup of water and use as a wash or compress.


Ear oil Verbascum, Hypericum perforatum, Allium sativum

Infused oil of mullein, St.John’s wort, and garlic.  Infuse the oils separately so you can use them for other purposes, and then combine as needed for earache. For earache warm the oil in a double boiler and use 3-5 drops in each ear.  Lie on one side and rub the area outside of the ear. It may be helpful to apply heat outside the ear.


Shepherd’s Purse tincture  Capsella bursa-pastoris

For minor bleeding, that is non-life threatening such as nose bleeds, minor cuts, bleeding gums. Apply the infusion as a compress.  ½ cup of the tea, or 60 drops of tincture can be taken, up to 6 times daily. 


Topically: To use as a wash, dilute 30 drops of tincture in ½ cup water

Internally: Take 30 drops every hour until bleeding stops. A cup of the tea is also helpful.


For burns cover area immediately and leave on until pain subsides (approx. 30 minutes)


Fresh Plantain   Plantago major

It’s hard to keep this one in a herbal first aid kit because it is really best used fresh as a poultice. So instead of your herbal first aid kit, keep it in your herbal first aid garden or just leave it growing in your lawn so you’ll always have some on hand. Use it on bug bites, bee stings, burns and cuts and scrapes. To make a poultice, chew a few fresh leaves into a pulp, place this moist leaf pulp directly on the injured/bitten area and wrap in gauze. Keep on the skin for a few hours, re-applying as needed. 


Lavender Essential Oil  Lavandula angustifolia

A versatile addition to any herbal first aid kit, lavender essential oil can be used topically to help many ailments, including burns, cuts, bruises, sunburns, itchy skin, and cold sores. It also does double-duty because of its aromatherapeutic effects. Lavender is renowned for its ability to relieve stress and anxiety, and promote relaxation. Since you may be a little stressed or irritated if you have an issue that requires a first aid kit, it’s nice to include lavender to soothe your mind. 


If you’d like to learn how to forage wild medicinals, infuse oils, and make tinctures, you’ll love Savayda’s 1-year Holistic Herbal Wellness course. 


Medicinal Benefits of Culinary Herbs

medicinal culinary herbs cover


Did you know that most common culinary herbs also have medicinal benefits?


Enliven your food with easy-to-find fresh herbs this summer. Fresh herbs often have a more potent flavour than dried herbs,  and, not only do they taste great, they’re also very nutritious. They are loaded with biologically active compounds, and they’ll add a boost of vitality to your daily diet. Many are used as medicines by modern day herbalists, it makes one wonder where to draw the line between food and medicine. 


When cooking with fresh herbs, the leaves should be bruised by rubbing them in your hands before chopping or snipping with scissors. They are best added to the pot a few minutes before the dish is done, or sprinkled over food before it is served; fresh herbs lose their flavour if cooked too long. To store, roll the herbs in a wet paper towel inside a plastic bag, and leave in the crisper of the refrigerator for up to one week. With the herb left over from your recipes, add a handful to your teapot and become further acquainted with their unique characteristics.  


Medicinal Benefits of 10 Culinary Herbs


Thyme Thymus vulgaris

Research has determined that of the 75 known phytochemicals found in thyme, 25% are antioxidants. A valuable medicinal food, this herb contains a flavonoid that counteracts the activity of dietary carcinogens formed during cooking. Medicinally, it is used primarily to treat respiratory complaints such as bronchitis, asthma, cough due to colds, and sinus congestion. It is also used for topical bacterial and fungal skin infections. The tea makes a good mouth rinse and gargle. It is of value in gastrointestinal disorders including dyspepsia, colic, flatulence and diarrhea. Extracts of thyme have demonstrated significant inhibition of Helicobacter pylori, thus it is used in the treatment of peptic ulcers.


Parsley Petroselinum crispum

It is a shame to see this nutrient-dense herb regarded as a mere garnish, because parsley has many medicinal benefits. It is one of the richest food sources of vitamin C, and also exceptionally high in magnesium, calcium, iron, and chlorophyll. Parsley leaves make an excellent breath freshener, especially to combat garlic breath. It is beneficial to the urinary system, and is used for bladder and kidney complaints. Its diuretic action can be applied to conditions such as gout and rheumatism to facilitate the removal of uric acid from the joints. The leaves eaten with any meal help prevent gas. 

Safety: It is not to be used medicinally when pregnant.

Here’s a fresh tabouleh recipe from Cookie & Kate.


Sage Salvia officinalis

This herb is useful as a gargle for sore throat, laryngitis and mouth ulcers.  It provides relief to singers who have strained their voices. Digestive aid, memory aid. 

Due partially to its estrogenic properties, it is used to relieve the night sweats and hot flashes of menopause. For this it is best taken as a cold infusion. To make, steep 1 tsp. herb in one cup boiled water, covered for 10 mins. Strain and drink 1/2 cup 3 times daily, or as needed. 

Safety: It is not to be used medicinally when pregnant or in epilepsy. Reduces milk flow in nursing mothers.


Fennel Foeniculum vulgare

Like most of herbs with high volatile oil content, it acts as a carminative – a remedy for gas pains and flatulence. It is a treatment for upper GIT disorders with gas, nausea, belching and heartburn, and for IBS and colitis, and is an excellent remedy for babies with colic. Fennel is a galactagogue, which means it increases milk flow in nursing mothers. It is also useful for cough, and used internally and externally to improve eyesight and to treat inflammatory eye disorders such as conjunctivitis.

Instead of after-dinner mints, India has something called saunf ( fennel) or mukhwas (mouth scent), that is a mix of candied seeds, featuring fennel seeds. You’ll often see a little dish of this near the register in Indian restaurants, and it’s common to take a spoonful to freshen the breath and aid digestion after a meal. 


Cilantro   Coriandrum sativum

Coriander and cilantro are the same plant, but where we are, the leaves are usually called cilantro, and the seeds are known as coriander.

It is cooling in nature, thus a good summer seasoning.

Cilantro is a chelator – it binds with and removes heavy metals from the body. It is also carminative and diuretic. Add the leaves at the end of cooking, or use plenty of raw cilantro as a garnish in Latin American or Tex-Mex cooking. It’s also used in Indian cuisine as a garnish. 

This creamy sauce from Oh She Glows (my favourite cookbook, btw) made with fresh cilantro is a unique addition that goes well with Latin American dishes. 

Many people either love or hate cilantro. Did you know that genetics play a role this strong reaction to it? A particular genetic trait makes cilantro taste like soap to some people. This trait is less prevalent in people of Latin American, South-East Asian, or Middle Eastern descent, explaining its relative popularity in those cultures.*


Oregano Origanum vulgare

This herb originates from the Mediterranean region; it becomes more pungent with more sun, and is popular in Italian and Greek cooking. Greek cooks believe it is best used dry, and in fact is the only herb worth drying. It is used medicinally for indigestion and as an antiseptic wash, and is heating and a diaphoretic. Bees and butterflies love its flowers.


Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis

A powerful medicine – improves blood flow to the brain, hence its usefulness as a memory aid, it is uplifting, anti-depressant, helpful for headaches, aids liver and gallbladder  function, strengthens blood vessels and is used to treat arteriosclerosis. Use it as an infused oil as a scalp massage for hair loss and rub for sore muscles.


Garlic Allium sativum

It is a potent antibiotic and immune stimulant and is useful for respiratory conditions, digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer prevention. It is my first choice as an antibiotic; bacteria do not become resistant to its powers. Not only does it destroy bacteria, but it is also anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic.   

To unlock the anti-cancer benefits,it is best crushed and let sit for 15 minutes. This causes an enzyme reaction that boosts the beneficial compounds.  It’s best eaten raw for medicinal use.


Turmeric Curcuma longa

Preventative and treatment for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Anti-inflammatory for RA and OA, eczema, psoriasis, asthma. Improves gastric and liver function, hyperlipidemia.  Antioxidant. High doses not given in combination with anticoagulant drugs.

Turmeric has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years for its anti-inflammatory effect. 

If you like Indian cuisine, you probably already eat a lot of turmeric, but if you’d like to increase your intake, a popular way to take it is in a hot beverage. It is fat-soluable, so you want to take it with fat, and black pepper increases its bio-availability. 

Here’s a yummy vegan Golden Milk recipe   to get your turmeric in the most effective delivery. I use coconut oil or MCT oil in mine, and you can also add a pinch of cayenne if you like the heat.


Basil Ocimum basilicum

Contains high levels of vitamins A and C. Used for nervous irritability and has anti-depressant effects. It eases indigestion, stomach upset and nausea. Stimulates milk flow for nursing mothers. The fresh juice has been used to treat warts and bug stings. A pot of basil in the kitchen is known to discourage flies.

Here’s a refreshing summer recipe for Blueberry Basil Lemonade. Basil might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you want to make lemonade, but you’ll love this.