Education Center in Asheville NC

Blue Ridge Mountains

Plant Medicine

Back to the OM Monthly

OM Sanctuary disclaimer: This newsletter is written and produced for informational purposes only. Statements herein have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This recipe is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. The reader assumes full responsibility for consulting a qualified health professional regarding health conditions or concerns, and before starting a new diet or health program.

November 2017

When thinking of cucumber (Cucumis sativus), it is typically associated with the warmer months. The outside skin of the cucumber contains mostly water, yet also is comprised of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and caffeic acid, both of which are used for soothing skin irritations and swelling. These healthy attributes are the reason cucumber has been considered a contributor towards beautiful skin, hair and nails. A widely cultivated plant in the gourd family, cucumbers come in the slicing, pickling, and seedless variety and are considered a fruit. Growing cucumbers in the garden can become a rewarding opportunity to yield vines that produce abundant and nutritious fare, offering year-round hydration to the skin and body.  During the fall and winter season when people tend to overeat and feel more sluggish, it is a good idea to think of incorporating some refreshing foods, like cucumber, to the diet.  This plant is available year-round, creating one of the most underrated ingredients that are versatile in a variety of recipes. Low in calories and high in fiber, cucumbers are hydrating and a great source of vitamin B, potassium, and magnesium.

Recipe: Cucumber & Mint Water

“Let’s explore mint. Most people are familiar with mint, but did you know that mint aides digestion, as well as a quick & effective remedy for nausea? Mint is also a natural stimulant. It can be ingested, applied topically, or inhaled as a vapor to reduce nausea and provide an energy boost.”~ Chef Cindy at OM Sanctuary. When combined with fresh mint leaves, cucumber mint-infused water becomes a deliciously hydrating drink to enjoy year-round.

Ingredients: Makes 2 Quarts
½ bunch Mint
6 Cucumber
Clean, peel, and slice cucumbers into ½ inch slices.
Add fresh mint leaves and mix into water.
Allow combination to infuse in the fridge, anywhere between 1 hour to 6 hours.

Recipe: Cucumber Salad

2 English (hothouse) cucumbers
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped red onions
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise.
Use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds, then cut into thin slices.
Toss the cucumbers with the salt in a colander.
Let drain in the sink for at least 30 minutes, release any remaining water.
Lay a clean dish towel flat on the counter, pour the cucumbers over top. Blot cucumbers dry.
Meanwhile, soak the red onions in a small bowl of ice water for at least 10 minutes, then drain in a fine mesh strainer.
In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onions, white wine vinegar, olive oil, vegetable oil, sugar, pepper and mint.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Cover and let stand in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Serve cold.

October 2017

Move into the fall season by preparing with a healthy immune system. Oatmeal has been found to contain a high amount of Zinc (symbol Zn), a trace element essential for combating colds, along with about 10% of human proteins binding to zinc for a variety of bodily functions in the brain, muscles, bone, kidney, liver, prostate, and the eyes. In plants, zinc is responsible for leveling the amount of CO2 absorption, helping to maintain the necessary balance between the breakdown of sugars and nutrient enhancement. Oatmeal, made of hulled oat grains – groats – can be milled (ground), steel-cut (course), or rolled (old-fashioned, quick). Rolled oats are often used for granola cereals and bars, cookies, and other delicious dishes. It can also be used as a thickening agent, adding a low-cost, high fiber nutrient to many recipes.

Recipe: Oat Power Rolls

1 cup Old fashioned oats (can use gluten-free)
⅔ cup Toasted coconut
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
½ cup Almond or peanut butter
⅓ cup Honey or agave
½ cup Ground flax seeds
½ cup Fruit (cranberries, raisins) or Semi-sweet/vegan chocolate chips (if desired)
1 tbsp. Chia seeds (optional)

Toasted Coconut:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spread coconut on baking sheet
Bake, stirring occasionally, until just brown (about 10 minutes)
Remove and let cool
Oat Rolls:
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together
Cover bowl, place in refrigerator for 30 minutes
Remove from fridge, roll into balls of desired size
Place in sealed container, keep in refrigerator or freezer
Enjoy often!


September 2017

A member of the mint family and known for its abundant growth in the garden, Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is also widely recognized as a calming herb used to reduce anxiety and stress. Promote relaxation by adding this fresh herb to an evening tea, combining it to your bath water herb pouch, or simply chopping up and adding into a favorite recipe or dessert; you are sure to receive the medicinal properties of this wonderful herb. Grown in herb gardens to attract bees, lemon balm crops are also grown for medicinal, cosmetic, and furniture polish purposes. Used in teas, cooking, and to make essential oil, lemon balm has been prescribed by doctors for centuries as a natural remedy to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, heal wounds, and promote longevity.

Recipe: Vegan Blueberry-Lemon Scones

3 cups White Whole Wheat Flour (or flour of your choice)
½  cup Coconut Sugar, or granulated sugar of choice
2 Tbsps Baking Powder
½  Tsp Salt
1-14 ounce can of Coconut Cream (heavy cream works too)
1 cup fresh or frozen Blueberries (dried berries also work)
Juice of 1 Lemon
Zest of 1 Lemon
½ cup dried lemon balm
Almond Milk (or any milk) for drizzling
Turbinado Sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Glaze (optional):
Powdered Sugar
Chopped almonds (optional)

The night before: Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to line a 9.5 inch pie plate or 10 inch round cake pan.
In large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
Make a well – add coconut cream, lemon juice, lemon zest,and  lemon balm. Mix until just combined.
Mix in berries.
Place dough in lined pie plate, press until evenly distributed. Cover with second piece of parchment paper.
Freeze overnight, about 12 hours.
Day of baking: Remove pie plate from fridge, thaw up to an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place dough on cutting board, cut 10 even wedges.
Use leftover parchment paper to line a baking sheet, arrange wedges on sheet 2 inches apart.
Brush scones with milk, sprinkle with turbinado sugar (optional).
Bake scones 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

For the Glaze:
Start with ¼  cup of powdered sugar in a small bowl.
Mix in ½  tsp lemon juice. If the glaze is too runny, add a bit more powdered sugar. If it’s not pourable, CAREFULLY drizzle in lemon juice until you reach a desired consistency.
Sprinkle glaze on cooled scones.
Drizzle chopped almonds on the glaze (optional).
Enjoy right away, or freeze for up to a month.

August 2017

Chia seeds, considered a superfood, capable of packing in both nutritional and medicinal value, these seeds offer a rich and available source of nourishment that is easily incorporated into one’s diet. Chia seeds are tiny, flat and oval-shaped seeds with a polished texture. Stemmed from the mint family (Salvia hispanica), chia has origins in Mexico and Guatemala. “Chia” means “strength” in ancient Mayan and was considered a staple food. Reaping the benefit of this nutrient-dense, energy-boosting power seed, there are multiple ways to enjoy nature’s gift within an existing daily snack. Aside from containing essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid (more omega-3 fats than salmon, which are necessary for health and isn’t produced within the human body); mucin (serving functions including lubrication, cell signalling, and forming chemical barriers); strontium (strontium chloride is sometimes used in toothpaste for sensitive teeth) vitamins A, B, E and protein, chia seeds are also a rich source of antioxidants. One ounce of chia seeds contains about 137 calories, 20% of daily protein, high mineral content, and 37% of dietary fiber. But we can look at chia seeds as offering so much more, particularly in the way of skin and aging. The antioxidants within have been shown to stop up to 70 percent of free radical activity, preventing premature skin aging due to inflammation. Heart health is another benefit, reducing inflammation, regulating cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure. When it comes to boosting energy, chia seeds added to water give a powerful kick without all the sugar found in other energizing drinks. Adding chia to your diet also reduces visceral adipose tissue (a component of obesity), known for affecting the body’s metabolism.  Whether you prefer adding chia seeds to a smoothie, yogurt, cereal, or straight to your water, this powerful seed will provide a host of healthy and nutritional benefits that can transform the way your body (and your mind) relates to food.

Recipe: Avocado, Chia Seed, and Cacao Smoothie

1-1 ¼ full fat Coconut milk (can is good for this)
1 tbsp chia seeds (soaked in 3 tbsp water for 10 minutes)
1 tbsp nut butter (almond, cashew, sunflower seed)
2 tsp cacao nibs )or cocoa powder)
½ frozen avocado
1 tbsp coconut oil
Cinnamon (optional)

Blend ingredients until well-combined
Add water if/when necessary
Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon
* If you want to add bulk/texture to the smoothie, add ice


July 2017 – Bee Balm

Inside the wonderful NC State University resource guide on pollinators, one plant that seems appropriate to showcase for this summer is bee balm (Monarda Didyma, Monarda Fistulosa). Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds alike enjoy this beautiful flower for its pollinating properties. These plants are perennial, coming back year after year to grace your garden with colorful (and useful!) beauty. This flowering plant is medicinal and edible, with the flowers being used as an attractive garnish or the dry stems and leaves for the purpose of an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory relief.

Recipe: Bee Balm Summer Blend Iced Tea, Hummingbird Bread, and More


3 tbsp. dried Chamomile flowers
1 tbsp. dried bee balm leaves
2 tsp. dried rosemary leaves and flowers
1 tbsp. apple or pineapple mint leaves
Honey (or sugar, if desired)
Mason jar (or container)


Place dried herbs in a Mason jar
Cover and shake well
Use 2 tsp. of this mix per cup of boiling water for hot tea
Steep five minutes, strain, compost herbs
Serve with honey (or sugar, if desired)

Hummingbird Bread with Bee Balm Flowers


1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 tbls. butter
1/2 tsp. honey (preferably raw organic honey)
4 cups unbleached flour
1 cup bee balm flowers (the outer soft petals)
1 cup water at room temperature
1 egg, slightly beaten (preferably cage free organic egg)
Light olive oil to coat baking sheet



Dissolve yeast in warm water in mixing bowl
Add butter and honey and mix thoroughly
Add flour and flower petals alternately with water, beating the dough down after each addition
Knead the last of the flour/flowers mixture into the dough by hand
Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning once to oil all surfaces
Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk
Punch dough down and turn onto lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes
Divide dough in half and shape into two round loaves
Place loaves 4 inches apart on a lightly oiled baking sheet or baking pan and cover with a damp towel, allow to rise for 30 minutes
Brush top with beaten egg and spread more bee balm blossoms that have been dipped in the egg over top of the bread
Bake in a preheated 400′ F oven for 45-50 minutes, or until loaves are lightly browned

Medicinal Usage

Soothe a cold:

Use for a calming aromatherapy treatment by place a handful of fresh leaves in a cheesecloth or piece of linen, tie into a bag

Place bundle under hot water while running a bath

Breathe deeply, allowing bee balm steam to enter your lungs


Soak a cloth in bee balm tea, apply as a compress

*It can be made into an ointment for use as a pain reliever and to speed the healing of minor wounds, insect bites/stings, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, and acne.


Sources: Off the Grid News, The Best Years in Life, Old Fashioned Living


June 2017 – St. John’s Wort

Common St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) is a medicinal herb often used to combat depression, providing potent anti-inflammatory properties that inhibit the overproduction of leukotrienes, decreasing the compounds that trigger osteoarthritis and asthmatic symptoms. This herb contains several chemicals, including hypericin, hyperforin, and flavonoids. These chemicals are said to increase the availability of the brain chemicals serotonin (feelings of well-being, happiness), dopamine (reward-motivated behavior), and norepinephrine (mobilizes the brain/body for action).

Recipe: Solstice Sun Tea

Similar to regular brewed tea, yet much milder, sun tea has always been an easy way to connect with the natural sunlight afforded us to create a slow, mild and healthy brew. There is an endless array of herbs and flavors that can be added to make this refreshing summer drink an enjoyable one.


Clean (wash, sterilize), clear glass gallon container
4 cups cold, purified water
5 teabags, 5 tsps. loose tea, or 1.3 cup fresh herbs – St. John’s Wort, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Raspberry leaf (the best herbs are the closest ones within reach!)
Add ingredients
Cover with lid cap or mesh gauze
Let sit in direct sunlight – at least 2 hours
Pour and serve over ice

May 2017 – Morel Mushrooms

For a few short months, typically between April-June, Morel mushrooms (Morchella Esculenta) are blooming through the ground offering up multiple delicious health benefits. A type of truffle, their appearance includes an elongated cone-shaped, honeycombed cap, ranging 2-4 inches in size with colors that graduate from tan to dark brown. Along with their strong earthy, almost nutty flavor, Morel’s provide vitamins and minerals including Phosphorus (tissue/cell repair), Potassium (nerve/muscle function), Iron (carries/stores oxygen), Vitamin D (sunlight), Niacin (lowers cholesterol and triglyceride) and Vitamin B-6 (healthy heart benefits).

Recipe: Morels, Ramps, & Asparagus Pasta
With the understanding that Morels can be tricky to locate, you may substitute this recipe for any shiitake, crimini, or button mushroom and it will still be delicious! Fellow Spring arrivals that pair wonderfully with Morels include asparagus and ramps.

12 ounces fresh Morel (or other) mushrooms, cleaned and very coarsely chopped*
4 -6 ounces ramps, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or 1 medium leek, cleaned and thinly sliced, plus 1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon coconut/olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup veggie broth
1 1/4 cup asparagus
1 1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme
Salt and cracked black pepper
10 ounces dried pasta (or fresh zucchini noodles)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
In a very large skillet over medium-high heat cook and stir morels and ramps in hot oil for 4 to 5 minutes until just tender. With a slotted spoon, remove mixture to a bowl.
Add white wine to skillet. Return to heat and cook for 1 minute. Add broth. Cook and stir occasionally for 6 to 8 minutes until sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon. Return morels to skillet with asparagus and thyme. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until asparagus are just tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Return to pot over low heat with sauce and parsley. Toss until well-combined. Transfer to serving bowl.
Toss pasta with a rich sauce of morels, ramps and asparagus. Optional: Top with shaved Parmesan cheese.

April 2017 – Common Dandelion

Dandelion flowerDandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is known to most people as a common weed that they like to eliminate from their lawn and gardens. Mother Nature, however, is offering you a brilliant yellow flowering herbaceous plant rich in beta-carotene which we convert into vitamin A. This plant is also rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. It’s a good place to get B complex vitamins, trace minerals, organic sodium, and even some vitamin D too.

Recipe: Appalachian Mountain Spring Tonic

A true spring tonic contains properties that purify and thin the blood. The following recipe is based on local some Appalachian lore, with plants found in the mountains. Sassafras is believed to “build” and “thin” the blood. Burdock root and Sassafras are a diuretic and promote sweating, thus helping to promote the purifying of the blood. Dandelion, also a diuretic, is thought to “cleanse” and “build” the liver and kidneys.
Sassafrass Tree used in recipe

You will need:
3 parts Sassafras root (Sassafras albidum)
1 part Burdock root (Arctium minor)
1 part Dandelion root (Taraxacom officinale)
1 quart – 1 gallon of water, to desired strength (pot to boil it in)
Roots are dried for a few days after digging (clean roots)
Cut root into 2 inch pieces
Place roots in water bringing to a boil
Turn boiling water off and simmer for a day
Strain compostable ingredients from water, place in a jar and refrigerate
Drink as desired over the course of a week
Add honey to taste

[section:Sources for OM monthly April 2017:]
Univ. Michigan, Warm weather boost mood, broadens the mind, By Joseph Serwach, updated Oct. 25, 2006
US News & Health, Time in the Sun, By Deborah Kotz Contributor I June 23, 2008
Health & Wellness, By Carrie Soares, March 30th, 2016
Otherworld Apothecary[endsection]

March 2017 – Peppermint Leaf

The medicinal use of peppermint leaf dates back to the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. In Greek mythology, Menthe was turned into a peppermint plant when Proserpine, in a jealous rage, found out that Pluto was in love with her. Assyrians also used peppermint as an offering to their fire god.

Peppermint is used in traditional folk medicine as a pain reliever. Studies show that peppermint is helpful in soothing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, skin irritation, menstrual cramps, and anxiety.


Peppermint Moon Infusion
If you have experienced excess irritation or felt fiery this month, try this peppermint moon infusion recipe to encourage clarity in your body and mind.

You’ll need:
-6 tablespoons dried peppermint or 12 tablespoons fresh peppermint
-1 gallon glass jar

Optional: add lemon, ginger and honey to taste

Instructions: Place peppermint and optional ingredients in your jar and pour cool water over it to fill the jar. Cover with a lid and shake the jar, then set it outside where it will have direct contact with the moonlight. Let steep for 5-7 days.

February 2017 – Sagebrush & Common Sage

Sage 1(1)Common sagebrush, Artemisia tridentata, is a woody shrub found in sunny, arid growing conditions. The plant was named after Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the hunt and the moon. Common sagebrush can be used when dried and bundled as an incense and air purifier. Native people considered the burning of sagebrush smudging as medicine to clear negative or stagnant energy, or to follow momentous occasions like childbirth. The plant was also used in tea or when inhaled as steam to treat headache and congestion.

You can find common sagebrush at health food stores, apothecaries and herbal medicine shops, sold in bundles made for burning. Burn the plant after cleaning, clearing, before creating new resolutions, or after arriving home from a crowded, stressful, or trying experience.

Common Sage, Salvia Officinalis, has one of the longest histories of use of any culinary or medicinal herb. In Ancient Egypt, common sage was used as a fertility drug. In the first century C.E. Greek physician Dioscorides reported that the aqueous decoction of sage stopped bleeding of wounds and cleaned ulcers and sores (Bown, 1995).

Common sage is known to reduce inflammation and muscle tension, help with indigestion, and is commonly used to soothe sore throats and head colds. With broad medicinal applications, common sage is one of the most versatile medicinal herbs we have access to.

Clearing Mint-Sage Herbal tea
1 tsp dried or 2 tsp fresh sage leaves
1 tsp dried lavender
1 tsp dried peppermint
1 tsp (or more) maple syrup, honey, or other sweetener to taste

Instructions: Pour water just below boiling temperature over sage, lavender, and peppermint and let steep 5 minutes, covered with a loose cloth or cheesecloth. Add maple syrup, honey or other sweetener to taste, as sage can taste bitter on its own.

*Medicinal use of sage is contraindicated if you are pregnant. Do not use sage medicinally if you are pregnant.

Make a Smudge Stick

Smudging is recognized as a cleansing tool used by many native traditions. The ritual of burning herbs such as sage, is used for cleansing and clearing space, emotions, and spiritual purification making way for new beginnings.

Burning SageMaterials:
Dried Sage in 6 to 8 inch segments
Cotton Thread
Large feather
Optional: fireproof bowl

Bundle the sage together (1 inch diameter) and wrap it with the cotton thread. Tie the thread off with a knot. Light the stick at the top and blow to it out to create smoldering smoke. Set your intentions on cleansing while you wave the feather over the stick to direct the smoke to the desired areas. A bowl can be used to catch any stray embers.

December 2016 – Pine

Pine is a coniferous tree within the Pinaceae family with approximately 170 different species. One of the oldest trees in this family is over 4,500 years old and is found in California. This season while pine is being cut for decorative purposes, it is worth noting that the needles, cones, bark and golden resin have nutritional and medicinal benefits.

OM Sanctuary’s founder has a special connection to the pine resin, as it helped in curing her infected wound. She tells the story of how pine pitch could always be found in her grandparent’s medicine cabinet and how they would collect the pitch straight off the tree or from lumber yards. At an early age she discovered the resins healing benefit when a cut she had on her hand became infected, sending a red runner up past her elbow. Her grandmother placed the pine pitch on the cut and within days she watched the infection decrease and the wound heal. Additional health benefits of pine also include immune system boost, enhanced vision health, stimulate circulation, protection against pathogens, and improved respiratory wellness.

This year if you find yourself gathering around a pine tree with family and friends do so in respect for the blessings this festive tree offers and what nature provides. Please note: It is important to research which pine trees are safe before using, as some of them are toxic such as: Ponderosa, Norfolk Island and Yew.

Pine Syrup
Make pine-flavored syrup with needles right off your Christmas tree (Spruce or Douglas fir works best). Avoid adding preservative chemicals to the tree stand.
1/2 cup water plus 2 Tbl
2 tablespoons simple syrup (To make it, mix 1/4 cup of water with 1 cup of granulated sugar. This equals 1 cup simple syrup) or try with honey or maple syrup
Pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan, whisking, then boil 1 minute without stirring Remove from the heat
Add the 1 cup needles and steep 2 to 3 hours.
Strain needles from the syrup
Syrup may be refrigerated up to a month. Try adding it to drinks or on your pancake.

Reference for the article and recipes:
Organic Facts: Https://
Rauch, Brigid. The Health Benefits of Pine Needle Tea LiveStrong. Demand Media, Inc., 11.8.10


Pine Needle Tea

livesstrongwebsitePine needles are rich in a number of antioxidants, including vitamins A and C, as well as flavonoids.
Needles approximately 1 Tbl
Wash needles
Cut off the ends and chop
Release oils (roll the needles in your hands)
Boil 1 cup water
Place the needles in a cup of hot water steep for 15minutes. Strain and enjoy.

Pine Cone Bird Feeder

mykidsadventure-websitePlan a nature walk to gather your pine cones. Warm them in your house for several days so the can bloom.
Attach string or pipe cleaner to the ends of the cones
Spread peanut butter in crevices and all over cone
Place birds seed on plate and roll the cone around on it
Hang them outside high enough to be safe from dogs or cats.

November 2016 – Apples

apples12When thinking of autumn and the abundant harvest, the good ol’ apple comes to mind. Out of 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States it is worth noting that certain varieties of crabapples are the only apple’s native to North America. All varieties of this bountiful fruit are really deserving of the attention it gets through the epigram “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
As far back as 1866 apples have been associated with the promotion of good health. They were known as a household curative for scurvy, diarrhea, digestive issues, and were known to reduce tooth decay with its anti-bacterial effects. More recently, it is discovered that apples reduce cholesterol, prevent gallstones, detoxify the liver, prevent cataracts, contain compounds to help prevent certain types of cancer, can repair oxidation damage that happens during normal cell activity, and offer pectin–classed as a soluble, fermentable and viscous fibre–a combination that gives it a huge list of health benefits. Cornell University researchers suggest that the quercetin found in apples protects brain cells against neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease. Get smart, eat an apple sweet or tart!


Making Apple Cider Vinegar, Facial Toner, Detox Bath…

Making Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):


      • Organic Apples
      • Sugar or honey (1 tablespoon per one cup of water)
      • Water (filtered)
      • Clean and sterile jar (a quart is a great place to start, but you can definitely make larger quantities, too.)


      • Cider Press

        Cider Press

        Chop organic apples into quarters with peelings and cores (no stems)

      • Fill glass jar ¾ full with peels and cores
      • Add sugar and water leaving a few inches from the top of jar (stir until sugar dissolves)
      • Cover with breathable fabric (paper towel, cheesecloth or coffee filter) secure with rubber band
      • Wait 2 weeks (occasionally throughout the process skimming off the fermentation brownish substance that develops on top) to strain and separate the scraps from liquid
      • Set liquid aside for another 2-4 weeks to develop the vinegary smell and taste
      • Cap and refrigerate

Gelatinous substance may develop on top of your vinegar, this vinegar “mother” can be use to jump-start future vinegar batches.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Facial Toner:

When you tone your face daily with apple cider vinegar you will notice, it helps balance pH and keeps your skin from becoming too oily or too dry, a substantial difference in age spots and will draw out toxins.


      • 1 part ACV into sterile jar of container
      • 2 parts distilled or filtered water
      • Shake to combine mixture
      • Apply toner with cotton ball avoiding eye area. Store in a cool, dry, and dark place.

Detox Bath:

apples2For a detox bath, use 2 cups of ACV in your bath and fill with the hottest water tolerable. Soak for about 45 minutes or until the water has cooled down. This particular type of detox bath helps to cleanse the body of uric acid. Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down certain compounds in particular foods and drinks. This type of detox bath can be especially helpful to people with arthritis, tendonitis, joint problems, bursitis, and gout. Additionally, because ACV is also an effective deodorant, this type of bath can also help those with body odor issues.

Disclaimer. OM Sanctuary articles, recipes, or activities do not provide medical or legal advice.

Recipe Sources:

10 Fun Facts About Apples

How-to Make Your Own Apple Cider Vinegar Facial Toner

Detox Baths: Which Ones are Best and for What Ailments


October 2016 – Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy in the Fall

Poison Ivy in the Fall

When most people think of poison ivy, they immediately think of an itchy rash and of a plant to eradicate from the landscape. Before you do, you may want to understand the plant a little more. For those who are allergic to this plant, homeopathy practitioners (200-year-old medical system), will tell you that poison Ivy (Rhus Toxicodendron) can also be a cure for the very ailments it causes. Homeopathic poison ivy can also be very useful for treating injuries to muscles, tendons, and joints. Sprains, strains, and cases of tendinitis that involve stiffness usually respond well to Rhus tox. As much as humans avoid poison ivy, wildlife such as turkey, deer, rabbit and black bear depend on it as a food source. “In fact, for woodpeckers, warblers, vireos and many other birds, poison ivy’s berries are a preferred food,” says Jim Finley, Penn State professor of forest resources. While you still will want to avoid contact with this three-leaf vine or stem-like plant, hopefully you will appreciate the other benefits it brings to both humans and wildlife.

Medicine: Leaving food for the wildlife is great medicine and the best recipe for ecological stewardship.


(1) “Using Poison Ivy as a Medicine” Malerba, Larry.

(2) Department of Biology Hamilton College Ernest H. Williams Jr. Professor (26 April 2005). The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors. Oxford University Press. pp. 57–. ISBN 978-0-19-972075-0.

(3) Effect of homeopathic treatment of fibrositis (primary fibromyalgia). Fisher P, Greenwood A, Huskisson EC, et al. BMJ. 1989;299:365-356.

(4) Homeopathic Rhus toxicodendron treatment increased the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 in primary cultured mouse chondrocytes. Huh, Yun Hyun et al.
Homeopathy , Volume 102 , Issue 4 , 248 – 253.

(5) Poison Ivy- A Wildlife Food:

March 2015 – Full Body Cleanse: Green Smoothie Recipes

Please note: all of the following recipes are made by blending the listed ingredients in a strong blender. Place the juiciest fruits at the bottom of the blender to create more liquid to liquefy the lettuce and spinach (or any other greens that you may use). If necessary, add a little water to ensure a good blend.

All of the listed ingredients produce approximately 2-3 servings. Enjoy these green smoothies!

5 delicious recipes

Spinach Mango Smoothie

2 cups spinach
2 mangos, peeled and chopped
1 banana

Spinach Peach Smoothie

2 cups spinach
2 peaches, seeds removed
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water (optional)

Tropical Green Smoothie

1 head romaine or green leafy lettuce
2 cups water
1 banana
1/2 pineapple, skin and core removed

Blueberry Green Smoothie

1 head romaine lettuce
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 apple, roughly chopped
1/4 lemon or lime
2 cups water

Grape Cooler Smoothie

Large handful of red seedless grapes, stems removed
Basket of fresh or frozen strawberries, stems removed
1 frozen banana, peeled
1/2 head romaine lettuce

Put grapes at the bottom of blender to create enough liquid to blend the other ingredients; add a little water, if needed.
(Dr. Ben Kim


February 2015 – Houseplants: purify your air

Plant Medicine Feb 2015Winter is a time that most of us stay indoors, closing ourselves off from the cold and consequently fresh air.  There is a fascinating research study by NASA on how houseplants can remove harmful dangerous air toxins. This research took them nearly 30 years to determine the health benefits of houseplants. In this first of a kind study they took a look at some of the most common indoor chemicals of concerns such as: benzene, found in plastics, nylon, dyes and detergents, cleaning products, printing ink, adhesives and fragrances; xylene, in cleaning products, resin, furniture, and more.  The scientists who studied the air-purifying quality of plants suggest one or two plants for every 100 sq.ft. of indoor space.

Recipe: Air Purification – 12 Top Plants

12 Top indoor Plants for Air Purification

1. Peace lilies ranked highest at cleansing nearly all chemicals floating around in today’s home air. These were the most effective plants at removing benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene and trichloroethylene from the atmosphere. Peace lilies are common in both homes and offices and perform well even under low-light conditions. They can be located several feet away from a window.
2. Sanseveria, called snake plant, performed second highest, removing nearly all air contaminants. This was good news because they’re not only easy to grow but long-living, with plants commonly reaching ages of 25 to 40 years old. Being a succulent, they are tolerant of occasional neglect.
3. Palms included areca, lady and bamboo types. Avoid soggy soil, and watch for spider mites.
4. Golden pothos, also called devil’s ivy, is a rapid-growing vine useful for hanging baskets or anywhere trailing plants are needed.
5. Several types of dracaenas made the list, including marginata, Warnecki and Janet Craig types.
6. English ivy has a classic appearance. Occasionally washing the foliage will reduce its susceptibility to spider mites.
7. Chrysanthemums and gerbera daisies are effective purifiers, but they are difficult to maintain as houseplants, other than enjoying them occasionally as blooming florist gift plants.
8. Spider plant has long been recognized as an air cleanser.
9. Aloe vera is also called medicine plant.
10. Ficus weeping fig becomes tree-like as it grows.
11. Chinese evergreen does well in low light.
12. Philodendron air cleaners include both the vining heartleaf and selloum types.

(Source: By Don Kinzler, Forum News Service Jan 17, 2015 at 12:00 a.m.)


December 2014 – Turmeric: Detoxify and Weight Loss

turmeric rootTurmeric dates back 2,500 years in India, where it is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is known to offer a lot of health benefits, and is regarded as a liver cleanser. It has also been used as an antibacterial agent and an antiseptic. Turmeric additionally has been known to treat depression, Alzheimer’s and arthritis. Fat burring is critical to weight loss. The liver is an organ that is essential for fat burning. A healthy liver can assist in this fat burning process.
RECIPES: Treat yourself to a Morning Tonic for the liver.  For seasonal fun and gift giving, here is a Festive Holiday Spray that will liven up your home.

Morning Tonic
When you wake up in the morning, your stomach is empty allowing this morning tonic to give your body a cleansing flush. The lemon juice is highly alkaline and turmeric is known for its detoxifying properties.

The Formula for Festive Holiday Spray:
8 ounces hot water
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
2 ½ lemon juice (freshly juiced)
Honey to your taste
Remember to consult your doctor if you feel this may and an undesirable effect for you. Festive Holiday Spray for a fun and festive aroma to spray in your home. Place in one 4 ounce spray bottle.  Check your local Natural Food Store for the pure essential oils and bottles.  Inspired by birch hill happenings.

The Formula for Festive Holiday Spray:
30 drops Clove Bud
30 drops Orange
20 drops Clove
30 drops Cinnamon
4 oz. Distilled Water


Chamomile – August 2014


Chamomile flowersChamomile is a perennial herb with attractive flowers. The term Chamomile actually refers to a range of different daisy-like plants, which are a member of the Asteraceae family. There are many different species of chamomile, the two most commonly being German chamomile (Marticaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). They have been used since Ancient times for their calming and anti-inflammatory properties, and each offer their own additional health benefits.  Extensive scientific research over the past 20 years has confirmed many of the traditional uses for the plant’s therapeutic activity, including antiseptic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, antibacterial, anitfungal, and anti-allergenic activity.   

Chamomile Tea foot Treatment

Perfect after foot soak for after a long walk to relieve swollen and tired feet. Drink a cup of chamomile tea to help you relax.


      • A large basin for your feet
      • ½ cup loose chamomile (it is nice to see the floating flower) or 5 tea bags
      • ½ cup Epsom salt
      • 2 tablespoons of honey


      1. Boil water and place in basin with tea, Epsom salt, and honey. Let soak for about 10 – 15 minutes. Remember to make a cup of chamomile tea.
      2. Test your water so it is at a nice temperature for you. Sit comfortably.
      3. Put some soft music on or sit outside.  Soak until your feet feel great.
      4. After you dry your feet, enjoy the new and fresh sensation.

Mint Tea Recipe – July 2014


Mint-leaves-2007Summer is here and mint is near. Lamiaceae is the mint family and the plant part used is the leaves. Peppermint is thought be the most powerful of mints, probably first used in England spreading to European continent and Africa. Mint is known to be one of the easiest to grow and versatile herbs around.

According to Mother Earth News: Indoors, it has been used as to deodorize a room, wake up your skin, freshen your breath, create delicious hot (and cold) teas, lend zest to vegetable dishes, and spruce up otherwise-ordinary salads, juices, spreads, fruits, etc. And outdoors – in the vegetable garden – mint’s highly aromatic foliage acts to repel ants, white cabbage moths, and other pests … thereby ensuring healthy crops of cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

Matcha Mint Tea

2 cups filtered water
2 teaspoons Aiya Cooking Grade Matcha
2 cups crushed ice
1 lime, sliced
handfuls of mint
optional: honey or cane sugar (or minty simple syrup, see notes)


Using a cocktail shaker (or a large jar with a non-leaky lid) shake together the water and matcha until there are no lumps.
Add the ice, a squeeze of lime, handfuls of mint and shake it some more. (Add sweetener if you like).
Pour into glasses with extra lime slices and mint.

Notes – Minty Simple Syrup: Heat 1 part white sugar and 1 part water in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and drop in handfuls of mint and let it steep until it cools to room temp. Strain out the mint and chill until ready to use. Recipe from


Lemongrass Recipes – June 2014



Lemongrass produces a citrus aroma that is uplifting and helps support a happy positive mood. Lemongrass smells similar to lemon but is a sharp-bladed, perennial, blue-green grass native to India. It grows 3 to 6 feet tall with cascading clumps.
Conditions lemongrass has been known to help with are: stress, fever, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, eliminating toxins, cleansing organs in the body, and improving the digestive system.

Lemongrass Aroma Spray

      • A mister bottle
      • 4 drops of essential oils
      • A cup of water

Learn more

Lemongrass Foaming Foot Scrub

      • 1/2 cup Epson Salts
      • 1/4 cup Olice Oil or Grapeseed Oil
      • 1/4 cup melt and pour soap (a soap base that can be purchased online)
      • 3 Lemongrass stalks
      • 10 drops Lemongrass essential oil

Learn more

Vegetarian Thai Tom Yum Soup (Vegan/gluten-free)

      • 5-6 cups good-tasting vegetable or faux chicken stock (makes 4 servings)
      • 1-2 stalks lemongrass, minced,OR 3-4 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (available at Asian stores)
      • 3 whole kaffir lime leaves (available fresh or frozen at Asian food stores)
      • 1-2 cups soft tofu, sliced into cubes
      • 1-2 red chilies, sliced, OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili, OR 1-2 tsp. chili sauce
      • 4 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, sliced into thin matchstick-like pieces
      • 1 cup fresh mushrooms (I used shiitake), sliced

Learn more


Lavender Recipes – March 2014


lavender As an herb, Lavandula (lavender) has been in documented use for over 2,500 years. Lavender is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Ancient Romans also used lavender oils for bathing, cooking and scenting the air.

Today, lavender oils are known for promoting happiness and clearing depression. Due to its antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic and analgesic properties, the oil is also used in a variety of household products, home remedies and healthy & beauty aids.

Lavender Carpet Freshener

      • Lavender essential oil or ground lavender buds
      • Shaker bottle
      • Baking Soda
      • Borax

Learn more

Lavender Linen Spray

      • Lavender essential oil
      • Spray bottle
      • Distilled water
      • Isopropyl alcohol

Learn more

Lavender Furniture Polish

      • Coconut oil or olive oil
      • Vinegar
      • Lavender essential oil
      • Soft rag

Learn more


Ginger Recipes – February 2014


Fresh_ginger Ginger has been used as a medicine for thousands of years in Indian, Asian and Arabic healing traditions. Ginger root is a popular alternative remedy for sleeping difficulties and some preliminary studies indicate that it may be effective at treating some causes of insomnia. A study published in 2010 in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry claims that ginger binds to some serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects overall mood and anxiety levels. More popularly, people worldwide have recognized the healing benefits of ginger for issues such as nausea, indigestion, motion-sickness, cold and flu, and muscle tension, to name a few. It has also been used to decrease inflammation, help with migraines, painful menstruation, diabetes, arthritis and cancer.

Candied Ginger

      • Non-stick spray
      • 1 lb fresh ginger
      • 5 c. water
      • Approximately 1 lb of sugar

Learn more

Rose Ginger Romantic Massage Oil

      • 1 inch peeled, completely clean piece of ginger root, cut into thin slices
      • 10-12 small dried rosebuds
      • 1 c. carrier oil (sweet almond, olive, jojoba, hazelnut, etc.)

Learn more

Grow Ginger from the Grocery Store

      • Ginger root
      • Pot
      • Sphagnum Moss

Learn more


Chocolate Mint Recipes – January 2014


ChocolateMint There are more than 20 species of mint and hundreds of hybridized varieties. Chocolate Mint is a sweet smelling (and tasting) variety that adds a special twist to common beverages and dishes. Try it as a delicious tea or try infusing it in cream or milk to use in a baking recipe.

Combat the winter blues or satisfy your chocolate craving by trying these fun recipes:

Chocolate Mint Hot Cocoa (per cup):

      • 1 handful of chocolate mint leaves plus a sprig for garnish
      • 10 ounces of non-dairy (or dairy) milk
      • 1-2 Tbl of cocoa powder (Dutch processed cocoa provides creamier flavor)
      • 2 tsp of real vanilla extract


      • Place washed leaves in pan and pour milk on top
      • Heat milk and add cocoa and vanilla; simmer slightly
      • Strain leaves out and pour into mug
      • *Optional: Place large dollop of fresh whip cream or coconut cream on top and garnish with sprig


Chocolate Mint Extract

      • Screw top glass jar(s)
      • Fresh Chocolate Mint leaves
      • 1 vanilla bean
      • high-quality vodka

Learn more

Chocolate Mint Chocolate Leaves (great for cake decoration)

      • Fresh Chocolate Mint Leaves (as many as you want)
      • Melted Chocolate
      • Paint brush
      • Wooden spoon and parchment paper

Learn more


Cinnamon Recipes – November/December 2013


Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 7.49.54 PM When you think of cinnamon think cassia tree. It is true cinnamon originated in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and is one of some 4000 varieties of the Laurel tree. Cinnamon is a spice most commonly thought of for holiday cooking and baking. Good news for the holiday: Penn State researchers revealed that diets rich in cinnamon can help reduce the body’s negative responses to eating high-fat meals.

There are many other healthy benefits to using cinnamon internally and externally.
Add some spice into your holiday fun with these recipes:

Raw, Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Filling:

      • 1 sugar pumpkin
      • 1 cup dates
      • 4 -5 Tbl of melted coconut oil
      • 1/3 cup maple syrup
      • 1 – 4 Tbl of pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves)

Learn more

Cinnamon & Honey Body Scrub

      • 1/4 cup Raw Honey
      • 1.5 tsp. – 1.5 TBSP Cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp. – 2 tsp. Nutmeg

Learn more

Handmade Cinnamon Ornaments

      • ¾ cup applesauce
      • 1 c. + 2 T. ground cinnamon

Supplies needed:

      • Cookie cutters
      • Drinking straw
      • Ribbon or Twine

Learn more


Fennel Recipes – October 2013


Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 7.53.43 PM The Romans believed fennel promoted strength and courage so it was given to the athletes who competed in the Olympic games. In thirteen century Britain, fennel was hung in doorways and stuffed into keyholes to protect houses against fire and evil. It was also used as a medical drink to keep insanity and temptation under control. Though fennel is still used today medicinally, you are more likely to find it on the dinner table. From the bulb to the flowers to the seeds, fennel can be used in a variety of ways. Click the link below for our favorite recipes!

Caramelized Fennel

You will need:

      • 2 Large fennel bulbs
      • ¼ cup olive oil
      • Kosher salt
      • Black pepper
      • ½ of a lemon

Learn more

Fennel Skin Tonic

You will need:

      • 2 raw fennel bulbs, pureed
      • Juice of 1/2 lemon
      • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

Learn more

Flea & Tick Repellant

You will need:

      • Dried fennel seeds
      • Coffee grinder or blender

Learn more

Basil Recipes – September 2013


Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 7.46.52 PM Basil is an amazing herb. It is an annual herb belonging to the mint family, Lamiaceae (Labiatae). There are over 40 known varieties of basil of which Ocimum basilicum or Sweet Basil is the most commonly known and grown. Ocimum is from a Greek verb that means “to be fragrant.”

Basil can be used in a variety of ways; from food and drink to the bath and body. See below for our favourite summer recipes!

Basil Pesto

You will need:

      • 2 cups, washed, loosely packed stemmed fresh herbs- basil, cilantro, parsley, mint
      • 1/2 cup shelled pecans or walnuts or pine nuts
      • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic
      • 1/4 to 1/2 cup good tasting extra virgin olive oil, as needed
      • Sea salt, to taste

Read more

Basil Acne Tonic

You will need:

      • 3 tablespoons dried basil leaves
      • 1 cup of boiling water

Get recipe

Basil Bug Spray

You will need:

      • 46 ounces fresh basil leaves
      • 4 ounces boiling water
      • Spray bottle
      • 4 oz vodka

Learn more

*Lemongrass image courtesy of antpkr /