THE 15 MEND ME MINUTES
Laena's 15 minute core self-care routine: 5 minutes of Ayervedic self-massage, 5 minutes of restorative yoga, 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation.
HERBAL TONICS FOR WOMEN
Recipes for tasty + healing herbal tonics to keep you strong + resilient.
HAPPY BELLY = HAPPY skin :: BAEK WHITE KIMCHI RECIPE
Laena's recipe for Baek White Kimchi is gingery, mild, and chock full of vitamins A, B, and C, and "healthy bacteria" called lactobacilli (i.e., probiotics).
self-care For the Skin
Making your own oils, cleansers, & Scrubs
This guide is a followup to my class, and a resource for making your own skincare, and building a set of healing rituals for your daily life, so you can become stronger, healthier, and more resilient, and enhance your relationship with yourself. Throughout the process of treating your skin, be as loving and patient with your body as you can.
If you need guidance and help with specific issues, contact Laena for a private session, remotely or at her Brooklyn office.
less is more :: cleaning up
THE DIRT ON "CLEANSING" AND "CARE"
Cosmetics are not regulated in the US. This means that no one is checking to see what's in your skincare. The European Union bans 1,400 ingredients from cosmetics. The United States Food & Drug Administration bans only 30.
And of these 30, many are just ridiculously bad, like chloroform (cancerous, and actually lethal), asbestos, vinyl chloride (very cancerous), mercury (not banned even, just regulated: hello? Mercury, like super poisonous, mercury), and red dye #3. Many “organic” products actually contain as little as 10% organic ingredients, because no one is checking to confirm what is written on the label.
WHY WE CARE
Our skin is our body’s largest organ, and whatever we put on our outsides goes inside: our skin absorbs 60% of any topical product we use. And FYI, the average woman in America wears nearly 520 chemicals a day. Average.
YOU CAN SAY NO
The good news? You really can clean up your skincare, easily, and save money too. It's way cheaper, and more effective, to use one bottle of healing oil that you infuse with herbs instead of an arsenal of cleansers, night creams, day moisturizers, acne creams, diaper rash fixer, weird rash calmer, fancy wrinkle reducer, etc., etc.
In case you forgot, here's the basic formula for making your own infused oil...
infused oil recipe
Tranquility + anti inflammatory Healing oil
\\ The folk method //
This recipe makes one 8-ounce jar
- 2 tablespoons calendula flowers, 1 tablespoon lavender flowers, 1 tablespoon rose petals, 1 tablespoon nettle leaf, 1 teaspoon peppermint leaf -
- About 1⁄2 cup carrier oil (your choice: single oil or a combo of ORGANIC, COLD PRESSED jojoba, olive, sunflower, almond, avocado, coconut, etc. -- and remember, buy it from the grocery store, not Sephora).
- 1 tablespoon or less of dried spices of your choice (cinnamon stick, coriander, black pepper, vanilla bean, cardamom, etc)
1 Canning jar and tight-fitting lids
Cheese cloth and/or fine mesh strainer
Firstly, I recommend purchasing quality herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs or Radicle Herb Shoppe on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn - see my list of other sources below.
Remove the fresh or dried herbs off of the stalks. If using freshly dug roots, wash and scrub them of dirt. If you are using fresh herbs, let them dehydrate for at least 12 hours.
Chop fresh herbs and grind or crush dried herbs to increase the surface area for the maceration (if purchasing from a store, no need to grind further). Place herbs into a clean, dry jar. Fill jar 1/2 to 3/4 full of herbs. DO NOT OVERFILL.
Fill remaining space in jar with oil of choice, making sure to cover herbs by at least 1 inch. If your herbs soak up all of the oil, then pour more oil on top to ensure the herbs are well covered.
Cap jar tightly and give the jar a nice cocktail-style 20 second shake, so the herbs are well mixed with the oil.
Place jar in a warm location (windowsill or a warm shelf) and shake once or more per day.
After 3 to 4 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil using cheesecloth and/or a mesh strainer. Make sure and squeeze out every precious drop of oil!
Pour into glass bottles and store in a cool, dark place, preferably your refrigerator. The oil should keep for at least a year. A few drops of Vitamin E Oil or Rosemary Antioxidant may also be added to prolong shelf life.
exfoliating face & body scrub recipe
Use your healing oil as a base! This recipe is wonderfully restorative for sloughing off dead skin cells and restoring moisture. I keep a batch of exfoliating sea salt scrub next to my sink, in my kitchen, and in my bath at all times. Hands feeling dry and gross in the winter? Give them a scrub and they will feel so, so good. Need extra glowing skin in the summer? Yep, scrub, scrub.
Which Salt to Use?
For a HAND SCRUB, use coarse sea salt. Sea salt is simply just evaporated seawater, which means it's not processed and doesn't contain any additives. Sea salt exfoliates by sloughing off dead skin cells, allowing smoother skin cells to take their place.
For a FACE and BODY SCRUB, use a finer ground sea salt, or epsom salt, which will be gentler for this more sensitive region.
What about adding essential oils?
If you have sensitive skin, I recommend not adding essential oils. But for everyone else, a few drops adds a nice smelling, therapeutic element to your scrub.
Grapefruit, lemon or orange essential oils are fresh, citrusy, antibacterial and antiseptic.
Lavender, bergamot, or chamomile essential oils are calming and restorative.
Tea tree oil is a great anti-fungal, antibacterial oil that can help improve acne. I love this in my face scrub.
This recipe makes one 8-ounce jar
- 3/4 cup sea salt
- 1/2 cup infused oil
- 3 to 5 drops essential oil
1 Canning jar and tight-fitting lids
Fork for stirring
- Pour 3/4 cup of salt into the empty glass container.
- Add 1/2 cup of your infused healing oil over the salt.
- Add 3 to 5 drops (total) of essential oil to mixture.
- Stir all the ingredients until they're well combined.
Close the jar with a lid and affix a label, so you can remember your genius recipe.
Use scrub once or twice a week by spooning a tablespoon into your hands, gently rubbing it wherever needs the lovin', rinsing it off with warm water, and drying your hands.
Use your healing oil as a base! This is great as a daily moisturizer, and can be used in addition to your healing oil. 'Moisturizer' penetrates the skin's surface, while 'oil' protects it, creating a shield to keep in the moisture. Depending on your skin, you may want to use both or one or the other.
- ¼ cup of your infused healing oil
- 2 teaspoons vegetable glycerine
- ½ teaspoon vitamin E oil
- 1 tablespoon shea butter
- 5 drops of essential oils (optional)
One 8-ounce canning jar and tight-fitting lid
Place all ingredients in a glass bowl. Bring a small pot filled about 2 inches with water to a simmer. Put the jar, without its lid, in the pot, and let it sit there until the ingredients have melted. Stir occasionally. Once the mixture has melted and all is evenly combined, carefully remove the jar from the water. Let it sit at room temperature until the cream hardens, seal with a lid, and store in a cool place. Apply morning and night after cleansing with your infused oil.
Stress is detrimental to the entire health of our mind and body, and the negative effects often manifest as hormonal imbalance and cycle irregularity.
While most of us cannot remove the stress-inducer (i.e., jerk boss, commute, rent, job, etc), there are myriad ways to learn how to relax and reduce the effects of stress. Contemplative practice such as mindfulness, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and prayer, teach our mind and body to be resilient and strong in the face of adversity. If you want scientific proof, there's actually a number of studies on stress reduction through contemplative practice. Choose a form of practice that most resonates with you, and find a way to implement it into your daily routine.
If you need help getting started, here are some guides...
10 meditation podcasts that don't suck
I've made this list so you don't have to wade through all the crazy wackos on the internets with terrible voices (not a great way to relax, imo). These podcasts are all really interesting and helpful. I've listed them in order of my own personal preference.
This is the one I listen to most often. Tara Brach is an incredible meditation teacher. This podcast has both guided meditations and lectures she gives. Her work is grounded in both Western and Eastern Buddhist thought. Her podcast is a great place to start for those looking for more information about their practice. Many of her podcast episodes are from her recent lectures, which are great as well.
The Meditation Podcast was founded way back in 2006. The goal of this podcast is to help people have extraordinary meditation experiences in their everyday lives, sounds good to me! Jesse and Jeane Stern have created a great guided meditation podcast that immediately puts you into a meditative state of mind. It’s highly recommended.
Meditation Oasis is all about helping you cultivate a sense of mindfulness in your own life. Mary and Richard Maddux will guide you through various guided meditations that will help you relax. You’ll also find instructions for practicing on your own.
The Interdependence Project offers a "glimpse into 21st century Buddhism". This podcast features a wide range of guests, from, best-selling authors, to world-renown teachers and speakers. They also infuse spoken word pieces and sound collage pieces for a truly immersive and awakening listen.
The Live and Dare Podcast is a fascinating look into modern-day meditation, mindfulness, and spirituality. This podcast features a wealth of information on traditional and modern meditation practices, and how to integrate meditation into your own life. If you’re looking to deepen your meditation practice, then check this podcast out.
The Daily Meditation Podcast is home to over 400 different daily meditations. Each podcast is around 15 minutes, which is perfect for most of us.
The Meditation Minis Podcast by Chel Hamilton is a great podcast for those looking for simple guided meditations to get started with. Each podcast is designed to help with a specific facet of your life.
I Should Be Meditating is a great podcast by Alan Klima that covers all aspects of meditation. This podcast features guided meditations, talks, and much more. If you’re looking to deepen your meditation journey, then check this podcast out.
The Self Help Podcast is brought to you by Live in the Present. This podcast is dedicated to spreading emotional health and well-being. The combination of entrepreneur Edward Lamb and psychotherapist Sean Oxford is quite interesting and provides a unique perspective on what actually makes human being tick.
Meditation in the City is a podcast from the Shambhala Center in New York. They have a lot of different features, including, interviews, and glimpses of lectures that took place at their center. The content is very high quality and worth keeping on your radar. You can also go meditate at their center in Manhattan!
Laena's Self-Care Resources
My resource guide for buying herbs, oils, spices, essential oils, and medicine making supplies; as well as my reference library of books for learning more about herbal medicine, essential oils, fermentation, and meditation.
SOURCES FOR HERBS, OILS, SPICES
MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS [ONLINE]
Organic medicinal herbs, spices, oils, extracts, essential oils, aromatherapy, herbal supplies and resources. The best and most comprehensive source.
RADICLE HERB SHOP [HERB SHOP]
Simple store offering organic dried herbs, teas, spices & extracts, plus herbal medicine classes.
394 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217 | (718) 422-7981
FLOWER POWER HERBS & ROOTS INC [HERBAL MEDICINE STORE]
Shop stocking a vast collection of dried herbs & extracts for culinary, medicinal & beauty uses.
406 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009 | (212) 982-6664
SACRED VIBES APOTHECARY [HERB SHOP]
Small, laid-back storefront carrying a range of medicinal dried herbs, spices & herbal teas in bulk.
376 Argyle Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11218 | (718) 284-2890
LIN SISTER HERB [CHINESE MEDICINE STORE]
Snug, old-world herb shop offers traditional Chinese formulas & teas, plus acupuncture supplies.
4 Bowery, New York, NY 10013 | (212) 962-5417
KAMWO MERIDIAN HERBS [CHINESE MEDICINE STORE]
High quality products, along with professional resources and patient guides make this a one-of-a-kind pharmacy. On-staff doctors and specialists will help you find the treatment you need based entirely on diet and natural supplements. Also available are personal care products, home goods and massage equipment.
Kamwo Meridian Herbs, 211 Grand Street, New York, NY +1 212 966 6370
KALUSTYAN'S [SPICES, ONLINE + NYC]
Specialty market known for Indian & Mideastern spices, teas & other global food items, plus a cafe.
123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016 | (800) 352-3451
LA BOÎTE À EPICES [ONLINE + NYC]
724 11th Avenue, New York, NY 10019 | 212-247-4407
THE SPICE HOUSE [ONLINE + LA/CHICAGO]
Spices, cooking herbs, seasonings. Great quality.
NOTE: you can get fresh and dried herbs, teas, and tinctures at the Union Square Greenmarket on 14th St in Manhattan :: Furnace Creek Farm on Wednesdays; and Tweefontein Herb Farm on Fridays.
It's true, i'm a book nerd with an mS in Information science.
Here's my library.
Fertility Awareness & Cycle Tracking
Guess what??? There is a GIANT VOID of books on women's hormones, fertility, and the menstrual cycle. There is seriously ONE BOOK still in print that is not some hocus-pocus, snake oil bullshit or written for pre-pubescent girls. And the ONLY book is SERIOUSLY OVER TWENTY YEARS OLD, you guys. Ok, that's my rant. So, here it is, the only book.
Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
All hail the Queen of Fertility Awareness! Taking Charge of Your Fertility was originally published two decades ago (although this is an updated edition), and has helped thousands of women avoid pregnancy naturally, maximize their chances of getting pregnant, or simply gain better control of their gynecological and sexual health. Toni Weschler thoroughly explains the empowering Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) in this bible of fertility awareness.
THE NATURAL PREGNANCY BOOK BY AVIVA JILL ROMM
A comprehensive guide to pregnancy, the ailments a women may encounter, and dietary suggestions and herbal therapeutics to promote wellness and ease the journey.
WISE WOMAN HERBAL FOR THE CHILDBEARING YEAR BY SUSUN WEED
In the wise woman tradition, shares simple and safe herbal support prior to and during pregnancy to ease symptoms and promote health of mother and baby.
WOMEN, HORMONES, & THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE BY RUTH TRICKEY
Discusses common conditions and complex disorders women face from puberty through menopause and dives into the endocrine system and hormonal replacement therapy; offers information on allopathic treatments as well as dietary and herbal therapeutics; includes a materia medica organized by herbal actions.
Herbal Medicine for Women
BOTANICAL MEDICINE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH BY AVIVA ROMM
A comprehensive resource of medical and herbal interventions related to women's health issues, Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health provides a unique combination of traditional and modern scientific data on herbal medicine. Written by Aviva Romm, MD, an experienced herbalist, physician, and midwife, this guide blends a clinician-sensitive and patient-centered approach to women’s health issues. Coverage of menstrual health, fertility, breast conditions, and more makes this an essential resource for everyday practice.
HERBAL HEALING FOR WOMEN BY ROSEMARY GLADSTAR
Comprehensive and easy-to-use, Herbal Healing for Women explains how to create remedies—including teas, tinctures, salves, and ointments—for the common disorders that arise in the different cycles of a woman's life. By explaining the properties of specific herbs and the art of preparation, Rosemary Gladstar demonstrates not only how to achieve healing through herbs but good health as well.
HEALING WISE BY SUSUN WEED
A classic herbal book that sets forth the foundations of the Wise Woman tradition and uniquely describes the personalities and uses of seven nourishing herbs.
DIY Herbal Medicine
This book has step-by-step instructions for making any kind of herbal preparation you could possibly think of. It also explains why you should do certain things, not just how, which is handy to know if you find yourself faced with the need to improvise. The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook is extremely detail-oriented, but still very readable – Green is authoritative while still being lighthearted. A prime example of this is the chapter on herb jellos, an unexpected and surprisingly useful way to prepare herbs for kids – and one that he stumbled on quite by accident! The book also contains a brief overview of 30 plants that he and the other co-directors of the California School for Herbal Studies developed for use as part of the school’s curriculum.
This textbook is not for the faint of heart, but it provides an incredible amount of information on the more medical side of herbalism. This tome is a great resource if you are interested in learning the chemistry behind herbalism, as it explains the different types of chemical compounds and goes into great detail for pharmacology, toxicity, and safety issues, formulation, and chapters for treatment approach by body systems. An extensive materia medica with herbal profiles is included at the end. It’s a fascinating and extensive look at the scientific side of herbalism.
THE EARTHWISE HERBAL, VOLUMES 1 AND 2 BY MATTHEW WOOD
One of the most thorough resources on herbal materia medica available anywhere, The Earthwise Herbal details historical use of many herbs and includes Wood’s personal experiences in working with the herbs in his clinical practice. Volume One focuses on Old World, European plants, while Volume Two discusses the New World plants of North America. Wood has focuses on western herbalism and a more folk-style approach, but his books are an excellent resource for herbalists of any tradition. These references are valuable both for beginners and experienced herbalists alike, as they provide valuable insight and lesser known perspectives on many well-loved herbs.
One of the best volumes for folk herbalists searching for their path, the informal but detailed exploration of the art of herbalism in The Herbalist’s Way leaves you with the sense that you’ve spent the afternoon across from a wise elder, chatting as you both enjoyed tea. In fact, the authors highlight conversations with many herbalists throughout the book, so by the end of the book you have learned from the experiences of many others. This book explores how to become an herbalist and why – from an overview of the many possibilities, to finding your niche, legal aspects, and more.
MEDICINAL HERBS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE: 33 HEALING HERBS TO KNOW, GROW, AND USE BY ROSEMARY GLADSTAR
In this introductory guide, Rosemary Gladstar shows you how easy it can be to make your own herbal remedies for life’s common ailments. Gladstar profiles 33 common healing plants and includes advice on growing, harvesting, preparing, and using herbs in healing tinctures, oils, and creams.
THE WAY OF CHINESE HERBS BY MICHAEL TIERRA
Informative yet easy-to-follow, details the uses of herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and how to integrate them into daily life, includes recipes and formulas.
Foraging for Herbs
PETERSON’S FIELD GUIDE: EASTERN/CENTRAL MEDICINAL PLANTS AND HERBS BY STEVEN FOSTER AND JAMES A. DUKE
Geared toward the eastern and central United States and Canada; plant photos organized by color; text outlines plant traits, habitat, uses, and warnings for more than 530 important medicinal plants.
FOOD AS MEDICINE: THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF FOOD BY TODD CALDECOTT
Using the theories of Ayurveda and modern science, offers practical nutritional guidance (and recipes) to support individual wellness.
No herbal home should be without this delightful book, which provides simple and creative ways to use herbs in the kitchen. Detailed profiles of many common cooking herbs and spices explain how these often over-looked plants are useful for health. Delicious and unique recipes include cooking oils, seasoning salts and sprinkles, herbal honeys, cordials, and vinegars.
Herbal Medicine for Children
HERBAL HEALING FOR CHILDREN BY DEMETRIA CLARK
A practical guide, this book gives parents an introduction to herbalism and teaches them how to make simple herbal remedies for common childhood conditions.
NATURALLY HEALTHY BABIES AND CHILDREN BY AVIVA JILL ROMM
Offers easy-to-understand herbal and dietary recommendations for the common health conditions and symptoms children face as babies through pre-adolescence
HERBS FOR CHILDREN’S HEALTH BY ROSEMARY GLADSTAR
Recipes and instructions for making herbal remedies for common childhood ailments, offers clear dosing guidelines, and profiles 24 herbs especially suited for children.
Aromatherapy + Essential Oils
AROMATHERAPY: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE HEALING ART BY KATHI KEVILLE AND MINDY GREEN
In this encyclopedic guide to the most fragrant of healing arts, master aromatherapists Kathi Keville and Mindy Green draw on their extensive expertise with botanical therapies to provide a one-stop resource for students and practitioners.
A necessary resource for anyone interested in alternative approaches to healing and lifestyle, this new edition of Valerie's must have aromatherapy book contains more than 800 easy-to-follow recipes for essential oil treatments. This complete volume explains, in practical and easy-to-understand terminology, how to incorporate essential oils and aromatherapy into everyday life for personal care, physical, mental, and emotional health, and a safe home environment.
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ESSENTIAL OILS: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE USE OF AROMATIC OILS IN AROMATHERAPY, HERBALISM, HEALTH, AND WELL BEING BY JULIA LAWLESS
This is the definitive A-Z reference guide to essential oils commonly used in aromatherapy. In this detailed and systematic compilation of nearly 200 essential oils, aromatherapy expert Julia Lawless shares her extensive knowledge of oils both common and uncommon and their many uses. Easy to use, this volume lets you access information in a variety of ways with a therapeutic index, a botanical index, botanical classifications, and safety information.
THE ART OF FERMENTATION: AN IN-DEPTH EXPLORATION OF ESSENTIAL CONCEPTS AND PROCESSES FROM AROUND THE WORLDBY SANDOR ELLIX KATZ AND MICHAEL POLLAN
Winner of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship, and a New York Times bestseller, The Art of Fermentation is the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published. Sandor Katz presents the concepts and processes behind fermentation in ways that are simple enough to guide a reader through their first experience making sauerkraut or yogurt, and in-depth enough to provide greater understanding and insight for experienced practitioners.
Thousands of years prove it, and Western science backs it: Meditation sharpens focus. Meditation lowers blood pressure, relieves chronic pain, reduces stress. Meditation helps us experience greater calm. Meditation connects us to our inner-most feelings and challenges our habits of self-judgment. Meditation helps protectthe brain against aging and improves our capacity for learning new things. Meditation opens the door to real and accessible happiness. And there's no better person to show a beginner how to harness the power of meditation than Sharon Salzberg, one of the world’s foremost meditation teachers and spiritual authors.
THE MIRACLE OF MINDFULNESS: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PRACTICE OF MEDITATION BY THICH NHAT HANH AND VO-DIHN MAI
In this beautiful and lucid guide, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercise as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness--being awake and fully aware. From washing the dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, he reminds us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness.
SOURCES FOR BUYING ESSENTIAL OILS
Counterfeit oils are often toxic and always diluted, and they can be dangerous to use. Buy from a reliable source. It takes 65 pounds of rose petals to make 15 ml of rose oil, which explains the very high cost of pure rose otto or rose absolute. Some oils are easier to produce, but every oil requires a large amount of plant matter to produce a small amount of oil. This means that good quality essential oils will never be cheap. This does not mean that more expensive oils will always be better than less expensive ones, but the old adage, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” definitely applies here. Do not be fooled by discount retailers, big box stores, or random vendors who offer essential oils at very low prices or charge the same price for all of their oils. An essential oil business that cares about selling only pure essential oils will have their oils tested with at least two tests, usually run simultaneously, the gas chromatography and mass spectrometry tests, or GC/MS. Many offer the results of these on their website.
INDEPENDENT SUPPLIERS (LISTED ALPHABETICALLY):
Aromatics International – Batch-specific GC/MS reports for every oil posted on the website. Organic, unsprayed, and wildcrafted oils available in various sizes. Owned and run by certified aromatherapists.
Stillpoint Aromatics – Batch-specific GC/MS reports for every oil posted on the website. Organic, unsprayed, and wild-crafted oils available in various sizes. Company owned and run by certified aromatherapists.
Florihana – A modern French distillery that sells organic and wildcrafted essential oils. GC/MS and other test results are available on their website for each batch of oil.
Essential Elements – Organic, wildcrafted and unsprayed essential oils. GC/MS tests available upon request. Certified aromatherapist, massage therapists, and aesthetician on staff.
Essential 3 – Staff has clinical aromatherapists, a massage therapist, an aesthetician and an RN for customer support questions. Oils are GC/MS tested.
Plant Therapy – Certified aromatherapists on staff for customer support. Batch testing GC/MS results of pesticide-free oils on their website. Supports a broad variety of charitable organizations world-wide.
Pompeii Organics – Owned and operated by a certified aromatherapist. Organic and wild-crafted essential oils are third party tested for quality. Batch-specific GC/MS test results on the website.
Elizabeth Van Buren – Long-time established company owned by a certified aromatherapist and a chemist. GC/MS results available upon request.
AnimalEO – Owned by a holistic veterinarian who has studied the effects of essential oils on both livestock and pet animals. She acquires oils directly from distilleries to create animal-appropriate blends and dilutions.
Aura Cacia – Sustainably sourced essential oils that are often sold locally in health food stores. On the cheaper side, but still fine.
Mountain Rose Herbs – Dedicated to sustainability and fair trade. Organic and pesticide-free essential oils with GC/MS reports available upon request.