We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Osmosis Day Spa and Linda's Detox Herbal Tea

My Traveling Tales by Linda

My order of red clover and calendula blossoms along with yarrow flowers, peppermint and
nettle leaves arrive from Pacific Botanicals in Oregon.
   After living in West Sonoma County for the last six years, I finally paid a visit to the renowned Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone, California. A few weeks ago, on a clear and sparkling October day that was unbelievably mild with just the right amount of warm, I traveled with five girlfriends to this beautiful location not far from my home, for an afternoon of pampering and relaxation.

   Upon our arrival we were greeted by Mercedes Jones, the Guest Services Manager. Mercedes who was born and raised in the area, first gave us a little bit of the spa's history. The founder of Osmosis is Michael Stusser who discovered the healing powers of the Cedar Enzyme Bath on a visit to Japan where he was studying traditional landscape gardening and Zen. He returned home to open the first Cedar Enzyme Bath in this country in 1985. He built a prototype 400-square-foot facility in a Sebastopol backyard out of recycled wood from a chicken coop. In 1987 the bath was featured in the Sunday section of the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Cedar Enzyme Bath quickly gained a following. Osmosis moved to its present location in Freestone in 1989. The spa and grounds have been a work in progress ever since. The most recent addition is a beautiful Meditation Garden which was a four-year project dedicated in June of 2003.

The beautiful and serene meditation garden at Osmosis.
   Once we had placed our personal belongings in a roomy locker, we were invited to change into kimono-style robes. Our first treatment of the day included a foot soak (which is really a leg soak) in the cedar enzyme chips. While the six of us perched on the sides of the bath with our legs buried up to the knees, we sipped tea and nibbled on lunch. The enzyme bath temperature is about 130 degrees, so your legs get very warm, and so does your whole body.

Our warm enzyme foot bath and lunch await us.
   Our amiable bath attendant continually refilled our waters and tea, and brought us cold washcloths for the face or neck. After we all became deliciously relaxed, it was time for the group to divide in half. I was in the group of three that chose to get a massage as my next treatment, and the other half of our group went to have facials.

    It was a blissfully relaxing experience that I find myself calling upon in the weeks after my visit in any stressful moment. I currently have the photo of the wide and comfortable hammocks situated in a private courtyard serving as my screensaver on my computer at work. The hammocks are equipped with the headsets that play soothing Hemi-Sync music (which is available for purchase in the alluring Osmosis gift shop). When feeling harried, I gaze at the hammocks on my screen and take a deep breath in, and then a deep breath out, remembering the profound sense of serenity that I experienced there that afternoon.

    Also for sale in the gift shop was the herbal tea that we sipped prior and during the enzyme foot bath. It was a delicious blend of herbs that included peppermint, red clover, nettles, and yarrow. I had forgotten how delicious and soothing herbal tea can be. The tea is made by Taylor Maid Farms, a local company based in Sebastopol, that makes a blend especially for Osmosis. I purchased a tin, and brought it home to try. Having had herbal training myself, it occurred to me that I should make a batch and share with my friends and family for the upcoming holiday season.

   I promptly placed an order with my favorite herb farm, Pacific Botanicals, near Grants Pass, Oregon, which I visited on my vacation this past August. I decided to customize my blend and add calendula flowers which will bring sunshine into one's life according to the Doctrine of Signatures during the cold and dark winter months that we are prone to in Northern California. The descriptions that follow are a very abbreviated summary of what the herbs in my blend do for the body.

Peppermint ~ An herb that is estimated to have been in use for over 10,000 years. Peppermint provides an invigorating essential oil that soothes the stomach and bowel.

Red Clover ~ An herb which also has a long history of use. The benefits of Red Clover tea is that it contains a high level of phytoestrogen that helps regulate the biochemistry in the female body. It is also thought to have cleansing properties.

Nettles ~ According to David Hoffmann, one of my teachers, "Nettles are one of the most widely applicable plants that we have. They strengthen and support the whole body. Throughout Europe they are used as a spring tonic and general detoxifying remedy."

Yarrow ~ Yarrow is thought to lower blood pressure and is traditionally administered for wound healing. In magical lore it acts as a shield of protection.

Calendula ~ Calendula flowers are anti-inflammatory, and help stimulate the production of bile. In other words, they are good for the gallbladder and digestion. There is some evidence that they fight cancer, and as mentioned previously are a great antibacterial. There is a long and very safe history of use.

   This past week, a large box was delivered from Oregon full of freshly dried herbs. When I picked up the box, I could not help but smile at the uplifting scent of peppermint that engulfed me. You can see for yourself the results of my tea-making endeavors. This one box of herbs will make tea for all of my family and friends, with enough left over to be able to prepare a very strong tea and add it to my hot baths this winter along with Himalayan bath salts. Just thinking about it I am feeling more relaxed already.

Linda's Detox Herbal Tea

   Making herbal tea could not be more simple. Do make sure that you buy your herbs from a reputable source, and that the herbs are fresh. Just like the spices in your kitchen, anything more than a year old should be composted. This is a good time to buy herbs because the harvest has just been finished in places like Oregon. I purchased whole blossoms where applicable, because I like to do the garbling myself. From the Herbal Medicine Maker's Handbook:

   "Garbling is an exercise in the high art of paying attention to detail. Alertness to the details of harvesting and medicine-making is one of the herbalist's most creative and prosperity-making allies. Garbling (the word can be found in the dictionary; I didn't make it up), when done correctly, is a meticulous self-satisfying chore (a Virgo turn-on), the object of which is to remove all excess stems and twigs, impurities and adulterants, and decayed and deteriorated portions of the plant... Garbling is an unsung backstage activity akin to the kneading of bread, the curing of firewood, proofreading manuscripts, and the arduous pulling of taffy. Mindful garbling transforms good-quality herb into great-quality herb.... Garbling makes herbal things better."

I purchased one-pound bags of Certified Organic herbs except for the yarrow which was wild-crafted. Use equal parts of the following:

Cut and Dried Peppermint Leaves (does not need garbling)
Cut and Dried Nettle Leaves (does not need garbling)
Red Clover and Calendula Blossoms (Pacific Botanicals produces the best in the business, because both are subject to mold) ~ garble
Whole Wild-Crafted Yarrow Flowers ~ garble

Using your fingers, and I also use my favorite pair of Joyce Chen kitchen scissors, prepare the herbs, dicarding stems and woody bits. Mix together and add more peppermint if desired. Store in tins or glass jars to keep away from moisture. Also keep away from light.
Add the loose tea to your favorite tea pot with a built-in strainer or contained within a tea ball. Pour boiling water over the herbs and steep for at least five minutes before drinking.

1 comment:

  1. Hauntie! I had some of the tea today with a spoon of some local honey my mom picked up from the farmers market and it was delicious! It was seriously one of the best teas I've ever had, thanks for sending it here! Love you.


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