Blog Posts by Rebecca Altman

  • Herbal Infused Baths: A Relaxing and Healthy Ritual

    By Rebecca Altman, chief herbalist, mischief maker and curator of fine plant matter atKings Road Apothecary.

    Water both scares and excites me. Unlike my husband who can't stay away from the stuff, I have a healthy respect for it due to a. being a not-so-strong swimmer and b. two almost drowning incidents on the sea shore. I grew up on the water, some of my earliest memories are of the smell of boat, of the sound of water lapping against the hull as I drift off to sleep, of the sounds of halyards tinking against masts and seagulls squawking as the wind picks up. Of sea spray, and of the terror that overwhelms me when land disappears from sight. Even now, when the depth radar goes to 'too bloody deep' and there's no land, I start thinking about being swallowed. Of things like the Marianas Trench with its crushing darkness. Of what exactly is and could be down there, and of the crushing fluidity of it all. Out on the sea, one is truly and absolutely subject to the elements. Water

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  • Pine Nut Biscotti: A Winter Indulgence

    By Rebecca Altman, chief herbalist, mischief maker and curator of fine plant matter at Kings Road Apothecary.

    Wild pine nuts and pine nut biscottiWild pine nuts and pine nut biscotti
    Every winter when my clients ask me for help with their energy levels, I find myself repeating the same things: 'You're not meant to have boundless energy in the winter. Look at the earth around you: its tucking in on itself. Its not berating itself for feeling like it wants to sleep more, no, its doing what comes naturally, and gathering its energy for the coming spring.' And while this may be a difficult concept to understand in a modern world where we're meant to be 'on' all the time, the cycles of nature didn't get the memo that things had changed, and despite all attempts to prove otherwise, we are, very much, still connected to nature. Which means that in the winter, we're going to feel more tired, more drawn to rest and sleep.

    And at this time of year, sometimes the best medicine of all is an obligation-free afternoon in which you can light some candles,

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  • How to Make Your Own Herbal Flu Tonic

    Herbal Flu Season TonicHerbal Flu Season Tonic

    From the perch of my bed, I like to watch a family of ravens that hang out atop a cypress tree that's about a block away. Last week, when a storm came through the city, my husband and I sat and watched as one brave raven continued to sit on his perch, facing into the wind, despite the constant battering. He was a brave bird. When it comes to flu season, I feel a lot like that bird. There's a constant battering going on: of commercials for flu products (honestly, taking a bunch of pills to suppress your symptoms and get back to work really isn't the answer!), of commercials for flu shots, of germs flying around, of everyone around me getting sick, and I'm just doing what I can to cling on to my health and sanity.

    I read once, in a book by the herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner, about herbal 'antibiotics' and why they're so much more effective than chemical ones. Viruses mutate. Its a fact of life. You know what else mutates? Plants. Fact. So just as a virus can psychically pass on

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  • Fire Cider

    Flu season is upon us and what better way to fight the grunge than with a home-made immune booster. By Rebecca Altman, chief herbalist, mischief maker and curator of fine plant matter at Kings Road Apothecary.

    Fire CiderFire CiderThe other morning I wandered out onto the stoop and the entire city was enshrouded in a blanket of fog. I ran inside to grab the essentials: slippers, hat, coffee and blanket, and then I sat on the edge of my stoop, on the edge of the world, watching the mysterious shapes appear and re-appear, until the sun had come up a bit more, and the fog had burned off, and everything was returned to normal.

    Such mornings remind me of my childhood, in a place that had major seasons. Southern California has seasons too: if you were to take a walk up into the hills, sycamore leaves would be all over the paths, the skeletons of milk thistles and goldenrod would stand out against the brown grass tinged with a slight frost, and the earth is that deep, dark, sodden brown that only happens

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