La Luz offers free workshops on how to make herbal remedies at home

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Passing around fresh sprigs of rosemary, Jocelyn Boreta tells a small group of women to draw the sprigs through a closed hand to release the herb’s oils, then inhale the aroma. The fragrance is stimulating and a good pick-me-up when a 3 p.m. nap sounds appealing, she said. In the kitchen of La Luz Center, Boreta is teaching the group how to use commonly found herbs – such as rosemary and sage – and spices in a medicinal manner for improved health in a series of workshops called “Recetas y Remedios” or Recipes and Remedies.

Boreta teaches the class in Spanish, the native language of the students, pausing occasionally to get help with difficult-to-translate English phrases such as “oxygenated blood.” The half-dozen women take notes as Boreta talks about the ingredients on the table that go into a tea recipe to help with memory and focus. She has brought with her sage, rosemary, dried ginkgo leaves from a tree in her own yard, gotu kola, linden, green tea and lemon balm.

Most of the ingredients are easy to find, some even in one’s own yard, making the tea an affordable option for these women and their families. Children as young as 1 year old can drink the tea, Boreta said, and it can have a calming effect on kids diagnosed with hyperactivity, or ADHD. Sometimes children diagnosed with ADHD with symptoms such as persistent fidgeting, can be helped simply by cutting out processed foods and sugary drinks like soda, Boreta said.

Her first order of the workshop, though, was to finish a tincture she and the students started in the first workshop in January. Made with oats, manzanilla, lemon balm, lavender, St. Johns Wort and other ingredients, it was soaked for a month in a clear alcohol then strained through a cloth and poured into small glass bottles fitted with eye droppers. No more than three drops per day, Boreta tells them, the tincture is pretty potent. It will help calm and uplift moods, and reduce anxiety and depression. All you really need is one drop, which can be taken directly under the tongue or in water or other beverages, Boreta said.

The attendees all went home with a labeled bottle of tincture from the January workshop, along with a supply of ingredients to make the memory and focus tea that they learned about in the Feb. 22 class.

Boreta is a staff herbalist at Farmacopia, a store in Santa Rosa, which partners with La Luz on the workshops and other events. She said the workshops give “empowering knowledge” to attendees by teaching them how to make their own herbal remedies. It gives them the means to improve their health, learn more about eating less packaged and processed food and adding nutritious and wholesome foods to their diets.

Recetas y Remedios is free to the public and held on the last Friday of the month in the kitchen of Booker Hall at La Luz, 17560 Greger St.. Workshops begin at 10 a.m. and last about an hour. The March 29 workshop is “Sweet sleep: Herbal relief for nighttime rest.”

Email Anne at anne.ernst@sonomanews.com.

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