The Road to Joy is Lined with Aromatic Plants by Rachael Keener; July 24, 2015

Why is it that the wafting smell of a home cooked meal, a bouquet of showy, aromatic flowers, or the sweet smell of a blossoming linden tree on a balmy day are all so instantly pleasing? The answer lies in the unique way that our brain processes smell.  

Because there is so much happening in the world around us, our brain acts as a complex filter, greatly reducing the amount of sensory input we perceive. It keeps us functioning efficiently by distilling what information is pertinent to us, otherwise we would likely be immobilized with too much stimulus. The one exception to this lies in our sense of smell. When we catch a whiff of something, the scent hops directly into the fast lane to the emotional centers in our brain, aka the limbic system. There is no filter, and its effect on mood is immediate. By this mode, aromatic herbs directly and instantly impact our nervous system as well as neuromuscular tension. Many of them support a healthy state of joy, ease, relaxation and overall balance, while others are actually invigorating and support mental clarity and alertness (think peppermint!).

I’m an herbalist by training, but I also have the good fortune of working at an amazing essential oil and aromatherapy retail shop. Dubbed as an aromatic apothecary, the store carries hundreds of high quality essential oils extracted thoughtfully and sustainably from aromatic plants around the world. Sure, there is endless scientific research touting the effects of aromatics on the mood and nervous system, but nothing speaks louder to me than […]

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An Herbalist’s Approach to a Healthy Summer writing and photos by Rachael Keener, July 12, 2015

Summer is a time of bounty, joy and spontaneity. The world around us flowers and ripens, beckoning us to follow suit and urging us not to miss out.  So how do we best relish in the succulence of summer living?

As an herbalist, I take the wide view. I make sure my calendar includes its share of hikes, bikes, swims, and barbecues. Nights on the town with my sweetie become more frequent, as do road trips to visit friends and family. At the same time, I tune into healthy habits that assure I’ll have the energy to keep up with all the action. I balance out the season’s perpetual motion with daily doses of down time.  I also make sure to replenish my body with fresh, flavorful local food, and all of my favorite herbs plucked from the garden or sipped as a daily tonic. 


In general, I start the day slow because that’s often the only quiet time I find while the sun is out. I stroll barefoot into the garden to greet my plants, picking veggies to scramble with my eggs and herbs and eatable flowers to toss into my water bottle for the day. Most mornings I do yoga on my porch, or at least a gentle stretch to wake up my body. 

There may be a small task at hand, but often I am just observing and appreciating. Even on a morning run, I’m relishing in the quietness and enjoying being in my own world. My slow amblings are a chance to let the recharge of the previous […]

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Just a few of our daily habits… by Urban Moonshine, July 1, 2015

Tonic herbalism is a way of life here at Urban Moonshine. There is a constant abundance of tea brewing, bitters being taken before and after eating, leafy green salads being served up with all sorts of fresh veggies and herbs on top. We understand that taking herbs over time and adding them into our daily life is a great way to stay healthy and really feel alive and full of goodness, but tonic herbalism is a difficult concept to understand for people who don’t know much about herbs. So, here’s how some of us practice tonic herbalism by using Urban Moonshine products.


Megan, our sales manager, says, “I keep a large bottle of Immune Tonic on my desk at the office. I think of it as my health reserve and take a serving from the bottle every day or two. I count on it to help me stay well, especially in the colder months. I love the earthy, sweet and gingery taste –it’s so food-like my tongue confirms that this is nourishing and good for me. I find it very satisfying to take care of myself in this way!”

Vicki, our marketing manager, says, “I love the quiet moments down in my living room before I go to bed, when the kids are already asleep and the house is humming with relaxed energy. Our days can be crazy with lots of activity and running around, and I need and crave a bit of silence at the end of the day. Before I head up to bed I take a dropper full each of rose, linden and

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Building Resilience in a Wild World by Rachael Keener, July 5, 2015


If we live in a world where the only constant is change, then adaptability is one of the single most central qualities to a life of balance.  Stemming from the Latin word adaptare, meaning “to fit” or “to join”, cultivating adaptability essentially allows us to take our place in the world: “to join” in.  Self-care upholds our adaptability and allows us to join the world despite its potential for being a sometimes turbulent, stressful place.


So how do we support our own adaptability?  A diverse approach is always a resilient approach. Carving out time for stillness, time for exercise, time in nature, time with loved ones, etc. are all essential. As is cultivating healthy boundaries; learning when to turn the screen off or when to say “no” so that we are fully charged and ready to say “yes” to life in general. Another complementary approach lies in a class of plants referred to (not coincidentally) as adaptogens.  Adaptogens are considered herbal superstars because of their unique ability to support a healthy stress response.  In what can sometimes feel like the barrage of the modern era, these plants stand beside us fostering grace and balance while offering their generous hand of support.

What’s even more impressive about adaptogens is that we’re not just talking about resilience to the stress of the modern demands of work, family, etc. They also promote resilience to environmental stressors like pollutants in our water, and chemicals in our body products. These too pose a challenge unique to the times we are living in.

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