spicy hot cocoa with kava and cayenne

here’s an antianxiety, stress reducing, aphrodisiac, cancer reducing, antioxidant, digestion improving drink that will help you relax when you need it!

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what’s in the cup?

  • water
  • whole organic milk or cream (can also use another liquid that contains fat i.e. soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, butter)
  • the fat soluble constituents will bind to the fat in the liquid
  • kava powder
    aphrodisiac, antianxiety, sedative, expectorant, antibacterial, helps with sleep and stress
  • raw cocoa powder
    aphrodisiac, antioxidant, diuretic (eliminate fluid buildup while retaining minerals).
  • vanilla extract
    anticancer, carminative (helps with gas and bloating)
  • cinnamon powder
    warming, aphrodisiac, antibacterial, anticancer, antioxidant, astringent (drying, constricts tissue, helps with healing, creates barrier against infection), improves digestion.
  • cayenne powder
    warming, antioxidant, antibacterial, anticancer, antispasmodic, carminative, improves digestion and metabolism and increases blood circulation.


1) 3 cups of water, 2 cup of milk, 1/2 cup kava, 1/4 cup cocoa,  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, a sprinkle of cinnamon and cayenne powder. (4 servings)
2) add everything together and bring to a simmer…continue simmering for at least 15 minutes…
3) strain and pour…although i don’t strain, i let the contents settle to the bottom of cup then enjoy!

the vanilla extract, cinnamon, cayenne powder should all be done to taste. cayenne powder will add a considerable amount of heat so if you don’t like a lot of heat, use sparingly. of course, you can leave it out all together but you will missing out on some of the great healing properties of cayenne.

warning: don’t drink kava if you have liver problems or are consuming multiple alcoholic drinks.

making an infused oil

infused oils small shot

My last post was about making a basic tincture. This post will address how to make an infused oil. When I make an infused oil, I use the folk method. I don’t measure anything. All I do is dry the plant material and cover with whatever oil I choose. You can weigh your herbs to be more precise about how much herb is in solution with the oil. When weighing the herb, I usually do a 1:3 ratio. 1 part plant material, 3 parts oil.

Different oils are better for products that will be applied to the face like almond and sunflower oil (lighter oils). Use these lighter oils especially when dealing with eczema or acne.  If applying to your lips or on other body parts, organic extra virgin olive oil works great and is not very expensive. You can use the oil directly or you can add beeswax to make a salve. The oil can also be used to make a cream which I will cover in a later post.

Here’s some of the plants I’ve used in oils: Calendula flowers, plantain leaf, comfrey root/leaves, cayenne, arnica, horse-chestnut, st. johns wort.

Basic steps to making an infused oil:

  1. Dry plant material (because if you don’t, the water will most likely spoil the oil)

  2. Put plant material in an airtight jar and cover with the oil of your choice.

  3. Either use a double broiler and heat the oil for a few hours. For most plants, I choose to keep in a warm place, out of direct sunlight. Sometimes when using the double broiler, you can cook the herbs causing a not so pleasant smell and the medicinal properties are diminished. You can also put the jar out in the sun but make sure to cover with a brown paper bag.

  4. After two weeks, strain the oil. I use a metal strainer instead of muslin because less oil is lost.  I do end up with some plant debris but that doesn’t bother me. The finer the strainer, the less plant material you’ll have in the oil.

basic tincture using holy basil

Holy Basil aka Tulsi (Ocimium sanctum) is an easy to grow summer annual here in Northern California. Start by seeding the a few plants in the spring. Then by mid summer there will be plenty to harvest. I love the tea made from Tulsi but sometimes I find it nice to have it in a ‘ready to use’ form where tea isn’t an option. That’s where tinctures come into the picture.holybasilgarden

When making a fresh plant tincture, you want to use as close to 100% alcohol as possible to prevent the final product from spoiling. Fresh plant contains a lot of moisture and if the their isn’t enough alcohol (roughly 25%) in the final product, the medicine will not last. If you don’t have access to that high strength of alcohol, dry the plant and use any vodka (40% alcohol) to cover the herbs. How much alcohol do you add? With fresh plant, it’s what herbalist call a 1:2 (1 part plant material, 2 parts alcohol). With dry plant material, I would recommend a 1:4 or 1:5. The alcohol and plant material should be packed into an airtight jar and put in a dark place for two weeks. Remember to shake the jar once a day. At the end of the two weeks, strain through muslin and store in either a jar or dropper bottles.

FYI: Methow Valley Herbs has a great page about the properties, history, and use of this plant. You can view their website here.