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Mother Nature doesn’t let us in on all of her secrets, but she does employ her botanical friends to drop a few hints for us. Through their evolution, certain plants, herbs, fungi and flowers have developed compounds that serve to protect them in their natural surroundings. And when these little helpers interact with our human species, they can lead us to access parts of ourselves we aren’t always in touch with.

If you need a natural ingredient to foster intentions for self-love, romantic love and vitality, here are a few that you can look for at your next apothecary visit. We asked The Alchemist’s Kitchen’s resident herbalist, Arielle Hayat, to fill us in on these ingredients we’ve seen around lately. According to Hayat, “Plants and fungi are powerful and have their own energy and personality just like people. I believe when plants and fungi are not misused and sought with intention and gratitude, they actually want to share their healing medicine and gifts with us.”


An herb native to Mexico, Damiana is used for its mellowing effects and many also swear by it as an aphrodisiac. As a tonic, it can help with restoring nerves and chilling us out. Some say that it keeps our blood flow going to all the right places. Arielle tells us, “Damiana is is a warming herb which brings circulation, especially to the sexual centers of the body. It has been used for its mood elevating quality, working as a nerve relaxant, and a digestive stimulant.”

Maca Root

Also called “Peruvian Ginseng,” this root is a relative of broccoli and looks a little bit like a turnip. You’re most likely to see it sold in the form of powder. Maca is dense in phytonutrients and fatty acids, which may be a reason behind its mood-boosting reputation. Studies have shown that Maca has helped to reverse the side effects of decreased sex drive caused by SSRI medication. It is also said that Maca can benefit our endocrine system, regulating hormones and relieving symptoms of PMS and menopause. Maca doesn’t only benefit women, either! Black Maca has been shown to help increase sperm count and volume, and one study showed that doses Red Maca also reduced the prostate size of male rats.


Arielle told us, “Reishi has a complex phytochemistry with high proponents of polysaccharides, triterpines, immunoglobins, polyglycans, beta-glucans, ganoderic acids (among others). It helps to regulate cholesterol, provides enriching and unique antioxidants, promotes a strong immune system and fine tunes the adrenals. Working with a medicinal dose of boiling the mushroom and drinking the tea throughout the day, I find a gentle uplifting quality of the mind. If you have a weakened immune system, are chronically sick, and emotionally feeling down (perhaps due to SAD Seasonal Depressive Disorder) drinking a strong dose of Reishi tea is nourishing, cooling, calming, and energizing. It is wonderful for an irritated depressed state of the mind and body. Reishi being a powerful medicine of the mind connects to it’s ability to open the heart. Making it the perfect heart opener for self-love and care.”


Also known as wild asparagus, the name Shatavari is translated to “having one hundred roots” and commonly, “she who has one hundred husbands.” A staple of Ayurveda (especially for women’s health), this adaptogen aids the reproductive system for men and women. It is used to support mucous membranes, calms our nerves, helps breast milk to flow and is a natural diuretic. Shatavari has been used by Ayurvedic healers to regulate the hormone system as well. Think of it as an internal lubrication– a big helper of uterine functions from ovulation to pregnancy.

If you’re in NYC and want to learn more about medicinal and magickal effects of herbs, check out Arielle’s Practical Herbalism classes at The Alchemist’s Kitchen here.

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