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Archive for herbs

June

Overview:
Awareness: Dairy, Headache, Women’s Healthcare
Flower: Rose
Gemstone: Pearl
Trees: Ash, Hornbeam, Fig, Birch, Apple

Flag Day:
In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. It was declared that the flag shall be of thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field. Thus, in honor of Old Glory, I will use this day to talk about red, white, and blue foods.

Many red fruits and veggies are loaded with powerful, healthy antioxidants such as lycopene, anthocyanin, vitamin A (beta carotene), vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. These antioxidants soak up damaging free radicals. Thus, red foods may aid in fighting heart disease and prostate cancer. They may decrease the risk for stroke and macular degeneration.

  • Strawberries: They are in season May and June. They are a good source of folate, which helps heart health and is helpful for women in their childbearing years. Folic acid is known to decrease the risk of certain birth defects called neural tube defects. They are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C, which boosts immune system function among other things.
  • Cherries: They are in season in June and July. They are high in fiber because of their skin. They are also rich in vitamin C as well as potassium, which can help maintain lower blood pressure. They also relieve insomnia due to containing the hormone, melatonin. They also facilitate weight loss, lowers hypertension, prevent cardiovascular diseases, promote healthy hair, maintains a pH balance, and promote energy. They also contain anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Cranberries: They are in season from September to December. They have been shown to cause the death of cancer cells in lab studies. They can stop bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls and may even prevent H pylori, the bacteria responsible for many stomach ulcers, from sticking to the stomach walls and causing ulcers. The nutrients responsible for this anti-sticking mechanism are called proanthocyanidins. They are also rich in vitamin C.
  • Tomatoes: They are in season during the summer. They are a good source of lycopene, which is strongly connected with prostate cancer protection. There is also some evidence that lycopene may protect against breast cancer. They are also a good source of potassium and vitamin C, which makes them heart-healthy.
  • Raspberries: They are in season from August through mid-October. They are high in fiber, which helps lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol.
  • Watermelon: They are in season May through September. They are a great source of lycopene. Lycopene may decrease the risk of heart disease by decreasing LDL cholesterol. And it decreases the risk for certain cancers, primarily prostate, as well as the risk of macular degeneration. It also improves blood vessel function and lowers stroke risk.
  • Pink Grapefruit: They are in season October and May. The pink grapefruit has higher levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin C. It’s also a good source of pectin, which helps lower cholesterol. If the choice is between red and white grapefruit, go red because pink or red grapefruit is rich in lycopene and white grapefruit is not. Just be sure to check with your doctor if you’re on medication as grapefruit juice does interfere with some drugs.
  • Red Bell Pepper: They are a phenomenal source of vitamin A, which helps with skin, bones, and teeth. They are a decent source of iron. They also have as much vitamin C as an orange; which aids in the absorbing of the iron. They are a great source of vitamin B6 and folate. They help support healthy night vision. One can burn more calories by adding red peppers to their diet.
  • Beets: They are in season from June through October. They are rich in folate, lycopene, and anthocyanin. They help keep blood pressure in check. They can improve athletic performance. They may help fight inflammation, improve digestive health, help support brain health, have anti-cancer properties, and help one lose weight.
  • Red Apples: They have quercetin, a compound that seems to fight colds, flu, and allergies. They may be good for weight loss, be good for the heart, and help prevent cancer. They’re linked to a lower risk of diabetes. They may have prebiotic effects and promote good gut bacteria. They contain compounds that can help fight asthma.

Blue purple represents the anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that protects the blood vessels from breakage and prevents the destruction of collagen, a protein needed for healthy, radiant skin. These foods are also good for memory boosting as well. Aside from fruit, one can also find nutrients in vegetables of the color blue purple, such as radicchio, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, and purple carrots, which are rich in vitamin A and flavonoids.

Resveratrol is an antioxidant with anti-aging and disease-preventing properties. Also, good for heart health as it helps in reducing inflammation in the body along with bad cholesterol. Several studies have concluded that this antioxidant also helps in preventing Alzheimer’s. The resveratrol found in blue and purple foods such as eggplants can terminate cancer cells. Many studies suggest that wines like pinot noir have the highest amount of resveratrol and can be consumed to remain healthy. These should be savored in moderation to keep one’s weight in check.

The antioxidants found in blue-purple foods prevent oxidation and boost the immunity and activity of other antioxidants that are naturally present in the body. Other than this, blue-purple foods like black rice are also known to be good for the liver as they are helpful in reducing damage to the liver done by alcohol. Pairing them up with red foods like tomatoes and capsicum will provide you with wholesome nutrition.

  • Water-Considered a blue food, water regulates body temperature and provides the means for nutrients to travel to all your organs. It also transports oxygen to cells, removes waste, and protects joints and organs.
  • Blueberries are low in calories, high in fiber, and loaded with essential micronutrients, such as manganese and vitamins C and K. They are also high in anthocyanin which are potent antioxidants that help defend your cells against harm from unstable molecules called free radicals. The antioxidants provided in about 2 cups (300 grams) of blueberries may immediately protect one’s DNA against free radical damage. Additionally, research indicates that diets high in anthocyanin may help prevent chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and brain conditions like Alzheimer’s.
  • Blackberries-A single cup (144 grams) of blackberries packs nearly 8 grams of fiber, 40% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) for manganese, and 34% of the DV for vitamin C. The same serving also provides 24% of the DV for vitamin K (necessary for blood clotting and plays an important role in bone health), making them one of the richest fruit sources of this essential nutrient. Scientists believe that a lack of vitamin K may contribute to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become weak and fragile.
  • Elderberries-This blue-purple fruit may help defend against the cold and flu by boosting the immune system. It’s also been shown to help people recover from these illnesses faster. In one study, taking 4 tablespoons (60 ml) of concentrated elderberry syrup daily helped people with the flu recover an average of 4 days quicker than those who did not take the supplement. Just 1 cup (145 grams) of elderberries provides 58% vitamins C and 20% B6, two nutrients known to promote a healthy immune system. Raw elderberries may cause an upset stomach, particularly if eaten unripe.
  • Concord grapes-They can be eaten fresh or used to make wine, juices, and jams. They’re packed with beneficial plant compounds that function as antioxidants. In fact, Concord grapes are higher in these compounds than purple, green, or red grapes. Some studies show that Concord grapes and their juice may boost your immune system. One study which had people drink 1.5 cups (360 ml) of Concord grape juice daily observed increases in beneficial immune cell counts and blood antioxidant levels, compared with a placebo group. Several other studies suggest that drinking Concord grape juice daily may boost memory, mood, and brain health. Concord grapes may boost immunity, mood, and brain health.
  • Black Currants-They can be eaten fresh, dried, or in jams and juices. You may also find them in dietary supplements. A single cup (112 grams) of fresh blackcurrant supplies more than two times the DV of vitamin C. As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect against cellular damage and chronic disease. In fact, some population studies note that diets rich in this nutrient may offer significant protection against heart disease. Additionally, vitamin C plays a key role in wound healing, the immune system, and the maintenance of skin, bones, and teeth.
  • Damson Plums are often processed into jams and jellies. They can also be dried to make prunes.
  • Prunes are a popular choice for digestive problems, including constipation, which is an ailment that affects an estimated 14% of the global population. They’re high in fiber, with 1/2 cup (82 grams) packing an impressive 6 grams of this nutrient. They also contain certain plant compounds and a type of sugar alcohol called sorbitol, which may help loosen the stools and promote more frequent bowel movements as well.

A number of white brown foods, such as white onions, garlic, and leeks, serve up nutrients in vegetables. White represents allicin, a sulfur-containing compound that protects against atherosclerosis and heart disease, lowers cholesterol and increases HDL, and has an antibacterial effective against Candida Albicans and bacteria. They are high in potassium, fiber, beta-glucans, lignans, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These nutrients are good for heart health, cancer prevention, immunity boosts, digestive tract health, and metabolism. Some healthy vegetables such as cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, and parsnips, which include vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and fiber. Nuts and seeds include cashews, sesame seeds, and pine nuts. Meats include white fish and poultry. Dairy items include milk, yogurt, and cheese. Some other foods include egg whites and coconut. Potassium is used to control the electrical activity of the heart and muscles and promotes heart health. Fiber is important for a healthy digestive tract. Nutrients like beta-glucans, lignans, and ECGC activate the natural B and T cells killer which reduces the risk of colon and prostate cancer. They are packed with the flavonoid quercetin, known for its anti-inflammatory properties and cardiovascular health benefits.

  • Garlic and Onions-They contain the phytochemical, allium, which is known to help reduce the risk of stomach, colon, and rectal cancer.
  • White Beans-They are full of fiber, which is known to lower blood cholesterol levels. They are also a good source of protein and keeps one full for a longer time, thereby preventing snacking.
  • Potatoes-Many believe that if we eat potatoes, we may put on weight, due to the starch content. But this is not true. Instead, the potato can help lower blood pressure and is packed with potassium. There are several types of potatoes that don’t seem to affect one’s blood sugar.
  • Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, and are low in sodium. They also provide us with important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin D.
  • Cauliflower-It contains antioxidants and is also beneficial for pregnant women, as it is rich in folate and also vitamins like A and B, which helps in the growth of cells. It is also a good source of vitamin C which again is beneficial during pregnancy. It also contains calcium which helps to make bones and teeth stronger and prevents osteoporosis.

The No White Foods Diet is an eating pattern founded upon the notion that eliminating processed white-colored foods from one’s diet can help one lose weight and improve one’s blood sugar control. Proponents assert that most white foods are unhealthy, as many have been heavily processed, are high in carbs, and contain fewer nutrients than their more colorful counterparts. Thus, by removing the white foods one is said to set themselves up for a more nutritious diet that promotes weight loss, restores blood sugar balance, and aids in destroying Candida. Notably, some versions of the No White Foods Diet make exceptions for certain white foods, such as fish, eggs, and poultry, but others do not. Therefore, it’s important to take a critical look at which foods one’s eliminating and why, as some of them may actually help one reach their goals.

  • White bread-One of the primary foods eliminated is white bread, as well as closely related foods made from white flour, including crackers, pastries, and breakfast cereals. When bread flour is refined, the germ and bran of the grain are removed, along with most of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals housed within them, during the milling process. This results in a product that’s rich in carbs but lacking in other important nutrients like fiber and protein. Research suggests that a higher intake of white bread is associated with weight gain, which may be partially due to its reduced nutritional value. Try swapping them for whole-grain versions instead.
  • White Pasta-It is similar to white bread in that it’s made from refined flour that contains fewer total nutrients than the unrefined version. Interestingly, white pasta has not been shown to increase weight in the same way white bread does-provided it’s eaten it alongside a diet comprising other nutritious foods. However, the serving sizes of pasta in Western diets tend to be very large. If one is not mindful of your portion size, it can be easy to eat too much at once, which may contribute to excess calorie intake and subsequent weight gain. Choose a whole grain pasta or try those made from legumes for even more fiber and protein.
  • White rice-It starts out as a whole grain, but the bran and germ are removed during the milling process, which transforms it into the starchy, fluffy white rice you’re probably quite familiar with. White rice is not an inherently bad or unhealthy food, but it doesn’t contain much in the way of nutrition apart from calories and carbs. The absence of fiber and protein also makes it very easy to over-consume white rice, which may contribute to weight gain or blood sugar imbalances. Whole grains like brown rice also boast more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than white rice.
  • White Sugar-It’s unsurprising that the No White Foods Diet eliminates white sugar. Still, most versions of the diet also prohibit more colorful forms of sugar, including brown sugar, honey, turbinado sugar, maple syrup, and agave nectar. These types are often collectively referred to as added sugars. Aside from calories, they offer very little in terms of nutrition. Because they’re primarily made up of simple carbs, added sugars require very little digestion. They’re quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can contribute to rapid blood sugar fluctuations. Added sugars pack a lot of calories, even when portion sizes are kept relatively small, so it’s easy to accidentally over-consume them. They have also been linked to negative health outcomes, such as unwanted weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For a more nutritious option, choose whole food sources containing naturally occurring sugar like fruit instead.
  • Salt-Most are familiar with table salt as a white food, but it also comes in other colors, such as pink, blue, and black. While some salt is essential for health, many people following Western diets eat entirely too much of it, with the majority coming from ultra-processed foods. Excess salt intake is associated with a variety of negative health effects, including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and kidney disease. Using more nutrient-rich herbs and spices to flavor your foods is a great way to cut down on salt without compromising flavor.
  • White Potatoes-White potatoes are not inherently unhealthy. Still, they have earned a reputation for being unhealthy, largely because of the ways in which they’re often prepared. When white potatoes are prepared in less nutritious ways, such as frying or serving them with salty, high-calorie toppings like gravy, they’re more likely to contribute to weight gain and other negative health outcomes. Furthermore, many modern dietary patterns rely on these types of white potato preparations as a vegetable staple while excluding other types of vegetables. Thus, if one routinely consumes white potatoes as their main vegetable, trading them out for different types of colorful vegetables can help one add a more diverse array of nutrients to their diet.
  • Animal-based fats-Most versions of the No White Foods Diet consider animal-based fats to be white foods and recommend that they’re limited. White animal-based fats primarily refer to fats that come from meat and dairy products, most of which are saturated fats. As with many of the other white foods, saturated fats aren’t inherently unhealthy. However, a high intake of them may contribute to increased cholesterol and a higher risk of heart disease in some people. The No White Foods Diet recommends sticking with very lean meats and only fat-free dairy products if they’re included at all.

There is more to a healthy diet than just red, blue, and white foods. It is recommended one chooses foods of every color in the rainbow. The deeper, the darker, and the richer the color, the better. Aim for eating nine a day, and have one from every color group. Remember that it’s always better to eat whole foods than take supplements of specific nutrients. Eat the nutrients, don’t just rely on taking them in a pill form. It’s the combination of everything in these foods, not just one miracle nutrient.

Orange foods include butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, oranges, pumpkins, orange peppers, nectarines, and peaches. These fruits and vegetables are loaded with the antioxidant vitamin C, like citrus fruits, and some, such as carrots, with vitamin A (beta-carotene) for improved eyesight. They also contain potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6 for general health support.

Bananas are usually the first yellow food that comes to mind, and with plentiful fiber for good digestion, potassium for preventing cramps, and vitamin B6 for a variety of health benefits, they pack a big punch. Healthy vegetables in yellow include spaghetti squash, summer squash, and yellow bell peppers. The nutrients in vegetables such as these include manganese, potassium, vitamin A, fiber, and magnesium.

Virtually all greens are healthy vegetables and worth adding to one’s daily diet. Focus on spinach, broccoli, and asparagus. Lutein helps with eyesight. Folate helps in cell reproduction and prevents neural tube defects in infants.

Summer Solstice (Northern Hemisphere): I am using this day to discuss herbal first aides, as we spend more time outdoors. Electrolytes are minerals found in your blood that help regulate and control the balance of fluids in the body. These minerals play a role in regulating blood pressure, muscle contraction, and keep your system functioning properly. The big three electrolytes are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. The right number of electrolytes in your body is needed for optimal health and physical performance. If you lose a significant amount of these minerals (either by intense exercise, sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea), you’re going to experience dehydration and feel pretty lousy. You might also experience muscle cramping and spasms.

Most of us have felt the effects of being dehydrated at one point or another-dry lips and tongue, headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, cramps. The main sign of dehydration is thirst. How many electrolytes one loses during exercise depends on weight, fitness level, intensity, duration of the activity, humidity, and how much one sweats. The primary electrolyte we lose through sweat is sodium.

The most common way to replace these lost minerals is through electrolyte drinks. Not all electrolyte drinks are created equal though, so it is recommended reading the label first. If you’re working out for an hour or less, plain water will do. But if you’re exercising upwards of 75 minutes or more, then an electrolyte drink is a good idea during or after the workout. A typical 8-ounce electrolyte drink has approximately 14 grams of sugar, 100 milligrams sodium, and 30 milligrams potassium. There are even specialty electrolyte drinks for endurance and ultra-endurance athletes with greater potassium and sodium, plus additional minerals like magnesium and calcium. If you’re a naturally heavy sweater or looking to replenish hydration after you’ve been sick, focus on choosing zero or low-calorie options. Coconut water is a good option if you’re looking for a more natural electrolyte drink, just be aware some brands add sugar.

Some simple insect-repelling ideas are: Rub vanilla extract on the skin. You can also mix vanilla with witch hazel and water for a spray version. Plant insect-repelling herbs in the yard and in pots on the patio. These include lavender, thyme, mint, and citronella. One can use these fresh plants as bug repellent in a pinch. Rub lavender flowers or lavender oil on the skin, especially on hot parts of the body (neck, underarms, behind ears, etc.) to repel insects. Rub fresh or dried leaves of anything in the mint family all over the skin to repel insects (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, pennyroyal, etc. or citronella, lemongrass, etc.). Basil also helps repel mosquitoes.

There are many herbs that can be used in first aid. Some of these include:

  • Aloe Vera gel: Cooling and healing, Aloe Vera soothes the inflammation of sunburn and common kitchen scalds and burns. It is also helpful in healing blisters.
  • Arnica: Arnica (Arnica Montana) flowers have anti-inflammatory and circulation-stimulating properties; the gel or cream is excellent for sore muscles, sprains, strains, and bruises or any type of trauma. It’s been found that it greatly reduces healing time or bruises and sore muscles when used topically right after an injury. Not for internal use or use on open cuts and broken skin.
  • Calendula: The bright yellow-orange blossoms of calendula (Calendula officinalis) have astringent, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties.
  • Comfrey: Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) contains allantoin, a compound that stimulates the growth of new tissue and helps heal wounds. It is an external herb that promotes broken bones. A poultice made with plantain and comfrey that is placed on a wound can greatly reduce the healing time and helps prevent and reverse the infection.
  • Chamomile: With its distinctive flavor, chamomile (Matricaria recutita) makes a tasty tea. Gentle enough for children, chamomile has mild sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It promotes relaxation, relieves indigestion, and, when applied topically, soothes skin irritations. The tincture works on teething gums. The dried flowers can be made into a poultice with some gauze and placed on an eye for 15 minutes every hour to reverse pinkeye rapidly (usually works in a couple of hours). The tea can be cooled and rubbed on the stomach of colicky infants to help soothe them. However, many people may be allergic to it, especially if they have are allergic to ragweed.
  • Citronella: Most herbal repellants contain citronella, a pungent citrus-scented essential oil distilled from an aromatic grass that grows in southern Asia. Herbal insect repellants work well, as long as they’re applied liberally and frequently (as often as every two hours).
  • Cayenne: Though this is a good addition to many foods, it is even better to have in a medicine cabinet. Topically, cayenne powder helps stop bleeding rapidly. It can be taken internally during heart attacks to increase blood flow and help clear blockage. It is also a useful remedy to take internally during illness as it increases blood flow, breaks up mucus, and speeds recovery.
  • Echinacea: Rich in immune-stimulating chemicals, Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) can be used for any type of infection. Liquid extracts are the most versatile because they can be used both internally and externally. It is helpful in prolonged illnesses. And, it can increase both red and white blood cells.
  • Elderberry: Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is used for stopping a cold or flu. The berries contain compounds that prevent cold and flu viruses from invading and infecting cells.
  • Eleuthero: An excellent adaptogen, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) can help prevent jet lag.
  • Eucalyptus: A potent antibiotic and antiviral, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) is excellent for treating colds, flu, and sinus infections when used as a steam inhalation. Use eucalyptus in a face steam for congestion or sinus troubles and in a chest rub for coughing and respiratory illness. The essential oil can be applied externally to the feet to help open nasal passageways. Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil or witch hazel extract before applying to the skin, and do not take internally.
  • Ginger: The antispasmodic and gas-relieving properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale) soothe digestive upsets such as nausea, reflux, stomach trouble, and morning sickness. Ginger also has been used to relieve motion sickness. It helps soothe the stomach after a digestive illness or food poisoning.
  • Goldenseal: A powerful antimicrobial, goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) is effective against a variety of microorganisms that cause traveler’s diarrhea. The powder has antiseptic properties and can be sprinkled onto cuts or wounds to stop bleeding. Do not take goldenseal internally during pregnancy.
  • Grindelia: Grindelia (Grindelia camporum), also known as gumweed, contains resins and tannins that help to relieve the pain and itching of plant rashes. It’s available as a tincture and also as a spray specifically for treating poison oak/poison ivy rashes.
  • Plantain: It is a natural remedy for infection, poison ivy, cuts, scrapes, stings, and bites. In a pinch, picked a leaf, chew, and put it on a bee sting for instant pain relief. When used on a confirmed brown recluse bite a combination of plantain and comfrey in a poultice may keep the bite from eating away the tissue and help it heal completely.
  • Lavender: Virtually an all-purpose remedy, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has sedative, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. It’s helpful for anxiety, insomnia, headaches, bites, scars, wounds, and burns. It also can be used as an insect repellant.
  • Slippery Elm: It is helpful for sore or irritated throat or when you lose your voice.
  • Senna: Travel constipation is a common complaint. Most herbal laxative teas rely on senna (Cassia senna), which contains compounds called anthraquinones that stimulate intestinal activity. Because senna has a bitter, unpleasant flavor, it’s often combined with tasty herbs such as cinnamon, fennel, licorice, and ginger.
  • Peppermint: With its high concentration of menthol, peppermint (Mentha X Piperita) soothes an upset stomach, clears sinuses, and curbs itching from insect bites. The essential oil applied behind the ears and on the feet helps alleviate headache or nausea and a weak tea made from the herb and rubbed on the skin can help soothe a colicky baby. It can also be used as an insect repellant. If you have sensitive skin, dilute peppermint oil before applying. Taken internally, peppermint may aggravate heartburn.
  • Valerian: The sedative properties of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) make it useful for relieving anxiety, insomnia, and tension; it’s also a mild pain reliever.
  • Witch hazel: Distilled witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) has mild astringent, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for insect bites, skin irritations, cuts, scrapes, and in cosmetic uses. It makes a great skin toner. And, it aids in healing hemorrhoids, and postpartum bottoms. It’s also an excellent base for diluting essential oils for a variety of simple, topical herbal first-aid remedies. Do not take it internally.

Additional first-aid essentials include alcohol which helps remove poison oak/ivy oils from the skin. Cosmetic clays who’s drying and drawing properties are useful for healing skin rashes and insect bites. Activated charcoal is used for food poisoning, intestinal illness, vomiting, diarrhea, ingestion of toxins, and hangovers. Apple cider vinegar with “the mother” is useful for digestive troubles, indigestion, food poisoning, and more. When taken in a dose of 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces of water every hour, it helps shorten the duration of any type of illness. Epsom salt is good as a bath soak for sore muscles. Dissolved in water, it can also be a good soak to help remove splinters.

Hydrogen peroxide can be used for cleaning out wounds. It can help prevent ear infection and shorten the duration of respiratory illness. At the first sign of ear infection or illness, a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide can be put in the ear. Leave the peroxide in for 15 minutes or until it stops bubbling and repeat on the other side.

The natural gelatin in homemade chicken soup (from the bones and tissue) is one of the things that makes it so nourishing during illness. After surgeries or when there especially bad cuts that might scar, it speeds skin healing. There is evidence that it is also effective in improving blood clotting when used externally on a wound.

Baking soda is also a good remedy to keep on hand. For severe heartburn or urinary tract infections, 1/4 tsp can be taken internally to help alleviate quickly. It can also be made into a poultice and used on spider bites.

From skin salve to diaper cream, to makeup remover, to antifungal treatment, coconut oil can be for almost everything. It may be added to remedies to be taken internally, to use to apply tinctures and help absorption externally and for dry skin and chapped lips. There is also growing evidence that daily consumption of 1/4 cup or more of coconut oil can help protect against Alzheimer’s and nourish the thyroid.

Quick Natural Remedies for Common Conditions:

  • Anxiety: Drink chamomile tea, 3 cups a day. Take valerian tincture, 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon up to 3 times daily. Take a bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil or place a drop of lavender oil on a tissue and inhale as desired.
  • Blisters: To dry a blister, soak a gauze pad in witch hazel, lay it over the blister and cover with an adhesive bandage. After blister has broken, wash with a mixture of Echinacea extract diluted with an equal part of water. Finally, apply calendula-comfrey salve and cover with an adhesive bandage.
  • Bruises: Immediately apply ice to relieve pain and swelling. Apply arnica cream or gel twice daily.
  • Burns: Immediately immerse the affected area in cold water until the burning sensation subsides. Then apply aloe vera gel mixed with lavender essential oil (5 drops of lavender oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel). For sunburn, soak in a cool bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
  • Colds and Flus: Take 1 dropperful of Echinacea extract four times a day until symptoms subside. Take 1 dropperful of elderberry extract four times a day until symptoms subside. To relieve congestion and soothe a sore throat, drink hot ginger tea with honey. To ease congestion, add 2 drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils to hot water; inhale the steam vapors. Add 1 dropperful of Echinacea extract to 1⁄2 cup of water as an antiseptic wash. To stop bleeding, sprinkle goldenseal powder directly into the wound and apply pressure with a clean cloth. Apply a salve made from calendula-comfrey-only after a scab has formed, to prevent trapping bacteria.
  • Diarrhea: Replenish lost fluids and soothe the digestive tract with chamomile or ginger tea. For diarrhea caused by infectious microorganisms, take 1 capsule of goldenseal three times daily for up to two weeks. To boost immunity and fight infection, take 1 dropperful of Echinacea four times daily.
  • Headache: Drink chamomile tea as often as desired. For more severe headaches, take 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon of valerian root extract; repeat every two hours until pain abates. Take a warm bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Massage 2 drops of diluted peppermint essential oil onto temples, forehead and neck. Keep away from eyes.
  • Indigestion: Sip warm chamomile, peppermint or ginger tea. Chew on a piece of crystallized (candied) ginger.
  • Insect bites and stings: Cleanse the bite with Echinacea extract. Apply a drop of undiluted peppermint or lavender oil to relieve itching and as an antiseptic. Mix clay with enough water to make a paste, and apply to the bites to relieve itching and draw out toxins. Mix pipe tobacco, baking soda, activated charcoal together and add a few drops of lavender essential oil to form a paste; apply on bite and cover with a bandage; change it out twice a day.
  • Insomnia: Drink a cup of warm chamomile tea. For stronger sedative action, take up to 1 teaspoon of valerian tincture before bed. Take a warm bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
  • Jet lag: Take eleuthero (100 mg of standardized extract) three times daily for one week or more before traveling and for one week or longer following the flight.
  • Nausea: Take 1 to 2 capsules of dried ginger every 15 minutes until symptoms abate. To prevent motion sickness, take 6 to 8 capsules of powdered ginger about 45 minutes before departing. To calm a queasy stomach, chew on a piece of crystallized ginger.
  • Poison oak/ivy: Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and cool water, or sponge with alcohol to remove the oily resin. If a rash occurs, spray with grindelia extract several times a day.
  • Strains and sprains: Immediately elevate and apply an ice pack to the affected area to reduce swelling and inflammation. After 24 hours, apply hot compresses to increase circulation and speed healing. Soak in a hot bath with 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Apply arnica cream or gel to the affected area three times daily.

Father’s Day: In men, the symptoms of aging are often the result of a growth hormone and testosterone decline. After age 20, a man’s growth hormone falls about 14% every 10 years. By the time he reaches 40, he’s lost almost half the growth hormones he had at 20 years old and by the time he reaches 80, men are left with just 5% of their original growth hormones. These imbalances can happen at any age. Fortunately, there are male treatment options available.

Some of the most common hormonal imbalances in men include: Andropause, also known as the male menopause, occurs as men grow older and their testosterone levels decline. Adrenal fatigue occurs when one’s stress levels remain high for a prolonged period of time and the adrenal glands can’t produce enough of the stress hormone cortisol. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland is underactive. Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid gland results in high levels of thyroid hormones and increased metabolism.

Many of the symptoms of male hormonal imbalances come on very gradually. One may not notice them at first, but as more symptoms appear and become worse over time, they do become apparent. These symptoms of male hormone imbalance are some of the most common: erectile dysfunction, hair loss, low libido, fatigue or lack of energy, night sweats or hot flashes, memory loss, mood swings or irritability, heart palpitations, muscle loss or weakness, sleep apnea or insomnia, depression or anxiety, constipation or increased bowel movements, increased body fat, and gynecomastia (development of breasts in men). People often mistake the symptoms of imbalanced hormones in men with signs of aging. The good news is that these hormone losses and imbalances are easily correctable. And with treatment, these symptoms will often disappear and bring about a healthier, younger self.

Sex hormones, like all hormones in the body, are regulated through the endocrine system (adrenals, thyroid, testes/ovaries, pituitary, pancreas). Stress plays a big part in causing an imbalance in this sensitive balancing act. Fortunately, there are many botanicals (known as adaptogens) that are well known for supporting and nourishing these glands in their important work.

Another important part of this picture is liver health. The liver is vital in its role in regulating and normalizing hormone production. Therefore, the liver must be addressed when looking at hormonal challenges. Let’s look at some herbs that can help:

  • Vitex (aka Chasteberry): Vitex may reduce fertility in males. The flavonoid fraction of Vitex Negundo, a species related to Vitex agnus castus, has been shown to diminish citric acid in the prostate, fructose in seminal vesicles, and epididymal α-glucosidase activity. These changes were also associated with a decrease in sperm count and motility. Vitex is also known as monk’s pepper, a name that stems from the use of its peppercorn-like fruits to help maintain chastity in men’s religious orders. It has a long history of use in formulas to treat male gynecomastia.
  • Wild Yam: Great for endocrine and liver health, this herb is a great hormone precursor (particularly for progesterone). It also is helpful in formulas for male hormone balancing.
  • Dong Quai: Used a great deal in Chinese medicine, this herb exerts a regulating influence on hormone production through its work with the liver and endocrine system. There is a cream containing dong Quai, Panax ginseng root, Cistanches deserticola, Zanthoxyl species, Torlidis seed, clove flower, Asiasari root, cinnamon bark, and toad venom that may improve premature ejaculation when applied to the penis.
  • Black Cohosh: There is intriguing data that shows black cohosh extracts may be useful in both the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. And, male-pattern baldness, which is often hormone-related, might be combated by the estrogen effects. However, too much estrogen can reduce male libido, decrease energy levels, and contribute to gynecomastia.
  • Dandelion: Dandelion is specific for the liver, and it benefits the reproductive system by helping to regulate hormone production.
  • Saw Palmetto: For men, this herb assists in raising sperm count, motility, and libido. In this same category, I cannot forget to mention Ho Shou Wo (aka Fo-Ti).
  • Licorice: An adaptogenic herb, licorice nurtures the adrenals (and hence the entire endocrine system). It also is a great balancer in formulas. A little goes a long way.
  • Maca: It is showing great clinical results as an endocrine modulator; helping with libido, hormone modulating, etc.
  • Rhodiola: An adaptogen that may improve erectile dysfunction.
  • Ashwagandha: Known for centuries as an adaptogenic herb for libido, low sperm count, and sexual debility.
  • Schisandra: Tones sexual organs, as an adaptogen.
  • Honey: It contains boron which is a natural mineral that can be found in both food and in the environment. It is associated with helping to increase testosterone levels and is also useful for building strong bones and for building muscles, as well as improving thinking skills and muscle coordination.
  • Garlic and onion: They contain a compound called allicin which can be useful for lowering one’s cortisol levels. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal gland, which is where testosterone is produced. When one’s body is under stress it produces cortisol and this has an impact on other bodily functions, including the production of testosterone. Therefore, by reducing the amount of cortisol in one’s system one allows testosterone to be produced more effectively by the adrenal gland. So whilst garlic doesn’t itself act as a testosterone boosting food, it is a cortisol reducer and by association boosts testosterone levels. They may also help ward off benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also called prostate gland enlargement.
  • Eggs: They are a fantastic source of protein, cholesterol, vitamin D, and omega-3s, all of which aid in the production of testosterone. Eggs are very versatile ingredients and not only do they help increase testosterone levels, but the protein in them also helps with muscle-building too.
  • Almond: They contain high levels of the mineral zinc which is known to raise testosterone levels in people who are zinc deficient. If one’s low in zinc this could stop the pituitary gland from releasing some of the key hormones for stimulating testosterone production. By eating zinc-rich foods, one can help make sure this doesn’t happen and avoid a reduction in testosterone levels.
  • Oyster: They are commonly known as an aphrodisiac. Testosterone increases your libido and oysters are naturally high in zinc. As mentioned above, zinc is very important for the healthy production of testosterone.
  • Spinach: It has long been considered one of the best testosterone-boosting foods around. It is a natural source of magnesium which has been shown to correlate positively with testosterone levels. It also contains vitamin B6 and iron which are both excellent testosterone boosters.
  • Porridge oats: They are an excellent source of B vitamins which are key for good testosterone production. There are a number of different B vitamins, many of which are found in testosterone boosting foods. Vitamin B6 suppresses the production of estrogen, thereby helping testosterone levels to rise. Oats are an excellent source of a variety of B Vitamins and therefore is one of a range of excellent testosterone boosting foods.
  • Lemon: They, along with other citrus fruits, are great testosterone boosting foods. Much like garlic, they help to lower the levels of cortisol which means testosterone can be more readily produced. Not only that but they contain vitamin A which is required for the production of testosterone and can help lower estrogen level which means testosterone can be more effective.
  • Salmon, sardines, and trout: These fish are an excellent addition to the list of testosterone boosting foods because it contains magnesium, vitamin B, and omega-3s which all help increase testosterone levels. Not only this though, but it also helps lower the levels of the ‘Sex Hormone Binding Globulin’ (SHBG is a protein made by the liver. It binds tightly to three sex hormones-estrogen; dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and testosterone. SHBG carries these three hormones throughout one’s blood.) which makes testosterone non-functional. If SHBG is lowered testosterone can have more of an impact on one’s body. Omega-3 essential fatty acids also benefit the prostate by reducing inflammation.
  • Tuna: It is an excellent source of Vitamin D which can help boost testosterone levels by up to 90%. Vitamin D helps to maintain sperm count and tuna is an excellent way to get this particular vitamin, especially if one isn’t able to spend much time outside.
  • Banana and Pineapple: These two fruits contain an enzyme called bromelain which is known to help boost testosterone levels. They are also excellent for maintaining energy levels and reducing antioxidants.

Specific foods known to benefit the prostate include:

  • Tomatoes: They are packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that may benefit prostate gland cells. Cooking tomatoes, such as in tomato sauce or soup, helps to release the lycopene and make it more readily available to the body.
  • Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are excellent sources of antioxidants, which help to remove free radicals from the body. Free radicals are the byproducts of reactions that occur within the body and can cause damage and disease over time.
  • Broccoli: This and other cruciferous vegetables, including bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, contain a chemical known as sulforaphane. This is thought to target cancer cells and promote a healthy prostate.
  • Nuts: They are rich in zinc, a trace mineral. Zinc is found in high concentrations in the prostate and is thought to help balance testosterone and DHT. Besides nuts, shellfish and legumes are also high in zinc.
  • Citrus fruit: Oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits are all high in vitamin C, which may help to protect the prostate gland.

Foods that aid conception:

  • Oysters and pumpkin seeds: Both are very high in zinc, which may increase testosterone, sperm motility, and sperm count.
  • Oranges: They contain lots of vitamin C, and studies have proved it improves sperm motility, count, and morphology. Other foods that contain vitamin C include tomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
  • Dark, leafy vegetables: The folate (also known as vitamin B) in spinach, romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts, and asparagus can help produce strong, healthy sperm.
  • Dark chocolate: It contains l-arginine, an amino acid that can improve sperm count and quality over time.
  • Fish: The omega-3 fatty acids in fish and seafood-especially salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines-helps improve the quality and quantity of sperm.
  • Pomegranate: The antioxidants in pomegranates may improve testosterone levels.
  • Brazil nuts: The selenium found in Brazilian nuts can help increase sperm count, sperm shape, and sperm motility.
  • Water: Staying hydrated helps create good seminal fluid.

Another area important to men is how to help them achieve their gym goals. The hormones IGF-1, growth hormone (GH), testosterone, and cortisol all respond to the intensity of weight training. Insulin and glucagon are also influenced by exercise and diet, often in contradiction to the anabolic hormones. With respect to bodybuilding, the goal is to keep anabolic hormones (muscle building-up) high and catabolic hormones (hormones which are muscle wasting) low. While some bodybuilders will try to shortcut the process by using illegal performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), there is increasing evidence that they not only harm your health but may be far less effective than previously thought.

While some supplements manufacturers have tried to take advantage of the WADA ban by marketing “natural” supplements to bodybuilders, most of these products underperform. Examples include Tribulus Terrestris, zinc-magnesium supplements, ginseng, bovine colostrum, beta-alanine, and DHEA (a prohormone banned in most sports). Contrary to what some may tell you, there are no non-food supplements other than creatine that exhibit anabolic-like effects. Even with regards to creatine, the actual effect on muscle growth is limited. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, creatine supplements increase endurance capacity in high-intensity training rather than inducing physiological changes in the muscles themselves

There are several approaches to diet and training that can enhance the anabolic response while mitigating the catabolic response. The foods you eat before, during, and after exercise can make a big difference in your training. For example, eating carbohydrates before and during exercise can help minimize increases in cortisol. The reason is simple: when your blood glucose supplies are maintained, cortisol does not need to be released and muscle tissues won’t get burned up.

It is important to note that exercise also increases testosterone levels. Once exercise stops, testosterone will invariably drop as cortisone levels rise. To mitigate this effect, one needs to eat protein after a workout to balance the testosterone-to-cortisol ratio in the bloodstream. Consume 20 grams of easily digested protein up to 45 minutes before a workout. Around 20 fluid ounces (600 milliliters) of skim milk with a little sugar will do. Sip a sports drink during workouts at regular intervals, especially if one goes beyond 60 minutes. Within 30 minutes of completing a workout, consume another 20 grams of protein with around 40 grams of carbohydrate. Again, skim milk with sugar works just fine. Choose a favorite protein-carb powder or protein-fortified milk drink. The carb-to-protein ratio should be between 3:1 and 4:1 if one has had a heavy workout. Avoid cortisol-reducing supplements regularly marketed to bodybuilders. There is no proof that they work and one can seemly do better by eating strategically during exercise.

Eating a diet that’s neither too low in fat nor too high in protein can help enhance one’s testosterone output. According to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, body-builders should be consuming enough calories so that bodyweight losses are about 0.5 to 1% per week to maximize muscle retention. Most but not all bodybuilders will respond best to consuming protein at a rate of 2.3-3.1 g/kg of lean body mass per day, 15-30% of calories from fat, with carbohydrates making up the rest. By contrast, ultra low-fat diets or high-protein/low-carb diets are not advised when bodybuilding. Some bodybuilders endorse diets comprised of 40% protein. Not only is there little evidence to support this strategy, but it may also cause harm over the long term, increasing the risk of kidney damage and proteinuria (excess protein in urine).

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Canadian dietitian governing body recommend athletes consume daily between a little more than one gram (1.2) and up to two grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight to build muscle, depending on how hard the athlete is training. In addition, creatine and zinc are potentially important components of an anabolic diet. Creatine builds bulk, while zinc is necessary for testosterone production. Meat protein is a good source of both of these nutrients.

High-intensity training raises testosterone, GH, and IGF-1 levels but also promotes spikes in cortisol. While diet can temper cortisol production to a certain extent, how one exercises may also help. High-volume, high-intensity workouts with short rest intervals tend to produce the greatest increases in testosterone, GH, and cortisol, while low-volume, high-intensity workouts with long rest intervals tend to produce the least.

Contrary to what one may think, it is usually more beneficial for bodybuilders to rest for 3-5 minutes between sets rather than the 1-2 minutes endorsed for regular fitness programs. Doing so appears to restore a high-energy compound known as phosphagen that is stored in muscles and excreted during strenuous activity. It also promotes the production of testosterone with less of the mitigating effects of cortisone. So, in a way, one can get more out of their training by pushing less strenuously.

Aerobic training, like running or anaerobic interval training, should be done on separate days from one’s bodybuilding training. Doing both on the same day promotes inflammation and the adverse effects of cortisol. Evening workouts are preferable to early-morning workouts since cortisol levels tend to peak in the early hours of the day. Alcohol consumption increases cortisol production and should be avoided during heavy training and competition. Improved sleep hygiene, including maintaining a regular sleep schedule, enhances the production of GH, which peaks during deep sleep and can persist well after waking. By contrast, irregular sleep contributes to drops in GH levels.

King Kamehameha Day (Hawaii):
The Hawaiian word for health and life is “ola”. Hawaiians obviously believed one could not have health without life, nor life without health. The ancient Hawaiian health system was well developed. They had a medical profession, medicines, treatments, a lengthy apprenticeship program for medical specialists (kahuna), and training facilities located in special healing heiau (temples). They also had designated places of healing such as Coconut Island (Mokuola) at Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, famous for its curative spring waters.

Similar to the organization of today’s medical profession, the traditional Hawaiian healers were Kahuna haihai iwi (skilled in setting broken bones), Kahuna haha (who diagnosed illnesses by feeling with the fingers), Kahuna hoohanau keiki (who delivered babies), Kahuna hoohapai keiki (who induced pregnancy), Kahuna laau lapaau (who treated patients with herbs; they were the general practitioners), Kahuna lomilomi (who were physical therapists and also skilled in massage), and Kahuna paaoao (who diagnosed and treated illnesses of infants).

To ancient Hawaiians, mana (spiritual power) was necessary to be a truly successful practitioner. Education was sacred as knowledge was a way of achieving this power. If a parent sensed a child had a “healing spirit” enabling them to become a doctor, the child would be sent to live and study with a kahuna from as young as five years of age and they would spend upwards of fifteen to twenty years in training. During this time, they studied anatomy, learned how to diagnose disease, how to choose the right cures or medicines (particularly the use of medicinal plants), and learned sacred prayers. They also learned how to perform simple surgical procedures, set bones, and perform autopsies. They employed the use of steam baths, massage, and laxatives and undertook empirical research.

Since the Hawaiians viewed the body, mind, and spirit as one, Hawaiians believed that the body could not be healed without healing the spirit. Accordingly, they used a combination of psychic, spiritual, and natural treatments to cure illnesses. In particular, before a patient was treated, the kahuna performed a ritual of hooponopono (making things right), a type of counseling with the aid of prayer to cleanse the mind and heart of negative thoughts and feelings.

Today the traditional Hawaiian healing programs now being implemented by Hawaiian Health Care Centers serving Native Hawaiians include: hooponopono (traditional Hawaiian family problem solving process making things “right”), limuloid (traditional, spiritual and physical muscle stress relaxation by licensed therapists), lau lapaau (healing with the use of compounding herbs and other traditional remedies), pale keki (mother and child care, before, during and after birth), laau kahea (spiritual or faith healing through prayer and chants, a form of exorcism). The vast majority of Hawaiian remedies consists of plants. A sampling of traditional botanical based remedies is given below:

  • Aalii (Hopseed Bush): The leaves are used to treat a rash, itches, and other skin diseases.
  • Awa (Kava): Used in the treatment of headaches, muscle pain, and to induce sleep. It is also a treatment for general debility, chills, colds, and other lung problems, such as bronchitis and asthma.
  • Awapuhi (Shampoo Ginger): Ashes of the leaves are used to treat cuts and sores. The root is used in the treatment of ringworm and sprains and bruises. The root is also used in the treatment of headache, toothache, and stomach ache.
  • Kalo (Taro): It is the single most important plant in Hawaiian culture. The cut raw rootstock is rubbed on wounds to stop bleeding and the cut raw petiole is used to relieve the pain and prevent swelling of insect bites and stings. The corm is used to treat indigestion and as a laxative. The leaves are used in the treatment of asthma.
  • Mamaki: The inner part of the fruit is used to treat thrush and to cure general debility. The leaves are sold as a tea in Hawaii and an infusion made from the leaves is used to treat generalized weakness.
  • Noni (Indian Mulberry): The leaves and bark are prepared as a tonic, and to treat urinary disorders and muscle and joint pain. Either the ripe fruit or the leaves can be used as a poultice for boils, wounds, and fractures. A tonic prepared from the immature fruit is used to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, and loss of appetite.
  • Ohia lehua: The flower is used to ease childbirth and leaf bud tea is used as a tonic and to treat colds.
  • Olena (Turmeric): The root is used to treat earache, and nose and throat discomfort.
  • Pia (Polynesian Arrowroot): The raw starch was used in water for diarrhea and when mixed with red clay for dysentery. The starch was also applied to wounds to stop bleeding.
  • The sap of Ko (sugarcane) is commonly used to sweeten herbal preparations and the juice from the shoot is used to treat lacerations. Belonging to a grass family, sugarcane has no fats. It is, in fact, a 100% natural drink. It has about 30 grams of natural sugar. Hence, you do not have to add extra sugar for sweetness. Sugar extracted from sugarcane juice contains only 15 calories. Sugarcane juice is a mix of sucrose, fructose, and many other glucose varieties. Raw sugarcane juice contains a total of 13 grams of dietary fiber per serving, which is essential in carrying out a lot of body functions. Sugarcane juice aids in the following areas: skin benefits, cures acne, protects the skin from aging, instant energy booster, ensures safe pregnancy, prevents bad breath and tooth decay, facilitates the development of bones and teeth, cures febrile disorders, aids liver functioning, good for jaundice, acts as a digestive tonic, combats cancer, aids people suffering from diabetes, treats sore throat, heals wounds, strengthens body organs, prevents DNA damage, aids weight loss, eliminates toxins from one’s body, beneficial in treating UTI, treating kidney stones, ensures proper functioning of the kidneys, good for nail health, increases muscle power, reduces fever, treats acidity, and boosts immunity. Sugarcane juice also exhibits laxative properties.
  • Fresh coconuts can be young or mature. Young coconuts either have a green shell or a white husk (where the green shell has been removed). Young coconuts contain more water, is one of the highest sources of electrolytes, and soft gel-like meat, whereas mature coconuts have firm meat and less water. The water in the young coconut electrolytes is responsible for keeping the body properly hydrated so the muscles and nerves can function appropriately. Therefore, it is more beneficial to drink the water from a young coconut after an intense workout rather than the commercial sports drinks we see advertised. Coconut water is also low in calories, carbohydrates, and sugars, and almost completely fat-free. In addition, it is high in ascorbic acid, B vitamins, and proteins. The soft meat inside the coconut helps to restore oxidative tissue damage and contains a source of healthy fats, proteins, and various vitamins and minerals. Coconuts are also an excellent source of some trace minerals. They include magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. Zinc and selenium are essential nutrients for maintaining thyroid function. Iron is needed in the production of red blood cells. Magnesium is a nutrient necessary for electrolyte balance. Potassium takes care of nerve function, while copper reduces the risks of cardiovascular diseases, joint health, and osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become brittle. Another of the benefits of coconut is it contains capric acid.
  • Coconut oil has been used as both food and medicine for many centuries. Despite its natural healing wonders, a lot of people are still confused as to whether or not coconut oil is good for our health because of its high content of saturated fats. However, do not mistake hydrogenated coconut oil with pure cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil. Pure coconut oil is derived from the mature coconuts which contain harder flesh. The white flesh is shredded, collected, and then cold-pressed at 90–100 degrees Fahrenheit. Unprocessed, unrefined virgin coconut oil is not hydrogenated and is a safe choice for consumption. Although coconut oil is saturated fat, it is unlike the high-calorie, cholesterol-soaked, long-chain saturated fat. It is rich in a medium-chain fatty acid that can help boost metabolism and aid in fat loss. It is metabolized quickly and instead of fat sticking to one’s belly, it gets burned off as energy. It also helps detoxify the body and balances the digestive tract. Instead of bathing one’s skin with synthetic toxic lotions and creams, coconut oil can be used to nourish and moisturize the skin, scalp, and hair. One of the better-known uses of coconut oil is for cooking food. Coconut oil is one of the most stable oils when cooking in high heat. It does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperatures like other vegetable oils do. In addition, it can be used as a spread for baking and for making delicious raw, vegan desserts.

Medicinal uses for coconuts include:

  • Supports immune system health: it is anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasite,
  • Provides a natural source of quick energy and enhances physical and athletic performance
  • Improves digestion and absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
  • Improves insulin secretion and symptoms associated with diabetes
  • Helps protect the body from cancers through insulin reduction and removal of free radicals that cause premature aging and degenerative disease
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease and improves good cholesterol (HDL)
  • Restores and supports thyroid function
  • Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infection
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Helps keep hair and skin healthy and youthful-looking, prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots, and provides sun protection

Coconuts are a creative culinary delight. Due to its health advantages and natural low-glycemic index rating, coconuts have replaced some everyday ingredients:

  • Coconut Flour: It is simply dried, ground-up coconut meat. Coconut flour is gluten-free, low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and ideal for baking.
  • Coconut Milk and Cream: Milk is made by mixing shredded fresh coconut meat with water and then squeezing it through a sieve or cheesecloth. The thick creamy liquid that comes out is coconut milk. It can be used for curries and stews. Coconut cream, on the other hand, is basically coconut milk without all the water. It is thicker and pastier. The cream can be used to make dairy-free whipped cream or make one’s own coconut yogurt.
  • Coconut Sugar: It is derived from coconut sap. It is the sweet juice extracted when the budding flower is just about to grow. This process offers a delicious, sweet taste similar to brown sugar with a hint of caramel, with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It is considered a low-glycemic food and is diabetic-friendly. Use coconut sugar as one would commonly use other sugars and sweeteners.

Coconut is being used as a staple for those doing the keto diet. Also known as the ketogenic diet plan, it is a program wherein one induces ketosis-a state when the body burns fat instead of sugar for energy. To do it, one needs to eat foods low in carbs but high in fat.

One of the benefits of coconut is it can help one get into ketosis due to its medium-chain fatty acids. Sometimes called MCTs, these are triglycerides that go straight to the liver. The liver can then quickly convert the fats into ketones (chemicals the liver creates when insulin production is low), which then becomes one’s energy source. In turn, one may be able to lose weight without feeling lethargic.

Some tips to including coconut to the keto diet are topping vegan muffins with shredded coconut, adding raw coconut meat to a salad as a topping, dried coconut is great when paired with oatmeal, and blend classic protein power with the protein-rich coconut for a creamy, delicious shake.

Bananas are a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. In addition to being rich in vitamin B6, bananas are also fat-free, cholesterol-free, and virtually sodium-free. Vitamin B6 from bananas is easily absorbed by the body and a medium-sized banana can provide about a quarter of the daily needs. A medium-sized banana also will provide about 10% of one’s daily vitamin C needs, approximately 13% of one’s daily manganese needs, and around 320-400 mg of potassium-which meets about 10% of one’s daily potassium needs. In addition, bananas are low in sodium. The low sodium and high potassium combination help to control high blood pressure. Bananas contain three natural sugar-sucrose, fructose, and glucose-giving one a fat and cholesterol-free source of energy. As such, bananas are ideal, especially for children and athletes, for breakfast, as a midday snack or before and after sports.

A medium banana will provide about 10-12% of one’s daily fiber needs. It is recommending a daily dietary fiber intake of 20g for women and 26g for men. Soluble and insoluble fibers play an important role in one’s health. Soluble fiber helps the body control blood sugar level and get rid of fatty substances such as cholesterol. Insoluble fiber adds weight and softness to stools, making it easier for regular bowel movements. This helps to keep the gut healthy and safe from harmful bacteria. Bananas, especially newly-ripened ones, contain starch that does not digest (resistant starch) in the small intestine and is able to pass into the large intestine. Such bananas help one manage their weight better. That said, bananas can help gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, stomach ulcers, and heartburn.

Pineapples are delicious, low in calories, and loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. Their nutrients and compounds have been linked to impressive health benefits, including improved digestion, a lower risk of cancer, improved immunity, relief of arthritis symptoms, and improved recovery after surgery and strenuous exercise. Pineapples are also incredibly versatile and can be consumed in a variety of ways.

Recipes:

  • Lemon-pomegranate electrolyte drink : Yield: 32 ounces; Serving size: 8 ounces. Ingredients: 1/4 tsp. salt; 1/4 cup pomegranate juice; 1/4 cup lemon juice; 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut water; 2 cups cold water. Additional options: sweetener, powdered magnesium, and/or calcium, depending on needs. Directions: Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Pour into a container, chill, and serve.
  • Banana Guava Pie: 1-1/2 cup sliced bananas; 1-1/4 cup guava nectar; 1/2 cup sugar; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 3 tablespoons cornstarch; 3 tablespoons cold water; 1 baked pie shell. Directions: Combine guava nectar, lemon juice, sugar, and salt. Bring to boil over low heat. Mix cornstarch and water to a smooth paste and stir into mixture. Stir until thickened and clear. Cool. Combine with bananas and pour into baked pie shell. Serve with whipped cream.
  • Haupia (Sweet coconut cream custard cubes): Yield:1 standard 9 x 13 baking pan. Ingredients: 2 coconut milk, 16 oz cans; 3 cups water or fruit juice; ½ cups cornstarch; 1 cup sugar. Directions: Mix 2 cups water with cornstarch. Set aside. Bring coconut milk, sugar, and remaining water to a rolling boil on high heat. Pour cornstarch mixture into boiling coconut milk and cook till the mixture thickens, blending with a whip. When the mixture is smooth and thick pour into a clean baking tray. Cool to room temperature, then chill until cold. Cut into 1-inch squares. Serve on ti leaf lined trays.
  • Huli Huli (Grilled Chicken): Serves 10- 12. Ingredients: 9-12 lbs chicken wings, thighs, and breast pieces; 1/4 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate; 1/3 cup white wine; 1/2 cup chicken broth; 1/4 cup soy sauce; 1/4 cup ketchup; 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger or a pinch of fresh ginger; 1-2 drops Worcestershire sauce. Directions: Wash chicken parts and pat dry with paper towels. Mix all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Brush over chicken parts. Grill over barbecue for about 40 minutes. Turn and baste with sauce until chicken is done.
  • Sugarcane Juice: Sugarcane (medium-sized), fresh; water; ginger (optional); lemon juice (optional); peppermint (optional); black salt; ice cubes. Directions: Wash the sugarcanes well and peel the hard outer layer of the cane with a big knife. Now cut them into small pieces and blend them along with a ginger piece (optional). Add some water and grind it again. Make sure you have ground the sugarcane well. Pour the sugarcane extract along with the juice in a big container. Take another container and place a muslin cloth or strainer on it. Squeeze the juice out of the extract pressing through the cloth or strainer. If you don’t find it easy, squeeze the juice with your hand. Take some of the extract in your hand and press it well till the juice comes out. Strain the juice again as it may still have some extract. You can add some lemon juice and a dash of black salt along with ice cubes and serve chilled. Notes: While you can add sugar powder in the juice, it is advised to avoid as the juice is already sweet. Tea or coffee filters also work well for straining the juice.
  • Beard Oils: 1)Healthy Mix-1/2 oz jojoba; 1/2 oz coconut oil; 12 drops lavender oil; 12 drops rosemary oil. 2) Woodsy-1 oz of jojoba oil; 6 drops cedarwood essential oil; 2 drops lavender essential oil; 2 drops tea tree essential oil; 1 drop rosemary essential oil; 1 drop lime essential oil. Directions: Mix all ingredients in a 1-ounce bottle. Shake. Apply. No rinsing needed.
  • Healing Salve: Makes: 2 cups. Ingredients: 2 cups carrier oil; 1 tsp echinacea root (optional); 2 tablespoons comfrey leaf; 2 tablespoons dried plantain leaf; 1 tablespoon calendula flowers (optional); 1 teaspoon yarrow flowers (optional); 1 teaspoon rosemary (optional); ¼ cup beeswax pastilles. Directions: Infuse the herbs into the carrier oil: Either combine the carrier oil and herbs in a jar with an airtight lid and leave 3-4 weeks, shaking daily. OR heat the carrier oil and herbs over low heat in a double boiler for 3 hours (low heat) until the oil is very green. Make the salve: Strain the herbs out of the oil by pouring through a cheesecloth. Let all the oil drip out and then squeeze give the herbs a squeeze to get the remaining oil out. Discard the herbs. Combine the infused oil and beeswax in a double boiler. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the wax is melted. Pour into small tins, glass jars, or lip chap tubes and use them as needed.
  • First Aid Poultice: 1 part marshmallow root; 1 part Oregon grape root; 1 part yarrow herb; 1 part bentonite clay; 1 part echinacea root; 1/4 part cayenne fruit; lavender essential oil (optional). Directions: Mix all herbs together in the blender until they are powdered. Store in a glass container in a cool dark place until needed. Add warm water until the mixture forms a paste. 10 drops of lavender essential oil can also be added. Apply to stings, bruises, infections, injuries, and rashes. Rinse off and reapply as needed.
  • Headache Oil: 10 drops lavender essential oil; 10 drops peppermint essential oil; 10 drops marjoram essential oil; 1 teaspoon carrier oil. Directions: Add essential oils to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. Rub on temples, forehead, and back of the neck. Avoid the eyes.
  • Burn Rescue: 5 ml lavender essential oil; 1 ml Helichrysum essential oil; 5 drops Rescue Remedy; 1 ounce of aloe vera gel; 1 ounce of witch hazel extract (optional). Directions: Mix ingredients together and apply topically to burns, sunburns, and wind burns. This cooling and healing formula will reduce pain, inflammation, and scarring. Add the Witch Hazel if you would like to apply the formula as a spray.
  • Garlic-Mullein Earache Oil: 400ml olive oil; 1 whole bulb garlic, chopped; 1 oz mullein flowers, Vitamin E oil. Equipment: 2 empty jars, 454ml (16 oz) size; 1 square of muslin or cheesecloth, about 6 cm square. Directions: Place the finely chopped fresh garlic and mullein flowers into the jar. Add olive oil until the jar is full. Stir with a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to release air bubbles. Cover the jar and place it in the sunlight for 3 weeks (2 weeks in warm weather). Strain through the muslin square into a clean jar (discard plant material) and store it in the refrigerator. This will keep for up to two years. To use: Place 3-7 drops of the oil into the affected ear. The oil should be at room temperature or slightly warm. To warm it, put the drops in a spoon or a glass eyedropper and briefly hold a lit match close to it. Test the oil against the underside of your wrist to make sure it is not too hot. Rest with the affected ear up for 5-10 minutes, keeping a warm hot water bottle on the ear. After this time roll over and rest on the hot water bottle for as long as this brings comfort. Repeat on the other ear if necessary. This treatment can be repeated 2-3 times a day but may only be necessary once or twice as it is very effective. Caution: NEVER put anything into the ear if you suspect the eardrum has ruptured or if there is any drainage from the ear.
  • Essential Oil Bug Spray: 30 drops geranium; 30 drops citronella; 20 drops lemon eucalyptus; 20 drops lavender; 10 drops rosemary; 1 tablespoon vodka; ½ cup natural witch hazel; ½ cup water (or vinegar); 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin (optional); vanilla extract (optional). Directions: Place essential oils in a glass spray bottle. Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine. Pour in witch hazel and shake to combine. Add vanilla extract. Add ½ tsp vegetable glycerin if using. (This is not necessary but helps everything stay combined.) Add water and shake again. Shake before each use as it will naturally separate some over time.
  • Herbal Bug Spray: Distilled water; witch hazel (or vodka); dried herbs-peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, orange peel, clove, bay leaf, thyme, cedar leaf; vanilla extract (optional). Directions: Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 tablespoons of dried herbs total in any combination from the above. Mix well, cover, and let cool (covering is important to keep the volatile oils in.) Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or vodka. Add vanilla extract. Store in a spray bottle in a cool place. Use as needed. Note: To make a stronger version of this recipe, prepare the herbs in an alcohol mixture as a tincture instead, and use this directly as a spray after straining out the herbs.
  • Vinegar Tick and Insect Repellent: 1 bottle of apple cider vinegar, (32-oz ); 2 Tablespoons each of dried sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and mint; vanilla extract (optional). Equipment: Quart-size or larger glass jar with an airtight lid. Directions: Put the vinegar, vanilla extract, and dried herbs into a large glass jar. Seal tightly and store on the counter. Shake well each day for 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out and store in spray bottles or tincture bottles, preferably in the fridge. To use on skin, dilute to half with water in a spray bottle and use as needed. Note: It has a very strong odor when it is wet, though the smell disappears as it dries. This mixture is very strong and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It can also be used as a tincture for any illness. For adults, the dose is 1 tablespoon in water several times a day. For kids over two, the dose is 1 teaspoon in water several times a day.

—-Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ—-
Jolene Grffiths, Master Herbalist

The Flow of Good Health: The Lymphatic System

I, like you, may not really give much thought to my home’s plumbing; until an uncomfortable issue arises. Clogged pipes, poor drainage—oh, what a mess that can be. The lymphatic system, like your home’s plumbing, is the drainage system of the body. Through its complex construction of lymph fluid, nodes, ducts and lymphoid tissues such as the tonsils, spleen, appendix, and thymus gland, the lymphatic system works to keep our bodies healthy. The systemic functions of the lymphatics:

  • Balance-By balancing fluids in the tissues, collecting fluid near tissues and organs and returning it to the blood stream, this process prevents fluid from building up and causing swelling.
  • Filtration-This system filters lymph by attacking any bacteria or virus when lymph fluid enters the lymph nodes and filters blood through the spleen by replacing old blood cells with new blood cells, and carrying away cell debris
  • Fights infection-Using specialized white blood cells, called lymphocytes, that are produced in the lymph, the lymphatic system fervently works around the clock to combat sneaky toxins and infections.

Unlike the circulatory system, there is not a pump to keep the flow of fluid and debris through the vessels. Instead, this system depends on muscle movement and compression to help with flow. Any lymphatic congestion is an underlying issue in chronic pain and inflammation. So how can we relieve any congestion that might present as tender and swollen nodes in the neck, breast, arm pits, or groin?

  • Movement– Inactivity creates lymphatic stagnation. Exercise as a gentle walk or gentle bouncing on a mini trampoline are excellent ways to keep lymphatic fluid moving.
  • Hydration-In dehydration, up to 70% of water loss is inside the cells, but approximately 20% is from lymph. When you are thirsty, it may be due to congested lymph fluid.
  • Deep Breathing-Deep breathing compresses the thoracic cavity which creates a pumping action in the lymph system. Sobbing and laughing work similarly. Proverbs 17:22 says laughter is a good medicine. Not only does laughter increase oxygen flow, it also creates lymphatic drainage.
  • Massage-Massaging an area can help improve lymph flow, ease pain and promote healing.

Along with these lifestyle tips to increase lymphatic flow, there are some herbs that are very helpful as well.

  • Cleavers-This herb is soothing to the lymphatic system and helps ease congestion and lessen swelling
  • Red Clover-This herb strengthens the lymph system, improves lymph flow, and aids swollen lymph nodes. This herb is particularly helpful for inflammation in the mammary glands.
  • Echinacea-This is a powerful lymphatic cleanser and immune system stimulant. It is helpful for swollen lymph nodes due to infection.

Just like with any other body system, lifestyle changes and quality supplements can be helpful in keeping this powerful system working well so you can continue to stay healthy. Here at The Healthpatch we are happy to help you with any of your natural health needs.

Health and Blessings,
Kimberly Anderson, ND

For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, OK 73130, call 405-736-1030, e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com, or visit TheHeathPatch.com.

A Year of Celebration and Health

February 2020
Overview:
Awareness: American Heart Association, National Cancer Prevention, National Children’s Dental Health, National Eating Disorder
Flower: Violet
Gemstone: Amethyst
Trees: Cypress, Poplar, Cedar, Pine

Groundhogs Day: Groundhogs live in the ground and it is from the ground that we get most of our minerals! Minerals come from rocks, soil, and water, and they’re absorbed as the plants grow or by animals as the animals eat the plants. They are the elements that our bodies need to develop and function normally. The body cannot create minerals. Minerals have to be digested, but the body can create 10 out of the 14 vitamins that we need if our mineral intake is up. They are needed to activate enzymes. If fact, many diseases are caused by a polluted blood stream and a mineral deficiency. There are 102 minerals that make up the human body. The major minerals, which are used and stored in large quantities in the body, are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur.

The trace minerals are just as vital to our health as the major minerals, but we don’t need large amounts. Minerals in this category include chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. “Each one plays a role in hundreds of body functions. It may take just a very small quantity of a particular mineral, but having too much or too little can upset a delicate balance in the body,” says Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Essential minerals are most potent when they come from food. But if you’re struggling with deficiencies, you may need to take supplements. If so, use caution: ingesting too much of a mineral supplement can be harmful. One way the ancients supplemented minerals was to consume mineral-rich clays. The other way was by adding a hard rock to their cooking pots. There are two different methods: one was to add a rock first and then boil food over an open fire; the other was to add a hot rock to a vessel which would cook the food without using an open flame. Sodium and calcium are the top two minerals provided using this method. And, by boiling stones and water for 15 minutes any harmful bacteria should be eliminated. A limestone rock was often used in the American Southwest. This leached chemical lime from the stones into the water, which has been found to raise the pH of the water to 11.4–11.6 at temperatures between 300–600 degrees centigrade, and higher yet over longer periods and at higher temperatures. When historical varieties of maize were cooked in this water, the chemical lime broke down the corn and increased the availability of digestible proteins.

President’s Day: This is the day the United States set aside to celebrate two former Presidents’ birthdays-George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Thus, I am using this day to talk about natural birthing herbal aids.

  • Herbal infusions (aka: teas that don’t contain any Camellia sinensis-tea bush) have been used by midwives throughout history to help with some of the negative symptoms associated with pregnancy and labor.
  • Red Raspberry: While red raspberry leaf infusion is typically recommended for the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, some women use the herbal remedy to help with nausea and vomiting in the first trimester as well. The fragarine compound found in red raspberry leaves is known to help tone and tighten muscles in the pelvic area, including the walls of the uterus, which can help make delivery easier. It also lessens complications, shortens labor by helping contractions to work more effectively; making birth easier and faster, and prevents excessive bleeding after childbirth. Women who drink red raspberry leaf tea later in pregnancy have been shown to have reduced use of forceps and other interventions such as, C-sections or vacuum-extractions, as well as a reduction in the likelihood of pre- and post-term labor.
  • Nettle Leaf: Nettle leaf is a tonic herb thought to strengthen and tone the entire system, and is particularly useful to support fertility in both men and women. In traditional herbal medicine, nettles are thought to ease leg cramps, and possibly ease the pain of childbirth. After birth, nettle is thought to promote an abundant milk supply. Nettle is particularly rich in micronutrients like carotene, vitamin C, manganese, iron, calcium, zinc and chromium. As the mother passes anything she consumes to her baby both during pregnancy and breastfeeding, nettle will not only nourish her body, but also her growing baby. In addition to nettle infusion, one can use fresh nettles in springtime (be wary of their sting) in one’s cooking.
  • Oat Straw: Oat straw was traditionally used in Europe as a tonic for health, beauty, and emotional resilience. It’s rich in both calcium and magnesium. Calcium and magnesium work together in the body. Calcium tones the muscles and the cardiovascular system, and improves circulation both in the mother’s body and, naturally, in her baby as well. It also stimulates the muscles to contract. Magnesium then, by contrast, helps those muscles to relax, easing cramps, restless legs, as well as improving sleep. In this way, it’s thought by herbalists and midwives that oat straw can be particularly valuable for pregnant women.
  • Alfalfa: Alfalfa, like nettle, is a general restorative herb. In folk medicine, alfalfa is used to support thyroid health and it’s thought to ease morning sickness. Alfalfa hay is also given to livestock to help them produce abundant milk, and is thought to convey the same benefits to human mothers as well. Alfalfa, like nettle and red raspberry leaf and other green leafs, is also rich in vitamin K which supports healthy circulation and proper blood clotting. Low vitamin K levels is linked with bleeding and hemorrhage which may be why many midwives recommend optimizing one’s vitamin K levels during pregnancy, particularly in the weeks leading up to childbirth, with the primary recommendation being diet as well as herbs like alfalfa.
  • Lemon Balm, Rose Hips and Rose Buds: Lemon balm gives a pregnancy infusion delightful, mellow lemon-like flavor. In traditional, folk medicine, lemon balm is used for nervousness, digestive upset, and headaches. Similarly, rose hips bring a light and pleasant tartness to an infusion. Rosehips are rich in bioflavonoids and vitamin C, and it’s that vitamin C that works synergistically with iron to help your body better absorb that mineral. Similarly, rose buds bring pleasant floral notes and a lovely feminine energy to an infusion. Lemon balm and rose hips added to an infusion is for their flavor more than anything else. The pregnancy infusion listed below in the recipe section tends to be inky and dark, owing to the heavy use of leafy green herbs like nettle, alfalfa and raspberry leaf. Both lemon balm and rose hips, bright in flavor, aromatic and astringent, lighten the infusion in a pleasant way.

Some uncommon plants: Each culture has their own special herbs they use for labor. Alas, a vast majority of these plants are not found on the market and need to be foraged. Some exceptions are yucca and prickly pear cactus roots used by the Lakota as an infusion to aid in childbirth. Eggplants, lemons, dates, nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes, melons, and licorice are others that have been claimed to aid in the birthing process.

*Caution: Although herbs are natural, not all herbs are safe to take during pregnancy. The FDA urges pregnant women not to take any herbal products without talking to their health-care provider first. Women are also urged to consult a trained and experienced herbalist (or other professionals trained to work with herbs) if they want to take herbs during their pregnancy. Some herbal products may contain agents that are contraindicated in pregnancy. Herbs may contain substances that can cause miscarriage, premature birth,
uterine contractions, or injury to the fetus. Few studies have been done to measure the effects of various herbs on pregnant women or fetuses.

Valentine’s Day: Many of the common symbols of this day include hearts, roses, and chocolate. It is common in Japan and Korea for singles to get together and eat Jajangmyeon (noodles with black bean sauce). In Wales it is tradition for a man to give the woman whom he loves a carved wooden spoon.

Rose petals and their medicine help to move and open a heart which has tightened emotionally and spiritually. Both TCM and Unani (traditional Arabic medicine) teach that rose has a powerful effect on the spiritual state of one’s heart. In Unani medicine some heart herbs are termed as “exhilarants”, which help the spiritual heart feel joy. A wonderful nervine, great for uplifting the mood and alleviating depression, rose also has antispasmodic, aphrodisiac and sedative qualities, as well as being anti-inflammatory. Rose helps regulate menstruation as well as stimulate the digestion. Rosehips, which come along after the bloom has faded, are a wonderful source of vitamins C, B2 and E. One may use rose as an herbal supplement, essential oil, or flower essence. Rose petal tincture is often used in heart formulas. Dried rose petals make a lovely addition to teas. There is a long tradition of rose water being used in medicine, including in Iran and other parts of the Middle East, as far back as the 7th century.

The observation that people prone to herpetic lesions and other related viral infections, particularly during periods of stress, should abstain from arginine excess and may also require supplemental lysine in their diet. Some arginine-rich foods such as chocolate, nuts, and seeds causes some to experience herpes outbreaks. Lysine-rich foods such most vegetables and fruits, dairy, egg whites, and meats help. Foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin C such as citrus, leafy vegetables, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, bell peppers, strawberries, and papaya aid in boosting the immune system. Other immune boosting foods that contain high amounts of bioflavonoids such as citrus, many bright colored fruits and vegetables, leafy vegetables, black tea, broccoli, brussel sprouts, eggplant, wine and juice made from berries or grapes. Zinc-rich foods that also aid the immune system include pumpkin seeds, most dairy, beans, lentils, whole-grain cereals, and legumes.

If you’re an abuse survivor, there’s not one way to cope with feelings that Valentine’s Day might stir up. But if you can do things that empower you and make you feel good, that’s a step in the right direction. (And for those of you who haven’t experienced abuse but know a friend who has, Valentine’s Day is a good time to reach out and remind them you’re there for them in any way they need.) Here are some general suggestions that may work for you:

  • Surround yourself with support: Seek out friends and family who make you feel validated and won’t encourage you to return to your abuser.
  • Call a helpline: There are quite a few hotlines available for those who are or have experienced domestic abuse. There’s Day One, which is a great resource. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or RAINN, the National Sexual Assault Hotline, which you can reach at (800) 656-4673.
  • Take self-defense classes: not necessarily as a defense against a future incident of abuse, but as a way to make you feel stronger and less vulnerable.
  • Turn to therapy: Talk with a therapist or a survivor group where you can be candid about the trauma you experienced. A good online support group with over 80,000 users is Pandora’s Project (a nonprofit organization that provides support to survivors of sexual assault). https://www.pandys.org.
  • Put your own needs first: Do whatever makes you feel good and at peace. It could be meditating or seeing a silly movie or reading that book you’ve been curious about. Overall, the hope is that with the right support, no matter where it comes from, triggers like Valentine’s Day will, over time, become less impactful and destabilizing. Yes, the trauma you experienced was real, but the memories of it don’t have to keep hurting you. The more autonomy you allow yourself to have over them, the sooner they’ll fade into the background.
  • Herbal aids: There are several herbal aids one may take to help deal with triggers, memories, and nightmares. St. John’s wort is most commonly used for “the blues” or depression and symptoms that sometimes go along with mood such as nervousness, tiredness, poor appetite, and trouble sleeping. Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain. Neurotransmitters function as chemical messengers. GABA is considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter because it blocks, or inhibits, certain brain signals and decreases activity in your nervous system. Rescue Remedy is a blend of five flower remedies especially beneficial when you find yourself in traumatic or stressful situations.

Mardi Gras: Traditional Mardi Gras foods include shrimp, grains, and legumes. All these are within the top 8 foods groups known to be allergens. In fact, researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18. And, about 40% of children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food. There are also those who do not have allergies, but instead have intolerances. Both allergies and intolerances are labeled food sensitivities. Key differences between food allergies and food intolerances:

  • Food Allergy: Immediate response; possibly life-threatening; IgE-mediated immune response
  • Food intolerances: Response ranges from one hour to up to 48 hours; not life-threatening; possibly IgG-mediated immune response
  • Food Sensitivity Symptoms: acne, brain fog, eczema; dry and itchy skin; bloated stomach after eating; fatigue; joint pain; reflux; migraines; diarrhea; depression and mood swings; runny nose; headache; trouble sleeping and dark circles under eyes.

If you notice certain ailments or aches on a regular basis like the ones listed above, you might have a food intolerance. The tricky part is figuring out which food is to blame. Since symptoms can wait to show up until a few days after consumption, it makes diagnosis especially challenging and time-consuming. That’s why for many, food sensitivities last for decades and are largely undiagnosed. Traditionally, you would keep a food journal and embark on an elimination diet, removing possible culprits one at a time for periods of two to eight weeks (the longer the better).

Leaky gut occurs when there is damage to the lining of the intestinal tract making it more permeable to substances that should not cross the delicate lining. Normally, only nutrients from fully digested foods such as vitamins, minerals, emulsified fats, amino acids and simple sugars are able to cross the intestinal barrier that separates our blood stream from our gut. But when the gut becomes leaky, undigested food particles, bacteria and toxins are able to make it through the gut lining and they enter the
circulation, going to places in the body where they don’t belong. The body’s defense system fights back and it’s during this fight that uncomfortable symptoms are experienced.

There are several causes of leaky gut and one or more of these causes may be at work simultaneously. For example, leaky gut can be caused by damage from an autoimmune reaction, such as celiac disease which destroys the microvilli and increases permeability, or by the presence of gluten which causes the production of a chemical called zonulin which directly opens up the tight junctions, making the gut more permeable; it may also be due to damage caused by bacterial toxins in conditions such as Small
Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), which also contribute to gut inflammation leading to leakiness. And probably most importantly, leaky gut can be caused by undiagnosed food sensitivities with the immune battle between white blood cells and undigested food particles taking place in the villi of the small intestine.

Food intolerances are the main cause of symptoms associated with leaky gut. Food intolerances create a vicious cycle in that they help maintain the reason for their development (the leaky gut) while being the direct cause of the various symptoms suffered. This vicious cycle can only end after carefully removing all sources of reactive foods and chemicals, which not only eliminates symptoms, but also allows the gut to finally heal. But this is easier said than done for a number of reasons: Food sensitivities are often dose dependent, with symptom onset delayed by many hours, and there are usually many reactive foods, not just 1 or 2 as in food allergy. And just like each person has a unique fingerprint, both food intolerance symptoms and trigger foods are different from one person to another. In other words, in two gluten sensitive people, gluten may cause digestive problems in one person and migraines in another. And in 10 migraine patients, there could be 10 different sets of trigger foods. Because of this, obviously there is no one-size-fits-all diet. Although research proves that leaky gut exists, there is no perfect test to diagnose it, diagnose its cause, or determine if a particular therapy is effective at treating it. What is known is that diet and stress are two things that play a significant role in causing leaky gut. Therefore, an individually prescribed diet, stress reduction and supplement plan are a big part of the solution. Monitoring symptom improvement is the best way to determine the effectiveness of therapy and the healing of your leaky gut. Omega-3 oils, probiotics, fibers, removing foods to which one is sensitive, and eliminating sugar to can aid in the healing of the gut.

Recipes:

  • Pregnancy Infusion: Makes 28 serving Ingredients: 2 ounces’ nettle leaf, 2 ounces’ raspberry leaf, 1 ounce oat straw, 1 ounce alfalfa leaf, 1/2 ounce lemon balm, 1/2 ounce rose hips, 1/2 ounce rose buds. Instructions: Stir all the herbs together in a large mixing bowl so that they’re evenly distributed. Set a wide-mouth funnel into the lip of a jar and spoon the mixed herbs into the jar. Cap tightly and store out of the sun. Bring about a quart of water to a boil, and then spoon a heaping quarter-cup (about 1/4 ounce) of your mixed herbs into a quart-sized jar. Cover with boiling water, cap, and let them steep overnight – about 8 hours. Strain out the herbs, and enjoy the tea. Note: Take about two cups a day during the second trimester and up to a quart a day in the third trimester. Reach out to your care provider to determine what is the right amount for you.
  • Nan-e Berenji (a cookie): 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, 1 egg yolk, 2 cups fine rice flour, 1/4 cup rose water, 1-2 tablespoons poppy seeds. Directions: In a large bowl, mix together the oil and sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add egg yolk and mix for another 20-30 seconds. Sift in the rice flour, in three batches. Using a spatula, fold in the flour into mixture after each batch is added. Add the rose water. Knead the mixture for 5-10 minutes. Shape into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 325 F and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll dough into small 1-inch balls and flatten the cookie into a small disc. Repair any cracks on the edges and place on baking sheet. Using the curve of a small teaspoon make overlapping arch-shaped indentation marks on the top. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bottom and edges begins to turn a light golden color. Let completely cool before carefully removing from baking tray.
  • Millet & Rice Pasta: ¼ cup arrowroot starch, ¾ cup brown rice flour, ½ cup millet flour, ½ tsp xanthan gum, ¼ tsp salt, 2 tbsp light olive oil, ½ cup flax seed gel, 4 tbsp warm water. Directions: Combine the dry ingredients and set them aside. In the stand mixer, combine all of the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients slowly until a crumbly mixture forms. Form into a long roll and slice to make long noodles. Cook as normal pasta.
  • Konjac Noodles: 2 teaspoons of glucomannan/Konjac, 1/8 teaspoon of pickling lime (or 1 gram of baking powder), 2 cups of Cold Water. Directions: Pour 2 cups of cold water into a large cooking pot. Stir in pickling lime (or baking powder) for one minute. Add the glucomannan powder, stirring continuously until the liquid reaches a boil. Boil the mixture for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. The mixture will turn into a gel once the mixture cools down. Being a thermally stable (non-reversible) gel, this gel will not dissolve at room temperature. Once cool, cut the gel into small pieces or into your desired shape. When ready to serve, dip the cut glucomannan food into a pot of warm water or steam for about 3 to 5 minutes. Then serve or continue to cook in any manner one likes.
  • Vegetable Noodles: serves 2. Ingredients: 4 zucchinis, cut into thin strips on a mandolin, or julienne peeler, black pepper, freshly chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Directions: Saute zucchini in a pan over a medium heat with a little olive oil. Season with a little lemon, sea salt and black pepper. Add fresh herbs if you wish. Note: You may use: Zoodles-zucchini noodles, Poodles-parsnip noodles, Swoodles-sweet potato noodles, Toodles-turnip noodles, Coodles-carrot noodles, Squoodles-squash noodles, boodles-broccoli stem noodles (peel stem first).
  • Carob-dipped Strawberries: 8 -10 large fresh strawberries, washed and dried; 3 tablespoons coconut oil; 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or liquid stevia-to taste), optional; 2 tablespoons carob powder. Directions: Pre-line a flat tray that you will use to place your strawberries on to and keep in the fridge to cool whilst preparing the carob sauce. Pre-chilling the tray helps carob coating to set quickly. In a small mixing bowl, mix coconut oil over boiling water to melt. (Use a small saucepan of boiling water and sit bowl over the top. The heat from underneath will melt the coconut oil in the mixing bowl). Add carob powder and optional maple syrup (or liquid stevia-to taste) and mix well. Holding the strawberry at the leafy end, dip each strawberry into the carob sauce and coat well. Use a spoon to help if needed. Place onto pre-chilled and lined tray. Once all strawberries are coated, place in fridge until carob coating is set. Keep in refrigerator until ready to eat. Variations: Use raw cacao powder instead of carob for an authentic chocolate flavor. Add desiccated coconut to your carob dipping sauce or sprinkle coconut over wet carob dipped strawberries before setting. Add 1 tablespoon nut butter such as almond butter to dipping sauce for a nut fudge coating. Make carob sauce to serve as a fondue at dinner parties and let guests dip their own strawberries. Tips: Make sure your washed strawberries are pat dry before dipping into carob sauce otherwise the coating won’t stick as well. For an extra thick coating of carob, after first coat is set on strawberries repeat process for a second coating. Pre-chilling your lined setting tray in freezer will help the carob coating to set quickly. Pre-chill your washed strawberries in the refrigerator prior to dipping to also help the carob to set quickly. If your carob dipping sauce is too runny it won’t stick to the strawberries well. If it is too runny place your dipping sauce in the fridge for a few minutes or until it begins to thicken.
  • Traditional King Cake (Gil Marks): Dough-1 package active dry yeast (or 1 cake fresh yeast or 2 teaspoons instant yeast); 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115°F for dry yeast; 80 to 85°F for fresh yeast); 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115°F for dry yeast; 80 to 85°F for fresh yeast) (or sour cream); 1/4 cup granulated sugar; 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (½ stick); 2 large egg yolks or 1 large egg; 3/4 tsp table salt; 1 tsp ground cinnamon (or cardamom), optional; 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, optional; 1/8 tsp almond extract, optional; 1 tsp grated lemon zest, optional; 2 tsp grated orange zest (or orange blossom water), optional; 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or bread flour); 1/4-1/2 cup chopped candied citron (or ½ cup chopped mixed candied fruit, or ½ cup golden raisins); egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon milk or water)–Cinnamon Filling-(optional): 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar; 1/4 cup all-purpose flour; 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon; pinch salt; 2/3 cup chopped slightly toasted pecans (or 1/3 cup pecans); ¼ cup raisins; ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted (½ stick); 1 pecan half, large bean, or other token/baby, optional. Icing–1 cup confectioners’ sugar; 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (¼ stick) (or ¼ cup cream cheese, softened), optional; 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or ¼ teaspoon almond extract); 1 tbsp milk (buttermilk, fresh lemon juice, or water); a few drops gold food coloring (or 2 to 4 tablespoons yellow colored sugar) optional; a few drops green food coloring (or 2 to 4 tablespoons green colored sugar), optional; a few drops purple food coloring (or 2 to 4 tablespoons purple colored sugar), optional. Directions: To make the dough–In a small bowl or measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in 1 teaspoon sugar and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks, salt, and, for a flavored dough (but omit this if you are using a filling), the spice or zest. Blend in 1½ cups flour. Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft workable dough. On a lightly floured surface or in a mixer with a dough hook, knead the dough until smooth and springy, about 5 minutes. Knead in the citron, mixed candied fruit or golden raisins. Place in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel or loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, or in the refrigerator overnight. To make the optional filling–In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the pecans. Drizzle the butter over top and mix until crumbly. Punch down the dough and knead briefly. Making the cake with the filling: Roll the dough into a 16- by 10-inch rectangle, spread evenly with the filling, leaving 1 inch uncovered on all sides. If using a token, place it on the rectangle (Be sure to warn your guests.) Beginning from a long end, roll up jellyroll style. Then bring the ends together to form an oval. Place on a parchment paper-lined or greased baking sheet, seam side down. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap spritzed with cooking spray and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Making the cake without the filling: Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 24-inch-long rope. Braid the 2 ropes together, and bring the ends together to form an oval, pinching the ends to seal. OR Divide the dough in thirds and roll each piece into a 16-inch rope. If you prefer an oval shape, the strands should be closer to 20 inches. Braid by first connecting the ends of the ropes at one end. As you braid, be sure that you are pulling the strands gently taut to make a neat and even braid, otherwise your cake may bulge in some areas. When you are ready to connect the ends, unbraid a few inches at each end, then braid them together by connecting the corresponding pieces. For example, center rope to center rope. Place on a parchment paper-lined or greased baking sheet, seam side down. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap spritzed with cooking spray and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. To make the icing: In a medium bowl, stir the confectioners’ sugar, optional butter or cream cheese, vanilla, and enough milk until smooth and of a pouring consistency. If desired, divide the icing into thirds and tint each third with one of the food colorings. Or you can drizzle or spread the icing over the warm cake. While the icing is still wet, sprinkle with the colored sugar. The easiest way to do this neatly is to use a pastry brush to apply icing to each section, then sprinkle with sugar, let dry, and move on to the next section. For the braided cake, follow the braid pattern around the cake, using one color at a time and applying to each icing section directly after applying while still wet (the icing dries fast!). Then allow the icing to dry and gently tap off the excess sugar before starting the next color. Serve warm or at room temperature. After cooling, the cake can be wrapped well in plastic, then foil and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Do not cover with the icing before freezing. Variation: Cream Cheese-Filled King Cake: Beat 8 ounces (225 grams) cream cheese at room temperature with 1 cup (4 ounces/115 grams) confectioners’ sugar, ½ egg yolk (use the rest for the egg wash), and ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract. This can be used with or without the cinnamon filling. Hint: To make colored sugar, in a jar shake ¼ cup granulated sugar with 4 drops yellow, green, or purple food coloring.

—-Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ—-
Jolene Griffiths, Master Herbalist

For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Using Herbs to Enhance Good Oral Health

Good oral hygiene is the foundation to having healthy teeth and gums, but occasionally we need a little extra help to keep oral health top notch. Herbs can be very beneficial in this area of good health.

Teeth, like bones, need constant remineralization. Mineral rich herbs can help prevent tooth decay by helping to remineralize and to fight bacteria in plaque. Alfalfa and Horsetail are two such herbs.

Alfalfa has tap roots that grow into the ground as far down as 60 feet. This allows Alfalfa to reach minerals that other plants cannot, making it a storehouse of nutrients containing major minerals like calcium as well as numerous trace minerals.

Horsetail is another great herb for oral care. It contains more silica than any other herb and it is in a form that is highly absorbable. This ability makes Horsetail a powerhouse in promoting collagen formation and working with calcium to strengthen teeth and bones.

Black Walnut has properties that are anticarious or helping to prevent cavities. Used as a powder and left overnight on teeth, it can help rebuild enamel and, due to its astringent properties, can help tighten loose teeth.

Bacteria in the gums can cause infection and bleeding of the gums. This is where Golden Seal can be beneficial with its bacteria-fighting alkaloid called Berberine. White Oak bark has also long been used for gum problems due to it being rich in tannins. Tannins help tighten tissue, fight infections, and halt bleeding.

Using a powder mixture of Horsetail, Black Walnut, Golden Seal, and White Oak Bark can help fight infection, tighten loose teeth, stop gum bleeding, as well as strengthen tooth enamel.
So, keep up the foundations for healthy teeth and gums, but for those times where additional support is needed, adding these powerful herbs to your dental routine can be quite beneficial.

Health and Blessings,
Kimberly Anderson, ND

The Health Patch 1024 S. Douglas Blvd. Midwest City, OK 73130 PH: 405-736-1030

Gut Supplements!

While we all should search for our own “gut healthy” diet, there are some foods that we have previously mentioned that seem to have a positive effect on the gut of most individuals. We’ve mentioned variety in the fruits and vegetables we eat – every food has its unique set of microbiomes – so the greater the variety we eat leads to a greater variety of microbiomes as well. And we know that an oriental diet introduces us to the added benefit of fermented foods, also in great variety. But for many, this is a culture shock, or a hard learning activity. Some of us simply don’t care for many otherwise healthy foods.

My advice is to do the best you can, and work at it. Our taste palates are often trained in childhood. Our cultures and our families taught us how to eat. My dad was a “meat and potatoes” man from the rural South. I ate a lot of home-grown vegetables, but nothing ethnically diverse. But I have enjoyed food most of my life and now enjoy virtually any international food delights – adding to what my friends and family call my “cast iron digestive system”. I have little problem enjoying and digesting most anything placed before me. But, if that is not you, I would suggest some gut-healthy supplements. Here are a few of them.

Number one on my list here is berberine. It is an alkaloid found as a stand-alone, or as a natural constituent in many herbs such as goldenseal, Oregon grape, and barberry. Clinical studies have shown that berberine helps to support already normal glucose and lipid metabolism, helps to control intestinal bacteria and reduce intestinal inflammation. It interested me, that in a recent program I took to improve gut health, the company recommended an eating program and added only two supplements: a strong probiotic and berberine!

Cinnamon has a strong antimicrobial action and is an astringent that will tone up the gut membranes. It is also used in many of the weight loss programs I have seen.

Golden Seal is one of our strongest immune system builders and it is usually suggested that it not be used for long periods without a break, but it has a long history of use for intestinal infections and diarrhea caused by giardia.

Finally, the amino acid L-glutamine is essential for many body functions including gut health. It helps the body produce energy in the mitochondria of the cells, and has been shown to repair leaky gut and reduce irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory diseases like ulcers, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Besides supplementation, it is found naturally in bone broth, grass fed beef, spirulina and whey protein.

Other herbs that help reduce intestinal inflammation and/or tone up the gaps between intestinal cells include pau d’arco, cat’s claw, turmeric, kudzu and black walnut. Much of this information comes from a publication by my favorite herbalist Steven Horne. Drop by the store for a copy of his complete presentation, while copies last, if you have further interest.

– For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com. Check out our blogs and podcasts under “resources” on our website each week for related topics.

Let’s Build Our Immunity

echinacia, garlic, morindaSneezing, coughing, watery eyes and runny noses are the order of the day, it seems. It’s the time of year when the seasons are changing, the trees are beginning to drop leaves, and molds fill the air. And there are new strains of flu this year again. This is the time of year when our immune systems are bombarded daily, and many of us fall prey to colds, flu, and allergies.

Your immune system may already be working below par. It can be weakened by parasites, viruses, poor diet, toxins, smoking, a poor environment, poor lifestyle choices, lack of exercise, inadequate rest … anything that causes it to have to work too hard. If you “catch everything that comes along” or feel generally poor much of the time, you’re at higher risk of being laid up by another “bug”.

But you can prepare for the season. You can do much to build your immune system so that it can adequately fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Let’s look at how the immune system works. Its basic function is to protect the body from “foreign invaders.” Your bone marrow produces specialized cells that produce antibodies to neutralize these invaders. Your lymphatic system “filters” toxins and microbes from body tissues for cleansing. And tonsils, the spleen and the thymus also produce fighters and cleanse. The enemy? All those things listed above that weaken the body. There are a number of herbs that may help to “boost” it and allow the body to “fight.” Several popular immune system-building herbs are:

  • Echinacea – The root has important anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal actions that help build resistance to infections. It protects the cell-bonding tissues in the body that protect cells from infection. And it contains two polysacharides that stimulate “killer” cells. This is probably the most popular of the winter herbs for both children and adults.
  • Garlic – It has a broad range of well-documented healing properties including being anti-microbial against bacteria, fungi and worms. Because it contains aromatic sulfur-containing oils, many body systems including the respiratory system benefit. Be sure to get garlic containing its full complement of allicin (often removed from “odorless” garlic) as this does much of the healthful work. The odor can be absorbed with the use of herbs rich in chlorophyll.
  • Grape seed and white pine extracts – These are powerful antioxidants, up to 50 times more potent than vitamin E. They strengthen connective tissues including the blood vessels and capillaries needed to carry the “fighter” cells.
  • Golden Seal – The root of this herb is a rapidly effective, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, healing tonic. It may be particularly helpful after symptoms of the flu have set in. It is frequently used with damaged or infected tissues including the eyes, mouth and throat. One word of caution with golden seal, it should be used with caution by hypoglycemics because it is known to lower blood sugar levels.
  • Morinda – The roots, leaves and fruit are used in either capsule or liquid forms. Known as “Nono” in Tahiti and “Noni” in Hawaii, it has been called the “queen of sacred plants” throughout the Pacific basin. It benefits most of the body systems, particularly the immune system. It builds the immune system by increasing the white blood cell count to fight bacteria.
  • Anamu – Folk use suggests that, while this herb is not as well known in this country, people with compromised immune systems (chronic immune system deficiencies) may benefit from the immune-supporting properties of the anamu leaf.
  • Bifidophilus – These are actually friendly bacteria necessary for digestion and found in your intestine. I mention them here because pharmaceutical antibiotics, which we often use during the cold and flu season, kill indiscriminately both friendly and unfriendly bacteria. So, it is usually helpful to take some bifidophilus after completing a round of antibiotics.

Many of these herbs can be found in teas – a tasty way to build your immune system. And there are many combinations of these and other herbs specifically designed to support specific glands – e.g., the spleen or the thymus.

Aromatherapists have also shown us that there are a number of essential oils that may benefit us at this season, too. Oils such as camphor and eucalyptus open the sinuses and upper respiratory tracts to allow us to breathe better. Diffused tea tree and other oils can kill airborne viruses and bacteria in our homes and workplaces.

For the common cold, try one or more of the following. Put a few drops of thyme, tea tree, eucalyptus and lemon oils in your bath and breath deeply. Do a facial steam and add a drop of thyme, tea tree, lavender and clove oil. Keep a tissue with you that you can inhale from as often as necessary; moisten it with a drop of red thyme, peppermint, eucalyptus, and clove oils. Massage the chest, neck, forehead, nose and cheekbones with a drop of lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary oils diluted in a teaspoon of vegetable oil.

A dry cough may be relieved by adding a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil and a couple of drops of lemon oil to a couple of tablespoons of honey, mixing it with a small glass of warm water, and sipping it slowly.

Assist your body in putting up a good fight against those foreign invaders that would make you ill. Regardless of the current state of your immune system, you can help it to improve. The keys are good nutrition, plenty of rest and exercise, and adjustments of unhealthy lifestyles and habits. Herbs, teas, and oils can help. Enjoy good health and God’s richest blessings. Gen.1:29.

– Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch – Alternative Health Clinic and Market, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 736-1030, e-mail: pawpaw@thehealthpatch.com or visit thehealthpatch.com.

Herbs from Your Garden

herb garden, herbs

Herb Garden [photographer – ladymacbeth]

 

I was looking at a beautiful book this week that has pictures of formal herb gardens from around the world.  Many of them use classical designs and are carefully planned.  And I was reminded of my mom’s backyard garden.  It wasn’t formal by any stretch of the imagination, but it was useful and full of wonderful vegetables – and herbs.  You see, mom canned many of her vegetables and we ate them all year long.  The herbs were useful, and often essential, to the process.  Kitchen gardens, as they were called, were popular in much of American history, and had every sort of vegetable and herb which one might want for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

Possibilities

For many years now I too have had backyard herb gardens.  They have taken the form of a small plot surrounded by landscaping timbers, to an assortment of pots on the back porch or patio, to just using herbs as borders or focal points in my flower beds.  Most herbs are “cultivated weeds” and few of them need special attention.  We can grow a variety of tasty herbs in the Oklahoma Summers and enhance both our meals and our health.  Here are some plants which most of us regard as culinary herbs.  Yet many of them have wonderful health benefits in addition to their delectable flavors.

Basil

That staple of Italian cooking is easy to grow.  It is an annual which often re-seeds itself.  A single plant will grow to about two feet tall and provide most families with all the leaves they need.  What is left over at the end of the Summer can be dried and used all Winter too.  As a medicinal herb, its uses are usually associated with the stomach and its related organs; it helps stop stomach cramps, alleviate constipation, and stop vomiting.  It is also useful for drawing out poisons when applied to wasp and hornet stings or venomous bites.

Dill

Dill is a prolific producer.  It readily re-seeds itself so be careful to plant it where you won’t mind it coming back year after year.  While dill is necessary for making dill pickles, it is also very useful for stimulating your appetite.  Dill tea is a popular remedy for upset stomach, nursing mothers can use it to promote the flow of milk, and you can chew the seeds to get rid of bad breath.  An added bonus to dill in the flower beds is that it is one of the plants that butterfly larvae love to eat, so butterflies will be present to lay their eggs in a dill patch.  Use it to attract more butterflies to your garden.

Sage

Sage is a wonderful addition to sausages.  And many a mother has used a sage dressing for holiday feasts.  It’s a perennial bush that will grow to about three feet and should be pruned back like a rose bush every fall (otherwise it will get very woody).  It is well known for reducing perspiration making it useful for conditions which produce night sweats, and a nursing mother who has weaned her child can use it to help stop the flow of milk.  For occasional use, a tea made from sage has been prescribed for nervous conditions, trembling, depression and vertigo.  As a gargle, it is useful for sore throats, laryngitis, and tonsillitis.  And the crushed leaves can be used for insect bites.  Many a woman has used infusions of sage to color silver hair, and as a hair rinse to help return hair to its original color.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a popular perennial, but will not usually survive the Oklahoma Winters outdoors.  So plant it in a pot and bring it indoors for the winter.  You’ll enjoy the wonderful aroma it will impart to your kitchen.  Two of its most popular culinary dishes are leg of lamb and herbed potatoes.  Medicinally, rosemary has been in use for many years as a heart strengthener that helps reduce high blood pressure.  It is a blood cleanser and an antiseptic; it is useful for sores around the mouth, and it makes a wonderful mouthwash to freshen the mouth.  A tea made from rosemary has been effective as an eyewash to clean eyes that are sore due to allergic irritation.

Parsley

Parsley is another herb that the butterflies love.  It was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as both a flavoring and a garnish for foods.  While most of us see it as a token garnish on restaurant plates, it is really edible and its high chlorophyll content makes it a natural for breath sweeteners.  It is diuretic and is frequently used in formulas to build internal organs including kidney, thyroid, liver and prostate.  Rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, it is especially known as a digestive aid, improving digestion and reducing cramping and gas after meals.

We could list many more herbs that you can grow this Spring: thyme, garlic, onions, any of the mints, oregano, etc.  But you get the picture.  Why not pick up a few of your favorites at a local nursery and enjoy them fresh from your own yard.  You’ll add taste to your food, joy to your soul, and health to your body.

Enjoy good health and God’s richest blessings.  Gen.1:29.

– Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC 73130, phone/fax: 736-1030, e-mail: pawpaw@thehealthpatch.com

Herbs During Pregnancy

Pregnant outdoors

There are many herbs that may be used during every stage of pregnancy – from planning to post-delivery.  They can make the pregnancy and delivery easier and help to ensure a healthy baby as well.

If you are planning to become pregnant then ensure you are on a good prenatal vitamin with ample vitamin E, folic acid, calcium and magnesium, and trace minerals.  This will enhance your health and the health of your baby as well.  Incorporate a regular exercise regimen to your daily activities. And keep ginger on hand to address morning sickness and magnesium for anticipated constipation.

If you are having trouble becoming pregnant, consider supplements containing several of the “female” herbs, like red raspberry leaves, false unicorn, blessed thistle, squawvine, ginger and uva ursi.  These help prepare your body to conceive and start the pregnancy well.  You might also consider having the father take some damiana as it will help to increase his sperm count.

Tea pot and cupDuring the last five weeks of the pregnancy, there are herbs that will begin to condition your body for an easier delivery. They should only be used during this last five weeks! Common supplements for this use include more squawvine and red raspberry leaf together with black cohosh, butcher’s broom, and dong quai.  Users have reported to me that they had less painful and shorter duration contractions, easier delivery with less tearing, and deliveries that were less stressful.

There are several herbs that should not be used during pregnancy as they may complicate this special time. Among them are herbs we routinely use for deep constipation (cascara sagrada and senna), wormwood, juniper berries and the anti-parasitic artemisia. Aromatherapy should be used sparingly and very carefully if at all.

Childbirth should be a time of great joy for a new mother.  These herbs should also help make it easier and more pleasant.

–  Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 736-1030, e-mail: pawpaw@promoteyourhealth.com.

Detox Options

Many of the things we eat routinely can not only be “not good for us,” they can often be toxic.  Add these effects on our bodies to the others we encounter every day (smog, air pollution, industrial pollutants, household cleansers, food preservatives and dyes, chemical fumes, car exhaust, normal metabolism, poor elimination of food, waste products in the blood from illness or disease…), and we can see that we can really have our bodies bombarded with toxins.  The inevitable consequences are further disease or debility.  Cleansing (detoxification) should be a recurring part of our normal routine. I personally follow a routine that includes a monthly detoxification – perhaps an organ or a body system or a whole-body cleanse.

Periodic cleansing has been included in recorded history for millennia.  Traditional health practices of many nations – Chinese, Europeans, Ayurveda, Native American, and Asiatic Indians – practiced and still continue some form of detoxification.  In early American history, the Pennsylvania Dutch ate wild greens like lettuce and dandelions and other herbs in the spring to cleanse their bodies after a long winter of heavy foods.  Native Americans used black teas made from yaupon hollies to produce sweating and bowel evacuation.  One writer even suggests “nature herself seems to suggest the importance of detoxification … many of the plants that burst forth in early spring are cleansing in nature.”

There are many ways to cleanse.  The program you choose may last only a day or two or a week or two.  It may even take the form of a recurring dietary change.  Most of us know of foods that seem to “go right through us … a hint that they may be added to our personal cleansing program.  And some foods seem to work for most everyone – e.g., fresh cherries, available in early spring, have a definite cleansing effect on the bowels and help eliminate the uric acid buildup linked to heavy meat consumption and diseases like joint problems or gout.  Fasting often accompanies detoxification regimens as well, but we’ll make that the subject of a future article.

I personally enjoy using herbs and herbal combinations to cleanse.  The phytonutrients in many of the herbs encourage the body to detoxify naturally.  And as a rule, we should be sure to cleanse the eliminative organs (kidneys and liver) and the blood and lymphatic systems, as well as the intestinal system.

Combinations for the organs should include herbs such as milk thistle, burdock root, barberry root bark, and dandelion root.  Adding lecithin and amino acids to your diet are also helpful especially for the liver.  The blood and lymph glands also benefit from the dandelion and burdock, and combinations for them should include red clover, Oregon grape root, butcher’s broom, garlic, pau d’arco bark and yellow dock.  Cleansers for the intestine include natural laxatives like cascara sagrada and senna leaves, high-fiber “scrubbers” like psyllium hulls, and parasite killers like artemisia, black walnut hulls, and elecampane.

Regular cleansing and detoxifying (at least two to four times per year) along with good nutrition, exercise, and proper supplements will add quality to your life and ward off many of the diseases that rob us of real joy.  Our improved distribution systems make most foods available to us year-round, so we tend to forget the cycles of nature. Start your own cleaning program and see how much better you feel.

–  For more information, contact Naturopathic Doctor Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or e-mail pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit TheHeathPatch.com.

Music for the Soul

a7e7690db6b64bafb1214361fee05665This month’s theme is right up my alley!  I’m now a Naturopathic Doctor, but I “began my life” as a musician with an undergraduate degree in music! So now I blend “body and soul” with herbs for the body and music for the soul! I greatly enjoy the pairings. When I’m happy and energetic, I enjoy bee pollen, Co-enzyme Q-10, Gotu Kola, or Ginkgo Biloba for my body paired with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the Ode to Joy, 50s rock & roll or some upbeat hymns for my soul.

When I’m experiencing something like Neal Diamond’s Song Sung Blue, I pair any of a number of our suppliers Mood Elevator formulas or a bit of 5-HPT or St. John’s Wort for my body with Wagner’s Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral, any of a number of the Star Wars themes, or a more contemporary, uplifting Abba song for my soul.

A well-known cliché says “music calms the savage beast.”  So often anger brings me to essential oils like lavender or rose, a calming magnesium tonic, or a cup of chamomile tea for my body, or a soothing harp concerto or a rousing rendition of a song like Queen’s We Are the Champions to revitalize my soul.

Are you ever just so tired that you feel like you can’t make it through the day? Try an energy boosting dose of Guarana or a cup of green or black tea for its natural caffeine boost, or an energizing peppermint or citrus essential oil applied topically to the temples, or a foot-tapping march by John Phillip Sousa for your soul.

Trouble sleeping? Hormones like melatonin or an Herbal Sleep tonic may help the body, and we all know the soothing effects of a lullaby for the soul.

Needless to say, there is always an herb for the body and a song for the soul for every emotion you may be experiencing and for all of life’s feelings. Pair them for doubling their effects and enjoy every facet of your life. Enjoy good health and God’s richest blessings.

–  Randy Lee, ND, Owner, The Health Patch – Cultivating Naturopathic Care for Total Health, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City, OK 73130, phone/fax: 736-1030, e-mail: pawpaw@thehealthpatch.com.