Sorry to have missed blogging in the month of May & June. It has been unseasonably cold here in the northeast and getting cleaned up and prepared to plant for spring has been exceptionally difficult. Not to mention that many of you have had to deal with flooding.
My husband and I took our usual spring break to camp and hike in the Adirondacks of New York. It is a lovely, wild place that has it's challenges, like the black fly season. Despite their itching and swelling, black flies carry no diseases that complicate their existence; but the intentional application of herbal repellent reminds me that tick season will soon be upon us. That, is a bug of a different color.
Lyme disease has increased multi-dimensionally over the last few years. Lyme disease, itself, can be difficult to treat if attention is not taken immediately after being bitten. The problem is complicated by the fact that ticks can carry any of six other bacterial infections as well; and a tick bite can mean any combination of lyme and one or more of those co-infections.
Wisdom and care is important; but I absolutely refuse to be so fear driven that I will no longer walk the woods and fields of God's creation and ignore the abundance of food, medicine and spiritual awareness that comes with that activity.
We, at Healing Leaves Center, have now developed a Tick Kit that can be carried with you, along with your insect repellent, so that you can be prepared for the unexpected and not have to fear walking the woods. The "kit" contains the items for immediate treatment of a suspected tick bite, whether in the woods or at home after your walk. Whether you decide to purchase our tick kit or not, here are some specific ways to keep ticks off your body and out of your home.
Have a good insect repellent that you use whenever you go into fields and woods whether it is bug season or not. A good herbal, non-deet repellent, made with herbs and aromatherapy oils can work well and smell reasonably good. Re applications may be required as aromatherapy oils evaporate, but they are not toxic and re-applications are not dangerous. We use the herb Andrographis as a tick repellent and it can be added to whatever insect repellent you might purchase. Some insect repellents advertise that they are good for ticks also; but we know that Andrographis is the most repulsive to the ticks and can also be taken orally if an imbedded tick is found. We, therefore, always have a tincture of this herb in our "kit" at all times. Spraying your repellants on any areas of bare skin and even on clothes or hats and brims works well.
If you find an unembedded tick on yourself or those you are with, remove it and destroy it by burning or slicing with a knife or sharp instrument. In the event you cannot dispose of this way, put into a zip lock bag and destroy when you get home. DO NOT just toss them aside. Destroying them is one more way to keep them from proliferating. Care should be taken after every outdoor activity to find a "buddy" who can observe bare skin for you (in areas that you cannot see, like your back) to check for ticks. Best practice: After walking in the woods and fields, shake off your clothes outside and then throw them into the laundry. Ticks can hide in folds of clothing and end up on furniture and other household furnishings and surprise you later. You want to keep them out of your house.
If you find a tick embedded in your skin, DO NOT SQUEEZE IT. Remove it with a tick removal tool that has a notch cut into it. These can be purchased online or in pet stores. Spray the tick with repellent or soapy water and gently slide the notch under the tick so that the forked portion contacts the head area. Pry it out. Then dispose of it. Treat the area with an antibacterial. We like to use Kloss's Linament. This kills any bacteria or Lyme micro-organisms. In addition, a dropper full of Andrographis tincture orally is recommended. This has a very bitter taste and you may want to dilute it with water or chase it with something immediately afterward. These items are contained in our "kits".
If you develop redness, rash, swelling or fever within 24 hours to a week of removal, see your health care provider immediately. A bullseye rash does not always develop. Lyme disease is not usually contracted if the tick is removed within 24 hours (this would be the average time that it takes the tick to burrow deep enough to reach blood vessels) If there is any question that you might be infected, you should see your health care provider as soon as possible. Other symptoms would be flu like symptoms, lethargy, fatigue, joint pain. The sooner you receive care, the less risk of contracting long-term Lyme or any of the multiple bacterial affections associated with it. Often a prescription of Doxycycline is prescribed for 21 days as the antibiotic of choice.
There is incidence of people being bitten and the tick not being found. Again, the same protocol as above would be advised. If it lies dormant and appears a number of months later, you may have contracted lyme and need more intense treatment. Be sure to find a practitioner with experience treating lyme. It often has to be diagnosed by ruling out other autoimmune problems. The most common symptom of lyme is joint pain that comes and goes and occurs sometimes in one joint and other times in another one. For more information and protocol recommendations for treatment see www.buhnerhealinglyme.com Dr. Steve Buhner has treated hundreds of lyme patients as a naturopathic physician, has done extensive research on lyme disease, and written a number of books on the subject.
It's April. If you haven't thought about the organization and planning of your garden, it's time! If you have and spring is beginning to brighten your door, and better yet, your environment; you may want to take some daily walks and find out what's beginning to pop it's head up through the soil to bask in the sun. Not only is it good therapy for our winter weary bones that will bring a smile to our face and a spring to our step; there are wild plants to be discovered. These wild things, not only have minds of their own when it comes to where they will grow, but they have medicinal grace for you. The trick is to find out where they are growing so that when you need them, they won't be lost to you amongst the other growing things that might hide them.
Let me give you an example. Coltsfoot is one of the first flowers to come up in our northeastern climate even before dandelions. They are often mistaken for dandelions but they grow in gravelly places, along roadsides with no initial leaf growth, only a segmented stalk and a yellow flower similar to a dandelion but half it's size. A harbinger of spring, they let you know where to look for their very distinct leaves a month or two later when you are looking for them to make tea or tincture, as that is the part of the plant you need. Their low growing habit makes them obscure unless you remember where to look.
When you go back later you can look under spruce and roadside growth to find the unique shape of the coltsfoot leaves growing en mass underneath. These are what you will pick to make your medicinals good for colds and congestion and one of the ingredients for a good cough syrup.
Probably the most common spring plant is the dandelion. As often as people treat their lawns so that this "weed" doesn't grow, both the toxicity of the chemicals to our health as well as the loss of an extremely good and easy to pick medicinal is lost. A cleansing herb for liver and kidneys, the small early leaves can be sauteed with butter, ghee or coconut oil or even a few onions. The new small leaves can be eaten raw in salads. Root and leaf can be dried and used in liver tea formulas. If you don't treat your lawn, you will have an abundance of early bitter greens for your salads. But it doesn't stop there. You will also notice other lawn edibles such as violas, also called "Johnny Jump Ups". Their leaves and flowers are edibles and great to add nutrients as well as color to your spring salads. A little green called sorel, that looks like a shamrock, has a slight sour taste to add to salads.
Spring foraging can always be fun if you have a patch of wild onions (or ramps) on your property. They appear shortly after the snow melts and leaves can be used in salads or pesto as well as the underground bulb. Be sure to bring a sturdy digger as these guys are tenacious to pull up.
In a forested area are yellow trout lilies with spiked, mottled leaves. These too make a nice spring green and good for the kidneys. White flowers with pink striping show off the spring beauties this time of year. Very striking against the leafless trees of spring.
And if you like the slight taste of sorel in your salads, a cultivated form called French Sorel will adapt very well in perennial beds or vegetable gardens and will raise their heads year after year in the early spring.
There are others, but learn the ones that grow near you so that you can get to them for your dinner or step out onto your lawn to pick fresh greens for salad. It will be an adventure in learning.
In the midst of the Coffee revolution, there are those that are avid tea drinkers. I happen to be one of them. Perhaps it is because I became extremely acidic in my early coffee drinking days or because, as an herbalist, I began drinking tea formulations for health reasons. Either way I have had the opportunity to explore the many faces of tea and would like to put in a plug for those ancient pathways.
According to legend, in 2732 B.C. Emperor Shen Nung discovered tea when leaves from a wild tree blew into his pot of boiling water. He was immediately interested in the pleasant scent of the resulting brew, and drank some. It became popular there in the 16th century and was discovered by the English in the 17th century. When black and green teas were gaining popularity in England, sage was being imported in large amounts into China as their most popular tea. I have made beverage tea with my own herbs using sage as the base and it is a most unique flavor.
As far as caffeinated varieties or beverage teas go there are black, green and white in almost as many flavors and roasting varieties as you can imagine. Black teas have the greatest amount of caffeine and the strongest tannins. Green teas are lighter with moderate amounts of caffeine and a wide range of health benefits including anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, energizing and DNA protecting polyphenols. White teas are the lightest, least caffeinated and are good carriers for flavor and medicinal herbs.
Then there are the herbs! There are so many ways that you can get medicinal tonics by sipping the wide variety of medicinal herbs instead of taking vitamins, pharmaceuticals or supplements. "That is where herbs are strongest; their potency most revealed; their healing most profound; in the everyday using to them as food, as beverage tea, and as 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' type of medicine" Rosemary Gladstar.
There are flowers, roots, leaves in innumerable flavors, scents and combinations. For me, it is to start my day with a cup of personally formulated combination of dried leaves and flowers, with a light, sweet flavor that gives me a wide variety of minerals and micro-nutrients, balances my hormones and warms me up. With my devotional book and mug of tea, I am able to stabilize my thoughts as well as my cortisol levels and begin my day without hurry as I consider what is before me. As I look at the jars of dried herbs in my pantry, I have all the tools I need to create a blend and flavor that appeals to my differing senses on any given day. And when the garden is giving up her herbal splendor, I have the opportunity to go out and pick something fresh for a whole other variety of choices. One example is the common chamomile that we associate with evening and sleep. Picked fresh it has an amazing citrus flavor that can help you arise to any occasion.
Do you have a creative, beauty-loving side? Don't underestimate the power of tea!
As you expand your herbal pantry, keep these points in mind:
. Know the flavors & properties of each one
. Start with an idea of what flavor you are trying to obtain
. Combine for looks, blending of flavor and aroma
. Taste test and adjust
. Flowers for color, herbs for scent, texture, taste
. Remember to write down the recipe
. They make great gifts
Cup of tea anyone?
The days are getting longer and the temperatures are beginning to mellow into the 20s & 30s here in the mountains of Vermont. Sunshine is beginning to intensify and these clear blue sky days with bright sun reflecting on "corn" snow begin to give me spring fever. Though true spring is a couple more months away and we still have our share of "messy" weather, on indoor days I find myself curled up on the couch with my hot cocoa and seed catalogs, dreaming of green seedlings sprouting thought dark earth and new tree leaves uncurling.
I have over time realized that planning & preparation for new projects is a good way for me to get a handle on what it will take to get the job done and pace myself so I am not doing too many things in a last minute rush. I can take stock of seed stocks, what I need to purchase, what plant starts I will need and what new plant I may want to experiment with this year. There are soil amenities to consider, what worked last year and what didn't, what repairs I need to make to tools and fencing, and how I want to rotate the garden crops from last year for optimal growth.
There are so many ways to garden these days even for those of you with minimal space. Whether you are doing a porch garden in containers only or a full half acre, you have many choices. I encourage you to look for suppliers that are careful about developing new species and not messing with genetic modifications. For container gardeners, there have been some amazing "miniatures" that have been developed in the vegetable varieties that have high yields and are great for a one or two person household. Time and experience have caused me to include aromatic herbs mixed among my rows of ground crops to keep insect pests at bay. It works on the same principle as companion planting to neutralize fungus development and increase soil health without commercial fertilizers. Herbs like comfrey which can get invasive if you don't cut them back before flowers begin to disperse, can be added to compost piles to increase nitrogen. One plant can produce 3 cuttings and give you enough nitrogen for the whole summer. Aromatics like rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, lemon balm and even catnip can repel insects while adding herbal medicinals and culinary stock to your household.
Some seed companies to consider would be High Mowing Seeds, Johnny's, Fedco, Peaceful Valley and of course, Richters in Canada for herbs. Don’t forget to support your local seed saving groups as heirloom seeds are important to the continued ability for all of us to plant crops that are capable of reproducing themselves. Having to rely on the modified species that have to be purchased on a yearly basis because they cannot reproduce themselves, sets us up for control by outside sources of our own food supply.
The sky is the limit! It's easy to overdue purchasing new varieties, so planning, again, is key. Just make sure that whatever you do, do it well and your garden will support and sustain you from one summer season to the next.
JustHaving trouble with cold fingers and toes when you're out these cold winter days; or do you simply experience those moments when a chill from drafts in the house cause you to shiver and turn the thermostat up a degree? Do you know that there are some spices that you can add to your food that will help your body maintain it's core temperature?
All the incredible and tasty Eastern spices like cinnamon, cloves, tumeric, ginger, fennugreek and others actually increase body temperature naturally and are great to have around the house any time, but especially during cold winter months.
Many of these spices are able to expand capillaries (small blood vessels) in the body to allow oxygen and thus energy, producing heat. These "warmer" spices can be taken in tea, capsule or tincture form or just added to meals for seasonings. Just remember to buy fresh, good quality spices. They also have great immune building properties of their own and are just another example of how your food can be your sustaining medicine. I encourage you to taste and explore the many flavors and uses of these wonderful spices. Many recipes can be found online.
I love to do things like sprinkle my morning yogurt with cloves or cinnamon or even my morning coffee. There is a drink that can be made with tumeric and ginger called golden milk that is simple delightful and non-caffeinated. Try adding a sprinkle of cayenne to your favorite dark hot chocolate.
When we go skiing here in Vermont on cold days, we have some tricks to keep us going. Drinking a shot of an eighth of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a small glass of water a few minutes before you go out will establish a nice warming sensation as it opens up the capillaries in your extremities. As your body is active, the warmth circulates through your blood stream and increases your body's warming capacity. Try it some day before you go out for a walk in the snow. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
New Year's greetings!! There are exciting times ahead of us and plenty of opportunities to use our creative juices to help folks get well and stay well. As teachers and students at Healing Leaves Center come together to brainstorm in the next few weeks, there will be more ideas and projects that we can choose from than we will be able to accomplish. At the same time in the synergy of working together, we will be able to come up with the best we have to offer. As the Director, that is exciting for me. As part of our online community, I want to remind you that you are part of who we are and what we become. So feel free to offer any observations or ideas for consideration in this next year. Just because we haven't done it yet, doesn't mean it's beyond the realm of our accomplishing it.
A few things that I can say will continue to take place are the Intermittent Fasting and Fat Burning Protocol coaching; mini video series on "The New Millennial Diet" and other herbally centered topics both in video format and hands on in person. We will have more topics and information in the next month's blog as we meet together.
Meantime, the plant and seed catalogs are already coming in. Here in Vermont it's in the single digits and very snowy. This is a good time to plan ahead for garden space, tools, supplies, layout, soil, and most importantly, the seeds or plants you want to establish. Vegetables gardens are always fun and the old Victory Garden of WWII fame may just be an important part of your yard, whether formal veggie space or small raised beds. As the threat to our food sources becomes more questionable and expensive; it may be more beneficial to grow, preserve and provide the freshest, nutritionally viable foods right in your back yard. Grow and preserve the things you use the most throughout the year and you won't have to wonder where you might find them come the next winter season.
Growing culinary and medicinal herbs in your backyard can be just as satisfying and secure. There are many that are easy to grow in good average soil and can provide your "go to" in emergencies. Plants like Echinacea (purple cone flower), lemon balm, oregano, sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, valerian, scullcap, nettle, comfrey, peppermint, raspberry, horseradish can be used in small spaces, integrated into perennial beds, as well as your garden plot. The first goal, if you're just starting out is finding the ones that address some of your family's general health issues and start growing those. You will be relieved to have them on hand when a health issue comes up and not have to run to the local pharmacy or health food store. It's fun, it's easy and it saves time and money. We at Healing Leaves Center are all about teaching lay people to help themselves. If there are specific herbs you are interested in learning about, whether growing or preparation, we are interested in hearing from you so that we can provide the information you need to become self sufficient.
So here's a hearty cheers to the New Year and all that can be accomplished together!
Here at Healing Leaves Center we are taking December off from all our busyness to spend time with family and friends. It is always a time for reflection; yet also a time for resting from our labor and intentionally making time with those we love to put arms and legs to our words and demonstrate how much each one means to us. It's not just a matter of gift giving, sometimes the greatest gift we can give is the gift of time together. That is the essence of relationships and God's words to "love our neighbors as ourselves".
It is our prayer for you this Christmas season that wherever you may find yourselves may the peace of Christ and the love of God bless your hearts and souls; and may the brightness of His light heal and make you whole.
As the countdown begins to Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends, we are reminded of the scripture that says "In all things give thanks". No matter what time of year it is, we need to incorporate some kind of self reminder to remember the things we have to be thankful for. Even in the midst of hard and challenging times, it is part of a lifestyle of staying spiritually and physically healthy.
Stress is one of the most prevalent daily challenges in this millennium. It is so prevalent that most of us don't even realize some of the things that are the sources of our stress. Our bodies even have the ability to incorporate it so that, like an addict, we can't stop the cycle. Pausing to be thankful, gives us an opportunity to prioritize what is worth working towards and what needs to fall by the wayside. As you enter the time of celebrating the holidays, take the time to reflect on what is truly valuable during this time of year, and what is simply over expectation and advertising hype. Joy is so much more valuable to our health than stress.
Help with stress:
We have discussed food, supplements and herbs to help us through the winter season. There are some other categories that we would do well to be mindful of any time of year; and especially during the winter months when disease can be more challenging. We don't need another layer of "stuff" for our bodies to deal with.
There are things that cause us to be out of our natural rhythm. Lack of sleep is another millennial problem we are all faced with. As we demand more of ourselves than we should and it takes more of our time to do everything we feel necessary to do, it takes away from the window of sleep time. Even the stress of a mind overrun with problems and ideas that can interfere with our falling asleep, shortens our time to get deep, rejuvenating sleep. This is a part of our human biorhythm that is key to body function and health. For some this problem of sleep is getting to sleep, for others it is staying asleep. Some of us even try the evening "toddy" in the form of a glass of wine or alcohol, thinking that it will cause us to become drowsy. They are unaware of the boomerang effect a few hours later that causes us to wake up and not be able to get back to sleep. The effects of the sugar have taken hold and sleep is now interrupted.
Actually the old wives tale of having a glass of milk before bed is a good one, as the calcium in milk helps to activate the evening biorhythm for sleep. While drinking warm milk may not be appealing to you, a good source of natural, absorbable calcium could be a key to your success. It is better obtained in food form rather than supplement for successful absorption. One of the herbs that has the highest calcium percentage of the plant kingdom is valerian and is one of the reasons we believe that it is a great sedative herb. Many herbal formulas can be found containing valerian for sleep, and it helps to cut it's bad taste. Magnesium, potassium and Vitamin D are supplements that help with the absorption of calcium. Those nutrients are best taken/eaten in the evening to augment your calcium and sleep cycle. Time release magnesium can often be the missing factor in getting to sleep, and just adding that to your evening regimen can do the trick. Herbs like ashwaganda, hops, and california poppy are the ingredients that can help you stay asleep. Look for them in your health food stores when looking at sleep aids. Other things like not using cell phones, computers and ipads before bed because of the blue light they emit mimicking daytime light can help your body relax. And beware the coffee clutch. Unless you are drinking organic coffee, you are not only adding layer upon layer of stimulant to your body that can carry across the day; but you are adding toxic elements that occur in the roasting and brewing of that coffee. Not all coffees are created equal so buyer beware.
Best foods with calcium (in order of strength): valerian, Pau d'arco, kelp, cabbage, nettle, thyme
Best foods with magnesium (in order of strength): Irish moss, oatstraw, tumeric, kelp, nettle, peppermint, chickweed, pumpkin seed, astragalus
Herbs to fall asleep: valerian, scullcap, hops, california poppy
Herbs to stay asleep: hops, passion flower, ashwaganda
Ashwaganda is an herb that helps with both stress and sleep cycles. If you are the type of person who has depleted energy, yet is jittery and hyper during the daytime and then can't fall asleep, you may be a candidate for using ashwaganda. If taken daily over a month or two, it helps to re-establish normal sleep cycles.
Taking pills and supplements can be helpful, but don’t underestimate how diligently working toward changing a lifestyle can help improve your health. You don't have to wait until the New Year to resolve to get better at this. Give yourself a gift this holiday season, take the time and make the effort to strengthen your immune system. As you get older, your body will reward you with long and vitality filled life.
In the first segment we talked about eating habits and how that can effect our immune system. One of the first things we can do when we begin to feel some kind of cold, flu or disease coming on is fall back to clean eating.
Now let's look at supplements. There is no greater way to build your immune system than by knowing your own physical "weak" spots and adding supplements that are "tonic" in nature to building up and supporting those weak organ systems.
Physical "weak" spots are those organ systems that are specific to you and your family members that have had chronic or debilitating problems over time. Every person is unique and each one has a characteristic weak area that demonstrates symptoms whenever your body becomes tired and fatigued. When we are self aware about these symptoms, we can go on the offensive for our own health by dropping back to great eating and reaching for those supplements that we have on hand that help rebuild and head disease off at the pass. Even better, if you are aware of your weak spots, you can include tonic herbs to your daily supplement intake that will strengthen those organ systems so that sickness can't get in to begin with.
What is a tonic herb? Certain herbs have an affinity for specific parts of the body. If I exercise one are with a weight every day and not the other, over a few weeks time the arm being exercised will be stronger than the one that wasn't. These herbs are gentle over a long period of use and safe to use that way.
As an example: my weak spot is my sinus and respiratory system. Whenever I feel my sinus begin to develop post nasal drip, dryness and congestion, I lay off any sort of sugary foods or additives, foods that cause extra phlegm production and processed carbs. I reach for excellent protein foods, non-hydrogenated fats and short chain fatty acids, varieties of vegetables and low glycemic fruit (mostly berries). I then begin a methodical increase of high intake vitamin C with bioflavinoids (2500 mg per day divided up into 3 applications), digestive enzymes with each meal, live bacterial probiotic capsule formula with upwards of 8 to 10 strains of bacteria including a bifidus and a dophilus culture, Echinacea as a blood cleaner to keep the virus or bacteria from traveling throughout the body and N-acetyl- cysteine (an enzyme that specifically aids the liver in filtering toxins out of the blood). BUT, the tonic herbs I use daily all year round include, Vitamin C, a mineral supplement, N-acetyl cysteine, ashwaganda, B12, Vitamin D, and tumeric.
This is only one example of being ready for a viral onslaught. Some folks have problems with their lungs, whether it be bronchitis or asthma and some of you may even have issues with COPD or other existing problems that make your life miserable when cold and flu season comes around. In those cases, put the soldiers on guard early. When cold season starts in September as kids go back to school, start taking higher doses of Vitamin C, take N-acetyl-cysteine as a daily supplement, start taking echinacea tincture 2 weeks on and 1 week off.
But even before the winter season hits, visit your friendly herbal nutritionist, alternative health provider, or naturopath. My biggest warning would be DON'T just go on the web and try to pick the supplements that tout themselves as the best or the cheapest. There is a lot of information on the web - some of it is good, but some of it is advertising that doesn't meet the mark. Make sure you know the reputation of the companies you are looking at, otherwise ask the practitioners that know. Many people have been misguided by tainted or low viability supplement companies that cause them to lose confidence in the ability to get well with supplements. An ounce of caution is worth a pound of cure.
The following are a number of supplements and a quick synopsis of how they can be used to build up your immune system by taking them daily over time as a tonic. This is only a small segment of possibility, but my hope is that it will cause you to start to examine your own health, ask some questions and begin to learn those supplements that will be your soldiers of health for the long haul.
Hawthorne - blood pressure regulator for high or low BP and strengthener of heart and circulatory system
Bitters - Strengthens the liver and digestive processes
Elderberry Syrup - High in Vit C and antiviral especially for colds & flue
Olive Leaf Extract - great for sinus infections, colds, bronchitis
Probiotics - Keeps gut flora balanced and wars against infective bacteria. Use refrigerated brands.
Meadowsweet - a naturally buffered aspirin that heals digestive lining and is antiviral
Apple Cider Vinegar - as daily tonic or included in fire cider for extra punch
Onions & Garlic - cook with them, sulfur content fights colds and virus
Four Thieves Formula - aromatherapy used externally and inhaled to prevent sickness
Mullein - oil for ear infections and tincture as mild expectorant to eliminate mucus from lungs
Astragalus - builds deep immune system and infections & sickness that won't heal
Turkey Tail, Reishi, Chaga, Shitake or other mushroom formulas - improve body's response to sickness
Tumeric - another herb that improves body's response to disease
For more information on specific herbs for specific problems contact Cathy at the Potting Shed. You may want to consider doing a personal consult. We can design a personal protocol for your unique "weak" spots or life challenges.
Note: If you are dealing with a debilitating disease for which you are taking prescription drugs, be sure to consult with your care provider before using other supplements. Some supplements can supply deficiencies caused by specific pharmaceuticals, but some can interact with your medications. Be sure to discuss this with someone knowledgeable before you begin.
It's fall and winter is approaching. This is the time of year that everyone thinks about fighting colds and flues as the kids have gone back to school and begin to come home with all manner of shared illness. This is the time many of us think about what we can stock up on ahead of time to be prepared. The next few Blog posts will be a preparedness series.
Part of being prepared is not just what to stock up on, but also how to begin NOW to build up our immune systems. Many people suffer needlessly because their immune systems are low. Our immune systems were created to overtake germs and viruses that enter our bodies and destroy them BEFORE they make us sick. If they don't work well, the best cold and virus fighting aids won't keep us from getting sick. So building a good immune system is a key to good health whatever the time of year. These next series of blogs will offer you good building materials to do just that. AND, don't forget that you can always ask questions by commenting to this post.
"Those who believe they have no time for health will sooner or later have to make time for illness" Edward Stanley, The Conduct of Life
All the organ systems of our bodies are meant to work synchronously. When any one of them gets out of sorts, it affects all the rest. Your respiratory system along with your digestive tract are the two organ systems that have direct contact with the outside world; meaning they are our first line of defense against the germs and viruses that can attack our systems. How do they become weak? Anything that irritates and inflames our digestive tracts causes a breakdown in the lining at any point along the way. That means that eating excellent, anti-inflammatory foods is going to help us maintain that stomach and gut lining. It also means that the nutrients from that food that feed, sustain and strengthen the rest of the internal organ systems will be absorbed well and used efficiently; and that is right down to the cellular level. It also means that all the nutrients that the respiratory needs to be sustained and strengthened are going to work efficiently also. You see you really are what you eat!! If your body is not fighting so hard just to digest food, it will have more energy to fend off the attackers when they come along and have a lot more soldiers to do so.
So the first order of business is what breaks down that system and how do we avoid it? This will be our first topic of discussion in this series. We will start with food and then progress to supplements, herbs and other considerations in our next few blog posts.
The Cellular Healing Diet Pyramid below will be your guide.
. Highly glutenous grains - wheat, barley, corn, soy, oats - there has been a lot written about gluten forming foods so I won't belabor the point; but consider these things. Non organic grains in these categories are highly treated with pesticides and especially with glyphosate a key ingredient in products like Roundup used in growing and drying before harvesting. Many of the digestive difficulties attributed to gluten sensitivity are a result of the use of these herbicides that actually tear apart the lining of the digestive tract when we eat them. Steer your purchases towards alkaline grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth. Use smaller portions of the more glutenous grains or as limited additions to other dishes perhaps once a week. Buy only non-GMO brands that have the non-GMO seal on the packaging, which means no genetic modification has taken place. Gluten irritations cause an increase in phlegm and mucous that inhibit absorption and in turn can cause similar congestion in other organs like liver, bowels and lungs.
. Processed foods - This one can be confusing. If you think that processed foods are only the ones that come in preboxed or packaged dinners; think about this: grains that have been ground, like flours, are all limited in the amount of nutrients now available because the whole part of the grain is missing. That includes even good grains like lentils and rice made into pastas and noodles. The more processing the less value to your system. Purchase foods in their whole forms as much as possible and use good grains in their processed forms on a limited basis.
. Toxic fats and oils - We know a lot more today than we did even 2 or 3 years ago as the science of food continues to give us a clearer picture of what healthy food is. We have for years believed that vegetable oils were good for us. This is not the case as in their processing they are hydrogenated in order to maintain shelf life which renders them "toxic" in that they begin an artery clogging process. Pure fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and foods like nuts, olives, coconut cream, milk and aminos, whole fat grass fed dairy, butter, ghee, cheese (if you're not allergic) are some examples of the great fats that actually stimulate better metabolism and actually help stabilize insulin and clear arteries.
. Alkalinity is key as your digestive tract needs alkaline foods in order to be absorbed efficiently along your digestive process. This is all about the pH of the food, not its natural form. For example citrus fruit has an acidic form but it's pH is alkaline and thus is good food for us. Foods like sugar, coffee and alcohol are extremely acidic and interfere with your body's ability to absorb nutrients and actually contribute to malnutrition. Good, fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, organically grown and ripened on the vine are your alkaline allies. Buying them as locally as possible will ensure that the ripening process has occurred naturally and not synthetically by spraying as they travel to your destination.
. Cancer is a name that causes fear in many peoples' hearts. Extreme amounts of sugar feed cancer cells and help them to grow. Sugar also depletes our immune system and weakens it so that we are more susceptible to bacteria and germs. Holiday times can be especially fraught with folks coming down with all manner of sickness because of the overabundance of sugar choices during festive meals. Develop your dessert menus with low or no sugar substitutes and make a conscious effort to limit your sugar intake.
. Too much meat based protein. Although good grass fed meats are good for us; a large portion of meat at every meal is not advisable because it will tend to make us too acidic and upset the alkaline balance needed for good absorption. Remember that protein does not just equal meat, but many other foods have good protein like a variety of vegetables, eggs, nuts, dairy. Too much meat can also put undue stress on your kidneys. Make sure you take good advantage of a variety of vegetables daily in multiple colors as each color has unique nutrients that your body can use to build your bulletproof immune system.
. What a dinner plate looks like - a typical plate for dinner might look like 2 tablespoons or more of good fat, a palm sized portion of protein, a similar sized portion of good carbohydrates and twice that amount of vegetables.
That's enough food information to get you started. Watch for the next blog segment as we continue to look at other circumstances that affect our ability to improve and build a healthy immune system.