When you are thinking about putting your household first aid needs together; here are some things to think about. What ailments or health circumstances are most common to your family members? For instance do you have an allergy sufferer, one prone to poison ivy, little ones prone to cuts, bruises and scrapes, sinus infections, an athlete or back sufferer………? Your first order of business is to get the items that cover these common problems in your first aid closet so that they are at hand when you need them. After that you can accumulate other things to have on hand for other problems that might arise. In other newsletters we have discussed tinctures and supplements that would be good first aid items. Today, we will talk about salves; how to make them and what to put in them.
A salve is an herb based oil mixed with a semi solid that makes it spreadable but not greasy. It should be easily absorbable, which allows the medicine to enter the body through the skin. In some cases you may want to make a salve that is more like lotion because you need the smoother application for a sensitive area or problem. What circumstances might warrant the use of a topical salve or lotion instead of an oral application? - If someone is unconscious, if it's a child or person who refuses to take something by mouth, if it's an open wound, if the person is so sick they cannot communicate or keep anything down…….
There are a couple of ways to infuse oils. 1. One is to put dried herbs directly into olive, avocado, jojoba or similar good oil (enough oil to just cover the dried material) and allow it to infuse for 2 weeks in a sunny window; straining out the bulk herbs, so that it is ready to use when you need it. Then transfer the oil to a glass container and place in a dark closet. Things to watch out for are any dampness or water in a not totally dried herb material, may lead to rancidity and molding of the oil. This would cause it to not be useable. The other is if you keep the oil over 6 months, you run into a problem with rancidity also. 2. Another way to infuse oil is with the use of low heat such as a crock pot or stainless pot in oven with pilot light. It's especially good when you want to do a salve with a formula of multiple herbs. You never want to heat the oil too hot as it will take away from the viability of the medicinal. I have a mini crock that holds about 4 cups or so of material that works well. Let the oil and herb heat together for 48 hours and then you can add your hardener.
It is possible to use the oil that you have made directly on the area needed, although it will tend to be greasy and get into clothing unless you cover it loosely with a nonstick or cloth bandage. To make your salve, the general proportion of oil to hardener is 2 oz beeswax or shea butter to 1 cup of oil. I like to mix my beeswax and shea butter together for a smoother spreadability. You will need to heat the oil and melt the beeswax/shea butter together into one liquid. (I use a clean plastic yogurt container in a double boiler or pot with water in it so that the container with the oil just begins to float off the bottom of the pan) If you want some scent or added medicinal property of an aromatherapy oil, this would be the time to add it, just before you take it off the heat. To check and make sure the hardness of your resulting salve is not too runny or too hard, take a wooden stick or toothpick dipped into the oil and place a few drops on a piece of wax paper. Give it a few minutes to cool and harden (it will change color to a lighter waxy hue). Place a finger on the drops of hardened oil and the heat from your body should melt it. Try spreading on back of your hand. If it is too hard, add a little more oil, if too soft add a little more wax/shea until it is the consistency you would like. From here you can pour it into salve jars or pour it into a pint canning jar and scoop out what you need when you need it, into a smaller container. Again, place in dark place.
Make sure you label, label, label with date and ingredients!
Should you need something more moisturizing and soothing in a sensitive area, a medicinal lotion might be more appropriate. This is a process of blending an oil with a water or aloe combination. This is another process which we can address in another blog but is something to keep in mind as you evaluate your medicinal needs.
So what kinds of salves would we want for first aid purposes or handy family basics? A combination of Arnica and St. Johns Wort would be a good salve to have for sore muscles and strains with the nerve soothing characteristics of St. Johns Wort and the oxygen inducing, pain reducing characteristics of Arnica. Runners particularly like the effects of Arnica after a training session. Either one can be made into an individual salve. We have a combination of Comfrey, St. Johns Wort and Calendula for a soothing, healing salve for all kinds of cuts, scrapes, minor burns and other miscellaneous bumps and bruises of life. This is a good all around household salve. St. Johns Wort oil is a better solution for hemorrhoids than preparation H for reducing swelling and is excellent for reducing the excruciating pain of shingles until they resolve.
The following is a list of other herbal salve combinations and what they can be used for.
Lung Congestion - comfrey, elecompagne, mullein
Headache - lavender or wintergreen
Premenstrual Tension in abdomen - Crampbark, Motherwort
Neck tension related to stress - Black Cohash, Motherwort
Broken bones - Comfrey
Cooling - peppermint, chickweed
Bug bites - plantain
Swollen & inflamed Breasts during nursing - Marshmallow
Vericose Veins - Witchhazel, comfrey
Drawing out infection, imbedded material - Plantain
Infection - goldenseal, usnea, echinacea
Remember, any herb can be used in salve form and the skin is an excellent organ system to receive good medicine without taking pills. The trick is to have these made ahead of time for when they are needed. Let your needs be your guide.
The gardens are beginning to look lush and green with all the rain we have had this summer. And that means that the produce is beginning to come all at once. It's hard to keep up with everything and make sure we're picking to get the prime of ripeness. Ripeness is really important in order to get the best nutrients from your foods; and that's why growing your own is so much better than commercial; which are placed on a transport, half ripe, and ripened on their way to your grocery. The nutritional value is not as good even though the produce may look wonderful. So when it comes to putting up our food stocks for winter, it's just as important to pick it ripe and choose the right form of preserving.
There are a few choices: freezing, canning, pickling, fermenting, drying. They all have their pros and cons as to which one is better depending on your resources, time and amount and type of fresh produce you have. Canning definitely has more long-term ability to last 3 or 4 years if done properly; but it takes time, heat, processing and the right equipment. Stored in a cool, dry, dark location like basement or cupboard and then rotated from year to year as new canned goods are added; will give you a plentiful larder in the middle of winter, as you take advantage the things that grow better from one year to the next. On the downside, some vegetables are just not as tasty or nutritional when canned; as heat takes viability away and boiling to process tight seals makes a lot of vegetables' texture soft, taking out some flavor. Canning fruit, on the other hand, usually in some type of syrup (I prefer with as little sweetener as possible) for firmer fruit to eat on its own in a dish plain or with yogurt or ice cream.
Some of us do not have a lot of time to use the canning process. I prefer freezing my fresh vegetables. I can pick them, blanch them and fill my freezer bags within an hour of harvesting. One trick I have discovered is that if I have small batches of veggies at a time, I can keep a partially filled gallon bag in my kitchen freezer and add to it after being sure to drain all the water well before adding to the bag. Then I transfer the bag to the big freezer in my basement until I'm ready to use them. When I'm ready to open a bag, I can do the same in reverse, taking the amount I need out of the larger bag, resealing and putting back in the freezer. We still get great nutritional value and great flavor like fresh picked. I do the same with fruit which works well, but freezing does break down the firmness of fruit in a number of cases and it doesn't work as well to eat fresh but rather to use in pies, crisps, and jams. Some folks like to freeze herbs which works to maintain freshness and viability. It does however, leave the more fragile leaf material rather limp and is better for cooking purposes. Anything you want to use for teas, medicinals or flavorings in any number of applications will do better as dried material.
Drying is fairly straight forward. There are any number of ways to dry things. If you have a gas stove with a pilot light, the heat generated by the pilot is often enough to dry leaf material and some thinner sliced, more fleshy vegetables and fruit like raspberries. You can purchase for reasonable prices, small food dryers with a simple electric coil on the bottom that gives off good, consistent heat but is not adjustable. They usually come with multiple trays which will be warmer for the bottom tray than for the top. These I leave on my kitchen counter where I spend most of my time, and can keep my eye on them and rotate the trays for even drying. Still the best drying medium for fruits and vegetables in a dryer with a thermostat that controls the heat. In this way, I can make fruit leathers and quickly dry vegetables in a short time so that they have thoroughly dried all the way through. If not, they will mold eventually because of moisture content. They can be stored in cupboard in zip log bags or dry glass jars.
Fermentation is another ageless way of preserving fresh, viable food during winter months. The good bacteria in fresh vegetables in a salt brine, will create a fermenting process of a pickling nature, that will self-preserve for many months. Called lacto-fermention (from the lactic acid produced) it requires no refrigeration or costly heat and equipment. Our forefathers used this method to store in their root cellars and have a good food source over long winter months without other food sources. Lactobaccillus, a good bacteria, is present on most everything plant and we just need to control it and put it to use; similar to using yeast. This good bacteria produces good enzymes and digestive aids for our health as well that promotes heathy flora within the vegetables being fermented and us as humans when we eat them. Sauerkraut is a well known fermented vegetable, but most every country in the world has their own fermented specialties: cucumbers, beets, & turnips in America, green tomatoes, peppers and lettuces in Russia, and a combination of vegetables called kimchi in Korea. These are usually eaten as condiments in small amounts and add to our body's ability to digest well the foods that do not have their own enzymes due to perservation. There are many recipes too numerous to list, but google is our friend and you can find much information there as well as cookbooks, like Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, listed in the Book Resource section below. Our own Patty Myers has done a few classes on making kimchi which we may see later this summer.
Then there is pickling which is done in a vinegar solution. Vinegar is another type of fermented brine by which we can make pickles, relishes, chutneys and many other brine based condiments and side dishes. There are numerous vinegars like apple cider, balsamic, plum; and these dishes usually have other flavors, herbs and combinations of fruits and vegetables in the mix depending on your family recipes and cultural background. These all have long shelf life and good bacteria support for a healthy immune system. These recipes too, are passed down in families and can be found on websites and standard cookbooks.
Jellies and jams are a commonly known source and many fairgoers find the sources from their local community members as vast and unique as their persons. It's really easy to make them, and again, you can find straight forward recipes and videos on youtube. Or get together with your friends and try a new recipe or trade them around. Much healthier than sugary cookies.
For storage containers, we suggest glass or zip lock bags. Plastic leaves particulates in your food and is detrimental to your health. Just be sure glass is clean and then completely dry or you will develop mold and your food will not be consumable. If you have lots of root vegetables you want to store fresh, another method is to get good quality sand and a plastic trash can or similar food grade plastic containers. Put down a layer of sand, then layer the roots so they are not touching each other and then cover with 2 to 3 inches of sand, then form another layer, and so on until your trash container is full. You may want to establish the container in it's permanent location first, as it will be hard to move once it's full. These containers can be stored in a basement or cold cellar to be opened later in the winter months.
The season is early and you will have time to research and find the recipes and methods that will work for you. So plan ahead and don't wait till the produce is coming fast and furious. Most of all, have fun, creating and reaping the benefits of God's blessings!
As we discover more and more food and nutrition science, we discover that the medical "mantras" we are indoctrinated with may not be correct. For instance did you know that fat doesn't make you fat? Actually those heavy complex carbohydrates, made from processed foods, and often used as 'fillers' for our recipes, are the ones that make us fat. So we need to develop new 'mantras' to override our memory banks and keep us on the right path. New 'mantra' Good Fats Don't Make You Fat!
So first question is, what are good fats? Here again, we have been fooled by the commercial food industry into thinking that 'vegetable' oils are good cooking oils. This is far from true! Actually the classification of vegetable oils originated with corn oil and has added to its numbers soy, rapeseed (which is soy), palm, canola (which is soy); and then to add injury to insult they infuse them with oxygen molecules in order to make them last a long time on the grocery shelf. They were originally dubbed the label "hydrogenated" oils which we were told to stay away from, but have since removed that label. Oxygen infused oils carry large free radicals released into our bodies, which are very inflammatory and lead to disease. Most commercial foods use these oils in their products, like chips, cookies, pastries and other baked goods; so that they become hidden but deadly ingredients for our long-term health. Combine bad fats with sugar as in pastries, and you have a recipe for cholesterol, heart disease, and an accumulation of adipose tissue around your middle. Buyer beware, even olive oils (which are generally good oils) can be infused with oxygen for longer shelf life, so know your good brands and sources. With this in mind, other sources of bad fats are: commercial mayo, processed foods like hot dogs & the rolls, packaged snack foods, fast foods, commercial condiments & salad dressings, desserts, candy and nutrition bars. Any items that would be made with oils in the preparation process.
Now, what ARE the good fats? Good fats are cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, cold pressed flaxseed oil, walnut oil, MCT oil. Other good fat foods are olives, avocados, nut butters like almond, cashew, macadamia, grass fed butter, ghee, coconut butter and yogurt, almonds and the other nuts (except for peanuts because of the fungus they are prone to in the growing process) and grass fed dairy for those who do not have lactose intolerance, like yogurts and cheeses. When it comes to cooking, use coconut or avocado oils as their able to withstand high heating temperatures. The rest of the oils can be used for baking or raw applications like condiments and dressings. If you have an issue with diabetes, cholesterol, heart problems and obesity to name a few, you want to be very aware of where you are getting bad fats in your foods. Changing this one eating habit can help improve or at lease stabilize your test scores in those instances. If you don't have any of those issues, changing this one eating habit can go a long way in keeping you healthy and give you longevity.
Now that we have that educational piece in front of us, let's talk about sugar cravings and how fats play a role in their demise. In the blog archives for March 2018 we discussed how fat and sugar are the body's fuel sources and that the way we eat tends to lead us toward burning sugar (or glucose) for fuel. Overindulgence in these areas are a direct factor in our aging immune decline. With the introduction of Ketogenic Diet practices from the science based discovery that we have a cleaner alternative in steering our bodies to eat good fats, we now know that we have an alternative. I am more considerate of a modified keto diet which includes good anti-inflammatory carbohydrates, a topic for another day. By eliminating the carbohydrates at breakfast, and including vegetables with your protein and good fat choices, you trigger your body to burn fat instead of glucose. Over time, this helps to eliminate those cravings for the bad fat snacks and fast foods. Though this can take some time to evolve, there are ways to reduce those cravings while you're making the switch.
Enter - Fat Bombs!
When you are trying to transition your eating habits from carb based to more protein based, good fats are your allies. When your body is signaling you with cravings that it wants more sugar, which translates into energy; feed it a small amount of good fat instead. It will curb the craving and give you a shot of energy that will last much longer and be more sustained than the sugar spike and sudden drop of a typical sugar buzz. There are many recipes out there for 'fat bombs' - little snacks of good fat and protein-based finger food that you can pop into your mouth and enjoy while you're gaining energy. We did a fun experiment one night at herbal school when we had a demonstration party for non-preservative body care products. Everyone's assignment was to bring a plate of their favorite fat bombs so we could all try them. Instead of the late night slow down, we were all so wired from the energy that we chattered on late into the evening and had no problem finding help cleaning up. It's truly that noticeable.
Fat bombs can be as simple as a teaspoonful of coconut oil or as complex as homemade nut butter cups; and no, they did not have any sugar in them. A square of two of 70% or more cacao can be as good as a dairy based recipe that tastes just like ice cream but isn't. (see recipe section below). You can make chocolate mousse with good chocolate and an avocado. Sound crazy? Try this:
Using avocado instead of egg or cream provides the same creaminess with the added benefit of good fats, folate and carotenoids. Skeptical combining non-traditional foods together? You would be amazed at how there is absolutely NO avocado flavor, just great chocolate. There is a new world of cooking and food combining that keto cooking has opened up to us, so explore the web for great recipes!
Chocolate Mousse Recipe
2 large ripe avocados
1/2 cup cocoa or cacao powder unsweetened
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup powdered sweetener (monk fruit, stevia, others)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1.) Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
2.) Blend until you have a really smooth mousse.
It's that easy!
AND it's that easy to start eating healthier, feeling better and still being able to enjoy your food. Remember Fat Doesn't Make You Fat!
So spring has sprung and summer is upon us. In the Northeast, spring arrived with a week of 80 degree weather where we normally would have 50s & 60s. As the trees and flowers were budded in anticipation of the seasonal change, when the temps hit 80 everything took off seemingly overnight. Suddenly spring, with pollen so thick that it coated cars and water bodies with a film of yellow dust. It also awoke the histamine reactions of allergy sufferers.
Allergies are physically perceived threats from internal or external sources that cause the body to release histamines; the substances that cause production of mucous that will envelop the "alien" substance and render it unable to attack tissue linings of lungs, digestive tract, joints and other organ systems. In an allergy scenario these produce an over-reaction which produces too much mucous which in turn inhibits the normal function of these organs. Pollen is certainly one cause of an over production of mucous in some people, as well as ineffective digestion resulting in inflamed and arthritic joints, COPD, asthma, and liver disruption. Today we will look at the function of seasonal allergies and a strategy for herbal and nutritional support to bring them under control.
Respiratory issues are a twofold problem. The first is the obvious imbalance and malfunction of the lining of the respiratory track and lungs. The other is the interactive role that digestive malfunction plays. Your upper respiratory track and your entire digestive track are open to exposure to external bacteria and toxins in air, water and food. There are certain bacterial flora in the physical makeup of the linings of both of these systems that, when healthy, create an environment where these foreign invaders are killed or neutralized from causing damage and disease.
When the nose, throat or bronchial tubes are continually bombarded by external viral or bacterial assault, we have all experienced the congestion and pain of sinusitus, sore throat, and bronchitus that can develop into chest congestion, pneumonia, or asthma at it's worst, interfering with our ability to breathe.
In the digestive track imbalanced or wrong flora can inhibit absorption of nutrients or cause a breakdown in the environment that can result in "tearing" or separation of the single cell wall structure that protects the blood (on the other side of this single cell wall) from absorbing only good nutrients and allowing toxins and bacteria to get in as well. If the nutrients that our bodies need are not received into our circulation and then on to the parts of our bodies that need specific nutrients, our immune system begins to slowly fail. If the "tearing" of the cell layer (called Leaky Gut) begins to allow bacteria or toxins into our circulation, it begins to infect or disable other organ systems in our body.
Being prepared for seasonal allergies ahead of the game and continually working to build the immune system against this histamine reaction requires a twofold approach. Not only do we want to understand what to take when symptoms strike; but we want to understand how to build our immune system so that the body's response changes for the better to these external influences.
For Immediate Relief:
. Cream of Tarter - 1/2 tsp in small amount water and drink. When you are congested and having a histamine reaction, you also have an acidic pH. Drinking Cream of tarter will create an almost immediate temporary alkaline response and help clear congestion within 20 minutes for relief. It WILL NOT cure the problem but will help give temporary relief so you can breathe.
. Vitamin C 2,000 mg per day (spread out over the day), Echinacea 1/2 dropper, N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) - 4x a day - this will give relief from congestion while giving you fairly normal energy and alleviating brain fog while your body recovers
. Digestive Enzymes & Probiotics - 4x a day and before bed (this works well with the step above every 2 hours alternating back and forth) These will support proper digestion during the healing process and support bacterial and viral health during elimination and toxic overload
. Zinc - supplement to support immune function. Zinc losenges will also help alleviate sore throat and get zinc into back of the throat and top of the bronchial tubes to bind with viral proteins and neutralize them
. Geranium aromatherapy oil - great for sore throats - one drop externally over location of soreness will alleviate pain in about 20 minutes
. Four Herb Tea - see recipe below. As therapeutic to drink for flavor and aroma as it is to sooth irritated respiratory tract and help with congestion.
. Epsom salt baths w/ or w/out aromatherapy oils - epsom mineral salts will pull toxins out through the skin. Add any of the following and breathe while you bathe: eucalyptus, thyme, rosemary,
. Sinus rinse - for some this takes a little getting used to (make sure you use salt packets and not straight water) and a neti pot or sinus rinse bottle you can obtain at any local pharmacy. Do NOT force water into congested passages but squeeze or rinse gently to break up congestion and sooth sinuses. Good to do when environment is dry to continually moisten nasal lining so that proper bacterial flora can thrive there and do their work of keeping bad bacteria at bay.
For Long Term Prevention:
The following recommendations need to be done systematically and slowly over time so as not to stress the body any more than it already is. The concept is to feed the body and clean the body, a little at a time, so that the immune system gradually gets stronger and can finally stand on its own. Consistency over time is important and it is important that you begin a protocol with commitment in mind. It may take 6 months to a year to get your immune system back into balance and thus your allergies alleviated. It can be done. I am living proof.
. Support your liver and kidneys with N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) which is a specific enzyme for the liver to function efficiently. Your liver and kidneys are the organs responsible to filter toxins out of your blood stream and into the waste stream for removal. Tincture of Milk Thistle can regenerate damaged liver cells. Bitter teas and nutritive tonics - see recipes below.
. Support the digestive tract and promote good flora by eating an alkaline diet high in low glycemic fruits and veggies and staying away from mucous forming foods like dairy, alcohol, sugars, caffeine and white flour as well as processed foods, food additives like MSG and artificial sweeteners. Promote good enzyme activity by eating raw foods daily, eating fermented foods like organic vinegars, saurkraut, kimchi, fermented vegetables, pickles; or take digestive enzymes with meals (whole food enzymes with protease, lipase, amylase and cellulase) We have had many conversations on alkaline diets, for more information on Alkaline Diets contact Cathy at email@example.com.
. Reduce inflammation with Omega 3 fish oils or cold pressed flaxseed oils, mullein tincture and Tonic tea - see recipe below.
. Support your adrenal system with Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C w/ bioflavinoids at 2000 mg/day (distributed equally across your day) or rose hips tea 3x/day, Vitamin D 2000 mg/day and zinc
. Mild exercise - walking or rebounding
(For all these recipes a part depends on how large a quantity you want to make. If you want to make a small batch, a part can be a tablespoon or an eighth of a cup. When you determine what your part will be, just increase or decrease parts according to their relationship to 1 pt.) Put any leftover in a dry class jar with a lid, label and keep in a dark closet.
Cleaning Formula: 1/2 part Echinacea, 2 pt burdock, 3 pt dandelion, 2 pt cinnamon, 1 pt grated ginger root. 1 tsp steeped 5 min in hot water 1-2 times a day
Nutritive Tonic: 2 pt red clover, 2 pt nettle, 1 pt alfalfa, 3 pt peppermint, 2 pt lemon balm, 1/2 pt parsley. 1 tsp steeped 5 min in hot water 1-2 times a day
Tonic Tea: 2 pt red clover, 1 pt mullein, 2 pt comfrey, 1 pt milky oats, 1 pt peppermint or rose hips for flavor. 1 tsp steeped for 5 min in hot water per day.
Four Flower Tea: Equal parts calendula blossoms, lavender blossoms, chamomile blossoms, elderberry blossoms. 1 tsp steeped for 5 min in hot water as often as you like.
It's planting time and I'm always thinking ahead and looking for a new adventure. Add to that a new piece of property and the creative juices are flowing. There may be an opportunity for me to plant for future needs by creating a landscape that is not only beautiful but is full of good things to eat.
Not only are there landscape plants that can be used for food, but some garden herbs make wonderful additions to a perennial bed or landscape, and they can be as close as your front door for fresh daily harvest. Trees, shrubs and even your lawn can be sources of nutritious, good tasting food for your table.
Start with your lawn. If you don't use herbicides or live next to someone who does, whereby toxic ground water will contaminate anything close by; there are any number of salad items that you might find there. If you let sections of your lawn grow wild or limit cutting to a month or two at a time so the grass can grow longer, you will find such things as, spring violas, plantain, chickweed, dandelion greens, yellow dock. I have lovage (which is a herbal celery leaf), calendula, parsley (which I love to use as green background to make my flowers stand out), lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme mixed in with my perennials. They also serve to keep insect pests away because of their fragrance.
Foraging can be as productive as a cultivated garden, local trees, parks, fields and forests; with permission of course AND be sure that sources are at least 20 feet away from toxic roadsides or other places where chemicals and fertilizers may be used.
Then again, you can create your own forested, or low growing shrubbery that can create privacy hedges or are useful in wet areas that are not conducive to foot traffic, that provide berries, nuts, and leaves for the edible asking. Domestic fruit trees and berries like raspberries and blueberries are common; but look for the wilder things for a new adventure. Trees like linden, walnuts, mulberry and shrubs like elderberry, hawthorne, hazelnut, wild cranberry, gooseberries and numerous others, depending on your growing region. The strategy is to start with a few at a time, learning their habitat and companion plants that help shade, or nurture one another as in a forest layer.
There is even a method of landscaping small and medium parcels of land, called Permaculture, that uses buildings, animals, water sources and plants to create a total self sustaining network for year round accessibility.
Two books that are great informational sources of information are Forest Gardening, Cultivating an Edible Landscape, by Robert Hart and Introduction to Permaculture, by Bill Mollison.
Needless to say, all these great sources of food that are around us or can be brought in closer to us can be frozen, dried and cold cellared for winter keeping.
It springtime and I'm doing some cleaning, hoeing out piles of stuff I should have dealt with over winter and otherwise making "the nest" fresh and new in the spirit of spring! At the same time I'm thinking about cleaning the house, I am thinking about a whole body cleaning, too.
I've gained that extra 5 pounds of insulation over winter and thinking lighter in anticipation of hiking and biking and breaking out of the 4 walls of inside living and more sedentary work. There are a number of strategies I can use for priming the system as we approach the warmer weather. Mine will be combining some spring fasting with cleansing foods and herbs. It's a natural cycle that I use spring and fall, to do some internal housekeeping and maintain a healthy immunity.
Lemon & Olive Oil has always been a good one for me. This is a 3-day effort starting on Day 1 with a half fresh lemon squeezed into a tablespoon of olive oil, whipped to combine and drunk down. (You can use a little honey or maple syrup if you absolutely cannot deal with the sourness of the lemon); but the sourness is part of the effect of stimulating the taste cells of the tongue to activate liver, gallbladder and kidneys to release built up matter in their tubes and portals for elimination. Do this first thing in the morning and then drink good, clean liquids for the rest of the day, like water with or without cleansing veggie slices like cucumber or celery, cilantro or arugala, and herbal teas or vegetable broths. Herbal teas are excellent; especially one of the liver cleansing teas that have bitter herbs like dandelion, yellow dock, and burdock which continue over the day to cleanse the liver and kidneys. Staying away from coffee and caffeinated tea is a good idea. Do this for two days and on Day 3 wait an hour after the lemon/olive oil cleanse and begin eating good, simple, raw or steamed vegetables; millet, quinoa, buckwheat or kasha perhaps with some herbal butter for flavor or a mix of salad greens and fresh raw veggies with a vinagerette dressing. On Day 4 you can begin eating normally again but focus on redesigning your meals away from the heavier winter fare to the lighter summer fare of grass fed meats, nuts, good fresh fruits & veggies and lighter on the carbs. You will find your energy level is improved; as what you have essentially done is strengthened the organs that filter toxic waste and allowed them to rest from strenuous duty. Some people like to do this fast 4x a year - every 3 months.
A 3-Day Water Fast is another simple fast and one that most people can do easily. Drink good water in which you can also put some cucumber or celery or cilantro in for flavor and additional cleansing. The good thing about a more complete fast for 3 days is that it helps your body recycle old, decaying cells. Your body will look for these old cells to "ingest" for whatever protein there is to replace the lack of food during this time, and eliminate whatever cannot be used in the waste stream. This actually triggers your body's stem cells to produce new cells to replace them so that you get a cleanout at the cellular level. Good way to keep ahead of any cell mutations that can cause disease.
Once the fasting is complete look for the bitter herb teas and cleansing herbs that you can add to your spring dishes, salads and sauces. The following list is NOT all inclusive but are some of the common ones. Interestingly enough, a lot of these are the culinary herbs that you have in your kitchen. If you grow your own, keep them and dry them through the winter, their viability in the spring should still be excellent.
Nutritive: Parsley, alfalfa, cilantro, radiccio, radish, celery,
Cleansing: Hyssop, Horseradish, nettles
Liver: Milk Thistle, dandelion, yellow dock, burdock
Kidneys: Asparagus, parsle, pippsisewa, spring violets
Immunity: Sage, tumeric, ginger, basil, cinnamon, red pepper
If you are a wildcrafter and like to look for the herbs growing around you, springtime is the time when the bitters are poking their heads out of the ground. If you watched where they were growing the prior summer, you will be able to go looking for them before the foliage really begins to hide them. Adding spring leaves to salad greens makes a nice change, while adding healing nutrition as well.
Dandelion greens, Burdock root from 2nd year plants, violet leaves and flowers, plantain, dogtooth violet leaves and flowers are a few common ones here in the Northeast that are easy to identify and find. If you don't fertilize and herbicide your lawn, you may just find a lot of these right out your front door.
Be well and happy cleansing!!
Did you know that we have our own personal electrical grid? Many bodily functions are carried out through electro-chemical processes. Of course, these processes are done without our conscious knowing about them. BUT, we have to provide the "tools" in the form of food, vitamins, amino acids and minerals in order to get that job done. Without the full spectrum of nutrients our personal electrical grid misfires. So in a very condensed version of science, when our bodies begin to malfunction, it could very well be a sign that we are missing something in the nourishment department. Quite often, especially in the early stages of discovering that we're not at 100%, finding the deficiency in our diet can bring our bodies back into balance.
Back to the electric part. Certain parts of our body function at specific pH levels. This means that there is an electrical charge or pH level required to initiate that function. Whether it's exchanging the oxygen for carbon dioxide in our lungs, triggering the release of bile from the liver for food breakdown, passing information via the brain, or absorbing the nutrients from food particles at specific places along our digestive tract; our bodies rely on the electrical charges needed to make those things happen. Keeping our food intake at the proper electrical levels (pH) is going to be really important.
What exactly does that mean? Generally it means that you want to eat foods that measure between alkaline or near neutral pH on the food scale. Another word for that is Anti-inflammatory; in other words foods, that do not cause inflammation to your digestive tract or other organs as a result of eating them. Sounds complicated? It doesn't have to be.
Whenever you make a lifestyle change like this one, you need to start with a few principles and build as you learn along the way. This cannot be accomplished overnight, but the more you can understand what your anti-inflammatory foods are, the faster and better you can build the road to better health.
Here are a few principles to get you started: And above all be kind and graceful to yourself! Realize it takes time and patience to learn new skills. You will fall down at times, but you will begin to gain confidence and have success.
. Get an anti-inflammatory food list that will give you the general low, moderate, neutral and high pH levels and start using that to combine and make your meals. We have those here at Healing Leaves Center and you are welcome to email Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org to have one sent to you. You get also get a large amount of information and recipes at a site www.liveenergized.com He has lists, recipes and articles all focused on alkaline eating.
. Make sure your digestive tract is healthy and digesting your food properly. If not, you may need to begin by using probiotics to help get the proper flora into your digestive tract and enzymes to ensure that you are breaking your food down into small absorbable particles.
. Get a couple of good resources in the form of cookbooks or professional overviews of the principles of proper food combining. (we are starting a resource book list later in this newsletter)
. Work with a nutritional consultant/coach who can help you get good foundational food building blocks to form the center of your digestive habits. (Cathy is a nutritional consultant and can help you one-on-one if you want to email for an appointment)
. Take a class with an experienced teacher. It may be just the thing to jump start your understanding and your motivation. (We will be offering an introductory video class on March 30th and a couple of other topics in the next few months. Check the class listings in the newsletter)
. Stay well hydrated with good water to keep all those electrical charges functioning like a well working battery. Add slices of citrus, fruit, cucumbers, herbs like mint or infuse your favorite iced tea to keep the flavors interesting. Drinking water does not need to be boring. Water dense fruits like watermelon or veggies like cucumbers are great to add to your newfound habits.
Keep moving no matter what age you are, but especially if you are over 50. Even if it is just walking, movement keeps muscles toned, bones dense and those electrical charges stimulated and moving, thus activating their activity.
Check your spiritual pulse. Especially in this covid season where we are restricted more than usual, we are seeing more cases of anxiety and panic attacks. Any kind of stress can also help to short circuit our personal power grid. It is important to find a creative outlet that brings a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to our daily lives. Everyone's is different, nonetheless important. Prayer with follow through can often be a good outlet; or meditating on a scripture like Jude 1:21 "Keep yourselves in God's love" Fear is a spiritual enemy that can sidetrack your health plans by making your body inflammatory. Hormones and nerve responses can be interrupted by the stress of fear. Let's turn off this negative emotion and begin taking action to maintain a personal electrical grid that fights existing disease and any new ones that we'll see in the future.
The idea of "keeping ourselves" brings us back to establishing alkalinity to sustain our immunity for the long haul. Many of us opting out of vaccinations, are learning to make our immune systems stronger against viruses and other disease problems. Focus on creating good tasting, alkaline meals and recipes; watching for dietary deficiencies, and supplementing with vitamins, minerals and herbs; and stay away from sugars and additives that counteract our goals. No one can make us do this, we have to take that responsibility into our own hands. No one knows how you feel better than you do. Once you have committed to a vision of better health maintenance and increased energy, nothing can stop you. A little help from your friends may be in order, but you're steering the ship. Don't stop looking until you find the answers.
We have a great future ahead of us - keep yourselves - find a way to establish your immunity!
How To Take Your pH
You can often tell that you're eating right because you begin to feel an increase in your energy. That said, it is good to have some kind of a measurement as you go along as to how well you are doing. Your pH will give you a good idea where you are in establishing an alkaline system.
You should be able to get pH strips in your local pharmacy. If that is not possible, you can order them from Dr. Anna Cabeca's website www.dranna.com/resources Your urine should be in the 7 range in the morning. Allow the pH strip to be wet by your urine stream half way through it's release or you can collect some mid stream and dip the strip. Lay it on a piece of toilet paper for about 60 minutes or as directed on the package and compare to the color chart. Morning will always be your most accurate overall reading for a 24 hour period coming after an 8 to 10 hour fast from dinner the night before. Create a place where you can record your pH at different times of the day over time. You may find it takes you a while to get to the 7 level you want; but you will find patterns that tell you about what you eat during the day and how it affects your levels. Your daily readings will tell you how your previous meal/foods have affected your alkalinity. Those patterns will help tell you where you may need to change eating habits.
Sometimes we just need to indulge ourselves and think of things we love and that bring us joy. So this month, we're just sharing a Valentine's Day recipe to indulge outselves. In the middle of all that is going on this season, lets take time to celebrate joy with a little help from a girl's best friend, Chocolate. This recipe from Lydia Simpson, CHC, takes a little bit of time, but oh what a delight! You can always make a double batch and freeze some.
Cacao Ganache Tart
Nut and Date raw crust:
· 1- 1 ⁄ 2 cups nuts, almonds and cashews raw
· 1 ⁄ 3 cup raw cacao powder
· 1 ⁄ 2 cup pitted dates
· 1 tsp cinnamon
· 1 tsp vanilla extract
· 1 ⁄ 4 tsp sea salt
Cacao Ganache filling:
· 1 cup coconut oil melted
· 1 ⁄ 3 cup raw honey
· 1 ⁄ 2 tsp sea salt
· 1 ⁄ 2 cup carob powder or part cocoa
· 1 ⁄ 2 cup cacao powder
· 1 Tbsp maca root powder
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 1 ⁄ 2 cup full-fat coconut milk
· Garnish with unsweetened shredded coconut lightly toasted
Or chopped, toasted nuts
1. To make nut and date raw crust:
2. Place nuts in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.
3. Add remaining ingredients to nuts and process until desired
consistency. You want it to be sticky, but not too moist.
4. Small tart pans with removable bottoms are perfect for these. Another
option is to form small amounts of dough (1 T or so) into mini muffin
pans that have been greased.
5. Place the muffin pan or tart pans in the freezer while preparing the
6. To make filling:
7. Melt oil in double boiler or in a stainless steel bowl over a pot of warm
8. Whisk in the remaining ingredients to be sure they are well
emulsified. The consistency will be pourable like a ganache glaze.
You may need to increase heat slightly to achieve this.
9. Remove the muffin pan or tart pans from the freezer.
Pour the filling into the shells. Sprinkle toasted coconut or nuts on tops
evenly. Chill to set for 15-30 minutes.
Carefully remove from the pans and serve. A dollop of whipped
cream, dairy or non dairy, makes this dessert even more delicious and
Makes approximately 4- 4 inch tart shells or about 20 tartlets
Here we are in the doorway of 2021. What a year it has been; and despite the difficulty and hard times, let us learn from all we have seen and heard this year. There have been and still are, difficult times for us ahead; but there have also been some amazingly creative solutions that have risen to the surface that have been a source of encouragement to many. The creative solutions to folks feeding each other as well as communities; the creative ways small businesses and especially restaurants have continued forward and overcome financial and restrictive obstacles; the creative ways people have raised money and people have given of themselves to help others through hard times; and even the creative ways that music and art have come to us to lift us above all this.
We are in a new day. We have not been this way before in the United States, where the American dream has always been within reach, with hard work and the traditions of our heritage to give us a pattern to follow. We are in a time where our traditions are changing of necessity, but our desire to be free and think outside of the box are still able to soar.
The same is happening when it comes to our health. The big question currently seems to be to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. There are pros and cons to this issue. For the most scientific data on the realty of vaccines, I would refer you to a website at www.naturalnews.com and their health section. There are reports there from many doctors, researchers and even the legal ramifications from Robert Kennedy Jr that you can read to help you form your own opinions.
There are risks involved in a fast paced introduction of new vaccine that has not had the full test of time before presentation to the public. That said, some of those risks have to be weighed for people who have compromised immune systems and essential people risking exposure daily to provide needed services to all of us. Certainly they have the option to decide for themselves, and we all need to respect their personal choices. I would just want each of us to have the ability to hear ALL the information in order to make our decisions informed. There are other treatments that have been used in lieu of the wait period for vaccines, that have saved and improved the outcome of the Covid virus. These treatments have been discovered over the course of these few months and may be just as viable for a generally healthy person.
We also, need to understand that as healthcare providers, we have known for many years that the mutation of bacteria, viruses and fungi would come to a place in time where superbugs would develop that would be difficult to control and even provide immunity from them by traditional methods. We have known that building up our own personal immune systems would become the greatest step toward sustaining the human organism. This without the necessity of lockdowns and limitations of human interaction.
I cannot stress enough, the need to learn how your body works and what it needs to sustain great health at any age. It is too much to go into in this short blog; but I am able to help any of you individually or in a video class who would like to pursue this for yourselves, your families and loved ones. That knowledge, includes foods to eat, where to get them, how to keep your home toxin free, as well as what supplements might help, what telltale signs to watch for in your own health before its too late and numerous other topics. We at Healing Leaves Center of here for you.
Hope springs eternal and let me end by saying that this would not be the first time that Americans have faced health crises and risen to the occasion to find solutions. We are more resilient than we think, especially if we work together. Encourage one another, form neighborhood and community groups that can divide the labor to find the resources you all need. Lighten the load and feel the stress fall away as you face challenges with humor and camaraderie. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.
Be well and may you find the answer to every question you have.
Celebrations are times and events that mark milestones, develop personal traditions & lighten our spiritual loads. This year especially is a good time for small celebrations. Despite the fact that Covid has narrowed our gatherings to small numbers; it doesn't mean that those gatherings can't be more frequent and just as festive.
Gatherings are certainly most important in person because touch and atmosphere are an integral part of the festivities. So is laughter and a sense of wellbeing and the tradition of gift giving. So perhaps this year we can put our creative hats on and establish some combination of in person and video gatherings that will fill all those buckets.
We could actually spread out our usual holiday gathering by having sequential smaller gatherings with one part of the family and a week later perhaps another part of the family. We can have lunch with those we are close to, that can't come to a larger gathering or that we may have a special gift to give. AND after all is said and done we can invite the whole crew to a video gathering to reminisce, share stories and plan other celebrations as the winter months go by.
We can have a video gathering if we have a special recipe or gift idea where we would normally get together and make it. We can make cookies, or other holiday favors and distribute them to families in need in our communities.
This year with many staying home and not traveling, it may be worth finding the community family that is right in your own neighborhood. Wanna do a cookie exchange? Everyone make the batch of cookies along with recipe copies to go with them. Set them out in containers (bags or other festive coverings) at the foot of your driveway at a designated day and time (this may be weather dependent). Everyone gets to walk the neighborhood with bags in hand, collecting cookies and passing each other on the street where they can share greetings as well as cookies.
Then there is the progressive dinner idea. Idea #1 if there is someone who likes to do all the cooking. Meal is made and portioned into individual plates and either delivered to family & friends or they pick them up. Then a specific time is set for dinner and everyone can sit around their zoom or facebook and eat together. Idea #2 is that different folks make different parts of the meal and then deliver them to one another. This is done a few days ahead with foods that can be refrigerated. Then a specific time is set for dinner and everyone can sit around their zoom or facebook page and eat together.
Or perhaps you'd prefer a holiday walk. Something festive to drink in your spill proof water bottle. Some festive attire, hats and sparkles. Some sweet treats to share and your walking shoes or boots) with flashing lights. Top it off with someone's phone playing holiday music and you are off together with distance between you and masks if you must. The sky's the limit on this one. If the weather is nice, you can stop to set up a picnic of finger foods or gaze upon a wondrous view. Love, kindness and togetherness can be found anywhere.
The ideas are limitless, just let your uniqueness as a family, your creativity and your desire to be together be your motivation.
Whatever celebrations you are enjoying this season, may the light of His countenance shine upon you. From all of us at Healing Leaves Center
Over 40 years of Herbal and nutritional experience.