Calendula-Sage Infusion

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A few weeks ago we had someone in the family with a mucus issue… so we whipped up an infusion with some known drying herbs we grow… Sage (salvia officinalis) & Calendula .  It made a beautiful tisane and was tasty enough that the recipient had no issue sipping on it through the next two days.  The dried  Calendula blossoms grow so large and make such a lovely looking infusion.  It is nice to still have some jars filled with dried herbs from the garden as we come to the end of Winter.

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Give The Gift Of Tea

A few months ago I woke up in a funk.  I am sure it has happened many times since then, but I remember this day specifically because my husband had that look on his face as he left for work.  The look was one of slight concern and mostly pity.  He was leaving and I was about the start the day with four little kids plus a funky mood that lingered through breakfast.

Luckily I did start feeling better. I could say it was because the kids were listening, or the baby took a good nap, or maybe it was because I got all the dishes out of the sink.  But I do remember something that clinched it.  Our mail comes after lunch, usually right as my youngest two are napping, and something was waiting for me.

In the mail on that particular day was a little note card from a far away friend.  Some kind words were written, “thinking of you” and the such… and tucked into the little note card was a delicious new tea blend to try.

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I held onto the tea for a few weeks, waiting for the perfect time to try this special blend of green tea and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis).  It was especially nice to think on the fact that someone sent it to me for a specific purpose, and it arrived on that specific day.  Since then I have attempted to leave a tea packet “calling card” whenever I bring back something I lent or decide to send a little note.  It is a simple way to share a relaxing moment miles away.  I am very thankful for that thoughtful friend and her action days before I knew I would need it.

You can purchase this specific calming blend of Green Melissa on Amazon.

Free Herbal Materia Medica Class

Right now The Herbal Academy (formerly Herbal Academy of New England) is offering a FREE six week online course on how to start your own Materia Medica.  It is perfect for those who have never taken an herbal class. No experience necessary!

What is a Materia Medica? Basically in herbalism a materia medica is a collection of information on healing materials.  This ranges from class notes and resource books to notebooks and drawings from wildcrafting adventures.  It is your library of study for your practice.

This small class is designed to help you start making your own journal.  It is simply one step to becoming more knowledgeable on herbs.

The class opens 1/10/17 and the free offer ends 1/31/17.

Click here for more information. 

What’s Online: Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citrodora) & Indian Frankincense (Boswellia serrata)

On Wednesdays I am going to try to share new (in general or to me) information from sources that put out good content.  Hopefully this serves as a hub to find interesting  new information that can encourage, educate, and aid in living a balanced life.

LEMON VERBENA FOR FOR PREVENTION OF INFLAMMATORY DISEASES    The study is from 2014 but since I love Lemon Verbena I am always ready to learn more or share what I find.  We grow Lemon Verbena as well as drink it (it was in our 2015 Balance Blend).  I also use a Lemon Verbena hydrosol (also known as flower water) under shea butter on my face.  It is a great energizing herb.

NEW PRO-VEGGIE/PLANT DIET VIDEO  This is quick and palatable to those who may be interested in a new way to eat.  I make it no secret that we eat some meat, but we make some serious room for our veggies and fruits.

SUTHERLANDIA SUPPLEMENT MAY CAUSE DISRUPTION IN ANTI-TB DRUG  Not quite as urgent for American readers, but the fact that usage could create a resistant form of TB is cause for concern.  It is important to remember that pharmaceutical drugs can and do react to supplements, and we do not know all the reactions or when they will be noticeable by symptom.

ST. JOHN’S WORT QUALITY FAILURE: 6 OUT OF 10 GIVEN FAILING GRADE   This is the glaring issue in the herbal supplement market, quality assurance.  You can see the ten tested brands and those that passed and did not.  Another reason to remember that if you can not grow your own herbals, try to find someone who does. If not that, then go to a sustainable, reputable, knowledgeable farm or company.  If you are taking supplements for a illness or disease you need to know what you are taking will work and is of the quality that was tested.

POSSIBLY THE NEXT “IT” SUPPLEMENT: BOSWELLIA  I try to stay out of the trend, since it usually causes an influx of false marketing, unsustainable farming/crafting practices, and harm from misuse.  Most “it” supplements are not new, are well used by professional herbalists and other practitioners already, and are now receiving funding to be studied by the evidence-based crowd.  I’m also seeing a lot of info out online about anti-inflammatory herbals, diets, etc.. so that may be a thing to look out for as well.

 

 

 

You Are What You Drink…

Well, not really.  I mean, we are mostly made of water (60%),  but if we drink a bunch of diet coke and sweet tea we don’t turn into those.  Our system is much more efficient, much more complicated than that.  But we do know that our bodies were made to drink lots and lots… and lots of water.

I was browsing around online a few days ago and skimmed over an article ad about drinking only water for (so many.. 30? 60? 100?) days.  I don’t know what it was selling or how spammy the site was, I didn’t click on it.  But I did see it long enough to catch the title, and it reminded me of something.

Last year I took a Holistic Health class and for one week we were required to write down everything we had to eat and drink.  It wasn’t to shame us or guilt us into a specific diet.  It ended up not even graded.  It was an exercise in one important thing: awareness.  You see, we get distracted a lot.  We are almost to the point of constant distraction, just bouncing from task to person to entertainment and back again.  Our lives reflect that in every way.  But what happens when we take a moment to slow down and collect a bit of data?  Not for a specific diet, not for a feeling of control, but just for our own awareness.  We may just change an unhealthy habit or appreciate a good one with a look that lasts longer than a second.

So yesterday I decided to pause and take a picture of everything I drank.  This is actually a step harder for me as I had to lug out my big camera, since my old flip phone does not give me a way to get pictures off of it.  Why it has a camera in the first place I do not know.  Mysteries, I tell you.

 

First thing in the morning, almost every morning, is coffee. Coffee with some type of non-dairy sweetened creamer.  It is delicious. I look forward to it. One cup. (And yes, the handle on this mug is upside down.)

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Some water to wash that down.  Around 12 oz / 300 ml

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And right before lunch, what I like to consider my tea prep for the crazy afternoon. A mug of hot Lemon Zinger (a general hibiscus blend) and around 24 oz / 600 ml of Raspberry Zinger to drink cooled.

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Then more water around dinner-ish time, the most chaotic time of day, about 24 oz / 600 ml.

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And a surprise from my husband when he got off work that night.  Yeah, that chocolate milkshake went fast.  He handed it to me on the couch, nursing baby in my lap, and I finished it before that baby could throw up all over me.  It was a great surprise.  I later had to pull the cup out of the trash because I forgot about my picture taking by that time. Unknown ounce size…I think it was a medium.

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So now looking at this with fresh eyes I am happy with my morning hydration.  I get a lot in.  But I would like to drink more in the afternoons.  Maybe mix it up with some flavored seltzer water. Or hot cocoa since it is getting chilly.  And as I am writing this that picture of the empty milkshake cup is taunting me.  So good.  So good.

Try it out.  For a day write down or take a picture of everything you drink.  Don’t change it up. Do exactly as you would normally, no judgement or hesitation.  Then look back the next day and see what you like and what you could change to get more fluids in your body.  You might recognize some interesting patterns.  If anything it will give you a moment to think about what you are drinking and if it is fueling you in the way you want.

Biodynamic Tea at Republic of Tea

I’ve attempted to learn what I can in this full season of life on biodynamic farming.  I truly find that it is the closest thing to “husbandry” we have a modern name for, since it focuses on the entire health of the farm and it’s ability to create a “closed loop” of self reliance.  I find when talking to people that many times when someone mentions the term “organic farm” they are often thinking more along the lines of what a biodynamic farm looks like.  The animals running free in harmony with the farmers, vegetation being grown in a companion style with as little artificial human interaction as needed.

If you are interested in the philosophy of biodynamic farming, you can look into it more here  Biodynamic Association.

From the association’s front page:

Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food and nutrition. Biodynamics was first developed in the early 1920s based on the spiritual insights and practical suggestions of the Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), whose philosophy is called “anthroposophy(link is external).” Today, the biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of successful gardens, farms, vineyards and agricultural operations of all kinds and sizes on all continents, in a wide variety of ecological and economic settings.

Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.

Most biodynamic initiatives seek to embody triple bottom line approaches (ecological, social and economic sustainability), taking inspiration from Steiner’s insights into social and economic life as well as agriculture. Community supported agriculture (CSA), for example, was pioneered by biodynamic farmers, and many biodynamic practitioners work in creative partnerships with other farms and with schools, medical and wellness facilities, restaurants, hotels, homes for social therapy and other organizations. Biodynamics is thus not just a holistic agricultural system but also a potent movement for new thinking and practices in all aspects of life connected to food and agriculture.”

So I received an email a few days ago from the Republic of Tea, sharing some new type of blend they are bringing on.   I was beyond excited to see that they carried a slim amount of blends grown on biodynamic farms.  How cool!  I know there are a lot of herbs that come from places that take great care in sustainability (Mountain Rose Herbs being one), but to see an actual label mentioning biodynamic was so neat.

Republic of Tea’s Biodynamic Collection

 

A Brief Look At Green Rooibos

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We love rooibos.  I remember drinking ‘red tea’ for the first time back when I was a young college student and barista.  We sold Republic of Tea and always had to try the new flavors that came in so we could recommend properly.  I fell in love with their iced ‘red tea’.  It was refreshing, it had some sweetness.. it was wonderful during a busy 8 hour shift at the coffee shop.  Flash forward ten *yikes* years later and I still like rooibos… but when I had the chance to try green rooibos (unfermented), I could not let it go.  It is a little less ‘woodsy’, a little less ‘obviously sweet’ and the nutrient benefits are surprising.  If you are a lover of ‘red tea’ and have yet to have the green counterpart, don’t miss out on a chance to try it.

Most of our herbal tisane blends have a base of green rooibos.  We find it adds that subtle sweetness that can curb the urge to add extra sweetener, gives the water a lovely dark(er) red color, and lends it’s nutrients to enhance the benefits of the other herbs.

Like all things health-related, there are many ideas and claims out there concerning rooibos.  It is hard to know what is truth and what is preference.  It is hard to know what was exaggerated and what was explained correctly.  I’ve added quite a few different articles (both scientific and ‘lay-man’) that those who are interested can wade through.  I’ve found cross referencing many, many articles helps find a balanced opinion.

Is Rooibos better than Green tea?
Highlights:
“It is the ‘new fad'” {remember I said Republic of Tea pushed this 10 years ago… yeah…}
“unfermented is a close second to green tea antioxidant wise”
“It’s popular now because we can now import it from South Africa, the only place it grows, since apartheid-based trade sanctions were lifted in 2000”.

Teas Ect. on Rooibos
Highlights:
“Rooibos does not have 50 times the antioxidant benefit of green tea, it does not even have as much.”
“Rooibos does not contain any vitamin C.”

Rooibos from Natural News 
Highlights:
“It is low in tannins which allows easier assimilation of its minerals”
“Rooibos is a good source of essential and trace minerals as well, including: iron, magnesium, potassium, (organic) fluoride, copper, manganese, zinc, and vitamin C. {Oh wait, didn’t the other article say it does not contain any vitamin C?? mmmmm}

Phytochemicals in Rooibos
Hightlights:
“These are typical phytochemicals found in rooibos: aspalathin, nothofagin, caffeic acid, chrysoeriol, isoquercitrin, orientin, isoorientin, luteolin, vitexin, isovitexin, luteolin, rutin,flavonoids, quercetin, polyphenols.”

Metaphoric Labs: Regular Rooibos vs Green
Highlights:
“Green Rooibos has 100 times more antioxidants and 10 times more aspalathin (buzz word) than regular fermented Rooibos.”
“Rooibos contains nine flavonoids. Two of these flavonoids quercetin and luteolin, also occur in fruit and vegetables. They are potent antioxidants that can cause cancer cells to “commit suicide” (apoptosis).”
“In in vitro studies, it was found that Green Rooibos was generally more protective against DNA damage than fermented Rooibos. However, senior research scientist at the Medical Research Council of SA, Jeanine Marnewick says her group’s research shows that fermented Rooibos has a stronger effect against some mutagens. She says that both the fermented and unfermented Rooibos show significant protection.”

Ray Sahelian M.D. : Rooibos Herb
Highlights:
“Aspalathin information:  Q:  What is the specific benefit of aspalathin from rooibos tea? Why is it aspalathin better or stronger than other antioxidants?  Also, does green rooibos have a higher concentration of aspalathin and greater anti-aging potential?
A:  There are countless antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, herbs and various plants. Each antioxidant works in a slightly different way in the body. It is not practical to claim aspalathin is better than EGCG in green tea or vitamin E, or astaxanthin, etc. Just as it is preferable to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, it is a good idea to consume a number of different antioxidants. I am not aware of any actual studies done with aspalathin supplements. Limited evidence suggest green rooibos has a higher antioxidant profile than red, but for practical purposes it should not make too much difference.”

“Q:  Does rooibos provide electrolytes and minerals, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium, all which you lose through sweat.
A: I find it difficult to accept this claim. Rooibos is a tea that can provide antioxidants and is a healthy addition to one’s tea consumption, but it is premature to make fantastic claims about this tea. There are countless herbs and teas that have health benefits.”

 

We get our Rooibos from Mountain Rose Herbs.  It’s fairly priced, and we trust the company concerning sustainable practices and organic labeling.

Tips on drinking Rooibos
1.  You can use the herbs more than once without the tannin risk associated with black tea and still enjoy a flavorful drink a second round.
2.  Due to the herb being ‘chopped’, it falls through most tea infusers unless they are the fine mesh ones.  If you do not mind the extra nutrients and fiber (if the tea is organic and you trust the company, eating the herbs aids in both) you can just let the pieces be in your drink.
3. Let the entire family enjoy, as there have been no studies to show that young, pregnant, or elderly individuals can not enjoy the beverage.
4.  If you don’t like the taste, even with sweetener, drink something else. Seriously, why drink something disgusting when there is bound to be a nutritional drink out there for you that you’ll love!