Spring Has Sprung (In March)

We’ve got a few things growing in our garden beds…

Chamomile
Lemon Balm
Kale
Ginger Mint
Volunteer Tomatoes
Lavender
& Chocolate Mint

I’m hoping to add more mints, calendula, basils, sages, and various veggies & fruits to our beds.

We still have a few weeks before we get our big plants in the ground and plant our cucumber seeds.  We’re going to build a new bed as well.

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Here’s A Radical Idea: Stop Buying Supplements From The Market

 

Okay, I don’t want to lose you, this will be quick.  The internet is full of blog posts and articles selling you everything to make you perfectly happy and healthy (here is a quick comment to that, whatever they are selling won’t do it.)  Since supplements are not regulated by the FDA, anything can be in there. And unless an issue arises, or someone complains, or gets sick, or sues, you will be downing alfalfa capsules thinking it is St. John’s Wort.  This is not a joke, a recent study showed that over half of 10 tested St. John’s Wort supplements had little to none in it.  In fact, what they DID have could be even worse. One was filled with a known herbal diuretic. Yikes. (Another reason not to drop your prescription medication for herbal supplements without doctor and herbalist cooperation.)

So, quickly, what can you do?

Get your needs from food.  You know, “let food be thy medicine” and all of that. “Every food is a super-food”. I can probably come up with five or more slogans that say the same thing. Food was made to nourish us, eat it. Grow it. Share it. Enjoy it.

Find an educated herbal professional to walk you through what herbs you should grow, purchase, and use.  There is a reason these professionals take anatomy and physiology just like healthcare professionals. Many also study biochemistry or nutrition. Use their knowledge and let them help you!  If the goal is to balance yourself out to live a normal life, seek out a professional herbalist, alternative medicine practitioner, nutritionist, whatever you think would help you at this stage of your life.  You may seek out all of them. Bring these professionals your current supplement stash and you can wade through them together. I’ve never met an herbalist who practices for the money.  It is all about sharing knowledge.

Make your own nutritional supplements.  No, you are not “Doctor Mom”, you are a whole person aware of your bodily needs.  Giving yourself supplements to live life is not practicing medicine on yourself, and should not be used instead of seeing an educated professional.  If you have no issue making yourself a balanced dinner, you should have no issue making a mug of lemon balm tisane or sprinkling mustard powder on your cooked broccoli.  But when you start trying to fix a specific issue, that is when it would be best to search out the help of a practitioner, one who studies herbal energetics and nutritional synergy. With their help you can even make your own personalized supplement capsules. I assure you, a professional will also let you know when your issues are beyond their practice and recommend you into the hands  of those who may help better.

If you are into quick educational videos I recommend this one here about supplement safety. Black Raspberry Supplements Put To The Test 

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.

 

 

 

Pica & Herbs (A Personal Account)

I just finished my fourth pregnancy, and for the first time in my life I experienced what many call “pregnancy pica”.  Pica loosely translates into someone craving non-food/non-nutritional substances to eat.  The issue spans geography.  It can be experienced by children, the mentally handicapped, the elderly, the pregnant, and the iron-deficient.  It is experienced for a lifetime or a season.  There are correlations, but not definite causation.

I first noticed it when I would put laundry detergent in the washer.  For some reason the strong scent brought out a type of craving impulse.  I did not exactly want to eat the detergent, but I did notice the scent gave off a distinct internal signal.  I felt it deep within my gut.  It was a similar feeling as to when I nurse, I get the urge to drink water.  My mouth does not go dry, for I do not experience any symptoms of dehydration. I am not dehydrated at all.  But I feel it in my gut, this deep craving for a glass of water.  I could point it to the microbiome, which is where my mind goes, but I am untrained to share such knowledge if there was any to begin with.

Weeks went by, each time I attempted to pinpoint what aromatic chemical was causing such a reaction.  It wasn’t until I decided to eat a few mint leaves right after putting in a new load of wash that I noticed the craving was sufficed.  It was definitely an ah-ha moment.  Mint is highly astringent, and for some reason beyond my current training it satisfied the deep craving initiated by the aromatics of the detergent.  I have lemon balm throughout my yard and tried that as well.  It also sufficed the craving.  We eat both herbs throughout the seasons and my body is used to their chemicals, but this was different.  It was a distinct astringency that met the pica craving.

I hope to dig deeper into the chemical components of these lamiaceae family herbs and see just where the connection lies. Beyond the aromatic response I am hoping to see a specific chemical connection. Traditionally herbs in the lamiaceae family are known as gentle digestive aids.  But to limit an herb to one ailment, or even one chemical to one response, is often amateur and short sighted.  I’ll attempt to look deeper into this as the weeks go on and will link to this any information I find.

 

References

Pica – Clinical Methods 3rd Edition 

 

 

 

The Quiet Summer that Leads to Fall

I understand that I have left this site over summer.  It just has not been in my mind.

Three weeks ago we welcomed the sixth human to our team.  So for those who have had newborns with other children you know the first few weeks are more survive than thrive.  We are getting out of this stage as I write this, which is earlier than I expected but as I hoped.

This summer we struggled with our garden, as the rain just did not come and after the water containers were emptied of rain I was reluctant to use city water to feed our herbs.  We have been able to collect a few peppers and tomatoes here and there.  Our kale has gone to seed and I still need to gather what I can.  Our mint and lemon balm have been run over by other plant life (kind of ironic, honestly) and my chamomile has long dried up.  I was lucky to gather enough in the early months of growth to gift a diabetic person with an entire jar filled with the plant blossoms in hope that it will lower his blood sugar spike after eating.  This is still a work in progress that I am lucky to be a part of.  But that is life. Nature does not listen to me, I need to pay attention to it.  Lack of rain and lack of energy due to growing (and then producing) a new human life have left the garden more barren this August.

But September brings new energy to the house, as we will begin our second year of homeschooling and I will be taking a semester off of school. This new rhythm will need a lot of care at first, so the best move was for me to stay and focus on the new family dynamic.  I am excited for the challenge, and still have a stack of books to read to keep my mind from becoming sluggish without the pressure of academia.

I hope to add more of our home school life as this blog goes along, since it will take most of the Fall focus.