Calendula-Sage Infusion

img_8971

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.

img_8970

Advertisements

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 

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.)

img_8569

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

img_8570

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.

img_8571

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

img_8578

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.

img_8593

 

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.

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 

 

 

 

April Sunshine Brings… Herbs!

I know I have left this site a bit dusty.  It happens.  I am heading toward the end of the school year, which requires a greater percentage of my “me” time (when the house work is done and the kids are asleep…).  We have started talking about the new beds we need to build soon, and with the sun on us the last two days I am believing the snow that found us last week was the last of the year.  I’m also over six months pregnant, and working on a collaboration with my husband, since we each have such different interests (and businesses) and want to find something to build together.  It is quite a full life.  Thankfully my oldest daughter is of kindergarten age and we are/were able to have a fun, playful year “doing” kindergarten as only our family can.  Next fall will find us with a new baby and a full year of first grade, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself too much.  It is almost time to focus on the garden, and more specifically, the herbs.

In the mail today I got another coupon magazine from Kroger.  One of the first pages made me smile big.

20160413_145045

 

“Introducing Kids and Their Palates to Delicious Herbs”. YES YES YES!!!  How cool that a basic store like Kroger is advertising the benefits of using herbs every day.  Kids love to taste, smell, and feel everything they do.  And herbs delight all the senses.  It is a win-win.

20160413_144719

This was the next page- just little snippets of the most known nutritional herbs.  How cool.  Every parent can be the family herbalist with some knowledge on nutritional herbs.  Maybe you can’t afford all the best produce at the store, but grow a few herbs and you can boost whatever food you make with plants from your own land.  There is no cheaper way to make nutritionally dense meals than to keep a food and herb garden.

American Dietary Guidelines & Sustainability

 

 

The American Dietary Guidelines were officially released for the next five years (2015-2020) and there is a lot of information to go through considering the fact that nutrition research is always changing how we view food.  I might end up breaking these into a few different posts as I find interesting changes, but the biggest interest I found was that the USDA openly stated that sustainability would not be a factor in these guidelines, even though the data was requested in 2010.

I understand what both sides said.  I understand the concern, as stated in the above article:

Merrigan argues that “by acknowledging benefits of sustainability, the government would open itself up to greater demand for sustainability investments and would signal to consumers that such foods are preferred.”  

I understand that the government may not want to openly show favor to certain foods that could change the balance of how things are now.  But by putting yourself out there from the beginning as a source of nutritional recommendations, you are in fact ‘signaling’ to consumers what foods are preferred.  Ever notice how the recommendations often mention both meat and dairy (not protein source and beverage source)?

But sustainability issues are not just raised with beef and dairy, as many expect.  There is the issue of almonds, too.  And if it truly is about farming responsibly and caring for animals consciously, no mass food source should be left out of the questioning.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s plate.  (A different ‘plate’ response.)

Johns Hopkin’s Sustainability in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines: What the Advisory Committee Really Said, and Why USDA and HHS Should Listen (If you are only going to read one article about this, read this one.)

So what does this mean for the little guy?  What can we do to live intentionally concerning our food?  We can grow our own, we can purchase locally, we can join garden-mobs or food co-ops.  We can learn more about farming techniques that incorporate the entire ecosystem, like biodynamic farming.  We can learn about different ways to cook foods that are healthful, filling, and not wasteful.  And most importantly, we can learn about these things without them becoming idols in our lives, so that we do not become enslaved to a specific diet or plan.  We can be free by growing for ourselves and getting involved in our community, and by carrying around the knowledge that you are consciously doing the best you can.

myplate
USDA’s healthy plate
harvardhealthyeating
Harvard’s healthy plate