Posts

Seasonal allergies relief

Spring Into Natural Ways to Relieve Seasonal Allergies

It’s spring, which is FABULOUS, but it’s also that time of year for seasonal allergies, which is a little less so. (Or a lot less so, if you’re anything like my sweet ten-year-old son, Cooper.)

Booo…

In the last few years, we’ve tried so many ways to relieve his hay fever symptoms naturally, because I seriously loathe giving my kids pharmaceutical drugs.

Some things that have worked to help (but not eliminate) symptoms in the past, include frequent clothe/bedding/body washing, hepa filters, consistent air duct cleaning in our cars and home, and cold compresses on his eyes when it gets bad.

Other than that, nothing but commercial allergy meds seemed to make a difference. In previous years, we’ve gone as far as to try bee pollen, which is supposed to, in theory, introduce pollen slowly to the system and help the allergy sufferer develop an immunity.

This did not work—it was a miserable experience for him.

At this point in this post is where I want to throw in a disclaimer, though: helping to minimalize undesirable symptoms of something is great, but it’s not working at eliminating the root of the problem.

I know this.

At the root of my poor dude’s issue, is (I think) a hefty toxic load—he’s sensitive to wheat and dairy, but I can’t stop him from loving those items and eating them more than he should. (Even though I promise I try hard.)

We also live in a valley that collects environmental pollutants, so our air isn’t stellar. Our home is surrounded by various species of trees and other fauna, so he’s consistently bombarded by pollen and such.

He was that toddler who was covered in eczema and had a nose full of snot at all times. (In fact, when he was three, he had tubes surgically implanted in both ears so they could drain fluid better, and his adenoids and tonsils were removed, too. This helped tremendously.)

BUT: the best discovery I’ve made in awhile for him is a product called TriEase by doTERRA Essential Oils. Typically, around this time of year, I’m feeding my guy 1-2 over-the-counter allergy pills a day, but this year?

1-2 in TOTAL.

This product comes in capsule form and contains essential oils from lemon peel, peppermint, and lavender—herbs that are great for helping relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Which brings me to a list of a few herbs that can really work wonders when it comes to this particular affliction:

Common Herbs for Seasonal Allergies

  • Lemon Balm: Lemon balm can be grown easily in your garden; in fact, it spreads like a weed and comes back year after year! It’s fragrant and lovely and great for seasonal allergies, because it produces natural antihistamines.
  • Lemon Peel: Lemon peel naturally detoxes your body, so those with a lot of built-up toxins can really benefit from incorporating this herb into their daily wellness regime. Swallowing oil of lemon peel can help greatly with seasonal allergies—just make sure it’s oil produced from organic sources. Otherwise, you’re just loading your body up with a whole new problem: herbicides, pesticides, and their associated GMOs, too.
  • Peppermint: Mint works well as a decongestant when the essential oil is diffused or rubbed into the temples and neck. It’s also great for relieving headaches when used in the same way.
  • Lavender: Lavender is lovely when combined with lemon balm and peppermint. It’s a natural reliever of tension headaches, and it’s also calming. *Note: if you’re sensitive to florals, this one is not for you.

Uncommon Herbs for Seasonal Allergies

  • Eyebright: Eyebright is an herb that works well for seasonal allergy and hay fever symptoms when harvested, dried, and made into medicinal tea. It’s also great to use as a cold tea compress for itchy, red eyes.
  • Feverfew: Like lemon balm, feverfew is a natural antihistamine. It also relieves chest congestion, migraines, and headaches, which can also be symptoms of seasonal allergies.

If you’re curious about herbs and their medicinal qualities in general, take a look at The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea. It contains 50 herbs and 50 tea remedies to 50 common inflictions. (Good stuff.) If you’re a gardener, you’ll especially love knowing what your herb garden is capable of. It’s AMAZING.

Take care, and herb it up! I hope this helps.

xo

 

 

Herbs for cold and flu

10 Medicinal Herbs to Help You Through Cold and Flu Season

Hey, everyone! It’s October! (Whaaaat?!) I’m doing a talk today at Parallel Yoga in Abbotsford, on the topic of herbs and their associated health benefits. (Specifically, their benefits during cold and flu season.)

During this talk, I promised to share my presentation via my website, so here it is, in all its Power Point glory. (FYI–it’s been a few years since I’ve done one of these, so please be kind in your judgement against my obvious lack of creativity and originality.)

Everything in this presentation is referenced from my book The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea, which is in turn referenced in about 32 pages of scientific research. (YES–it took forever.) If you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me and voice them.

I promise I’ll respond!

Cold and flu season sucks, so without further adieu…here you go:

Medicinal Herbs for Cold and Flu

Spring into Incredible, Edible Flowers

Springtime blooms are exciting, because they signify new beginnings and new life. So why not enjoy them in a new way—as beautiful garnishes and healthy additions to our favourite foods?

In a 2012 study conducted by Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., researchers found “that flowers increase happiness and life satisfaction, and lead to increased contact with family and friends.”[1]

So what happens if we consume them in our tastiest spring-inspired meals?

Here are three different edible flowers accompanied by their medicinal uses, associated recipe ideas, and tips:

Dandelion

Medicinal Benefits

Contrary to popular belief, dandelions are not just pesky weeds! Each part of the dandelion is edible, including the pretty yellow blooms. Not only are they super high in phytochemicals, they are also teeming with vitamins A, B and C, as well as iron and potassium.[2] [3]

Studies have found dandelions to be effective when used for digestive issues, loss of appetite, flatulence and gallstones. They also make a great circulatory tonic, skin toner, and blood tonic, and can be used for treating viral and bacterial infections, in addition to certain types of cancer.[4] [5]

Recipe Idea

Best harvested in early spring, the delicate flowers are naturally slightly bittersweet, and are excellent in salads. Simply pluck the pesticide-free flowers around early April, remove the green stem, and include the flower heads in a fresh garden salad.

Tip: the root and leaves of the dandelion can be an effective mild laxative.[6]

Chamomile

Medicinal Benefits

Chamomile is a goodie. It’s pretty in your flower garden, and it grows easily in BC. The small, sweet flower has some hefty medicinal benefits in the calm department. Traditionally used to treat anxiety, insomnia[7], and stress, chamomile is also antibacterial[8] and anti-inflammatory![9]

Recipe Idea

The flowers can be plucked and dried, then slightly crushed to make tea. Alternatively, the can be eaten fresh atop of a salad or added to a snack like avocado toast.

Tip: if symptoms of hay fever appear, discontinue use.

Lavender

Medicinal Benefits

Is there anything better than the scent of lavender? This fragrant flower is a medicinal dream. Lavender is known for relieving tension, stress, and anxiety.[10] The purple flower is also antiseptic, antispasmodic, and antibacterial. It’s also an analgesic, a relaxant, and a nerve tonic.

Who knew??!

Recipe Idea

Honestly? Make tea. Dry and crush your lavender. Combine one tablespoon dried flower with 8 ounces of hot water. Let steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Strain out loose flora, and drink up!

Tip: Lavender is generally considered safe, but it’s recommended that pregnant women avoid drinking lavender tea in large quantities.[11]

For more recipes using flowers and other herbs, check out my book, The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea. xo

References

[1] http://safnow.org/rutgers-emotional-impact-of-flowers-study/

[2] Rodriguez-Fragoso, Lourdes, et al. “Risks and Benefits of Commonly used Herbal Medicines in México.” Pubmed. Web. 2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2322858/

[3] https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/dandelion

[4] Rodriguez-Fragoso, Lourdes, et al. “Risks and Benefits of Commonly used Herbal Medicines in México.” Pubmed. Web. 2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2322858/

[5] https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/dandelion

[6] Rodriguez-Fragoso, Lourdes, et al. “Risks and Benefits of Commonly used Herbal Medicines in México.” Pubmed. Web. 2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2322858/

[7] “Chamomile.” Livertox. Web. 2015. http://livertox.nih.gov/Chamomile.htm

[8] Janmejai K Srivastava, Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.” Pubmed. Web. 2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/

[9] Renata Dawid-Pać. “Medicinal plants used in treatment of inflammatory skin diseases.” Pubmed. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3834722/

[10] “Lavender.” The University of Maryland Medical Center. Web. 2015. http://umm.edu/health/medical-reference-guide/complementary-and-alternative-medicine-guide/herb/lavender

[11] Rosemary Gladstar. Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. Storey, MA. 2012. P. 151.

Make Your Own Medicinal Tea

Last month, my third book was released into the world. The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea: 50 Ways to Brew the Cure for What Ails You is officially in a bookstore near you.

Or at the very least on Amazon HERE.

This book is different than my first two, because unlike them, I had no background or reference or experience in what I wrote about. The subject matter interested me, and because I’m kind of a holistic chick, I was genuinely curious as to how to go about making all of these amazing remedies for various ailments we suffer with every day.

There are teas for cough and cold, hair loss, and worms. There are recipes in this book for skin rashes, hives, and constipation. Pages upon pages of information regarding how to use herbs that, until recently, I’d never heard of before (like Goldenseal, Burdock, and Feverfew).

Honestly, there are approximately 40 pages of references citing peer-reviewed studies to accompany my suggestions, as well as some kind and careful observations and recommendations by a certified medicinal herbalist.

If you’ve ever been curious about making your own medicinal tea, now is the time to get on it. In our world of Big Pharma and lab-created drugs for anything and everything, getting back to basics and using safe and effective ingredients to make our own remedies is both healthy and empowering.

THC detox drinks for sale.

I hope you love this book as much as I do!

Tea Cover - Copy

10 Herbs for Prevention and Treatment of Colds and Flus

Traditional chinese herbal medicine ingredients, close-up

Researching herbs has temporarily taken over my life. Because I’m currently writing a tea guide, I’m inundated with amazing facts about an enormous amount of medicinal herbs. Yesterday I spent about two hours researching herbs that expel worms and kill lice.

(Aaaaaaand I’m still itchy. *Shudder…)

Since we’re smack in the middle of winter and surrounded by colds and flus, I decided to share what I’ve learned about herbs that help with both prevention and symptoms of viruses that are running around, rearing their ugly heads.

Here are 10 herbs that everyone should have on hand from October to March:

Ginseng tea

  1. Ginseng: to stimulate the immune system, fight upper respiratory tract infections, prevent the flu when taken consistently, and decrease susceptibility to colds.[1] Take as a tea or in capsule form.

Echinacea Flowers homeopathic remedy

  1. Echinacea: Shortens severity of colds when taken as soon as symptoms emerge.[2] Take as a tea or in capsule form.

lemon

  1. Lemon: to kill viruses and bacteria, fight infections, and boost the immune system. Lemon also contains extremely high levels of vitamin C.[3] Squeeze half of a fresh lemon in hot water and drink 2-3 times per day.

Bundle Of Fresh Thyme

  1. Thyme: to kill viruses and bacteria, relieve a cough, and lessen inflammation. Take as a tea.[4]

Medicinal Herbal Tea

  1. Marshmallow: to soothe a sore throat and suppress a cough. Take as tea or in capsule form.[5]

Mint tea

  1. Peppermint: for sore throats, chest and sinus congestion, and nausea. Try sipping peppermint tea, and mixing a few drops of the essential oil in lotion to rub on sore, achy muscles.[6]

Eucalyptus Tea

  1. Eucalyptus: for chest and sinus congestion. Place a few drops of this essential oil in a hot bath.[7]

Ginger Tea homeopathic remedy

  1. Ginger: for nausea, vomiting, treating inflammation, and relieving chills.[8] Take as a tea.

Plantain Tea

  1. Plantain: to soothe a cough, and relieve inflammation.[9] Take as a tea.

Cinnamon

  1. Cinnamon: to kill bacteria, relieve chills and aches, and relieve inflammation.[10] Take as a tea or in capsule form.

So there you have it! Stock up and be well. xo

References:

[1] Predy, Gerald N. et al. “Efficacy of an extract of North American ginseng containing poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharides for preventing upper respiratory tract infections: a randomized controlled trial.” Pubmed. Web. 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1266327/?tool=pubmed

[2] Block KI, Mead MN. “Immune system effects of echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus: a review.” Pubmed. Web. 2003. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15035888

[3] “Lemon (Fruit).” HerbWisdom.com. Web. 2015. http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-lemon.html

[4] Zohra Ashpari. “The Best Natural Cough Remedies.” Healthline. Web. 2014. http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/best-natural-cough-remedies#2

[5] Zohra Ashpari. “The Best Natural Cough Remedies.” Healthline. Web. 2014. http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/best-natural-cough-remedies#2

[6] Zohra Ashpari. “The Best Natural Cough Remedies.” Healthline. Web. 2014. http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/best-natural-cough-remedies#2

[7] Zohra Ashpari. “The Best Natural Cough Remedies.” Healthline. Web. 2014. http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/best-natural-cough-remedies#2

[8] Ann M. Bode and Zigang Dong. “The Amazing and Mighty Ginger.” (Chapter 7.) Pubmed. Web. 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/

[9] Wegener and Kraft K. “Plantain (Plantago lanceolata L.): anti-inflammatory action in upper respiratory tract infections.” Pubmed. Web. 1999. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10483683

[10] Joung-Woo Hong et al. “Anti-inflammatory activity of cinnamon water extract in vivo and in vitro LPS-induced models.” Pubmed. Web. 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3533872/

Dress Your Salad Healthy: when it comes to salad dressing, less is more

Assortment of salad dressings

The average salad dressing has over 20 ingredients; with a quarter of them typically being unpronounceable. Is that necessary? With far more calories and over double the sugar, what benefits are store-bought salad dressings lending us, besides a whole lot of extra filler? By creating your own concoctions, you can tailor them to fit your lifestyle. Whether you’re diabetic, gluten-free, or just eating clean, making your own dressings is a fabulous way to give new life to an old summer meal—while keeping health a priority.

Why bother dousing a healthy salad with unhealthy dressing?

There are a handful of ingredients that should be avoided in any salad dressing, and there are plenty of nutritious alternatives that can be used for making your own. So let’s start with a few ingredients to avoid:

1-      Titanium dioxide. Even the name sounds sketchy. Besides being classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogen to humans)[1], it has also been proven to cause respiratory tract issues, tumors, and other types of cell damage.[2]  Also, it’s not just found in salad dressing. It’s present in many toothpastes, gum, sunscreen, and shaving creams.[3] Awesome.

2-      Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). In other words, trans-fat. Trans-fat has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease,[4] and the Center for Disease Control urges that a “further reduction of trans fat in the food supply can prevent an additional 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year and up to 20,000 heart attacks each year.”[5]

3-      High-fructose corn syrup. Besides the fact that almost 100% of this ingredient in genetically modified, corn syrup is extremely high on the glycemic index.[6] It’s an incredibly cheap sweetener,[7] and most processed food manufacturers love it because of that reason alone. It’s been proven to become addictive to regular consumers (rats display the same addictive behaviours to it as they do to cocaine),[8] and it’s just plain gaggy.

I’m literally gagging right now just thinking about it.

Now that we’ve identified some of the nastier ingredients found in commercial dressings, what are some ingredients that you can use to make healthy ones?

1-      Cold-pressed oils. Oils like olive, grapeseed, avocado, and hemp are great for using in salad dressings. Always avoid vegetable oil.

2-      Vinegar. Vinegars that are great to use include balsamic, white wine, red wine, and apple cider.

3-      Quality sweeteners. These include honey, maple syrup, agave, and brown rice. They are pure in ingredients, and lower on the glycemic index than (gag) high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

4-      Fresh herbs. These are what really make a salad dressing pop. You can use any and all, but my faves include Italian parsley, mint, basil, and cilantro.

Salad Dressing

Here’s one of my favorite recipes to get you started—my neighbor complimented me on it just yesterday. (Thanks, Marlene!) Its super easy to make, and stores well on your counter for up to 2 weeks. It makes about one cup.

1/3 cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. maple syrup

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Mix together well and drizzle accordingly. Happy Friday, everyone!

For more recipes, check out my book, Happy Healthy Gut.

References:

[1] http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html

[2] http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html

[3] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es204168d

[4] http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm372915.htm

[5] http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm372915.htm

[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2695593

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2695593

[8] http://www.healthline.com/health-news/tech-sugar-and-fat-may-be-as-addictive-as-cocaine-052213

Smoothie Inspiration: new ingredients to try today

Detox Smoothie

Who here is guilty of blending only fruit? I mean, fruit is awesome, and an all-fruit smoothie rocks, but you can totally up the ante by throwing some veg in there, peeps!

I’ve tried to blend (almost) everything, and I’ve had some amazing success along with some epic fails. (Don’t blend roots. They’re weird.)

Here is my list of fave veggies to throw into my fruit smoothies—and they ALL bag you major added nutrients to your already healthy snack.

kale

  1. Kale. This leafy green is high in fibre, iron, Vitamin K, and antioxidants.[1] Although there is a slight taste associated with blending kale in your smoothies—and will turn them green depending on how much you throw in—it’s not offensive.
  2. Spinach. This one’s pretty common. Spinach is very high in Vitamins A, E, and C, along with iron and antioxidants (dark, leafy greens are always great for these nutrients).[2] Most people don’t notice any sort of taste associated with it when eaten raw, but it’ll definitely add a green colour to your beauty blend. (If you blend spinach with blueberries, it turns out black!)
  3. Herbs. Herbs are underrated by many, but they pack a huge punch in the flavour department. They are also great for their healing abilities (did you know that cilantro binds with heavy metals?[3]), and can be easily grown on your kitchen counter. The ones I use the most in smoothies are:
    1. Mint (my fave)
    2. Basil
    3. Cilantro
  4. Romaine Lettuce. This is one of the most nutritious of the “common lettuces.” (The ones that most people prefer—ones that aren’t bitter.) It contains protein, calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, and iron.[4]
  5. Cucumber. You won’t taste this, it won’t change the colour of your smoothie, and it adds some major B vitamins to your sweet snack, along with extra water.[5]

Green smoothie

The following four items are my honourable mentions (these aren’t veggies, but they’re not strawberries or bananas, either):

  1. Avocado. I like to blend half of one in my smoothies, and it makes them rich and creamy and glorious. It doesn’t change the taste—just the texture. But think of all the extra nutrient benefits! More than anything, I do it for the added good fat.
  2. Nuts. Again, a source of good fat and protein. I use raw ones, and mostly blend almonds, walnuts, and pecans.
  3. Cocoa. Raw cocoa will add so much flavour, and Harvard researchers have found that it’s associated with improved blood vessel health, decreased blood pressure, and lowered cholesterol levels.[6]
  4. Rolled oats. I do this for the protein and the fibre. As with the nuts, you can just throw a handful on top of your smoothie, if blending them is throwing your completely off your game. Baby steps, right?

Smoothie

I challenge everyone to try something new in their next smoothie—you may discover your next favourite blend. If you need smoothie recipes, check HERE. You can also find more recipes in my book, Happy Healthy Gut. Good luck!

References:

[1] http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html

[2] http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43

[3] http://www.naturalnews.com/027942_cilantro_heavy_metals.html

[4] http://www.incrediblesmoothies.com/nutrition/10-surprising-nutrition-facts-about-romaine-lettuce/

[5] http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_vitamins_are_in_cucumbers

[6] http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20110323/cocoa-rich-in-health-benefits

Aloe for Digestive Health

aloe vera

Although you may not yet know it, your kitchen probably houses some pretty awesome natural digestive cures. Apple cider vinegar, ginger, peppermint, fennel, and lemon are a few examples. You shouldn’t have to run to a pharmacy for these—your local grocery store should carry them. The nice thing about using whole foods and natural ingredients to help ease your digestive system is that there are no side-effects. No long, crazy disclaimers that include warnings like “may lead to a hospital stay and, in rare cases, blood transfusions, surgery, and death”[i] or “the chance of getting lymphoma or other cancers may increase.”[ii]

Sheesh.

Today, the kitchen cure we’re talking about aloe. Many people keep aloe plants in their homes, and they have a ton of medicinal uses. Let’s dive in:

Aloe is traditionally used to treat burns—it has a definite cooling effect on the skin. Because of this, it also has a cooling effect on your digestive system. If you’re inflamed on the inside, then ingesting aloe in the form of capsules or juice can be highly beneficial. It has been shown to work with all kinds of digestive disorders. Consistent use of aloe juice can also help to regulate the bowel and loosen sticky debris from the inside of the intestinal tract, therefore assisting in detoxification, and better absorption of essential nutrients.[iii] Go, aloe!

(Aloe is typically used in conjunction with colonic irrigation, which I highly recommend if you are not having regular bowel movements. If you are chronically constipated, this process is for you, my friend.)

Interesting side note, “aloe vera plant shows it is made up from a large variety of amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals and it comes closer than any other known plant to the duplication of life’s essential substances in the biochemistry of the human body.”[iv]

Hmmm….worth giving a shot right?
Happy Wednesday!