Herbal Remedies…Mysteries Revealed!

Herbal Garden

Wild herbs were used during ancient times as healing remedies.  Today many people continue using herbs as a means of helping themselves with various ailments and illnesses.  A 5,300 year old Iceman was found in the Alps in 1991, he had medicinal mushrooms among his personal effects – and have been used for centuries in Eastern Europe as medicine.  Growing your own herbs are easy and I find it relaxing.  Fresh herbs are more potent in cooking then with the dried variety.

When I started my herb garden several years ago I started with 5 varieties that were easy to grow for a novice gardner like myself.  These herbs could thrive in just about any environment, and they have few side effects when consumed in small amounts.  You can also take them with most pharmaceutical or over the counter drugs as well.  **If you are on blood thinners or have a serious health condition, consult your doctor first.

PEPPERMINT

What an amazing remedy for digestion.  It has been shown to calm the muscles of the stomach and digestive tract and is great to alleviate gas and cramping.  A cup of warm peppermint tea can also help to loosen phlegm and sooth sore throats.  Did you know that you can apply peppermint topically to take the itch out of bug bites, ease muscle cramps, help with headaches and arthritis?

LEMON BALM

This was used during ancient times as a drug to help ease anxiety and help with heart palpitations.  More recently doctors have endorsed it for relieving tension, anxiety and restlessness.  Studies have shown that it helps increase mental clarity, memory and improved mood.   I planted a whole yard of this stuff. 🙂

ROSEMARY

I LOVE cooking with Rosemary!  I throw it on top of roasts all the time.  It gives off an amazing scent while its cooking too.  The use of rosemary as a memory enhancer dates back to early Western Civilization.  Rosemary helps relieve joint pain.  It may be made into a topical ointment, and rubbed into the skin for relief.

VALERIAN

Valerian is commonly used in another form these days…Valium.  Throughout history Valerian has been used for pretty much the same thing.  It acts as a sedative and helps as a sleep aid.  Instead of filling a prescription for Valium, next time try some Valerian extract.  If you grow your own Valerian, cut the flowers as soon as they appear, otherwise the plant goes dormant too early.  Cutting the flowers keeps it growing.

SAGE

Sage combined with Echinacea is as effective a pain reliever as taking Lidocaine in sore throat relief?  It also helps as a breath freshener.  You can make a gargle out of Sage by steeping a tablespoon of sage leaves in 1 cup of hot water for 5 minutes.  Be sure to strain the liquid and then start gargling.

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Travertine Spa Linen Spray

A few posts back, I suggested some ways on how you can sleep better. I mentioned trying to sleep to the scent of lavender oil as studies have shown that the scent of lavender can induce sleepiness and a better rest. The good news is that every night, you can actually enhance the lavender scent in your sleeping area by spritzing your bed linens with a great scented linen spray like the Travertine Spa Linen Spray in lavender. For just $12.00, you not only enhance your slumber, you can also add a lot of a romance to your bedroom!

This linen spray is part of Travertine’s extravagant Spa Essentials collection. For more information you can check out their site at www.travertinespa.com.

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Having a hard time sleeping?

Isn’t it so irritating when you really need to sleep for a long day tomorrow but for some reason you can’t doze off? Here are just some methods that may help to fall asleep just when you need it most.

1. Wear an eye-mask. Do you know that even the dimmest light sources like a post light outside or the screen of an alarm clock can be sleep obstructers? Our brains can detect light even when our eyes are closed so it helps to wear a soft, dark eye-mask to totally block out any light.

2. Take a warm bath. A drop in body temperature caused by a warm shower tells your system that it’s time to cool down, rest, and sleep. In addition, taking a short shower before sleep relaxes you and sets you in that mood to snooze.

3. Sniff some lavender. Studies have shown that the scent of lavender can induce sleepiness and a deeper rest. So make sure you have some lavender oils by your bedside.

Know more sleep inducers?

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Benefits of Chamomile

Chamomile is a great herb often found in Europe and North America. Believed to be the world’s most soothing herb, it is well known for its relaxing properties and is often made into tea. But did you know that drinking chamomile tea can give you a whole lot of other benefits aside from relaxation? Read on to know just what I’ve gathered about this excellent beverage.

1. Stressed because of your period? Having the usual stomach cramps? Drinking chamomile tea may help you as its anti-spasmodic properties makes it a great treatment to various pains like stomach cramps, menstrual cramps, diarrhea, and other stress-related pains. Drinking chamomile tea has also been associated with increase in urinary levels of glycine, an amino acid that relieves muscle spasms and which is also known to be a nerve relaxant.

2. Having a hard time sleeping because of some problems that worry you? Try drinking chamomile tea which is used to relieve anxiety and insomnia.

3. Had a little too much to eat? Is your digestion all messed up? Chamomile can be used to treat bowel inflammation, digestive disorders and heartburn because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It soothes the muscles lining the digestive tract to relieve pain.

4. Suffering from skin and eye problems or bacterial infections? Chamomile has also been found to be a great treatment to skin disorders, sunburns, and eye problems. If you want to relieve tired or puffy eyes, you can soak a wash cloth or cotton on a cool cup of chamomile tea and place the cloth over your eyes a few times a day.

5. Having a bad day? One glass of chamomile tea may be all you need to relax and improve your mood. Studies have shown that not only does chamomile tea relax; it can also lighten up a bad mood.

6. Feeling a bit weak? Not too conditioned lately? Drinking chamomile tea regularly may help you get in your normal top condition as studies have shown that chamomile’s antibacterial properties boost the immune system and fight infections associated with colds.

Care to share your knowledge on chamomile tea?

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My Brother the Acupuncturist

My brother Jeff lives in Washington State, having moved there about 14 years ago. He is a practicing acupuncturist/chinese herbalist. He has a thriving business in Washington where on every street corner you see a health food store or yoga/massage studio.

When I tell people about my brother and I get to the Chinese Medicine part, they seem to look puzzled. Did he study in China? Is he adopted? (Because clearly I am not of Asian descent) The truth is, he started studying this method of natural healing before he finished college. He just did not realize it at the time. 🙂 After getting a degree in communications and going into graphic design, like his big sister, he landed in The New England School of Acupuncture. He became a LAc, CA at the school. You can find him at Acupuncture Mediaworks.

My brother Jeff studying this ancient art of healing and comprehensive health was pretty impressive. My mom always wanted a doctor in the family (just not sure this type was what she was thinking). TRaditional Chinese Medicine has been practiced for more than 4000 years in diagnosing, treating and preventing disease. It enhances recuperative power and strengthens immunity. Chinese medicine encompasses acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition, along with body work and breathing exercises (Qi Gong). The basic principles of this method of treatment is balance and harmony in the human body, the ying yang concept. It is said that when things are not in balance in the body, then the body is not cohesive and becomes disrupted in its ability to heal.

Acupuncture is based on Qi (pronounced chee). The Qi has many channels that flow thorughout the body. When something is not working properly the Qi becomes clogged or blocked and needs to be reopened or illness may occur. Acupuncture points are along our line of Qi. When we use acupuncture, we open up the blocked channels allowing the Qi to flow and our bodies to be balanced once again. Our bodies can now easily heal itself as it was intended to do.

Acupuncture requires the use of extremely fine, sterilized needles. The needles are so fine you can barely see them. They are more like a metal filament. The are gently tapped just below the skin on points of the Qi helping to unblock the path, so the energy in or bodies can flow freely. Even I can handle acupuncture needles. I am the type of person who has t close their eyes and hold someones hand to get an injection. 🙂 When the needles are inserted, all you feel is a tap from the practitioner. Once the needle is in place, you really do not feel much. The most I have ever felt is a slight tingling sensation in the area.

Treatments usually last for about 1 hour. Most health issues require more then one visit. You do get some instant relief when going for a treatment. Depending on the severity of the problem, usually determines how quickly you can feel the benefits of acupuncture.

Another method of treating health issues without using needles is the method of cupping. Cupping is the use of suction to increase circulation in an area of the body that requires treatment. The only thing with cupping is that the suction leaves a mark that will go away after a couple of days. The mark resembles a large hickie or bruise.

Moxibustion is another method of healing as well. In this instance, an herb is burned and the heat of the herb is used in the healing process. It is for treating specific areas of the body. This is a great treatment for colds

Any of these named modalities of natural healing can be used in conjunction with one another. For maximum results, always research a practitioner thoroughly and try to obtain testimonials from previous or current clients of that practitioner.

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What is Aromatherapy?

 

image Someone asked me about aromatherapy and as I went into my long winded discussion about the benefits, I decided writing about it would be a good way to get information. Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine using scents and essential oils to affect a person’s mood and health. Many people find aromatherapy helpful in massage practices, medicines, fresheners, and topical applications.

Aromatherapy has been around for over 6000 years. It has many ways it can be used aerial diffusion, direct inhalation, and topically. Aromatherapy can also be used to treat some illness and infection. It is ideal in the treatment of some infections. I found it quite surprising to know that aromatherapy can have such a powerful physical impact on your body. Before, I would never have thought that aromatherapy could be used for anything other than just making the home smell nice. It’s nice to find it can be used for so many wonderful uses. The effects of aromatherapy are so vast and widely used that you can find them just about everywhere. From essential oils to room fragrances you can always find a functional use for aromatherapy. If you really want to learn more great information in more detail you can check out some of these sites Aromaweb, Wikipedia, and Aromatherapy. These sites a full of helpful information.

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Coffee is healthy!

I hardly believed this when I read the article on coffee actually being good for you. Having been on a variety of diets throughout my life, each and every one mention staying clear of coffee and other caffeine products. Now people are talking about coffee actually benefiting your health!

The idea is that coffee helps to eliminate the risk of every developing type 2 diabetes. Having 1 to 3 cups per day can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by single digits. Having 6 cups per day or more, has proven, according to a study, reduced men’s risk of type 2 diabetes by 54% and womens risk by 34%. Hard to believe.

Studies have also shown that:

  • People who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinsons disease.
  • People who drink 2 cups per day or more can reduce their risk of colon cancer by 25%
  • People who drink at least 2 cups per day reduce their risk of liver cirrhosis by 80%
  • People who drink at least 2 cups per day avoid getting gall stones by 50%
  • People who smoke or are heavy drinkers lower their chance of heart disease and liver damage as compared to those that do not.
  • Coffee drinkers may lower the risk of developing asthma

Coffee has shown to be able to lift your mood, get rid of a headache and prevent cavities (I guess that depends on how much sugar you take).

What effect does coffee on your skin?

Coffee and caffeine are finding their way into skin lotions and creams because of antioxidant properties and tightening and firming qualities. Caffeine applied to the skin operates in three ways – as an antioxidant, a diuretic and a vasoconstrictor.

For years, caffeine has been used in products sold to reduce cellulite. The caffeine supposedly dehydrates fat cells by somehow energizing them which in turn causes the sodium/potassium component of the cells to be eliminated, so the skin on buttocks and thighs becomes smoother.

Caffeine’s vaso-constricting characteristic also makes it a favorite ingredient in eye creams for reducing puffiness and dark circles as well as tightening skin around the eyes. This I have to say I have seen with my own eyes. I found a product that contains caffeine, and has reduced puffiness and dark circles under my eyes. The caffeine combined with a variety of other botanicals, minerals, and of course rich with vitamin C has made it very effective in taking care of this problem. Of course, nothing eliminates cellulite or troubled skin around the eyes completely. The best you can hope for is noticeable improvement, perhaps only for a few hours.

With the explosion in coffee based skin products, it now is seen in body scrubs, face creams and fragrances. A number of products even smell like coffee and contain ground coffee intended as an exfoliate. Some purveyors have even gone so far as to suggest that the absorption of caffeine through the skin will give you the sort of alertness you can expect from drinking coffee. I have a tough time swallowing that one! Coffee has a slower absorption rate then if you were to drink a cup of coffee. Drinking coffee actually puts it directly into your body, whereas the skin absorption rate is much slower and less effective

Being a latte drinker, my question is what about the stained teeth? It may prevent cavities but it increases staining. As far as having a headache, I know that if I do not have coffee one day I will get a headache, I tough it was caffeine withdrawal, so maybe thats why the headaches disappears? As for mood enhancer, isn’t that what caffeine does, gives you more energy. But when the caffeine wears off we need more coffee to get rid of the headache, and not feel lethargic anymore. I guess I would not mind having stained teeth if I can avoid parkinsons disease, heart disease, liver cirrhosis, gall stones or colon cancer!

What do you think?

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