For Men’s Health Month I put together a list of natural help for thinning and even graying hair. These issues are not just men’s issues of course, but they do seem to suffer the earliest and most severely when it comes to thinning hair. Overall nutrition and lifestyle play a role, as well as genetics, but there are things you can do to help your hair remain vibrant and healthy. Check out the post here, and please share it with anyone who might be looking for a little help in the hair department.
In a lot of ways, herb usage hasn’t changed that much. We still use herbs on our foods to make them taste better and be more digestible, and we drink herbal infusions for their taste and health properties as well. Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Naturopathic doctors rely on herbs even today for balancing out bodily systems, and other health advisors such as nutritionists and massage therapists sometimes use herbs to produce certain specific effects in the body. Modern doctors on the other hand do not study herbs nor nutrition….
Continue reading: Herbalism Today
It’s been a long road.
I’ve wanted to write this up for a couple of weeks now, but I’ve been too nervous. I keep waiting for the old gluten symptoms to spring up, but so far…nothing. It’s been three weeks that I’ve added spelt back into my diet and so far I haven’t had any issues. Spelt is the last thing I gave up way back at the beginning of this blog’s existence actually, and now it’s the first thing I’ve put back in my diet after years of actively trying to heal my gut. My personal symptoms include bloating, headaches, fatigue, general malaise, and acne. I realize these sound like odd things to string all together, but the fact is that when I used to eat wheat, those issues plagued my life, then when I’d stop they’d stop, then when I’d eat wheat either as an experiment or by accident, sure enough, those symptoms would immediately be back. So far though, these last three weeks have been symptom-free despite eating spelt once about every other day. It isn’t much but I was so nervous to do it that it took about a month of thinking about it before actually eating a bite of spelt. (By the way, spelt is a variety of wheat with a lower than average gluten content which is why it is more tolerable than regular wheat flour.) My protocol started two years ago which I detailed here, but I also ended up adding adaptogens to my daily life which balance all the bodily systems, digestive herbs every day, and I’ve used Renew Life’s IntestiNew powder for a few months to really rebuild the intestinal lining. I also did a candida cleanse about a year ago b/c it’s important to your digestive health to make sure you don’t have an overabundance of candida in your system which many many people do because of antibiotic use and sugar-filled diets. If you are working to overcome food intolerances, here are some things to consider:
- Stop eating the trigger foods (of course)
- Take probiotics~ the highest potency ones you can find, and take different brands each time you need a new bottle. Talk with your doctor or naturopath about the dosing because most likely they will recommend higher dosages than on the bottle. This is especially true if you’ve been on antibiotics (ever) and never taken probiotics before.
- Heal intestinal lining by taking glutamine and herbs targeted towards such, and also by eating foods that are not overly taxing on the digestive system. These can vary by people, but you know what sits in your gut or causes you to bloat and have digestive distress and what feels good to your body when you eat it. By taking digestive enzymes before you eat and incorporating digestive herbs into your diet, you are also aiding the healing process.
- Give it time. Depending on how long it’s been an issue in your life, it could mean 3 months to 2 years of work. Trust your body, your intuition, and your medical professionals, but especially your body. Food intolerances can arise at any time in a person’s life but they don’t have to last for the rest of that person’s life. You can beat it, you can heal, and you can have optimal health.
Curing food intolerance is not something to undertake alone. I’ve worked with my physician, naturopath, and a GI specialist, plus I am an certified herbalist who’s worked in the natural foods and products industry so I know about what supplements are out there. Please work with health professionals of your own before trying to heal yourself, but hopefully this post will encourage others to heal and not just live with food intolerances indefinitely.
Recently I got some samples in the #NewHopeBloggerbox that included all kinds of foods, drink mixes, and supplements, and I noticed that quite a few things were helpful in keeping appetites at bay and improving satiety, as well as managing stress. Normally weight loss is not something I write about because it is such a complex and personal journey, but for those looking for just some natural ways that might help push those numbers to a more favorable weight for you, meaning your optimal weight, not anyone else’s idea of an optimal weight, then you might enjoy trying some of these products.
This one from Spice Pharm is delicious:The Turmeric Chai Elixir has coconut in it so that when you add the hot water to the powder, that’s all you need to do. No milk required. It already has all the creaminess right there in it, plus adapotgenic herbs too, and it tastes incredible. The weight-loss part comes from using this drink in-between meals to increase your feelings of satiety (and it really does, without many calories either) or using it as a dessert. The chocolate one was best for the dessert style option but the chai elixir is so darn tasty that it suits that sweet tooth craving too. Adaptogens in general help support optimal weight by being over-all balancing to all body systems. Herbs act to balance, because when our bodies are out of balance then they are not optimal~ not in performance, not in detoxing, not in craving control, and not in energy levels nor stress levels nor sleep abilities. Adaptogens are the class of herbs that target all of that, and more.
Speaking of detox:
This is a detoxifying drink for between meals that can also curb cravings, increase circulation and energy, and also make your body more alkaline. We really can’t get too many greens in our body, and Kyo-Green’s powder mix focused on energy is a great afternoon pick-me-up. Add to water the juice of half a lemon, 1/2 t. or less of cayenne powder, and 1 – 2 t. of the greens, and mix it all up. I use a big water bottle so I can continue to shake it up while I drink it since settling occurs. Of course you can also use these greens in just water, juice, or a smoothie.
Another way to get extra greens into your body which not only have so many nutrients and antioxidants, but also act to make your body more alkaline, is to add Kale to your smoothies, juice, or just plain water. I usually add fresh kale to my morning protein smoothie, but this vegetable powder from The Synergy Company is an excellent alternative when I am out of the fresh stuff or it just isn’t in season. The taste in one heaping teaspoon is just as potent as a couple of handful of leaves so it’s obviously very concentrated and packed with all the good stuff.
Another way to manage overzealous appetites is to manage stress and anxiety. It’s no secret that people often eat to soothe themselves instead of eating when truly hungry, plus there is a link between the stress hormone cortisol and holding on to extra weight. If your anxiety is causing you issues, there is help:
There are actually quite a few herbal tinctures and supplements to help with anxiety, but this one from Herb Pharm is unique for its use of lavender essential oil which you really taste when you drop it into your mouth. If you are used to taking tinctures that taste like roots, bark, and alcohol, you are in for a surprise with this anxiety remedy, which also boasts great calming herbs like passionflower, kava and others, without being too calming. Sometimes herbal anxiety remedies can actually make me tired, but this one does the anti-anxiety work without the yawns.
Of course when it is bedtime and we actually do want those yawns to kick in is often exactly when stress and anxiety like to wake us right back up. Some natural alternatives out there help you fall asleep, but if you have a problem staying asleep all night, then Tranquil Sleep by Natural Factors is for you:
This has a combination of ingredients to help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed which is far different than unnatural sleeping pills which often leave people feeling groggy. No one wants waking up to be any harder than it has to be! Sleeping well is so essential to our health and well-being that taking good care of it is just as important as the healthy choices we make in our awake hours.
Best of luck in all your health endeavors, and always check with your personal health experts when trying something new. Adap
Herbs are known for their rebellious nature, growing in the sidewalk cracks and the depleted soil abandoned alleyways of the world, but that’s not where I’m going with this post. I’m actually going to a far more suburban place….Trader’s Joe’s in fact. Look at what I found at my local (Redmond, WA) Trader Joe’s:
AND, notice that they are organic too. Are these herbs becoming mainstream? Or is Trader Joe’s branching out into herbal waters? I mean the cacao powder makes sense, people do cook with it. But Maca is little more esoteric, unless people are using it in some way that has alluded me. If so, do tell! I put cacao powder into my chai-style digestive and antioxidant blend that I add daily to smoothies and coffee. It is full of antioxidants and tastes darkly, deeply, right with the chai spices. As for the Maca, I haven’t ever used it before but I couldn’t pass it up when it was right there in the aisle next to my favorite corn chips and chia seeds. Maca is an adaptogen that is known to support energy and hormone levels, and can be used in place of (or along with) other adaptogens like Ashwagandha. I’m going to mix it into my current adaptogen powder blend which includes Ashwagandha, Eleuthero, and Rhodiola. I add that mix to my morning protein smoothie too, then I add other powdered herbs to my teas and coffees that I drink the rest of the day. Powdered herbs are a really great way to just add extra nutrition to any food or drink that you are going to put into your body anyway, so why not? What do you do with herbal powders?
Below is an article about four trusted places to get bulk herbs which is timely since I was just talking about Mountain Rose Herbs and of course they are one of the four. I also used to work in the health food industry and can tell you that Frontier is where every health food store I worked with got their bulk herbs. I’d also like to give a shout out to Gaia Herbs for their herbal supplements which are thoughtfully formulated and extremely effective, Herb Pharm for it’s tinctures and supplements too, and while we’re at it, Rainbow Light is my favorite vitamin/mineral company because of their intelligent and holistic formulations. Also, a rule of thumb I learned in the natural foods industry is that when you are using a new natural product, you want to give it about two months time to see a difference, and it’s also a good idea to start with less than the recommended dosage and work up to it as your digestive system allows. This is especially true with herbs because they have fiber and depending on how used to fiber your particular system is used to, your body might react unfavorably to a sudden large increase in daily fiber consumption, but it will acclimate to it if you give yourself time. It’s best to work with a naturopath or a clinical herbalist when starting something new so they can advise on dosing, which very well might end up being more than on the packaging, but if that isn’t an option than at the very least stick to reputable companies and do thorough research.
Consider these conscious companies when shopping for herbal ingredients. Many of us like to take our health into our own hands and create our own herbal remedies such as tinctures, teas, salves, and oils. Of course, growing our own herbs is the absolute best way to get the freshest possible ingredients. But there are many […]
Most of the time when I make perfume oils it’s all about the scent. (I have a couple of videos about making them, here and here.) This is different though, this one is all about the emotional benefits with my essential oil picks based solely on their traditionally recognized benefits for reducing anxiety and stress. I chose sunflower oil for the base because it hardly has any scent of its own so it carries the e.o. scents quite well. The essential oils I’m using are Neroli, known to decrease nervous tension and apprehension, so much so that Neroli blossoms used to frequently be placed in wedding bouquets, Clary Sage which is a happy scent, sometimes even described as euphoric and elation-promoting, and Lavender which is a relaxing scent. To make the blend, simply add the base oil (I use a funnel to reduce spillage) to the clean, empty bottle of choice. In the picture I have a clear, 1/3 oz. bottle, but I actually ended up using a dark amber bottle instead because dark-colored glass helps the essential oils stay fresh longer. In a 1/3 oz bottle I’d add about 12 drops of essential oils total, and in a 1/2 oz bottle size I’d add 15-18 drops total. For this blend none of the oils are exceptionally strong so I decided to add equal amounts to the base oil, so 4 drops of each oil went into the bottle. Always cap your blends right away and shake them, or better yet, roll them in your hands to mix the ingredients together. The blend is then ready to use but it will deepen and change a bit over a month’s time. Keep it out of direct light and heat for best results, and then use on pulse points to reduce nervousness and stress. Always remember to shake the bottle before using to make sure the essential oils are well mixed. This is so easy that even the most stressed out person can manage to do this without so much as a toddler sized tantrum or clenched jaw. Don’t forget to write down your personal blend formula for future reference, and also to label the bottle accordingly. I labeled mine ‘breathe’ so I remember to check on the quality of my breathing when I’m reaching for a stress-reducing scent. A mantra I learned a long time ago comes in handy at those moments: Breathe in the future, breathe out the past. The sweet spot is in-between the breath in and breath out which can only be recognized as the present. Let me know what your favorite stress-reducing techniques are. I’d love to hear them!