alternative medicine · children · Education · essential oils · health · Herbs · kids · modern life · parenting · supplements

Herbs and Supplements for Students

Students have special requirements whether they are in middle school or working on their PhD. Herbs and other supplements can help with optimal brain functioning and also with the stress of schoolwork. Read more on how to help them in their studies here.

 

alternative medicine · essential oils · health · Herbs · supplements

Sharing Reputable Herb Companies

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 […]

via 4 Bulk Herb Wholesalers You Can Trust — Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

alternative medicine · essential oils · recipe · supplements

Anti-Anxiety Perfume Oil

anti-anxiety perfume oil

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!

alternative medicine · essential oils · health · Herbs · supplements

Sharing a Blog post about St. John’s Wort (with commentary of course)

This is timely considering we are enduring the longest winter ever here in the Pacific Northwest. I often take St. John’s Wort to ward of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but for some reason I didn’t this year and right about now, I’m regretting it. The rain is dreary and we are all weary. The only good thing is that when it does start to dry up and warm up it’s going to be fantastic. And when it does, those taking St. John’s Wort should be aware that it can make one more photosensitive, therefore be sure to be a bit more diligent with wearing sunscreen or however you protect your skin. I love the whole cycle of that though~ Vitamin D is connected to SAD, we get Vitamin D from exposure to the sun, St. John’s Wort ups our ability to receive from the sun, St. John’s Wort is known as an effective antidepressant. I’ve written a bit about this same increased photo-sensitivity affect before concerning antidepressant citrus essential oils. Herbs are magical. Here’s some scientific proof:

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum, Hypericaceae) St. John’s wort (SJW; Hypericum perforatum, Hypericaceae) aerial parts are a popular treatment for depression, and many countries in Europe prescribe SJW for that purpose. According to the authors, SJW has been well researched; however, the results are conflicting. The last large published meta-analysis was conducted in 2008, and […]

via Meta-analysis Finds Standardized St. John’s Wort Extracts as Effective as Conventional Antidepressants — Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

alternative medicine · food · health · Herbs · supplements · technology

Ginger Nanoparticles Show Promise for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

I very rarely reblog but this article is such a cool combination of high-tech and traditional herbal medicine that I couldn’t resist. Plus it could help a lot of people out there with digestive issues. Even if you don’t have access to nano-particles, including more ginger in our diets can’t hurt.

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Ginger is spicing up the search for a cure for inflammatory bowel disease, according to research published in Biomaterials. Delivered in the form of nanoparticles, researchers believe ginger could offer a targeted and effective remedy for this potentially debilitating condition.
[ginger root]Ginger is thought to offer wide-ranging health benefits.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers a group of disorders in which the intestines become inflamed. The cause of IBD is unknown, but scientists believe it could be an autoimmune condition, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself. The two main forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

People with IBD often experience diarrhea and pain – which can be severe – and they may lose blood through the rectum. They are also more prone to complications such as anemia, as their intestines do not absorb nutrients effectively.

Scientists have been looking at nanotechnology as a way of…

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alternative medicine · children · health · Herbs · homeopathy · kids

Homeopathy

Years ago when I worked at a natural foods store, there was confusion over that word, ‘Homeopathy’. Some used it in reference to all alternative or traditional forms of healing, when it is in fact, a very specific form of medicine. Homeo, just like homo, means same or similar to,  while pathy means disorder in the body, which is exactly the theory behind homeopathy know for action based on “like treats like”. In other words, homeopathic medicine uses substances that would create the same symptoms that one is trying to treat. Sound crazy? It should actually sound familiar, because this is the same theory behind vaccines~ small doses of a trigger element inspire the immune system to kick in and heal the body. While herbalism is best used as a daily practice to maintain balance and work to fix issues long-term, homeopathy is in its element when something is in need of immediate attention, such as when you fall and bonk your head, or come down with a cold despite the fortress of herbal walls you’ve built around yourself (like I did).

There are several homeopathic remedies I always carry with me, especially since I have two young boys who tend to collect bumps and bruises like others collect Star Wars paraphernalia. Arnica is for bumps, bruises, falls, sprains, anything that surprises your body with unwelcome force, including surgery. It works incredibly well, especially for kids who are usually surprised at putting little pellets under their tongue after falling down and they forget all about being hurt.

Arnica30C_Pillow-shadow-300

Another one that is always in my purse is Hyland’s Motion Sickness for obvious reasons. If I’m not in the driver’s seat, I’m sick, and my boys tend to get sick on long trips too, especially when they can’t keep from reading in the backseat. This stuff really works well and even though everyone says ginger or peppermint will help motion sicknesses, I’ll stick with homeopathy over herbs on this one.

hylands-motion-sickness

To ward off flu symptoms, nothing beats Boiron’s oscillococcinum. It’s a homeopathy remedy with a nearly unpronounceable name and yet during flu season it sells off the shelves like candy at Halloween which is proof this stuff packs some serious power. Oscillococcinum

When my kids get a cold I use Hyland’s Cold n’ Cough (if they are coughing) which is a liquid and works quite effectively. It is similar to over the counter brands where you give a dose every 4 hours or so but it isn’t toxic in any way and it doesn’t make kids tired or feel drugged at all.

cold-n-cough-4kids_0

I also like Hyland’s Defend Severe Cold and Flu packets that you add hot water too and drink like a tea. They work really well and don’t have that weird suppressing feeling where the cold has been temporarily buried deeper while I walk around in a lethargic daze extending the time the cold resides in my body.

defendTea with lemon and honey works great too, but the homeopathic boost is a great addition to the winter virus battlefield. After all, the more tools in your toolkit, well, medicine cabinet, the better.

alternative medicine · celiac disease · children · cleansing · dairy free · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten intolerant · health · Herbs · kids

Candida’s Role in Food Sensitivities and Allergies

I’ve been thinking about candida overgrowth lately because of several reasons. One of those reasons is that I’ve lately let my youngest intentionally eat gluten twice to see how he handles it. So far I haven’t seen any issues, but I’m keeping a close eye on him. The reason my kids were tested for food intolerances is because I have such a bad reaction to gluten, but as for them, their reactions were more subtle and not necessarily the gluten. My oldest used to complain about an upset tummy all the time~ almost every day it didn’t feel right. Once he was off all the things he was found to be sensitive to, including gluten and dairy, his stomach issues went away. He can now eat everything that he was once intolerant to, except we haven’t tried him on gluten b/c the naturopath thought that was his main issue. My youngest on the other hand, had less intolerances in general, but a higher sensitivity to dairy. She thought his main issue might be dairy instead of gluten, though he tested intolerant to both (and not much else.) He didn’t complain about stomach issues as much as he had cheeks that were constantly red and bumpy, and bouts of constipation. (If he ever reads this he’ll be furious I just shared that!) He now seems to handle dairy fine, which is why I thought he could try gluten. It’s all just trial and error and figuring out what’s going to best support optimal health, which is why I thought I should probably take a look again at Candida, because a candida overgrowth is bad on its own, and most people don’t even know when they have an overgrowth, but not only that, an overgrowth can actually cause food intolerances and allergies. So, if I want to cure these intolerances of my boys and mine, which I do, then I need to check and make sure our guts are able to support these troublesome foods and that has everything to do with the microbiome.

The simple way to think about it is that candida (which everyone has) can start growing in numbers that cause an imbalance in the digestive system, and when that happens, whether caused by a round of antibiotics, a diet too rich in sugars and processed foods, or any other reason then the candida population can explode. If you have ever had a yeast infection or jock itch, then you have experienced candida getting out of control, and if it made it to one of those places, you can be fairly certain you have too much in your gut, and quite possibly a systemic situation throughout your body. So how does this relate to food intolerances and allergies? Candida can cause leaky gut syndrome, where larger molecules of food can pass through the holes in the gut. These bits of food are too large for the body to recognize outside of the gut, so the immune system kicks in to fight the invader. The offending food becomes ‘labeled’ as bad, so the body reacts to it badly. In this way, food can often go from an intolerance to a full on allergy (with a full immune response). When you stop eating an offending food for a few months, or years as is our case here, then the body forgets that it needs to react badly to it, and if the digestive tract has had a chance to heal in the meantime, so much the better. Probiotics are essential. Now that my kids have had a few years to rid their body of intolerance reactions and have taken daily probiotics (always changing the brand every time we get new bottles~ that’s important too! Not a time for brand loyalty b/c the microbiome is incredibly diverse and all those brands use different probiotics so you get the most diversity by switching up what you use.) My kids seem to be doing pretty well but I do notice that my oldest son’s stomach has a tendency to still bloat very easily. I certainly know the feeling! This is indeed a candida symptom, though can also be a symptom of other things of course, but this particular kiddo used to have a bad issue with yeast and a doctor had him on Nystatin for about six months or even longer, so I know he has the tendency towards candida overgrowth. Before he tries gluten, he’ll have to do some kind of candida cleanse. And as for me, my issues have gone on for decades instead of the small amount of years my sons’ issues have, so I know it is going to take much longer for me. But I do think I’ll get there. It’ll take more work, and a lot more time, but I do think food intolerance can be beaten. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere, and if there is a path the intolerance traveled to become fully present, it makes sense that one can reverse the path.

By the way, there are tons of great articles on candida overgrowth out there, and how to fight it and how to know if you have it. Just do a quick search and you’ll be inundated. To get you started, here’s one I recently read: Candida info.

celiac disease · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten free lifestyle · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · health · Herbs · supplements

Curing Gluten Intolerance

Asher jumping

That’s my goal. Total healing. I think it can be done too, but the only problem I have is that I don’t know if I’m celiac or not, which would be a whole other story. If it is ‘just’ gluten intolerance though, it seems like it should be something one could get over, with the proper nutrition specific to those with weaker digestive tracts and supplements to support rebuilding the digestive process. It seems like all the people who have problems digesting wheat, and there are many, probably have a variety of reasons for their gluten issues other than today’s gluten being notoriously harder to digest than it used to be. Here are two reasons that I can think of, though I’m quite certain there are many more:

1. Digestive process being hurt by antibiotics in both food and use in medical treatment. Why? Because antibiotics kill the good bugs as well as the bad bugs, meaning the probiotics in our guts are killed off when we take antibiotics, which is why (some) doctors encourage eating yogurt a few hours after taking antibiotics. Once the micro-system of one’s gut is out of balance, the whole digestive system gets wonky. One reason is that bad gut bacteria flourishes on sugars and partially digested food, and guess what we eat way more of than ever before~ sugar. So the chances of taking antibiotics and messing up the little micro-environment down there is very high, and it tends to have a snowball effect.

2. Our diets are largely sub-optimal for digestive bliss. Fruits and vegetables contain enzymes that break down food but our diets mostly do not contain a large percentage of fruits and vegetables. Even vegans and vegetarians usually eat more beans and processed carbs (which are very hard to digest) than fresh produce. If you are familiar with the low-FODMAP diet, then you will know that even many fruits and veggies are on the ‘gassy’ list because they are harder to digest and therefore tend to sit in the gut too long. If your digestive system is ‘off’ I suggest looking at low FODMAP information to see if this rings true for you. If you are eating foods that are causing any kind of digestive distress, you are weakening your system which again, has a snowball effect. People of course can have different foods set them off other than the high-FODMAP ones so it is important to be aware of your body and it’s reactions to any food, but looking at the FODMAP information might be a good place to start for many. Another place to start might be an IgG food panel test that your doctor or more likely, a naturopath, can administer.

2.5 This is related to the above but needed its own space. There is a book, website, and subsequent subculture and devotees to the idea that even severe digestive disorders such as crohn’s disease, IBS, and Celiac can indeed be cured with a specific diet. I read the book a couple of years ago and was intrigued but my lifestyle right now doesn’t lend itself to following a strict diet like the one they tout which is, as you might suspect, very light on carbs and liberal with meat, though vegetarians are given options. If you are interested, check out the website and if you try it please let me know how it goes because I really want to hear all about it.

So if there are causes to gluten intolerance, it seems to me there must also be ways to correct the issue, such as looking at the micro-biome of the gut and working toward long-term probiotic health by taking supplements, being mindful of antibiotic use, and when antibiotics cannot be helped eating more fermented foods, taking higher dosage probiotics and eating less sugar. Then looking at other supplements that support the digestive system as well as taking an honest look at one’s diet and focusing on (personal) gut-friendly foods as much as possible.

So far, my action plan is the following: I always take high potency probiotics and change the brand each time I buy to get the biggest variety of strains into my system. Other supplements I take in support of my digestive system are apple cider vinegar before meals mixed with water and aloe juice. Enzymes before meals if eating anything at all questionably hard to digest. Turmeric on a daily basis for inflammation throughout the whole body including the digestive tract. And most recently I’ve added in Vital Nutrients GI Repair Nutrients.

There are other herbs that I am considering adding in but I take a lot right now so I’m going to hold off and see how a couple of bottles of the GI Repair work for me. I have no idea when I’ll feel comfortable testing this out but I am guessing it will be a while~ probably when I feel like no foods are troubling my system then I’ll give wheat a try to see what happens. Incidentally, I just read a brief article on Schar’s fb page that said if you are already eating gluten-free and want to get tested for celiac, you need to eat wheat for at least a month at a rate of 4 servings per day before getting tested. That’s a lot of wheat! But so good to have the specific amount in mind for future testing. I might do that at some point, but for now I am just going to focus on healing what I can.