alternative medicine · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten free lifestyle · gluten free symptoms · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerance diagnosis · gluten intolerance symptoms · gluten intolerant · health · Herbs · supplements

Success in Curing Gluten Intolerance

It’s been a long road.15A51E7D-F2D4-49F4-B277-5F2B7DCFBAC8[1]

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:

  1. Stop eating the trigger foods (of course)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Herbarium signCuring 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.

alternative medicine · essential oils · food · health · Herbs · modern life · organic · supplements

Natural Products that Help You Manage Stress and Boost Weight Loss

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:280F9A5A-A3EE-4CF2-9387-2AEACC88EBEE[1]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:

WP_20170901_12_23_22_Pro_(2)[1]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.  WP_20170905_07_54_37_Pro_(2)[1]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:

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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:

CFD9E622-39EE-4335-810A-F604CD97FFF2[1]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

 

alternative medicine · health · Herbs

Herbs in the Most Unexpected Places

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:

CB6CCC84-20DF-410E-BACD-2901B2C07225[1]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?

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 · 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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cosmetics · essential oils · health · henna · Herbs · natural beauty products

Natural Salon/Spa

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This is what I dream about making~ an all-natural salon and spa which only uses chemical-free dyes with henna and herbs,all natural hair products, and spa services with all botanical ingredients, nothing artificial or questionable or unpronounceable. I don’t know why these don’t exist already actually but I’ve searched and can’t find any place that is completely chemical free. Henna dying takes longer, so there would have to be WiFi so people can work while their hair color settles, and an organic coffee and juice bar for sure, and also the ability to do mani/pedis or other services to use the time well. I’d have all natural products to browse too, and be a real stickler on only bringing in the cleanest of the clean beauty companies out there, and really there has never been a better time for this because so many people are concerned about what is in their products that they slather on their bodies each day or soaks into their hair on a regular basis. Aveda started out trying to be as all-natural as possible, but if you look at their products now they may have a botanical component but the larger part is factory made chemicals. The book No More Dirty Looks discusses Aveda founder (the late) Horst M. Rechelbacher’s disappointment in what Aveda became after selling it to Estée Lauder. He went on to create Intelligent Ingredients  which went back to his all natural philosophy. The website for No More Dirty Looks is a great place to get good information for health and beauty products but I highly recommend reading the book if you are concerned at all about what is lurking in your daily beauty routine. I think it’s time to take these cosmetic industry concerns beyond the bathroom and level up to the salons and spas we use. It’s the ‘natural’ next step.

henna · Herbs · natural beauty products

Henna Haircoloring

As promised, a henna update~

I’m ridiculously awkward with selfies but this is my hair after using henna all over once and on my grey roots about 4 times over the course of the month:

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As you can see, the hair still has color variation which was important to me. The roots are definitely harder to color but it does stick after a few times. Worth it. It’s easy too~ don’t let the instructions intimidate you as they did me for quite a while! I’m hooked! All it really requires is washing the hair, mixing the henna with warm water, then putting the henna on and leaving it to set for an hour or two. When washing it out, you can just use water and reapply (for extra coverage on the grey) or if you are finished, use conditioner and then blow-dry. It’s healthy for the hair so it can be used as often as needed and the results are great!

I used henna color lab because their dyes are truly all herbal and they have a great variety of colors. The shade I have been using is medium brown. Natural beauty products have it all!

 

 

essential oils · health · Herbs · recipe

Essential Oil Sprays

One of the easiest ways to use essential oils is to make up a spray that can be used on your body or in a room to freshen up and influence the atmosphere. You basically just need a spray bottle, distilled water, and whatever essential oils you want to use. I have a video about it also, or you can just follow along here:InstagramCapture_8b745782-8f02-4a8d-a640-236f39e38e7b[1]I also use a funnel to fill the spray bottles with distilled water, just to be on the safe side, and I always write down what I make in a notebook. And when I say ‘always’ I mean I always intend to write it down, though unfortunately, that doesn’t quite always happen.

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It’s best to use dark-colored glass, generally found in brown or blue (I’d love charcoal colored glass bottles~ why doesn’t anyone make those?) but plastic or aluminum will do. If you use clear glass then be sure to store your goodies in a cool, dark place, they will last longer and smell sweeter for it.

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That brown glass bottle as well as the aluminum one above hold 4 oz or 1/2 cup of distilled water and the blue glass container holds 6 oz or 3/4 cup. For the smaller containers I’ll add 20-40 drops of essential oils, depending on how strong they are. For the larger bottle, 30-50 drops will do it.

As for deciding which essential oils, it really depends entirely on what you want~ something that smells of flowers (Ylang Ylang and Jasmine?) Or forests (Cedarwood and Pine)? Something anxiety relieving (Lavender and Neroli)? Something to help you remember to write down your essential oil recipes (Rosemary)? There are endless possibilities so it really helps to get to the root of why you are making the spray. I generally have an uplifting daytime spray that I use all day long, and a calming nighttime spray I use before bedtime. That aluminum spray bottle if filled with Thieves oil and distilled water to use for antibacterial/antiviral uses which has been used all too often this wet winter season.

Even though I use the daytime spray more often, I have to put it in the smaller bottle because visually the dark blue bottle reminds me of night and the Lavender and Sandalwood that resides in it, while the brown bottle reminds me of my favorite daytime mixture which is Bergamot and Clary Sage. (Bergamot is in Earl Grey tea so I guess that explains the brown connection.) Together they produce an uplifting spray that is antidepressant and smells incredible good, lightly floral with a hint of citrus-y sunniness.

Another combination I like to use for day use  is Rosemary and Orange, which is the combination I use in my diffuser every morning to get my mind jump-started and influence my mood to be a bit sunnier despite the early hour. Rosemary is the classic brain herb especially benefiting memory, while all citrus oils are great mood enhancers and are stimulating thus perfect for morning. They do increase photo-sensitivity so that is something to be aware of when using them. I’ve written before about how cool that actually is because of the whole sun-D-seasonal affected disorder connection, so I won’t repeat myself but it’s worth reflecting on how brilliant nature really is.

Here’s what I made today (and I actually did remember to write these in my notebook already~ thank you Rosemary!)

Day Spray:

4 oz distilled water

20 drops bergamot

20 drops clary sage

And Night Spray:

6 oz distilled water

30 drops lavender

10 drops sandalwood

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I should note that many people put alcohol such as vodka in their sprays in an effort to keep the scent around longer. I do not do this because I find the alcohol scent lingers longer than the essential oils and that is not a smell I personally enjoy, but there are plenty of recipes online if you want to experiment with adding alcohol to your sprays.

Have fun experimenting and here’s a link to aura cacia’s recipe page which has all kinds of inspiration on it should you find yourself in a creative mood. And lastly, don’t forget to label what you make~ all it takes is a bit of paper and tape to keep straight what’s for day and what’s for night. And do shake your mixtures to blend them well. Valerie Worwood who has written many best-selling aromatherapy books including The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy says to rub your palms together with the bottle between your hands for best blending.

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Sorry about that weird picture with my hands looking way too large to be human, but it’s a hard thing to describe so I had my son take this pic of me doing it and this is the best we got. Enjoy your herbal crafting!

alternative medicine · health · Herbs

Local Herbalists

This week while looking at Whole Foods’ tincture selection, I saw they carry (in our local store, all WFs are differently stocked) The Herbalist brand tinctures. The Herbalist is a store I used to visit in Seattle but haven’t gone to in years so I was happily surprised to see their herbal products because it’s always fun to support a local business, plus the blends are unique and very well thought-out. These could have been there a while, I actually don’t buy many supplements at Whole Foods, but it is great to see such a big store stock locally made items so now I’ll have to peruse their supplement aisles more often. I encourage everyone to look into their local herbalists and such because you might be surprised at what can be found in your very own community. It is grounding when you realize your neighbors may be the ones blending up brews of all kinds, and knowing it doesn’t come from some mysterious, far away place and somehow ends up on a shelf near you.

I bought an immune booster called Astragalus Plus because by this time of year I feel depleted. This winter has been especially hard for various reasons, and it hasn’t helped that it’s the rainiest winter season on record here in the Seattle area. It’s been grey, wet, muddy, and harsh. Spring is awfully close though and I’m hoping this immune booster will push me through these last few weeks while we transition to longer days and blossoming trees, and maybe even keep allergies at bay while that happens.

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This blend features an array of immune boosters plus cayenne to help those lovely herbs circulate throughout the body. I specifically wanted my immune booster to be made predominantly with astragalus (instead of echinacea or oregon grape for example) because astragalus is also an adrenal tonic and help with stress is always appreciated.

If you don’t know where to start looking for your own local herbalists, you can start by checking out the American Herbalists Guild website. You will find an array of resources there, including how to find an AHG member herbalist in your area. Note these are herbalists that focus on being clinical herbalists. There are others who focus on making herbal products and medicines, and others who focus on growing or gathering the herbs. Those that focus on gathering herbs are also known as wildcrafters, while those that grow theirs are gardeners or farmers, depending on scale.

What are your local treasures, herbal or otherwise?