Herbs & Oils for Common Issues ~ Part One

 

Knowing what herbs and oils to have on hand, or be able to find, when you or a family member gets sick makes life less stressful. Nature is amazing in that it has provided for us everything we need to live and be healthy. Medicinal plants do not only produce the chemicals in their bodies that they need to survive (like our bodies do), but they also produce whole other sets of chemicals and compounds that work as medicines for humans and animals. This is their gift to us.

There are various ways to use herbs: eating them fresh, water extractions like teas and infusions, vinegar extractions that can be used as tinctures or in food, alcohol and glycerin tinctures that extract the alkaloids from the plants. You may want to learn about the different methods of using herbs, or consult an herbalist, to know you are taking the best form possible for your condition. As an herbalist, I very rarely recommend taking herbs in capsules. It is generally useless. There are some exceptions to this rule – Cayenne being one of them. I also like to use herbs that grow as weeds near us or herbs that are available as foods in grocery stores, versus expensive, imported, and rare herbs. I do not recommend using herbs that are endangered unless they are farm grown.

COLDS & FLUS: Some easy to acquire and safe herbs to use when a cold or flu virus hits you are: Garlic, Thyme, Sage, and Ginger. All of these are easily found in grocery stores and buying organic* is always best.

GARLIC: Allium sativum

Allium sativum
Allium sativum

Garlic has been shown to increase immune function, lower blood pressure, fight bacterial infections, and reduce the risk of many types of cancer.

Raw Garlic: To reap the powerful anti-viral properties of Garlic, you must eat it raw. As soon as you cut into any food or herb with antioxidant qualities, it begins to oxidize. So cutting your garlic and eating it as soon as possible after cutting it is key. Heating garlic destroys many of these qualities.

Garlic Toast: One of the tricks I picked up from Herbalist Susun Weed, who trained me in herbal medicine, was to chop up garlic, mix it into some olive oil, and then put it on top of toast – it is actually very yummy.

Garlic Shot: Another option is to mince up raw garlic and drop it into a shot glass with a dropper full of Echinacea tincture (I prefer Herb Pharm Super Echinacea) and fresh squeezed orange juice… and drink it like a shot.

Garlic Honey: Another herbal trick is to peel the garlic cloves and submerge them in raw, local honey. You let them sit in the honey for at least 4 weeks, but the honey can even preserve them for a year (maybe more) before it begins to crystallize. Then you can eat the honey garlic gloves or use the garlic infused honey as a syrup. Take it by the spoonful or smear it on bread perhaps.

Counteracting Garlic Breath: Parsley is the antidote for garlic breath. It neutralizes the smell of garlic, so eat some fresh Parsley after you take or eat your garlic.

Garlic dressings: You can also add raw garlic into homemade salad dressings. Blend up raw garlic with some fresh herbs, avocado, lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, and voila! Pour over fresh greens and eat right away.

Garlic Juice: You can also add garlic to your fresh juice recipes if you have a juicer. It works well with vegetable juice combinations.

A note about improper use of garlic: Recently on some of the raw food blogs and Youtube videos, some raw food “gurus” have been saying that garlic is dangerous to ingest. Sadly, this misinformation started when someone applied raw garlic to a wound on the skin. NOT RECOMMENDED. They then showed that the garlic burned the skin/wound and left a bad scar. The conclusion was that eating raw garlic would burn your insides. This is obviously not true. You cannot just take herbs and apply them at will, however you choose, or you could get hurt. Garlic is a safe, non-toxic herb from the onion family that we can eat. It can also be used as medicine, but it is never to be put on a wound. Doing so would be like looking at a can of Lysol and saying, “Hmmm, this is anti-viral and anti-bacterial. I should spray it on my open wound.” NOT a smart idea.

A note on buying organic: When your body is working hard to fight a virus, illness, or infection, you do not want to ingest pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides that will give your liver a lot more toxicity to filter out. The same goes for food. If you are eating healthy salads, but they are covered in toxic poisons, you may want to re-think that. Also by supporting our organic farmers, we are contributing to a less toxic world and therefore less illness, less cancer.

Part Two… coming soon!

Jessica d’Arcy ©2014

Wellness Tips for Fall

The Autumnal Equinox came and went on September 22nd this year. After that day of balance, where day and night were equal, we entered the waning part of the year – the time when the nights are longer than the days. In ancient times, the Equinox marked the second harvest. At this time of year, the crops were finished being harvested and the herds were culled for the coming winter. And so began a time to rest after the harvest. Our bodies are in tune with the cycles of the Earth and naturally urge us to slow down, rest, and go within at this time. It is a time to pull back a little from too many external activities and go to bed a little earlier. Here are some simple tips to harmonize yourself to the Fall season:

*NOTE: Always use organic herbs! You do not want to be taking herbs sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, etc. that will stress your body.

1. Echinacea tincture ~ Echinacea is used to boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells, T cells, and all other infection fighting cells that are part of the immune. When you are fighting an infection/bacteria,

or supporting your body to fight a virus, take your body weight in drops 3 times per day for 3 days. Herbs work best when you start them at the first sign of illness. Consult an Herbalist if you are unsure how much to take or need to check on interactions with other medications. Some herbalists give smaller doses (half your body weight in drops) more times per day depending on the issue. Discontinue after day 3 – your immune system will be at its peak and you don’t need to keep stimulating it. Echinacea in capsules will not work, use a tincture. Echinacea augustifolia is the most medicinal, but Echinacea purpurea has beneficial qualities as well. I like Super Echinacea by Herb Pharm because it has a mix of species. Gaia Herbs is a good company as well for tinctures. You can grow your own Echinacea, beautiful pinkish purple coneflowers, but the roots take several years to mature and you need to know how to tincture them. For children, I love Planetary Herbals Well Child, Echinacea-Elderberry Herbal Syrup, Alcohol Free. Another excellent brand for kids is Herbs For Kids. They make a Wellness Kit that is really nice to have around.

If you order from http://www.iherb.com/ use my Reward Code: LQM000 (those are zeros) for up to $10.00 off your first order.

2. Golden Seal Hydrastis canadensis ~ is an antibiotic herb. So it is inappropriate to use this herb on a regular basis. It is only to be used when you are fighting a serious infection that you would use antibiotics for. I do not recommend this herb because it is very strong. As my herb teacher, Susun Weed, says, “Golden seal can do more harm to gut flora and the liver than most antibiotics.” Instead of using Golden Seal, think about taking herbs to support your immune system to do the healing. Your body can heal itself and herbs can boost it’s power.

Feverfew 3. Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium ~ I keep this tincture around for headaches and migraines, and as the name implies, for fevers. Take as directed on bottle.

Another reliable company to buy herbs from is: http://www.healingspiritsherbfarm.com/store/tinctures-extracts. The formulas are by amazing herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. Her book, “Herbal Healing For Women”, is one of my favorites.

4. Siberian Ginseng ~ Again, I’d like to quote Susun Weed, to whom I was an apprentice, “Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus) is widely considered the single most effective immune tonic and adaptogen in the herbal realm. Safe and inexpensive, it helps the immune system respond quickly to infection and mitigates the effects of stress.” I suggest you start taking this as a tonic herb daily, especially for Fall and Winter. I use the tincture and I also simmer the root in soups or as a decoction.

5. For severe sinus infections, I use Colloidal Silver nasal spray. I would first use herbs to assist my body in healing itself, but if the infection is advanced and I want to get rid of it, I use colloidal silver. This, like Golden Seal and Oil of Oregano, is an antibiotic and thus not to be used recklessly or often. Keep in mind antibiotics kill off the good bacteria and flora in your gut as well as the bacteria that is making you ill. I have also had good results using essential oils via a neti pot. My favorite is using a drop or two of Niaouli, also known as MQV, for it’s botanical name: Melaleuca quinquinerva viridiflora. This herb has similar qualities to Tea Tree oil, but is about 10X stronger. It does not bother the delicate sinus tissues. To test it out, try putting a few drops on a tissue and stuffing it into your nose, leaving it there to be inhaled for a moment or two.

6. Last, but not least, I always use Osha Root tincture for sore throats. For more on that, see my post entitled ‘5 Natural Remedies That Really Work’: http://wellnessthroughwisdom.com/5-natural-remedies-that-really-work

I hope these tips inspire you to stay well as best you can. Remember to get your sleep (every hour before midnight counts double!) and keep your feet warm and stay out of the cold wind. Keep your home warm (no, a cold house does not ward off sickness – colds and flus thrive in cold weather), but not completely closed up. Allow some fresh air in each day. Let a little sun touch your skin (sunscreen free) for vitamin D to keep you healthy and feeling good. Most of all, find ways to embrace the seasons and make it your intention to do whatever makes you feel good.

Fall Blessings,

Jessica d’Arcy ©2013

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Aromatherapy Blend For Coughs And Colds

I put together a blend of essential oils today to help with my son’s minor cough and runny nose. A welcomed side effect was that it made our house smell great and purified the air.

Most of us tend to reach for Eucalyptus for colds, which is great, but sometimes a combination of other oils works better and is an uplifting change. Niaouli, Melaleuca quinquenervia, is also wonderful. If you are unfamiliar with this oil, it is also known as MQV, and has similar qualities to Tea Tree Oil, but is at least ten times more potent. Try inhaling it by putting a few drops on a tissue then breathing in deeply from both the nose and mouth.

I made this blend today and dropped it into the vaporizer with the water. It is diffusing nicely and is less medicinal in scent than the usual Eucalyptus route. I order all of my oils from Original Swiss Aromatics because they are the highest quality oils in my opinion.

Add 5 drops each (or play around to create your own recipe):

DILL WEED, Anethum graveolens: Dill essential oil is great for bronchial infections and is considered mucolytic, which means it breaks up mucus.

CYPRESS, Cupressus sempervirens:  It is important to buy real Cypress oil because a lot of what is available is not authentic and therefore will not have the qualities you are looking for. This oil is excellent for respiratory conditions and I find it helpful for runny noses.

ROSEMARY, Rosmarinus officinalis: Wonderful oil for upper respiratory conditions and even the flu. Again, making sure you have true Rosemary oil is key.

MARJORAM, Origanum majorana: This oil is another good herb for the respiratory system and is considered “antiinfectious with spamolytic qualities.” The Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy recommends it for treating Whooping Cough.

I hope you enjoy this blend as much as we are! I am a Certified Aromatherapist and available to make custom blends for people as well as all natural perfumes tailored to your emotional, spiritual, and physical needs.

Be well ~

Jessica

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5 Easy Natural Tips for Healthy Toddlers

There are so many little things you can do to add a touch of holistic health into your toddler’s life. Here are some easy ideas to bring them some comfort and love:

1. Before nap time or bed time, I like to add a chamomile tea bag to my son’s water bottle or milk (organic is always best). It is not necessary to heat the water or milk, but you can slightly if you like. Even in cool water, the energy and some medicinal properties of chamomile are infused, which help soothe and calm nerves and ease him to sleep.

2. An easy way to get your sick toddler to drink more fluids when they are sick is to add a splash of 100% juice (again organic is best) to their water (I like the brand: First Juice). Coconut water is another great way to get electrolytes into your sick child. Mix it with juice if they don’t like it plain.

3. For a child who is nervous, stressed, or anxious, try adding 2 drops of Rescue Remedy to their water. This is a wonderful flower essence that I always keep on hand for everyone in my household – it even works on animals (just a drop on their nose)! Rescue Remedy is a vibrational medicine, so it works on the energetic level to calm anxiety and stress to make things feel more manageable. It is also a great thing to use after something upsetting has happened when people need to be calmed and re-oriented.

4. Worried that your child is not getting their daily requirements of vitamins and minerals? Try Juice Plus + gummies. These are natural fruit and vegetable supplements. They are made from the juice of fruits, vegetables, and berries – juiced on the farm where they are picked and triple checked to be pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide free. Children 4 yrs and older can receive them free when an adult in the family orders the adult capsules. Otherwise they start at $23 per month. Contact me to order or place your order here: JuicePlus+

5. Did you know that 1 – 2 year olds need to be getting 1000 – 1300 calories per day with 40% of those calories from fat? Something my son loves to eat is Greek Yogurt, the whole milk version. It is high in calories and has twice the protein of regular yogurt. Plus foods with probiotics, like yogurt, help keep digestion regular and strengthen the immune system. I buy plain greek yogurt or brands that don’t have added sugars – a little fruit is fine.

©2010 by Jessica Ann d’Arcy

Herbs & Natural Ideas for Summer

I just moved to Texas and it is HOT. Here are a few ideas for cooling off and feeling better in the heat… no matter where you live!

PEPPERMINT – herb: Add fresh peppermint to your lemonade or ice tea. You can also used dried Peppermint to make an herbal iced tea. You can used loose leaf dried Peppermint or Peppermint herbal tea bags. Brew it hot or by making Sun Tea outside. Use about one tablespoon Peppermint per 8 oz of water. Steep for 20 minutes and strain and refrigerate. I like to order herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.

PEPPERMINT – essential oil: Peppermint essential oil is great (and inexpensive compared to other essential oils) to use on the skin to cool off. Essential oils are the volatile oils that are steam distilled from plants and have aroma-therapeutic properties. Add a few drops to your bath or mix with lotion or massage oil to apply to skin. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and add a couple drops of Peppermint essential oil and wipe on hot spots like the back of the neck, wrists, back of knees, etc. Just be sure not to get it into your eyes (wash hands afterward) or too near your eyes or they will water (thanks Jenny for that idea!).

BORAGE: Borage is an herb that has cooling properties. It offers cleansing and detoxifying effects and soothes the nerves. It has a lot of other properties as well such as: alleviating depression, increasing milk flow for breast-feeding moms, and can work as a mild laxative. Make it as a herbal tea or infusion. You can try it in a formula by combining it with other herbs like lavender, rose petals, chamomile, or lemon balm. Borage flowers are also edible and can be infused in honey and eaten as another remedy.

CUCUMBER WATER: For a more cooling and spa-like drink than just plain water, try slicing a cucumber and putting it into a pitcher with spring water and ice. There is no need to steep this, you can drink it right away and throughout the day – make a fresh batch daily.

ROSEWATER FACIAL SPRITZ: You can buy rosewater at many grocery stores in the “ethnic foods” aisle or you can buy Rose Floral Water at a health food store, Whole Foods, or order it from an aromatherapy company. Use it in a spray bottle to spritz your skin before applying moisturizer. You can also add Rescue Remedy to the spray to calm your skin. A few drops of Rose Geranium essential oil are a nice addition as well. Try storing it in the refrigerator for an extra cool spray.

STEVIA: Try Stevia as a sweetener instead of sugar. In the summer, we don’t need extra calories or the blood sugar crash that sugar can give us. Stevia is an herb that is more than 100 times sweeter (up to 300 x sweeter) than sugar with no calories – plus it has the benefit of helping to get rid of bacteria in the mouth – so it prevents cavities rather than causing them like sugar does! Stevia is sold in either a powdered form or a liquid and is very affordable – especially because you use so little at a time (try the KAL brand). Use it to sweeten ice teas, coffee, and bake with. You can also use it to sweeten homemade lip balms! This herb is non-toxic and great for diabetics.

ALOE VERA: Use fresh aloe vera when you can – keep a plant in your yard or home and open a leaf and rub on sunburned skin. Also works great for all types of burns.

LAVENDER – essential oil: Lavender is wonderful for healing burns of the skin, including sunburns. Mix it with lotion or massage oil and apply.

WHITE CLAY: Buy a small amount of white clay at a health food store and mix with water to apply to bug bites to calm itchiness and stings. Also works well for oily summertime breakouts of the skin.

Women’s Herbal Tisane to Soothe the Soul

This is a tea blend I recently created for a family member and it came out really nice! I like it because it tastes somewhat herbal and also part flowery and more like a beverage tea. Use organic herbs if possible.

RECIPE:
1 part Oatstraw: calming, nutritive, and coats and soothes the nerves
1 part Lemon balm: treats stress and lifts mild depression and anxiety
1 part Comfrey leaf: overall tonic and healing to wounds, skin, and bones
2 parts Chamomile: safe, mild sedative that relaxes and soothes
2 parts pink Rosebuds: aromatic herb that lifts our vibration and treats lethargy and depression

Mix together all herbs in a bowl and then store in a glass jar in a cabinet or away from sunlight to preserve their medicinal properties. To brew: boil a quart or so of water. Once boiled, turn off heat and remove from stove. Then add a scoop of this tea (about half a cup – more or less depending on how strong you like your teas). Cover pot and allow to steep at least 20 minutes and as long as overnight. Then strain and drink either hot or iced. I keep a pitcher in the fridge and drink my teas throughout the day. Honey is a great sweetener for this tea. Enjoy!!