Natural Healing Omaha Blog

Are You in Heavy Period Hell? Herbs Offer Safe, Gentle Relief

Are You in Heavy Period Hell? Herbs Offer Safe, Gentle Relief

“My period is like clockwork – it comes every two weeks.”
“Seven days of hell, that’s what I call it.”
“I might as well stay home from work.”

You don’t put up with horrible periods because you have some twisted relationship to pain and misery. You just don’t know what else to do.

Maybe you’ve worked with your doctor, tried multiple combinations of hormones, and even put yourself through major or minor surgery looking for solutions.

There’s a new game in town, though it’s anything but new.

Plants to the Rescue!
Herbal healthcare is experiencing a much-needed resurgence across the country, as part of a larger health revolution. There’s a not-so-subtle undercurrent that’s pulling us toward safer, more natural, sustainable remedies.

Every day, more women like you are turning to natural solutions for discomforts like these:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Fibroids, cysts or lumpy breasts
  • Chronic yeast infections
  • Crabby, irritable, weepy or sad feelings
  • Long periods

And let’s not forget these lovely ones:

  • Spotting between periods
  • Mid-cycle pain
  • Breast tenderness or swelling
  • Moderate or severe menstrual cramping
  • Cyclical bloating, gas or nausea
  • Chronic diarrhea, constipation or both
  • Infrequent periods
  • Irregular or short cycles
  • Fatigue

Any single one of these symptoms can be miserable on it’s own. More than one at a time can completely disrupt and drain the joy out of an otherwise great month.

The Queen of Period Problems
One of the most distressing and exhausting problems for women is heavy periods. What do I mean by heavy?

  • Super absorbent tampons are a joke
  • Backup pad protection is no guarantee you’ll contain the overflow, especially at night
  • Embarrassing stains are so common that you never, EVER wear white pants
  • You make frequent bathroom visits to check for leaks

Excessive bleeding can make you feel like the life is being drained out of you, ounce by ounce. And often it comes with a crampy, dull, aching sensation, as if your pelvic cavity is being turned inside out. Like everything is dropping to the floor.

Now You See It, Now You Don’t
If you’re a patient of mine, you’ve probably heard me talk about Qi [pronounced ‘chee’]. Qi is an elusive but vital energy source that permeates every breath, digestive function and blood cell. It’s sort of like wind –you can’t describe what it looks like, but you can see the effect it has.

You can see the effects of weak Qi in heavy bleeders, especially. It’s the full-time job of Qi to keep blood inside the body. When blood literally pours out, and for that matter, when skin sags and the bladder or uterus prolapse, these are signs that your Qi isn’t doing its job of holding things in place.

Why does this happen? Two main reasons: heavy blood loss itself depletes Qi, leading to the proverbial vicious cycle. But other factors can weaken Qi, such as long-term emotional and physical stress, resulting in gradually heavier periods.

The Downside of Hormones
Hormone therapy can regulate monthly blood flow – so does herbal therapy for many women.

You may get temporary relief from a hormone patch, cream or pill, but tinkering with hormone levels won’t address the underlying Qi deficiency that led to the bleeding.  A key symptom of Qi deficiency will remain – weakness.

The classic Chinese formula for deficient Qi, Four Gentlemen, contains tonic herbs for weakness, the most common side effect of excessive menstrual bleeding. When you’re feeling bone tired, lack an appetite, experience loose stools, and your skin has an unhealthy yellowish complexion, tonic herbs restore strength, improve digestion and bring back your luster.

Blood loss also starves the heart and mind of vital nutrition, robbing you of restful sleep and weakening your memory and focus. Blood tonics like the well-known Dong Qui and lesser known rehmannia, white peony and ligusticum restore blood to the rich, nourishing fluid needed to keep your heart and mind sharp.

Relief from insomnia, poor memory, fatigue, and digestive weakness is a lot to ask from any hormone supplement. Fortunately, this is where herbal and natural therapies do their best work.

Yes, Ma’am, Herbs Can Do That
While Chinese herbal formulas help rebuild Qi, herbs like yarrow, shepherd’s purse, raspberry leaf, eclipta, ladies mantle, tienchi ginseng and even our kitchen friend, cinnamon, can lighten blood flow and tone the female organs. These herbs individually or in combination give you hour-by-hour relief from heavy bleeding.

Mineral rich herbs like nettle leaf and oatstraw gradually replace lost nutrients and freshen a sallow complexion. Yellow dock root releases stored iron into the blood, relieving mild anemia.

The herbal approach to hormone imbalances naturally nudges your body’s built-in capacity to heal, without the risks associated with hormone replacement.

“Let Food Be Your Medicine”
Naturally, food also helps to gently restore Qi and blood.

A nourishing diet of warm root vegetables including squash, beets and sweet potato fill your plate with color and your mouth with the mildly sweet flavor that strengthens Qi. Dark, leafy greens restore iron and other minerals to a weak, depleted blood supply. Beef and lamb are a protein power duo when you feel wiped out by your periods.

Self-Care is NOT a Luxury
Rebuilding Qi takes some time and patience. In the meantime, light exercise, rest, extreme self-care and major de-stressing maneuvers have to be moved to the top of the list.

Start with something as simple as letting those calls rollover to voicemail and taking a few moments for a power nap. Do you have a supportive family member who might alternate meal prep or shopping duties with you?

Can you fit in a 20-minute walk after dinner? Exercise, rest and support are not luxuries when you’re exhausted and weak; they’re a prescription for recovery.

Qi deficiency by itself isn’t a life-threatening matter, but ignored long enough, it morphs into a depleted immune system and lower resistance to disease.

Today is always a good time to start new habits that support a long, healthy life. If you’re tired of heavy, draining periods every month, choose something safe, natural and effective for long term relief.

Call today for an appointment that just might change the way you think about healthcare. Period.

Related Blog Posts in this Series:

Herbal Relief for PMS-related Acne, Cramps and Migraines

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From the Ground Up: Tips for First-Time Gardeners

From the Ground Up: Tips for First-Time Gardeners

I have a confession to make. The last time I planted a vegetable garden, I was 10 years old. It was a little patch of lettuce on a bare spot in our suburban lawn.

Before that little backyard experiment, you probably have to go back 3 or 4 generations to find a farmer in my family. Maybe that explains why gardening isn’t something that comes ‘naturally’ to me.

Lately, something‘s been tugging on me to get my hands dirty and plant some herbs. So I called on my friend Chelsea Taxman for a little practical advice. Chelsea is the Education Director for Truck Farm, an urban agriculture education program in Omaha. Here’s a little peek into our conversation:

Mo: I’m thinking about planting a vegetable or herb garden. How many plants should I start in my first year?

Chelsea:   Mo, the amount of plants you grow depends on how ambitious you are in the first year. If your schedule is busy, start small. Work with something you can check in on every day. There are salad green varieties available on the market that can be planted from seed and harvested within 20-40 days. Quick crops like lettuces, arugula or radishes provide instant gratification.  Success with a few plants will help you feel more confident to try more the next year.

Mo: Are there certain plants that are especially easy for first-time gardeners to grow in our Nebraska climate?

Chelsea: Perennial plants (meaning they die back in the winter and come back up in the spring) are recommended for first-time and even old-time gardeners. Perennial plants and herbs need less attention and less water each year, but you still reap the benefits of their beauty and fragrance, and you’re creating habitat for the wild.

I recommend herbs in the Lamiaceae (mint) family if you have space. These plants smell and taste delicious, their flowers attract pollinators, but they do spread throughout the garden if not controlled. I personally like when they spread in between my other plants, but my garden isn’t the most tamed.

–       Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis); especially good as a tea to calm nervous tension, promote restful sleep and relieve mild seasonal affective depression

–       Catnip (Nepeta cataria); fussy babies and adults feel relief with catnip tea

–       Mint (Mentha species); summertime is great for this cool, digestive herb that tastes sweet and mildly spicy

–       Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium); avoid internal use without some herb knowledge, but it’s a great ground cover

First time vegetables that are “easy” include radishes, spring greens, lettuces, beans, spinach and other cooler season crops.  First-timers might want to stay away from midsummer plants that need a lot of attention, a lot of heat and even more water.  This includes melons, corn, tomatoes and peppers, to name a few.

Mo: Is it ok to start with seeds outside? And what’s the best time to plant my seeds?

Chelsea: This again depends on the crops you want to plant. Yes, you can start root crops like carrots, radishes and beets in the spring when the soil is thawed.  Also, lettuces, salad greens, arugula and spinach can all go straight in the ground as seed.  Most seeds can start outside except longer season crops that need more attention and heat like tomatoes and peppers.  Most people start these ahead of time as well as some herbs, kale and Brussels sprouts. There are just so many options, Mo!

Start SMALL.

Mo: Can you explain a simple, 3 or 4-step process for preparing the ground for planting?

Chelsea: I am still a young gardener, but this is my process the past few years. I start preparing my beds in the fall by layering fallen leaves and compost (grass clippings, coffee grounds, etc.) all over the area of my future garden site. This can be referred to as Sheet Mulching.  Then the material will sit all winter long under the snow and decompose adding more life to the soil.

In the spring when the ground is thawed enough to dig, I turn the leaves and compost under the top layer of soil. Some people call this Double Digging. I use hand tools and elbow grease instead of machinery like a tiller. This year I will be adding more cover crops to my garden in the fall and spring like Buckwheat.  A cover crop will cover the soil that I’m not currently cultivating and keep the top soil from blowing away in the wind. Cover crops can also add nutrition like nitrogen into the ground when I turn it under.

Mo: For gardeners who have limited yard space, what herbs or vegetables are easy to grow in pots?

Chelsea: There is often the option to join a neighborhood garden or community garden for more space and support your first year.  I have heard of neighbors sharing their backyard and space, too.  As far as pots go, there are many plants that can be grown in pots.  Herbs and flowers are generally easiest. I wouldn’t start these from seed, but I would support a local grower and purchase plant starts.  You can find local growers at Farmer’s Markets in Omaha and sometimes during garage sales.  Nursery plants are locally owned, but sometimes they tend to use more harmful chemicals than a local organic grower.

I know many people who have success with tomatoes and peppers in pots. The most important thing is space. Make sure your pot is large enough for the root systems.  There is even a corn variety called Blue Jade that can be grown in a pot! (seedsavers.org) I wouldn’t recommend root vegetables, but you can always try.

Mo: Where can I look for help if I have a bug problem or general questions about how to water, fertilize, grow or harvest my plants?

Chelsea: I recommend you contact the Master Gardeners in Omaha. You can reach these experts through the Douglas Country Extension.  The Common Soil Seed Library (inside the Omaha Public Library’s Benson Branch) offers ongoing free classes about seed starting, germination, seed saving and more.  The listings are online at the OPL website.

Mo:  What if my garden grows like crazy and I have baskets of extra food or herbs?

Chelsea: There are many places that accept donations or might even purchase your extra production.  Or get to know your neighbors, let them know what you’re doing in your yard and share the abundance. You can share your surplus online through websites like Small Potatoes, NextDoor, Facebook, etc.

Table Grace Café at 16th and Farnam Streets is a donation-based restaurant that sources locally grown food. The owner and chef, Matt Weber, will happily take your donations. Call ahead or stop by.

 

A native of Omaha, aspiring herbalist, permaculturist and home gardener, Chelsea travels to Omaha Public Schools offering education to youth about where our food comes from today. Chelsea incorporates lessons of healthy eating, movement and sustainability into the Truck Farm curriculum. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher and co-founder of Black Iris Botanicals, a wild-crafted and locally-sourced herbal beauty product line.

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7 Natural Remedies for Spring Indigestion and Bloating

7 Natural Remedies for Spring Indigestion and Bloating

Yesterday, I felt like I was gonna burst out of my jeans. I’ve never felt so bloated and miserable without actually being sick. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about here – it was a fat pants day, all the way!

And you know what?

LOTS of people are having these kinds of problems right now. This week.

When Spring starts, all hell breaks loose in stomachs everywhere.

I see it every season, especially at the start of Spring and Fall. Patients who normally don’t experience digestion problems will start reporting heartburn, headaches, indigestion, constipation, irritability, and the queen of digestive distress – BLOATING.

Why is this so common this week? We can turn to Chinese Medicine for some wisdom on this weird seasonal phenomenon.

The Chinese tell us that the short two-week period between seasons is when the Earth Element is most active. Of the 5 Elements, Earth is the one that regulates digestion, keeps us rooted and stable, and makes sure we crave tonifying foods.

Maybe you’ve noticed you’re more hungry the past week or so? That’s your Earth element saying ‘feed me so I can keep you going’. Springtime demands nourishment for new growth. Not the kind of growth that puts on pounds or sprouts leaves.

You’re coming out of a dark, cold, inactive season into one that’s sunny, warmer and allows more movement and waking time. You’ll need more fuel for those more physical, energy-burning activities. A healthy digestive system will signal you to ‘load up’ for the work ahead.

The trouble starts as you give in to your bigger appetite. Your digestion says ‘whoa, hold on there, pal, I need to catch up’. Next thing you know, you end up bloated and stuck very quickly.

What’s the remedy for this temporary backup? Probably not extreme dieting or over-the-counter anti-gas products, which can throw a delicate system into even more imbalance.

Instead, try one or more of these Spring Bloat Busters:

  • Fennel seed tea – boil 1 Tbsp of fennel seed (yep, you’ve probably got this in your spice cabinet) in 1-2 cups water for 15 minutes. Strain the fennel seeds and drink the ‘decoction’ (tea). By morning, most of the bloating should be relieved.
  • Epsom salts – Run a bathtub full of warm water or fill a shallow bucket with warm water and add 1-2 cups Epsom salts (if you like essential oils, you can find lavender or eucalyptus scented salts in any pharmacy). Soak yourself or just your feet for up to 30 minutes, enjoy a good night’s sleep and feel relief when you wake up.
  • Digestive Teas – one of my all-time favorite teas is Eater’s Digest, created by a company called Traditional Medicinals and formulated by herbalists. This blend isn’t just delicious – it’s medicinal. With peppermint, fennel, ginger and other ‘carminative’ herbs [a fancy term for digestion-mover] this is the tea for ‘fussy’ tasters. My kids instinctively choose this tea in the evening, probably because it helps soothe their stomachs after a big meal.
  • Go Chinese – for stubborn digestive systems that don’t respond to simple remedies, Chinese herbal formulas will gently strengthen the Earth element while stimulating ‘chi’, blood and fluid to move. Many people feel a gentle bump in energy when they take the formula that’s right for their constitution. Ask an herbalist what formula is for you.
  • Eat green and bitter – pucker up baby, ‘cuz bitter, leafy greens like kale, beet greens, mustard greens, chard, spinach, dark salad lettuces contain digestion-stimulating elements that increase bile production. Bile breaks down stubborn food congestion, unclogs you and gets your gut moving again.
  • Hold your horses – pull back the reins on those heavy, winter-style meals. Load up instead on vegetables, berries and lighter fare like chicken, fish and meatless meals.
  • Move it – Expansion and contraction of muscle is a natural way to squeeze out gas and relieve bloating. Yoga, walking and simple stretching work equally well. I remember giggling in a yoga class when the ‘wind-relieving pose’ did exactly that for the guy on the mat next to me!

Without doing something radical, my jeans fit more like normal today. A few simple practices like the ones listed here, and a good walk this morning straightened me right out.

There’s no need to suffer with abdominal bloating and indigestion. Try a simple, natural remedy first. If the problem persists, get ahold of me and we’ll talk it through until we discover what’s best for you.

Find answers to more of your digestion questions in this related blog –  Has Your Digestion Taken a Vacation?

 

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What if Doctors Handed Out Vegetables, Not Prescriptions?

What if Doctors Handed Out Vegetables, Not Prescriptions?

As a student in herb school, I remember learning about a system of medicine where families would pay the village doctor to keep them healthy, but once a family member became ill, the service was free. What a brilliant twist on today’s approach to medicine – provide incentive to keep you from becoming a patient.

I’m not suggesting you pay me in chickens to keep you well all year. But if you could correct unhealthy patterns before they become disease, would you? If you could switch the focus to staying well instead of insuring expensive fixes to preventable problems, wouldn’t that make good sense?

Today, I saw a patient who totally gets this approach. She isn’t suffering from any serious problems, eats a healthy diet, does work she loves, and is in a fulfilling relationship.

She’s a model patient, and frankly, seeing her was a no-brainer. Until I understood what she was asking from me.

She wanted a different kind of patient-provider relationship than I’m used to having. Instead of struggling to correct problems, she wanted my support and guidance to stay well.

She saw me as someone who could step back, look at her whole life, her daily practices, her dreams for the future, and offer some advice on how to stay in the good health place she’s in.

In the end, what she wanted was help managing her enthusiasm for the projects ahead of her, without getting overwhelmed and disorganized.

Health care isn’t about insuring against what might go wrong. It’s what you do to prevent that: exercise, schedule down-time, stay in community, laugh, work, eat a variety of foods, and check in with someone who asks what you’re doing right, not what’s going wrong.

Who’s keeping you accountable for your own good health? Is there someone you can call to ask about minor concerns before they become major problems?

For years of vitality, not a future of prescriptions and surgeries, start now with a baseline assessment,  then follow up regularly to stay on the health track.

You can expect to feel healthy and vital as you age, and if that’s not the message you’re getting, then it’s time to see someone who practices health, not medicine.

What are your practices for staying healthy? Do you follow a special diet, workout plan or spiritual practice that keeps you well? Share your comments here and let us know what’s been working for you.

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How to Choose an Herbal Remedy That Works

How to Choose an Herbal Remedy That Works

Jan sat down across from me with a familiar look on her face. Hope. Resignation. Confusion. Overwhelm.

And next to her, in one of those reusable grocery store bags, was a jumble of every health food store supplement she’d bought in the past 6 months, some still unopened.

This was how Jan understood her health problem up until now – as a collection of deficiencies that she could supplement her way out of. It’s a pretty common misunderstanding, and it’s not her fault.

We fall prey to this thinking because we’ve been trained to think of health care as a one-for-one proposition.

If anti-depressants are for depression, and statins are for high cholesterol, then there’s probably a vitamin, mineral, anti-oxidant, enzyme or protein for every disease, symptom or syndrome.

The thing is, that’s sort of a piecemeal approach that never really gets to the bottom of things. When heartburn, bloating, headaches, pain, insomnia, rashes are viewed as unrelated and disconnected problems, each with their own separate solution, we miss the big picture.

When you take a this-for-that approach to health care, you never see the patterns that emerge from looking at the bird’s eye view, like the tendency of your problem to be spasmodic, or worse in cold weather, or have a damp quality, or that stress makes it flare up. These patterns provide subtle clues to the remedy or healing method for you.

Instead of asking what pill goes with what symptom, ask what’s the nature of your misery?

  • Is the problem worse or better with heat?
  • Does it stay in one place or move around?
  • Is there pain, and is it sharp and stabbing or dull and achey?
  • Does the problem get worse when you feel tight and tense?
  • Are there other symptoms that mimic the sensation, frequency or severity of the issue?

Your problem has unique qualities that distinguish it from everyone else’s. So it makes sense that the remedy you take to feel better matches YOUR variety of trouble.

Let’s look at digestion, for instance. When symptoms like heartburn, gas, abdominal pain, bloating, belching, diarrhea, constipation, cramping or hemorrhoids get to be a regular thing, it’s time to look for patterns and apply some general rules:

Cold makes things loose, clear or white, mucusy and slow. If your digestion or stool has these qualities, you need a remedy that warms things up. Herbs like fennel seed, cardamom pod, cinnamon bark, thyme leaf, sage leaf, oregano leaf, horseradish, ginger root, rosemary leaf, garlic bulb and black pepper introduce warm, stimulating, toning properties, lessening the constant need for over-the-counter anti-diarrhea products and even relieving a constantly runny nose.

Heat makes things activate. That’s mostly a good thing, until there’s too much heat. That looks like burning or heat sensations, hot burps, irritation, bleeding, redness and swelling (anywhere in or on your body). Look for herbs that cool and calm the heat– lavender flower, mint leaf, basil leaf, dandelion root, plantain leaf, elder flower, marshmallow root.

Most of these herbs for heat coat and soothe irritated tissue, especially in the digestive tract, reduce swelling, and allow heat to clear. This can eliminate or reduce the need for anti-inflammatory medicines or antacids, which deplete essential stomach acid and worsen digestive irritation over time.

When energy gets stuck, there’s usually cramping, pain, gas, bloating or constipation. Choose herbs that relax tissues and allow the ‘Qi’ to flow. Anti-spasmodics like cramp bark, skullcap, wood betony, hops, and oat seed blend well with the hot or cold herbs mentioned earlier, depending on which category you fall into.

When both your mood and your stomach are fussy and irritable, choose herbs that soothe, heal and calm your over-sensitive nervous system: catnip, chamomile flower, lavender flower, oat seed, meadowsweet, peppermint, anise seed, blue vervain and lemon balm.

Plants know how to repair themselves and grow in cold, hot, soggy, dry, crowded or stressful conditions. They reach around obstacles for light, water and nutrients. In you, they gently nudge your built-in healing capacity.

Remember Jan? Jan was off to a good start buying and trying supplements one at a time. Her intention was to find a natural way to solve an imbalance before it became a disease with a name.

Like Jan, you might be looking for an answer to solve the supplement puzzle and avoid expensive medical visits, tests and medications. Looking for patterns in your symptoms helps you decide where to start.

Next time you reach for a supplement bottle at your local health food store, ask yourself ,“Is there a plant with this name that grows in nature?” If it doesn’t grow in nature, it’s not an herb. If it’s not an herb, it doesn’t carry the healing energy of a plant that’s survived and thrived against all odds. Start over and look for an herb that matches your symptom pattern.

Multivitamins, CoQ10, fish oils and iron supplements might be useful replacements for simple deficiencies, but they won’t stimulate your body to heal itself the way herbs do.

If you’ve been struggling with a chronic problem that’s not responding to ordinary dietary supplements, turn to the plants. Herbal Medicine, and especially Traditional Chinese Medicine, have safe, natural and effective answers for many of today’s common ailments.

Tell me how you applied an herb to a health problem. Did it help?  What was the result?

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Food Fear Isn’t Making Us Any Healthier

Food Fear Isn’t Making Us Any Healthier

8 seconds. That’s how long I searched Facebook to find a blog/link/post about some kind of food being ‘bad’ for me. Then, when I Googled the phrase ‘bad food’, I got 2.1 billion search results. Billion! That’s more than Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber combined!

Food-bashing is nothing new.

In the 70’s they told us fat was bad for our arteries, so my mom switched us to margarine instead of butter- my dad had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a family history of heart attacks. His doctor told him to cut down on salt, so the only time we enjoyed that spice was on taco night – and boy, did we load it on! And forget about eggs. No way. Big killer.

In the 80’s we counted calories, because we were already starting to put on weight from the so-called food that replaced the evil fats we cut out the decade before.

In the 90’s, convenience was king, and we threw out all the rules and enjoyed our fast food lunches crammed into our 10 hour workdays. Why? Because it was all about success and big houses and keeping up with the Joneses.

Honestly, I don’t remember all the food fads over the past 40 years (and excuse me if I mixed up my decades), but some pretty lousy advice has been handed down under the guise of ‘research’ from food manufacturers, healthcare providers and mass media.

I feel so guilty eating practically everything these days, because somewhere, at some time, every food on the shelves, in the CSA box or from the garden has been so demonized that I’ve had the fear of God scared into me over ever bite I take.

Even something as purely healthy as an egg gets analyzed, researched and questioned until someone comes up with a ludicrous list of qualifications a simple egg should meet to enter our mouths:

  • Free-range
  • Omega-3 enhanced (what in the world did those poor chickens have to go through to qualify?)
  • Gluten-free (seriously?)
  • Farm-raised – what farm these days is good enough to meet this standard?
  • Local (that’s always nice, I guess)
  • Fresh (doesn’t that go without saying?)

Remember when eggs came in 4 sizes and that’s all we cared about?

For that matter, remember when the only bread choice we ever considered was homemade or store-bought? Now we worry about gluten, whole-grain, transfats vs polyunsaturated ones, and food coloring – since when does bread need to be colored?

For once, I just want to eat without running through the pedigree of my meal. I know I should be buying my food from local, organic farmers with free-range animal products and environmentally sustainable practices. I fully support these practices, in theory, but when it comes right down to it, I’ve realized that this takes an enormous amount of time and effort and planning.

And I’m working on it, little by little. I started by shopping the organic section of my grocery stores, reading food and farming blogs, and I’m finally going to join a CSA this Spring and see what THAT’S all about.

But for now, I’d like to pour a bowl of oatmeal without worrying about whether it’s organic or gluten-free, and top it with walnuts without wondering if they’re covered in pesticides, and mix it up with some organic milk that might not be from a farm nearby, and top it off with dried cranberries that probably have some sugar added because I couldn’t find the unsweetened ones I’m supposed to buy.

It would be a little slice of heaven to enjoy a warm spoonful of breakfast and not once, not even for a split second, wonder if the grain in there is genetically modified.

I love to eat, but we’ve taken all the fun out of eating in our culture. Food is a minefield of potential cancer-causing, inflammation-inducing terror. No wonder everyone is so confused and stressed about what to feed their families.

Today, for just one meal, eat without guilt, or fear, or disappointment. Before you start your new eating habits – low fat, high fat, low sugar, no sugar, vegetarian, paleo, vegan, grass-fed – enjoy that juicy steak and baked potato smothered in gravy with a side of delicious, and sugary, fatty, gluten-laden pie for dessert with a big smile on your face.

Life is stressful enough. Enjoy your food, even if it’s not the most healthy thing you’ve had this week. Then tomorrow, pick just one thing to do differently. Eat a little less, skip dessert, add a vegetable to your plate without worrying about who grew it. You’ll get there. It’s a process. One step at a time.

If you’re serious about eating more local or considering joining a CSA, check out my Resources page for links to trustworthy products and businesses in our community.

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How Long Have You Carried Your Grudge?

How Long Have You Carried Your Grudge?

Could forgiveness heal a relationship that’s important to you? My guest blogger, Life Coach Nancy Dennis, shares personal insight on how she learned the lesson of forgiveness.

I remember when I was first presented with the concept of forgiveness being a conscious choice. It had nothing to do with how I felt, wrongs being righted, or justice. Now this was news to me, because I had been wronged, deeply wronged, and anyone would agree with me. But here was an opportunity to see something differently. Not looking at what had happened, but looking at how I was going to choose to ‘be’ in the light of it.

What I learned was that forgiveness was not about saying what had happened was now OK or forgotten. It simply meant two things:

1. I would choose to no longer allow myself to roast the other person on the spit – to turn over and over again the wrongs done, and turn up the heat of my anger and resentment.
2. I would choose to no longer play the victim card — not in my mind, my conversation or my actions. The facts were facts, without right or wrong, and I was no longer reopening the wound and poking at it.

Up until that time, I believed that you had to feel ready to forgive, to in some way say “this is now OK”.

But forgiveness had nothing to do with feelings, or never remembering, or saying it no longer mattered. It had everything to do with moving on.

I was encouraged to begin this process when I was ready to commit to those two things – no more roasting on the spit, and no more victim.

Now here’s the interesting part…I found myself resisting this guidance. I convinced myself I just needed to get my head around it, needed more time, wanted to feel better about the concept – you get the drift. And then I proceeded to wrap this up in a nice tidy bundle and put it on the shelf way back in the recesses of my mind – in my “someday I’ll do this…” box.

It wasn’t until about 6 months later that forgiveness came up again. I was asked to look at how much time I had spent reviewing and rehashing the wrong done to me. And then to look at how long in physical time, the event had taken.

Lastly, how much longer was I going to surround myself with this toxic essence, when I could just decide to set it down, let it go, and be present and thankful for the here and now?

I realized it was time to forgive. To just lay it down, no more roasting on the spit, no more victim, no more looking back. Just let it go. I made the conscious decision to forgive, and I made the promise to myself that if I ever again brought up the thoughts or feelings, as soon as I recognized what I was doing, I would remember that I was no longer allowing myself to think like that – I had let this go. Love and peace and blessings to all.

If you’re reading this, and you find there is something or someone you need to forgive – if it’s niggling your heart – then I encourage you to make the choice to forgive. I guarantee you it is not serving you well.

From my own personal experience, forgiveness has been one of the best things I have done in my life.

You can reach Nancy for more life wisdom at coachnancy.dennis@gmail.com or http://www.coachnancydennis.com. Nancy is a guest instructor at Natural Healing Omaha workshops, including Women’s Health Series 2014 – 6 Steps to Whole Health, which includes her class “Healthy Relationships for Life”.

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A Strong Nervous System Helps You Withstand Extremes

A Strong Nervous System Helps You Withstand Extremes

On my morning walk today, the street was littered with little and big branches from a wild snow tornado thing that blew through the city the day before. Every few steps I was kicking away or stepping around fallen pieces of the trees, garbage can lids and stray yard stuff that was swept up and dropped off in the vortex of air.

Then it hit me. The trees were just fine. As far as I know, very little damage was done to the city’s bare, brown maple, ash, apple and every other species of Midwest tree. Those winds were up to 60 miles per hour, and still, the trees looked like they always do this time of year. Stark. Tall. Braced for winter but undamaged by it.

If trees are made to withstand freak ‘snow tornados’ and windy squalls, the weight of a heavy snow, and wide temperature variations (sometimes up to 60 degrees in one day around here), then aren’t we?

Yes. And no.

Yes, you have the capability to bend without breaking against the forces of cold and flu viruses, bacterial infections, mild stresses and life’s unexpected events.

But you aren’t built to withstand the chronic levels of 21st century stress, with attention-draining electronic devices, ever-greater demands on time and an environmental load of ‘approved’ chemicals that kills off several species a day*!

At least not without some serious damage.

Trees and plants handle the stress of a strong wind gust by bending their flexible extremities. They might shake loose a weakened branch or a few leaves, but 50 or 100 feet of roots anchor them solidly for survival.

It’s also in your nature to have a strong foundation, so, when stress happens, you bounce back. When a loved one dies, when you lose your job, your marriage or a beloved pet, you grieve and feel the hurt and loss, but after a while you’re on your feet again, wounded but alive.

There’s no denying that some people get an unfair load of stress dumped on them, and who wouldn’t crumble a little under that weight? That’s when you call in extra support, sort of how you’d brace a tree with rope and a stake until it can stand on its own again. You get more rest, nourishing foods, ask family and friends for help.

This is where herbs really shine. They take the load off by calming down the nervous system, helping you sleep more soundly and lifting the fog of fatigue, even in the midst of the hell swirling around you.

Herbs called ‘nervines’ help dial back your anxious energy and feed the nervous system. Passionflower, for instance, puts you to sleep when your head is spinning with repetitive thoughts. Motherwort regulates a heartbeat that’s racing from nervousness, and Lavender soothes the mind and calms an upset stomach.

Wood betony loosens tension in the neck and shoulders, where we hold so much of our stress. These are just a few of the many herbs that lend their gentle nature to our over-stimulated lives.

Like a tree under the constant stress of poor soil, drought or injury, stress leads to disease. If you’re planted where you can’t thrive, your foundation weakens and you’re vulnerable to disease.

Practice a little self-care right now. Make yourself a cup of tea, take a deep breath and let it out slowly, close your eyes and rest your mind for 3 minutes. You just gave your mind a mini spa treatment!

Can you learn to bend and relax when life throws a snow tornado in your path? You can start by bringing some gentle natural healing into your day with calming herbs.

*https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/

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Adaptogens – Your Winter Wonder Immune Herb

Adaptogens – Your Winter Wonder Immune Herb

Below is an article I wrote that was recently published in our local Complete Transformation Magazine. You’ll find more of my herbal and natural tips in quarterly issues of this free publication found in area grocery stores.

complete transformation magazine features woman herbalist Mo Horner

One of the biggest factors threatening your immune health this time of year is fatigue.

Do you ever have that dream where you’re running as fast as you can but you’re getting nowhere? Your legs are dragging like cement and every step is a ridiculous effort. When you wake up, you’re exhausted and frustrated. THAT dream.

When you get rundown, and ordinary tasks begin to seem disproportionately hard, like in THAT dream, you could benefit from a group of herbs called adaptogens. Adaptogens provide immune support by gently, steadily enhancing your feeling of well-being and energy.

Russian scientists discovered that adaptogenic herbs boosted the performance of Olympic athletes and astronauts, who were subjected to constant, extreme levels of pressure to excel under stressful conditions. Does that sound like your life sometimes? American lives mimic an athlete’s extraordinary level of work and worry, with long office hours, financial pressures and poor eating habits.

Months or years of high-stress living is a major drain on your kidney/adrenal organ system. And that’s exactly where adaptogens have a magic that no other substance can match.

By helping you ‘adapt’ to your very own, personal life stressors, like your mother-in-law’s voice or the boss’s deadline demands, your nervous system can shift into neutral, allowing you to keep your cool more easily.

With these herbs, your body begins to recognize the difference between ordinary and extraordinary stress, and avoids firing up adrenaline when it isn’t needed. In effect, adaptogens act as a supreme regulator of your fight-or-flight response.

Adaptogenic herbs allow your body to stand down and get out of security guard mode, into bystander mode, without losing the ability to respond quickly and effectively to REAL, life-threatening situations, like when a deer suddenly appears out of nowhere on a dark highway.

Not all adaptogens are created equal. Some are better for high-energy, Type A personalities that deal with stress by getting busier, while others are more effective for people who turn to food, sleep and reclusiveness when life gets overwhelming.

Adaptogenic herbs like ashwaganda, eleuthero, rhodiola and ginseng (in medicinal doses), are deeply nourishing to over-stimulated nervous systems. Taken in appropriate doses with the guidance of a trained and experienced Herbalist, these healing plants can buffer the effect of stress on your immune system and protect you from colds and flu all year long.

Have you had the flu or a nasty cold yet this season? How did you treat the symptoms – rest, supplements, herbs, antibiotics? Share your experience with Natural Healing Omaha readers in the comments below.

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Classes Designed With Women’s Health in Mind

Classes Designed With Women’s Health in Mind

Are your diet, relationships, body, mind, sexuality and creativity fighting each other for control? Finding balance on your own is challenging. Some help would be nice…

Women’s Health Series – 6 Steps to Whole Health offers personal, practical and professional training for the whole you. All the best ideas for holistic health and wellness. Join us…

Workshops begin Monday, February 3 through March 10. 6 weeks. 6 professional women instructors. Priceless insight.

Bring a friend, sister, or Mom, and make this a special girl’s nite out.

Here’s what participants from the Fall 2013 classes had to say:

“Completely blown away and eager to study in the weeks ahead.”


“Smart, strong women with good, loving energy. I learned much from the participants, as well as the presenters.”


I was so impressed and appreciative of the women you chose to lead these classes! Powerhouses of mind, experience, heart.”


Left feeling great energy, connected and fulfilled.”


I will miss having this on Monday evening; just having a room of women to be with knowing they aren’t judging you; being totally yourself is so freeing. Learning on top of all of that is even better.”

 

To view or print flyer for this class series, click here

TO REGISTER NOW, click here.

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