Natural Healing Omaha Blog

Seasonal Misery in Full Swing? Herbal Medicine to the Rescue!

Spring allergy misery sneezing itchy watery congestion fatigue natural healing remedy

Look to Nature for natural healing from seasonal misery.

Does the sight of a Spring flower give you mixed feelings? You find the color refreshing after a long, gray Nebraska winter, but your head feels attacked by the onslaught of sneezy, drippy, itchy misery that Spring pollens bring?

Would you be interested to know that Mother Nature herself has given us really simple, effective remedies for this seasonal misery? On the one hand, she delivers a nightmare of nasal nastiness, and then she provides a gift that calms, soothes and relieves it all. In fact, she’s got a whole bag full of tricks to relieve your Springtime blues.

Some of my favorites:

*Nettle leaf tea – stinging nettle leaf, when it’s collected at the right time, dried and infused in hot water, provides gentle relief for mild allergy-related symptoms like itchy, watery eyes, sniffly nose, headache pressure and other minor irritations. It also just happens to be a superior herb for the kidneys, primarily because it’s chock full of minerals and vitamins that nourish our tired adrenals. And that means your immune system will love it, too! This simple ‘weed’ has tremendously powerful rejuvenating properties.

*Eyebright tea or tincture – guess what part of the head this one’s perfect for? When you find your eyes tearing up and watering, reach for eyebright. Got itchy ears or tired eyes? Eyebright tea. Here’s another tip: for red eyes that itch like crazy, make yourself a cup of eyebright tea, soak a wet cloth in the tea and apply the cloth directly to the eye. Usually one application is enough to relieve the irritation. This works with an ordinary green tea bag, too!

*Pe Min Kan Wan – do your allergies have a tendency to become sinus infections? This Chinese herbal ‘teapill’ works wonders. At the first hint of sinus pressure, congestion or pain, or when mucus and phlegm make it hard to lay down and sleep, Pe Min Kan does its magic by preventing infection and clearing up your head without drying you out like anti-histamines can.

*Local Honey – granted, a once-daily teaspoon of local honey isn’t likely to clear up this season’s symptoms, but if you stick to it, by this time next Fall or Spring, you could be tip-toeing through the tulips with a clear nose. Local honey is incredibly good at ‘innoculating’ your immune system in small doses over a long time, giving it a fighting chance with local plants. And it’s anti-microbial, making it a soothing, healthy treat in your morning tea or straight up!

How about scheduling a Quick Stop, 15-minute visit this Spring? For less than most co-payments, visit me for a simple solution to your seasonal challenges! Call 402.933.6444 to set up your Quick Stop appointment soon. Only $20 plus herbs.

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Old Growth Heals a Busy City Herbalist

Old growth redwood muir woods

Getting grounded in old growth lends new perspective – photograph by Erin Horner

My 15-year old daughter and I couldn’t decide what to do for Spring Break this year, so we compromised. She wanted an ocean and I wanted trees. A tall order for a land-locked place like Nebraska. So we recruited her buddy to join us, found a couple cheap flights and spent a week with some old friends in San Francisco, one of my all-time favorite cities.

Since we’re city people, after 4 days of driving the twisting, turning highways of Northern California, a trip to Muir Woods, named for naturalist John Muir, seemed like a great escape.

The two girls giggled their way down the cool path of this awesome redwood forest, snapping Instagram pics and pointing like the rest of us at mammoth trees the width of small houses and ‘approximately the height of a six-foot person stacked head to toe 45 times’, according to the National Forest Service website. It was as easy and natural as if we were walking Omaha’s own Fontenelle Forest on a Sunday morning.

You don’t have to vacation a thousand miles away to get that lift of spirit that vacations bring. But it helps. Standing next to a couple of these trees, nestling up against their surfaces worn soft by the touch of visitors through the decades, none of us wanted to move anymore. We could have stayed there all day, soaking up the quiet, solid energy that made us all feel so grounded. Knowing those trees were hundreds of years old put our own few years of life into perspective.

I wish I could personally thank John Muir for making it his mission to preserve Muir Woods for my daughter and her kids and grandkids. It made me wonder if I’m doing enough to keep something I treasure safe for generations to come. Heavy thoughts for a Spring break getaway. But hey, I did get my trees.

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Ready for Another Herbal Poll?

March Herbal Poll image

March Herbal Poll

In Julius Caesar, the soothsayer warned the emperor to “beware the Ides of March.”  For those of us in the Midwest and other northern climates it’s not just March 15th we need to be aware of.

The month of “in like a lion, and out like a lamb” can bring anything from frigid temps and a foot of snow to damp, cold and wet weather.  And usually a combination of all the above.

It’s for this reason that protecting the immune system is particularly important this time of year.  And the best way to protect your self is to understand what parts of your body are directly related to the immune system, thereby making it m0re susceptible to colds, allergies and yes, even the flu.

So here’s this month’s question: Which of these body parts is NOT a major player in your Immune system health?

You’ll find this month’s poll on the lower right-hand side.  Test your knowledge.  I’ll provide the answer in a future blog post.  Stay well!

 

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Natural Health on a Sunday Morning…

Saute 1/2 chopped onion in 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add 4-5 large chopped mushrooms after about 3 minutes. Stir and saute together until onion is translucent. Transfer to serving dish. Scramble 2 large eggs mixed with 1/4 cup almond milk and cook until soft and barely done (Eggs will firm up perfectly in the dish). Transfer to same serving dish. Heat 1/4 cup black beans with 1/2 tsp. olive oil in skillet until warmed. Place over eggs and vegetables in dish and top with chopped tomato, salt, pepper and herby spices of your choice. Eat!

healthy breakfast natural foods

Sunday breakfast never tasted so good!

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Snow Day Soup is Healthy & Hearty

White bean soup with gluten-free cornbread. Snow day deliciousness.

White bean soup with gluten-free cornbread. Snow day deliciousness.

When I think of snow, I think soup. So, of course I spent our Nebraska snow day in the kitchen cooking up a bowl of tummy-warming homemade soup.

Here’s how to start a pot of white bean soup cooking for your family:

Soak a 1 lb bag of white beans, great northern or navy beans in water overnight. In the morning, drain and set aside.

Chop one onion, 6-8 stalks of celery, 5 large carrots, 4 cloves of garlic and 2 turnips. Place in soup pot and saute in 2 Tbsp ghee, butter or oil until onion is translucent.

Add drained beans, 6-8 cups water, 1 heaping Tbsp vegetable bullion, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1 tsp thyme leaves and 1 lb neck bones, smoked ham or turkey bone or ham hock.

Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 2-3 hours. Take the bones out, remove all the meat you can and throw bones away (or make your doggie really happy and share). Return meat to soup, adding salt or seasonings to taste. Cook 5 more minutes and serve with gluten-free cornbread (I used Bob’s Red Mill – very tasty and easy mix). YUM!

 

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Kitchen Favorite Doubles as Natural Healing Sleep Remedy

sesame oil ayurveda dry skin care

Simple sesame oil can soothe your dry skin…and more.

Since I was kid, I’ve been fighting sleep. When everyone else was snoring in their beds on Saturday morning, the 12-year old Mo was awake, buzzing around, making homemade cinnamon rolls from a box of Bisquick baking mix. I’d be drizzling the drippy icing over  fresh-from-the-oven steamy rolls long before anyone in my family woke up.

It’s been a source of frustration and a blessing to be an early riser, but it didn’t bother me nearly so much then as it does now. I mean, waking at 3:30 am some mornings and not falling back to sleep, or always getting up before my alarm is downright annoying.

So last night, I trotted out an Ayurvedic solution I’d forgotten about, and wouldn’t you know, I slept like a log. All I really wanted was something to soothe my dry winter skin, so I took a long bath and then slathered on sesame oil…all over. Voila! Finally, 8 straight hours of sleep. I slept so hard my neck has a crick in it – you know that feeling?

What is it about oil on dry skin that calms the mind? The Ayurvedics know this particular healing method well. It’s a big component of what’s known as panchakarma therapy. But you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars at an ashram or Ayurvedic clinic to get the benefits of a simple sesame oil rubdown. Just open your cupboard and pour it on.

What are YOUR home remedies? I’ll post your comments on favorite tried-and-true healing therapies over the next few weeks.

 

 

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Time for Herbal Medicine to Come Out of the Closet

Ripped Jeans

A pair of worn jeans is like herbal medicine. Tried and true.

A pop song I heard on my kid’s iTunes last week got me thinking…so, here I go again…

Everyone’s got that favorite sweatshirt or pair of jeans they keep for weekends at home. You know, the ones you slip on when you wanna feel comfortable and relaxed.

Over time, the color’s faded and the newness has worn off, but you’re not completely at home unless you’ve got that soft, worn fabric against your skin. Do you remember why you stopped wearing those jeans in public?

My guess is that something new and trendy came along and made them look dull in comparison.

Something similar happened to herbal medicine. The comfort of our grandmothers’ folk healing was replaced by a trendy, shiny thing called modern medicine.

Traditional ways of staying healthy and healing at home were relegated to the back of the closet. Somehow, we convinced ourselves that newer was better. In the process, safe, natural, remarkably simple methods of prevention and natural healing were written off as dated and out of style.

Isn’t it time we put some old-fashioned common sense back into health care? Let’s take a page from fashion by pairing the best of today’s chic new healthcare with classics that stand the test of time.

Herbal medicine blends well into today’s eclectic cultural sensibilities. It’s more than just vintage, thrift-store medicine or trendy ‘folk’ healthcare. There’s powerful healing in that simple cup of tea your grandmother brewed for you.
What could be more comfortable than medicine that grows in your own back yard, right?

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This Chinese New Year’s Got Me Thinking…

Happy Mo Horner celebrates Chinese New YearI’ve never celebrated Chinese New Year. I had to Google ‘Year of the Water Snake’ to figure out what to celebrate tomorrow, February 10th, the first day of the Chinese New Year.

One website told me not to sweep the floor or clean on Sunday because I might sweep away my good luck for the year. I’m not to use knives or scissors or I may ‘cut away’ my good luck. And red is the color to wear, particularly something brand new.

Easy enough any day of the week.

You know what I like about these cultural holidays? They remind me that people everywhere have their own special ways of honoring what’s good about living. And in a world where there’s so much bad news, I like to stay plugged in to joyful and optimistic thinking wherever I can get it.

The Chinese say that good health starts with good thoughts, or at least that’s how I interpret 5-Element theory. It’s certainly been true in my life. I’ve always been optimistic, but I learned a valuable lesson during cancer recovery. My intentions become my reality.

So this Chinese New Year, I intend to show appreciation for kindness, have more fun, see the humor in life, and expect abundance. Doesn’t that sound more interesting than “lose 10 pounds” or “get in shape”?

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Super Bowl, Deer Antler Spray and Herbal Medicine

football

Deer Antler Spray gets a Super Bowl slap on the wrist.

I couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl. And I don’t care much about over-paid athletes and performance enhancing drugs either. But this week, the two crossed paths with my passion, herbal healing, when one of this year’s Super Bowl athletes was reported to have used Deer Antler Spray to speed his recovery from a torn triceps that sidelined him for 10 games.

The problem with Deer Antler Spray is that it doesn’t make an athlete run faster or jump higher. I remember when Converse tennis could do that. But, according to the National Football League, the spray works in the same way as Human Growth Hormone to aid in the recovery time of an athlete. And like HGH, Deer Antler Spray appears on the NFL’s banned substance list.

I don’t know much about sports injuries, but as an herbalist, I do know a little something about Deer Antler. And it’s not an herb for everyone. When I was studying to be an herbalist, one of the first things I learned was that everything has an energy, or nature, including people. Some people are hot and some are cold. Same with every food, drink and herb we take in. Some are stimulating and produce warmth in the body, and some cool and calm.

When deer antler velvet is administered as intended, it’s a valuable tonic for people with Kidney Yang deficiency. These kind of people have a fundamental weakness that impairs their body’s warmth and ability to heal. Ray Lewis may or may not be one of these types. But it’s this yang-enhancing property that gives deer antler velvet a reputation for enhancing tissue repair. It might very well be useful for a certain athlete to get back on the field, eventually. Eventually being the operative word.

The basic warmth that antler velvet generates makes it a popular herbal supplement choice for impaired libido, infertility and injury recovery. From what I hear, Mr. Lewis is no slouch in the libido/fertility arena, making him a poor candidate for herbs like deer antler velvet.

And here’s where the big misunderstanding comes in…on both sides of this issue.

Over the long-term, deer antler velvet can strengthen the Kidney Yang and Jing, and help heal weakened or injured tissues. Over an extended period of time…..in measured amounts……in specific types of people, like those with a fundamental internal coldness. Yang tonics are meant to be taken over a long period of time, not in short bursts and large amounts. Using them this way is mistaking them for stimulants.

So, there’s really no unfair advantage to taking deer antler velvet. Over time, it can actually deplete an athlete’s natural Kidney Yang, causing a reverse effect.
For the right person, antler velvet, like ephedra and red ginseng, all can be powerful and useful herbs. It’s the misuse that gives these herbs a bad name.
So the moral of this Super Bowl story is don’t prohibit or take an herb without understanding how nature meant it to be used.
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Wrapping up 100 Days in the Slow Lane

calendar pieces

Mo Horner explores her 100-day journey of meditation.

Since last Fall, when I committed to sit it out for 30 minutes a day, I’ve discovered something profound about meditation  –  it’s profoundly difficult to slow down my twenty-first century, tech-driven, high-speed brain.

For 100 straight days, I’ve been sitting, and squirming and itching to get up. At least 75 of those days, I needed some serious self-talk to stay in my seat. After all, in my everyday life, I’ve been trained to be ready at any moment for an incoming text, call, email, Facebook post, breaking news, or something requiring ‘immediate attention’. We all have. We’re in constant fight or flight mode, mobilized for everyday life like it’s a crisis we’re facing moment to moment.

Trying to meditate feels like slamming on the brakes in a NASCAR race. I’ve spent years trying to handle everything quickly, at a moment’s notice, raising kids in a soccer-mom culture and trying to keep my sanity without keeping up with the Jones’s.

And that’s exactly why I plan to keep sitting in meditation…on the floor, in a chair, on the couch…collecting my thoughts, and setting them aside for some emptiness and peace. I’ve become too accustomed to speed and instantaneous response times. I’m ready for the slow lane, and meditation is teaching me how to gently pull over and coast for a little while every day.

Do you have a daily practice that nourishes your health and happiness? I want to hear about your experience. Email me at info@naturalhealingomaha.com with your story.

 

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