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Blackstrap Molasses – Not Just For Grandma’s Cookies Anymore

Making a tonic syrup with an old favorite - blackstrap molasses

Lately, I’ve been putting in long hours growing my herb practice, taking an Anatomy and Physiology class and visiting my mom, who’s been in and out of so many nursing homes and hospitals over the past 10 weeks, I’ve lost count. I finally had to admit to a close friend that it’s been exhausting and I’m just plain tired. “Well, what would you tell a client who felt like you do?” she asked.

“Take tonic herbs!” The concept of tonic herbs is virtually unknown to Western herbalists, but it’s common in Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM]. The idea that the body recovers not only from rest, good food and good air, but also by taking in strengthening and nourishing herbs over an extended period of time, say 3-6 months or more, is central to TCM healing practices. I should know, since I’ve benefitted from tonics during other stressful, depleting times in my life. So, I spent practically the whole day making a wonderful tonic syrup out of Chinese herbs and one of my favorite old-fashioned syrup bases – blackstrap molasses.

I love the rich, earthy taste of blackstrap, but I learned to really appreciate it a few years ago when I discovered it has a significant iron content but doesn’t create the constipation that iron supplements can. It also has healthy levels of minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium and is known to help normalize blood sugar levels. Just what the doctor ordered for the marathon that is my life lately.

So, I cooked and cooked those Chinese roots and barks and healing herbs in a pot of water on the stovetop until the liquid was reduced by three-fourths, added the blackstrap in and cooked it down a bit further. I bottled the strained liquid and I’ll be adding a tablespoon to my morning and evening tea every day for the next few months. Just the process of slowly cooking this brew over several hours was a relaxing way to begin settling my life down a bit.

I’ll check back over the next few weeks, but what I’m prepared to feel is an energy lift, better focus and concentration at the office, and more sound, restful sleep. Stay tuned…

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Putting Out the Fire

The Summer dry heat that parched your yellow lawn and left your flowers wilting may have had a similar effect on your body. When moisture is lacking in your environment, it’s also drying your skin, eyes, the mucus membranes along your respiratory tract, and other areas that are open directly or indirectly to the air.

Putting out the fire on summer heat and dryness naturally

Help your body quell the summer heat

A windy, dry Fall can complicate all that and more. Dryness isn’t just irritating; it makes your body’s surfaces more vulnerable to allergens, unfriendly bacteria and viruses. The mucus in your body and moisture in your skin is there for a reason. It lubricates surfaces and provides a protective barrier for your immune system.

How do you re-hydrate your Lungs, skin and whole body and avoid the hazard of a windy, dry Fall?  DRINK MORE WATER.

It’s almost too obvious, but keep a bottle handy throughout the day and get in the habit of staying hydrated. You’ll be surprised how much this can help your vitality.

  • SLIPPERY ELM LOZENGES are delicious and do a great job of lubricating a ticklish throat and irritated respiratory tract. Cherokee herbalist David Winston says that slippery elm lozenges can even stimulate the lungs to produce more healthy mucus.
  • Herbalist Amanda McQuade Crawford, in her book “Herbal Remedies for Women”, suggests MARSHMALLOW ROOT  (not the puffy, sugary confection in your cupboard] as a wonderful demulcent (aka gooey herb) for a dry cough.
  • THROAT COAT tea from Traditional Medicinals is one of my favorite soothers for a scratchy throat. If your cough hangs on for more than a couple weeks, consider a visit to your physician or herbalist.
  • EAT MORE SWEET POTATOES! These delicious super tubers have a nourishing, moistening effect on the lungs.
  • Other cool tips for Fall? Sit in a steamy sauna a couple times a week….apply sesame oil inside the opening of your dry, itchy nose….dig out your pretty scarves and get your neck wrapped nice ‘n snug before heading out to the hayrack ride.

Be Well!

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