All posts in Seasonal Health

Scratchy, Sore Throat? The Bees Have a Solution

Scratchy, Sore Throat? The Bees Have a Solution

Does the start of a scratchy, sore throat signal a week long misery-fest for you? Then you might be interested in a naturally healthy substance called bee propolis.

Propolis is the sticky goo made from resinous trees that bees use to seal up holes in their hives. Lucky for us, propolis has another quality that makes it excellent for immune challenges in human.

The presence of flavonoids in bee products like propolis and honey stimulate the immune system to spring into action and surround, smother and suffocate unwanted pathogens.

When a foreign bacteria or virus enters our body, your body’s defense system produces an army of white blood cells, which do their valuable immune-protective work in the lymph nodes and then flush the neutralized invaders. This process goes on continuously and without notice 24 hours a day when we’re healthy.

When we’re fatigued from ongoing emotional and physical stress, our immune system can become a little sluggish. Then, what starts as a typical day becomes a scratchy, sore throat followed by a lousy week of cough, fever and fatigue. Protecting yourself at the start with a throat spray containing bee propolis is your first line of defense. When you use an herbal throat spray, you get instant relief from the pain and a sizzle that signals anti-microbial action.

During cold season, have a propolis-containing spray on hand, or even better, enjoy a teaspoon of pure honey every day, which contains all the germ-fighting power of propolis and tastes sweet and smooth on a scratchy throat.

Honey has been used in healing systems around the world for centuries, and its special healing properties are being rediscovered as anti-biotic resistant strains of bacteria become more common. Find a local honey supplier and stock your cupboard with plenty of that golden goo this fall and winter.

Honey products should not be given to children under 2 years of age or to those sensitive to bee products.

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Autumn – No Time For Hangups

The other day, a patient shared with me that after a very long relationship, she decided it was time to get her own apartment, move out and start taking care of herself. The day she told her partner she was leaving, all the digestive symptoms that had been plaguing her for months of visits quickly cleared up. No more constipation, no more tummy problems. Just like that. She could breathe easily again.

Maybe you’re hanging on to an unhealthy relationship, or maybe it’s a bad habit you can’t shake, like gossiping or nighttime snacking. Sometimes, we just get hung up on what someone said to us 20 or 30 years ago and can’t let it go.

Whatever your hangup, it’s time to hang it up.

The weight of your emotional baggage is a giant burden on your physical health, whether you see it or not. Letting it go means a chance at feeling light and playful again. Smiling and joy are guiltless pleasures that we owe ourselves.

Fall cleansing means letting go and finding fun again

Let go of worries and feel playful and healthy again

I swear, letting go is one of the hardest lessons to learn in life.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes a clear connection between the Lungs – which play a role in expressing grief, releasing the past and detaching from unhealthy patterns and behaviors – and the Large Intestine, where another kind of ‘letting go’ happens.

A healthy and balanced Lung/Large Intestine pair helps you withstand the stresses of respiratory threats like colds and flus, and environmental imbalances like dryness or excess humidity and dampness. Did you get that? Letting go of unhealthy people, patterns and even poop 🙂 gives you protection from seasonal illnesses.

My patient discovered on her own that simply making up her mind to let go helped her physically release, making space for something new.

The season of the Lungs and Large Intestine is here right now. This is a great week to start a Fall cleanse.

A seasonal diet and herbs that focus on preparing your lungs, large intestine and lymphatic system for the cold weather can give you a leg up on immune system challenges.

Two weeks of delicious foods like squash, root vegetables and wild game, and herbs like cleavers, burdock root, stillingia root, poke root and cascara sagrada bark provide a lymph, lung, large intestine and deep tissue detox that stimulate and renew your sluggish system.

I tell my patients to get a good massage and indulge themselves in an afternoon nap. This is time to really let go of unhappy thoughts and enjoy the shocking blue skies and comfy sweater weather to the fullest.

I can help you understand how to accomplish cleansing with healthy, nourishing foods, herbs and simple daily practices. Everyone deserves a healthy start to Fall. Email me at info@naturalhealingomaha.com and get started.

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Has Your Digestion Taken a Vacation This Summer?

indigestion aggravated by summer heat and humidity

Tummy troubles? Maybe summer heat and humidity are aggravating an old pattern

Every time I turn around lately, someone’s blaming a healthy food for causing indigestion, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and probably last week’s summer flu. With all the GMOs, antibiotics, hormones and chemicals in our food, it’s an easy conclusion to draw.

But I have another theory. And Chinese medicine will back me up. People with chronic Heat and Damp imbalances in their constitution often don’t feel good this time of year.

Hot, damp weather can aggravate existing problems in the gut, as well as the skin, urinary tract and not surprisingly, the mind.

Heat and Dampness are two of the six ‘pernicious evils’ in Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM]. The theory goes that too much heat outside can aggravate heat inside the body. Same goes for dampness.

Summer is prime time for Heat, with a capital H, to mess with people who already suffer from one or more symptoms like:

  • Acid-indigestion or ‘hot burps’
  • Persistent acne breakouts, boils or red-toned skin eruptions or rashes
  • A tendency to be more irritable, cranky or even talkative in hot weather
  • Concentrated, dark urine or burning urinary tract infections
  • A tendency to be thirsty, especially for cool or cold fluids
  • Dryness and constipation (heat has a tendency to dry things out, right?)
  • A red tongue, a fast pulse (more than 20 beats every 15 seconds) and a flushed face

When you add in the dampness that Summer humidity brings, it can complicate a Heat pattern in your body, causing dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and almost a flu-like feeling. We call this Summer Heat in TCM. It’s so nasty it falls into its own special category of ‘evil’.

Even if you’re not taken by the extremes of Summer Heat and Dampness, you can still feel occasional and persistent bloating, nausea, heartburn, acid burping, constipation/diarrhea or any of those uncomfortable digestive symptoms we like to blame on the picnic food or weekend splurges.

What to do about it? It’s not always the food’s fault, but it helps to avoid greasy, fried foods, cheese and alcohol, which contribute to the Heat and Damp imbalances.

Cool watermelon, berries, garden salads and cooling sun teas made from herbs like mint, lemon balm, basil, hibiscus with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of stevia are great Summertime options to balance digestion. And when digestion is working well, everything else tends to fall in line.

5 Tips for digestive health during hot, humid weather:

  • Eat until you’re 70% full – not until you’re burping and bloated
  • Fill up on green, not grain – think kale, salad greens, cucumber, bell peppers, snap peas, zucchini
  • Ditch the drink with dinner – it’s NOT helping an already sluggish digestive system (this includes water, milk, and soda)
  • Get up early on the hottest, most humid days to work on outside chores, or save them for another day
  • Consider bitters – a few drops of swedish bitters on the tongue 15 minutes before eating will stimulate digestive juices and help break down food. Or enjoy a little dandelion root tea in the evening to smooth things out the next morning

Here’s another idea: visit a trained, professional herbalist.Why feel miserable one more day? Call me at 402.933.6444 and schedule your appointment now. No time? Try my Quick Stop 15-minute visit for $20, plus herbs.

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Does Summer Light Your Fire? Or Put Out Your Flame?

Fire element summer heat natural healing remedy

Keeping the Fire element cool is a Summer challenge worth taking

I think I have Summer-itis. Like senior-itis, except I’m not coming to the end of anything so important as my childhood. But around this time of year, I lose interest in pushing myself to extremes. Over-achieving is so ‘last season’.

Right now, my body says “slow down, it’s Summer”.

Everybody has their season. Summer people are the ones who feel invigorated and energetic right now, you could even say ‘in their element’. Of the 5 elements that Chinese theory uses to explain how human behavior relates to the cycles of nature – water, earth, fire, metal, wood – Fire is most in line with the hot Summer season.

That makes perfect sense just from a simple ‘Fire is hot, Summer is hot’ perspective.

Balanced [healthy] Fire personality types love the heat, get creative and motivated in the Summer, and are fun to be around. The Chinese associate this element with the Heart, so when you meet someone who is especially ‘warm-hearted’ – they give more than they take, feel moved by compassion and empathy toward others, and speak/listen with a gentle kindness – they’re a classic heart-centered person. These are the two ends of the healthy spectrum for Fire types.

Sometimes, Fire gets out of balance, from extremes of hot weather, life events or unhealthy lifestyle practices. The warm-hearted person becomes too empathetic, failing to practice healthy boundaries and taking on too much of everyone else’s stuff. They’ll caregive 24/7 for a sick loved one without reasonable time off, then find themselves in the hospital with chest pains.

The creative, bubbly personality becomes almost manic, starting several projects in a short time but leaving them all half-done. These people are the life-of-the-party, whose loud laughter carries across a crowded room, all red-faced and sweaty.  They can be hot-headed with an intensity that practically burns, or ‘air-headed’, ungrounded, with lots of ideas and passion but not much follow-thru.

Think about how Fire ignites in a dry environment with a tiny spark of energy and a puff of air. It doesn’t take much to set off a Fire element person.

The flames of fire glow mostly in a spectrum around the color red, and red is associated with the season of Summer and the Fire element. Facial and skin redness, which in Traditional Chinese Medicine equates with the presence of heat, can point to a predominance of the Fire element. Think sunburn, hot skin eruptions, even a racing pulse, pounding heart, or insomniacs who can’t shut their minds off (we say the mind houses the spirit of the Heart).

If you’re like me, Summer makes you lazy, but happy. I’ve been shivering all year and this is my time to bask in the heat, power down and get rested up. But that’s another element for another blog…

Looking for some cool ways to nurture yourself?

TOP  5  WAYS  TO  PUT  OUT  YOUR  SUMMER  FIRE –

  • Get some light exercise in the cool part of the morning
  • Load up on watermelon and  summer fruits, which keep urinary tract problems under control
  • Better get Bitters – the bitter flavor helps cool, detoxify and improve digestion (think lemon, artichoke leaves, coffee in small amounts)
  • Go jump in a lake – the Water element nourishes and calms our Summer fire. And it just feels good!
  • Siesta! Take a short nap (20 minutes) in the hottest part of the day

Problems that tend to worsen in the Summer like urinary urgency and burning, indigestion, heartburn, and insomnia get quick relief from herbal medicine. Is your Fire burning a little too hot? Put it out with a Quick Stop 15-minute Assessment – only $20 plus herbs.

Call 402-933-6444 or email info@NaturalHealingOmaha.com to schedule an appointment today.

 

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7 Coolest Things About a Farmer’s Market

farmers market berries selected by happy child

Fresh goodies from your farmer’s market tempt tastebuds

Why don’t more people shop at farmer’s markets? Heck, why don’t I shop there more often?

After last weekend, I’ve concluded that the only possible answer is this: habit. I’m just not in the habit of stopping at more than one place for groceries.

The thing is, the food at these neighborhood markets is so ridiculously cheap and fresh, I almost feel like I’m cheating someone. But really, I’m only cheating myself by not taking advantage of it more often.

Every time I walk into the deep freeze they call a grocery store these days, I wonder why I didn’t start at the market.

White and red radishes for 75 cents a bunch, spinach for $1, huge bundles of turnip and mustard greens for $1 (don’t know what to do with them? Click here for a photo and recipe).

Here’s what I discovered about the farmer’s market this weekend:

7 BEST THINGS ABOUT YOUR LOCAL FARMER’S MARKET:

1- You can find a farmer’s market almost every day of the week somewhere in your city [Omaha peeps, scroll down for a listing].

2- A $20 bill gets you enough veggies and meat protein for two people for at least 3 days.

3- Talk to the guy/girl who grew your food. It’s almost a little humbling to realize how much we depend on these gracious growers.

4- Eat your groceries while you’re still shopping. That’s how we discovered the white radishes are less spicy than the red ones.

5- You find out what’s in season, and discover that seasonal eating is healthier eating. [Here’s a link to a recent blog explaining why]

6- Fresh-picked food (within 2-3 days of market) has SO much more taste/flavor than supermarket food. Hands down.

7- Even if you don’t buy anything, you’ll be entertained. Street musicians, crowds of interesting people and pets, and displays of local crafts made my visit last weekend SWEET!

And now, here’s a listing of Omaha area farmer’s markets. Go get some fresh food today!

Bellevue Farmers Market / Flea Market – Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

  • May 18 – September 14, Washington Park on Franklin Street at West 20th Avenue, Bellevue

Benson Farmers Market – Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • May 4 – September 28, Military Avenue at Maple Street

Charles Drew Health Center Market – Wednesdays, 3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

  • July 10 — October 2, 2915 Grant Street

Florence Mill Farmers Market – Sundays, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

  • June 2 – September 29, 9102 North 30th Street

Main Street Farmers Market Council Bluffs – Thursdays, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

  • May – September, Corner of 9th Avenue and South Main Street, Council Bluffs

Omaha Farmer’s Market in Aksarben Village – Sundays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • May 5 — October 20, 67th and Center

Omaha Farmer’s Market in the Old Market – Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

  • May 4 — October 19, 11th & Jackson Streets

Papillion Market Faire – Wednesdays, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

  • June 5 – September 18, 1st Street Plaza located off 84th and 1st Street in Downtown Papillion (New Location in 2013!)

Wohlner’s Midweek Market at Midtown Crossing – Wednesdays, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

  • May 1 – September 25, Parking garage next to Wohlner’s at 33rd and Dodge

Village Pointe Farmers Market – Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • May 4 – October 5, 168th & Dodge
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Curried Tempeh and Farmer’s Market Greens

healthy kale and greens go into farmers market meal

Shop, chop and eat green with Farmer’s Market goodies

Ok, so I didn’t follow a recipe; I followed my tastebuds. And my mouth was watering for the taste of cumin, curry and salt. Here’s what I put together for today’s lunch/dinner after my farmer’s market visit yesterday.

8 Cups mixed greens (kale, mustard and turnip are good)

1 Tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)

1 tsp. cumin seed

1/4 tsp curry powder

2/3 cup chopped tempeh

1/4 tsp garam masala spice mix

1″ sliced and chopped ginger root

1 cup carrots, thinly sliced

1-2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

Herb seasoning to taste

In a large pot, bring water to boil, add and submerge greens and sliced carrots, cooking 7-10 minutes until bright, colorful and tender. Strain and set aside. In a wok or large skillet, add ghee and cumin seed and cook on medium heat until aroma of cumin emerges (about 1-2 mins). Continue to stir, adding tempeh, ginger and remaining spices, until tempeh is golden brown. Add drained, cooked greens and sesame oil to taste, heating through. Serve immediately and season to taste with herb mix. Optional: add black beans or onion while cooking tempeh.

Makes enough for 2 individual meals.

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Summer Berries Give Juicy Food for Thought

strawberries healthy for seasonal diets

Summer berries eaten in season offer the most health benefits

My guest blogger, Jen Allen, shares what she discovered about herself, and primitive man, when she started eating seasonally. If you’re a fan of summer fruit, her blog will give you even more reason to load up on seasonal delights like strawberries. Now’s the perfect time!

For most of my adult life I knew that eating seasonally was a good idea to save money at the grocery store. It wasn’t until I took a series of classes with a local nutritionist that I learned the real magic of eating seasonally through the lens of Chinese medicine.

Eating seasonally gives the body the right nutrients in one season to help prepare it to be healthy in the next season. It offers the right organs a rest in one season to help prepare those specific organs for the next season. A year of eating seasonally provides whole body health improvements that you may have been struggling with otherwise. That perspective gave me a whole new appreciation for the delightful early summer treat of strawberries.

Strawberries are the first fruit that appear on the landscape in early summer. If you’re eating seasonally, you’ve just come out of a “fruitless” winter and a spring where salad greens and asparagus have dominated your plate. Your first bite of a ripe strawberry tastes like a sweet dessert! And that’s quite a miracle considering that strawberries rank at the bottom when it comes to sugar content.

Anthropologically, the strawberry is meant to be the gateway to a summer of slightly higher sugar content than the other seasons due to the continual supply of seasonal fruit like watermelon and raspberries and ending with apples in the fall. It prepares the body to handle just a few more carbohydrates in preparation for the coming winter. Anthropologists believe this helped the body put on a little extra layer of fat to help paleolithic man get through winter without freezing. Winter was a time of scarcity during which that little extra layer of fat meant the difference between survival and death.

Fortunately, surviving the winter is less of a concern these days, but a healthy body and strong immunity are not. When you take a closer look at the nutrition profile of a strawberry, you’ll find that just 100 grams contains 98% of your recommended amount of vitamin C. Based on serving size, only blackberries and walnuts contain more antioxidents.

Here are my tips for maximizing your strawberry experience:

  • Only purchase strawberries when they are in season, which is the month of June in the Midwest. They taste the best and cost the least.
  • Purchase organic strawberries when possible because conventional strawberries rank among the highest in pesticide residues.
  • Grow a little patch of strawberries in a sunny spot in your yard. They are easy to take care of, and freshly picked strawberries contain the highest levels of nutrients.
  • Think twice about U-Pick strawberry farms. Be sure to ask them about the pesticides they use. It’s hard to manage acres of strawberries without them, and gorging on their strawberries can give you a high dose.

What about strawberry recipes, you ask? Nah, just eat the strawberry. Whole. Savor the taste. Appreciate the season. Share a bowl with a loved one that doesn’t mind your company with strawberry juice dripping down your chin. That’s the best strawberry recipe!

Jennifer Allen is a local food rights advocate and food educator. Her passion is helping to connect consumers with farmers. I’ll update you on her new blog when it’s released later this year. In the meantime you can find her at www.meetup.com/realfoodomaha and https://www.facebook.com/omaha-paleo#!/groups/whole30omaha/.

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What Mother’s Want: A Mother’s Day Poll

It’s hard to imagine anyone but a mother could have picked May as the month to celebrate and treasure the most precious gift any child can have: their very own mother.  In the land of weather extremes – also known as Nebraska – May may be the most pleasant month of them all.  Not only do we finally get to shed our winter wear, but we’re blessed with a symphony of colors to accompany the occasion.  Purples and blues join yellows and pinks to stand above the lushness of green either as a reward or a reminder of our journey and the blessedness of it all. It’s only fitting these days of kind temps and calming colors come together for the celebration of motherhood.  Evidently, Mother Nature knew what makes moms happy. Do you? Take this month’s herbal poll and find out! Check for the answer in Mo’s Mother’s Day blog post on Friday.
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How My Guest Blogger Got Her Healthy Groove Back

Cleanse and detox helps kick start new health habits

Healthy cleansing can be the push you need to better health

Below is a guest blog that started as an enthusiastic email from a friend who was tired of being ‘stuck’ in her old patterns, and found a way to break through after a couple weeks of  seasonal cleansing. With some light editing of exclamation points, I’ll let her tell the story…

I was recently guided to attend one of Mo’s classes – a Spring cleanse. What a good idea, I thought. Get a little healthier, feel a little better, you know…the usual. Little did I know that this 2 week cleanse would completely change my life – healing my unhealthy patterns at a very deep level – and giving me a renewed sense of self.

The class turned out to be a cooking class, meant to prepare us for this 2 week, nearly vegan life-style. Mo, by showing us the actual “to-do’s”, empowered us to go find the healthiest foods we could, and re-engage with our kitchens. And her enthusiasm and commitment to each of us was contagious.

It was tough, but because I’m married to an amazing man who also loves to cook (and who realized quickly that life was simply going to be easier by getting on board with this one). We made our collective way through it. I won’t give the details of everything this diet pushed us through in this blog (but perhaps over a healthy lunch??) but on the other side of 2 weeks….here’s what we are experiencing: my diarrhea  (my companion for the last 20 or so years) is completely gone. We’re both sleeping through the night (rare!). My husband’s snoring….gone. He’s lost 13 pounds, I’ve lost 7, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Seriously, the energy that we are experiencing and the way our new bodies feel has changed us. We can never go back to drinking wine nearly every single night. Miracle of miracles, the desire is gone! Who knew? And who wants a huge chunk of beef in their stomachs now? Not us. Of course, we’re enjoying these things again, but in moderation as opposed to gluttony. We’re the “all in” types….enough said. The way our bodies feel now has actually become our dietary compass, and it’s joyful!

Last but certainly not least, because I’m getting a full night’s sleep, I’m getting up earlier, finding time for breakfast again, and have gotten back into a morning meditation practice – something I haven’t had in my life for years.

We are changed…

Love,

Carolyn and Kurt Johnson

Seasonal cleansing is a gentle and safe way to bring about subtle (or in Carolyn’s case, not-so-subtle) change when you’re feeling stuck or stagnant. It could turn out to be just the nudge you needed to break a bad habit and start some new ones. Take cleansing to a holistic new healthy level – schedule a personal visit with me 402.933.6444 or gather a group for a class at your school, church or workplace. Email info@naturalhealingomaha.com for more information.

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