Google tells me it was Ben Franklin who coined the phrase ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. I think it’s time to add ‘a pinch of attention’ to that old saying.More
Have you ever had a food craving for something so strange that you almost can’t admit it?
I have a secret like that.
I love pickled food, and the more sour and vinegar-y, the better. I’m one of those people who puts pickled beets on salad and eats them right from the jar. Sauerkraut? Love it. Especially with a meaty sausage and tangy mustard. Pickled herring was a favorite of my dad’s growing up, so I learned to appreciate that early on.
These days, everyone is talking about yeast and candida and all sorts of bothersome digestion problems. Most of these problems occur because stress, antibiotics or a diet of processed foods upset the balance of healthy bacteria in our bodies.
Eating a small portion of some sort of pickled or fermented food every day helps repopulate the ‘beneficial’ bacteria so normal digestive functions have a fighting chance.
Eating that pickle next to your restaurant hamburger could help you avoid an upset stomach, gas, bloating, diarrhea, reflux or heartburn later tonite.
The reason I’m coming out with my secret is I know now there’s no shame in craving pickled food. I have to thank Jennifer Wilford, the self-described ‘real food advocate’, who taught me 8 great reasons to eat fermented foods during a class last weekend.
Jennifer explained that pickling is not only coming back into vogue, it’s also an old-fashioned way to introduce natural probiotics into the diet. A couple generations ago, this was common knowledge.
I won’t share all Jennifer’s secrets, but she did share that the process of pickling, which is pretty darn easy by the way, encourages the growth of a plethora of gut-friendly bacteria – especially lactobacillus. Try saying that three times fast!
And get this: because a huge majority of immune system action happens in the gut, a larger colony of friendly bacteria down there can even improve your protection from illnesses going around this winter. How ’bout that?
Guess what else happens in the gut? Most of your body’s seratonin – a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation – is made there. Improve your mood just by eating a little condiment-sized serving of sauerkraut. If you’re salt sensitive, try kefir, yogurt, kombucha, sourdough bread, or sour cream. Read more about this in my November 2012 newsletter.
Holistic health doesn’t have to be complicated. It can even save you money when you replace expensive bottled digestive enzymes and probiotics with natural ones made from whole foods like cabbage and beets.
Want to know how to ferment your own foods at home? Jennifer recommended Fermented by Jill Ciciarelli [here’s a link – http://amzn.to/1auQOaF].
As an herbalist, I like to pair probiotics with herbs for patients suffering from chronic yeast and urinary tract infections. Tasty natural probiotic foods can help you avoid the side effects of antibiotic use, such as loose stools and yeast infections.
I told you my secret craving. What’s yours? Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.More
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.More
Is breast tenderness or pain an early warning sign that your period is on its way? You know, you don’t have to put up with that every month.
The Latin name for the plant that soothes PMS symptoms is Vitex agnus, but it’s commonly called Chaste tree berry or simply Vitex.
Vitex has this handy talent for balancing hormone levels in a way only plants can. In my herbal practice, I’ve seen this little odd-flavored berry perform it’s herbal magic on women with PMS symptoms like irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, sugar cravings, acne, headaches and other pre-period pains (in tincture or capsule).
Once a period starts, Vitex does a great job of reducing heavy bleeding and even shortening a long period. Many women report changes within one cycle, but I encourage my patients to continue taking the herb for at least 3-6 months for maximum effect. There’s no standard amount to take, but I generally recommend one 500 gm capsule daily in the morning. Vitex works so well for the girls in my family that we make a whole year’s supply of tincture at once from the dried berries.
It’s always helpful to your healthcare provider to know just what you mean by ‘infrequent’. I recommend you download one of those handy period tracker apps to your phone. I like MyCalendar, which lets me keep notes on recurring symptoms like headaches or heavy days.
A phone app or even a little bedside notepad will help you get a handle on the rhythm – or lack of rhythm – of your cycles before you see your healthcare provider or herbalist.
Yes, Vitex is excellent for women with irregular or frequently skipped periods. It’s like a multi-vitamin for your hormones!
Are you ready to say good-bye to PMS and hormone hell? Contact me at email@example.com and find out how Vitex fits into your healthcare needs.
“You’re kidding me. It’s only been 2 months.” When my sister told me a benign nodule on her thyroid shrunk from the size of an egg to a peanut in two months, I did a little happy dance. For her and for herbal medicine.More
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.More
You’d be surprised what women lump into the ‘hormone’ category of health problems. Pretty much anything and everything.More
Girls, it’s time I said it loud and clear, because there is still alot of confusion around this message:
Herbs really DO lessen or completely eliminate many peri-menopausal symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, sleeplessness, hair loss, loss of libido, crazy periods, the whole deal.
It works gently. Quickly. Alot of times, permanently.
And safely. Up next to artificial or ‘natural’ hormone and surgical interventions, herbal medicine is so free of side effects and risks that it really doesn’t fall into the same category of healing.
Week after week, I visit with women who share stories of soaking the bedsheets from wicked night sweats, suffering weeks or months of exhausting insomnia, tracking periods that run the gamut from every 2 or 3 months to every 2 or 3 weeks, with flooding and sometimes debilitating pain, migraines and too many other miseries to name here.
They call me days or weeks after starting their custom herb formulas to say thank you for the relief.
My patients find me through a girlfriend or sister who didn’t have luck with conventional medicine and tried something ‘sort of out there’, as one woman referred to my work. I’m not offended.
Women come to herbal and natural medicine for lots of reasons – dissatisfaction with traditional medicine, bad experiences with drug side effects, a reputation for safety, and a desire to explore options to surgery.
For me, it was fear. During chemo for breast cancer, I was afraid to lose my hair, so I went to visit a naturopathic physician my friend was seeing.
I still lost my hair, but the pills and capsules cleared up my lifelong digestion problems and most of my fibromyalgia pain – conditions I’d resigned myself to dealing with forever.
Even if fear or drug side effects point them to herbal solutions, it’s the results that keep my patients coming back and getting more involved in their own healthcare decisions. When they get results, they stop worrying about what their doctor, their mother, or their husband might think.
Google the phrase ‘hot flashes’ and the results are a confusing assortment of 15 million quasi-scientific and product-centered websites. That’s alot of information to sort through, and having a professionally trained herbalist guide you through the quagmire can come in handy.
Taking a problem like night sweats to a professional herbalist might be the LAST thing you consider. It’s not the sort of healthcare option you see splashed across billboards on Dodge Street. Without drug company profit margins, those billboards and expensive advertising campaigns are pretty much out of the question for herbalists.
We rely on word-of-mouth, and let me tell you, women talk. Good results are the main reason my patients are telling their sisters, moms, daughters and co-workers to go see ‘that herb lady’ when they’re a hot mess of hormones.
Take your time and think it over. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here when you’re ready to explore your options. You’ll get the truth if I think herbal medicine is a less effective choice for your very personal situation.
So, come sit in a comfortable chair and let’s talk this thing through. No judgement, no obligation. Just one woman to another. That’s the most natural thing I can offer.More
A gentleman brought his 94 year old mother to me asking for help with her 4 months of bowel incontinence, which was making her miserable and exhausted, not to mention the loss of dignity that goes with that sort of thing.
Her doctors had prescribed all sorts of medications, but nothing worked and she was getting weaker every day. In my office, she covered up with her winter coat, looking frail and pale, but I could see the feisty woman she really was underneath the weariness.
One solution jumped out at me right away, but I questioned whether her caregivers at the nursing home would get on board.
I suggested the staff hold off on serving her fruit juices, cold fruit, iced tea and cottage cheese, all of which are known to contribute to loose stools and digestive problems for those with the TCM pattern of Spleen Qi Deficiency.
It’s a clinical term that describes a pattern of disharmony in Traditional Chinese Medicine. People with this pattern have sometimes been weakened by a long period of stress like an illness (my patient had suffered a stroke), or excessive cold, damp foods, or both. In her case, a very long life even by today’s standards, contributed a large degree to her deficiency patterns.
A week later, the patient’s son called to say that even before starting the course of herbs I recommended, she was 50% better. The staff was shocked at how much just a simple diet change, including warmer foods, soups and hot teas, did to improve her quality of living.
Holistic healing isn’t always about taking an herb or supplement. It takes into account everything from lifestyle factors to diet and even spiritual practices. Even a minor adjustment like the temperature of your food can make a big difference in the whole you.
Could there be one simple practice that needs a tiny little turn-of-the-dial in your life or the life of someone close to you?More
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.More