Zoom Meeting: Immune Care & Postpartum health
Here is a short overview of some of the herbs Ali and I discussed and some of what they are used for. For more information on Ali Sugarman visit her website here.
Herbs for Immune function:
(The most important thing to remember is that every illness is different and your body may respond differently to each manifestation of illness. These herbs listed are just a small portion of herbs that may be beneficial for the immune system. For a formula that is more specific to your needs, you will need to discuss them with a trained Herbalist. Always check with your doctor if you are on any medications to be sure there will be no adverse interactions.)
Sambucus nigra: Elderberry (anti-viral and immune-supportive)
Eupatorium perfoliatum: Boneset (anti-pyretic, immune enhancement)
Sambucus nigra: Elderflower (antipyretic, antitussive)
Inula helenium: Elecampane (demulcent, antitussive)
Plantago major: Plantain (demulcent, antitussive)
Verbascum thapsus: Mullein leaf & flower (expectorant, dry and stimulating)
Echinacea angustifolia: Echinacea root (not for use in people who have auto-immune conditions, used acutely at the onset of illness)
Capsicum annuum: Cayenne pepper powder (1/4 tsp or less, very hot! Diaphoretic and antipyretic)
Zingiber officinale: Ginger root (antiviral, diaphoretic, warming, aids digestion)
Rosemarinus officinalis: Rosemary leaf (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory)
Origanum vulgare: Oregano leaf (antimicrobial, antibacterial)
Thymus vulgaris: Thyme leaf (expectorant, antimicrobial, antibacterial)
Cinnamomum verum: Cinnamon bark (antiviral, antimicrobial, demulcent)
Allium sativum: Garlic (antimicrobial, digestive stimulant)
Lavendula vera: Lavender flower (nerve relaxant, antimicrobial)
Eucalyptus globulus: Eucalyptus leaf (antitussive, calms spastic cough)
Nepeta cataria: Catnip leaf (nerve relaxant, sedative)
Herbs for general postpartum support:
(These herbs are not for more serious issues or pathologies. If you are suffering from severe illness or pain you will need to discuss this with your doctor and a trained herbalist. Before taking any herbal supplements always check with your doctor to be sure they are safe with any medications you may be taking.)
Viburnum prunifolium & Viburnum opulus: Black Haw & Cramp Bark: (antispasmodic for cramping and slight discomfort)
Rubus idaeus: Red raspberry leaf: (antispasmodic, uterine tonic)
Leonarus cardiaca: Motherwort leaf: (cooling, antispasmodic)
Matricaria recutita: Chamomile flower: (nerve relaxant, antispasmodic, warming digestive tonic)
Nepeta cataria: Catnip leaf: (nerve tonic, sedative)
Melissa officinalis: Lemon balm leaf: (nerve tonic, sedative
Lavendula vera: Lavender flower: (nerve tonic, relaxant)
Avena sativa: Oatstraw & tops: (nerve tonic, relaxant)
Hypericum perforatum: St. John’s Wort: (antidepressant, mood elevator)
Vitex agnus-castus: Chaste berry: (hormonal support in cases of depression or depleted progesterone.)
Trifolium pratense: Red Clover: (hormonal clearance, hormonal support)
Paeonia lactiflora: White peony: (hormonal regulation)
Verbena hastata: Blue vervain: (nervine, adaptation to stress)
Withania somnifera: Ashwagandha: (mild adaptogen, adaptation to stress)
Panax quinquefolius: American Ginseng: (used in short duration to help manage stress and exhaustion. Do not take in excess.)
One more thing that I didn’t mention in the interview is yoni steams! Those can be extremely wonderful for relieving pain, tension, or prevent any post-birth infections. You do the same thing as if you were going to breathe in the steam but instead squat over the pot and let the steam heat your yoni! Calendula, yarrow, oregano, lavender, rosemary, and a bit of rose are some of my favorites to combine for this!
Here are a couple of books that I love! These are some of the books that I refer to in the interview:
Stress Management & COVID-19
I am reaching out this month to provide some support, love, and shed some of the heaviness that we all may be experiencing. As we all know and are feeling, the stress from this current situation is very real. All the emotions, as well as the physical feelings, are not only valid but they are inevitable.
I don’t know about you but the second I sneeze I think that it is more serious than it probably is. That level of stress is not healthy nor helpful. So, I hope to shed some light on how to alleviate some of that added stress.
In today’s world where we have access to news around the clock, through social media, as well as other sources, we get bombarded all day with the state of the world around us. We get inundated with flashy headlines, horrific stories, and we begin to worry about our families and friends. So how do we avoid getting overwhelmed and stressed out? How do we feel ok when there is all this uncertainty surrounding us? The truth is we cannot totally avoid this. It is natural that we get overwhelmed and feel emotional. The point is to let those emotions out. Feel them. Allow them to flow freely. However, the difference is to not allow them to take control or let them rule our decisions or our lives.
We can turn to other means to help mitigate and keep ourselves in check. We can turn inward and do some helpful and supportive activities when we start to feel overwhelmed. We can turn to herbs for stress relief and prevention. So, what are some of these practices and herbs?
When I say meditation that can feel overwhelming to some people and I want to clarify. I don’t mean you have to sit with your legs folded for an hour without moving. I simply mean finding a few moments for yourself. Just 5-10 minutes alone where you can close your eyes and repeat a helpful mantra. (I realize that if you have children this can be very difficult, but ask your significant other for help, or they can sit quietly in the room with you for as long as they can.)
The mantra can be anything you want it to be something like; “I am alive, I am breathing, I am healthy, I am grateful” can be powerful. This tapping into our own bodies, being present, not thinking about what could happen, is one of the best healing practices.
Some simple kitchen herbs can be extremely helpful, and you most likely have them on hand! Add ginger, garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and cinnamon to a pot of water, cover, and bring it to a boil. Remove the pot from heat and put a large towel over your head. Remove the lid and breathe the steam in deeply. Alternate breathing through your mouth and through the nose. This practice is extremely relaxing, as well as healing to your lungs and respiratory system. The heat and steam from the herbs will make direct contact with the mucus membranes and kill any pathogens that may be trying to take up residence there.
Boxed teas (that are anti-stress or immune-supportive) or making a mixture of your own herbs that contain antivirals, anti-microbials, and immune-enhancing constituents can all be extremely supportive during this time.
Here is a list of some herbs:
Inula helenium: (Elecampane) Helps support lung function relieves dry cough.
Gingiber officinale: (Ginger root) Fresh ginger is extremely antiviral and warming.
Sambucus nigra: (Elderberry & Flower) Elderberry has components that are anti-viral, and the flowers are helpful for stuck nonproductive cough.
Ganoderma lucidium: (Reishi mushroom) Reishi, (and other medicinal mushrooms) has renowned properties that are anti-inflammatory and immune-supportive.
Cinnamomum verum: (Cinnamon sticks) Cinnamon has very helpful antiviral qualities and is also demulcent or emollient to help soothe sore throats or dry coughs.
Matricaria recutita: (Chamomile) Chamomile is extremely relaxing and has a wonderful effect on the central nervous system.
Avena sativa: (Milky oat tops, oatstraw) Oats are one of the best nervine relaxant herbs. Meaning it has a direct effect on the central nervous system to help us calm down and reduce stress.
Doing some writing, drawing, painting, or any other creative activity can be really stress-relieving. Any activity where you are engaging your parasympathetic nervous system to be distracted from the current state of things.
These are all just some hopefully helpful tips for things to do or try while you are at home these next few weeks. I hope they are helpful and let me know if you have any questions!
Winter is a time of slowing down. Cozying up by a warm fire and eating all those comfort foods we love. However, after a long winter of being inside everything inside the body becomes more stagnant. Toxins can build up in the liver, or digestion can be a bit more difficult because of all the heavy foods we eat. That’s why for hundreds of years people of many cultures have depended on eating bitter greens in the spring to get their bodies out of that stagnant state and get things moving again.
Plants such as dandelion root, burdock root, juniper, chamomile, ginger, and even the rind of grapefruit all provide this bitter quality that is beneficial for digestion.
How do you prepare a bitters formula? Simply take some or all the herbs listed above and place them in a jar. (1-2 tablespoons of each in a quart size jar will work great!) Pour in some cane alcohol, vodka, brandy or a mixture of each into your jar until your herbs are completely covered. Screw the lid on and shake! Leave this jar in a place away from sunlight, shake daily, and strain out the herbs in 1 month!
But why? The alkaloids, sesquiterpenes, iridoids or monoterpene lactones are the herbal constituents responsible for triggering the bitter response on the human tongue. These phytoconstituents are considered anti-inflammatory anticarcinogenic, and antiseptic.
Bitter herbs stimulate the entire digestive tract to secrete digestive juices, it is very evident because of the increase of saliva immediately after taking them. Saliva contains amylase the very first digestive enzyme to begin the breakdown of nutrients. Therefore, the best time to consume bitters is around 30 minutes prior to eating a meal. You might wonder how much do you have to take? Only a few drops of the tincture will be plenty around 10-15 drops on your tongue will be enough to stimulate all of the digestive juices you need. Taking more than this can cause digestive upset.
Bitter leafy greens such as arugula, dandelion leaf, and nasturtium are also extremely helpful to move stagnant blood in our vital organs, stimulate digestion, and they invigorate our spirits with the warmth of spring. So, take some drops of your bitters formula, make yourself a healthy salad of bitter greens, and enjoy!
Happy Spring Equinox everyone.
Five Kitchen Herbs That Heal:
Did you know that your common kitchen herbs do more than just season your food? They're also used as alternative medicine!
For thousands of years cultures around the world have used plants as medicine. One of the first trades ever made across borders was for spices or herbs!
These herbs were some of the most coveted and sought-after goods. Not only for their flavor but to aid digestion, prevent bacterial infections, and many other qualities for healing.
The following herbs that I would like to discuss are some of the most common found in the kitchen for cooking. They also happen to be some of the oldest, and most widely used across the world. Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Ginger, and Cinnamon.
Thyme: Thymus vulgaris (Lamiaceae):
Thyme is an important and excellent antiseptic and tonic, and is commonly used today for the same ailments as it was when it was first used in the 1600’s. The essential oil constituents are strongly antibacterial. Thyme is indicated for spasmodic conditions of the respiratory and urinary systems. Traditionally, considered specifically for whooping cough (with Lobelia). The essential oil contains thymol – which is antispasmodic and has an antiseptic effect on respiratory system. The antiseptic and tonic qualities of thyme make it very useful for the immune system in chronic (especially fungal) infections.
Rosemary: Rosmarinus officinalis (Lamiaceae):
“Heart of the sea”-Matthew Becker
Rosemary is a well-known and greatly valued herb that is native to the Mediterranean and southern Europe, growing on the high cliffs of the coastal regions. It has been used for generations traditionally to improve memory, and invigorating a “zest for life”. Rosemary has a considerable amount of healing qualities, including being an anti-inflammatory herb, as well as a stimulant to the circulatory system. It has shown great clinical results for relief from headaches, and to improve concentration.
Oregano: Origanum vulgare (Lamiaceae):
Oregano was considered a “cure all” in medieval times, and was one of the first medicinal herbs cultivated by New England settlers. Although mostly used in the food industry as a spice and flavor enhancer, internally Oregano is helpful for spastic and inflammatory conditions of the respiratory tract.
It’s use for bronchitis, laryngitis, minor bronchial asthma, and coughs are well known and utilized today.
Oregano contains Rosmarinic acid (also found in rosemary) and other phenolic acids that have been shown to inhibit the biosynthesis of prostaglandins and leukotrienes in the body. Thus, explaining it’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral effects. It is a wonderful diaphoretic hot tea for the common cold. Externally it is used as a wash for inflammations of the mouth, and throat.
Cinnamon: Cinnamomum spp (Lauraceae):
Cinnamon, although best known as a culinary flavor ingredient in food, is traditionally used as a warming herb for circulatory disorders bringing blood to cold hands and feet. It is also used internally for digestive disorders like nausea, vomiting, as well as diarrhea. This herb’s antiviral qualities (curcuminoids in particular) make it valuable for viral conditions during cold and flu, such as the aching of muscles and general malaise. In Chinese medicine it is applied to raise the over-all vitality of a person, it relieves abdominal spasms, and stimulates the vital functions of the body over all.
Ginger: Zingiber officinale (Zingiberaceae):
Ginger helps to aid in digestion, as a warming stimulant to the digestive tract, and works best against nausea. Ginger relieves cold cramping in the abdomen, as well as warms and soothes coughs, the flu, the common cold, and other respiratory inflammations. It is very useful for GI infections, and can relieve the symptoms of motion sickness. Ginger helps to stimulate circulation, good for chilblains (poor circulation to the extremities). In China it has been given for bacillary dysentery and the patient had a full recovery. Ginger also aids in painful menstration, relieving cramping.
So, there are some common kitchen herbs that you might have lying around the house that can be helpful. These herbs are safe, effective, and readily available. Enjoy!!
How walking in nature helps your mood:
walk or move in a leisurely, casual, or aimless way.
"Keep close to Nature’s heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." -John Muir
There is something to be said for spending time in nature. Studies have shown that the more time we spend outside connecting to nature the more room we have to relax and create ourselves.
We as human-beings are creators. We invent, we discover, we paint, draw, and share ourselves through art. Nature inspires us all to be creative. Spending just 30 minutes walking outside can improve the cardiovascular system, central nervous system, as well as our mental state.
We were born onto this Earth, our Mother, with the gift of her beauty. It is all around us everyday. In the grasses, flowers, trees, and weeds! I challenge you to stop and choose to see one beautiful thing in nature today. Is it a flower growing on the sidewalk? Or the way the wind blows the leaves on the trees? Perhaps it is a tiny stream that you never noticed before. All of these things will instantly change your mood. They will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is the state in which we can rest and digest. While in this state we have the ability to take in our surroundings, be more conscious of our breathing, and appreciate more out of life.
During our daily lives we experience so much stress and strain. Driving in traffic, dealing with bosses or pressure at work can be hard to deal with. So, it is important to shut off those receptors. I don't mean just to veg out in front of the television! I mean do something for yourself. Get outside! Sit in your back yard and watch the birds, or water your garden. Get your hands dirty improving your life. I guarantee that you will start to feel better!
I hope your May is going well! Here is this month's newsletter and blog that will be on my website!
Medicine comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it is a hug from a loved one or a handmade herbal formula they all give us the same gifts. They give us peace, love, comfort, and a level of joy.
Herbal medicine does more than just heal our physical bodies, it heals our souls. When we take the time to have some tea, take a few drops from a tincture, or rub on a salve, we are putting an intention into that wound we feel needs healing.
This month I am explaining a few simple herbal extractions so that you can do them at home!
Decoctions- Decoctions are long hot water extractions of roots primarily.
Infusions- Infusions are short hot water extractions, or overnight cold extractions of aerial tops (flowers), & leaves of herbs.
Tinctures- A tincture can be made many ways but the most common is called a “maceration”.
Infused Oils: An herb infused in oil.
These are the basics for putting herbs to great use!
Here are a few recipes:
1oz Dandelion root
1oz Burdock root
4 cups of water
1 pot with a lid
Take the herbs and put them in the pot of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 1 hour or until the water has decreased by half. Drink while hot, combine with other herbs, or let cool and consume. You may also add honey, lemon, and ice if you would like. This decoction is a strong one and has a very “earthy” taste to it. (Caution these are in the Asteraceae family so if you are allergic to this family do not use these herbs.)
½ oz Calendula flowers (Asteraceae)
½ oz Plantain leaf
1-quart size jar
1 quart of hot water
French press (this is the easiest way), or you can simply use a quart size jar. Fill the jar with the suggested amount of herbs, pour the hot water over the herbs and cover. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, or overnight for a much stronger infusion. Then you will need a pot and a fine strainer. Pour the infusion through the mesh strainer and into the pot. Take a spoon and press out all the remaining liquid from the herbs. Discard the herbs (called marc if you want to get really fancy! These herbs are great for composting!) and pour the infusion back into the rinsed jar. You can consume it hot, or cold which ever you prefer!
1oz passionflower herb
1oz skullcap herb
1oz valerian root
1-quart size jar
Approximately 12 oz of brandy (or menstruum), or until the herbs are completely covered in alcohol. Place in a cool dark place and shake daily.
After one month strain out the herbs using the same method as mentioned above in the infusion explanation. Be sure the press out all the remaining liquid from the spent marc (or herb material).
Bottle in the same cleaned jar, or if you want to be official, get yourself a brown 8oz bottle and pour your tincture in it.
This tincture is sedative and designed for restorative, and restful sleep! You only need about 1 dropper (or 30 drops) full before bed.
There are many ways you can infuse an herb in oil.
The first things that you will need are:
The herb you want to infuse, a jar, an oil of your choice, and some sort of heating device.
If you are looking for face oil, I prefer two types of oils: Rosehip seed, or Jojoba. Both of those are the lightest and the closest to our natural skin sebum or oil.
If you are looking for oil for the rest of the body, I prefer safflower. It is again less dense and seems to do well in larger areas of the body.
For the hair I prefer sweet almond. It is much thicker and moisturizing.
Infusing the herbs in oil either takes time or it takes heat. If you do not mind waiting, then the process is the same as a tincture except instead of alcohol you would use oil. Keep away from direct sunlight and shake daily.
If you are impatient, like me, then you will need some heat. Creating a double boiler is the way to go. You can take your jar full of herbs and oil and place it in a crockpot with water in it. Be sure to not get any water in your oil mixture!! Just let the water surround the jar of oil up to where the oil line is in the jar.
Put the crock on very low heat for about 4 days. Always check the water level in the crock every 4 hours or so. You can feel free to unplug it at night and if you leave to go to work. Just turn it back on when you wake up or come home.
If the herb you would like to infuse is fresh it contains water so you will have to leave the lid off the jar to allow the excess water to evaporate from the jar.
If the herb is dry just gently place the lid on don’t screw it on tight.
After four days of on and off heating your oil is ready! Simply strain like the tincture or infusion and enjoy your beautiful herbal oil.
If you want to take it one step further you can add some beeswax and make a salve!
These are just a couple of ways that you can make your own medicine at home. If you want more ideas or different things to try Dr. Sharol Tilgner’s book; “Medicine from the Heart of the Earth” is a really great reference for medicine making. You can always reach out to me anytime you need any more information!