Tag Archives: natural health

Ginger for All

this beautiful ginger rhizome resembles a sea coral or a bouquet.

this beautiful ginger rhizome that bearded dragon found resembles a sea coral or a bouquet.

I adore those herbs that blur the line between medicine, food, herb, and plant. They defy any standardized definition and bring people medicine without too many bold claims, disguised by their taste appeal and typically, a rich folk tradition passed down in family recipes over the ages. One of the most versatile and well known of these “all-around” herbs is ginger (Zingiber officinale). Countless cultures and peoples look to this root for healing, medicine, flavor, and other gifts. In the U.S.,  ginger is quite a “mainstream” herb (or food, whichever you like to call it), being used in popular treats such as ginger-ale, gingerbread, and ginger snaps. During the holiday season ginger perks up in coffee blends and desserts like no other herb does. I like to believe that it has made its way into so many bellies by virtue of its many healing gifts as well as its delicious flavor. I believe that these herbs have conspired over countless generations to make sure they are a part of our lives because we really do NEED them. After all, it is one of the greatest herbs for winter wellness, bringing heat to the system and stimulating circulation.

Loved by all. An ancient Indian proverb says “every good quality is contained in ginger.” Traditional Chinese medicine views the “hot root” as the ideal remedy for a “devastated” yang, in other words a condition or body type/constitution that is overly cold or damp. It’s no surprise to learn that ginger is an herb of Aries whose element is fire. The root helps stimulate energy and is reputed to have been used by Madame du Barry to help the notoriously sluggish Louis XV reach the heights of lust (yes, it’s an aphrodisiac). Ginger’s effect on the body is cleansing — it promotes circulation and helps rid toxins and stagnancy, a deep form of healing. It is called a gem for the heart because it lowers cholesterol, prevents clotting, and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke!

Ginger brings the Belly Bliss. The rhizome (the root that we eat) is shaped like the digestive tract, and using the doctrine of signatures, early healers instinctively used ginger to help soothe stomach problems and digestive complaints. We follow these early teachings today and can eat or drink ginger as a remedy for diarrhea, flatulence, stomach cramps, and gout. Originally, the Japanese ate pickled ginger (called gari) to ward off any illnesses or bacteria that might be found on raw fish, a practice we still follow today. Indeed ginger is antiseptic and antiparasitic, a warrior food. Ginger is the go-to plant for treating nausea and morning sickness. It also helps the body to metabolize and digest food by stimulating saliva and digestive enzymes.

Warrior Root. For winter-time, ginger is a fierce protector and ally against any yin type illnesses such as colds, flu, chills, poor circulation and frostbite. It is like a match that lights the fire within and burns all the bacteria and viruses to smithereens. The recipes for ginger teas, honeys, syrups, and candies are delicious and unfailing. Juliette de Baraicli Levy recommends using powdered ginger for toothaches!!

Remedy. One of my favorite ways to use ginger is to make a ginger hand/foot soak. I have Raynaud’s syndrome, so this is a great way to get my circulation in my hands and feet going. Using one small ginger “finger,” (about 2-3 inches) and 3 cups of water, I make a strong decoction of fresh grated ginger root. I then add half of it to a large bowl or basin with more warm water to fill. I dip my hands in it while it’s warm and feel the circulation flowing. When you apply ginger externally, it is normal for the area to turn red as bloodflow increases. Then I use the other half of the ginger brew diluted with more warm water for a foot soak. You can also use the water from the ginger brew as a compress to soothe pains, injuries, arthritis, rheumatism, or sore muscles. Simply dip a clean cloth in the brew while it is warm (not burning) and apply directly to effected area. You can also reuse the grated ginger from the decoction as a poultice applied directly on the skin where needed. What is your favorite ginger remedy/recipe?

Wishing you warmth and wellness xx gem

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The Queen of Hearts: Hawthorn Berry + Flowers for Heart Health ♥

via glitter + grace

“Be true! Be true! Be true!” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Today I am thinking about Hawthorne, but not just the 19th century author from Salem, MA. Crataegus oxyacantha (or hawthorn) is a wonderful shrub of the Rose family that bestows berries full of heart-healing gifts, called hawthorn berries. The berries ripen for the picking in early Autumn, and Juliette de Bairacli Levy states that the aromatic flowers are said to bring fairies into the house – but she warns not to pick them before May. Kay Parent, an amazing herbalist and intuitive healer, advised me to make a hawthorn berry tincture with brandy to help improve my circulation and treat my longtime Raynaud’s condition. Also known as May Bush and Thorn Apple Tree, here are a few ways this crimson red berry can contribute to your heart health:

  •  Hawthorn tones, strengthens, and fortifies the heart
  • Treats high or low blood pressure
  • Regulates pulse
  • Relieves nervous tension + sleeplessness
  • Full of antioxidants
  • Excellent for people with a family history of heart disease
  • Rosemary Gladstar says anyone over 50 should drink it! (It can prevent atherosclerosis, or fatty degeneration of the heart)
  • Lifts the spirits+opens the heart
  • Helpful in cases of depression due to loss, grief, or heartbreak
  • Hawthorn berries can be enjoyed as a jam, paste, tea, tincture, liqueur, or as a powder added to oatmeal with cinnamon.
  • To reap these benefits, Jethro Kloss recommends one cup of hawthorn tea twice a day, sweetened with honey as desired.

Wishing you healthful and heart-full healing ♥ ♥ ♥

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Herbs of the Zodiac: Virgo, the Virgins of the sun signs

The Sun transits Virgo from August 23-September 22 each year. Image via Astropoetica

Ruled by Mercury, the planet of intellectual stimulation, communication, memory, short trips, wisdom, and intuition, Virgo’s are quick thinkers and possess exquisite memories. Many are skilled artisans as they have an unmatched eye for details. Since Virgo rules the stomach and lower intestines, those born under this sign may tend to suffer from nervous stomachaches. In addition, they may suffer from headaches due to their extreme attention to detail and their gift of memory that often stress out Virgo’s.  Fortunately, there are many herbs that can help Virgo’s calm their bellies and slow down their ever-working minds:

Fennel. Excellent herb for digestive troubles including constipation, indigestion, heartburn, and overactive appetite. Fennel was traditionally used to ease fasting. Being very gentle, it can be given to babies to help ease colic. Fennel is best taken as a tea made from the seeds.
Valerian. A supremely calming herb for the nervous system. It treats nervous exhaustion and emotional outbursts. It is a sedative herb, but it simultaneously perks you up and fights fatigue, its name is from the Latin “powerful.” Valerian root must be infused and not boiled, and taken in small doses (1 teaspoon dried root per cup of water.) 5% of people experience dizziness from this herb, so be mindful when using.
Southernwood. Also known as Artemisia, wormwood, and lad’s love, this herb is an aphrodisiac and believed to be a love potion in olden days. It is useful for Virgo’s who suffer from gastritis, bloating, loss of appetite, and intestinal worms (hence the name wormwood.) It is a lovely herb and a common one in country gardens for these uses.
Dill. This well known culinary herb has powerful medicinal traits that Virgo’s should tap into. It is a cooling, aromatic herb that cleanses the digestive tract, aids indigestion, and soothes stomach ulcers. Like fennel, it is gentle and helps balance the stomach and ease any pains or discomfort gently but powerfully.
Skullcap. Also an herb of fellow-mercury-ruled Gemini, this herb is ideal for quieting a busy mind. It strengthens the solar plexus, the body’s seat of fear, which helps Virgo overcome unchecked fears of inferiority or failure. It is a member of the mint family, and is helpful in treating restlessness, insomnia, stress, headaches, and general nervous debility. Combines well with lemon balm and chamomile as a nightly nerve soothing tea.

Based on the books Healing Herbs of the Zodiac by Ada Muir and Herbal Wisdom by Roni Jay. 

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4 Beloved Everyday Herbs: Going to Scarborough Fair

Tell him to buy me an acre of land, Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Betwixt the salt water and the sea sand, Then he shall be a true lover of mine.

One of my favorite songs of all time is Scarborough Fair, a traditional British ballad, particularly the version angelically sung by Simon+Garfunkel on their 1966 album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.” Whenever I listen, I feel like I am taken to a different time and place, a place of simplicity and purity, romance, magic, chivalry. The 4 herbs sung about in this traditional hymn are some of the most virtuous of herbs, and also the simplest to grow and to integrate into your day to day. Here are some ways to use the famous four and the benefits that come along with them, inspired by The Good Herb by Judith Benn Hurley:

1. Parsley, the magical multivitamin. Hurley writes, “just a cup of parsley contains more vitamin C than an orange, more beta carotene than a carrot, more calcium than milk, and much more iron than a serving of liver.” The Cherokee Indians used it to prevent infections and in Germany and China its been used traditionally to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. You can grow it in a container with enough space for its long taproot, and make sure it gets at least 6 hours of full sun per day. Take a bath with parsley tea when you’re fatigued and it will freshen you right up. Parsley is an herb of gemini.

2. Sage, the ceremonial healer+savior. Used by Native Americans in smudging ceremonies to cleanse and purify the air of any negativity. Ancient Arabic and Chinese herbalists drank sage tea for mental and spiritual clarity, and drinking a cup of sage tea helps concentration and memory. Sage is known to darken hair, cover up grey hairs, as a cooling skin soother after shaving, and to decrease excessive perspiration. Sage can be grown indoors near a window with 6 hours of sun. Keep it shorter than 12 inches tall for best health. Sage protects other plants such as Rosemary from disease. Sage is an herb of Aquarius.

3. Rosemary, the mind soother. The Greeks wore garlands of this herb to ward off the evil eye and to help them remember their studies. It was said that rosemary refused to grow in the gardens of an evil person. Rosemary was placed under pillows to prevent nightmares and induce peaceful sleep. It’s mostly used for stress management, headaches, and digestive health. It is full of calcium that is easily absorbed by the body. Rosemary does not endure freezing winters, so it is wise to plant it in pots and bring them in in wintertime. They need full sun, at least 4-6 hours a day, and the soil should be moist at all times. Rosemary is an herb of Aries.

4. Thyme, the courage-giving mint. Knights of the Middle Ages wore sprigs of thyme in their armor as a sign of courage and bravery. Thyme contains powerful antibacterial and antiseptic properties that fight off coughs, colds, and gum disease. It is high in iron, but use a splash of lemon in your thyme tea to help the body absorb it. You can make a thyme massage oil or tincture to cleanse the skin and treat fungal infections. Thyme grows like the hair of a maiden, falling over in tangles low to the ground. You can grow it in pots indoors and provide 6 hours of sunlight, and it will repel whiteflies. Keep the thyme healthy and growing by pruning them in winter and running your hands through the branches often. Thyme is an herb of Taurus and Libra.

via pen&paperie

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Make Scents: alternative aromatherapy for simple folks (who can’t afford the fancy spas)

via agata kowalska

Why aromatherapy? True healing is holistic and should take the whole person into consideration. Our bodies and souls are interconnected and wellbeing is the balance between them. I believe scent is the sense that unifies the body and the soul, it is physical yet so elusive and its effects on our entire being are undeniably powerful. Olfaction (sense of smell) in humans is the first sense to develop, and it’s already given to babies inside the mother’s womb. The sense of smell is embedded in the amygdala in our brain, precisely where emotions are born and stored. Healing with scent is a natural approach to wellness, and for the skeptics, research reveals the virtues of aromatherapy beyond any doubt.

How to do it? Most people use essential oils for aromatherapy. Essential oils are the quintessence of a plant or flower captured and concentrated. Since this requires a massive amount of plant matter to produce a tiny amount of oil, they can be expensive and are very strong. The good news is you can practice the art of aromatherapy with OR without essential oils:

*MAKE YOUR OWN FLOWER ESSENCES~pick the freshest flowers possible at a time when they are full of life and their scent is at their peak. Place them in a glass bowl and leave it under the soon (or moon) for at least 3 hours. strain the water and bottle the liquid. you can add some brandy as a preservative.

*SURROUND YOURSELF~cook with them, sleep with them, put them in vases and bowls around your house. There is nothing quite as comforting as the smells of cinnamon wafting throughout the house, or relaxing as a bathtub exuding the scents of roses and lavender. Keep a dish of coffee beans nearby your desk at work to perk you up midday, it’s as effective as drinking it!

*STOP+SMELL THE ROSES!!!~The simplest and purest way to reap the benefits of the flowers is to surround yourself with them in their natural habitat. Taking a moment to sit outside near a flower and smell its essence is medicine. Find or grow an aromatic garden where you can breathe in nature’s medicine anytime.  Continue reading

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