What to plant this spring? Here are some MUST haves for the budding Herbalist.

 

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An old herb garden looking alive and potent.

 

When I first started learning about herbal medicine, I had NO idea about how much medicine we have at our fingertips. I also had no idea how medicinal our food could be if we ate things that weren’t necessarily found on our grocers shelves. Trying to incorporate a little bit of herbalism into your every day, or even better – into your kitchen, helps your body to stay healed and grow stronger as you age. Eventually, your body will be chock full of vitamins, minerals and virus fighting medicines without much effort at all.

Of course, not all plant types are going to be found or thrive in every environment SO take some time to get to know these easy growing fellows below. If you find them to be easy to care for, spread your wings and try growing your own at home.

It’s only February BUT looking forward to spring and looking into my seed stores gets me excited to start planting and reaping the benefits of home-grown medicine. I look forward to adding nettles to my ferments, drying herbs in my dehydrator and making skin salves to pass out to my friends and family. I certainly miss all of the classes and students I had in Vancouver, I might have time to squeeze some teaching in again this spring in Calgary.

As always, when using any type of medication, make sure that you consult with your GP and do your research before ingesting unconsciously. Your body deserves a little curious research before undertaking a new regime.

 

Aloe Vera

You can purchase this plant at nearly every home garden supply store. Even Home Depot. Because you aren’t going to be ingesting this plant I feel that you are ok to be a little less questioning of it’s origin.

Why do you want to keep Aloe Vera around? Simply, there are so many topical benefits that there isn’t a reason NOT to. Snap a sample of a well-grown leaf off and you are on your way to healing cuts, wounds, burns, eczema and inflammation.

Marsh Mallow

You can find seeds or starters for this plant at select growers. I order my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds or Vesey’s. These are pretty hardy plants – but watch out for wet feet!

There are a number of great uses for marshmallow both inside and out. You can take the root internally to help treat inflammation and UT irritations, gastritis or peptic ulcers. Topically, you can use a poultice, salve or cream to treat bruises, sprains, muscle aches, insect bites, slivers or skin inflammation.

Fun food fact: The leaves of the marshmallow plant are edible! Add to salads, boil or fry.

Pot Marigold

These hardy ladies will grown in almost any soil condition. Use a tea consisting of marigold petals to increase circulation and ease varicose viens. A poultice of marigold stems will aid in removing corns and warts.

Camomile

You probably know this as a great fruity tea! Camomile works well in aiding digestive issues and also has a soothing effect in its aroma. This helps reduce stress and induce sleep.

Echinacea

 If you’re living without it, you probably shouldn’t be. This beautiful flower has amazing antibiotic properties that relieve allergies and help prevent viral and bacterial infections. The roots, beneficial in treating sores, wounds and burns when applied as a poultice, salve or cream. She grows well in well-drained soil with a lot of sunlight.

Lemon Balm

By far, the easiest herb I have ever unintentionally grown. The leaves give off a lovely lemony mint scent that cannot be mistaken. Crushed leaves used as a poultice help relieve pain from herpes, sores, gout and bug bites. The leaves infused with hot water can treat colds, fevers, indigestion, depression, headaches and insomnia.

I grew this herb for years in the wet wet wetness that is Vancouver BC!

Peppermint

Nearly another weed, as easy to grown and impossible to kill as Lemon Balm. peppermint is high in manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C. Leaves ground into a salve or cream help to sooth and relax muscles.

Sage

Another herb that is nearly impossible to kill is Sage. When consumed it can help to ease indigestion, flatulence, anxiety and excessive sweating.

 

Here’s to spring, and happy plantings. Stay tuned for my inevitable posts containing the trials and tribulations of trying to sustain plant life in the Rocky Mountains.

 

Sasha

 

 

 

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Welcome to the flungle

flu

Over the last few days at my office most employees seem to have picked up a sniffle, cough, hack or sneezing disease which I have been completely immune to. At this time of year I often wonder what it is exactly that gets people so run down that they inadvertently let sickness in. In the hopes that they would help themselves with a little help, I passed on some wisdom to them via email.

I am in the in-house health and nutrition consultant after all. Maybe you’ll let some of this work for you too!

” From the looks and sounds of it, we are under attack by some kind of virus or several viruses. There are a number of things you can do to prevent illness and speed up recovery.

Prevention:

  • Sleep – the body needs recovery time. There’s an article in the kitchen for you to read up on.
  • Exercise – don’t stagnate & stress out. Keep strong and purge physical and emotional toxins with movement. Any kind, 25 minutes per day.
  • Water – at least 1 litre per day to keep fluids moving and toxins with them. If you have trouble remembering, try this app: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/watango-daily-water-intake/id875850852?mt=8
  • Nutrition – you are what you eat. Fast food, lots of meat & dairy slow down your system and tax it heavily JUST to digest what you’re eating. If your gut spends its life digesting it’s taking a lot of energy away from your immune system. You’re also taking away precious recharge time with MORE digestion. Eat HIGH alkaline foods that are easily digested.
  • Things to avoid – alcohol, mass amounts of caffeine, drugs, late nights, stress, mass amounts of meat.
  • Hygiene – throw away old Kleenexes immediately after use, wash hands frequently, wipe down your workstations daily, use hand sanitizer, wash hands after shaking hands, opening doors and before you eat, cough/sneeze into your arm, wear a mask while contagious or out in public.

Recovery:

  • Sleep : your body needs rest. Put down the remote and have a nap, turn on the humidifier while you do!
  • Fluids : Warm water with lemon and honey. Hydrating and encourages mucus to take virus away. Also see prevention.
  • Nutrition : Warm soups like garlic or bone broths – clears sinuses and packed with nutrients. Try a “hot toddy”. Alcohol takes the medicinal qualities of foods/herbs directly to our bloodstream.
  • RECIPE: 1 oz brandy, ¾ cup hot water, 1 tsp honey, juice of ½ lemon – add ginger or licorice root or any other immunity boosting herb. Steep for 5-10 minutes and drink.
  • Herbs: Echinacea, ginseng, elderberry tea, ginger, turmeric, licorice root, garlic.

Maintenance:

Hygiene is the most important part of keeping healthy. If you keep clean it’s half the battle. The other half of the battle is staying healthy. I have an annual talk I used to give on influenza, in part of it I asked the audience:

“If you were given ONE car to drive for the rest of your life, how would you treat it?”

Your body is that vehicle and a reflection of who you are and what matters to you most – start with YOU. If you are healthy and happy and taken care of you can help your family and friends do the same for themselves.

Stay healthy over the holidays people!!

S “

 

Tonsillitis – fight it with food

 

 

Some people have issues with their tonsils, luckily, I am not one of them. One of my BFF’s Erin, however, is. She reached out to me today to ask if I knew what she could try to do ~ I’m assuming naturally ~ so this post is for her (and you all).
A few facts you may want to know…..
·         Tonsils are part of your infection fighting body parts
·         These balls of tissue fight off bacterial & viral infections before your respiratory tract/body is infiltrated
·         From time-to-time tonsils succumb to infection
·         Infected tonsils become enflamed, swollen and possibly coated in spots
·         Tonsillitis can be acute and can also recur – becoming cronic
·         Surgery should be a last resort
I believe, that in most cases, a tonsil infection can be relieved with self-care and home remedies.
Symptoms…..
·         Swollen/spotty tonsils/difficulty swallowing
·         Grey/yellow coating on tonsils
·         Reddening/inflammation
·         Swollen lymph nodes
·         Ear pain/headache
·         Fever/chills
·         Bad breath/strep throat/sore throat/loss of voice
·         Nausea/vomiting/stomach pain
 
Foodborne causes of tonsillitis:
·         Food allergies
·         Additives/preservatives
·         Cold drinks/ice/ice cream
·         Sugar/Fat/processed foods
Some home remedies for Tonsillitis:
·         Fresh lime juice in warm water with honey & salt:
1 cup hot water, juice of 1 lime, 1 tbsp honey, ½ tbsp. salt
·         Turmeric & black pepper
Mix 1 cup almond milk, pinch turmeric powder, black pepper powder drink each night before bed for 3 nights.
·         Chamomile tea with lemon & honey:
1 cup tea, juice of ½ lemon, 1 tbsp honey
·         Immunity juices:
Beetroot, carrot & cucumber – drink it all day, for a week – seriously, have at least 1 per day. **It is actually suggested to go “all liquid” for a few days if you have tonsil issues. After juicing, move to an all fruit diet for 2-3 days. Re-introduce food slowly. Avoid sugar, spices, dairy, fried foods and caffeine.**
·         Alum powder:
Gargle with alum powder & warm water
Tonsillitis is a self-limiting condition and tends to resolve itself, using home remedies for pain relief is the logical option. However, if you have tried treating tonsillitis at home and the pain has not reduced at all after a few days, consult your doctor for a course of medication. Tonsillitis caused by bacterial infections requires a course of antibiotics that your doctor can prescribe. Chronic tonsillitis may not respond well to home remedies and may require more drastic measures such as surgery or tonsillectomy.
 
1.     Aggarwal BB, Sundaram C, Malani N, Ichikawa H. Curcumin: the Indian solid gold. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:1-75. Review. PubMed PMID: 17569205.