Tag Archive | colds and flu

Spring Allergies – UGH

I really dislike it! I want to get busy outside and get things cleaned inside, but I am stuck holding a tissue box in one hand and holding a tissue to my nose with the other! Not to mention clogged and itchy ears, voraciously itchy throat and intensely bothersome itchy, watery eyes! However there is a relief, and it is not found packaged in a big pharma bottle! Or prescribed by a doctor. Before we get to the allergy helps, lets learn what is going on to cause allergies in the first place.

We hear a lot about histamines and rightly so! These chemical substances are the key star player in what we know as allergies and allergic reactions. So just what exactly are histamines anyway? And how do they cause all this trouble?

First note that the immune system is involved in recognizing “invaders”, seeking them out to destroy them, keeping our internal environment healthy and functioning at its best. Histamines are a tiny fraction of the immune response inside the body. They are involved in 23 known different physiological functions! We have all had to deal with the affects of histamines at one time or another. The stuffy nose that accompanies the common cold, or the swelling of a banged knee, also the red soreness form a cut on the hand. These all begin with histamines. They are pretty powerful chemicals!

Histamine actions:
Histamines seek out certain receptor cites on cells in different areas of the body! They are produced in response to a “foreign” substance, such as pathogens (germs, bacteria). Sometimes pollen or insect venom is mistaken by the immune system as an invading pathogen.The histamine receptor types have been categorized: H1, H2, H3, and H4.
H1 Receptor:
Are specific to smooth muscles on vascular endothelial cells, in the heart, and in CNS (Central Nervous System). Anti-histamines act on these receptor cites. ( anti-allergy drugs)

H2 receptor:
Found in smooth muscle of stomach – the gastric parietal cells involved in acidity of the stomach.

h3 Receptor:
Found in the central nervous system and somewhat in the PNS (Peripheral Nervous System). They regulate the amount of histamine and other chemical neurotransmitters. They are thought to play a role in satiety.

H4 Receptor:
Located in bone Marrow and white blood cells – regulates neutrophils (most abundant of the white blood cells – a “first responder” of inflammatory cells that move to an area of injury. You best know it as the yellowish/whitish color of pus.) released from the bone marrow.

Functions of histamines:
1. Is a chemical neurotransmitter ( a neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger that helps signals pass between 2 neurons in the nervous system. This happens countless times in succession between countless neurons. But the end result of all this transmitting activity is the specific reactions specific to a certain type of neurotransmitter that is passed.)
2. Seek out certain receptor cites in different areas of the body
3. Cause inflammation by making smooth muscles ( as found inside sinuses) to constrict and relax letting the blood vessels enlarge. This is vasodilation.
4. Induces the secretion of fluid at the site of infection on injury-swelling! Hello runny nose!
5. Aids in the stimulation of certain macrophages and the helper T-cell responses. (helping the immune system with production of antibodies, ironic, huh?)
6. Helps induce the production of stomach acid.
7. Has a role in sleep/wake-up cycle, helping our bodies to be awake and alert. This is why the amount of histamine is closely regulated inside the body and the amounts meticulously kept
in balance.

Histamines cause small blood vessels to enlarge and the smooth muscles to constrict- such as in our airways and digestive tract. Can also cause hives known as a allergic response.
How an allergic response happens:
1. An allergen (dust, pollen, venom of bees, etc.) is introduced to the internal environment and is attracted to the lymphocyte, or B-cell.
2. Antibodies called immunoglobulin E (or IgE) are made and are attached to mast cells- mast cells have histamines.
3. When the foreign protein allergen is again introduced internally to the waiting mast cells with their  antibodies (IeG), the antibodies attract the protein part of the “invader” and a reaction happens
that destroys the mast cells.
4. Histamine is one element released from the destroyed mast cells. In a situation where a harmful bacteria or virus is the offender, great, all is going according to design and, health is regained. But when the whole reaction happens because “pollen” is mistaken as harmful, bad symptoms we all hate are cascaded on an person who is allergic, such as myself!  These can include:
-itching: body, eyes, ears, nose
-running sinuses
-hives
-sneezing
-fever
-nausea/vomiting
-diarrhea
-swelling
-asthma
-inflammation
-anaphylactic shock: cell fluids being deposited into the tissue of the throat so fast, swelling to the degree of suffocation!

 Four types of allergens:
1. Injectants- injected through the skin by stings
2. Contactants- irritants to the skin by detergents, plants (poison ivy), cosmetics and so on
3. Inhalants- enter when we breathe, things such as pollen, dust, pet dander
4. Ingestants- food allergies, main ones being peanuts, milk, eggs.
All thanks to an overzealous immune response and histamines!

Don’t you feel like an expert on histamines now? So you are now asking, what can I do to relieve this whole mishap in the Spring, Summer, and Fall? One word, LOVE! No, just kidding, love cures a lot of things and may help, but lets get real here…

Local Bee Pollen:
Begin taking in January or February, before any plants are Springing back and growing again. It must be local so it contains the pollen that you will be subjected to when the plants get in gear and the wind blows in you the face. Ask around and locate a local bee keeper. Orchards sometimes carry local bee products.

Stinging Nettle for Allergies?
Internally has been used for hundreds of years for painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. The tea is a perfect, easy way to take stinging nettle. It’s an herb noted for its anti-histamine effect. An infusion is easy to make. Dr. James Duke recommends nettles for allergies, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, baldness, bladder infection, bronchitis, bursitis, cough, gingivitis, gout, hives, kidney stones, laryngitis, MS, PMS, enlarged prostate (roots), and tendonitis. The miracle of nettles is provided by readily assimilable  calcium, silica, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, iodine, silicon, sulfur, chlorophyll,l tannin, Vitamin C, beta carotene,  B complex vitamins, and amino acids (protein).  Quite a complete list for nutrition I would say!!

Dr. Christopher has a capsule called ImmuCalm.  It contains marshmallow root and astragalus. These two herbs calm the immune system while supporting and strengthening it at the same time, I know it sounds weird, but that’s the way of herbs.  I have used them with great success.  You can order them at http://www.mynaturalmarket.com.

Love life and breathe deep,
Angela

Ready to Begin Again!! With Calendula

Hello all!  I know it has been a super long time since I took the time to visit the blog-o-sphere and even post on my own site, but it has been super crazy busy in my life and time is what I just did not have too much of to spare.  So here I am, giving  some of that “time” I have to share with any one who wants to listen, read, or invest their time.  Holidays were good and got to see many in the family I haven’t seen in a while.  New year was busy too. 

Calendula officinalis

Calendula officinalis, this is a super plant and pot herb.  “Pot herb” means that it is good to cook and eat, in a pot.  I used to think that it was good to grow in a pot, but I learned differently, ha.  By the way you can grow Calendula in a pot if you take the notion to:).

Part used:  flower petals

Some phytochemicals:  caffeic acid, galactose, gentisic acid, lutein, lycopene, malic acid, rutin, salicyclic acid, quercetin

Nutrients:  Calcium, coenzyme Q10, vitamins C and E

Actions:  anti-inflammatory, astringent, vulnerary, anti-microbial, cholagogue, emmenagogue, tonic

Uses:  skin inflammation, diaper rash, external wound, minor burns, gastric ulcers, gall-bladder problems, indigestion, athletes foot, poison ivy, menstrual cramps.

I personally grow and harvest this herb for medicine.  It is easy to grow and will reseed itself every year, this is good if you don’t mind where it pops up next season.  I harvest the flowers after they open and after the dew is gone in the morning.  I place about a handful of them in a small paper lunch bag, fold down the top and place in a dry, warm, dark area.  I check them every other day or so to make sure no mold is creeping in and to give the petals a shake to redistribute them.  After about a week or so they are completely dry, crispy, and still have their color.  I store them in a glass jar, dated and labeled.

I use this great herb in teas, ointments, and tinctures.  It will also be great in a lotion.  Adding it to soap is good also.  A WWII vet told me he witnessed huge vats of  Calendula tincture being used in the field hospitals for flu, infections, and wounds.

Flower of calendula

It is quite a pretty flower to add to any flower bed or landscape.  The color of the petals can range from orange to yellow.

Flower of calendula

Love life and breathe deep,

Angela

Yarrow

Yarrow   Achilles millefolium

Yarrow

Parts used:  all aerial parts

Yarrow was used and valued by ancient Greeks.  The Latin name Achilles is from the legend of the same name.  He used it on his soldiers, calling it “military weed”.  Millifolium is Latin for “a thousand leaves”.  The leaves of yarrow are very fine and feathery.

Achillea millefolium - leaves (scan)

Medicinal Actions of Yarrow:  diaphoretic, hypotensive, astringent, diuretic, antiseptic, stimulant, emmengogue, vulnerary, anti-catarrhal, hepatic

Some plant constituents yarrow contains:  volatile oils, flavonoids, tannins, bitter alkaloid, potassium, calcium, selenium, silicon, phosphorous, lysine, beta-carotine, iron, inulin.

Historical Uses:   Hot Infusion – for colds, flu combine with peppermint , elder flowers, and/or boneset, diarrhea, hemorrhage of lungs and bowel, eruptive skin diseases, indigestion, gastritis, colitis, tonic to nerves, hypertension with hawthorn, lime blossom, and mistletoe, suppressed urine, colic, jaundice, typhoid fever, diabetes.

Yarrow can be used dried or fresh to make a tea.  An ointment can also be made with yarrow and used for old and new wounds, burns, ulcers, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and eczema.  Fresh leaves will staunch bleeding, just crush them and make a quick poultice.

Yarrow tea drunk as hot as can be tolerated is super for cleansing out toxins via the skin, our largest organ.  We have upwards of 2 million sweat glands and when they are functioning correctly they can eliminate putrid mucusy matter fast.

My sister was having trouble with her monthly cycle after going off the “pill”, and the first herb we used was yarrow.  She drunk about 2 cups every morning on her way to work.  By the time she got there , her drive was about 30 minutes, she had sweat beads on her face!  She did this for 2 weeks, and then we switched to different teas to help her get back to normal.  It was not long before she was expecting her first baby.    

Yarrow is one of my favorite teas to employ for any ailment due to its cleansing and toning properties.  It tastes bitter, but that is one of the attributes that makes it medicinal.   Yarrow is very easy to grow and you can harvest much of it to dry for later use.  I have actually moved my yarrow patch 3 times and it still grows beautifully.

So, now you have learned about a great medicinal herb and how to use it.  Hope this inspires you to maybe research it some more and try it out.

Love life & breathe deep,

Angela

A Tea For Wendell

Wendell came home not feeling too good, so I made him some tea.  He said he felt like a cold was coming on, so here is what I used: Peppermint, elder flowers, and red clover.  Peppermint and elder flowers are a standard for colds and flu.  Peppermint is a stimulant that wakes up the cells, a febrifuge so it helps with fevers, a sedative and nervine to help relax and support tissue function.  Elder flowers are a great addition to any cold remedy, it is diaphoretic, expectorant, diuretic, and decongestant.  Red Clover is an alterative herb.  Alterative herbs alter the existing nutritive and excretory processes and gradually restore normal body functions.  They clean the blood, eliminative tissues, and organs.  Sometimes they are called “blood sweeteners”.  I refer to them as blood purifiers.  Red Clover is one of the best.

In a stainless steel saucepan (could use glass also, never aluminum!!!) I poured some distilled water and brought it to a good simmer and removed it from the heat.  I added the red clover right to the hot water first.

I then added the elder flowers.  It looks like more than it is, it spread out.

Last I added the peppermint.  I did this because it is the most volatile and loses its oils quickly when it hits the hot water.  You will notice I do not give measurements for the herbs.  This is because I don’t measure.  When asked how much I usually give the standard of 1-2 tsps. per cup of water.  I use more than that.  You make it to the desired strength you prefer.

I slapped on the saucepan lid and let it steep.  You can see the steam collecting on the lid already.

I let this steep for 15 minutes.

I used a small strainer and poured Wendell a cup of tea.  Drying herbs correctly captures their essence, phytochemicals, and nutrients.  You can see the colors as they were.

Lastly I add some honey.  I buy honey from a local bee-keeper.  It is soooo tasty and sweet.  I never use sugar in herbal tea.  Sugar is a nutritional negative and that is not what we want when fighting an illness.

These herbs are easy to find and I think you should get some today.  Winter is coming with its colds, runny noses and what not. So the next time someone says, “I don’t feel good”, make them some herbal tea.  Wendell drank all the tea I made and he was feeling pretty good the next day.  Hurrah for herbs!!

Love life & breathe deep,

Angela