Tag Archive | Herb

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
-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,


Word of the Week

It’s Monday again, and just so you know there are only 13 more Mondays in 2013!!!!  Boy where has the time got to?  Well for today anyway here is a word for your pleasure?… or consideration?… or just because.

ALTERATIVE \ˈȯl-tə-ˌrāt-iv, -rət-\

Definition – a tonifying herb that restores proper body function and vitality to the blood by correcting impure conditions and improving its composition.  Essentially meaning an herb that is tonic to the blood.  Sometimes old herbals refer to alteratives and blood “sweeteners” or blood “purifiers”.

Blood is actually a liquid tissue and has specific functions in the body.  So any herb with an alterative action will help correct  and improve the function of the blood itself.  Impurities often occur due to a malfunctioning of the organs of elimination. We have four primary eliminative channels: the bowel, the kidneys, the lungs, and the skin.  Before an herbalist suggests an alterative, they need to know which organs are involved  in causing the constipation of the blood.  Some alteratives are stimulating and toing, and some are relaxing.

Some of the best used alteratives are Echinacea, Burdock root, Chaparral, Garlic, Plantain, Red Clover, Sarsaparilla, Sassafras, Golden Seal, Nettles, and Yellow Dock.

Stinging nettle

Stinging nettle

I have used all of these in herbal tea, capsules, tinctures, and fomentations with excellent success.  Red Clover is a sweet tasting tea and easy to grow and dry for later use.  Employ alteratives for any infection, blood poisoning, animal bites, anemia, ulcers, inflammation, cancers, or malfunctioning organs.

Red clover

Yellow Dock is a super blood builder, and loaded with lots of iron, sometimes as much as 40%!

English: Rumex crispus, Polygonaceae, Curly Do...

English: Rumex crispus, Polygonaceae, Curly Do…
Yellow Dock

Love Life and Breathe Deep, Angela

I did not die, I just took an Extremely long vacation from the computer:)

I know it has been quite a while since I have shared with you all! Life has definitely been happening around this household. My husband quit his sorta secure job to be his own boss, and the most exiting part is that all of our children are employed by the business!! He started a roofing/construction company named, you guessed it – Specker Construction. I have been busy too. In the spring my Dad had bypass surgery, so I was at their home quite a bit helping Mom with whatever needed to be done. Growing a garden and putting up the produce takes massive time slots from ones life. Please don’t show me another tomato or green bean for a while:) Giving classes several times this summer, and I still have one to give this Saturday, has also taken a lot of time. Then more recently, my Dad went back into the hospital, ICU to be exact, for …. well we don’t know what happened to him. Doctors are intelligent people, but what they don’t know is whole lot more than what they do know. So after 7 days, 3 rounds of different antibiotics, being poked dozens of times he was released weaker and more worn out than when he sought their help. I have him taking flax seed oil, spirulina, cayenne, and lots of good food. The physical therapist comes several times a week to walk with him and give him some exercise.

Tomatoes!!This is a 6 foot table!!

My grandkids are such a joy to my husband and me. We love having them over to spend time with them. Seeing them grow is a miracle unto which I wasn’t focused on with my own children. I guess that is why grandparents are special, they are experienced, wiser, and less stressed.  Notice I am speaking of myself too, ha ha!

So here I am in September of 2013 blogging after a long and busy absence. I plan to actively post now. We purchased a new computer for the business, our old one being more than 6 years old and irritatingly slow. WOW!! What a difference it is to have a new, fast, sophisticated piece of electronic equipment!! I actually enjoy typing now!

I’ll leave you with one herb to have on hand this winter – Red Raspberry. It is one of the first herbs I use in a cold/flu, icky sick tea. Red raspberry cleanses the mucous membranes of the alimentary tract. The actions are astringent, tonic, stimulant, alterative, stomachic, antiemetic, parturient, cathartic, antiseptic, and ant abortive. It contains alpha carotene, alpha tocopherol, ascorbic acid, boron, calcium, chromium, manganese, niacin, pectin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, fiber, iron, magnesium, malic acid, selenium, silica, thiamin, and zinc.

Raspberry (red)

Uses for Red Raspberry: constipation, nausea diarrhea, dysentery, diabetes, pregnancy, uterine hemorrhage, parturition, uterine cramps, labor pains, cholera infantum, hemorrhoids, vomiting, colds, fevers, intestinal flu, bowel complaint, thrush, sore mouth, ulcers, and wounds. So you can see why it is such a great herb to use, and it makes a real tasty tea.

As always, Love Life and Breathe Deep,


Word Of The Week

This week’s word is yet another “action” given to herbal medicine:  NERVINE.

A nervine in simple terms is any substance that is nourishing and calming to the nerves.  Their function is to feed, regulate, strengthen, and rehabilitate the nerves cells.  There are tonic and relaxant nervines which lessen the aberration, irritability, or pain in the nerves.   An herbalist believes that drugs should never be used to stimulate the nerves. This is because this form of stimulation is irritating to the nerve fiber itself and counterproductive to improving nerve fiber function.  Nerves are in essence live electrical wires with electrical impulses running through them at all times.  Our brains gather information from these nerve impulses and react instantly, an amazing creation we are.  Without going into the Nervous System fully, (that is another post 🙂 ), just know that many problems arise from the nerves being shorted out, frayed, malnourished, or stimulated too much.

The two main categories of nervines as I mentioned are tonic and relaxants.  Let’s look at some of each.

Tonic nervines strengthen and nourish tissue thus supporting organ and body functions.  And that’s what Vitalistic herbalists want, to support and help the function of the body.  Some tonic herbs are:  Oats, yes regular oatmeal not instant, oat straw, damiana, blue vervain, skullcap, and wood betony.




English: Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis ) An...

wood betony

Relaxant nervines lower the functional activity of the nerves engendering a calming effect.  I can hear you now “You said herbalists support the function of the body!”  That is absolutely right. There are times, whether due to malnourishment, over stimulation, or emotional upset, when the body is functioning too high.  And in the case of nerves – pain is produced, and no one wants to be in pain. So sedatives are a great way to alleviate the pain while nervine herbs along with other herbs work to nourish and cleanse to help bring back healthy functioning tissue.  Pain is our bodies’ number one way of telling us something is wrong.  If we simply take a pain reliever, the actual problem is ignored.  Because we feel better, we continue with movement that further damages tissue and the drug used can debilitate tissue to the point of damage for life.  Some relaxant herbs are:  Black cohosh, bugleweed, chamomile, catnip, cramp bark, hops, lady’s slipper, lobelia, peppermint, skullcap, and valerian.


Chamomile (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

Headaches, stress, anxiety, depression, pms, hyperactivity, insomnia, MS, and shingles are some ailments that have been helped by the use of a nervine or a combo of nervines, anti-spasmodic and/or demulcent herbs.  Do your research to find what combo is best for you.

Love life and breathe deep,


My Garden, In My Mind

This time of year is busy for gardeners.  How can this be, you ask.  Well, planning takes a long time.  So does daydreaming about perfect rows of weedless green lushness pronounced with prolific produce!  What a mouthful that was.

Seed catalogues start arriving in my mailbox  in December.  Oh what torture it is to know  you have to wait for 4 months or so before you can really get into the soil and dig in. On the other side of the hoe is knowing you have that amount of time to plan, think, organize, and dream. Dream about how your garden will look, what you will grow, how much you will put up, and how to go about making it all come to fruition.  I  LOVE thumbing through the seed catalogues and looking at all the  pictures :).   They really get a person going with all the verdant views of plant variety.  I get about 8 of them and have ordered from all of them at some time or another.

This year I am going to do something way out there that I have never done.  I am going to have a booth at my local towns’ farmer’s market. I am really excited about it.  I plan to sell the produce from my garden and herbal products that I make.

Farmers' Market

Farmers’ Market (Photo credit: NatalieMaynor)

Tomatoes, of course, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuces of all kinds, onions, green beans, beets, radishes, zucchini, and squash cover the vegetables.  Comfrey/Calendula ointment, Chickweed/Plantain ointment, lip balm, relaxing herbal tea blend, peppermint tea blend, immune tea blend,  and homemade soap  are some of the herbal products I will offer.

I have already started some seeds in seed starting trays filled with seed starting soil.  It  is exciting to  see little tiny sprouts emerge through the soil!  I will start more this month and some next month.  I am also starting some important herbs to add to my herb garden.

If any of ya have done this before, please share what works and doesn’t, or anything you think I need to know!!  Let the growing begin!

Love life and breathe deep,


Word of the Week

Happy Monday everyone!

Being a herbalist and natural healer,  I have had to learn the actions of over 100 herbs.  Since I plan to share about herbs on my blog,  I thought I would familiarize you with some of these actions.  Herbs cannot be separated from their actions,  herbs are defined by their actions.  This weeks word is an important vitalistic fundamental.  Herbal healers use diaphoretic herbs as a means to cleanse toxins from the internal environment.

Here is this weeks word:

(d-f-rtk, df-)


Producing or increasing perspiration.

A medicine or other agent that produces perspiration

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) found at Los Vaq...

Yarrow tea drunk as hot as can be tolerated produces diaphoresis, which speeds healing.

Yarrow - a very useful herb - geograph.org.uk ...

Love life & breathe deep,