Tag Archive | herbs

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

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And My New Years Resolution Is . . .

This new year is the time many people reflect back over the last 12 months and decide what it is that may need changing.  Change is the only constant they say. Many feel the newness of a fresh start, a do-over, a clean slate.  A promise of better things to come, of bettering oneself and one’s circumstances is the attitude of many this time of year. It is good to have moments like this, to stop “life” and bring into clear precise perspective what you are, what you want to be, and how to bounce over to be … well, whatever it is you inspire to be.

Habits are formed early on in life.  Most are just circumstantial.  We get up in the morning and get something to eat or drink to break the fast of a hopefully a good night’s rest. If you are school age, school attendance is the common day’s activity, for adults it is the “job” we have chosen. You may not realize this but you have actually chosen where you are right now, either a tradesman of some kind,  teacher, carpenter, banker, office manager, delivery driver, baker, writer, salesman, farmer, rancher, or stay-at-home mom.  Your choices culminated to produce your life as it is.

I will interject here that the housewife/stay-at-home-mother is the most honored and important of any profession.  Not because I was/am one, but because of the herculean task that it is.  The task is nurturing copiously curious minds and bodies into reasoning, caring, God-fearing, intelligent young people who move on to become adults in our society.  The mom who stays home is the “keeper” of her home; is responsible for the atmosphere, the condition, the peacefulness, the safety, and healthfulness of her home.  She seeks no accolades, no prideful prestige, no recognition from statesmen or dignitaries, no honor of any kind.  Her job is done mostly behind the scenes in quiet loving sacrifice.  Anyone choosing this is truly the one who should be “making the big bucks”.  However it is a job that is not paid in coinage, but in the knowing she did the best she could with what she knew, in seeing the outcome or fruits of her labors.  This is also true of the mom who works outside the home.  She does however have less time, energy, and focus to devote to the family.  So hats off to moms!!  She deserves twice the salary of Tom Cruise!!

Wow that was a side trail.  Habits. That is the train track I was on, so I’ll get back to it :).  Yes, habits are formed early in life.  How we take care, or not take care of our belongings, how we speak, how we, well do anything is formed early.  And to our detriment some of our habits are bad ones.  We tend to think of smoking as an example of a bad habit, and so it is, but what about a frown on our face all the day long.  I have met people who I think must not smile for days on end, and that is sad.    Our attitudes are also habits formed.  Habits can change, that is the great news!!!!  We can change.  We can change anything we choose to change.  However we need some basic “tools” to proceed and perpetrate a change.

The number one New Years Resolution is to lose weight. That is a good goal and one that is in the right direction.  However, the goal of just losing weight is bound to fail.  There are certain factors to be implemented for a plan to succeed.  And you must have the right plan in the beginning.  Weight loss is not the right goal.  Moving the whole body into a healthy state should be the goal. 

Let’s say you wanted to build a new house.  There are of course many aspects to consider, many other people to employ, and countless decisions to make in implementing your ideas of what is wanted into reality.  If you focused just on what the outside walls will be and the color of them, what will be the result?  If you ignore the foundation, plumbing, roofing, rough-in carpenters, light fixtures, flooring, wiring, insulation, cabinets, and so on and so on, a probable failed attempt at a new house is emanate.

Weight loss is just one aspect of moving toward being healthy, having vigor, pep, and stamina.  So before you begin a “diet” that will probably fail either in the middle or end, think about this:  LIFESTYLE CHANGE IS THE KEY TO BEING HEALTHY!  Going on a diet is not sustainable.  Because when you go “off” the diet the weight will pile on easier, believe me.  Do yourself a favor and NEVER use the word “diet” again!!!!!!

How does one set about changing one’s lifestyle, you ask?  Well the first thing to do is take stock of where you are now!!!  This is your starting point, the beginning.  You can’t go back, you can only go forward!  Lay out what it is that is most important to you and work on changing that this month.  Maybe it will be something like not drinking soda at all this month, only on Sunday Dinner with the family will you allow one soda to be enjoyed and savored.  Replacing 1 hour of TV watching with walking, yoga, cleaning up a mess that has been darkening some remote corner of the house, (don’t ask me how I came up with this one 🙂 ), or just deep breathing and stretching is very wise.  Choosing to eat for your mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack a couple of cups of veges or fruit is quite smart.

Healthy living involves the whole life circumvented and evaluated, removing those things that are hindrances to gaining health.  Here are some ideas:

  • Change the way you think about food, Eat to live do not live to eat.  Think “Will this bring nutrients to my body?”  This is the number one key in my opinion.
  • Allow some cheat days, Sunday is mine.  Sunday Dinner is the one meal I eat whatever I want, and dessert too!!  Notice I did not say HOW much I want.
  • Limit your portions to a reasonable size
  • Lower your meat consumption to three to four servings a week that are about the size of a deck of cards
  • Clean the house and take measures to maintain it (whoever lives with you be it children, siblings, or others should be required to pitch in)
  • Remove anything that you have not used in 2 years or more
  • Take time to breathe deep and move the body with some form of exercise at least 3 times a week, for the ladies I love Ellen Barrett (this cleanses the tissue and helps organs function better)
  • Search recipes that are healthier, the internet such as it is gives no one an excuse
  • Switch the regular snack food with healthier choices – nuts, fruit, veges, granola, oatmeal all organic if you can
  • Plan what to do with your time the same as you would a monthly budget
  • Budget your money – Dave Ramsey is a superb resource to use.  Money is a resource that should be controlled by you, not you controlled by it!
  • Set reasonable goals that are attainable
  • Don’t try to change too much at one time, little changes that stick are better that changes that don’t
  • Say “I Love You” more often
  • Purge the people who won’t support what you are trying to do from your daily life  – not altogether just limit time spent with those who are a hindrance
  • Serve others – true joy comes from serving others
  • Grow some outdoor veges this year, in pots is you have to!
  • Buy some fresh herbs and use them in cooking
  • Use herbs for healing instead of over-the-counter pharmacy drugs
  • Pray, give thanks, and serve daily
  • Get sunshine when you can, put sunblock on after you have been in the sun for 15-20 minutes
  • Enjoy where you are right now!!!!
  • Laugh more

You can see what I mean by all this, a lifestyle change is what is needed to be healthy and weight loss is just one aspect of that.  Actually you could say it is a result of it!

So my resolution is to be healthier for myself and my family!

Hope this is helpful and gives hope, Happy New Year!

Love Life and Breathe Deep,

Angela

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,

Angela

Word of the Week

Word of the Week (even though it is not a Monday :))

I have to post when I have time; and between a new grand baby, I have two now!!, starting my garden seed, and putting up shelves in the basement, I have not had much of that precious commodity – time.  However some blogging is better than none, I guess.

Anyway the word I have chosen this week is: ANTIVENOMOUS

Definition:  herbs used as antidotes to animal, vegetable, and mineral poisons.

Many  herbs have this action.  Some are:  Beth Root, Black Cohosh, Blood Root, Borage, Chaparral, Cornflower, Echinacea, Elecampane, Fennel, Garden Carrot, Garlic, Gentain, Hyssop, Juniper berry, Lobelia, Calendula, Olive oil, Plantain, Rue, Sassafras bark, Scullcap, Slippery Elm, Sundew, Sweet Basil seeds, White oak, Wood betony, and Wormwood.

Plantain

Plantain (Photo credit: katlupe)

Some that I put to use frequently are garlic, hyssop, slippery elm, calendula, and plantain.  Plantain is a powerful drawing herb.   Plantain is one of those broadleaf  “weeds” that many try to extirpate from their yards, which is sad because it is quite a wonderful healer to the body.  I use it fresh, frozen in paste form, and in ointments.

Antivenomous herbs can be used when stung by any insect, dog bites, snake bites, infected lacerations or wounds, septicemia (blood poisoning), gang green, boils, and acne.  Poultices, ointments, fomentations, or bathes are excellent ways to apply an antivenomous herb.

This is great info to have.  Every time I am outdoors, whether at a park, campground, or visiting someone, I locate patches of plantain and commit the spot to memory.  That way I am ready to harvest at a moments notice!!

Be prepared!

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

Word of the Week

As I have shared with you all before, herbs have dozens of known actions. Herbalists consider these actions when putting a formula together.  One of the most common actions employed from natural healing plants is the demulcent. And that is our word of the week.

DEMULCENT   [di múlssənt]  n.

soothing substance: a substance that soothes irritated or inflamed skin or mucous membranes.
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Throughout our internal environment, we have  mucous membranes.  This thin layer of mucous is vital to organ, tissue, and cell function.  Inflammation caused by poor diet, damage to cells, medication, or system malfunction (allergies is one) affects this mucous layer in a negative way.  Dairy causes mucus (notice the different spelling) in the body.  This kind of mucus is low-vibrating, thick, sticky, and inorganic and leads to localized pain, general pain, and blockages in the body.  Any number of problems can and do arise from this condition.  The most common illness thought of is the common cold, but other illnesses can take hold in this thickened layer of mucus.  All chest and nasal complaints arise to cause us misery when we  have a  dirty inside hampering our immune system.  The intestinal tract has a mucous layer as well.  Inflammation is this area can be debilitating.  Arthritis is inflammation localized to the joint area.  The suffix -itis means inflammation of, so any ailment with this suffix would be helped by demulcents.

Marshmallow - Lægestokrose (Althaea officinalis)

Marshmallow – Lægestokrose (Althaea officinalis) (Photo credit: Isfugl)

Some herbs with demulcent action include:  balm of Gilead, bladderwrack, borage, burdock root, cayenne, chickweed, coconut oil, comfrey root, corn silk, elm, fenugreek, figs, flaxseed, ginseng, glycerine, golden seal, grindelia, heartsease, hollyhock, hops, Irish moss, Iceland moss, licorice, lobelia, marshmallow root, mugwort, mullein, oats, plantain, prunes, psyllium, pumpkin, ragwort, rice water, sage, sarsaparilla, sassafras pith, slippery elm, sorrel, sundew,white pine, white pond lily.

My favorites are comfrey, marshmallow root, Irish moss, mullein, slippery elm, heartsease, and lobelia.  Any of these are super to use when you need a demulcent.  Make a tea, compress, capsule, or fomentation.

The powers that be recommend, or rather prohibit the internal use of comfrey.  No product can be sold for internal consumption can contain  comfrey, but external use is ok.  I make a wonderful comfrey mucilage for bronchitis, chest congestion and colds, flu, and tuberculosis, and have never had any problems.   The reason is the alkaloids in comfrey are said to damage the liver and could cause serious problems.  My opinion is that if someone has been taking some major pharma drugs, the liver is already in a weakened state and may not be able to metabolize the alkaloids.  Comfrey is a great herb that has been vilified unnecessarily.  Do your own research and study.

Love life & breathe deep,

Angela