Friday, December 28, 2007

What's Goin' On: naughty, naughty pharmies

This isn't surprising to me, but outrageous nonetheless. If you don't find this outrageous-- then, as the saying goes, you aren't paying attention: click here

It is amazing to me the amount of shady 'behind the curtains' dealings that continue to go on in the healthcare industry(not to mention food and psychology as well). Dealings that lead to gross misrepresentations and misconceptions about what is healthy or not, and what is necessary or not. And it is disconcerting to me the number of people who simply don't know.

Before I start to sound like I'm lecturing, I want to make clear that I was one of these people. I grew up in a very typical suburban, middle class 80's household. I feasted on McDonald's, Snickers, and Stouffer's frozen macaroni and cheese; I soaked my skin in paraben-laced body care and am still surrounded by plastic as far as the eye can see; I dutifully took all the countless antibiotics that Dr's gave me since I was little; and heaven knows what other ills I exposed myself to in the Generation of Excess (too many to list here, for certain-- I smoked for much of my childhood and adult life as well. I've been smoke free now for 5 years now, thank you!). But enough about my colorful background...

This has become one of my pet peeves as of late, the issue around diet and heart disease, cholesterol, etc. The reasons are twofold: I myself have been borderline anemic, and hypoglycemic much of my life, and my husband has a history of heart disease and diabetes in his family. So I have been educating myself more and more around these issues, not only to serve us as we age gracefully (of course!) but to begin preventative health care for my children. Prevention and knowledge are, in my humble opinion, some of the best medicine.

There is a lot of information coming out in the past year especially that highlight all the lies we have been fed about what is best for us. Most of the time, these 'rules' for health are merely hypothesis (to repeat on a previous post), theories, ideas and experiments. We, and our children, are the guinea pigs.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Daily Dose: motherwort

Ah, Motherwort (also known more formally as Leonurus cardiaca). Her latin name invokes images of the calmly regal -- and protective -- lioness, she with a strong and capable heart. Motherwort helps us with these qualities, being a potent nervine that will take you down a good notch or two when you are feeling jittery, anguished and rattled. (Like when you are getting caught up in the craziness of the holiday season, maybe?) I have benefited from it greatly when I was bordering on a stress attack, or was depressed and hot-tempered as we Aries can sometimes be. A full dropperful (or two, I admit it!) and almost instantly I felt a soothing calm flow through my body.

This herb carries a lot of heart energy for me and for others, as it so efficiently calms the heart and the nerves overall. It is the perfect herb for the holidays, and if I wasn't crazy busy I would have shared this with you sooner (er, sorry). I trust the holidays were wonderful even if you didn't have this trusty herb by your side. But once you know of it, you will be sure to carry it close next Christmas. Or for any other time you need to center and calm yourself, for that matter.

Motherwort is a diaphoretic, emmenagogue, has nervine and tonic properties and is antispasmodic. It is wonderful for those with PMS, menstural cramps and such. IT is great for a good many other things, but I'll save all that for the detailed post on it.

It has a very potent, pungent and bitter taste-- certainly not a flavor one associates with tea. My preference is to take it in tincture form; mind, this does not make it more palpable, just sends it down the throat a bit faster. And of course the medicine takes effect rapidly as well, being absorbed readily through the tissues of the mouth.

Wrap-up: if you are full of tension, anguish, feeling close to a panic attack, can't focus from the stress of it all, Motherwort is for you. She will rapidly bring you to your center, and soothe the beast within. There are cautions from some old time herbalists that it can be psychologically addicting (see Susun Weed), however I have not seen this so far. One dropperful, up to 4x a day is recommended as needed.
Contra-indications: not to be used while pregnant (save for under the care of an experienced herbalist at the final stages of pregnancy), as it can promote bleeding; do not use if you have regular spotting or heavy bleeding monthly. If you have hyperthyroid, consider using a different herb.

Friday, December 7, 2007

What's Goin' on: sad and silly

Being that I am a WAHM, I hope the non-parents who may come here don't mind that I will be posting often about noteworthy/provocative, etc items for parents.

This is a blog on parenting I came across, the first post I read speaks volumes about the state of birthing in America today. My experience was so far from this, and I feel lucky. Many families, sadly, are not. Can you imagine birthing here? Read on: Sweet Juniper

And now, to lighten the mood.You need not be a parent to enjoy this:

Carry on!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Daily Dose: usnea

This is the time of year for calling on a dear herbal ally "Old Man's Beard," or Usnea (usnea wirthii, u.californica).

It's the time of year when we keep cozy inside: a lack of fresh air when we shut tight our windows and turn on the heaters, and keeping kids inside to play in such environments only helps viruses to prosper in abundance.

When I was pregnant, I found all too often there were so many wonderful herbs that help colds and flus, but are not recommended while pregnant or nursing. I started using Usnea--safe for short term use while pregnant-- and now use it regularly. More even than Echinacea. Don't let the idea of being gentle enough for mama's fool you -- Old Man's Beard packs a punch! It has even been shown to fight gram-positive bacteria's, it is so potent. It is also called one of "nature's antibiotics" (see Buhner, 1999, _Herbal Antibiotics_ for a great reference). It is wonderful internally or topically as well for staph infections (I must note here, that one should never mess around with staph infections these days, they can advance to serious systemic proportions quickly. Please make sure you are being careful to have such an infection monitored by a health practitioner or your choice).

Some of this magical herb's qualities include assisting the fight against internal candida issues (because of its anti-fungal properties) -- I've even used this on my babies when they came down with a yeasty-diaper rash (after sweating off the alcohol, to be sure! It will irritate their skin otherwise. I'll post that recipe in the next post). I have also paired this with a tea blend to fight off tenacious UTI's with great success.

Wrap-up: Usnea is a powerful white blood cell stimulant (which in turn helps the body to attack viruses) and antimicrobial: anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. So it really covers your bases. If you are going to be in an environment that exposes you to illnesses, or feel like you are catching something, you can take 3-4 dropperfuls a day of this tincture and within days you will be feeling on top of it. Sometimes I even blend 50/50 tincture of Echinacea and Usnea, if I am feeling rundown already and want to stimulate my immune while fighting the nasties.

Contra-indications: none known, don't overdue while pregnant

Be well,