Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.


10/15/2013

honey beeBee stings can be deadly if a person is allergic to the venom. If you or a family member is allergic to bee stings and gets stung, remove the stinger and seek emergency medical attention right away. Do not rely on a natural bee sting treatment alone. Use an EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector) if you have one.

Any person who is stung by a bee, needs to be monitored for signs of anaphylaxis (life-threatening reaction). About 3 percent of people stung by bees quickly develop this condition. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

Itching/redness

Hives/welts

Shortness of breath

Feelings of faintness or dizziness

If there is any concern that a person is developing anaphylaxis, call 911 right away. You can also take over-the-counter Benadryl, but this will not stop the anaphylaxis; it will only slow it. You must seek emergency medical attention immediately for bee allergy.

Non-Allergic Bee Sting Treatment Options

For a quick recovery from non-allergic bee stings, you have three things to do to begin the healing process:

1. Extract the stinger.

2. Clean the wound.

3. Get pain relief.

The first and most important treatment for a bee sting is to remove the stinger as quickly as possible and by any means. The bee's hind end contains a sac that holds venom, and it may continue pumping more venom into the skin if not extracted. So, don’t be slow about – get the stinger out. You can use your fingernails, a pair of tweezers, or even a credit card to scrape out the stinger. But, be careful not to break the stinger and leave it buried in the skin.

Second, before using a home remedy for bee sting treatment, clean the wound with soap and cool water. This will help remove any bacteria that can cause infection.

After the stinger has been removed and the wound cleaned, you can use one of these 8 bee sting remedies:

1. Ice. Apply ice for 20 minutes. Ice will numb the pain and slow blood flow to the area, which reduces swelling.

2. Honey. A degree of irony resides in this bee sting remedy since honey comes from bees, but honey is excellent for healing wounds. Apply a small dab of honey to the wound and cover with gauze or a small rag for 30 minutes to one hour. (If a person is allergic to bees or honey, do not use this remedy.)

3. Lavender essential oil. Add one or two drops of lavender essential oil to the wound. Lavender oil will help neutralize the venom immediately.

4. Crushed garlic. Crush one or two garlic cloves to release the juices and press it against the wound. Cover with a moist rag or towel and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes.plantain

5. Plantain. This is not the fruit! Plantain (Plantago major, broad leaf and Plantago lanceolata, long leaf) is a common weed you’ll find around your home. It typically grows in places where the soil has been disturbed. It can also be found growing in the cracks of your sidewalks. Bee stings are never planned, so it may be a good idea to purchase the Plantago major plant from a local garden and keep it at your home. Although it is a weed, it has lovely purple foliage and leaves that look like small green roses. To use plantain as a bee sting treatment, you need to release the juices from the leaves. This can be done by using a food processor or putting the leaves in a plastic bag and crushing them with a spoon. You can even chew it slightly to release the juices. Once you obtain the juice, press the juicy leaves against the sting and cover with a moist rag or towel for 30 minutes.

6. Baking soda and vinegar. Make a paste using baking soda, a dab of vinegar and water and apply it to the wound for 30 minutes. Baking soda and vinegar helps neutralize the acid found in bee stings.

7. Toothpaste. Like baking soda, toothpaste is a base that will help neutralize the acidic bee sting, thereby reducing pain and swelling. Apply the toothpaste to the wound for 20 to 30 minutes.

8. Meat tenderizer. Make a paste using meat tenderizer and water and apply it to the wound for 20 minutes.

After achieving pain relief with one of these home remedies for bee stings, cleanse the skin by using a wet paper towel or rag and apply a small amount of an over-the-counter antibiotic cream or a natural first aid remedy to help prevent infection.

Now tell us what bee sting remedies have worked best for you.

We’ve outlined 8 ways to get quick relief from the intense pain of a bee or insect stings. Have any of these worked for you? Are there other ones you recommend? Insert your ideas in the Comments section below to help other readers!

Jami Cooley, RN, CNWC is a registered nurse and nutritionist in the Dallas area where she conducts natural health research and writes for Natural Health Advisory Institute. She has also written a free e-Book, Natural Health 101: Living a Healthy Lifestyle. Contact Jami by commenting on one of her blogs.

Photos by Dreamstime



10/1/2013

paleo dietThe latest research reveals some intriguing facts - dining on caveman cuisine can be a way to lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure, improve your blood sugar control, and help you feel fuller and less hungry despite consuming fewer calories. Recent studies out of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine and Lund University in Sweden have uncovered these and more Paleo diet benefits.  This small but growing body of research certainly begs a question for each of us – is it worth it for me to switch to a Paleo type diet?

What Is the Paleo Diet?

Also referred to as the caveman, Stone Age, and hunter–gatherer diet, the Paleo diet consists of foods that are assumed to have been available to humans before agriculture was established. The focus is on fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, while all grains and dairy are excluded. Paleolithic diets are assumed to have included wild animals and uncultivated plants. Lean meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, roots, eggs, and nuts were commonly consumed. But no grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils were available before humans began to cultivate plants (primarily cereal grains) and domesticate animals.

Study shows Paleo diet Reduces Weight and Waist Size While Improving Blood Sugar and Satiety

Paleo diet experts include Dr. Staffan Lindeberg, MD, PhD, of the University of Lund’s Department of Medicine. His interest in the evolutionary aspects of healthy eating prompted Dr. Lindeberg and his research group to publish the first randomized controlled trials of Paleo diets in humans. In one of their recent studies, the Lund University researchers found that, calorie-for-calorie, the Paleo diet improves satiety more than a Mediterranean-like diet.[1] In this study, 29 men with too much belly fat, heart disease, and either pre-diabetes or diabetes were assigned to either 12 weeks of a Paleolithic diet or a Mediterranean-like diet. The Paleolithic diet was based on lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, eggs and nuts while the Mediterranean-like diet was based on whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, fruit and vegetables. The main differences between the diets were less grains and dairy and more fruit and nuts in the Paleo group. Both groups were allowed to eat as much as they wanted of the allowed foods.

After 12 weeks, the two groups lost a similar amount of weight (an average of 11 pounds in the Paleo group and eight pounds in the Mediterranean group). However, the Paleo group lost more inches around the waist and experienced greater improvements in blood sugar control. Those in the Paleo group also ended up consuming fewer calories per day, despite being allowed to eat as much as they wanted within the guidelines of the diet. They were just as satiated as the Mediterranean group, but since they consumed fewer calories per day, the researchers concluded that the Paleo diet improves satiety more per calorie than a Mediterranean-like diet.

Paleo Diet Also Improves Cholesterol, Triglycerides, and Blood Pressure

In addition to improving satiety and blood sugar metabolism, Paleo diets may also improve cardiovascular health. UCSF researchers conducted a study showing that just 10 days of a Paleo diet lowered LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, reduced blood pressure, and improved blood sugar metabolism in people who were sedentary and overweight, but not obese, and otherwise healthy.[2] Subjects ate a normal diet for three days, ramped up to a Paleolithic diet over a week, and then stuck to it for another 10 days. The Paleo-type diet included meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, canola oil, mayonnaise and honey, but excluded dairy products, legumes, cereals, grains, and potatoes. All food was provided and portions were adjusted to purposely keep the subjects’ weights steady so that the researchers could be absolutely sure the health benefits were the result of the diet itself and not weight loss.

The results were striking. The subjects’ “bad” cholesterol—low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—was roughly 22 percent lower, a reduction is similar to what you would expect from six months of treatment with a cholesterol-lowering statin drug. Triglycerides and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) levels were lower in all subjects. In addition, all subjects experienced significant reductions in blood pressure, even though they didn’t have hypertension to begin with. These results were not surprising to the researchers since the Paleo diet was low in sodium and high in potassium, and this combination is well-known to lower blood pressure. The subjects also experienced significant improvements in blood sugar metabolism and insulin levels, both of which are related to the risk for diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

Because of these excellent results, the UCSF researchers are now conducting an even larger study to evaluate the effects of a Paleo diet compared to an American Diabetic Association diet on Type 2 diabetic patients.[3] They hypothesize that the Paleo diet will improve blood sugar control with less need for diabetes medicines and will also benefit cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood vessel health.

Is the Paleo Diet for you? Is it Worth the Switch?

If you are struggling with your weight or looking for natural, drug-free ways to improve your heart health, cholesterol, blood pressure, or blood sugar, these impressive benefits may indeed make it worth the switch to a diet similar to the Paleo diet. Make sure to select lean, grass-fed meats, which have less total and saturated fats and more heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Get going, fire up the grill, dig in and enjoy this diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats!

References:

Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010; 7: 85.; Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Aug;63(8):947-55.; ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00548782.

Kathleen Jade, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Physician in the Seattle area where she conducts natural health research and writes for Natural Health Advisory Institute.  Contact Dr. Kathleen by commenting on one of her blogs. She has written a recently released e-Book Fatigue Causes and Relief: Natural Remedies for Excessive Tiredness and Chronic Fatigue.

Photo by Dreamstime



9/10/2013

back painWhy Surgery is an Option When Needed

Nerves are coated by protein called myelin. When this myelin goes away, the nerve is unable to communicate with the brain. A procedure called cryoablation actually works by destroying the myelin coating. While the procedure is not permanent since the nerves eventually rebuild the myelin, it does provide patients with relief.

Fibromyalgia

Bottom line, fibromyalgia is complex chronic pain condition that affects 10 million people and 90% of those diagnosed are women. The condition is often misunderstood and one in three people have never heard of fibromyalgia or do not consider it a disease.

The soft tissue pain of fibromyalgia is often described as a deep aching, gnawing, shooting or burning sensation that often ranges from mild to severe.  So what can anyone do to relieve these pain symptoms to get on with the basic daily activities in their life besides medical creams?

Mahir Reiss Procedure

Mahir Reiss is a physical therapist in San Diego, California, who regularly helps his clients ease their chronic pain. He is issuing comment on a new surgical procedure called cryoablation, which carefully freezes nerves in order to offer relief from chronic pain. Chronic nerve pain that disrupts daily living is a fairly common issue. A 2008 National Institute of Health manuscript explains that the situation impacts roughly 50 percent of those who have undergone chest operations. This is because surgeons can accidentally touch sensitive areas, thus causing the nerves to misfire and send pain signals to the brain. Once that connection from the nerve to the brain is built, it is permanent. David Hanscom, an orthopedic surgeon at Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle explains that diseases, physical injuries, and inflammation can also stem from this situation.

Dr. William Moore, a radiologist at Stony Brook University Hospital, specializes in the technique, which relies on frozen needles in order to numb the nerves that lead to chronic pain. Each day he performs multiple cryoablations. He states, “This particular technique has really worked very well because we’re going to the root of the nerve where it’s coming out of the spine.”

When therapy, organic creams or medicines fail to ease the pain, doctors now have the option of simply freezing the problematic nerve. Robert Suh, a radiologist at the Ronald Reagan University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, explains, “In some cases, chronic pain can be incapacitating. It can be debilitating.”

Mahir Reiss comments on this stating, “The news of this innovative new procedure is certainly uplifting. For many patients, chronic pain truly impacts their ability to lead a positive and full life. Any time that medical providers can offer a solution to this situation, it’s a positive step for the entire medical community, as well as chronic pain sufferers.

However, talks then about the healing process.

Rodale Institute Makes the Healing Green

Hospital patients who share a room with a live plant may need fewer painkillers. A bedside plant may also lower the blood pressure and improve the overall mood of a patient, according to a study published this month in the journal HorTechnology.

 

Researchers observed ninety patients who had had their appendixes removed and recovered in identical hospital rooms, some of them with potted plants. Both groups were on the same floor of a Korean hospital and had views of the sky, but no outdoor trees or plants were visible. Flowering and foliage plants included dendrobium, peace lily, golden pothos, kentia palm, arrowhead vine, cretan brake fern, variegated vinca, and yellow-star jasmine. The biggest reduction in stronger painkiller use came on the third day after surgery, when just 4% of patients in rooms with plants used moderate painkillers, compared to nearly 20 percent in the no-plant group. Researchers also found that patients with plants used less medication, had lower blood pressures and heart rates, felt less pain, anxiety and fatigue, and reported feeling more positive and satisfied with their rooms. While offering a more pleasant experience, the plants didn’t seem to help patients leave the hospital any sooner — both groups averaged about five days in the hospital following surgery.

Sources: Mahir Reiss, Rodale Institute, Article Source: EzineArticles.com/5864727

Hey!  My name is Seth Leitman (The Green Living Guy). I have Sustainability and Eco Consulting Services and Green Living Guy Productions!  Plus, I host a radio show on Blog Talk Radio

I’ve authored and/or edited Nine Books with McGraw-Hill Professional on the Green Guru Guide series.

Photo By Fotolia/SFrame



8/30/2013

field sceneAt the end of August the beginning of autumn can be felt in the Northeast. The first trees are starting to turn and show their fiery fall colors. But there are still many medicinal herbs that are just now ready to be harvested and can become part of your green medicine cabinet such as boneset and echinacea.

Echinacea is an excellent immune system stimulant and has strong antiviral properties. Boneset helps to reduce a fever and soothes the lungs. You can harvest the young blossoms and upper leaves of both plants and combine them in a powerful cold and flu remedy for the coming winter months.

Pick a nice and sunny day for your leaf and blossom harvest. Most plants are best harvested late morning, after the morning dew has dried and before the afternoon heat is stressing and wilting the plant.

Wear comfortable clothing in muted colors not to scare birds or other wildlife. If you are planning to visit a thick and high growing field make sure to wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt, and closed, soft soled shoes. Bring your harvesting tools, such a sharp clean pair of shears (Felco makes good shears for left and right handed people) and a small pocket knife. Bring a basket or a paper bag large enough to place, not stuff, your plants in. Avoid plastic bags as they encourage fermentation and spoiling of the plants on a hot day.

Medicinal and culinary herbs loose their potency and medicinal properties after a year of storage. So when you go out to wild harvest, take only enough to make medicine for one year. You don't need much. Nature will provide a new and fresh harvest again a year later. In Native American traditions, an essential rule of harvesting is to only take what you truly need and ask for permission before taking anything at all.

Harvest abundance only from a large growing patch. Do not harvest single standing plants that are not part of a plant community. Never disturb or harvest an endangered or threatened species. Plant them instead and help to insure their future existence.

When you arrive at the harvesting site, take a deep breath and relax. Leave your worries of the day behind you. Work with plants in a calm and peaceful state of mind. Focus on the plant you are harvesting and the medicine you will make from it.

Look around. How many plants are there? Is there enough to harvest any? Never take more than 10 percent or 20 percent from a site. Ideally, it should look like you did not take anything at all and your impact should be negligible.  If there is not enough to harvest that day, just enjoy the plants that are growing, show your respect and gratitude, and leave.

If you are wild crafting on a hillside, harvest only around the bottom of the hill. Leave the plants on the top untouched as they will keep spreading their seeds to the lower tiers. If you encounter a large and abundant site, harvest mostly from the central portion rather than from the edges. Let the plants at the peripherals spread their seeds and roots and expand the growing space of the species.echinacea

If you would like to enjoy a plant meditation before you start harvesting, choose a large and healthy looking specimen, the elder of the plant community, and take the time to simply sit with the plant for a while. Just be there with her. Does the plant look and feel vibrant and healthy to you or is it beaten by pests and stressed by lack of water? The plant that will become your healing medicine should be healthy and full of life giving energy itself. Notice the color and texture, the energetic expression, the scent and maybe the taste of the plant. Tune into the vibration of the plant and enjoy its presence. Close your eyes if you like. What does it feel like to be in the realm of this plant spirit? Do any images, sounds, or feelings arise? Don't expect anything. Don't judge. Keep your heart and mind open and simply observe. 

If you like, you can make an offering to the plant, such as a little bit of dried tobacco leaf or pluck one of your hairs. Place it at the bottom of the plant. Introduce yourself, either in spoken word or in your mind, and let the plant know what you are planning to use its medicine for. You can think of the person you are harvesting the plant for or the illness you would like to cure with it. Ask the plant if it is a good time to harvest and if she will grant you permission to take what you need. – Yes, you are talking to a plant right now. And when you are willing to give in and open up to the experience, you will receive an answer to your question. – If nothing happens, be patient. Sit with it a little longer. The response might be an image, a color, a sound, a song or a thought that will feel, sound, or look like a “yes”.  If you don't get any response at all, regard it as a “no”. Respect and be grateful for whatever answer was given. Thank the plant for communicating with you and either enjoy your harvest or simply enjoy the site and then leave without taking anything that day. Come back and ask again on another day venture to another site.

Process your plants immediately when you arrive back home. Harvesting with permission from the plant makes your medicine that much more potent and powerful as the spirit of the plant becomes part of your remedy.

bonesetFor your boneset-echinacea cold and flu remedy, cut the fresh plants into smaller pieces and  place them in a clean canning jar. You need just a few plants of each. Fill the jar all the way tightly to the top with plant material and then fill the container with 100 proof vodka (which has 50 percent alcohol content). Close the lid tightly, write a label, and let the jar sit for 6 weeks, shaking occasionally to invigorate the extraction process. Strain the tincture and store in brown glass dropper bottles away from heat and direct sunlight.

Hopefully your immune system will be strong enough to help you make it through the winter without getting sick at all. But if you do get a cold, flu, or a stubborn cough, you can take 50-100 drops of your  your own homemade green medicine every 3-4 hours until the symptoms subside. The joyful memory of your harvesting experience and the connection you made with the plants that day will play no small part in your healing process.

Green blessings.

Susanna Raven is an herbalist and owner of Raven Crest Botanicals, a medicinal herb farm in upstate NY. Check out our Facebook page, also.



8/20/2013

sunscreen for babiesSummer is almost over, but it’s not time to put away the bathing suit just yet. While soaking in the sun is pleasurable for moms, it can be extremely harmful to babies. If you’re heading out for one more day in the sun before summertime ends, or if you’re planning to take your family to an upcoming fall festival, be sure to protect your precious baby from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

How to Protect Your Baby from the Sun

While it is best to keep your baby out of the sun as much as possible, it’s not always practical. When you do go out, use hats, umbrellas or other forms of shading to cover your baby’s skin. It’s also a good idea to use sunscreen on your baby, but not any sunscreen will do. Since babies (6 months old and younger) have very sensitive skin, they cannot tolerate most sunscreen products. Instead, use homemade sunscreen for your little one (and the rest of the family, too!).

Commercial Sunscreen Creams Are Dangerous for You and Your Family!

As a conscientious mom, you should be leery of using over-the-counter sunscreen creams for your entire family. Why? While sunscreens do prevent sunburns, they can also be loaded with toxic ingredients. Two of the most prominent chemicals in sunscreens include retinyl palmitate (or retinol) and oxybenzone. According to the Environmental Working Group, retinyl palmitate is found in 25% of all sunscreens and it can accelerate development of skin tumors and lesions on sun-exposed skin. (Isn’t it ironic that a cream used to prevent skin cancer actually increases the rate of skin tumors?) Oxybenzone – found in half of all sunscreens – soaks through the skin, can trigger allergic skin reactions, and may be a hormone disruptor.

How to Make Homemade Sunscreen for Babies and the Whole Family:

homemade sunscreen

Supplies:

• 2 or more glass jars with lids
• small saucepan or double boiler
• mixing bowl/mixer
• whisk

Ingredients:

• ¼ cup coconut oil
• ¼ cup shea butter (natural SPF 4-5)
• 1/8 cup almond oil
• 1 to 2 tablespoons of zinc oxide powder
• 2 tablespoons beeswax granules (adds waterproof properties)
• Optional: 1 teaspoon of essential oils such as vanilla extract or lavender oil

Directions:

1. Combine the coconut oil, shea butter, almond oil and beeswax in a glass jar; make sure the lid is secured tightly. A great recycling method is to clean and reuse a pickle jar.

2. Use a double boiler or heat one to two cups of water in a small saucepan over low to medium heat.

3. Place the jar in the water. As the water heats, the ingredients will begin to melt. The beeswax will be the last to melt. Once the beeswax is melted, remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the zinc oxide. It is important to try to distribute the zinc oxide throughout the mixture.

4. Replace the lid and set in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

5. Remove from the refrigerator and poor into a mixing bowl. Add the essential oils of your choice. Use a hand mixer and whip until the mixture is light and fluffy.

6. Pour the ingredients into a separate jar for storage. Again, a pickle jar or small baby food jars work well. You will want to store the homemade sunscreen in a cool place or the refrigerator (but do not allow the mixture to freeze).

7. Use as needed for sunscreen within 6 months.

The zinc oxide is the ingredient that protects babies from the sun’s harmful rays. It does so by creating a physical barrier from the sun rather than a chemical one, which is safer for a baby’s delicate skin. The coconut oil, almond oil, shea butter, and essential oil can be found at many grocery stores and most health food stores or online vitamin stores. Amazon can be the source for a number of these ingredients including zinc oxide powder. Although the SPF protection of your sunscreen can’t be measured accurately, use this chart to get a good estimate. Then reduce or increase the amount of zinc oxide based on your family’s needs.

What homemade sunscreens have worked well for your family?

Send us your comments (in the link below) and share which homemade ingredients have worked for you. Let’s help each other protect our precious children!

References:

1. Environmental Working Group 2013.

Jami Cooley, RN, CNWC , is a registered nurse and nutritionist in the Dallas area where she conducts natural health research and writes for Natural Health Advisory Institute. She has also written a free e-Book, Natural Health 101: Living a Healthy Lifestyle. Contact Jami by commenting on one of her blogs.

Photos by Dreamstime



8/5/2013

detox foodA liver detox program can be an incredible natural cure for fatigue and the perfect tool for boosting energy and overall health. Although the research is in its infancy, healers have been utilizing therapies that enhance the body’s detoxification mechanisms for ages. You may find it hard to believe that dietary adjustments, supplements, and other natural therapies to enhance detoxification can end your fatigue and increase your overall health. But if you’re tired all the time or just want to insure your body can handle the myriad of toxins it encounters daily, you need to experience for yourself the transformative powers of a natural liver detox like the one presented here.

What is a Liver Detox?

The phrase “liver detox” does not refer to drugs or alcohol, or even to juice fasting or colon cleansing, as you might think. It refers to the science of how your body rids itself of waste—a metabolic process involving the liver’s detoxification enzyme systems. These detoxification enzyme systems convert toxic substances into non-toxic, water-soluble compounds that can be eliminated through your urine, sweat, and stool. Because the liver is the body’s major site for detoxification activity, the primary focus of a liver detox is enhancement of the liver’s enzyme systems. However, the gastrointestinal tract is also instrumental in decreasing toxic load. Therefore, most liver detox protocols, including the one recommended here, also strengthen intestinal mucosa integrity and enhance colon function. 

The Goals of a Liver Detox are to:

• Increase your intake of specific nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals) required for detoxification-related biochemical processes.

• Minimize ingested allergens, toxins, and chemicals to reduce your exposure. (This provides your intestinal tract with a chance to repair and allows it to process waste and harmful compounds more efficiently.)

• Increase bowel movements and bile flow for quicker elimination of waste and toxins, minimizing toxin exposure.

• Optimize alkalinity by increasing fruits and vegetables to encourage urinary excretion of toxic compounds.

The dietary portion of the liver detox program is paramount

The liver detox diet emphasizes organic natural whole foods to minimize exposure to antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, artificial chemicals, high fructose corn syrup, and preservatives. It also should emphasize alkaline foods like potassium-rich fruits and vegetables as well as adequate fluids, especially filtered water, to facilitate the process. The liver detox diet avoids acid-inducing foods, like animal proteins and refined carbohydrates, and limits common allergens to decrease potential immune activation and inflammation.

The Liver Detox Diet:

• Vegetables: 5 servings or more daily, including at least two or more servings of cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts). Also try to include dark green leafy vegetables, onions, garlic, asparagus, spinach, squash, beets, watercress, broccoli, sprouts, and tomatoes.  Avoid corn and potatoes.

• Grains: 3-5 servings daily of non-gluten grains or grain products made from brown rice, millet, quinoa, and amaranth. You may include sweet potatoes in this category. Avoid refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, and sugars), corn, and gluten-containing grains (wheat, oats, barley, rye, spelt, and kamut).

• Fruits: 5 servings or more daily. Include potassium-rich fruits like figs, apricots, and bananas.

• Nuts and seeds: 1 serving daily of any raw nuts or seeds or nut or seed butters (including almonds, cashews, pecans, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds, etc.). Avoid peanuts.

• Legumes: 1-3 servings daily (including lentil, kidney beans, black beans, etc.). Avoid soybeans and soybean products.

• Protein: up to 3 servings daily of coldwater, wild-harvested fish (i.e. salmon, sardines, or halibut) or organic, free-range (pesticide-free, hormone-free) poultry. Avoid: eggs, shellfish, and red meat (beef, lamb, or pork). You may eat legumes or use a non-allergenic protein powder (rice, pea, or hemp) in place of meat.

• Fats: 2-3 servings daily extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, or avocado. Avoid butter, partially hydrogenated oils (margarine or shortening) and refined vegetable oils (corn, safflower, sunflower, and canola).

• Milk and dairy: up to 2 servings daily of rice milk or nut milk products. Avoid all dairy products (such as milk, cheese, and yogurt).

• Beverages: 8 glasses or more daily of purified water or non-caffeinated herbal tea. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and all juices except freshly juiced fruits and vegetables.

Supplements for Enhancing a Natural Liver Detoxdetox supplements

In addition to following the liver detox diet, add a detoxification support supplement to aid you through your liver detox program. Liver detox supplements supply ingredients that have been studied and found to support the body’s detoxification mechanisms. Rather than purchasing individual ingredients and products, kits are available that make it easy to do a short detoxification program (1 week to 1 month) on your own. They may contain a nutritional beverage mix and additional supplements for liver and gastrointestinal support.

Important ingredients to look for in a liver detox supplement include the following:

• Pomegranate extract (contains the liver detox compound ellagic acid)  

• Green tea extract (contains the liver detox catechins compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG))  

• Cruciferous/brassica vegetable extracts (including watercress and broccoli) (contain the liver detox compounds glucosinolates and sulphoraphane)  

• Milk thistle and artichoke leaf extracts (contain the liver detox compounds silymarin, cynarin and chlorogenic acid)   

• Others: N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) , methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM), alpha lipoic acid  

Remember to Go Green and Sweat

While undergoing your liver detox, don’t forget to avoid exposure to as many harmful chemicals as possible, including plastics, packaged foods, and “non-green” cleaning products and personal care products. Also paramount to a comprehensive liver detox program is sweating. Regularly sweating with exercise or in a sauna facilitates excretion of toxins through the skin. Many different types of saunas, temperatures, durations, and sauna treatments have been utilized and found to be effective. The important thing is to break a good sweat at least once a day and drink plenty of filtered water before, during, and after.

If you feel sleepy all the time or are dealing with fatigue that seems extraordinary for the amount of rest you’re getting, a short liver detox is an excellent way to boost your energy. Try the simple liver detox as outlined above, even for a week or two. You will be ridding your body of toxins and learning how to optimize your detoxification systems.

Now tell us about your own liver detox experience (click the Comments button at the end)

1. If you’ve done a liver detox in the past, how did it made you feel?

2. What was the hardest part of the liver detox?

3. How long did your liver detox last?

4. What suggestions would you give to someone wanting to do their first liver detox?

5. Would you recommend a liver detox for others? Why?

References:

1. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:356798.

2. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Jan;30(1):3-18.

3. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Sep;16(3):215-25

Kathleen Jade, ND is a licensed Naturopathic Physician in the Seattle area where she conducts natural health research and writes for Natural Health Advisory Institute.  Contact Dr. Kathleen by commenting on one of her blogs. She has written a recently released e-Book Fatigue Causes and Relief: Natural Remedies for Excessive Tiredness and Chronic Fatigue.

Photos by Dreamstime



7/31/2013

It's been quite a ride and it is still going at a high speed. From the moment of realization that the world ofGreenhouse Turned Drying House healing herbs was calling me, to my first herbal class, to running a small-scale herb farm that grows medicinal herbs with organic methods, to creating artisan herbal products, and finally to working with clients to help them find balance in their lives with the generous support of the plant kingdom. A ride with many joyous moments, but also doubts, insecurities, and cloudy days. 

It all started with a trip to the Peruvian Amazon and the deep, out of the blue intuition that I wanted to study the healing powers of plants.  So off I went to my first herbal training with Ursula Basch at “Herbal Bear – School of Botanical Medicine”. What I remember most about this period is how unbelievably “right” it felt to be a plant student, the sheer joy I experienced when learning to identify medicinal plants and mushrooms in the field, and the wonder I felt when I discovered that everything I ever needed to get rid of my pharmaceutical medicine cabinet was growing right in my back yard. More herbal training followed with Tieraona Low Dog and Richard Mandelbaum, amongst others, all inspiring and excellent teachers.

Botanicals Market StandAfter having lived in New York City for 15 years, it was time for a change. I decided to leave the big city behind and moved full time to Schoharie county in upstate NY. We are fortunate to own 250 acres of forested hills and rolling cow pastures, home to a wide variety of wild medicinal herbs. Little by little, I made friends with all of them.

Soon I was making my own herbal creations, showering friends and family members with homemade lotions and potions. Not long after, people started asking for refills and the overwhelming feedback inspired me to produce on a larger scale, offering my products at retreat centers and small local stores.

How do you make the transition from making home remedies in recycled jam jars on your kitchen counter to producing sufficient amounts to send products to recurring clients and fill whole display shelves and tables with herbal goods?

I am the type of person that walks away from a healthy buffet with a plate filled with a bit of everything, rather than serving myself just one or two items. I like to try it all. So I started taking on everything at once until nothing fit on my plate anymore. Then I went to get another plate.

Botanical Herb BedsAt first, I went from using herbs from my small garden and the wild surroundings to ordering organic herbs in bulk from well known large herb operations. Which was sufficient for a short period, but I always felt that I had no influence in the quality of the herbs, except trying different vendors. I did not know at what time of the day the plants were picked. I could not verify if the certified organic chamomile from Egypt really never saw any pesticides. I had no idea how the workers in the fields were treated. And, needless to say, the shipping costs were a killer.

Out of necessity, “Raven Crest Botanicals” was born. I started adding more beds to my garden, went on a seed-shopping spree and learned greenhouse work. I purchased truckloads of organic composted cow manure. I planted as many herbs as I could fit into the available space and watched them grow to gigantic dimensions. I learned how to ask the plants for permission to harvest (which really screwed up my schedule since their sense of the right time is often very different from ours). When my drying space in the house could not keep up with what was coming from the garden, I built a solar dehydrator to process my plant harvest in the most sustainable way. We added a beehive to the garden for pollination, honey and propolis.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the generosity of my friend Jesse, who built the most beautiful earth sheltered greenhouse on earth, Jane and Verena sharing their greenhouse wisdom with me, and the constant support of my partner Yoav who patiently watched me metamorphose from a NYC actress to an upstate NY farmer in rubber boots. 

At this point, I was making about 40 different products, including salves, balms and creams, skin scrubs, aromatherapy sprays, a variety of medicinal tincture blends, elixirs, medicinal mushroom extracts (I really got into these), and culinary and medicinal tea blends. I used as many plants as possible from our own land and ordered only the ones I could not grow myself (yet) from very good quality herb farms. Forty products are a lot to take on for a single woman operation. It was challenging just to keep everything in stock and not to run out of tinctures, which take 4-6 weeks to make. My kitchen turned into a mad house and more cabinets needed to be cleared to hold all, now much larger, tincture jars.

Then the product design came into focus. I needed a logo, a business card, and new label designs. I found a lovely designer, Dana Jordan, whose keen eye and never ending patience enabled me to design what I had in mind but could not create myself. Then, after months of frustrating attempts to outsource label printing at a reasonable price, I finally found an affordable, high quality photo printer (Canon Pixma Pro 9000 II) and labels from www.onlinelabels.com that worked well together. I now print and design new labels myself – a huge advantage over having to order large amounts from a printing company at high costs and then being stuck with them if I want to change the ingredients for a tincture or other herbal product.

There were many other expenses that arose, such as an automated solar irrigation system, building myRaven Crest Botanicals Label own earth-sheltered  greenhouse, and draining the property with French drains after hurricane Irene ravaged through the North East. These were added on to more familiar costs, such as purchasing large amounts of raw material for products, packaging, and insurance costs. It is a long journey from making herbal products for your friends to supporting yourself with your passion for plants and I am still just at the beginning of a long and windy road. But the journey is a very satisfying one and I am happy to be on my way.

In addition to selling products to Food Coops and herb stores, I like to offer my creations in a way that includes a personal connection with my customers. That's when the idea of herbal CSA shares came to my mind. Typical farm CSA shares include a weekly delivery of fresh produce at a drop off location.  Most herbal products on the other hand, are non-perishable and therefore can be mailed inside the United States and beyond. A monthly CSA package of seasonal herbal products that arrives in the mail is a lovely and affordable treat and a great opportunity to get to know the benefits of herbs that one wouldn't find out about otherwise. I offer three different Raven Crest Botanicals CSA shares.

The “Tea and Comfort Package” consists of one culinary and one medicinal tea per month.

The “Green Medicine Cabinet Package” consists of a monthly treat of 3-4 artisan skin products and organic herbal medicines. The shareholder will be the proud owner of a fully stocked green medicine cabinet at the end of the season.

The “Green Medicine and Tea Package” includes all teas and products from the other two packages. A full share also includes a complimentary herbal consultation and the resulting personal plant medicine becomes part of the customized monthly package.

There are up and down sides to the herbal CSA model. The packages are mailed rather than dropped off and I can easily reach a broader audience. The monthly delivery schedule leaves ample time to design the package contents and create the seasonal products. There is less competition. At the same time, it seems that plant based medicine, artisan skin products and fine herbal teas are still regarded as luxury items rather than a necessity and finding new customers is more of a stretch.  I am offering 50 shares this year and I am looking forward to serving people who want to invite herbal medicine into their lives and enjoy non-toxic, safe and effective herbal products, made in small batches with love and intent. The tricky part is, of course, how to find these new customers.

Strategies to promote Raven Crest CSA shares have been NOFA's CSA markets, local farmers markets, aBotanical Herb Spiral brand new web site, a facebook business page, blogging, and CSA info flyers distributed at local stores. Every bit helps and I have been able to slowly build momentum.

To get enthusiastic and affordable help on the farm (which seems like an impossible task by definition), Raven Crest became a host farm for WWOOF  (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, www.wwoofusa.org). I have been very lucky during my first year and found the perfect matching “WWOOFer” for my farm. The concept is brilliant as is allows people who are excited about learning a specific aspect of farming, such as organic herb growing and herbalism, to match up with a farm that teaches exactly that. The host farm offers board and lodging in exchange for work and in the ideal case, both parties learn from each other and leave a footprint in each other's life that is deep and beautiful. 

To keep up with the space needed for herb processing, I am planning to build a straw bale/earth bag building as my processing space and classroom for herbal training and retreats. The room will be built during a natural building workshop, which is a great way to get a lot of free work power during the building process in exchange for an amazing and bonding learning experience. Next year, I am going to offer plant medicine & yoga weekend retreats with a raw food menu to make it worthwhile for New Yorkers to travel upstate for a blissful weekend in nature.

I am growing close to 100 herbs this season and my product line includes over fifty items. It would certainly simplify things to grow just a few herbs on a larger scale for another buyer. It would also be more profitable if I would focus on fewer products and on selling them in many locations. It would be easier and more manageable to be just a grower, or to only create products, or to just give consultations and purchase medicinal products from different vendors.

But that would be like leaving the buffet with just a single food item on my plate. Yes, there are days when I ask myself why, oh why, am I taking on the whole process from start to finish on my own. But at the same time, I am finding it most fulfilling and exciting to take part in the complete journey. I have learned every aspect of the growing-making-selling-business. I truly know what is in the tincture bottle I give to my clients at the end of a session. I am proud to offer the finest tea blends made from hand harvested and solar dried herbs.  All my plants have been cared and prayed for from seed to harvest to final product. And the plants made me happy in return. There is nothing more satisfying to me than looking over my flourishing seedlings in the greenhouse, or enjoying the sight of lush herb beds in full bloom, or inhaling the rich aroma of drying herbs wavering though the rooms, or watching the bees return to their hive loaded with pollen and nectar, and displaying a table full of organic green medicine that I have created from beginning to end. And I would not want to miss any of it.

I am going to be a student of the healing power of medicinal plants for the rest of my life. In addition to working with North American and European herbs, I am starting to integrate TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) herbs and sacred plants from the Amazon in my practice and herbal creations. I will create more products and most likely will grow more herbs next year.

The time will soon come when I am going to need more help on the farm to do all the work. And maybe, at some point, I will have to review my business strategy and do what a lot of herbalists do: scale down, simplify, focus on one and only one aspect, and let all others go. But until then - I am going to enjoy the ride.

With gratitude,

Susanna Raeven












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