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Quit Smoking for Good!

The statistics on smoking, and the effect it has on our health, are well documented. And second-hand smoke can be just as harmful for our friends, loved ones, and strangers alike. That doesn’t make it any easier to quit when you think you should be ready to give it up, does it? In fact, what usually happens is that we decide to quit, and then life happens and we find ourselves smoking more than ever. The patch, gum and other devices are actually sending nicotine directly into the bloodstream, and nicotine is considered to be one of the most harmful chemicals found in cigarettes! But, for some, these methods can and do work, sometimes for good, and oftentimes only for a while.

There are, however, safer and healthier ways to quit the butts habit forever. I have witnessed the following method(s) to work hundreds of times, and most of the people I’ve known to quit in this way did it in the first try and NEVER went back to smoking! Sounds good, doesn’t it? Here is how you, too, can become cig-free for life!

There are four main components to smoking addiction:

Chemical dependence- Cigarettes are well-known for their chemical load that is deposited into our lungs and into our bloodstream. Strangely as it seems, our bodies become dependent on this toxic load being there at fairly consistent levels. When we don’t have these toxins coming in, we physiologically crave this mix of chemicals in our lungs and in our bloodstream. That is why so many smokers light up immediately upon awakening. Some brands of cigarettes are believed to contain between 300 to nearly 400 ingredients, many of which are addictive chemical compounds! We think of cigarettes as rolled tobacco, but they are really so much more than that.

Emotional dependence/ Stress- Many people reach for a cigarette every time they feel stressed or anxious, and feel that smoking takes the edge off. Initially, it does feel that way, but smoking is actually shown to significantly increase stress and anxiety levels over the long-term. So, if we don’t find other tools to handle our excess stress and anxiety, our smoking habit will likely increase with time. Check out the many articles I have here on my site to deal with stress.

Finger activity- Smokers tend toward fidgeting with things, including their cigarettes. When attempting to quit, they often report that having nothing to do with their hands can be very difficult. It seems like a small thing, but it can be the downfall when attempting to quit.

Breathing deeply- An interesting fact is that smokers tend to breathe very shallowly, usually taking their deepest breaths as they take that first long drag from their cigarette each time they light up. Shallow breathing does not effectively deliver oxygen to fill the lungs so as to oxygenate all our blood and cells, nor does it allow the necessary release of toxins and carbon dioxide through the exhale. Therefore, most smokers crave a deep breath, but the brain associates this with that first drag, and we then interpret the craving as a desire for another smoke.

If you know you are ready, or nearly ready, to give up those cigarettes for good, start now, right this very moment as you read this blog post by taking deep, calm breaths as often as you can. If you get stuck in traffic, need to wait in line at the grocer or feel frustrated with the boss, breathe in, slowly and deeply, then calmly exhale. Before inhaling again, stop for a just a brief moment, and then exhale a little bit more, preferably to a brisk count of five. This helps to release those toxins, calms the spirit so as to reduce the anxiety and stress levels, and leaves more room available in the lungs for the next inhale to deliver oxygen throughout your body. I have known several people who have, often unintentionally, used this technique alone to quit and have never gone back to their former cigarette habit.

Next, you’ll want to reduce your body’s toxicity load in a way that is safe and proven to work in scientific studies and won’t cause increased physiological cravings. Studies show that turmeric and green tea both work to detoxify the tar, nicotine and other toxins associated with cigarette smoking from the body. Further research has provided evidence that they work synergistically even greater than either herb does alone. Turmeric and green tea are also known to provide relief from excess inflammation, which can happen within our bodies more readily when we’re smokers.

Please note: Most of the turmeric and green tea supplement products on the US market are not very pure, to say the least. Please be sure to choose a product by a reputable company made with certified organically grown turmeric and/ or green tea, whenever possible, so that you will be provided the greatest results. Please note that curcurmin is NOT turmeric; it is only one of the many components of the turmeric tuber, or horizontal root, and does not work as well as real turmeric. (Look on the back of the label to see if it says 95% curcurmin. If it does, look for another product.)

There is an amazing clinical study done in India with men that were heavy smokers. This study was done with a product formerly called Smokeshield, but now renamed Supercritical Antioxidants (produced by New Chapter, Inc.), available at most co-ops, natural pharmacies and health food stores throughout the US, Canada and Europe. New Chapter has also come out with a similar product, same ingredients, called SMOKE. For this purpose, they are interchangeable.

A little background on that study; the men who were chosen to be part of this study had smoked for at least ten years, smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day, agreed to continue smoking throughout the study and had the blood toxicity levels to put them in jeopardy for smoking-related cancer.

They took one capsule in the morning and one capsule in the evening for 30 days. At the end of the study, their blood was tested again and their toxicity markers were down to a clinical zero! Remember, they kept smoking, so these results were no small feat!

A similar, very potent product that may also be chosen for this same detoxification purpose is made by a wonderful company called Gaia Herbs. The product is called Liver Cleanse.

Once again, I have known several people to quit smoking during this 30 day detoxification process as they were preparing their bodies to take the big step to quit! Even though the clinical study lasted 30 days, I have always urged folks to continue to detoxify their bodies throughout the entire quitting process, and continue to do so for approximately one month for every year they have smoked in their lives. Some have reported back to me that they have continued to take the Supercritical Antioxidants or Liver Cleanse, even to this day, because they appreciate the way they feel in their new, cleaner, healthier bodies! With the chemical exposure we are bombarded with through air, water and the food supply, this may, indeed, be a wise decision.

So, with a clean and purified body to work with, if you haven’t already, it’s time to smoke that last butt, for good! Pick the day, hour and minute, enjoy the last one if you want to, and don’t look back!

Now, many smokers say that the hardest part is the stress. Whether it’s accurate or not, smokers and former smokers report that, when times get really tough, the thing many want to do instinctively is to reach for a cig and take that first long drag. Well, what are you going to do instead? Think about this, and take action. Check out the great herb for stress called Holy basil, or contact me to schedule a Healing Wellness Consultation to get a more customized approach to the stress load you experience.

Take a long deep breath, and instead of focusing on the inhale, let your attention be mainly on the completion of the exhale. Long, slow and relaxed, let it out, so that your next inhale may better nourish your nervous system and its oxygen needs.

If deep breathing helped, but was not enough for your needs, here is a powerful answer for those intense emotional cravings. They’re homeopathic remedies, little pellets that you let dissolve under your tongue. You may use them to quit, especially in the first few days when it’s the most difficult to deal with the stress and anxiety. And you can also use them anytime in the future when life feels difficult, and you feel those cravings and desires coming on, so that you don’t ever light up again! Keep a container with you so you’ll have them when stressful situations strike.

Again, a little background. Homeopathy is a medical system designed to stimulate the body’s inner healing processes to regain harmony and balance. Homeopathy is based upon the concept that very dilute amounts of plant (or mineral) medicines can alleviate the symptoms of illnesses that very high doses of the same plant (or mineral) may actually cause. This is the theory called ‘like cures like’. In Germany, homeopathy is the most prescribed form of holistic medicine, being practiced by more than 80% of all medical doctors there.

We are a culture that firmly believes and practices ‘more is better’. In homeopathy, however, the less we have of the original substance, the more potent the homeopathic remedy becomes. The milder doses are considered so safe that they may even be administered to newborns, small children and people with numerous allergies or chemical sensitivities without concern.

Usually, homeopathic remedies are purchased as tiny simple sugar pellets that are placed under the tongue to dissolve and easily enter the bloodstream. It is best if we don’t touch them with our hands, so they are usually placed onto a folded piece of paper, then dropped into the mouth under the tongue.

So, now that you have a functional understanding of homeopathic remedies, we can discuss dealing with the emotional cravings for a smoke. There are several excellent homeopathic remedies that can immediately eliminate the urge for a cigarette, and they tend to work best on those emotional cravings that are so challenging to get through.

The following is a list of homeopathic remedies, in order from top to bottom according to how many people I have known to use them successfully to permanently eliminate the smoking habit from their lives. At least one or two of them are available at virtually every health food store in the US and Europe. There are others, as well, but these are the ones I have used and / or seen others successfully use.

Natra-Bio’s “Smoking Withdrawal”
King Bio’s “Smoke Control”
B & T’s (Boericke & Tafel) “Smoke Free”
Homeo-Care Stop Smoking Formula
Boiron’s “Quit Smoking Care Kit”, or the single herb called Lobelia from any homeopathic company.

Replace the fidgeting with flavored toothpicks (Thursday Plantation are excellent and available at most health food stores), a tongue depressor, a gum stimulator or even modeling clay such as Fimo or Sculpey. This will quickly replace the fumbling with a cigarette, especially when stress levels are high, and relieve the desire to return to your former unhealthy habit.

Now, let’s address the reason for weight gain when quitting. It may be somewhat obvious. When giving up cigarettes, we often replace the need for an emotional release and something to do with our hands with eating, especially snacking. This is a bad scene for the waistline! But, not to worry …, the program above has been the chosen method of quitters I’ve known and coached all over the northeast, and weight gain has never been an issue. So use this plan or get my support to increase your chances of success. (After my small fee, imagine the money you’ll save!)

Need help? Contact me to schedule a Healing Wellness Consultation. Get the support you need. Save money, save time, save your life!

So, good luck with becoming a healthier, more vibrant you! Please, once you have successfully gotten over the hump and feel your energy levels returning, send us a donation that you can now afford, possibly the amount that you would have spent on cigarettes in a week, a month or even a year, so that we may continue to provide you, your loved ones and our world community with detailed information about herbs, supplements and healthy lifestyle choices that you will not find anywhere else. Thanks. Be well.

By now, we must all know someone who has had the stubborn cold/ flu thing going around. While it doesn’t go away easily, it responds to several tools you may already have in your ‘herbal tool kit’. Here is how you can strengthen your family’s immune system!

First, and most importantly, limit all refined sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and the white stuff. One can of commercial soda can have 8 to 12 teaspoons of sugar! Sugar dampens our immune system for about one hour for every teaspoon consumed. Average Americans eat more than 20 teaspoons daily. Fruit juices, including orange juice, are loaded with sugar. If you limit bottled juices, you’ll strengthen your immune health. Try drinking vegetable juices, hot broths and herbal teas instead.

When you eat organic whole milk unsweetened yogurt, you boost your immune health in many ways. Over 70% of the immune system is believed to reside in the digestive tract. Restoring digestion with beneficial bacteria can provide a strong barrier that prevents entry of harmful microorganisms, and boosts the immune response to a germs and unwanted microbial overgrowth. A daily probiotic like New Chapter’s All Flora boosts your immune defenses, too.

We know we should wash our hands with soap often, but we should stay away from chemical antimicrobial soaps and gels as they contribute to the creation of super-bugs, infections and flu-type illnesses that have become resistant to medication. And they don’t make our hands any cleaner than soap and water! Check out the great natural herbal soaps in the Wellness department of your local co-op or health food store.

When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to get sick, so keep excess stress at bay whenever you can. Get enough sleep, and a little extra when you feel on the edge. Have you tried Holy Basil (Tulsi) yet? Research shows it is helpful for stress, digestion and the immune system.

Essential oils of eucalyptus, thyme, lemon, tea tree or lavender have a powerful influence on our immune system. Put two or three drops of any one of these oils on your scarf or hankie when you’re headed outdoors on a cold day. Try a couple drops on a tissue or in a diffuser placed on your child’s nightstand when s/he is stuffed up. You will all be breathing free in no time! (Please note that most essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin. Always mix into a carrier oil like almond or jojoba. Only lavender, tea tree and clove should be applied directly.)

Olbas Oil is an old Swiss remedy that works from head to toe! Olbas helps clear the nasal passages and sooth your tired feet, sore neck or back. My favorite use for Olbas Oil is to rub it on my upper back when I have a cough or tightness in my chest toward the end of a cold. Other Olbas products include lozenges, an herbal inhaler that really opens my sinuses, a soothing bath potion, and a cough syrup I find delicious and effective.

Garlic is a powerful immune enhancer, as long as you crush it with the side of your knife to release the oily benefits! Raw or cooked, garlic helps boost your ability to fight off what ails you.

Elderberry syrup and tincture are my favorite herbal immune remedies. Traditionally used by children and adults to help prevent colds and the flu, it was taken in small amounts in the morning and evening. Like echinacea, elderberry can be used more frequently at the onset of symptoms, and when you find yourself sick in bed, research shows it can help shorten your down time.

Herbal throat sprays are wonderful for a raw throat or raspy voice. Sprays can also be helpful for stuffy sinuses, laryngitis, a cough, and when lungs feel cold or painful. Have you tried Herb Pharm’s Soothing Throat Spray? It helped my daughter end years of recurring strep throat, and relieved my annual bouts of bronchitis.

Raw honey, especially locally produced, is a valuable medicinal food. A small amount, say 1/4 tsp, was traditionally considered a healing dosage, yet more is not necessarily better, just sweeter. A 1/2 tsp of raw honey offers essentially the same medicinal benefit but with twice as much sugar. So just a little bit frequently throughout the day could be beneficial.

Homemade cough syrup can be made by grating 1 TBSP organic ginger, and squeezing the juice into a small bowl, adding 2 TBSP organic lemon juice, and a tsp or two of raw honey. Take small amounts as desired or mix into hot, but not boiling, water and sip throughout the day.

Fire Cider each morning was my Dad’s choice for immune support. Shire City Herbals is a local company offering a delicious, spicy fire cider. If you like to use spicy immune boosters, try this one.  It’s powerfully refreshing!

Virtually all herbal teas help support the immune system in the winter months. Try Throat Coat, Herbatussin, Breathe Deep, Cold Care PM, and many more!

Ginger tea can warm us up when we’re chilled, or help cool the excess fire when we feel overheated. Want to make a great ginger tea? Instead of boiling slices or using a tea bag, try this method; grate organic ginger, and squeeze the juice out into a mug. Add hot, but not boiling, water and natural sweetener, if desired.

Sage tea is a great immune booster, too. Remember, if you want to receive the medicinal benefits of all your herbal teas, get a cover on your cup as soon as you pour the hot water. Otherwise, much of the nutritional value and other health benefits are released into the air with the steam. Your room will smell nice, but you will have missed up to 90% of the medicinal benefits you hoped to receive from your tea!

Now you can choose some of your favorite herbal tools to keep your family healthy all winter long!

It’s that time of year again when the way we learn and retain information comes into focus. Whether we are students, parents, employees, younger or more mature, memory retention and critical thinking skills can contribute to our quality of life or, when lacking, increase life’s challenges.

The good news is that we can improve our learning skills naturally. Have you heard about the remarkable nutritional benefits found in hempseeds? These small round seeds are delicious, with a taste somewhere between sunflower seeds and pinenuts. Hempseeds contain 33% complete protein by weight, including all 21 amino acids, a rare find in the vegetable kingdom. Many protein-rich foods can cause food sensitivities, yet there have been no reported allergies to hempseeds.

Hempseeds miraculously contain 9% of the omega-3 fatty acids by weight, those ‘good fats’ that help build healthy cells in the brain, heart, nerves, cardiovascular system, eyes, and virtually every system in the human body. In just one tablespoon of hempseeds, we receive a full gram (1,000 mgs.) of the vegetarian form of omega-3 fats. With over-fishing of oceans and high mercury content, organic hempseeds are a prudent alternative to fish oil.

Omega-3 fats are credited with dozens of health benefits, helping depression, ADHD, bi-polar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease. Children learn better, have higher IQ scores, and show greater confidence with a diet rich in good fats.

Sprinkle them on everything, store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and then get them right back into the frig for freshness. If you have digestive issues from acid reflux to intestinal problems, try grating some organic ginger root onto your food along with the hempseeds; this will allow you to access the healthful nutrients more easily.

Two world renowned herbs can also offer benefits throughout life. Holy basil (Tulsi) and Rhodiola rosea are both shown in extensive research to help improve the spirits, nourish the adrenals, ease excess inflammation, and support physical and emotional endurance, helping those with ADHD, learning difficulties, headaches, anxiety, poor sleep, a restless mind or the blues.

Each of these safe herbs can help the body regulate cortisol, a chemical released by the adrenals when we’re deeply stressed, fearful or have repeated negative thoughts.  Excess cortisol levels have been linked to a wide array of conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, IBS, arthritis and numerous auto-immune disorders.

Researchers believe another key action of Rhodiola extract within the body is caused in part by an increased permeability of the blood brain barrier to the building blocks of dopamine and serotonin, two important neurotransmitters within the brain and nervous system.

Holy basil has over 8,000 years of recorded usage, with no known side effects. Rhodiola has more than 3,000 years of history, and the only known side effect is that it can be slightly stimulating for some when taken later in the day. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to be true for most teens.

Cindy Hebbard is available for Wellness Consultations for adults, teens, children, families and pets, in person or by phone. Find holistic support for your chronic health concerns and begin to feel better, naturally! Visit www.wisdomofhealing.com or write cindy@wisdomofhealing.com

This article first appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer as part of the Post Oil Solutions series on “Building Sustainable Communities.”

One of the least spoken about challenges in a post petroleum age is wellness and healthcare. Our present-day pharmaceutical and medical technology is very much petroleum-based, and hence, much like food transportation and energy, our healthcare system is threatened by the decline of the oil supply.

Petrochemicals are used in the manufacture of hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and are the base for most commercial body and facial care products. Heart valves, IV tubing, hip and knee replacements, and other medical devices are produced with numerous plastics and other petrochemicals.

Throughout much of the world, plant-based medicine is still used for most chronic complaints with greater success reported than those choosing modern pharmaceutical medicine. And this is not just in developing countries. Throughout Europe, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including acupuncture and herbal and homeopathic medicine, is used nearly as often as Western medicine for the treatment of disease. In Germany, 98 percent of all pharmacies now sell homeopathic medicines.

With a broad view of the whole person, including their diet, environment, and situation, CAM has a primary focus on the prevention of the disease in the first place, making detection and diagnosing, along with their often invasive and expensive practices, unnecessary. And the person need not suffer. Continue Reading »

When my daughter, Kaia, was three years old, she and I were severely burned in a scalding water accident from a defective heating system in our home. We lived in the Boston area and so she was rushed to the Shriners Burn Institute. I was taken to Mass. General and treated briefly. They prepared a room for me, but I didn’t want to stay. I could not imagine being separated from my daughter at that critical time. A doctor escorted me through a tunnel to the Shriners Hospital, speaking about the importance of following the program he had outlined for me to use. I thanked him and rushed to my child’s bedside.

On the day we were burned, New Year’s Day 1984, after hearing Kaia’s diagnosis, I discharged myself from Massachusetts General Hospital against my doctor’s wishes. I then received a detailed consultation from a friend who was an acupuncturist, western herbalist, and had studied Ayurveda in India for three years.

The first thing he told me was to be sure to do everything the doctors at Shriner’s Hospital suggested, exactly as they advised. He spoke to me about incorporating several complimentary practices and therapies into our healing program:

  • Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs for pain reduction
  • Prevention of any stress is crucial
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat a lot of protein, more than usual
  • Eat foods very high in minerals, preferably cooked
  • Eat root vegetables abundantly
  • Eat plenty of dark leafy green vegetables: kale, collards, chard, watercress, beet greens, spinach, arugula, mustards, etc
  • Cook very soft, watery, light colored foods; long, slow cooking is best
  • Eat lots of sea vegetables, loaded with minerals, trace minerals, detoxifying and immune enhancing micro-nutients, and the essential building blocks now referred to as ‘essential sugars’
  • Drink herbal teas, especially with roots and leaves high in minerals, nervines and nutrients for the nervous system
  • Light and Sound therapy
  • Color therapy in relation to clothing, food and our surroundings
  • St. John’s wort infused oil applied onto the skin, after release from the hospital, to support nerve damage repair

The nurses, doctors and hospital attendants at the Shriners Burn Institute were, and are, in a class by themselves. Each interaction with her healthcare workers felt gentle, comforting and completely honoring, even with my alternative ways of looking at wellness and healing. Upon arriving, they treated and evaluated Kaia’s needs. She was diagnosed with approximately 20% of her body exhibiting second degree, borderline third degree burns. With that much area having absolutely no skin, she could easily contract infections, so she was quarantined for about 48 hours. They told me that she would need to spend approximately four months in the hospital and would undergo two to three skin grafts. Follow-up visits would be twice weekly for about six months and then once weekly for a year and a half or more.

My daughter and I already practiced a very strict wholesome foods diet. In fact, Kaia had only eaten sugar once in her life before our accident, a month earlier (and against my wishes) on her third birthday. I was careful to see to it that we would eat plenty of high quality protein, plenty of sea vegetables, roots and dark leafy greens each and every day. I immediately began to prepare very soft, slow-cooked, soothing whole grains and healing foods.

I knew what I craved each day, and it seemed that that’s exactly what Kaia wanted, too! Soft brown rice gruel, millet, whole oats or barley were served with lots of Chinese cabbage, kale, sea vegetables and white beans or tofu. The white beans were cooked over low heat for more than twelve hours, and tofu was steamed with just a hint of tamari (real cultured soy sauce).

Kaia had an amazing appetite as she began her recovery. I heard that many of the children there at the hospital rejected food, so they needed to be force fed to get enough calories and protein into their bodies to help heal the damage from their burns.

Kaia ate three fairly large bowls of organic, nutritious foods for each of her three meals daily. That was nine bowls of food every day to give her the building blocks to help with her repair! And we certainly didn’t need to force feed her! She ate willingly, chewing well, and enjoying every bite. Each day, she would have a comment about her meal, “Mom, how did you know I was craving millet and onions!” or “This is the best meal I ever tasted!”

The hospital staff was astounded by her appetite. They watched in amazement as she asked for seconds and thirds. A couple times, she even ate a fourth helping, as her healing process shifted into high gear. The entire staff was completely supportive of our strange foods and unconventional ways. It made a very traumatic experience much less difficult to go through.

I found color therapy very important. I wore only white or very light colored clothing. Any dark colors bothered me, and I observed that just looking at dark clothes or dark or bright colors, especially red, in my surroundings felt like it undid a little bit of my healing process. The foods that we ate were mostly white or very light in color, except those very high mineral foods, like kale, Swiss chard and sea vegetables.

Sound also had quite an impact. Very soft, soothing sounds and music felt very healing, but any loud or sharp sound, such as that of people arguing, talk radio, even the news and weather, or louder rock and roll music seemed to slow or stop the healing of our damaged skin tissue. Reading aloud, and being read to, felt especially soothing and healing for both of us.

Prevention of any stress is truly crucial for the healing process to thrive. This was certainly obvious to my body, as I felt pain anytime I felt any physical or emotional stress whatsoever. But when I was stress-free, there was little or no pain.  I could notice that over a few day’s time, it was more obvious.

All of the other foods and herbs helped our process, as well. We drank Chinese herb teas with powerful aromas and flavors for the initial pain, switching to various western herbal teas that he suggested for helping to repair the damaged nerves, and for nourishment and enjoyment. We both drank plenty of water every day. Kaia asked several times a day for her glass to be refilled. This also surprised the hospital staff.

On the morning of the eighth day that Kaia was hospitalized, a miracle occurred. I got a call from her doctor explaining to me that they consider Kaia to be an absolute wonder, and that she had healed in eight days more than they had expected in four months, without the need for the two to three skin grafts! He then asked if I would please pick her up as soon as I was able, because they had a little girl being air lifted from Chicago with severe burns who would need Kaia’s bed. I picked her up in the early afternoon, drove to my friend’s house, and entered the next phase of recovery.

Although I continued to use the topical medicines for burns as instructed by her doctor, I added the next ‘alternative therapy’ as well. What happened when we used Herb Pharm’s organic St. John’s wort infused oil was a true and potent miracle. My friend, Beti, and I applied the beautiful bright red oil onto her skin every two hours to support her nerve repair. We would take turns getting up in the night so that we could keep to the two-hour schedule. It seemed that every time we applied the St. John’s wort oil, we could observe a noticeable improvement! “Was this possible?” we wondered.

On the thirteenth day after our terrible accident, we went back to the hospital for our first follow-up visit. The doctor asked me where the child was that had been burned. I pointed to Kaia, but he spoke to me as if I might have brought the wrong child, or something!

You see, there were no markings whatsoever on Kaia’s skin! It was soft and pink and perfect! He looked in her chart at the large photographs of her very significant burns from just less than two weeks ago. Then he looked at Kaia again. In a stern voice, he asked me what was going on.

Kaia immediately looked him in the eye, asked if he was a ‘burn doctor’ too, and began to tell him a story about something that had happened to her while she was in the hospital. His jaw dropped. You could have knocked him over with a feather! We stood in silence for several moments.

Then he asked me what we did, and as I began to speak, he asked if he could go find a colleague or two so that they could also hear our story. A few minutes later, he returned with two other doctors, one that had been a burn specialist for more than twenty years. They asked me dozens of questions as they wrote pages of detailed notes about every alternative measure that we had taken. They were absolutely wonderful about my miraculous daughter’s recovery, and told me that we would not be required to come for any more follow-up visits.

It was at that moment that a fire began to burn in my belly. I announced, mostly to myself, that from that day forward, I would be an herbalist for the rest of my life. And so it is.

Remember: The immediate action to take for a burn of virtually any size is to submerge it in cool or cold water. Do not apply ice, butter or oil and if a burn is anything more than a very small, superficial one, seek medical attention right away. Burns can be quite serious. Remember, it’s preferred that you don’t even hold a new burn under fast running water. When a burn is soaked in cool water, the heat is released and the water will warm within minutes. Change the water as often as needed until medical attention is available. Pure aloe vera or lavender essential oil may be applied after soaking in cold water for superficial burns.

The aromatic leaves and soft purple flowers of the common Thyme plant offer us nourishing health benefits as we use them to flavor soups, stews, salads, chicken, lasagna, roasted vegetables, and whatever we add them to.

Garden Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) both make excellent garden herbs, patio garden plantings, and a fragrant ground cover. The spicy floral scent in the summer months encourages deep breathing and a relaxed mind. I once had a friend who split a potted thyme plant into three parts, placing them in three regions of her lawn. Eleven years later, her 3/4 acre backyard was nearly covered with a carpet of strongly scented, pale lilac blooms that the whole neighborhood enjoyed.

Aromatic plants like the numerous varieties of Thyme are rich in volatile oils. As they are breathed in, these powerful volatile oils begin to clear the sinuses and open the lungs, as they move directly to the limbic brain, offering us a feeling of inner peace.

For hundreds of years, Thyme was used predominantly for calming anxiousness, agitation, irritability and a ’scattered mind’. It has been used for the relief of tension headaches, rashes and irritating skin conditions, women’s reproductive disorders, and prevention of wound infections.

In the past twenty or thirty years, Thyme has become an increasingly popular remedy for respiratory issues, especially sinus problems. Continue Reading »

The statistics on smoking and the effect it has in relation to dozens of health conditions have been well documented for decades. That doesn’t make it any easier to quit when you’re a smoker, does it? The patch, gum and other devices are actually sending nicotine directly into the bloodstream, and nicotine is considered to be one of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes! These methods can work for so, but often with other costs to your health.

There are, however, safer healthier ways to quit the cigarette habit forever. I have witnessed the following method(s) to work dozens, possibly even hundreds of times by now (including for my own cigarette smoking), and most of the people I’ve known to quit in this way never went back to smoking! Sounds good, doesn’t it? Here is how you, too, can become cig-free for life!

There seem to be four main components to smoking addiction:

Chemical dependence- Cigarettes are well-known for their chemical load that is deposited into our lungs and into our bloodstream. Strangely as it seems, our bodies become dependent on this toxic load being there at fairly consistent levels. When we don’t have it coming in, we physiologically crave those toxins in our lungs and in our bloodstream. That is why so many smokers light up immediately upon awakening. Some brands of cigarettes are believed to contain hundreds of ingredients, many of which are known toxic chemicals! We think of cigarettes as rolled tobacco, but they are really so much worse.

Emotional dependence/ An attempt to reduce stress- Many people reach for a cigarette every time they feel stressed or anxious and feel that smoking takes the edge off. Initially, it does feel that way, but smoking is actually shown to significantly increase stress and anxiety levels over the long-term. So, if we don’t find other tools to handle our excess stress and anxiety, our smoking habit will likely increase those bad feelings with time.

Finger activity- Over the years, I’ve noticed that many smokers tend toward fidgeting with things, including their cigarettes. When attempting to quit, they often report that having nothing to do with their hands can be very difficult.

Breathing deeply- An interesting fact is that smokers tend to breathe very shallowly, usually taking their deepest breaths as they take that first long drag from their cigarette each time they light up. That shallow breathing does not effectively deliver oxygen to the lungs so as to oxygenate the blood and cells, nor does it allow the necessary release of toxins and carbon dioxide through their exhale. Therefore, most smokers crave a deep breath, but the brain associates this with that first drag, and we then interpret the craving as a desire for another smoke.

So, YOU’RE ready to quit? Here’s how- Continue Reading »

Have you heard about the remarkable nutritional benefits found in hempseeds? These small, round seeds are a full 33% protein and 9% Omega-3 fatty acids by weight. They are rich in Vitamin E, fiber and several important minerals.

Hempseeds contain all 21 amino acids, the building blocks of protein that are essential to life. The protein in hempseeds is considered to be easily digestible, absorbed and assimilated (utilized within the cells), a rare find in the vegetable kingdom. The protein, especially the 8 essential amino acids that we are unable to manufacture within the body, found in hempseeds are well represented, making it one of the few vegetarian/ vegan foods containing ‘complete protein’.

Although soy contains more protein when we compare the numbers, unfermented soy products contain significant anti-nutrients that interfere with the body’s ability to use soy protein. Hempseeds contain no anti-nutrients, allowing their protein to absorb easily to build strong organs, tissues, blood, immune defenses, and literally every cell in our bodies.

Hempseed protein powders are the least processed of all the protein powder products on the market, having only had the majority of the oil removed. Hempseed protein powders are high in L-glutamine and dietary fiber, supporting a healthy digestive tract. Rich in L-lysine, hempseed may be a beneficial food for folks with the herpes virus.

Although there are many protein-rich foods that cause food allergies or sensitivities, there have been no reported allergies to hempseeds.

Hempseeds are especially rich in vitamin E, and also contain carotene, the vegetarian form of vitamin A, and vitamins C, B1, B2, B3 and B6. They provide us with large amounts of magnesium, zinc and iron, too.

But the greatest value may come in the deeply nourishing oils found in these little seeds. Essential fatty acids, those ‘good fats’ that help make up healthy cells in the brain, heart, skin, cardiovascular system, and virtually every other system in the human body, are plentiful in hempseeds. With over-fishing of our oceans and high mercury, lead and other toxic accumulations found in many fish species, organic hempseeds are a prudent alternative. And these good fats are far more digestible and shelf stable than those found in flax seeds. Continue Reading »

Stinging Nettles, Urtica dioica, is considered a noxious weed in many circles, but when it comes to good health, Nettles is an astonishing herbal remedy and a nutritional powerhouse! Native species may be found throughout much of the globe, and the earliest recorded use of this nourishing plant dates back some five thousand years.

Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) considered Nettles a cure-all and used it for dozens of illnesses, In the second century, Galen, the Greek physician, recommended Nettles as “a diuretic and laxative, for dog bites, gangrenous wounds, swellings, nose bleeding, excessive menstruation, spleen-related illness, pleurisy, pneumonia, asthma, tinea, and mouth sores.”

Well-known for the pain it can inflict if you accidentally walk or fall into it, Nettles can cause the skin to sting and swell, causing a burning sensation that may last for minutes, hours, and sometimes for days. This is caused by constituents found in the tiny hairs that cover the leaves of the plant called formic acid, histamine and acetylcholine; formic acid is the same compound found in a bee sting. If you get ‘stung’ by Nettles, immediately apply the crumpled leaves of burdock, yellow dock, rosemary, mint or sage, or try rubbing with clay-rich mud to reduce the sting.

Some people actually use this burning sensation for the relief of chronic pain, especially with rheumatoid arthritis and bursitis. Flogging, or whipping oneself with the aerial parts of the plant, is referred to as urtificatiion, and has been practiced since ancient times for arthritic joints, coma, typhus, paralysis, lethargy, circulatory problems and muscle spasms.

Nettles are considered to be the most nutritious land plant on Earth. They’re loaded with the vitamins C, A and B complex, and are very rich Continue Reading »

Red clover, a common perennial herb that grows wild in meadows through much of the world, is in the legume family, just as beans, peas and peanuts are. Its Latin name, Trifolium pretense, means “three leaves, found in the meadow”. Red clover is well-known by organic farmers as a cover crop, ideal for fixing nitrogen to increase soil fertility. Some of its other common names are purple clover, cow clover, meadow clover and wild clover.

There are hundreds of species, and many are grown for feeding livestock, but red clover is believed to be of great medicinal value. The flowering tops, on the one day when they are at the peak of perfection, are harvested for use in tinctures, teas, capsules and body care products. Because red clover, once dried, easily loses its medicinal value, it is important to choose products carefully so that we may enjoy their numerous benefits.

Red clover is considered to be a powerful alterative, meaning that it’s a remedy that restores good health. Well known for its ability to cleanse and purify the blood, red clover is believed to help prevent some of the plaque deposits that can lead to heart attacks or stroke, improving circulation and overall cardiovascular health.

Assisting the liver with the detoxification process, red clover has been reputed as a safe and useful remedy for a variety of health complaints associated with the liver or ‘dirty blood’. Over the last several centuries, one of red clover’s primary uses has been for dermal inflammations, including childhood and adult eczema, psoriasis, dandruff and various rashes. Red clover would often be added to the tea pot for daily consumption and detoxification when symptoms arose. Ointments or salves containing red clover would be applied topically to the affected area. More recently, red clover has been useful for teen, cystic or hormonally-activated acne.

Red clover is considered to be an excellent antispasmodic, meaning that it helps to relieve mild cramping or muscle spasm and it works as an expectorant, helping clear lungs of phlegm and toxins. Traditional health practitioners have used it as part of a program to calm bronchial spasms and coughs associated with the common cold, as well as some serious respiratory problems, including whooping cough, bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia.

Red clover is high in numerous nutrients, including the B vitamins, niacin (B3) and thiamine (B1); vitamin C; and several minerals, including calcium, chromium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Nutritionally, red clover is most well known as a very rich source of isoflavones, a group of compounds found in many plants. These phyto-chemicals, also found in soy, look similar to the female hormone estrogen.

Red clover is often used in herbal formulations to help girls and young women with cramping, moodiness and breast tenderness associated with PMS. Red clover has become popular for helping women with menopause and peri-menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. It is used by women of all ages to help protect the breasts and improve hormonal health.

There is a lot of confusion in the media and on health websites about how phyto-estrogens, such as isoflavones, work. When plant-based chemical compounds are naturally occurring in an herb such as red clover, these hormone-balancing little gems simply fill some of the estrogen receptors within the body. When isoflavones have been chemically isolated away from the complexity of the plant, they lose the checks and balances of the whole, natural, full-spectrum herb. They can then act more like hormone-replacement medications, providing potential results but with greater possibility for side-effects. Red clover in its whole form such as herbal tea or tincture has not been associated with any side effects.

Red clover has been used for cysts, cancerous tumors, and other growths in Europe, Asia and the Americas for centuries. Early test tube research shows that it may stop cancer cell growth or kill cancer cells altogether. Human research shows promising evidence that red clover interferes with the progression of endometrial cancer (the lining of the uterus) and may block enzymes believed to contribute to prostate cancer in men. Another study showed that red clover also may slow the development of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), the non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.

Red clover has been a key ingredient in traditional remedies used by Ojibway and other native tribal healers. It has been an important part of several detoxifying herbal preparations in the past hundred years, as well. Rene Caisse, a nurse in the 1920’s in Canada, opened a cancer clinic using a formulation containing red clover. A portion of her formula is now marketed as Essiac, and for decades these herbs have been used to help people and their pets  with various types and stages of cancer and other blood disorders.

Also in the early 1900’s, the Hoxsey formula was used in 17 cancer clinics throughout Texas and the US. An excellent book called “When Healing Becomes a Crime” was written by Kenny Ausubel about Harry Hoxsey and his experiences with herbal and alternative cancer protocols.

The Eclectic doctors in the 1800’s used red clover often. A fomentation (hot, moist herbal compress), salve, liniment, infused oil, or poultice made with red clover and other cleansing herbs was applied topically to help reduce growths.

You’ll find several excellent red clover products available in the Wellness department and the tea aisle of your local co-op or health food store. Look for Herb Pharm’s tincture of red clover, as well as their wonderful detoxification formula, Red Clover – Stillingia Compound, for a daily or occassional blood purifying effect. And at least twice a year, we should all participate in a more therapeutic cleansing program, which might include one of my other favorite red clover products, such as:

  • the detoxification formula called Flor-Essence Herbal Tea Blend, which is based on the original Ojibway formula passed along to Rene Caisse, offered in liquid or dry herb tea,
  • Eclectic Institute’s Blood Support, which combines freeze-dried burdock with red clover, yellow dock, nettles and dandelion root to support liver and blood detoxification,
  • Eclectic Institute also has a straight-up freeze-dried red clover. I prefer the combinations above, but this is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a high quality red clover capsule.

Happy cleansing on your path to wellness.

Ginger, Zingiber Officinale, originally from Asia, is well known throughout the world and has been consumed for thousands of years as a food, culinary spice and medicinal herb. The rhizome, or horizontal and branching root, is the part used. The pale brown skin should appear thin and smooth for maximum flavor and benefits. The flesh should be juicy and may be yellow, off-white or pale red.

Ginger is used in a variety of dishes and varies in flavor depending on whether it is cooked a long while or added at the end of preparation. Vegetable or meat marinades may be prepared with fresh or dried ginger to help tenderize and increase digestibility of whatever is marinated. Ginger is well known to help protect us from many food-borne pathogens, including those found in several food scares in recent years, E. coli, Salmonella and Shigella.

Ginger is believed to possess a wide variety of beneficial constituents to improve overall health. It is considered:

  • antibacterial (selectively),
  • antifungal,
  • anti-ulcer,
  • pain relieving,
  • anti-tumor,
  • anti-inflammatory
  • and it supports cardiovascular health.
  • Ginger tea or capsules are often consumed with meals to improve digestion and help relieve digestive distress. New Chapter makes my two favorite products for digestive distressthe overeating associated with the holiday season, pot-luck dinners and party foods. Ginger Honey Tonic (also sometimes called Ginger Wonder Syrup or Digestion Ginger Honey Tonic) is a delicious syrup and Gingerforce is a n easy-to-swallow little capsule, easy to always have on hand for when it’s needed. And ginger in nearly any form has been used for centuries for headaches and hangovers, too.

    In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), ginger is called for in hundreds of conditions from stomachache, diarrhea and flatulence to migraines, arthritis pain and upper respiratory infections. More than half of all TCM patent prescription formulas contain ginger. This is likely due to activities it is believed to possess, including protection of the digestive tract, increasing the efficacy and helping mediate any possible ill effects from other herbs or medicinal ingredients.

    There is a growing body of research crediting ginger with helping with the symptoms of motion sickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Relief was found by the majority of participants in most of these studies, regardless of circumstances. Ginger is one the highest known sources of proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes, approximately 180 times higher than papaya.

    I have used ginger for decades for issues of chronic pain and inflammation from Rheumatoid arthritis, and when I was hit by a car as a pedestrian in a parking lot a few years ago. I found that taking small amounts of a good organic ginger product several times throughout the day greatly reduced my head, neck and back pain, and I was able to get a better night’s sleep.

    Another important time that ginger helped my family was when my youngest daughter was eight years old. She had developed acid reflux, causing her immediate gas and bloating after meals or snacks. These attacks were so severe, they sometimes led to vomiting. She didn’t want to worry us, so she kept this to herself for weeks. When we finally realized what she was going through, we immediately took her to the doctor and discovered she had actually developed an ulcer. After the tests, we stopped by our local co-op to purchase my favorite ginger product, New Chapter’s Ginger Honey Tonic, along with a bottle of Gerolsteiner naturally carbonated mineral water.

    As soon as we got home, I mixed up a glass of ‘homemade ginger ale’ by combining the mineral water and a teaspoon of ginger syrup. She was apprehensive at first; after all, virtually everything she’d eaten for weeks had upset her stomach. As she took a sip, a smile appeared. “Could it be helping me already?” she asked. “My stomach already feels better, calmer. And this is delicious,” she declared and then emptied the glass.

    For the next six months, my daughter sipped the homemade ginger ale or a warm ginger tea made with a teaspoon of Ginger Honey Tonic five times a day, usually about a half hour before her meals and snacks. She also consumed two dishes of unsweetened whole milk yogurt most days, prepared in a variety of ways. She reported to us frequently about how much better her tummy felt and she didn’t experience any more bouts of indigestion.

    There are a number of different ways to make a great cup of ginger tea. You can slice the fresh root and simmer or steep for a few minutes. You may use the powdered dried root (also used in ginger tea bags) or the Ginger Honey Tonic. My favorite way, so as to retain the enzymes and other heat sensitive compounds, is to finely grate fresh organic ginger root and squeeze the juice into warm (not hot) water. Ginger tea can be drunk in the evening to help with nighttime indigestion, circulatory concerns or to increase nighttime comfort by helping to release aches, pains and tenderness during sleep.

    Contraindications reported include avoidance of use with all concentrated ginger products with gall bladder disease or complaints; and pregnant women should moderate consumption of powdered dried ginger.

    You’ll find a wide variety of organic ginger throughout your local co-op or health food store. Be sure to always choose organic ginger if you’re looking for health and wellness benefits, as non-organic ginger is grown with numerous potentially toxic chemicals. Look for fresh ginger in the produce section, dried or candied in the bulk section, in tea bags, chocolates, ginger snap cookies, or pickled in the grocery aisles. And if you’re looking for a great ginger supplement, you’ll find a wide selection in the Wellness section of the store. Ask the knowledgeable sales staff or write to me if you have any questions.

    For more information on ginger’s research, uses and numerous health benefits, pick up a copy of the wonderful book, Ginger: Common Spice & Wonder Drug by Paul Schulick.

I have to say, I was very impressed and proud of American parents this morning when I heard on the radio that as many as 2/3 of parents were vowing to NOT allow their children to receive the H1N1 flu vaccine. I hope that pregnant women will join this boycott.

Vaccines are potentially dangerous in numerous ways, due to the quantities of vaccines given and chemical and heavy metal additives used in production and for preserving them. Both of my daughters had severe reactions to being vaccinated more than 20 years ago, causing years of difficulties for both children and parents, and there are so many more vaccines given to our babies and children today. Although there are many reasons for the sharp increases in autism in children, and Alzheimer’s and other dementia in elders, I firmly believe that immunizations, including annual flu shots, (which often contain mercury and other harmful chemicals and heavy metals).

I want to let people of all ages know how they may safely strengthen their immune health so as to help prevent illness, and recover quickly if sickness occurs. These are simple, often inexpensive solutions that are considered safe for people of all ages, unless otherwise noted in the text. If you prefer to have more personalized information, please consider a Wellness Consultation or the Six Months to Wellness Program. I’d be happy to support your wellness education in any way I am able.

First, and possibly most importantly, eating whole milk plain organic yogurt (or kefir) every day may be your best line of defense. Eating whole milk plain organic yogurt is shown in research to be one of the most powerful selective antimicrobials that we have on Earth. Astonishing, right? What this means is that it can help our bodies to fight the bad guys and support our good colonies of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, assisting digestion, immune health, energy levels and a cheerful mood.

Notice I said ‘whole milk’, ‘organic’ and ‘plain’. This is because low fat and fat-free yogurt are no longer whole foods; they’ve had all that good fat removed, and most of the powerful immune boosting nutrients are bound to the fat. That good fat (the cream on the top) also supports good brain, skin, mood, heart and overall health.

I also stipulated that the yogurt should be ‘organic’. This is vital for immune health, as we want to avoid the hormones and antibiotics that are believed to compromise good immune system health. Non-organic yogurt, usually loaded with food additive chemicals, numerous forms of sugar, and ‘dead’ beneficial bacteria, should really be referred to as pudding, not yogurt. And ‘plain’ is implying ‘unsweetened’, as sweeteners also compromise the immune system.

Now, I often hear people say that that they don’t like plain yogurt, that it’s too sour or boring. For the numerous health benefits, we want to taste that sour flavor, but we need not always eat yogurt alone, although you’ll want to avoid fruits and other sweeteners. You may try mixing in some organic cinnamon, a thinly sliced cucumber, or finely chopped red pepper. These are all ways my daughters and I have loved eating plain yogurt over the years. I’ve found even finicky toddlers love these three simple recipes. Try them daily to strengthen your immune health or create your own sweetener-free yogurt snacks.

In my opinion, the most amazing immune strengthening herb is Elderberry. If you haven’t read my recent article about the benefits of Elderberry yet, please do so. Elderberry has been revered throughout much of Europe and with many Native American tribes for centuries for strengthening the immune system, providing the body with the ability to stay healthier, fighting illness and disease. The traditional use of Elderberry for prevention of cold and flu was to consume a small amount beginning just before the flu season begins and each morning and night until spring arrives.

Unlike many herbal immune remedies, Elderberry has been successfully used for prevention, the onset of symptoms and when cold and flu symptoms are full-blown. Traditionally, people experiencing illness would increase the frequency of taking Elderberry tincture, elixir or syrup from between four times a day to as often as every hour, and sometimes as often as every fifteen or twenty minutes. Since virus germs and bad bacteria can multiply every fifteen or twenty minutes, this may help get their numbers down quite quickly.

Raw local honey is another wonderful way to lift the immune system. The traditional use of raw local honey to prevent illness has a rich history going back thousands of years. Very small amounts, usually ¼ to ½ teaspoon each morning and night is believed to help the body fight potential pathogens, improve vitality and increase overall health. One of my favorite ways to use raw local honey is to mix it in a glass of slightly warm water with a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. Larger amounts of honey, because of the sweetness, may create an opposite effect, so please be sure not to overdo it.

Honey should NOT be given to babies less than one year old. All others, especially folks who suffer with allergies, will likely find a great improvement in immune health with the use of raw honey daily.

Eating more vegetables is well known to improve the immune system’s ability to fight illness, including the flu viruses. Include a wide variety of colorful cooked and raw vegetables in all three of your daily meals, and reach for a snack that includes vegetables when you need a between meal pick-me-up. Please don’t count potatoes as one of your vegetables, however. Their high starch content makes them an immune weakening food.

And you may want to reduce or eliminate the following foods (or food-like substances) to support your immune system:
sugar- white sugar, processed honey, etc.
flour (even whole wheat, soy, rice, and other whole grain flour). This includes most bread, pasta, pastry, rolled and instant oats and packaged cereals.
fried foods are quite harmful to our immune health
junk food
food additive chemicals
margarine, shortening and most vegetable oils, especially soy and canola
fruit juices- drink water or herbal teas instead.
fruits- people are often surprised by this. An apple each day, or an occasional piece of fruit is not bad for us, but the amount of fruit that most Americans eat is potentially damaging to our immune health.

To your health!

Healing Oneself

Healing: Becoming whole and sound; a return to health.
thefreedictionary.com

I believe that one can truly heal oneself. Each of us possesses an internal healer, that part of ourselves that always guides us to safety, wellness and to make wise choices that support our good health, and rejuvenation from illness and injury. We may call upon others to help us with this process, to guide us as we learn our options and help us make choices that lead to wellness and optimal health. But someone else cannot heal me. Only I can.

This instinctive healer within each of us has the ability to restore health from virtually any disease or condition, regardless of the degree or magnitude, whether the current medical system says there is a cure or not. All we need to do is call upon this part of ourselves, listen to its wisdom, the lessons it bestows and follow its instruction. We hear of self-healing miracles all the time; people who have beaten the odds and come back from the brink of death, either from injury or illness. When you listen to these people describe how they’ve done it, they report a voice or internal wisdom guiding them.

“Just breathe. Pull the air in, deeper. Let it out. Do it again, and again. You’ll be all right,” said a voice to a young man after a near-fatal car crash. The doctors had no idea how he was able to breathe on his own, but much later, he told them of the voice he heard clearly in his ear giving him instructions.

If we still have breath within us, I believe we still have the opportunity to develop the capacity to heal. A client a few years ago came to me in the late stages of Parkinson’s disease. His adoring wife guided him into my classroom for the first time and I saw how far his health had deteriorated, even I had doubts about his ability to heal.

For his benefit I provided that 3-part cleanse series with a special emphasis on detoxifying the nervous system. We spoke often between classes and after the end of the program, fine-tuning their choices of healing foods, using the purest, most beneficial herbal remedies and lifestyle choices to support his wellness. The couple noticed immediately that the progression of his symptoms had seemed to halt. His wife said she saw improvements in his walk, his ability to control his hands and hold onto objects. At first these changes were modest.

Eventually, I moved away and we lost touch, but they continued on the program, which is the goal of my teaching. I thought of this loving couple often, and finally called and spoke to them four years later. The wife was excited to hear my voice and she told me that they thanked me every day for the support and guidance I had offered to them when everyone else had written Joe off. She continued, “You told us that it could take awhile to get the toxin load down and to repair the damaged organs and cells. Well, you were right. After about a year and a half, Joe and I noticed that he was nearly symptom free. He’d occasionally have little setbacks, but we continued on with everything you taught us. For the last three years, when Joe meets new people, they have no idea whatsoever that he even has Parkinson’s.” I smiled and felt warmth and gratitude inside for being able to share these simple gifts of healing.

We both took a long deep breath and then she added “We bless the day we met you before each meal and every night before we retire to bed, for all your good work with people like us. The difference you’ve made in our lives…” Her voice trailed off. “We’ve had so many joyful experiences these last few years together.”

“You both did all the work,” I told her.

“But you showed us the way, and guided us to make better choices,” she countered.

I said, “I am very grateful everything has gone so well for you both.” Inside, I felt very emotional, tingling, feeling those blessings were reaching all of my cells. Stories like these are why I continue to do this work.

Healing can come through many actions including general spiritual and lifestyle practices, as well as specific healing strategies and tactics. Sometimes, healing comes through prayer, tending beautiful gardens, a loving partner’s reassurances and always through cleansing the body of accumulated toxins, excess inflammation and chronic pain. We may need to look outside ourselves to find a teacher or health professional to assist us, to lead us to follow a path that fits into our belief system and our busy schedules. But at the end of the day, only I can heal my body, mind and spirit.

In the last one hundred years, we as a society have given over our ability to heal ourselves to doctors and the current medical system. We have lost our capacity to listen to our inner guide, to distinguish the inner voice from the mind chatter that fills most peoples’ heads, leading to feelings of anxiety and doubt.

As a child, I experienced chronic pain virtually every day, mostly in my knees and fingers and always worse just before stormy weather. Doctors implied I was crazy and trying to get attention by imitating some of the elders in my life who had arthritis. Decades later, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) is a known medical condition affecting more than 50,000 children in the US. Only alternative doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths and the like recognized JRA as a real medical condition back then.

I had other auto-immune conditions, including Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) by age 7½, and terrible eczema over much of my body by age 8. My teenage years brought migraines, digestive problems and increasing pain syndromes. Doctors offered little compassion and few options. After I began to sprain my ankles every two or three months, the rebel in me decided that I was going to find my own solutions for healing my body and mind forever.

I met a young aspiring herbalist at our local health food store who told me how I could repair my sprained ankle and help prevent the recurrences. It worked; I was onto something! (For the full account of this story, please visit: My Introduction to Healing Herbs) That experience led me to read many books in the early to mid-seventies about healing myself through natural and herbal remedies, and I’ve never turned back. When I took my herbal apprenticeship in the mid-1990’s, it felt as though I had taken the hundreds of fragments of information I’d gathered in the previous decades and stitched them together into a most beautiful and useful quilt. (For guys, the analogy might be taking hundreds of machine parts and building an engine.)

The current medical system is great at diagnostics and for emergency care, but when it comes to chronic conditions, their approach seems to be to throw lots of medications at the problem, often with little success for helping the patient actually feel better. Creating “wellness” is not even in the repertoire of most medical practices.

Drawing out that innate healer from within, providing the tools for reestablishing vital cells and taking good care of our ‘selves’ seems to produce greater results at a lower cost and often with long-term health restored and vitality returned. If you ask me, this is the kind of healthcare reform we really need in the world.

Holy basil (Latin name: Ocimum sanctum), is an Ayurvedic herb originating from the Indian subcontinent. Also known as sacred basil, or by its Sanskrit name, tulsi, holy basil has been revered as the “incomparable one” for thousands of years. For those who consume it regularly, holy basil is believed to strengthen the body and mind, support physical and emotional endurance, and provide a deep sense of calm and well-being.

A cousin of the culinary European and Thai basils, holy basil has been the subject of numerous research studies. It is shown to help reduce stress, anxiety, over stimulation, excess inflammation and hypersensitivity by helping the body to regulate cortisol, a chemical released by the adrenals when we’re upset, deeply stressed, fearful and have repeated negative thoughts. Excess cortisol levels have been linked to conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, IBS, arthritis and numerous autoimmune disorders.

A wealth of information is known about this gentle, yet powerful adaptogenic herb. It first appeared in ancient texts on health nearly 8,000 years ago and has been widely consumed on a daily basis ever since. Continue Reading »

With all the interest about the H1 N1 (swine) flu this year, it is more important than ever to do all we can to naturally strengthen our immune systems before this flu season hits. An ideal herb for the job, Elderberry has been revered throughout much of the world for more than a thousand years for boosting immune health to support prevention of colds and viruses, as well as helping the body fight the flu once it has struck.

My introduction to Elderberries was making jam, wine and pies with my elder neighbor as a girl. I have appreciated this nutritious food and valuable herbal remedy ever since. My first sighting of the vibrant, deep purple umbels of berries each late summer brings feelings of euphoria and comfort to my entire being.

Numerous research studies have shown that Elderberry strengthens Continue Reading »

I have raised my children, now young women, with herbs and nutritious organic foods. We have grown, prepared and used herbal preparations for most of our health and wellness needs with terrific results. Few herbs have served our needs more frequently than the golden orange calendula flower.

Calendula Officianalis, or simply calendula (pronounced kə’-lend’-ju-lə), is a garden favorite often referred to as field marigold or pot marigold. Originally native to the Mediterranean region, calendula, a member of the daisy family, has naturalized throughout much of Europe, North America and the world.

Calendula has a rich history of use as food and medicine that goes back to the ancient Romans, Persians and Greeks. Calendula flowers and leaves were added to soups and stews to strengthen and fortify the immune system and to increase feelings of happiness. Throughout Europe, calendula petals were added to butter and cheeses to make a pleasant yellow coloring.

By the mid-1800’s, calendula was commonly used by doctors for major injuries and after limb amputations to help prevent infection and heal the wound. During the Civil War, doctors used dried calendula flowers to speed the healing of soldiers wounded in battle.

Only the Calendula officinalis with deep orange flowers is used to make herbal and medicinal remedies. The sticky, bright flowers should be harvested on dry days after the dew has fully evaporated. They may be used fresh or dried for making tea, and wilted or dried for most other herbal preparations. If you’re not a gardener or need some today, look in the bulk herb section of your local co-op or herb shop. Garden varieties of Calendula, in many shades of yellow, orange and red, are often planted around the periphery of the garden to ward off potentially harmful pests.

Today, calendula is used primarily in topical formulas to help the body to heal external wounds and lacerations. You will find a variety of fine herbal first aid and skin healing products with calendula as one of their primary ingredients in the Wellness dept. of your local co-op or health food store.

Moms may find it helpful to keep a calendula salve or a tube of gel in their purse or diaper bag for applying to cuts, scrapes, minor burns, bug bites, diaper rash or cradle cap. Weleda offers several baby care products containing soothing calendula.

Try Boiron Calendula Lotion the next time you spend too long in the hot sun and your skin appears cooked like a Maine lobster. I bet you’ll feel cooler and more comfortable in no time.

Calendula lotion is wonderful for those of us who are prone to rashes, hives or other skin irritations. Immediately soothing, calendula calms the itch and helps with the redness and inflammation. Calendula may also be quite helpful for areas prone to chaffing or bedsores.

Internally, calendula has been use for lymphatic system stagnation and to support immune system function. A common sign of lymphatic stagnation is swollen glands; try a cup of calendula tea or a dropper of tincture the next time you feel your glands swelling or a cold coming on. Or float one flower, fresh or dried, in your favorite tea every day to help keep the doctor away. Remember to steep your herbal teas with a tight fitting lid so as to retain the medicinal properties. Uncovered, much of the medicinal benefits will go up in the steam and you will be sipping warm flavored water. When steeping your tea in a mug, you may use a saucer or plate as the lid.

Historically, Calendula has also been used as a cough and cold remedy, used either internally or try rubbing calendula oil on the upper back or chest.

It is especially helpful when the person is feeling very weak and tired, with a rattling chest cough. And calendula was a choice herb used for exhaustion during and after a long or severe illness or infection.

So it is time to restore this valuable orange flower to a place of honor in the herb cupboard. Choose it often as autumn begins to set in and maybe you will find that cold and flu season will go more smoothly next winter.

Immune Strengthening Autumn Miso Soup with Calendula Flowers
Makes 6 servings
3 cups vegetable stock, filtered or spring water
1 onion, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, thinly sliced
1 medium daikon radish, cut to half moons
1/8 to 1/4 oz organic kelp or dulse, soaked and chopped finely
2 TBSP calendula flowers, dried and chopped finely
1 4-6” pc astragalus (cooked, not eaten)
1 cup kale, chopped finely
1 cup more cold vegetable stock, filtered or spring water
6 – 12 tsp miso, white, red or brown

Combine all ingredients (except miso and 1 cup of liquid) in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from heat. Add last cup of cold water or stock. Stir briefly. Place miso paste in a soup bowl; add a ladle of soup broth; stir in completely with a fork or whisk. Add miso mixture to the pot of soup. Stir again. Serve and enjoy.

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