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Saturday, May 13, 2017

HELP YOUR BODY'S CIRCADIAN RHYTHM

Much more goes on within our bodies during the 24 hour time cycle than we are aware of. There are clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to your daily living cycle. These patterns (rhythms) have a direct link to light and are found in most living things.  The rhythms are called "Circadian rhythms", and they affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally, including our sleeping and eating patterns. There is a natural ebb and flow in our energy throughout the day that is oftentimes controlled by the pineal gland (an area in the brain that responds to light and dark).

In Chinese medicine it is referred to as the body-energy clock, where Qi (energy) moves in two hour intervals through the body organ system. During sleep, the Qi is drawn inward to restore the body and during the day the Qi moves outward to assist in the bodily functions such as digestion and elimination.

Lungs are at their peak in the early morning, which is why it is best to schedule exercise at that time of day rather than later. Also active in the morning hours is the large intestine. 

The liver is at its peak between 1 am - 3 am which is the time when we are most often in our deepest sleep and the body and mind is the calmest.The liver stores and cleanses blood as well as hormones and our emotions.
 
This is why even a one-hour-shift of sleep has impact on us physically and mentally. It is important for our health to choose lifestyle habits that help us synchronize our body systems to the ebb and flow of energy.
 Tips for keeping or resetting the body clock to be in the flow of the natural rhythm of the body are:
  1. Follow the sun ~ In the morning open the shades and let the light in. This will help you get moving in the morning. Get as much light during the day as possible. At night as you are bringing your energy down ready for sleep, dim the lights. Try to keep out light in the room you sleep in, as much as possible.
  2. Adjust your activity levels ~ Make the morning hours your most active times. Wind down and take it easy the closer it gets to sleep time - - including usage of electronics. Read, write or do other calming activities just before lights out.
  3. Adjust meal schedule ~Eat your largest meals during the morning and afternoon when your digestive organs are functioning at their peak. Eating a big meal before bed often leaves you with a heavy feeling and it makes the body work harder during its resting time.
  4. Adjust your mind ~ Don’t sleep in even if you are up late. There really is no catching up on sleep. The body functions better when we stick with a habitual schedule as much as possible. If getting up in the dark is required for your work, use bright lighting as you prepare your day. If you have to sleep while it is still light, block out as much light as possible.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017




Folk Method for Solar-Infused Oils

Use the SUN to naturally infuse oil with the goodness of herbs! 


1. Place herbs in a clean, dry quart jar. It is recommended to use DRY herbs but if you desire fresh herbs, wilt them first for 12 hours to remove the moisture (too much water will cause your oil to go rancid), cut into small pieces, and crush with a mortal and pestle before adding to the jar. You can skip this step if your herbs are dried.

2. Fill remaining space in jar with oil, making sure to cover herbs by at least 1”. If your herbs soak up all of the oil, then pour more on top to ensure that the herbs are well covered.
3. Stir well and cap the jar tightly.
4. Place the jar in a sunny and warm windowsill. Shake once or more per day. You can also cover the jar with a brown paper bag if you prefer that to direct sunlight. 
5. After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil using a cheesecloth or an herb strainer. Make sure and squeeze out every precious drop of oil!
6. Pour into glass bottles and store in a cool dark place. The oil should keep for at least a year. Vitamin E oil may be added and used as a preservative.
 

Skin-Healing Salve Recipe

(Prep:  Infuse dried or fresh Calendula and Chamomile in Olive Oil)



3 ounces of Calendula and Chamomile infused oil (see above instructions).
1/2 ounce pure beeswax
15 drops lavender essential oil
3 (1-ounce) salve jars

1. Slowly heat infused oil in a saucepan to about 100 degrees.
2. Chop or grate the beeswax and gradually stir it into hot oil.
3. Once beeswax is melted, remove from heat and stir in essential oil.
4. Pour hot salve into 1-ounce jars and let cool. Cap jars and store at room temperature.
 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Honey, Sage and Cayenne Extract for Sore Throats and Upper Respiratory Infections



Ingredients
• 1 ounce dried sage leaf
• Pinch of cayenne
• 3 cups cold water
• Honey (made by bees in your area)
• Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

1. Combine sage and cayenne with water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by half.
2. Let cool enough that you can work with it. Strain liquid and press sage to extract as much liquid as possible.
3. Add honey, to taste, and lemon juice. Store in refrigerator and take 1 tablespoon or more often as needed at the onset of sore throat or upper respiratory infection.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Homemade Herbal Cough Drops
Powdered herbs
1 cup sugar, or honey
1/3 cup light corn syrup, or honey
1 1/2 cups water
Powdered sugar, for easy handling

1. Steep your preferred soothing herbs in 1 1/2 cups of water to make a tea.
2. Mix sugar and corn syrup with tea. Cook over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and mixture boils.
3. Continue boiling without stirring until the mixture begins to crystallize; reduce heat. Wash away crystals from the side of your pan with a damp cloth.
4. Remove from the heat after a few minutes. Drop some of the mixture from the tip of a spoon onto a greased surface. Allow to harden and cool completely before removing. Roll the candies in powdered sugar and wrap in waxed paper for storage.

LUNG HEALTH with SOOTHING HERBS

One of the most common medical conditions treated by primary care physicians is SINUSITIS, an infection of the sinus cavities.  SINUSITIS affects more than 14 percent of the population and accounts for more than $2 billion in annual health-care costs. If we add up all the other respiratory diagnoses, such as BRONCHITIS, ATHSMA and LUNG CANCER, it is obvious that conditions of the lungs and sinuses make up a pretty large chunk of the health problems people face.

Learning About the Lungs

Our lungs are the site of gas exchange: They are how we extract oxygen, required by every cell every minute, from the air we inhale and infuse it into the bloodstream. In the course of a single day, we inhale an amazing 8,000 to 9,000 liters of air. The air then meets the 8,000 to 10,000 liters of blood pumped through the pulmonary artery.

Although the lungs are located deep inside the chest, they are actually a continuation of the skin membrane that has folded into the lining of the respiratory cavity. As such, they share a common characteristic with external organs: They are constantly exposed to the world outside. With each breath, myriad alien substances enter the lungs — pollen, dust, microbes, animal dander, tobacco smoke and air pollution.

Natural medicines for the lungs are plentiful, but prevention (i.e. avoiding smoking) is the key. If you have a history of lung weakness, add a daily dose of a general lung tonic herbs and notice just how many fewer lung-related health issues you face.  Remember the old Chinese saying: “Treating a disease that is underway is like trying to make weapons while a war is already occurring.

Common Lung Problems

The skin, digestive tract and urinary tract share similarities with the lungs, so remedies for these organ systems often overlap with lung remedies. The skin, digestive tract and urinary tract are lined with mucous membranes. These membranes tend to get inflamed and to have problems with fluid flow — too much or too little — across the membrane. So it is with the lungs. Common respiratory problems include bronchitis or asthma, caused by inflammation; congestion or pneumonia, caused by too much fluid (mucus or sputum); and irritated tissue or unproductive cough, caused by too little fluid.

WET, PRODUCTIVE COUGHS produce lots of phlegm. If the phlegm is clear, chances are you’ve got a common cold. But darker yellow or green phlegm may signal a bacterial infection. A dry, or unproductive, barking cough brings up little mucus.

BRONCHITIS is an inflammation of the bronchial passages. As the irritated membrane swells, it narrows and shuts off the airways, bringing coughing spells, thick phlegm and breathlessness. In most cases the infection is viral, but sometimes it is caused by bacteria.

COUGHING, SNEEZING and POSTNASAL DRIP are reflex actions the body carries out to rid itself of irritants. As aggravating as these symptoms can be, they aren’t diseases in and of themselves, although they might be symptoms of more serious conditions.  A note of caution: See your doctor if your sore throat or fever lasts longer than 48 hours, or if you experience swelling or pain around the eyes, a headache, a dry cough and/or discharge from the nose. You might need antibiotics.

Natural medicine does very well with many respiratory ailments. THE LUNGS HAVE THE ABILLITY TO HEAL QUICKLY. After 10 to 15 years, an ex-smoker’s risk of premature death comes close to that of a person who has never smoked. The lungs have the richest blood and oxygen supply. If the tissues get what they need, they respond marvelously.

­Tonic Lung Herbs

Lung herbs are mild and well suited to making into teas.
The average dose for these teas is :
2-3 ounces of dry herb, brewed, daily, for acute symptoms
1ounce for maintenance.

ELECAMPANE ROOT (Inula helenium) is warming for a cold, wet cough; it doesn’t suppress the cough but increases expectoration. It is specific for treating irritating bronchial coughs, especially in children. Revered in Ayurveda as a rejuvenative tonic for the lungs, elecampane reduces excess chronic mucus in the respiratory tract and nourishes lung tissue. Elecampane also may be used for asthma and bronchitis. British herbalists use it for bronchial catarrh, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, pertussis, emphysema and chronic cough in the elderly. Recent scientific studies have confirmed the antimicrobial properties of elecampane.

COLTSFOOT FLOWER (Tussilago farfara) is an ancient European herb Roman soldiers used when they were posted to foreign lands. An excellent lung tonic, it supports lung and bronchial tissue, and is useful for colds, flu, asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. It’s a cooling expectorant that liquefies mucus, suppresses cough and also is a long-term respiratory builder. Excellent for cool, wet, endless springtime climates such as Oregon.
MULLEIN (Verbascum spp.) is a common wildflower that grows almost anywhere. You likely have seen it growing along the roadside. Mullein is an expectorant and demulcent herb, and also might have antiviral properties. Mullein has a high mucilage content. Its effects also may be from the mucus-loosening saponins it contains. Use hot mullein tea for coughs, sore throats and other respiratory irritations. Mullein rarely produces striking effects, but it can soothe a sore throat and bring temporary relief. Mullein can be more effective when combined with herbs with similar properties, such as yerba santa leaf (Eriodictyon californicum) and elecampane root.

LICORICE ROOT (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is another good choice as a long-term lung builder. A lung tonic with adrenal effects (it contains compounds similar to the adrenal cortical hormones), in the short term licorice root is an expectorant. Use it for a sore or dry throat, 5 to 7 grams daily as a tea, for as long as needed (usually about four weeks). Avoid the herb if you’re pregnant or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or a condition of the liver, heart or kidneys.

Stop the Coughing with These Herbs

OSHA ROOT (Ligusticum porteri) grows in the high altitudes in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain states. It’s a traditional American Indian remedy for use at the first sign of a respiratory infection. The herb has antimicrobial and expectorant properties. (Because osha is at risk of becoming endangered, be sure to check labels and purchase from cultivated, rather than wildcrafted, sources.)

LIGUSTICUM, Szechuan lovage root (Ligusticum wallichii), is a useful remedy in Chinese medicine. Most scientific studies of Ligusticum have focused on the Chinese species, but the plants are so similar that we probably can assume their effects are comparable. It’s clear that the herb contains anti-inflammatory ingredients. A 1994 Chinese study showed that this herb helps reduce respiratory inflammation, also reducing bronchial spasm and improving lung function. Chinese research also indicates that Szechuan lovage root can relax smooth muscle tissue and inhibit the growth of various bacteria. Take 15 grams daily, as a tea.
 
WILD CHERRY BARK (Prunus serotina)  If you have ever wondered why cough syrup is so often cherry flavored, you learned that the bark of the native North American herb wild cherry was the absolute standby for coughs in times past. The bark has a pleasant cherry taste when prepared as a tea. The plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, especially prunasin; once metabolized in the body, these glycosides suppress spasms in the smooth muscles lining the bronchioles, providing cough relief.
SLIPPERY ELM (Ulmus rubra) is native to North America. Slippery elm bark is another mucilage-containing, throat-soothing medicine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed the herb a safe, effective cough soother. Take 2 ounces (dry weight) of slippery elm as a tea daily. Commercial slippery elm lozenges also are available and can be used throughout the day.

MARSHMALLOW ROOT (Althaea officinalis) has been used medicinally since ancient Greece, and Roman physicians suggested it for irritated tissues. The root contains very high levels of mucilage and quells irritation and associated dry cough, according to European authorities. Take 2 ounces (dry weight) of marshmallow as a tea daily.

Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, a frequent contributor to Herbs for Health, is an adjunct faculty member in the botanical medicine department of Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington.
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