Category Archives: Herbalism

The Pregnant Herbalist: What’s in my Hospital Bag

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Here we go! About 37 weeks along now!

the countdown is on!

the countdown is on!

With my first pregnancy, I worked at a school till the very end (which at the time was a welcome distraction!), and as a result, I didn’t really have time to think about what went into my hospital bag.  I remember that my water broke after dinner time and twenty minuates later I was at the hospital with contractions about 2 minuates apart.  I had a bag, but don’t remember what I stuck in it in those few short moments I had to prepare at home. I don’t think I had a change of clothes for myself or the baby! Luckly I got lots of free supplies from the hospital!

So this time I plan to be much better prepared.

View from the side! 37 weeks and dropping!

View from the side! 37 weeks and dropping! And ugh! Are those what my feel look like?!

Clothes:

-comfy ( aka: granny underwear my hospital thankfully gives moms disposable underwear too!)

-nursing bras and nursing pads

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-light robe ( I got this great one here: http://www.amazon.com/Jockey-Womens-Robe-Eggplant-Medium/dp/B00E1ZOUM4/ref=sr_1_2?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1422561500&sr=1-2&keywords=jockey+womens+robe)

– pj or yoga pants, maternity tights, undershirt, maternity sweater ( its is still winter after all and I am ALWAYS cold!)

-warm socks and/ or slippers

– clothes (and swim shorts for the labor tub) for my husband

Baby gear:

– a couple outfits ( the white one was actually my husband’s coming home outfit when he was just a wee one! I am so glad my mother-in-law saved this! Circa 1987!!)

baby clothes are so tiny!

baby clothes are so tiny!

 

-Hat/blanket/socks/mittens

– pre-installed car seat ( gotta get on that soon!)

-nipple cream (my homemade kind!)

-nursing pillow (boppy or breastfriend)

 

Other:

-print out copy of birth plan

-Ipod with speaker dock

– Our phones and chargers

-Cooler ( yes, a cooler.)  For taking home placenta for encapsulation

-Camera/ charger

 

Toiletries: ( this is becoming more of a ‘note to self’!)

-toothbrushes/ toothpaste

-deodorant

-hair ties/ head bands

– contacts/ glasses

– shampoo/ conditioner/ cleanser/ lotion

-plastic bag for laundry

 

Labor Support:

-labor-aide/ coconut water

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Gonna try out these recipes:  http://www.naturalbirthandbabycare.com/laborade

-snacks ( honey sticks/ nuts)

-Raspberry Leaf Tea— drink to your heart’s content. Used to help organize contractions and tone the muscles of the uterus.

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Natural medicine:

-Blue Cohosh

Blue Cohosh

Blue Cohosh

Blue Cohosh is used to help women unwind during childbirth as well as to alleviate labor pain. You may use blue cohosh individually or together with different preparations, for about two weeks before the expected date of childbirth, thrice daily. Caution: Never use blue cohosh during pregnancy, except just for a couple of weeks before delivery.

IMPORANT NOTE* very strong as a tincture or tea, better to try in homeopathic form first! For Blue Cohosh the homeopathic remedy is Caulophyllum (200X)

-Bach’s stress remedy. It’s safe and  always a go-to in times of need, which lets face it, birth can be one of those times! They gently restore the balance between mind and body by casting out negative emotions such as fear, worry, hatred and indecision which interfere with the equilibrium of the being as a whole. They work with the body on an energetic level.

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These are the 5 Bach Flower Remedies in Rescue Remedy:

Star of Bethlehem – Orithogalum umbellatum
Rock Rose – Helianthemum
Cherry Plum – Prunus cerasifera
Impatiens – Impatiens gladulifera
Clematis – Clematis vitalba

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Week 37 updates

Pros: Light at the end of tunnel, almost gonna meet this new human, finally!

– I am not teaching middle school full time anymore…

– When in the pool, I feel great!

Y can't I just live in the water till this thing comes out…?

Y can’t I just live in the water till this thing comes out…?

Cons: Where are my feet?

– Falling asleep and staying asleep can be challenging… but my body is getting used to it’s soon to be reality…

-Peeing is constant

-easily annoyed ( I try to stay off the roads…!)

– When I am not in a pool- I feel like a huge whale…

that about sums it up...

that about sums it up…

Activities:

– Packing:  ( besides the hospital bag and such…) essentials such as starter diapers and wipes, disposable and re-usable, although we intend to use reusable and / or get on a diaper service for the 1st few months, I remember how often newborns tend to poo and pee, so we stocked up on some disposable options as well.  *For the reusable wipes I got some Thirsties and some Bum genius and I plan on making my own bum/ wipe spray ( more on that in a future blog post!)

– Preparing: Sleeping, resting… snow days are okay by me!  Knocking off the books on my reading list for the first time since grad school!  Also, washing lots of baby stuff, sorting and putting things away- reading positive birth stories, swimming and yoga.

getting in the zone for baby-time

getting in the zone for baby-time

-Dr apts: are more often now in the last month ( weekly) I declined an ultra-sound to determine (or not so accurately) guess the baby’s size/ weight cause I didn’t see a need for it- especially considering it’s not very accurate AND given my recent experience with the glucose tests showing false positives in my 1 hr blood exam (with that nasty sugar drink), while the fasting 3-hour test showed I had normal blood sugar (TWICE!!! Yes I am doubl-ly normal!!).

In other words, I am going with my gut and declining what I feel are unnecessary tests again!

–  Weekly Pelvic Floor Physical therapy helping make sure my back and pelvis stay aligned for birth time.  Also, working on stretching out my perineal scar from those 3rd degree lacerations (almost 6 yrs ago now…) I am confident this time will be much better and much less damaging to my pelvic floor! For one thing, I am pretty sure this baby will be smaller than 9lbs, 9 oz!

And more importantly, I feel much more confident in my support system and birth team this time around…

go team go!

go team go!

Next time:   Sibling prep, baby gear, herbal support for the labor and postpartum period, final weeks updates and more!

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Homemade Nipple Butter aka: My Boob-Milk Manifesto

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The countdown is on and baby-time is drawing near. This is about the time I find myself nesting, preparing our space for a new tiny human and that includes getting the boobs ready for constant feedings.

My homemade Nipple Butter!

My homemade Nipple Butter!

I remember what it was like the 1st time ( geez over 5 yrs ago now!)  trying to figure out that latch and it was NOT fun to say the least. It totally sucked!  I didn’t realize it at the time, but due to my son’s shoulder dystocia and the stress associated with being separated for the first 8 hours, we had a very hard time getting the nursing thing down.  For one thing, my milk took 4 days to come in and the poor little guy was clenching his jaw tight when trying to latch those first few weeks, offering everyone around me free lessons in epic-pirate quality cuss-outs.  I tend to cuss like a sailor in normal daily conversations, but with the added element of aching breast and sore nipples,  I could probably make black-beard blush.

I know DJ, I know...

I know DJ, I know…

I remember thinking that the pain my breasts endured was worse than the actual birth    (and due to certain hormones kicking in, that was probably true!)  Once things got really bad and I was dealing with like ALL the things…. All that stuff they tell you to watch out for on those well-meaning but shallow nursing pamphlets:  engorgement, clogged milk ducts, bloody nipples and a fever… yeah, I had that.   I sought out and received support from a lactation consultant (totally covered by insurance which my broke-self was very thankful for!) and after a couple sessions, nipple cream, and just putting my boob milk on the boo-boo nips, everything was in much better shape and we nursed mostly pain-free for several years.

I am not one to force or even talk up long-term nursing. I didn’t exactly plan it to nurse that long myself, it just sort of happened and it wasn’t stressful for either us so I went with it.   I am also not one to that can be easily embarrassed about most things in general and I am not one to look away when someone (and most of the time it was other women!) gave me dirty looks while nursing in public.

Let my boobmilk go!

Let my boobmilk go!

I remember returning the look right back- with a “dont make me squirt ya in the eye with my boobmilk” stare-which btw should totally be an emoticon…

yeah, kinda like that...

yeah, kinda like that…

Over time I cared less and less about pulling the boob out for feedings. I found it particularly interesting that after months of encouraging my son to say “num-num” as a way to nonchalantly request boob-milk when in public that he would instead shout “Boob!” While also tugging at my shirt.

Well done child.

Whatever decorum was left had surely deteriorated at that point so f**k it!

BOOB it is.

I strongly feel that nursing should happen for as long or short as mom and baby deem right…But that lady on the Times cover ain’t got nothing on me.

who cares what this lady does with her boobs, get over it America...

who cares what this lady does or doesn’t do with her boob? Get over it America…

People thought that was controversial? Hows about putting a Palestinian mom nursing her Black pre-schooler on the cover…?!  What then…?!

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oh man, shit's getting real...

oh man, shit’s getting real…

Aaahh, but I digress…

So I am a boob-milk believer.  I loved learning about it, the health and emotional impacts on both mom and baby. The unique chemical makeup.  I became a boob-milk scholar, learning everything I could and sharing it with others.  I could write a book on the differences between whale and human milk and everything in-between… I was a lacto-scholar. It was super interesting to me… then again so are things like glacial deposits, historical cemeteries, post-industrial rivers, and birding…We all have our ticks.

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Why Nipple Butter?

Issues with Lanolin:  A study published in the September 1992 issue of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” found that lanolin samples contained several types of pesticide residues, and the contamination level varied significantly among batches. Also, I just wasn’t really feeling the texture of it, it didn’t feel very good on my skin.  I decided to hit up the mighty Pinterest and low and behold there are various homemade nipple butter/cream recipes to try out!

This recipe is a combo of couple different ones I eventually settled on:

Ingredients:

2 parts coconut oil

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2 parts shea butter

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1 part beeswax

beeswax

beeswax

2 drops lavender essential oil

lavender

lavender

2 tablespoons of Calendula infused olive oil

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Where you can order ingredients:

mountain rose herbs: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com

or, if your a local: Farmacy Herbs: http://farmacyherbs.com

images-8 How to:

step 1: Melt the coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax in a small sauce pan over low heat

* It is best to shred/ cut up the beeswax before adding in, which melts it down easier.

step 2: pour in the lavender and olive oil

step 3: pour the entire mixture into 4 oz jars (any desired container would do, but I prefer glass)

step 4: let in cool from anywhere between 1 hour to overnight!

My completed Nip Buttah

My completed Nip Buttah

Uses and benefits:

beeswax: protective to skin, wound healing, antibacterial, humectant (moisture retaining)

shea butter: anti-inflammatory, chemical-free moisturizer, healing

coconut oil: skin-softener, absorbable fatty acids, the lauric acid can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi

lavender essential oilimages-4

Calendula:

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* So many possibilities! It’s exciting to try out new variations for next time including using coco-butter or different essential oils.  I plan on branching out and trying a whipped all over body butter  (among other goodies) for next time!  Check out my growing Pinterest board on all things DIY: http://www.pinterest.com/nsamih84/health-and-beauty-diys/

Next time: My version of “necessary” baby gear and what I am packing in my labor/hospital bag and who knows what other nonsense!

Almost There: 3rd Trimester Pregnancy Update

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Happy Winter Solstice!

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice!

 

3rd Trimester: only about 8 weeks to go and the days are flying by!

 

32 weeks and counting...

32 weeks and counting…

 

Happy Holidays!

The fam at Christmas!

The fam at Christmas!

Pros/Cons:

Pros: Not as emotional, feeling “settled”, love feeling the baby’s movements, energy level is still pretty good.

Cons: still peeing alllll the time! Sleep is sometimes a challenge, I am carrying high so my lungs and stomach feel a bit compressed…

How I’ve tried to cope:

-cutting caffeine

-going to bed at roughly the same time most nights- easy to do when I am in my teaching routine, not so much when I am on holiday break and want to stay up to watch netflix!

-regular excercise.  Hands down the best thing for me to fall asleep and stay asleep.

-journaling, routine of writing- getting my to-do lists and rants out of the way via the written word is a good way to clear my mind in time for bed- no need to have drama or a busy day follow me into bedtime!

 

opening gifts! Baby already has so much cute stuff!

opening gifts! Baby already has so much cute stuff!

 

Third Trimester’s Activities:

Meeting with Doula: Jessica Fuss is our doula and I couldn’t be happier! She is everything I needed and so much more and I have learned so much from her already.  Also a cloth diapering expert, she will help us transition to using more cloth diapers this time around. Learn more about her services here: http://www.softtouchdoula.com

Switching Dr’s:  Have you ever had a lingering feeling that something was just off or missing from your birth plans? (or anything for that matter?)  In my 2nd Trimester, I found myself regretting not having enough time to research other places to birth (besides our monolith Woman and Infants Hospital here in Providence).  Although it’s a great place, I was disappointed that I “risked out” of being about to use their Alternative Birthing Center at the hospital (because my son was born after a pretty rough shoulder dystochi- he was 9 lbs, 9 oz!

I had a gut feeling that I wasn’t going to get the type of birth experience I was comfortable with in the regular hospital even though over the past 5 years Woman and Infants has undergone major culture shifts.  Now they allow rooming-in, encouraging skin to skin contact and breastfeeding to name a few. I still recall the days of my son’s birth when a  fetal monitoring belt was attached to me, making it hard to move around.  After the drama of calling all the nurses on that floor to try to get his shoulder unstuck, I didn’t get to see Ali till after he was checked, washed and swaddled.  I didn’t even get to hold him till about 8 hours after, and I feel that as a result, breastfeeding was a huge learning curve for us.   I realize there were many factors at play around his birth that didn’t all have to do with the hospital ( like his size for one!)  and thankfully we both came out of that experience alright-but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I had been in a different environment things would have felt, and maybe even turned out, differently.

After talking to Jessica about my options, I learned that a smaller, local hospital ( only a couple of miles down the street from us) is known as being a woman centered birthing option. One that views birth as a natural, highly evolved process, not a disaster waiting to happen.  That foundational cultural difference is exactly what I was looking for.  The more I thought about it, the more I knew it was time for a change.  I have met my new Dr. and so far have been really happy and have felt a difference in communication styles and perspective.  Even though I was working with a midwife group before, it didn’t feel like the best fit due to the fact that they work out of Women and Infants.  I loved the midwives, but couldn’t say the say about that massive hospital. I am glad I listened to my gut on this one and feel much more comfortable about my birth plan. Since then, I have had conversations with other moms who have had either birthed at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket or had my Dr., and everyone has been speaking very positively about their experiences.

 

Drafting my Birth Plan:  I Drafted this birth plan with the help of my doula:)

Some of the highlights of the plan are below (short and to the point!)

Labor/Birth-

-would like to labor in pool/tub or have a room with a shower

-self directed pushing

-Dad would like to be part of birth/ help catch baby/ would like to cut cord

After Birth:

-skin to skin with baby immediately after delivery

-delayed cord clamping

-Save placenta (will be encapsulated)

-I would like to breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery

 

super excited about his flippy hat!

super excited about his flippy hat!

Preparing for new human!

-hospital bag – I didn’t do this till the last moment with my first!  (another post on that coming up soon)

-assembling family/friend support, organizing roles for childcare, meal prep, errands…

– stocking up on needed baby gear (will also be featured in more detail in a future blog post)

what will I really need?!

what will I really need?!

Herbal Support: What’s in my prego herbal blend:

*for iron: Dandelion

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* for calcium and for its calming effects: Oatstraw

Unknown-4 *overall tonic: Nettle

stinging nettles!

stinging nettles!

* digestive, immune, and emotional support: Tulsi/ Holy Basil

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*rock star uterus- Red Raspberry

anything to do with this plant is awesome for pregy peoples!

anything to do with this plant is awesome for pregy peoples!

*digestive support- Peppermint

Peppermint

Peppermint

Best activity so far this Trimester: Being on Holiday Vacaaaation! Sleeping in!!! Chilling oooutt! Whoop!!

Excercise accommodations: Walking, swimming, yoga with room for belly- gentle Yoga at my local YMCA and dailyburn prego yoga-  and  twerking on the Birth ball. Cause yay! Baby is already head down!

 

Twerk that birthball!

going around in circles and doing figure 8’s on an exercise ball…just like twerking…sorta

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What I learned the 2nd time around

-dont sweat the small stuff

-hand me downs for baby gear are awesome and better than new stuff!

– Its important to speak up when unsure or uncomfortable about anything related to medical care- most of the time there are other options!

-getting a doula is very worth it

-self-care, self-care, self-care!   For me, that means finally using a body work massage gift certificate I got way back in the summer, making time to get my hair done, checking in with friends, keeping up with my “want to read” pile, making time for my writing, and crafting… speaking of which:

Next Post:  The How to Edition:  I try to make all natural nipple butter! Also, what’s in my hospital bag and must have baby gear!

" your making nipple wha…"?

” your making nipple wha…”?

Want to share helpful pregy or baby advice? What did you pack in your hospital bag? What has been your experience using herbs?

Natural Pregnancy: Second Trimester Update

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about 27 weeks

about 27 weeks

Pros/Cons

Pros: Nausea is gone! Bloating and gas is not as intense. My energy level is mostly back to normal!

Cons: Peeing ALL the time!

whateva lady

whateva lady

Still have a super sense of smell, noticing brief leg cramps in the early morning (most likely from a change in my workout and yoga routine and full-time teaching) I am feeling super sensitive due to a surge of hormones- climate change messages about polar bears losing their homes makes me sob…like totally lose it.

eeeeeppp!

eeeeeppp!

Activities: Walking, swimming, nesting plans for home improvement and cleaning. Oh and our wedding party!

moose!

moose!

Although we got married at the Providence City Hall in January, we wanted a wedding party in the fall with all those pretty autumn colors. We had a great time! And the timing was perfect, Being about 20 weeks, I had to get a new adjustable back put on my dress! But I felt pretty good dancing the night ( aka: early evening) away!

getting strapped up with the new adjustable back for the baby belly.

getting strapped up with the new adjustable back for the baby belly.

 

Herbal Support: Prego tea, daily probiotic to prevent digestive issues.

excercise accommodations: Yoga but with positions that include room for the belly!

 

 

Next time: What I learned the 2nd time around

 

 

Herbal Support for Pregnancy: The ‘We’re Expecting’ Edition!

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Yay! Baby #2 is on the way (even though baby #1 is now a big 5 year old!) And I am due at the end of Feb 2015!  I want to use this time- that has already gone by super fast!- to document my experience and to share some natural health and herbal support information.

pee sticks All. Day.

pee sticks All. Day.

What I am drinking:

I’ve cut back on coffee ( even though a cup a day is fine) because it makes my already overtaxed bladder even more annoyed! Now, I only drink it some weekends.  If I really need a morning boast -which I always do with a the start of a new school year-early teacher mornings and pregnancy are NOT fun- I drink black or earl gray tea which doesn’t seem to have the same effect on my poor bladder,

Prego Blend Tea:  1-2 cups daily ( I treat this like my daily tonic/ dose of needed minerals and vitamins)

Red Raspberry Leaf,  Red Clover, Nettle, Oatstraw ( see my previous post about spring/fertility herbs for more info): https://nowapproachingprovidence.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/herbalism-101-spring-is-here-detox-herbs-allergy-support-and-fertility/

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1st Trimester:  The first thing that started changing on my body was the boobs! They instantly became super sensitive.  I knew something was up before it was pee-stick test time. Even the branches of veins from my neck all the way down to my chest turned into a super noticeable blue!

Pros/Cons:

Pros- yay! Growing a human! Also, sleeping and other daily activities are  still pretty easy.

Cons- Booo, this is exhausting!  Needing to eat EVERY 20 min and drink massive amounts of h2o ALL the time has forced me to pack extra snacks and plan my errands about places with bathrooms and more snacks.  Also, I experienced so much more gas and bloating with this pregnancy than with my first. That “baby bump?” yea, it’s just gas…

Block Island with baby/gas bump!

Block Island with baby/gas bump!

activities:  Since I am not much of nap taker ( never have been), There has been lots of  just being laid out even though its nice weather outside.  I started watching Dr. Who and unfortunately, I’ll always associate those first two seasons with inexplicable exhaustion and nausea.

Sorry 1st dr. who- you make me wanna hurl. nothing personal:)

We took a trip to Block Island which was beautiful but OMG that boat ride! Large ferry rides wouldn’t normally bother me, but taking a ride on anything for more than 10 minutes while in my 1st tri has caused instant motion sickness!

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Herbal support for my bloating and digestion issues:

chamomile, Peppermint, Lemon Balm, and Ginger tea.

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chewing fennel seeds

yah! Fennel!

yah! Fennel!

 

But sometimes the only thing that really helps… is just laying down and watching Dr. Who…

Next up: 2nd Trimester update

 

 

 

 

 

Herbalism 101: Spring is Here-Detox Herbs, Allergy Support and Fertility!

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Spring is here!!

Violets!

Violets!

The brids are singing, the flowers are blooming, and love is in the air! It’s a good time to post about natural detox, allergy relief and fertility support.

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Detox Herbs

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Milk Thistle: Supports hormonal balance. It is one of the best plants for liver health.

 

Milkthistle

Milkthistle

Nettle: astringent and high in iron and vit. C for proper tissue and blood formation. Very nutritious as well, promoting overall health.

Nettle

Nettle

Dandelion:  This well-known detox herb helps cleanse the liver by stimulating the production of bile and its flow to the gallbladder, one avenue through which the body naturally removes toxins. Dandelion leaves are also a diuretic.

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Seasonal Allergy Support Herbs

Nettle ( the herbal superstar!!!)

Eyebright ( I’ve been adding this to my daily tea blend for my itchy eyes and its been working great!) Reduces congestion and secretions. It is good for itchy eyes, sneezing, and excess mucus.

eyebright

eyebright

 

Yarrow: Reduces congestion and secretions

Yarrow

Yarrow

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Fertitily/ Reproductive Support Herbs

Oatstraw– (stems), Milky Oats (tops) exert a stronger effect than oatstraw: Nourishing, aids in stress reduction by supporting nervous system. Great support for stress related fertility issues.

Milky Oats

Milky Oats

 

Alfalfa: Very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals.

 

 

Yellow Dock: Stimulates bile production for healthy removal of toxins, supportive of liver health and is high in iron, which may help support adequate iron levels which is essential for proper blood formation

Yellow dock

Yellow dock

Lemon Balm: Supports healthy stress response, lessens depression and anxiety.

Red Raspberry: Nutritive, high in vitamins and minerals. It is a uterine tonic, preparing the uterus for pregnancy and labor.

Raspberry Leaf

Raspberry Leaf

 

Additional info here: http://natural-fertility-info.com/red-raspberry-leaf.html

Nettles: Of Course!!

Hibicus:  flower petals- Very high in vitamin C, may support healthy cervical mucous. Vit. C is essential for proper absorption of iron. Best combined with herbs high in iron, Raspberry lf., Yellow dock, Nettles. Supports proper heart health and blood pressure.

Hibscus

Hibscus

Red Clover: Red Clover is a nourishing food herb. It is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals. It is one of the best blood purifying herbs, aiding in detoxification of environmental pollutants prior to conception.

 

Red Clover

Red Clover

Damiana: A female aphrodesiac, damiana has been used for centuries to help increase circulation to the reproductive system as well as increase sexual pleasure.

Daminana

Daminana

 

Pergo tonic blend:

2 part  raspberry
2 part nettle
1 part oatstraw
.5 part alfalfa
.5 part rose hips

red clover

red clover

Be Well!!

 

Check out these additional resources:

Fertility herbs- http://natural-fertility-info.com/fertility-herbs

Allergy Support- http://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=117

Farmacy herbs in Providence- http://farmacyherbs.com

Herbalism 101: The World of Adaptagens

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Also known as Tulsi- My favorite adaptagen!

Also known as Tulsi- My favorite adaptagen!

Adaptagens are herbs that support your nervous system by normalizing body function.

We know modern living causes lots of stress, between pollution and just the daily stress of life, our adrenals are already working overtime.  Our adrenals are the glands responsible for releasing hormones in response to stress through the synthesis of corticosteroids such as cortisol and catecholamines such as epinephrine (adrenaline) andnorepinephrine.

Of course, the long term solution would be to build a world with less stress, but till that happens, adaptagens can be a great support.  The term “adrenal fatigue” may be applied to a collection of mostly nonspecific symptoms such as “tiredness, trouble falling asleep at night or waking up in the morning, salt and sugar craving, and needing stimulants like caffeine to get through the day.”

Adrenal fatigue is a term that’s used by some to say that fatigue and other symptoms are caused by a poorly working adrenal gland in people who are under mental, emotional, or physical stress.  According to the adrenal fatigue theory, if your life is too stressful, your adrenal glands may not pump out enough hormones, leading to a wide variety of symptoms.

Researchers Brekhman and Dardymov’s list of physiological actions of adaptogens states that adaptogens help modulate system function and maintain homeostasis.  later research postulated that adaptogens work primarily by affecting the Hypothalamic/ Pituitary/Adrenal (HPA) axis and the Sympathoadrenal System (SAS). adaptogens modulate our response to stress (physical, environmental, or emotional) and help regulate the interconnected endocrine, immune, and nervous systems.

Siberian Ginseng

Siberian Ginseng

In more recent research by Panossian and Wikman (2009), they state that adaptogens work not only via the HPA axis and SAS but also on a cellular level.  They actually act a bit like a vaccine, priming cells to more effectively respond to stress. This is one of the reasons why adaptogens are often effective as part of a treatment protocol for diverse conditions with fatigue, muscle pain, inflammation and weakness, such as CFIDs, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis.

How Herbal Adaptagens can help:

  • maintain balance — specifically in the immune, endocrine, nervous, and hormonal systems
  • reduce the effects of stress — and increase the body’s resistance to it
  • boost immunity
  • encourage liver detoxification
  • combat the signs of aging
  • stabilize moods

additional info: (http://frugallysustainable.com/2012/12/adaptogenic-herbs-for-stress-relief-and-a-recipe-for-homemade-smoothie-mix/) and:    http://realitysandwich.com/171189/adaptogens_herbs/

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My favorite Adaptagen herb at the moment is Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi.

Holy Basil in full bloom

Holy Basil in full bloom

Ever since taking it this summer and now drinking a nettle and Tulsi tea almost daily, I have felt a difference in less digestive issues  (digestion is connected to our nervous system), easier monthly periods, regular sleep patterns (sleep was all thrown off while teaching last spring) and improvement in staying regular, (yes, TMI!) but I am the type of person who, when stressed, has a tough time staying regular.

I also belive it is working on an energetic level, since it is such a holy and high sought after herb for spiritual purposes.  For example, In India, Tulsi is grown in places that tend to inspire concentration and places ideal for worship, according to the ‘Gandharv Tantra,’ include “grounds overgrown with tulsi plants”. The Tulsi Manas Mandir at Varanasi is one such famous temple, where tulsi is worshiped along with other Hindu gods and goddesses.

Other adaptagen herbs include: Tumeric, Licorice, Siberian Ginseng, American Ginsegn Root, Ashwagandha, Dang Shen root, Rhodiola Root ( and many more…)

Tumeric

Tumeric

Licorice Root

Licorice Root

Siberian Ginseng Root

Siberian Ginseng Root

Ashwaganda root

Ashwaganda root

…and of course like with all herbal supports, it is best to include them into a healthy, balanced diet, free from chemicals, pesticides, and inflammatory foods such as sugar and for some folks, wheat.

Rhodiola

Rhodiola

dang shen

dang shen

 

The amazing, yet endangered, American Ginseng

The amazing, yet endangered, American Ginseng

 

 

Learn more?  Check out Farmacy Herbs in Providence: http://farmacyherbs.com

Herbalism 101: Im making herbal mouthwash!

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After learning how conventional mouthwash can do more harm than good, I began exploring natural alternatives to a clean, healthy mouth.

Getting healthy teeth doesn't have to hurt!

Getting healthy teeth doesn’t have to hurt!

While taking the Farmacy workshop here in Providence, we had an entire class devoted to oral health that covered the herbs that have traditionally been used to support dental health.  The foundation for healthy teeth and gums all starts with a healthy, limited sugar diet.

Farmacy Herbs in Providence, RI

Farmacy Herbs in Providence, RI

For my herbal mouthwash, I used 1 ounce each of dried:

Yarrow: Achillea millefolium- Aerial parts (leaves/ flowers) used.

Medicinal properties:

Actions: Tonic, styptic, Astringent, Alterative, diuretic, aromatic, stomachic, stimulant, analgesic, antiseptic,

Body systems it supports: Digestive, Urinary, Skin, Circulatory, Immune system

Yarrow can be used for it’s essential oil, as a tea/infusion or fresh as a poultice or compress

Yarrow: in all the stages

Yarrow: in all the stages

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Lavender: Lavandula angustifolia– ( known for it’s relaxing properties, this herb also aids in tissue repair and disinfection)

Parts used: flowers and essential oil

Medicinal properties:

Actions: Carminative, digestive,sedative, antiseptic, vulnerary ( great for burn, wounds or bug stings)

Body systems it supports: nervous system, digestive, skin.

Lavender from farmacy herbs

Lavender from farmacy herbs

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Spilanthes: Acmella oleracea-  Flowering aerial parts are used. Can be made into a poultice, tincture, infusion or mouthwash!

Medicinal properties include:   The most important taste-active molecules present are fatty acid amides such as spilanthol, which is responsible for the trigeminal and saliva-inducing effects.

Actions: Anti-fungal, Antiviral, Antiseptic, Laxative, Anodyne (pain relief).

Body systems supported: Circulatory, Immune, Skin, Urinary, Digestive

It’s called the toothache plant because when you chew on the leaves or flowers it produces a numbing effect to the tongue and gums!

herbal pop rocks!

herbal pop rocks!

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and 1 fluid oz of Myrrh tincture:  which is the aromatic resin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora

Parts used: Gum resin, Essential oil.

Medicinal properties: contains volatile oil and resin

Actions: Analgesic, anti-fungal, antibacterial, astringent, digestive, vulnerary (wound healing)

Body systems it supports: Circulatory, Digestive, Nervous system

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Some folk lore: Myrrh was in ancient times worth its weight in gold, it was an extremely precious commodity.

+ 25% of Alcohol ( I used vodka) to preserve

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Step 1: boil a pot of water containing about 4-6 cups of water, added the dried herbs and lowered the heat to low.

Step 2: let herbs simmer uncovered for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally ( at this point, the lavender smells AMAZING!)

Step 3: strain out herbs, squeezing out as much of the liquid as possible.  Allow to cool.

Step 4: add in Myrrh and preserving alcohol ( which u could substitute with vinegar if desired)

Step 5: gargle 1-2 times a day and Enjoy!

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My summer with herbs...

My summer with herbs…

Have any herbal recipes to share? Leave me a note:)

For More info:     http://www.herbs2000.com

My Intro to Herbalism: Nature Always Finds a Way

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I am about 1 month into my 6 month herbalism workshops at Farmacy Herbs (www.farmacyherbs.com) and its amazing!  The classes are one day a week for 4 hours and they are making my last few weeks of teaching middle school livable!  The classes take the edge and dread out of my Mondays and they started at just the perfect timing.

To say I have become spritually drained by urban, public school teaching is an understatment.

yup

yup

This experience has challenged me more than I can process quite yet, but it feels a little something like this Taylor Swift Parody:

Well…. anyways, it has put me face to face with opposing forces  (hope / dispair)  (love/ fear).  So, at this point, yes I’ld rather be reading up on the herbs then have one more dead end conversation/complainant with folks who dont have th courage to dismantle this abusive system…

Happy Mullein!

Happy Mullein!

Of course, like most things, I am taking away  so much more from these classes than the intended, face-value information on the medicinal uses of herbs.  For one thing, I feel at home at Farmacy and Cemetery street.  I met Mary Blue ( Providence Herbalist) about 7 or so years ago through friends and have watched the herb shop, farm ,and education center grow to what it is today.  Simply being there is recharging and clarifying.  Especially considering how rapidly and drastically my life has transitioned in the past few years ( motherhood-divorce-writing rebirth-new life-and-stuff), Farmacy very much feels like my constant…

look at those fuzzy leaves!

look at those fuzzy leaves!

A highlight so far has been my general awe of the natural world.  We talked about Mullen and how it stubbornly finds its way pretty much any where:  gardens, wooded lots, even cracks in the sidewalk. Mullein can be used for several aliments especially coughs and congestion.  It is considered to be a respiratory aid.  Interestingly, Mullein is known to grow tall by the side of highway-a place that is known for its constant contact with air pollution and lung irritants. Nature, it seems will always have the last word.

So, I am inspired to come up with my own……….(drum roll………)

Healing naturally is gangsta!

Healing naturally is gangsta!

Nada’s Philosophy For the Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Learning about Mullein has inspired me to come up with the following ratio: Nature=Life=Love

Mullein

love: expansion and fear: contraction

If Mullein ( love) can break through cracks in the concrete and thrive, well… we could break through this old shell of a world that no longer serves us…all those old instituations education system/capitialism/patriarchay…are already ripping at the seams. We just gotta keep pushing through…we gotz no where to go but up.

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