Posts Tagged ‘medicinal herbs’

Shingles Adventure and OK Blog Readers: What Next? Plus Update on Radiation

May 18, 2011

No I am not abandoning Detox, gentle or otherwise…it seems I have material enough to beat this subject to death; therefore  I’ll continue to talk about detox a bit at a time. Since our bodies are constantly detoxifying (or trying to) every day, I’ll keep adding tidbits from my stacks of research as we wander into the future.

Shingles is not something I thought much about until I “got” them. Now I find that almost everyone I’ve spoken with in my age group (and older) knows a friend or relative who has had them, or has suffered themselves. Who knew!? And that many did not know what it was for several days (myself included). And anyone can get them (children, teenagers, young adults: no one who has had chicken pox is immune). So, if you have NOT had them, after reading this blog, please find a good website that shows you pictures so you can recognize the lesions (they looked like the systemic poison ivy I once had). They key info: the outbreak is preceded by a  burning feeling in the area, and pain along nerve endings, even before eruption. As the eruptions increase, so does the pain. Also: they do not necessarily occur in the most common places (around the middle or on one side of the trunk).

The allopathic response (and the one I had to take as I was away on vacation) is Acyclovir (or other heavy-duty anti-viral). It really does work to halt the progression, and start the lesions’ reduction in size.  The holistic response: double-blind placebo studies have shown that the immediate use of very strong proteolytic enzymes (Wobenzyme N has been used with success) can work as well as anti-viral drugs. Another possibility (especially if this is a recurrence) is large (approx. 5 grams each per day) doses of Vitamin D, Vitamin C and l-Lysine.

On the lesions themselves: clay with essential oils of tea tree or other anti-viral oils (see previous blog posting), powdered charcoal and cornstarch (equal parts) mixed into a paste and applied, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) oil or salve, hydrogen peroxide gel, and the following as herbal tea poultices: Lemon Balm, Baikal Skullcap, Mullein Flowers, St. Joan’s wort, and/or Turmeric (found a great Chinese recipe that called for Turmeric, honey and yogurt: kinda messy, but very cooling).  Aloe Vera Gel is nice and cooling as well.

Now for the pain…suffice it to say that I have the deepest sympathy for any and all who have suffered intense pain, having now made a very personal acquaintance with it for a month. I fully understand why folks get depressed, discouraged and hooked on pain meds. I am currently weaning myself off Gabapentin (and it doesn’t really work unless you’re damn near unconscious). The Western herbs I am taking now in rather large doses during the day: 2 parts St. John’s/Joan’s wort, 2 parts Skullcap (I’m doing 1 part regular and 1 part Baikal) 2 parts Oats, 2 parts Licorice, and 1 part Ginger. Kathy Keville’s original recipe called for an additional 1 part Vervain (which I’m getting and making into a tincture pronto). There are other excellent Chinese possibilities; however, they work best with an individual diagnosis. My friend (and fellow blogger) Lisa Goodstein is formulating one for me now that she’s seen me.  Acupuncture in general is very helpful with post-herpetic neuralgia (the official term for the pain that often INCREASES after the lesions are almost or fully resolved). However, one must see an acupucturist at least once a week for  4 to 6 weeks.

And here’s an interesting herbal and pharmaceutical combo: Capsaicin creme. Works for 80% of the folks who use it (myself included). The really effective stuff is prescription only (but not terribly expensive), and the studies are impressive. The usual dosage is 0.075% Capsaicin (an oleoresin derived from Cayenne peppers) added to a (wish it were organic) hypo-allergenic base. Any compounding pharmacy can make it. One applies it 3 times daily.

And here it comes: the detox part: 2 especially great liver detoxifiers: Milk Thistle Seed (as a tincture or standardized extract) and the supplement Calcium-d-Glucarate. This patented form of glucaric acid is supported with numerous studies and used in several cancer centers. It works by assisting the liver and healthy cells to eliminate wastes and foreign elements (and those pharmaceuticals and their metabolites I’m taking are definitely in that category). I won’t get all technical on you here, but it is a really cool (though expensive) supplement, especially for anyone that is concerned about breast cancer.

What Next, dear blog readers? Please let me know what you’d like to see me address. Either respond to this blog or email me: irisherbal@yahoo.com.

Radiation from Japan update: check this out for an in-depth expose of the current situation…NOT for the faint of heart. And may we all continue to send prayers and energy to the people of Japan who must persevere through this enormity.

Implementation: Part 3

April 5, 2011

Sometimes we make a plan and our body has another idea entirely.  Whenever we “do” detox, whether deliberately or because our body is ready and just goes for it, emotional issues seem to pop up. Many healers believe that any toxic residue has an emotional component…and this will be the  topic I’ll address next week, and how essential oils can assist us.  However, today I will finish this section on implementing with the last 10 herbs that I mentioned in my first blog on herbs, tinctures and essential oils to use for detox.

Mullein: best known for its use in bronchitis, this herb is a lung decongestant and tonic for the respiratory system (soothes inflammation). Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herb and let sit, covered for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink this 3 times daily.

Elecampane: this herb is used much like Mullein, and adds an anti-microbial property as well as being a digestive and appetite stimulant. Now this is not a typo: pour a cup of cold water over 1 teaspoon of shredded root and let sit for 8 to 10 HOURS. Heat up and drink very hot 3 times daily.

Licorice: because this herb has an effect on the endocrine system (certain chemical components have a structure similar to steroids), it is both very useful and must be used carefully. Licorice is helpful for adrenal gland support, bronchial issues, peptic ulcers, arthritis, various viral infections, and is a mild laxative. Take only 1/2 teaspoon of the root; add to 1 cup of water; bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. This sweet tasting herb should NOT be used in the following situations: pregnancy, breast-feeding, low blood potassium, or when high blood pressure from sodium retention is present.

Osha: this wonderful southwestern mountain root is useful for all respiratory and throat issues, especially at the first signs of illness, and to help clear the lungs after one has quit smoking. Excellent in children to help prevent middle ear infections, and for anyone to help restore the stomach after illness/vomiting.  Natives chew the root. For the less brave: take 1 oz. (weight) of the herb and let sit overnight in 32 oz. (volume) of water. Drink 2 to 6 oz. of this infusion as needed.

Yerba Santa: another southwestern herb used for asthma, bronchial infection and hay fever. A gentle expectorant, and some varieties are also good for bladder infections. Bring 32 oz. of water to a boil and pour over 1 oz. (by weight) of herb. Let sit 20 to 30 minutes. Drink 3 to 4 oz. 1 to 4 times daily. (Thank you, Micheal Moore, for info on Osha and Yerba Santa).

Elder Flower: a good-tasting remedy for inflammation of / heavy mucus and infection in the upper respiratory system. Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried flowers and let steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Drink 3 times a day.

Peppermint: this favorite herb is actually not so good for small children (can use a bit of spearmint instead), but excellent for older children and adults to deal with nausea and all digestive issues.  Also helpful in reducing fever, uterine cramps, migraines that are worse with indigestion, and tension in general. Most folks have this available in tea- bag form; however, many times they are old and have lost much of their potency. Take a heaping teaspoon of the herb, put it in your mug, and add a cup of boiled water. Cover the cup with its saucer (yup, that’s what they were originally for) and let steep for 10 minutes. Drink this as desired.

Prickly Ash: stimulating to the lymphatic and circulatory systems; excellent for chronic problems of the skin where there is poor circulation (varicose veins) and rheumatism (inflammation of muscles, joints, connective tissue).  Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 3 times daily.

Yarrow: this is an excellent herb to reduce fever by bringing the body to a sweat and breaking the fever. It also stimulates digestion, tones blood vessels, helps deal with urinary tract infections, and externally is used to stop bleeding.  Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb; let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 3 or more times a day. Drink hot for fevers, and cool for internal bleeding. Some experts advise to NOT use if pregnant.

Barberry: major liver and gall bladder tonic (including inflammation and stones); also for enlarged spleen. Especially useful for debilitated people to both strengthen and cleanse the whole system. A  mildly laxative digestive tonic. Put 1 teaspoon of the bark into a small saucepan with 1 cup of cold water. Bring to a boil and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.  Drink 3 times daily. Do NOT use if pregnant.

Herbs That Assist Detoxification

March 29, 2011

This blog topic could easily be a book…which means that although this won’t be comprehensive or in great detail, you will find the creme de la creme of the basics…call it “detox cliff notes”…

An herbal approach to detoxification is based upon the premise that our bodies are self-healing; that we already have an amazingly effective and astoundingly complex array of detoxification systems “built-in;” and that our job is to augment our innate abilities by:  first, support the whole body’s process of elimination (and not just the colon, which is what many pre-made cleanses do); second, apply specific support for overly taxed organs and third,  alleviate any symptoms (and address any pathologies that may be present).

For digestion issues and the colon, we want to assist the break down of food (try a simple herbal bitters recipe of Gentian, Ginger and Cardamom {used as a tea or a tincture; the last 2 are also available as essential oils and can be diluted and rubbed on the stomach} ; or you can use Anise, Fennel, and/or Cumin Seeds {chew the seeds, make a tea, use as tincture or essential oil} as both flavorings and to assist in digestion) as well as deal with constipation, or even slow evacuation (mild, safe, not too intense Yellow Dock and Dandelion Root; for more stubborn cases, try Cascara Sagrada).

For the kidneys and urinary system, we can use a gentle diuretic (increases the flow of urine) to move fluids out of the body, which is especially helpful in cases of edema (swelling) or to remove toxins more quickly. Herbs that do this without causing imbalance (unlike drugs, these herbs contain potassium; however, a little goes a long way) are Chickweed, Dandelion, Parsley and Nettle leaves. Notice that these are “spring tonics,” often considered weeds (well, maybe not parsley, but how many of us really eat it?), and are edible as “pot-herbs” (cooked like any greens), in salads, or used medicinally in the form of tea or tinctures (alcohol extract). Many folks recommend using the juice of half a lemon in warm water upon arising.

Hepatic herbs are those which assist the liver and gall bladder in their many functions:  Dandelion root, Beets (yes, the food), Turmeric ( the main spice ingredient in many curries) {all of these can be used as food, a simmered tea or as a tincture} and Milk Thistle seed, which is available as either a tincture or a standardized extract which comes in the form of a capsule.   Alteratives are what used to be called  blood cleansers and are the class of herbs that gradually restore the proper functions of the body which then increase health and vitality. These include Burdock, Oregon Grape, Sarsaparilla and Yellow Dock roots, Cleavers, Nettles and Red Clover, as well as seaweeds and garlic.  Essential oils that stimulate and aid the functioning of our liver include Angelica, Carrot seed, Chamomile, Cypress, Grapefruit, Lemon, Peppermint and Rosemary. They can be used individually or in various combinations as a massage oil or bath oil. {Infomercial: check out www.irisherbal.com offerings in health enhancement, massage and bath oils, as well as individual essential oils, and the essential oil info page which gives great detail on how to safely use essential oils}.

Lymphatic tonic herbs assist in the movement and drainage of our lymph system.  They include Burdock, Dandelion and Yellow Dock roots, as well as Red Root, Echinacea root and Calendula (usually taken as a decoction or simmered tea, or as a tincture). There are many essential oils that are useful in this category: Lemon, Grapefuit, Carrot seed, Coriander, Spruce, Frankincense and Laurel {infomercial # 2; check  HERE for 2 massage oils for the lymph system}.

For the  Lungs we can increase the flow of mucus (mucolytics) to help move out phlegm and ease breathing. For this I  find essential oils to be easy and effective, as either a salve or by vaporizing a few drops of essential oil in a pot of boiled water. Good oils for this include Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Laurel, Rosemary, Lavender, Camphor and Peppermint. In the herbal realm, we can use an expectorant (again, help loosen and expel mucus) like Mullein, Elecampane,  Anise seed, Licorice, and great southwestern herbs such as Osha  and Yerba Santa. Any of these herbs can be used as a tea or tincture.

When dealing with the skin, we have a few avenues open to us. We can use diaphoretics (aid the skin in the elimination of toxins through perspiration) which include Elder flower, Ginger, Peppermint, Prickly Ash and Yarrow (as teas, decoctions or tinctures) as well as the use of 2 herbs which address the skin/liver connection which are Barberry and Yellow Dock. Besides dry brush massage, alternating cool and warm showers (which stimulate the lymph and the skin) there are also the judicious use of saunas, steam baths (where we can add essential oils) and  hot springs, baths in our homes (where we can add bath oils, clay and/or apple cider vinegar)and sunlight (either the addition or removal).

WHEW!  In the next few weeks we’ll be exploring heavy metal detox, using supplements as part of our detoxification program, plus the emotional aspects of detox, and 2 guest blogs by Lisa Goodstein, DOM on the Chinese/Eastern take on this subject.

Spring Tonics

March 15, 2011

Stinging Nettles

Before supermarkets offered all fruits and all vegetables all the time, winter diets in the Northern Hemisphere were heavy on root vegetables, grains and beans, breads, cheese, and meats, often combined in soups. Spring saw the proliferation of wild greens and the planting of gardens, increased trade with other communities as the snows melted, and the understanding that the heavier fatty meals could lighten a little as the temperatures rose. Diet was a construct of the interplay of culture and environment, as well as one’s family’s class. You ate what your parents ate, and barring famine, that system worked fairly well for hundreds of years.

Alfalfa



For those of us who wish to re-connect with the natural rhythms of the seasons, eat more nutritious foods, and recognize that this transition from winter to spring is important, I offer you three fabulous spring tonics: nettles, alfalfa and chickweed.

Nettles are my personal favorite. People have been collecting and using stinging nettles for food, medicine, fiber and dyes since the Bronze Age (or earlier). You must wear gloves in the gathering, but once cooked, the stinging chemical is inactivated. Nettles are the quintessential spring tonic, and have traditionally been used to rebuild the systems of the chronically ill, as well as help gently release  toxins. Medicinally they are useful as an expectorant (help thin and expel mucous), for chronic coughs, to treat cold and flu, as a gentle and safe diuretic (increase the flow of urine and reduce edema or swelling due to fluid retention), and as a restorative for the kidneys and bladder.  Nutritionally nettles contain high amounts of chlorophyll, protein (up to 10%, more than any other vegetable), and minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, silica, iodine, sodium and sulfur. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, beta carotene and the B complex vitamins. Recipe hint: substitute for spinach, especially in a Quiche. Gather in the early spring until they flower. Once they start producing seeds, they are not so good for either food or medicine.

Alfalfa comes from the Middle East, and a tea made from the leaves and flowers has been traditionally used as a spring tonic and blood thinner, so it is especially good for arthritis and gout.  The green leaves contain 8 essential enzymes and aid digestion. Alfalfa contains over 10 vitamins, and is especially high in A, C, D, B2, B6, and K. Plus you get some iron and calcium.

Chickweed

Chickweed is a European annual that has naturalized through much of North America. It has even shown up in my greenhouse, and is now a regular part of my diet. Medicinally it is soothing and useful to help treat skin conditions, upset and ulcer-prone stomachs, as well as bladder and liver problems. Excellent as a nutritive tonic eaten fresh in salads (or cooked into omelets), chickweed is high in Vit. C, rutin, biotin, choline, inositol, PABA, Vit. B6, B12, Vit.D and beta carotene. It is another mineral powerhouse with magnesium, manganese, sodium, copper and silica.
 
All of these herbs are also considered “weeds” because they grow so easily and profusely. Nettles especially can become invasive. However, because of this ability to not need much of our assistance or attention (except in a desert or high desert climate: you will then need to water) they are excellent for the ” gardening challenged.”  Both Nettles and Alfalfa are perennials, and Chickweed, though an annual, easily (almost scarily  so) reseeds itself: therefore, once planted, they will be your constant and generous companions.

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