Natural allergy relief is something I’m asked about every spring and summer. Many of us suffer from allergies but don’t like to take medications for it. They often make us feel worse in other ways, like drowsiness or a spacey feeling. I, for one, prefer to stay away from nearly all medications. However, since I also suffer from spring and summer allergies, I thought I’d write a post addressing natural allergy relief.

Here are my top 6 suggestions for Natural Allergy Relief

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Chickweed – Natural appetite suppressant

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

ChickweedChickweed is said to curb the appetite and aid in weight loss by emulsifying fat and then getting rid of it.

As a diuretic its medicinal properties aide the assimilation of other herbs and help them process and dissolve of fat. My personal experience is that Chickweed is a better appetite suppressant than the over the counter products on the shelf today.

Some say that Chickweed is purely an ‘old wives’ tale’ remedy for obesity. But in fact, there’s supporting scientific evidence that Chickweed may indeed be beneficial to weight loss, when included in a healthy lifestyle included proper diet and exercise. Basically, as a mild diuretic containing saponins, Chickweed emulsifies the fat cells and assists them out of the system.

In Healing Wise by Susun Weed, it says that Chickweed is an excellent metabolic balancer with a potentially regulating effect on the thyroid.

Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies):

Chickweed was reportedly used at times for food. Chickweed enjoys a reputation in folk medicine for treating a wide spectrum of conditions, ranging from asthma and indigestion to skin diseases. Traditional Chinese herbalists used a tea made from chickweed for nosebleeds.

The active constituents in chickweed are largely unknown. It contains relatively high amounts of vitamins and flavonoids, which may explain some of its activity. Although some older information suggests a possible benefit for chickweed in rheumatic conditions, this has not been validated in clinical studies.

Often considered a nuisance to gardeners, this inconspicuous small plant grows world wide in abundance. Generally, it’s one of the first plants in spring. In summer it can be found in cooler, damp shady areas.

PLUS: It makes a wonderful addition to fresh spring salads!

Although formerly used as a tea, chickweed is mainly used today as a cream applied liberally several times each day to rashes and inflammatory skin conditions (e.g., eczema) to ease itching and inflammation.  As a tincture, 1–5 ml per day can be taken three times per day. Two teaspoonfuls of the dried herb may be used to make a tea. This may be drunk three times daily.

No side effects with chickweed have been reported.  At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with chickweed.

Chickweed: The ubiquitous, small, green chickweed plant grows across the United States and originated in Europe. The leaves, stems, and flowers are used in botanical medicine.


Photo from Wikipedia

In traditional herbal texts, burdock root is described as a “blood purifier” or “alterative,” and was believed to clear the bloodstream of toxins.

It was used both internally and externally for eczema and psoriasis, as well as to treat painful joints and as a diuretic. In traditional Chinese medicine, burdock root in combination with other herbs is used to treat sore throats, tonsillitis, colds, and even measles. It is eaten as a vegetable in Japan and elsewhere.

Burdock root has become popular as part of a tea to treat cancer.  Burdock’s use against cancer goes down through the centuries and has been used as a tumor treatment in Russia, China, India and the Americas. In the United States, it was an ingredient in the popular but highly controversial Hoxsey Cancer Formula, an alternative therapy marketed from the 1930s to the 1950s by ex-coal-miner Harry Hoxsey.

Some studies show anti-tumor or anti-mutation activity.  The National Cancer Institute became interested in burdock as part of its Designer Foods Program, an effort to use biotechnology to introduce cancer-preventive chemicals into common food crops.  Burdock’s action is mild, but real. It has antibacterial and antiviral powers, and it reduces blood sugar, which helps prevent diabetes.  Burdock has value as a tonic, a subtle strengthener with cumulatively helpful effects.

Burdock root contains high amounts of inulin and mucilage. This may explain its soothing effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Bitter constituents in the root may also explain the traditional use of burdock to improve digestion. It also contains polyacetylenes, shown to have antimicrobial activity. Burdock root and fruit also have the ability to mildly lower blood sugar (hypoglycemic effect).

Burdock Usage

Herbalists generallly recommend 2–4 ml of burdock root tincture per day. For the dried root preparation in capsule form, the common amount to take is 1–2 grams three times per day. Many herbal preparations will combine burdock root with other alterative herbs, such as yellow dock, red clover, or cleavers.  Use of burdock root at the dosages listed above is generally safe.

To brew a pleasantly sweet-tasting tonic tea, boil one teaspoon of crushed, dried burdock root in three cups of water for 30 minutes. Drink up to three cups a day.

Burdock  (Arctium lappa) is native to Asia and Europe. The root is the primary source of most herbal preparations. The root becomes very soft with chewing and tastes sweet, with a mucilaginous texture.

Aloe – Special Precautions!

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Photo from Wikipedia

The thick, juicy leaves of Aloe contain two distinct products used medicinally and are important to be distinguished for the purposes of caution and to avoid confusion.

  1. a thin clear gel or mucilage that oozes from the middle of a broken leaf.
  2. a bitter latex, referred to as aloe vera juice, derived from the cells just under the surface of the leaf.

Their compositions and uses differ.  The active ingredient in the gel is mucopolysaccharides.  The latex provides anthraquinone derivatives, mostly in the form of aloins, with smaller amounts of hydroxyaloins, aloe-emodin, and aloeresins.

The gel is used topically on wounds and burns to help them heal more rapidly. Taken internally, it is considered a general tonic. Unfortunately, separation of the gel from the latex for commercial preparations is often incomplete, and the gel may end up with some laxative action due to inadvertent inclusion of latex.

Aloe has been recommended for burns due to radiation, but like most of its uses, this is considered incompletely proved and controversial.  There is no harm in applying fresh gel from a broken leaf to a minor cut or burn, and many people find it soothing. In the test tube, gels from some species of aloe have antibacterial activity. A. vera, however, does not appear to kill many microbes.

The latex of Aloe is a powerful laxative that irritates the intestine. We do not recommend using this product.

There are nearly five hundred species of aloe. It’s a type of plant that originated in southern Africa, near the Cape of Good Hope.  The use of aloe goes back in history 5,500 years. There are pictures of aloe plants on some Egyptian temples. The Greek physician Dioscorides wrote of its benefits to heal wounds and treat hemorrhoids.

Aloe plants now grow throughout Africa, around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, and in many countries in South America.

Aloe Special Precautions:

Pregnant women must avoid aloe latex; use has been known to trigger abortion or premature birth.  Nursing mothers should take this laxative only under medical supervision. Children must not take aloe latex.  Women who are menstruating should not use aloe latex, as it may increase blood flow.  Aloe latex may be very dangerous when there is an intestinal blockage and must be avoided in such cases. Aloe latex is not appropriate for people with intestinal inflammation such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, and it should not be taken by people with inflamed hemorrhoids.  People with kidney problems should avoid aloe latex.  The most serious difficulties encountered with aloe latex occur at higher than recommended doses or when used for more than a few days.  This laxative herb causes the loss of potassium and other minerals, which over time can result in a loss of muscle tone of the intestine and diminished effectiveness. Frequent use may cause irreversible damage.  Large doses of aloe have caused bloody diarrhea, kidney damage, and even death.  The urine may take on a reddish color after taking aloe latex. This color is harmless; however, with the possibility of kidney damage from large doses or prolonged use, any persistent color in the urine may call for medical diagnosis.

Possible Interactions: Low potassium levels can be dangerous in a person taking a heart drug like Lanoxin.  Aloe latex might also be dangerous for anyone taking a diuretic that depletes the body of potassium (Lasix, HCTZ, etc.) because of the additive effect. It should be avoided in such situations.  Aloe latex could reduce the absorption of any pill taken around the same time because it cuts intestinal transit time so drastically.


Alfalfa, a natural alternative, may help control high cholesterol, menopause and poor appetite.

Alfalfa leaves also contain flavones, isoflavones, sterols, and coumarin derivatives. The isoflavones are thought to be responsible for the estrogen-like effects seen in animal studies. Although this has not been confirmed with human trials, it is sometimes used to treat menopause symptoms.

Historic Use

Many years ago, traditional Chinese physicians used young alfalfa leaves to treat disorders of the digestive tract.  Similarly, the Ayurvedic physicians of India prescribed the leaves and flowering tops for poor digestion. Alfalfa was also considered therapeutic for water retention and arthritis. North American Indians recommended alfalfa to treat jaundice and to encourage blood clotting.

Although conspicuously absent from many classic textbooks on herbal medicine, alfalfa did find a home in the texts of the Eclectic physicians (19th-century physicians in the United States who used herbal therapies) as a tonic for indigestion, dyspepsia, anemia, loss of appetite, and poor assimilation of nutrients.  These physicians also recommended the alfalfa plant to stimulate lactation in nursing mothers, and the seeds were made into a poultice for the treatment of boils and insect bites.

Alfalfa:  Common name: Lucerne.  Botanical name: Medicago sativa.  A member of the pea family it is native to western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region. Sprouts have become a popular food and herbal supplements primarily use the dried leaves of the plant. The heat-treated seeds of the plant have also been used.


Besides protein you have vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Nutrient analysis also demonstrates the presence of calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc.

Active Constituents

While the medicinal benefits are poorly understood, the constituents in alfalfa have been extensively studied. The leaves contain approximately 2–3% saponins.  Animal studies suggest that these constituents block absorption of cholesterol and prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.  One small human trial found that 120 grams per day of heat-treated alfalfa seeds for eight weeks led to a modest reduction in cholesterol. However, consuming the large amounts of alfalfa seeds (80–120 grams per day) needed to supply high amounts of these saponins may potentially cause damage to red blood cells in the body.

For more information, consult Wikipedia >>

Gentian Root

Coutesy of Wikipedia

Gentian root and other highly bitter plants have been used for centuries in Europe as digestive aids (the well-known Swedish bitters often contain gentian). Other folk uses included topical use on skin tumors, decreasing fevers, and treatment of diarrhea. Its ability to increase digestive function, including production of stomach acid, has been validated in modern times.

Gentian root contains some of the most bitter substances known, particularly the glycosides gentiopicrin and amarogentin. The taste of these can be detected even when diluted 50,000 times. Besides stimulating secretion of saliva in the mouth and hydrochloric acid in the stomach, gentiopicrin may protect the liver.

Gentian root is also considered useful for poor appetite and indigestion according to the German government’s Commission E monograph.

Here is what Wikipedia reports:

It was considered especially useful in states of exhaustion from chronic disease and in all cases of debility, weakness of the digestive system and lack of appetite. It was also considered one of the best fortifiers of the human system, stimulating the liver, gall bladder and digestive system, and was thought to be an excellent tonic to combine with a purgative in order to prevent its debilitating effects.

Usage of Gentian Root

Gentian root can be taken as a tincture (1–3 grams daily), as a fluid extract (2–4 grams daily), or as the whole root (2–4 grams daily).

Gentian root should not be used by people suffering from excessive stomach acid, heartburn, stomach ulcers, or gastritis.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with Gentian.

Gentian: (Gentiana lutea)

This plant comes from meadows in Europe and Turkey. It is also cultivated in North America. The root is used medicinally.

Black Cohosh for Menopause ReliefIn Europe, black cohosh is used to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, headaches, psychological difficulties, and associated weight gain. It is also reputed to be helpful for premenstrual problems and painful menstrual cramps.

Native Americans prized black cohosh and used it for a variety of purposes. The settlers learned about it from the Indians, but by the middle of the nineteenth century it was renowned as being helpful for women’s problems, and other uses were more or less forgotten.

Effect of Black Cohosh is Impressive

Some of the evidence on the clinical effect of black cohosh for menopause is impressive. In one study, sixty women under forty years of age who had undergone hysterectomy were divided into groups. One group got conjugated estrogen (available in the United States under the brand name Premarin), one was given estriol (another form of estrogen), a third received an estrogen-gestagen sequence, and the fourth group of women took a black cohosh extract.

Bothersome symptoms such as hot flashes disappeared slowly over the course of four weeks, and at that point there was no difference in response among the four groups. This suggests that black cohosh may be as good at treating symptoms of menopause as are conventional estrogen treatments.

Beginning research indicates that black cohosh can also lower cholesterol and strengthen bone, as estrogen does.

The usual daily dose is equivalent to 40 mg of the herb. It may take four weeks to get the maximum benefit; the herb should not be taken for more than six months until there is more information available on long-term effects.

Black cohosh was a key ingredient in an immensely popular patent medicine, Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound.  Black cohosh has been used for menopausal symptoms in recent years. The portion of the plant used is underground: the rhizome and roots. The main ingredients are triterpene glycosides, especially actein, related compounds, and cimigoside. Black cohosh also contains tannins, fatty acids, and phytosterols. In a laboratory test of estrogenic activity, black cohosh extract did not bind to estrogen receptors.

American Indians treated sore throats and rheumatism with this herb, but these uses have not been scrutinized by modern medical studies.

Special Precautions :  Although black cohosh is not mutagenic or carcinogenic and does not cause birth defects in animals, authorities caution pregnant women not to use it. There is a report of premature birth associated with the herb and worries that it could trigger miscarriage.

This plant, native to North American forests, has a number of popular names: bugbane, black snakeroot, rattleroot, and squaw root. It sends up graceful tall spires of white flowers; the black in its common name refers to the root or rhizome, as does cohosh, Algonquian for “rough.”

How about you? Do you have experience using black cohosh for menopausal relief… or know someone who has? Share your experience in the comments below. We’d love to know what you think!


Basil Herbs - Culinary and Health Benefits

Basil herbs — not without reason called l’herbe royale — these versatile herbs have a great affinity for tomatoes, fish and egg dishes, but are good in almost all savory dishes. It has a mild, sweet flavor.

It is said that basil herbs help control blood pressure and are rich in antioxidants, among other benefits.

Serve basil herbs as they do in Italy — where basil is very popular — in a bouquet of sprigs set in water in a small vase. Keep in mind that they darken quickly after cutting.

Ocinum basilicum grows to 2 feet, dries poorly and should never be dried in heat above 110 degrees.

It roots in a few days in water. Make cuttings and pot up before frost in rich soil.

It is worth keeping at least one plant over the winter. Ocinum minimum, dwarg bush basil, less than one foot tall, is the sweetest and mildest in flavor and the best for indoor culture.

RECIPE: Basil Herbs Pesto

This uncooked seasoning can be made in advance. Use on pasta or on a baked potato, about 2 Tablespoons to a portion, mixed with equal parts of butter. If you add a Tablespoon or more per portion to Minestrone, as is often done, you arrive at a result close to the Provencial version called Soupe au Pistou.

Pound in a mortar about:
1-1/2 Cups fresh basil leaves.

Add and pound:
2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup pine nuts

Add, until the mixture forms a thick puree:
About 3/4 cup parmesan cheese

When the mixture is really thick, add very slowly, stirring constantly: About 3/4 cup olive oil until it has the consistency of creamed butter.

Put a film of olive oil over the top. Cover and refrigerate or freeze.

For more recipes, go to >>

Tips to Get Food Fit

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

eatwellIf you’re hoping to get more fit in 2013 and change unhealthy habits, remember that small, persistent steps are the best way to reach your goals and stick with them. So let’s talk about some small steps to get you started…

Planning your meals ahead of time can make it much easier to ensure healthy ones. Like the old saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” (paraphrased)

Whether you want to simply get fit or lose weight, slowing down when you eat (and chewing thoroughly) is healthier. When you eat fast, you don’t know when you’ve had enough and you’ll keep eating. Proper chewing is also best for your digestion. If you’re a “fast eater” try listening to soft, comforting music. It may help you slow down and enjoy your food more!

A diet rich in natural vitamins and minerals from fresh whole foods, particularly fruit and vegetables, goes a long way in reversing health problems, including digestive disorders, aching muscles, depression, weariness and even skin disorders. Eat more fresh fruit and veggies to have beautiful skin and a healthy body!

Speaking of beautiful skin and a healthy body, don’t forget there is no liquid you can drink that even comes close to the benefits you get from drinking plenty of pure water! Water flushes toxins from your body and increases your energy. However, if you must have something other than water to drink, may I suggest tea instead of soda? The benefits of tea are excellent! Read more about tea here.

An American Medical Association Study reported that middle-aged women who drank one or more sweetened beverages daily gained more than 17 pounds on average over an 8-year period. Of course, the more you drink, the more you’ll gain.

One more point, adults should consume no more than 1,500mg of sodium per day but the average American consumes more than 4,000mgs. How much is 1,500mgs? A little over 1/2 teaspoon, which equals 1200mgs. 3/4’s of a teaspoon equals 1,800.

What being food fit does for you…

Eating whole foods (slowly), cutting back on sodium, and drinking (a lot more) water will help you get healthier faster, maintain the weight that’s right for your body, feel and look better, have more energy and a brighter, more positive attitude. Barring the unforeseen, it can also help you live longer!

Isn’t that incentive enough to get food fit?

Do you think you are food fit? If so, tell us your secrets! If not, what are you willing to do about it? Let us know!

For more on eating well to be well, visit my other site Eat Well to Be Well >>

Getting Fit and Staying Fit

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going!” (Jim Ryun)

exerciseWe all know we “should” exercise and many of us will make resolutions to fit that into our busy lives. That’s a good thing! Don’t forget to add the fact that after exercising it’s good to relax for a few minutes in a sauna, if possible, or a very warm bath (not hot), if a sauna isn’t available. This is an excellent way to release fat stored toxins in your cells.

In addition, researches have found that exercising to music helps you to stay with it longer! So put on those tunes and have some fun while you exercise. In fact, the Brunel School of Sport and Education in England found that high-energy music listened to by treadmill runners had 15% more endurance and felt more positive afterwards!

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that we also incorporate strengthening moves 2-3 times each week. They are talking about exercise such as chin ups, squats, sit ups, push ups, leg lifts and the like.

Strength training boosts your metabolism, tones your body, improves posture, increases bone density, reduces risk of injury, reduces anxiety and eases depression! Learn more about strength training at Wikipedia >>

Walking is also a great way to keep fit and healthy. Do you have a pedometer? The number of steps recommended per day is a minimum of 10,000 to help you maintain good health. How many do you think you take? A pedometer is a great way to find out and give you an incentive to reach that goal.

If you have a tendency for muscle soreness after exercise, eat red and purple fruits (such as strawberries, blueberries and cherries). They contain antioxidants and anthocyanin compounds that effectively reduce inflammation, which causes that soreness. When it comes to fruit, fresh is best but frozen is okay, too. Canned fruits and vegetables will do in a pinch, just remember they have the lowest level of nutrients.

And, if you’re exercising to lose weight, also consider keeping a food journal. Those that do are much more likely to shed pounds and keep them off. It may be a little difficult to remember to keep a food journal, but once you start, keep at it. It will soon become a very healthy habit.

I’m sure you also know that refined, process foods are high in fat and sugar, so do your best to remove them from your daily diet. You’ll not only bolster your weight loss efforts, you’ll feel more energetic and healthier by far.

So, how about you?

Do you currently have an exercise routine you go through or are you planning to make it finally happen in 2013?