Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'm headed to Alaska

The Verbal Herbal will be on hold until after Labor Day. I am going to Alaska to have an adventure and seek out rejuvenation and inspiration. My goal is to return with new ideas and a fresh outlook. If you have any suggestions or feedback please share. Thank you to all my readers. I hope you all continue on the voyage of The Verbal Herbal.
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Monday, August 20, 2012

All Natural Caffeine-Free Energy Drink

When we are under a lot of stress and showing signs of adrenal fatigue, our bodies are so worn out that we often turn stimulant like coffee and energy drinks to get us going in the morning and keep us going throughout the day. Energy drinks are not good for us and can be extremely dangerous so I wanted to provide an all natural and caffeine-free energy drink.
Avoid Caffeine in Times of stress
Caffeine works by binding to adenosine receptor sites, therefore, blocking adenosine’s ability to decrease and slow nerve activity. Caffeine also increases the speed of neuron firing. All of this increased activity makes the pituitary gland think there’s an emergency and it signals to the adrenals to release adrenalin making us alert for this non-existent emergency. If we are already stressed and fatigued, coupled with the added stress of caffeine then it is bound to lead to adrenal fatigue if you don’t already have it.
The Truth about Energy drinks
Energy drinks are even worse than coffee or tea. A typical energy drink can contain anywhere from 70 to 200 mg of caffeine, double the amount found in coffee, and the caffeine found in energy drinks is more damaging because with coffee and tea, the caffeine occurs naturally in the plant material which also contains antioxidants to buffer the damaging effects of caffeine. Energy drinks are one of the fastest growing markets for beverages, pulling in $9 billion in 2011. And they are marketing to youth as well. 1 in 3 teens and young adults regularly consumes them. And energy drinks can cause heart palpitations, seizures, chest pain, increased blood pressure, strokes and even sudden death. Your chances of experiencing damaging side effects from energy drinks increase among young individuals.
All Natural Caffeine-free Energy Drink
My energy drink is cheaper and healthier than typical energy drinks, but the down fall is that it does require a little more preparation. The recipe is as follows: -2 cups of water -3 Tbs Peppermint leaf -2 Tbs Nettle Leaf -1 Tbs Elethero -1 Tbs Ashwaganda or another adaptogen if you choose not to use ashwaganda -1 Tbs Guto Kola leaf -1/2 cup of Coconut water
In a pot mix the water, elethero and ashwaganda. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the peppermint, nettle and guto kola. Steep the mixture for at least 10 minutes. Strain and refrigerate the liquid. Once it is cooled add the coconut water and now you have an all natural energy drink. You can make a big batch and have enough for several days. Below is a little information about each of the ingredients.
Peppernint (Mentha x piperita) is a nervine stimulant that helps to activate the nerve endings by increasing circulation and nourishment. Balancing and stimulating the nerves helps to combat fatigue, weakness and absent-mindedness. It also has a renewing and refreshing flavor and aroma that helps to invigorate the body. 
Nettles (Urtica dioica) is such a valuable plant. This tonic is rich in iron, calcium, potassium, silicon, magnesium, manganese, zinc, chromium and other vitamins and minerals. It helps individuals regain their energy when dealing with chronic and degenerative diseases by strengthening the kidneys. Nettles is so useful for so many things that herbalist David Hoffmann says, “when in doubt, use nettles” and I completely agree!
Elethero (Eleutherococcus senticosus), also known as Siberian ginseng, is one of the primary adaptogens used today. It helps to enhance physical and mental performance and improve the individual’s wellbeing. It restores the nerves by enhancing the body’s resistance to stress and by toning Qi, Blood and essence, Elethero increases endurance and stamina. It may interfere with heart medications and should be used with care in cases of severe hypertension.
Ashwaganda (Withania somniferum) is another adaptogen that helps to give strength back to the body. Its active ingredient, withanolides, can increase stamina, decrease stress, soothe agitated nerves and promote well being. As a natural MAOI, ashwaganda can increase the availability of dopamine in the brain. It may heighten the effects of barbiturates and should not be taken during pregnancy.
Guto Kola
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is another wonderful and invigorating herb. As a nerve tonic, it helps to rejuvenate the body and the mind. It can increase alertness by nourishing the brain and is helpful in cases of nervous stress and debility. For more in-depth information regarding Guto Kola:
Coconut Water
I feel that coconut is a great addition to this energy drink because it helps to hydrate the body and balance out electrolytes. For more information about this, check out: I chose to get unsweetened coconut water because I like the flavor of the blend; however, you may wish to get the sweetened coconut water or add a little honey to your blend.
When you are already stressed and fatigued, the last thing you want to do is make the problem worse, and that’s what caffeine and energy drinks are doing. But sometimes you just need a little bit of a boost, especially in the morning or mid day. I find this energy drink to be tasty and effective, and it not only helps to wake you up but the adaptogens in the blend help to address the root of issues. So give this drink a try and let me know what you think. 
Duke, J. A. (2000). The green pharmacy herbal handbook: your comprehensive reference to the best herbs for healing. Emmaus, Pa: Rodale Reach.

Gladstar, R. (2001). Rosemary Gladstar's family herbal: a guide to living life with energy, health, and vitality. North Adams, Mass.: Storey Books.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.

Holmes, P. (2007). The energetics of Western herbs: a materia medica integrating
Western and Chinese herbal therapeutics (Rev & enl. 4th ed.). Cotati, Calif.: Snow Lotus Press.

Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Too Much Stress Can Lead to Adrenal Fatigue

Are you constantly tired and fatigued? Do you lack motivation and don’t know why? Have you been to the doctors several times and nothing they do seems to help? Are you chronically sick? We’ll you may have an undiagnosed case of adrenal fatigue. Don’t feel too taken back the information. Lots of people, in my opinion, suffer from adrenal fatigue, especially Americans and not a lot of people know what it is or how to go about addressing it. No worries – The Verbal Herbal to the rescue!
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
When you don’t keep your stress levels at a minimum, stress hormones, mainly cortisol, is released for long periods of time at high levels. After a while, the body can’t keep up with the constant stress demand which causes the body to produce less adrenal hormones. This is known by many as adrenal fatigue or hypoadrenia. The long term effects of adrenal fatigue can lead to a lifetime of illness, making it extremely important to recognize the signs of adrenal fatigue and know how to combat it.
Symptom Picture of Adrenal Fatigue
The main symptom of hypoadrenia is fatigue and low energy. These individual may seem lazy and unmotivated but, in fact, they have to work harder to maintain “normal” functioning. They find it very hard to get out of bed in the morning and when they do, stimulants like coffee or tea are usually needed. They feel more alive after meals, usually craving salty, fatty foods and needing more protein. They have low blood pressure and low blood sugar with a decreased sex drive. They often get sick and tend to gain midsection weight that is hard to get rid of.
History of Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal Fatigue was recognized in medical texts dating back to the 1800’s and continues to be one of the most prevalent medical issues of the last 50 years; however, adrenal fatigue is not currently recognized as a medical diagnosis. Medical institutions say that because there is no blood test to soundly prove that the adrenal glands can decrease in functioning, then there is no justifiable reason to claim it as a medical diagnosis. I feel that the main reason it isn’t a medical diagnosis is because there are no pharmaceuticals claiming to treat adrenal fatigue. If they can’t make money from it, what’s the point of diagnosis it? Instead, they can diagnosis and treat the problems that result from adrenal fatigue, always treating the symptoms and never addressing the cause. As a result, adrenal fatigue is one of the most common syndromes to be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Other Issues associated with Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal Fatigue, if untreated, can be the cause of many problems including:
  • A higher likelihood of hypoglycemia
  • An increased tendency to allergies and arthritis and having on overall decreased effect on immune function
  • Causing varied emotional states leading to cases of anxiety, depression and difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Changes in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism
  • Changes in electrolyte balance
  • Negative effects on the cardiovascular system
  • Other chronic illnesses of varying degrees
Treatment Plan
First and foremost, it is of utmost importance to get your stress levels under control. This link provides natural ways to cope with stress. Remember to take a multidimensional approach to treating stress, addressing physical, emotional and physiological issues.
Adaptogenic Herbs
Adaptogens are, perhaps, the most effective way to address adrenal fatigue. Adaptogens work by increasing the body’s own resistance to stressors. They do not block the stress response, but, instead, help to level out the highs and lows of stress. This helps to normalize the body and decrease our inclination to extreme stress. Some adaptogen herbs that can be beneficial include:
  • Ginseng (Panax Ginseng)
  • American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)
  • Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera)
  • Schizandra (Schisandra chinensis 
  • Siberian Ginseng (Eletherococcus senticosus)
  • Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
  • Suma (Pfaffia Paniculata)  
  • Reshi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum)
Overall, don’t let stress take over your life. Start helping yourself before you reach the point of adrenal fatigue. If you find yourself too far gone and feel that adrenal fatigue is already an issue, then your main goal should be to get healthy because if untreated, adrenal fatigue can lead to a lifetime of illness. Contact you local herbalist to help you get back on track.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Natural Ways to Cope With Stress

Yesterday I spoke about the adrenal glands and the details of the stress response. This is our body’s normal response to a perceived stress. The problem with this system is we are now rarely stressed about survival or bears eating us and stressing more about our job, money, our future and a long list of other things. If we do not have a way to cope with these perceived stressors, it cause our bodies to be in a constant state of stress, keeping the fight or flight system activated and the stress hormones flowing. This can lead to long term emotional, physical and psychological problems. So today, I’d like to offer some coping mechanisms and ways to keep stress at bay via herbs, nutrition and essential oils. It is important to realize, that because stress is a multifaceted issue, affecting many different areas of health, a multifaceted approach to treatment needs to be taken, including options that address physical, emotional and psychological issues.
Tools and Techniques to calm and relax the body
There are so many different techniques that you can use to help you deal with stress. Below are a few options that work well for me, but make sure you find something that works well for you.
  • First and foremost, find out what is causing your stress and address it. Is it work? Maybe it is time for a change of careers or at least time to draw lines about work time and home time. Is it family? Make time for you, separating from your family. This can be hard, especially for moms, but how can you help others, including you children, when you are struggling to help yourself. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to make the problem go away but just being conscious about its affects on you can make a difference.
  • Relax! This is advice given to most people that are stressed out. Yoga, meditation, tai chi, reading a book or taking a bath can all be helpful.
  • Make sure you are getting adequate sleep.
  • Positive self talk and affirmations can help you from feeling out of control in the face of stress.
  • Find a hobby. Sometimes finding something that you like to do and making time for it can help to balance out the stress of other areas of your life.
  • Exercise! Get out side and move. Walk, run, hike, bike, play tennis or flag football doing any of these thing will help calm the body and the mind.
  • Laugh loudly and often J
There are many different herbs that can help the body deal with stress.
  • Nerve Tonics, being high in calcium, magnesium, B vitamins and protein, help to nourish and tone the nervous system. This includes herbs like Oatstraw, skullcap, chamomile, hops and lemon balm.
  • Nerve Sedatives help to ease tension and stress by soothing and nourishing the nerves and tissues. They can help to induce sleep and put the mind at ease at the end of a long day. This includes herbs like California poppy, passion flower, catnip, valerian, lemon balm and skullcap.
  • Adaptogens help to increase the body’s ability to deal with stress. They will be discussed more at length in tomorrows post. This includes herbs like eleuthero, reishi, ashwaganda, nettles, schizandra and astragalus.
Nutrition is wonderful treatment approach that is, recently, gaining more ground and popularity. It is important to realize that eating certain food puts stress on the body and, whether you realize it or not, you will feel more stressed as a result. Before I realized I had a gluten sensitivity and was still eating wheat, I was stressed all the time! Giving up wheat and gluten really lightened my stress load. Here are some nutritional guidelines you may wish to follow to help keep your body less stressed and therefore you mind clearer:
  • Decrease or eliminate your intake of caffeine, alcohol, soda and junk food. You may think that it helps you deal with mental stress, however, it only puts more stress on the body, making thing worse.
  • Decrease your intake of refined carbohydrates and processed foods. -Increase your intake of a variety of different fresh fruits and veggies, preferably organic. This will help to provide your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for proper functioning. Again, the less stress we put on the body, the better.
  • Make sure you are maintaining proper electrolyte balance. This doesn’t mean to drink one of those sugary sports drinks. Instead, try one of the recipes listed here
  • Supplement with B vitamins. Vitamin C may also be helpful.  
Essential oils
Essential oils can be extremely effective at helping individuals reduce their stress. They work by, not only, their constituents having a pharmacological effect, but also by smell through the olfactory system’s link to the limbic system, thus affecting our emotion state. There are many different essential oils that can be beneficial for stress:
  • Essential oils to induce relaxation include bergamot, chamomile, lavender, sandalwood and ylang ylang.
  • Essential oils to relieve tiredness include basil, black pepper, ginger, rosemary, peppermint, pine and thyme.
  • Essential oils to lift the spirit, helping with depression and melancholy include bergamot, mandarin, melissa, neroli, rose and jasmine.
Stress is becoming an overwhelming epidemic in our culture. Even though some stress is normal and needed, in my opinion, for healthy functioning, the amount of stress that Americans deal with every day is sickening. Literally, it is causing people to become sick. So today I have provided tools to help combat stress and tomorrow we will talk the effects that stress have on the body if you do not keep it in check.

Battaglia, S. (2003). The complete guide to aromatherapy (2nd ed.). Brisbane: International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy.
Cohen, B. J., Taylor, J. J., & Memmler, R. L. (2009). Memmler's structure and function of the human body (9th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott William & Wilkins.
Gladstar, R. (2001). Rosemary Gladstar's family herbal: a guide to living life with energy, health, and vitality. North Adams, Mass.: Storey Books.
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.
Wildwood, C. (1996). The encyclopedia of aromatherapy. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Adrenal Glands and The Stress Response

This summer has been kind-of stressful for me. I’ve been working extra hours at my day job and all the research and writing to bring The Verbal Herbal to life has been rewarding but overwhelming at the same time. I was letting myself get bogged down with so much stress it was beginning to affect my physical and emotional health. So this week, I’d like to talk about stress and fatigue and why it’s so important to be stress-free. Today, I want to talk about the physiology of stress and what is actually happening in the body.
The Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands are two structures that sit on top of each of the kidneys. They are each about 2 inches long and weigh about 5 grams a piece.  Each gland consists of two very different parts: the medulla which is then surrounded by the cortex. Although they are considered I gland, the medulla and the cortex are very different structures. They even develop from different embryotic tissue.  Individually each part plays an important role in our body’s reaction to stress.
The Medulla
The medulla is the inner portion of the adrenal gland and developes from modified neurons. This area is in charge of handling the immediate response to stress. When there is a perceived stress in the environment the adrenal medulla is activated by the sympathetic nervous system, releasing adrenalin (epinephrine) and/or noradrenalin (norepinephrine) into the blood stream. As a result:  
  • heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • blood flow to the skin is constricted so that more blood can flow to the muscles
  • there is an increase of glycogen release from the liver, converting it to glucose and providing extra energy.
This is what is called the fight or flight response. For example, you see a bear in the woods, your body activates physiological changes to give you the best chance of survival. The fight or flight system becomes activated and you decide to run from the bear. If you run and the bear does not follow then you body recovers and you return to homeostasis. But if the stress continues, you continue to run and the bear continues to chase you, then the adrenal cortex becomes involved.
The Cortex
The adrenal cortex is the outer part of the adrenal gland and is developed from mesodermal cells which produce connective tissue. This area of the adrenal gland is responsible for releasing three main groups of hormones. Sex hormones are released here in small amounts and mineralocorticoids are released to regulate electrolyte balance in the body. The third group of adrenal cortex hormones is glucocorticoids. When the stressor continues, the bear keeps chasing you, glucocorticoids, like cortisol, are released. Cortisol has a number of effects on the body, the main goal being to keep you alive while the bear chases you. Here is a list of some of its actions: -
  • stimulates the liver to convert amino acids to sugar instead of protein thus providing ample energy,
  • increases protein breakdown to provide nutrients to the body,
  • suppresses the body’s inflammation response also decreasing allergic reactions and wound healing. This is important because if the bear injures you or you twist your ankle while you are running, the body continues to focus all of its resources on getting away.
When you are safe and the stressor, the bear, has retreated, the body can then recover and cortisol levels return to normal.
This was a brief rundown of the adrenal gland and their role in the stress response. In the next few days, I will discuss the pathological issues that stem from the stress response, what they do to the body and ways to fix the problem.

Cohen, B. J., Taylor, J. J., & Memmler, R. L. (2009). Memmler's structure and function
of the human body (9th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott William
& Wilkins.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine.
Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Slippery Elm Bark (Ulmus fulva)

ULMUS FULVA (Slippery Elm Bark)
Trigger Word(s): promotes digestive absorption, demulcent, nutritive
Botanical Name: Ulmus fulva
Common Name: Slippery Elm
Other Names: gray elm, Indian elm, moose elm, red elm, rock elm, slipweed, sweet elm
Family: Ulmaceae (Elm Family)
Part Used: Inner bark
Slippery elm is a deciduous tree, growing between 20 to 60 feet high in eastern and central North America. The leaves are simple and alternate, unequally toothed with hairs on both sides. They are olive green and are about 4 to 6 inches long. Before the leaves emerge, the leaf buds are followed by a cluster of flowers with red anthers and purplish stigmas. The tree grows in open areas with partial shade to full sun and moist, firm soil (Mars, 2007).
CLASSIFICATION: tonify the yin, moistens mucosa and relieves dryness (Holmes, 2006).
Taste: Sweet (Tierra, 1988)
Temperature: Neutral (Tierra, 1988)
Moisture: Moist (Mars, 2007)
Direction: stabilizing
Element: Air (Cunningham, 2000)
Planet: Saturn (Cunningham, 2000)
Strength: mild remedy with minimal chronic toxicity (Holmes, 2006)
Body System(s): digestive, respiratory, integumentary, excretory
Demulcent: This is a great treatment for sensitive or inflamed mucous membranes of the digestive system (Hoffmann, 2003). It is such a demulcent that midwives used it during labor as a hand lubricant when checking a baby’s position in the birth canal (Mars, 2007).
Nutritive: So nutritious that it is often eaten as a gruel for people that can’t keep any food down, such as those recovering from an illness or going through chemotherapy (Mars, 2007).
Major Chemical Constituent(s):
Mucilage: composed of galactose, 3-methyl glactose, rhamnose and galacturonic acid residues (Hoffmann, 2003). 
Chinese Syndrome(s): lung yin deficiency, stomach and spleen Qi deficiency, bladder damp-heat, large intestine damp-heat/cold, skin damp heat (Holmes, 2006).
Western Disorder:
GI track: diarrhea, constipation (Gladstar, 2001); gastritis, gastric ulcers, duodenal ulcers, enteritis, colitis, dysentery (Hoffmann, 2003); stomach dryness, dislike of food, weight loss, underweight especially in infants and children, chronic loose stool (Holmes, 2006).
Integumentary system: burns (Gladstar, 2001); boils, scalds, carbuncles, inflamed wounds, abscesses, skin ulcers (Hoffmann, 2003).
Respiratory system: relieves dryness of the mouth and throat (Felter, 1922); dry cough with blood streaked sputum, sore throat, chronic bronchitis, croup, lung TB, lung hemorrhage, laryngitis (Holmes, 2006).
Urinary tract: irritation or pain when urinating, UTI, cystitis and urethritis especially when its chronic (Holmes, 2006).
Type of Preparation: Decoction                                                Dosage: 1 part powered root to 8 parts water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink ½ a cup three times a day (Hoffmann, 2003).
Type of Preparation: Infusion                                                    Dosage: For a long infusion, soak 6-14 grams for                                                                                                               30 to 60 minutes (Holmes, 2006).
In individuals with a weak stomach, Slippery elm may cause damp in the intestines with indigestion (Holmes, 2006).
Drug and/or Herb Interactions:
                Slippery elm may slow the absorption of orally administered drugs (Hoffmann, 2003).
Slippery elm is on the “at risk” list because so many trees have been killed for their medicine and because of the Dutch elm disease, a fungus that is carried by a beetle and attacks a tree’s circulatory system (Mars, 2007). Use it sparingly and only buy only farm-grown or ethically collected bark (Gladstar, 2001). Substitutions are also suggested.  Fremontia californica is a native California tree with almost exact properties and uses to the Slippery Elm (Tierra, 1988), and externally marshmallow has similar properties (Gladstar, 2001).
It used to be sold as medicinal flower and used in cooking because it is so nutritious (Gladstar, 2001).
In magical traditions, if you burn slippery elm and throw it into a fire with a knotted yellow cord or thread, all gossip against you will stop (Cunningham, 2000)
Cunningham, Scott. (2000). Cunningham's encyclopedia of magical herbs. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
Felter, Harvey. (1922). The eclectic material medica, pharmacology and therapeutics. Cincinati, OH: John K. Scudder. Retrieved June 23, 2010 from
Gladstar, Rosemary. (2001). Family Herbal. North Adams, MA: Storey Books.
Hoffmann, David. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Holmes, Peter. (2006). The Energetics of western herbs. Boulder, CO: Snow Lotus Press, Inc.
Mars, Brigitte. (2007). The Desktop guide to herbal medicine. Laguna Beach: Basic Health Publications, Inc.
Tierra, Michael. (1988). Planetary herbology. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Oshá Root (Ligusticum porteri)

Botanical Name: Ligusticum porter
Common Name: Oshá
Other Names: bear medicine, Canby’s licorice root, Colorado cough root, empress of the dark forest, Indian root, licorice root, loveroot, mountain carrot, mountain ginseng, nipo, oshala, Porter’s licorice root, Porter’s lovage, Scottish licorice root, wild lovage
Family: Apiaceae (Parsley Family)
Part Used: Root
Oshá is a perennial that can grow up to 5 feet tall. The stem is hollow and the leaves are pinnate and basal with several smaller leaves that clasp to the stalk. The flowers are white and grow in umbles and its aroma smells like pungent celery. It is native to the eastern and western North America and is found in damp aspen groves over 7,500 feet (Mars, 2007). Harvest Oshá in the fall after they have seeded but before the leaves have died off. The roots can be dried in the sun because of their dark bark and will not rot or mildew. They can also be stored for years (Moore, 2003).
CLASSIFICATION: eliminatingà warms the exterior, promotes sweating and dispel wind-cold (Holmes, 2006).
Taste: Spicy, bitter (Tierra, 1988)
Temperature: Warm (Tierra, 1988)
Moisture: Dry (Mars, 2007)
Direction: dispersing
Element: Fire (Mars, 2007)
Planet:  Sun/Mars. Jupiter (Mars, 2007)
Strength: mild herb with minimal chronic toxicity (Holmes, 2006)
Body System(s): nervous, reproductive, respiratory
Anti-viral: Oshá works to get rid of viral infections by elimination of toxins and sweating (Moore, 2003).
Bronchial dilator: Helps to strengthen the resiliency of the alveolar sacs (Mars, 2007).
Major Chemical Constituent(s):
Silicon; essential oils: ligustilide, terpenes; lactone glycoside; saponins; ferulic acid; phytosterols; coumarin; flavonoids (Mars, 2007).
Chinese Syndrome(s): external wind-cold, lung wind-cold, wind-damp-cold obstruction, spleen yang deficiency, kidney Qi stagnation (Holmes, 2006).
Western Disorder:
Nervous system: acute neuralgic or rheumatic pains, fibromyalgia, arthritis, toothache (Holmes, 2006).
Reproductive system: delayed menses, placenta retention, stalled labor (Mars, 2007); constant abdominal pain, amenorrhea, spasmodic dysmenorrheal (Holmes, 2006).
Respiratory system: cold miseries constantly moving down into your lungs, after cold and wet or exhausted you regularly come down with a sore throat or bronchitis, laryngitis and hoarseness from yelling or singing (Moore, 2003); tracheobronchitis (Hoffmann, 2003); asthma, catarrh, cough, emphysema, lung infection, pneumonia, sinus infection (Mars, 2007); sneezing, clear nasal discharge, coughing up white sputum, lung TB (Holmes, 2006).
Type of Preparation: Tincture                                                    Dosage: fresh root 1:2, dry root 1:5, 70% alcohol, 20-60 drops (Moore, 2003).
Type of Preparation: Cold-infusion                                         Dosage: prepare a 12 hour cold infusion and drink containing 3-8 grams of root. The mixture should be consumed hot for diaphoretic effects (Holmes, 2006).
                Avoid during pregnancy and in cases of blood and yin deficiency (Mars, 2007).
Drug and/or Herb Interactions:
                None reported
In Montana and places in Arizona, Osha is at risk and should not be collected (Moore, 2003), but because it grows so abundantly in the mountains of Colorado, we are lucky to be able to harvest it.
Oshá can be a valuable asset to individuals living or doing strenuous activity at high altitudes. It helps to slow the pulse, diminish pounding of the head, lessen effects of high altitude strenuous activity as well as increase respiratory volume by 15 to 20 percent (Moore, 2003).
Hoffmann, David. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Holmes, Peter. (2006). The Energetics of western herbs. Boulder, CO: Snow Lotus Press, Inc.
Mars, Brigitte. (2007). The Desktop guide to herbal medicine. Laguna Beach: Basic Health Publications, Inc.
Moore, Michael. (2003). Medicinal plants of the mountain west: revised and expanded edition. Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press.
Tierra, Michael. (1988). Planetary herbology. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris)

This week I wanted to provide some research that I did while at school at Just for Health School of Reflexology and Healing The program changed my life in the best way possible.

Trigger Word(s): harmonizes menstruation, root for epilepsy, stagnation, elimination
Botanical Name: Artemesia vulgaris
Common Name: Mugwort
Other Names: Artemisia, cudweed, felon herb, mother of plants, moxa, naughty man, sagebrush, sailor’s tobacco, Saint John’s herb, silver sage, whiter sage, wombwort
Family: Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
Part Used: Herb
Native to Asia but cultivated worldwide, Mugwort is an aromatic perennial growing from 2 to 5 feet in height. Its stems are grooved and hairy with leaves that are alternate, pinnate and serrated with 5 to 7 lobes. The flowers are many greenish yellow spikes with an aroma of sage or camphor. When cultivated, the soil must be well drained with moderate water in partial shade to full sun (Mars, 2007).
CLASSIFICATION and CLASS DESCRIPTION IN EWH: eliminating à promote menstruation and relieve amenorrhea (Holmes, 2006).
CLASSIFICATION IN CM: relieves stagnation (Holmes, 2006)
Taste: Bitter, acrid (Tierra, 1988)
Temperature: Slightly warm (Tierra, 1988)
Moisture: Dry (Mars, 2007)
Direction: sinking
Element: earth/water (Mars, 2007)
Planet: Earth (Cunningham, 2000)
Strength: medium-strength remedy with moderate chronic toxicity (Holmes, 2006).
Body System(s): reproductive, nervous, digestive
Bitter tonic: Mugwort supports digestion through bitter stimulation as well as through its carminative action of its volatile oils (Hoffmann, 2003).
Emmenagogue: Allows the blood to move by addressing stagnation of the blood and Qi (Holmes, 2006).
Nervine tonic: Its mild nervine action appears to be due to its content of volatile oils (Hoffmann, 2003). 
Major Chemical Constituent(s):
Volatile oil: linalool, 1,8-cineole, β-thujone, borneol, α- and β–pinene; sesquiterpene lactones: vulgarin; flavonoids; coumarin derivatives; triterpenes (Hoffmann, 2003).
Chinese Syndrome(s): uterus Qi stagnation with constraint, liver and stomach Qi stagnation, external wind-heat, internal wind, bladder damp-heat (Holmes, 2006)
Western Disorder:
Digestive tract: indigestion, epigastric bloating, appetite loss, liver congestion, gastric dyspepsia, chronic nervous vomiting, intestinal parasites (Holmes, 2006).
Musculoskeletal system: rheumatic conditions, muscle spasms (Holmes, 2006).
Nervous system: epilepsy, tremors, seizures (Holmes, 2006).
Reproductive system: irregular menstrual flow (Hoffmann, 2003), painful periods, amenorrhea, long cycles, spasmodic dysmenorrheal, harmonizes menstruation (Holmes, 2006).
Type of Preparation: Tincture                                     Dosage: 1 to 4 ml 1:5 in 25% alcohol, three times a day (Hoffmann, 2003).
Type of Preparation: Infusion                                     Dosage: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb and infuse for 10 to 15 minutes in a covered container. Strain and drink three times a day (Hoffmann, 2003).

Mugwort may cause an allergic response to individuals that are sensitive to the Asteraceae family (Hoffmann, 2003). In large doses or when used for extended periods of time, Mugwort may negatively affect the nervous system (Mars, 2007) due to its content of thujone (Holmes, 2006). It is also contraindicated during pregnancy and while nursing (Mars, 2007) because it is a uterine stimulant (Holmes, 2006).
Drug and/or Herb Interactions:
                None reported
In European herbalism, mugwort root is used effectively to treat epilepsy. It reduces the number of seizures or can cure them all together (Holmes, 2006). 
In magical traditions, mugwort has many uses. When stuffed into a pillow and slept on it can give you prophetic dreams, and when placed bed side it can assist in astral travel. As an infusion it can be drank before divination, or used as a wash for crystal balls and magic mirrors. The leaves can be placed at the base of crystal balls to aid in psychic workings or worn in ones shoes to give strength during long walks or runs (Cunningham, 2000). Legend says that John the Baptist wore Mugwort when he took to the wilderness for protection (Mars, 2007).
Cunningham, Scott. (2000). Cunningham's encyclopedia of magical herbs. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.
Hoffmann, David. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.
Holmes, Peter. (2006). The Energetics of western herbs. Boulder, CO: Snow Lotus Press, Inc.
Mars, Brigitte. (2007). The Desktop guide to herbal medicine. Laguna Beach: Basic Health Publications, Inc.
Tierra, Michael. (1988). Planetary herbology. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Medicine Is Everywhere

“God placed his pharmacy in the woods and fields so that everyone could enjoy good health.”

This quote is from one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho. It strikes a chord with me because I feel that medicine isn’t for the wealth, or the cultures that have access to it. Medicine isn’t for the doctors to give out or for patients to blindly receive. Medicine is for everyone and medicine is everywhere. It can be growing out of the cracks in the sidewalk or providing you with shade on a hot summer day. Medicine can be what you climbed in when you were a child or a bunch of flowers you received as a gift from a friend. Medicine is everywhere waiting to assist you with your health.  

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