Herbs for the Happy Tummy

February 22, 2012

I keep encountering moments with friends and colleagues when someone is struck suddenly with a very unhappy tummy, and is in need of quick digestive aid, for a little help when — oops! someone ate wheat bread and shouldn’t have, to help with gas troubles, some weird food combination that left a tummy churning, you name it. The digestive system is of course extremely important to our overall health and well-being, and when there is imbalance, one can even develop depression or anxiety troubles. But right now I am just going to address a group of herbs called carminatives. Essentially, a carminative is an herb that helps expel gas. So using a carminative is more of an acute treatment, though it can be part a long-term strategy to help with chronic digestive woes of any kind. Maybe that sounds icky, the thought that – gasp – your body might in fact have moments when gas is produced, but let’s face it, we all have “moments” and certainly our children too.  At those times, carminatives can be of great assistance, and should always be in your herbal arsenal. I will list some wonderful carminatives to have on hand in the space below, but I also want to point out two ready-made tinctures (alcohol or glycerite extracts) that are fabulous for kids and/or adults.


1. Chamomile. Yes! it’s also a nervine, and therefore great for calming your nervous system, but this delicate apple-spiced tisane (water infusion) has a time-honored tradition of soothing the digestive system. It is especially frequently used for children with its mild, sweet taste, gentle action, and comforting aroma. Chamomile is easily incorporated into a regular routine for adults and children alike and one can include other tasty nervine-carminatives to this blend such as lavender.


2. Lemon Balm. Like many other mints, lemon balm contains a high quantity of volatile oils that work to ease digestive woes. Lemon Balm, with its bright, lemony fragrance, also helps lift the spirits, so if Seasonal Affective Disorder AND tummy complaints are your bane, this is a great herb for you. It is worth noting that fresh lemon balm works best for the nervous system support but dried will help with digestive woes just as well as the fresh herb.


3. Fennel. Known for its mild anise or licorice flavor, all parts of the fennel plant are edible and provide digestive relief. I often keep the seeds on hand with this purpose in mind, and as it is also a great galactagogue (helps promote milk flow in breast feeding women), this is a wonderful herb of choice for women who are pregnant, post-partum, or nursing and experiencing both tummy trouble and the desire to support their milk flow. IT also soothes colic (because of the digestive connection) and so it is great to impart to baby via breast milk or as a water-infusion via spoon or eye dropper.


4. Cinnamon / Cassia. Usually what we think of as cinnamon is actually cassia, a close cousin. True cinnamon is sweeter than cassia, which can have a notably hot taste. The volatile oils are what usually give carminatives their power and both cinnamon and cassia have them in spades, so both are useful for digestion. Cinnamon & cassia are also energetically warming and can work as a ‘catalyst’ to enable other herbs to work better, and to stimulate digestion when food choices have been energetically damp or someone is convalescing. It is worth noting that cinnamon has also shown quite a bit of promise for people with diabetes, as it appears to stimulate insulin activity, helping the body to process sugar more efficiently.


5. Peppermint. I can’t neglect the power of menthol, the source of peppermint’s unmistakeable flavor. Spearmint is a milder mint that can be used almost interchangeably with peppermint, but if you source  good quality dried peppermint, you will be astounded by how intense the flavor is. Mint is very easy to grow and root. I actually picked some from my garden this January, as there was still some (amazingly!) hanging on, and rooted it in my kitchen where it is now happily growing in a sunny window. Peppermint is stimulating and can perk up the mind and the senses, making this a good herb to use to start your day, get your brain in gear, and forge on to new adventures.

Naturally I have many other carminative loves, but for now, I’ll just leave you with those top choices. I would also be remiss in not pointing out Herbalist & Alchemist’s Kid’s Tummy Relief, an absolutely wonderful glycerite formula that tastes delicious and can really help out a kid’s tummy in a pinch. Okay, I keep some in strategic places for myself too, but grown-ups deserve tasty too, right? Another must? Ginger extract (alcohol): I always always always keep a bottle of this in my office, my car, and my home, as it is essentially herbal first aid for myriad complaints.

Feel free to share some of your carminative loves and natural digestive aids!

Green Living: Real Milk is Raw Milk

March 3, 2011

Milk Bottles

Milk Bottles by Old Crow Black Cat (Etsy)

Guest Post from Sarah Outlaw

Raw milk is a passion of mine. In college I drank the cafeteria milk that came from the seemingly always full silver dispensers and had the worst digestive problems and stomach pains I had ever experienced. I did not realize what it was from until later. The milk I was drinking was powdered, skim milk and my body could not tolerate it. From that point on I had trouble with milk. At that time I was convinced that low-fat was the way to eat so I would buy low-fat or skim milk. I would be doubled over in pain within twenty minutes of drinking it. I began to avoid milk. When my first daughter was weaned and began drinking milk, she experienced stomach discomfort so I assumed she was lactose intolerant and changed her over to soy milk. After extensive research into unfermented soy I did not feel it was the healthiest option for our family so we stopped consuming it. I came across some information about grass-fed, organic raw milk and the health benefits of not pasteurizing or homogenizing it. We decided to give it a try. Much to my surprise, neither I nor my daughter had any digestive issues when drinking raw milk! We were hooked! When friends and family heard that we were drinking unpasteurized milk they were concerned for our safety. They were worried that we would get sick from all the bacteria in the milk. After all, the reason pasteurization exists is so that we will not get a food-borne illness. After showing them existing research that demonstrates that one is more likely to get sick from pasteurized milk than from raw, most of them were convinced that raw milk is the way to go.

Conventional milk goes through quite an extensive process to get it from farm to table. The cows are confined to crowded pens, fed grains and are rarely given grass to eat. They are routinely injected with hormones to increase milk supply and antibiotics so that they won’t get sick. These chemicals get into the milk and into the consumer. The processes of pasteurization and homogenization change the chemical makeup of the milk. Heating the milk destroys the enzymes making it more difficult to digest. Most people diagnosed lactose intolerant are in reality reacting to the denatured milk void of necessary enzymes. It also damages the proteins and diminishes vitamin potency. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are added to conventional milk to replace those destroyed. Homogenization is the process that mixes the milkfat into the milk so that it cannot separate and float to the top. To accomplish this, the milk is extruded through small holes with use of extreme pressure to break up the fat globules. It also undergoes additional heating and high temperatures with can further alter nutrition content. Milk in its raw state contains an enzyme called xanthine oxidase or XO. This enzyme is mutated during homogenization and is linked to heart disease.

Milk Jug : Art by Carey (Etsy)

In sharp contrast, grass-fed, organic cows are allowed to roam in large pastures with plenty of grass to eat and fresh air. If you have ever been to a family farm you know this to be true. There are fewer numbers of cows on these farms and they are taken care of properly with natural medicines and proper food. Cows are ruminants. They have four stomachs and chew their cud. They are meant to eat grass, not grain. When a cow eats too much grain, her body becomes more acidic which affects digestion and milk composition. They friendly bacteria in the gut are diminished thus making her more prone to illness.

Raw milk is a complete food and contains all eight amino acids. It is a healing food and has been known to help prevent or lessen the instance of allergies, asthma, and ear infections. There are also over sixty enzymes present in raw milk aiding digestion and protecting the milk from bacteria. Probiotics in the milk also prevent harmful pathogens. Conjugated linolic acid (known as CLA and also in breastmilk) is plentiful in raw milk. It is an Omega 6 fatty acid that aids in strengthening the immune system and lowering food allergy reactions. No vitamins or minerals need to be added to raw milk. The milk literally goes from the farm straight to your table. There is a recent study that suggests that raw milk from older breeds such as Jersey of Guernsey cows are more healthful because of something called the A1/A2 Factor. This is something that definitely warrants further study.

There are so many benefits to raw milk and so much more information about it that I suggest delving further into the subject using the resources listed at the end of this post. Where you get your milk is very important. Know your farmer and the farm. Know the breed of cow and what they are fed. It is wise to be informed so that you can make an educated decision about raw milk.

Real Milk www.realmilk.com

Raw Milk Facts http://www.raw-milk-facts.com

Raw Milk Advocacy and Resources http://www.raw-milk-facts.com

The Devil in the Milk http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/the-devil-in-the-milk-dr-thomas-cowan-on-how-a2-milk-is-the-answer-to-the-mystery-of-why-even-raw-milk-sometimes-does-not-seem-to-be-enough-of-an-improvement-over-store-bought/

Sarah Outlaw is a work-at-home wife and mother of 3 who is passionate about natural living, natural medicine, and real food. She is the owner of 90210 Organics, an Eco-boutique, and is a Certified Health Coach & Natural Living Consultant.


“Milk Bottles” by Old Crow Black Cat, on Etsy.
“Old Fashioned Milk Jug”, Art by Carey Pavlik on Etsy.

Horseradish (Armoacia Rusticana): International Herb of 2011

February 18, 2011

Horseradish Horseradish? That seems to have been everyone’s response to the choice of International Herb of 2011, despite this herb’s long use as a medicinal herb. Not only is horseradish’s spicy, peppery taste a flavor booster, but it has the ability to clear the sinuses (you know what I am talking about!) and also has a range of antibacterial activity, which makes it additionally useful for infections. A powerful diuretic, horseradish has been used throughout the centuries to treat kidney stones and similar problems. Not surprisingly, horseradish is also great for indigestion and putrefaction in the digestive tract. As an expectorant, horseradish is helpful with lung problems, including asthma and coughs, and is additionally useful for arthritis. To add to the laundry list of uses, horseradish can be used as a skin treatment to remove blemishes and lighten discoloration; it is a successful vermifuge for expelling worms and parasites; it’s an immune stimulant that can strengthen a worn down system and as an anti-oxidant, helps counter the negative effects of pollution and stress; it’s also a detoxifier for the liver and spleen. It can even be held to the nose of a nursing baby who can’t nurse well because of a stuffy nose (the fumes will be strong for the baby, who may cry for a minute because of it, but it’s effective and safe).

For a sinus remedy, the famous herbalist, Dr. Christopher, recommends the following: “Start with 1/4 teaspoon of the freshly grated root and hold it in your mouth until all the taste is gone. It will immediately start cutting the mucus loose from the sinuses to drain down the throat. This will relieve the pressure in your sinuses and help clear infection.” Incidentally, the grated root is apparently sweeter and milder when fresh than when purchased from the store.

I think horseradish is perhaps best known as one of the five bitter herbs (along with coriander, horehound, lettuce, and nettle) eaten historically during the feast of the Passover Seder.

I’m chagrined to admit that despite the obvious strength of horseradish’s energy, I haven’t used this herb very much myself, and could also do to incorporate it into my diet more often. Herb Companion has posted a number of culinary recipes for the use of horseradish, including those listed here. Leek and Celery Root Gratin with Horseradish looks really intriguing, and just like I enjoy mashed potatoes with dijon or whole seed mustard, I’m sure I’d love the peppery addition of horseradish to a creamy potato dish.

Real Food: Guest post from a Real Foodie

February 9, 2011
heirloom carrots red color

Heirloom carrots (seeds) from Bear Foot Shaman on Etsy

In a country where food marketing is big business and we are bombarded with processed food ads in our mail and on television, it can sometimes be overwhelming learning how to eat. Our children are being told by peers and media that colorful packaged food is cool, and the added vitamins are appealing to parents at the same time. We have been taught that butter is bad and that low fat is best, yet we are the most overweight country in the world. We and our children are paying a high price as we are continuously overfed but undernourished. Simplifying our food and going back to basic, traditional food is the only way we are going to be able to take back our health and gain an appreciation for real food.

Strawberry Jam from Hope's Pantry on Etsy

Jam from Hope's Pantry on Etsy

A definition for “real food” is food that is unprocessed and unaltered. Real food contains all of its own natural occurring vitamins and has not had anything taken out, nor has it been fortified with anything. Grass-fed beef, raw milk, and organic strawberries are examples of real food. Dinner in a box, ultra-pasteurized skim milk, and toaster pastries are not real food. The biggest difference between real food and “fake food” is that both will quench hunger but only one will nourish. Real food from organic, family farms is green and sustainable because animals that are raised grass-fed and organically are eating off the land and giving back to it. Cows and chicken are allowed to roam freely in green pastures with rotating shelters and have plenty of room. Crops are rotated properly so the use of dangerous chemical pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides are unnecessary.

Lavender buds

Lavender buds from Twig and Leaf Botanical on Etsy

Many people do not realize how simple eating real food can be. Initially it may take some extra time, preparation, and effort changing over from the quick and easy processed food mentality. It will take time to relearn and rethink everything you have been taught about food. Once a system is in place, it becomes second nature. The first step is to find local sources for food. Farmer’s Markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), and food co-ops are wonderful for sourcing organic produce, grass-fed and free-range meat and eggs, and raw milk. Supporting local farmers is a great way to ensure that they can provide real food for years to come. Starting a backyard garden is also wonderful for becoming more sustainable and self-sufficient with food. Learning to eat in season and growing your own food can be so rewarding and anyone with a little sunny spot on a porch, balcony, or yard can do it. Even small spaces can benefit from a container garden full of herbs, tomatoes, lettuce, or cucumbers.

"grow your own food" tshirt on a young boy

T-shirt from Happy Family on Etsy

Preparing real food is really fun and exciting. Eating to live rather than living to eat opens the door to new culinary experiences. Once you get a taste of real food you will never want to go back! If there are children in the home, cooking with them and teaching them about where their food comes from will enrich their lives beyond the kitchen. It is time to think outside the box!


** CSA, Farmer’s Markets, and Real Milk:
Local Harvest
Eat Wild
Real Milk

A few of my favorite Real Food Blogs:
Food Renegade
Nourishing Days
Cheese Slave
Healthy Home Economist
Kitchen Stewardship
Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Frugal Granola
The Nourishing Gourmet
Heavenly Homemaker
Health Home Happy
Living the Nourished Life

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert
Real Food – What to eat and Why by Nancy Planck
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Image Sources (photos in post)
The Bear Foot Shaman (Etsy.com)
Hope’s Pantry (Etsy.com)
Twig and Leaf Botanicals (Etsy.com)
Happy Family (Etsy.com)


Sarah Outlaw is a work-at-home wife and mother of 3 who is passionate about natural living, natural medicine, and real food. She is the owner of 90210 Organics, an Eco-boutique, and is a Certified Health Coach & Natural Living Consultant.

Winter Wonderland Etsy Shop S A L E

January 13, 2010
"devotional" by Skoonberg on Etsy

"devotional" by Skoonberg on Etsy

This is a SECRET SALE for my loyal blog readers and Facebook fans (or anyone who happens to drop by) for my Etsy store, Lilith’s Apothecary!! I am getting ready for a new year, including new products and an ever more refined facial care line. In the meantime, you can get some oldies but goodies on sale — and perhaps for the last time, as some of these products will not be returning. They are wonderful items using the best quality ingredients available, but anyone in the Bath & Body Care business will tell you, quite simply, I offer Too Many Products! Oh well, I view my business more as a service to you than as a corporate-headed profit making endeavor. Be aware that each sale price below is only good  while supplies last, so order soon to get your special deal!

The savings below are between $1-5 off the regular price, which really adds up!
So my SECRET WINTER SALE includes the following:

cleansing porta bidet My fabulous Cleansing Porta Bidet (a product I don’t think I could personally do without) for cleansing refreshment in the boudoir. This is one of those golden products that has so many uses. Be creative! Also ideal as a Post Partum Sitz Spritz.
2 oz @ only $4
4 oz @ only $7

cleansing elixir Balancing Cleansing Elixir for Normal to Oily Skin ~ the perfect all-purpose cleanser for those who want to balance oil production, combat acne, and use a product that both gently cleans and tonifies skin. I’ve been using these elixirs for years with fantastic results. You’ll never get such high levels of quality ingredients (read: no “fillers”) anywhere commercially. This size is perfect for trial use or travel.
2 oz @ $4

Dead Sea Clay Facial Mask An amazing product if you really want results :: the ever popular Dead Sea Clay Facial mask does quick work of problem skin — or even just oilier types — by deep cleansing, detoxifying, and actually working to achieve balance. This product is wonderful when used at least once a month up to once a week.
4 oz $11 (that’s $5 off!!!)

Calendula and Milk Facial Mask Calendula and Milk Facial Mask ~ Perfect for those sensitive skin types who are afraid to try anything on their faces. Don’t fear! You too can get the deep cleansing, skin revitalizing effects of a clay facial mask but in a way that is non-drying, non-irritating, and even provides gentle moisturization and healing. A lovely, smooth and glowy mask that I’ve always thought of as “the nectar of the gods”.
4 oz @ $11 (that’s $5 off!!!)

Cocoa Butter Body Balm My luscious Cocoa Butter Body & Belly Balm :: this is a popular product that many would never choose to do without. Wonderful as a belly balm for new mothers or as a fabulous skin protectant and deep moisturizer for all, including babies and children. It’s unscented for the most sensitive skin types, but contains a high level of natural cocoa butter that imparts a delicious scent all its own!
2 oz @ only $6
4 oz @ only $11

Salt Scrub / Body Polish Bright, refreshing, and winter-moisturizing Lemon Mandarin Body Polish for glowy skin. Awesome for revitalizing dull, winter dry skin and adding an extra layer of scented moisture!8 oz @ only $8 (some stores charge even $24 for such a product!)

Salt Scrub / Body Polish Smoldering, sexy and luxurious Osiris body polish ~ one of my most popular unisex scents with hints of cedarwood, vanilla, and subtle spice.
8 oz @ only $8

Salt Scrub / Body Polish Spicy, revitalizing, and zesty Spiral Dance Body Polish ~ a fabulous scent for all of you who adore spicy scents, including cassia, clove, and even hints of juicy tangerine.
8 oz for $8

Lemon Mandarin Shaving Soap Need something bright, refreshing and wonderfully sudsy? Try my Lemon Mandarin shaving soap. It’s made of pure, high quality glycerin for a bath soap that is very large, scented only with 100% natural citrus essential oils, and certainly not drying whatsoever. You’ll love it!
1 generous bar $4

Liquid Castille Soap Pure natural goodness for a hand soap, shower soap, or any other purpose needed. This organic liquid castille soap has a lovely texture and lather yet remains non-drying and safe for all skin types. This 8 oz, cobalt blue glass bottle of soap is unscented (great for sensitive skin, including babies) and fully re-usable.

 8 oz @ $6.50


When you check-out on ETSY, type in “WINTERSALE” in the message to seller box and I’ll refund your savings via paypal refund right away! Please also note whether you heard about the sale via FB or my blog. If you want to pay by other means, just ask me to send you a new invoice. Thanks for joining me in this Winter fun, and of course, I love hearing from you any time with product suggestions, requests, ideas, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Happy 2010!

What’s all the fuss about Seaweeds?

August 11, 2009

048seaweed_468x313Thalassotherapy, from the Greek word “thalassa”, meaning “sea”,  involves the medical use of beneficial aspects of the marine biosystem, including seaweeds, mud, sand, and sea water.  Long used by Mediterranean peoples, thalassotherapy has been enjoying more global attention in recent years, and indeed, seaweed wraps, dead sea clay masks and scrubs, and sea mineral soaks have been popping up in spas everywhere. Many Americans are a little more leary of actually eating seaweed, though its nutritional benefits are tremendous. It’s well worth acclimating oneself to the taste and texture of seaweed, which is actually quite subtle and lovely, especially when made in ways traditional to Mediterranean or Asian cultures who have long experimented with in local cusine.

Nutritionally, seaweeds are an exceptional source of bioavailable, essential minerals necessary for proper functioning and optimum health. It is well understood that the peoples who consume high rates of seaweeds, such as the Japanese, have high amounts of seaweed in their diet. Indeed, I have heard more than once that Japan’s great health secret is not soy, increasingly found as a controversial food that actually blocks the update of vital minerals, but rather, seaweeds. Gail Faith Edwards, in her lovely Herb Quarterly article, “Seaweed:  Herb of the Ocean,” writes that Kelp (brown algae; Luminariales family) contains the broadest range of minerals of any food: “the same minerals found in the ocean and in human blood, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron.” (Edwards, 2007:29)  Luminaria longicruris is one variety of kelp to be found on the NE coast; it has lovely long golden fronds and exceedingly high levels of these minerals, as well as being an unparalleled source of other essential trace nutrients, including iodine. Kelp apparently has a normalizing effect on the thyroid and parathyroid, which help the body absorb all of these minerals, and this leads to a reduction in the risk of hypertension and high blood pressure (Edwards, 2007:29). Other research suggests that kelp destroys cancer cells and stimulates immune function, as well as an intriguing finding that kelp even has the ability to bind with radioactive isotypes in the body, alllowing them to be safely excreted. This leads one to believe that consuming kelp during radiation treatment may protect you from some of the nasty side effects many fighting cancer endure. Indeed, herbalist Susun Weed writes about kelp’s protective, anti-cancer, anti-radiation, anti-tumor, anti-oxidant, anti-toxic, anti-rheumatic, antibiotic, antibacterial, and alterative properties in her well-known book, Healing Wise (Weed, 1989:222).

Dulse (Palmaria palmate) is a deep, red algae with a very high protein content of more than 22% of the daily recommended allowance. Dulse is a better source of protein than chick peas (gram), almonds, or whole sesame seeds, and is also high in iron, potassium, fiber, and vitamins B6 & B12. I often use dulse flakes sprinkled liberally over my rice, vegetable stir fries, or other savory dishes. You don’t need to use much to gain tremendous nutritional benefit. You can rinse it a bit to tenderize it before adding it to salads and other foods where the steam of cooking won’t soften it a bit. But otherwise, no cooking necessary for this useful supplement. It is interesting to note that adding seaweed to cooking beans actually helsp tenderize the beans, shortening cooking time and aiding in their digestion.

Worried about the salts in seaweed? Unlike sodium chloride (table salt), which is made up of sugar, aluminum salts, and several other agents along with sodium chloride and may cause cardiac stress, sodium itself is not to blame for high blood pressure. The naturally-occurring sodium in seaweeds relieves tension in blood vessels. Real, evaporated sea salt is pinkish in color, so be sure you know what you are using! (Weed 1989:225).  Seaweed is a heart-healthy food that can help correct cardiac problems (Kosuge, et al 1983: 683-685).

Finally, seaweed appears to be a wonderful endocrine regulator, providing optimum nourishment for hormonal, lymphatic, urinary, and nervous systems.  In other words, you can’t go wrong by incorporating this superfood into your diet. For daily supplemental use of seaweed, try a teaspoonful (5 g) of seaweed daily, combined with other nourishing herbal infusions as needed. This is a wonderful adjunct therapy for addressing problems with thyroid malfunction, goiter, impotence, infertility, obesity, anorexia, prostate enlargement, lack of ovulation, menopausal distress, allergic reactions, and hives.

Dead Sea clay facial mask

Dead Sea clay facial mask

Japanese beauty customs have long incorporated seaweed into rituals. The electorlytic magnetic action of seaweed is said to release excess body fluid from congested cells and disolves fatty waste, replacing it with depleted minerals. A regular seaweed bath may even help insure more well-balanced hormones, due to high levels of vitamin K, which helps regulate adrenal function. You can easily make your own bath tea using mineral rich dead sea salts and dried seaweed (see recipe below).  Create a seaweed infusion for your hair to help remove dirt and excess oil, while nourishing hair with necessary nutrients for beautiful locks. Just add 2 -3 Tbsp of seaweed to hot water and infuse for 30 minutes before using as a hair rinse at the end of a shower or bath. I  also love using dead sea clay along with seaweeds (kelp, Irish moss, and dulse)  and medicinal mushrooms in a balancing, deep cleansing, and mineral rich facial mask, such as my dead sea clay facial mask, pictured above.


(Sunomono) Wakame & Cucumber Salad:
1 small cucumber
1/2 tsp salt
(.5 oz) 1 cup wakame seaweed (softened in cool water for 10-15 min & sliced)
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 lb. small cooked shrimp (optional)
toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Cut softened wakame seaweed into about 2inch-long pieces. Slice cucumber into very thin rounds. Put salt over cucumber slices and set aside for 20 minutes. Squeeze cucumber slices to remove the liquid. Mix vinegar, tamari, & sesame oil in a bowl. Add wakame seaweed and cucumber slices in the bowl and mix well. Add optional cooked shrimp if desired.
Thalassotherapy Seaweed Bath Soak:
1 cup (.5 oz) dried seaweed (wakame, kelp, etc)
1 cup dead sea salts or other mineral -rich bath salt
2 Tbsp dead sea clay or other cosmetic clay
1 large muslin bag or cheesecloth
Blend the above ingredients (dry) and use it to fill a large muslin bag or fold into a square of cheesecloth and tie. Of course, you don’t have to enclose the ingredients if you don’t mind the loose blend in the tub! Fill a bath tub with warm water (not scalding) and add the seaweed bundle. Allow the seaweed & salts to infuse into the bath water and soak in the tub for thirty minutes or so.

Edwards, Gail Faith (2007) “Seaweed: Herb of the Ocean,” The Herb Quarterly. Fall 2007: 28-31.
Kosuge, T, H. Nukaya, T. Yamamoto, & K. Tsuji (1983). “isolation and Further Identification of Cardiac principles from laminaria,” Yakugaku Zasshi, 103(6), 683-685.
Madlener, Judith C. The Sea Vegetable Book. 1977. Potter Pub. (nearly 200 recipes! Look in Used Book sites)
Weed, Susun (1989). Healing Wise. Ash Tree Publishing: NY.

Sources of locally-sourced US seaweed:
Maine Coast Seaweed
Pacific Botanicals
Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company (including Sea Vegetable Gourmet cookbook)

Nervous about Swine Flu? Look to Herbal Medicine for Immune Boosting

April 29, 2009

echinacea_300x300I’m going to reveal something you might not know about me – as a medical anthropologist (my professional training, aside from herbal studies),- it is tough to find a job that is ‘specific’ to my anthropological studies (as any anthropologists reading this will attest to!). One place where medical anthropologists fit in fairly neatly is in the public health field, particularly anthropologists who are more on-the-ground oriented. I work in a Center for Preparedness Research Education and Practice as my ‘regular’ 40 hour work week job, and part of what I do involves providing support to non-profit service providers of vulnerable populations in the area of emergency preparedness planning and training. I’ve been involved in numerous discussions, planning efforts, and even some research around pandemic influenza planning, and so am well tuned-in to the events of recent days.

There have been numerous reports to date that demonstrate the many ways that Tamiflu and other pharmaceutical antirvirals do not really work in preventing viruses. But for centuries, alternative medical systems have practiced preventative medicine by 1) building the immune system, and 2) using anti-viral and anti-biotic herbs. Herbs contain chemicals with different ‘actions’ on the body, and many of these chemical compounds are extracted or copied in order to produce the pharmaceuticals. The downside of these pharma drugs is that the side effects are often bad and the toll on the body can be hard, particularly for the liver.

Fears about swine flu abound, and with the alert level raised to ‘5’ today, its no wonder that the public is getting a bit anxious. In the preparedness field, we have learned one thing (at least), and that is to give people something that is in their control to do in the given situation. Does that make sense? In other words, if you can be proactive in taking care of at least one or two elements in your situation, you will feel empowered and are less likely to be fearful or panicked.

Approaches to viral and retroviral medicine have shifted over time to favor immune-building approaches to treatment rather than relying solely on antiviral drugs. The reason? The huge rate of mutation and eventual resistance to these drugs (if not immediate resistance). Boost your body’s immune strength and concurrently treat it with antivirals once a pathogen strikes.

So what herbs can we use? Lots. Master herbalist, Michael Tierra of the East West School of Planetary Herbalism, writes about the antibiotic and antiviral powers of pure oregano oil in his blog post about MRSA, and much of this is just as applicable to treating cold & flus. In some earlier posts, I also outlined some Herbal Remedies for Colds and Flus, Part I and Part II, both of which included immune-boosting herbs like Astragalus and anti-viral herbs and foods such as onions, garlic, thyme, etc.

I can’t leave out the power of Adapotens to boost the body’s ability to ward off infection and just generally cope with stress, reduce fatigue, and help us ‘adapt’ better to the stressors of our lifestyles. Adaptogens include well known ayurvedic tonics, Ashwaghanda and Shatavari, and Asian tonics such as Red Ginseng, Korean Ginseng, Eleuthro Root (Siberian Ginseng), and Rhodiola Root. These should be taken regularly and constently, along with Astragalus, for a strong immune-boosting tonic.

muira-puma-capsulesI have recently posted some immune-boosting capsules and herbal syrup on my etsy site and would welcome your comments and feedback both on etsy and here. What herbal anti-virals have worked well for you? I’ve heard about the use of colloildal silver for the treatment of flu, for instance, but have no experience with this treatment. Let me know your thoughts by commenting on this post! This won’t be the last of its kind.