Herb of the Week #9 :: Kava Kava

People generally say one of two things to me when they hear I am a nutritionist “oh, my eating is terrible” or “My eating is pretty health.” Both of those may be true but we are missing one element that can make both people the one eating well and the other one not-so-much that can make all the difference: stress! Without going into too much detail, I am working on writing a post on stress and how it affects our body on a physical level (I think we all know how it affects us on an emotional level) but until then, know that it very much affects how we digest or rather how we don’t digest our food is we are in a stressed state, which means that good (or bad) food we are eating is not being turned into the good vitamins and minerals that we need from it. And that’s just to start. It does so much more in our bodies as well! So the moral of todays story is, relax! Have a small cup of some kava tea. Take a minute or 5 to breath then enjoy your food. I promise just doing that will really improve your digestion and nutrient absorption.

And now to the relaxing and calming plant the week, Kava Kava!

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Botanical Latin Name: Piper methysticum

Botanical Family: Piperaeace (pepper) family

Parts used: roots

Method: Tea, Tincture

Actions: nervine, sedative, hypnotic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anesthetic, anti-fungal, anti-depressant

Energetics: warming, yang, earth/air

Taste: bitter, pungent, tongue-numbing

Dosage: Tea – infuse 1 tsp herb to 8 oz of water, steep for 10-15 minutes, drink 1-2 cups daily. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (10-60 drops) 1-4 times daily.

Contraindications: pregnancy, lactation, hepatic diseases, liver disease, barbiturates and alcohol. Do not use more than 9 grams daily or for long term, this many affect liver enzymes. If you start to have scaly skin, stop using. Additionally, because of its desirable effects it tends to be overused. It is not meant to intoxicate, it can cause nausea, impairment and unconsciousness.

Kava kava is native to Polynesia. Originally it was used in its native countries for ceremonies, social functions, celebrations, and meetings. It’s known to ease social anxiety by calming the nerves and reducing the chances of conflict. There is a saying that “there can be no hate in the heart when one has kava.” Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar says “it is known to relax the body while awakening the mind.” It can help with tight muscles and pain, sleep and stress reduction.

Helpful uses for kava kava:

  • General and acute anxiety, depression and/or stress or panic attacks
  • Insomnia and aid in sleep
  • Muscle tension, spasms and pain
  • Asthma
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cystitis
  • Tension headaches
  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity
  • Topically for athlete’s foot or ringworm
  • Urinary tract infection, vulval itching, vaginitis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Toothaches
  • Emotional swings

Rosemary Gladstar has a kava punch concoction that she mentions in her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. “Prepare a strong tea; add cinnamon, ginger and cardamom for flavor. Let the tea sit several hours or overnight, then strain. Add pineapple juice and coconut milk for flavor and serve chilled…It definitely seems to elevate the spirits and brighten the mood.”

There is even a kava bar here in Denver called Kavasutra. I haven’t been yet, but definitely want to try it out soon. Have you ever tried Kava? Thoughts?

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A Personal Update + How to Get Your Best Skin Ever & What they Don’t Tell You When You Finish Nutrition School

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I know. I know. That’s a very grand title. But I promise by the end of this post you will have the secret to your best skin ever.

Seriously. I’m not even joking.

For me, this journey for better skin (I had very acneic skin) began a long-ass time ago. I mean over 2 decades ago, when I was 14-years-old. It began when my periods became so painful that kept me home from school coupled with the pimple-laden skin that comes with being a hormonal teenager (sorry for those dudes reading this, I’ll just warn you now that this will be about hormones and the like). I sought out several medical opinions and was told by all of them that the best and only course of action to kill both birds with one stone was to get on a hormonal birth control pill.

So, at the young age of 14 I started on The Pill. As promised it was a miracle. It helped almost immediately with the painful periods and cleared up most of my acne. However, my periods were still painful, but just slightly less so that I could attend school and participate in other activities. I was still popping the 500-800 mg of Ibuprofen that my doctor said I safely could. Not once did anyone mention changing anything else in my life, diet, exercise, etc.

A few years later, when I moved across the country to the east coast to attend college, my acne came flooding back. Naturally, my first reaction was that this magic pill wasn’t so magical anymore and I must need something else. I found a new doctor and got on a new pill. Once again, it seemed to help a little but not to the extent I would have liked. I still had acne and I still have physical and mental pain from my cycle.

I thought there had to be something else I could do. I started getting regular facials and buying all the products I could afford (in hindsight, I couldn’t even afford that, I left school with more loans than I could repay). After all the pills and money spent, my acne was no better than before. Sure, for a few days after my facial it would be better, but it always came right back.

Four years later, I moved back to the west coast. I went into more debt, this time in credit card debt, still getting facials and buying products I couldn’t afford. I mean, now I was in Los Angeles after all, the city known for its good looks. Where money is just an illusion, Bentley’s are everywhere and everyone lives on credit. I had to do everything that I could to fit in and I knew acne was NOT tolerated.

It was during one of my monthly book club gatherings that one of the gals mentioned how bad birth control was for our bodies and that she decided to get off it after over a decade of being on it. I didn’t think too much of it at the time and rationalized that she was in a long-time committed relationship and could “afford” to try that experiment.

Slowly, one by one the ladies of book club all jumped on the no-birth-control bandwagon. I thought long and hard about it. But it wasn’t until I met my now husband in 2010 that I felt like I had the freedom to do this as well. In hindsight, I know that’s not true, but I was not the most responsible 20-something in Los Angeles. We all have the choice to do what ever we want. But it’s just that: how much do you want it?

In 2011, I finally decided after being in a committed relationship for over a year that I could and would finally get off this darn prescription. I quickly educated myself with the help of the internet and my doctor on how get off the pill and still not get pregnant. In addition, to good communication with my partner and using the Fertility Awareness Method, I could confidently get off the pill after over a decade of being on it.

At this point I was now in my late 20s. I thought all my hormonal issues from my early teens would surely be over. Oh, how wrong I was.

Dead. Wrong.

Not long after ditching the pill, the oh-so-painful periods flooded back and now with a new addition…painful ovulation (as you may-or-may-not-know the pill stops pregnancy by not allowing ovulation). Now, I was in pain twice a month, as well as, the ugly, painful acne I had as a teen was even worse now than I remembered in high school.

How was it that I was an adult now and still having all these issues?!?!

I started doing research on what else I could do to help my skin and menstrual pain. I knew getting off birth control was in a large part getting back to a more natural state of being. So, I knew I didn’t want to turn to western medicine again. It was clear to me that that didn’t solve anything, just merely masked the symptoms of a larger problem. I didn’t want to blame a doctor for thinking that this or any pill was magic and would solve my problems, but at the time I had a hard time maintaining any faith in allopathic medicine.

Here’s a fun fact: while I was in nutrition school I learned that most doctors only take the minimum required one to two classes in nutrition as a part of their 8-year medical degree? I know now that western medicine doctors are only doing what they are taught. For most of them medicine and practicing means is to treat symptoms not get to the root cause.

So, now what?

I found a holistic esthetician in Los Angeles who shared all her tips and tricks on getting better skin. But even after a year of working with her, taking a fair share of supplements and thinking I was eating healthy, still nothing changed.

What was I still missing?

Even my esthetician was stumped. She mentioned seeing a naturopathic doctor, and at the time I was like, what? what kind of doctor is that? I did my research and booked an appointment. We did a lot of blood work and she introduced me to my first elimination diet. I had eliminated gluten before, but only because all my friends were doing it and I thought I should check it out to see what the big deal was and what I was missing. I had no idea what I was in for. The results from the blood work that was done (the ELISA test) showed that I was basically allergic to all the foods I was eating on a regular basis. And in hindsight, knowing what I know now as a nutritionist and as someone who knows about many of the different types of testing that can be done I am not in full support of this type of testing for food allergies. Though it did shed light on what was going on, it speaks more to leaky gut than specific allergies to specific foods. And the elimination diet that I was put on was not the right one for what I needed.

To digress for a second, the term elimination diet is thrown around quite often these days and is pretty trendy. That being said, it is a great tool to healing the body and figuring out what is going on, as well. There are countless different types of elimination diets. The only true elimination diet is to exclude all the highly allergic foods (yes, there is an actual list) until you feel great. This could be as little as 3 weeks and as long as 3-6 months, depending on what is going on with your health and what the symptoms are. I have walked numerous clients through this process and support them with recipes, menu plans and emotional support as well, this process can bring up emotional issues along the way. If you’re interested feel free to get in touch with me for a free consult 🙂 They can be key in identifying what’s going on and how to make you feel your best.

Ok, back to my story…the naturopath doctor didn’t yield the results I expected. Ugh! Another dead end. I had little faith that this would even get solved. My family did have a history of bad acne. I was really starting to believe this was just something I would have to live with…

I was reinvigorated when my boyfriend of 4 years proposed to me on a summer vacation. It was the most wonderful surprise. But I remember being thankful there were no pictures of that night. I had no make-up on and my confidence was lacking, to say the least. I recalled thinking, how nice it would be to one day feel good, even great, without any make-up on.

Now there was the wedding to think about. And who doesn’t want to look and feel their best on that day!?! I had to do something!

I became interested in natural products, using food as medicine and holistic health. When I wasn’t working on design stuff that’s pretty much all I read. I discovered the Dr. Junger Cleanse. I found a new esthetician, Brandi (the absolute best, and miss her so much) at the Arcona Studio in Santa Monica, just a block from my work. My skin was starting to look much better.

After the wedding, I left my job of 3 years and career of over 10 years and we moved to Denver, Colorado. I went back to school to follow my new love, nutrition and health. After 18 wonderful months of wellness education at the Bauman College in Boulder, I had my  holistic nutritional consultant certificate.

Somehow, I also left with only slightly better skin than when I started. How was it that I could have this amazing education and still manage to not fix my own health issues? I definitely wasn’t ready for this. No one tells you when you finish your nutrition education that it doesn’t necessarily mean you will have solved your own issues. I learned that even those that seem to have it all together, don’t always have it all figured out. It’s a process that’s different for everyone. I don’t know that I will ever have it ALL figured out. But that’s why we keep learning new things and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It also keeps things interesting…gotta keep life interesting.

I digress… back to the story: after nutrition school, I sought out another naturopath. Despite my first experience not resulting in what I imagined, now I had a new education in health and wellness and thought maybe I was in a better position to use my education plus the doctors’ knowledge to get maximum benefits.

I went to see Dr. Caitlyn O’Connor at All Families Natural Health. She came highly recommended. Let’s be honest here, after now 5 years since ditching the birth control (of which I blame for 75% of my health issues), too much money on facials and supplements, and a new education in nutrition, I was willing more now than ever to try anything. She confirmed a lot of what I already knew and was already doing. However, she also wanted to do a few new tests, specifically the DUTCH test and a 3-day stool sample. Neither were particularly fun, but neither were particularly painful either. But the results from these two tests were ASTOUNDING! I found out exactly which hormones were working well and which ones needed help. I found out I was not digesting my proteins well, that my gut bacteria were ok but some were lacking, and so much more! With the guidance of Dr. O’Connor, I could now pinpoint what supplements I really needed and how best to eat for my optimal health.

After 6 weeks of this new regime I noticed a significant difference in my skin. After 3 months I felt so great I was confident going out in public without make-up on. And one added benefit I wasn’t prepared for was how great I would feel emotionally. A better balance in my body of nutrients and new-found self-confidence from clearer skin translated to better mental well-being and a happier me.

Here’s a little before and after, note, that when I went looking for pictures of when it was at it’s worst, I was surprised to find I didn’t have any. I guess I was so self conscious I didn’t take any pictures on it! Yikes!

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I share a bit of this on my About page on my website. I thought it would be helpful to share the full journey and where I finally am today. My hope is that in sharing this it will shed some light on skin and hormonal health. And as in many health issues it can be a process figuring out what works. Don’t give up! Don’t cave in to what western medicine says. I do believe it has it’s place in our world. But when anyone tells you, even a doctor, that you have to live with something or the only solution is prescription meds, you have other alternatives.

I definitely haven’t solved it all, but I am so much closer now than ever! It’s a journey for sure. I’d love to hear your health journey! What’s going on? Have you ever struggled from soemthing you were told you had to live with? Maybe chalked it up to genetics? Please share!

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Herb of the Week #8 :: Oats

This weeks’ herb is another must-have in anyone’s daily routine: Oats

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Botanical Latin Name: Avena Sativa

Botanical Family: Gramineace (grass) family

Parts used: milky oat seeds and aerial parts

Method: Tea, Tincture

Actions: Nervine, alterative, antiseptic, sedative, nutritive, stimulant, antidepressant, demulcent, vulnerary, restorative, antisposmadic

Energetics: moistening and neutral

Taste: mildly sweet and salty, nutritious tasting

Dosage: Tea – infuse 1 tbsp of herb to 8 oz of water, steep for 10-15 minutes, drink 1-4 cups daily. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 1-3 times daily.

Contraindications: Those with a gluten sensitivity might want to avoid it. This is a touchy subject; some herbalists say to avoid it with any gluten issues while others say it’s not a problem. If you have celiac you would probably want to avoid it. If you are just gluten sensitive or simply avoiding it, I don’t think it needs to be avoided. But that is a personal choice and will vary. Caution possible blocking of the pain relieving effect of those on morphine and may increase blood pressure for those using nicotine.

Oats are packed with nutrients, they are high in silica, calcium, chromium, magnesium, zinc, manganese and vitamin B. They are great for cardio support and due to its high silica content, it is great for connective tissue, skin and nerves. Oats provide overall health and vitality and can provide energy. For those that are stressed, overworked, suffer from depression, anxiety, low sex drive or irritability, oats can provide relief sue to its soothing actions on the nervous system. Additionally, it’s great to support calm in children.

From Herbalist David Hoffman in his book Medical Herbalism, he says “Oats is one of the best remedies for ‘feeding’ the nervous system, especially when the patient is under stress.”

Oats can support any long-term illness. They are also known to support and sooth irritation from nicotine withdraw and many other addictive behavior recoveries. It is also wonderful for soothing skin irritation and inflammation, relieving itching and symptoms from dermatitis, psoriasis and fungal and viral rashes.

Oats are generally labeled as one of three types: milky oat tops, oat straw or wilds oats. From the blog Way of the Wild Heart, “Oats are the seeds, milky oat tops refer to the unripe seeds and the whole plant harvested and dried is referred to as oatstraw. Oatstraw refers to both the flowering milky tops and the stem of the plant combined, (as in whole plant medicine) and is used to make wonderfully nourishing and delicious herbal infusions.  Oatstraw infusions are a great way to get the benefits of oats.  Drinking 2-4 cups daily imparts all the benefits of eating oats and is especially hormonal balancing, grounding and vitality building. All the wild-hearted among us, pregnant women, nursing mothers, babies and growing children, women with busy lives and tight schedules, overworked and stressed-out-men, all benefit from integrating oats and oatstraw into their daily diets.” The milky oat tops are a great uterine tonic, toning and strengthening the female reproductive system.

Uses for Nettles:

  • Daily multi-vitamin and multi-mineral
  • Promotes vitality and energy
  • Nervous states with exhaustion
  • Irritability to concentrate
  • Exhaustion, fatigue, melancholy or depression
  • Weakness and/or numbness of limbs
  • Occipital headache extending down the spine
  • Lack of control over urination
  • Balancing sexual drive, excessive or low libido
  • Healing addictive habits
  • Balancing hormones
  • Nervous system irritation from exhaustion or stress
  • Premenstrual anxiety and depression
  • Fear of pain or death
  • Inability to relax
  • Anemia
  • Nervous palpitations
  • General debility
  • Bone health

Here is my recipe for a lovely nutritive and nerve supportive tea that is soothing and nourishing to the nerves and rejuvenating the whole body. This should not be sedative, but can also be used as wonderful a night time tea. And if you missed it, last week I posted about Nettles and included a high-calcium tea recipe.

4 parts lemon balm

3 parts oats

2 part chamomile

2 part calendula

2 parts skullcap

1 part rose

1 part lavender

Combine all herbs. Infuse 1 tablespoon dried herb mixture per 8 oz cup of hot water for 15-60 minutes. Drink 3-4 cups daily. For optimal outcome use daily for approximately 2-3 months or longer.

I also have a fantastic white clay miracle mask that includes oats in it. Comment below if you’d like it.

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Today’s Tunes

I wrote 5 pages on my health journey, going WAY back to high school (yeah, it’s been a minute). I intended to share it with you today. Unfortunately, I am still working on it. It’s just not quite there yet. I will post it next week. Promise.

In the meantime, I had to share something that inspired me today. I feel like any day is a great day to share inspiration.

I listen to KCRW a lot.

Like…A. Lot.

Fun Fact: I love them so much when I was living in Santa Monica for 10 years I volunteered answering phones at the bi-annual fundraising drives. Now that I live in Denver, I still get my daily fix, but I definitely miss the community there.

Nearly everyday I listen to Jason Bentley and Morning Becomes Eclectic and rock out. Literally, dancing in my chair. Yes, people think I am crazy. Maybe I am. Maybe I like it.

This morning Mr. Bentley played the most amazing set. I couldn’t resist sharing with you two of my faves! They are both so positive and uplifting. Do we ever not need that?!?!

…and…

Enjoy! Happy Friday!

Do you have any current new faves? I’d love to hear a few! Share in the comments.

Herb of the Week #7 :: Nettles

Hi Everyone! Happy February! Can you believe January’s already over? How’d all those New Year’s Resolutions/goals go this first month of 2017? I hope they all went amazingly and you are off to the best year ever! But, just in case you aren’t, cause it happens to a lot of us, just a reminder I put up blog post and a free PDF worksheet last week on getting out of those patterns that aren’t serving us anymore and accomplishing out goals.

This past month something I have been working on is a better, healthier daily routine. Being a nutritionist can be a lonely job, even though I have a private office surrounded by wonderful women, and work a few days a week in an Apothecary, I do a lot of working from home.and it can be lonely, to say the least. I found myself working in front of the television watching reruns of Seinfeld.  Plus I was waking up and immediately checking email and social media while I drank my coffee. I am still working on the right daily routine and giving myself time to experiment with different things along the way. One thing I actually always do is brew a quart of tea for the day and drink that after my one (ok maybe sometimes 2 cups of coffee). And This weeks’ herb is a must-have in my and really anyone’s daily routine: Nettles

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Botanical Latin Name: Urtica dioica

Botanical Family: Urticaceae (Nettle) family

Parts used: leaves and stems

Method: Tea, Tincture, food

Actions: Alterative, antiseptic, astringent, alkalizing, diuretic, expectorant, antihistamine, nutritive, hypotensive, galactagogue, hemostatic, urinary tract tonic

Energetics: Drying, stimulating, damp stagnation

Taste: Green, nutritious tasting, resembling spinach, salty, sweet, bitter, earthy

Dosage: For tea, infuse 1 tbsp dried herb to 8 oz water for tea for 10-15 minutes, up to 3-4 cups a day and/or in tincture form, 30-60 drops 1-4 times daily

Contraindications: Caution when pregnant with larger doses of nettles. However, decocted tea is good for pregnancy in small quantities for the mineral content, especially iron. In general, avoid handling the raw plant as it can be irritating. In larger quantities it can be too drying and in some rare cases cause headaches or constipation. If this is the case, nettles can still be used, simply combine it with a moistening herb like violet, licorice or marshmallow.

While I was researching this herb I found that a lot of world-renown herbalists rave about nettles year-round as a superior tonic, it’s even a famous Chinese “long-life” herb. If used daily it can pretty much replace your multivitamin/mineral since it’s rich in iron, calcium, potassium, silicon, manganese, magnesium, zinc, chromium, vitamin A, B, C, and more. It is also high in protein (mostly when consumed as food) and helpful in nearly every protein pathways, including digestion, immune response, liver metabolism, skin reactions and kidney elimination. Nettles is high in the antioxidant chlorophyll and is therefore great for detoxification, oxygenating the blood and eliminating heavy metals from the body. The high nutrient content plus serotonin content is known to soothe frayed nerves and surround tissue.

In the book The Herbal Apothecary, Dr. JJ Pursell says “it seems to take from waste all that is valuable and turn it into healing gold.” Nettles is regarded as safe for all ages and helpful in almost every situation (unless it’s picked fresh without gloves, then you will quickly learn why it’s other name is “stinging” nettles). It is a great long-term treatment for any illness.

Nettles is great for the blood, kidneys, liver, lungs and fluids in the body. It builds and nourishes the blood, and is therefore great for those who are anemic, even children. Because of its high vitamins and minerals content it nourishes the body and can help regulate their menstrual cycle as well as improve just about any function or condition in the body, as well as breastfeeding mothers. Additionally, they are great for supporting the thyroid, especially in subclinical hypothyroidism.

With all that Nettles does it is no surprise that it’s also anti-inflammatory and can help with allergies. The quercetin in the nettles helps stop the mast cells from releasing histamine, while the sterols and lectins stimulate the T-cells and increase the immune response. The anti-inflammatory properties are also great for those with pain and arthritis. And even the stinging of the fresh nettles, though irritating at first, it increases blood flow to the area and actually helps to reduce inflammation and speed healing.

Well-known herbalist, David Hoffman says, “when in doubt give Nettles”.

Uses for Nettles:

  • Daily multi-vitamin and multi-mineral
  • Promotes vitality and energy
  • Activates metabolism
  • Strengthens and tones the entire body
  • Allergies, hay fever, asthma, edema
  • Inflammation and pain
  • Sharp shooting pain and sciatica
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Prostate hyperplasia
  • Stimulate hair growth
  • Regulate menstruation
  • Symptoms from PMS or menopause
  • Strengthens weak kidneys
  • Liver function
  • Drying to mucus
  • Reduces sensations of itching and heat
  • Eliminates uric acid (good for gout)
  • Helpful for symptoms that worsen in cold or moist air, water and touch
  • Electrolytes and leg cramps
  • Hypothyroidism, and subclinical hypothyroidism
  • Spring tonic and rejuvenator
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Fatigue, yawning
  • Mouth sores
  • Bronchitis
  • Diarrhea or mucus in stools
  • Nervous eczema
  • Improves urine flow and reduces frequency
  • Bone health
  • Reduce water retention in pregnancy (in small does)

How to use nettles:

  • Tea can be used daily, 1-3 cups. Infuse 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of herb to 8 oz of water, steep for 8-12 minutes.
  • Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 1-3 times daily for best results.
  • Food – nettle leaves make a great substitute for spinach in nearly any recipe, like soups, scrambles, stir-frys or on toast with feta and olive oil. Note, they must be well steamed first, they will sting if undercooked. Nettle roots can also be cooked and eaten.

Here is my recipe for a high- calcium tea that is anti-inflammatory, soothing and nourishing to the nerves and the whole body.

2 parts nettles

2 parts horsetail

2 parts milky oats or oatstraw

1 part peppermint or spearmint

Combine all herbs. Infuse 1 tablespoon dried herb mixture per 8 oz cup of hot water for 15-60 minutes. Drink 3-4 cups daily. For optimal outcome use for approximately 3-4 months or longer.

I also have a great recipe for pickled nettles. Have you ever had them? I’ll eat just about anything that’s pickled…Yum!

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Defining Goals & Getting Unstuck

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I started a tradition about 7-8 years ago where at the end of every year I go through my goals from the previous year that have been sitting in a jar in my kitchen. I don’t use the term “resolutions” because it feels too rigid of a term and often when we don’t accomplish them we tend to term them “failures”. Instead, I like to use the term “goals”. These we can have and they can shift and take new shape as we grow.  As I review my goals from that year, I divide them into one of three categories: completed/accomplished, incomplete/unfulfilled but still important to me, and finally, not achieved but no longer important to me. Then for the new year, I’ll revise any of the goals I still want to keep from last year, throw out the ones that no longer serve me, and write new ones. These go back in to the jar for the new year. Every now and then I’ll look back at them to check in, see where I am and remind myself of ones I may have forgotten (I also just started keeping this list on my phone as well, in case I want to look at them when I am not home). For me this is such a positive and fun activity around the new year, as well as, a great guide and reminder of what’s important throughout the year.

This year one of my regular clients came in for a follow-up session and when the session ended I realized we barely even talked about nutrition. Because she is a regular client of mine we’ve gone through her diet journals, I’ve given her meal plans with numerous recipes, as well as educational handouts on all the things she’s got questions on and things I think are important for her to know, such as blood sugar regulation, macronutrients, how stress affects our eating, sustainable nutrition and organic foods, how to eat for successful workouts, and more. But this time, with stress from the holidays, travel and New Year’s resolution, she found herself in a bit of a “funk”.

She felt stuck.

Unsure what the next step should be.

She was unhappy with her work, her personal life felt chaotic and like there was no time for herself. And with all this stress and pressure, she was neglecting her healthy eating and lifestyle habits. We talked about prioritizing self-care and how eating is nourishing and loving your body. We talked about how something as simple as eating regular and consistent meals can helps us make better choices in our daily life, not simply related to eating but in all areas of life.

And because she is a regular client of mine, I didn’t want to sounds like a broken record, a lot of this we had already talked about in one session or another.

So, I listened to her talk. Not about what she ate for lunch. Not about nutrition. But about life.

Sometimes to move forward in one area like nutrition, we must look at the large picture. And even though I am a nutritionist, sometimes that means not talking about food.

I gave her a few ideas and suggestions, and she left my office feeling a little better than when she walked in 30 minutes earlier. Still something in me felt like I wanted to give her more. But, what else could I do?  How else could I support her and help to get her out of this funk?

I came home and in a moment of inspiration I wrote down all things swirling in my head and sent it to her. What came out was a “how to guide” on defining our goals and getting “unstuck”.

I thought it was a perfect time to share it with everyone here. It’s almost the end of January, and for a lot of people that means realizing that their New Year’s Resolutions have fallen by the waist-side, weren’t what they really wanted or needed, feeling trapped in the same loop and habits that are no longer serving them. If you feel discouraged or looking for something powerful to move you into a new space or direction, this is for you. I have included a link to the PDF download here. My hope is that it helps shift something in you.

I love all my clients. They all being something so unique and different to the table. A new perspective, a new issue to discuss. And this week I was reminded that being a holistic nutritionist is more than education with food but how the lives we live and the food we eat are all part of a larger picture about balance and happiness within our whole self.

How do you love yourself? How do you get unstuck? I’d love to hear it! Share in the comments below and if you have any questions about nutritional consultations please visit my website or email me: Yvonne@nutrition-designed.com

Herb of the Week #6 :: Burdock Root

Happy much belated New Year’s everyone! I hope your 2017 is off to a fantastic start. For me, as I am sure for a lot of you as well, the holidays are fun and filled with great tasting food and drinks. So I figured it would be great to start the herb of the week series back up with a cleansing and rejuvenating plant. This week we are looking at an herb that is great for healthy digestion and detoxification: Burdock Root

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Botanical Latin Name: Arctium lappa

Botanical Family: Asteraceae (Aster) family

Parts used: root

Method: Tea, Tincture, food (for fresh root)

Actions: diuretic and mild laxative, nutritive, alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, digestive stimulant, blood and lymph mover, liver tonic

Energetics: cool and alkalizing, distributes moisture around the body but ultimately drying

Taste: initially bitter, then sweet and pleasant

Dosage: Decoct (boil on stove then simmer for 10-15 minutes) 1 tsp to 1 tbsp dried root to 8 oz water for tea, up to 3 cups a day and/or 10-60 drops 1-3 times daily of tincture

Contraindications: pregnancy, loose stools, and not for long-term or excessive use can cause urinary or kidney issues

Burdock root is great for the kidney, liver, gallbladder because it supports the natural flow of lymphatic fluid and excretion of toxic byproducts from our cells. Since it’s gentle detoxifying properties and hormone balancing abilities, it’s wonderful for most skin issues, including excess oil production, chronic cystic acne, eczema and psoriasis. Since burdock supports the clearing and function of the liver it also in turn helps with bile production which in turn helps with better digestion and appetite. It can help purify the blood, clear excess uric acid and clear excess heat and congestion in the body. It has also been show in studies to have anticancer properties. It can help you rebuild and restore your energy levels. Burdock contains potassium, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, as well as antioxidants phenolic acids, quercetin and luteolin.

David Hoffman in his book Medicinal Herbalism, says, “burdock will move your body into a state of integration and health, improving indicators of systemic imbalance, such as skin problems and dandruff.”

Externally, it can be used as a compress or poultice to speed healing of wounds and ulcers. With fresh (or dried) burdock root, it can be sautéed or used in soups, and the inulin fibers in it helps improve digestion and offer a more stable blood sugar in the body.

Uses for burdock:

  • Skin issues like acne and eczema
  • Arthritis, sciatica, gout
  • Normalize menstrual cycle, especially for those in menopause and mastitis
  • Better digestion
  • Help to increase appetite
  • Good for acute irritability and inflammatory conditions
  • Tonsillitis
  • Staph infections
  • Chronic kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cysts with fluid
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Helps relieve coughs and sore throats
  • Protects bones
  • Cradle cap

How to use burdock root:

  • Tea can be used daily, 1-3 cups. Decoct 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of dried root to 8 oz of water on the stove top, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 1-3 times daily for best results.

Here is great recipe from Rosemary Gladstar for a nourishing and restorative soup. This is great for someone suffering from a cold or flu or to simply improve immunity.

7-Herb Long-Life Soup

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, sliced or chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 quarts of water or broth (chicken, veggie, etc.)

8 large shitake mushrooms, chopped

4 ounces fresh burdock root (or 2 ounces dried), thinly sliced

4 ounces fresh dandelion root (or 2 ounces dried), thinly sliced

2 ounces lyceum berries

1 ounce astragalus, thinly sliced

1 ounce fo-ti (Ho Shou Wu)

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger root

1 ounce ginseng root

miso paste (any type)

  1. In a large pot, heat just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender and golden.
  2. Add the water or broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the mushroom and herbs and simmer over low heat for several hours.
  4. When the roots are tender, turn off the heat and strain out the herbs, but you can leave the herbs in, especially if they are fresh. Add in miso paste to taste (just note, never boil miso paste is destroys the valuable enzymes). Add any other seasonings and chopped veggies as desired.
  5. Enjoy!

If you make this soup or have other ideas and recipes for burdock, I’d love to see pictures and read comments! Yum!

I also wanted to share with you the books that I have been pulling from for these herbal posts. My current favorites are: Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, The Herbal Apothecary, Medicinal Herbalism, 300 Herbs, and Herbal Medicine.

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Herb/Plant of the Week #5 :: Passionflower

It’s HEEEERE…Christmas week. Whether you celebrate it or not, I think we can all agree it’s a crazy week. Lots of traffic on the road. People last minute shopping. Packed parking lots. Just to name a few. So this herb, comes on a perfect week.

This week we are looking at a calming and relaxing herb: Passionflower

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Botanical Latin Name: Passiflora incarnata

Botanical Family: Passifloraceae (Passionflower/violet) family

Parts used: flowers and leaves

Method: Tea and Tincture

Actions: Antispasmodic, hypotensive, sedative, anti-inflammatory, nervine, estrogenic

Energetics: cooling and relaxing

Taste: Bland and slightly aromatic scent

Dosage: 1 tbsp dried herb to 8 oz water for tea infusion and/or 10-60 drops 1-4 times daily of tincture, tea or tincture 1-4 times daily

Contraindications: pregnancy, hypotension, anyone on barbiturates

Passionflower is a very nutritive herb and great to add to a daily tea as a multi-vitamin/mineral. It is native to South America and was used there originally to treat epilepsy, anxiety, insomnia and panic attacks. It is a gentle but effective herb and can be great for hyperactive children. It is a nervine, it relaxes the nervous system and helps to reduce pain, relive cramps and tension, and promote healthy sleep. It soothes and nourishes the nerves and muscles, while also strengthening and toning the entire nervous system.

Uses for passionflower:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Toothaches
  • Headaches (especially nervous headaches)
  • Menstrual pain and cramps
  • Muscle tension and nerve pain
  • Sciatica
  • Hypertension, high blood pressure and tachycardia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sleep disturbances due to nervous or mental worry
  • Hyperactive kids
  • Spasmodic asthma
  • Restless agitation due to exhaustion

How to use passionflower:

  • Tea can be used daily, 1-4 cups. Steep 1 tbsp of dried herb to 8 oz of water in hot water, longer for cold, the longer you steep it the more the benefits you’ll get from it. This can be used throughout the day to help alleviate anxiety and depression, or anything else listed above.
  • Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 1-4 times daily for best results. Or 3-9 drops every 30 minutes for hyperactive kids until calm (maximum 3 doses). Or 2-9 drops every 2 hours or 10-309 drops every 10 minutes for spasmodic episodes (for example, muscle spasms, panic attacks or even jitters from too much caffeine). Also, this is a great nighttime tincture, to help with insomnia and encourage a restful sleep.

This is a wonderful blend for headache relief and would also be lovely at the end of the night to enhance sleep. Rosemary Gladstar says “the mere act of drinking a warm cup of tea often eases a headache.”

3 parts chamomile

3 part lemon balm

1 part passionflower

1 part skullcap

1 part feverfew

Combine all herbs and infuse (steep in hot water for at least 30 minutes) using 1 tablespoon of dried mix to 1 8 ounce cup of hot water. Drink ½ cup (4 oz) every half hour until the headache subsides.

*Additionally remember to drink half your body weight in filtered water.

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Herb of the Week #4 :: Hops

The holidays are here, the snow is falling today and it’s getting very close to the 25th! I can only assume this means a little more activity in your day and maybe a little more stress in your life? I know I am running around a little more than normal, also why I am posting this on a Friday and not mid-week, like usual. So this week I thought a great calming herb was in order.

This week we are looking at a very relaxing herb: Hops

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Botanical Latin Name: Humulus lupulus

Botanical Family: Cannabaceae (hemp) family

Parts used: Strobiles

Method: Tea and Tincture

Actions: Antispasmodic, sedative, astringent, anti-inflammatory, nervine, estrogenic

Energetics: Cooling and relaxing

Taste: Drying and bitter

Dosage: 1 tbsp dried herb (or 1-2 strobiles) to 8 oz water for tea infusion and/or 10-60 drops 1-4 times daily of tincture, tea or tincture 1-3 times daily

Contraindications: Pregnancy, depression, active ulcer, estrogen dominance, low libido and those taking phenobarbital

Hops, mostly known as the key ingredient in beer, is known as a very bitter herb. Therefore, it’s great for stimulating the digestive tract, normalizing the gastric juices in the stomach and easing indigestion from anxiety or nervousness.

Hops is also a wonderfully relaxing plant; it can calm the nerves and organs. Therefore, it’s great for insomnia and traumatic dreams (nightmares). It’s also wonderful for easing tension, anxiety and overthinking. It can help with those that have hypertension. It can also be helpful in decreasing excessive sexual desire. This herb is known to be especially great for men. Just note that because it’s such a strong sedative it’s not recommended in large doses for those suffering from depression.

Additionally, due to its calming effects, it is great at relieving lung constriction issues, like asthma, and spasmodic coughing. Hops can also be used for easing physical pain and inflammation, especially in the mouth and teeth.

Additional uses for hops:

  • Calming after an exciting event
  • Colic in babies
  • Nervous exhaustion
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive sex drive or premature ejaculation
  • Nervous irritability
  • Ear or toothaches
  • Migraines
  • Indigestion from nerves or poor starch absorption
  • Non-obstructive jaundice

How to use hops:

  • Tea can be used daily, 1-3 cups. Steep 1 tbsp (or 1-2 strobiles) of dried herb to 8 oz of water in water (hot or cold) for 3-30 minutes in hot water (longer for cold). The longer you steep it the more the benefits you’ll get from it. I steeped mine for 30 minutes in cold water and it was slightly bitter, but I added a small amount of honey and it was lovely, also great as a part of a blend of tea.
  • Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 1-4 times daily for best results.

Here’s a great and relaxing way to use hops from Rosemary Gladstar’s book Herbal Remedies for Vibrant Health:

Herbal Footbath

2 parts lavender

1 part hops

1 part sage

½ part rosemary

optional: a few drops of lavender essential oil

optional: Epsom salts (1/2 cup per soak)

  1. Place herbs in a large pot and fill with water. Cover tightly and bring to a low simmer for 5-10 minutes. Pour into a large basin for soaking your feet and adjust the temperature with cool or warm water. You still want the foot soak to be hot but of course you don’t want to burn your feet!
  2. Once you are soaking your feet, cover the tub with a towel to keep the herbs and heat inside. You can refill the basin with more hot tea or water as you wish. Play some soothing music or simply enjoy the quiet, and relax…ahhhh….

* This foot bath is also great post-workout and/or right before bed as it will help relieve pain and inflammation, and ease any cramps (the Epsom salts will replace any electrolyte and magnesium you’ve lost).

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Herb of the week #3 :: Red Clover

I’m on a roll everyone… it’s week 3 of the Herb/Plant of the Week here! And I have some fun news!  I decided to enroll in Rosemary Gladstar’s online herbalism class! I got my notebook in the mail this week and I am so excited to start learning from the master! I will definitely share what I learn along the way and I will still keep doing these weekly posts and share what I am learning through my own experience with the herb that week as well.

This week we are doing a detoxification herb: Red Clover

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Botanical Latin Name: Trifolium pratense

Botanical Family: Fabaceae (Legume) family

Parts used: flowers and leaves

Method: Tea and Tincture

Actions: Nutritive, alterative, expectorant, antispasmodic, sedative

Energetics: Cooling, stimulating and relaxing

Taste: Mildly sweet

Dosage: 1 tbsp dried herb to 8 oz water for tea infusion 1-3 times daily and/or 10-60 drops 1-4 times daily of tincture

Contraindications: pregnancy, those on blood thinner medications and possibly those with hypothyroid

Red clover is known to be a great detoxification herb.  It helps to purify the blood to aid in the removal of toxins. It also helps clear out the lymph system which aids with our immunity. In the process of clearing out waste in the liver and lymph, it replaces waste with nutrients like calcium, nitrogen and iron. Because it’s detoxifying, it in turn helps with most skin conditions as well as tumors, fibroids and cysts.

It also helps with cardiovascular and respiratory health and can ease chronic chest problems like coughs and colds. The combination of detoxification and cardiovascular benefits have shown to improve cognitive function. This is due to the purified blood reaching to the smaller capillaries in the body to improve overall function.

Additional uses for red clover:

  • Children with spasmodic coughs
  • Chronic skin eruptions
  • Swollen hard lymph nodes
  • Stiff neck
  • Muscle cramps (types that are relieved by heat and massage)
  • Childhood eczema
  • Whooping cough or dry irritated cough
  • Throat and salivary glands
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Menopausal hot flashes
  • Herpes virus
  • Cancer, especially lymphatic or breast

How to use red clover:

  • Tea can be used daily (1 tbsp per cup and drink 1-3 cups daily). Steep in hot water for 15-20 minutes – the longer you steep it the more benefits you’ll get from it. I steeped mine for 30 minutes and it was slightly sweet and delicious – easy to drink on its own.
  • Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 1-4 times daily for best results.
  • NOTE: Never use wilted red clover only use fully fresh or fully dried herb. The wilted flower has a compound called Coumadin used in rat poison and blood thinners that can be harmful or deadly.

Here’s a tea recipe for a mild and pleasant tasting liver cleansing and nutritive daily tonic that included red clover from Rosemary Gladstar’s book Herbal Remedies for Vibrant Health:

Liver Tonic Formula #2

3 parts nettle leaf

2 parts dandelion leaf

2 parts lemon balm

2 parts red clover

1 part alfalfa

Prepare as an infusion, using 4 tablespoons of herb mixture to a quart of water and steep for 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy 3-4 cups daily.

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