Spring Cleanse

SPRING IS ON THE WAY, BUT SLOWLY, SLOWLY!!

It’s always a bit jarring when we come through the Christmas period, the heart of Winter, hot-toddies and log fires and cross over the New Years threshold into the stark reality of January, cold, grey and credit-card bills that you’d rather not open!!! The ambiguity of new starts, New Years resolutions, good intentions alongside the instinctive desire to prolong the slumber, lie low and slow and stay warm not making any major shifts at all yet. Certainly nowhere near ready for a Spring Cleanse!

Well the truth is our instincts are bang on. It’s the heart of winter, nature is still sleeping and we too if left to our natural rhythm should be doing the same. But most of us don’t have the luxury to hibernate for the winter. And after a couple couple of weeks off for the Christmas, its generally back to work and life as normal, with a good dollop of January deals on Gym memberships, dietary cleanses and slimming world passes, playing on the few extra pounds we’ve gained after the party season of eating and drinking!!

I personally love the feeling of New Years, new starts, goal setting, intentions. I love to reflect on the previous year and look forward to where I would like to be at the end of the next. But this is a mental stimulation, my mind loves it. My body and energy on the other hand, are not quite ready to spring into action and I’ve begun to listen to this more and more in recent years. It’s too dark, its too cold. I still want to rest while dreaming the year to come. And this is what I do.

Then inevitably one morning I wrap up warm and leave the house and I feel it. A stirring. It’s tangible. I sniff the cold air and feel the shift. But its still bloody freezing!!! Not long now. Soon after the light begins to lengthen. My children notice the shift. We peep out the window at the daffodils beginning to poke through the ground. Spring is arriving, slowly, slowly but she is on creeping in. But its still bloody freezing!!!

I still want warm foods, log fires, and rest but my energy is shifting. I’m beginning to look around the house thinking, lets clear the junk, how did we end up with so much stuff?? I want to wash the windows to let the light in, and I can feel the pull coming to throw them windows open and let the fresh air blow through the house. But not yet, its still bloody freezing!

And this is February, for me. I’m ready for spring. I’m ready to clear the clutter, shake off the cobwebs and move into the year fully now. But still slowly. And as the energy rises over the next month, I will be ready and will be doing one mother of a Spring Cleanse mind-body, inside-outside. What will I let go and what will I grow for the coming year? This is my mantra for Spring. A time to clear and a time to seed. A time to consciously create. This is the time to harness the energy of nature, to work with it not against it. And nature provides exactly what we need by way of the plants to support us in this process.

So if you missed the January rush to revamp yourself, got on that wagon only to find yourself falling off and back under a warm blanket by the fire, you have not missed the boat. Actually the boat is just beginning to pull in to the harbor. If your interested in cleansing with the seasons, your food, your mood, your body and your mind. Stay tuned. I will be sharing some unique, simple, supportive ways to use herbs and healing for just that this Spring. But slow and easy, as we wake from our Winter slumber. Not hardcore. There’s no need as we are about to step into the flow of natures energy rising. Let’s ride on the coat-tails!

Anti-Viral Herbs – There is something you can take to help!!

Having been away over the Christmas period, arriving home to headlines about flu epidemics, contact from schools urging us to keep our children home if they had any symptoms of sickness and general stress and panic about the level of debilitating viral infection doing the rounds, lets say it hasn’t been the ideal start to the year!

Coming from a culture of the over-use of antibiotics for many years, its very upsetting for people to hear that when it comes to viral infection, there is nothing that can be done. Rest, take warm drinks and ride it out is the official line. WHAT!!! It doesn’t sit well when we are used to a pill for every ill!! Well the truth is that antibiotics have no impact on viruses and it’s a good thing we are beginning to understand this. However, there is much herbal medicine has to offer in the case of viral infection so YES THERE IS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO!!

Anti-viral herbs are a classification of herbs that can inhibit the development of viruses, enhance immune function and fight infection, shortening the length of illness. The wonderful thing about using these herbs is that many not only have no side effects but are also anti-inflammatory, support the nervous system, adrenal system and over health and wellbeing of the person. These can be used by all the family and are a good general tonic to promote winter wellness. (Pending there are not underlying health issues or contraindications with pharmaceutical medications taken.)

 

ElderberrySambucus Nigra

I like to refer to this herb as our native echineaca as there are many similarities between the plants. Elderberries are anti-viral, immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory. They have a very long history of traditional use and have have been the subject of research indicating that they are useful in treating both viral and bacterial infection as well as supporting a healthy immune system.

Echinacea – Echinacea Angustifolia

Echineaca is probably one of the best known herbal remedies as it has been marketed well and is widely available. It’s best known for its immune-stimulating properties but also is effective in inhibiting Bacterial and viral illnesses from spreading. Echineaca is also a powerful alternative herb that cleans the blood and supports overall movement towards balanced health.

Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis

This herb is primarily known for its powerful effects on the nervous system, having in particular an impact on symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. It is also a potent anti-viral herb, effective in cases of flu and other viral infections, with much research done to indicate its benefit in cases of herpes. A wonderful example of an anti-viral herb that side-effects include better sleep and less anxiety!!

St. John Wort – Hypericum perforatum

Once again this is a well known herb mainly due to its ability to improve mood. Known as the herb for depression, it is also a potent anti-viral herb and research is ongoing in relation to its possible role in treating viruses such as herpes and HIV. Just to note although St. John’s Wort plays an important role in the natural treatment of depression, it is a widely versatile and beneficial herb and its important for people struggling with depression not to treat this single herb as an anti-depressant as this is an illness that is multi-factorial and often can be treated more effectively with tailored formulas and professional support.

Astragalus – Astragalus Membranaceus

Astragalus is a traditional Chinese herb will a long history. Known as an immunomodulator and anti-viral herb, it is another go-to herb I use in cases of viral infection. Once again this is a herb that also has strong anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well as adaptogenic properties that lower cortisol levels and support resilience to stress in the system.

Licorice – Glycyrrhiza glabra

Once again a long standing herb in the traditional Chinese system, licorice has played a role in both medicinal and culinary spheres in our own culture for a long time. A long standing traditional remedies for coughs and sore throats, licorice has been the subject of much research pointing towards its strong anti-viral properties along side additional benefits for pain relief and adaptogenic support once again building resilience to the effects of stress.

 

So to sum up, there is much you can do to support yourself naturally in the face of the viral epidemic!! As always prevention is better than cure, a strong functioning immune system and a way to ensure proper cleansing and nourishing throughout the year is the best prevention. And when all else fails grab yourself a bottle of anti-viral herbs and get them into you!!

I have written this blog is the light of a large number of enquiries in relation to getting anti-viral herbal support over the last month. I have also launched an online herbal dispensary with FREE ONLINE winter consultation as a way to provide targeted, practitioner grade herbal formula to people without having to come for a full initial consultation. In cases of acute illness like during cold and flu season this works well whereas for more chronic, ongoing issues a professional consultation is advisable. For more information on ordering winter herbal remedies and anti-viral herbal tincture go to https://herbsandhealing.lpages.co/winter-remedies-range/ or visit the ONLINE HERBAL DISPENARY  on the website.

Please leave a comment below and let me know how your getting through the winter, if you found this useful and what you’d like to learn more about from a natural healing, herbal perspective.

Cayenne Salve Recipie for Pain Relief

Growing up in a house with a football and hurling obsessed father where the smell of ‘Deep Heat’ was a regular, almost comforting aroma, when I first came across the recipe I share below I thought “Now that will give Deep Heat a run for its money!”

There is so much to say about Cayenne Pepper. It was one of the first of many surprises I got when I began to study herbal medicine. Not being a fan of spices in general, and having no knowledge of them other than in cooking foods that my palette couldn’t handle, Cayenne Pepper what one hell of an eye opener as to how food can be medicine and in the most powerful of ways! Cardiovascular health, Pain Relief, digestion and metabolism. The list goes on.

The health benefits of Cayenne deserves a whole article to its self but for today, I just want to share a herbal remedies recipe using this wonderful plant that is so simple anyone came make it and benefit from it. Paint by numbers and you can’t go wrong.

Uses: Sore muscles, joints, bruising, arthritic pain. Apply topically to unbroken skin. Daily use for 2-3 weeks needed before feeling benefits for arthritis.

CAYENNE SALVE RECIPE

cayennesalve

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil (good quality, organic, cold-pressed)

1 tablespoon powered cayenne pepper

1 1/2 tablespoon beeswax pellets

( Makes Approx. 4 ounces)

Muslin Cloth for straining.

*Optional extras:

– 20 drops of good quality Eucalyptus essential oil or Wintergreen essential oil.

– 1 teaspoon of powered ginger root.

– 1 tablespoon of Arnica flowers.

Directions

Infuse Oil: Add the powder and olive oil to a double boiler and heat for approx. 20mins. Let cool  and then repeat heating/cooling cycle for 2-3 hrs. For those without a double boiler, stick a tightly fitting bowl on to of a small saucepan and add the mix to it and proceed as above. A bit like my mother used to melt the cooking chocolate !

Strain: Strain your cooled mixture through a double layer of muslin cloth. This can be messy!

Melt & Mix : Melt Beeswax in double boiler or as above and add to infused oil. Mix thoroughly until combined and pour into jars to set.

*Stored out of direct sunlight, this last for  up to 12 months.

 

 

Natural Health

The 3 Biggest Blocks to Sustainable Natural Health

Many people these days are looking to live a healthier life. There are the younger millennial who have grown up with a health and fitness conscious media and advertising industry where “healthy living” is marketed to within an inch of its life. Then there are the mummies! Now that they have little ones to be caring for and well lets just say, their energy and waistline are not what it used to be, suddenly become aware of not only their own health and wellbeing but also the responsibility of their children to boot. Last but not least there are the middle-aged upward population whose vincibility inevitably presents itself and the focus becomes –


“How can I grow older with the best possible health & energy and least debilitation and illness?”
Regardless of where you fit into this picture, the desire and drive is there to live the healthiest life possible.


So why is it that its so bloody hard to stick with the plan???
I work with people who fall into all of the categories above. They are intelligent people, educated people, and I have come to see a pattern as to why people struggle to “ stay on the wagon” when it comes to living a “healthy” life. The following are the 3 biggest blocks I see repeatedly to sustainable natural health and wellbeing and once we are aware of them, we give ourselves a much better chance moving forward.
1) INFORMATION OVERLOAD
When it comes to health and wellbeing we are flooded on a daily basis with information, much of it conflicting. TV, radio, online, magazines – its as if every other day there is a new silver bullet; an exotic herb that will reverse ageing, a fad diet that will prevent cancer or an exercise regime that will get you into the size 6 swimwear just in time for summer ……. and on and on. Dietary advice is probably the most obvious example of where you can end up feeling like going for a Big Mac out of sheer frustration and confusion! And all of the approaches seem to have double-blind research to back up their standpoint. It’s an absolute minefield. Here are a few example of this (and I’m not saying that any of these claims are accurate or not , just very confusing if read together??)
  • Vegan is the way forward for your health and the planet.
  • Paleo diet is most natural and heals many chronic illness.
  • Eggs are good – eat many. / Eggs will give you heart disease.
  • Red meat increases cancer risk / Red meat is essential for good mental health.
  • Humans cannot digest gluten/Only Celic’s have a physical reaction to gluten.

 

And lets not even get started on sugar – the ROOT of all-evil.

Bloody exhausting, exasperating and downright depressing the whole thing!! I have struggled myself with navigating this territory. Having studied and applied a number of approaches, many conflicting, what I have come to understand is –


THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL EVER!!!

Maybe, just maybe considering the technicolor kalidescope of life with all its wonder and challange, the idea of common sense and everything in moderation still applies, although you may be shunned for suggesting such a thing! Eating food that is as close to as nature created can only be a good thing. Nature knows better than us smarty-pants, too big for our boots humans. This is a good baseline to begin with, and then we do our best, given our circumstances from there.
Bottom line – Be very mindful of navigating this sea of information and not becoming a victim of strong, emotionally charged marketing. Find a practitioner whom you resonate with and who is open to you exploring what fits for your body and life circumstances. Stay flexible.
2) THE ALL OR NOTHING APPROACH
The next hurdle that I see people fall on over and over again is the “ALL OR NOTHING” approach. This is a very deceptive thing that plays mind games time and time again with people. How many of you have started a new regime of eating, exercising or some other activity and given it your all, felt wonderful for your efforts and the results only to find that over a period of time, not only do you “fall off the wagon” but end up feeling guilty, ashamed and angry with yourself for failing, finding yourself back at square one or worse?
New Years resolutions are a great example of this! The truth is that this being human, the challenges we all have in our lives and inevitable curve balls we are played make it often impossible to stick to the extreme all or nothing regimes. We all have familiar, well-trodden pathways in our lives and these habits and patterns are actually reflected in the neural pathways in our brains. They can be re-routed, absolutely with time and correct effort however this approach not only is mostly futile, but also can negatively re-enforce our original ways of being.
I say “mostly” as once again I don’t believe that all people are the same and I can guarantee that I will have someone come back to tell me indignantly that they can absolutely do this. So I say to those people for whom this doesn’t apply – Fair play, good for you and I’m thrilled you have found a way that works! I am speaking to the rest of you here, whom have had the experience that I have had in relation to this and are ready to accept that the All or Nothing approach just isn’t a fit for you when it comes to creating a sustainable, positive approach to your health. So what is the solution?


Slow and steady wins the race.
Small, actionable, sustainable steps towards your goal with a clause in there that humans often take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. This builds in a buffer from the savage self-criticism that can come when challanged in making lasting change. So I’m very aware that some people reaction to this may be – ‘Is this a bit flaky? Is she saying sure take it easy, have whatever you want and don’t be hard on yourself??” The answer to that is I’m saying its your own choice what you do or don’t do, its nobody else business or concern. If you want to make lasting positives changes in your life its takes commitment and effort. However being harsh with yourself, forcing yourself to comply with a set of rules imposed by anyone else and taking an all of nothing approach to your health and wellbeing is more often than not barking up the wrong tree!
Bottom line: Extremes of any sort, while you may get an initial hit from them are generally not lasting. Become aware of your patterns of behavior and belief systems that have you in a constant state of flux.
3) AWARENESS OF THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION.
Last but not least – actually in order of importance I would place this as No. 1 on the list. Many of us think that if we can just stop eating them cream cakes, crisps or whatever your perceived “guilty pleasure” is, if we can just stick with the exercise regime, lose X amount of weight, maintain the correct supplement regime so we have enough Vitamin D in the winter, our magnesium levels are balanced, our B vitamins, omega oil levels etc. etc. are correct then we will be healthy and happy.

Mind-body Healing

NEWSFLASH – It doesnt matter how pristine your diet is. No matter what your size, shape, exercise regime or how many supplements you take, if your mind, your thinking is not effective you are in trouble. If your emotional response and ability to effectively respond and not react to lifes inevitable curve balls is not in place, you will hit a wall. When the ongoing stress and general glorious mess of being human in all its glory come your are not going to sustain wellbeing on any level for too long.
Don’t get me wrong, to eat a healthy diet whatever that is for you, staying active to keep your energy moving and supporting your system with select supplement’s, herbs etc. will fuel your body and nervous system putting it the best possible position to deal with whatever comes along. However, the mind is the driver of your body, your body is only the vehicle, so you can have a Maserati as your body, keep the oil changed, the tires in good nick and give her a deluxe wash and polish every week. But if the person in the driving seat is a overwhelmed, confused, emotionally over wrought character with no direction or control of themselves, well that Maserati is not going to live up to its full potential now is it!!!
Ultimately, our mindset, our thinking, our charge of the driver is what brings us forward in life in a good way and without understanding and investing in this, all the physical intervention while looking good on the outside does not lead to a sustainable way forward. And for many people, believe it or not coming face-to-face with their mind, emotions and inner world is far more challenging than dealing solely with the body. It’s unknown territory and can be a frightening prospect to look under the bonnet, especially if its been years or maybe you’ve never looked before.
BOTTOM LINE: For true lasting health and wellbeing, both the mind and body need a regular servicing, the proper cleansing, nourishing and environment. There are many ways to begin this process and even more ways to sustain it. Willingness to have a look is the first step.

Uncommon Use’s for the Common Daisy

Who was to know that the Common Daisy, Bellis Perennis is such an over-looked medicinal gem growing prolifically all around us. Who doesn’t love daisies?? When my children see the lawnmower coming out in summer, they throw themselves on the grass wailing “Noooo….. leave the daisies alone!!!” From the mouth of babes.

Herbal Remedies - Daisy

Although it is not part of the material medica of the modern medical herbalist, Daisy has had a long history of medical use and has been the subject of recent interesting research, affirming its folk uses. Many of the chemical constituents present in the daisy have been the subject of research that indicates the source of many of the medical actions of plant. However, I recommend using herbs in their whole form because a natural synergy occurs and we reap the benefits of this, even if we can’t fully understand it.

Having read from old herbal texts, recent research and folk stories I will attempt to sum up the range of medicinal uses for this plant, a brief overview in layman terms as to why they are useful and some simple ways to get you started. This is intended to inspire and amaze you, by shedding light on how something as simple as a daisy can affect the whole physiology of the body! It is not on the other hand a medicinal checklist for the symptoms outlined below. Plants like this are best used in combined formulas for specific health issues, however, what a wonderful Herbal Maintenance addition the daisy is considering the possible benefits.

Medicinal Uses and Herbal Actions

Condition: It was used traditionally as a spring tonic to ‘cleanse the blood’, strengthen digestion and support the liver.
Action: Nutritive Tonic

Condition: gout, arthritis and
skin problems, kidney problems
Action: Diuretic

Condition: Allergies, hay fever
Action: antiallergenic

Condition: Viral and upper respiratory infections
Action: Antimicrobial, Anti-fungal, Anti- Viral

Condition: Strengthens blood vessel walls, helps reduce cardiovascular problems
Action: Vasotonic

Condition: Bruises, wounds, pain, migraine. In homeopathy today, Bellis perennis is known as “Poor Man’s Arnica” and used with Arnica to treat bruising and trauma.
Action: Analgesic

Condition: Heavy menstrual bleeding, excess mucus excretions and diarrhea
Action: Astringent

Condition: Fevers, coughs and pleurisy
Action: Expectorant

There are no side effects known, however to err on the side of caution I would recommend avoidance during pregnancy and if you have a history of hay fever or related conditions be mindful of any adverse response, beginning with low usage and working your way up.

Recipes
From early summer, the fresh green leaves and flowers of the daisy can be eaten in salads. The flowers can also be eaten in soups and make great pretty garnishes for any plate. Traditional a plate of daisy was prepared as a vegetable side to be served with meat. Below is a recipe I have come a across that look delicious!!!

Daisy Capers

Herbal Recipies

Ingredients

• 1 cup unopened daisy flower buds
• 1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns
• 4 allspice berries
• few sprigs of rosemary or lavender
• 1 teaspoon of sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon mustard grains
• 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
• 1/2 tablespoon local wildflower honey
• 1 cup white wine vinegar

Directions

• Wash the daisy flower buds and trim the stems. Allow to dry thoroughly.
• In the bottom of a two cup mason jar (500 mL) (or two one cup jars) place the black peppercorns, allspice berries, salt, mustard grains and garlic. Then pack in the daisy flower buds.
• Bring the white wine vinegar to almost boiling. Take off the heat, then pour over the contents of daisies, filling the jar to the rim. Secure with vinegar-proof lids, label then store in a cool, dark, cupboard for four to six weeks to mature.

Recipie/Image Reference; Gather – Wild Food | Magical Cookery: Danielle Prohom Olson

Introduction to the Mind-Body Connection

“The body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed… If you would perfect your body, guard your mind. Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought…. Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a bullet…Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body, and lays it open to the entrance of disease…”

                                               Allen, J. – “As A Man Thinketh”

The mind-body paradigm is nothing new. It has been the basis through the ages for understanding human beings in all of the perennial wisdom traditions. However with the birthing of conventional medicine and its mechanistic thinking, there was a severing of this innate link and the understanding of the dynamic relationship between mind and body was lost.

Since the dawning of the new branch of medicine known as psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) this rapidly growing area of conventional medical research and understanding has given a foundation to rebuild the bridge between mind and body on a scientifically validated, evidenced based platform.

The opportunity here lies in the far-reaching scope this information has as it becomes more and more mainstream.

Much of what has become evidence based medicine through this new branch of medical research correlates with herbal protocol and natural healing techniques used and promoted by herbalists and natural healers for centuries.

Herbs that have an evidence base by way of thousands of years of solid results and natural healing protocols with the same are now understood in the context of this research which, in turn makes herbal medicine and natural healing more available to the mainstream mind.

It is for this reason that I chose to explore this as part of my dissertation when finishing my 4 year training in Herbal Medicine. Over the coming week I plan to share in my blog excerpts from this dissertation that give an in-depth grounding in this exciting field. Hope you enjoy and find it useful –  Let me know in the comments below and keep an eye out for the next instalment.

The Orders of Love

Working with people on both a physical and emotional healing level, there is one area that presents again and again as central to the healthy functioning of the individual. On a physical level, when it stops functioning we die. On an emotional and energetic level when its impacted we disconnect and our relationship with those around us, the world a large and life itself is hindered.

The Heart is always at the heart of the matter.

Last week I wrote a piece on our abundant, native heart tonic Hawthorn – Crataegus. You can read about its benefits and how to use it here. I love to share when there are simple, local, abundant plants that nourish and strengthen our system on all levels, and it inevitably leads me to consider what other means can be used to tone and support us on a mind-body level.
As a natural healer, I’ve been trained to consider the emotion or energy that is connected to different organs in the body.

Every traditional healing system has an understanding of the emotional body and how it connects with the physical body and the importance of maintaining this balance

And when it comes to tending to our heart, the energy flow we connect with is that of Love. Which leads me to this piece and the understanding of Bert Hellingers “Orders of Love”. Hellinger is founder of the profound and dynamic psychotheraputic model called Family Constellations.

He observed that there is a natural order to the way love flows in family relationships that when uninterrupted and flowing correctly maintains balance and harmony in a family and the individuals. However when that order is disrupted, he believed it is often family members in subsequent generations who experience the consequences of this disruption.

This can manifest in repetitive negative patterns, illness both physical and mental, self-sabotaging behaviours and difficulties in relationships. 

Most of us at some time or another in life struggle with areas that seem out of our control, impossible to get a handle on and can find ourselves in scenarios where there is a distinct feeling that

“This is not my burden to carry”

Well maybe your right!
With heavy hearts we can shoulder the burdens of our ancestors. We all understand how heart disease, cancer and other physiological manifestations of disease can be inherited from the generations gone by. This is a good starting place in coming to understand the emotional and energetic patterns and blockages that can also travel down to the next generation. And just as on a physiological level our heart is central to our life , indeed the energy of the heart or the orders of love are as important to balance for the healing of the whole person.
There are many ways to work with the energy of the heart, to balance and support the correct flow of energy, enhancing both physical and emotional wellbeing. The work of Family Constellations is one way which I have seen benefits from time and time again, as the underpinning principle of the correct order and flow of love works on such a very deep level. 

So if there is heart healing needed on any level, get some hawthorn herb into you and then sit and connect with your heart energy and ask yourself –

How are the Orders of Love flowing in your life? 

Hawthorn- Crataegus

Botanical name: Crataegus oxyacantha
Family: Rosaceae
Parts used: leaves, flowers, berries
Properties: slightly cool/dry, cardiac trophorestorative, relaxing nervine, digestant, astringent, diuretic, antioxidant
Used for: heart related illness, cardiac weakness, stagnant digestion, regulation of blood pressure
Plant preparations: tea, tincture, vinegar, syrup, honey.

There is nothing that pleases me more than using native, abundant plants that are growing all around us and just waiting to restore health and balance to our bodies and minds. And this time of year is such a treat as “berry season” is in full swing.

Today I want to talk about our wonderful Hawthorn. Such a familiar presence in the Irish countryside, almost “common”, and also having a long medicinal history in the Eastern traditions and the American traditions. But what we often pass by is the incredible health food that it bears right throughout the year that if used correctly can be a wonderful annual tonic to support heart health. Yes, our very own Hawthorn is one of the most nourishing heart herbs around.

What parts should I use?

The young leaves harvested in spring and the flowers in early summer are used as medicine, and can be prepared in a strong infusion as a heart and also as a digestive tonic.
Check out my Happy May Day- Heart Healing with Hawthorn post here
However the strongest medicine is said to be in the berries, which are dripping from the trees right now!

What is Hawthorn good for?

Well Hawthorn is what is know as a cardiac trophorestorative. In layman’s terms this means that it restores balance to the heart. It also indicates a herbs that if used for a period of time and then discontinued, the benefits are maintained and lasting. It is a tonic herb that can be taken over long periods of time without concern and is safe with most medications. The one contraindication is for people on blood thinners such as Warfarin or aspirin. In these cases one should consult with their prescribing doctor.

A list of aliments that Hawthorn can support –

• Regulates both high and low blood pressure.
• Regulate cholesterol levels.
• It is rich in antioxidants, reducing oxidative damage to capillary walls.
• It reduces the impact of stress on the heart due to its relaxing nervine properties.
• It has been used to settle people who are restless, irritable and unable to focus.
• It is also a powerful support for emotional heartbreak to ease the burden on the physical and emotional heart.

How do I prepare the Hawthorn?

There are a number of ways to prepare the Hawthorn to use over the winter. Some include infused honey, vinegar, tincture, dried for decoction (strong herbal tea). However, my favorite preparation is Hawthorn Berry Syrup, which will last longer and is delicious as well as so good for you. So this is the recipe I will share today.

So any of you who feel moved to take action, now is the time. The berries are everywhere. Remember basic rules about wildcrafting such as not next to a busy road! The way I see it is we all have a heart and it’s pretty important on all levels so everyone of us could do with getting this into us! And the added benefit of harvesting and preparing a medicine yourself should not be underestimated. This is about empowerment & preventative medicine. So if you have a heart of any description get yourself a bucket and get out there this weekend. What a lovely thing to do for yourself!

Hawthorn Berry Syrup Recipe

• Put your fresh hawthorn berries into a pan and fill with filtered water to the level of 2 inches above the berries. Heat and simmer under 130F for 20-30minutes, stirring.
• Remove the mixture from the heat, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid off and set aside in a clean container.
• Mash the remainder of the berries and cover with filtered water again to the level of 1 inch above berries.
• Heat again and simmer while stirring for approx.. 20 minutes.
• Strain the liquid and press the excess liquid from the berries, ideally with muslin cloth.
• Combine the 2 batches of liquid in a clean pan, heat and simmer to a syrup, approx. ¼ of the original volume.
• Take off the heat and add ¼ volume of vegetable glycerin or honey. Mix well and let cool.
• Finally add ¼ of the volume of good quality brandy. Mix well and bottle. Store in cool dry place for up to 6 months.
• Once a bottle is opened it should be refrigerated. Recommended dosage is ½ tsp. 3 times daily.

Positive Mental Health – A Natural Healing Approach

Having worked therapeutically with people for many years, I have become all too familiar with the “revolving door” syndrome that can occur with people who struggle with mental health issues, particularly when prescription medication becomes the only solution on offer. People tend to go up and down and in and out of that door until it gets to a point where the door is closed, locked and barricaded resulting in a life sentence of pills and more importantly a sense of disempowerment where people become victims of a choice less situation.

Did you know that its estimated that 1 in 5 Irish people are on anti-depressant medication? That is 20% of the population and does no include sleeping medications and anti-anxiety medication such as Xanax & Valium. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of extremism in any form be it natural or pharmaceutical and there is most certainly a valid place for prescription medication. However, these statistics don’t reflect the number of people with severe, incurable mental health problems who have exhausted all avenues. I believe that a large number of these people have no awareness that there are other avenues to explore, either instead of medication or in conjunction with it.

Well the good new is –

THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS!

There are however a few basic rules that must be understood –

Rule No. 1 – There is no magic bullet! Herbal medicine does not work this way and it is a dangerous message to send to people that if they take such and such an herb or supplement that they will be “cured”.

Rule No. 2   – If you want to take a natural approach to healing you need to be willing to put in the work on all levels and be prepared to make changes in your life.

Rule No.3 – The mind and body cannot be separated and people need a treatment approach that caters for both. Diet, exercise, herbal medicines, counseling, meditation & stress management practices all contribute to a holistic approach that works.

Herbal medicine is such a rich resource that is untapped when it comes to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. There are a number of key classifications of herbs that when combined correctly for the individual and accompanied by the aspects outlined above have shown great merit.

3 main classifications are as follows –

Nutritive Herbs: This classification are tonic herbs that can be taken safely over long periods of time to nourish and strengthen the entire system. These herbs form the foundation of any treatment concerning mental health.

Nervine Herbs: This classification directly addresses the nervous system. There are differing aspects of these herbs that need to be matched to the individual and are invaluable in addressing symptoms such as low mood, anxiety and panic attacks and insomnia.

Adaptogenic Herbs: These herbs are once again tonic in nature and support the adrenal glands and therefore the entire endocrine system, balancing hormones increasing resilience to stress and generally strengthening the whole system.

This is a very brief synopsis of some aspects of an herbal approach to mental health difficulties. Natural healing treats the person not the illness so lets remember that every individual is different and unique and this must always be considered. One size does not fit all, but the thing to remember is there are always options!

Hydrotherapy for Natural Healing

The indigenous peoples call it the First Medicine, it’s considered sacred in all the perennial wisdom traditions, being used as a Holy substance for blessing, healing and protection.  The medicinal use of it hails back to the times of Hippocrates, the Father of Modern medicine and has endured in many forms across cultures and through the ages.

Water – The most basic of human needs and rights. We, the privileged minority of humans who are lucky enough to have water delivered to our homes every day, tend to take this for granted. It is only when there are shortages, cut-offs, contamination and oh yes, water charges talked about that we begin to think about water and how essential it is for life as we know it. The use of water as a natural healing tool is something that most people aren’t conscious of and has lost its prominence with the advance of modern medicine. There are many ways to utilize this resource for our health on an ongoing basis as a preventative measure as well as to treat disease and illness.

3 Simple Hydrotherapy Practices to Maintain our Health

1) Hydration – With the best of intentions, many of us fall well below what we need to be drinking in terms of water.  Water is essential for life and the healthy functioning of our bodies. The average adult should be drinking 2 liters of water through the day, more or less.

Tip: To monitor intake, fill a flask, bottle or jug with 2 liters of water in the morning and drink through the day.

2) Hot & Cold Showers – Sounds scary and definitely has a bite to it, but this practice has a hugely positive impact on your health. This practice stimulates your lymphatic system and circulatory system, increasing the body’s ability to cleanse waste, increasing blood flow for healing and boosting your immune system.

Tip: At the end of your morning shower, turn water to cold (yes fully cold!) for 30 seconds, return to hot for 1 minute and try to complete 7 repetitions. 

3) Detox Bath – This feels a little more like a luxurious treat, yet is a powerful treatment for cleansing the body. Once a week, fill a bath as hot as you can manage. Add 2 cups of Epsom salts, 1 cup of baking soda and ½ cup of bentonite clay.

Tip: Have this bath at a time when you can go straight to bed afterwards and have a good night sleep to maximize benefits.

3 Simple Hydrotherapy Practices to Regain our Health

 1) Foot Bath– Not just for relaxing your tired feet, although that in itself is great! The feet are a wonderful gateway for healing to pass into the rest of the body systems. Therefore footbaths can be used to treat everything from varicose veins to the flu to insomnia. Add essential oils or strong herbal infusions to warm basin and soak for 30 minutes, topping up with hot water.

Tip: This is a wonderful way to administer natural treatments, especially for children or the more feeble and elderly. Choose herbs appropriate to condition.

2) Sitz Bath – Sitz baths basically work on the same principles as footbaths, but cater for the rear end! Any mothers out there should know what I’m talking about and if you don’t, you really missed out. Find a shallow basin that you can sit in and fill with warm water and appropriate essential oils or herbal infusions as above. Treats tears, piles, cysts and many genitourinary system disorders.

Tip: A baby bath is a perfect size for this.

3) Hot & Cold Local applications: As a therapeutic practice, this works on the same principle as the Hot/Cold shower treatments above. When an area of the body in injured, inflamed, painful or swollen the body is naturally attempting to bring healing to this area. By applying hot/cold compresses locally to the area, we increase blood flow, hence increasing healing. Very simple!

Tip: If applying herbal treatment to an injury or particular area of the body, this treatment performed before hand will increase the uptake and utilization of any further treatment. Wonderful on its own for pain relief.

So instead of giving out about the up coming water charges , lets take it as an opportunity to realize the vital importance of water and consider how we can utilize it in the best way for our ongoing health and wellbeing. And it you really have to do a bit of complaining, try doing it in a relaxing foot bath to help you chill out!