Stinging Nettle-Urtica dioica for Good Health

Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, or as my mom calls them “brennnessel” in German. In Germany after WWII her family was severely malnourished as there was not much food available, their bodies covered with open sores and they had lost most of their hair. My Oma would send my mom and her siblings out along the field ways with big baskets to pick the nettle. She recalls how much they hated picking them because all they had were knives and scissors,no gloves to protect their hands from the sting. My Oma would cook them like spinach and they swore it returned them to health, and to this day my mother still makes them in a delicious cream sauce and I can feel the nourishing, restorative energy almost immediately.  

One of the first to appear in my garden the nettles start to emerge in late February or early March, it seems as soon as a bit of warmth hits them they are ready to go to work, wasting no time.  This year after peeking out they were buried under about 12 inches of snow, as soon as it thawed they were still there, unnerved by it all. They show me their strength and offer me their resiliency.

Stinging nettle emerges in Spring

Nettle is an extremely nutritive herb and steamed they provide daily amounts of vitamins and minerals that include iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and more! It has the ability to restore depleted adrenals and bring more energy to the body.  Making a strong nettle tea infusion is another way of getting the nutrition it has to offer but you may have to drink often and daily, which is not a problem for me, it has a mild peppery flavor that tastes delicious as a tea.  Often I mix it with other herbs depending on my needs and you will find it in many of my herbal blends and is always available here at the studio. 

Nettles are a beloved herb used almost universally by all herbalists for its ability to support the whole body.  Herbalist David Hoffmann states that “nettle is one of the most widely applicable plants in the material medica, the herb strengthens and supports the whole body. Throughout Europe, nettle is used as a Spring tonic and general detoxifying remedy”

Nettles can be easily grown in your garden but you may want to keep them in an area where you don’t have to worry about brushing up against them as they will let you know they are there! The sting will cause a rash which will not last too long. If you have plantain leaves in the yard rubbing them on the sting will make it better. Mine are actually right in the middle of everything and I brush against them often, I’ve actually gotten quite used to the sting and it doesn’t bother me much anymore. There is actually an old technique called urtication where arthritic joints are lashed with nettle to increase mobility!

All over the world there are herbs that have the ability to support and strengthen the body, and some so widely sought after that we often overlook what is growing in our own back yards. Take the time to get to know and love nettle, you will be glad you did!

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

 

Blue Monday-Let the Sun Shine In-Wellness Tips for the Dull of Winter

Usually around this time of year the dark days and chill of winter begin to weigh on me, I curse the cold and long for my summer garden. Blue Monday is a name given to the third Monday in January which is reported to be the most depressing day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Monday_(date)). Luckily there are many natural alternatives out there to bring the light back in to our spirit and in this post I’ve listed a few of my favorites.

Herbal Support

Herbs support the body in a natural way and can be used to bring the body’s systems into balance.  A well known herb is St. John’s wort which is a wonderful tonic for the whole body and an excellent nervine which has the therapeutic ability to calm the nervous system and support a healthy mood. It has been called the herb of the sun and signals the time of midsummer which is also when its healing properties are at its strongest. Energetically its sunny disposition can be used to dispel the darkness and protect against evil spirits. It is important to get your herbs from reputable sources as some forms have been found not to be pure, recently a bulletin was released about the adulteration of St. John’s wort supplements. A true specimen of the plant should naturally produce the characteristic red color in the preparation and should not contain dyes to make it look that way and the best tinctures are made from the fresh flowering tops of the plant, harvested during the proper time when the healing properties are strong in the plant.

Another favorite herb of mine to use is Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis, or “Melissa’s Geist” (Melissa’s spirit), as my Oma called it. Melissa’s uplifting aroma and therapeutic properties help to gently calm and uplift and the same time. Using herbs can be a great way to naturally support your body but some do carry contraindications, especially St. John’s wort which can interact with some medications.  It is best to consult a qualified healthcare provider when considering the use of herbs. The studio provides wellness consultations which can help you find the best holistic health support options to choose from.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy can be an easy and fast way to positively affect the mood due to the body’s smell receptors being directly linked to the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. Many studies like this one have been done to show that inhalation of certain essential oils can help to regulate moods. Some of my favorites include lavender and uplifting citrus scented oils like lemon, orange, and bergamot. I have a fun aromatherapy workshop coming up on January 21st, Banishing the Winter Blahs, where we will be making a nice uplifting blend for you to keep.  There are still a few spaces left for anyone interested, registration is required.

Exercise

There is a strong link between exercise and the mood and researchers have found that people on a regular exercise program show not only physical improvement but mental and emotional health improvements as well (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx). Exercise need not be strenuous as a simple walk in nature can work wonders and connect you to the earth and your natural cycles.

Rest and Relaxation

Don’t push against the natural cycles of nature, we are meant to slow down and rest in the winter. Recharge yourself and allow the energy to be stored. There are many ways to incorporate relaxation techniques into your lifestyle which can include meditation, yoga, getting a massage, or a Reiki session. Far Infared Heat Therapy is a great way to relax wrapped in warmth and gain many health benefits. The far infared sauna here at the studio provides the same heat as the sun without the harmful ultraviolet rays, perfect for the dark days of winter.

By incorporating natural healing methods into your lifestyle you are investing in your health and well being and you are surely worth it! Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup so to be able to give your best to others you must first honor yourself. I’ll soon be sitting down with a cup of tea, sifting through the seed catalogs, and dreaming of the return of Spring.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

 

 

 

Fresh Organic Ginger Returns to the Studio

It’s been a few very long months that I have been anxiously awaiting the harvest of this fresh organic ginger from Hawaii.  Currently I have white ginger and galangal here at the studio. Yellow ginger will be arriving sometime in December and turmeric in January. The galangal which is is at the top of the photo is often called Thai ginger and is a bit spicier.  White ginger, at the bottom of photo is a bit milder than yellow ginger but very similar, both were just harvested early this week so the freshness and taste is amazing!

St. John’s Wort Infused Oil

St. John's Wort Infused Oil
St. John’s Wort Infused Oil

This weekend I made some infused oil from my beautiful St. John’s wort plant.  St. John’s wort is traditionally known and used for its ability to promote a feeling of well being but it also has many therapeutic actions that make it great for topical use that include antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-neuralgic, astringent, and antiseptic which can make it a wonderful healing body oil and massage oil for sore muscles.

Making an infused oil is easy and rewarding as you use what nature provides us to heal.  In this blend there are simple ingredients of sweet almond oil, St. John’s wort, and some lavender essential oil which is optional.  Other essential oils can also be added to enhance the aroma or therapeutic intention of your blend. Take care in the sun if you are using a body oil with St. John’s wort because it could increase your chances of getting sunburn.

Some fun herbal and aromatherapy workshops will be scheduled soon here at the studio where we will be making many of these different preparations. Make sure to ask for some of my St. John’s wort massage oil for your next scheduled massage!

The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.These products and statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Tulsi, Holy Basil, Queen of Herbs

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Tulsi, Holy Basil, known as “Queen of Herbs” and “The Incomparable One” is one of the most sacred plants in India and is used as an Ayurvedic tea herb. Tulsi has profound medicinal and spiritual effects and has been used for centuries for its benefits for the mind~body~spirit. One of the main therapeutic actions of holy basil is to act as an adaptogen in the body which promote’s the body’s natural healing abilities and helps it respond better to physical, mental, and emotional stress, it is also a powerful anti-oxidant and beneficial for all body systems especially digestive and respiratory. Holy basil is often planted by doors or hung in doorways for good luck and spiritual harmony in the home. Shown in the picture is the Kapoor variety but I also have Krishna, Rama, and Vana varieties available at the studio, fresh and dried.

New Herbal Infusion~Taming the Dragon

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A calming evening herbal tea to soothe frazzled nerves and relax the mind & body. This blend includes my special mixture of skullcap, passion flower, lemon verbena, and other herbs to promote well being, and can also be very supportive for the ladies right before “that time” of the month.

A Delicious Golden Milk Recipe~ Ginger and Turmeric

Here is a simple golden milk recipe that you can make from fresh or dried ginger and turmeric that is quick, delicious, and healthy.  Make sure you are using an organic root to avoid pesticides and other contaminates.  This is a delicious way to get some of the supportive healing benefits these golden treasures have to offer us. Below I’ve listed how I make mine from both fresh and powdered root, depending on what I have on hand.

If you are using fresh root first grate, chop, or slice some fresh turmeric and ginger into a tea strainer.

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Next heat the milk on the stove until it comes to a simmer and pour into your cup. What milk you use depends on your individual preference. I use an organic whole milk or almond milk. The fat in the milk will help increase the bioavailability of the turmeric in the body.

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I usually let it steep for about 10 minutes or so.  Then I pull out the strainer and add some honey and top with cinnamon to taste.

If I am using the powder I’ll add about a 1/2 teaspoon each of the ginger or turmeric into the cup, or sometimes I just use 1 tsp of powdered turmeric (no strainer needed). Next pour the warmed milk into the cup, stir well, and add honey and cinnamon.

handcrafted organic turmeric powder at Integrative Healing Arts Studio West Reading

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The delicious end result.  I mostly enjoy this in the evening before bed but it is great any time of the day.

There are abundant ways to make golden milk and many great recipes to be found. Keep in mind with turmeric it is said that you should consume it with healthy fats, black pepper, or even citrus so that the body can more easily absorb the healing benefits of the root.

Depending on the time of year, the studio carries fresh organic ginger and turmeric. I handcraft all of dried ginger and turmeric powders found here as well.