Natural Healing Omaha Blog

Time for Herbalism to Come Out of the Closet

Time for Herbalism to Come Out of the Closet

Everyone’s got that favorite sweatshirt or pair of jeans they keep for weekends at home. The ones you slip on when you wanna feel comfortable and relaxed.

Over time, the color’s faded and the newness has worn off, but you’re not completely at home unless you’ve got that soft, worn fabric against your skin. Do you remember why you stopped wearing those jeans in public?

My guess is that something new and trendy came along and made them look dull in comparison.

Something similar happened to herbalism. The comfort of our grandmothers’ folk healing was replaced by a trendy, shiny thing called modern medicine.

Traditional ways of staying healthy and healing at home were relegated to the back of the closet. Somehow, we convinced ourselves that newer was better. In the process, safe, natural, remarkably simple methods of prevention and natural healing were written off as dated and out of style.

Isn’t it time we put some old-fashioned common sense back into health care? Let’s take a page from fashion by pairing the best of today’s chic new healthcare with classics that stand the test of time.

Herbalism blends well into today’s eclectic cultural sensibilities. It’s more than vintage, thrift-store medicine or trendy ‘folk’ health care. There’s powerful healing in that simple cup of tea your grandmother brewed for you.

What could be more comfortable than remedies that grow in your own back yard, right?

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If You Were a Plant, What Kind of Plant Would You Be?

If You Were a Plant, What Kind of Plant Would You Be?

Are you a mint person? Cool, kinda sweet. Lifting spirits everywhere you go. Or maybe you’re a cinnamon girl. Warm and spicy, and full of good taste. Or an ancient oak, with sprawling limbs, and roots anchored for centuries.

Maybe it’s silly, but spices and their medicinal sisters, herbs, seem to match well with certain personality types.

In herb school, I learned what’s called the Doctrine of Signatures. It means that plants sometimes have a signature or identifying feature that tells us how to use them. Sometimes I wonder,  “If this client were a plant, what plant would they be?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the personality traits of different types of stressed out people. There’s the guy whose troubles always go to the stomach. The teen who’s pressured by exams and gets headaches several times a week. The woman whose hair is falling out in clumps since her divorce. They’re each experiencing their own kind of stress response, and they each need a separate kind of herb or herbs.

You know those people who are always frazzled and on their last nerve? The ones that are forever tired and undernourished but zoom at 100 miles an hour through life. When my client looks and acts like this, there’s a good chance they’re getting milky oat seed in their formula.

Because oat is rich in calcium and magnesium, it’s like a warm, soothing compress for the nervous system. An oatmeal bath coats your skin with slimy goo, soothing itchy, irritated areas. In a way, milky oat seed, or Avena sativa, does that with your frayed nerves.

High-strung, restless people have their own special herbs and oils and what’s called a ‘Vata dosha imbalance’ – a constitutional tendency to get anxious and frazzled.

Doesn’t it get you thinking, “Hmm, I wonder if there’s a plant out there to help with MY kind of stress?” Probably. Finding just the right match for you is a little piece of what I do as an herbalist.

E-mail me at info@naturalhealingomaha.com, if you’re wondering about herbs for your dosha or personality type. And click here to take a Dosha test.

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Small Changes Bring Health in 20 Minutes a Day

Small Changes Bring Health in 20 Minutes a Day

Today’s blog is written by someone special to me, but more importantly, the person who inspired my 100-day meditation. I hope his story sparks an idea for change or growth in your life like it did in mine.

I am a philosopher by nature.  And I have no explanation why.

Maybe it’s my astrological destiny (Sagittarian). Or possibly it’s some evolutionary bi-product of an innate coping mechanism.  Or simply, it could be my own way of attempting to understand this sometimes complex, confusing and confounding journey called life.  Crazy.

Whatever the reason, I’ve gathered a collection of axioms I believe to be true.  I keep them stored tidily away in my philosophical travel bag that follows me every step of the way.  And when the need arises, I open the bag, sort through this pile of philosophical meanderings and find the one that fits.

One such “truth” that has served me over the years is the realization that everyone has something.  By something, I mean issues or problems or dilemmas. Whatever the name we wish to assign, it still comes down to the premise we all have something.

And if we’re fortunate to live long enough, sooner or later one or more of these “somethings” will cross our path. I’m no exception.

Four years ago one of the somethings bared its teeth and proceeded to firmly sink them into my behind.  For about three of these years it did not let go. It was an uphill battle on a downward slope to think, to function, to live.

Since then I’ve managed to regain much of what I feared gone thanks to the miraculous work of those at Four Winds and the amazing healing power of herbal medicine. While the worst (I hope) is behind me, I’m not so dumb to think the next something isn’t laying in the bushes in wait.

Enter Qi Gong (chee gung).  One hundred and twenty-two days ago I added this daily practice of Chinese energy healing to my life.

The “why” is simple. I want to live. Healthy and strong.  Happy and long.  And in my heart of hearts I know it’s possible through obvious lifestyle choices (diet, exercise, etc…) integrated with my new BF – Qi Gong.

Funny name.  Great results.

You might ask, “Where’s the evidence, Sherlock?”  Elementary, dear Watson.

My vitals from a recent check-up looked like this: Heart rate 72, BP 128/82 and temperature 98.6.  No big shake until I compare it with my norms: Heart rate 80, BP all over the map and temperature 96.8.  For the record, I’ve never had a body temp spot on with the norm.

It doesn’t stop there. On a physiological level, I’ve noticed improved sleep patterns, a decrease in digestive dysfunction, less anxiety, better circulation, improved skin color, fewer allergy-related headaches and there’s talk of decreasing my daily dosage of a required medication.

Physical improvements have been evident as well, including better balance, fewer body aches and wonder of wonders, an increased appetite that’s allowed me to add six much-needed pounds to my six-foot, two-inch frame.

And it’s all been so simple.  Not easy, but simple. Not easy, because there are days where my heart isn’t always in it.  There are days where my knees creak and my mind is cranky.

Over four months straight of waking each day, and regardless of my being or circumstance or mood, I’ve dedicated 20 minutes each day to the practice.

Twenty minutes. That still leaves 1,420 minutes each day to do what needs to be done.

As I asked Mo, “If we can’t dedicate 20 minutes to our health every day, what does that say about us?”

 

Note: The writer, Ken Kreiker, started his Qi Gong practice with Master Chen’s Tai Chi Qi Gong 18 Movements DVD, available at  www.wudangchen.com.

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Vitamin-rich Fall Foods Power Up Immune System

Vitamin-rich Fall Foods Power Up Immune System

Every Autumn, I get a little closer to nature by eating more of the foods that are abundant in the Fall. Coincidentally, Fall foods happen to be nutrient-dense and easy to stretch over several meals. Take butternut squash for instance. Since I rarely use a whole squash for a single recipe, sometimes, a 3-pound squash will expand to several meals. Bits go into a breakfast egg dish, a lunch side dish, a roasted vegetable mix, and served with wild rice and turkey for dinner.

Give me a crockpot and a good knife and in under 20 minutes, I’ll have a delicious, budget-stretching stew assembled in the morning. A little of everything from the week’s groceries goes into a dish like this. Just thinking about how delicious a home-cooked stew will taste makes my mouth water on the drive home later that day.

The money I save by eating with the season adds up. It’s dollars I won’t spend seeing a doctor for a cold-weather sinus infection. It’s sick days I won’t have to take from work, and the restaurant bill I won’t have because there’s something fresh at home to eat.

There’s extra savings in Fall menus. The foods stay fresh for weeks, without the perishable quality of tender spring greens or summer berries. Try your farmer’s market for colorful squash, root vegetables, and game meats in Autumn.

As seasons go, Fall is my favorite, and not only because I get to gorge myself on acorn squash, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, daikon radish, apples, pears, and wild game (duck, turkey, deer, quail). These colorful, vitamin-rich foods contain healing and fortifying vitamins and minerals. These keep my body healthy, warm, and strong as cold weather approaches. After a spicy bowl of buffalo stew or squash soup, I feel satisfied in a way that’s extra protective on a cool, blustery day.

Not confident you can cook your way through Fall? Schedule a visit with me to talk about healing recipes. I’ll help you discover herbs that make your menu more interesting and healthy for you and your family. Text 402.965.0097 or email info@naturalhealingomaha.com.

 

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Herbal Syrup Holds Ancient Secret to Longevity

Herbal Syrup Holds Ancient Secret to Longevity

Recently, I had to admit to a close friend that I’m exhausted from a year of big changes. “What would you tell a client who felt like you do?” she asked.

“Take tonic herbs!”

The concept of tonic herbs is virtually unknown to Western herbalists, but it’s common in Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM]. Your body recovers not only from rest, good food, and good air, but also by taking in strengthening and nourishing herbs over an extended period of time. This concept is central to TCM healing practices. I’ve benefitted from tonics during other stressful, depleting times in my life.

It takes practically a whole day to make a true, tonic syrup out of Chinese herbs. One of my favorite old-fashioned syrup bases is blackstrap molasses.

I love the rich, earthy taste of blackstrap. I learned to really appreciate it a few years ago when I discovered it has significant iron content but doesn’t create the constipation that iron supplements can.

Blackstrap also has healthy levels of minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Just what the doctor ordered for the marathon that is my life lately. And bonus: it’s known to help normalize blood sugar levels.

You have to cook and cook those Chinese roots and barks and healing herbs in a pot of water on the stovetop. Hours later, when the liquid is reduced by three-fourths, you add the blackstrap in and cook it down a bit further.

I bottle the strained liquid, and add a tablespoon to my morning and evening tea every day for several few months. The process of slowly cooking this brew over several hours is a relaxing way to begin settling my life down a bit.

Do you need a deep energy lift, better focus, and more sound, restful sleep? Turn to tonic herbs and foods. Let’s talk about how to stock your cabinet for great health! E-mail info@naturalhealingomaha.com or text 402.965.0097 for your appointment today.

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8 Nature-Made Plants to Hydrate Your Skin and Lungs

8 Nature-Made Plants to Hydrate Your Skin and Lungs

The Summer dry heat that can parch your lawn and leave your flowers wilting may have similar effects on your body. When moisture is lacking in your environment, it’s also drying your skin, eyes, the mucus membranes along your respiratory tract, making you vulnerable to illness.

A windy, dry Fall can complicate all that and more. Dryness is more than just irritating; it makes your body’s surfaces more vulnerable to allergens, unfriendly bacteria, and viruses. The mucus in your body and moisture in your skin is there for a reason. It lubricates surfaces and provides a protective barrier for your immune system.

How do you re-hydrate your lungs, skin, and whole body, and avoid the hazard of a windy, dry Fall?

Drink. More. Water.

And what else? Try these:

  • Slippery Elm lozenges are delicious and do a great job of lubricating a ticklish throat and irritated respiratory tract. Cherokee herbalist David Winston says slippery elm lozenges will stimulate the lungs to produce more healthy mucus.
  • Herbalist Amanda McQuade Crawford, in her book Herbal Remedies for Women, suggests marshmallow root tea to lubricate your throat and stop coughs. It’s a tried and true remedy for burning digestion, too.
  • Throat Coat tea from Traditional Medicinals is one of my favorite soothers for a scratchy throat and cough. If your cough hangs on for more than a couple weeks, consider a visit to your physician or herbalist.
  • EAT MORE SWEET POTATOES! These delicious super tubers have a nourishing, moistening effect on the lungs.
  • Other cool tips for Fall? Sit in a steamy sauna a couple times a week….apply sesame oil inside the opening of your dry, itchy nose….dig out your pretty scarves and wrap your neck nice ‘n snug before heading out to the hayrack ride.

Be Well!

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