Making Herbal Things!

Bunkers and I have been making some herbal things! He’s been enjoying helping me in the kitchen and I have been enjoying not only feeling productive but also learning more about herbs!

I have been studying and using herbs for over five years and I still feel like such a novice. It’s my goal for the second half of this year to really study and learn and retain things. Part of that for me is to MAKE. If I make something I am more likely to use it and remember what it is for!

67028_10151608303152644_1745350433_nI made some tinctures for the first time last year and those were so easy! I wish I had started making those earlier. I was freaked out by it, though. David Hoffman’s excellent book really spells everything out, though, and with his book I felt confident in making them myself.

So, yesterday we made up some calendula oil to steep and today we made some herbal lozenges! I followed this basically:

 

I really enjoy John’s videos! I have been watching them for about five years, too, and he and his family make some very easy to follow recipes for herbal medicinals. You can find more videos by him here and here. And other fabulous people, too! Like one of my absolute favs, Rosemary Gladstar!

Next up I really want to make some plantain slave! Mommypotamus has a great recipe and tutorial here. I am usually prone to bug bites so I want to see how well it works. I have been using doTerra’s TerraShield blend as a bug spray and it works fabulously! I haven’t had a bite yet this year when I have used it! 

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Bunkers helping to make the herbal lozenges.

I have also been researching several different burn cream recipes and that is my next venture once the calendula oil has steeped enough. I want to have that on hand for sun burns and minor burns. I’m taking bits and bobs from all the recipes I have found online and want to make up my own recipe with all the information. 

I would love to have an herbal ‘first aid kit’ of sorts established by the end of this year. So often the herbal remedy for any given thing requires several weeks prep (steeping in oil or tincutre form, for example) and so having it all ready would be fabulous!

Anyone making anything herbal? 

Brightest blessings,

Christina

Natural Migraine Treatment

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I’ve been getting migraines for the last 15 years (since a few years before menarche) and have taken dozens of different medications to treat and prevent them; few of which have actually worked.

Up until several years ago I was taking prescriptions for my migraines – intense meds that were taxing my system. As I transitioned to a more natural lifestyle, I quit taking all of my prescriptions and sought out natural means of treating my migraines.

I DO have the MTHFR gene mutation, which puts me a pre-disposition to getting migraines, and I have been low in magnesium likely for most of my life. I have so many symptoms of low magnesium (one being migraines, of course, but a huge one being having had pre-eclampsia with my first and only pregnancy, that which resulted in a premature birth) and so magnesium is a huge part of my treatment.

I started taking magnesium about 8 months ago and I have noticed huge differences. It has helped tremendously with my mood and extended post-partum depression. Additionally, it has helped to reduce the number of migraines I do get. Initially, I quit having migraines at all during the first 6 months that I was taking magnesium, but they returned and I don’t exactly know why.

Prior to my pregnancy (during which I didn’t get any migraines, go figure!) I had migraines during the week before and during my period. Now, after pregnancy, I get migraines before and during ovulation. I cannot fully wrap my brain around why, but I read this fabulous article on migraines during one’s cycle and it was very informative.

Another thing I have done in the last year to help my migraines has been to go gluten-free. We have been paleo, we’ve done GAPS, grain free, etc… but we could never keep up with it for longer than a month. This year, we decided to simply go gluten free and get that solid before moving on to more restriction in our diet. I really though that going gluten free would help my migraines because I had heard plenty of anecdotal evidence that it would, but that hasn’t been my experience. I have’t had a spec of gluten in 90 days and we were 90% gluten free before that, yet I have had four migraines in the last 3 weeks.

So, while I don’t have all the answers to why I am still getting migraines, I DO have a great system that helps me to live through them when they do come on.

Before adopting a more natural lifestyle, I would take prescription medication for my headaches or Excederine Migraine Relief. I usually had to take 6 Excederine for it to even touch my migraine, though, and that was very taxing on my liver!

Here’s what I do…

Prevention:

  • To attempt to prevent migraines, I take magnesium nightly. You have to try different doses to see what you need/can handle – if you take too much it has a laxative affect and that can be troublesome, too. I take 2 teaspoons of my powdered magnesium each night before bed. It helps with falling asleep, too!
  • Gluten Free Diet. All organic diet. Grass fed meats.
  • No processed sugar. We only eat honey and fruit as our sweeteners.
  • Low toxins in environment. We don’t use chemicals in our house and buy all organic food as well as clothing/bedding/mattresses. I don’t wear make-up and I use organic shampoo/conditioner.

Treatment:

Once I get aura (pre-migraine snake-like light in my vision) I do the following:

  • Take a full magnesium dose (2 tsp) in water with:
  • 1 dose of feverfew tincture (1 tsp or so depending on tincture strength)
  • 1 dose of White Willow Bark tincture (1 tsp or so depending on tincture strength)
  • If I can, I drink 1 cup of strong peppermint tea to help with nausea
  • Then, I smear my whole forehead, temples and base of the neck with Tigerbalm. White or red formulas are fine. Red is more potent.
  • Then, if I can, I take a nap. With a two year old that doesn’t always happen, though!

If I can fall asleep, more often than not I feel quite a bit better when I wake up. If I cannot sleep, I take more feverfew and WWB tinctures every 3-4 hours.

The Tigerbalm is VERY powerful so do be careful not to touch your eyes or nose or mouth or your baby or anything until you’ve washed your hands really well twice. You can ‘re-activate’ it by placing a damp washcloth over your forehead to re-wet the Tigerbalm.

I hope this helps another migraine sufferer. I’d love to hear what other people do to prevent or treat their migraines.

ETA: January 2014 I started a ketogenic diet (low carb high fat) and I haven’t had a single migraine since then. There is a lot of research on this and how ketogenic diets can help a plethora of other diseases (autism, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and depression). Here’s some info on those studies: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898565/

Gluten Free Cleansing Grains

I’ve been making cleansing grains for my own personal use for about four years, now. I read about them first in Rosemary Gladstar’s book. Cleansing grains traditionally use ground oats as the exfoliation  For people like myself who are gluten free, avoiding even coming in contact with gluten is a good idea, not just avoiding eating it. Most oats have gluten (you can find a gluten free variety), so I opted to use other natural ingredients for exfoliating. I purchase all of my ingredients for body care recipes from Mountain Rose Herbs and I encourage you to do the same. They have fair practices, are environmentally conscious and offer a wide range of organic items. We buy our organic coconut oil for eating there, too.

Anyhow, I needed to make a fresh batch for my shop so I decided I’d take some pictures along the way and post a tutorial… if you can even call it that! It’s just tossing some ingredients together.

I’ve adapted my recipe from Rosemary’s, but if you want to try your hand at making traditional cleansing grains how she describes, then you can find that recipe in her book.

Gather your ingredients:

2 cups kaolin clay (white clay)

1/2 cup apricot kernel meal

1/2 cup ground coconut flakes

1/4 cup lavender flower powder

1/4 cup pink rose petal flower

You’ll also need a large bowl and measuring spoons. Feel free to collect the measuring spoons from your toddler’s play kitchen utensils  Oh, that’s just me? Ha.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Mix carefully! The clay is extremely light and will fling all over the place if you get a little over zealous with your stirring.

I like to put this in pretty canning jars for storage. This makes a great gift, too! Tie a cute ribbon with a tag and you’re done!

To use, just put 1-2 teaspoons on your palm and make a paste with a little water. Massage into your (dampened) face, work in to trouble spots (nose, forehead). Leave on your face at least 5 minutes. I like to do this ritual in the shower. I put it on my face first thing (after I dampen my face and hair) and then do everything else. I rinse my face off last and that way it’s had a nice 10 minutes or so to sit!

It’s best to just use this once a week or twice at most. Even though it doesn’t feel particularly ‘rough’, it still does a good job of scrubbing and you don’t want to scrub your delicate face skin too often. And some people find the clay to be a bit drying, so keep that in mind if you’re prone to dry skin.