Category Archives: Healing Herbs & Spices

HOMEMADE GRIPEWATER RECIPE

After a few nights of no sleep and a very unhappy newborn, I finally got the energy to research why my sweet little angel turned into a monster over night.  Ok so he wasn’t a monster but his painful cries and tense little body was scary to say the least.  He looks like Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas when he is angry.  I learned that colic is a broad term used for fussy babies that is generally linked to digestive issues.  I did another blog all about this that you can check out here.

Gripe water is one of the Mommy Remedies that every mom I know has used.  Many moms tout it as “Mommy’s Miracle”!  I had to learn more about this magical concoction that everyone was speaking of.  Gripe water has been around since 1851 and is considered a traditional medicine to treat colic, intestinal discomfort, hiccups & more.  The ingredients in modern day gripe water are mostly ok, however like most items sitting on store shelves consisted of preservatives & additives.  Here is a breakdown of common ingredients…some great, some not so good…

Safe Ingredients
Aloe vera – alleviates bloating and flatulence.
Anise seeds – promote easy digestion.
Angelica – works great for an upset tummy.
Blackthorn – relieves pain and discomfort due to abdominal cramps.
Caraway seeds – enhance digestion and prevent flatulence.
Cinnamon bark extract – improves the process of digestion and helps get rid of nausea.
Cardamom – relieves nausea and vomiting and promotes easy digestion.
Chamomile – helps maintain the health of the stomach.
Dill extract – helps get rid of nausea, offers relief from flatulence, brings back the sick stomach to normal position.
Fennel – works great for the upset stomach and provides quick relief from cramps.
Ginger root extract – helps prevent indigestion and nausea.
Lemon balm – helps get rid of flatulence.
Peppermint – is required to settle down the stomach as it works great for nausea.
Unsafe Ingredients
Alcohol – It can ruin the bodily systems. Feeding the baby with an addiction inducing element is very dangerous. Alcohol can cause drowsiness.
Charcoal Vegetable Carbon – It lowers the effectiveness of other drugs, which is quite dangerous. It can cause dehydration, swelling or pain in the stomach.
Dairy – The baby can be ‘allergic or intolerant’ to lactose. Lactose can make the baby suffer from excessive gases.
Gluten – The baby can be ‘gluten intolerant’ or ‘allergic to gluten’. Gluten can be harmful for intestinal cells.
Soy – Certain kinds of soy may restrict the body from absorbing nutrients, leading to long-term health problems.
Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) – It can affect the health of the baby seriously. It can affect the pH of the stomach, blood pH, functions of nerves and muscles.
Yeast – It promotes storing of fats in the body, making the baby overweight.
Citric Acid – It can be harmful for the delicate digestive system of the baby, in various ways. Excessive consumption of citric acid is harmful even for adults. It can lead to nausea, loose motions and vomiting. It can act like an allergen for some babies.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/gripe-water-for-newborns.html
As you can see there are benefits as well as some nasty side effects to using over the counter gripe water.  This is exactly why I decided to create my own.  Here is the recipe that works best for my little man but you can adjust based on the needs or your kiddo from the safe list above.
MY HOMEMADE GRIPE WATER RECIPE
Ingredients:

  • 2 c. distilled water
  • 1 slice (about the size of a quarter) fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. dried chamomile (or 1 tea bag’s worth)
  • 2 tsp. dried fennel, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. dried cardamom, crushed
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. food grade vegetable glycerin or natural sweetener to taste (no honey until baby is over a year old; also avoid no- or low-calorie sweeteners like stevia, xylitol, erythritol, or artificial sweeteners)
  • 1/4 ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan or tea kettle.
  2. In a muslin bag combine the ginger, chamomile, fennel, and cardamom.  If you do not have a tea bag that is ok but you will have to strain the contents very well to make sure that no small pieces remain in the mixture.
  3. Remove the water from the heat and add the tea bag (or loose herbs).  Allow to steep for about half an hour.
  4. Remove the tea bag (or strain the loose herb).  Add the glycerin or other non-honey sweetener and cinnamon to the tea. Store in an airtight, glass container in the refrigerator or freeze into ice cubes.  I always freeze measured out doses so I can easily administer with a glass bottle.

Dosage:  Do not exceed 6 doses in a 24 hour period

● 0-3 months: 1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL)

● 3-6 months: 1 tsp. (5 mL)

● 6-12 months: 2 tsp. (10 mL)

 

My little guy loves this stuff.  He actually gets mad that he can’t have more.  It actually tastes amazing and I have even tried it for my own digestive issues with great success.  As always do your own research & consult your physician or midwife before administering anything new to your child.  Check out the full medical disclosure here.

 

 

Lavender (Lavandula)

LAVENDER

Scientific Name: Lavandula (spp- intermedia, pendunculata, officinalis and angustifolia) English lavender, Broad-leaf Lavender, Grande Lavander and True Lavender
Origin: Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, but now cultivated in cool-winter, dry-summer areas in Europe and the Western United States.native to Europe, Western Asia and northwest Africa, but is planted and naturalised in many other regions
Parts Used: Flower & Leaves
Color: Flowers are purple although there are varieties with blossoms of white or pink

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Lavender is aromatic perennial evergreen shrub that blooms from late Spring to early Autumn. The use of Lavender goes back thousands of years, with the first recorded uses by the Egyptians during the mummification process. Both the Greeks and the Romans had many uses for it, the most popular being for bathing, cooking, as an ingredient in perfume, healing wounds, and as an insect repellant. Lavender was used as an after-bath perfume by the Romans, who gave the herb its name from the Latin lavare, to wash. During the Great Plague of 1665, grave robbers would wash their hands in a concoction called “Four Thieves Vinegar”, which contained lavender, wormwood, rue, sage, mint, and rosemary, and vinegar; they rarely became infected. English folklore tells that a mixture of lavender, mugwort, chamomile, and rose petals will attract sprites, fairies, brownies, and elves.

Lavender flowers are approved by the German Commission E for promoting both a healthy mood and healthy circulation. The scent of lavender has shown to have positive effects on mood within certain adult populations and can help to alleviate mild feelings of agitation or distress. As a spice, lavender is best known as an important aspect of French cuisine and is an integral ingredient in herbs de Provence seasoning blends. Lavender may be used on its own to give a delightful, floral flavor to desserts, meats, and breads. The flowers can also be layered within sugar to infuse it with its distinctive aroma for use in cookies and candies. Similar to cilantro, some individuals perceive the taste of lavender in a manner that is undesirable within cuisine. An estimated 10% of the population interprets lavender to have a soapy and unsavory flavor. For this reason, it may be wise to exercise caution while using lavender as a flavoring agent.

Lavender has been thought for centuries to arouse passions as an aphrodisiac, and is still one of the most recognized scents in the world.
Precatutions: I personally love Lavender and recommend it for many uses however there are a few precautions that you should follow:

Precautions:
* I personally do not use Lavender Essential Oil internally. The Dried Flowers work wonders on their own.
* Long Term regular use of concentrated lavender (ie tinctures or essential oils) can cause hormone imbalance in males, so I generally avoid it in things I use for my significant other or my son.
* Due to its relaxation properties-Do Not use in conjunction with any medications that also promotes sleepiness or relaxation, you won’t need it if you use the lavender properly
* Do Not use the dried or fresh herb internally when pregnant

I use lavender often in many different forms:
*As a dried herb to make a relaxing herbal tea (I often add Chamomile too) by steeping in hot (not boiling water) for a few minutes and adding honey
*In a tincture to help promote relaxation and sleep
*Adding the dried herb to homemade buckwheat/flax seed pillows or sleep masks to help promote relaxing sleep
*To sooth sunburns or other burns, I add a few drops of the essential oil to a bottle of cool water and spray on burns to offer relief. The dried herb can also be brewed in to a strong tea and sprayed on instead.
*A strong lavender tea can be cooled and used as a scalp rinse to help prevent dandruffo
*Adding a few drops of lavender essential oil or a cup of strong brewed lavender tea and a cup of Epsom salts to a bath helps relax sore muscles.
*I sew dried lavender flowers into small satchels and use them in place of dryer sheets in the dryer
*For headaches, smelling lavender and peppermint oils or rubbing lavender oil into the temples often helps
*I often infuse lavender into vinegars for use in cooking or as a skin toner (diluted)
*The essential oil or lavender infused oil in homemade lotion bars, lotions, whipped body butter and more
*Lavender essential oil can be used topically to help with acne or skin irritation
*Simmering dried lavender herb in a pot of water with some citrus peels for a natural air freshener

RECIPES:

Lavender Body Spray
1 c. distilled water
2 Tbsp. quality vodka (at least 80-proof) or witch hazel
20-30 drops Organic Lavender essential oil (Lavender mixes well with: Bergamot, black pepper, cedarwood, chamomile, clary sage, clove, cypress, eucalyptus, geranium, grapefruit, juniper, lemon, lemongrass, mandarin, marjoram, oakmoss, palmarosa, patchouli, peppermint, pine, ravensara, rose, rosemary, tea tree, thyme or vetiver essential oils)
2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional, but helps the scent stay)
Directions: Combine everything in a small glass spray bottle and shake well. Shake well before each use.

Lavender Mint Tea

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
4 teaspoons dried lavender flowers
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
4 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons honey (optional)
Directions: In a large bowl, combine the mint, lavender and rosemary. Add boiling water. Cover and steep for 4 minutes. Strain tea, discarding mint mixture. Stir in honey if desired. Serve immediately. Yeild: 4 servings

Lavender Simmer Pot
1 cup dried lavender
1 tsp anise
1 Tablespoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1 Cinnamon stick
1 small sauce pan
4 cups water
Instructions: Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the ingredients from your favorite recipe, continue to boil for a few minutes, then turn the heat down to simmer. Add water as needed, usually every 30 minutes or so. Do Not leave stove unattended.

SOURCE: https://gohomesteading.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/herb-series-6-lavender/

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

RED CLOVER (Trifolium pratense)
Scientific Name: Trifolium pratense
Origin: native to Europe, Western Asia and northwest Africa, but planted and naturalised in many other regions
Parts Used: Flower & Leaves
Color: range from Pink to Dark Red

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Have you ever taken a nip of nectar from the tiny florets of this familiar meadowland plant? The bees certainly do. Clover honey is one of the most common types of honey available, and bees visit Trifolium pratense throughout the summer and fall.

The edible flowers are slightly sweet. You can pull the petals from the flower head and add them to salads throughout the summer. A few tiny florets are a delightful addition to a summer iced tea: Serve your summer guests a cup of iced mint tea with a lemon slice and five to ten tiny clover florets floating on top. You can also press the fresh florets into the icing on a summer birthday cake.
The raw greens of this plant are very nutritious, but like other members of the legume family (beans, peas), they are somewhat difficult to digest. The leaves are best enjoyed dried and in tea form to get the nutrients and constituents without the side effects of gas and bloating common to eating legumes.

In addition to nutrients, red clover offers a big bonus: Good health. It is often used as an herbal remedy to treat and prevent sickness.
Trifolium pratense is considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants). It is used for hot flashes/flushes, PMS, lowering cholesterol, breast enhancement and breast health, improving urine production and improving circulation of the blood. It is also used to help prevent osteoporosis, reduce the possibility of blood clots and arterial plaques and limiting the development of benign prostate hyperplasia.

Trifolium pratense is a source of many valuable nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Trifolium pratense is also considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants).

Because it contains chemicals called isoflavones, which belong to a larger class of plant chemicals known as phyto (plant-derived) estrogens, Trifolium pratense is often taken to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Isoflavones are similar in shape to the female hormone, estrogen. Therefore, they may attach to estrogen receptors throughout the body particularly in the bladder, blood vessels, bones, and heart.

For women with normal estrogen levels, Trifolium pratense isoflavones may displace some natural estrogens, possibly preventing or relieving estrogen-related symptoms, such as breast pain, that are associated with PMS. This effect may also reduce the possibility of developing estrogen-dependent cancer of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). In addition, results from a review of nearly 1000 women suggest that Trifolium pratense may interfere with an enzyme known to promote the progression of endometrial cancer.
Trifolium pratense may also block enzymes thought to contribute to prostate cancer in men. It has shown a definite limiting effect, however, in the development of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. An enlarged prostate may cause men to experience a weak or interrupted urine stream, dribbling after urinating, or the urge to urinate even after voiding. For most men, BPH is a normal part of aging.

It is believed that Trifolium pratense may help to prevent heart disease in several ways. Although results from human studies are not definite, some show that taking Trifolium pratense may lower the levels of ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and raise the levels of ‘good’ high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the body. In addition, Trifolium pratense may also promote an increase in the secretion of bile acid. Because cholesterol is a major component of bile acid, increased bile acid production usually means that more cholesterol is used and less cholesterol circulates in the body. Additionally, Trifolium pratense contains small amounts of chemicals known as coumarins, which may help keep the blood from becoming thick and gummy. Therefore, the possibility of forming blood clots and arterial plaques may be reduced. Plaques are accumulations of blood cells, fats, and other substances that may build up in blood vessels, possibly reducing or blocking blood flow. Trifolium pratense may also help the arteries remain strong and flexible (a quality often called ‘arterial compliance’), which may also help to prevent some of the plaque deposits that may lead to a heart attack or a stroke.

It has even been found to be helpful in quitting smoking.

Red Clover Tea:
Ingredients:

1 cup red clover blossoms
2 tablespoons mint (spearmint or peppermint)
4 cups water
honey, to sweeten

Directions:

Go in your yard and pick some red clovers. Inspect flowers and make sure there are no bugs. Also make sure the flowers have not been sprayed.
Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add clover blossoms and mint. Steep about 10 minutes. Strain. Add honey or sugar to taste. Enjoy!
I air dry red clover every year and keep in plastic sealed bags. Make iced tea with it using 6 cups water and 2 decaf tea bags, adding the mint and red clover. Very good for you and tastes great!

Source: http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-red-clover.html

 

Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum frutescens)

CAYENNE

“If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than any other.” Dr. Schulze

Scientific Name: Capsicum frutescens
Origin: India, Pakistan and China are the major producers, varieties originating from these countries are among the hottest types. Named after the high-heat chilies grown in the vicinity of the Cayenne River in French Guiana.
Parts Used: dried, ripened fruit pod
Color: Orange-Red to Red

These spicy lil peppers pack a powerful punch!
These spicy lil peppers pack a powerful punch!

Besides being a very popular spice in cooking, Capsaicin has also been used medicinally for thousands of years. Many herbalists believe that Capsaicin is the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom, not only for the entire digestive system, but also for the heart and circulatory system. It acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other herbs when used with them. High in Vitamins A, C, B complex, calcium and potassium, Capsaicin is a wonderful healing aid for the digestive system since it acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other foods and herbs when used with them. It is also very healing for the heart and circulatory system. Studies have shown that Capsaicin can rebuild the tissue in the stomach and the peristaltic action in the intestines.

Cardiovascular-Capsaicin pepper is capable of a variety of beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. It reduces the chance of developing atherosclerosis, reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It also reduces platelet aggregation and increases fibrinolytic activity. Cultures that consume a lot of Capsaicin pepper have much lower rates of cardiovascular disease.

Topical Effects-When applied on the skin or mucous membranes, capsaicin stimulates and then blocks the pain fibers of small diameter which will deplete a neurotransmitter called substance P. Substance P is considered the major transmitter of pain impulses. It has’also been shown to activate inflammatory mediators in joint tissues, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Clinical Applications-Capsaicin lowers body temperature by stimulating the central cooling of the hypothalamus in the brain. It seems that people who live in the tropics covers high temperature by the use of pepper spray.
Capsaicin creams can also benefit from a number of conditions, including disorders (postamputation pain, postmastectomy pain, postherpetic neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy, cluster headaches, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Topical capsaicin may be useful for the treatment psoriasis.

Pain Relief-Capsaicin has been found to relieve pain associated with shingles (herpes zoster), a clinical condition known as postherpetic neuralgia. Clinical trials have shown that about 50% of those who were improved compared capsaicin, compared with 10% for placebo.
Topical application of capsaicin applied can be effective in reducing the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, a painful condition of the main nerve of the face is characterized by severe, stabbing pain affecting the cheeks, lips, gums or chin on one side face. In one study, over 80% of those treated with capsaicin responded favorably. This is remarkable because there are no drugs available for this condition, except for surgery. Capsaicin may help relieve pain after breast reconstruction or mastectomy.

Mouth pain due to chemotherapy or radiation-Capsaicin was found to reduce the pain of mouth sores resulting from chemotherapy or radiation treatment dramatically in a clinical trial

Diabetic Neuropathy-Diabetic neuropathy is a painful nerve disorder caused by prolonged diabetes. Capsaicin has been shown a significant benefit in relieving the pain of this
condition.

Cluster headaches-Cluster headaches are migraine headache types, characterized by severe pain, usually located around one eye. Double-blind studies have shown that intranasal applica

tion of capsaicin cream is a special given by the doctor may relieve cluster headaches. Episodic patients showed a more favorable treatment than the chronically ill patients.

Arthritis-Capsaicin can effectively relieve pain of osteoarthritis and or rheumatoid arthritis. But

Psoriasis-Capsaicin has been found to reduce the scale, the redness and severity of psoriasis.
Easy ways to use Capsaicin
Directly consuming the Capsaicin peBesides being a very popular spice in cooking, Capsaicin has also been used medicinally for thousands of years. Many herbalists believe that Capsaicin is the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom, not only for the entire digestive system, but also for the heart and circulatory system. It acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other herbs when used with them. High in Vitamins A, C, B complex, calcium and potassium, Capsaicin is a wonderful healing aid for the digestive system since it acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other foods and herbs when used with them. It is also very healing for the heart and circulatory system. Studies have shown that Capsaicin can rebuild the tissue in the stomach and the peristaltic action in the intestines.

Cardiovascular-Capsaicin pepper is capable of a variety of beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. It reduces the chance of developing atherosclerosis, reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It also reduces platelet aggregation and increases fibrinolytic activity. Cultures that consume a lot of Capsaicin pepper have much lower rates of cardiovascular disease.

Topical Effects-When applied on the skin or mucous membranes, capsaicin stimulates and then blocks the pain fibers of small diameter which will deplete a neurotransmitter called substance P. Substance P is considered the major transmitter of pain impulses. It has’also been shown to activate inflammatory mediators in joint tissues, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Clinical Applications-Capsaicin lowers body temperature by stimulating the central cooling of the hypothalamus in the brain. It seems that people who live in the tropics covers high temperature by the use of pepper spray.
Capsaicin creams can also benefit from a number of conditions, including disorders (postamputation pain, postmastectomy pain, postherpetic neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy, cluster headaches, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Topical capsaicin may be useful for the treatment psoriasis.

Pain Relief-Capsaicin has been found to relieve pain associated with shingles (herpes zoster), a clinical condition known as postherpetic neuralgia. Clinical trials have shown that about 50% of those who were improved compared capsaicin, compared with 10% for placebo.
Topical application of capsaicin applied can be effective in reducing the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, a painful condition of the main nerve of the face is characterized by severe, stabbing pain affecting the cheeks, lips, gums or chin on one side face. In one study, over 80% of those treated with capsaicin responded favorably. This is remarkable because there are no drugs available for this condition, except for surgery. Capsaicin may help relieve pain after breast reconstruction or mastectomy.

Mouth pain due to chemotherapy or radiation-Capsaicin was found to reduce the pain of mouth sores resulting from chemotherapy or radiation treatment dramatically in a clinical trial

Diabetic Neuropathy-Diabetic neuropathy is a painful nerve disorder caused by prolonged diabetes. Capsaicin has been shown a significant benefit in relieving the pain of this
condition.

Cluster headaches-Cluster headaches are migraine headache types, characterized by severe pain, usually located around one eye. Double-blind studies have shown that intranasal application of capsaicin cream is a special given by the doctor may relieve cluster headaches. Episodic patients showed a more favorable treatment than the chronically ill patients.

Arthritis-Capsaicin can effectively relieve pain of osteoarthritis and or rheumatoid arthritis.

Psoriasis-Capsaicin has been found to reduce the scale, the redness and severity of psoriasis.

Easy ways to use Capsaicin
Infusion: (a tea) by adding 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of powder to a cup of boiling water. This is the best way to get the most out of most herbs but especially Capsaicin

Capsaicin cream: may be applied directly to the affected area up to four times a day. May cause some initial burning or itching, but these symptoms should disappear quickly.

Capsaicin capsules:(30 to 120 mg, three times daily)

Directly consuming the Capsaicin pepper

 

*Source: Some of the information from this article comes from http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/NaturalFood/Cayenne.aspx