Combining Conventional + Holistic Medicine

Last Saturday I sat outside all day in cold, damp conditions & since then, I’ve been paying a hefty price for doing so. After throwing every conceivable herbal treatment at my system & neither seeing, nor feeling steady or consistent improvement, I knew it was time for allopathic assistance on Tuesday morning. A quick visit to the walk-in clinic revealed that I didn’t have strep & I was given a snot shot & prescription for a z-pack. My pride as an herbalist took a dent; it’s never easy for me to give in to conventional medicine, but obviously there are times that it is called for. This flu-type illness was certainly a case where combining traditional & modern day medicine was necessary.

How I use holistic medicine to assist in my recovery:

The symptoms: cold core & extremities, sore throat, white, coated tongue, dry mouth, ear ache, body aches & pains, excessive mucus production, very low energy, pale coloring, loss of voice, deep, hacking & productive cough, glassy eyes, healthy appetite, overly sensitive to stimulants such as coffee, caffeine or sugar, cravings for salt, excessive, cyclic thoughts.

What these symptoms tell me to look for in an herbal protocol: warming, fire building herbs, soothing & astringent herbs for the mucus membrane & lymphatic system, a mineral heavy, earthy diet, lots of water & rest. As a very fiery person, this flu had drained my fire & I was exhibiting very watery (mucus production + glassy eyes) & airy (cyclical thought patterns + being stuck in my own head) elements. By bringing in warming, bitter & salty herbs & foods, It will build back my internal fire & add earth to my current water/air constitution.

Herbs & foods I incorporated:
Elder & Sumac syrup: a traditional native remedy for cold & flu, this syrup is diaphoretic (sweat inducing), supportive for building the immune system, soothing to the mucus membrane, & helps bring down a fever (cooling). While I didn’t need the cooling aspect, it was very helpful in all the other areas. 1 TSP every hour & a half

Ginger & Echinacea tea: this warming, soothing, lymph combo is a favorite of mine. The most important thing to remember with echinacea (purple cone flower to you gardeners) is that in order for it to work in your system, it MUST be used early & heavily to act as an antibiotic. I didn’t have any tincture ready, so a tea of the stem & leaves had to do. A strong decoction taken every hour would have been best, but I didn’t have the energy. This is when tinctures are so handy to have around! {slaps hand for being ill prepared.}

Goldenseal tincture: The big guns came out to work, but I think I waited too long to incorporate this bitter, antibiotic medicine. It wasn’t until Monday afternoon, after my husband’s suggestion thar I even thought to use goldenseal. It’s strong drying properties make it an obvious choice. It’s extremely bitter (digestive aid & liver support) taste make it rather unpleasant to get down.

Goldenrod bath: I was soooo achey that the pressure of the bed sheet & down comforter hurt. A good bath is always soothing to my body & soul. The added benefit of sweating out toxins & having my friend goldenrod to ease the body aches were great perks.

Chai tea + brandy: hello, my little friend! This oh-so-warming & soothing, not to mention delicious combo is a new favorite. When you get cold & sick call me. I’ll make us both some.

Water, water, and more water: support the lymph, flush toxins from the liver, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Chamomile: another digestive bitter & building herb to use as a tonic while healing. It’s all about comfort & support.

Rest: this is where I always mess things up. One day, maybe, history will quit repeating itself. When I get an inkling of energy, I feel like I have to check off the impossibly long lists my over-thoughtful mind has created immediately! {face plant} Things like cleaning bathrooms, cooking big dinners, doing all of the laundry & cleaning out my studio are examples of what no to do. Sigh. My downfall & more than likely the reason I’m still in bed an entire week later.

Whole foods: bone broth soups, root veggies, nutritive, healing, traditional soups & warm teas – I can’t get enough!

Probiotics & yogurt: dear antibiotics, you have wreaked havoc on my digestion. I don’t appreciate it in any way. After such violent medicines kill off any healthy bacteria along with the invaders that made me so ill, it’s so very, very important to add a good probiotic & plain yogurt cultures to help build back a healthy gut.

That’s about it from the sick bed. It’s nap time again. Do you combine healing methods? Anything you’d add to my protocol?

Happy napping,
Mae

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Welcoming Fall With Real Food Ingredients

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I love everything there is about Fall: football, soccer, warming foods, scarves, boots, open windows all day, crisp mornings & evenings, running trails of freshly fallen leaves, the list could go on & on. With each change of season, I always make a welcoming spice blend to simmer on the stove & beckon seasonal changes to happily enter our home. This simple blend is my absolute favorite, & also happens to remind me of the potpourri blends my mom simmered constantly during my childhood.

My Ode to Fall Blend:
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups water

Mix ingredients in a small saucepan & simmer on low all day. Check water levels & add more as needed.

How do you welcome this beautiful season?

Happy Fall! May your toes be warm & your days be filled with joy,
Mae

Making Healthy Decisions Easy & Attractive

We are a household that is driven by convenience, as are a majority in this country, I would think. In making a healthier, more balanced life for myself, my husband & children, the life of packaged convenience foods – regardless of the health factors broadcasted on the wrappers – is coming to an end. Today while they visit family near KY, I am overhauling our kitchen. Out goes anything with HFCS, most individually packaged foods & the dis-ease that leads to disease in this world. Replacing those will be homemade, real food, healthy choices bought through our local food coop, farmers market & made in our own kitchen.

The detox period is probably going to be ugly. Moaning, wailing, gnashing of teeth, tears & fits are sure to happen – but the lessons in life, liberty & the pursuit of real health & happiness are worth the risks.

Walk your own path. Make & grow your own food. Take ownership of your life & health.

Cheers from the depths of the kitchen cabinets,
Mae

Herbal Tidbits: Blackberries

Apache Blackberry Plant via willisorchards.comI’m not sure there is a better treat in the heat of summer than a handful of wild blackberries. I absolutely LOVE blackberries and part of the thrill is seeing if I can pick more berries than the number of thorns that pick me. We have a couple of thornless bushes in the back yard that put off a larger, sweeter berry, but the little girl in me enjoys the wild, tart ones a bit more.

 

Blackberries are an amazing fruit to have on hand. When they can’t be gathered from the fence row or edge of the woods, I make sure to keep jam or pie filling on hand. Not only are they tasty & full of texture, but the tannins in blackberries (as well as other deep red & blue berry plants) are astringent, toning to the digestive system, a great source of iron for a run down system and most of all, a few berries of a spoon full of jam or pie filling with bring diarrhea to a stop.

 

They are gentle enough in nature that babies, small children and the elderly can safely take them to help with digestive distress. My own children and husband always know what to expect whenever a stomach virus or bad food choices win in a battle.

For treatment: take 3-4 small berries (or a small spoonful of jam / pie filling) after an episode of diarrhea. Usually one or two times is all it takes to clear up symptoms. If you want to be super earthy, dry the roots & leaves and keep them on hand for a quick tea in the non fruit season. Don’t over do the amount, though. The strong tannins in these healing fruits can swing your body in the opposite direction and cause constipation. Everything in moderation is key.

 

May your digestive system run smoothly,

Mae

 

 

A Hiking Date

This morning the children were with their Tita, so Brandon & I headed up to Sewanee for a morning hiking date. We did a couple of miles on the Perimeter Trail, which spans 20 miles around the University of the South’s beautiful campus. I promised Bran that I would keep the pictures to a minimum, because I may have a tendency to snap pictures every other step take a few too many pics and slow our pace down significantly. I can’t help that I love nature and want to share it with the world!

Driving up, you see this enormous cross right before the overlook down the mountain to Cowan.  St. Andrew’s Sewanee and the University of the South are supported by the Episcopal Church and both campuses have amazing architecture that show that influence. The 30 minute drive from home is worth seeing the buildings alone.

This is the view immediately behind the cross and as you head to the trail.

 I always wonder which tidbits in history these stones have witnessed and how they have changed over thousands of years. Nature’s size never ceases to amaze me.

Chilly water sitting below a crazy-amazing house right on the cliff. The crossing here was two railroad ties. I may have experienced a What About Bob baby steps off the elevator moment.

 Sacrificing my life to snap a pic while balancing on the oh-so-slippery railroad ties and getting splashed by the falls. {No, there’s no drama here. At all.}

This ended up being our turn around point. My knee was starting to protest and after I got a look at the other side of the trail, I decided pizza was a better option. When this injury heals, I’ll be all about it… and even more pizza. Btw, I could stand up straight in here, making this all of a 5′ 3″ opening.

 This is his, “Hurry up and take a picture so we can go” look. Bless.

Afterwards we changed shoes & headed into Sewanee for a serious good lunch at Crust – a tiny & unique pizza joint that will become our “after hiking and taking 1,000 pictures” ritual.

Yuuuuuurm. Half Sleestak & half Sigmund = allllll good!

Happy trails and IT bands until we meet again,

Mae

Juicetastic

I’m in the throws of some nasty IT band pain, so it’s been a week off from running, lots of stretching, gentle yoga, chiropractor sessions & a little self pity. While I’m dialing back my activity level I also need to lower my calorie intake so my weight loss plan can stay on track.

A good, healthy goal of weight loss is around 2 lbs a week. In the process of losing weight, your liver has to work through all of the environmental toxins in your body. Those toxins are stored in fat cells and when you melt fat, they are released in the body. So, losing an average of 2 pounds a week will allow your liver to work its normal daily job & remove the released toxins without undergoing too much stress.

Personally, I’ve slowed down on my weightless and seem to be stuck at 1 1/2 pounds for the last couple of weeks. It’s frustrating! To make sure that I don’t gain any weight during my rest period, I’m cutting back on calories & adding juicing.

Juicing is a wonderful tool for removing stored mucus from the digestive track, reducing inflammation, & adding mental clarity. This all boosts the liver, clears skin, relieves sinus passages, adds energy & gets those oh-so-important minerals into the system.

My favorite base is a carrot & my fav combo: 2 carrots, 1 gala apple, & 1/2 a pineapple. The carrots cling to mucus build up in the digestive track, the apple adds a bit of natural sweetness, and the pineapple adds sweetness & helps speed healing because if the bromelain in the core. Always take in as much water as you do juice to help move it through the body & stay hydrated. Oh, and you might want to stay close to a bathroom. Juicing really works on your digestion!

Happy juicing & a smiling liver,
Mae

Dandelion Tea {a tidbit of herbal knowledge}

Remember being little, traipsing barefoot through the yard & making wishes as you blew those fuzzy white dandelion blossoms all around in a magical whirlwind? I’ve always had a love for those beautiful “weeds” & now I use them as a strong cleansing herb.

I value them in each stage of their life, and am always amazed at their strength to grow in the least plant friendly places. When I’m walking along a city sidewalk and see them peeping through the cracks, I always give a cheer at the dandelion’s ability to spread its roots and grow.

Dandelion is a powerful herb that grows in most countries in the world. It’s a diuretic, so powerful that simply handling the puff balls and picking the bright yellow flowers can stimulate your kidneys. I like to place early greens in spring salads (before the flowers bud, afterwards they are too bitter) & use the roots as a tea. Roasted, they are a great alternative to coffee & with a touch of honey, are seriously tasty.

Benefits of this tiny herb: diuretic, cleansing to the kidney and liver, a good tonic for overall organ support, it can be used as a laxative if needed, and because dandelion helps with the liver, it also clears up skin problems and aids in weight loss. The sap of the plant can be used to remove warts and moles, as well as making blemishes disappear.

As I sit and sip on my dandelion tea, I am thankful for its prolific growth, amazing medicinal qualities, & its tenacity for life.

May your days be sunny & prolific.
Mae