Water Fasting

It has been a crazy year around here and we are only half way through it. I’m not entirely clear on how I feel about that. We have accomplished lots of things around the farm, but we have had quite a ride on the emotional roller coaster. I do know that stress and being away from home so often has my whole body out of whack. My eating habits are getting worse, my coffee consumption has skyrocketed, my arthritis is kicking back in, my memory and mental clarity are declining and my hair is falling out.

So, I decided it was time to do a water fast, followed by a good system cleanse. Flush out all the gunk and start over, you know…

When I suggest a water fast, a lot of people are like, “Nope, I’m out. Can’t do that! I’ll just run to the doctor and see what pill he wants to give me to fix this.”

I get it. Really, I do. The lure of an easy fix is quite motivational. However, I really want to FIX the problem, not just cover it up and prolong it.

I also have a lot of people try to negotiate around this part of the process. “Well, what about black coffee or herbal tea while I’m fasting?” “No food at all? Nothing? What about a piece of fruit or something?” My answer is always the same. I don’t make the rules, I just share them with you. Do it or don’t. How bad do you want to get well? You would be surprised how many people choose to avoid healing, even when the doctors have set their expiration date and given up.

Me? I prefer to get better. I want to be around to aggravate people for a very long time. I want to see all of my grandchildren grow up and give me lots of great grandchildren. I have a lot of plans left on my bucket list and I intend to finish them all!

I’m gonna be real honest, though. I hate fasting because I LOVE food. All kinds of food. Foods that should never pass through the human lips are some of my favorites and I usually avoid those at all costs. Sometimes I fail. The thought of going for days without food on purpose goes against a deep-rooted, primal survival instinct. Nevertheless, I understand why it needs to happen.

Why would any sane person do a water fast? Well, like every other belief I have, there is some small amount of controversy surrounding the practice. Fortunately, there is some good research done on it, too. I could write out pages of info that only repeat what is already out there and readily available, but I’m not gonna. I’m just not feeling it, today. There is some wonderful info, complete with many source references on the Healthline website here. For those of you who insist that any info like this come from a ‘real’ medical website, this link from MedicalNewsToday.com might be better for you. They both say the same thing, along with proper warnings and limitations.

I didn’t start this article in an effort to convince you to try a fast, though. I started it to share with you what to expect while it is all fresh in my mind because, really, that is the first question anyone asks as they are considering if fasting is a good option for them. I’m gonna be honest…this won’t be pretty. This, my friends, is a real-life breakdown of what to expect.

Day one is a little tough. I tend to graze all day rather than eat meals. I think sometimes it is more out of habit rather than hunger, so I spend all of my first day reminding myself not to eat. Then, I get mad that I can’t eat, even if I am not hungry, so I grab some water and try to otherwise occupy my mind. I’m also pretty tired on the first day. I try to start a fast on a day that I know I don’t have to accomplish anything and I sleep through as much of it as I can. I’m only a little grumpy, but you probably ought not to do anything annoying or say anything about food around me. It is for all our safety that I say this.

Day two is bad. I hate everyone and everything. I will throat punch you for making noise in my presence, and if you say something stupid I swear I will cut out your vital organs. Slowly. I try to avoid people and social media on these days. It never ends well. I begin to wonder if a pill wouldn’t be easier. Is this nonsense truly worth it? Humans were designed to eat. Steak. Tacos. Pizza. Big, greasy burgers. FOOD! Unfortunately, I am usually not even a bit tired, but try and make myself take a nap anyway in order to avoid my own company. This is usually the day my family makes itself busy elsewhere. If they have to be around me, they stay a little on-guard and give me plenty of personal space…you know, in case I lash out…with a fist or a weapon…  Nobody mentions food and they certainly don’t consider cooking food in my house because I WILL take them down and steal their food while beating them senseless and berating them for pushing me over the edge. It is on this day that I run the highest risk of having to plead ‘guilty by reason of insanity’ at my future court date.

Day three is amazing! This is where I am today and it’s always the best day. I have lots of energy and my brain is active and clear. I will get so much done today! I’m not really concerned about the food. I’m a little hungry but not starving. I can ride out these last few hours by keeping busy, and if I break down and eat a couple hours before the end of full 72 that I am aiming for, well, no big deal. I made it pretty far!

So, there you have it and it really isn’t that bad. Mostly.

Tomorrow I will start eating some raw fruits and veggies. I’m kinda drooling at the prospect of diving in to my tomato/cucumber/onion salad! Doesn’t it look delicious??? Those veggies have been soaking up all that vinegar and herby goodness for days!

cuke tom salad

And, I have some of this ginger bug that I made a while ago and have been saving. I’ll add it to some freshly squeezed grape juice and maybe add a leaf or two of mint, and a sprig of lavender….and tequila….



And that hair falling out problem…well, I might have fixed it by cutting off 6” of it when I got out of the shower this morning…

I love red clover. I have since I was a small child. I would often wait for those little purple blossoms to make their appearance, then rush to pluck them, chewing on them until all the sweetness was gone, then spitting out the remains and doing it all again.

red clover blossom

It would be decades before I understood that I was also calling on ancestral memories to seek out what my body needed to cleanse it from the toxins and excess garbage that the body tends to accumulate during the cold winter months spend indoors. I only knew that I loved those sweet little clover blossoms and they were yummy! I didn’t know that I was boosting my immune system and easing the sensitive skin issues that plagued me as a child.

It would be a couple more decades before I discovered hydrosols, and all of the amazing benefits they embody. I quickly became addicted to the process, and figured why not combine my addictions to create something beautiful like red clover hydrosol. How could this be anything other than ingeniously, fantastically brilliant?

I do love being right.

If you aren’t sure what Tamara’s Herbes Hydrosols are, check out my last post on hydrosols and elder flowers to catch up. Then, let me tell you about the magnificent red clover and what it is capable of.

Red clover is an excellent blood purifier, liver cleanser, digestive cleanser, and it helps correct deficiencies in the circulatory system. These characteristics, as well as red clover’s ability to increase urine production, explain why it is often found in herbal blends for those with any type of blood disease, or detoxification blends. This also explains it ability to help flush the joints, easing rheumatism and arthritis pain, and its ability to help clear up chronic skin issues.

The only warning we have for red clover is that, if you have thin blood or are on any type of blood thinning medications you should avoid red clover.

Red clover blossoms are also excellent for respiratory issues of the lungs. Whooping cough, bronchitis, sore throats, and coughs respond very quickly to the use of red clover.  Add a spoonful of honey to the mix and you have a delicious tea that will help clear up lung issues in a short amount of time.

Red clover is a very mild sedative for the nervous system, so it will often be added to sleep or relaxation blends, especially when itching or fever is involved.

Red clover is full of phytoestrogens, which means that it is able to help balance estrogen levels, making it an excellent choice for those suffering from many types of female issues like menopause, PCOS, and PMS.

Red cloveris a good source of many necessary things like isoflavones, calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, and Vitamin C, making it a powerful immune system booster.

So, remember the hydrosols I keep chattering on about? One of the most beautiful things about the hydrosols is that they contain so many more healing components than a simple tea, and offer a wider variety of methods to use it.  For example, mix a spoonful of red clover hydrosol, a spoonful of raw honey, and a cup of warm water for a quick tonic that doesn’t require you to spend time gathering red clover blossoms and steeping them into a medicinal tea. This is a useful application for any of the conditions above.

To use it topically, you can use it full strength, or add 1/4 cup hydrosol to 3/4 cup distilled water and place it in a spray bottle. Mist it on your skin, or apply a bit with a cotton ball. Add in any of your favorite essential oils to create you own custom body spritz that is full of healing properties!

Red clover blossom hydrosol is safe for your furry friends, too! Dogs, especially, respond well to the use of herbal hydrosols. Add a teaspoon to their water or food to help boost their immune system, or use it as a spritzer to help soothe issues like mange and hot spots.

On a spiritual level, red clover is believed to be used to attract good fortune (think four-leaf clovers), prosperity, protection and love, and to chase away unwanted spirits. It has an affinity for air, and the planet Mercury.

The ancient Greeks and Romans associated the clover with the triple Goddess.

However you choose to use it, red clover blossom is a powerhouse of healing that everyone should keep on hand!


The world of natural and alternative health can be complicated. We, as a people, have forgotten so much about the benefits of using the plants around us to heal our bodies. Not only that, but we have forgotten how to use them. Salves, tinctures, extracts, essential oils, teas, syrups, glycerites…what’s the difference? Well, there is quite a bit of difference, actually, but today we are going to talk about a relatively new form of herbal medicine.



White pine hydrosol

Haven’t heard of them? Don’t know what to do with them? Then, read on, my friend!

First, though, let me tell you what a hydrosol is NOT.

Hydrosols are not floral water, which is simply the process of infusing water with flowers by letting them sit over a period of time to absorb the essence of the flowers. Floral waters have their own limited range of healing properties, but they are not the same as a hydrosol

Hydrosols are not water with essential oil added to them, which can be dangerous when ingested.

True hydrosols are created using a steam distillation process to extract the beneficial properties of the herbs that cannot be obtained any other method. This is the same process used to obtain the essential oils from plants, but renders a completely different finished product. Instead of writing out the entire process, let me direct you to this website, HydrosolWorld, that has a wonderful explanation of the whole process.

To simplify for those of you who don’t want to read all the details, here’s a breakdown:

  • Hydrosols are the perfect balance between herbal teas and essential oils. They are safe to use internally and externally, unlike essential oils which should NEVER be used internally. Because they contain many of the same elements as the essential oils, they offer a wider range of benefits than a simple herbal tea.
  • Unlike herbal teas, hydrosols have a long shelf life. Depending on the herb, the shelf life can range anywhere from 6 months to several years, so they are much easier to keep on hand for a quick-fix when you don’t have the time or energy to whip up a batch of tea.
  • Hydrosols can be used topically for instant relief from many issues.
  • Hydrosols can be used safely on most animals and children
  • Hydrosols can be used to replace the water portion of your skincare recipes in things like soaps and lotions.
  • Hydrosols can be added to your cleaning routine to add a gentle fragrance, or to kill bacteria and viruses.

So, why aren’t you hearing more about hydrosols? Because they have only recently been studied for their medicinal benefits. In the past, hydrosols have been nothing more than the byproduct of essential oil making, rather then the main goal of the distillation process. The remaining water (hydrosol) was simply pitched out as being useless. It was a bit surprising to many when they realized that hydrosols were actually quite potent and effective in their own right. The multitude of benefits they provide is still being studied and experimented with, as is the range of plants that produce the best hydrosols.

Of course, being the enterprising soul that I am, I had to jump on the bandwagon.

The first step was obtaining a distiller. Thanks to a wonderful friend and business associate, I finally got my distiller. I admit, I was a bit scared of the whole process at first. It seemed so technical and science-y. What if I screwed it up?


My beautiful distiller!

Turns out, it wasn’t so scary or difficult after all. Now, I am a bit addicted to creating new hydrosols. I am distilling all of my favorite herbs….red clover, wild plum blossoms, yarrow, elder flowers, spearmint, white pine….and I have so many more on my list. If only there was more time in a day!

Now, I have a refrigerator full of fabulous hydrosols and I have been experimenting like crazy! The time has finally arrived to share them with you all.

Choosing where to start with hydrosols is the first step to forming a glorious addiction. My next few posts will cover the hydrosols that I personally have created and worked with. I will give a detailed list of all the things each of them is good for, how to use them, when not to use them, and which ones are good to keep on hand for emergencies.

Let’s start with one of my personal favorites, elder flower hydrosol.

The hydrosol has a mildly green, floral fragrance that blends well with many essential oils, making it perfect for creating spritzers, room and fabric deodorizers, and surface cleansers that provide antibacterial and anti-viral action.


Elder flowers in bloom

Most people are familiar with the healing power of elderberries. High levels of Vitamin C make it a must-have for cold and flu season, but there is much more to the elder plant than just the berries. Elder is known as the medicine chest of the country folk’ because of the many health-enhancing benefits it contains. Besides being a potent antibacterial and antiviral, elder flowers are also antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, diuretic, styptic, analgesic, and a mild laxative. These qualities make it useful for a variety of issues, including:

  • Kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • To fight colds and flu
  • Sinus infections
  • Soothes respiratory disturbances by dispelling mucous and congestion
  • Boost function of the immune system
  • Applied topically, helps reduce pain and swelling in joints due to arthritis
  • Stops bleeding
  • As an oral rinse for dental issues and toothaches
  • Soothes the symptoms of allergies
  • Regulates blood glucose levels
  • Soothes inflammation of the eyes
  • Circulatory stimulant
  • Encourages perspiration
  • Treats viral infections like measles, chicken pox, shingles, and Epstein Barr.
  • Purifies the blood
  • Cleanses the lymphatic system of toxins and debris
  • A natural diuretic useful for eliminating water retention, bloating, gout, and edema
  • Beneficial for liver disorders
  • Heals urinary tract infections
  • Eases headaches
  • Applied topically, it helps heal cuts, wounds, and burns
  • Helps fade blemishes and age spots

When using it internally, we take 1-2 teaspoons in a glass of water. It has a pleasant flavor that blends well with fruit juices, too.

Elder flower hydrosol is handy when your pets are in need. A spritz or two on hot spots works wonders to heal the flesh and soothe the itch, and will help soothe anxiety. Adding a spoonful to their water is helpful in many conditions, including kennel cough and other respiratory issues, or to boost the immune system. It also works well for reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis in the joints.

For the more spiritual among us, the essence of the elder plant can add an extra bit of power to rituals and ceremonies. They are considered sacred to the angelic realm and Druids, who call it the ‘Tree of Life’, as well as anyone seeking to work with the Fae. It is known as the medicine chest of the country folk’ because of the many health-enhancing benefits it contains.

The Elder plant represents the 13th month as part of the Ogham, the calendar tree of the Celts. This is the month of the Winter Solstice which is a time of transition between light and dark ~ death and rebirth. Elder helps ease the transition between these two periods.

Elder has long been associated with the fairy world, and is considered to be a plant of the faerie land where wood spirits and elves make their home in her roots.

Elder’s spiritual essence is believed to open the psyche, and is associated with the heart chakra, helping to cool anger and ground the spirit.

I’m sure I haven’t covered all of its uses, but this is an excellent starting point.

As always, I must remind you all that, no, I am not a licensed physician, and all of the alphabet government agencies insist that herbal medicine has little or no healing properties, so this could all just be a big old mess of snake oil. I am not qualified to diagnose you, and I most certainly am not allowed to heal you or offer you any ‘medical’ advice. No government agency has approved any of these statements or claims. If you are taking any herbal medicines, you do so at your own risk. You should always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal products, especially if you are currently taking any prescription medications.

If you are feeling brave or rebellious and want to see what all the hype is about when it comes to hydrosols, check out my Etsy store, Tamara’s Herbes, where you can find all of my hydrosols, as well as other natural health and beauty products created to help soothe the body, mind and spirit!

It’s Christmas time again. This time last year we were just getting through my whole breast cancer fiasco, feeling quite jubilant that things were looking good. We thought that we had survived the worst that could happen to us. What is it they say about pride going before the fall?  Yeah. That.

So, here we are again. This time around, though, it isn’t me. Instead, it is my child. Like some horrible, nightmarish monster that crept up on us while we weren’t looking, this brain tumor of hers has thrown us all for a loop. Oh, I have no doubt we will beat it into submission. Not really. Maybe because I simply refuse to accept losing as an option. Maybe because I am that arrogant. Maybe…maybe…maybe… I really hate that word. But, still, every now and then the fear wriggles it’s way into my thoughts and makes my breath catch in my chest. It paralyzes me for a few minutes. It makes me wonder if I have completely lost my mind, for the course we have chosen to defeat this tumor is not the easy choice, or the normal choice. But, we do still believe it is the RIGHT choice. It is the choice that gives my daughter the best chance of coming through this without brain damage, or loss of speech, motor skills or sight. It is the best chance of her actually healing from this thing, and not just coping for a few years until it kills her.

So, we keep going. Every day, we wake up and do it all again, praying that with each dose, each treatment, each sacrifice, that we are one day closer to winning this horrible, awful battle. I watch my beautiful girl struggle to accept the things she cannot change. Things like having some private time with her boys because she can’t be left alone with them in case she has a seizure. Things like not being able to drive her boys to the doctor or the store or the park. I see her frustration when she feels like a child who can’t be left unattended and my heart breaks for her. I watch as she chokes down another dose of whatever concoction she needs to take to make this thing go away.  I see her strength and determination, her spirit, her bravery, and I am so very proud of her.

This post isn’t really about all of the wonderful things that my daughter is, though. When I sat down and started writing, it was with the intention of sharing our planned journey so that someone else might benefit from our choices. I have been amazed at the many people who have contacted me asking what we are doing about her brain tumor. Not out of morbid curiosity, but because they (or someone they know) has the same issue, and the standard medical choices given to them are killing them financially, physically and emotionally.

As with my own treatments for breast cancer, I am hesitant to share all that we are doing. Not because I am a horrible person who wants to keep it all to myself, but because some of what we are choosing is frowned upon. Because, if the very worst happens and this doesn’t work, the repercussions could be catastrophic. But, maybe (there’s that word again), it is time to share. Maybe, someone else out there needs to see for themselves if there is another way to beat this thing.

So, here goes. The good, the bad and the ugly.

First, I have to tell you all once more that I am NOT a medical doctor. I don’t have a license to practice medicine. I am a Certified Herbalist. Nothing more. I cannot recommend that you take a single word of what is to follow as anything other than my  opinion, which I have come to after many, many years of studying, researching, investigation, questioning and experimenting. I do not suggest you try any of this at home. You have been formally warned, right?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we are in regular contact with Summer’s primary care physician, and we have scheduled her next MRI at the Siteman Cancer Center in March, where we hope to hear that the tumor has shown significant improvement.

The first thing you must understand is that a brain tumor, whether benign or malignant, is a very different thing than cancer. The brain is this unbelievably magnificent structure that has complicated, built-in protective mechanisms that man is still working on trying to penetrate. While this is normally a really good thing, it also makes it much more difficult to treat anything that happens to go wrong within the brain. Finding a course of treatment that will actually penetrate the blood-brain barrier without inflicting further damage is a challenge, to say the very least. Then, you have to find things that will kill off the tumor without causing any kind of inflammation, and will not damage or endanger the surrounding tissue. Next, you want to dissolve the tumor, or cause the ‘bad’ cells to heal and turn back into ‘good’ cells. There is quite a bit of science behind it all, and I really don’t have the time, space or brain capacity to break it all down for you, but if you reading this right now I am going to assume that you have already done most of that research on your own. If that is a wrong assumption, then I suggest you take the time to do so. Treating a brain tumor kinda makes treating ‘normal’ cancer seem easy.

After countless days of research, we believe that we have come up with a multi-faceted approach to getting rid of this thing. The medically educated among you may, by the end of this post, be shaking your head and calling me foolish. Since many of you quietly believe I am peddling snake-oil to the unsuspecting on a regular basis anyway, all I can say is…bite me. I’m on a mission to prove you wrong. Some of you will be wondering why we didn’t just choose surgery, radiation or chemo. The answer is, we studied all the options. All of them. Not one of them offered any more hope than the course we have chosen. Some of you will be cheering for us from the sidelines. You are the ones that I adore. Thank you!

And, I am finally to the point. What are we doing to treat this brain tumor? Maybe, the easiest way to do this is to simply lay out Summer’s daily schedule for you.

As soon as she wakes up in the morning, she takes her first of three daily rounds of ‘treatments’. She rubs a salve into her scalp that is made with coconut oil, lemon grass essential oil, clove oil, and cannabis extract. The massage helps stimulate the scalp. The coconut oil is believed to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to carry the lemon grass, cannabis and clove oils to the tumor, where they can begin to break down the tumor. Here is the first point of contention. The medical machine is reluctant to admit that any natural options will help destroy cancer cells and tumors. The natural community swears they can. There is plenty of research results to be found on both sides, some quite slanted in one direction or the other. So, I will leave it at this: My research has led me to believe that these three oils offer very real possibilities in helping to break down the tumor.

The scalp massage is followed by two honey-based herbal syrups, fresh juice and/or smoothies, and a mushroom extract. The honey-based syrups were a little tricky because she is also nursing a 4-month-old. We don’t want to use anything that could possibly harm the baby through the breastmilk, and many of the herbs commonly used to treat tumors can be bad for infants and children. We used a raw honey-base for both syrups because honey is a fantastic option for penetrating the blood-brain barrier.

The herbs we chose for her immune-enhancing syrup are red clover, burdock, dandelion, pau d’arco, ginseng, astragalus, slippery elm, echinacea, amla, and milk thistle. Many of these serve more than one purpose, which is a bonus, but most of them were chosen for their ability to strengthen the immune system. A healthy, strong immune system is essential for helping the body to heal itself. Some of the added benefits of this blend include mild cleansing effects, improved brain function, protection of critical organs and a general tonic effect on the entire body.

The herbs in her second syrup were chosen for their ability to help cleans the eliminative system. These herbs include red raspberry leaf, dandelion root, burdock root, parsley, plantain, self-heal, yellow dock and yarrow. Again, these herbs all have more than one benefit, so…yay!

Because some of these herbs can decrease the milk supply, she also takes a lactation supplement to keep up a steady supply.

For her mushroom extract, we decided on a dual-extract blend of Turkey Tail, Lion’s Beard and Chaga mushrooms. I cannot even begin to tell you all the benefits of these three beyond their ability to kill cancer cells and tumors, but there is plenty of info to be had by doing a simple search. I have started taking this extract myself, and I highly recommend it for everyone as a general brain and overall health supplement.

Summer also takes a product called LipH. It helps balance the body’s pH levels which is believed to help kill things like cancer cells and tumors.

Throughout the day, we also have to incorporate other herbs into her diet. Green tea, ginger root, turmeric root, aloe vera, onions, garlic, Himilayan pink salt, Vitamin C, omega-3’s, B vitamins, as well as a wide variety of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

We have cut out any and all toxic chemicals. Things like shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, lotion and food have to be completely chemical free.

Daily detox baths with Epsom salts are required. Daily exposure to fresh air and sunshine to boost her Vitamin D and fresh oxygen supply. Daily castor oil packs. A daily drop of poke root extract to cleanse her lymph system. Three times a week she takes a dose of activated charcoal to help pull out toxins from her body.

Maybe the most difficult part, though, is the things she cannot have. Sugar, flour, dairy and meat. Try going a day without any of those things and you will understand how much of a struggle it is to accomplish such a feat! Each of those things will feed a tumor, so I guess the incentive is there, but still….it sucks! All of this after spending a week doing a juice fast to flush out as many toxins as we possibly could and reset her immune system and other organs.

Because of the risk of seizures, we also do our best to make sure she is getting plenty of rest, and we keep the stress levels as low as we possibly can with three small children and two families living in the same house. She keeps a bottle of anti-seizure extract on her always. Just in case.

Of course, everyone’s first question is, “have you considered CBD oil?”  We absolutely have considered it. What we determined is that cannabis oil, not CBD oil, is a valuable tool in this fight. One of the most valuable, in fact. It is my sincere hope that my state makes it legal very soon. The fact that  any government entity would try to stand in the way of allowing such a potent, effective medicinal substance to be available to anyone who needs it is abhorrent. Sadly, many people will remain silent until it becomes a personal issue for them.

So, there you have it. This is how we are hoping to save our daughter.  This is what we are putting our faith in.

The other question I keep getting is, “How much does this form of treatment cost?” My first instinct is to ask, “Does it matter?” The answer, of course, is yes. It does matter. Considering the fact that most people choose the treatments presented by their doctor because their astronomically-high insurance will cover those options, the cost of natural treatments can seem like too much to handle. I get it. I was blessed to have a friend set up a Gofundme account, and a whole list of angels that were willing to help us out,  that allowed us to pull this off. A realistic cost expectation for 3 months of ‘treatments’ is between $2,000-$3,000. That isn’t including things you don’t expect like chemical-free personal care products and organic foods. Expect to spend an extra $150-$250 on these per week.

We have lots of support and many people asking how Summer is doing. She is doing great. She hasn’t had a seizure since the one that sent her to the hospital in the first place. She stays on top of her treatments. She has to be careful to not overdo it, and sometimes even simple things like grocery shopping can cause her to have a rough day, but she is staying strong. She isn’t any different than she was a month ago, personality-wise. She is still Summer.

Finally, is it worth it? Absolutely. Is it risky? No more risky than surgery, chemo or radiation. Is it difficult? At times. Will it really work? We are betting my daughter’s life on it, so I sure hope so!



As last year fades into a bad memory (thank the Goddess!), and this new year is hurtling forward, I am spending more time thinking of how important it is to get myself in order. What do I want out of life over the course of the next year?

I want to be happy. I want to be so happy that everyone around me gets bombarded with happiness cooties and is forced to feel happy, too.

I want to be productive. I want to use the gifts granted to me in the most productive way possible. I want to watch my business grow like never before. Not an entirely altruistic wish, I will admit, but in my line of work, my success rests on my ability to create a customer that doesn’t need to return because they are no longer in need of healing. Kind of a sticky situation, huh?

I want to be known for my honesty. My generosity. My loyalty.

But, most of all, I want to be healthy. I didn’t see much of that in 2016. For a while there, I wondered if I would even get to see 2017.  I spent a lot of time contemplating life, death and all of the in-betweens. Not just mine, either. This year seems to have been a do-or-die kind of year for me on a couple different levels. I acquired many clients this past year because the medical industry finally released them with the phrase, “There is nothing more we can do at this point”.  Liver failure. Cancer. Diabetes. Heart disease. Lukemia. I have dealt with them all this year, and quite successfully, I might add!

In the spirit of honesty, I’ll admit that I have slacked off a bit on my own health regime. A fairly frequent question is, ‘How are things going…you know…with the breast thing…?” The standard answer is, ‘Things are going great.”

The real answer is a bit more complicated. The truth is, things were going great. I did all the things I was supposed to do. I changed a few things that needed changing in my diet and lifestyle. I took all my herbs and tinctures. I did all my detox and immune builders. I eat healthier than anyone I know. I rest when I can. I stay positive. I do yoga…sometimes.

But, as time passes and I get further from the fear that motivated me to get healthy, I find myself drifting back into old habits. I eat more chocolate and drink more coffee than I should. I have those few pieces of bread or cheese that I know I shouldn’t. I stop in for a piece of pie at Slice of Pie. I skip a yoga class when I’m too busy. I forget to take my pills and tinctures. I choose a burger over a salad.

Here’s the thing that I ALWAYS tell my clients. This whole natural approach only works if you do what you are supposed to do. If you slack off, the sick comes back around. This is an issue your body is already prone to develop. It will come back if you fall into old habits. And, so it has.

I see those warning signs that I didn’t know were warning signs the first time around. I feel those strange twinges of discomfort that I didn’t pay attention to the first time around. I hear that voice in the back of my mind telling me that I had best get myself back on track.

It occurs to me, though, that there may be others out there who might be in the same predicament and they just don’t know where to start. Maybe you keep finding yourself getting sick. Nothing big or bad. A recurring cold or stomach bug. Allergies. Headaches. Tired all the time. Something just doesn’t FEEL right. I’m with you. It’s time to set things right.


Let’s do a cleanse! Let’s flush out all that nasty crap that has built up in our bodies!

Oh, quit groaning. You know, every time I say ‘cleanse’, someone  groans and complains. They have visions of being stuck in the bathroom for hours, or feeling sick as the cleanse moves the nasties out of your system. It doesn’t have to be like that, though.  Truth is, a really thorough cleanse might have you in the bathroom a little more frequently than usual, but it shouldn’t be a traumatic ordeal. A good cleanse will likely cause some minimal stomach discomfort as the body passes toxins out via the digestive system, and you may sweat a bit more than usual for the same reason. You may even experience a ‘healing crisis’, especially if you have been sick a lot in the last year. A good cleanse will gently pull toxins and old ‘bugs’ from your bloodstream and your organs into the eliminative organs so the body can dispose of them, so you might feel bits of old illnesses passing briefly through your system. You might run a mild fever as your body kicks in the immune response. You might be a bit tired for a day or two as your body deals with healing itself.

In exchange for this day or two of discomfort, you get a huge payoff! Your body finally starts to feel like it is operating in peak condition. Headaches disappear. Belly aches don’t plague you. Those little aches and pains are suddenly gone. Your hair and skin look better. Your mind is clearer. You are less likely to catch every bug floating around there.

So, are you with me??  Oh, good! Here’s what we need to do:

First, decide what kind of juice you like best. Keep a couple things in mind when choosing;

  • You are only going to have this one juice for 2-3 days, so make sure you really like the one you choose.
  • Choose a fruit that produces a lot of juice. This cuts both your time and costs. I prefer organic grapes, apples and grapefruits.

Second, prepare yourself and your space. This doesn’t have to be a difficult experience. Here are some things you will need:

  • Distilled water. Not bottled, tap or well water. Distilled.  Why is this so important?  Because distilled water is ’empty’ water. That means that everything has been removed from it. All the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, as well as any toxins or bacteria. This leaves more room in the water molecules, allowing them to pull more of the toxins from your system as it passes through. This is a much-simplified explanation, but you get the point, right?
  • Prune juice
  • Castor oil
  • Cotton cloths
  • A good blend of detoxifying herbs. Of course, I suggest my formula, Heavy Metal Detox, but there are plenty of others out there to choose from that will work almost as well.
  • Activated charcoal (see all the benefits and ways to use activated charcoal here)

Finally, a few things to keep in mind:

  • You are going to be tired, hungry and pretty crabby for at least a day or two. Expect it, warn your loved ones, and get ready to just deal with it.
  • You may feel pretty crappy for a day or two.
  • Plan to start your cleanse a day before your weekend starts. Usually the first day is easy, the second day is pretty rough, and the third day is a breeze.
  • The plan I am laying out will only work if you are willing to give it 100%. There is no compromising on any of the steps if you want to see real results. I promise you, though, that it is completely worth it!
  • This is the protocol that I always recommend to anyone who is having chronic health issues. It doesn’t matter what the issues are. This is simply the first step to cleaning up a body that is functioning improperly. It is designed to cleanse the entire system without depriving the body of much-needed vitamins and nutrients.

Now, we can get started. Here’s how it needs to go down:

Day 1-2:

  • Drink one 8 oz glass of prune juice first thing in the morning. Yes, I know it is disgusting. Drink it anyway. Just hold your breath and chug. It’s only one small glass.
  • Drink one 8 oz glass of distilled water.
  • Throughout the day, drink at least four 8 oz glasses of fresh fruit juice. Whichever fruit you choose is fine, but remember to only have ONE variety per day. If you start with grape, keep it to grape only.
  • Drink at least 90 oz of distilled water throughout the day.
  • If you get so hungry that you just can’t cope, eat some of the fruit that you are using for juice. Don’t go crazy. Eat only enough to get you through.
  • Take at least one hot bath or shower per day, as hot as you can tolerate. Baths are preferable. Add 1/2 cup epsom salt to your bath to help speed up the detox process and reduce any withdrawl symptoms.

Day 3-4:

  • Continue as you have been on days 1-2. Gradually start reintroducing solid foods into your diet. Stick to fresh fruits/veggies. Raw is best, but lightly steamed or baked is acceptable. Veggie broth is a great option, too.
  • Begin taking the natural detox that you have chosen.
  • Up your water intake to a minimum of 128 oz (one gallon) per day.
  • Take 1 tsp activated charcoal in the morning. The most effective way to take activated charcoal is to mix 1 tsp of charcoal with 8 oz of distilled water. Drink it quickly, then follow immediately with 20 oz of water. Do this on an empty stomach, at least one hour before/after eating. Capsules are the second best way to consume the charcoal. Water requirements are the same.

Day 5-6:

  • Begin eating small, regular meals.
  • Continue taking the detox herb blend you have chosen.
  • Continue drinking at least 128 oz of water per day.

Once you have completed your cleanse, you should notice that your cravings for ‘junk’ foods has decreased, if not disappeared altogether. You will notice that your hair and skin look more vibrant, your energy level will be higher, and your mind will be clearer.

Now that you have gone to all this effort, how do we hang on to all these benefits? Keep your body clean, of course! Avoid processed foods, dairy (except raw milk), refined sugar, and white flour products (bread, crackers, etc.). If you like your meat, limit it to organic, grass-fed portions no more than 3-4 times per week. If fish is your favorite, stick to wild-caught, not farmed, and avoid any seafood coming from the West Coast or the Gulf. Drink plenty of water. Eat lots of raw, fresh fruits and veggies. Get a bit of exercise, fresh air and sunshine every day. Meditate. Get plenty of sleep. Laugh a lot. It really is that simple to begin the healing process. Happy cleansing!



Activated Charcoal

Charcoal seems to be the trendy new health product, if the sudden influx of questions, news articles, and Facebook posts about it are any indication. However, the benefits of charcoal have been known for millennium among many . Used for everything from embalming to ship repair, charcoal has proven itself exceptionally valuable. Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.), and the ancient Egyptians employed the use of charcoal for a variety of ailments. Most notably, for it’s ability to rid the body of toxins and impurities.There is a great article on the history of charcoal, complete with ancient uses and other interesting bits of info, HERE.  There is really no sense in me repeating  what they have already stated so thoroughly, especially when we are only focusing on the medicinal aspects of activated charcoal. It’s a good read, though, for those who enjoy that kind of thing.

What is activated charcoal? This is not the same charcoal you throw on your grill, so don’t go grinding up charcoal briquets and eating them. Activated charcoal is made using coconut shells or select types of wood. Coconut shells are the preferred option due to their renewability, and because charcoal made from wood has the potential to cause an allergic reaction in those with sensitivity to certain types of nuts and woods. The charcoal is created through a process of steam, heat and washing. The result is a substance that can adsorb up to 350 times its weight in gases, liquids and toxins.

That is adsorb, not absorb. The difference? When something is absorbed it is taken in and disappears, as with a sponge. When something is adsorbed it works like a magnet, drawing substances to its surface and holding onto them tightly.

Charcoal’s uniqueness lies in the range of substances that it is capable of adsorbing. It has been shown to adsorb toxic gases and chemicals, especially those from opiates, cocain, morphine, nicotine, salicylates, strychnine, antidepressants, venom, poison, and toxic metals. This ability makes it exceptionally valuable in helping cleanse the system from addiction, and helping those with intestinal issues like excessive gas, diarrhea, heartburn and ulcers.  It has been used throughout history for treating gangrenous and cancerous lesions, to lower cholesterol, to cleanse the bowels and bloodstream, and as an antidote to many poisons. It is commonly found in emergency rooms around the world, and is an absolute must-have for every home medicine cabinet. If something a little more scientific and…well, medical-slanted is what it takes to convince you of charcoal’s value, you might check out the National Library of Medicine‘s website. If both the medical and natural world are in agreement on ANY subject, you might wanna take notice!

Take note, though, charcoal will not help with alkaline poisoning from things like lye, alcohol, mineral acids or cyanide. Those require a neutralizer like vinegar or baking soda, and that is an entirely different protocol.

The newest trend for activated charcoal is in the beauty arena, though. Little wonder, since the benefits of charcoal are often seen after a single use. Charcoal draws impurities from the skin, whitens teeth, freshens breath, and reduces blackheads and acne. It can be found in soap, toothpaste, face masques and shampoo. I’ll admit, even I have jumped on the bandwagon. Look at this beautiful charcoal soap I made!

charcoal soap

When purchasing activated charcoal, look for a source that specifies what the charcoal is derived from. Always choose organic, as this ensures it is free from chemical processing which can cause many adverse reactions.

Charcoal is available in three forms: tablets, capsules and powder.

Tablets should be crushed or chewed before swallowing, and are the least effective.

Capsules take time to break down in the digestive system, but are still highly effective.

Powder is the least expensive, most versatile, and most effective way to use charcoal.

A word of caution; it is not selective in the substances it adsorbs. This means that it pulls out the good with the bad. Vitamins, nutrients, amino acids and digestive enzymes are pulled from the body, along with the poisons and toxins. Charcoal should not be taken long-term.

Ways to use activated charcoal vary.

  • To use as an aid for gastrointestinal issues, 90 minutes before eating, you can either take 1 capsule of charcoal with 20 oz of water, or you can mix 1 tsp of charcoal with 2-4 oz of water and drink it. Don’t worry, it isn’t gritty and there is no taste at all. It is a bit like drinking thick water. Make sure you drink plenty of water over the next few hours. Charcoal will draw moisture for body as it passes through. If you fail to drink enough water, this can lead to constipation. That’s no fun at all. Drink water.
  • In the home, setting a small bowl in your fridge or pantry will eliminate odors.
  • To whiten teeth and help eliminate tooth or gum issues, use charcoal twice a week in place of your normal toothpaste. You can either use the dry powder, or you can mix 1 Tbsp powder with 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1 oz of cocoa butter to make your own paste. Dip your toothbrush in the powder, or place a small bit of paste on your toothbrush.  Brush as usual, allowing the charcoal to remain on the teeth for 3-5 minutes. Rinse until the water is clear. Charcoal won’t stain your sink, skin or teeth, but it will stain fabrics.
  • For bites and stings, mix charcoal powder and ground flax seed with enough boiling water to create a semi-thick paste. Apply the paste, extending it out past the affected area. Cover the paste with plastic. Cover the plastic with a natural-fiber cloth like cotton or wool. Secure it with an ace bandage and leave on 8-10 hours. Wash with lukewarm salt water after removing the poultice. Repeat daily until the area has healed.

So, there you have it. Charcoal is a pretty amazing substance that I suggest keeping on hand. It is easy to find at any drug or health food store. It’s cheap, it’s safe for all ages and, well,  it is kinda fun to play with….if you like that kind of thing….

Pain happens. Headaches, backaches, wounds, broken bones, bumps and bruises. It is almost second nature for us to grab an aspirin, acetaminophen, an ibuprofen, or, for some, something a bit stronger. Unfortunately, even the safest of these options come with serious negative side effects. Liver and kidney damage, stomach or digestive issues, neurological damage. In extreme cases, even death.

The last few decades have conditioned us to believe that our options are not just limited, but non-existent. We either take the options on the market (or at the pharmacy), or we deal with the pain. Under no circumstances should we consider taking natural alternatives. Not only are they extremely dangerous, but they are quite ineffective. I’m still trying to work out the incompatibility of that last statement.

I gotta wonder, though…if natural alternatives are so ineffective, why did the medical world develop some of their best medicines from them? Aspirin from willow bark. Opium, morphine, codeine and laudanum from poppies. Digitalis from foxglove. The list is long and impressive, and pretty interesting, if you are into that kind of thing.

The point is, there is an abundance of exceptionally effective, natural alternatives for dealing with pain of all types. In truth, some of them work faster, more effectively and, well…better. These are a few of my favorites:

Castor oil packs

Most of us have heard horror stories of grandmothers forcing a spoonful of castor oil on reluctant children when they had belly aches. I simply cannot condone that level of torture, but castor oil is not without powerful medicinal benefits.

Of course, the above scenario is not without it’s benefit, either. Castor oil is a highly effective, exceptionally safe laxative for all ages. The biggest problem with this method is actually choking it down. The good news is, it only takes 4-6 hours in most cases for a dose of castor oil to completely cleanse the bowels. A little more good news, a single dose is only 1-2 tablespoons for adults, and 1 tsp for children. Mix it with a bit of fresh fruit juice and it really isn’t so bad.

Castor oil is a strong fungicidal due to its high content of undecylenic acid. Ringworm, athlete’s foot, jock itch…castor oil applied topically daily for a week will help tremendously in any of these situations.

Castor oil is exceptionally moisturizing. It attracts and holds in moisture, so it is the perfect addition to any beauty routine. Acne, dry hair, dry scalp, age spots, warts, and skin tags are just a few of the issues that can be improved with regular use of castor oil.

However, one of the very best ways to administer castor oil is through the use of a castor oil pack. I don’t know all the science behind castor oil and how it does what it does. What I do know is that I have seen it work over and over again to help the body heal, to provide relief from pain of every kind, in every part of the body. I have seen it help people who were in liver failure to detox. I have seen it help shrink cysts and tumors. I have seen it perform nearly miraculous things. But, that’s just MY experience with it. Sore muscles? Use a castor oil pack on them. Arthritis? Try a castor oil pack. Painful period? Use a castor oil pack. Seriously. You gotta try this!

Castor oil packs can be a bit messy, but are relatively simple to use.  All you need is:

  • a bottle of castor oil
  • 2 pieces of natural cloth like wool or cotton. One should be large enough to completely cover the area you intend to apply it to. The second piece should be larger by about 4 inches in both directions.
  • a piece of plastic
  • a towel that you don’t mind getting stained
  • a hot pack or heating pad

Here’s what you do with all of that:

  • Thoroughly coat the smaller piece of the cloth with castor oil. You want it wet, but not dripping. The piece of cloth should be large enough to completely cover whatever area of the body you are treating.
  • Cover the castor oil soaked cloth with a piece of plastic.
  • Cover the plastic with the larger piece of dry cloth. This piece is going to help hold in the warmth so it should be something heavy and natural like wool, cotton or flannel.
  • Place a heating pad on top of your cloth. That’s it. Now just kick back and relax for a spell. Leave the pack on for at least 20 minutes, but I like to leave it on overnight. You will want to put an old towel or sheet under you, because castor oil will stain whatever it touches.

You can use an ace bandage or strip of fabric to secure the castor oil pack in place.

Don’t throw out your castor oil pack after one use, either. The same castor oil pack can be used 10-15 times. Just store it in the fridge between uses and add a bit more castor oil if it begins to dry out.

This is one of those great treatments that work immediately. By the time you remove the castor oil pack you will be feeling better. When dealing with long-term and/or chronic conditions,  I have used this treatment daily for two weeks with absolutely no negative effects. For things like menstrual cramps, arthritis flare-ups, and muscle aches/spasms, we use it as often as we need to. In most cases, we are back up and moving comfortably after an hour or so.

Sometimes we need something that works a bit faster, right? And,  maybe more convenient? After all, I doubt the boss is going to approve of you taking a break to apply a castor oil pack that you will need to wear around the office for a while.

It’s cool. I have this one covered. Herbs. The answer is herbs.

Quit rolling your eyes. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. Let me try to impress upon you the unbelievable power of herbs to help control pain when used properly.

I live on a farm. I do yoga. I garden. I paint. I write. I bead and sew and crochet and knit. I spend HOURS in the kitchen. I make soap. I build fires. I play with grandsons. I spend unfathomable amounts of time staring at a computer screen.  None of these activities seem especially dangerous, right? Look a little deeper.

Yoga and gardening are the source of many muscle aches, strains and sprains. Crafting, writing and gardening require the use of my hands, which are prone to attacks of arthritis, small cuts, big cuts, cuts from stems and tools (because, you know, why wear gloves like any rational person?). Hours in the kitchen can occasionally produce burns, cuts and other injuries that we need not name, as can building and maintaining fires in the wood stove. Computer screens give me massive headaches. Living on a farm covers everything from shins bashed into trailer hitches to broken limbs. Playing with grandsons…well…the danger potential there is unlimited. So, you see all of the levels of pain that my family may experience at any given moment. Keep that in mind when I make my next statement.

We have not needed a ‘conventional’ pain reliever since we started using herbal pain-relieving options. No aspirin. No acetaminophen. No prescription pain killers.

What is this miracle herbal pain-reliever, you ask? Well, it isn’t one herb. Or even two. It is a combination of herbs. While each of the herbs we are about to discuss work reasonably well for minor pain all by themselves, combining some of them can be far more effective than many of the dangerous synthetic pain pills flooding the market and killing people by the millions. Unlike prescription or OTC pain relievers, there is no risk of organ failure, heart issues, digestive issues, neurological issues…no negative side effects for a normal, healthy person. Did you catch that? These alternatives should not be used if you have some pre-existing conditions. Some of these herbs can interfere with medications, which can cause big problems. Some of these herbs should not be taken long-term. If you are not trained in the use of herbs, don’t just go taking these herbs willy-nilly. Consult a Certified Herbalist. Really. Don’t be stupid.

Okay, you’ve been warned. Now, let’s move on. I have found a beautiful blend of herbs that works fast (it has never taken more than 10 minutes to feel relief) on every kind of pain we have thrown at it. I’m going to tell you the herbs. Not the formula. The formula, Nerve-Ease, took me a long time to perfect, and is easy for an amateur to mess up.

  • Black cohosh – this root is most often used for female complaints related to the menstrual cycle, menopause, and female organs. This is because of the fact that it has many natural estrogens. What many don’t realize is that is also has a mild sedative effect, is anti-inflammatory, and acts as a mild anti-depressant, just to name a few of its benefits.
  • Catnip – yeah, the same herb your cat flips out over. Catnip is a fabulous pain reliever, and one of the safest option available for all ages, including small children. It is a mild relaxant, it settles the stomach, it calms the nerves, it reduces pain, and it promotes relaxation and sleep without any drowsiness.
  • Cayenne – there is a lot of science behind this herb, and how it works is a whole lesson in itself. We will just leave it at this: cayenne is a powerful pain reliever, and it boost the ability of any herb it is working with. One of the many additional benefits of cayenne is its ability to stop bleeding. There are very few of my formulas that don’t contain a bit of cayenne for very good reason. It is safe for all ages and requires only a small amount to be effective.
  • Chamomile – this is a wonderful sedative herb that works powerfully, but mildly, on the body and mind. It, like catnip, promotes relaxation without making  you drowsy, so you can go to sleep easier without waking up feeling foggy or disoriented. It soothes the nerves, so it is good for anxiety and depression. It is anti-inflammatory. It soothes muscles and joints. Chamomile is safe for any age and can help control just about any type of pain or discomfort you may be having. It is pretty tasty, too!
  • Hops – while best known for its use in beer making, hops has a long history of medicinal use. As with many herbs, hops has a variety of uses. Herbalists often use it for its ability to calm the nerves and promote sleep without causing drowsiness or brain fog. It is an anti-inflammatory, so it also helps with nerve pain, or pain caused from internal inflammation.
  • Mistletoe – the same plant that we stand under for a chance at a free smooch is a most excellent nervine. That means that it helps soothe frazzled nerves and helps rebuild damaged nerves. It is an anti-inflammatory, as well as an immune system builder.  Mistletoe has so many healing benefits that we can’t cover even a fraction of them here, but it also has some warnings attached to it. It is a fantastic pain reliever, but must be properly prepared and used only under the supervision of a Certified Herbalist or natural health practitioner.
  • Mullein – one of my all time favorite herbs, I could spend hours extolling it’s many virtues, not the least of which is it’s pain-relieving capabilities. It doesn’t matter what the pain stems from; Mullein will help soothe it. This is an especially useful herb for dealing with pain from broken bones, sprains and strains, as well as pain from inflamed, irritated mucous membranes in the lungs and respiratory system.
  • Skullcap – if you are looking for power and performance, this is the herb to go to. It’s pain-relieving properties are well known among herbalists, and this is one of the first choices for helping promote sleep, calm anxiety, reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being. It is not an easy herb to work with, though, and is best used fresh, as it loses much of it’s ability with drying.
  • Turmeric – If you have been on the internet in the last couple of years, you have heard of turmeric and all of it’s health benefits. It is used for everything from cancer treatment to dental care. More than 6,000 peer-reviewed studies have been done on this herb, and more are being done daily in an effort to understand it’s range of healing. Even among standard medical groups, turmeric is gaining popularity because they are finding that it is more effective than many prescription drugs for treating a variety of health issues. Pain, depression, heart issues, inflammation, stomach issues, cancer, diabetes and cholesterol are just some of the issues that turmeric is having a profound effect on, all without a single negative side effect.
  • Valerian root – this is easily one of the smelliest herbs known to mankind. Fortunately, it is also one of the best pain-relievers ever. It is a mild, but highly effective nervine that helps calm anxiety, promotes relaxation and sleep, soothes pain and promotes a general sense of well-being.
  • Willow – this is where aspirin comes from, in case you didn’t know. A long time ago, some scientist got the bright idea to extract what they believed was the active pain-relieving constituent in willow bark, then called it medicine. If they would have just left the herb alone they would have gotten much farther. Willow bark has all the phenomenal characteristics of aspirin, but it also has built-in protectors that keep it from harming the liver and other organs. It is not without dangers of its own, though, and should only be used under the supervision of a Certified Herbalist or alternative medical practitioner.

The world of herbal medicine contains a vast array of other effective pain-relievers, but these are the ones I prefer. When used together, they have the ability to fight pain stemming from nearly every source imaginable. They can replace anti-depressants, sleeping pills, nerve pills, stomach pills….pills, pills, pills. They can even help you wean off many of those pills without suffering the symptoms often seen from withdrawals.

This is by no means a complete list of the many ways natural health practitioners approach pain management, especially long-term. However, reaching for a more natural option for every day aches and pains seems like a no-lose situation. If it doesn’t work for you, there is always the option of running to the drug store for a bottle of acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but why start there if you don’t have to?