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Archive for the ‘herbal tonic’ Category

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.

Hydrosols.

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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?

distiller

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.

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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!

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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!

 

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Zombie Juice. Tell me that phrase isn’t just a bit disturbing… Makes you wonder why I would name one of my products something like that, huh?

zombie juice

Well, you see, it started out as a bit of a joke. Then, we decided it tasted something like one would imagine a zombie might taste like, should you ever find yourself in a position to taste one.

That isn’t really a good selling point, though, so, after much consideration, I decided to tell people that I named it that because it will prevent one from turning into a zombie should we ever actually experience a Zombie Apocalypse. That sounds like a much better marketing strategy, right?

Fortunately, it is kind of a mostly true statement. At least, I believe it to be, though I haven’t actually had the opportunity to test out our hypothesis. Yet.

You may wonder what would cause me to come to this conclusion. Well, I will tell you.

When I set about creating my Zombie Juice, I was going for an end result that was good for the whole body. A tonic. Something that would boost the immune system, strengthen the organs, regulate digestion, cleanse toxins, and provide lots of vitamins and minerals to the body. I wanted it to have all the ‘anti’ properties…antibiotic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-radiation, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory…I wanted it to be strong enough to knock out any stray bit of illness or disease that might find its way into our system, but gentle enough to be able to take daily to prevent any illness or disease from finding its way into our system in the first place.

There are a couple of tonics out there that came very close to what I wanted, like Dr. Christopher’s Anti plague tonic, but nothing that hit the exact target I was aiming for. So, I turned all mad-scientist and came up with my own formula.

To date, we have had lots and lots of opportunities to test out our Zombie Juice. Colds, coughs, bronchitis, flu, strep throat, dental infections…all those little illnesses that run rampant through the work-place and schools. What we have found has been pretty amazing. It doesn’t just work…it works spectacularly!

It gets rid of infections of all types in about 48-72 hours. It helped clear up colds and sinus infections. It helped with constipation. And, while we can’t scientifically prove it, we all believe its preventative properties have allowed us to slide right through the flu epidemics that swarmed the country. While our friends and family that refused to swallow this ‘awful brew’ hacked and puked their way through, we smiled and choked down the Zombie Juice, germ-free.

I gotta tell you, though, it is some unusual-tasting stuff. Imagine extra-vinegary Worcestershire sauce. With a little dirt added for flavor. Yeah, that’s a pretty close comparison. I have contemplated adding it to salad dressing, though. Maybe in place of balsamic vinegar, cause that might be kind of good and still effective…

My advice to those who let the…unusual…flavor deter them would be this; Suck it up, buttercup! A spoonful of nasty will not kill you. Pansy.

This is one of those times when I am going to share my recipe with you. Generous of me, isn’t it? I will admit, my reasons aren’t entirely altruistic. For the most part, few people will go through the time and expense of tracking down all the ingredients, then properly preparing them. This stuff takes 6 weeks to make and it is a real pain in the ass. So, only the truly adventurous will bother to make this.

Also, I can’t seem to make enough and I keep running out.

So, here goes:

Zombie Juice Recipe

In a half gallon jug, combine:

½ lb organic garlic (minced, smashed or pulverized)

Apple Cider Vinegar (enough to fill the jug ½” from the brim)

garlic vinegar

Let this sit in a dark, slightly warm space for 5-6 weeks. Shake the mixture daily. Strain, squeezing as much of the liquid from the garlic as possible.

Gather up these herbs:

2 pts burdock root, red clover blossoms

1 pt alfalfa leaf, amla root, horsetail, black walnut hull, peppermint leaf, dandelion root, nettle root

½ pt milk thistle see, kelp

¼ pt cayenne, golden seal root

Get a couple of gallons of distilled water. Not tap water, well water or any other type of water. Only distilled water should be used.

Place each herb in its own separate glass container. I prefer glass Pyrex measuring cups.

Add enough water to equal 8 oz.

Place the herb/water container in a pot of water and place on medium low heat. This needs to be simmered down until it reaches 4 oz.

You do not want your herb/water to boil, just a very low simmer. This will take several hours and should be stirred occasionally.

Each herb is going to be brewed separately. This is an important part of the process. Don’t just throw the herbs in together. They must be done individually. Yes, I realize that this may take a couple of days. Do you?

As each tea is done, strain and add the liquid to your vinegar.

When all of the herbs have been extracted, add

2 oz of vegetable glycerin  and 5 oz of raw honey to the mixture.

Mix well.

Bottle and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Here is how the adults take it:

When we are feeling run down, tired or sick, or if we know there is an outbreak of some type going around, or should we hear of a possible zombie attack headed our way, we take 2 Tbsp twice a day.

When we aren’t trying to get rid of an issue, we take 1 Tbsp per day…you know, just for general good health…

You can take it straight or add it to a little fresh juice…however you have to get it down is fine.

We don’t suggest giving this to any children under 2, but 2-10 years old, we suggest 1 Tbsp twice a day to fight off illness and ½ Tsp daily to help fend off illness. Nobody wants a child zombie running around town, cause that’s just…well…disturbing!

Of course, we are not licensed medical doctors around here, so you could just chalk all of this up to quackery. I don’t mind and I get it…I know, the zombies and all are a bit much to contemplate. I would never consider handing out any type of medical advice or diagnosis, and I most certainly can’t tell you that herbs and other ‘natural’ ingredients can make you better if you are sick. I’m simply handing out some friendly advice that we believe has helped my family and friends stay a little healthier. And not zombies. What you choose to do with the info is your own business.

So, there you have it. Sounds tasty, huh?

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