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Posts Tagged ‘alternative’

I love autumn!  It is my absolute favorite time of year, hands down.  Maybe it is the cooler temperatures that make working outdoors invigorating and make it perfect for those evening bonfires.  Maybe it is the beautiful autumn colors that transform the Ozarks into a feast for the eyes and the soul.  Truth is, both of those reasons are a big part of it, but it also has something to do with all the planting and  harvesting I get to do this time of year!

The last of the summer crops are trickling in, making room for the winter crops.  Straggler tomatoes, lettuce in full bloom, loofahs ready to peel…these are all some of my favorite things.

Loofah Gourds

Loofah Gourds

However, my very most favorite thing about autumn is the chance to head out to the pastures and forests that cover our land and dig up the medicinal roots that are all juiced up with healing properties!  This year, we have had a record-breaking harvest of wild herbs.  Burdock, dandelion, yellow dock, gravel root…all of them are giving up the most gorgeous roots ever, and they are doing it in a big way!

Root digging isn’t for everyone.  In fact, you really gotta want some of them bad.  Proper identification can often take an entire year of growth in order to see the entire life cycle of the plant before identification can be verified.  Some of them have taproots so long you feel like you’re digging your way through to China ~ unless you live in China.  Then you might feel like you are digging your way through to the United States…? Either way, its a lot of digging!

So, I wanted to make it a bit easier for those of you who are feeling froggy with all this nice weather.

One of my new favorite herbs is Rumex Crispus, aka Yellow Dock or Curly Dock.  I had heard of it before, of course, but it has never been an herb that I use on a regular basis.  Imagine…I’ve been walking on it for years and never knew what it was!  A friend of ours was out here one day and came into the house carrying a beautiful leaf that he handed to me.

“You ever have this?”  he asks me.

I look at the leaf and say, “Nope.  What is it?”

“Sour dock,”  he replies.  “My grandma used to eat it all the time!”

Of course, I have to taste it.  The name is fitting.  The dark green leaves spotted with purple have the texture of spinach and just the tiniest hint of sour when it hits the back of your tongue.

“Oh, that’s good!  Where’d  you find it?”  I ask.

“In your yard,”  he answers.

“Oh.”

He takes me outside.  Right out the front door, there it is.  Huge patches of it speckle my yard, my garden and my pasture.  I’ve walked past it a gazillion times and admired its beautiful color.  I couldn’t believe all the salads I’d missed out on!  And, a new obsession was born.  I went to work learning everything I could about it.

This is Rumex Crispus:

In the Spring and Summer season, the leaves are a shiny, deep green.  As the weather cools down and all those healing properties are draining back down into the roots, the leaves start turning stunning shades of burgundy and purple. No matter what color they are, they make a delicious addition to salads and stir-fry, though. Once the weather warms up they tend to get slightly bitter, but I sorta like the added bitterness in moderation. I’ve added the leaves to garden salads, fried potatoes, pasta salad, rice, stuffed zucchinni, black beans, and I’ve even eaten it all by itself with a dash of Bragg amino acids and lemon juice.  I read somewhere that you should wash the young leaves or it can irritate your tongue.  I’m really hoping that anything you eat of your yard gets washed first anyway, but I figured I oughtta add that…just in case…  The leaves also contain significant amounts of Vitamins A & C, beta carotene, protein, iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorous.  More than spinach.  Bonus…if you happen to find yourself stung by a patch of stinging nettles, rub some crushed yellow dock leaves on the welts to help ease the sting and itch.

The stalks are edible too, though I can’t speak for their flavor.  I think I’ll be trying those come spring.  It seems that you simply peel them and eat them raw, or you can boil them to soften them up. The seeds can be gathered and ground up into a flour-like powder that supposedly has a flavor similar to buckwheat.  Not really one of my favorite foods, but the process sounds interesting, so maybe I’ll give that a shot next year, too…?

The root is incredibly impressive!  This is one of the roots we got this year:

Yellow Dock Root

Its kinda hard to tell, but under all those little straggler roots like the one in my hand, there is a monstrous chunk of root that is easily the size of a sweet potato!  The root contains potassium, magnesium and loads of iron, which makes it valuable for treating anemia and other iron-deficiency related illnesses. It is also a powerful blood cleanser and liver detoxifier, and a mild but effective laxative. It is a tonic herb, which means that it helps to strengthen and tone the entire body. The root is also good for treating skin disorders of all types.

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Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, a member of the herpesvirus family.  It is an issue that is hotly debated among all medical doctrine camps.  Vaccinate or don’t?  Expose your child to them or hide them from it?  Give them medications or don’t?

I, as you all know, am something of an extremist at times.  This is most definitely one of those times.  I do not believe that any child should ever be vaccinated against chicken pox.  Never.  Not one.  Why, you ask?  Well, let me just tell you…

~1 It is dangerous.  Period.  Consider these facts, taken directly from the National Vaccination Information Center(NVIC):  Please be aware that this is not a web site that promotes natural remedies.  It is simply an informational site that is relatively unbiased in either direction.

Reported complications from chickenpox vaccine include shock, seizures, brain inflammation (encephalitis), thrombocytopenia (blood disorder), Guillian Barre syndrome, death and infection with vaccine strain chickenpox or transmission of vaccine strain chickenpox to others

Mass use of chickenpox vaccine by children in the U.S. has removed natural boosting of immunity in the population, which was protective against shingles, and now adults are experiencing a shingles epidemic

I went to the VAERS website and looked up reactions to the live chicken pox vaccine so I could share some of their info with you.  Due to the size of their list, that was not possible….there were 52,513 events.  By ‘events’, they mean reported reactions to the vaccine.  What interested me was this ~ almost all of them that I waded through clearly state that none of the reactions was life threatening, though nearly all of them cited anaphylactic reactions.  Really? The Freedictionary.com says:

Anaphylaxis

Definition

Anaphylaxis is a rapidly progressing, life-threatening allergic reaction.

Description

Anaphylaxis is a type of allergic reaction, in which the immune system responds to otherwise harmless substances from the environment. Unlike other allergic reactions, however, anaphylaxis can kill. Reaction may begin within minutes or even seconds of exposure, and rapidly progress to cause airway constriction, skin and intestinal irritation, and altered heart rhythms. In severe cases, it can result in complete airway obstruction, shock, and death.
Somethin’ just ain’t addin’ up, my friends!  Even more frightening to me is that this report only contains the reactions from ONE form of the vaccine.

~2 It is only marginally effect.  More from the NVIC:

Chickenpox vaccine effectiveness is reported to be 44 percent for any form of the disease and 86 percent for moderate to severe disease

In all fairness, if you check out the MERCK site, they give a much better representation of the statistics.

In this trial, a single dose of VARIVAX protected 96-100% of children against chickenpox over a two-year period. The
study enrolled healthy individuals 1 to 14 years of age (n=491 vaccine, n=465 placebo). In the first year,
8.5% of placebo recipients contracted chickenpox, while no vaccine recipient did, for a calculated
protection rate of 100% during the first varicella season. In the second year, when only a subset of
individuals agreed to remain in the blinded study (n=163 vaccine, n=161 placebo), 96% protective efficacy was calculated for the vaccine group as compared to placebo.
There are insufficient data to assess the rate of protection against the complications of chickenpox

So, here is my questions…….Why did over 600 of the original participants drop out of the study (see bold, italicized statement in the above quote), especially if it was so effective?  You do realize that those study participants get paid, right?  Nearly 75% of the original participants declined the money and the miraculous 100% protection for their child because…….?

~3 Children need to be exposed to the virus to build a natural immunity to it.

Mass use of chickenpox vaccine by children in the U.S. has removed natural boosting of immunity in the population, which was protective against shingles, and now adults are experiencing a shingles epidemic. ~ NVIC

Chickenpox complications, such as bacterial infection of skin lesions (cellulitis), brain inflammation and pneumonia, are rare in children but more common in adults ~ NVIC

There are numerous studies that have shown the vaccine may work to help the cases of chicken pox, but it leads to the development of shingles in older individuals, which is a far more dangerous disease.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system we can move on.

Let’s just say that, despite all of your best efforts your child gets chicken pox.  What are you gonna do?

First of all, you are going to make sure that everyone’s immune system is strong.  I, of course, would highly recommend the Tamara’s Herbes line of herbal supplements for healthy immune systems.  It contains herbs that have been used for centuries to help build and maintain strong immune system function. Herbs like astragalus, alfalfa,  golden seal,  ginseng, st johns wort and echinacea. Failing that, eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, drink plenty of water, get exercise and sunshine on a regular basis, practice safe hygiene habits.

Then, you need to set about making the child as comfy as possible.

  • Loose, light natural fabrics will help reduce irritation of the bumps and allow the skin to breath.
  • Soothing baths.  Cool or lukewarm baths with soothing herbs like lavender, oatmeal, cucumbers, calendula and chickweed are some of the better ones.    ~For a soothing bath, mix equal parts of any or all of the dried herbs in a small teabag or tie up in a piece of muslin or cotton and let float in bath.  Don’t throw away the teabag after the bath!  Instead, toss it in a 1 qt jar of distilled water mixed with 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar.  Use the teabag as a sponge to dab at the rash between baths.  This will not only sooth the itch and pain, but it will cool the skin and help prevent infection.   ~And yes, I realize you can’t find dried cucumbers.  I actually meant fresh ones.  Just slice one up and toss the pieces in the bath, peel and all.
  • The fever, while frightening, is actually a good thing.  I know the common school of thought is that we want to bring a fever down, but natural medicine dictates otherwise in most circumstances.  The fever is simply evidence that the body is working exactly the way it is supposed to.  The heat generated by the body kills the invading bacteria and causes the body to perspire, thereby pushing out the dead, toxic waste through the skin.  This is a completely natural, healthy response.  Cool baths, or cool packs placed at the throat, the back of the neck, the wrists, the forehead and the feet are effective and provide comfort.
  • Herbal salves are very effective at helping to heal, sooth and help prevent infection from scabs that have burst or been scratched open.  The same herbs that make a soothing bath also make a soothing salve. Herbs like comfrey, burdock, nettle, mullein and sage will help minimize the itching and pain.
  • Give them lots of water.  This will help prevent dehydration, and it will also help the body flush the nasty virus from their system.  Fruit juice is an excellent addition, but only if it is free of HFCS, sugar and artificial sweeteners, which are likely to make the itching worse and prolong the symptoms.

Most of all, be patient.  This is one of those things that just needs to run its course.  Overall, this is really not a dangerous disease.  Yes, there are exceptions and every parent should closely watch their child for unusual signs or symptoms, especially if other known medical conditions exist.  Otherwise, roll with it.  Try to keep them from scratching as much as possible.

Oh, and take lots of pictures!!!  They are so good to pull out when you meet prospective girlfriends/boyfriends.  My kids totally love it when I do things like that!

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An interesting comment posted to my blog in response to my post “Feeling the Blues?” and it got me to thinkin’.  Sometimes that’s a dangerous thing, but I think this thought might be a good one!

I often forget when I’m writing these posts that you all haven’t done the same research as I have.  I forget that it has taken me over a decade of frequent and intense studying to come to the conclusions that I have about herbs and their benefits.  In my attempt to share my information with you all in a limited amount of time and space, I’m afraid I’m guilty of skimming over many things because I accept them as fact and I fail to keep in mind that they are really only opinions.

So, in an attempt to remedy this oversight, I’m writing this post.

Once more, for the record, here is the warning that is posted in various forms on my website, my Etsy profile and in several of my blog posts:

Warning:  Please consult a physician before consuming any type of herb or flower, as many of them will interfere with medications.  While we at Tamara’s are careful to use only those herbs considered safe, it is always possible that someone will have a negative reaction.  Please be advised that I am not a medical doctor and am not licensed to give medical advice.  None of the products suggested have been approved by the FDA and none of the information contained in any of these posts is meant to diagnose or treat any type of illness. Always consult your healthcare advisor before taking any herbs in any form for any reason.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way…

Here is the comment (in its entirety) that got me to thinking about all of this:

“St. John’s wort has only been proven slightly more effective at treating mild to moderate depression than placebo. It had no effect on severe depression.
The following is taken from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s website. http://nccam.nih.gov/

*St. John’s wort may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight. Other side effects can include anxiety, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, headache, or sexual dysfunction.
*Research shows that St. John’s wort interacts with some drugs. The herb affects the way the body processes or breaks down many drugs; in some cases, it may speed or slow a drug’s breakdown. Drugs that can be affected include:
*Antidepressants
*Birth control pills
*Cyclosporine, which prevents the body from rejecting transplanted organs
*Digoxin, which strengthens heart muscle contractions
*Indinavir and possibly other drugs used to control HIV infection
*Irinotecan and possibly other drugs used to treat cancer
*Warfarin and related anticoagulants
*When combined with certain antidepressants, St. John’s wort may increase side effects such as nausea, anxiety, headache, and confusion.

There you go. Only one of the herbs you use to treat depression and it’s just as dangerous as the two medications you showed.
While I’m all for alternative medicine, it’s important for people to know all the facts. The herbs you use may be effective for treating mild to moderate depression in patients taking no other medications, but there still possible dangerous side effects. The key is Talk to your Doctor! Before starting any treatment, natural or not, Talk to your Doctor.”

Now, I have to be honest.  When I first read this comment, my initial reaction was aggravation.  I can’t help it.  Who  likes to be called onto the carpet, after all?  Then, it occurred to me that being called onto the carpet would give me a chance to further my point and perhaps clarify this issue a bit more.

Jozie, the poster of the comment makes several good points.  The website she mentions is one I often use myself.  It has a wealth of information for anyone interested in learning more about alternative health options.

She also points out, as I did in my original post, that St. John’s wort is well known for its ability to interfere with a variety of medications.  It decreases the effectiveness of some drugs and increases the effectiveness of others.  This is true of many other herbs, also.

However, as to the effectiveness of St. John’s wort I can only say, the results vary from study to study.  There are many reasons for this.  With any herb, it is especially difficult to test the effectiveness because each plant will produce a different level of medicinal characteristics.  The strength of the herb used will vary according to growing conditions, harvesting conditions, drying conditions, age of the plant, length of time it has been stored, how it was stored…the list is long.  The truth is, it is darn near impossible to get the exact same level of effectiveness consistently.  So, it’s easy to see why the results of any herbal testing is difficult.

Another thing to consider when testing the effectiveness of herbs is, who is doing the study.  As a general rule, I’ve found that testing by those agencies associated with the government and medical establishment (doctors, hospitals, pharmecuetical companies, etc.) show that most herbs are ineffective.  If the agency doing the testing is funded by those in the natural/alternative establishments, most herbs are shown to be highly effective.

The truth lies right there in the middle.  Herbs and other forms of alternative medicine are exactly like prescription medicines in their effectiveness.  What works a miracle for me may not help you a whit.  The beauty of herbs is, unless you have an allergic reaction, trying new herbs and herbal formulas will yield few, if any, negative short-term effects and even less long-term effects.  In most cases, if the herb doesn’t heal you, it won’t hurt you either.

Just for giggles, here is a link to the results of one study concerning the effectiveness of St. John’s wort against a placebo and a standard treatment drug.  Their results?

Hypericum extracts were significantly superior to placebo (ratio = 2.67; 95% confidence interval 1.78 to 4.01) and similarly effective as standard antidepressants (single preparations 1.10; 0.93 to 1.31, combinations 1.52; 0.78 to 2.94). There were two (0.8%) drop outs for side effects with hypericum and seven (3.0%) with standard antidepressant drugs. Side effects occurred in 50 (19.8%) patients on hypericum and 84 (52.8%) patients on standard antidepressants.”

‘Similarly effective as standard antidepressants’ means it works as well as the common prescriptions for depression.  To further toot the horn of St. John’s wort, only 19.8% of the people studied had adverse side effects vs 52.8% who took the standard antidepressant.  I like those odds much better!

But, we aren’t done, yet.  Let’s take a peek at those side effects.   “…anxiety, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, headache, or sexual dysfunction.” Sounds unpleasant.  This is where an experienced herbalist is needed and a perfect example of why you should never take herbs without consulting an experienced practitioner.  A good herbalist knows that St. John’s wort presents these risks.  They will also know that St. John’s wort can be combined with other herbs to counterbalance these adverse effects.  For instance, peppermint will help calm naseau and any gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as headaches, fatigue and sexual dysfunction, as it is a system stimulant.  Ginger, too, will help with gastrointestinal problems.

A good herbalist will also understand that, in a blend of herbs, the dosage of St. John’s wort can be reduced because the other herbs will work in conjuction with it, thereby increasing the anti-depressant/anxiety characteristics while decreasing the risk of negative side effects.  This is not an option with chemically produced prescription medicines.

While it is true that herbs are serious medicine and can produce side effects, the risk is much lower and much easier to manage and counterbalance.  I am still searching for any bit of proof that herbs, when used properly, have caused long-term side effects.  To date, all I’ve come across are short-term side effects that disappear within days of stopping usage.  This is not the case with prescription medicines.

Another point to consider is that, as with all herbs, you have positive side effects, also.  St. John’s wort doesn’t just lend itself to relieving depression and anxiety.  Check out this list of other uses for St. John’s wort:

Psychovegitative disorders, sciatica, viral infections (including Herpes simplex 1 and 2), hepatitis C, influenza, murine cytomegalovirus, poliovirus, bronchitis, asthma, gallbladder disease, nocturnal enuresis, gout, rheumatism, contusions, inflammation, myalgia, burns, hemorrhoids, vitiligo, tonsilitis and dermatoses.

Pretty impressive, huh?

It should also be pointed out that St. John’s wort is the exception in herbal medicine rather than the rule.  It has more adverse effects than most other herbs and a greater effect on prescription medicines than most other herbs.  Perhaps that is simply because it has been studied more than most other herbs…who knows for sure.

When it comes right down to it, though, Jozie is right.  Always consult your healthcare professional before taking any herbs.  Alway consult an herbalist before taking any herbs, also, as they will likely know more about them than your doctor.  Then, go and do a little research on your own.  It is your health…your body.  Know what is going into it.  Don’t take your doctors word or your herbalists word.  Don’t even take my word for it.  There are numerous books, website articles, journals and periodicals that contain a wealth of information on herbs and their benefits and risks.  Read up and decide what is best for you!

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If a menopausal woman has pain or makes trouble, pound her hard on the jaw ~~ Egyptian Proverb, 2000 bc

I laugh every time I read that quote.  While in the throes of a menopausal attack of hot flashes and mood swings,  I have more than once asked my husband to knock me unconscious.   A sore jaw seems a small price to pay for a bit of relief!  To date, he has strongly refused.

The truth is, I know how to control them.  Its implementing the necessary tools that causes me a problem.  I mean, really…between running a business, keeping up a blog, playing in the Etsy forums and being a wife and mom, where would I ever find 20 minutes to do a round of yoga and drink a cup of herbal tea?  Well, okay, maybe it’s a bit more complicated than that.  I should really meditate more often and cut back on the coffee.

Let me just clarify something up front.  I’m an herbalist.  That pretty much means that I believe in the power of many natural healing methods.  So, while my attitude may seem flippant, I assure you that I am entirely serious.  I also want to be clear that the following post is what has worked for me.   That does not mean this particular regimine will work for you or your sister or your sister’s best friend.

Early menopause is predominant in the women in my family.  For me, it started at 33.  It was mild, at first.  Hot flashes here and there, memory blips, occasional night sweats.  No big deal.  I smiled to myself, wondering what all the fuss was about.  At 35, I finally understood.  I woke up one day drenched in sweat.  Suddenly, no matter what the temperature might be, it was too damned hot.  I was becoming intolerably crabby all the time and I could barely remember to go to the grocery store, let alone what I was supposed to get once I was there.

I had to do something and my options were relatively limited.  Hormone therapy or natural alternatives.  Dude, I’m an herbalist, but I’m human, too.  I wanted relief and fast!  So, I decided to read up on hormones.  See just how they worked, where they came from, what were the side effects.  It took me about an hour to solidify my decision.  I wouldn’t take hormones if they coated them in chocolate and wrapped them in dollar bills.

This information is simply the result of my research that led to my decision.  I didn’t write the information and if you have some solid proof against any of the info presented, I would dearly love to be made aware of it.  To date, despite 2.5 years of further research I have found nothing to dispute any of my original information.

First, I checked out the top choice for menopause help.  Estrogen.  I went to this website and read up on one of the most popular estrogen treatments.  I learned that it can cause heart attacks, strokes, breast and uterine cancer and blood clots.  It can also increase your chances of developing dementia, especially in women over 65.  The good news was that, since I was well under 65, I probably wouldn’t have to worry about the dementia.

The next problem that I had with estrogen pills is their origin.  I’ll admit that I laughed when I first read about it.  I thought it was one of those crazy rumors.  Surely it was wrong.  But it wasn’t.  Fresh Pregnant Mare Urine, anyone?  Think I’m lying?  Spreading tales?   Check this out.

Patent info on obtaining estrogen from mare urine

PETA‘s info on the subject

Project Aware

Another informative website

Another great resource that goes deeper into the research that led to the use of animal urine is the book, “The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed On Women‘ by Barbara Seaman.

After thinking it through, I realized that it really wasn’t so far fetched.  For many decades, medical testing was done on animals freely and openly.   They were fed toxins and untested medicines, injected with diseases, untested ‘cures’ and things we never want to hear about.  Every imaginable part of their bodies were used in the name of ‘finding a cure’.   Why not the urine?  The principle behind it is sound and there is no question that the mare urine contains potent estrogens.  It is what it is and no one is really disputing this fact.

Not wanting to be accused of only looking at one side of the issue, I wanted to check out a few pro-estrogen places, too.  I couldn’t really find any, except for the websites of the companies promoting the estrogen.  Bio-Medicine says don’t take it.  A Consumer’s Report says way back in 1976 that estrogen is dangerous, too, which really makes me wonder why it is STILL being offered, but I won’t go there right now.  I found lots more sites, medical and alternative, warning against estrogen, but didn’t really come up with any pro’s on the topic.

So, that left natural therapy.  Ah, well, I suppose I knew the answer before I ever started my research.  I chalked the experience up to a re-solidification of my choice to be a naturalist.   I put back on my herbalist-mantle and got to work.

My new line of research included going as far back in history as I could.  How did the Ancients treat menopause?  Did they even have menopause back then?  Yes, they did.  And they used some crazy, but effective, means of treating it.   Ever heard of Ovariin?  It was offered by Merck (yes, the some pharmaceutical company that we have in this century) in 1897 and was derived from the dried, pulverized ovaries of a cow.   It worked, but it was really gross, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t have a dead cow handy, so Ovariin was kinda out of the question.

I turned to my herb cabinet and found a few answers.

Black Cohosh:  Great for help with hot flashes, mood disturbances, palpitations, and vaginal dryness.  It is believed to work by binding estrogen receptors and has been used for centuries.  Black cohosh is being investigated for a possible link to liver damage, but so far, all of the cases involoved have other medical conditions that are believed to contribute to the situation.  Read this article for more info.

St John’s Wort Works wonders on the mood swings.  The down side of taking St Johns Wort is that it will interfere with the effectiveness of other medications you may be taking.  It speeds up the breakdown of the medicines so they become less effective.

Ginkgo This herb is fantastic for those memory lapses.  This herb has been studied in-depth and has proven effective for help with improving brain function.  Ginkgo has been shown to thin the blood, so don’t take ginkgo if you are currently taking other blood-thinners, natural or synthetic.

Sage contains plant estrogens and works well for helping with night sweats and  hot flashes.

These are the herbs traditionally used to treat menopause.  However, there is something within me that forces me to look outside the traditional means.  I have added these herbs to my personal list of ‘menopause’ herbs.

Peppermint I use peppermint a lot.  It is a system stimulant and has an effect of nearly every major organ of the body.  It prods the system into working correctly, promotes circulation, soothes and invigorates.   It eases belly aches, diminishes cramps, soothes a headache, calms heartburn and helps cleanse the system.

Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc.  Dandelion roots and leaves have been used to treat liver problems,  kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, stomach upset, digestive disorders, appendicitis, breast problems (such as inflammation or lack of milk flow), fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, diarrhea, as an appetite stimulant, digestive aid, and for liver and gallbladder function and  to stimulate the excretion of urine.   I think that about covers the entire system.   No negative effects have been reported.

So, I had my herbal concoction ready.  I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t work immediately.  It took almost a week to really notice a difference.  That’s the only negative I can come up with.  Even the prescriptions don’t completely knock out the symptoms of menopause, so I don’t complain too much about the occasional hot flash.

But, I did want to get rid of it completely, so I set out on another research mission and found that several yoga poses are recommended for help controlling menopause.  This site has some fabulous suggestions that I have incorporated into my yoga routine.  I try to do 25 minutes of yoga at least 3 times a week.  I said I try.  I don’t always succeed, and I definitely feel it when I don’t take the time to do it!

I’ve also changed my diet, but I have been doing that for the last 10 years.  I find I have much more energy and I’m more alert and coherent when I get plenty of fresh fruits and veggies.  Canned and frozen do NOT provide the same level of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

And, finally, I try to meditate whenever I get the chance.  Simply quieting the mind and breathing properly provide amazing benefits, both physical and spiritual.   This site has some great info on meditation and other alternative health issues.

I’ll leave you with this quote that I ran across.  It is by George Napheys in his 1869 book, ‘The Physical Life of Woman:  Advice to the Maiden, Wife, and Mother’.  He says, “After a certain number of years, woman lays aside those functions with which she has been endowed for the perpetuation of the species, and resumes once more that exclusively individual life which has been hers when a child…The evening of her days approaches, and if she has observed the precepts of wisdom, she may look forward to a long and placid period of rest, blessed with health, honored and loved with a purer flame than any which she inspired in the bloom of youth and beauty.”

I like that thought.

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If you’ve never suffered from a skin condition that causes itchy, dry, painful rashes that have you clawing the skin from your body, consider yourself fortunate. For the rest of us, I think it is safe to say that these skin conditions can drive you to drastic measures. You can find the most amazing tools to use as a scratcher…combs, brushes, knives, pencils…I must admit that I’ve even resorted to bathing my skin with alcohol on occasion because the burn was a relief from the itch. Of course, I don’t recommend it.

I suppose it was because of these experiences that I found it absolutely necessary to create my ‘Skin Soother’ salve. Unlike my Bite and Sting ointment that is specifically targeted to relieve the itch of venom and other toxins found in plants and animal bites/stings, this salve is made to sooth and help heal rashes and other conditions that our bodies inflict upon itself.

As is the case with eczema and psoriasis. While there is no single thing that causes our body to break out in a rash, the one thing they all have in common is that they are all reactions. Too many toxins in the system, skin care products, medications, environmental toxins, skin infections, sun exposure…these all play a part in skin conditions. These can manifest themselves in many different ways. A blistery patch, a dry patch, a sore, redness, inflammation.

Then, there is the trouble of diagnosing the rash. Is it eczema? Dermatitis? Psoriasis? Heat rash? Sun rash? A reaction to the new soap you used? Sometimes, even the best dermatologists have difficulty finding the root cause.

As an herbalist, my job is much simpler. Sort of. In the case of skin rashes, especially. It is my belief that illnesses of any kind, including skin conditions, is simply an indication that your body has overloaded on toxins (this includes both physical and emotional toxins like stress and fatigue) and/or lacked proper nutrition to keep your immune system strong.

Please take care to note: I am not saying that any single herb, ingredient, salve, tea or diet is going to fix all the known ills of man. Not by any means. While I do believe that every illness can be CURED using natural means, I believe it takes a combination of natural ingredients, exercise (especially yoga, tai chi, etc), diet and a positive attitude to achieve this.

That being said, I do believe that many natural ingredients can help us to treat both the symptoms and the root of our problems.

First, you need to use something that will help your body combat any virus, fungus or bacteria that my have entered your system, which is why doctors will often automatically hand you a prescription for an antibiotic of some sort. Please understand that, while this may help for a period of time, your body will eventually become immune to that antibiotic. Synthetic antibiotics do not help boost your immune system. In fact, they weaken it, so when the problem comes back it is often already angry over being tricked like this and comes back stronger, more resistant.

Natural ingredients work differently. Rather than tricking your immune system into submission, many natural ingredients are known for boosting the organs of the body that stimulate the natural immune functions. Now, here is where I could give you a terribly long and boring science lecture, but I won’t. However, if you find that curiosity is eating at you, Wikipedia has a wonderful overview of the immune system and how it functions.

You might be surprised to learn that there is a plethora of natural ingredients that boast wonderful immune-boosting properties. Many are antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic. When applied topically, they are quickly absorbed into the skin and bloodstream where they are carried throughout the body, fighting off the nasties as they go.

Many of these ingredients are included in my Skin Soother salve. Olive, grapeseed, sesame, coconut oil, mango, kokum, shea butter, beeswax, aloe gel, honey, lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus all contain at least one of those properties.

Secondly, you need to soothe the itch. Let’s face it, if a product kills off the nasties like bacteria, fungus and virus but doesn’t relieve the pain and itch, who wants to use it? There are several natural ingredients that work beautifully to soothe itchy skin and are included in this Skin Soother salve.

Peppermint is a natural nervine and analgesic which makes it extremely useful for skin conditions that cause pain and itching. It soothes those nerve endings that are causing the itch and helps ease the pain associated with many skin conditions. Other potent nervines included in the formula are hops and chamomile.

Many herbs have also been chosen for their long history of soothing any kind of skin disease. Comfry, basil, marshmallow and burdock have all been used for centuries by many different cultures to soothe inflammation, cool the skin, calm the itch and help remove toxins from the system.

So, I used these ingredients (and a few others) to create my Skin Soother. I can’t give you my formula, of course, but I’m happy to discuss ingredients and how to use them. I can always be contacted through my website, Tamara’s Herbes, or through my Etsy shop.

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