Category Archives: Cleansing & Detoxification

All about Dandelions

-written by Hunter Cubitt-Cooke

The Latin name is Taraxacum officinalis.

Common names include: lions tooth, white endive, wild endive, swine snout, canker wart and puffball.

Actions: Traditionally Dandelion has been used as a powerful diuretic, bitter, pancreatic regulator, galactogogue (stimulates flow of breast milk), cholagogue (stimulates bile), aperient, stomachic, tonic, anti-rheumatic, mild laxative, urinary anti-septic, and detoxicant herb.

Uses: Dandelion is used as a cleansing herb affecting the circulatory, digestive, urinary tract and lymphatic systems. As a bitter, it is useful for indigestion and used to gently stimulate and improve a lack of appetite. The leaves are rich in vitamins A, B, C, and nutrient minerals. Taken as a tea the dandelion leaves help to remove excess water. Dandelion leaf also contains potassium which is often depleted with synthetic diuretics, thus it is remineralising as it removes excess fluid from the body. The root stimulates and flow of bile and especially effects secretions and excretions of the liver and gall bladder. The milky sap from the fresh stem is used for the removal of warts.

Called Pu Gong Ying in TCM and frequently used for cooling, it is sweet and pungent. In Ayurvedic medicine it is a detoxifying herb for ama and pitta conditions, dispelling accumulated and stagnated pitta and bile.

I was taught as a child that dandelions are unwanted and to be killed with poisons. They are beautiful, especially in great numbers and destroying them didnt make sense to me. In fact, this wonderfully useful plant removes poisons from our bodies, as well as acting as a general tonic.

Preparations. If harvesting fresh, use the whole plant before flowering, the leaves during flowering, and the root can be gathered in the fall. Make an infusion of the leaf by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over 3-4 tsp. of leaves. Let steep 15 minutes and drink 3 times daily. To prepare the root, make a decoction by using 1 tsp. of the root to each cup of boiling water and let simmer for 15 minutes. Drink 1 cup, 3 times daily. As a cold extract use 2 tsp. of plant with 1 cup cold water and let stand for 8 hours. For a tonic or as a stimulant, make a juice by pressing the leaves in milk or using an electric juicer. Take 1 tsp. of juice 3 times daily. For warts, express milky sap and wipe the topical wart frequently. References and

Recommended Readings: The Herb Book , John Lust. The Yoga of Herbs, Frawley/Lad. Herbal Healing for Women, Rosemary Gladstar. Bartrams Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Thomas Bartram.

-written by Hunter Cubitt-Cooke. Hunter is a plant enthusiast currently working to expand his understanding and knowledge of plants and their healing potential. He has studied with the Alberta Wild Rose College of Natural Healing and volunteers at Alchemy and Elixir Health Group in Vancouver.

Herbal Medicine for Common Skin Conditions

~ Taught by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH ~ Medical Herbalist

We will cover a general overview of the function fo the skin, coupled with learning the actions and application of key herbs for the skin: herbal alteratives, blood cleansers, vulernaries, and anti inflammatory herbs in terms of supporting common skin conditions (from acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, wound healing, and common first aid). An interactive evening, combined with herb tasting and fun! Taught by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist. Co sponsored with Choices Market.

Time: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 ~ from 6:00- 7:30 pm hours

Cost: $ 10 cash or cheque at the door. All materials and handouts provided.

Location: Alchemy & Elixir Health Group # 320-1026 Davie St. Vancouver, BC. V6E 1M3

Space is limited: Pre-registration and prepayment is required. Call 604-683-2298 or email at info@alchemyelixir.com to register.

Whats the word on L’ Glutamine?

~written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

L’ glutamine is the most widely used amino acid within our bodies, found with in both the bloodstream and in muscle tissue. When the body is under extended stress, levels of glutamine can become depleted, resulting in needed supplementation from external sources.

Glutamine is used to produce protein, used for energy and as fuel for the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract and for most cells in the body.

In the digestive tract glutamine is used to promote the healing of damaged cells by stimulating regeneration and growth for new healthy cell turnover, to minimise the effects of food sensitivities and allergies and to protect and help heal a leaky gut. Quality of glutamine is important. The best sources of glutamine are from fermented beets. Lower quality glutamine products are sourced from crab shells and by-products of glucosamine.

L’glutamine can offer the best health enhancement with taken during times of increased intestinal permeability (antibiotic use, leaky gut syndrome and times of extended stress). L’ glutamine can assist with enhancing energy levels, and an improved sense of wellbeing,

Dosage varies depending upon the reason used, although 500 mg taken 3-4 times daily is often a standard, recommended dosage. This supplement can be taken during the day or at night to support further healing during the sleep cycle.

For athletes, glutamine can help enhance recovery after a workout, healing due to overtraining. L’ glutamine helps to enhance immune system function, used as a fuel for white blood cell function, and studies show that glutamine helps to enhance the lymphocytes cells which fight illness.

For individuals working with balancing the bodies PH, glutamine acts as a buffer for acidic conditions and plays a role in the maintenance of a healthy acid/ alkaline balance.

The Ultimate Cleansing and Detoxification Seminar

Learn all the steps needed to create a cleaner body and eliminate toxic buildup. During this full day workshop we will cover ways of cleansing safely, review popular cleanses on the market, discuss nutrition and herbal medicine and cover the following information on cleansing effectively:

Detoxification and Cleansing: What is cleansing and detoxification? What should anyone cleanse? How does one properly detoxify the body? What are the benefits of cleansing? How does one cleanse safely?

Steps to Boosting the Immune System: A compilation of everyday life stresses, poor nutrition and environmental toxins are detrimental to the immune system and therefore the integral health of our body. Tips for improving, strengthening the immune system.

Signs and Symptoms of Toxicity: Lifestyle changes to facilitate optimal detoxification, review basic anatomy, learn ways our body detoxifies and key organ systems to support, what health issues can be symptoms of toxicity.

Toxic Check List! Products to Avoid at all Costs: Toxins are not only ingested but can be absorbed into body through various products. Tips on what products to avoid putting on and in your body, face and hair and ingredients to avoid at all costs!

Cleansing Herbs: Effective Herbal Medicine to support the organs of elimination improves the bodies detoxification ability and herbs which can be used safely every day to support the bodies cleansing capacity.

Nutrition and Cleansing

Buildup and Breakdown Foods: Foods that are buildup foods and foods that are breakdown foods within our bodies. This occurs in our bodies not in the foods, well-being is a result of a balance between the two relations within the body. How to integrate additional breakdown foods in our eating practices & create a more alkaline system.

Better Food Choices for a Healthier Body: Two guidelines to follow: Eat foods that are high in nutrition (nutrient dense) and are largely unadulterated (not highly processed). How to choose and shop for better food choices.

Excess Sugar: Excess sugar in the diet can lead to toxicity and gross nutritional imbalances. How sugar affects our well-being.

Insoluble & Soluble Fiber: Ideas for incorporating more insoluble & soluble fiber into our meal selections to lessen toxic buildup.

Taught by: Sharon Green, RHN, Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Location: Alchemy & Elixir Health Group #320-1026 Davie St, Vancouver, BC

Saturday. January 16, 2010 Time: 900-1530

Cost: $ 80 (cash or cheque) plus gst

Space is limited. Pre-registration and prepayment is required

Phone: 604-7683-2298 or register online at info@alchemyelixir.com

What are some benefits of Infrared Sauna Sessions?

“What health conditions can be improved from the use of a far infrared sauna?”

Infrared sauna therapy is specifically designed to create a comfortable, deep, penetrating heat thereby leading to an increase in core body temperature, a raise in metabolism and subsequent profuse sweating which has numerous health benefits including:

  • Cleansing and Detoxification
  • Heavy metal detoxification
  • Skin health (acne, eczema, psoriasis, wound healing, and scar tissue)
  • Assists with the breakdown of cellulite
  • Supports healthy immune response
  • Pain relief (from Arthritis, Back pain, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Headaches)
  • Weight loss (burns up to 600 calories in one 30 minute session)
  • Heart disease (clinically shown to lower blood pressure)
  • Women’s Health
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Stress management
  • Increased circulation, elevated blood pressure
  • Athletic injury and recovery, post exercise pain,
  • Muscle and Joint pain, soft tissue injury, muscle spasms, stiffness, adhesions, shoulder pain, tight shoulders

Disclaimer: The information contained within is not meant to replace the clinic advice of a doctor or your main health care practitioner nor does it address individual circumstances. The data and opinions contained in the information are solely for information and educational purposes only.

Almost anyone can use a far infrared sauna, with just a few exceptions, however if one has a specific health condition it is important to consult your primary care provider prior to use.

Hemophiliacs and women who are pregnant or who might be pregnant are NOT advised to use the sauna. Individuals with MS and Lupus may find benefit from the sauna at a lower temperature.

For more information on our infrared sauna sessions and to book a sauna appointment contact us at: 604 683 2298 or info@alchemyelixir.com

Infrared Sauna Therapy

“Give me a chance to create fever, and I will cure any disease” –Greek physician, Parmenides

For centuries, cultures around the world have recognized the therapeutic value of heating the body for healing and improved vitality. Drawing upon the knowledge of ancient techniques to maintain good health; methods to induce sweating have been well documented in their use to provide relief from dis-ease and for health enhancement benefits. This traditional wisdom has certainly stood the test of time and is now coupled with advanced technology to create the Infrared Sauna.

Infrared sauna therapy is specifically designed to create a comfortable, deep, penetrating heat thereby leading to an increase in core body temperature, a raise in metabolism and subsequent profuse sweating.

One of the most recognized benefits of Far Infrared Sauna is the ability to assist in detoxification. Stress, environmental toxins, chemicals, xenoestrogens, airborne pollutants, poor dietary and exercise habits all affect our health via the deposition of toxic debris in our system. Using the far infrared sauna helps to purify our cells, specifically the cells inside our fat where our body stores waste and harmful toxins, such as cholesterol and heavy metals. Infrared sauna therapy cleanses and detoxifies your body from the inside out.

“How often can one use the Far infrared sauna?”

Far infrared sauna is considered to be an intense form of a whole body workout. Thus it may be necessary for those not in peak condition to gradually build up tolerance. For those who are physically fit and relatively healthy a 30 minute initial sauna session will be preferred and a sauna session will feel refreshing, cleansing and purifying. Once an individual has become conditioned to the heat, individuals with a sluggish metabolism and those desiring weight loss enhancement can take saunas up to 2 times daily, once in the morning and once in the later day. After the body becomes conditioned to being in the sauna, many people enjoy daily 30 minute sauna sessions.

Sauna sessions are also excellent during times of cleansing, during detoxification programs and to support any health program focused on improving or maintaining optimal health. Most individuals leave the sauna session feeling refreshed, invigorated and revitalized.

Stinging Nettle -Urtica dioica

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Spring is the time to harvest nettles, always an adventure in maneuvering between those unassuming young nettle shoots, with leaves so fresh and lush and just so innocent looking in their growth. I remember –an understatement -from experience, the importance of wearing thick gloves, heavy jeans and long socks, socks that cover the ankles entirely, lest the sting of the nettle leaf should find its way the minutest area of open skin creating immediate swelling, tingling and numbness…Nettle Rash…ahhh yes, the joys of harvesting fresh herbs…

Not a pleasant experience, but one which I have embraced through my hands-on work with plant medicine. In my experience, the topical reaction from fresh nettle leaves will last anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days -depending upon the surface area and intensity of the sting. As with all of my personal experiences with plant medicine, this is yet another learning experience and I remember citations from ancient herbal texts traditionally using Nettles leaves to relieve the pain of arthritic joints, a procedure administered by brushing fresh nettle leaves topically over arthritic joints, producing a ‘counter irritation’ to help temporarily eliminate the pain of arthritic joints – would it work? Yes!Would it be pleasant? NO!!

You might ask, why go through the trouble to harvest a plant covered with such unpleasant stinging hairs? Well…overlooking the immediate discomfort of possible (and likely) skin-to-skin contact with fresh nettle leaves.The fresh shoots and stalk, when picked in the spring make a delicious vegetable, that can be steamed like spinach (and seasoned with braggs amino acids or lemon juice) or can simply added into soups, omlettes and quiche. The sting of the hairs is de activated when cooked, steeped as a tea or when dried, thus fresh nettle leaves can be conveniently made into tea and also eaten safely, once cooked. As the plant matures, the older leaves and stalk become very woody and are not as tasty, thus to be ingested as food, the nettle leaves needs to be picked when the leaves and stalk are young, ideally harvested from shoots no larger than one foot out of the ground.

Traditionally Stinging Nettle (Latin: Urtica dioica) is known as a master plant, as the saying goes… “if you don’t know what else to do for a health condition, then use nettles”. Known as an alterative herb, or blood cleanser, Nettle leaf gradually supports the return of optimal health of the whole body, improving the body’s ability to eliminate waste matter, tonifying the tissues and organs, while providing the body with essential nutrients for vitality.

Nettle leaf is a blood purifier which supports the function of the liver and kidneys and provides support for all stubborn skin conditions such as teenage acne, psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema. It combines well with Red Clover, Cleavers and Burdock root for skin ailments or can be purchased, mixed in our Clean Green Herbal Tea Blend used for cleansing and detoxification.

An excellent source of chlorophyll and packed full of minerals including vitamin C, vitamin K,iron, calcium, magnesium and silica. Nettle leaf is an excellent addition to the diet for conditions of anemia and depletion and can be consumed internally as a tonic herb for long periods of time for individuals who are recovering from a long illness.

An anti inflammatory and containing anti histamine properties, nettle is often used in combination with other herbs such for seasonal allergies, to alleviate the itching and irritation of hives and itching skin.

A gentle diuretic and mineral rich anti inflammatory herb, Nettle leaf can offer benefit for symptoms of arthritis and joint pain. Useful for clearing uric acid buildup from the body, Nettle leaves can also be ingested for symptoms of gout.

The root of stinging nettle root is used medicinally for urinary disorders associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), including nocturia, frequency, dysuria, urinary retention, and irritable bladder.

As a topical application, stinging nettle leaf can be brewed as a tea, strained, and then used as a scalp rinse for promoting healthy hair, treating seborrhea, oily hair, and hair loss (alopecia).

A great herb for women’s health, nettle contains properties used to decrease internal bleeding and traditionally is used with Red Raspberry leaf for heavy menstruation, drank as a mineral rich nourishing tea during pregnancy and consumed as a galactagogue (which promotes the flow of breast milk in breastfeeding mothers).

Like most herbal teas, any leftover cold tea can be fed to both house plants or garden plants to help them grow, trust me, they will show their appreciation the next day by showing off their extra shiny leaves.

For a refreshing tea blend, combine nettle leaf with some peppermint leaf and just a pinch of stevia leaves. Steep for 15 minutes, strain and enjoy 3 + cups daily as a general adult dose.

To purchase dried Nettle Leaves click here!

For more reading on the Stinging Nettle plant, visit the HerbMed site and insert ‘Nettles’ into the search engine at the bottom of the page.

9 Simple Steps to Support Body Detoxification & Cleansing

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

After the festive holidays and an excess consumption of sugar and rich food,January and February are excellent times to focus on cleansing both internally and by reducing contact with environmental toxins.

  1. Start your morning by drinking a large glass of room temperature water with 1 freshly squeezed organic lemon to activate the digestive juices.
  2. Eat your greens! Vegetables are packed with anti cancer nutrients, their vitamin and antioxidant content are essential for immune system function, detoxification and the high fiber content will assist in lowering cholesterol and help keep the colon clean. Make it a goal to consume 4 -5 half cup servings of fresh vegetables daily.
  3. Herbal Teas such as Red Clover, Nettle Leaf, Burdock Root, and Dandelion Leaf are known as alteratives or blood cleansers, which assist in the removal of waste matter from the bloodstream, kidneys and liver. Our herbal blend, Clean Green Herbal Tea is specially blended to support the function or the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system in removing impurities from the body.
  4. Green tea assists the liver with detoxification, and helps to prevent the formation of carcinogens in the body, (such as the cancer promoting toxins from pesticides, nitrates in processed deli meats and benzopyrenes found in diesel fuel). To purchase organic green tea, click here.
  5. Munch on seaweeds. Seaweeds help remove heavy metals from the body and assist in preventing damage from chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  6. Raise your body temperature. A lowered body temperature can contribute to lowered immunity and an inability to overthrow viruses and bacteria. Regular use of Epsom salts added to bath water for a heating, relaxing soak. Epsom salts encourage sweating and subsequent elimination of waste matter through the skin. Hot yoga and seasoning your food with fresh ginger or cayenne pepper powder can also improve circulation.
  7. Dry skin brushing: a natural vegetable bristle brush (avoid synthetic fibers or animal bristles), for use on dry skin, before showering. Skin brushing helps to remove dead skin cells and promotes detoxification by encouraging lymphatic drainage, accelerates the removal of waste matter from the body, and increases blood flow through the veins and back to the heart. How to skin brush: Begin brushing the extremities first, starting with the arms and feet, moving to the legs, hips and buttocks, and brush in a circular motion always moving towards the heart. Avoid brushing areas of varicose veins, rashes, open wounds, infection and over thin sensitive skin. Skin brushing is an invigorating way to begin the day and can be followed with a cool shower, or Epsom salt bath.
  8. Populate main living areas with plants known to cleanse the air and detoxify the environment: aloe, spider plants, boston ferns, banana plants, english ivy, philodendrons are greens which specifically help to remove benzene and formaldehyde from a living space.
  9. Decrease the use of plastics in your home and avoid using saran wrap or plastic containers in the microwave (instead use a glass plate), – or better yet, do not use the microwave at all. Plastics are constantly gassing off emitting chemicals known as xenoestrogens, a group of toxic chemicals that mimic estrogen and are known to disrupt endocrine function. For more information, I recommend a well referenced article “Get Plastic Out Of Your Diet” written by Paul Goettlich, Nov 2003. which can be read through the clicking on the link.

Traditional Home Remedies with Apple Cider Vinegar

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar offers numerous health benefits and has been used in traditional home remedies both topically and internally. After the fermentation and extraction process using organic apples, the end result is a vinegar loaded with trace minerals, beneficial enzymes, healthy bacteria and pectin.

Over time, it is common for the vinegar to form a “mother” ~ the name for the natural protein which forms from enzymatic activity on the natural bacteria in the unpasteurized vinegar. The presence of a “mother” in the vinegar ensures that the vinegar contains the live enzymes needed to aid various ailments. Shaking the bottle will help disperse the mother and it is safe to use and drink.

As non organic apples are heavily sprayed, ensure that the brand of Apple Cider Vinegar chosen uses only organic apples and is bottled in a dark container, as the presence of bright light causes the vinegar to oxidize and breaks down vital nutrients.

Some traditionally home remedies using Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Used as a hair rinse after shampooing for healthy shiny hair, to help minimise dandruff and also used as a hair soak overnight to remove nits or lice from the hair shaft (shampoo out in the morning).
  • Cold and flu prevention: 1-2 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in warm water and ingested daily. Honey can be added to aid the bitter taste.
  • Sore throat and an irritated cough: 1 teaspoon of Vinegar in 1 cup of water. Gargle and swallow. Repeat frequently throughout the day.
  • Sinus congestion: Boil apple cider vinegar and use as a steam.
  • The antiseptic properties makes this vinegar an excellent disinfectant wash for scrapes and wounds.
  • May provide some relief from poison ivy and shingles when applied as a liniment or an external soak.
  • Reputed to provide some relief from arthritis and bursitis and traditionally used long term to provide some relief from calcium deposits. It is thought that the acidic nature of the vinegar can help dissolve calcium deposited around the joints. Use as a topical application, soak a tea towel in apple cider vinegar and apply to the affected joint and dilute in water and drink internally.
  • Sip, diluted in water before a meal to stimulate the digestive juices and enhance digestion.
  • A delicious salad dressing, when combined with lemon, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs.

Apple cider vinegar should not be ingested by persons dealing with digestive conditions casued from overacididity, ulcers or heartburn.

Slippery Elm Bark Powder- Ulmus fulva

Slippery Elm bark powder is one of my favorite “all purpose” herbs used for irritated mucous membranes. Slippery elm is a mucilage (that sounds slippery!!) that soothes and protects mucous membranes throughout the body, especially the endoderm lining of the digestive tract and acts via spinal reflex to soothe and relax all other embryonically related tissues (positively affecting cells lining the respiratory, urinary and reproductive tract).

What are Mucilages?

Some of the main constituents found in plant carbohydrates are gums and mucilages. Mucilages contain uronic acid, which forms a slimy substance when mixed with water. Mucilages are anti inflammatory, antispasmodic and protect against irritation. Gums offer a protective, slightly more hard and sticky quality, often found in thickening and bulking agents.

Properties of Mucilage Herbs

  1. Help to reduce irritation of the digestive tract by soothing, coating and protecting the membranes.
  2. Provides a buffer from excess stomach acid, acidic and spicy foods.
  3. Helps to absorb toxins from living or dead bacteria. Slippery Elm works well externally in a poultice for open wounds and ulcers.
  4. Helps to reduce spastic coughs , soothe a sore throat and remedy laryngitis.
  5. Decreases spasms of the urinary tract.
  6. Helps to decrease peristaltic action and decrease the ocurence of diarrhea.
  7. Helps to increase the production of watery mucous in the lungs to help loosen and discharge thick mucous from the respiratory tract.

I use slippery elm bark powder in my clinic for digestive upsets, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, crohns, colitis, reflux, ulcers -any condition where the mucous membranes need support and healing. This herb can also help to protect the body from the effects of too much stomach acid.

Slippery elm is a gentle bland tasting herb. It should be taken in powder form and mixed with water, into a paste, and eaten off the spoon.

For more reading and to purchase Slippery Elm powder click here:

Remember…the information provided here is for consumer education only, the comments are not meant to diagnose, nor do they take the place of advice given in a clinic environment by a health care professional.