Category Archives: Health Concerns

Introduction to Medicinal Herbs for the Home – October Class

Are you curious about herbal medicine and want to understand more about how plant medicine works and how to use herbs at home? Join us for an introduction on how herbal medicines can be incorporated into your home for first aid use. We will cover a couple of local herbs in depth along with their various routes of application during this evening.  Class taught by: Katolen Yardley, MNIMMH, RH (AHG)

Thursday October 11, 2018 from 6:30 pm until 9 pm at the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens Classroom

Location: VanDusen  Botanical Gardens Classroom | 5251 Oak St, Vancouver, BC, V6M 4H1

To register: $ 35 ~ Click here to register:

Health Risks of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)


GMO Health Risks: Dr Thierry Vrain

GMO Health Risks: Dr Thierry Vrain

Dr. Thierry Vrain, formerly Head of Biotechnology at Agriculture Canada’s Summerland Research Station, was once a supporter of GMO. He has in the last 10 years changed his position after paying attention to the flow of published studies coming from Europe that questioned the impact and safety of engineered food and is now sharing his concerns. Help keep Genetically E Free nanaimo and a GE Free BC.

Watch this informative You Tube video for more information here: GMO’s Explained: Dr. Thierry Vrain “The Gene Revolution Best viewed in full screen mode: Filmed at an open public forum in Surrey BC on the topic of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).

This report was presented to the City Council of Nanaimo, BC Monday Sept 25, 2013 – reprinted with permission from Thierry Vrain – read on…

“Members of this Council,

I came to thank you for taking the time to educate yourself about this issue before the vote at UBCM on a resolution to create a GE Free BC.

My name is Dr. Vrain,  some of you, I think, were given a link to a TED Talk I gave three months ago.  I was a soil biologist and a genetic engineer with the Research Branch of Agriculture Canada for 30 years.   I was the head of the Department of Biotechnology until I retired in 2012 after the completion of the Human Genome Project.   I will come back to that.

I am trying to impress you that unlike most people I can spell DNA and even recombinant DNA.  I was the spokesperson of my Institute in Summerland during those years and took it on as my responsibility to educate the public.  I spoke publicly about the hopes of the engineered technology, and how precise and safe it all is.   I retired in 2012 because the Human Genome Project was completed.  And the answer was very clear.  That genetic engineering technology was not at all the precise technology it claimed.  The transgenes are inserted at random in the genome of the plants.  Complete random.   What we learned from the Human Genome Project is that the genome is a complex ecosystem, absolutely not based on the one gene one protein hypothesis which is the premise of the genetic engineering technology.

Sorry to use all these big words.  Stay with me.  This is a good story.

The genetic engineering technology I was working with was based on a wrong assumption that we would produce one protein per event.  The new paradigm said that we were inserting  foreign constructs in the middle of an ultra sensitive ecosystem of genes.  It’s like introducing a new pest in a sensitive ecosystem.   Not good.  Some of the misshaped proteins resulting from the genetic insertions may turn out harmful.  That would mean that the old paradigm of safety and naïve simplicity was not valid and the rogue proteins created potentially dangerous.   I could not justify what I did anymore, and I could not in good faith reassure the public that the technology was innocuous.    During my time in Research,  I studied many scientific publications sponsored by the biotech Industry and I came to the conclusion that the engineered crops and foods are totally safe to eat, provide greater yields and make the farmers rich, require less pesticides and cannot possibly have any effect on our environment.

But in the last 10 to 15 years there is also a large body of scientific publications, peer reviewed, many in prestigious Journals, that tell exactly the opposite.   The appearance of super weeds and superbugs did not surprise anybody in the science world.  They were fully expected.  Even by the chemical industries that have prepared just in time the next generation of herbicide tolerance.  With 2-4 D.  That’s agent orange during the Vietnam war.  Less the dioxin of course.  I mean, I assume we are not going to spray any dioxin residues in our countryside like we did in Vietnam.

Wouldn’t this transition to a new chemical system of farming be a perfect time for growers to come out of their feudal position with the seed and chemical input Industries.

This body of science makes it clear that the yields in Europe are higher than in America – yields per acre of course.  They do not refuse the technology because of superweeds or superbugs or falling prey – economically speaking, to the Industry.   They refuse it mostly on the grounds of this body of research with mice and rats and pigs and other animals.  And the story is about some toxic principles from engineered food that damage organs: liver, uterus, kidneys, brain, or some other proteins that cause allergies – particularly from the mis-shaped Bt proteins.  And yes.  There is definitely a hug increase in cancer and other related hormonal imbalances

The scientists of the Food and Drug administration in the USA knew that already in 1996 when the first engineered crops were released commercially without being tested.   The administration went over the verdict of its own experts.  They predicted that engineered crops and engineered foods would contain rogue proteins – inevitably produced by the invasive technology.  They predicted that some of these proteins would be toxic, cause allergies and organ damage, nutritional problems, and other illnesses.

Mr Wager who will speak after me is going to tell you that we must have this technology to feed a hungry planet.  This is complete fallacy.  It is well documented that this technology does not increase yields.  The herbicide tolerance technology – RoundUp Ready crops, have been shown to yield less than their non engineered counterparts.  In Europe, corn yields have been significantly superior to North America in the last 10 years.  They do not use this technology in Europe.

Mr Wager is going to tell you that this technology decreases the need for pesticides.  An unexpected goal for a chemical company – turned life company now.  Yes they have patented life.   The seeds are patented.  They are not sold.  They are leased.   You cannot keep them or multiply them.  It does not matter too much that you can’t keep your seeds if you are using hybrids.   So no change for corn growers.  But for everybody else, that’s a voluntary step into economic dependence.  You get your seeds every year from the life company, and you have to be nice about it.    You cannot do any research on the technology unless you swear to agree that what is good for Monsanto prevails.

They have been successful at marketing their product because it makes weed management and life less complicated for the farmer.  But I doubt that it was always the intention of these companies to sell less and less of their products.  Of course not, sales of insecticides and herbicides have gone through the roof in the last 10 years.  Particularly more recently with the epidemics of resistant weeds and resistant insect pests.

Mr Wager is going to tell you that nobody has died from eating GMOs and that 3 billion meals, or is it 3 trillions, have been served.  And everybody is in perfect health.  The truth is that research studies from Europe in the last 10 years have documented organ damage in rats and pigs, and cellular damage in human cells.  And there is no denying that we are experiencing epidemic levels of allergies, gastrointestinal problems, kidney damage, or breast cancer.  The European research says that toxic proteins in engineered foods are responsible for these symptoms in mice and rats.

The European studies also say that RoundUp herbicide is used on such a massive scale that is is now everywhere, in the air, in the water, in the food.   RoundUp kills plants because it stops plant enzyme proteins from doing their metabolic work.  People cannot be affected because we do not have the same biochemical pathways that the plants have.  But we are now discovering that bacteria are affected as much as plants.  And the bacteria in our guts are affected.  In case you do not know that, you are not human at all.  You are a symbiotic organism.  Your body contains roughly 10% of human cells.  The rest are bacterial cells.   99% of your DNA is bacterial.  That is how important our gut flora is to our health. A phenomenal ecosystem of thousands of species of bacteria that synthesize vitamins and many other essential molecules, hormones, etc … Gut bacteria make 95% of the serotonin and other neurotransmitters for our brain.  Would you prefer a happy flora down there ?  Rather than a sad one.  High or even very low residues of RoundUp in our food is a stress to our health.  And no, you can’t tell from looking around you.  It apparently takes many many years of this low level biochemical stress to cause leaky gut syndrome, or organ damage, or cancer.  Meanwhile everybody in North America is ingesting its weight of GMO ingredients every year.

Mr Wager will tell you that there is a conspiracy of rogue scientists determined to spread lies about the safety of this technology.   But he will be at a loss to explain the motivation of these scientists.

If I cite the research work of these scientists Mr Wager will tell you that it is all pseudo science and that it has been thoroughly trashed by the scientific community.   So you need to understand that there is a great deal of research in Biotech, mostly funded by the biotech Industry.   University Industry grants are normal.  Putting hundreds of scientists on the payroll is not difficult.   Or give them a patent or two for their research work.

Do you remember the tobacco ads of 40 years ago.  More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarettes.  20,000 physicians say Luckies are less irritating.   Why do you think doctors can be bribed but not scientists ?   There are experts on hire – everywhere.

I appreciate that this is seen as a controversy.  So I will conclude with this statement.  As long as there is a controversy – of the kind that the Tobacco Industry created 40 years ago to stay in business for many years after the scientific evidence was in, there can be no recall or regulatory action taken. There is no controversy in 64 countries of the world, including the big ones – Europe, India, Russia, and China, where GMOs are banned or at least labelled.”

We are giving you bits and pieces of a booklet called GMO Myths and Truths.  It is a compilation of published research, much of it from Europe and the rest of the world.  It was compiled by a genetic engineer and edited and re-written by Claire Robinson an excellent science writer.  It is a bit dry and technical.  But if you can spell DNA take a look at it.  Free download at

Sign a petition for CBC news requesting that Peter Mansbridge interviews Dr Thierry Vrain on the National regarding the risks of GMO products and the future of Canadian Agriculture.

For more information on GMO dangers

Institute for Responsible Technology: 65 Health Risks of GMO Foods and GMO’s in Food and 10 Reasons to Avoid GMO’s

A partial listing of foods containing GMO products can be found by clicking here:

Health Guide on GMO Research and Risks

For more reading on a holistic approach to food systems visit BC Food Systems Network on Facebook

Red Root – New Jersey Tea

written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH Medical Herbalist

Botanical: Ceanothus americanus

Main Actions: Astringent, Lymphagogue, Expectorant.

Indications: Red Root is indicated for stagnation of lymph, thick mucus, swollen glands and poor assimilation of nutritients to the tissues.

Red root, also known as New Jersey Tea, a lymphatic herb which stimulates interstitial fluid circulation used for splenic and liver congestion, enlarged lymph nodes, sinusitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, chronic post-nasal drip and mononucleosis. It can also help increase platelet counts and is specific for reducing cysts.

Astringent: The root is an effective astringent, expectorant and antispasmodic for as asthma bronchitis and coughs It has proven useful in mouthwash to relieve sore throat, gum inflammation, to help tooth decay. The astringent qualities of Red Root that dry up damp conditions aid conditions where lymphatic congestion is a problem can also be applied to:lymphatic swellings, sore throats, mastitis, mononucleosis, tonsillitis and strep infections as well as chronic conditions such as leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, rheumatism, AIDS as well as various types of anemias.

Expectorant:  utilized in folk medicine practices of Native Americans to alleviate whooping cough, and shortness of breath; working as a mucolytic agent to lower the viscosity of mucus and promotes the expulsion of phlegm from the respiratory tract.

Relieves Digestive Problems: traditionally used for the digestive system, liver and spleen. The spleen can be viewed as the body’s largest lymph node: addressing how well our immune system functions, how waste descends and is removed from the body, and how nutrients are sent up into the body to build blood, nourish cells and muscles. When digestive disorders are present on a disease or syndrome level, deficiency of the spleen is a contributing factor. Spleen deficiency appears in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Disease (Chron’s and Colitis),

Antibacterial Properties: Antibacterial properties are due to the lignans, tannins and ceanathine The root was used as a decoction to help treat sexually transmitted diseases, notably syphilis and gonorrhea. Also, it appears to lessen frequency of canker sores, cold sores and prevent formation of tooth decay when used as a mouth wash and sore throats.

Red Root can be prepared as a decoction tea and is available for purchase: 



The Therapeutic Benefits of Vitamin E

Written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH ~ Medical Herbalist

A powerful antioxidant and used for immune system support, Vitamin E is known for its ability to help prevent degenerative conditions as cancer, cardiovascular disease, anemia, cataracts and some signs of premature aging; while promoting healthy nerves and muscles, speeding the healing of wounds, strengthening capillaries and promoting healthy, youthful skin, hair and nails. The most widely known health benefits of vitamin E are protection against toxins such as air pollution, premenstrual syndrome, eye disorders such as cataracts, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

 Antioxidant properties

  • Vitamin E, along with other vitamins C, B3, beta carotene, selenium and glutathione, protect healthy cells from the effects of oxidative stress caused by free radicals within our bodies.
  • Due to pollution, cigarette smoke, air pollution, ultraviolet radiation. or other oxidative factors, free radicals may increase and exceed the body’s ability to  neutralise their harmful effects; these unstable compounds can damage our healthy cells, leading to premature aging and possibly contributing to diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer and other chronic disease. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that contain a free/ unshared electron. Antioxidants offer a spare electron – binding to the unstable free radical- and help protect against the accelerated cell destruction and other damaging effects.
  • The majority of vitamin E’s benefits stem from its antioxidant qualities. It protects polyunsaturated fats and other oxygen-sensitive compounds such as vitamin A from being destroyed by damaging oxidation reactions. There is significant evidence vitamin E can protect against heart disease and may slow the deterioration associated with aging.
  • Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant in foods. The vitamin E in vegetable oils acts as a natural preservative, keeping food from being oxidized and turning rancid.

Women’s Health

  • An excellent supplement for managing hot flushes in pre or post menopause as well as helping to minimise vaginal dryness
  • Used in prenatal conception preparation as it is thought to be THE fertility vitamin for both men and women.
  • Women who suffer from fibrocystic breast disease can often find relief with vitamin E supplementation. Fibrocystic breast disease is characterized by painful breasts, sometimes with benign lumps or swelling, starting several days before the menstrual period.

Skin Protection

  • Whether applied topically or ingested, vitamin E can protect our skin from ultraviolet radiation, thus guarding us from both skin cancer and premature aging.
  • Vitamin E applied topically to cuts may increase the healing rate as it minimizes oxidation reactions in the wound.
  • Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin E supplementation can help improve circulation of blood to the scalp. Vitamin E helps strengthen capillary walls while nourishing for both healthy skin and hair.

Immune Enhancement & Cancer Prevention

  • In addition to its activities as an antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in immune function and, as shown primarily by in vitro studies of cells, working with cell signaling, regulation of gene expression, and other metabolic processes. Studies have reported that a diet rich in vitamin E may lessen the likelihood of bladder and prostate cancer.
  • A dynamic cancer fighter, vitamin E helps to protects cell and DNA from damage that can turn cancerous. It helps to reduces the growth of tumors while enhancing immune function and preventing precancerous substances from being turned into carcinogens. Studies with mice show that vitamin E applied to the skin may help prevent skin cancer resulting from exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Cholesterol Reduction

  • Vitamin E protects artery walls and keeps the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from being oxidized. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol marks the beginning of clogged arteries. Vitamin E also helps to keep the blood thin by preventing blood platelets from clumping together.


  • Research has also shown that gamma-tocopherol possesses anti-inflammatory effects that can combat arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, and other inflammatory disorders linked to chronic inflammation.

Blood Thinning Properties

Vitamin E can help to thin the blood which is another significant health benefit. In other words, it prevents the blood platelets from clumping. High levels of vitamin E reduce the risk of sunstroke and coronary artery disorder or heart disease. An excellent supplement as a blood thinner, instead of the over marketed aspirin (linked to gastric bleeding, erosion and numerous other side effects) – Vitamin E is a safe alternative. Always consult your holistic health care provider prior to use if using blood thinners such as warfarin or Coumadin and ensure that you are discontinue Vitamin E for at least 1 week prior if you have a scheduled surgery.

Additional Health Benefits

  • Premature babies often receive vitamin E to reduce or prevent oxygen damage to the retina of the eye as a result of artificial ventilation.
  • Vitamin E can be beneficial to people with diabetes. It enhances the action of insulin and improves blood glucose metabolism by reducing oxidative stress.
  • Nervous system health by offering protection to the myelin sheaths that surround nerves. It also may help to prevent mental degeneration due to aging, possibly including Alzheimer disease. Recent studies have reported improved short-term memory in older adults who took supplemental vitamin E. While vitamin E may not make you live longer, it may help you live a little better as you get older.

How to choose the Right Supplement

Synthetic versus Natural:  Read the fine print and make sure you are taking the natural source of Vitamin E – identified as d’ alpha tocopherol – generally made from wheat germ or soy   -do not use the synthetic vitamin E (dl’alpha tocopherol) – the presence of the ‘L” means its lousy / synthetic – (for memories sake) and sadly created from petroleum based products, dl’alpha tocopherol is not natural at all and has few- if any- health enhancement benefits.

Vitamin E is the generic name for “tocopherol” and is available in various forms. Commonly sold as a supplement as d’alpha tocopherol (read the fine print) there are actually numerous types of vitamin E such as: alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol.

Vitamin E Succinate: is generally sold in an oil encapsulated form, however for those with a preference to avoid oil based products, it is also available in a pure dry powder form as natural d’Alpha Tocopherylacid succinate for longer shelf-life. This dry form of vitamin E is popular with those who wish to avoid oil-based products for any reason.

Mixed Tocopherol Vitamin E: Mixed tocopherols are vitamin E products that contain not only the d’ alpha tocopherol, but also the beta, delta, and gamma forms, providing full spectrum antioxidant support and the largest health benefits. This blend of tocopherols work synergistically as a team for maximum benefit.  A mixed tocopherol vitamin E provides the most optimal protection from free radicals and products of oxygenation, including lipid peroxides and oxygen free radicals. The Thorne Research Ultimate Vitamin E uses mixed tocopherols extracted from a mixture of vegetable oils, including soy oil. However, any potentially allergenic soy residues are removed during the distillation process and, unlike most vitamin E products on the market, Ultimate-E is not diluted with soy oil.

Enhance absorption of Vitamin E by eating a few raw nuts -almonds and walnuts- unroasted and unsalted- alongside the supplement each day.

Many studies conducted on vitamin E have sadly been done using the synthetic vitamin E, which clearly will have a different effect in the body, than a natural source. Most recent studies are showing the benefit on using Vitamin E combined with additional antioxidants (Vitamin C, beta carotene, Co Enzyme Q 10, L Glutamine) for their synergistic protective effect on the immune system in the body.

 Information given here is for consumer education only. It is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified health care professional, nor does intend to diagnose or treat disease.


Plantain (Plantago lanceolata, Plantago major)

Plantain – the Latin names are Plantago lanceolata and Plantago major

Synonyms: Ribwort plantain, english plantain, rib grass, long plantain, ribwort, broad leaf plantain, lance leaf plantain

Plantain is a visually familiar plant to anyone looking down at their feet while walking on the grass, or by roadways. Growing up to 5-15 cm tall, two species are most common, broad leaf plantain – or plantago major (with round large leaves) and lanced leaf plantain – plantago lanceolata (with long, narrow ribbed/ lanced leaves). Both species can be used interchangably and the leaves are commonly used medicinally.

Traditional uses of Plantain

1. Soothing: Due to the high mucilage properties in this plant, the actions of the mucilage properties in this plant are active both internally and externally. A notable wound healer, plantain is soothing for pain and inflammation. Plantain can be combined with other herbs for bronchial ailments and offers soothing protection for dry inflamed mucosa, for a thick mucous and harsh cough or asthma. Also soothing for the digestive tract.

2. A nutritive tonic herb: The leaves are an excellent source of chlorophyll and packed full of minerals including vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, calcium, magnesium and silica.

3. Antiseptic: ideal made into a poultice for addressing wound healing, cuts and abrasions on the skin, also used in combination with other herbs for lung infections or urinary tract infections.

4. Urinary Tract Tonic: soothing for the mucous membranes lining the urinary tract, helps to reduce colic and spasm or bleeding. Gently soothing and weakly antiseptic for the urinary system.

5. Refrigerant: a cooling effect both locally and for inflammation and a fever. Can be combined with diaphoretic herbs for lowering a high body temperature and encouraging sweating.

6. Anti catarrhal: a unique remedy that can help to depress the secretion of mucous from the membranes of the respiratory tract. A possible herb used for hayfever and seasonal allergies.

7. Astringent: The presence of tanning in this plant make it ideal for toning the mucous membrane issues of the mouth and throat, skin and digestion. Added into a soothing eyewash, or also of benefit for diarrhea. Traditionally used for both internal and external wounds to stop bleeding from an open wound or cut. Internally using plantain as a tea would go far in supporting conditions of a bleeding ulcer. Ideal for bleeding gums and gum inflammations.

8. Traditional External Applications: Plantain is a widely used and soothing agent for all types of skin healing, from cuts and wounds, scrapes and abrasions, plantain can be applied as a poultice, a cream, salve or fomentation. Also ideal for assisting the body remove venom from insect bites and as a poultice, effective for pulling out congestion. A soothing remedy for all mucous membranes in the body, for hoarse dry coughs and also for bronchial congestion. An ideal healing agent for wounds and ulcers, inflammation and bleeding conditions. A soothing urinary system herb for inflammation of the mucous membranes.

Dosage: Infuse one teaspoon of herb for 15 minutes in boiling hot water, strain and enjoy 3 cups daily as a general adult dose.

To purchase plantain click here

Preparing an Herbal Poultice

Where a fomentation uses the application of a flannel or cloth soaked in and strained from a decoction or infusion; a poultice involves placing the herbs themselves onto the body. Poultices have numerous applications, by supplying heat and moisture to an area:

  • they provide healing and regeneration to tissues,
  • stimulate circulation,
  • improve organ functioning,
  • can be used for eruptions, abscesses, for enlarged or inflamed glands;
  • used to reduce inflammation and help pull foreign bodies or substances from an area,
  • promote the resolution of boils, and hasten the healing of irritable ulcers and foul-smelling wounds.
  • Hot poultices applied externally can be used for respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis and congestion.


  1. Bruise, grind or crush the medicinal parts of the plant (dried or fresh) to a pulpy mass. If fresh plants are being used, chop them finely before use.
  2. Add just enough moisture (hot water or brewed herbal tea) to make a thick paste; the herbs can be mixed with moistened slippery elm bark, corn meal, or flaxseed for additional drawing power.
  3. First wash / disinfect the skin with a rinse of chamomile or calendula tea or tincture. Then cover the skin, with a thin layer of vegetable oil (almond oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil) to protect the skin and assist in easy removal of the herbs and promote the absorption of the medicinal properties through the skin.
  4. Apply the poultice herbs directly to the skin or wrap the paste / pulp in a wet, hot cloth (muslin or a towel), cover with saran wrap or plastic to retain heat and secure in place.
  5. For a poultice to be effective, it should be kept moist and warm by using a hot water bottle or heating pad on top of the pack.
  6. Remove before poultice gets cold. A second poultice can be applied. After removing wash the area with water, herb tea or antiseptic tinctures such as chamomile or calendula. Repeat daily until the condition clears.

Note: If using irritant herbs such as mustard or onion in a poultice, ensure that the skin is protected with a thin application of oil and keep the paste between two pieces of cloth to prevent direct contact with the skin. If the temperature is too high, the skin may blister or burn from hot temperatures. If a condition continues immediately consult your herbalist or health care practitioner.

Onion Poultice: Onion is one of the oldest and most versatile kitchen herbs. Excellent for drawing out impurities. A high sulfur content makes it ideal for inflamed areas. Traditionally onion preparations have been especially effective for colds and congestion, athlete’s foot, warts, athlete’s foot, muscle pain, and unsightly liver spots or dark blemishes. Yellow corn meal can be added into the onion poultice. Onion juice prepared from steamed or boiled onions was traditionally prescribed as a medicine to improve circulation, and digestion.

Onion Poultice: Prepare a thin cotton gauze or cloth old cotton towel or a piece of flannel (even a thin tea towel will work) of sufficient size to cover the area. Cut up onions very fine; heat them, not cook them too much but heat them; mixing with them – for this quantity – about a tablespoonful of corn meal. Spread this on the cloth, covering with a heavier cloth, – warm, not too hot, – and apply to the body. Use a hot water bottle to lie over the towel and let this heat for at least thirty minutes more. Remove the poultice.

Flax Seed Poultices: Flaxseed is a source of omega-3 acids and is valued for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. For minor scrapes and infections, a flaxseed poultice is a useful healing aid. Grind 1 tablespoon of flaxseed with a mortar and pestle. Pour hot water over to moisten the flaxseed, and create a thick mulch, like the consistency of oatmeal, (not too runny and not too dry) apply to the skin.

Cabbage Poultice: Use raw or cooked cabbage. Can use whole leaves layered over area and covered with a hot towel. Has a warming, detoxifying and stimulating effect for ulcers, varicose veins, shingles, eczema, gout, rheumatism, infection. Apply to lower abdomen to promote pelvic circulation and assist to dissolve small fibroids and cysts in pelvic cavity. Used over the liver it will assist in breaking up congestion and detoxify. Cabbage leaves placed in the bra will help with engorged breasts.

Carrot Poultice: Boil carrots until soft or use raw and mash to a pulp. Mix with small amount of vegetable oil. Used for cysts, abnormal growths, boils, cold sores and impetigo.

Clay Poultice: Use clay that has been cleaned of impurities. Mix with water or apple cider vinegar to make a paste. Allow to dry completely before removing with warm water. Use on inflammatory skin diseases, bruises, sprains, acne, drawing toxins from the skin.

Mustard Poultice: Good for arthritic joints and any condition requiring increased circulation. Used to help relieve congestion, aid asthma, bronchitis, relieve coughs and assists in getting rid of colds and flu when used on the chest.

Use powdered mustard and mix with water to make a paste. May need to add flour to hold paste together. Place a thin layer of oil on the skin. Do not apply mustard directly on skin, instead wrap in a muslin or cheesecloth or cotton towel barrier between skin and paste. Cover with plastic wrap. Remove immediately if stinging or burning occurs. Use with caution. Do not use on sensitive or broken skin.

Potato Poultice: Grate raw potato, mix with boiling water. Used to reduce inflammation as in arthritis. Has soothing and cooling effect. Can be applied to boils or carbuncles.

Plantain Poultice (Nature’s Band-Aid) Plantago major or lanceolata: An invaluable remedy for scrapes and wounds, bee stings and burns; even drawing out foreign objects imbedded in the skin. Best gathered fresh, collect enough to cover the affected area. Mash it, grind it, or even chew it if necessary. Add enough water to create a thick paste. Apply the poultice HOT daily or as needed until the irritated area heals.

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 to register.

Healing Cycles of Nature

~ Written by Katolen Yardley

Having just returned home from a restorative meandering journey down the Oregon Coast and time away at a retreat. I had the opportunity to see the majestic, ancient Redwood forests and stood in awe of these massive trees – some exceptional species towering HIGHER than the empire state building (over 360 feet tall), with a girth – stretching in diameter over 20 feet. Known as the tallest trees on earth, some trees in old growth forests live to be over 2200 years old. These remarkable trees can withstand insect decay, fungus infestation and are largely resistant to fire (due to their high tannin content).

Again I am reminded by how much nature has to teach us about health, growth and the wisdom shared by observing the cycles of healing found in nature. The annual new growth (1-2 inches) was evident on all trees in the forests, with pine trees showing off their bright new green tips and the leaves of trees a lush bright green color, signs of the spring, signs of new life.

Nature has much to teach us about optimal health and of healing; those very lessons are consistent even with the health of our human body. Our body is acted upon by the same ‘forces’ or vital energy which is present in all living things, the cycles of growth and decay are also similar. We are continually casting off old dead cells, old ways of being and taking in the new, provided that there is opportunity and the body is supported with adequate tools in which to conduct itself towards healing (optimal nutrition, rest, clean air, exercise -to name a few).

The cycles of the seasons remind of us of the cycles necessary for optimal health. Any improved state of health first is met with a period of hibernation. In the case of nature, winter is the time when trees rest, there is no creation of sap, nor leaf or fruit. Instead trees and many animals enter a state of dormancy, their ‘vital energy’ goes inward, time of hibernation when there is little change in physical appearance, not much visibly seems to happen on the surface. Misleading however, the greatest change is occurring just below the surface (and perhaps the most powerful changes and forces exist in forms not visible to the eye) Think of the radio waves, phone waves, electricity and heat waves; all are extremely powerful, yet we cannot visibly see these forces with our eyes, AND they are energies which we clearly reap the benefits of).

Similarly, vital energy flows within in all living things and is cumulated during times of rest – less output and more time to cultivate the strength and reserves for something new; it is the building up of a force of energy in which to overthrow the old and bring in the new. In the case of nature, spring is the time of “the new” – once again sap flows forth, with fresh, supple buds and fruit is supplied every summer. Animals shed their winter coat, bringing forth a new shiny, pelt. Winter is often the time for colds, an internal cleansing, and a time when we should rest. If we continue to practice overwork when rest is the natural inclination for healing, we further weaken our reserves.

In terms of herbal medicine the quote by Prentice Mulford sums it up very well

“the quality in the plant’s leaf, root or berry which taken as medicine, acts on the internal organs, is the force in that plant…The newer the bud…when used medicinally contains the most active force, principle and quality of that plant. The choicest and strongest tea is made of the topmost and tenderest buds of the plant.”

Many medicinal plants make the useful, potent medicines when leaves are gathered in the time of the spring.

In the case of our own healing, observing the wisdom of nature can remind us of the natural cycles of our own healing. An improved state of health often occurs in a step wise manner; first met with a time of rest, a noticeable plateau, a time where there is much going on below / under the surface, – (it can even a time when things seem to be worsening or nothing seems to be occurring). Give thanks, for these plateau periods are the time when our bodies vital energy is recuperating from overwork and re directed towards improving the state of things. Healing often occurs in a step wise manner, or in a cycle with periods of improvement (the spring) and then entering into a period of hibernation (the winter months)- or a plateau time, and the internal vital energy again builds its reserves for a future time of new growth.

Optimal Thyroid Function – Supporting an Underactive Thyroid

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group

An under active thyroid (or Hypothyroid) refers to an impairment in the conversion of T4 (the inactive thyroid hormone) into the active T3 hormone. The thyroid responds to a feedback mechanism that keeps the thyroid levels within a certain range and is dependent upon the pituitary gland secretion of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) to regulate the amount of thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) produced by the thyroid. When circulating levels of thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) are low, the pituitary secretes TSH triggering the release of more thyroid hormones.

The majority of thyroid conditions are due to Primary Hypothyroidism, occurring when the thyroid hormones are low and TSH is elevated, indicating a local problem of thyroid hormone synthesis due to the thyroid gland itself. Secondary hypothyroid occurs when TSH is low and the thyroid hormone levels are also low.

The thyroid gland concentrates iodine and uses it to produce the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Through a process known as deiodination, T4 is converted to T3. These hormones are of similar importance to the body as the engine is to a car, both hormones are involved in the breakdown of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, thereby regulating metabolism and moderating bodies internal thermostat. They are involved in nervous system and digestive function, respiratory and cardiovascular function, calcium mobilization, muscle tone and the production of red blood cells. In short, the thyroid hormones are essential for life.

Systemic Effects of an Underactive Thyroid Include:

  • Morning fatigue Headaches and migraines
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • PMS, mood swings
  • Brittle thin nails
  • Anemia
  • Slurred speech
  • Increased appetite
  • Heavy or irregular menstruation
  • Nerve problems
  • Constipation
  • Recurrent infections
  • Weight gain
  • Hypertension
  • Loss of libido
  • Hoarseness
  • Impaired concentration, memory loss and impaired problem solving abilities
  • Elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increased risk of heart disease, hardening of the arteries
  • Dry puffy skin, eczema, hives, orange discoloration of the skin, swollen eyes Increased need for sleep Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Yeast infections
  • Brittle dry hair and hair loss (including hair loss on the eyebrows)

Nutritional Supplements to Support Healthy Thyroid Function:

  • Thyro 100: Contains botanical medicine, trace minerals and key essential nutrients for optimal thyroid function.
  • Tyrosine: both iodine and tyrosine are required for the production of thyroid hormones.
  • Zinc: Is involved in the synthesis of the hypothalamic thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH), a zinc deficiency may slow down the conversion of T4 to T3.
  • Vitamin E: supports the conversion of T4 to T3 by influencing the hepatic 5-deiodinase activity.
  • Selenium: essential for thyroid synthesis, hormone production and the conversion of T4 to T3.
  • For additional holistic supplementation for thyroid health

Some Nutritional and Lifestyle Recommendations:

  • Avoid fluoridated and chlorinated water; instead switch to reverse osmosis water for cooking and drinking. Both fluoride and chlorine are structurally similar to iodine and block the iodine receptors in the thyroid gland, resulting in a lowered iodine containing hormone production, leading to hypothyroidism.
  • Avoid toothpaste and mouthwash containing fluoride.
  • Avoid unrefined table salt (sodium chloride).
  • Avoid eating RAW curciferous vegetables, (also known as RAW goitregens). These foods consist of cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes.
  • Avoid Soy products
  • Hydrotherapy (water therapy) can be used daily in the shower by letting cold water fall onto the throat and neck area where the thyroid gland is situated or apply a cold compress to the throat.
  • Frequent infrared saunas, steaming and dry skin brushing are useful to support thyroid activity

For additional guidance on a holistic treatment protocol for an Underactive Thyroid and for custom blended herbal medicine to address symptoms and assist optimal function of the whole body,consider booking a consultation in our clinic with Katolen Yardley, MNIMH. for more information.

Introduction to Raw Food Cooking ~Raw Food To Live For!

LEARN A FRESH FOUNDATION, RAW FOOD HEALTH SECRETS & tips to help increase energy, mental focus, sleep well, release weight, save money, the environment and look & feel fantastic!

TASTE delicious, easy recipes the whole family (&your body) will love!

EXPERIENCE healthy, organic, gourmet, nutrient-dense meals


You will leave this class, inspired, motivated & with the knowledge of how to begin eating raw & make delicious meals for yourself others.

Experience: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks & desserts. Bring your appetite!

9 gourmet dishes provided!

WHEN: Sunday, February 7th, 2010 from- 2-6 pm

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

INVESTMENT: reg.$150/person *EARLY BIRDS Just $100/person + GST

REGISTER BEFORE DEC 31, 2009 & SAVE $50/person! (all prices exclusive of GST)


OR CALL Janice at 778.839.8424

Nationally recognized Live-Foods Health Chef & owner of RAW Foundation Culinary Arts Institute, Janice Skoreyko inspires & motivates, people to build a solid foundation of sound nutrition principles & the healthiest eating habits with fast, easy, delicious recipes from the vibrant world of living foods. Come, learn to prepare gourmet recipes quickly, simply, & bursting with flavor! Space is limited. Preregistration and prepayment required. Register today!