Category Archives: Health Concerns

9 Nutrition Tips For Menopause

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Optimal nutrition and herbal medicine can play a role in minimizing adverse menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, play a role in prevention of heart disease and osteoporosis, lessen vaginal dryness and support the nervous system for insomnia, headaches and depression.

Healthy Nutrition through Menopause

1. Consume whole foods: fresh fruit and vegetables (6-8 servings daily), legumes, whole grains (such as brown rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, spelt) and water.

2. Don’t skip meals.

3. Consume animal products in moderation, emphasizing free-range non-medicated chicken and cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut, herring, sardines) and ensure adequate vegetable protein intake throughout the day.

4. Increase consumption of phytoestrogenic foods, vegetable proteins, seaweeds and home sprouted seeds and legumes (alfalfa, mung beans, fenugreek, sunflower, adzuki sprouts), which provide the body with phytoestrogens, chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids and easily digested protein.

5. Lower consumption of dairy products while replacing with other high calcium foods

6. Avoid alcohol, black tea, chocolate, coffee and other caffeinated products.

7. Avoid salt, refined sugar and processed packaged foods which all put additional stress on the liver, affecting normal hormone clearance and elimination, aggravating both hot flushes and frequent urination. These foods also make the blood more acidic, prompting the release of calcium from our bones to act as a buffering agent; increasing the excretion of calcium in the urine (and a loss of calcium in the bones).

8. Flax seed meal (freshly ground) in a smoothie or sprinkled over cereal will provide excess fiber for healthy bowel function and to help absorb estrogen metabolites in the stool to ensure adequate clearance out of the body. Alternatively use 2 tblsp whole flax seeds soaked in 1 cup water, covered, overnight and add into a smoothie.

9. Consume foods known to support liver function: beets, artichokes, watercress, burdock (gobo), dandelion greens and dandelion coffee, turmeric, and garlic.

Herbal Medicine for Menopausal Symptoms can assist with:

  1. hot flushes and night sweats
  2. flooding
  3. depression and fatigue
  4. headaches
  5. insomnia, anxiety and stress related conditions
  6. memory and concentration enhancement
  7. heart palpitations and elevated blood pressure
  8. urinary frequency
  9. peace of mind and improved quality of life

For health program (and custom blended plant medicine) tailored to your specific health concerns during menopause, consider booking a clinic appointment. To read the complete article written by Katolen Yardley on herbal medicine and women’s health (including fertility, PMS, and hormonal imbalances) click here…

Katolen Yardley, MNIMH is a Medical Herbalist, specializing in Western and European Herbal Medicine, with clinical experience since 1995. Her personal interest in health lies with the emotional connection to wellness and dis-ease. Her private practice specializes in womens health issues, skin dis-ease, digestive and nervous system disorders and believes in providing usable tools for the client taking responsibility for his or her own health. If you are wanting a personalised health program designed for your and your unique health history, then email us or call us at 604-683-2298 to set up your clinic appointment.

Health benefits of Resveratrol

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Resveratrol has been sold as a nutritional supplement for the last 5 or so years, yet the health benefits of this supplement are just now becoming more widely known, spoken about and recognised in mainstream media. Resveratrol is a type of polyphenol, an antioxidant compound found in many foods and plants such as blueberries, bilberries, cranberries, rhubarb and grapes…which is one of the reason studies cite the benefits of drinking a glass of red wine daily. Grapes naturally produce resveratrol on their skins as a natural defence mechanism to protect from pathogens, fungus, viruses and bacteria overgrowth.

As Hippocrates said, “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”, the plants, berries and whole foods that we eat and are grown in our local environment can also provide our human bodies with needed nutrients for our own immune enhancement, and protection from dis-ease. Recent research on resveratrol indicates benefits for general and specific immune enhancement, heart health, cancer (by inhibiting angiogenesis inhibiting the development of new blood vessels which feed tumors), and inflammation. Studies also indicate benefit in reducing cholesterol in the body, namely by a reduction of LDL cholesterol (the harmful cholesterol) and triglyceride levels, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The antioxidant effects of Resveratrol are also widely known, resveratrol helps to neutralise free radicals before they can damage healthy cells and protect cells damaged from environmental pollutants. Resveratrol also helps to decrease COX1, an enzyme that increases inflammatory substances which promote tumor growth. Resveratrol shows an ability to enhance life extension and healthy aging in clinical studies and promote longevity.

Studies have shown that resveratrol is difficult to absorb, thus for best absorption, combine its use with other bioflavinoids such as lutein or quercetin. Discontinue this supplement prior to surgery and consult your health care provider prior to use in pregnancy and lactation. Consult your holistic health care provider prior to use if taking anticoagulant medications.

Health benefits of Resveratrol include:

  • Lowering insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
  • Enhancing longevity by reducing the risk of chronic and degenerative disorders
  • Protection of blood vessel walls
  • Decreased platelet aggregation, reducing the risk of heart attacks and stroke
  • Helps to prevent or reduce plaque formation, a component in Alzheimers, and other neurodegenerative diseases, and prevent brain injury due to stroke, a neuroprotective agent
  • Counteracts insulin resistance, offering protection from diabetes
  • Prolongs the life of cells in the body
  • Blocks compounds which cause inflammation
  • Offers protection from cancer by interfering with the development of blood vessel formation nourishing a tumor

Dosage: Recent studies indicate daily supplementation of 500 mg of resveratrol or higher for full health enhancement benefits. Resveratrol may also help to promote weight loss, by suppressing estrogen production, thereby decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass.  To order Resveratrol capsules, click here.

Herbs: Vital To A Healthy Balance

Written by Klaus Ferlow, HMH, Honorary Master Herbalist

Growing up in Northern Germany “country style”, I quickly developed a love for the bounties of MOTHER NATURE especially berries, herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables.

The value of herbs to our lives and to our health cannot be overstated, since our ancestors first walked the earth, herbs have formed the basis of medicine chests, cosmetics bowls, culinary spice jars, perfume vials and dye pots. Most herbs in their natural state are safe, and do not leave a residue in the body that could produce negative side effects. Drugs tend to treat or mask the symptoms or condition, while herbals emphasize a preventative approach to healthcare helping to balance and support the bodily functions. The compounds in herbs work synergistically in the body to promote healing. All plants have therapeutic properties as they contain a variety of biologically active substances. Plants undergo photosynthesis, transforming carbon dioxide into energy rich substances. The resulting carbon chains are further transformed into a variety of compounds such as lipids, alkaloids, essential oils and tannins. Through other biochemical processes, minerals and nitrates are absorbed by the roots and transformed into vitamins, trace minerals and antibiotics.

Herbs can affect biological systems in our bodies at the cellular level. Ultimately these high levels of biologically active substances can produce pharmacological and therapeutic affects. The nutritional value of herbs is high and organically grown herbs (no herbicide and pesticide spraying and chemical fertilizer) offer maximum benefits.

Herbs are extensively used in cosmetics, (there is a growing demand for TOXIN free medicinal herbal and personal care products worldwide) herbal creams & ointments, lotions, shampoos, toothpastes, soaps, oils, tinctures, sprays and in cooking. The multitude of uses for herbs as foods, medicines and in products emphasizes how vital botanical plants are to our health and well being. Unfortunately, as the Pharmaceutical industry developed the ability to synthesize medicine from the inert substances such as petroleum and minerals, and developing sophisticated marketing strategies, the therapeutic use of natural herbs diminished and was almost lost, especially in North America.

Recently however, there has been a resurgence of interest in herbs and healing. As people begin to lose faith in prescription drugs and antibiotics, they are rediscovering that herbs and herbal remedies and products are an effective and comparatively inexpensive form of healthcare. Herbal medicine represents a particular approach to healing which differs from allopathic medicine. Rather than relieving a single symptom with single active ingredient, herbs offer a holistic approach by striving to deal with the entire system and treating the cause.

Herbal medicine can only be truly holistic if it acknowledges the social and cultural context in which the illnesses occurred, and then the desired healing takes place. (Body, Mind & Spirit). According to Chris Kilham, the medicine hunter, over five billion people today are still using herbal remedies for healing! The renewed interest in holistic medicine, as well as a great number of traditional therapies, has encouraged changes within the existing medical profession. Given the severe financial crisis of our medical system (many professional predict a collapse within 5 to 10 years) it is incumbent upon us all to seek out and utilize appropriate health alternatives.

Let me quote you from the “Pocket Herbal Reference Guide”, by Debbra St.Clair, MH (Master Herbalist):

“The art of pharmacy turned to the production of drugs which could bring the quickest relief of symptoms, ignoring the reason that the symptoms appeared. As we look back perhaps it is time to reconsider the path. The use of substances has spawned a myriad of unexpected problems, such as suppression of the very signals that our bodies produce to alert us to a need of change. Pain itself is a call to action; a call to remedy and in balance in our lifestyle. The proficient use of herbal therapy is directly connected to our ability to sense that first signal and to adjust our lifestyle accordingly. It is when these signals are continually ignored that disease has a chance to seat itself more deeply within our bodies. The appropriate use of herbs is one of many health alternatives to our medical system.

And remember: For every disease we know, Mother Earth provides a herb to grow. Those who do not spend time every day on health, will sacrifice one day a lot of time for illness, since HEALTH IS WEALTH!

Words of Wisdom “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in care of the human frame, in diet, the cause and PREVENTION of disease.” Thomas Edison (1847 to 1931)

References: Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, alive books The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook, James A. Duke, Ph.D. Prescription for Natural Healing, James F. Balch, M.D., Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C. Indian Herbalogy of North America, Alma R. Hutchens The Herb Book, John Lust Herbs: Wonder Healers, Dr. Bernard Jensen, DC, Ph.D. The Secret Life of Plants, Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird

Author, Klaus Ferlow, HMH, is an innovator, lecturer, researcher and writer. President, founder and co-owner of FERLOW BOTANICALS, Div. of Ferlow Brothers Ltd, Vancouver, B.C., founded 1975 manufacturing/distributing organic toxin-free (zero-harm) medicinal herbal and personal care products to professional health & wellness practitioners and selected stores with holistic practitioners on staff in Canada and parts of USA since 1993. President of the “Hearts to Health Foundation” and Board member of Health Action Network, Burnaby, B.C. Copyright, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission. HMH = Honorary Master Herbalist. Dominion Herbal College, Burnaby, B.C., est. 1926,

His educational articles have been published in Health Magazines, Womens Magazines, Newspapers, Newsletters in Canada, United Kingdom, United States, and numerous websites around the world.

This information is offered for its educational value only and should not be used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease, contact your health care practitioner.

Adrenal Fatigue: High Sugar Intake Stresses the Adrenal Glands

~ written by Sharon Green, RHN (registered holistic nutritionist) in private practice at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group in Vancouver.

The adrenal glands; two small triangular glands that are located on top of the kidneys, are part of our endocrine system. The endocrine system regulates hormones, body temperature and balances our bodys chemistry.

A diet compromised by high sugar intake stresses the adrenal glands because the human biochemical system is not adapted to handle large amounts of concentrated sugar. London Universities, John Yudkin in his book “Sweet and Dangerous” warns against the ill effects refined sugar can have on our hormones. A high sugar diet, he reports, can cause a striking increase in the level of adrenal cortical hormone. It can slow the rate of transport of hormonal chemicals by as much as 2/3 even in one week.

When the adrenal glands fail to function properly, the blood sugar response tends to become sensitive and thyroid-hormone out-put tends to decline. Sometimes just regulating sugar intake may be enough to control cortisol levels and over the long term a high sugar intake may cumulatively weaken the adrenal glands so that hormones are not converted efficiently.

Exhaustion of the adrenal glands may be managed by the consumption of a wholesome diet of natural foods, many B-rich foods and the avoidance of sugars and sweets. Probably the richest source of B complex is the germ and bran of seeds such as cereal, nuts, beans and legumes. Other B-rich foods include; leafy greens such as kale, collards, spinach, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, avocado, eggs, peanuts, almonds, kidney beans, millet, cracked wheat, wheat germ, brown rice, lentils, asparagus, bananas & dates, to name a few.

Incorporating a ‘whole foods’ eating style that emphasizes a greater use of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds and the inclusion of un-refined cereal, beans and other complex carbohydrates will assist in nourishing the adrenal glands. Regular moderate exercise also stimulates the adrenal glands and helps to relieve stress.

The constant fluctuation of adrenal hormones from stress will result in the exhaustion of the adrenal glands and increase symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, irritability and depression. In order to preserve health; supporting, restoring and enhancing the function of these two important glands is paramount.

** Reference: John Yudkin, “Sweet and Dangerous” excerpt from Menopause without Medicine by Linda Ojeda PhD

Sharon Green, RHN is in private practice at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group in Vancouver, contact us at 604-683-2298 to book an appointment.

Alfalfa Leaves ~ Medicago sativa

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Alfalfa leaves, the latin name being Medicago sativa, is a plant origionally native to asia, but now is found growing abundantly throughout the world. Alfalfa is rich in isoflavone properties, coumarins, sterols, rich in enzymes including amylase, lipase and protase, containing Vitamin A, C, D, B6, and vitamin K and is said to contain 10 times more mineral value than the average grain.

Used traditionally as a tonic herb, meaning an herb which can be used long term to help build and strengthen the whole body and has often been used for conditions of wasting (anorexia)and a lack of vitality. Known as a support for both mental and physical wellbeing.

Traditionally used as a tea to promote strong bones and help rebuild decaying teeth. Rich in chlorophyll, alfalfa can be combined with the herbs: horsetail, nettle leaf and red clover for connective tissue support and is often used in conditions of arthritis.

Traditionally known as a galactagogue, Alfalfa was often drunk as a tea to help increase the flow of breast milk in new mothers.

The dried herb, or leaves of alfalfa can be prepared as a tea through making an infusion and ingested, or used topically as a poultice or skin wash externally for the healing of wounds and abscesses.

Therapeutically, a study was conducted on 15  humans for 8 weeks using alfalfa seeds in their diet to help normalise serum cholesterol.  Animal studies have also confirmed that alfalfa aerial parts and tops can reduce serum cholesterol without signs of recorded toxicity. Reference: Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Carol Newall, Linda Anderson, David Phillipson, 1996.

Alfalfa, like many herbs, contain a chemical called coumarin. This chemical constituent has been the subject to many debates and confusing conversations – and on first glance is often and mistakenly associated with Warfarin, a coumadin compound linked with blood thinning properties (notice the difference subtle spelling difference of this chemical?).

The debate continues – older research states that excessive dosing  may interfere with anticoagulant therapy. While current research confirms that coumarin contains no blood thinning activity in humans, it is important to understand that some plant chemicals transform when they dry or if they go moldy. There have been reported risks of cattle consuming moldy hay and developing health issues. Alfalfa – needs to be used fresh or very carefully dried prior to use to ensure no moisture or mold on the final product. This is to prevent the chemical conversion of coumarin into a more active chemical dicoumarol. Reference: Herbal Constituents: Foundations of Phytochemistry 2009 by Lisa Ganora.

In the book, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy (First Edition), 2000 by Simon Mills and Kerry Bone,  page 51 mentions “all of the common plant coumarins are not substituted at this position (being hydroxylated in position 4 such as in dicoumarol) and therefore lack significant clinical anticoagulant activity, although may do possess measurable activity when given to animals in high dosages.” David Hoffman in his book, Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine also states that “Coumarin is devoid of anticoagulant effects in humans because  of a structurally essential characteristic for the anticoagulant potential of coumarin derivatives is absent.”

When we think about alfalfa, we may also associate it with alfalfa sprouts. While sprouting seeds are a fabulous way of increasing their nutrition. It is important to rinse and wash the sprouts well and frequently to prevent the very rare  risk of a bacterial contamination when sprouting alfalfa seeds.    “Alfalfa seeds and fresh sprouts can be contaminated with bacteria such as S. enterica and E. coli.”  Reference sourced online:

When not to Use

Animal studies are showing a correlation to  monkeys who ingest alfalfa seeds containing a particular amino acid called canavanine, and the development of lupus like symptoms. Reference: Petri M. Diet and systemic lupus erythematosus: from mouse and monkey to woman? November 1, 2001  There have also been other  reports linking large doses of alfalfa seeds, when used for extended periods of time, to pancytopenia and systemic lupus. Alfalfa seeds contain canavanine, which is known to be toxic, in large amounts, to many animal species due to its structural similarity to arginine. The alfalfa herb however, tops and leaves are reported to contain very low levels of canavanine and free from any lupus inducing substances. Reference: Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Carol Newall, Linda Anderson, David Phillipson, 1996.

Thus until we understand more about this possible link and its mechanisms – it it advisable to avoid ingestion of large amounts of alfalfa seeds and herb in individuals who are dealing with Lupus. Alfalfa herb is however an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and an ideal addition to an herbal vinegar. If preparing the sprouted seeds for a tasty snack – always take extra time to rinse the seeds well during their sprouting and prior to ingestion.


Creating Your Own Herbal First Aid Kit

 ~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Interested in creating a natural First Aid Kit for the summer months? Here are some MUST HAVE traditional herbal remedies to include in your first aid kit!

Natural insect repellents: Lavender, Tea Tree and Citronella Essential Oils all have insect repellent properties. For more information on using and applying essential oils click here.

A Sunburn Spritzer: dilute Lavender and Peppermint Essential oils (using 3-4 drops each) in ½ cup of water. Pour into a spray bottle and spritz over the burning skin frequently, then liberally apply aloe vera gel to the sunburn. For another recipe click here.

Minor kitchen or barbeque burns and scalds: Cool the burn with cold water then apply pure Lavender essential oil. Lavender works like magic for preventing blisters and minimising scarring of the burned area. Apply it directly to the skin frequently throughout the day.

Bites and Stings: A bee sting can be washed with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), or baking soda can be applied as a paste (mix with water) to the bite. The herb Plantain can be prepared as a tea, strained and used as a skin wash or a poultice for helping to pull out venom from the bite. For instructions on preparing a poultice, click here.

Lavender Essential Oil applied to insect bites is cooling and helps to relieve inflammation caused by bites and stings; its antiseptic properties help to combat infection and of course its calming effects will assist with symptoms of shock and trauma.

Motion sickness and travel sickness: For people on-the-go consider using ginger capsules or prepare ginger root tea to help settle the stomach.

Poison Ivy: Try not to scratch, as it will worsen itch. Apply aloe vera gel to the area, bathe the affected area in apple cider vinegar diluted with water and apply Lavender Essential oil to the affected skin.

Minor cuts and scrapes: Marigold cream is used to promote healing and prevent infection from minor cuts, scrapes and open wounds, an excellent first aid treatment.

Arnica Cream applied frequently to problem areas for bruising, local inflammation and athletic injuries.

Aloe Vera Gel is an excellent topical application for sunburn.

Plantar warts: Zap Away Essential Oil Blend, contains potent antiviral essential oils Cinnamon, Tea Tree and Lemon. Protect the healthy skin with cream before applying this essential oil directly to the wart. Keep away from the eyes and do not ingest. Traditional Home Remedies for stubborn warts include: applying the milk from the fresh Dandelion stem directly to the warts. Home Remedies for plantar warts: apply and tape crushed garlic or the peel of a ripe banana to the problem area, replacing daily or use a mixture of castor oil blended with baking soda applied to the growths for several months, may help clear up the issue.

Finding the Jewel in Challenging Circumstances

In every area of challenge and hardship, there exists an opportunity of equal and opposite proportion to experience huge gifts. Our ability to choose what it is we focus on is the key to the outcome we will experience. With financial uncertainty and shifts in the economy, leading to increased stress and anxiety in many, NOW appears to be the perfect time to focus on developing solid habits which serve our future -cultivating thoughts of health, vitality, abundance, generosity and gratitude.

There are habits for health, happiness, peace of mind and wealth. The key is to investigate and identify those very habits of individuals who have what it is we desire more of, then commit to integrating those routines and ways of being into our own life. If we want a greater state of health for ourselves, then a study of the habits of healthy, vital individuals will lead us closer to our goal. Taking action and incorporating those routines into our daily life will allow us to create a similar level of success.

We become healthy by learning of, reading about, and investigating HEALTH, not by studying and focusing on dis-ease. Focusing on dis-ease only leads to more of the same. Contemplate the physique of an olympic athletewith a strong body, toned body. What habits must these individuals practice daily to reap the benefits of their desired goal? With an olympic athlete focused on the end result -of winning a gold medal, perseverance becomes a daily practice, training is a commitment, there is no putting off of what should be done today. Extreme weather conditions, early mornings and short term inconveniences become secondary (even insignificant) to the strong commitment and desire to attain the goal at hand.

If one is suffering from a physical dis-ease or dis-comfort, then study the actions, habits, eating patterns and routines of an individual who exhibits a healthy state of be-ing (both the body and a healthy state of mind -optimistic & loving). If anxiety is becoming a growing concern, then contemplate, sit with and speak to individuals who are serene, loving and peaceful — to learn skills and mirror a healthier way of be-ing. The poise and serenity of individuals practicing daily meditation is noticeable. Persons who consciously cultivate gratitude and give thanks for those things which bring them joy, peace and contentment possess a pleasant, magnetic and contagious personality, there-in lies a key for learning.

Developing new ways of being, incorporating regular physical exercise into each day, changing ones eating habits, and modifying ones thought patterns are skills which do not happen overnight. Like developing any new habit, it takes time, perseverance and a commitment to change which is stronger than the desire to remain the same. There is a benefit to every state of being, a benefit to change, and a benefit to staying the same. Every change also has its price, it is a personal decision to determine if the cost to change is greater than the cost to remain the same (which is more important) and then decide to pay the price and then commit to do the work to obtain the desired results.

Think back to childhood, learning to write was a learned habit, any new way of being can be considered a learned skill. Learning to write was at time a struggle when beginning to implement, repeat and practice daily the sound habits which months later led to an effortless flow of skilled penmanship ~writing is a skill which will serve us for the rest of our life.

For those desiring financial stability, a focus on developing and practicing qualities which breed success, will win in the end. Hard work, perseverance, creating win-win situations and integrity do create more of the same.

It is up to each one of us to believe in our ability to make a difference.

“Opportunity may be found wherever one really looks for it and nowhere else.” – Napoleon Hill

Herbal Remedies for Seasonal Allergies

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

For many individuals, spring is the season of sinus congestion, sneezing and itchy watery eyes, yet it does NOT have to be a miserable time of coping with allergies. You can enjoy the changing seasons by bringing allergy and hay fever symptoms under control.

Often considered a flaw in immune system activity, allergies may be intensified in individuals with an impaired immune system. Allergens can produce excess histamine production in our body, provoking severe reactions including sneezing, irritation of the nose, eyes and throat, redness and inflammation of the mucous membranes, sinus congestion, even rashes and fatigue.

Prevention is the best medicine: strengthening and supporting the immune system is the key for minimizing allergy symptoms. Bioflavonoids, found in the white peel under the rind of citrus fruits, in berries, buckwheat, kale, garlic, green tea and onions, can aid allergy suffers in controlling symptoms. There are many types of Bioflavonoids, such as rutin, hespiridin and quercetin, however one particular bioflavonoid offers dramatic protection from the allergy response.

Known as THE allergy supplement, Quercetin is used to inhibit both the manufacture and the release of histamine. For allergy suffers, the therapeutic adult dose of Quercetin is between 750-1500 mg taken throughout the day. To enhance absorption of this well tolerated supplement, combine it with Bromelain, a digestive enzyme from pineapple. Bromelain also contains anti-inflammatory properties that enhance the activity of Quercetin.

Among herbal remedies used for allergies, the anti catarrhal properties of Elderflowers (Sambucus nigra) make it an ideal remedy for nasal congestion, throat inflammation and bronchial conditions. Elderflower can be prepared as a tea and drank or gargled for symptoms of a sore throat. High in vitamin C and flavonoids, it is used for the common cold and winter chills.

The dried leaves and flowers of Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) are anti-inflammatory, anti catarrhal and contain antiseptic properties to the mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract.

Nettle leaves (Urtica dioica) are my favorite herb for individuals dealing with itching, hives and allergic reactions.

The dried herbs can be combined together in equal parts and prepared as a medicinal tea. For allergy relief, consume three to four cups of tea daily. Peppermint leaves can be added to enhance the taste.

For a preblended herbal tea used for seasonal allergies, our Sin-U-Clear Tea Blend contains herbs traditionally used to minimise the bodies production of histamine, clear up congestion and reduce the symptomatic effects of allergies. This tea is best used as prevention prior to the allergy season, and then drank throughout the allergy season.

Steaming with essential oils is also beneficial to relieve allergy symptoms. When in contact with foreign pathogens, our sinuses increase production of mucous. Our Breath Essential Oil Blend contains anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties, is antiseptic to the mucous membranes lining the nasal and sinus passages, the volatile oils found in the blend immediately help to disinfect and clear congested sinuses when used in a bath, as a steam, or inhaled by placing a couple drops of oil on a Kleenex.

Never take essential oils internally, instead place a few drops in a humidifier or in a basin of hot water, then cover your head and inhale the fragrant vapors. Take care not to burn yourself on the water or hot steam. An almost forgotten home remedy, steaming is one of the best ways to treat upper respiratory infections and sinus congestion.

Some additional tips for reducing seasonal allergies, wheezing and sinus congestion:

1. Avoid dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream), which can increase the body’s mucous production.
2. Consume hot lemon drinks with a dash of cayenne pepper to help decrease excess mucous production.
3. Garlic and onions are useful medicinal foods for clearing up sinus congestion. Add them into ones daily diet.
4. Practice strengthening your lungs, by blowing up a balloon every day.
5. Begin using horseradish as a condiment in your foods to immediately clear up sinus congestion.
6. Dilute 2 tsp organic unpasturized apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 tsp honey and ¼ cup water and drink
3-4 times daily to help minimize symptoms of wheezing and tightening in the chest.
7. Avoid salt, dairy, corn, milk eggs, chocolate; foods high in fats, tartrazine (also known as FD&C yellow).
8. Frequent steaming with essential oils such as Eucalyptus or our popular Breath Essential Oil.
9. Yoga, deep breathing practices and singing is useful tonics for strengthening the lungs.

For health programs (and custom blended plant medicine) tailored to your specific health concerns, consider booking a clinic appointment.

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.

Super Circulation! 20 Simple Tips for Improving Circulation

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Circulatory problems can be a sign of underlying and undiagnosed health concerns such as varicose veins, thrombosis and plaque buildup in the arteries, high or low blood pressure, chilblains, Reynauds syndrome, and diabetes. Tingling, burning,or pins and needle sensations in the hands and toes are also common signs of circulatory issues and should be specifically addressed by your medical herbalist. A lack of oxygen to the tissues due to disrupted circulation can lead to a whitish or bluish hue to the fingers and toes; and when left untreated, gangrene may result from chronic contraction of the arteries.

Tips for Improving Circulation

  1. Cut out smoking! Many chemicals added to commercial tobacco are known carcinogens (known to be cancer causing) and are extremely damaging to the heart and circulatory system. It is understood that smoking contributes to elevated cholesterol levels by affecting the livers biofeedback mechanisms ~ mechanisms that regulate how much cholesterol is manufactured. Smoking is known to promote platelet aggregation (clumping) and increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.
  2. Decrease the consumption of tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks ~such as cola and red bull. Caffeine constricts blood vessels and decreases peripheral circulation, leading to a rise in blood pressure. A high intake of caffeine in tea or coffee promotes the ‘fight or flight’ response, raises the blood pressure and contributes to irritability.
  3. Replace the salt and pepper shaker with cayenne pepper powder. Use cayenne pepper to season your food and keep on the counter where you normally would keep the salt shaker. Traditionally, Cayenne is known to improve circulation and improve blood flow throughout the body.
  4. Add freshly chopped garlic to ones diet. Garlic is known for both enhancing immune system function and for its heart health benefits. Studies on garlic have shown it to be helpful for improving cholesterol levels and decrease the likelihood of platelet clumping.
  5. Keep fresh ginger in your pantry and chop, grate or slice the fresh root, adding it to soups, stews, stir fries or even herbal teas for an added spicy flavor. Ginger is known to improve circulation and blood flow to the hands and feet, traditionally used for chilblains, and gently easing the symptoms of frostbite.
  6. Herbal Teas are ideal for improving and supporting healthy circulation: Herbal teas such as ginger root, hawthorn berries, yarrow flowers, linden leaves, rosemary leaves, ginkgo leaves are all rich in flavonoids and have the effect of strengthening the walls of blood vessels, improving circulation and used long term for reducing hypertension.
  7. Reduce stress levels: Long term stress can cause a domino effect of health concerns in the body. Continuous stress increases the release of adrenalin into the blood stream, leading to a rise in blood pressure. Deep breathing techniques, stress management, regular exercise, yoga and tai chi can all go a long way to reduce the impact that stress plays on the body.
  8. Uncross your legs. Frequent leg crossing looks pleasing to the eye, but can hinder circulation, further contributing to broken veins and spider veins.
  9. Choose Movement! Instead of sitting for long periods of time, take a moment to raise up both legs off the floor and flex and point your toes OR take a time-out moment and walk. Sitting for long periods of time can decrease blood flowing to the peripheries and raise the risk of thrombosis ~ clot formations in veins deep within the body.
  10. Witch hazel water applied topically to the skin is cooling to local inflammation and promotes circulation.
  11. Consume buckwheat. This tasty grain is packed full of bioflavonoids which assist to enhance circulation.
  12. Horseradish: this spicy condiment is traditionally consumed to alleviate symptoms of sinus congestion and to improve poor circulation.
  13. Home remedies for circulatory issues: Due to direct exposure to the cold, chilblains can cause surface inflammation, itching and redness of the hands and feet. Traditional home remedies include rubbing the affected hands and feet with raw onion, or bathing in potato water, (hot water containing grated fresh potato). Apple cider vinegar is also used to improve circulation and used as a topical soak. Essential oils such as ginger, cypress, and release essential oil blend can be diluted in a base oil and rubbed topically on the hands and feet and areas of poor circulation.
  14. Traditionally, Gingko biloba has been used to increase the blood flow to the upper part of the body. Individuals on blood thinners should consult their medical herbalist prior to use.
  15. Regular exercise: Increasing the pumping mechanism of the heart is extremely important for cardiovascular health ~ as exercise enhances blood flow, improves the circulation of blood from the heart to the peripheries, helps reduce obesity and regulates blood pressure.
  16. Decrease the intake of trans fatty acids (bad fats contained in margarine, shortening, and most processed foods) and avoid deep fried and fatty foods; instead increase the intake on Omega 3 fatty acids in forms such as flax seed oil, fish oils, extra virgin olive oil increase the intake of deep sea- cold water fish such as: mackerel, herring, salmon and halibut ~ especially rich in Omega 3. Or take Nutra Sea Oil, a high quality fish oil supplement.
  17. Dry skin brushing aids poor circulation; use a vegetable bristle brush and begin brushing from the feet and work up towards the heart, brushing in a clockwise motion. Avoid brushing over areas of varicose veins, thin skin or open wounds.
  18. Increase the intake of fiber: fiber can help lower elevated cholesterol levels. Foods high in fiber include: psyllium seed powder, oat bran, brown rich, beans, onions, pears, peas, and broccoli.
  19. Coenzyme Q 10: helps to improve tissue oxygenation.
  20. Keep hands and feet warm in cold weather and wear gloves whenever possible.