Category Archives: Teas and Teasans

The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies

I am very excited to announce the release of my new book “The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies.” Inspired by the urgent need to recognize the value of mother earth and the gifts which she provides, especially plants – both serving as our foods and also our medicines and the importance of taking steps to maintain and preserve the health of the earth for our own wellbeing, the continued accessibility of our healing plants and the health of generations in the future.front cover small

This back-to-nature home remedy and herbal medicine making guide provides details on effective herbal medicines (kitchen vegetables, spices, well known herbal medicines and wild plants) for common family health issues. Inside the 310 pages of this hardcover book you will find recipes for various common health concerns: from an upset stomach, indigestion to arthritis and sore muscles, wound healing to acne, eczema, hives as well as body care recipes (body washes, insect repellents, cleansers and hair masks).

Regardless of if you are a beginner or advanced in your herbal training – this book is for you!  Providing guidance for preparing infusions, decoctions, medicinal honeys, general tincture preparation, herbal vinegars and topical applications as well as general first aid guidance using herbal medicine. There are also tasty food recipes which incorporate edible plants into ones diet.

Color photographs offer assistance with plant identification, this is a reference manual; offering tips for both beginners as well as recipes and traditional and modern applications for advanced herbal practitioners.

Kat book 2Featuring a long list of medicinal plants including detailed descriptions on the use of Turmeric, Lavender, Nettles, Heartsease, Sweet Violet, Self Heal, Juniper and Sage; common kitchen herbs and even vegetables and also some lesser known medicinal plants such as Watercress, Daisy and Sunflowers!

We all know that what we put on our skin is absorbed into out body. There is more and more research conducted on groups of commercial synthetic chemicals (largely found in cosmetic use and cleaning supplies) known as Xenoestrogens – also known as Endocrine disruptors (known to increase our bodies estrogen levels, and contribute to health conditions including infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, lowered sperm counts and have the ability to disrupt thyroid function, and linked to obesity, and a large list of health issues).

The cosmetic and body care recipes inside this book are environmentally friendly and Xenoestrogen free – they can play a small role in reducing our exposure to toxic chemicals typically found in common packaged cosmetics and also reduce the impact of environmentally toxic chemicals in the environment, our water and food chain and on marine life.

Packed full of herbal wisdom, traditional use and just the right amount of science, readers will gain confidence in plant identification as they dive into the art of creating ones own elixirs at home. In short, “The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies” is a simple, straightforward, and beautiful guide to herbal remedies that will help you take charge of your health using nature’s own medicine.

kat book 3There is some urgency in remembering and recognizing the value of mother nature and the plants which she grows.  We reach for what is familiar! That which we use daily -those very habits which we see our family repeating daily, is what we will likely repeat as adults. Our habits today create the habits of the next generation- we need our future generations to remember the importance of clean soil, clean air and accessible plants, both as our foods and as our medicines. This book is a small tool for the remembering of the value of our plants and how to apply them as medicines for common first aid.

Some reviews of the book can be viewed here.

More about me:  You can view a more in depth bio here on my website www.katolenyardley.com: Katolen Yardley, MNIMH – I have been in private practice for almost 2 decades (not to date myself) specializing in women’s health, digestive and skin issues. I have taught herbal medicine making classes for over 25 years, and offer my wisdom and experience to a variety of students in workshops and classrooms.

Autographed copies can be purchased online from my website: www.alchemyelixir.com or books are also available for purchase online: at Amazon, Indigo Chapters, Barnes and Nobel, Banyen Books, and hopefully at a bookstore near you.

The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants

The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North is an indispensable guide to identifying and using northern plants for food and medicine. Award winning author Beverley Gray is a boreal herbalist, aromatherapist, natural-health practitioner and journalist.

Whether you’re hiking in remote areas or gardening in your backyard, this easy-to-use handbook will help you recognize and use fifty-five common wild plants that have extraordinary healing properties. With The Boreal Herbal you will learn how to soothe pain with White willow, staunch bleeding with Yarrow, treat a urinary-tract infection with Uva Ursi, and create a delicate and uplifting skin cream from sweetgrass – also included guidance for using Nettle, Goldenrod, Red Clover, Dandelion, Horsetail and Plantain.

The Boreal Herbal: by Bev Gray

The Boreal Herbal: by Beverly Gray

Also included are dozens of healthy and delicious recipes, including Wild- Weed Spanakopita, Dandelion Wine, and Cranberry-Mint Muffins.

The Boreal Herbal features:

  • Profiles of dozens of herbs, berries, and trees found in the northern boreal forest in Canada, Alaska, the Yukon and NWT: including information on their habitat, harvest times, medicinal applications, as well as food uses, cosmetic uses, and spiritual uses
  • Full-colour photographs and botanical illustrations of each medicinal plant profiled in the book for easy identification
  • Instruction on how to gather, prepare and preserve medicinal plants
  • More than 200 recipes: teas, tinctures, powders, flower essences, topical treatments, beverages, jams and jellies, baked goods, soups, entrées, and much more
  • Safety tips for harvesting and using edible and medicinal wild plants, including information on calculating dosage and plant-specific cautions
  • A resource section for people interested in starting up a non-timber forest-products business
  • Botanical and medicinal glossaries, an index, and handy reference charts
  • Over 400 pages of valuable herbal medicine information
  • International Awards: Silver Benjamin Franklin Award, Living Now Book Award, 2012 CBC Cross Country Cookbook  Shelf “The North’s Favourite Cookbook”, Gold Nautilus Award, Next Generation Indie Book Awards

Regular Price $ 44.95 Currently on sale for $ 42.99 – Limited supplies only. To order click here:

 

Kudzu Root (Puerario montana)

Kudzu Root

Kudzu Root

written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH – Medical Herbalist

The Kudzu (or Kuzu) plant is a climbing, woody vine which belongs to the pea family (or the legume family). For more than 2000 years in Chinese medicine, the chopped kudzu root has been used as herbal medicine for the treatment of headaches, diarrhea, dysentery, intestinal obstruction, stomach flu, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; it is used as a digestive aid, fever reducer, and is thought to inhibit alcohol cravings and lower blood sugar.

In traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known as gat-gun, ge gan, kudzu root is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. TCM uses kudzu in treating the symptoms of high blood pressure such as headache and dizziness (although kudzu has little or no effect on blood pressure itself). It has been used traditionally for tinnitus, vertigo and Wei syndrome (superficial heat close to the surface). It has shown value for helping migraines and cluster headaches and can increase circulation, an action that tends to reduce muscle pain and stiffness, and increases blood flow through the coronary arteries.

Studies have shown that Kudzu can reduce alcohol cravings. For problem drinking: In clinical studies, Kudzu has shown some promising results in reducing the desire for alcohol and decrease the amount of alcohol consumed. A person who takes Kudzu, will still drink alcohol, but will consume less than if they had not taken Kudzu. The mechanism for this is not yet established, but it may have to do with both alcohol metabolism and the reward circuits in the brain. The Harvard Medical School is studying Kudzu as a possible way to treat alcoholic cravings. While Kudzu Root seems to lessen the desire for alcohol, it also stimulates regeneration of liver tissue while protecting against liver toxins.

Kudzu is also taken internally on a regular basis to prevent recurrences of colds sores, shingles, and herpes. The root is prepared as a decoction/ boiled tea for reducing an elevated fever, muscle aches, and symptoms of a cold or flu and can sooth inflamed mucous membranes of the throat and bronchial passages.

Animal and cellular studies have provided support for the traditional uses of kudzu root on cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and endocrine systems, including angina pectoris, blood sugar balancing effects for diabetes and their long term complications.

Medicinal Food The nutritive starchy root of kudzu is high in complex carbohydrates, helps balance the acidic nature of many foods, and is soothing and cooling the digestive tract. Powdered kudzu root is very “starchy” -similar to arrowroot powder, and is used to thicken sauces, especially in Asian cooking. Simply mix the powder of kudzu in a little cold liquid to dissolve and use as a substitute for cornstarch or arrowroot.

Traditional therapeutic actions: Antispasmodic, anti-pyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, antiviral, diaphoretic, muscle relaxant, cold and flu treatment, vasodilator, antihypertensive, antioxidant, liver protective, circulatory support, raynauds. Used to counteract abuse of drug and alcohol; helping to reduce alcohol cravings.

Nutrients: Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B2.

Kudzu root is a very safe herb, with no known drug interactions and is most effective when used in its natural state, as prepared as a decocted tea. The recommended dose of Kudzu root tea ranges from 9 to 15 g daily. To order chopped Kudzu Root click here:

Chaga Mushroom or Fungus also known as “King of the Herbs”

written by Katolen Yardley, Medical Herbalist

  • Latin Name: Inonotus obliquus however it may be found under the Latin names: Polyporus obliquus and Poria obliqua
  • Family: Hymenochaetaceae
  • Phylum: Basidiomycota (known as a true mushroom).

Habitat

Chaga is a slow growing fungus which grows on birch trees (and is also on alder and beech trees). Geographically, Chaga is restricted to cold habitats, found growing in Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, northern areas of the United States, and in Canada.

Why are mushrooms considered to be a fungus?

Mushrooms are considered a fungus, or a member of the fungi kingdom, as they do not contain chlorophyll, yet they have a strong symbiotic relationship with other plants and organisms – growing on decomposing leaves, logs, trees and soil in a forest setting; fungi are essential to our food chain. Fungus have the ability to break down organic matter in a decaying forest and actually draw its food and nutrients directly from decaying trees, rather than from the soil itself. Fungi digest their food outside their bodies by releasing enzymes into the surrounding environment, breaking down organic matter into a form the fungus can use.

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies produced by some fungi and the term “mushroom” applies to those fungi that have a stem, a cap, and gills or pores on the underside of the cap.All fungus begins with a spore which germinates, when the spore grows strands, this is called the mycelium. The fruiting body or the visible top of the mushroom, and the mycelium (the feeding body) make up the mushroom which can appear to grow overnight, in the cases of some species, or take longer time for development in other species.

In the case of Chaga, its sterile conk – a perennial woody growth, which is the mycelium of the mushroom – has the appearance of a black, irregular, cracked mass resembling burnt charcoal that grows on tree trunks. Due to the large amounts of melanin present in the chaga mushroom, the fruiting body rarely is seen. Unlike most mushrooms, chaga is a polypore, a fungus with pores instead of gills. Rather than growing in soil, Chaga prefers birch trees, once a tree is dead, the “sterile conk trunk rot of birch”, referring to chagas fruiting bodies grows under the outer layers of wood surrounding the sterile conk, spreading its mushroom spores for regrowth.

Common Names

Chaga is also known as siberian chaga, clinker polypore, cinder conk, black mass, birch canker polypore, sterile conk trunk rot of birch and birch mushroom. In the arctic, the first nation’s people used chaga as a form medicine and called it Tiaga or Tsa Ahga. In France, it is called the carie blanche spongieuse de bouleau (spongy white birch tree rot), the Dutch name is berkenweerschijnzwam (birch mushroom glow) and in Germany it is known as Schiefer Schillerporling (slate inonotus). However in the Orient, Chaga is known as “King of the Herbs” a name which most alludes to its respected and powerful healing properties.

History of this Medicinal Plant

A healing plant of renowned value throughout the world, Chaga is thought to be one of the strongest immune stimulating medicinal mushrooms and is used today as the base natural product in over forty oncology pharmaceutical medications and compounds. Since the early 16 th century, Chaga has been documented for its medicinal actions. Traditionally Chaga was used as a common remedy for cancer, gastritis, ulcers and other toxic diseases; especially for tumors of the stomach, esophagus, lungs, genital organs and/ or breast.

Chemical Constituents

  • Beta-D-glucans, a type of polysaccharide which has strong anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties, reputed to assist in stimulating the body to produce natural killer (NK) cells to battle infections, tumor growth and stimulate apoptosis (programmed cell death). The 3-beta-D-glucans found in medicinal mushrooms have been subject of research since the 1960s.
  • Phenolic compounds, melanins
  • Lanostane-type triterpenoids, including betulin and betulinic acid. (The anti-cancer properties of betulin or betulinic acid are currently being studied for use as chemotherapeutic agents and are already used as anti-HIV agents in mainstream medicine). Important note: betulinic acid appears to be absent in cultivated chaga, with nature herself producing higher medicinal quality chaga.
  • Bitter triterpene compounds that support the thymus and spleen,
  • Germanium: one of the highest sources found in nature.

Reputed Health Benefits

Studies support the use of Chaga for immune enhancement, possible cholesterol lowering, anti-obesity properties and improved insulin resistance, digestive tonic, anti ulcer, general tonic, psoriasis, diabetes, hypertension, anticancer potential, an anti viral, anti tumor, immune response modifier, (may assist in the modulation of T-Cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and white blood cells), anti-inflammatory properties, hypoglycemic activities and antioxidant properties offering protection against oxidative damage to cellular DNA.

Medicinal Actions

Much research has been conducted in Russia on this remarkable adaptogen fungus and more recently, health advocate David Wolfe can be found on”You Tube” educating his listeners on Chaga mushroom as a super food used daily for overall health enhancement. Chaga may help to:

  • Support and enhance immune function and help improve resistance to dis-ease. Chaga also contains the full spectrum of immune-stimulating phytochemicals found in other medicinal mushrooms.
  • Adaptogen properties: help the body to respond and resist internal and external stressors
  • Reduce fatigue, improve vitality, endurance and stamina
  • Regulate digestion: a useful anti-inflammatory agent of benefit for gastritis, ulcers and general pain.
  • Improve mental clarity
  • Improve physical performance
  • Antioxidant and anti-aging effect
  • Regulate the function of muscles and nerves
  • Improve resistance to disease
  • Enhance sleep quality
  • Improve metabolism
  • Regulate the activity of cardiovascular and respiratory systems
  • Reduce pain
  • Promote healthy skin and hair
  • Contains antioxidant properties
  • A restorative tonic and blood cleansing agent
  • Contains anti viral, anti fungal and anti tumor properties.

Interesting Tidbit: Siberian Chaga is neither a plant nor animal yet its DNA make up is thirty percent closer to humans than plants.

Nature vs. nurture

Chaga is best used medicinally when harvested through wild crafting, as the mushroom holds the highest medicinal value and chemical constituents when wild crafted; the cultivated species are lower (or absent) in both medicinal properties and betulinic acid. Chaga can be purchased here in dried form and prepared as a tea. To purchase Chaga Mushroom:

Other Medicinal Mushrooms

One important clarification, medicinal mushrooms do NOT include the common white, brown mushroom or button mushroom – those common edible mushrooms found in supermarkets. White or button mushrooms have little flavor and no medicinal value compared to wild species. In fact, they may even be unhealthy -heavily sprayed with malathion and other pesticides and provide no nutritional value. The medicinal mushrooms include: Reishi, shitake, chaga, turkey tail, maitake, agaricus, oyster mushrooms, coriolus, cordyceps, poria which contain immune enhancing benefits.

Information given here is for consumer education only. It is not meant to

replace the advice of a qualified health care professional.

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.

Known as a galactagogue, Alfalfa can be drunk as a tea to help increase the flow of breast milk in new mothers.

A gentle cleanser, Alfalfa has gentle diuretic and laxative properties and holds healing properties for digestive distress.

Due to its blood thinning properties, consult an herbal practitioner prior to using Alfalfa if using Statin medications or are taking blood thinners.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

White Tea

The least processed of all teas, the flavor of white tea is the closest to fresh, pure tea leaves. The leaves undergo two steps during processing. First, the leaves are withered and then they are immediately baked in the sun. Like black and green teas, white tea contains numerous antioxidant compounds called polyphenols (flavonoids and catechins specifically).

Catechins provide protective antioxidant action against harmful free radicals in the body. Research shows that these free radicals are involved in heart disease, some kinds of cancer and increase the risk of strokes. Due to its high antioxidant components, drinking white tea may potentially help to protect against cardiovascular disease, supports immune system function, may help to lower elevated cholesterol levels, promotes strength and integrity of blood vessels and helps to promote healthy teeth and bones.

In addition, white tea is a source of nutrients containing magnesium, managanese, potassium, calcium, and the vitamins C and K all in trace amounts.

White teas contain the least amount of caffeine of all teas, generally ranging in the cup from 5-15 milligrams.

White Narcissus Peony, also known as Pai Mu Tan (Pai means “white” and Mu Tan “peony”)-is a high quality, elegant White Tea. White Narcissus Peony tea is produced in China’s Fujian province during the early spring, by carefully selecting only the finest tender buds of the white tea plant. This results in a unique nutty, bamboo fragrance and a sweet, savory taste.

In the evening, sip white teas before or after a light meal or enjoy on its own to savor its subtle taste. To truly appreciate the delicate flavor avoid drinking with strong flavors or spicy foods and makes an excellent drink for those seeking the health benefits of Green Tea, but who prefer a more subtle flavor and aroma.