• Tag Archives health
  • Health Benefits in Using Herbs in our Diets

    Health Benefits in Using Herbs in our Diets

    By Laura D. Field of Potpourri of Health ~ Jan 03, 2018

    Herbs have been around since life began. It is part of our natural landscape of nutritional food. Yet over the years the scope of their health benefits seemed to have been lost as prepared foods and medications, whether over-the-counter or via prescription, took their place.

    There is a wave of awakening in utilizing herbs as medicine. People who desire to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, a change and/or having no benefit from the pharmaceutical industry for illnesses that seem to have no resolution, are seeking natural means for a healthier life. Not only can they be used as spices and seasonings in our food, they often times provide a huge benefit to our overall health.

    Plants and herbs have been used for centuries, and today herbalists and apothecaries are using them for themselves as well as others who seek this knowledge. One can easily have access to these herbs and herbal resources by nurturing small home herbal gardens, through naturopathic providers, health food stores, and many options online. Although rare, some allopathic physicians are also providing some suggestions to better improve your health, such as many are supporting the use of turmeric for pain.

    It is a known fact that eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and various protein sources, that we consume a healthy range of necessary vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting properties. Yet, many are unaware of the many nutrients that can be gained in the use of herbs, which easily can be added to their foods, made into teas, tinctures, etc.

    Our local supermarkets today, do carry a large variety of spices and herbs, and some of which are fresh and in the produce aisle, and sometimes one can find a few varieties as starter plants. One can have a larger variety of herbs at their disposal when they decide to grow their own, and often times as flowers.

    Briefly, just a small listing of benefits of some familiar herbs:

    Digestion: Herbs that are helpful for digestion can easily be acquired at most supermarkets are thyme, rosemary, oregano, and mint. When they are heating, their aroma is released, causing our salivary glands to work in preparation for our stomach to digest our food. This process actually helps the body break down the fats and starches in our healthy foods.

    Anti-Cancer: Due to the availability of flavonoids within fruits and vegetables, which also reduce the risk for heart attacks and stroke, herbs can supplement this activity. Onions, rosemary, sage, thyme, chamomile, dandelion, ginkgo, green tea, and milk thistle are some of the herbs that provide flavonoids, all of which help the vitamin C in our diets, to work more efficiently as an antioxidant, cleaning up the free radicals that can cause cancer.

    Tumor Prevention: Herbs contain phytochemicals (phyto = plant, naturally occurring vs. chemically prepared). These are also called terpenoids, which are potent antioxidants that protect our system, which help to inhibit the growth of tumors. Herbs that carry these naturally occurring chemicals are caraway, spearmint, dill, coriander, lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemongrass, chamomile, basil, rosemary, mint, cardamom, celery seed, fennel and peppermint.

    Inflammation: Inflammation is a protective response to injury, damage and illness, which helps to naturally heal and repair. Factors that can lead to inflammation are a result of stressors such as food and chemical sensitivities, pollution, extra physical weight and disease. Inflammation can lead to common diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and various others. Herbs that help fight inflammation include: turmeric, green tea, white willow bark (natural form of aspirin), maritime pine bark, chili peppers (capsaicin), Frankincense (Boswella), black pepper, resveratrol, Cat’s claw, rosemary, cloves, ginger and cinnamon.

    Natural Antiseptics: Antiseptic herbs kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms on the external surfaces of the body. Please note that the same antiseptic purposes are not the same as antibiotics that destroy the microorganisms from within, yet many herbs do provide both benefits, dependent upon how they are used/applied. When applied to wounds and infection, they help to prevent infection. Some of the herbs to consider are: thyme, Aloe Vera, burdock, clove, goldenseal, spikenard, sage, and garlic

    Immune system: Herbs that stimulate the immune system, promote the activity of lymphocytes, which are the type of cells circulating in the body. These invaders (herbs) help to eliminate viruses in our body. Herbs to consider in using are: garlic, onions, Echinacea, rosemary, sage, thyme, chamomile, dandelion, ginkgo, green tea and milk thistle.

    Heart Health: Substances referred to as catechins, are herbs that help to lower the bad cholesterol, helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Herbs to consider: onions, garlic, and green tea. Rosehip tea may also help to reduce the formation of harmful cholesterol.

    Health and Healing: Various health inconveniences can cause one to drive to the nearest pharmacy for the newest product for relief, when often; we can easily incorporate healthier options into our daily lives. An Aloe Vera plant on your windowsill can quickly help with a burn, by preventing blisters. For indigestion, you might already have peppermint or dill in your cabinet of spices. Elderberry tea or syrup from berries (whether fresh or dried) help with colds. Rosemary is a wonderful herb for seasoning food, but it is also great smelling plant and enhances your air quality while helping one sleep, and can improve ones concentration (great to have at your desk area).

    Taking care of oneself while using herbs: When taking herbs, it is equally important to keep your health care providers/specialists in the loop. Herbs can interact with Pharmaceutical medications, resulting in health effects your provider is trying to prevent with their treatment. In addition, some herbs, when used to excess, can be harmful to ones health.

    Other Notes:

    • Allopathic physicians are not specialists in herbal medicine, and they will often remind you of that when you discuss herbal options as an alternate to pharmaceuticals. And just because you desire herbal remedies, it does not negate the fact that physicians and specialists are quite valuable in our overall health. We need them as much as we need to be responsible for choosing to live a healthy life style.
    • Some herbs could cause an allergic response. For myself, sometimes an herb can cause an external response such as a rash with itching, yet when baked/cooked at the right temperature and amount of time, I can consume them. When working with a new herb and I find that I am getting a skin irritation and it is bothersome, I will take that fresh herb to my allergist and have her do a skin test on me, to determine if it is mild or severe. If it is severe, I stay clear of it.
    • Always be aware of what herbs can interfere with necessary medications, or which ones to stop prior to any surgical procedure. Herbs are very powerful plants. And although they are quite beneficial, they can also be quite harmful. Remember, herbs were our first form of medicine, and many pharmaceutical’s were developed by studying these herbs, in order to replicate them in a lab.
    • Some herbs should not be used if you are pregnant, trying to conceive or if you suffer from certain medical complaints.
    • Excessive use of some herbs can be harmful to one’s health.
    • If unsure, consult a professional medical herbalist for more information.

    In summary: Although the list of herbal suggestions in each category is limited, they are examples of herbs that are more widely know by most people. In addition, there are herbs that help in various other health concerns. This is why it is important to obtain solid information, preferably a specialist, before consuming. Also, health food stores are great resources for herbal options, not all health food stores have knowledgeable staff members and none of them know your unique health needs. Remember, you and your physician are the experts in your health and special needs. A retailer, who wants to help, could potentially recommend something that would actually cause harm rather than provide benefits.

    Wishing you health, happiness and balance,

    ~ Laura

    Laura D. Field – Blogger and paid Freelance writer

    Potpourri of Health www.potpourriofhealth.com
    Freelance writer at www.reflectivetapestryoflife.com
    Seamstress consultant at www.davinadawnsewing.com & www.seamstobeme.davinadawnsewing.com

  • Healthy Green Budget

    I was talking with a woman recently who shared that her attempt to regain her health and lose weight was too expensive. I asked her why she felt that way. In sharing, she said that she spent over $140 on fruits and vegetables and ended up wasting most of it due to the produce going bad. She said, “I simply can’t afford to be healthy”. Well, gee, neither could I if I spent that type of money, but I don’t.

    The decision for her to buy all the produce was at the recommendation of a consultant that was teaching her how to eat better, but also selling a plan, an idea, along with other supplements. The plan had her actually purchase all this produce with no real guidance.

    Okay, it is now time to STOP the wheels!! First, it does NOT cost a lot to eat healthy and be healthy. Well, it should not cost $140 for your fruits and vegetables.She was not guided appropriately in “how much” to purchase. When I asked her “why so much?” she shared that her consultant told her what she needed for the week. My goodness!! One simply cannot become healthy if their body is full of stress from financial loss.

    In addition, there are simply way too many MLM’s (multi-level marketing) and other type programs that sucker you in, to simply sell and/or consume their product line, with their greatest healing hype. I’m not saying they are all bad, but if you can’t afford what they are selling you, all on the hopes that you will heal and/or lose weight, then don’t do it.

    Personally, if I were a millionaire, I would still not buy into a product line until after researching and possibly asking my physician their thoughts. Yet, when it comes to the food I consume, I mostly eat the produce I enjoy while occasionally trying something new, or try a new cooking method to enhance the boring or tasteless tastebud memories of something I might not have liked in the past.

    Your best source for nutrition is your physician or a recommended nutritionist. My physicians know that I would rather change my diet a bit vs. consume pharmaceuticals. With that knowledge, they have recommended healthy food options, a supplement or herbal option that can help with the concerning health need.

    Nutrition is definitely about your choice in what you put in your grocery cart as well as what you put into your body on a daily basis. It is a choice. It does not have to rob you of your hard earned resources.

    I only purchase what is in season and what looks fresh in the market. Buying organic is unfortunately not one of our budget options, so I do my best to select quality-looking produce and follow later by washing. NOTE: All produce, whether organic or not, should be washed.

    One thing I have learned is that not all pre-packaged produce is all that great. When I do purchase a pre-packed item, such as spinach and berries, I look it over quite a bit to be sure there is no beginning signs of mold. This happens frequently with berries. With spinach and other leafy type produce, the leaves show wilting and/or dampness. It is not always avoidable, so when you get home, go through and pull out what is not good.

    Do not over purchase. This is where my friend went wrong, and I have done this on occasion in the past as well, when my ambition was greater than my diet would allow. Purchase a variety of leafy greens, preferably not in a package. A few heads of various lettuce, kale, spinach in raw form will actually last quite long. Part of the reason is that leafy greens and other healthy produce fills you faster with the capacity to keep you full longer.

    I mentioned to do your best not to purchase pre-packaged when possible. When I first started purchasing Kale, I purchased that large bag in the grocery store and found that I really did not like it. The flavor was not palatable and too often it contained more of the stalk than the leafy greens. Basically, these were left over bits. I purchased it to make it easier when making smoothies, when in fact it made it more work, as I had to weed through the bad, sometimes throwing out half of what I purchased. When I switched over to purchasing it in its natural form, a stalk, I had more leaves for far less money. I discovered that this option was much more flavorful while enhancing the taste of my salads and less frustrating with smoothies.

    The best advice I can give, purchase quality fruit and vegetables, and only purchase what you will consume before it spoils. There is always a risk of spoilage, yet purchasing in reasonable quantities that can be consumed will reduce waste. Until you get a grasp on how long something will last and what can be frozen, it is healthier for you and your pocket to return to the store for fresh replacements.

    One last bit of advice: There are some things I do purchase in bulk, and mostly when it is sold at a great price, as these items can be frozen, such as banana’s, berries, and apples. I use the bananas and berries for winter smoothies. Berries can be used by the handful on your cereal as well as in morning muffins. Depending on how many you might have picked at the farm, you can also make jams and jellies even after being frozen. Apples can later be used to make applesauce, and my husbands favorite, is to put together the makings of an apple pie filling with all my seasonings and freeze, so that his favorite pie can be easily made anytime after the apple-picking season is over.

    Laura – Blogger and paid Freelance writer

    Potpourri of Health www.potpourriofhealth.com
    Freelance writer at www.reflectivetapestryoflife.com
    Seamstress consultant at www.davinadawnsewing.com

  • What Is Up With Gummy Supplements?

    What Is Up With Gummy Supplements?

    By Laura D. Field – July 27, 2015

    The other day while walking through the store, searching for a supplement I take which I normally purchase online, I was completely shocked over the number of available “gummy” type vitamins that are now available and for all ages. The aisle on one side was full of various gummy supplements, and not just a multivitamin for children or the calcium chews for women. My first thought was the effect it can have on ones teeth. My second thought was whether these supplements provided an individual enough nutrition to make it worth the sugar that would be in these delectable treats.

    Those who provide these to their children, elderly parents, or even take them themselves might be offended by my use of “delectable treats”, although my intent is not to insult. My point is that when we make nutrition all about the “sweetness” and not about actual nutrition, we might be getting away from why supplements are even available. Sometimes we over compensate by being “safe” in taking a multi-vitamin “just in case” we are not getting sufficient nutrition through the foods we consume.

    Eating healthy with plenty of vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, etc., is in reality the best medicine we can provide for our bodies. Teaching our children to enjoy these foods at a young age, will allow them to enjoy what naturally is available to us, and not under the guise of supplements. We must remember that supplements are also a medicine, which can affect how your physician might treat you and your children when one is ill.

    Children are influenced, at a very early age, as to their choice in foods. If they are presented with sugary substitutes, they will continue to crave them. When their diets are balanced with a variety of natural flavors and textures, they will be drawn to them as they grow as a preferred food source.

    In all transparency, I do take natural supplements, but I do not consume gummy brands, as I do not feel I need to complement a supplement with sugar to “make the medicine go down”. I once did take a multivitamin, and although it was natural, I stopped taking it because I knew that I was eating healthy and getting the bulk of my nutrition through the foods I chose to eat. After I was off that multi-vitamin for a month, and noticed no change in my health or how I felt, I realized that there was no need to continue with it. That was when I also stopped taking other supplements, and as long as my annual blood work comes back normal and I feel healthy, then I do not feel I need to return to consuming them. There are very few supplements I take, such as Vitamin C, E, D3, B12, and Fish Oil with a few specialty supplements, all of which were suggested by my physician, that I take due to health needs.

    I do realize that some supplements that one might need, such as calcium, are quite large, while chewing on a tasty supplement is a bit more palatable, there are other options that might help to acquire this nutritional need such as: leafy greens, seafood, legumes, and fruit.  In addition, I do realize that some have health conditions that make it difficult for a person to swallow any size pill and/or unable to consume certain foods, so supplement drinks or chewable supplements make it easier for those patients.

    If one finds that they need to supplement, and decide that the gummy formula’s to be preferable, it might be wise to consider reading the labels and viewing the label to educate yourself on what is added for sugar content, preservatives, artificial colorings and flavors, in order for the pleasing taste you acquire by consuming them.

    In order to not pick on any one particular supplement brand, I do recommend that one look at the ingredient list. If the first ingredient consists of corn syrup followed by sugar, then you might want to reconsider why you would even consider consuming that product or giving it to your child. These are common ingredients within the gummy supplements. And if one is confortable in consuming these products, one should be sure to brush their teeth after, as the sticky, sugar residue will aid in the need for additional dental visits. Also, excess sugar, even in small doses, can have an impact for other and/or additional health complications.

    Be sure that what you are supplementing your body with, is in fact what your body needs. Since supplements are sold over the counter, they are basically safe given the dosage amounts that are recommended, but the danger comes in when the flavor tastes like candy, that one can easily overdose, such as with a child who sees them as a treat (if you give them after breakfast like you would dessert). They can also be dangerous if you are taking them to self-treat an illness. In addition, taking supplements do not guarantee protection for disease or illness. They are meant as a supplement vs. a substitute for ones nutritional needs.

    Be safe, be healthy, and eat your veggies.

    Laura – Blogger and paid Freelance writer

    Potpourri of Health www.potpourriofhealth.com
    Freelance writer at www.reflectivetapestryoflife.com
    Seamstress consultant at www.davinadawnsewing.com


    • http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09338.html
    • http://www.forbes.com/sites/marijkevroomendurning/2013/09/12/medicine-or-treats-gummy-vitamins-and-chocolate-calcium-chews-blur-the-line-2/

  • Water – Nature’s Health Drink


    Water – Nature’s Health Drink

    By Laura D. Field ~ Jun 17, 2015

    The first beverage that I consume in the morning, then throughout the day, is filtered water. Although I love the smell, I am not a coffee drinker, nor do I drink a large glass of orange juice to start my day. Coffee and other common sources of thirst quenchers cannot substitute the value to which water provides our body. One benefit of drinking a fresh glass of water upon waking, is that it will help to normalize our blood pressure and prepare our stomach for the food we will begin to ingest for the day.

    Although I personally am an advocate for healthy living, I also believe that people need to enjoy life in order to be completely fulfilled, so I do not critique those who “must” have that first cup of coffee in the morning, or their orange juice with their early morning breakfast.

    One thing that many overlook though, is that coffee, tea, fruit juice and soda are not water substitutes, as they do not provide the healthy hydration balance our bodies need. The reason is that these beverages have a great deal of sugar and salt that gets absorbed and later flushed out. Theses substances are addictive and the cause of weight gain, heart issues, along with many other health concerns while not hydrating ones body well.

    Water has many benefits that are often overlooked. The values of hydrating our body with water can benefit our need for energy, normal blood pressure levels, skin elasticity, digestive health, and joint flexibility, along with various other health benefits. Some obvious signs of healthy hydration includes a reduction in headaches, irritability, impaired concentration and fatigue, along with healthy and glowing skin, which hydrates your body from the inside out, maintaining ones skin elasticity.

    Since our bodies are made of approximately 60-70% water it needs to be replenished throughout the day as it creates the necessary environment to which it sustains life. Throughout the day, the body’s physical processes use up our storage of water through breathing, digestion, and muscle movement. Without replenishing this important element, our bodies begin to show signs of dehydration through various symptoms.

    Dehydration, although not the only cause, can lead to an increased risk for obesity. As mentioned previously, many use sugar filled beverages to replenish their need for water within their body. This substitution does not provide the healthy benefits that are necessary for hydration and body metabolism. Simply deciding to drink two 8 oz glasses of water before breakfast, before lunch and dinner, can have a positive effect on ones weight, as it provides a “full-feeling” which helps to prevent the craving for the sugaring substitutes. As we change our drinking habits to include 6-8 glasses of water a day (more if you are physically active) our metabolism will speed up, allowing one to feel full, resulting in our necessary physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

    Signs of dehydration:

    • Headache: as your body uses up the water and essential mineral salts (sodium and potassium), your blood volume drops and reduced oxygen flow to the brain, creating a headache.
    • Constipation: Although there are various causes for constipation-related issues, drinking sufficient amounts of water will add the necessary fluid for the waste and toxins to move efficiently through the colon, which can help in the prevention of constipation issues.
    • Sudden Lightheadedness when getting up quickly, as the lack of water reduces the blood volume and blood pressure to drop, resulting in dizziness.
    • Hunger: Even knowing that you ate plenty, when your body continues to crave food, it is a sign of dehydration. More so if you have eaten sufficient food amounts and crave fruit and other water-based foods.
    • Extra Yellow Urine: Dark urine is often the result of your waste not flushing efficiently due to insufficient water intake. Drink some water and you will then notice that your urine will become more clear.
    • Fatigue: If not related to disease, insufficient water intake can cause one to feel tired throughout the day. Without sufficient water, your blood pressure drops, reducing the amount of oxygen your body needs for muscle and nerve function, reducing our energy stores.
    • Insufficient Sweat: During exercise or physical work, our bodies begin to sweat due to the water within our body. This is a positive response to our system working well in providing a cooling mechanism to cool down. Yet, if your body does not sweat, it is a sign that you are dehydrated, which can cause one to quickly overheat.
    • Dry Mouth: Some medications can cause one to have excessive thirst, but under normal health conditions, a dry mouth is a reminder to grab a glass of water to replenish your water stores.
    • Muscle Cramps: These cramps can be quite painful. When ones electrolyte and water balance is off, muscle contractions occur. Keeping hydrated allows your body to repair itself and prevent the spasms. Yet, it is still essential to drink plenty of water when exercising or doing physically demanding work.
    • Sagging Skin: A sure tell-tale sign that you are dehydrated is when you pinch the skin on your hand, and you see that it does not quickly bounce back to its normal position. I can tell if I’m dehydrated by looking at my hands. When I am plenty hydrated, my hands look smooth, yet when I am dehydrated, my hands look a little wrinkled.

    Facts about water and human life:

    • The human body is made up of approximately 60-70% water
    • The blood that flows through our system is approximately 92% water
    • The brain and muscles combined are made up of 75% water
    • Bones contain about 22% water

    With those facts, it is evident that our immune system and ability to function depends greatly on healthy water consumption to replenish our water stores. Although one can go without food for about a month, survival of the human body can only sustain itself for approximately a week without proper drinking water.

    To keep our hearts healthy it is essential to keep our body hydrated. As our bodies become dehydrated, the blood becomes thick, causing blood flow restriction, which results in ones blood pressure becoming elevated (high blood pressure) as well as raise ones blood cholesterol. As plaque builds within the arteries, the supply of oxygen-rich blood to reach your heart is diminished, as it narrows its pathway, reducing the blood flow to the heart muscle. High blood pressure and cholesterol are the body’s response as it tries to prevent water loss from the cells, which can further increase ones risk of coronary heart disease.

    “Being overweight or obese isn’t a cosmetic problem. These conditions greatly raise your risk for other health problems.” (HIM, 2015) This is not to insult those who do not have an “ideal” waistline, as there are many body types that prevent some from having that hour-glass form. But, what this does imply is that ones body mass index (BMI) can potentially have an impact on ones risk for heart disease and other health related diseases. 

    Of course there is no promise that simply adding 8 glasses of water to your daily diet will cause one to lose weight, but combined with a healthy lifestyle of choosing exercise over the couch, using water to replace soda’s and other high sugar drinks, along with healthy foods and portion control, one can certainly make a difference in ones overall weight and health. I know that this can be done from personal experience.

    So many are opting for the expensive detox plans, as a method to jumpstart weight loss or improve ones internal body functions. Did you realize that by drinking plain, filtered water will naturally help remove the toxins out through the lymphatic system, intestines and kidneys, reducing the need for this type of unnecessary and dangerous treatment? Eating healthy, whole foods with sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables along with a healthy amount of water, will provide your body the natural means of detoxing without the dangerous side effects that the detox programs have.

    Do you decide on tap water, bottled water, or filtered water? Personally I find filtering my water to be the most economical, with bottled water as my 2nd option. I used to enjoy well water, but it has been a long time since I have had access to that source of hydration. The idea of drinking water, without all the sugar, chemicals and additives, is to replace what we use in making our bodies function well. Our bodies were not designed to be super-charged with sugar and additives.

    If you are not one to enjoy plain water, consider adding sliced lemon, cucumbers, limes or in combination to your water. Another option might be to take a fresh orange and squeeze the juice into your water for natural flavoring. Sure it has sugar, but natural sugar from fruit is far healthier than unnatural sources. Powder options that I have found to be free of sugar and artificial sweeteners, are electrolyte replenishers that you can add to your water are either Ultima and Vitalyte. You can purchase these in individual packets for hiking, camping, fishing and bike riding, with the most economical option of purchasing in their containers with serving size scoops you add to your water.

    Be cautious of energy drinks and Gatorade products which are made with artificial colors and flavorings. Basically if it is made by the companies who manufacture carbonated soda’s, you will find that their energy drinks contain substances that are not healthy for regaining a hydration balance.

    Stay healthy, stay hydrated….

    Laura – Blogger and paid Freelance writer

    NOTE: I am not recommending the Ultima or Vitalyte products due to any form of compensation, but rather as a result of personal research, use and satisfaction.




  • Potpourri of Health – The Journey


    How I decided on Potpourri of Health as a blog title took some time. I wanted to create a place where I could share what I have learned in my life travels as a mom, a wife and as a woman, as well as the new things I’m learning every day about retaining health. I also wanted a place to incorporate healthy recipes that taste great, share my experience with essential oils and other alternate and holistic approaches to health. In addition provide resources where applicable.

    I begin this journey with a passion to see others find complete wellness as their priority. This not only means a healthy lifestyle of food choices and exercise, but also that of being transparent and kind to others.

    Enjoy and be healthy