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  • How One Can Use Herbs

    How One Can Use Herbs

    By Laura D. Field of Potpourri of Health ~ Jan 08, 2018

    As I continue my journey in life, I find myself grateful for how the earth can provide for our overall health. Not only through the foods that we can grow, but also the herbs in which can be grown in our gardens and  found through foraging. In addition to what is close at hand in our own communities, we have the availability of sources globally to add balance.

    We can certainly acquire many herbs and spices in the baking aisle of our local supermarket, but what many sometimes forget is that the produce aisle have some of the same herbs, yet fresh and ready to be used.

    But the question still remains by the novice, is “How does one use herbs other than for seasoning our food?”

    There is a vast number of herbs available for consumption and medicinal use. If you are seeking to use herbs beyond flavoring your evening meal, please honor your time, and start slow. There is so much to learn, yet exciting when you realize what a positive impact it will have on your overall health and wellbeing. Since everyone’s body chemistry is different, understanding that what one person might need to improve their health, might not be required for another.

    Herbalism is based on the use of plants and plant extracts, known as traditional medicine or folk medicine. It is not witch craft, but rather an understanding of how our earth is able to feed and heal our bodies.

    Other names one might hear when discussing or researching herbal medicine are: H. In essence, they all mean the same, in that they are the study of how herbal plants and their extracts can be used to help heal disease and maintain ones health, while providing a therapeutic benefit. In addition to plants, herbalism is sometimes extended to the use of fungi (mushrooms), bee products, minerals and shells.

    Methods in which one can use herbs

    SEASONING:

    Seasoning is a common use of herbs that are added to our foods to provide a more intense flavor. Of course there are seasoning blends on the market, but utilizing fresh herbs in our cooking, actually provides more flavor while needing less. One can add sprigs, leaves and powders into our cooking. One can also create some very flavorful oils to be used as a dressing or in other forms of cooking.

    TEAS:

    Herbal teas can be found beyond the local natural food store and into our local supermarkets. In addition, there are many brands. Knowing the brand is important, because not every manufacturer practices safe processing of their herbs and packaging while some add fillers.

    My preference is to make my own. All one needs beyond steeping the fresh herbs, are dried herbs using either paper or muslin tea bags or tea strainers which come in a variety of styles. The muslin bags and strainers are reusable, where as the paper tea bags are able to be composted along with the spent herb. Some people will steep their herbs without a bag or strainer. This is dependent upon one’s personal preference and perfectly acceptable.

    The fun part of making your own tea, is that you can go in your back yard and pick fresh, or select from the dried herbs you have already harvested, and create your own blend for your specific requirements. My morning tea consists of thyme, oregano, lemon balm and rosemary. A very light flavor, providing anti-viral and anti-bacterial benefits for my particular needs, and when I am in the mood for a little sweetness, I will add a fresh or dried stevia leaf.

    To make tea involves steeping or cooking the herbs. The most common is steeping for 5 – 20 minutes, depending on your desire or what many packages of tea might recommend. I tend to steep my herbs for 20 minutes. Another method is to put the herbs in a pot with water and cook for 5 – 20 minutes then strain to consume the liquid. I also make a herbal blend that benefits bladder health, where I infuse the herbs in water, bring to a boil, then let sit for 6 hours, to which I later strain, bottle, and refrigerate to consume over a couple of days.

    The advantage of consuming herbs as teas, is that their benefits are quickly absorbed by the body, with the potential of immediate or quick results. For long-term benefits, consuming tea for medicinal purposes and/or health benefits, one may need to consume the tea several times a day, over a period of time.

    The disadvantage is that some teas can have a very strong taste and sometimes a strong odor, which for those needing to acquire some needed medicinal benefits from they herbs, they can add stevia or local honey to make it more palatable.

    TINCTURES:

    Tinctures are the result of when the active components of the herb are extracted when mixed with alcohol, water and sometimes with food grade glycerin. Since tinctures are concentrated, only a small amount is necessary, which makes it much easier to store and travel with, while only needing a small amount. Because of their concentration, be mindful of how much is safe to use, and always start out conservatively. Such as, if the recommendation is 10 drops per dose, start with 2 drops. This will give you an idea of how your body responds, and if positive or no noticeable change, increase slowly until you reach the recommended dose.

    Tinctures are easily accessible at local health food stores, some drug stores and via online retailers. Tinctures can also be available through your local holistic provider and also in home apothecary settings where one understands how to make them.

    POWDERS:

    Raw powders can be made by grounding dried herbs. There is no additional process beyond grinding it into a powder. This provides the benefit of obtaining the complete herb. It is best to use as fresh as possible, and approximately used within six months. Since I harvest in the fall, it is about 6-8 months before I begin consuming the fresh herbs that are beginning to grow in my garden.

    I love that powders are cost-effective and can be easily used in smoothies, stews, homemade salad dressings, and for some, making their own supplements.

    In addition to harvesting and drying your own herbs, one can find powder herbs at local health food stores, vitamin stores as well as online retailers.

    CAPSULES & TABLETS:

    Some find it unpalatable to consume herbs through teas, tinctures, etc., and prefer to take their herbal supplements either as a capsule or in a pill form. In addition, due to the availability of vegan capsules, consumers are able to make their own herbal capsules when concerned about additional additives that one might discover from those who mass produce.

    Some herbal remedies in this formulation, are sometimes recommended by your physician. Due to the opioid epidemic, more physicians are now understanding how valuable using turmeric, cumin, and black pepper for pain can be. In addition, when a physician finds he/she has a patient who deals with chronic UTI’s, they will often recommend that they take D-Mannose vs. the constant need for repeat antibiotic usage.

    In addition to herbal capsules being used for many illnesses, they can also be taken safely over a long period of time for chronic conditions.

    It is important to understand, that with pills you will not see the noticeable results immediately as one would with the fresh or dried herb. The cost, depending on manufacturer and availability, can vary. They do store well.
    Please be aware that not all formula’s are of equal value, as there are great imitators that might not have the medicinal value you are seeking, since they could contain additional ingredients that might prove ineffective for your personal needs. .

    LOTIONS & SALVES:

    Skin lotions, creams, and salves are topical formulas used externally. These are excellent for calming down inflammation and easing music pain. Some examples are that of: Calendula is often used to help heal wounds, and comfrey or arnica applied as a cream are used for bruises.

    Herbal creams and salves are readily available. Please choose a good quality brand with the appropriate amounts of active herbs to do their job. Although the process of making them oneself might prove to be a bit challenging, it is something that can be done.

    If unable to make yourself, you might discover purchasing directly from a reputable health shop, herbalist or naturopathic physician which might give you the confidence in knowing what is in your product purchase.

    WASHES, COMPRESSES & POULTICES:

    Infusion of herbs, made into a decoction can be applied to the skin as a wash. These are not taken internally, but rather applied directly to a specific area, or added to a hot bath for a whole-body benefit.

    In addition to an infusion made into a decoction, these infusions can be made into a useful compress. This is achieved by soaking a cloth into the herbal infusion then placing the compress on the affected part of the body. These are used to help heal wounds or skin rashes.

    Poultices use the whole herb versus the liquid infusion to help ease irritated or inflamed skin. The herbs are mixed with a moistening agent such as honey or an egg, which is mixed with the herbs and spread on the cloth, then applied to the affected area for several hours. If needing to move about, or use overnight, wrap with a self-adhesive ace bandage to keep in place.

    ADDED NOTES:

    • Be aware, that herbs are nature’s gift for our health. They should be respected and not consumed in excess.
    • Similar to that of pharmaceutical prescriptions, supplements and herbal preparations. can have a negative effect on one’s health if consumed in excess.
    • Herbal remedies can interfere with any pharmaceutical medications one might be taking. Be sure to discuss this concern with your physician if you decide you will be supplementing with herbs. In some cases herbs can increase the effects your prescribed medications. If you take both an herb and pharmaceutical to reduce your blood pressure, you risk the potential that your blood pressure could go dangerously low. Often, your physician will want to monitor your progress as you move forward.
    • There are some herbs in which one should not take for more than a short period of time.
    • Even when your physician supports your use of herbs to benefit your medicinal needs, it is vitality important to consider trying one herb at a time. This allows one to discover how each herb affects you. If you have an allergy, it can show up immediately or within a few days or within a few weeks.

    Wishing you health, happiness and life 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

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  • Lyme Disease and Treatment

    freedom from illness

    Lyme Disease and Treatment

    By Laura D. Field of Potpourri of Health – May 4, 2016

    By now, you have heard about Lyme disease, yet might be confused about all the various treatments of the disease. The reason for the variation in how it is treated, along with the confusion of why there are so many methods. Lyme disease itself is a conglomerate of multiple bacterial bugs that drill themselves into hiding, while multiplying and changing as they become accustom to the host (the person or animal who is infected). To treat Lyme disease, the physician needs to truly understand the chemical and biological changes that the person has endured. This is not an easy task, as each person is different, as is their immune system, physical health, unknown longevity of the disease, and what symptoms they are experiencing.

    You might not even realize you have Lyme disease, yet if you have an infection (not Lyme related, such as a UTI) in which your physician prescribes a short course antibiotic for, the Lyme bacteria responds to that treatment in an effort to protect itself from being killed off. Sure, you might have resolved the infection for which you were being treated for; yet, you have also created a whirlwind within, similar to that of a bee hive being disrupted, as the spirochetes are also being ambushed by the antibiotics. They are literally not happy and will respond in kind, resulting in symptoms you least expected.

    Other things that can disrupt the hidden cycle of spirochetes are that of herbals and oils that might have an anti-microbial and antibiotic component to them. Surgeries can disrupt their nesting, as can steroids. It is not to say these positive health options should be avoided when needed, but in my situation, it was as if a fire pit was stirred resulting in a very different response to healing than I once experienced.

    I personally believe, with the guidance of my LLMD along with my research and medical knowledge, that the bacteria caused by the ticks and other forms of invasion into our bodies, we need antibiotics to kill the bugs that mass produce, which create co-infections that affect ones quality of life. For some individuals a short-lived antibiotic course of treatment is appropriate, yet for others, it is the complete opposite.

    Lyme Disease is simply a horrible and life changing disease. It affects everyone differently, regardless of how healthy you might consider yourself to be. You can have a great immune system, yet the moment your system in compromised, the lovely little spirochetes come out of hiding and begin attacking. Where once you had energy and strength, you discover the life altering weakness that becomes a part of your life.

    I personally support both antibiotic and herbal tinctures for treating Lyme disease. I also believe that herbals and essential oils, along with exercise and a clean diet play an intricate part in everyday health and in supporting our overall health and any life altering symptoms. For myself, to date, I have had 17 months of antibiotic treatment. Around 6 months in, I started adding additional essential oils to help with some symptoms, and more recently some herbal tinctures combined with antibiotic care. All of this has been done with physician support along with his knowledge of what I was doing, although not all prescribed.

    Fortunately for me, I have a fabulous LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) who has first hand knowledge of this disease and what it can do to a person. It creeps up on you, and all of a sudden you are wondering what the hell ever happened to your vitality of life. The symptoms vary from person to person, with various levels of tolerance. For most, it simply wipes you out and causes extreme pain, weakness, and chronic fatigue, along with a vast variety of other symptoms.

    My list was endless, causing me extreme frustration. My primary care provider and other specialists she sent me to, had me endure various tests with no “real” answers, proving that I was completely healthy, while making me feel as though I was wasting my time looking for answers. The best that they could do was to prescribe pain meds along and other medications (“let’s try this to see if this helps”), yet I refused to take a pharmaceutical remedy without having an answer, so I was seen as a non-compliant patient.

    I finally gave up and accepted that this was my life while accepting that I was simply getting old. I contributed my joint pain to the osteoarthritis and some tears, while the other symptoms I simply could not understand.

    While I was visiting my specialist for another reason, he noticed all the tests that were done on my medical record and asked about my symptoms. As I shared my extensive list of symptoms, he patiently listened and knew what was going on, yet needed for me to confirm his suspicion. I did the IGenix test (very different from the generic test done at the hospitals), which cost me $200 out of pocket with no insurance reimbursement. Within a few weeks the answer arrived guiding my LLMD to choose which treatment I should start on. When my LLMD finally diagnosed me with Chronic Persistent Lyme Disease (an estimate of over 8 years of being undiagnosed with compounding symptoms while the spirochetes multiplied, causing the symptoms to intensify), I was ecstatic. “Finally!! An answer!!” yet this excited relief only lasted for a day. I read the recommended books and literature. The defeat I felt left me crying for days, which was quite unusual for me.

    As I returned to my LLMD to discuss treatment options, I literally cried. I was extremely fatigued, my body was in constant pain and weak, the brain fog was beyond comprehension, my equilibrium was off, and my body felt as though I was being eaten from the inside out. I honestly felt like I was dying. The reality of what was happening to my energy, strength and focus in life turned to frustrating anger. I was literally ticked off.

    Despite the challenges that faced me, I saw that I was quite fortunate in having a LLMD willing to guide me (who told me that I was NOT old), along with a husband who has been supportive beyond what many others experience. I also have the personal drive to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which meant healthy clean living along with daily exercise, regardless of my energy levels continued to be essential.

    Not only is Lyme disease controversial, so are the treatment options. Some support the antibiotic approach of killing off the many bugs that continually multiply; some choose strictly herbals, tinctures and/or essential oils. Personally, despite the controversy, I believe that antibiotics have their place and serve patients best, then as the course of treatment continues and symptoms improve, add in herbals and tinctures.

    In all honesty, I fought using antibiotics and whole heartedly wanted to be treated completely holistically, yet I also knew how sick I had become and I wanted to be well, so I listened intently to what my LLMD shared. With medical courses and healthcare work behind me, what he shared made complete sense to me, although I was apprehensive in supporting Big Pharma with their overpriced options that produced allergic responses and horrible side effects.

    I am currently now pulsing with antibiotics combined with herbal tinctures. In addition I use LLMD supported supplements, with my ability to use the essential oils I see fit. I continue daily detox baths, and my husband provides daily massages each evening to reduce the pain elements of this disease. So far things are going “okay” with pulsing. The non-stop ear ringing, headaches, and a few other symptoms are returning, which I have experienced as a result of when we change treatment. I have also learned to ride the roller coaster of Lyme disease with grace, although there are days that have proven to be a little more challenging than others. Those are the days I look at my husband and ask him “Am I a little cranky today?” I love his honesty in sharing that maybe it is more than “a little” yet he never complains. He has shared that he can always tell when the disease is taking over, as it affects my response to circumstances that would otherwise not bother me.

    When out and about, no one really knows you are ill, hence the “invisible illness” label. You make light of your disease, because if you are asked to explain, it would not only be exhausting for yourself, but others would begin to seek the nearest exit sign. Most of those who become ill, and have enjoyed a life of self-sufficiency and pride, are not seeking sympathy or attention, and desire to be a full participant at work and social events. Their pride causes them to hide from the shame that society has cast on those who are weak. Those with Lyme disease simply want to be understood, helped without making them feel inadequate, and enjoy conversations that do not revolve around their disease.

    My pride was shattered, something I continue to struggle with, resulting in my going to my appointments trying to be positive and not really sharing “everything”. It was my way of trying to overcome a negative with a positive. Yet the day my LLMD noticed the tremors in my hands, he reminded me that in order for him to help, I had to be totally honest with him in reference to my symptoms.

    This is the reason that treatments vary from patient to patient. It is essential for one to have a LLMD or LLND who takes the time to listen while observing what is physically happening during ones appointment time, as well as pertinent questions. By their ability to show compassion with great listening skills, they can then analyze and decide which co-infection to go after in ones course of treatment.

    Lyme Disease really sucks!! The bad days make you feel defeated, yet the good days make one feel like they can conquer this twisting mountain. Eventually, you adapt to the roller-coaster ride of healing, and create the internal determination that you will get through this. But more importantly, you discover how vitally important it is to be caring and loving to oneself. If your body requires a nap, you make time for that nap. If you need a break in life, you take that break. Eventually you find that peaceful balance that is required for healing.

    I have no idea why God has allowed my body to go through this challenge. But I do believe His purpose will eventually be revealed.

    “May compassion be your strength and love be your sword” – Laura D. Field

    Laura – Blogger and paid Freelance writer

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