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Spring Allergies

Seems like much of the country is experiencing a warm end of March. We’re at least a month ahead where I live. This warmth means earlier blooming, and allergies may be starting sooner….sigh. Here’s some helpful advice:

10 Foods That Fight Spring Allergies

The Daily Fix Newsletter
Is it a Virus or Allergies?
Should You Bother With Neti Pots?

Itchy eyes and runny noses—already? It’s true! Spring allergy season started historically early this year—during winter—rearing its ugly head in early February. Allergists and climate scientists have long warned that allergy seasons are going to be longer and more intense, so now is the perfect time to stock up on the top symptom-relieving foods, including citrus-rich foods and potent allergy-annihilating herbs. Stock up on stinging nettle and these other 9 allergy-fighting powerhouse foods

The Top 5 Allergy Fighters You’re Not Considering

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Cold and Flu Prevention For Kids (of all ages)

When I went to look at my stats for this blog, especially what folks were searching for, I found cold and flu prevention for kids…and I thought, oh good, now I know what I’m blogging about!

First: limit sugar as much as humanly possible. Why? (other than we all know it’s not good for us, empty calories, mood swings, etc.) Because the nasty micro-organisms LOVE sugar, and our immune systems are compromised almost immediately after consuming sugar, and can take hours to rebound back to their robust selves….

Second: everyone needs to sleep WAY MORE than they realize, and children especially need sleep to be regular: same time every night; a dark room if possible (night lights may help anxiety, but if your child is a poor sleeper it may be too much light in the room); bedtime stories really work (for adults, too), and leave plenty of time to brush teeth, etc. so family members aren’t unduly stressed before bedtime.

Third: for children who get frequent ear infections, there is good research showing that prophylactic use of xylitol based nose sprays help prevent ear infections by destroying bacterial cell walls. Iris Herbal’s Mullein Garlic Oil really helps clear infection if used at the first sign of ear infection. Many folks (parents for their children, and adults for themselves) have found this combo safe, easy and effective. Mullein oil (made by infusing mullein flowers in olive oil) and garlic essential oil (a very strong anti-bacterial oil) together are quite potent; just don’t use if the eardrum is perforated.

Fourth: WASH YOUR HANDS, often. Before meals, after the bathroom, after blowing one’s nose, after being in a public space where folks are coughing and sneezing. Teaching children the hand washing habit really helps because kids touch their faces a lot (well, so do adults, but we’ve often curbed some of those tendencies…), and hands deliver germs to the eyes, ears, and mouth.

Fifth: in one of the latest AARP newsletters, a very simple remedy was mentioned: gargling! Although young children may not be able to do that yet, anyone of any age who can: do so several times a day with warm water. It really lessons the number of time folks get sick.

and Sixth: take a supplement to increase immunity. Some folks swear by Echinacea and/or Elder berry at the first signs or if exposed. Some people are helped by herbal immune adaptogens like Astragalus, Bacopa, Eleuthero, and/or Spikenard. But often children don’t like the taste. So I recommend a supplement called Epicor (easily found on the web) which really does have good science (and my clients’ experience) to back it up. You can order this from me through my supplement buying club, whose next order is this coming Monday morning (and happens every month around the 15th). Just call (toll-free 877-286-2970) or email (irisherbal@yahoo.com) me this weekend and I can order you either adult strength or kid strength at a more affordable price that just about anywhere on the web.

pS: it’s also good to drink water…and if plain water is too boring, then add the juice of lemon or lime: tasty and helpful both!

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The Ayurvedic Herb Ashwagandha: a Boon for Boomers Seeking Increased Immunity

Last night I listened to a webinar on an intro to Ayurvedic (Indian) herbology, and several of their most important herbs for general tonification and building strong immunity. The take home message is this: Ayurveda is an ancient system based upon energetics. Those include the taste (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent) of a herb, its “element (combinations of water, fire earth, air and ether),” the heating or cooling aspect of a herb both as it enters the body and post-digestion, and an herb’s “psychology,” what it helps contribute to our healing.

Ashwagandha is one of the few “tri-doshic” herbs, meaning it is good for any constitution. No worries about trying to figure out what we are in a system that is complex. It is useful both day and evening. It is a tonic herb that is easy to digest, and is good for all ages, but especially for those of us realizing we are aging! An adaptogenic  nervine tonic, ashwagandha assists us in handling stress, building immunity and strengthening our respiratory system. For general debility, aging issues, arthritis, and trouble sleeping, we can take this herb as a tea, tincture, in hot milk, or as a powder/capsule. A delicious sounding suggestion was to drink it in warm milk with cinnamon or nutmeg an hour before bed, or first thing in the morning before breakfast.

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How Drought/Floods Are Affecting Food and Herbs

My intern, Irma, and I went for a walk yesterday. Where there were once lush wild grasses, a few naturalized yellow dock and milkweed plants, was now totally dry and crunchy underfoot. Dead cottonwoods, barely alive junipers (what everyone persists in calling cedar), and the saddest looking native chamisa and sagebrush…only the prickly pear cactus looked healthy, though small. This is drought in a high desert: the ground has NO moisture. Deer, rabbits, and all the smaller rodents are eating garden plants and flowers down to the ground. Many folks can’t keep their gardens watered enough…and even with drip irrigation the plants don’t get the nitrogen from rainwater, and hot dry winds desiccate the leaves. Our National Forests are closed because you could literally start a forest fire by holding a cigarette to a tree needle.

Meanwhile, in Europe around the Mediterranean, it has hardly stopped raining. I’m expecting essential oils from Armenia, and the distilling date just keeps being pushed forward. Whether the weather disturbances are totally caused by global warming (what I often call climate change) or a combination of various natural patterns  exacerbated by changes such as the increase of temperature and acidity of seawater, we can’t say with 100 % assurance….and yet, as I read the weather news, and talk to customers all over the continental US, everyone is reporting weird and unseasonable and record-breaking weather.

That fact means the farmers are having a harder time growing everything: vegetables, grains, fruits, herbs, flowers. First and last frost dates are changing. Warmer and wetter areas are getting warmer and wetter; drier and colder areas are getting drier…but not necessarily colder. Birds are changing where and when they arrive….and this can affect pollination just as surely as bee colony collapse or the white nose fungal disease is decimating bats.

We are living in a volatile time of change, and having adequate stores of dried food, herbs (especially tinctures that have a good shelf life) and drinking water is a good idea. If flood water can overrun a nuclear plant, if larger and more destructive tornadoes are showing up in places where tornadoes have historically been rare, emergency preparedness is not just a Girl Scout / Boy Scout slogan. Food prices and herb prices are already increasing due to shortages caused by weather disruptions ( late planting and late frosts), insect damage, higher fuel prices, and changing dietary patterns worldwide.

The social scientists have had a field day talking to each other about why the average person is having such a hard time wrapping their head around global climate change and its consequences. It’s not an easy or pretty picture. Those of us who farm, or work with plants, or bird watch: we are seeing the changes. it is not theoretical. As consumers, we can affect national policy and corporate policy primarily through how and where we spend our money. Supporting local agriculture, herbalists, and companies who are green in deed and not just spin is a worthwhile endeavor. So is bugging the hell out of all your Congresspeople.

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“Oximation:” a new concept that helps explain chronic disease

This blog is a synopsis (with some editorializing added) of Roby Mitchell, MD’s article “Hypothyroidism, Candida & “Oximation:” Toward a New Model of Chronic Disease” from the Winter 2008 issue of Holistic Primary Care. I found it fascinating, especially the artful way of combining disparate pieces of info into a holistic picture. As we age, we often see a variety of doctors/health care practitioners, have a variety of “diseases”, complaints, problems….what if they were all connected?

Inflammation is a common denominator of many degenerative and auto-immune diseases (partial list: diabetes, most cancers, hypertension, irritable bowel, allergies, eczema, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis…even obesity and autism). There is an apparent confluence of  chronic Candida/yeast overgrowth, hypothyroidism, and metabolic dysregulation creating various inflammation-related problems that many of us deal with, either in a low-level form or as a major impingement on our enjoyment of life.

There is cause to believe that microbial pathogens drive chronic inflammatory diseases…and our laser beam focus on bacteria and viruses has blinded us to the possibility of fungal overgrowth in our system (and all the antibiotics that are prescribed usually result in fungal overgrowth as they kill the “good” bacteria along with the “bad”).

The most powerful disease intervention at our disposal is our diet (and I would add herbs, as they can be both food and medicine). Regardless of the inflammatory disease state, there is almost always a positive impact when cow’s milk (especially pasteurized agribusiness dairy), red meat (especially corn-fed feedlot cows), grains (especially wheat, and other gluten-types, and even more so in bread), and sugar are reduced/eliminated. When this is combined with increasing intake of colorful vegetables, beans, and fruits, which just happen to be loaded with phytochemicals that are anti-fungal, well you can see where this is headed: starve the fungus and you reduce inflammation, and all sorts of problems can get better.

The connection between oxidation and degenerative disease goes back to the 1950’s when oxidative cell damage was observed after exposure to free radicals. A researcher named Denham Harman proposed that aging was due to an accumulation of these oxidative “hits.” Later research in immunology has shown that immune cells produce free radicals that attack and kill microbes, as well as create some collateral damage to healthy cells.

Oximation is Michell’s combination of the words oxidation and inflammation. His theory suggests that loss of cellular integrity (at 4 key sites: cell membranes, cell DNA, mitochondrial membranes and mitochondrial DNA) is the genesis of disease. As thyroid and other hormone levels decrease with age, local areas of hypoxia begin to form, which then invite fungal overgrowth. Eating a lot of carbs (which can become excess glucose in the body) feed the fungus. ENT specialists at the Mayo clinic found that in 96% of the cases of sinusitis, the baseline infection was fungal, not bacterial.

 Focusing on our internal environment rather than any specific disease may be helpful. Hydrochloric acid (which often decreases with age), garlic, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, resveratrol, Echinacea, olive leaf, oregano and other spices, and probiotics: all these are anti-fungal, and add other important nutrients to the diet. So eat your colors (and that goes for beans, too); try the pseudo-grains: quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth; and consider eating yams, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and plantains as bread substitutes.

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Shingles Adventure and OK Blog Readers: What Next? Plus Update on Radiation

No I am not abandoning Detox, gentle or otherwise…it seems I have material enough to beat this subject to death; therefore  I’ll continue to talk about detox a bit at a time. Since our bodies are constantly detoxifying (or trying to) every day, I’ll keep adding tidbits from my stacks of research as we wander into the future.

Shingles is not something I thought much about until I “got” them. Now I find that almost everyone I’ve spoken with in my age group (and older) knows a friend or relative who has had them, or has suffered themselves. Who knew!? And that many did not know what it was for several days (myself included). And anyone can get them (children, teenagers, young adults: no one who has had chicken pox is immune). So, if you have NOT had them, after reading this blog, please find a good website that shows you pictures so you can recognize the lesions (they looked like the systemic poison ivy I once had). They key info: the outbreak is preceded by a  burning feeling in the area, and pain along nerve endings, even before eruption. As the eruptions increase, so does the pain. Also: they do not necessarily occur in the most common places (around the middle or on one side of the trunk).

The allopathic response (and the one I had to take as I was away on vacation) is Acyclovir (or other heavy-duty anti-viral). It really does work to halt the progression, and start the lesions’ reduction in size.  The holistic response: double-blind placebo studies have shown that the immediate use of very strong proteolytic enzymes (Wobenzyme N has been used with success) can work as well as anti-viral drugs. Another possibility (especially if this is a recurrence) is large (approx. 5 grams each per day) doses of Vitamin D, Vitamin C and l-Lysine.

On the lesions themselves: clay with essential oils of tea tree or other anti-viral oils (see previous blog posting), powdered charcoal and cornstarch (equal parts) mixed into a paste and applied, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) oil or salve, hydrogen peroxide gel, and the following as herbal tea poultices: Lemon Balm, Baikal Skullcap, Mullein Flowers, St. Joan’s wort, and/or Turmeric (found a great Chinese recipe that called for Turmeric, honey and yogurt: kinda messy, but very cooling).  Aloe Vera Gel is nice and cooling as well.

Now for the pain…suffice it to say that I have the deepest sympathy for any and all who have suffered intense pain, having now made a very personal acquaintance with it for a month. I fully understand why folks get depressed, discouraged and hooked on pain meds. I am currently weaning myself off Gabapentin (and it doesn’t really work unless you’re damn near unconscious). The Western herbs I am taking now in rather large doses during the day: 2 parts St. John’s/Joan’s wort, 2 parts Skullcap (I’m doing 1 part regular and 1 part Baikal) 2 parts Oats, 2 parts Licorice, and 1 part Ginger. Kathy Keville’s original recipe called for an additional 1 part Vervain (which I’m getting and making into a tincture pronto). There are other excellent Chinese possibilities; however, they work best with an individual diagnosis. My friend (and fellow blogger) Lisa Goodstein is formulating one for me now that she’s seen me.  Acupuncture in general is very helpful with post-herpetic neuralgia (the official term for the pain that often INCREASES after the lesions are almost or fully resolved). However, one must see an acupucturist at least once a week for  4 to 6 weeks.

And here’s an interesting herbal and pharmaceutical combo: Capsaicin creme. Works for 80% of the folks who use it (myself included). The really effective stuff is prescription only (but not terribly expensive), and the studies are impressive. The usual dosage is 0.075% Capsaicin (an oleoresin derived from Cayenne peppers) added to a (wish it were organic) hypo-allergenic base. Any compounding pharmacy can make it. One applies it 3 times daily.

And here it comes: the detox part: 2 especially great liver detoxifiers: Milk Thistle Seed (as a tincture or standardized extract) and the supplement Calcium-d-Glucarate. This patented form of glucaric acid is supported with numerous studies and used in several cancer centers. It works by assisting the liver and healthy cells to eliminate wastes and foreign elements (and those pharmaceuticals and their metabolites I’m taking are definitely in that category). I won’t get all technical on you here, but it is a really cool (though expensive) supplement, especially for anyone that is concerned about breast cancer.

What Next, dear blog readers? Please let me know what you’d like to see me address. Either respond to this blog or email me: irisherbal@yahoo.com.

Radiation from Japan update: check this out for an in-depth expose of the current situation…NOT for the faint of heart. And may we all continue to send prayers and energy to the people of Japan who must persevere through this enormity.

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My 60th Birthday Adventure

Or, why this blog is late!

In February of 2010 I suggested to an old friend of mine that we go back East to an intentional community we helped found as a way to celebrate my 60th birthday. By February of 2011 it had morphed into a “Founders” Reunion. So on April 15th I began the kind of road trip I used to do when I was much younger: drive lots of miles one day, and not so many the next because there are friends to visit, or, in this case, friends I didn’t even expect to see. And everywhere spring was busting out: dogwoods, redbud, wildflowers, so much green for our high desert hearts to enjoy.

The place we helped establish back in 1980 had for infrastructure a pre-Civil War log cabin and barn, plus a couple of hippie-made structures, none of which were winterized. No phone, no running water, no electricity, and a rudimentary outhouse: primitive. I was there living in a tipi for 6 months, and ended up going back to the big city because there was no way to make money, no warm place to live in the winter, and just too much isolation. But the 8 of us who started this experiment did the ground work, including by-laws for what became a non-profit intentional community that has persisted 31 years.

When we rolled up in my friend’s car we were greeted like visiting royalty by the 15 residents (and several others who were there preparing for the annual  Beltane celebration) and given the grand tour: a large bathhouse with a sauna and massage tables, a well-appointed outhouse, a huge industrial kitchen and places to eat, decks, porches, cisterns, running water, hot water, solar electricity, and real homes with insulation….only the garden looked much the same (though larger), and all the trees had grown. Oh it was beautiful.

So I became part of an oral history project, reconnected with another founder, hiked the verdant spring mountains, made Bloodroot tincture, taught how to make Nettles tincture, engaged the residents and visitors in conversation, danced, ate great food, and basically had one of my best birthdays ever. I was honored for being a pioneer, and humbled by the appreciation. Definitely a peak experience….and then I “got” shingles.

Yup, from the sublime to the ridiculous, as in ridiculously painful, turning the last part of my vacation into an exercise in enduring being debilitated (I cannot sit or drive).  And so I managed to limp home (on the train, which was quite an adventure) and am now slowly catching up. So next week I’ll get back to essential oils and detox, which I’ve been putting to good use in treating my condition. Nice to know this isn’t just theory…

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Spring from the Perspective of Oriental Medicine

Guest blog post by Lisa Goodstein, DOM

Spring – plants and trees are growing, perennials are poking out again, trees are bearing new beautiful leaves and buds. Depending where you live, this has been happening for a while, or maybe it is just starting. From a Chinese Medical perspective – the Liver is the organ associated with Spring. It is common for a Liver imbalance to be aggravated in this season which makes this a perfect time to support your Liver by eating foods and herbs which benefit this very large and important organ. The liver consistently cleanses our blood, removes toxins and is responsible for the smooth flow and regulation of Qi and blood throughout our bodies. This organ is associated with the color green, movement that is outwards and upwards (like plants at this time of year), and the harmonious interaction of an individual with their external environment.

If you live in New Mexico, this time of year is also known for the wind. Yes, we hear it howling daily, have sand and dirt blowing in our faces, and we navigate around the tumbleweeds in the roadways. Our skin is dry, eyes are irritated and headaches may come and go. Wind also affects us on an emotional level. An East wind affects the Liver the most in Chinese Medical theory and generally causes headaches and neck stiffness. If you are experiencing discomforts due to this weather pattern, it is very likely you have a Liver imbalance. Herbs that could help you include milk thistle, yellow dock, blupleurum, nettles and other herbs which Cathy has discussed in previous weeks. A small amount of foods with a sour taste is beneficial for our Livers. Another ailment you may experience with the wind is a dry annoying cough. For this, the easiest remedy is to poach a pear and eat it while it is still warm.

The topics of these blogs have lately been about detoxification, because from a traditional western perspective and the Judeo-Christian calendar, Spring is the time of year to perform cleansing rituals. This includes cleaning our homes as well as our bodies. In Chinese Medicine these ‘cleanses’ or ‘detoxifications’ are not part of the philosophy because our bodies continually experience detoxification on a gentle daily level. The only time it is appropriate to purge is when we have to rid ourselves of a toxin – this can be in the form of something we ate, an infection, or parasites. It is used only when we need to quickly treat an acute situation.

If you are experiencing headaches, lethargy, irritability, or body pain – you could have a Liver imbalance. A consultation with an Oriental Medical practitioner, Naturopathic doctor, or Ayurvedic practitioner would be useful to clarify your situation and offer you remedies to bring you into balance.

Lisa Goodstein, DOM
505-­501-2130
www.goodmedicineassociates.com

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Implementation: Part 3

Sometimes we make a plan and our body has another idea entirely.  Whenever we “do” detox, whether deliberately or because our body is ready and just goes for it, emotional issues seem to pop up. Many healers believe that any toxic residue has an emotional component…and this will be the  topic I’ll address next week, and how essential oils can assist us.  However, today I will finish this section on implementing with the last 10 herbs that I mentioned in my first blog on herbs, tinctures and essential oils to use for detox.

Mullein: best known for its use in bronchitis, this herb is a lung decongestant and tonic for the respiratory system (soothes inflammation). Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herb and let sit, covered for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink this 3 times daily.

Elecampane: this herb is used much like Mullein, and adds an anti-microbial property as well as being a digestive and appetite stimulant. Now this is not a typo: pour a cup of cold water over 1 teaspoon of shredded root and let sit for 8 to 10 HOURS. Heat up and drink very hot 3 times daily.

Licorice: because this herb has an effect on the endocrine system (certain chemical components have a structure similar to steroids), it is both very useful and must be used carefully. Licorice is helpful for adrenal gland support, bronchial issues, peptic ulcers, arthritis, various viral infections, and is a mild laxative. Take only 1/2 teaspoon of the root; add to 1 cup of water; bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. This sweet tasting herb should NOT be used in the following situations: pregnancy, breast-feeding, low blood potassium, or when high blood pressure from sodium retention is present.

Osha: this wonderful southwestern mountain root is useful for all respiratory and throat issues, especially at the first signs of illness, and to help clear the lungs after one has quit smoking. Excellent in children to help prevent middle ear infections, and for anyone to help restore the stomach after illness/vomiting.  Natives chew the root. For the less brave: take 1 oz. (weight) of the herb and let sit overnight in 32 oz. (volume) of water. Drink 2 to 6 oz. of this infusion as needed.

Yerba Santa: another southwestern herb used for asthma, bronchial infection and hay fever. A gentle expectorant, and some varieties are also good for bladder infections. Bring 32 oz. of water to a boil and pour over 1 oz. (by weight) of herb. Let sit 20 to 30 minutes. Drink 3 to 4 oz. 1 to 4 times daily. (Thank you, Micheal Moore, for info on Osha and Yerba Santa).

Elder Flower: a good-tasting remedy for inflammation of / heavy mucus and infection in the upper respiratory system. Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried flowers and let steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Drink 3 times a day.

Peppermint: this favorite herb is actually not so good for small children (can use a bit of spearmint instead), but excellent for older children and adults to deal with nausea and all digestive issues.  Also helpful in reducing fever, uterine cramps, migraines that are worse with indigestion, and tension in general. Most folks have this available in tea- bag form; however, many times they are old and have lost much of their potency. Take a heaping teaspoon of the herb, put it in your mug, and add a cup of boiled water. Cover the cup with its saucer (yup, that’s what they were originally for) and let steep for 10 minutes. Drink this as desired.

Prickly Ash: stimulating to the lymphatic and circulatory systems; excellent for chronic problems of the skin where there is poor circulation (varicose veins) and rheumatism (inflammation of muscles, joints, connective tissue).  Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 3 times daily.

Yarrow: this is an excellent herb to reduce fever by bringing the body to a sweat and breaking the fever. It also stimulates digestion, tones blood vessels, helps deal with urinary tract infections, and externally is used to stop bleeding.  Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb; let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 3 or more times a day. Drink hot for fevers, and cool for internal bleeding. Some experts advise to NOT use if pregnant.

Barberry: major liver and gall bladder tonic (including inflammation and stones); also for enlarged spleen. Especially useful for debilitated people to both strengthen and cleanse the whole system. A  mildly laxative digestive tonic. Put 1 teaspoon of the bark into a small saucepan with 1 cup of cold water. Bring to a boil and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.  Drink 3 times daily. Do NOT use if pregnant.

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Implementation, Part 2

Before I continue with the list of herbs, let’s look at storage of herbs, and some basics about tinctures.

Herbs need to be stored in airtight, opaque jars in a cool, dark, dry place. Light, heat and oxidation degrade the quality of herbs as their constituents evaporate, oxidize, and other otherwise lose their potency. Powdered herbs will only last about 6 months or so; same with tea bags! (They have a use by date stamped on the bottom…and yes, many of mine are past their prime). Whole dried leaves (the best way to home dry, as the more a leaf or root is pulverized, the more surface area is exposed to the air) can last a year; whole dried roots up to 3 years. Alcohol-free extracts (usually glycerites) last 3 or so years, and alcohol extracts or tinctures can last 7 (or lots more) years.

Any of the herbs from yesterday, today, or this weekend’s lists can be (used, made or bought as) tinctures. The dosages of store-bought should be on the label. If a range of doses is given, the middle dose is usually for a 150 lb. adult. If you are making tinctures at home, check out the books offered through Iris Herbal  HERE  to find a good text to help you make and use herbal tinctures correctly and safely. You can also call the Iris Herbal office (toll-free 877-286-2970) and talk to Cathy about buying single herb (or ready-made combinations and/or special blends) tinctures (with all the new FDA regs, this is no longer possible online through the shopping cart).

Nettles: a very versatile edible herb; it is an astringent good for discharges (especially hay fever, diarrhea, nose bleeds); a alkalyzing diuretic; and useful for arthritis & eczema. Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 to 3 teaspoons of dried herb and let steep, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Do 3 times daily.

Burdock: another very useful plant disparaged as a weed; it aids liver, gall bladder and kidney function, and is especially good for the treatment of systemic imbalance that manifests as skin problems (eczema, psoriasis, dandruff), arthritis and gout. Put 1 teaspoonful of the root into a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 3 times daily.

A note about dosages: before I continue, the amounts to make and use have so far come David Hoffmann’s The New Holistic Herbal and reflect a robust relationship between human and plant. When first taking any new herb, you may want to half the dosage and start with once a day, and work up to larger dosages. Sometimes taking herbs can exacerbate a symptom, often referred to as a “healing crisis” as toxins are discharged (and the body is supported in dumping metabolic waste). Some herbalists are gung-ho here and exhort the patient to press on. Since we are doing “gentle detox” my advise is to slightly back off, drink more water, go to sleep earlier, continue cleaning up your diet, and calmly persevere. Also, when a herb is specifically for digestion, take your tea  just before eating; otherwise, (in general) take the dose 45 minutes 1/2 hour before a meal.

Oregon Grape/Mahonia: this root is a bitter tonic for impaired salivary and gastric secretions (especially for difficult fat and protein digestion); is a stimulant to liver protein metabolism; and is an anti-microbial for both the skin and intestinal tract. Prepare like Burdock; take 2 to 4 oz. in the am and before retiring; do this for at least 2 weeks. (Thank you, Michael Moore).

Sarsaparilla: this alterative is good for systemic tonification, especially where there is chronic skin irritation and problems, rheumatism, herpes, gout and deficiencies in the adrenal and gonad hormone production. Put 1 to 2 teaspoons of the root into a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 3 times daily.

Yellow Dock: another wonderful weed! For all chronic skin eruptions and complaints, especially when accompanied by constipation; also for jaundice from liver congestion. Make and use as for Sarsaparilla.

Cleavers: excellent tonic for the lymphatic system; good for swollen glands, cystitis, and skin conditions. Pour a cup of boiling water over 2 to 3 teaspoons of dried herb and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this three times daily.

Red Clover: fabulous herb for children (childhood eczema, whooping-cough, mono) and for adults (chronic skin problems and infections, increases lactation). Pur a cup of boiling water over 1 to 3 teaspoons of herb; infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. Take 3 times daily. DO NOT use if PREGNANT.

Red Root: good for lymphatic congestion, especially accompanied by sore throat, inflamed spleen, and/or fluid cysts in sexual organs (male or female). Use like Sarsaparilla.

Echinacea: this is our premier anti-microbial herb; good for all infections anywhere in the body (use at first sign of upper respiratory problems). Also beneficial to tendons and ligaments (in chronic inflammation) and for any swollen areas on the skin (whether due to septic cuts or insect bites. For acute symptoms it’s easier to take a tincture (up to 40 drops per hour) and in chronic conditions, see Sarsaparilla.

Calendula: this flower is useful both internally: ulcers, mouth sores, indigestion with gall bladder pain and fungal infections; and externally: inflammation due to bruising, minor burns and sprains, as well as fungal problems. Pour a cup of boiling water on 1 to 2 teaspoons of the herbs and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Do this 3 times daily.