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Herbs That Assist Detoxification

This blog topic could easily be a book…which means that although this won’t be comprehensive or in great detail, you will find the creme de la creme of the basics…call it “detox cliff notes”…

An herbal approach to detoxification is based upon the premise that our bodies are self-healing; that we already have an amazingly effective and astoundingly complex array of detoxification systems “built-in;” and that our job is to augment our innate abilities by:  first, support the whole body’s process of elimination (and not just the colon, which is what many pre-made cleanses do); second, apply specific support for overly taxed organs and third,  alleviate any symptoms (and address any pathologies that may be present).

For digestion issues and the colon, we want to assist the break down of food (try a simple herbal bitters recipe of Gentian, Ginger and Cardamom {used as a tea or a tincture; the last 2 are also available as essential oils and can be diluted and rubbed on the stomach} ; or you can use Anise, Fennel, and/or Cumin Seeds {chew the seeds, make a tea, use as tincture or essential oil} as both flavorings and to assist in digestion) as well as deal with constipation, or even slow evacuation (mild, safe, not too intense Yellow Dock and Dandelion Root; for more stubborn cases, try Cascara Sagrada).

For the kidneys and urinary system, we can use a gentle diuretic (increases the flow of urine) to move fluids out of the body, which is especially helpful in cases of edema (swelling) or to remove toxins more quickly. Herbs that do this without causing imbalance (unlike drugs, these herbs contain potassium; however, a little goes a long way) are Chickweed, Dandelion, Parsley and Nettle leaves. Notice that these are “spring tonics,” often considered weeds (well, maybe not parsley, but how many of us really eat it?), and are edible as “pot-herbs” (cooked like any greens), in salads, or used medicinally in the form of tea or tinctures (alcohol extract). Many folks recommend using the juice of half a lemon in warm water upon arising.

Hepatic herbs are those which assist the liver and gall bladder in their many functions:  Dandelion root, Beets (yes, the food), Turmeric ( the main spice ingredient in many curries) {all of these can be used as food, a simmered tea or as a tincture} and Milk Thistle seed, which is available as either a tincture or a standardized extract which comes in the form of a capsule.   Alteratives are what used to be called  blood cleansers and are the class of herbs that gradually restore the proper functions of the body which then increase health and vitality. These include Burdock, Oregon Grape, Sarsaparilla and Yellow Dock roots, Cleavers, Nettles and Red Clover, as well as seaweeds and garlic.  Essential oils that stimulate and aid the functioning of our liver include Angelica, Carrot seed, Chamomile, Cypress, Grapefruit, Lemon, Peppermint and Rosemary. They can be used individually or in various combinations as a massage oil or bath oil. {Infomercial: check out www.irisherbal.com offerings in health enhancement, massage and bath oils, as well as individual essential oils, and the essential oil info page which gives great detail on how to safely use essential oils}.

Lymphatic tonic herbs assist in the movement and drainage of our lymph system.  They include Burdock, Dandelion and Yellow Dock roots, as well as Red Root, Echinacea root and Calendula (usually taken as a decoction or simmered tea, or as a tincture). There are many essential oils that are useful in this category: Lemon, Grapefuit, Carrot seed, Coriander, Spruce, Frankincense and Laurel {infomercial # 2; check  HERE for 2 massage oils for the lymph system}.

For the  Lungs we can increase the flow of mucus (mucolytics) to help move out phlegm and ease breathing. For this I  find essential oils to be easy and effective, as either a salve or by vaporizing a few drops of essential oil in a pot of boiled water. Good oils for this include Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Laurel, Rosemary, Lavender, Camphor and Peppermint. In the herbal realm, we can use an expectorant (again, help loosen and expel mucus) like Mullein, Elecampane,  Anise seed, Licorice, and great southwestern herbs such as Osha  and Yerba Santa. Any of these herbs can be used as a tea or tincture.

When dealing with the skin, we have a few avenues open to us. We can use diaphoretics (aid the skin in the elimination of toxins through perspiration) which include Elder flower, Ginger, Peppermint, Prickly Ash and Yarrow (as teas, decoctions or tinctures) as well as the use of 2 herbs which address the skin/liver connection which are Barberry and Yellow Dock. Besides dry brush massage, alternating cool and warm showers (which stimulate the lymph and the skin) there are also the judicious use of saunas, steam baths (where we can add essential oils) and  hot springs, baths in our homes (where we can add bath oils, clay and/or apple cider vinegar)and sunlight (either the addition or removal).

WHEW!  In the next few weeks we’ll be exploring heavy metal detox, using supplements as part of our detoxification program, plus the emotional aspects of detox, and 2 guest blogs by Lisa Goodstein, DOM on the Chinese/Eastern take on this subject.

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Radiation: a special info alert

Please check HERE for an excellent article (very specific info on iodine and anti-oxidant supplements) on how you can help protect yourself from radiation’s effects on our bodies. This is not just about the awful disaster in Japan.  We modern folks are using radiation technology increasingly to detect tumors, etc. Many people are over-radiated in the name of health. 

 Herbs that assist with dealing with ionizing radiation include Burdock root,  Dandelion root, American Ginseng root, and Milk Thistle seed.  Foods that are particularly helpful include all berries, especially blueberries and strawberries.

May all sentient beings be peaceful, happy, and healthy.

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Why your knowing about GMO food just got more important

I wasn’t planning to make political issues quite so up front…and after this wee rant I’ll be focusing for several weeks on detoxification: spring tonics and cleansing herbs, essential oils for detox, supplements that support our bodies’ natural detoxification processes, heavy metals in the body and fasting.  Since springtime is traditionally when folks shifted gears from “winter diet” to more fresh foods, it is also a good time to start detoxification programs. Since there is a lot of misinformation and confusion on this vast subject, I hope to add some clarity.

GMO stands for genetically modified organism. There is a plethora of good info on the internet about why this bit of modern–day lab work is not such a hot idea once all the ramifications are fully explored. But what most folks don’t realize  is the extent to which our food supply is already deeply “contaminated,” both deliberately and inadvertently. Most folks, myself included, don’t think they have eaten anything GMO, or maybe very little. However, the latest research shows that almost 90% of Americans have eaten GMO foods, and in alarmingly high amounts.

So what does this have to do with health? you ask.  There is a previously unknown pathogen with unique physical properties: a micro-fungus. It is found in high concentrations in Roundup Ready (GMO) soybean meal and corn, and is linked to outbreaks of plant diseases and implicated in animal reproductive failure. The researcher is COL (retired) / Dr. Don Huber, one of the nation’s senior soil scientists, and Emeritus Professor, Purdue University.

I invite you to read this article:
 “Researcher: Roundup Ready Crops May Be Causing Animal Miscarriages and Infertility.”
…remembering that we humans are animals, the very mammals this article is talking about…

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Six excellent sites for cutting edge alternative health info

The Internet is an incredible place for information…and as most of us have realized, not all info found here  is accurate, factual, useful, understandable, or relevent. Many of the  most popular health info sites on the Web are dominated by Big Pharma, the AMA, The Gates Foundation, and others allied to the current “sick-care” industry mis-named health care. 

Since the mid-70’s, when I helped start a rural natural food buying club in southwestern Virginia, I have been studying many aspects of alternative health and lifestyles. The truth that consistently arises is:  prevention is less time-consuming and less expensive than treatment. And way easier said than done!  Also, many strategies for becoming and staying healthy have been marginalized, vilified, or ignored in the mainstream press. This is not to say that the alternative movement is perfect! We have our fair share of  folks whose reach exceeds their grasp.

So here are six helpful sites I use, and my opinion (and me just say up front that it is an opnion, not absolute truth, whatever that might be) about each one. Notice that one is well served by an open mind and a sense of humor concerning  the diversity of those who self-define as being “alternative.”  AlterNet is a great source for news; their health info is both semi-main stream and many shades of alternative.  Often excellent investigative reporting is presented about related health subjects (like food and water) to give one the “back story” or help explain why what is, is.  For a good recent example click  here to read about whistleblowers and food safety.  Also at AlterNet (this was a good day for big picture info) is a story about our food growing system (the political aspect of farming). To read about it, click   here.

Prevention may be key, but most of us are already dealing with “issues.” This next site addresses both. The GreenMed Info newsletter is always thought-provoking, and iconoclastic, as well as one of the most densely researched on the web. Click  here  for the issue on wheat, which will open a veritable Pandora’s box.  GreenMed Info hosts the largest study-based, peer-reviewed alternative health data base on the internet, and it is free.  With over 10,000 useful entries, this database has already helped a client of mine find the best supplement to take for his situation (and it is helping).

The Organic Consumer Association puts out a newsletter called Organic Bytes. This issue focuses on GMO, and what you can do to participate in campaigns to confront, halt, label, and educate. In case you are wondering what genetically modified food could have to do with health….well, check out this site, or the next two for way more info than you really want, but do need.

The next 2 sites are the most well-known, have the most advertising, and reflect the values of their authors.  Both of these men do their homework,  say what their opinion is up front, and cite their research. I may still quibble a bit here and there (both are prone to hyperbole), and you can find out a tremendous amount of info on a very wide range of health issues including healthy food (from the vegetarian and vegan point of view as well as the organic and free-range meat eaters), exercise protocols, supplements, herbs and healthy sleeping habits, as well as the more controversial and political issues like  GMO, vaccines, pesticides, cell phone radiation problems, etc.

For an excellent article on  Lyme disease check  here from Health Ranger Rick’s  naturalnews.com. For a comprehensive look at drinking water check  here  from Dr (MD) Mercola’s  mercola.com.

Last but not least is Byron J. Richard’s Wellness Resources. He always seems to come up with fascinating research (that he quotes and sites) often from mainstream sources. Click here for how the bacteria in our guts affects our brains.  He also has a full range of info on his site. Like the other 2 men above, he is trying to sell you supplements.

OK, now for my 2 second infomercial!  I have a supplement buying club that has a few openings. At some point later in blogdom I’ll elaborate. However, if you have read this far, take supplements, and would like a free 15 minute consult, call me toll-free @ 877-286-2970,

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Welcome to Cathy’s Blog

Last year I thought I’d start a blog…well, here it is a year later, and NOW I’m ready, thanks to a local friend who is helping me navigate the intricacies of computer land (for those who know me personally, I’ve been a neo-Luddite for years).

On this weekly blog, I will be sharing 35 years of research and experience regarding nutrition, herbs, essential oils, and nutritional supplements., along with interesting links, and the occasional photo.  I’m going to try a moderated blog, and we’ll see how manageable that is.

Here is the first link that I’m sharing that I found interesting. {I will be drawing from numerous health sites; be aware that many of these sites have advertising, and want to sell you stuff;  however, the info I’m citing is good}. This link goes to a website that cites a lot of major research, much of which does not seem to hit the mainstream press. Click  HERE and you will find out about low-fat diets and Type 2 Diabetes.