All About Herbal Adaptogens: a Guest post by Denise

herbal adaptogens

The Truth about Adaptogens

By Denise. Brusveen, HTMA Consultant with Sassy Holistics

I’ve been hearing so much misinformation about adaptogens lately, so I wanted to help clear up the confusion.  Adaptogens are an amazing class of herbs that can help improve mood, energy, stamina, immunity, and mental concentration as well as reduce fatigue and promote hormonal balance.  Pretty much everyone could use some adaptogens in their life!

So how do adaptogens work their magic?  In order to be considered an adaptogen, the herb MUST meet the following criteria(1):

  1. Nonspecific effects, meaning the adaptogen herb increases resistance to a very broad spectrum of harmful factors (physical, biological, chemical, psychological).
  2. It must have a normalizing effect against stressors, independent of the pathologic state.
  3. It must be innocuous to have a broad range of therapeutic effects without causing any disturbance (other than very marginally) to the normal functioning of the organism.

Did you catch that?  Adaptogens have non-specific and normalizing effects on the body!  So this idea that we can use this herb to treat that cortisol level is a very allopathic way of thinking and isn’t how adaptogens are meant to be used.  So where does this type of thinking stem from?

One common example that I hear often is that ashwagandha lowers cortisol.  In doing some digging to figure out where this idea came from, I was able to locate the study I believe this stemmed from (2).  Interestingly, no 4 point cortisol test was used, and no reference ranges were given for the test.  Anybody with a chronic physical, hormonal or psychiatric illness was excluded.  That leaves out pretty much all the people who would have already been in adrenal exhaustion (cortisol bottomed out), needing a boost in their cortisol.  So it’s no wonder it lowered cortisol levels for people who all had high cortisol and needed it lowered!

That’s just one example of a flawed study causing people to make generalized recommendations.  Herbs are SO MUCH more complex than most people realize, which is why they really need to be used in a personalized way. And that’s what we aim to do with our HTMA consults.

While I’m on the topic of ashwagandha, let me explain a bit more why an individualized approach is so important.  Many people not do well with ashwagandha if they have previously tanked their adrenals by using large amounts of magnesium.  If you know you have a nightshade intolerance or an autoimmune condition, we might also want to avoid ashwagandha for you (Note that this is controversial – some experts say that ashwagandha is perfectly safe for both of these issues).  But if we see that your thyroid is struggling in addition to your adrenals on your HTMA results, and there’s a good chance you’ll tolerate ashwagandha, it can actually give your thyroid a boost(3)!  So we might suggest it in addition to working on your calcium and potassium levels, which make up the thyroid ratio.

Another place where people get into trouble sometimes is that they write an herb off as not working for them because they tried it all by itself.  There can be additive effects of herbs, where they are more powerful when combined with other herbs.  Panax ginseng and Ginkgo is just one very well studied example.  The effect of these herbs combined for improving cognitive function is much greater than using either of these herbs alone.

Another way that adaptogens can be beneficial in a blend is that they can provide benefits without being overpowering like they might be on their own.  For example, Panax ginseng might be far too stimulating on its own, but in a blend with other less energizing herbs, it can provide just the right amount of energy.  Adrena Uplift is one good example of a blend that uses Panax ginseng among other herbs.

Licorice is another example where it is usually better off in a blend.  It isn’t technically an adaptogen because its actions are specific rather than nonspecific, and it can actually cause problems for people with high blood pressure over time (whereas true adaptogens are considered to be generally safe).  It is an amazing addition to many adaptogen blends though, and being in a blend rather than taking it on its own lowers the dose that a person receives, which likely lowers the risks associated with it.  If you are worried at all about your blood pressure though, then go for a blend without licorice like this one.

One final amazing benefit of using adaptogen herbs to help support the adrenals is that they usually have benefits to other areas of the body.  Many adaptogens are also nervines that help to regulate the nervous system or tonics that help to restore or tone the body.  So sometimes we can pick out specific herbs for more than one purpose.  For instance if I’m working with someone who has POTS, I might suggest eleuthero.  If I’m working with someone with low iron, I might suggest ashwagandha (4).  If I’m working with someone with H. pylori, I might suggest licorice.  Someone needing extra support for heart health might consider rhodiola.  I could go on, but you get the idea!  These herbs are worth exploring!  They can be a great addition to your mineral balancing plan.

 

 

  1. Panossian A., Wikman G, Wagner H: Plant adaptogens. III. Earlier and more recent aspects and concepts on their mode of action. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10589450
  2. Chandrasekhar, Jyoti Kapoor, and Sridhar Anishetty. A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10589450
  3. Sharma AK, Basu I, Singh S. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28829155
  4. Upton R. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Monographs: Ashwagandha Root. Santa Cruz, CA: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia; 2000.

herbal adaptogens

Guest post from Denise on Herbal Preparations : Which type of herb is right for you?

 

herbal preparations

Which type of herb is right for you?

By Denise Brusveen, MS

Teas, tinctures, infusions, decoctions, capsules, powder. There are so many options when it comes to herbal preparations! How do you know which one is right for you? Let me break it down for you.

Water-based Preparations (Teas, Infusions, and Decoctions)

Preparing your herbs this way does a good job of pulling out the water soluble nutrients in the herbs. They are also very easily digestible in this form, which is especially great for people with low stomach acid or gut issues. They are also one of the cheapest ways to consume herbs. You can buy a whole pound of loose herbs and then add the amount you need for your daily dose. Nettles, for example, are usually $13-15 for a whole pound on Amazon.

Disadvantages of teas, tinctures, and decoctions is that you have to spend the time preparing them usually daily or every couple days because they spoil easily. The taste of some herbs is another downside, but sometimes it just takes some trial and error to find the right flavor combination. And it can be inconvenient to take them to work. Tea bags make it a bit easier to take with you to work, but teas don’t really provide a lot of nutrition because the dose is so small.

Infusions are basically a much stronger tea that deliver a LOT of nutrition. Susun Weed recommends using an ounce of dried herb, which is approximately a cup. If you’re super particular like me, you can
weigh the herb the first few times to figure out how many cups equal an ounce. For example, an ounce of nettles is actually closer to 1.5 cups. So you put that ounce of dried herb in a 1 quart jar and then top it off with freshly boiled water. Put the cap on, and then let it steep for 4-8 hours. Strain the herbs out and then begin drinking at room temp. or refrigerate. Most herbal infusions don’t last longer than a couple days before they start to go bad, so don’t make more than you’ll drink in that time.

With decoctions, you bring your water to a boil and then add your herb and simmer for at least 20 min. Some people simmer longer for an even stronger drink. You can start with just a couple tbsp. of herb in a quart of water and work your way up to 4-5 tbsp. Decoctions are very nutritious like infusions.

So how do you choose whether to make an infusion or decoction? Infusions are typically made out of the above ground plant parts, including the leaves, flowers, stems, fruits, and aromatic seeds. Decoctions are best for the roots, bark, and non-aromatic seeds because they need the longer direct exposure to the higher heat to pull the nutrients out.

Tinctures

The major nutritional benefit of tinctures is that they can pull out both the water and alcohol soluble nutrients because the alcohol also has water in it. They also have a much longer shelf life (usually several years). Some of the constituents can start to break down in as little as 3-6 mo., but there aren’t enough studies to determine which plants this is most likely to happen with. So it’s best to store your tinctures in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight to help them last longer. If you’re buying from a company like Herb Pharm, they also print an expiration date on the bottom of the bottle.

Another benefit with tinctures is that it’s much easier to carry a small bottle in your purse or even keep it in your desk at work and add a dropperful to some water. I am really loving the even more convenient sprays that herbal companies are now coming out with. It’s so simple to spray a couple sprays of these bitters in my mouth before every meal.

The major downside to tinctures is that they can be pricey. But for simple tinctures, some people buy the bulk herb and make their own.

Glycerites

The alcohol in tinctures slightly increases absorption of many of the nutrients, but some people wish to avoid the alcohol, so they prefer glycerites instead. While glycerites actually slightly decrease the absorption of nutrients, they are a very good alternative to tinctures. They are made with glycerin instead of alcohol, so they are sweeter, which makes it easier to get kids to take them. And because they’re less potent, they’re great for people who are really sensitive to trying new remedies for healing.

The downside is that they mostly only provide the water-soluble compounds, since they don’t contain alcohol to pull out additional nutrients, and their shelf life is shorter than tinctures.

Powder and Capsules

In these forms, the entire herb is presented to the GI tract. In some cases, such as for IBS, it’s important that the herbs have direct contact with the gut. Another benefit of powdered herbs is that they can be relatively cheap, and if you prefer capsules like I do, you can make your own much cheaper than buying the herb already in capsule form. I currently make astragalus, cream of tartar, salt, and cat’s claw capsules. People often ask if they can take nettle leaf capsules instead of infusions. While some is better than nothing, you’re not going to get nearly as much nutritional value out of capsules as you will
infusions.

One risk with grinding an herb into powder is that the heat from the process can break down the constituents. Once an herb is ground into powder, it can oxidize more easily, so the shelf life is typically shorter than for tinctures. It’s important to try to buy from a reputable company that sells fresh herbs. Companies like Frontier Co-op print an expiration date on their bulk herb bags, so always be sure to check your bag to make sure it’s not close to expiring!

 

Have any questions for Denise about herbs? Let us know in the comments!

My Favorite BioRay Products!

 

favorite bioray products

Have you heard of BioRay yet?

BioRay is one of my absolute favorite herbal companies. BioRay has been around for about 25 years. They use a mixture of ancient Chinese medicine and modern science to formulate their products. They make their products in small batches and use only organic ingredients.

I’ve touched upon some of my absolute favorite BioRay products before, but I wanted to put them all on one page to make things easier for those that want to try more of their amazing supplements.

A few months ago, BioRay started up an affiliate program, which I was so excited about. I had already been using and recommending their products for over a year, so I was excited to be able to join them. They even have given me a coupon code for you all to use, and this goes for the main site and the kids site: use SASSY at checkout for 15% off!

My Favorite BioRay Formulas

Liver Life (and Liver Lover)

BioRay Liver Life is the best choice for liver loving and regeneration!

 

Liver Life is my absolute favorite. My husband and myself have used this one on and off over the last year or so and it helps SO much with detoxification support. The herbs that are used help with the liver, kidneys, lymph, adrenals, and immune system so you get a huge whole-body healing effect from this one supplement. I have seen people have nearly miraculous results with just this product. The liver itself has over 500 functions- if you are dealing with ANY health issue, you will need some liver loving.  Read more about why we need to love our livers here.

They also have Liver Lover that is close to Liver Life, but it is alcohol free. (tinctures are traditionally made with alcohol because that is the best way to draw out the properties of the plants used.). Liver Lover is a good alternative if you absolutely cannot tolerate alcohol based tinctures, but Liver Life is always my first choice. According to BioRay, Liver Lover is only about half as potent as Liver Life.

Kids Line

All of the tinctures in the kids line are Alcohol, Gluten, Dairy and Soy free, as well as Non-GMO. Most of these formulas are for children over 1 year of age, and they all have different doses based on weight. The biggest differences between the adult line (which most can be used for kids) and the kid’s line are that the kid’s products are all alcohol free and they are flavored, so even the pickiest kids might handle them well!

You can see all of the kids’ line here as well as further description of them.

    • CALM: For adrenals, mood support, sleep, and liver detox support
    • FOCUS: For gut healing, allergies, speech, adrenals, and detox support
    • SHINE: For gut and immune system health
    • HAPPY: This is mainly for parasite removal
    • SLEEPY: For sleep help
    • POOPER: For constipation support

 

Loving Energy

Loving Energy is the best herbal blend for adrenal support. If you are going through an extremely stressful time in life, or just dealing with chronic exhaustion, then Loving Energy can help!

Belly Mend

Belly Mend can be an amazing helper for those dealing with leaky gut, brain fog, and histamine intolerance.  This formula has a blend of herbs for both gut and liver support, as well as liquid probiotics.

Astemisia and Clove

This formula is the best for removing unwanted pathogens. I have used this one myself and can attest to its strength!

Mind Zeal

Mind Zeal is the *best* formula for those dealing with brain fog and cognitive issues. This especially works on safely removing heavy metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic as well as many common toxic chemicals.

**I would really make sure that your colon and liver are ready for something like the last 2 that I mentioned!**

Kits

You can read BioRay’s amazing article about dispelling common detox myths here. If you are concerned about the chlorella used in some of these products, I totally understand your worry! I used to be skeptical about it too. However, the chlorellas used by BioRay is not just any chlorella you can go buy in a capsule. They use a special process called micronization , which actually breaks down the cell wall and allows for better usage of the chlorella. I recently tried the Belly Mend which has this form of chlorella in it and I can definitely vouch that is great! I would never recommend anything I have not tried myself. There is a lot of bad info out there on chlorella, and I hope to help stop the fear-mongering!   (read more about micronization here!).

You can also read their own post on what their main tinctures are used for here.

favorite bioray products

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.*

Whole Food Nutrition: Making the most out of your diet!

whole food nutrition

Whole Food Nutrition: How to HEAL with Food!

I am a huge advocate for whole food nutrition. Because of this, one of the MAIN questions I am asked almost daily is, “How in the world would we even get enough nutrition from food if our soils are so depleted?”

The answer is complicated. Yes, it is impossible to get 100% of the nutrients we need on a daily basis. But why does this automatically mean that we should be taking 20+ supplements a day to “make up” this deficit? More is not always better. Taking a multivitamin is a false reassurance that you are still “filling in the gaps”, especially when you realize that most vitamin/mineral supplements are made with synthetics that the body doesn’t even really recognize or utilize.

My approach is this:

Heal your gut to help your body utilize nutrients better. Heal your liver so we can not only process nutrients better, but we can properly eliminate toxins that would antagonize our nutrients. Heal your adrenals/thyroid/HPA axis to help your body react better to stress so you don’t waste or burn through nutrients as quickly. And be SMART about supplementing and eating: pick nutrient dense foods and whole food supplements that are tailored to YOUR particular needs.  Plus, you can rotate your food choices around to get the most out of your diet.

This list is a representation of what I typically recommend to my clients- exact supplements and amounts depend on the person. But this is my “proof” that you CAN get your nutrition from food!

Whole Food Nutrition is AMAZING

Cod Liver Oil:

My favorite Cod liver oil NutraPro packs a whopping 2500IU of vitamin A (about 80% of your daily value) and 250IU of vitamin D (about 60% of your daily value). You also get Omega 3’s 600mg,DHA 250mg, and EPA 350mg

Nettle Infusions:

If you want a real multivitamin, then look no further than nettle infusions. You can get a HUGE amount of nutrition just from this amazing green liquid.

From this source:

  • calcium (1000 mg per quart of infusion)
  • magnesium (300 mg per quart of infusion)
  • potassium (600 mg per quart of infusion)
  • zinc (1.5 mg per quart of infusion)
  • selenium (.7 mg per quart of infusion)
  • iron (1.5 mg per quart of infusion)
  • manganese (2.6 mg per quart of infusion)
  • plus chromium, cobalt, phosphorus, copper, sulphur, silicon, and tin.
  • Nettle is super-charged with vitamins:
  • Vitamin A from {beta carotene}(5000 IU per quart of infusion)
  • Vitamin B complex, especially thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate
  • Plus Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K ”
  • From my research, each quart of nettle infusions have about 3mg of BORON as well.

Oatstraw Infusions

Just like nettles, oatstraw is a highly nutrient dense herbal infusion.

*Calcium 476mg
*Magnesium 400-600mg
*Potassium 90mg
*Selenium 40mcg (RDA is about 55mcg)
*Chromium 140mcg (RDA is between 35-45 depending on stage of life)

You can see the nutrition for several other herbs like red raspberry leaf, comfrey leaf, and chickweed here. And you can read more here on making infusions and what they are good for.

Adrenal Cocktails

These are best for sodium, potassium, and vitamin C. I have a list of recipe ideas here, but generally each cocktail recipe gets you around 500-800mg of potassium (RDA is about 4700mg), 500mg of sodium (RDA is about 2500mg), and a nice boost of vitamin C. Most people do 2+ of these mixtures a day.

Beef Liver:

This is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It’s also something that people no longer have grown up eating, so we are pretty deficient in nutrients like vitamin A, bio-available copper, and B vitamins. Beef liver itself has vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folate, and minerals such as zinc, copper and iron.  With this desiccated beef liver supplement, you will get about 1000IU of vitamin A, 5.5mcg of B12, around 1 mg of copper, and 2.8mg of iron. Eating it would give you even more of a boost for these nutrients.

Blackstrap Molasses

This is probably one of the most nutrient-packed sweeteners you’ll ever find. 1 tablespoon of Black-strap molasses has: about 300-500mg of potassium, 100mg of calcium, 30mg of magnesium, 2mg of iron, .36mg of manganese, as well as copper, selenium, B6, and more. I typically add this to dandelion root tea, another nutrient dense herb.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are another insanely nutrient dense food. One quarter cup has: .43mg of copper, 2.5mg of zinc, 1.47mg of manganese (nearly the whole RDA!), 190mg of magnesium, 9 grams of protein, and about 400mg of phosphorus. Look for raw, organic, and hulless pumpkin seeds. Check Costco if you can- they recently just started selling a big bag in my local store.

Other Nutrient dense foods:

  • Collagen, gelatin, and bone broth for protein and amino acids
  • Bee pollen, raw honey, and royal jelly for most of the BEE vitamins
  • Coconut water, mostly for the potassium content
  • Sea veggies for iodine and trace minerals: I love Maine Coast Sea Veggies, which is an easy brand to find in most health food stores. This particular one is the easiest to add to food for an extra boost! This brand is mostly offering organic products and they test their products for contaminants. Their dulse is the most nutrient dense sea veggie ever!

 

So with the above we’re able to get most or all of our Vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, sodium, copper, iron, chromium, silica, selenium, zinc, mangansese, and more. The key is to SWITCH IT UP! Don’t eat the same things every day. And keep working on that gut to increase absorption.

Food has so much more than vitamins and minerals, components that you won’t likely ever find in supplements. You can read more about that here.

I would say the hardest nutrient to get enough of is potassium. The RDA is typically about 4700mg. Even with a healthy diet, this is hard to obtain. But we all can just do our best. Below is my favorite potassium rich food list, and this website has about 2 dozen other ideas.

I’ve had some people basically say that food doesn’t matter, and that supplements are the only way to heal. If that were true, then why bother eating anything at all, right? Or better yet- let’s just eat junk food all day. As long as we pop our multivitamin we should stay healthy, right? 😉

Liver Healing vs. Liver Detox: Why there is a HUGE difference!

liver healing

Liver Healing vs. Liver Detox

Most of my followers know that I am a huge Liver Lover! I can never stress the importance of the liver enough. It has about 500 functions in the body, and it takes a beating in our toxic world.  You can read more about liver health here, but we’re going to go over some important points in this post: what the liver is for and why we need to love and support it- not flush and force it to “cleanse”.

The liver plays a role in:

  • hormonal balancing
  • blood sugar regulation
  • heart health
  • weight management
  • cholesterol regulation
  • detoxification (of toxic chemicals, heavy metals, pathogens, etc)
  • digestion (of fats and protein)
  • utilization of fat soluble nutrients like vitamins A and D
  • keeping copper and iron balanced
  • thyroid and adrenal health
  • immune health

Why we need Liver Loving, not Flushing or Cleansing

The Liver itself doesn’t get dirty- it doesn’t need to be flushed or cleansed. It can get sluggish and it can start getting an extra storage of fat, iron, and copper but it doesn’t store toxins.  When the liver gets sluggish, it stores toxins in FAT which is why there is such a huge link between being overweight and having liver issues.

This is one of the main reasons why I am not a huge fan of liver flushes, cleanses, or anything that will stress the liver out and force it to detox. Our goal should be to provide supporting herbs, foods, and practices to help gently stimulate the liver to heal.  Obviously we all have to make our own choices, but I am not a fan of things like liver/gallbladder flushes, chelation, or fasting- these methods can be very harsh on the body, especially if you are dealing with adrenal dysfunction.  Forcing the body to heal when it doesn’t have the strength is counter-productive.  Gently nourishing the whole body is the key for sustainable healing.

How to Properly Love your Liver

One of the main liver lovers that I recommend to nearly all of my clients is BioRay Liver Life. I have seen miraculous results with this particular herbal blend. The herbs that are used help with the liver, kidneys, lymph, adrenals, and immune system so you get a huge whole-body healing effect from this one supplement. You can read my full post about Liver Life here. Or you can check it out on BioRay’s site, where you can also see many of their other awesome products that I often recommend (and now you can get 15% off your order with the code SASSY at checkout!). You can also read about 10 of the most common detox myths here!

liver healing
BioRay Liver Life is the best choice for liver loving!

According to this source, the tests done with Liver Life “reveal improvements in high liver enzymes, food sensitivities, fatty acid metabolism, pH balance, nutrient absorption and microbial imbalances.”  Not only that, but liver function can improve liver function by 50% in only 15 days. Liver Life supports both phases of liver detox, can improve histamine intolerance, and can help heal food sensitivities over time.

The Liver Life itself can be used for kids as the dose is based on weight, but BioRay has a specific formula just for kids called CALM. You can read more about the kids’ line here.

Other Liver Loving Ideas

  • Herbal infusions like nettles, oatstraw and red raspberry leaf. Infusions are extremely nourishing to the body, and most of them help with liver, lymph, kidneys, and the adrenals.
  • Sunflower Lecithin: This form of lecithin is rich in phosphatidyl choline, which is a B complex vitamin that has extremely important roles in fat metabolism and liver health. It helps with stimulating bile flow and can help flush fat out of the liver, and it is also extremely important for brain health.
  • Castor oil packs (read about castor oil packs here!)
  • Dandelion root decoctions or tea
  • garlic, turmeric, ginger, cayenne
  • Bitter herbs

 

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.*

 

liver healing

Lyme Disease Resources on how to Heal Naturally

lyme disease

Lyme disease isn’t something I’ve dealt with personally and I haven’t done much studying done on it as of yet. But I wanted to get together a good article for resources for people trying to learn more about this insidious disease, especially as it is supposed to be a very bad year for ticks. It is possible to heal though, and I know many that are beating Lyme’s butt naturally and successfully.

How Mineral Imbalances play a role in Lyme

Copper is a crucial mineral for pathogen management in the body. All of my clients that have tested positive for any kind of pathogen (Lyme, Candida, parasites, EBV, etc) have a copper imbalance. Our environment is pretty much set up for us to create this imbalance. We need healthy livers and adrenals to create the copper binding protein (and most people have sluggish livers and stressed adrenals thanks to the SAD lifestyle- poor diet, tons of stress, lack of sleep, etc). When copper becomes hard for the body to balance, we can also become imbalanced with iron. I see some people with Lyme that have high iron storage, and I see some that have low iron- depends on the person and what their history is on if they start to hoard iron (which Lyme can feed on) or if they are just outright deficient because of how minerals can become skewed under the stress of dealing with a pathogen.

To get to the bottom of copper and iron imbalances

Get an HTMA done, and get these blood labs drawn: copper serum, zinc plasma or serum, ceruloplasmin, iron, ferritin, TIBC, Saturation %, and transferrin. If you’re lucky enough to have an understanding doctor, ask them to request the labs. If not, check out Request a Test or Walk-In Lab (usually the cheaper of the 2).

Read more about copper dysregulation here, and about iron here. As these minerals balance, it will be easier for your body to handle the pathogens, but there are so many amazing herbs and protocols out there too that will help as well.

Other awesome resources

Keep ticks out of your yard naturally: Did you know that chickens eat ticks? Or that there are certain plants you can put in your yard to repel ticks? This article has a lot of great ideas.

Stephen Buhner: Buhner has one of the most popular and effective protocols for healing Lyme. He has a website, a book about healing Lyme, a book about herbal antibiotics, and a book about herbal antivirals. I know many people using some of his recommendations and they all are doing well. He even has info on preventing Lyme during heavy tick seasons: at least 1000 mg of astragalus daily can help keep the immune system strong enough to prevent infection or even to make the disease less harsh if you are bit.

Lyme healing protocol from Organic Lifestyle Magazine: This is a very comprehensive post that goes over the history of Lyme, the stages of it, the controversy about testing, the common co-infections, and all of the treatment possibilities there are.

Brenda from Real Food Rebel: Brenda healed herself from Lyme and has an absolutely amazing blog dedicated to helping others. She outlines what helped her heal from Lyme, which includes whole foods, bowel and parasite cleansing, the Buhner protocol, and more. Everyone is different though- her protocol is amazing, but some may need to do more or less depending on what you are dealing with exactly.

Homeopathy and Lyme: Homeopathy can be a huge helper in helping one to heal from anything, including Lyme disease.

Mold toxin Illness in Lyme Disease: Lyme rarely exists on its own, and a weakened immune system can make you more susceptible to being sensitive to mold.  Activated charcoal and bentonite clay can both be helpful in this situation.

One more story of someone healing their Lyme

Barlow Herbals: This company has 2 awesome formulas that help immensely with overall immune support, and they include one of the most powerful herbs for Lyme called Lomatium root. Barlow recommends starting with Munity Boost first, and then you can eventually move on to just straight lomatium. They have a ton of amazing info on their site about this too!

Stay tuned for more additions!

The Beginner’s Guide to Natural Healing

natural healing

If you are new to natural health, it can be very overwhelming to know where to begin your journey. I’m going to put together my top tips on where to start!

Heal Your Gut

Healing your gut is usually the best first step to take on this healing journey. Many people are dealing with leaky gut, impaired digestion, and many nutritional imbalances. The best things to look into to heal the gut are grass-fed collagen, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, probiotics, and bitter herbs.

Eat Clean!

Part of healing your gut will include eliminating processed foods, and learning to incorporate more whole foods. Staying away from MSG, artificial sweeteners, food coloring, corn syrup, and canola oil is essential. Luckily, it is easy to avoid these things if you are eating organically! You can learn more about my take on the Ideal diet here, or just check out the “food-like” items we should all be avoiding. I also have some tips here on Eating Clean on a budget! Also, drinking clean is just as important as the eating clean part! Cutting out soda, non-organic coffee and teas, and excessive fruit juice is essential. Read my tips on properly staying hydrated here.

Love your liver

Our livers have over 500 functions!  We can function with only 1/6th of our livers so they can truly take a beating until we determine that something is actually wrong. If you are dealing with any sort of illness, it is a given that your liver needs some love. My favorite liver lover to start with is BioRay Liver Life. My next favorites are bitter herbs, dandelion root tea, beets, sunflower lecithin, and castor oil packs.

Move your lymph

Our lymph systems play a big role in detoxification. The lymph system does not have its own pump so we have to help support it. Easy ways to support the lymph are dry skin brushing, rebounding, castor oil packs, light exercise like yoga (especially the legs on the wall pose!) and walking, massage, and herbs like red root (which is in the Liver Life supplement mentioned above).

Reduce environmental toxins

The average American woman uses about 515 chemicals on her body daily with the use of popular personal care products. While not all of these chemicals are harmful, many of them have proven to be carcinogenic, disruptive of hormones, or just plain irritating to the skin. When our livers are overloaded, it is very hard for our bodies to process these chemicals so it is just best to reduce the toxic load wherever we can.

There are about 82,000 known chemicals used in everyday household items, and most of them have never been tested for safety. I recommend taking baby steps with this one and just start replacing the items in your house with better products. This includes dish soap, all-purpose cleaners, shampoo, deodorant, make-up, and perfumes. We use Poofy Organics for most of our personal care and household products. They have about 500 products at this point, and they are one of the few companies I completely trust. I’m very picky with what I use and promote at this point!

Improve Sleep

Without sleep, we cannot properly heal. Sleep is considered to be a silent healer: it seems unimportant to many people, but we heal and detox a LOT when we get proper rest. You can read my top tips for getting better sleep here. My favorites are tart cherry juice, castor oil packs, dandelion root tea, limiting screen time for about 1-2 hours before bed, reading a physical book (not an ebook!), making sure you get some light exercise through the day (even the legs on the wall yoga pose can help), and making sure you are loving your livers as mentioned above.

Figure out your personal nutritional deficiencies so you aren’t blindly supplementing.

Most of my followers know by now that I love hair tissue mineral analysis. It can truly take a lot of the guesswork out of healing, and it can save you the frustration of trying supplement after supplement in the hopes that something will work for you. Copper dysregulation is a big focus for most of my clients, and HTMA is a great way to figure out the best way to fix this issue. You can learn all about HTMA here!

Nutrient Dense Foods

Once we cut the junk out, we need to focus on the good stuff. My favorite nutrient dense foods are ghee, grass-fed butter, pumpkin seeds, herbal infusions (especially nettles and oatstraw), desiccated beef liver, grass-fed collagen, bone broth, good fats, and good proteins.

Stress Management

Western society is obsessed with being busy. The busier you are, the more successful you seem apparently. However, this lifestyle is not sustainable and it is playing a very big role in our health. Learning how to reduce (or in some cases eliminate) stress is a crucial part to healing. This might be finding a job that is less stressful, cutting toxic people out of your life, making yourself realize that you don’t have to push yourself to exhaustion each day just to accomplish things, and cutting down on stimulants/addictions like caffeine and cigarettes.

Sometimes we can’t change our situations, but we can change how we reach to things to an extent. There are MANY ways to help yourself cope with stress. If you are dealing with adrenal exhaustion, a good adaptogenic herb can help depending on the state of your adrenals as well as your symptoms. But doing things like finding a hobby to do each day can help so much. Experiencing pure happiness everyday, even for a short amount of time can truly change your attitude.

So read a book, start a blog, go for a walk, talk to friends, look into EFT/Tapping, Buteyko breathing, yoga, meditate, practice gratitude, whatever helps you disconnect from your stress for a few minutes!

And that is it!

I hope this helps those that are just getting on this path! It might seem overwhelming at first, but once you get used to living a healthier lifestyle it becomes much easier. And completely worth it! Changing our lifestyles is so imperative, especially because we need to start thinking about the future generations.

Need more ideas? Check out my massive post on my absolute favorite remedies for specific health conditions!

 

Proper Hydration for Better Health

proper hydration

A dear friend of mine shared this article with me a few months ago and it really made me realize how much I agree with it, but it isn’t something that I’ve ever really addressed to my followers before. Basically, the idea that we need massive amounts of plain water a day isn’t entirely true.  When we are dealing with mineral deficiencies, too much plain water can actually be detrimental to our health because we can further lower our electrolyte levels.

Staying Hydrated is definitely key for health though!

I tend to recommend a lot of liquids in my plans for people, so much so that they often comment about it. And usually I will think to mention how it’s better to be drinking so many concoctions that actually have minerals and other nutrients in them instead of plain water, which can be dehydrating.  Also, when we are trying to replenish nutrient levels, we aren’t just limited to food items for this purpose: there are many ways to drink our nutrients.  Those dealing with leaky gut and low stomach acid tend to find the best benefit from this approach.

My Favorite Drinks

I love to mix it up when it comes to these drinks, and I think that instinct plays a big role in what I pick on a daily basis. Some days I really want some dandelion, and others I really can’t stand it. I think variety is very important when it comes to healing too- if we get stuck doing the same ole thing every single day, we’re going to get bored and fall out of the habit of doing things.

Cranberry Lemon Limeade

Cranberry juice is amazing for the lymph system, the urinary tract system, cardiovascular system, and it can help with cancer prevention. Cranberry is also helpful for those dealing with H.Pylori infections.

Lemons and limes are both amazing for the gut, liver, lymph, and contain a lot of vitamin C.  Warm lemon water in the morning is a popular way to start the day and get digestion kick-started, but I am not very fond of this personally (and I find that the lemon makes my teeth hurt! I’ve tried straws but I really just prefer this recipe that I’m going to talk about.)

You could totally use any of these fruits in isolation, but for getting the maximum benefit as well as making a drink that is very enjoyable, I have come up with this recipe:

  • I usually make 2 quarts at a time so I have enough for a few days.
  • I use 1/4-1/2 cup of cranberry juice per quart (unsweetened, either bought or homemade and organic when possible)
  • I juice 2 lemons and limes and split this liquid between the 2 quarts. I use this awesome juicer that attaches to my stand mixer, makes things so super easy!
  • I’ve been adding about a tablespoon of raw honey to each quart now too, and this makes this concoction taste SO good.  I usually mix it with the cranberry and lemon/lime juices, and then I add enough water to the quart jars to fill them up.
  • And that’s it! I usually make this twice a week now. On the days I feel like my lymph and liver are a bit sluggish, I drink more of this than anything else.

Tart Cherry Lime

This mix was an idea from a client- she mentioned that she started sleeping better when she tried it, and it makes sense as tart cherry juice is incredible for helping melatonin and it is very potassium rich. This is how I made it:

  • 2 Tablespoons Tart Cherry Juice
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • about a quart of filtered water or sparkling water

I put the tart cherry and lime juice in a quart mason jar, and then filled the rest up with sparkling water (and let the fizz settle!). It was really delicious and refreshing.

Herbal Infusions

Most people already know my love for herbal infusions. These amazing beverages are a perfect way to help replenish mineral levels, which support many of the body’s organs.

Nettle infusions are my top favorite as they are the most nutrient dense and have the widest range of benefits. They help with adrenal health, kidney and liver detox, blood sugar regulation, hormonal health, they help increase milk supply for nursing mothers, they help prevent and treat anemia, and they are a natural anti-histamine. Nettles actually help to release uric acid from the joints, making it a great remedy for arthritis as well.  Nettles treat neurological disorders, congestion, joints/muscle pain, allergies, celiac’s disease, skin complaints, UTIs, and all women’s issues.  They are also used for enlarged prostate glands, parasites, regulating blood pressure, goiter, Lupus, and they help to purify the blood. You can get stinging nettles here.

The other main infusions that I recommend depending on symptoms and what a person’s HTMA says are oatstraw and red raspberry leaf.

Oatstraw is full of magnesium and most of the B vitamins and is the richest food source of silica, a mineral that is VERY important for detoxification as well as hair, skin and nail health. Oatstraw is great for restoring the nervous system, keeping the cardiovascular system healthy, stabilizing emotions (great for anxiety and depression), and it is a well-known aphrodisiac. It also can help with energy, detoxification, immune health, overcoming addictions, and brain fog. Oatstraw especially benefits the liver and pancreas.

Red Raspberry Leaf is an amazing remedy for PMS, endometriosis, and it helps to balance hormones. This herb is especially helpful for women trying to conceive as it is a very popular remedy for infertility. Red raspberry leaf works great with nettles during pregnancy and while breastfeeding since they both provide amazing nutrition as well as helping to balance hormones. It helps to strengthen the uterus and pelvic muscles which helps to make labor shorter and easier.

How to make herbal infusions:

Infusions are super easy to make. Steep one ounce (about one cup) of dried herb in a quart of hot water for at least 4 hours- leaving it overnight is perfect. Strain the herbs and store the liquid in the fridge. Some reuse the herbs to make another quart or 2. Mason jars are perfect for making these infusions.  Infusions will generally last about 2-4 days in the fridge after making them. If you find yours has gone a little bad, you can use it for any plants you might have or even a hair rinse after you wash your hair!

Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV is one of my favorite gut healing tools. This helps with digesting food, assimilating nutrients, and gentle detox.

Usually the best way to take ACV is to use 1-2 tablespoons (diluted in water), about 10-15 minutes before at least 2 meals a day. We need to dilute the vinegar because of how strong it is, but if you can limit the amount of water used to about 4-6 ounces this is best so we don’t have too much liquid in the stomach when you are about to eat. But the extra acidity that the ACV provides is usually worth it!

ACV isn’t the most delicious thing to drink, but it can be VERY helpful for those dealing with low stomach acid. If the above recipe isn’t palatable, then look into making something like Switchel, which uses ACV and other gut healers, but tastes MUCH better!

Adrenal Cocktails

Adrenal Cocktails are amazing additions for people needing extra adrenal support. They can help with energy boosting, soothing anxiety, sleep, and more. Potassium, sodium and vitamin C are 3 of the most important nutrients that the adrenals need when they are under stress. Most do the cocktails at least twice daily, usually mid morning and mid afternoon to help with preventing energy slumps that tend to happen at those times. Some use 1/4 teaspoon of unrefined salt or they use an amount of salt water sole that works best for them. I tend to like sole since it is much easier to add to these liquids- you don’t have to take extra time to dissolve the salt that way!

Some people also add grass-fed collagen (or even their adaptogen blends) to their adrenal cocktails. You can also halve the amount of liquids if desired.

Recipe Ideas:

  • The original: 8 ounce OJ with ¼ tsp cream of tartar and ¼ tsp of unrefined salt
  • My favorite: 8 ounces coconut water, ¼ tsp unrefined sea salt , and vitamin C powder.
  • Food based: Baked sweet potato with some grass-fed butter, unrefined sea salt, and blackstrap molasses
  • Other ideas: 1T of black strap molasses, 1 whole organic lemon, 1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt, with just enough water to blend it all
  • 1/2 cup coconut water, 1-2 tsps of sole water, 1/2 tsp of pure radiance vitamin c and squeezed 1/2 lime

Dandelion root tea or decoctions

Dandelion root is one of my favorite herbs for liver health (helps bile flow), helps fat metabolism, high in potassium, helps digestion, and good coffee substitute.   Recipe ideas and where to find dandelion in here!

Other ideas:

  • Adding salt water sole to the water that you do drink
  • Coconut water (and you can add sole to this as well)
  • Watermelon water
  • Drinks like “Daily Greens”: they have a lemonade type drink that has nearly 3000mg of potassium in a bottle!

 

Herbal Bitters: An Essential tool for Gut Healing!

I LOVE HERBAL BITTERS!

Bitter herbs are an incredibly powerful tool for fixing digestion. Digestion starts in the mouth, and herbal bitters help kick start this process. The “bitter” taste hits our taste buds and starts to stimulate the production of gastric juices.  When I work on gut healing for my clients, I am always aiming to add in things that will help to retrain the body to do what it needs to do. Things like bitter herbs, apple cider vinegar, and aloe vera help to do this, whereas things like HCl, pepsin, and ox bile are only replacing what is being lost- these are just crutches in the long term.

Herbal bitters help to:

  • Regulate stomach acid
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Boost bile flow for fat absorption and detoxification (bile is a basically a natural laxative- and poor bile is a huge cause of constipation)
  • Aid liver function
  • Boost the immune system
  • Increase nutrient assimilation
  • And they can even help with stress and anxiety
  • Encourage digestive enzyme production (which is why I recommend them over most regular enzyme supplements)
  • Calm down heartburn, gas, and bloating

My Favorite Bitter Herbs

Dandelion Root

Most people already know how much I love dandelion root. One of the reasons why it is so helpful is because of its role as a bitter herb. Dandelion helps stimulate bile flow in the liver, which is an important factor for people trying to regain their health and detox effectively. One source that it actually quadruples bile flow!

My favorite ways to use dandelion include tea or a decoction. You can get the recipes here, or check out these photos so you can Pin them for later!

Gaia Herbs “Sweetish” Bitters

Gaia Herbs “Sweetish” Bitters are great! This blend includes Anise Seed, Cardamom, Fennel, Gentian, Ginger Root, Milk Thistle, Turmeric, and more. You just put 60 drops in a little bit of liquid about 15 minutes before each meal to help with digestion. So easy! I usually recommend to start with just a few drops at first just to work up to the full dose because increasing bile flow can start to initiate some detox.

Herb Pharm Better Bitters

Herb Pharm is another one of my favorite herbal companies. They offer several herbal bitter options: liquids(like the Gaia herbs formula above) or they even have sprays. The sprays are even easier (and great for on-the-go use!) as all you do is spray it 4 times in your mouth about 10 minutes before a meal. The sprays are STRONG tasting but it is kind of the point when it comes to bitters. We want to taste the bitter flavor as much as we can to help stimulate the gut.

The Herb Pharm bitters have a few flavors to choose from. I went with the Classic and Bittersweet sprays, and honestly there is not much of a difference in taste. They are both pretty strong tasting, but both effective!

My current assortment of bitters!

Note for Nursing Mamas: Most of these bitters aren’t good while nursing (which stinks because we need that bile support postpartum!). I have found 3 options that are OK while nursing.  This lactation formula has bitters in it, so it can help with milk supply as well.   And this one is good while pregnant so I would think it is OK while nursing.

Dandelion tea is also ok while pregnant and nursing, I just wouldn’t overdo it. Maybe 1 cup a day would be good just for a bit of support. Obviously eating or drinking things like beets, artichokes, Apple cider vinegar, lemon water,  and healthy fats help with bile as well as those are definitely safe during these times where we need lots of nourishment.


Why I LOVE Elderberry Syrup(Plus my recipe!)

[ReviewDisclaimer]

elderberries

Elderberries are one of the best immune boosters out there.  There is a lot of evidence that elderberry syrup is so strong that it is an effective treatment for the flu!  Elderberries are high in vitamin C, which we know is a crucial nutrient for immune health.  Elderberries are anti-inflammatory but they have a laxative, diuretic, and expectorant properties.

Elderberries can also be beneficial to those with EBV, herpes simplex, and even HIV. It can help lower the risk of heart disease as well! (Source)

The most common way to use elderberries is in a syrup.  You can buy your own or you can make it yourself!  It is much more cost effective you make it yourself.  A whole pound of elderberries is the same price as a small portion of pre-made syrup.  Learn how to make your own syrup from Wellness Mama. I use her recipe when I make elderberry syrup, but I do make a few modifications.

Elderberry Syrup
Print Recipe
One of the BEST immune system boosters out there!
Elderberry Syrup
Print Recipe
One of the BEST immune system boosters out there!
Instructions
  1. Add water, elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (if using) to a pot. Don’t add the honey though!
  2. Once the mixture boils, then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45-60 minutes. The liquid should reduce by almost half in this time.
  3. Let the mixture cool for a good 10-15 minutes. Pour this mixture through a mesh strainer into another bowl, and you can mash the berries with a spoon to help get some more of the juices out. Either throw the used berries out, or compost them if you are able to.
  4. Let the liquid cool a bit longer before adding the raw honey ( heat can kill the enzymes, so we don’t want to add the honey to a very hot liquid).
  5. You can store this in the fridge once complete (a Mason jar is perfect). It seems to vary how long it keeps, but with 3 of us using it regularly, it doesn’t have time to go bad.
Recipe Notes

*I like the recommendation for taking as preventative at least 5 times a week.   Typical dosing is 1-2 tsp for children and 1-2 tbsp for adults. If you do end up catching a cold or the flu, you can easily double the dose until you feel better. If I end up catching something I do 1 tablespoon 3 times a day until I feel better. *

Elderberry syrup might not be a good idea for those with certain auto-immune illnesses.  Just like anything, you have to look into it yourself and see if it is something you can tolerate.  Every body is different.

Why do I recommend raw honey? Read more here!

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