Saturday, December 29, 2018

An Affair of the Heart: Heart Disease

    Coronary artery disease is the number one cause of death and affects approximately seven million Americans, causing 1.5 million heart attacks each year. Mainstream medicine offers only a temporary fix with $9 billion spent on bypass surgeries each year. If that money went instead into preventative approaches, the health system would be better off and so would millions of Americans.
    Preventative therapies include treating high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, encouraging Americans to quit smoking, lose weight, exercise more and manage stress more effectively. Garlic, onions, ginger and red pepper help prevent and treat heart disease by reducing blood pressure and garlic and onions also cut cholesterol and discourage the blood from forming clots. If you know much about herbs, that probably isn't news to you. But you may not know that many other herbs can help.
    High-calcium plants such as lamb's quarter, stinging nettle, watercress, licorice, marjoram, savory, red clover and thyme can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack.
    Angelica- contains 15 compounds that are calcium channel blockers. Doctors routinely prescribe calcium channel blockers such as verapamil (Calan) to prevent heart attack.
    Hawthorn- improves blood circulation through the heart by opening the coronary arteries. It also helps to reduce blood pressure.
    Purslane- is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids which help prevent clots that trigger heart attack. In addition, it contains calcium, magnesium and antioxidants- all very supportive of a healthy heart.
    Chicory- has two heart benefits: It slows a rapid heartbeat and it also has a mild heart-stimulating effect similar to the often prescribed medication digitalis.
    I do not advise abandoning any current medications (Calan or Digoxin) in favor of Angelica or Chicory, but adding herbs to your daily diet in cooking, teas or supplement form can improve your chances of preventing heart disease and heart attack. If you do decide to use these, let your doctor be aware so he/she can monitor your medication effects closely.

Low Cholesterol Tea
1 tsp. roasted chicory root
1 tsp. linden flowers
1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp. ginger root
1 quart water

Combine all in a pan and bring to a simmer. Cover and steep for 20 minutes. Strain the herbs. Drink 1-2 cups a day.

Prevention Better Than Cure- Heart Care Aromatherapy-Style
These formulas reduce stress, improve circulation, nervous system and also lower high blood pressure.

Cardamom    2 drops
Geranium      1 drop
Clary Sage    2 drops
Bergamot      1 drop
Rosemary     1 drop
Hyssop         1 drop
Bergamot     1 drop

Use in a bath or in two teaspoons vegetable oil for a full body massage or in one teaspoon vegetable oil for self-massage. Self-massage once a week. Bath twice a week.

by Judy Burger

Thursday, December 27, 2018

HELICHRYSUM: Essential Oil of the Month

Helichrysum, with it's golden flowers, is named for the Greek words helios (sun) and chrysos (gold). Commonly, it is called immortelle, due to its long-lasting blossoms.
Helichrysum oil is naturally antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial. It is known for reducing the appearance of scars and wrinkles, and is often added to facial serums to treat acne. It is anti-allergenic and many have found it beneficial in the topical treatment of hives. Helichrysum oil boosts normal immune function and can support the body through post-illness fatigue. 
The scent of helichrysum is warm and woodsy and it is believed to soothe away deep emotional feelings. It diffuses anger and destructive feelings and is slightly hypnotic. 

by Kristy Baird

Interview with Chris Reinelt, Doula

Interview with Chris Reinelt, Doula by Chelsea Morning
Find out why Chris became a Doula, how she cares for the new mama, and what the universe is trying to tell us.

Women are a combination of pure strength and compassion. We are peaceful warriors; holding life in our core. Among our many talents, we birth new hope, new beginnings, a new addition to beauty and endurance of our kind. We’re the primal earth that ripens the seeds. Chris Reinelt, Doula with Erie Doulas, is the ultimate mother to the mother. With encouraging words of empowerment, she can invoke your inner Gaea. She supports with the gentle touch of hundreds of births in her hands, and will, through it all, be your emotional cheerleader. Like the best of mothers, she wholeheartedly believes in you, she roots for you, and guides you through, as you make your way to becoming Mother!

Why did you become a doula? Was it something you knew you always wanted to be, or did it find you, so to speak?
During my 4th and last pregnancy and birth, I was under the care of Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner Darlene Kerner. It was her care that exposed me to different options that lead to a beautiful, empowering birth and that ultimately put me on the path to becoming a Doula. I wanted other women to experience what I had experienced. I believe and have seen that when given support and knowing your options, you have better outcomes. That your involvement and participation in confident decision-making helps create a positive outcome and you're not just a bystander to the process or routine management.

How would you describe your style, your approach to birth, and your doula philosophy?
When attending a birth, I won’t know if I need to be “hands on” or “holding space” until witnessing where the mother is at in the process and how she can be supported best. Going with her rhythm and meeting her where she needs to be met. I involve her partner to their comfort level, reassure them both, and help them find what works best for them.
After years of practicing solo, I partnered up with another Doula, Michelle Totleben, whom I had trained with in 2000 and used as back up if needed. We are now known as Erie Doulas. . Between us, we have attended over 200 births and offer solid coverage at the time of birth. After an initial meeting and reviewing the contract, 1-2 prenatals are scheduled, which can take place at the woman’s home or place of choice. During those visits, topics include; history, health, birth location, early labor support, breastfeeding and generally anything that may be of concern to her/them.

What services are included during an expecting mama’s pregnancy and during labor?
Early support is offered at home until the midwife arrives, and after, as well, or until transitioned to the hospital of choice. We give continued support for several hours after birth or until feeding/breastfeeding is established. Massage, relaxation, positioning, partner support, and guidance, along with photography, if desired, and written documentation are some of the options used. In the event a surgical birth is needed, support is also available to the mom and her partner.

How do you care for the new mama and baby in the days after the birth?
Typically the day following the birth, I will visit the mom at her home or at the hospital. A week later, or sooner if needed, a home visit to go over notes, photos, and discuss anything needed, as well as to ensure that breastfeeding is going well. I will also encourage Mama to rest and reach out to many local resources for support if needed.

What have you learned about life, love, and strength from assisting and witnessing so many births?
I don’t know if I could even begin to relay what I’ve learned about life, love and strength. I continue to be in absolute awe at each and every birth. I’ve realized how amazing it is to be a witness to the sacredness of the whole process and what a privilege it is to be present at the birth of a child, to watch a woman become a mother, and to see a family be born.

10 little questions (because the little things mean so much)

What's your favorite sound? My favorite sound is centered around water; rain, waves, ripples, falls, (just not the sound of a sink dripping at 2 a.m.!) And anyone that knows me well, knows that I love the sound of a sport bike!

What smell do you love? I love the smell of warm, dry autumn leaves.

Would you rather shrink down super small or grow to the size of a giant, taller than the trees? The size of giant! I love to travel and I could cover so much more ground and see further!

Sunrise or sunsets? I love them both! Sunrises are energizing--the breaking of a new day with so many possibilities to explore, and with sunsets, I slow down and reflect. To sum it up: Sunrise= energizes= set goals. Sunset= slows me down= reflect. It’s nature’s way of balancing me.

What’s your favorite weird food combination that sounds gross but tastes really good? No weird food combos now, but growing up I loved my mom’s homemade mac and cheese with ketchup.

Is the hokey pokey what it's really all about? I guess if you looked at the hokey pokey as another way of just saying--get out there and participate in life--put yourself in or out there and do it--then it is what it's really all about.

What's your favorite herb? Rosemary

What essential oil do you love? Bergamot

What’s your favorite gemstone? Peridot--for me, it’s strength and confidence.

What is the universe trying to tell us? They universe is trying to tell us to slow down, pay attention and receive.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Preventative Measures for Optimal Health

If your New Year's resolution is to live a more healthy life, a common sense approach to maintaining optimal health always includes basic preventative measures. We all know: eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; avoid alcohol, tobacco, drugs and processed foods; drink plenty of water; exercise; get plenty of rest, fresh air and sunlight. But did you know essential oils can also help in your efforts in a number of ways, especially during the cold and flu season?
Not only can essential oils prevent infections, but in some cases, they can fight off one that has already invaded. The oils used for cold and flu prevention include tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, myrrh, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, grapefruit, frankincense and bergamot. Tea tree and eucalyptus oils are the most useful for preventing upper respiratory infections, and for treating them once they have set in.
Steam inhalation is the best method, or placing a few drops of either oil in your humidifier also works very well to sanitize the air and you will also inhale the molecules of the oils. For children or anyone who may object to the odors of tea tree or eucalyptus, try lemon and lavender oils instead. Any citrus oils such as grapefruit, sweet orange or bergamot also work well.
Any of these oils can be added to a suitable base oil to make a comforting chest rub. Reduce fevers by adding lemon, peppermint and eucalyptus to sponge baths or compresses. To ease general muscle aches that accompany cold and flu, bathe with a combination of rosemary and lavender. Any symptoms that do not respond to your own home cures (such as prolonged chest pain or congestion) can lead to serious illnesses like pneumonia. Use common sense, listen to your body and seek professional advice when needed.
Aromatherapy is a subtle yet effective method of maintaining your health without the side effects of drugs or the expense of other medical treatments. Continue to adopt preventative measure to improve your general level of health and let Chicory Hill Herbs be a part of your success.

by Judy Burger

Friday, December 21, 2018

ASHWAGANDHA: Herb of the Month

Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) is a small shrub with yellow flowers that is native to India and North Africa. The root has been used in traditional Ayurvedic practice in India for over 3,000 years as a stress reliever, energy tonic and concentration aid. Ashwagandha is a part of a group of herbs called adaptogens- that is, it helps your body adapt to and manage stress. Ashwagandha, when taken daily, is well-known for reducing cortisol. One study reported that it “blocked the stress pathway in the brains of rats by regulating chemical signaling in the nervous system.”
Those who suffer from diabetes and schizophrenia may also benefit from Ashwagandha's ability to lower blood sugar. It is also believed to inhibit tumor growth and help treat certain types of cancer. Ashwagandha “is believed to generate reactive oxygen species, which are toxic to cancer cells but not normal cells. It may cause cancer cells to become less resistant to apoptosis.” Research has also shown that it protects nerve cells from free radicals and promotes antioxidant activity.
Another amazing ability of this plant is lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. When taken daily, it can reduce body fat and increase muscle mass in connection with exercise. Ashwagandha can also increase testosterone levels in infertile men. It decreases inflammation and lowers heart disease risk.
Ashwagandha is safe for most people to take. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid it, as well as those with autoimmune disease. If on thyroid medication, use caution because it can increase hormone levels in some people. Because it decreases blood pressure levels and blood sugar, consult your doctor if you are already taking medication for these.

Ashwagandha Latte
1 tsp dried Ashwagandha root
1 tsp rose hips
1 tsp pine needles
1 Tbsp coconut oil
8 oz unsweetened almond milk
honey, to taste
Bring almond milk and ashwagandha to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and add pine and rose hips. Allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain into blender and add coconut oil and honey. Blend until foamy. Enjoy in a mug with a sprinkle of nutmeg for a creamy winter treat.

By Kristy Baird

Thursday, December 13, 2018

BLUE APATITE: Gemstone of the Month

"Blue Apatite is a cleansing influence on the auric field, especially in the mental body- the vibratory level associated with psychic perception and paranormal abilities. It is stimulating to visionary states and is a good stone to keep in one's pillowcase for lucid dreaming and astral travel. Blue Apatite can enhance one's experience of 'vertical vision,' in which one is able to see multiple levels of consciousness operating harmoniously and simultaneously. It is a stone of inspiration, capable of making one more susceptible to the 'aha experience' in which one has an instant understanding, which crystallizes the answer to long-standing problems or questions. Its vibration attracts the 'blue being' of the supernal regions- whether they be ETs, guides or godlike entities such as Krishna- and it allows one to communicate with them." -The Book of Stones

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Book Spotlight: The Spirit Almanac

Taking time to nourish yourself and connect to the rhythms of the Earth can feel like a tall order when your days are packed to the brim but this beautifully illustrated handbook can make it a whole lot easier. The Spirt Almanac provides readers with potent, accessible rituals they will  want to call on again and again throughout the year to feel more grounded, aligned with their purpose, and in touch with their own innate sense of knowing.
Readers will be invited to practice and personalize dozens of routines incorporating science-backed techniques like breathwork, meditation, and aromatherapy, as well as more esoteric offerings like astrology, crystals, and tarot. Along the way, they will learn the fascinating history of ritual and trace these ancient spiritual practices through the ages to modern day applications from several true masters—from reiki healers to psychologists to sound therapists—who live and breathe this work. Divided by the four seasons, this book features dozens of ideas for spirit and soul enriching rituals including:
· Honor the quiet of winter and the start of the year by setting new intentions with a seed planting ritual
· Come spring, try a breathwork ritual to release blocks and move forward 
· Celebrate summer with a forest bathing ritual to clear your mind or a crystal ritual for an open, receptive heart
· Wind down in fall with a self-soothing full moon ceremony to reflect on the year 
The Spirit Almanac will infuse your life with more joy, gratitude, and a deeper connection to yourself and our Mother Earth.