Tuesday, September 29, 2009

HERBS OR SLEEPING PILLS, YOU BE THE JUDGE


Although I could talk about every single tincture I make, I don't want to over saturate your mind with this herbal hoopla. Once you learn about tinctures you pretty much know what you need to know, but I must share a little about lemon balm for those of you who suffer from insomnia.

One confession, I'm not a good sleeper. Never have been, never will be. Sure, I can get a good night sleep now and then but more often than not I don't sleep through the night (not sure if any mothers actually do). If I want to get a good nights rest I usually need some type of sleep aid. I was once medicated, years ago, to sleep through the night, but have chosen to avoid those types of treatments. Instead of being medicated I chose to not sleep. By a total fluke I drank a tea that helped me get a restful nights sleep and initially I didn't realize it was the tea but once I noticed the correlation between drinking the tea and sleeping I started to investigate a little further.

The tea was lemon balm. Depending on the literature you are reading, lemon balm may or may not be affective at promoting sleep. I can attest that it does act as a sedative, as some literature suggests. I learned the affects of lemon balm before I ever read about it.

Lemon balm is wonderful for many things, including: promoting conception, for painful menstruation, hot flashes in menopause, burns, blisters, anxiety, nausea and vomiting and panic attacks (plus much more).

I use it solely to help anxiety and to promote sleep.

Depending on where you get the tea, it may or may not work. My herbal studies have taught me that not all these medicinal plants are created equal, all depends on where they are grown, what species of plant they are, condition of soil, etc... To make sure I have the best lemon balm I grow my own. I know the soil, how well I've cared for the herb, whether or not it is stressed or healthy. I have two beautiful bushes that are thriving well in my backyard.

I thought that the herbal tea was the best thing that ever happened to me but I recently learned that the tincture will do me much better than the tea. Dried herbs tend to lose much of their potency so I've been advised to make a lemon balm tincture, giving myself 5 drops (under the tongue) when I'm anxious or before sleep. I've decided I will do the same before meditation.

So many people have trouble relaxing or sleeping, especially women, so for anyone looking for a natural sedative, lemon balm is great! As with all herbs or medicinal plants, please read up on the dangers associated with the plant and whether or not you have any medical conditions that make the plant inadvisable for you. People with hypothyroidism should avoid lemon balm.

Tincture:
Gather enough lemon balm leaves to fill your jar.
Pack the jar well, leaving a 1/2 inch space form the top of jar.
Fill the jar with 60 proof or higher edible alcohol (I use 80 proof vodka)
It will probably bubble a bit as it settles in the jar so you'll need to add more.
Make sure you cover all the leaves with vodka, leaving none sticking out.
Fill to the top of jar and cover with tight fitting lid.
Label with date & herb name.

Susan Weed suggests 6 weeks for all tinctures. I tend to think she's the gospel on herbal meds so I trust her judgement.

MATTHEW WOOD one of Minnesota's wonderful herbalists, has some good information about lemon balm on his site. Click on his name to read more.

Here is a great video from learningherbs.com/mountain rose herbs on making a tincture. They are using another great sedative plant called valerian.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

WORRIED ABOUT THE FLU? TRY ELDERBERRY

I'm not a proponent of vaccines so you won't see me and my family lining up for the H1N1 shot. I do however believe in herbal medicine. When your family has used herbal cures for centuries and passes along the positive benefits, you tend to listen. My great grandfather was blind until a native woman healed his site with crushed herbs. Now that is something I can't ignore.

I always incorporate herbs and essential oils into my body products, been self taught on EO's for years but recently I decided to take my education on their usage a little more seriously. I enrolled in herbal and aromatherapy studies beginning next week. I've also just begun taking classes with Lise Wolff, a local registered herbalist.

My goal is twofold. I want to be able to treat my family holistically, whenever possible, and I want to further my understanding of the things I use in my products.

My class with Lise this weekend was about learning to make an elderberry tincture and identifying medicinal plants in the wild. THE VERDICT: I learned much more than I had anticipated.

I knew how to make a tincture but didn't really understand the science behind it all but Lise was great at explaining everything. The reason I chose the use of elderberry as my first class is because of that "looming" threat of the H1N1 flu. My first reaction was to ignore all the reports about H1N1 because I think it is overhyped but then worry set in. I figure, I must at least protect my children.

Elderberry has been scientifically proven by Israeli researcher Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Ph.D, of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center to help prevent the flu and also lessen the duration.

Here are a few articles if you are interested in the studies on elderberry:
WebMD

Israeli Research

Ice News

Blackberry.com

To make an elderberry tincture you must first gather the berries



2nd, you would carefully pull the berries off the bush and place into a bowl or directly into a jar (whatever you wish). I say carefully because although the berries are little they are full of dark purple staining juices. My fingers were purple the entire day.





3rd, if you didn't put them directly into a jar you should pour them into one. (Use glass not plastic)

4th, pour vodka into the jar until it covers the tops of your berries. You don't want much air between the top of your berries and the lid of the jar. Use 60 proof or higher edible alcohol (for preservation). I used vodka.



5th, Cover with a tight fitting lid, label it (name of plant/berry used and date you made it) and let your tincture sit on a shelf for 6 weeks (no need to shake it in between). In 6 weeks you strain it into a bottle and then fill your dropper bottle with the amount you will need. I purchased a 4 oz dropper bottle for my family (and will refill when it runs out).

Our family will be using drops of this tincture under the tongue. Hubby and I plan on using 3-5 drops 2x's a day for ourselves and 2 drops 2x's a day for the kids.

Next... lemon balm tincture :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I FEEL PRODUCTIVE

I rarely feel like I get anything done. I keep doing and doing and doing but have nothing to show for it. No, this isn't a whine fest, just seriously feel like I get nothing done. LOL!

Well, we harvested our veggies the other day and I must ask my domestic blogging friends a little question. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY HARVEST???

My onions were suppose to get big but they didn't. The largest was probably golf ball size and my celery is huge (length wise) but the stalks are super skinny.

I'm no master gardner but I do believe I did everything right. We have clay soil so to make it worthy of a veggie garden we built ourselves, with untreated cedar wood, a little garden bed. We put in organic soil, fertilizer and some other thing to make the soil breath (sorry, the name escapes me). Our tomatoes and strawberries came out fine, our cucumbers ripened very fast and were big enough for the jolly green giant to eat, but something went wrong with the onions and celery.




I do have a proud moment to share. My youngest child Aiyana is very much into fairies right now. I decided to make her a little fairy bag with fairy goodies inside (buttons, thimble, miniature trinkets, etc...) Not a unique idea in the least but one I knew would make her happy.

Um, since I no martha stewart or whatever I knew I'd have to find a tutorial for the bag. Can I sew? Sure, I know the basics. I know how to thread a bobbin, thread a sewing machine, push the pedal and do a basic stitch. Do I know sewing terminology? Not at all. Can I follow visual instructions? Absolutely.

I was fortunate enough to find this lined bag tutorial by HAPPY THINGS on the internet. I knew how to do a basic bag but had no clue how to line it so this tutorial was perfect. I hit a snag along the way but emailed the author of HAPPY THINGS begging for help, she responded right away, and I was able to finish my bag.

Here it is:





Don't worry, you can be honest. What do you think? It is my very first lined drawstring bag. I had a little issue on the casting, thread bunched up and all that baloney, but I blame the sewing machine and not myself. LOL! I'm just happy that baby Yana is happy. That makes it all perfect!