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Endocrine Disruptors

I have been researching a lot about endocrine disruptors the last few years. The information is incredibly upsetting, but I am trying to take heart. Although we may feel powerless when it comes to the rule of money over health, there are steps we can take towards detoxifying our homes, bodies, and communities. The first step is knowledge.

What is an endocrine distruptor?
An endocrine disruptor is a synthetic chemical that enters the body and disrupts the natural processes of the endocrine system by mimicking or blocking hormones, or otherwise disrupting the endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for the production of hormones, resulting in the immense and complex actions they have in our bodies. Xenohormones are the synthetic chemicals that that have the ability to act as hormones in the body to produce physical responses.
Nowadays, endocrine disruptors are found in thousands upon thousands of products that people are exposed to on a daily basis, through the air, food, water, plastics, pesticides, personal care products, and more. Regretfully, if you live anywhere on this planet in this day and age, your body has absorbed a huge number of these toxins. They can cause an incredible number of problems and diseases- anything from mildly irritating allergies, to ADHD, obesity, cancer, and death.

What can you do to detoxify and protect yourself, your family, your community?
People are especially susceptible to the effects of endocrine disruptors when they are in the womb, through childhood, and adolesence. A person can develop issues in adulthood from even small amounts endocrine disruptors they were exposed to while in the womb.
Exercise and sweat regularly. Exercise keeps things moving and flowing through and out of the body. Reducing body fat if you are overweight is key because toxins can accumulate and store in fat cells. Sweat releases toxins.
Eat organic, whole, local, unpackaged, unprocessed foods. Meat and dairy have especially high levels of contaminants- reduce consumption of these and choose only organic, local, and fresh. Eat a variety of organic and fermented foods high in phytoestrogens.
Drink lots of pure, clean water. Do not drink water bottled in plastic. Do not drink tap water that has been contaminated with fluoride, chlorine, or other toxins.
Do away with plastic. Consider buying 100% glass and natural rubber containers for food leftovers- well worth the investment. Think of alternatives to plastic toys. Simply don’t buy things in plastic. Slowly but surely, take steps to eliminate plastic from your home.
Use only 100% natural care products. Don’t use commercial products that contain toxins, which happens to be true of almost any big company, including ones that market themselves as “natural”. Use natural cleaning solutions, throw out the make-up, and instead use personal care products you make yourself or buy them from someone you trust who does. Empower yourself and your family by learning to make things yourself.
If you can, think about planting your own organic garden, and/or restoring some of the local area back to its natural state. Remove trash, learn about organic permaculture gardening, forget the lawn mower and chemicals, and thank the earth you live on.
Learn about herbs and foods that can help you detoxify and stay healthy, and incorporate them into your life.
Educate yourself, and then also educate others in a gentle and kind way.

Further reading:
Hormone Deception, by Lindsey Berkson

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Plant Profile: Yarrow

Botanical Name: Achillea millefolium

Common Name: Yarrow

Family: Asteraceae

Energetics: drying, clearing, cooling

Primary Constituents: lactones, flavanoids, linalool

Actions: anti-bacterial, antiseptic, aromatic bitter, diaphoretic, hemostatic, astringent, styptic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anticoagulant

Field ID and Growing Habits:
Perennial herb, varieties of which grow in North America, Europe, and Asia. Millifolium refers to the appearance of many soft tiny leaves stemming from a single artery, though in fact they are single feathery leaves growing from the stalk. Long stem, leaves growing from the single stalk, and many small usually white, sometimes pink, flowers in a flat-topped umbel, clustered at the top of the plant in bloom. Rhizomatous and often spreads by colonial rhizome matting. Prefers sunny meadows and poor soil.

Medicinal Uses:
For bites of any kind, to prevent infection, soak the area in hot (not burning) strong yarrow tea, as a part of repetitive acute treatment. This helps improve blood flow, clears and prevents infection, and is a mild anti-inflammatory as well. Yarrow has an anti-septic action toward any open wound, and in skin infections such a staph. Especially good for any time the skin is broken in an unclean way, such as bites, rips, and tears. Internally, it is helpful in clearing respiratory viruses (not allergies), and is anti-infective to prevent secondary bacterial infections. It gently stimulates adaptive immunity for combating colds and flus. Historically known as a fever breaker, it is diaphoretic, promoting sweating and the release of toxins. It is hemostatic and stirs up stagnant blood (decreases capillary congestion), while having a cooling, flowing effect. It can also have a purifying and slightly thinning effect on the blood, with an astringent quality, and is often used for hemorrhaging. It is used as a vascular tonic to help build and strengthen the blood vessels. It has also been know to assist in many gynecological complaints, particularly in relation to the blood. Used during labor, childbirth, and shortly thereafter to decrease excessive bleeding. As an aromatic bitter, it can be used as a digestive aid.

Contraindications, Interactions, and Warnings:
The constituent B-iso-thujone, soluble in alcohol, can cause intestinal discomfort. Not used in the early stages of pregnancy. As with anything, some people are allergic, particularly to the pollen.

Plant Parts Used:
Leaves, flower, and sometimes root. Stalks are not dangerous but do not contain many medicinal compounds as do other parts.

Medicinal Preparations and Dosage:
Yarrow extracts well in all menstruums- alcohol, vinegar, glycerin, honey, water, oil. Used both externally and internally.

Stories:

In Asia, the stalks are traditionally used as divination sticks when throwing the I-ching.
The genus name Achilles comes from the myth of Achilles. His mother held him by the heel as an infant and dipped him in yarrow tea to protect him. Thus, his only weak point was the heel by which she’d held him. He used yarrow too in the Trojan wars, to staunch the bleeding of his injured soldiers. 

Sources:
Herbal Healing for Women, Rosemary Gladstar
Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth, Sharol Tilgner
Book of Herbal Wisdom, Matthew Wood
Herbal First Aid Course, 7Song

Cherise Queen Yarrow in winter

Cherise Queen Yarrow in winter

Plant Profile: Anemone

Botanical Name: Anemone spp.

Common Names: Anemone, Pulsatilla, Wood Anemone, Pasqueflower, Alpine Anemone, Spring Anemone, Passe Flower, Meadow Anemone, Wind Flower

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)

Energetics: calming, altering to the nervous energetic state

Primary Constituents: lactones, triterpenoids, tannins, volatile oils

Actions: anxiolytic, sedative, emmenogague, ophthalmic, expectorant, stimulant, vasotonic alterative, diaphoretic, expectorant, spasmolytic

Field ID and Growing Habits:
There are over 25 species that grow in the United States and Europe. Some species found in prairies in dry, rocky soil, and full sun; others, such as wood anemone, in the woods and near water. A. pulsatilla: Usually purple or white flowers with yellow stamens at the center and short, soft fuzzy stems. Six pointed petals, and small, long-shaped, feathery leaves. Flowers are large in comparison to the whole plant, which may grow to only 2 inches high. A. quinquifolia: 4-6 inches high, six white petals, three lobed leaves, grows in wet mountain woodlands of the Appalachias.

Medicinal Uses:
Often used for fears and anxieties, as an aid in insomnia when overworked nerves are the causing factor, for nervous exhaustion, gloom, anxious depression, panic attacks, states of unrest and despondency, nervous headaches, bad drug trips (to induce rest), PTSD, menstrual issues relating to the nervous system such as cold menstrual headaches and ammenorhoea, and historically, to calm the mother (or father) during and after childbirth (not recommended except for dad).

Contraindications, Interactions, and Warnings:
Overdose may cause gastric upset, vomiting, coldness, numbing, burning, tingling, tightness in the chest, or a slowing of the heart. The fresh greenery can be especially irritating, even topically. This is a very low dose herb.

Plant Part Used: Whole plant, including flowers, roots, leaves and stems.

Medicinal Preparations and Dosage:
Generally used in acute situations. Tincture: 1:2 95% fresh, low dose: start with ONE drop and increase slowly as needed for effect; if no effect is seen at maximum of 1 mL, try another herb for the problem.

Stories:
In Greek mythology, this flower is said to have sprung from the tears of Aphrodite when she learned of the death of her lover, Adonis. Rural European legends say that faerie folk take shelter beneath the flower’s closed petals at night.

Resources:

King’s Dispensatory
7Song’s class handouts
http://www.scu.edu.au/scps/index.php/113/
http://www.rowanremedies.com/herbal-medicine-articles/herb-profiles/anemone-pulsatilla-pasque-flower/

Classes in herb school

 

wood anemone- Anemone quinquifolia

wood anemone- Anemone quinquifolia

Plant Profile: Oshá

Botanical Name: Ligusticum porteri

Common Names: Oshá, Bear Root, Chuchupate, Bear Medicine, Indian Parsley, Colorado Cough Root, Porter’s Lovage, ha ‘il chii’ gah, ha’ich’idéé, Guariaca, Porter’s Licorice Root, Hierba del Cochino, Raíz del Cochino, Washí

Family: Apiaceae/Umbelliferae (Carrot/Parsley family)

Energetics: Bitter, warming, pungent, feminine, territorial

Primary Constituents: Furanocoumarins, monoterpenes, volatile oils

Actions: Respiratory stimulant, expectorant, immune stimulant, diaphoretic, carminative and bitter, antiviral, decongestant, mucolytic, anti-viral

Field ID and Growing Habits:
Oshá’s appearance is that of a typical parsley family plant- finely divided leaves, flat-topped umbels of flowers/seeds, and hollow stems. It has large basal leaves, and white five-petaled flowers in the late summer. The root is large and dark with hairy rootlets, and it has a fibrous, yellow inner root that is extremely astringent when fresh. It is commonly mistaken for Hemlocks so correct identification is important. Oshá grows only at high altitudes from British Columbia, through the Rocky Mountains, to the mountains of New Mexico. Because it relies on growing conditions rich in micorrhizal fungi, this plant does not respond well to cultivation and is almost always wildcrafted. There is some concern that the wild populations are being over-harvested and may become endangered in the future.

Medicinal Uses:
Oshá’s primary physical uses are respiratory, in addition to historical spiritual uses. It helps clear excess mucus from the head and sinuses, and has both opening and clearing, and protective qualities. It induces sweating, aiding in the elimination of toxins, and expectorates infections of the  respiratory system. Immune stimulating and anti-viral. I think of it when someone’s boundaries have been compromised to the point of a lowered immune response resulting in colds, flus, and other common respiratory illnesses and infections. I never use this plant without also utilizing its spiritual properties and calling upon the aid of the spirit of the bear.

Contraindications, Interactions, and Warnings:
Taken as a medicine, this plant is very powerful and should be used sparingly and mindfully. Do not use in any situation where extremes are not desired, such as in pregnancy. Overdose may cause headache.

Plant Part Used: Root

Medicinal Preparations and Dosage:
Oshá root medicine is very strong and only a small amount is required to produce a response. Taken as an infused honey, chewing on the root, or as tincture.

Stories: 
Native American tribes have historically used this plant for various physiological and spiritual uses. It is respectfully honored as Bear Spirit Medicine, with the qualities of purification, protection, strength, boundaries, courage, and personal power.
Bears adore this plant and will seek it out and dig it up in the morning, when ill, or while recovering from hibernation.

Sources:
Personal experiences with Oshá
Class with Juliet Blankenspoor
Herbal Medicines From the Heart of the Earth, by Sheryl Tilgner

Natural Deodorant Recipe

 

This is awesome- and works! So please, I encourage you to dump the toxins from your home and underarms, and give this recipe a try!

Equal parts of Coconut Oil, Baking Soda, and Arrowroot powder (available at health food stores, sometimes at regular supermarkets, and online- you can also use corn starch)
Essential Oils- You can make your own blend if you like, just do some research and include an anti-bacterial essential oil. Some favorites of mine include lavender and patchouli, cedarwood and lavender, ylang ylang and orange, and eucalyptus.

Optional added ingredients you can use to help the consistency, if you would like it creamier: cocoa butter, shea butter, avocado oil, sweet almond oil, and/or beeswax. Melt the beeswax down with a little of the liquid oils, let cool, and mash it into the mix.

I let the coconut oil sit out unrefrigerated so it is very soft and easy to work with- but do not heat it. I blend all the ingredients, working them together with a fork. I put the bowl in the freezer for about two minutes, then take it out and pack the mixture into tins. Then I put it back into the freezer, and let it solidify overnight. Voila! Hand apply. It works fantastically, I have yet to hear from anybody that it doesn’t work for them!

Eucalyptus

Organic Lavender Shea Soap

This is my favorite and the highest quality of any soap I’ve made or used! Oh it smells divine! It’s not the most beautiful of soaps, as it’s glopped into a pan to harden then cut into bars to cure- but so good and natural. I think you’ll agree when you see my ingredients!

Olive Oil
Coconut Oil (Organic)
Castor Oil
Palm Oil (Sustainably Harvested Organic)
Shea Butter (Organic Raw Fair Trade)
Lye (completely saponified to 7% superfatting w/retained glycerin)
Mountain Well Water
Oats (Organic)
Lavender (Organic)
Essential Oils of:
Cedarwood
Lavender
Fir Needle

This soap is 7% superfatted. That means that 7% of the oils in the soap are left unreacted with the lye, and all the lye has been reacted and turned into soap. This makes for a softer, richer, and luxurious bar that lathers nicely. This is my favorite of all the soaps I make!

As with any true soap, it is best to keep it in a soap dish so it can dry out in between uses. If you use a soap dish your soap will stay harder and last longer.
$5 ea.

Click Here For Ordering Information

Also currently available: Calendula & Clay Facial Soap

Nourishment for a Happy Face

Recipe to nourish distressed skin (acne, dry/oily, ph out of balance, scars)

Skin Nourish is an herbal oil face wash. Oil is actually good for your skin- just cleanse first with plain soap, then cleanse with the nourishing wash, then moisturize. This contains oils, botanicals, herbs and essential oils that I blended in my herbal kitchen, first for my own troublesome, too-oily then too-dry then breaking out skin, and have since begun including it in my herbal practice with very positive feedback.

This is my personal recipe. Of course, you’re welcome to experiment and find what your skin loves best! You can also buy a 4 oz jar from me for $15, or a 1.5 oz jar for $7. Click Here For Ordering Information

Ingredients:

Calendula Petals
Bladderwrack
Comfrey
Sunflower Oil (or Sweet Almond Oil)
Grapeseed Oil
Shea Butter
Castile Soap (you can make your own, as described in a later post, or buy it)
Beeswax
Pure Aloe Vera Juice
Raspberry Leaf or Witch Hazel
Green Tea Leaves (with Jasmine is ok)
St John’s Wort
Apple Cider Vinegar
Honey
Castor Oil
Essential Oils:
Patchouli
Eucalyptus
Lemongrass
Lavender
Rose Geranium
Tea Tree

Time:
a month or more, or 3-5 days with low heat crockpot, plus 30 minutes or so

The quality of your ingredients do matter! Organic, all natural, non-irradiated= more benefits for your skin!

Ahead of time:
Fill one or two large mason type jars 2/3rds of the way up with comfrey, calendula petals, and bladderwrack. Fill 1/2 way (or completely, if doing two jars) with sunflower oil (or almond), and the rest with grapeseed oil. Seal tightly, label with date and ingredients, and let it sit in a sunny location for a month or more. Shake it frequently to help the herbs infuse into the oils. Alternatively, you could put these ingredients in a slow cooker on low for 3-5 days. I prefer the sun method, because it is more sure not to harm any of the properties of the plants, but the crock pot method works well too when I haven’t planned ahead enough. The oils should change color and get much darker as they infuse. When you are ready to make your concoction, strain out the herbs however you see fit (cheesecloth, metal strainer, etc).

Make a decoction or tea using the aloe vera juice and remaining herbs (not the essential oils). Put them on the stove, covered, and let them simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes or so. Strain out the herbs, and add a little apple cider vinegar.

Combine the beeswax (a fair amount if you want it thicker and more emulsified, less if you care less about that) and strained oils in a pot, and put it on a low heat. Also add a small amount of shea butter, honey, and castor oil. Stir and watch it, and only heat gently until the beeswax is completely melted.

Combine the oil-beeswax mixture with the aloe tea in a large glass bowl and blend with an immersion blender until well emulsified. It’s important to do this right away. It won’t get as thick while it’s still warm, but blend it well immediately. Then you can take a break and come back to blend again after it has cooled a few minutes.

Before it has completely cooled, add your essential oils and castile soap. Blend these into the mix on a very low setting, trying not to lather up the soap too much.

Scoop into a jar and allow it to finish cooling and thickening (it should be a thick liquid). You’re done!

To use:

I usually gently cleanse my face first, since this contains oils and has a moisturizing action. Massage well into face with circular motions. I like to let my face soak in it for a few minutes before rinsing with warm water, and maybe the tiniest bit of added mild soap, if needed. I follow with my Blemish Treatment Oil if I have any spots, and then my moisturizer to keep my face well hydrated. It may need a stir or a shake now and then. I use this about 3x a week in the shower for nourishing.  Skin loves it!

Calendula