Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Immediate food allergy reactions and food sensitivities

An immediate food allergy reaction is when you are allergic to a certain type of food, the reaction is predictable, happens every time you ingest the food, and it happens immediately. I have a family member who has this issue, his throat closes and he feels as if he cannot breath when eating the offending food. This reaction happens when he eats various types of melons, it has even happened to him when he has eaten pizza (who knows what went into the sauce). So this person avoids this type of food (not pizza, just that place where he bought it that time LOL). He has other problems as well on a daily basis, excessive gas, chronic heart burn, IBS symptoms, and even a tendancy toward depression, anxiety and problems with "brain fuzziness" . Could this be food caused? Unfortunately a little bird with a white coat has whispered in his ear that food sensitivities are a bunch of BS. He has no problem avoiding the foods that cause the immediate reaction, but foods causing IBS and heart burn, come on! In fact, people who have these types of reactions are likely to have other less 'obvious' food sensitivities as well.

Food can be emotional and complex, it involves tradition, habits, and emotional attachments. No one wants to feel like they must be "deprived" after all, their aunt, brother, Grandma or whoever always ate the food so they should be able to right? If a person can get past this and try an elimination diet to see if it may make them feel better, maybe they would be willing to change. Mind body techniques, really getting in touch with your body and working with it instead of against it can really benefit. Meditation (this does not have to be traditional, simply taking a time to be silent and connect is OK, or even a walk or yoga), and being in the present, delaying immediate gratification in order to have your body functioning at it's optimum level will help as well. Rewarding yourself with other things instead of food is also a good alternative, massage, a brisk walk, a swim these things will help decrease stress and increase energy~ you feel better immediately, you will wonder why you thought you needed that cookie for a quick energy boost. Change is very hard for most people, but the benefits will outweigh any temporary discomfort. After a while your new style of eating will be like second nature, you will make mistakes, and your body will likely let you know you made them, simple try and do better most of the time rather than giving up completely. The question is, how bad do you really want to improve your quality of life? There are many symptoms that may be related to food sensitivity.

Here are some examples (and there may be others):
  • Chronic Digestive problems of all kinds
  • recurring infections of any kind
  • recurring inflammatory conditions of any kind
  • Difficulty loosing weight, putting on weight easily to spite exercise
  • Unexplained bouts of fatigue after eating
  • Tendency to hold water that is not associated with cyclic fluid retention or menstrual cycling
  • Chronic dark rings under eyes
  • Chronic horizontal creases under the lower eye lids
  • Frequent stuffy nose or nasal drip for no explainable reason, clearing throat after eating
  • Chronically swollen glands, with no known reason
  • Bouts of anxiety, sweating, or heart palpitations withing several hours of eating
  • Frequent unexplained skin rashes
  • Immediate family members with food allergies or asthma
  • History of gall bladder disease
  • Mental fuzziness for fogginess after eating
  • Bouts of "low blood sugar" that do not go away
  • Headaches that don't go away
  • General ill feelings that do not go away and are not explainable
I highly recommend keeping a food diary of everything you eat for one week (be honest and consistent) I have found that this is hard for some to do, but it is very important, many people are not eating consciously, in other words, eating while driving, eating and doing other things, many times forgetting that they ate the particular food at all. Sit down and take a break when you eat, really be in the present moment. Find foods that overlap each other that you eat frequently (these may be culprits), also note any symptoms you may feel after eating. Try the elimination diet that Henriette explains on her blog on the post about food sensitivities- you will also find much more detailed information there about the subject. Once you start an elimination diet, you will be amazed at some of the creative alternatives you may come up with! Ask family members to help as well and do not bring the offending foods into the house to make you tempted.

Besides the major culprits discussed on many web pages and in books that focus on food sensitivity (Dairy, Wheat, soy, corn, yeast, eggs, citrus, carrots, apples and berries, members of the nightshade family, refined sugars)

Be mindful of what you drink and cook with as well, you may be sensitive to; alcohol, refined sugars and or additives in drinks, coffee or certain teas, citrus drinks, tap water, certain processed oils, additives and preservatives such as MSG & food colorings (before you spice up that meat, read the label many pre made spice blends have added preservatives, colorings, sugar and other junk! or better yet create your own spices with fresh herbs or single herbs where you know the source)

Really read those labels!

Changing food habits can be very hard at first, I have heard every justification and excuse in the book, but I guess what it boils down to is how bad do you really want to feel better and have a better quality of life. I have seen the effects of those who have stayed committed. I have one client who found she had food sensitivities to both dairy and gluten, she worked out daily and could not loose weight, plus she had many other symptoms, as soon as she eliminated these foods, she dropped 30 pounds, feels great, has more energy and even has had improvements with her menstrual symptoms, her relationships have improved and she has more energy to spend time with her child and husband after she does her daily workout. Trust me if you have food sensitivities, it is worth it to change your food choices!

Resourse: Healthy Digestion the natural way L Berkson 2000

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Devil's Club Oplopanax horridum Pacific Northwest

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Kiva's Post reminded me of some of the Pacific Northwest Native American uses for Devil's Club Oplopanax horridum. Native American tribes in British Columbia used a tea made from the root of Devil's club to treat diabetes (Kiva talks about her success with blood sugar levels in her post)
Other Coast Native American's used a strong decoction of the bark to cause vomiting to purify themselves before important events. It was given to all members of war parties, and to hunters before important expeditions. Strong sacred medicinal power is attributed to this plant by the Pacific Northwest Native American tribes. The medicine man of the tribe would wear devil's club wood as an amulet for protection from negative energies or supernatural beings. Entire lodges were built of devil's club to keep bad intruders out. Pieces of the bark were also attached to fish hooks to ensure a good catch of fish.

Devils club root tendencies are cooling, stimulating and supportive, it is part of the ginseng family. According to Sharol Tilgner (see references) Paraphrased; This is another plant that is indicated for adrenal burnout with mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. Devil's club is indicated for generally worn out individuals who lack mental and emotional strength. It would be indicated for an individual who needed spiritual strength and invigoration. This herb would be indicated for someone who is feeling oppressed and insecure (timid), needs a spiritual uplifting, and is overwhelmed by a stressful situation either physical, emotional or both. I have not used Devil's club for this specific purpose, but the Native American uses tell me at the very least, perhaps it may be a good herb to wear or have on your person(something that not many people think of using herbs nowadays, but can be very effective) for emotional spiritual uplifting & security. I see this plant working on a deep emotional level with the person who is using it as healing medicine. I have read other sources that state it is part of the ginseng family but not the same medicine or to be used as a substitute for ginseng ( not that I would think of it as exactly the same). According to Gregory Tilford it is a strong respiratory stimulant and expectorant. It's use for blood sugar regulation has been documented in this century by scientific studies~ Plus Kiva Rose reports hands on experience or it working great for this purpose~ Quote"Really helps with those evil sugar cravings that potentially drive you to ripping open candy bar wrappers with your teeth" Even Better!. Michael Moore states in his book "Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West" (1993, Red Crane Press, Santa Fe) that it works best for stocky mezomorphs with elevated blood fats, and perhaps hypertension. Devil's club is a plant I plan on working with more, to experience it's subtle energies and especially it's effect on a emotional level.

Devil's club must have gotten it's name from it's brittle sharp spines that can easily break off in your skin, they can be considered a weapon of sorts if one breaks off in your hand while trying to collect it, or it stabs you in your leg as you are hiking past (perhaps this is the plant teaching us awareness and respect) The plant can get quite large under the right rain forest type conditions, some as tall as 8 ft. The stems often curve and turn in several directions and the leaves can be quite large in diameter up to a foot. The flowers are small and white, later developing into long clusters of bright red berries, it blooms from April till June. If you want to eat this plant the young shoots are edible, but catch them early because of the spikes (make sure you know the plant you are identifying) Devil's club can be found in Alaska as well as the Pacific Northwest, mountains of California, parts of Montana, and the Idaho panhandle. The whole bark of the root and the lower portion of the stalk are used as medicine it is very aromatic and high in essential oil; use, or dry and store immediately to retain volatile oil components.

Resource: Profiles of Northwest Plants by Peggy Robinson
Herbal medicine from the heart of the earth S. Tilgner N.D
Edible and Medicinal Plants of the west Tilford

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Coho Salmon For Dinner!

Tony Caught this Coho Salmon fishing at Cedar Creek on the Sandy River this morning (that is our dog Koa checking it out). The fish had tons of eggs to use for future bait. Yum! Can't wait for dinner! I think I will broil the fish with some of my garden fresh tomatoes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

No more naked gardening?


The town of Happy Valley here is Oregon is trying to pass an law against naked gardening. Come On! I can think of a lot better laws to try and put on the books- people are actually wasting their time with this?

That's it, I'm streaking the neighborhood in protest!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Elk Steak Stew

Burrr! It's cold, windy and rainy today. Perfect day to cuddle up Ella and make some Elk steak stew! I received an excellent bottle of red wine from the nice store clerk the other day (mentioned in my nasturtium post)I always cook with wine I like to drink~ I would never use "cooking wine". We received the Elk in trade for fish (Tony didn't get an Elk this year) I don't cook with a recipe, my intuition is my guide, I just add a handful of this and a dash of that, so here is my description.
So I browned the Elk steak (3 firm shoulder steaks a little bigger than the size of your hand) in oil on the bottom of the pan (the secret to browning is, if the steak feels like it does not want to come off the bottom, don't turn it over, wait until it shrinks and dis attaches itself, then you can turn it)

Anything that grows in the ground is great for stew, I happened to have potatoes, carrots, onions- chop them in big chunks- use more veges than meat because they will shrink upon cooking- and add 1/2 the vegetables (no need to brown the veges, the steak gives plenty of browning flavor)~ red wine (the more the better) a little over half the bottle.

I added some water (you could use stalk) so you just cover the meat and vegetables, a large sprig of rosemary and a few bay leaves. I will let them simmer most of the day, toward the end of cooking, I will add the second half of the vegetables (so you get the best of both worlds, all the flavor of the veges you added earlier and that thickness of the cooked potatoes, plus the firmness of the vegetables you just added) A little sea salt and pepper if needed for seasoning....

Yum! Just the smell throughout the house is delish!

Passionflower Gift

Just wanted to share this excellent start of passionflower I received from my Mom today. She added rooting hormone, I am hoping it will take root, adjust to my garden & thrive! Lovely!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Blog Party - What plant got me started in all this?

Wow, plants mean so many different things to me I cannot pinpoint one that got me started. Plants have been my ally in so many ways. My stinging nettle post is a good example, as well as my musings about going and collecting plants with my family. I remember as a child when things first started to get really stressful in my home with my family, my mom would bring me chamomile tea at night to sooth my nervous stomach and help me sleep, I used to call it "pee tea" because of it's yellow color (give me a break I was only about 5 lol) This gave me comfort, even if it was only for a little while. Behind my house was a woods where I would spend hours getting to know the plants and eating wild foods. When I was around 8 the book The Clan Of the Cave Bear came out by Jean M Auel (you can read about some of the herbs used in the book here), this book is what really got me more interested in herbs for healing purposes, and I knew this is what I wanted to do. Herbs were used in my family, but sometimes things are taken for granted, and this book really helped me put it all together, got me excited about herbs and healing. I could relate to the book because Ayla the main character, was a strong girl and an outsider that others did not understand. The medicine woman took her under her wing to spite what the others in the clan thought, this very much reminded me of my own life and my Grandmother. I had a lot of problems and dysfunction in my immediate family, I was lucky to have my Grandmother to go to for support & healing. My Grandmother was spiritual, loved to cook, garden, quilt, sew, write poetry and tell stories around the table. She was born in 1905 up in the mountains of Arkansas, she attended school in a one room school house, she lived miles away from any hospital or paved road, there were no doctors, the doctors were the "granny women" ( this is what they called women home herbalists/midwives in Arkansas) . This was a simple time when people still used horse and buggy to get around, used herbs for medicine, & the houses had no electricity or indoor pluming. I used to love to hear her stories about her times in Arkansas. After she got married, she left Arkansas, her and my Grandpa traveled and worked the fields for a living with their children in tow, not only was a doctor financially impossible, but impractical (they lived in berry shacks temporarily as they traveled from crop to crop). She took the lessons she learned from her mother and the mountains of Arkansas and applied them to her own family. She had many children and grandchildren, she acted as the family "traveling nurse" (her education? Good old fashioned mountain medicine) she would be there to assist anyone after surgery or childbirth( she herself gave birth to 10 children at home) She was the spiritual adviser, nurse, teacher and mother for the whole family. She would make me toys that she had sewn herself and her quilts still keep me warm at night. I remember standing on a stool in the kitchen helping her cook using fresh vegetables out of the garden, drinking tea, and helping her tend to her flower garden. She loved to write so we would often play word games. She would send me loving and inspiring hand written letters & poems that would always arrive just at the right time when I needed healing medicine~ I received countless letters, one I pulled out of the stack I have reads- Sept 9- 1985: " I don't get to see you nearly enough but I love you just the way you are and that is the way God loves us too. Stay sweet and be true to yourself" Great advice for someone entering the 8th grade in a new school. In my crazy teens, days would go by and I would not go see my Grandmother, when I did finally make it over, it was as if I never left, she welcomed me with open arms, an open ear, and something warm and soothing to eat and drink. She has a quiet strength about her that was her medicine she gave to me. I knew I was safe, loved and understood. She was the ultimate medicine woman. So I guess what I am trying to say is it was not only the plants that got me started in wanting to be a "medicine woman" it was my Grandmother. Her quite patience & wisdom, her practice of old ways instilled in me, taught me to take the time and see the plants & learn from them & her qualities as a healer showed me what medicine was really about. My Grandma had a lot of grandchildren and great grandchildren, she chose me to take under her wing and pass on this wonder domestic art, I plan to pass this on to my own daughter, and hopefully someday she in turn will pass it on as well.

Women healed the sick by ministering to their souls as well as their bodies. They mobilized patients’ hopes and restored their confidence; their role was psychological, spiritual, and physical. While none of their techniques could match the power of today’s antibiotics and other tools of modern medicine, domestic medicine was more effective than it has been given credit for. At a time when little else was available, women maintained the health of their families and neighbors with home remedies, prayer, ritual, and love. That was no small achievement.

Quoted from the above article :

View the blog party at Gaia's Gifts!