Thursday, December 2, 2010
Go to Authentic Mama and check it out!
Friday, November 12, 2010
This year has been a beautiful year of lessons, learning, and reflection. There is no doubt that I have faced some major life challenges this year. When this happens, I have found that daily quiet reflection along with learning from the best teachers in my life (my children) has been the medicine that I needed to get back on track.
We have been enjoying the rhythms of everyday life. Going for long walks and playing outdoors for hours, enjoying the harvest from the farmers market stand, experimenting with new recipes made from local produce and herbs, telling and listening to fairy tales and myths, working with crafts and painting, and making our house a home. Along with some major projects we have been doing around the yard, we also built a chicken coop out of our old dog house, we have been enjoying fresh eggs from our two chickens daily.
We had a very short summer this year. I was told by my friends at the farmers stand that it was the worst harvest they have had from their garden in 40 years. I hear whispers around the neighborhood that the winter is going to be unusually harsh. When I observe the crisp morning air and the early snow storms further up the mountain, I am starting to believe that my neighbors may be on to something.
Now that the days are getting shorter, and my urge to write is getting even stronger, I am considering writing some posts here that involve myth, fairy tales, and herbs for the younger audience (my hope is that you will share them with your children).
I decided to shut down the blog Authentic Mama for now, so you may see some posts that involve kids and family (and of course herbs and health) here in the future.
Enjoy the holidays!
Friday, November 5, 2010
I am excited to have guest herbal columnist Kiva Rose on my blog today. Kiva Rose is a well-known herbal blogger, and co-founder of the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference.
Kiva is finally coming out with her secrets of how she learns so much about plants without using books. Her plant monographs, like the one below, are famous for their deep exploration into herbs that you will not find in other places.
Earth Apple: The Bittersweet Medicine of Chamomile By Kiva Rose
Let’s begin with an herb we all know and love, chamomile.
However, do you REALLY know Chamomile?
Chamomile means “earth apple” which is easy to understand when we accidentally trample the flowers and underfoot and suddenly smell the welcome fragrance of apples rising from the earth. In the same way, Spanish speaking peoples often use the name Manzanilla, literally meaning “little apple”.
Even for those largely unfamiliar with herbs, the distinctive sweet scent of Chamomile is often both familiar and comforting. This plant is many people’s first and perhaps only introduction to herbalism, often from a cup of honey-sweetened and belly-calming tea from their grandmother.
Many children enjoy eating the buds or just opened flowers, savoring the sweet aromatic taste of the plant, and rarely seeming to mind the slightly bitter aftertaste. Some patches of Chamomile, depending on phase of flowering and availability of moisture, are much more bitter than others but the fragrant sweetness persists even in the most bitter batches.
Far from irrelevant, these signature sensory characteristics of Chamomile that make the plant memorable in our minds are also the primary keys to understanding how to work with Matricaria as a medicine.
As with almost any herb, the taste and scent of Matricaria tells us a great deal about its properties, allowing us to use our senses to listen to the plant and understand its essence as a medicine. That blissfully apple-like scent that children so love to breathe in from the flowers tends to bring relaxed smiles to their faces and anyone who’s ever drank a cup of the tea can testify to the relaxing, tension alleviating effects of the plant.
That aromatic component, stemming from the plant’s high volatile oil content, is predictably nervine, meaning that it has a discernible effect on the nervous system. In this case, a specific relaxing, calming effect. Additionally, that same volatile oil content is responsible for Chamomile’s actions as a carminative, relieving digestive stagnation in the form of gas, gut cramping and mild constipation. A traditional remedy by several North American indigenous tribes for the uterine cramps of girls just beginning their menstrual cycles, Chamomile is a mild relaxant for the smooth muscles of the gut, uterus, bladder and respiratory tract with a specific affinity for the gut.
Matricaria is not just aromatic, even in the sweetest Chamomile flowers we find a notably bitter aftertaste. Rather than ruining the flavor of an otherwise tasty herb, that bitter element enhances and expands the medicinal properties of the plant. The bitter flavor tells us that it has a distinct effect on the digestive system, even beyond the aromatic/carminative qualities.
The bitterness increases the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes in the gut, thereby improving digestion wherever there is a lack of secretions, which is a common cause of heartburn and many cases of general gut discomfort. This combined with its obvious nervine properties; Matricaria excels at treating what is commonly known as a “nervous stomach”, which generally implies digestive upset concurrent with anxiety and nervous tension.
Volatile oils and bitter principles together make for a powerful ability to reduce inflammation and promote healing, especially in the gut. I rarely create a formula for those with leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome or even Crohn’s disease that doesn’t contain some proportion of Chamomile. Even as a simple, this pleasant tasting plant can very effectively reduce gut inflammation, pain and cramping while promoting healing of the mucosa and improving overall digestion. And of course, reducing any anxiety that may be aggravating or triggering the gut issues in the first place.
Just as it soothes and heals internally, Matricaria is also a first-rate external application for almost any case of inflammation, irritation, swelling and even potential infection. It finds its way into many of my compress formulas for eczema, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and other common inflammatory skin conditions.
Steams, baths and infused oil are other effective ways of utilizing the calming, decongestive and healing properties of the herb. It’s also the first plant I think of in addressing the discomfort, irritability, insomnia, belly upset and fever of teething in small children.
Chamomile is one of my favorite remedies for all sorts of eye inflammations and infections. It can be used as a warm compress or saline eyewash to reduce inflammation, possible infection and pain in the treatment of styes, conjunctivitis, pink eye and similar maladies.
It teams up especially well with any Rosa spp. petals where there is a great deal of redness, irritation and swelling in the eye and the surrounding area. Just be sure to strain all those tiny (and potentially irritating) bits of Chamomile flower before using as an eyewash.
Chamomile has a well-deserved reputation as an archetypal remedy for children (or as Matthew Wood says “children of any age”), especially where there is fussiness, restlessness, frequent digestive upset and a tendency to react strongly to any irritant or discomfort. If one were to read the first dozen monograph on Matricaria they came across, the word “soothing” would be likely to show up in nearly every one. While now a somewhat clichéd representation of this common herb, it is nonetheless very accurate.
There’s a tendency by some of us to be less interested in the classic gentle herbs whose effects seem obvious, mild and less than profound. And yet, Chamomile has retained it’s popularity and reputation over the years for a very a specific reason. It works. It’s an effective, widely applicable, safe medicine well-loved by countless generations of mothers, herbalists and more recently, even medical doctors. This small but fragrant apple of the earth remains an invaluable medicine for all of us. Through both sweet and the bitter tastes, Chamomile provides us with a simple yet essential remedy.
Considerations: People with sensitivities to plants in the Aster family may have similar problems with Matricaria. Also note that Pineapple Weed (M. discoidea) often has a stronger bitter component and overall action than the common garden grown M. recutita.
The low down…
Common Name: Chamomile, Manzanilla, Pineapple Weed
Botanical Name: Matricaria recutita (as well as M. discoidea)
Botanical Family: Asteraceae
Taste: Aromatic, sweet, bitter
Vital Actions: relaxant nervine, relaxant diaphoretic, aromatic bitter/carminative, vulnerary,
Specific Indications: Irritability, tension, heat, hypersensitivity to pain
Energetics: sl. Cool, dry
So, exactly how does Kiva learn about plants by using her senses?
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
To Celebrate Earthday win a FREE May 5 Day childcare guide from Little Acorn Learning! Visit their blog HERE for details!
Monday, April 19, 2010
Become a fan on my facebook page (via the 'like' button) between now and April 25th and I will hook you up with the Home Apothecary course on April 26th! http://www.facebook.com/AngieGoodloe
The Home Apothecary MP3 audio is nearly 3 hours of instruction! All you need to do if you are interested in the Home Apothecary lesson is sign up at my fan page before the deadline of April 25th- and on April 26th I will send everyone on my fan page information on how to access the course.
If you missed it the first time, you can check out the entire course HERE I am not sure if John will ever offer this course again, so grab this portion while you can!
Join my fan page and get the course on April 26th!
Here is a summary of the Home Apothecary lesson:
Tips for integrating herbal medicine into the home
Administering herbs to kids
Great "kid herbs" to have in your apothecary
The best books and resources
Suggested dosage for children
Tips for the busy parent
Remedies covered include....
Freezing fresh herbs in ice cube trays
Syrups and elixirs
Powders and making "candy" or "tablets"
Puddings and thick drinks
Vapors and steams
Salves and infused oils
A 2 part lesson nearly 3 hours long!
Friday, January 29, 2010
Use the code BLESSINGS for a limited time and sign up for herbalist 101 for only $35.00-
regular price 65.00!!!!
Hope to see you there!
Monday, January 18, 2010
When a friend or client is stressed I ask them if they can work in a bath (preferably with herbs!) I often tell moms with older kids, tell your kids "no interruptions unless it is an emergency" (a real one, like someone is bleeding or there is a fire) ignore all the door pounding, the 'mom can you ____" and the occasional screams- we are talking 40 minutes tops- what could happen (wink). As far as moms with babies- jump in as soon as the nap starts- if you are lucky you can get a 20 minute bath in!
You are actually bathing in a giant cup of tea- it is divine!
Just one more way to learn about and connect to the plants.
I am a little sore lately. I am not sure if I discussed this before, but topical herbal remedies can be just as effective as internal - or even better use them together!
Throw some herbs in a sock, tie the top to the faucet and let the bath water run through, when the bath is done running, let the herbs float in the tub (make sure the top is tied, you don't want a lot of loose herbs clogging the drain), or use the herb filled sock as a bath scrub!
I love, love, love to drink herbal tea (like chamomile- or other relaxing herbs ) and simultaneously use them in my bath!
It is especially nice this time of year when it is chilly- and muscles ache from either inactivity or jumping into a new exercise routine (I am talking to you New Years resolution folks!)
You can use the same herbs you would use for teas.. or even better, if you are clearing out your shelves getting ready for the spring harvest, you can use those herbs that are not quite as strong as you would like for your bath instead of composting them!
I like relaxing herbs most of the time, but you can also use stimulating herbs in the morning (Rosemary is nice for this). This is a great jump start to the day!
I just started practicing yoga, and I found a rosemary bath right after is an awesome way to move forward with my day!
So try it!
I like mints, comfrey, Valerian, hops, lavender, calendula, oats- just off the top of my head.
Let me know what you think:)