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Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Winter Detoxification & Remedies
Detoxifying is the process of releasing accumulated toxins and waste products that build up throughout our bobies. Every day we are bombarded by toxins, both externally from environmental sources, and internally as our organs give off waste products that accumulate in our bodies. Emotions also take part in polluting our system with excess chemicals such as free radicals, homocysteine and cortisol.
Detoxifying is essentially an easy process. Our bodies do much of the process through urination, defecation and perspiration. As our bodies age and our immune systems weaken, we sometimes need to lend extra help. That is why conscious detoxing is a great way to get back to optimum health.
One of the best ways to start your detoxification is with the body's biggest organ, the SKIN. A detox diet strengthens the organs involved in detoxification and releases stored toxins, expelling them through the organs of elimination: the skin, intestines, liver, lungs, kidneys, and lymphatic system.
TIPS FOR DETOXING
1. Eat a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables & fruits.
2. Eat whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
3. Adopt a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise.
4. Avoid drugs, alcohol & processed foods.
5. Take a high potency multi vitamin and mineral supplement.
6. Take nutritional and herbal supplements to protect and enhance liver function.
7. Go on a three day fast, four times per year.
8. Fasting at the change of the seasons is a good rule to remember.
MAKE YOUR OWN WINTER REMEDIES Seasonal trends-dropping temperatures, fading light, and your body's dipping defenses-invite all manner of ailments: colds and coughs, flues, and the winter blues. But with a few herbal tinctures, simple yet powerful remedies that you can make yourself, you'll be ready to ward off these ailments and, if they do find a foothold, minimize your discomfort and speed up your recovery.
Tinctures, which are concentrated liquid extracts of medicinal plants, are excellent remedies for wintertime ailments because of their sheer potency. Taken by the dropper-full, they work well, and they work fast. Also called herbal extracts, tinctures have been made for thousands of years by soaking fresh or dried herbs in a solvent, such as vodka or brandy, to extract the plants' medicinal properties. While mass manufacturers use more complicated exacting methods, the traditional technique is simple. It requires only easy-to-find ingredients and common kitchen tools, yet makes some of the most effective tinctures available—for pennies per dose.
Medicinal herbs can be tinctured alone or with other compatible herbs. The herb combinations here are among the most trusted, time-tested remedies. Echinacea, goldenseal, and turmeric make up Super Support, for fending off infections. Cold & Fever Buster contains elder, yarrow, and peppermint to help ease colds and fevers. Cough & Throat Relief features soothing, lung-supportive mullein, licorice, and wild cherry bark, plus ginger for a little kick. Garlic, onion, ginger, cayenne, and horseradish give Fire Tonic its warming, infection fighting kick. And Mood Lifter, for easing seasonal depression, includes hawthorn, oat tops, lemon balm, and St. John's Wort
Whether you make one or all of these recipes, keep in mind the two essential principles of herbal medicine making. 1. Quality ingredients make quality products. If you can't grow your own herbs, buy them from reliable growers or distributors. When choosing your solvent, the medium used to extract and deliver the plants' medicine, choose the best. 2. Just as important, intention matters. Native American healers, who used many of the herbs in these formulas, had a deep reverence for the plants' healing powers. When they dug the plants, they did so with respect and prayer, and when they made them into medicine, they also prayed. Without prayer, they said, the plant's medicine, its essence, stayed in the ground. Among people who use "green medicine" today, there is still a deep sense of respect for the plants. Apply this technique as you gather your herbs and brew your tinctures. Herbal remedies made with clear intention and an appreciation for the plants are much more effective.
SIMPLE TINCTURE MAKING
1. Gather the materials. Keep it simple and make small batches, tinctures are highly concentrated and taken in very small doses—a little goes a long way. To make about a pint of tincture, you'll need a clean, dry, quart-sized jar with a tight-fitting lid, enough herbs to fill the jar halfway, and roughly a pint and a half of solvent (the herbs will soak up some solvent). Most of these formulas call for 100-proof brandy or vodka (use what you prefer). If you prefer not to use alcohol, you can substitute vinegar.
2. Prepare the herbs. If you have any fresh herbs, use them. High-quality dried herbs, however, are just as potent, and available year-round. If you are using fresh herbs, rinse them with water to remove any dirt, dry thoroughly, then chop them finely. Pack your jar halfway with herbs. For a strong, effective tincture, be sure the herbs in the jar are packed firmly.
3. Add the solvent. Pour the solvent over the herbs until they're completely covered, then add an additional 2 to 3 inches of solvent. The herbs must be completely submersed to prevent bacteria from growing (this is also why the fresh washed herbs should be dried before adding to the jar). Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid. Herbs may swell as they soak up the solvent, so you may need to add more solvent to keep the herbs covered. Note: If using vinegar, warm it, do not boil it, on a stovetop before pouring it over the herbs; this helps facilitate the release of medicinal properties.
4. Let the tincture sit for 4 weeks. During the process of soaking the herbs in the solvent, the plants soften and break down (a process known as maceration), releasing their medicine. Most Western herbalists recommend letting tinctures macerate for 4-6 weeks. The longer tinctures macerate, the more effective they are, so consider a month your minimum. When starting the maceration process, label and date your jars so that you remember when you started.
5. Shake daily, with intention. Shaking the tinctures while they're soaking facilitates the breakdown of medicinal properties and prevent the herbs from remaining packed at the bottom of the jar. It's also an opportunity to add some magic to the science of herbal medicine. When you shake your tinctures, do so with your best healing intention. Remain focused and visualize the end result, your remedies will be the better for it.
6. Strain the herbs. After at least 4 weeks, your tincture will be ready for use. Line a stainless-steel strainer with cheesecloth or muslin, and place over a large glass jar or measuring cup. Pour the liquid slowly through the strainer. When finished straining, squeeze the herb-filled cheesecloth or muslin to wring out every drop. Reserve the liquid, this is your medicine, and discard or compost the herbs. Pour the finished tincture into a clean, dry glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. Label your tincture with the contents and date.
7. Store the tincture properly. When stored properly, tinctures can last for years. Both light and heat can break down the medicinal properties, so keep your jars of tinctures in a cool, dark place. It's a good idea to keep a small supply of the tincture ready for use in a 1- or 2-ounce amber-colored bottle with a dropper top.
Dosage and Use varies depending on the individual and the herbs being used. For chronic problems and for remedies you're using as a tonic, the general adult dosage is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon three times daily. For acute ailments, small, frequent doses are much more effective: for adults, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon every hour. Tinctures can be taken directly under the tounge, however some have a strong flavor, so most people prefer to dilute them in a small amount of water and “shoot” them rather than sip them.
The solvent is the liquid used to extract the herbs’ medicinal properties. The solvents used in these recipes have different benfits, however can be interchanged to your preference.
Alcohol extracts most plant constituents, including fats, resins, waxes, and most alkaloids (some of the strongest plant compounds). The body rapidly assimilates alcohol tinctures, and their effects are quickly felt. Alcohol makes an excellent preservative, maintaining the integrity of the tincture for many years. Brandy and vodka are perfect for the traditional tincture method . Both can be purchased at 100 proof, which provides an ideal alcohol-to-water ratio. (Water extracts many important constituents, like vitamins and volatile oils.) For preservative properties and extraction purposes, you must use at least 50-proof alcohol.
Vinegar is completely nontoxic, and well tolerated by most people. While it is not as strong or effective a solvent as alcohol (it does not break down as many plant components), it's a good alternative for alcohol-sensitive people and children. You can easily integrate vinegar tinctures into your daily diet, using them in place of vinegar in cold foods (use apple-cider vinegar if possible). Reports state that vinegar tinctures have a short shelf life, however when stored in a cool, dark place, tightly sealed when not in use, they can last for several years.
Note: If you have a serious condition, are pregnant, or take medication, consult your health-care provider before using these or any herbal remedies.
Take 1/4- 1/2 tsp. per hour at symptom onset.
Solvent: 100-proof vodka/brandy
2 parts echinaces root, flower and leaf
2 pa1 part turmeric
1 cultivated goldenseal root (Use cultivated goldenseal; this herb has been over-harvested.)
Cold & Fever Buster
Take 1/4-1/2 tsp. per hour at the onset of symptoms.
Solvent: 100-proof vodka/brandy
1 part elder flower and elder berry
1 part peppermint leaf
1 part yarrow flower and leaf
Cough & Throat Relief
Take 1/4- 1/2 tsp. per hour at the onset of symptoms.
Solvent: 100-proof vodka/brandy
2 parts mullein leaf
1 part licorice root
1 part wild cherry bark
1/2 part gingerroot
Take 1/4- 1/2 tsp. per hour at the onset of a cold, or as a daily warming tonic. Makes a great salad dressing.
Solvent: apple-cider vinegar
1 part garlic
1 part onion
1/2-1 part freshly grated horseradish
1/2 part ginger small pinch cayenne
honey to taste (add to finished product)
To prevent or ease the winter blues, take 1/2 -1 tsp. three times daily.
Solvent: 100-proof vodka/brandy
2 parts hawthorn berry, plus flower and leaf if available
2 parts lemon balm
1 part St. John's wort
1 part milky green oat tops