Be well. Reflect. Give thanks. New beginnings. Enthusiasm and Hope.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Be well. Reflect. Give thanks. New beginnings. Enthusiasm and Hope.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
1. In a medium saucepan, stir on medium heat til it thickens(don't boil):
Everything is to taste, really. You will find your perfect combination after one or two tries:) The fish sauce and curry paste bottles will last you forever.
2. Stir fry your favorite vegetables in grapeseed oil. My favorites in a curry include:
- Red bell pepper
- Mushrooms (crimini/baby portabellas work well)
- Red onion
4. Cook up some rice, quinoa or rice noodles....put it all together...and BAM!! The best curry you've ever had. EASY.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Vis Medicatrix Naturae: The Healing Power of Nature
One of six naturopathic tenets, emphasizing faith in the wisdom of our natural abilities to survive and adapt.
For as long as I can recollect, I and most other Americans have been brainwashed to believe that a fever is the enemy. If a fever sets in, we must suppress it with all possible means as to avoid a death sentence.
Well I am here to clear up the bogus misconception.
Fever is GOOD. It is the body's natural, powerful defense mechanism to the bug in your body. The body raises its temperature when an uninvited pathogen arrives. Heat is a "vital" process or sign of life, destroying all substances that invade its path to wellness. We are not cold-blooded mammals, but rather hot-blooded beings that have the capability of warding off disease in a very simple matter.
When someone experiences a fever, they may become very hot, flushed or even sweat. Their body may become achy (malaise) and fatigued. Chills are often felt, and this is due to vasoconstriction of the skin's blood vessels- blood is turned inward, away from the skin, to the core to raise internal heat and fight the bug more efficiently. Fevers can also cause people to lose their appetite, which is a healthy adaptive mechanism. This allows the body's energy to go into defending itself (sympathetic) rather than digesting (parasympathetic).
Fever is the body's natural defense to pathogens. It stimulates the immune response- our physiological defense army is brought to the area of dis-ease, then enhances the removal of the bad guys to the major elimination processing centers like the liver, spleen and lymph nodes.
The optimal fever is thought to be around 102' F (by mouth). This temperature has the most efficient anti-microbial and immune stimulating effects. It is not until fevers of over 105' F-106'F do we need to be concerned, and this is primarily in children as they have a bigger risk for febrile seizures. Children tend to spike higher fevers quicker than adults because their vitality and core temperatures are slightly higher.
How do we support a fever?
By encouraging the fever's natural course, of course!
- REST!!! SLEEP!! STAY HOME!!! If you do not let the body put the energy it needs into the war against bugs, it may you are setting yourself up for a major disadvantage.
- FLUIDS- you must drink more water than you usually do (which is half your weight in ounces, right? Yes.) Think about it, heat + water = evaporation. So drink up.
- ELECTROLYTES- In addition to drinking all that water, add broths to your consumption of liquids for electrolytes. Add GARLIC & ONIONS to enhance antimicrobial activity.
- FAST. Don't eat if you are not hungry. Again, let your body do the work it needs to do. You will be resting anyway!
- GET TOASTY- Warm up and encourage the fever! Throw on your warmest clothes and jump in bed. Take a sauna. Sweat is good.
What if it gets uncomfortably high?
- HYDROTHERAPY- lukewarm-tepid water bath (not cold!). Gentle sponge baths are great, especially for children (>104'F). Keep the child wrapped in warm blankets and explose one limb at a time for cooling with sponge. Then return to warmth with blanket and move on to the next limb. Keep repeating this procedure until the fever finds a comfortable level. This can be done for hours. Be sure to consume even MORE water in this case.
Caution with Aspirin. Suppressing a fever with aspirin also suppresses the body's natural defense mechanisms. Aspirin reduces the body's immune modulators which then turn down the heat. It can cause nausea and vomiting, trigger an attack for asthmatics, and even turn UP the heat with overdose. If you must, use acetominophen as the toll on the body is lower with 1-2 doses.
- NOTE: Aspirin use in a child's fever due to viral illness (cold sores, chicken pox, the flu) can cause Reye's Syndrome. This is a serious complication of the body's organs including the liver and brain. Sorry, don't mean to scare you, just inform you.
- Some herbs contain salicylates, the fever-reducing component found in aspirin. They do not have the same risks and can be used safely if one must reduce a fever. They are in the willow family and include: Black cohosh, Poplar and Meadowsweet. Please contact an ND before self-prescribing.
Tolle Causum. Treat the Cause- another naturopathic tenet. Why cover up or suppress the problem? Encourage and support the disharmony of the body. It only makes you stronger.
Treating the underlying infection with anti-microbial herbs can also be helpful. These include Echinacea, Hydrastis, Thyme, Mahonia, etc. But again, please contact an ND for specifics as there is no overlapping medicine for all people. We are individuals with individual needs, and the bugs which decide to visit us are individual bugs with individual functions (viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic).
Note: I am not yet a doctor. I am purely relaying information that I have been granted. If you have questions, please ask me! Questioning philosophy and reasoning helps all of us. Be assertive in your own healthcare and knowledge.
Be well, be educated. Support balance with moderation. Don't worry, be happy.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
How to Cook a Vegetable
Steaming is one of the best ways to prepare vegetables as it efficiently maintains the color, taste, texture and flavor. It is quick n' easy and ideal for anyone wanting to maximize nutritional value.
1. Rinse thoroughly (especially if not organic! these foodstuffs have been loaded with harmful pesticides in the growing process)
2. Cut into uniform bite-size morsels. If organic, do not peel them- the skin is packed with extra fiber and nutrients!
3. If you do not own a steamer (bamboo steamers are great), place vegetables in saucepan with about a 1/4 cup (1-2 inches) of water. Cover with a lid.
4. Place on stove on med-high heat for 1-2 minutes (tougher veggies maybe longer). We want a crisp yet soft texture. You can do the same thing in the microwave if you need to (with a microwave-safe container and lid of course)
5. Eat immediately- the longer they sit, the mushier they get.
So what are the health benefits of steamed vegetables?
The body can break them down more efficiently. Raw vegetables can be rough on the GI. Though raw has more fiber, these fibers are more difficult to break down.
Nutritional Value is maintained. Vitamins and minerals are not destroyed when steamed. When boiled, they seep into the water and are lost.
Stir-fried vegetables are more prone to having oxidized fats. A lot of oils have a low smoke point, meaning it doesn't take much for the oil to break down and form free radicals and oxidative damage. This causes inflammation and thus higher risk for atherosclerosis, arthritis, cancer, etc.
- If you must stir-fry, use oils with a higher smoke point so they are less likely to cause oxidative damage to the body. Oils such as grapeseed, sesame and coconut oil are ideal for cooking. But drizzling olive oil over vegetables after steaming is a great idea too.
Get yourself some BALANCE with MODERATION, and you'll be HAPPY.
Friday, December 18, 2009
2 cups organic, unsweetened Almond Milk (yes, they have it in regular stores too! just ask if you can't find it)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (you can get it pretty cheap in a can- look in the Asian cuisine aisle)
1/4 cup LOCAL honey
1 tsp Cinnamon (click to see superpowers)
Dash of Nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla, alcohol-free (find it at Trader Joe's for cheap)
1 organic banana
3 oz rum or brandy, I like Maker's Mark Bourbon (optional of course...)
Blend all that in a blender full force. Chill it up. Sip it down. Sprinkle with cinnamon or garnish with cinnamon stick.
Coconut milk is a awesome. Great for cardiovascular and immune system health!
- Antioxidants- protect from free radical damage, so helps in aging and cancers
- Lauric Acid- anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral! NATURAL antibiotic!
- The saturated fats in coconut milk are actually medium chain fatty acids, so aren't stored in the body the same as saturated fats from animal products. Great for energy.
- Rich in Calcium, Potassium, Chloride, Vitamin A & E- happy blood pressure, skin, bones, and blood sugars!
- Lactose FREE- so no hershey squirts for those of you who can't digest milk protein. If you are allergic or have a sensitivity to nuts, opt for seed or grain like Hemp milk or Rice milk (both delicious)
- Antibiotic and Growth Hormone FREE- now isn't it bad enough that we have antibiotics thrown our way for everything under the sun (even when the problem is not bacterial), but then we think, mmmm, i want more of that in my food and milk. yum. And Growth Hormone is a great way to bring on the cancer (as it increases IGF-1) if you're into that...
- Magnesium- great for muscles. The heart is a muscle so it helps avoid heart attacks and decreases CRP (inflammation marker)
- Folic Acid- helps reduce homocysteine (bad guy for the arteries)
- FIBER! Be gone constipation!
- Vitamin E, Selenium - heavy hitter antioxidants, also great for hair and skin
- Flavonoids- protect the heart
- Increase blood flow to vital organs...thus an aphrodesiac. Now you're sold.
- Monounsaturated fats- GOOD fats- lower LDL cholesterol
- Low in calories- so you can eat more cookies! uh...
Drink it. Eat it. Almonds do a body good.
Moderation is to Balance as Cookies are to Happiness...
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The main emunctories of the body and how to support them:
- Eat lots of garlic, ginger, onions, watercress & radish
- Take 100 deep belly breaths every day. If that seems too daunting, do 4 sets of 25. You will feel rejuvenated and connected to your body. Just remind yourself.
- Aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week
- Steam inhalations over a pot of water on stove (with a few drops of pine or eucalyptus essential oil) and towel over head
- DRINK HALF YOUR WEIGHT IN OUNCES OF WATER (160 lb person needs 80 ounces of water, so 10 glasses every day)
- Eat dandelions on salads, beets, beet greens, lemons, artichokes
- Castor oil packs 3 times a week or more
- Hydrotherapy- Foot baths with epson salts, End showers in cold water
- DRINK HALF YOUR WEIGHT IN WATER
- Eat burdock root, ground flax, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cayenne, cold water fish/oils (norweigan fish oil supplements best)
- Dry Skin Brushing before every shower- helps move LYMPH which helps move detoxification army dudes around the body and transports the bad guys to places for elimination
- SWEAT!!! work out, saunas, etc
- Epson salt baths (throw a cup of salts in your bath, stir it up and soak
- DRINK HALF YOUR WEIGHT IN WATER
- Eat/drink cranberries (watch out for added sugars to juice!!), cilantro, parsley, celery, asparagus and watermelon
- Castor oil packs over kidneys
- DRINK HALF YOUR WEIGHT IN WATER
- Eat rhubarb, psyllium seed supplement, ground flax, oats, root and leaf vegetables, figs, prunes and apples (FIBER GOOD).
- Home enemas (but not often, and be cautious)
- Abdominal massage- always rub your belly in a clockwise fashion to support the route of digestion along the colon
- Foot reflexology: your big toe is related to your head and neck (homunculus), so massaging the arch of your foot correlates with your digestive system- See video here
- ALWAYS DRINK HALF YOUR WEIGHT IN WATER- important to drink more water when consuming more fiber. Think of it as a long pipe from your mouth to rectum- gotta move that bulk along..don't want any clogs!!
By doing these few things, and by DRINKING HALF YOUR WEIGHT IN WATER EVERY DAY, you will surely be doing your emunctories a favor. Every little bit helps, and Prevention is key.
BALANCE = MODERATION = HAPPINESS = HEALTHINESS
Monday, December 14, 2009
This is the time of year where I look forward to indulging in my "favorite things." Most of them are provided by my mother, and some of them aren't even that good (like her German stollen or her canned fruit soaked in cheap whiskey). But then there's her lemon bars, spicy chex-mix, brandy slush and of course, WASSAIL.
Wassail is a hot fruit juice drink that is perfect for warming up in -24'F Wisconsin weather while sitting by the fire. Not only is it heart-warming and delicious, it is also packed with herbs and spices that will surely spice up your immunity and cardiovascular health.
Sandy Birr's Recipe:
- 4 cups oranic apple juice
- 2 cups organic cranberry juice
- 2 cups organic orange juice
- 1/2 cup organic lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Agave syrup or honey (optional)
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- 1-2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cloves or allspice
- cinnomon sticks (optional)
- baked apples (optional)
- 2 cans of beer or 1/2 cup whiskey & 1 beer (optional)
If baking apples, core them and place in pan with a 1/2 inch of water, bake at 250' for 1 hour til nice and mushy.
In a large pot, pour in juices on medium heat. Add sweetener, or don't (juices have a lot of natural sugars already). Stir in spices. Slowly pour in beer. Never let boil. Let wassail sit on heat for 13 minutes or so to let spices and juices mull.
Place baked apple into mug, pour in wassail, add a cinnamon stick, grab a few unhealthy sugar cookies and go sit by the fire. Add more whiskey just before serving if you're into it...
Of course I have a few more things to say about a special herb involved!!
Cinnamon as we know it is the bark of the branches of a gorgeous tree. It has magnificent properties beneficial for the gastrointestinal system as well as the blood. Some benefits include:
- Hemostatic- warming agent that stimulates circulation- great for people who find coldness in their hands and feet
- Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal- fight those nasty bugs NATURALLY! Screw unnecessary antibiotics.
- Gastric stimulant- useful in constipation
- Carminitive & Astringent- settling to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (caution- laxative in large doses)
- Diaphoretic- raises heat, helps support a fever (FEVER GOOD! more on that later)
- Blood sugar regulator- especially useful for diabetic patients
- Control lipids and cholesterol! 1/2 tsp a day to lower LDL!
The essential oil aromatherapy is great for: memory and brain health! Candles good and yummy this time of year...
Women who are pregnant or wish to be pregnant are advised to not consume cinnamon as it can be used for delaying menstrual cycles.Happy holidays!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
It isn't so ironic that the candy cane, that being made with peppermint, is the staple holiday candy. The holidays are a time of year when we eat more than our digestive systems can bear. We load our bellies with delicious warming (and fatty) comfort foods and mow on sugary desserts for breakfast. Then we indulge in enough high calorie beverages to fill a fish tank and enough alcohol to shred the liver. It's a joyful time of year. And candy helps fill the dark, depressing holes, right?
So why don't we just use hyssop? Well peppermint, or Mentha piperita, is incredibly beneficial for our tummies during this time of year. It is an antispasmodic to the digestive organs, helping relieve stomach cramps. Peppermint is also helpful to the gallbladder, the organ that does a lot of work in breaking down fats. Hmmm, maybe THAT'S why mints are offered after dinner and not butterscotch candies.
- Carbonated beverages
- Food within 3 hours of laying down