February 23, 2015
These five herbs should not be missing from your first aid kit. Maybe your are already using some of them in your kitchen, but are unaware about their incredible healing properties.
- Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globules): treats congestion, inflammation, colds, flu, chicken pox, shingles and herpes. Use externallyÂ as salve or as an essential oils.
- German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): relieves inflammation, bruises, sprains, tension and pain. Use internally as tea or externally as a poultice on the effected area.
- Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia): treats bee stings, insect bites, sunburn, headache, bruises, sprains and depression. Use internally as tea or externally as essential oil or poulice.
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): lessens headaches, fatigue, hangover, constipation, muscle aches and improves circulation. Us as tea or essential oil.
- Spearmint (mentha spicata): relieves indigestion, headache, fatigue, fever, sinusitis and muscle pain.
Keep these remedies handy – not only are they effective, but they are safe, gentle and without unpleasant side effects.!
If you already use some of these herbals, or have some great recipes in terms of usage, share them with us on this blog!
February 21, 2015
Spring is the time of renewal and even here in the desert, nature’s awakening does not go unnoticed. The aroma of orange blossoms fills the air and a sea of wildflowers paints the desert in beautiful colors.
On the other hand, spring is also the time, when we clean house – thoroughly, get our backyards looking nice and are getting rid of the old to make room for the new!
After the holiday feasts and the comfort foods of winter, our bodies deserve a gentle cleansing too. The accumulation of toxins often leaves us feeling sluggish and tired. Digestive disorders, headaches, joint pain, allergies and unwanted weight are often the result of toxic overload as well.
While our body is designed to rid itself from waste, this process can break down because liver and gallbladder can’t keep up any longer. When this happens, the excess toxins are stored as fat deposits and add to unwanted weight or enter the blood stream.
(Note: We will be offering a class on “Cleansing with Herbs” March 26th – register online)
Cleansing, however, does not mean you have to go on a fast, or very restricted diet. It can be accomplished much gentler and easier by incorporating specific herbs into a well-balanced diet. My favorites are Nettle , Milk Thistle and Burdock Root
Nettle – (Urtica dioica) has been used for centuries as a cleansing herb. Its diuretic action flushes the urinary tract of accumulated waste. It is rich in vitamins and minerals especially iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and chromium. It strengthens the kidneys and is excellent for allergies and hay fever!
Milk Thistle – (Silybum marianum) is a powerful antioxidant, stimulates liver function and even heals damaged liver cells. The seeds are rich in a compound that stimulates the liver regeneration of liver cells. In fact it is so powerful that it is the only known substance to provide relief from poisoning by death cap mushroom. Milk Thistle also assists gallbladder and kidney function.
Burdock Root – (Arctium lappa) is one of the superior tonic herbs. It alkalinizes and eliminates toxins in the blood stream and promotes kidney function. Its ability to expels uric acid from the body makes it perfect for treating gout and rheumatism. Like Nettle, Burdock Root is also rich in minerals and one of the best herbs for skin. It can be used internally and externally for exzema, psoriasis, acne and other skin imbalances that are the result of too many toxins in the body
Whether it is to counteract a little overindulgence or to support your body’s cleansing functions on a regular basis, herbs can be a wonderful aid in this process.
In order to reap the most benefits, make sure to steep the herbs in boiling water for at least 20 minutes.
February 20, 2015
February is “National Heart Health Month”, and so the perfect time to remind you how tea might play a role in your cardiovascular health.
Two independent studies suggest flavonoids and polyphenols found in tea may aid in the prevention of heart disease. Consumption of the flavonoid rutin in foods and tea could help to prevent the formation of blood clots, according to researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School.
The report published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation reveals that the compound commonly found in fruits and vegetables could have promise in blocking the formation of blood clots in an animal model of clotting (thrombosis) Rutin proved to be the most potently antithrombic compound that we ever tested in this model, said lead researcher Robert Flaumenhaft. In particular, he revealed that Rutin was shown to inhibit both platelet accumulation and fibrin generation during clot formation. Clots occur in both arteries and veins, he explained. Arteries are platelet-rich while those in veins are fibrin-rich.
This discovery suggests that a single agent can treat and prevent both types of clots, he said. The researcher recommended clinical trials. Results show Rutin may prove helpful in the prevention and treatment of stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis
A different study to examine the impact of tea drinking on blood cholesterol levels found black tea intake improves lipid profile and antioxidant status of a random population. In a paper published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers studied the effect of black tea on risk factors of cardiovascular disease in a normal population. In a report included in the American Botanical Council™s HerbClip the moderate intake of black tea improved the plasma levels of some of the cardiovascular disease risk factors and total antioxidant capacity.”Although the underlying biological mechanisms for these effects and the exact role of phenolics warrant an extensive study, tea may provide an important source of dietary antioxidants in many individuals,” conclude the authors.
February 16, 2015
This is prime season for citrus fruit here in Arizona. My grapefruit tea is hanging full of big yellow fruit and aside from simply eating them, I have been thinking about other ways I can use them. As a lover of tea, I was excited when I came across a recipe that combined one of my favorite teas (Matcha) with Grapefruit……and a little alcohol to kick it up a notch!
This Salty Dog with matcha combines great flavor, presentation and a bit of health-boosting antioxidants and is the perfect drink to ring in the weekend.
- juice of half a grapefruit
- 2 tbsp vodka (or to taste)
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 3-4 ice cubes
- 1/2 tsp matcha
1. Squeeze the grapefruit to extract the juice. Moisten the rim of a glass with the rind and dip rim in salt. Fill the glass with ice cubes.
2. Place the grapefruit juice, vodka, and matcha in a cocktail shaker and shake until well mixed
3. Pour over the ice cubes and garnish with 1/4 slice of grapefruit – serve immediately!
Cheers to your health!
Latin Name: Astragalus membranaceus
Parts used: root
Properties: mild adaptogen, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiperspirant, heart and immune tonic
Contra-indications: Astragalus is generally regarded as safe and regular use is unlikely to cause any adverse effect. (always check with your physician if you are pregnant, nursing or on any medication.)
Astragalus is native to China and plays an important role in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) which considers it a “qi” tonic, strenghtening lungs and respiratory system.
Being a member of the adaptogenic herbs, Astragalus helps the body adapt to stress, support normal metabolic functions, improve immune system function and restore adrenal balance. It is considered a “tonic” and can be taken safely over long periods of time. In fact, the more regularly you take an herb like Astragalus, the greater the overall benefit for your wellbeing.
One particular area of interest to those of us who want to shed unwanted pounds, Astragalus might just help out by strengthening digestion and by having a positive effect on(raising) metabolism.
To achieve results, it is very important to take Astragalus regulary and over a long period of time. It can 6-8 weeks to build up in your system and reach its full effect.
Preparation: tea/decoction: add 2 tsp dried cut/sifted root to 12oz water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Tincture: (1:5) ratio, 40-80 drops, three times per day
source: Adaptogens, Winston & Maimes 2007, Healing Arts Press
February 13, 2015
Valentine’s Day, the day for romance and love! For centuries , people have looked to Mother Nature, for the perfect aphrodisiac that will let their lover’s heart beat faster……
Damiana (Turnera aphrodisiaca) is one of those botanicals that has been prescribed by herbalists for centuries in teas, tinctures and other herbal decoctions to strengthen libido. While not supported by scientific evidence, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to make one wonder ……
I decided to make my own love potion using a recipe I found in one of Rosemary Gladstar’s books. She calls it the Damiana Chocolate Love Liqueur!
1 ounce Damiana leaves (dried)
2 cups vodka or brandy
1 ½ cups spring water
1 cup honey
Soak the Damiana leaves in the vodka or brandy for 5 days. Strain, reserve the liquid in a bottle.
Soak the alcohol drenched leaves in the spring water for 3 days. Strain and reserve the liquid.
Over low heat gently warm the water extract and dissolve the honey in it. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the alcohol extract and stir well. Pour into a clean bottle and add a dash of vanilla and a touch of rose water for flavor. Let it mellow for 1 month or longer; it gets smoother with age.
To each cup of Damiana liqueur, add ½ cup of chocolate syrup 2-3 drops of almond extract and if you like a touch more of rose water.
Doesn’t that sound scandalously delicious?
February 9, 2015
Can you imagine a chocolate chip cookie without a glass of milk, a peanut butter sandwich without jelly, vanilla ice cream without hot fudge? There are certain food combinations that take the taste from just good to simply delicious!
Wine, for example is often paired with foods and desserts to enhance the flavor in both. Tea shares many of wine’s complexities and pairing it with food can take the taste experience to another level.
Since February highlights chocolates and sweets as the perfect gift for your Valentine, why not experiment and create tea and chocolate pairings for that romantic Valentine’s dinner that will surprise and delight!
If you are asking yourself, how to get started, that is easy to answer. You want to find the characteristics in chocolate and tea that lead to the perfect match.
One way to look at tea and chocolate is as “friends” where similarity in characteristics enhance the flavor, or as “lovers”, where contrasting characteristics will complement each other through their differences.
Since tea and chocolate share the same flavor profiles such as floral qualities or astringency from tannin, they practically invite you to create fun and tasty combinations. While you should always trust your taste buds to find the right combinations, there are some general guidelines that might help you in the process:
- White teas, have a very delicate flavor and pair well with mild chocolates and fruit. Try a Silver Needle or Pai Mu Tan with chocolate covered strawberries or a white chocolate cheese cake.
- Green teas have vegetal flavors and aromas and pair well with creamier tastes such as berry flavors and milk chocolate. A Japanese Sencha with its savory profile, for example, is a good match for white or milk chocolate. The smooth and silky texture of Matcha (green tea powder) complements the equally smooth texture of chocolate truffles and will delight any chocolate lover’s palate.
- Oolong, a partially oxidized tea, is very complex in flavor. The lightly oxidized, greener oolongs, such as a Chinese Pouchong or Taiwanese Tung Ting, go well with rich sweet desserts like caramel filled pralines and milk chocolate. The more oxidized oolongs, and those that were roasted, such as Ti Kuan Yin, or Formosa Oolong, complement the stronger flavors of darker chocolate.
- Black Teas tend to have a more robust flavor profile, more body and their tannin content matches up well with rich and full flavored dark chocolate. Indulge your taste buds with dark chocolate flavors that include berries, citrus or nuts!
I, personally, like rich and creamy desserts and therefore my choice for a perfect Valentine’s dessert would be a lightly oxidized Tung Ting with its floral notes and match it up with a slice (or two) of creamy chocolate, caramel cake. Just writing this makes my mouth water…..
February 6, 2015
Love is in the air – Cupid has his arrows polished and Valentine’s is just around the corner!
Of course, we want to look our best for that special date and I have tips on how to bring on that special glow with a few ingredients you already have in your pantry. What you don’t have….you will find at Souvia.
Keeping your skin moist and supple is as easy as 1-2-3 with my lavender/avocado mask!
You will need 1/2 fresh avocado (approx. 1/3 cup)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp. lavender flowers
Mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. then spread the mask onto your face and neck and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse well with warm water.
This mask is perfect for extra-dry skin. Both honey and avocado are naturally moisturizing and lavender is soothing to all skin types!
Use weekly for a beautiful and radiant look!
February 2, 2015
We all know that tea, white, green, oolong or black, is a great addition to a healthy diet. Numerous studies show that the properties in green tea (and other tea varietals) can help you maintain health and well-being and may even ward of disease. Drinking 3-4 cups of tea per day will keep you well and beautiful on the inside.
Did you know, however, that you can incorporate tea in your beauty regimen for beautiful, radiant and healthy skin? The anioxidant ECGC (epigallocatechin gallate) in green tea, for example appears to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and can help fight damage done by free radicals.
It does not take much time or preparation to make the following recipes. You probably have most of the tools and ingredients at home. Give it a try – not only is it fun, but you can also save some money in the process.
Take one quart of water and bring to aboil. Add 1/2 cup of unflavored black or green tea and steep for 10- 15 minutes. Strain the leaves and set aside. Let the tea cool. Soak a piece of cotton in the tea and place on the sunburned areas. Leave on for about 15 minutes, or until the burned areas begins to cool. You can repeat this treatment up to four times a day. If refrigerated, the tea will keep for up to one week.
FOR PUFFY AND TIRED EYES
- Since tea is astringent, it helps get rid of puffy and swollen eys. Simply soak cotton balls in the prepared cold black or green tea and place on your eyes for 10 minutes.
TO BRING COLOR AND SHINE TO YOUR HAIR
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 1/4 cup of black tea. Steep for 15-20 minutes. Cool the tea to room temperature and rinse damp, shampooed hair with it. Not only will it darken your hair, but it will also add beautiful highlights.
Simple, inexpensive, yet effective ways to take care of your skin!
January 30, 2015
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Flu season is still in full swing and living in the arid climate of Arizona often leaves you with a dry and scratchy throat. There is an easy and tasty way to help bring relief: Sage!
Aside from using it in an herbal infusion, use your dried sage leaves and turn them into a delicious syrup that even your kids will like.
For the syrup you will need
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dried sage
Place the sage into the water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture and add the honey and lemon juice to the infusion.
Fill into a glass jar and keep in the refigerator for up to 3 months.