March 28, 2015
Today, more and more people realize the importance of a healthy diet and especially wholesome and healthy nutrition. They pay attention to the quality of their food, buy organically grown produce, read labels and hold the food industry to higher standards by refusing to buy products with harmful ingredients; the cosmetic industry is still flying under the radar of government agencies and the public eye.
Beauty, however, is more than skin deep and reading labels can open your eyes to the dangers lurking in today’s beauty products. From lead in lipsticks to the phthalates and parabens in your baby’s lotion, the list of toxic and health-damaging ingredients is long and expands daily
Did you know that the average woman uses a dozen personal care products, containing 168 chemicals, 89% of which have never been tested for the safety of their ingredients. (Uricchio, 2010)
While the The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with the oversight of cosmetics, it has no authority to require pre-market safety assessments. It can neither review and regulate what goes into cosmetics, nor can it recall products that are found to be harmful.
The top five harmful chemicals most commonly found in popular beauty products are lead, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and nitrosamines.
Lead is a toxic heavy metal and can be found in whitening toothpastes and lipsticks. The negative effects of lead exposure are well documented and reach from neuro-toxicity, seizures, gastrointestinal issues to reproductive and kidney dysfunction
Formaldehyde, another frequently used ingredient, is absorbed transdermally or by inhalation and can be found in nail polishes, shampoos and liquid body soaps. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, excessive and prolonged exposure can cause skin rashes and may contribute to the development of cancer.
Parabens are most often used as preservatives and found in body creams, lotions, shampoos as well as any beauty product that has water added to it. Parabens have been shown to disrupt hormones, cause skin reactions and have even been found in breast cancer tumors.
Phthalates are in a class of chemicals that has been linked to hormone disruption, which can affect development and fertility.
Nitrosamines can be found in almost every skin care product, in baby shampoos, mascara, and concealer. You won’t, however find them listed because they are classified as impurities not as ingredients. Many studies link nitrosamine to cancer and in 1996, the FDA suggested cosmetic manufacturers remove ingredients from their products that, when combined, create nitrosamine, but this suggestion has largely been ignored.
These are only a few on the long list of harmful and potentially dangerous chemicals that beauty products expose us to and while the cosmetic industry argues that these toxic ingredients are absorbed in such small amounts that they do not pose any danger, it is the repeated use and thereby cumulative effect of exposure over a lifetime as well as the timing of exposure such as during growth and development, that increases their harmful effects.
Europe takes a hazard-base, precautionary approach when it comes to potentially harmful chemicals and has banned 1100 ingredients from cosmetics, while the United States has banned or restricted only 11. Ironically, U.S. companies selling their products overseas have changed their formulas to comply with European regulations while still using controversial ingredients in products meant for the U.S. market.
Organizations such as cosmeticsinfo.org provide consumers with factual, scientific information on ingredients most commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products.
Trusting Mother Nature, I have been making many of skin care products myself. It really is not all that difficult to make lip balms, shampoos and lotions. If you are curious and would like to find out, how you can create the perfect moisturizer for your skin type, join us for a
March 2, 2015
Name: Urtica dioica
Parts used: fresh or dried leaves
Use:Internal and external
Contraindications: None known
Side Effects: None known
Drug Interactions: None known
Character: cool, dry, astringent
Actions: astringent, diuretic, tonic, nutritive, circulatory stimulant, promotes milk flow, lowers blood sugar levels,
It is the season……Allergy season that is! Everything is in bloom and many of us have a difficult time seeing nature blooming and blossoming out of our watery and itchy eyes. Allergies are rampant this time of year and many of my customers have asked me if there isn’t a way to treat allergy symptoms naturally. There is indeed!
Nettle is one of the most effective natural treatment for allergies, especially itchy eyes and sneezing. The reason for this is that stinging nettle contains natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatory properties which can open up constricted bronchial and nasal passages and thereby reduce unpleasant allergy symptoms.
Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, uses and and recommends this herb for seasonal allergies.
In 1990, the National College for Naturopathic Medicine in Portland Oregon was able to scientifically support what herbalists have know for a long time. There, a double-blind study was conducted to explore the efficacy of a freeze-dried preparation of stinging nettle on allergic rhinitis. The study showed that the group treated with the nettle preparation showed moderately better results than the participants in the control group which were given a placebo.
As with any medication, botanical or otherwise, before pursuing a course of self-treatment, always consult your physician if you are pregnant, nursing a baby, or being treated for any serious condition.
In addition to helping relief allergy symptoms, stinging nettle has many other benefits and makes a deliciously tasting infusion:
- Nettle leaf is a blood builder
- It is rich in calcium and Vitamin C (which aids iron absorption)
- It is used to reduce uric acid and to treat gout and arthritis
- Acts like a light laxative and diuretic (high in potassium)
- Used to treat skin conditions (eczema)
- Builds adrenal and kidney function
1-2 teaspoons of dried leaves per 6oz water, steep anywhere from 5-15 minutes. (The longer the steeping time the more potent the medical properties of the infusion)
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.
September 8, 2014
Some herbs to boost
your immune system
Great blend to get you
through cold and flu
season. Pleasant tasting,
it supports your natural
Widely used in Traditional
Chinese Medicine herbal
formulas. Astragalus is
known to tone and
strengthen the immune
Chase that cold away
with the immune system
Latest Tea Menu
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one of our partners
Wrapping up Summer
Just read a column in the Wall Street Journal that pointed out how August has changed from a relaxing month to one of back-to-school preparations and other hustle bustle. In Europe, August is still a popular vacation time but here, school seems to start earlier and earlier and the traditional Labor Day end-of-summer milestone is a faded memory that is now a month into the school year. The heat drags the energy out of us and it seems only our dogs know that it is best not to fight it and just slow down a bit.
Coming up in September:
Stay Healthy Through the Cold and Flu Season with elberberries!
This week I saw the first signs advertising “Flu Shots” reminding me that the season for cold and flu is just around the corner. According to the Center for Disease Control, flu season starts to peak in November and continues to peak through April. Therefore, it is a good idea to start strengthening your body’s immune function now so that it can better fight of those nasty viruses later.
While there are many herbs to help treat cold and flu symptoms and to shorten the duration of an illness, one deserves special attention:
Elderberry (Sambuccus nigra) is Mother Nature’s version of the flu shot and may actually help prevent you from contracting the virus. Elderberry syrup is Europe’s most esteemed formula for colds, flu, and upper respiratory infections.
Just how does elderberry keep the cold and flu at bay?
Flu viruses are primitive organisms that need the body’s cells as a host to replicate themselves. They puncture the cell walls with little enzyme-coated spikes called hemaglutinin and so break into the cell. Research has shown that elderberry has chemical compounds that disarm these spikes and prevent the virus from entering the respiratory cells thereby working in a prophylactic way. Growing up in Germany, my mother got us through the winter by making sure we got our daily dose of elderberry Syrup. (The adults, on the other hand, preferred a glass of elderberry wine!) She would make many batches of the syrup and I have kept up with this tradition in my family as well.
In recent years, Elderberry syrup has been gaining in popularity here in the U.S. too and can be found in many health food stores. But why spent a lot of money, if it is so easy and fun to make in your own kitchen. All you need is:
½ cup of dried Elderberries
3 cups of spring water
½ -1 cup of honey *
In a saucepan, bring the elderberries and water to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Strain the liquid, making sure you mash the berries in order to get every drop of the decoction. Add the honey to the warm liquid and fill in a glass bottle. The syrup will keep in the fridge for 3 months. Take 1-3 tbsp per day for as a preventative remedy.
Alternatively, elderberriescan be taken as a tincture which is also very easy to make. Important is to start the tincture early since it takes six to eight weeks before it is ready for use.
2 cups dried Elderberries
80 proof or higher alcohol (I prefer vodka)
Quart size Mason jar with tight fitting lid
Place the dried berries in the jar and add enough alcohol to cover the berries. Macerate the berries until they are quite soft and the liquid is dark purple. Finish by adding enough alcohol to fill the quart jar until an inch from the top. Place the lid on the jar and label it with name of herb and date. Gently shake contents and keep in a dark cabinet for six to eight weeks. Strain the alcohol from the berries using a cheese cloth. Fill the liquid into tincture bottles, label them and keep them in a cool dry place.
Take one dropper full 3 – times per day to give your immune system a boost!
* Elderberries are safe and can be taken over extended period of time, however due to the use of honey, refrain from giving the syrup to children under the age of 1
Dear Souvia: I understand that there can be naturally occurring fluoride in Tea. Do I need to be concerned?
Not, really. The good news is that you would have to drink 100’s of cups of tea – Dr. Weil article on the topic here. http://ow.ly/nnVni
Does tea contain caffeine?
Yes, tea contains caffeine, but even though a pound of tea contains the same amount of caffeine as a pound of coffee, less tea is needed to brew a cup of tea and, therefor,e the caffeine content per cup is considerably lower than that of coffee. According to a Canadian Health report, a 6 oz cup of regular coffee contains approximately 100mg of caffeine, while 6 oz of tea contains only about 24 mg of caffeine. The amount of caffeine can vary significantly depending how long it is brewed and the style of leaf.
Is High Tea the same as Afternoon Tea?
No. The Afternoon Tea Tradition started in the 1800’s when Lady Bedford had an Afternoon snack prepared to tide her over until dinner. High Tea was so-called due to the high tables it was often served on. It was a full meal and not like anything served at a typical Tearoom. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they are very different things.
Thanks for Reading…
Thanks for reading this month. We hope you’ll visit us in the store, at one of our partners or online soon. If you can’t get in, remember… we ship orders over $50 for free the same day and your tea will arrive quickly!
February 3, 2014
Latin Name: Crataegus oxycanthoides
Parts used: Leaves, Flowers, Berries
Contra-indications: According the European Commission E, there are no known contraindications. It is however recommended that children and pregnant women don’t take Hawthorn.
Drug interactions: Hawthorn may increase the effects of the heart drug “digoxin”. Consult with a healthcare professional before combining hawthorn with any heart medication.
Hawthorn, also called Mayflower, is a small to medium-sized tree with umbrella-shaped clusters of white or pink flowers and dark shiny green leaves. In Europe, Hawthorne has been know for centuries as a heart tonic and is nowadays widely used as a treatment for heart disease.
Hawthorn preparations are the among the most popularly prescribed botanical medicines in central Europe, particularly in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, but has also gained in poplularity here in the U.S.
Hawthorn is used to treat heart irregularity and palpitations, atherosclerosis, angina as well as hypertension and nervousness. It is also used to support and strengthen the heart. Among herbalists, it is recommended as a tonic to steady the heartbeat, increase blood flow to the heart muscle and to strengthen the blood vessels.
Dosage: For an infusion take 2 tsp of leaves/fruit per cup of boiling water and steep for 10-15 minutes, depending on the desired strength. Drink up to 2 cups daily. Alternatively, it can be taken in tincture form; take 30-40 drops in a small glass of water or juice twice daily.
As with all herbal supplements, always check with a professional health care provider before taking Hawthorn medicinally.
September 30, 2013
If you have picked up any magazine or newspaper lately, you know what’s coming – the flu! Yes, it’s that time of the year again, but it does not mean you have to fall victim to this virus. There are many, easy things you can do to reduce your risk of catching a bug. The simplest of them are wash your hands frequently, refrain from touching your face, mouth and nose, get enough rest and load up on fruits and veggies.
If you want to go the extra mile and strengthen your immune system, herbs are definitely on your side. One of the best immune boosting herbals is Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous). Native to north-east China it is one of the most valued medicinal herbs and frequently used in Chinese medicinal formulas. Research has shown that astragalus root makes infection-fighting white blood cells more active and stimulates the production of interferon, a protein which slows the multiplication of viruses.
Astragalus is a tonic herb, which means it can be safely taken over a long period of time. In fact, if you want to rev up your immune system by the time flu season is in full swing, now is the time to start taking astragalus daily.
Astragalus can be taken as a tear or a tincture.
For a decoction, take 2 teaspoons of dried root in 2 cups of boiling water. Turn down heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Strain and drink 1 cup three times a day.
To make your won tincture (standardized extract) use 1 part astragalus root and place in a glass container. Cover with 5 parts of clear grain alcohol (vodka works best). Close jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake. Let sit for 4-6 weeks, shaking it every day to prevent plant material from settling. After 6 weeks, strain into small tincture bottles. Take 2 dropper full 2 daily.’
April 14, 2013
March 17, 2013
August 12, 2012
Tulsi is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil
Tulsi, which is Sanskrit for â€œthe incomparable oneâ€, has claimed a significant place in Ayurveda, an ancient holistic medical system where it is also known as â€œHoly Basilâ€. For more than 3000 years, Tulsi has been considered one of Indiaâ€™s most powerful herbs and it is believed that the daily use of this herb helps maintain the balance of the energy centers (chakras) of the body. Indian folk medicine uses the Tulsi leaves to brew a tea which is given to treat congestion, stomach upsets, headaches, fevers and infections.
Today, there has been a significant amount of both animal and human clinical research studies on the benefits of Tulsi and we now know that this versatile plant is an adaptogen (herbs which help the body cope and adapt to external/ internal stressors) with great restorative powers. The plantâ€™s chemistry is very complex and contains hundreds of phyto-chemicals. These phyto-chemicals work synergistically to support the bodyâ€™s own healing system. Some of its benefits include:
- Stress relief
- Enhanced immunity and stamina
- Support during cold season
- Promotion of a healthy metabolism
- Anti-oxidant activity
Some of Tulsi effects you will feel immediately. For example, you may feel more relaxed and energized after the first cup, while others develop gradually over time, such as increased metabolism and stronger immune function. For maximum benefits, it is recommended to drink Tulsi regularly over an extended period of time.
Although Tulsi has many specific effects on different body systems, its main benefits arise from its impressive general capacity to assist the body’s natural process of healing and maintaining health. Tulsi overall health promotion and disease prevention effects are powerful, but often subtle. For example, you may simply notice that you do not seem to be bothered by stress or common illnesses, such as colds or flu, nearly as often as before. Or you may notice that you generally tire less easily.
Tulsi is generally regarded as safe and can be taken over extended periods of time. To make an herbal infusion, use 1 tsp of dried leaf to 6oz of boiling water and steep covered for five to ten minutes. For best results, drink 2-3 cups daily.
May 12, 2012
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