Friday, May 30, 2014

Black Walnut


You probably know black walnut as a nut that tastes great and reminds you of things like Grandma and the "good ol' days." Or perhaps black walnut reminds you of classic furniture with a beautiful dark coloring that brings you a feeling of strength and solidarity.

There is more to know about this simple food, though. For example, it applied topically it can help heal and tone inflamed or damaged tissues.* Internally, it is useful for caring for anemia and chronic diarrhea, even hemorrhoids. Probably one of the better known uses for black walnut is as an anti-parasitic. This means it is good to fight/expel a variety of intestinal parasites, worms and yeast.* Externally, it has even been used on ringworm.

Black walnut is a good source of iodine, and as such, it is beneficial to underactive thyroid conditions.* It contains an essential fatty acid (linolenic acid) necessary for healthy cell function, the production of prostaglandins, menstrual dysfunction and skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. In powder form, it has been used as a tooth powder to clean teeth and tighten gums.

My favorite use for black walnut is for poison ivy rash. I have 3 sons, 1 daughter, a son-in-law and a husband. Every year, I see them traipse through patches of poison ivy and right away, I go get the bottle of liquid black walnut. First, I rub a little of the dark liquid directly onto the rash (provided it isn't near the eyes) and let it air dry. Next, I give them a little dose by mouth to help flush it from the bloodstream and slow down or prevent the spread of it from the inside. By doing this, we rapidly ease that miserable itching, dry out the oozing oils and stop it from spreading. We can't seem to keep ourselves out of contact with the plant, but when we do run into it, we have a protocol we follow to make things easier to deal with.

Remember the old saying, "leaves of three, let them be." If you see this plant, do all you can NOT to touch it. The oils are pretty potent and a simple touch can be enough to cause a rash.

If you stumble into it before recognizing it, it isn't the end of the world normally, but the quicker you can respond to it, the easier things can be. Wash the skin immediately with soapy water to flush away the urushiol from the skin. Wash your clothes and even your shoes right away too, because the oils are viable for a LONG time and even days later, the oil can affect you upon contact.

Should you develop an itchy red rash similar to this picture, don't hesitate to get some black walnut extract and start rubbing it on.

The sooner you tackle the irritation, the sooner it stops being so irritating. Of course, this isn't the ONLY way to deal with poison ivy rash, but it is definitely my personal favorite and I have such fast results that it's the only thing I normally do for myself and my family.

*=source: Hart by Herb Allure, Inc.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Shea Butter

Shea butter has become much more popular in our society the last few years, and thank goodness it has! Americans are learning what African cultures have known for many many years--that shea butter can do things for you that no other lotion can!

Shea butter isn't actually a lotion. It comes from the fatty inner portion of the shea nut from shea trees in Africa. The nuts are cracked open, the inner portion removed and crushed, then cooked. The cooking helps to remove any impurities or water that might be inside. The shea butter itself is scooped out and allowed to cool and solidify into what you see when you purchase your own container of shea butter.

What do you use it for? It might be easier to answer the question "what CAN'T you use it for?"
It is very commonly used in lotions and creams and hair dressings and more. Very frequently it is used by itself for a myriad of reasons, such as:
  • hair & skin rejuvenation
  • skin rashes
  • eczema and/or psoriasis
  • dandruff
  • stretch marks
  • burns / sunburns
  • scars
  • wounds
  • insect bites
  • frost bite
  • shaving cream
  • dry skin & hair
Vitamin E and essential fatty acids are found within shea butter, all of which help offer great benefits to the body. The skin is the largest organ of the body and protecting and caring for it should be a priority for all people.

One thing to keep in mind is that not ALL shea butter is created equal. Shea butter has a unique smell that is NOT perfumey. Many people don't enjoy the fragrance as it is, although it dissipates rapidly once applied to the skin. To mask the natural scent of shea butter, a lot of other chemicals may be added to shea butter, destroying some of the natural wonders held within. When choosing a product that suits you, be sure you know what you are getting. Read labels and ask questions, then enjoy the fantastic changes your skin will go through as it drinks up the health benefits contained one simple ingredient: shea butter!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm has been a subject on television lately. You may be surprised to find out that it has been around (and probably in your local nurseries and plant shops) for a long time. Its leaves closely resemble the spearmint plant, but it has a sweet lemon essence to it that makes it easily identifiable. The name for lemon balm is Melissa Officinalis, which comes from the Greek for "honey bee," and it does indeed have some of the same tonic properties as honey and royal jelly.

When used as a tea, lemon balm makes a great morning starter drink. It brings that uplift to the spirit we all want, and this makes it a great drink for those who suffer from depression. It is also ideal for anyone who suffers digestive upsets when worried or anxious. Being a member of the mint family, it has a cooling nature, and this makes it a good choice for feverish colds. The tea is best fresh and can be enjoyed hot or cold. It can even be applied as a wash for sores or swellings. To obtain these healthful benefits from fresh leaves, be sure to harvest them BEFORE the plant flowers. 

If tea is not your thing, another option is tincture. Tinctures are made by extracting the therapeutic properties from the leaves into an alcohol, vinegar, or glycerine base. (This base preserves the tonic, giving it a bit longer shelf life than the fresh or dehydrated leaves have.) Tinctures are concentrated, so it takes less to accomplish the same thing as a cup of tea, but in general, can be used for the same reasons and oftentimes in the same ways as the tea. 

A compress can also be made from the tea for painful swellings such as gout. This does not resolve the cause of the gout, but can relieve the discomfort experienced with it. 

For insect repellent or caring for insect bites, ointments can be made and applied liberally on the skin directly. Massage oil is another way to topically apply lemon balm for these things. Topical applications can be quite beneficial for tension, particularly for nervous, restless or agitated children. 

Lemon balm can be found as an essential oil as well. Keep in mind that distilling the oils from leaves and petals and barks of plants can require a lot of plant material, which can make pricing differ from oil to oil. Sometimes, lemon balm essential oil will be labeled as Sweet Melissa, or just Melissa. Because of its relaxing nature, this essential oil is oftentimes quite helpful for menstrual cramps and irregularities. The essential oil can also be dispersed in the air through a diffuser and bring calm to the atmosphere. 

Consider lemon balm in one form or another for these problems:
stress-related facial blemishes
skin inflammationis
insect bites
stress & anxiety
menstrual cramps
fever blisters
shingles pain
stagnant liver function
gallbladder complaints
emotional balance

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba is actually a shrub found in Mexico and southwest America. It's a rather interesting and lovely plant as well. At first glance, one wouldn't think this shrub had much to offer,.....on the contrary!

Jojoba oil (pronounced "ho-HO-bah") is a fantastic oil, particularly for the skin. It has been used historically by many indigenous cultures, but has become popular by the masses just in the last few decades. What makes it so great? Let me count the ways:

1- It is very similar to the natural oils the body already makes. These oils you make are necessary for good health to the skin, yet we do things frequently that alter the balance of that moisture, such as chemical creams and ointments, chlorine swimming pools, soaps and sprays... Restoring that natural moisture balance with jojoba oil can brighten the natural glow your skin is happy to show you.

2- Jojoba is actually anti-bacterial. SURPRISE! That's right, it is. That means it is effective in wound care on the skin. It can act as both a barrier to protect against bacterial infection and as an approach to taking care of infections already present. This is one use Native Americans have used for centuries.

3- It's also an anti-inflammatory, which means it can reduce the redness and irritation of skin injuries and discomforts. Because of this effect, acne can be cared for with the use of jojoba oil. That's a great thing to know! Every year, people spend thousands of dollars on skin care products trying to combat acne and the appearances it brings about. Many of these products contain animal fats, which actually tend to make acne even worse.

4- If we just consider the uses mentioned thus far, it is easy to see how the use of jojoba oil can have an anti-aging effect also. Moisture, protection from bacteria, reducing redness and swellings,... makes sense to me!

5- Unlike other oils, jojoba does not go rancid or need refrigeration to maintain a lifespan. It has a pleasant fragrance of its own as well, making it a good oil to use by itself or in a combination product.

6- Because the oils come from the waxy substance in the seeds, it makes a great base for cosmetics and skincare products you may choose to make yourself. That means not only does it take care of your skin, not clog your pores, and smell good,...but it also improves the quality of your beauty products that YOU make!

Many massage therapists will use jojoba oil in their practices. Many nail technicians use jojoba oil for caring the hands of their clients. Many beauticians use jojoba oil for the health of their clients hair. Perhaps it's time for you to give jojoba oil another thought and see the results for yourself!

Information contained in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or otherwise act in a medical treatment plan. It is strictly for educational purposes and expresses the authors personal experiences. As with any health care protocol, seek the counsel of your doctor.

for more information, please see these sites:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Enzymes are essential. Our body requires them to carry out different functions. There are 3 types of enzymes: digestive enzymes (the type secreted by the pancreas that assists in breaking down foods we eat), food enzymes (the type naturally occurring in fresh raw foods that intended to begin the digestive process), and metabolic enzymes (the type the stimulate reactions in the body's cells that make certain functions happen).
At this time of year, we tend to do a lot of overeating and eating foods we don't typically indulge in on a regular basis. Because of this, enzymes are even more important to consider than they rest of the year!
Food enzymes, or those that can be found naturally occurring in foods, are great aids to our digestive processes. Foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and herbs in their raw form contain most of the enzymes you need to be able to digest it. Because of this, these particular foods can digest quickly and more easily, allowing you to assimilate the nutrients better. Once these foods are cooked, a lot of the enzymes are destroyed, reducing the digestive aid they can provide. They still have nutrients, so keep eating your fruits and vegetables even if you cook them!
Digestive enzymes are something you are born with. The more you have to use them, the more your reserve is reduced, making it more difficult for your body to digest well as you age. When digestion isn't able to function well or completely, constipation, gas, indigestion, heartburn, cramping, bloating, irritability and other discomforts can become a problem.
Enzymes can be supplemented, and doing so oftentimes makes a tremendous difference in how a person feels overall. A simple capsule taken with meals can aid the body in breaking down fats, oils, proteins, dairy, sugars, etc. Getting the most value out of your foods only happens when you can break them down and put their nutrients to work for you. Imagine what your colon is carrying around if you are unable to digest properly! No wonder gas builds up in there!
A little relief can make a tremendous difference in how much we can enjoy our holiday seasons. Perhaps an extra enzyme would be a great gift to your body!


Friday, August 31, 2012


Anamu is a shrubby plant most commonly found in South and Central America and some of the southern portions of the United States. It's related to the poke weed plant and it is noted for having a strong garlic-like scent. It is such a common plant to be used in North America, probably because most Americans just haven't heard of this plant. In South and Central America, though, it is widely used for ailments such as cold and flu, viruses, yeast infections, skin conditions, intestinal gas and is being researched for its effect on cancers and cancerous tumors.

All these things sound wonderful, but there is more! It is also known to aid in pain relief for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, reduce muscle spasms and nervous tension, and promoting a healthy menstrual cycle.

These things make Anamu sound like a "wonder drug" or "miracle cure," but it does come with some cautions. For instance, pregnant women should avoid this herb and also women who are interested in becoming pregnant. Heart patients should also be cautious due to the blood thinning properties. Any blood disorder should be reason to be cautious in this instance.

That being said, learning about any herb before using it is a wise decision and is highly recommended. Any herb that is helpful for one person isn't necessarily the first choice for another, so study and ask questions and choose your supplements with a little knowledge guiding you rather than excitement because it promises miracles.

Information for this post was obtained from the following websites.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summertime Heatwave

Summertime in Georgia promises to be warm every year without fail. This year, however, it seems determined to prove just how hot it is capable of becoming. With temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and precious little rain, I think we can safely say the word "Heatwave" and not be exaggerating.

The heat affects the plants, the water supply, the financial resources, ....and our bodies. Those who are unable to escape the heat can really suffer some ill effects indeed! So what can you do about it? Yes indeed, there ARE some options.

HYDRATE! Water intake is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to stay well during this time of year. Your body needs plenty of water regularly, but during the summer months, dehydration is even MORE likely, especially if your water intake habits don't increase from previous months. You have to have that water, so don't forego it! I personally choose water (with lemon of course!) everytime I go to a restaurant or eat away from home. That does a couple things: 1) it lets me taste my food and enjoy it without saturating my tastebuds with sugars, and 2) it keeps me drinking water when my tendency is to think about how good something else might taste. Find what works for you and implement into your own habits.

CHLOROPHYLL! Yes, its the stuff that makes plants green, and its the stuff that can help your body cool off on the inside. Take advantage of this wonderful benefit while enjoying the refreshing taste of spearmint in your water. That's not the only reason to incorporate it into your regimen. For more information on this, check out the previous blog post on chlorophyll.

Or clean them, whichever style you have. Did you know if the filters are clogged, the air isn't going to flow well? Sure you did, but you might not have considered that affecting the heat in the house during the summertime, right? Go check yours and see. It can make a difference on how efficient your cooling system operates, and your pocketbook might even appreciate that.

No I don't mean to put on your dressy clothes. I mean dress in loose fitting clothing, preferably a light colored cotton fabric so that air can circulate. This allows the air to wick away sweat, which gives a cooling sensation too.

Most people don't want to hear that these promote dehydration, but they do!

Whatever methods work for you, implement then and keep yourself safe during this hot summer weather. Go inside air-conditioned shops from time to time while you are in town to help you cool down from the heat while you are outside. Take along a little spray bottle of water and mist yourself whenever possible. Change up your exercise routine to include more swimming. Be smart and stay cool!