Tag Archives: Herbs

5 Ways to Look and Feel Better Than You Did in High School!

Spa Treatment at Le Telfair Golf & Spa Resort - MauritiusIt’s been said that youth is wasted on the young. When we’re in our teens we can get away with bad habits because we have that natural, youthful energy anyway. As we get older, we find that energy is a commodity that we prize and need to be more diligent in our self-care so that we have plenty of it!

Luckily for us, Ayurveda, India’s 5,000 year old “Science of Life,” has some easy guidelines we can follow to look and feel healthier, sexier, and more energetic than we did in high school!

Here are 5 tips from Ayurveda on how to look and feel better:

1. Know your body type.

THEN: In high school you probably coveted the body types of the women in Charlie’s Angels, or wanted to look like Cheryl Tiegs. Now we know better! YOU are the best you, don’t try to be someone else.

NOW: Know your body type – Are you Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. This way you know what “normal” is for you. That way you don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself. Every dosha is beautiful! Be your best self.

2. Eat for energy.

THEN: In high school you probably lived on pizza and leftovers, and ran through the drive-through after school.

NOW: Eat energizing foods. Fresh vegetables should constitute 40% of the meal. Green, leafy vegetables are especially high in minerals and fiber, so should be eaten often. Raisins are among the best of fruits because they enhance purity, pacify the mind and heart and increase the coordination between them. They are also a rich source of iron and vitamin B6, and provide magnesium, calcium, zinc, and potassium. Raisins aid digestion and elimination when they are soaked in water overnight. One handful per person is a good amount.

A date-milk energy shake is a nourishing way to end the day because it promotes sleep and calms both Pitta and Vata sleep imbalances.

Date-Milk Energy Shake

  • 4-5 whole dates
  • 1 cup whole organic milk (may substitute soy or rice or almond milk)
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • Boil the milk until it creates a foam. Turn off the heat and cool until the temperature is comfortable for drinking. Combine the milk with the other ingredients and blend until the dates are ground up. Drink it warm in winter and at room temperature in summer.

By the way, the warm frothy milk can also be used as a face mask – wonderfully hydrating and leaves the skin super soft!

Herbs and spices are your friends! Cumin helps digestion, freshly crushed black pepper helps you assimilate food better, cilantro cools and nutmeg soothes. There are spice blends, or CHURNAS, specifically to pacify each dosha – you can buy them ready made or make them at home.

Also, avoid energy-draining foods. Any fast foods, canned, frozen, packaged, leftover, or old foods, or foods with preservatives, chemicals and additives, are difficult to digest and contain little nutritional content. They actually drain the body of energy. If you do have some of these foods and feel heavy afterwards, drink half a glass of warm water with ¼ of a lime squeezed into it.

3. Keep skincare simple.

THEN: In high school, you probably spent a ton of money on grooming products, soaps, perfumes, lotions, hairspray.

NOW: Keep it simple. Nourish the body with natural oils. Abhyanga is a daily self massage which is good for keeping all the doshas in balance. It helps moisturize the skin, helps to release toxins, helps to tone the muscles, and it soothes the nerves. Sesame oil is usually recommended in general and is very good for Vatas specifically. Almond oil is also good for Vata. Coconut and sunflower both work well for Pitta. Corn and olive oils are beneficial for balancing Kapha.

The massage can be done in the morning before your shower, or in the evening before bed. Start by warming the oil to skin temperature, and drizzle a small amount of oil into the palms of your hands. Massage the top of your scalp (on days when you wash your hair), pay particular attention to the circumference of your ears, and the soles of your feet. Massage with long strokes on your limbs, and round strokes on your joints. It’s best to leave the oil on the body for 20 minutes before washing it off in a warm shower or bath. This 20 minutes is a good time to do your morning meditation!

4. Maintain a regular routine.

THEN: In high school, you probably kept late nights studying and partying with friends, up early for school, activities – on the go all the time.

NOW: Regular routine can help prevent stress. Ayurveda says there are 3 types of fatigue. Mental fatigue is a Vata imbalance, emotional fatigue is a Pitta imbalance, and physical fatigue is a Kapha imbalance. For all three:

  • Meditation – Twice daily
  • Good sleep habits.
  • Regular meal times.
  • Regular exercise, morning walk in the sun, yoga.
  • Dosha balancing routines – and teas.

5. Support fertility naturally.

THEN: In high school, energy probably came easily. You were always ready for a date!

NOW: Some grains, such as quinoa, enhance estrogenic activity and support the hormonal activity of both men and women. Cook it with a little ghee, salt, and spices such as cumin. Fruits such as papaya and pineapple are also helpful in strengthening the ovum. Turmeric helps enhance the binding of estrogen and progesterone.

Take the Dosha Quiz to determine your Dosha and learn more about Ayurveda with my free 6 week e-course here.


Originally published April 2012

7 Natural Energy Boosters

Do you muster every ounce of energy you have just to lift your limbs out of bed, experience a daily afternoon crash that only lifts with a caffeine boost, or feel a general sense of fatigue throughout the day?  According to researchers, you are not alone.  Fatigue is the second most common complaint to doctors in North America.

Unfortunately, many people turn to caffeine to boost their energy levels. That approach provides short-lived energy at best. At worst, it may cause damage to your body in the form of caffeine addiction, blood sugar fluctuations and adrenal gland depletion that makes you more vulnerable to stress. Since caffeine continues to work for about 12 hours, that afternoon coffee may leave you lying awake counting sheep when you are ready to sleep.

Nature offers many natural herbal energy-enhancers. Some of the best include: bee pollen, royal jelly extract, Siberian ginseng, spirulina, gotu kola, ho shou wu, and cayenne.

1. Bee Pollen

Bee Pollen is touted as a source of perpetual youth in many of the world’s great books, including the Talmud, Bible, Koran, scrolls of the ancient Orient, Greece, Rome, Russia, the Middle East. Ancient Greek athletes ate bee pollen regularly to increase their strength and vitality. More recently, the USDA discovered that bee pollen even has anti-cancer properties.

Bee pollen is packed with 22 amino acids, natural antibiotic factors, DNA/RNA (the genetic coding of plants), 18 enzymes (to aid digestion and other bodily functions), glucosides (natural sources of energy in the body), plant hormones, 27 minerals and at least 16 vitamins, it is no surprise that it increases energy and vitality. Avoid bee pollen if you suffer pollen allergies or if you are allergic to bees.

2. Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is the natural result when bees combine honey and pollen. It is a powerhouse of B-complex vitamins. It also contains many other vitamins, minerals, hormones, enzymes, 18 amino acids, and natural antibacterial and antibiotic substances. It has traditionally been used to address bronchial asthma, pancreatitis, liver disease, insomnia, stomach ulcers, kidney disease, bone fractures, immune problems, and skin disorders, but royal jelly is also effective for increasing energy.

3. Siberian Ginseng Extract

As the name suggests, Siberian ginseng originates in Siberia. It also grows in Japan, China, and Korea and parts of Canada. It has been used medicinally for at least two thousand years. Siberian ginseng is one of only a handful of herbs that is an adaptogen, which means that it works to normalize bodily functions. It inhibits the adrenal stress response and works as an immune stimulant, particularly for fighting the effects of stress and depression. It aids the liver in detoxifying harmful toxins, including chemotherapeutic agents and radiation. Siberian ginseng also stimulates the activity of several immune system components: B and T cells, making it excellent for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other viral infections. Athletes around the world use Siberian ginseng as a training aid because of its reputed ability to increase resistance to stress, increase performance, bolster the immune system during workouts, and reduce fatigue. But it also helps strengthen energy levels over time.

4. Spirulina

The Aztec people knew a good thing when they saw it. They discovered spirulina, a single-celled algae that they called tecuitlatl and soon made it a staple of their diet. It is high in usable protein, a great source of Vitamin B12 (often called the “energy vitamin”), 8 minerals and many vitamins, including 7 types of vitamin A precursors known as carotenoids. It is also packed with chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives spirulina its colour and its blood purification properties. And, of course, it boosts energy levels.

5. Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola is an herb that contains many nutrients and healing phytochemicals. As one of the primary energy herbs used by herbalists, gotu kola lessens fatigue and depression without the effects of caffeine. Actually, unlike caffeine that may keep you awake into the evenings, gotu kola actually helps improve sleep at night.

6. Ho Shou Wu

Also known as fo-ti or ho she wu, the root of this native Chinese vine is a powerful tonic to increase energy and maintain youthful vigor, while still having a calming effect. It contains a natural form of lecithin that helps lessen arterial plaque and lower blood pressure. In laboratory studies, ho shou wu effectively reduced blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and even prevented cholesterol from forming in test animals.

7. Cayenne

Cayenne works to boost energy by improving circulation. It is also effective to help ward off colds, sinus infections, and sore throats. It even helps reduce pain and inflammation.

As with all herbal medicines, it is best to consult with a skilled health professional prior to starting any herbal or nutritional supplement.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, DNM, DAc, ROHP, RNCP is a best-selling and six-time book author and doctor of natural medicine, whose works include: The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, and The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan.  Learn more at: www.TheLifeForceDiet.com.



photo by: ben▐

Sexual Nutrition

Aphrodisiacs are named after, Aphrodite,  Greek goddess of love,  fruitfulness, and beauty. An aphrodisiac is a substance that puts one in the mood for love and can include food,  herbs, good conversation, moonlight and lingerie! Aphrodisiacs may have a direct effect on the erogenous zones. Some may stimulate, irritate or be  diuretic, causing one to experience more sensation. Aphrodisiacs may affect the mind, cause relaxation and prolong lovemaking. Their shape, texture or smell may be reminiscent of  sex. There is an ancient worldwide belief called The Doctrine of Signatures that believes plants give us hints as to what they are good for, by the way they look, smell, taste, and grow. They may be highly nutritious and by improving health, bring about healthier libido.  Both sex and food are closely related by being pleasurable and physical.

Aphrodisiacs can be enjoyed anywhere from half an hour to an hour before making love. Best is when they are  incorporated into one’s daily life for their health tonifying properties. As good health is essential to sexual vitality, good nutrition is imperative. When we are in poor health, sexual vitality  decreases.

Many of the foods mentioned here contain the seeds of life: the design and pattern for creating new life, with the potential to grow into a replica of themselves. For example a pumpkin seed planted, could spread into an awesome vine, bearing several pumpkins, resplendent with nourishing seeds, benefiting the reproductive system. A raw pumpkin seed contains this spark of life, yet a roasted salted one would not grow.

 Grains for libido include  rice,  (no wonder  it is thrown at weddings), wild rice, barley, buckwheat, corn,  millet and oats.

In  Asian medicine, it is the Water Element or Kidney that governs sexual vitality. According to this tradition, black (and blue)  colored  and salty foods   such as chia seeds,  miso,   black olives, sea vegetables, black sesame seeds and blueberries.

Vegetables  play a part in the food  pharmacopoeia of sexuality. Some have suggestive shapes like asparagus (a genito-urinary stimulant),  which was cultivated by the Arabs and Greeks as an aphrodisiac. English herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper (1616-1654)  said  that asparagus "stirreth up bodily lust in man and woman."

 Shiitake mushrooms are used in the orient to make women more responsive. In general, roots such as carrots, dandelion and burdock help  energize the lower chakras. A Japanese proverb says, “A man who likes carrots, likes women.” It would be unwise to serve your beloved wilted carrots.  Okra is stiff and exudes a slimy fluid, not unlike sexual fluids.

Garlic and onions are warming and stimulating. Egyptian priests and devout Hindus were forbidden from consuming them in the belief that they would lose control over their sensual desires.          

Arugula was often used in ancient love potions. It is still found growing around phallic statues in Greece and Rome. Celery contains androsterone, which is released in the sweat after being consumed. It attracts women and has traditionally been included in aphrodisiac recipes. 

Artichokes are an unopened flower.  Paris street vendors of the 1700’s used to cry out "Artichokes! Artichokes! Heats the body and the spirit. Heats the genitals!" It is the one vegetable there is more of, after  you eat it. 

The French word for beet, betterave, is slang for penis or "man root." Avocados are called ahuactl in South America, meaning "testicle. " Sea vegetables, both salty and dark colored are mineral rich and nourish the thyroid gland and entire endocrine system, which when under active,  lessen libido. Winter squash and cabbage are warming nutritive sexual tonic foods.

Phosphorus  found in chutneys, curries,  salsas and  hot foods stimulate  circulation and  the sex organs.

The Perfumed  Garden says "Green peas boiled with onions together with cinnamon, ginger and cardamoms, all aground, create passion and strength in coitus."

Fruits entice passion with their sweetness and succulence. Consider their shape, hot  colors and juicy nature. Apples, apricots, bananas, cherries,  dates (especially Jujube – Chinese red dates),  mangoes, mulberries,  peaches, persimmons, strawberries, and watermelon (eat the seeds) are all considered sex tonic foods.  Suck the fruit out of a perfectly ripe persimmon. Try eating  ripe mangoes in a bathtub with your beloved. Figs and pomegranates, known for their abundance of seeds, are traditional love tonics.  Pomegranate means "apple of many seeds" and due to its blood red color has long been a symbol of fertility, birth and sexuality. If you are in the tropics where they grow, soursop and durian, they are considered supreme sexual  foods.  There is a saying in Malaysia, "When the durians fall, the sarongs rise." Better to eat a piece of ripe fruit than to over stimulate blood sugar levels with excessive amounts of sweet juices.

Nuts and seeds are   foods of love. Being fertile, they  contain the  reproductive energy of plants. Almonds,  chia, hazelnuts, hemp seed, pine nuts, pistachios,  poppy,  walnuts, pumpkin, sesame (especially black) and  sunflower   seeds are rich in zinc, an important component of sexual fluids. Halvah,  made of sesame seed and honey are food for inability to orgasm and to give courage. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of nutrients, high in protein and  essential fatty acids. Soaking them overnight and rinsing the next morning, removes enzyme inhibitors, softens them and enhances their digestibility as well as "bringing them to life" as many will sprout "tails." Always avoid rancid nuts and seeds.

Chocolate and rose water contain a chemical called phenylethylamine that is also produced by the brains of people in love and simulates post coital bliss.  Chocolate was the love tonic of Montezuma who drank  some fifty cups daily, before visiting his harem of six hundred women.  During the 1800’s, physicians  suggested chocolate to boost libido. When enjoying chocolate allow it to slowly and sensuously melt in your mouth.

When buying rose water, make sure it says distilled to avoid buying a synthetic product. Add rosewater to desserts such as rice pudding and baklava.

Use lavish amounts of the culinary herbs in your cuisine, may of which are considered aphrodisiac including anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, curry (a blend of herbs), paprika, pepper and turmeric.

Ideal food for sexuality should be light, moist, sweet and  easily digested. Moist foods lend their yin to  sexual fluids.  Naturally sweet foods,  such as fruits and vegetables,   provide energy  and stamina.

 Women and men  need clean arteries for optimal arousal. A diet overly rich in  animal fats  (including pasteurized dairy products) can block nerve sensitivity and cause stagnant chi. As erection is achieved by blood moving into the penis, hardening of the arteries can hamper that essential function. Avoid hydrogenated oils such as margarine, shortening  and  fried foods.   Eating excessive refined sugars and carbohydrates decreases libido.  Icy cold foods  can cool your passions. It is also best to eat small  frequent meals to be  emotionally stable. In general, eating less is an excellent way to stay sexually vital. Save some hunger for your beloved! Ice cream before bed cools your jets.

Make snacks an opportunity for health by eating nourishing foods. Let nuts, seeds, active yogurt,  fruit and vegetables replace candy and ice cream.

By feeding a potential mate, you exhibit your ability to provide food and pleasure. Share meals with your beloved as much as possible. Say a blessing first. Enjoy beautiful, delicious, healthful food. Prepare food with a vibration of love, enjoying music, pretty things to work with and luscious  organic ingredients. Food tastes great when eaten outside. Enjoy picnics, even if it’s in your own yard, under a tree.

Enjoy the sensation of eating with your fingers. Inhale the aromas of your food. Taste and savor. Drink a bit of champagne or cordial from your lover’s navel.  Let eating be a sensual pleasure. Remember to avoid any foods topically that you may be allergic to orally.

Sharing of food is simple love magic and has long signified trust and bonding.

 Flowers are the sex organs of plants. Decorate your food with organic edible flowers such as violets, rose petals (organic – with the white heel removed), day lilies and hibiscus. See my book, Rawsome! for a list of over 120 edible flowers. Show your beloved that they are adored! Make food a healthful, beautiful and flavorful expression of your love.

The best aphrodisiac of all is to be deeply in love!

 What are some of your love food secrets?


Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over forty years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Omega, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman Holistic College of Nutrition. She has a weekly local radio show called "Naturally" on KGNU and a private practice. Brigitte is the author of twelve books, including The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, Healing Herbal Teas, and Rawsome!. Click here for more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at brigittemars.com.

You might also enjoy the work of my yogini international model daughter, Rainbeau at www.rainbeaumars.com


PHOTO: Flickr / ellenprather95

7 Tips To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.

Blissful sleep is that rejuvenating, recharging repose in which about one third of our lives are hopefully spent. When sleep is elusive, it is best way to determine and change the cause.  

1. Being active during daytime helps sleep. Exercise a few hours before sleep if wanting to avoid that all jazzed up feeling. Yoga postures promoting relaxation include Corpse, Cobra, Shoulder Stand and Mountain. T’ai Chi, meditation, breathing exercises, biofeedback and guided visualizations can all be effective non invasive methods to aid sleep. Take a walk after dinner instead of TV. Keep the feet warm at night. Have the bedroom between 60 – 66 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow a bit of fresh air into the bedroom at night, though not directly by the head.  Make sure your bed is comfortable and fabrics are as natural to allow skin to breathe. If not allergic, you may find a feather bed, a comfortable addition to the top of the mattress.

Electro-magnetic pollution too close to your body (closer than six feet) can stimulate the nervous system. So avoid digital clocks, stereos, cell phone chargers, etc. as close nighttime companions. Light is a stimulant and if much is shining brightly through your windows at night, get heavier curtains. Set your alarm clock, preferably gradual awakening rather than a shrill piercing sound. I love the Zen Alarm clock (www.now-zen.com) which awakens you to the sound of Tibetan bells. The bedroom is best painted a calm color, like blue. Keep your bedroom space sacred and avoid using it as a place to do homework, business or carry out arguments. 

2. Thoughts can keep us awake. Do problem solving in the daytime. Download errands and mental baggage onto a piece of paper or  better yet, engagement book before bed. Slumber to dreamland, knowing that the errands of tomorrow will not be forgotten. Lay out necessities for the next morning to avoid worrying about things at night.  (Where is that other glove?) Prepare clothes, books, papers and even pack a healthful lunch.

3. Caffeinated food and drinks such as chocolate, coffee, black tea and sodas may be stimulating when consumed early in the day. Melatonin is a secretion produced by the pineal gland made from the neurotransmitter serotonin. Children, pregnant or nursing moms as well as people with hormonal imbalances, depression, those on steroids or autoimmune disorders, should not use melatonin. Getting out in the sun for a bit during the day and turning off the lights earlier at night can help trigger our natural production of melatonin. Food sources that stimulate melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep, include   bananas, barley, and rice. The pineal gland converts tryptophan into melatonin and foods containing tryptophan include bananas, dates, figs, tofu, turkey, and yoghurt can boost melatonin levels.

Avoid late night eating, as food stimulate the adrenal glands and elevate blood pressure.  The few foods that can aid sleep include lettuce, oatmeal and yogurt, all high in calming calcium. A traditional folk remedy is to drink a cup of warm milk flavored with a teaspoon of honey and a grating of nutmeg. Sleep doesn’t interfere with digestion, but digestion interferes with sleep. Should you wake in the middle of the night, avoid snacking as this can promote bad habits. Return to bed after urinating (Without turning a bright light on, which will disrupt melatonin) if needed, and breathe deep, thinking of nothing but the in and out of the breath.

 4. Herbs have traditionally been consumed in tea, tincture or capsule to aid sleep and have been used for thousands of years by millions of people.

 Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is high in nerve and muscle relaxing calcium, magnesium, potassium and some B vitamins. Chamomile can help a tense person unwind.

 Hops (Humulus lupulus) help induce sleep and provides a pleasant numbing sensation. Hops contain lupulin, a strong, but safe reliable sedative. Hops, a traditional ingredient in beer is the only other relative of Marijuana on the planet. They are both members of the Canabaceae Family.

Kava kava (Piper methyisticum) is an ancient Polynesian remedy for insomnia and nervousness.

Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) helps relax the mind and calms worried insomniacs. It slows down the breakdown of serotonin and norepinephrine, allowing one to maintain a more peaceful state of consciousness.

Skullcap (Scutelaria lateriflora) has long been used for insomnia, restlessness   and to calm emotional upsets. It is rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium, and best when used over an extended period of time.

 Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) helps sleep disorders that are the result of anxiety. It is a smooth muscle relaxant Most will dislike the taste of valerian and prefer using it in capsule or tincture form rather than tea. Valerian is best used when needed rather than on a daily basis.

5. An hour before bedtime, run a warm bath. Adding a pound of baking soda makes the water alkalinizing and sedative. Put 7 to 10 drops of essential oils in the tub, such as chamomile, lavender or ylang-ylang. Light a candle and soak in the soothing waters, breathing deep their calming aromas. Let the water out and visualize your tensions going down the drain while staying in the tub. A sauna before bed can also help produce a state of calmness. Sex can be a pleasurable prelude to sleep.

6. You may need to utilize earplugs or eye masks to help shut the world out for a while. 

Another herbal benefit is in to make a sleep pillow, which is simply a sachet about 5 by 5 inches filled with the calming aroma of dried hops, then inserted into one’s pillowcase. Other herbs used for sleep sachets include lavender, chamomile woodruff, and lemon balm.  Replace every six months. Another folk remedy is to cut a piece of yellow onion and place it in a jar. Cover and place on the nightstand. If you wake up, or can’t fall asleep, open the jar and take several deep onion inhalations. Recover the jar, lie back down and you should fall back to sleep within fifteen minutes.

Should you wake up in the middle of the night, use a red night light rather than turning on a bright light in the bathroom or elsewhere will inhibit melatonin and jar your senses.

Look into homeopathic remedies such as Rescue remedy Sleep, Quietude or Calms Forte.

7. Violet. Establish a regular bed and awakening time and do your best to stick with it. Sleeping with one’s head to the magnetic north is said to improve sleep and dream quality.  Sleeping on the back is said the give one’s internal organs the most room for optimum function. Sleeping on one’s left side can put excess pressure on the heart. When wanting to sleep, allow no thoughts except the in and out of the breath. Visualization, with one breath relaxing your toes, with the next breath the feet, then the ankles, etc. moving slowly up the body into slumber.  

Another sleep technique is to get comfortable in bed and take 8 breaths while lying flat on your back. Then take 16 deep breaths while lying on your right side; last take 32 breaths while lying on your left side. Most people are asleep before completing the exercise.  As we get older, requirements for sleep decrease. If you lie awake for more than one half hour, get up and write a letter, or read something not too action packed. Give thanks for the good things in your day. Bless those you love!

 What are some of your favorite sleep remedies?

Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over forty years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Omega, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman College of Holistic  Nutrition. She has a weekly local radio show called "Naturally" on KGNU and a private practice. Brigitte is the author of twelve books, including The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, Healing Herbal Teas, and Rawsome!. Click here for more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at brigittemars.com.

You might also enjoy the work of my yogini daughter,  Rainbeau www.rainbeaumars

Photo: Flickr / mpisti

Herbs for Overcoming Addiction

People can have either good or bad relationships with any substance.  Many addictive substances are legal. Inner craving for deep spiritual connection,  stress, anxiety, genetics, cultural factors, nutritional deficiencies, allergies and neurotransmitter imbalances are often at the roots of addiction.  Addiction can bring on psychological and emotional problems or it can be the result of them.

There is a correlation between every addiction and blood sugar problems. Ever notice how many support groups for addicts provide coffee and cookies which are eaten by smokers? Many addicts  tend to be poor oxygen metabolizers and would benefit from practicing deeper breathing and getting exercise which would increase the amount of oxygen available to their bodies.

Eat  small frequent meals. Get more alkaline by consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables. Use foods that help the liver clean itself out such as apples, artichokes, beets, burdock root,  carrots, celery, daikon radish, green leafy vegetables, persimmons and flax seed oil. These foods help to clear heat from the body. Sea vegetables help nourish the thyroid gland and endocrine system. Drink the juice of one half lemon in water several times daily. Cleanse, nurture and rebuild.

Making a Super Tonic Smoothie can be nutritive and energizing.  Blend one cup of organic yogurt, one half a ripe banana with one half teaspoon ginseng powder, 1 tablespoon raw almond butter, and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Super foods like blue green algae, spirulina and chlorella can be highly nutritive and rebuilding for the person giving up an addiction of any sort.

In my book, called Addiction Free Naturally published by Healing Arts Press, herbs that can help overcome addiction include:  

  • Basil Leaf  (Ocimum basilicum, O.  tenuiflorum ) is a nerve restorative that lifts the spirits from depression and calms anxiety.

  • Oatstraw Herb (Avena sativa, ) calms and strengthens the nerves, lessens anxiety and decreases the desire for substances. Oatstraw is an  antidepressant, antispasmodic, cerebral tonic, nutritive and  rejuvenative.

  • St. John’s Wort Herb (Hypericum perforatum ) helps relieve depression and anxiety that causes one to turn to addictive substances for temporary relief.

  • Spearmint Leaf (Mentha spicata ) helps detoxify the lungs,  is a mild stimulant, yet relaxing  and opening to the mind. It is a  nerve restorative. 

  • Fennel Seed (Foeniculum vulgare ) is naturally sweet  which helps stabilize blood sugar levels and thereby decrease the desire for substances while improving energy levels.

  • Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum species ) improves circulation and is stimulating yet calming to the nerves. Cinnamon is naturally sweet, thereby satisfying the body’s desires for other substances.

  • Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale )  helps detoxify the body by being a  liver cleanser  and digestive stimulant.

  • Lemon Balm Leaf (Melissa officinalis ) helps during withdrawal and detox period by lifting the spirits and supporting the nervous system.

  • Skullcap Herb (Scutellaria lateriflora ) calms the emotions, enhances awareness and quiets over excitability.  It helps curb the emotional need and cravings  for addictive substances. Skullcap eases anxiety,   fear,  nightmares, panic, restlessness,  tremors and withdrawal.  It is considered a nerve restorative.

  • Lemon Peel (Citrus limon ) helps move liver stagnation and clears lung congestion.

  • Clove Bud (Syzygium aromaticum )  helps reduce cravings and is a natural antioxidant, expectorant and stimulant.

  • Milk thistle seed can be used to help rebuild a damaged liver.  If alcohol is the addiction, use herbs as tea, glycerites or capsules rather than in alcohol tincture form.

 When giving up an addiction,  nurture yourself with some good vitamin-mineral supplements. Vitamin C is detoxifying and can reduce  cravings. Calcium/magnesium are especially helpful in giving the nervous system  support and promoting calmness  when giving up an addiction. The B Complex helps diminish withdrawal symptoms and aids liver regeneration.  A supplement of GTF (glucose tolerance factor) chromium helps to regulate blood sugar levels and metabolize carbohydrates.

Find ways to nurture yourself. Good nutrition, massage, biofeedback, hypnotism,  exercise, meditation and prayer may all be healing on deep levels.  Find ways to reward yourself each day – an aromatherapy bath, a foot rub, a long distance phone call…Instead of choosing addictive substances as a reward, start saving the money that would have been spent. Use the money for things to improve your life – books, clothes – a vacation.

Getting sober is not enough. Doing  counseling or therapy can help  get to the deeper roots of a problem.  Behavior therapists can be of great help during transitional time. Fulfill your true spiritual quest. 

Soaking in a bathtub to which 3 pounds of Epsom salts have been added is not only relaxing, it helps to detox your system. Sauna baths can also speed up the release of toxic substances.  The sooner you can get it out of your system, the easier it will be to let go of it. Acupuncture has helped many people overcome addictions because of its ability to stimulate detoxification and encourage endorphin production. Take up some new activities or a craft. This can be a help in improving one’s self esteem. 

 Some people find that when giving up an addiction, Friday after work is a good time. If you feel the urge to backslide, call a drug free friend. It can also help to quit your addiction with a friend.  Warn friends that you may be grumpy and give them some suggestions on how they can be supportive to you.  Ask former addicts to tell you how giving up the addiction has benefited them. Go to a movie or some place where you can’t indulge in your habit. For the first few weeks, it is wise to avoid the places where you know your addiction will be indulged in.

Write on a note card all the reasons to give up the addiction. When tempted to backslide, pull the card out and reread the reasons.

Some people have found drawing a picture of their addiction helps them gain perspective. A monkey on your back? A dog biting your butt? Or try writing to your habit with your right hand describing how it affects you. Now with your left hand, have your addiction "write back to you." This can help reveal some of your inner child behavior.

The color blue helps one to relax, cools inflammation Green is balancing.  Wear these colors.  

Essential oils can be most helpful in giving up an addition. Everytime you are craving an addictive substance, take some deep inhalations of essential oils of basil, cardamom, fennel and/or rosemary. As with all health concerns, deep breathing is calming as well as energizing and provides our brains with a much needed substance – oxygen.

Addiction keeps us stuck and impairs our ability to grow. Stop postponing. This is the moment! You deserve to be happy and free. The first step is to admit there is a problem. The second step is to do something about it. Best wishes to all of you that are brave enough to let go of that which does not benefit your life!  


Serenity Through Bath Therapy: 9 Ways to Enjoy a Relaxing Bath

If it wasn’t for a relaxing bath at the end of the day, I think I would be a crazy woman. I lived for 2 1/2 years without running water  (while living in a tipi on a commune where I bathed daily in an ice cold creek.) I still marvel the blessings of hot running water for its calming and healing effects, and am careful to not be wasteful.

 Soaking in a warm fragrant tub can be a sensual delight, offering time to retreat, reflect and refresh. A bath right when you come home from work can make you more pleasant to be around. If you take a bath in the middle of the day and expect to get any work done, make it cooler and shorter, or you might be too relaxed to accomplish much else. It is best to bathe at least a couple of hours after a big meal, to avoid interfering with digestion. Baths before bed aid sleep as they elevate the body’s temperature and the body will compensate by lowering its temperature, thus making one ready for sleep.

We don’t want to waste resources, so it’s not necessary to fill the tub too high. Placing a warm wet washcloth on the chest area can help infuse warmth through your body. If you use natural products, you could even collect some of the "grey water" to water the garden.

 Baths can be an opportunity to merge with the herbs, or remedies of your choice.

To use herbs, or substances such as uncooked oatmeal, for the bath, simply tie a handful of either fresh or dried herbs, into a washcloth and secure with a hair tie. Use a dark cloth so you don’t stain your light colored ones. If you have a stash of clean lost “single” socks, those also work great for bath bags. Use the herb filled cloth to scrub your body as you deeply inhale the benefits.

An even easier way to prepare the bath would be to use five to ten drops of pure essential oil, as a substitute for the desired herb. For example you could make a bath with lavender flowers, either in a sock, or a tea, or simply add about seven drops of lavender essential oil. Add essential oils after filling the tub, so that the fragrance does not dissipate and swish before getting in so the oils are dispersed and not likely to stick on one part of your body.  Close the curtain to hold in steam. Not all of these herbs are available as essential oils. Turn off the water while you floss, brush, or check email. When the bath has cooled to a comfortable temperature, get into it. If you choose to use any of the citrus products such as lemon peel, or orange essential oil use these at night, as getting exposed to sunlight afterwards can make one more photosensitive. Also if using fresh or dried citrus peels were sure they are organic if coming in contact with your skin.

Here are a few bath ideas with specific concerns in mind.

Apple Cider Vinegar Bath: This helps relieve sore muscles, itchy skin, and sunburn. Vinegar helps draw pollutants out of the body. It is an acid medium and contains alpha hydroxy acids. It is also mildly antiseptic, antifungal and naturally deodorizing.

Athlete’s Bath: Use these ingredients to relax sore aching muscles. Bay leaf, Epsom salts, eucalyptus leaves, ginger root, juniper berries, lavender flowers, marjoram herb, mustard seed powder, rosemary leaves, and sage herb.

Baking Soda Bath: This alkalinizing and detoxifying bath can help calm allergic reactions, chicken pox, eczema, hives, itchy skin, insect bites, poison ivy, sunburn, and fungal infections. Use one pound per bath.

Cold and Flu Bath: Try these bath additions when you want to soothe deep muscle aches that often accompany viral infections. Epsom salts, ginger root, marjoram, mustard seed powder, pine needles, and thyme leaves.

Dry Skin Bath: Herbs can have a soothing lubricating effect from the outside. Moisturize with calendula flowers, chamomile flowers, comfrey leaves, elder flowers, fennel seed, jasmine flowers, lavender flowers, oatmeal, rose buds, and violet leaves.Epsom Salts Bath: This method is lymphatic cleansing, relaxing for sore muscles, softening to the skin, and detoxifying after bodywork. Epsom salts help to get drugs, chemicals and pollutants out of body. Those with diabetes, hypertension or heart disease should rinse off after the bath.

Itchy Skin Bath: To calm itchy skin, resulting from insect bites, chicken pox, and poison ivy, use with apple cider vinegar, baking soda, chickweed herb, lavender flowers, oatmeal, red clover blossoms or violet leaf. Essential oils to use in an itchy skin bath include cedar wood, Roman chamomile, lavender, peppermint and sandalwood.

Oatmeal Bath:  This calms irritated skin, poison ivy, dermatitis, high blood pressure, and stress, It is very simple to whiz plain uncooked oatmeal in the blender to make a bath powder. Or tie 1/2 cup into a bath bag.

Relaxing Bath:  Take the edge off a stressful day with calming botanicals such as catnip herb, chamomile flowers, Clary sage flowers, hops strobiles, jasmine flowers, lavender flowers, linden flowers, neroli flowers, and rose buds.

Sunburn Bath: Adding black tea, or apple cider vinegar to a cool bath eases burns.

It is easy to create your own Bath Salts by mixing together 1 cup each of sea salt, baking soda and Epsom salt. Add 1 teaspoon of a combination of essential oils. Mix well and store in a glass jar. Add 1 handful per bath.

 When done bathing, stay in the tub, visualize the tension draining out of you, as the water runs out of the tub and being soothed by the warm water and Earth Mother.

Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over forty years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Omega, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman Holistic College of Nutrition. She has a weekly local radio show called "Naturally" on KGNU and a private practice. Brigitte is the author of twelve books, including The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, Healing Herbal Teas, and Rawsome!. Click here for more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at brigittemars.com.

Brain Healing Power of Periwinkle

Periwinkle is a European plant used by herbalists to treat nervous disorders, epilepsy, hysteria, and nightmares.  Exciting new research into this delicately beautiful plant shows that vinpocetine, a derivative of vincamine, a natural compound in periwinkle, helps transport oxygen and glucose to the brain.  Since the brain needs both to function optimally, periwinkle may be beneficial for assisting to ease brain disease. 


 With around one hundred studies conducted on vinpocetine’s effects on humans, mostly in Hungary, it is not surprising that it has been used by Hungarian doctors to treat senility and blood vessel disorders in the brain for twenty-five years.  In these studies it appears to boost memory and cognition in healthy people and in those with mild to moderate forms of dementia.

 A double-blind study in 1985 in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers tested vinpocetine’s effect on the short-term memory of twelve healthy women.  The women who took forty milligrams of vinpocetine three times per day for two days scored thirty percent higher on short-term memory tests than the women in the placebo group.

 In another double-blind study in 1991, published in International Clinical Psychopharmacology, researchers tested 165 people with mild to moderate dementia.  After sixteen weeks, twenty-one percent of those taking thirty to sixty milligrams of vinpocetine daily reported a decline in symptom severity, compared to only seven percent of those taking the placebo. 

 Vinpocetine is a powerful free radical scavenger. Used regularly, periwinkle, or its active ingredient, vinpocetine, may help to prevent senility and dementia, by preventing damage to the blood vessels in the brain caused by free radicals.  Vinpocetine also thins blood, boosts circulation in your brain, and improves the brain’s ability to absorb nutrients, all of which improve brain function.  Research shows that vinpocetine works as well as ginkgo biloba— an herbal superstar for aiding brain oxygenation— in improving memory and cognitive abilities.

 Periwinkle and vinpocetine are showing tremendous promise as a therapy for many brain diseases, especially stroke recovery.  It is used throughout Europe and Japan as a natural therapy for stroke since it helps increase blood flow to areas of the brain with minimal function.

 Experts typically suggest dosages of up to ten milligrams daily, taken with food.  Up to forty-five milligrams is considered a safe daily dose; but, doses above ten milligrams should be supervised by a health care practitioner.  Vinpocetine appears to be safe for short- or long-term use.  The effects tend to be fast-acting, not cumulative.  In rare cases, someone may experience minor stomach upset and a dry mouth.  Check with your doctor before taking either vinpocetine or periwinkle, especially if you are taking blood-thinning medications. 


Michelle Schoffro Cook, DNM, DAc, CNC is a best-selling and six-time book author, whose works include:  The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, The Brain Wash, and Healing Injuries the Natural Way.  She is a doctor of natural medicine, doctor of acupuncture, holistic nutritionist, and energy medicine practitioner.  Her work has been featured in/on:  Woman’s World, First for Women, Dr. Roizen’s YOU: The Owner’s Manual Radio Show, Gaiam Life, Yahoo! Shine, and The Huffington Post.  www.TheLifeForceDiet.com.




Herbs for Your Health

Stress is a bummer. It can make your stomach ache, your head ache, your eyes ache, etc… Go to any supermarket and you’ll find nearly a whole aisle dedicated to pills, creams, liquids, ointments – everything under the sun to cure the common whatever. And in a lot of cases, it’s easy to take those pills. I admit it, guilty as charged here. After all, a pain killer here and there can’t hurt, right?

While in some cases OTC and prescription drugs are necessary, it’s important to be aware of what you are taking. In essence, you are ingesting fabricated chemicals that usually involve a whole bevy of side effects (sometimes weird, like the need to gamble compulsively). I’m not advocating that we eliminate these drugs (herbs should never replace your prescription drugs and you should consult a doctor before taking them), but next time you have a headache, cold, trouble sleeping, or some other general ailment, why not try a home remedy? Herbs are a great place to start. Mother nature has blessed us with: Valerian root, which will help you fall asleep naturally; Meadowsweet, a natural remedy for headaches; Ginger root, long known for it’s calming effect on the stomach.

Want to learn more? Check out the 100 Best Herbs For Your Health.

Originally posted at Earth Friendly Weddings

How to Make Herbalized Massage Oils

This is a simple process, if you’re willing to give it some time and attention. The idea is to boil your herbs in water first, infusing the water with the herbs and their healing properties. When you strain the leftover herbs from the water after boiling, you have a decoction (as in an herbal tea).

Then, to get the infusion of herbs into the oil, you add the decoction to the oil, and boil until all the water evaporates.


½ cup dried herbs
4 cups water
2 cups oil

To make the decoction, boil ½ cup of dried herbs in 4 cups of water. (Dried herbs are traditionally used because their properties are more easily assimilated into other media, such as oil or water.) Boil over a low flame until the liquid is reduced down to 2 cups of water. Then strain the liquid with a fine strainer.

To herbalize the oil with the decoction, combine equal parts of decoction and oil (e.g. 2 cups decoction and 2 cups oil). Boil over a low flame until all the water evaporates. You can test the oil to see if all the water is gone by adding a drop of water to the boiling mixture. If the drop of water crackles or pops, all the water is gone,and your herbalized oil is ready. Cool before use. Result = 2 cups of herbalized oil.

Do You Get Hot Flashes?

Q: What herbs do you recommend for hot flashes during menopause? And, why do we have them?

A: As our baby boomer population moves into its forties and fifties, menopause is becoming an important health issue. When women stop ovulating they experience a decrease in circulating estrogen levels. This in turn leads to increased reactivity of blood vessels and the autonomic system that regulates perspiration. Hot flashes are also common in women who are receiving anti-estrogen treatment for breast cancer as well as men receiving hormonal therapy for prostate cancer.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, the reason women have fewer heat related illnesses (referred to as Pitta imbalances) during their reproductive years is that they naturally release accumulated heat through their monthly menstrual flow. According to Traditional Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, the blood is considered the heating principle in the body. When a woman transitions through menopause, she no longer has the opportunity to release the accumulated fire through her periods and therefore, for a time may experience hot flashes. The intensity of hot flashes seems to correlate with how abruptly a woman has a decline in her estrogen production. When a woman goes through a surgical menopause, she experiences a very abrupt change in her hormonal levels whereas during natural menopause the changes are more gradual.

A recent study looked at the incidence of menopausal symptoms in Asian woman and found that they were considerably less common and disabling. When they were given hormone replacement therapy, they showed the anticipated rise in blood levels of estrogens, but did not report much in the way of benefits on the subjective symptoms of menopause. Many researchers are suggesting that the difference between Asian and American women

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