Saturday, September 24, 2011

Boost Your Immunity - Herbal Immune Berry Tincture

Hello to Everyone & Welcome To The Fall Season! 'Tis my favorite season . . . this colorful, cool, bright, dry time of year. A time when all living things begin to draw inward and fatten up their nutritional stores, gathering their reserves in preparation for winter's long, dark days. This blog will be the beginning of a new series on whole foods and rejuvenative herbal supplements that will boost immunity, increase energy, well-being, and longevity, and restore beauty and suppleness to your skin (face and body), plus add shine and strength to your hair and nails. I guarantee that the food-related & herbal tips and formulas that I share with you will be most tasty and the skin/body/hair/nail care recipes will feel luxurious, nourishing your skin from the outside-in. Let's dive in, indulge our senses, and prepare for a healthy, radiant fall and winter!

Boost Your Immunity

There is much talk today about immune system breakdown and the need to protect the immune system and maintain its strength and function. The term immune means to be protected from something harmful or disagreeable. This system is your first and often best line of defense against the onslaught of "foreign" invaders such as harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, yeasts, germs, environmental chemicals, insect bites, foreign particles (such as splinters, dust, or pollen), or even a simple paper cut.

Your immune system works 24/7, largely unnoticed - that is, until something invades your body or the system fails. If a mosquito bites you, your skin swells, itches, and gets temporarily red. That's your immune system at work attempting to rid your body of the poison. A splinter may cause similar swelling, or even an infection.

When a harmful bacteria or virus enters your system and your immune system attempts to fight it off, a cold or flu may develop. Most harmful invaders are stopped in their tracks before they have a chance to take hold in your body, but if the immune system is weakened, all manner of problems can develop, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, chronic fatigue syndrome, mononucleosis, cancer, lupus, candida albicans, herpes, staphylococcus and streptococcus infections, and arthritis, to name only a few.

With age, unfortunately, comes the increased risk of decreased immunity. Some common problems can include slowed wound healing; autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Graves disease, diabetes mellitus, AIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis; increased infection risk; and cancer.

The key to boosting your immune system is simple. Give it whatit needs by feeding it the appropriate fuels: organic, whole foods, immune boosting herbs, purified water, fresh air and sunshine, and exercise. Be sure to balance work with rest, maintain a zest for living, control your stress level, engage in a soul-satisfying spiritual practice, and maintain loving relationships.

The following recipe is for a tasty herbal immunity-boosting tincture that can help enhance your defense system for when its assistance is most needed. I think you'll like the astringent, slightly sweet berry flavor - inspite of the vodka used to extract the medicinal properties from the herbs. It's also wonderful for improving symptoms of constipation, low energy, indigestion, and minor arthritis, and it's extremely high in anti-oxidants.

Herbal Immune Berry Tincture

The recipe is relatively easy to make and the ingredients can be purchased through reputable herbal mail-order suppliers such as Jean's Greens or Mountain Rose Herbs Avena Botanicals, here in Maine, makes and retails pre-made elderberry syrup. Look them up at Jean's Greens also retails a yummy elderberry syrup - try a bottle if you don't want to make your own formula.

1 sterlilzed quart canning jar with lid
1/2 cup dried elderberries
1/2 cup dried schizandra berries
1/2 cup dried, tart cherries
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup raw honey
3-4 cups of 80- or 100-proof vodka (an inexpensive brand is fine)
1, 5" x 5" square of plastic wrap or a plastic sandwich baggie

1. On the evening of a full moon, add all ingredients to the quart jar. Pour vodka to within 1 inch of the top.
2. Lay a piece of plastic wrap or plastic baggie over the top of the jar and then screw on the metal lid. (The plastic prevents the metal from rusting when coming in contact with the water-based vodka.) Shake daily and store in a dark, dry, cool place. Allow formula to synergize for at least 8 weeks, and up to 6 months for maximum potency. This is NOT a quick-to-make recipe, so make it in early or late Spring and then it will be ready for use by September - just in time for fall/winter.

3. After at least 8 weeks has past, on the evening prior to another full moon, strain mixture through a strainer lined with pantyhose or a coffee filter or several layers of cheese cloth (so that all fine particulate matter is caught). Press herbs and berries with the back of a large spoon or with your fingers in order to extract all of the liquid. Restrain if necessary.

4. Divide the liquid into several 2- or 4-ounce, dropper-top, dark glass bottles. Store the bottles on a dark, cool, dry shelf until ready to use. Label and date each bottle. Your tincture should last for many years if you don't use it up that year or give it all away as "herbal wellness gifts".

5. To use, take 1 or 2 droppersful daily directly on the tongue or diluted in a glass of water. Can be taken year round, but I generally recommend taking it September through March or April, then making a new batch.

Yield: Approximately 2 1/2 cups of tincture - total depends on how much residual moisture the dry ingredients contain when you make the recipe.

NOTE: This article was written by Stephanie Tourles and adapted from her book, "How To Feel Fabulous Today", Storey Books, 2001. The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author. Ms. Tourles disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sun Sense: Tanning Potions & After-Sun Relief - Part 4

Greetings! While the southern states remain hot, if not scorching, we in the northeast are either in the midst of floods or at least more damp than we'd like to be. Lots of mushrooms and mold in the garden, but everything is definitely green! I'll take green and lush anyday over dead, brown, and on fire! My prayers are with all of you (and the wild animals) suffering from drought. May it end soon!

Today will be the last in the "Sun Sense" series as the summer is ending, but at least the recipe I'm going to share with you can be used year-round for other healing purposes. I like to create formulas that can multi-task . . . more bang for your buck that way, too!

Aloe After-Sun Relief Spray

This blend, with hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties, soothes and rejuvenates skin damaged by sunburn and windburn. It doubles as an anti-itch, mild antiseptic healing spray for those suffering from all manner of skin irritations such as bug bites, cuts and scrapes, poison plant rashes, generic dermatitis, and dry eczema. Good stuff and gentle enough to use on small children, too!

1 cup aloe vera juice (not gel) - available in better health food stores
40 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops rosemary (chemotype verbenon) essential oil

Place all ingredients into a storage container such as a plastic or dark glass spray or spritzer bottle and shake well to blend. Please keep refrigerated and use within 6 months.

Application Tips:
Spray onto skin as often as necessary to soothe environmental damage resulting from sun, wind, or other skin irritations.

Sunburn Relief Suggestions

* Add 2 cups of apple cider vinegar to cool bath water and soak for 10 to 20 minutes.

* Apply cold aloe vera gel or juice directly to sunburn as often as needed to ease pain and rehydrate damaged tissue.

* Apply cold, strong, regular black pekoe tea directly to sunburn with soaked cotton pads or dark wash cloths (it will stain light fabric). Repeat as needed.

* Spray chilled lavender or chamomile or calendula hydrosol (flower water) directly onto sunburned areas to help relieve inflammation.

Next time, I'm going to begin talking about how to obtain deep-down nourishment for your body and skin. I'll be discussing whole foods plus food-derived and herbal supplements that can revive your energy levels, transform your skin into the beautiful, radient smoothness that it was meant to be, and boost your immune system over time. Stay tuned. May you be well, happy, and whole.

Note: This article was written by Stephanie Tourles and adapted from her book, "Organic Body Care Recipes", Storey Publishing 2007. The information is true and complete to the best of the author's knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author. She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.