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Herbs

Medicinal Uses of Turmeric

Medicinal Uses of Turmeric

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Turmeric Curcuma longa Turmeric is a tropical perennial plant in the same family as ginger, native to India, and cultivated throughout the tropics around the world. Growing to a height of about three feet, it bears pairs of lance-shaped leaves on alternate sides of the stem. At the base of the stem, there is a knobby rhizome somewhat resembling ginger. Other common names are Indian saffron & yellow ginger.

Many of the healing of benefits of turmeric have been attributed to curcumin, a group of antioxidant compounds found in the rhizome. Although curcumin is available as a standardized extract, the whole herb may be more beneficial for you than the curcumin extract: Only very small amounts of curcumin are absorbed into the bloodstream. Turmeric as a whole herb stays in the digestive tract longer than curcumin, releasing antioxidant curcumin along with other beneficial substances.

Turmeric root powder is a popular ingredient in South Asian cooking and adds a distinct flavor to many savory dishes, including stocks, sauces and curries. The root has a brilliant orange color and becomes very hard when dried. It is distinct and fragrant, with a scent that is mildly hot and gingery, but certainly unique to itself.

Teas and poultices with fresh turmeric are commonly used for it's anti inflammatory and natural antibiotic properties. It can enhance longevity, decrease chances of Alzheimer's and cancer, soothe skin conditions and protect the liver.

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Turmeric Honey Paste Recipe

Ingredients: 1 cup honey

1 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp turmeric powder

Mix honey, turmeric, & coconut oil together in a resealable container using a spoon until thoroughly combined. Cover and store in the refrigerator.  Add 1 tablespoon or more to a cup of hot water or milk (or milk substitute) for a lovely drink. Add lime, ginger, and cinnamon for a flavorful break from the usual tea. Always allow the paste to heat for at least 5 minutes in any of these before consuming.

Luna Wood is a graduate of the Sacred Journey School of Herbal Wisdom and  currently practices herbal medicine in Austin and San Antonio, TX.

 

 

Holy Basil- Tulsi

Holy Basil- Tulsi

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Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is an herb native to India, where it is known as tulsi. and is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an “adaptogen” . An adaptogen is a unique group of herbs which are known for assisting with everything from stress to fatigue, and they help the body to adapt on many levels while building the immune system.  The Hindu name for holy basil, Tulsi, means "the incomparable one." Medicine is made from the leaves, stems, and seeds. Holy Basil is sacred in the Hindu religious tradition and is regarded as one of the most important plants used in Ayurvedic medicine. If you go to India, you will see holy basil growing everywhere around Hindu temples. It comes in red and green varieties, both with a strong, pleasant aroma. More clove-like than that of culinary basil, holy basil has been used for centuries to treat a variety of medical conditions including high blood pressure, insomnia, asthma, bronchitis, arthritis and eye disorders. Holy basil is also used for the common cold,  flu, diabetes, bronchitis, earache, headache, stomach upset, heart disease, fever, viral hepatitis, malaria, stress, and tuberculosis. It is also used for mercury poisoning, to promote longevity, as a mosquito repellent, and to counteract scorpion bites.

One study, published in 1991 in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, compared holy basil to Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and found that holy basil was the most potent anti-stress agent of the three. Holy basil is well know as a treatment for reducing both stress and elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and to promote physical and emotional endurance. Using holy basil along with breathing exercises and regular aerobic exercise can  help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.

Organic holy basil is now available at Luna's studio at South Congress Massage. Please consult with your health care practitioner before adding new herbs to your diet. 

Valentine's Herbs

Valentine's Herbs

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There are various herbs which can be used for sexual health or as herbal aphrodisiacs. The ones listed here can be found in the Southwest region of North America or are readily available at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Damiana is a small shrub with aromatic leaves found on dry, sunny, rocky hillsides in south Texas, Southern California, Mexico, and Central America. Damiana leaves have been used as an aphrodisiac and to boost sexual potency by the native peoples of Mexico, including the Mayan Indians. The two species used in herbal healing, both of which are referred to as damiana, are Turnera aphrodisiaca and Turnera diffusa and are part of the passionflower family. 

Historically damiana has been used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and mild depression, especially if these symptoms have a sexual component. Damiana has also been traditionally used for increased energy, asthma, depression, impotence, digestion, and menstrual problems. In large doses it is thought to have a mild laxative effect.

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Damiana Rose Elixir 

2oz Damiana leaves

10 oz brandy

1/2 oz roses

5oz honey

Add Damiana , brandy & roses to a mason jar. Let steep for 4 weeks . Strain and add honey. Mix well and enjoy!

 

Muira Puama is one of the most active botanicals with a long history of traditional uses as an energy tonic, general health improver, and remedy for impotence & sexual insufficiency. It originated in the Amazon rainforest and is  known as "potent wood" . Many people now consider it the new Yohimbe but, with considerably less possible side effects. Amazon natives have known this plant for centuries, as this herb has been widely used as an aphrodisiac by both men and women.

Muira Puama

The short term effects of Muira Puama include increasing blood flow to the pelvic area, aiding erections in men as well as sensation and orgasm in women. Longer term use enhances the production of sex hormones in both sexes. It has no noted side effects though, as with many sexual stimulants, it can slightly raise blood pressure.

Muira Puama has also been used for stress management, nervous system stimulation, and for general overall health. It has been used to tonify the nervous system and to treat cases of mild exhaustion. It can also help with gastrointestinal and reproductive disorders, while it's anti-rheumatic properties have been used for treating stress and trauma.

Vanilla bean extract

Vanilla planifolia

Vanilla originated in Mexico and is presently found in South America and the West Indies. Vanilla is a member of the orchid family . It has aerial roots that cling to trees and, the  pods are the fruit of the plant. Vanilla is currently hand pollenated since it has moved regions. It increases blood flow to sex organs, increases arousal, and releases tension in muscles and tissues. Vanilla tincture is a great sexual elixir since, it is stimulating and relaxing

Vanilla Tincture

5-7 vanilla beans

1 cup brandy or rum,

split vanilla beans (making sure the seeds make contact with alcohol)

add vanilla beans & alcohol to a mason jar & Steep for 6-8 wks

Strain and enjoy

 

Ocotillo -Fouquieraceae ocotillo family-fouquiera splendins

This succulent herb is also called coach whip, vine cactus, slimwood, candlewood, and flamingsword. It is a very beautiful and unusual plant. Ocotillo is slow growing, and it can take up to 30 years to grow to its maximum height of about 20 feet. Its growth is upright, radiating out from a central root.

Ocotillo usually flowers in March, April and May after heavy rains. Dark, gray green leaves will appear along its spiny, thorny stems within days after a rain fall, but once the weather drys out the leaves will turn brown and fall off. The flowers are beautiful scarlet red tubers appearing at the tip of the branches. These flowers attract hummingbirds, bats and orioles.

Ocotillo

Ocotillo has a long history of use among many native Americans. The Cahuilla Indians used its flowers to make a summer drink and its seeds were pounded into a flour to make cakes. The Hualapai used the powdered roots in a footbath for swollen feet and the fibers of the plant to build huts. The Papago would press the nectar out of the blossom and allow it to dry into a candylike treat. The Apache Indians often used the reddish orange blossom, fresh or dried in a tea, which aided in the relief of sore and swollen muscles. The seeds and flowers were also eaten raw in various dishes.

A tincture made of fresh bark is useful for eliminating symptoms associated with inflammation of the pelvic region. Ocotillo can also be effective in alleviating hemorrhoids,  prostate enlargements, and ovarian and uterine cysts.

Harvesting Ocotillo for medicinal use is a challenge. Wear thick gloves and take no more than a two foot section from older plants. It should saw or cut off fairly easily and then cut it into smaller, more workable pieces. Be careful of thorns while working with this plant, and separate the outer bark from the inner core.

Luna Wood , herbalist & massage therapist,  makes many of these fresh  herbal tinctures available for purchase at her studio at South Congress Massage.

Winter Solstice Essentials

Winter Solstice Essentials

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The first day of winter is here! Sometimes winter can bring compromised immune systems, common colds and seasonal depression. Here are a few healing herbs and vitamins that can keep you healthy this Winter. Mushrooms have incredible medicinal properties. In fact, an estimated 38,000 species of mushrooms, provide a wealth of protein, fiber, B vitamins, and vitamin C, as well as calcium and other minerals. Two species have demonstrated phenomenal healing potential: maitake and reishi. These medicinal mushrooms have been shown to boost heart health; lower the risk of cancer,; promote immune function; ward off viruses, bacteria, and fungi; reduce inflammation; combat allergies; help balance blood sugar levels; and support the body's detoxification mechanisms.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), commonly known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, is a herbal mushroom known to have miraculous health benefits. Reishi is an Immunomodulator and regulates and fine tunes the immune system. Preliminary evidence suggests that reishi mushrooms may have antiviral benefits. They contain polysaccharides, which have been reported to inhibit direct effects on the influenza virus.

Reishi Mushroom

Maitake mushroom

Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) also known as "Hen of the Woods", since its frond-like growths resemble the feathers of a fluffed chicken. Maitake is a medicinal mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of decaying trees, particularly oaks. The fungus is native to the northeastern part of Japan and North America, and is prized in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology as a medicinal mushroom, an aid to balance out altered body systems to a normal level. It is widely eaten in Japan, and its popularity in western cuisine is growing.

It tastes wonderful and can be used in cooking, whenever you want to give your family a health boost. This would be especially good during cold and flu season.It is thought to be the most powerful mushroom as far as strengthening the immune system. The glucans and polysaccharides in it stimulate the immune system by increasing the activity of the T-helper cells. It is also highly used by cancer patients today.

Elderberry

Elderflowers

 

Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) & Elderflower

Elderberries have been a folk remedy for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. Elderberry is used for its antioxidant properties, to boost the immune system, and for coughs, colds, flu, hay fever, bacterial and viral infections, and tonsillitis. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. People with the flu who took elderberry juice reported less severe symptoms and felt better much faster than those who did not. Elderberries must be boiled thoroughly or they can be considered poisonous.

Elderflowers are also used for their health benefits as well as elderberries. Elderflowers come from the Elder tree. The Elder has been called the ‘medicine chest of the people’ due to the remedies that can be made with either its leaves, bark, flowers or fruit to treat many common complaints. It is reported by herbalists that dried elderflowers when combined with dried yarrow and peppermint to make a tea is effective to use when you have a cold or influenza. The elderflower lowers fever, reduces inflammation, and soothes irritation.

Echinacea-(Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purprea) This herb works wonderfully for colds and flu. Drinking a tea made from echinacea can greatly reduce the severity and duration of these two illnesses. It’s also widely used for treating upper respiratory infections and sore throat. It’s also an effective anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibiotic. Millions of people have used it to boost the immune system to help fight off viral, fungal and bacterial infections. It can reduce inflammation, destroy free radicals and increase white blood cells. Echinacea can also build resistance to respiratory and digestive infections. It is often used to treat infections of the respiratory system and sinusitis.

This special herb can help keep the glands clean and in good working order. For this reason, it can be used to treat prostate troubles, tonsillitis, swollen lymph glands, strep throat and even ear infections.

Echinacea

Echinacea isn’t the type of herb you take every day. You can start taking it at the first sign of illness. Most people use it like they would an antibiotic, just when needed.

Vitamin D

It has been proven in modern science that the lack of vitamin D, can lead to illnesses disease and even cancer. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and other minerals which help reduce colds, flu, and many other infectious diseases. With the stripping of our modern diet's minerals and lack of exposure to sunlight in the winter months. It's imperative we take a vitamin D supplement.  Vitamin D drops are the easiest to absorb.

You can find all of these essential organic herbs and vitamins at Luna's studio at South Congress Massage. Don't forget to stock up for the winter!