One of the main things I’ve learned while reading my Body into Balance book is that herbs are essential to health and well-being. They are one of our most important foods that should be incorporated, daily, into everyone’s diets. There are so many available and it is fairly easy, once a routine is set, to be sure a few cups of warm or cold tea🍵and some highly beneficial sprinkles of spices are added to daily meals. My new favorite thing to do is to prepare super infused tea blends which are easy to make before bed and just let them sit overnight. Then in the morning, I jar them up and put them in the fridge for later. These can be drank cold or hot and are super nutrient dense Usually 1 teapot full is enough for a few days and then once my tea gets low, I take some of my loose herbs, put them into a tea bag, seal it, and make a new batch.
Another daily habit I’ve gotten into is using curry powder on either eggs, in soup, in salad dressing, or mixed into rice or any sort of veggies I may be sauteing in a pan. There are so many vital healthy spices in the curry blend like: Turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, cumin, mustard, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, cayenne🌶️, fennel and nutmeg. When using turmeric, due to its anti-inflammatory/pain relieving/circulation improving/depression alleviating/digestive-aid/liver-detoxification abilities, make sure to pair 1-2 percent of black pepper with it since this increases its absorption by 2,000 times!
An overarching theme throughout my reading was that many of the body issues we suffer from are a result of stress, lack of deep/restful sleep🛏️, and nutrient deficiencies. For instance, let’s talk about muscle pain.
There are skeletal muscles💀 and smooth muscles (digestion/reproductive organs). Most of the underlying causes of pain associated with either of these is nutrient deficiencies like magnesium, B vitamins, and calcium. Not only may they be lacking in your system from not eating the right foods or drinking the right tea but if they are not accompanied by the right complimentary nutrients/fat/vitamins they may not be absorbed by the body and therefore are not being utilized. Here are some examples of possible causes of muscle pain:
- Magnesium deficiency-Causes headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, and muscle spasms(IBS) since it helps muscles to relax. To absorb it properly B vitamins are needed and vice versa. Some ways to get Magnesium are by getting a topical spray or eating cacao, seeds, nuts, leafy greens🥗, fish, beans, lentils, & whole grains. B vitamins can be found in spinach, broccoli, romaine, green peas, yams, broccoli, asparagus and turnip greens as well as nutritional yeast, which is easy to add to sauteed veggies, soup, mac & cheese, eggs, etc. Also remember calcium helps muscles contract, so make sure to get adequate calcium in your diet; its always vital and especially important as we age. Our bodies take calcium from our bones to use in the blood if there is not enough to utilize through proper diet.
- Improper Calcium absorption–Calcium needs Vitamin D🌞to be absorbed and utilized properly in the body. This is difficult since sunlight is one of the most useful ways for our bodies to produce effective Vitamin D. Living in WI🌬️ I know how difficult it is to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from sunlight🌤️, and from personal experience, I feel it is the most beneficial for our bodies. Luckily there are other ways to get Vitamin D when sunlight is not available: fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and eel), canned tuna or sardines but be sure the cans are free of BPA, certain mushrooms (interesting fact: if you put fresh culinary mushrooms out in the sun for a few hours, sun treating them, they will make vitamin D & in one study some shiitakes that were out for 6 hours had their vitamin D content jump from 110 to 46,000 IU per 100 grams!), fortified milk/orange juice/cereal, supplements but be careful because Vitamin D can become toxic since it will build up in the system, whole eggs, beef liver, cod liver oil & UV lamps/bulbs but careful because these can cause burns just like the sun.
- Nutrient Absorption-Our bodies do not always absorb the nutrients we ingest easily. There are definitely some easy ways to incorporate some basic things into the diet to increase the bodies ability to retain and use these very necessary nutrients. Being sure to take food with bitters or some vinegar🥒 (this made me realize there is a good reason to eat pickles even though they are pretty void of any nutrition) helps with absorption of things like magnesium, calcium, and Vitamin D. It also helps heal the gut when you have issues such as inflammatory bowel disorder and leaky gut.
- Herbs for Pain Management:
- Blue Vervain & Wood Betony–Relaxing & antispasmodic and not too sedative to take during the day. Blue Vervain is especially helpful for people who suffer from a lot of neck and headache pain.
- Pedicularis-Relaxes skeletal muscles & is good for whole body pain resulting from impact injury, backaches, and muscle twitches. It’s also known to relieve joint and muscle pain, sharp muscle spasms, sprains, tension headaches, and insomnia caused by exhaustion and overexcitement.
- Some others that are good at reducing pain and relaxing muscles and also have a sedative affect are: valerian, skullcap(American), passionflower, hops, California poppy, kava, and holy basil(Tulsi). Some antispasmodic herbs are: peppermint, cramp bark or black haw, and ginger (these are for smooth muscle issues).
****One thing to note is that most muscle-relaxing and headache relieving herbs are bitter so there is most likely a correlation between the assistance these herbs give to the body with digestion, detox, and balancing blood sugar in relation to pain relief and relaxation.****
Nerve pain is something I have started to experience more with age and especially since having two babies. The most significant has been sciatica. I have also endured acute carpal tunnel after cleaning blinds for days straight in a new apartment. My first understanding of carpal tunnel was when I was young because my father suffered from it; he was a machinist. Mine luckily went away after I rested my hands for a few days and made sure to do some stretching exercises with them. For pain like this or more complex issues like Lyme disease and multiple sclerosis which are constant, there may be some natural ways to relieve at least some of it.
Some causes of nerve pain are inflammation, stress, misalignment of joints or bones which leads to pinching, injury, repetitive use, bad posture and lack of proper nourishment, as it relates to the nervous system. The key nutrients that are critical include healthy/good fats & B vitamins. Caffeine especially from coffee will bother the nerves and can increase overall pain and symptoms which include: tremors, anxiety, and insomnia. The essential way to repair/heal some of the damage is to soothe the nervous system; not just numb it. Below are some vital steps to being sure you are doing all you can to keep the nervous system running as well as possible.
- Omega-3s and healthy fats-Responsible for protecting the nerves by being a main component in the lining of cells. My new favorite way to get these is Chia seeds. They are extremely easy to throw into things like oatmeal, granola, yogurt, muffins & cookies. I also eat a lot of eggs and try and get local as much as possible. We do enjoy some sushi once in awhile with salmon but not enough to have it count for much. It’s also just very important to be sure and avoid bad fats–hydrogenated oils, trans fat, and fried food especially!
- As much as possible avoid the addictive foods: sugar, white flour, simple carbs, excessive alcohol, artificial & processed food or things with MSG also known as “yeast extract” and “hydrolyzed” on labels.
- Be aware and avoid foods that are known to disagree/cause allergies with people by way of breakouts, bloating, rashes, digestive upset, etc. The common ones are: eggs, coffee☕, dairy, soy, nightshade plants (tomatoes for example), and corn.
- Balance your diet when eating, as much as you can, is also critical because this is what makes it most likely your body can properly absorb the nutrients you are taking in. Different nutrients/fats/vitamins compliment each other.
- Eat an array and colorful servings of fruit and veggies🍍🥕🍑🍎🥑 each day. One of my favorite ways to do this is soup. We make a lot of homemade soup and when I get canned soup it is usually Amy’s Kitchen brand because it’s organic and BPA free. Most of the stores carry them now and they’re fairly reasonable in price. We also eat fruit or veggies with every meal. It is so essential to have them every day and throughout the whole day. Fruit is also fun to dress up with things like seed/nut butters, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, yogurt, nuts, dark chocolate, cheese, etc. Blue, red, purple fruit is what helps keep your circulatory system and heart healthy. Read more about what fruits and veggies help what part of the body here: The Law of Signatures.
- Water🌊!! Stay hydrated with water intake needs based on either the Sweat Rage Calendar or calculate by the recommendations on Slender Kitchen. I explain to my children that our bodies are made up of pipes, like in our house, and we need to keep them flowing. No one wants gunk in their pipes backing them up!
- Focus on keeping your body anti-inflammatory. This can be through increasing the body’s compounds to fight it and inhibit inflammatory compounds like 5-Lox (5-lipoxygenase), COX-2 (cytokines) and prostaglandins (these are responsible for menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding, and arthritis)😥. These hormones are produced when we are under stress or to signal things like labor, menstruation, ovulation or to heal an injury. When too many are produced, inflammation occurs.
- Relaxation Techniques-These have all been proven to reduce systemic inflammation, decrease pain, & improve vitality
*Art therapy & Music
*Regular, gentle exercise
*Time in nature🏕️🏞️🏖️
The last one is my favorite because there is nothing quite like a nature hike or being out in my garden mid-summer when everything is in bloom🌻. It can also incorporate things like art, music, exercise🏋️, meditation & deep breathing very easily.
Herbs to think of when reducing inflammation include: Turmeric (this is why I eat curry daily now), boswellia, pineapple🍍 & its companion; bromelain, tart cherry🍒, ginger, ashwaganda (this is part of my daily herbal tea infusion I make), holy basil (I am seed starting some of this and it’s already sprouting!!), and cinnamon (there is not a day that goes by that this is not sprinkled on toast, oatmeal, yogurt, tea, coffee, granola, fruit, or ice cream).
The information I’m reviewing and sharing is from the book: Body into Balance by Maria Noel Groves. As an aspiring herbalist and someone passionate about health and wellness, I would highly recommend this book for anyone’e home library as a complete and thorough reference.
All other information is referenced in the green, underlined links above.
Have a wonderful night/day & Happy Easter🐇🐣💐!!
****If you ever have any questions about health/wellness/herbs please feel free to message me. I do enjoy researching and would be happy to investigate if I am not sure on the answer!***”