Monday, October 20, 2008

Rosemary - The Herb of the Week

When I was working towards my Diploma of Herbal Studies, I went through an "herb of the week" program in addition. The rules were simple. Each week I chose an herb to learn about and use. For example, one week I adopted Lavender to be my studied plant. I even made bread that had lavender flowers in it.

I've decided to revive this tradition. So, I chose Rosemary to be my plant of choice this week. This means that I will cook with it, use it for beauty, make ointments - whatever I can think to do with it. I believe this to be the best way to get to know a plant.

My first assignment? I am going to buy a fresh rosemary branch and stick it in a bottle of wine to use as a heart tonic. I read in my Australasian course materials that it is a good tonic for low blood pressure which is something I am afflicted with. Plus, I cook with wine all the time and rosemary infused wine will give my food an extra kick.
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Monday, October 06, 2008

Keeping Your Liver Healthy with Herbs

The liver is one of those organs that we often don't think about until it stops working. Whenever we drink or eat something, or liver steps in. It helps metabolize fats and the foods we eat and helps regulate our weight.
So what's the problem? It has TOO MUCH work to do. Obesity, taking medication, drinking too much, etc can all affect the way the liver functions. In other words, it is easy for the liver to get overworked which throws the body out of balance.

In Chinese Medicine, practitioners often help their clients restore liver health as a vital first step to any healing program. I believe in doing something similar. But instead of waiting for health to decline, I like to take herbs that are good for the liver on a constant basis.

Here are some of the herbs I use:
  • Milk Thistle
  • Dandelion Root
  • Burdock Root
I go into greater detail about the herbs in an article I wrote: How to Use Herbs for Liver Health.

I also enjoy certain foods that have liver cleansing properties. Foods like lemons, artichokes, and watermelon are a vital part of my diet.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Living a Healthy Lifestyle is all About Simplicity

I've learned the hard way that we tend to over complicate the process of being healthy and fit. We go to the gym all the time, we restrict our calories and measure our food portions. While this is good to some extent - things can get complicated and frustrating rather quickly.

Instead, I've discovered that simplicity reaps for more rewards than complexity. When we want to lose weight or become healthy, most of us reach for the self help books and magazines. I don't know about you, but when I do this it tends to overload my brain. When that happens, I don't do anything.

But when I keep things simple, great things start to happen. I lose weight. I get fit and healthy. My health improves and I don't get as many colds. My allergy symptoms nearly dissapear. Here's what I try to remember:
  • Maintain a simple yet balanced workout program that features activities that I love doing.
  • Drink plenty of water and herbal tea.
  • Eat lots of whole grains, a good amount of protein, and plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Take a time released food based vitamin daily.
And that's it. Losing weight and being healthy is that simple. Yet, I often forget that. For more of my thoughts on this subject, read an article I wrote on called How to Enhance Your Life Through Simple Living.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Treating Menstrual Cramps with Herbs

I get menstrual cramps pretty much every month. Some months it's worse than others. And each time, I try to resist the urge to take painkillers like ibuprofin because I always get an upset stomach from them. I couldn't pull this off without herbs, however.

There are two ways that I use herbs to tret menstrual cramps. The first way is by using the plants to prevent cramping in the first place. I take stinging nettle and oatstraw throughout the month, which help a lot.

When I actually have the cramps, I use the following herbs to help bring me relief. I don't use them all at once - I'll just pick one or two and stick with that.
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Basil
  • Peppermint
  • Cramp bark

I use a tea for all of them except the cramp bark. For that, I take a tincture. I never mix them - I just take one plant at a time because they don't seem to mix well together. The exception to this is with peppermint and chamomile.

That can help you get started. For more information, check out an article I wrote on ehow called How to Relieve Menstrual Cramps with Herbs.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Using Herbs for Weight Loss the Safe Way

I've been in weight loss mode lately. I'm doing it the old fashioned way - more exercise and healthy eating. But as an herbalist, I can't help but consider herbs that will aid my weight loss efforts. I know, this concept has mixed reviews by some - but hear me out. :)

My first experience with taking herbs for weight loss occurred when ephedra was popular for this, and it was not banned at the time. As an herbalist, I knew that it was utterly ridiculous to try it because of the side effects, but I went for it anyway. Ephedra is not traditionally used as a weight loss helper in the herbal world - it is known as a great respiratory herb and can help with asthma and other lung related problems. Sudafed is derived from this plant.

Anyway, I had an odd reaction to it. It accelerated my heart rate and made me sleepy - the total opposite of how it was supposed to work. In fact, I had to take long naps when I took it. Needless to say, it didn't work.

Over five years later, I know better. Now, I believe that the best approach to using herbs for weight loss is to focus on keeping the body healthy and strong and focusing on the liver. The liver is responsible for fat metabolism. And, since it tends to be overworked, especially if we are overweight, taking medication, drink too much alcohol, etc it is safe to say that if the liver is healthy it can really help. So, I'd focus on herbs like milk thistle, dandelion, and yellow dock to help with weight loss.

I wrote an article at ehow on How to Lose Weight With Herbs that goes into this concept in more detail. I also mention herbs such as green tea and calming herbs such as chamomile to also help with weight loss.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

New Weight Loss Blog - Watch Me Succeed

I love showing people that doing certain things is possible. I currently have a goal to lose weight but I don't believe in diets. So, I started a blog called The Rebel Dieter - it's all about my quest to lose those extra pounds by changing my diet and lifestyle. The focus is on becoming healthier, not on dieting and deprivation.

Diets make me feel obsessed with food and that's the last thing I need when trying to shed unwanted pounds. I've learned that losing weight is all about moving the body and feeding it the right things to keep it healthy. The blog is all about how I'll go about doing that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How Do You Like Your Tea?

I absolutely love drinking tea. I drink on average four cups a day. Green tea is my go-to but lately I've been enjoying Rooibos and fruity blends. The fruitier blends are wonderful iced and sweetened with a little honey.

One thing I love to do is slice up fruit like peaches and oranges and add it to my iced tea pitcher. I take out the tea bag after around ten minutes of steeping but leave the fruit in. The fruit adds natural sweetness without the extra sugar and gives black tea, which I usually find pretty boring, a little more interesting.

You can also spice things up by creating a tea ritual. I like to create a quite moment with relaxing herbs and quiet music. Sometimes, tea is about more than just drinking a beverage.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Are Natural Remedies Safe?

I love using natural remedies and herbal remedies when I have an ailment or to simply boost my health. But it wasn't until I really sat down and studied Herbal Medicine seriously at the Australasian College of Health Sciences that I realized that herbs can have side effects.

Natural doesn't necessarily mean safe.

I'm not saying this to stress people out, but it serves as a good warning. Certain people shouldn't take certain herbs. For example, if you retain water or have high blood pressure, you should stay away from licorice root. Browsing the herbal tea aisle at whole foods I can find at least three different blends with licorice in it. And you can't rely on the company to have a disclaimer on the box. Some don't. In fact, most don't.

If you want to get a really good resource, check out the German Commission E - there's nothing like it in the United States. This was a project funded by the German government. Experts got together and assessed the positive and negative data concerning different herbal remedies and published what they found. I own a copy and it has been invaluable to me.

Visit my page at Ehow for more advice on how to use herbs safely.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What to Do If You Have Diabetes

I may shock you with this one. But the first thing you should do if you have diabetes is take your insulin on schedule. Some cases are more advanced than others. But still - your body needs insulin and if it doesn't produce it on its own, you'll need to take it as prescribed to you.

However, there are ways you can manage your disease. By eating a healthy diet, exercising, and supplementing with certain herbs, you can help your body adapt much better. And, if you have Type II diabetes or pre-diabetes, making diet and lifestyle changes may reverse it. If you have type I, however, the best thing you can do is learn how to keep it in check.

Learn how to treat your diabetes with herbs. There are some herbs that can help normalize blood sugar that are a real help to those with both Type I and Type II diabetes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

First Weed Walk of the Season

I spent the night at my parent's house. When I woke up this morning, I realized that not only is it a beautiful day, but that the lawn is filled with early spring greens. My dad is an organic gardener so I can browse the lawn at will.

We walked through the lawn together and he told me stories about my great grandmother. She came from Greece and would always eat the dandelion leaves. She made tea out of the flowers, at the leaves, and roasted the roots for dandelion coffee. The art skipped two generations before it got to me, it seems.

In the end, I picked enough greens to make a salad. I also picked some cleavers for my dad to dry and make a tea out of. Here are the greens that I included in my salad:
  • dandelion
  • chicory
  • mullein
  • yarrow
  • clover
  • cleavers
I seasoned it with a lemon vinaigrette and topped it with goat cheese. I had artichoke hearts and Greek Easter rolls on the side.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Herbal Hair Rinse for Natural Beauty

In order to keep my hair shiny and healthy, I like to make an herbal hair rinse. My basic recipe includes:
  • apple cider vinegar
  • herbal tea
I put essential oils, too - but that's optional.

The basic formula is 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and two cups of herbal tea or infusion. If I choose to put essential oil, I add 5 drops or so.

Why do I do this? It keeps my hair shiny, healthy, and strong. I also use it to problem solve. If my scalp is flaky I choose an herb like parsley. If I want to enhance my dark highlights, I use rosemary. If I want light highlights, I use chamomile.

I wrote an article at Ehow about this on How to Make Herbal Hair Rinses. Check it out for more detailed information.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Training for a Marathon - My Long Runs

The clock is ticking. The Vienna marathon is on April 27. Am I prepared? I think I'll be okay. But, I need to get in two more long runs before I start to taper. One run will be 14 miles, another will be 18 miles. And that's all I'm doing.

But when am I going to do them? I have to do my 14 mile run sometime this week. I looked at the weather and today is too windy. It's supposed to rain on the weekend except on Sunday. So, I guess I'll do it on Sunday.

Here's my workout schedule:

Wednesday (Today):6 mile run, bodyweight exercises

Thursday: 6 mile run, bodyweight exercises

Friday: walk, bodyweight exercises

Saturday: rest

Sunday: 14 mile run

Time is ticking. I need to get these runs in so I can taper my mileage before the marathon!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Daily Walk in the Woods

I've started this little tradition - I take a daily walk in the woods. I do it both for fitness, and to connect with nature. We live disconnected lives. I sit in front of the computer all day, do housework and run errands.

But it is so important to spend some time outdoors. It helps me stay in touch with the herbalist side. And, this is an exciting time. I go out every day to look for signs of life and that spring is coming. I want to see the plants push up out of the earth.

In about another month, I bet the leaves will start popping out and the spring plants will be in bloom. Some things are starting to come up, like daffodils. But I think spring may be late.

My walk is a 3-4 mile trek in some conservation lands by my house. If there's no one around, I stop halfway and do some calisthenics, too.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Chamomile - One of My Favorite Herbs

Chamomile is one of those herbs that is highly versatile. It is my favorite nervine herb because it is so gentle. I know that I can drink it in the middle of the day to unwind and I won't need to take a nap, unlike the stronger nervine herbs like skullcap.

But, there are also other things that I use chamomile for. Here's a list:
  • break fevers
  • hair rinse to bring out light highlights
  • gentle pain relief
  • relieves cramps
  • tummy aches and other stomach problems
My favorite way to take this is with a tea. If you can find a brand from Germany, they have the best chamomile flowers - I can smell them blooming!

Do you want to learn more about chamomile? Learn How to Take Chamomile for Health at

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Relaxing Herbal Tea Blend Recipe

There is something about drinking relaxing herbal tea that can really help keep you focused and stress free. If you can't find the herbs in your nearest health food store, check out All the herbs listed are dried.

Relaxation Herbal Tea Recipe

2 tbs. chamomile flowers
2 tbs. oatstraw
1 tbs. spearmint
1 tbs. rose petals
1 tsp. hibiscus
1 tsp. dried orange peels

Add all the herbs to an airtight amber glass jar. Shake to mix and store away from light. When ready for your tea, brew 1.5 teaspoons for every cup of hot water.

Do you want more information about relaxing herbal teas? Check out an article I wrote about it at ehow.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How to Identify Wild Plants Safely

Now that the warm weather is upon us where I live in New England, I'm excited to be able to go out in my yard or in the woods to look for my own herbal medicines. First, I'll look for chickweed which even starts growing under the snow. Dandelion is not too far behind and neither is violet or shephards purse.

If you haven't done this before, I created a tutorial for you over at ehow on How to Identify Wild Plants.

A lot of people avoid doing this because they think it is unsafe. Well, it isn't. I've been doing it for years. I mean, most people already know what plants like dandelion look like. Start with what you know. Learn about the plant, cook with it, drink it as a tea, etc... and then move on.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

One of My Favorite Bath Care Companies - Lush

Lush Skin Care Products
I thought I'd pay tribute today to one of my favorite skin and body care companies - Lush. I first found them in Vancouver, British Columbia back when they weren't available in the United States yet. This was almost ten years ago...

The exciting thing about the company is that they make their products fresh and they actually have an expiration date. I love their shampoo bars (the one with coconut milk is my favorite) and their conditioner as well as their bath bombs. Check out their glitter ball - it's incredible. Smells so good and when you get out of the tub, you're covered head to toe in glitter.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cooking with Wild Spring Greens

Spring is just around the corner - I can feel it! Every morning when I wake up, I hear the birds chirping away and the sun is shining through the window.

For me, this means that the early spring greens such as dandelion, chicory, and chickweed will be pushing up through the earth as well as edible flowers such as violet. I love these early spring salads - it doesn't get any fresher than this.

Dandelion and chicory both taste best in the early spring and the late fall. In the spring, you need to pick the leaves before the flowers pop up. Once the flowers appear, the plant gets really bitter.

I like to squeeze a little lemon juice and olive oil over my salad once it's assembled. And goat cheese such as feta or ricotta salata is absolutely perfect. I wrote an ehow article about this called How to Make a Wild Herb Salad. Stop in and take a look!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Making Herbal Infusions

I love to use herbs on a daily basis to help enhance health. To do that, I often make a strong herbal infusion that is steeped for several hours. What this does is leech out the vitamins and minerals from the herb so that it can be more effective.

You can't just use any herb to do this. My favorites are:
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Oatstraw
  • Lemon Balm
  • Red Clover
You can use others, such as mullein, but those are the main ones. I have detail instructions on how to make an herbal infusion at In fact, I have a whole collection of herbal articles (over 60 of them) on the site so you may want to stop and look around. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Herbal Sports Drink Recipe

In order to be able to run the long distances that I need to run, I have to consume electrolytes and easily absorbed carbohydrates during the longer runs. If you are going to do physical activity for an hour or more, you need to consume a sports beverage roughly every thirty minutes.

The problem is, I don't particularly enjoy sports drinks. I have a sensitive palate and I can tell that they have chemicals in them - such as the coloring used to make them have those funky colors. I try to avoid chemicals at all costs.

Plus, through trial and error, I realized that honey is the best endurance food for me. The bees have already predigested the carbohydrates so your body can absorb it easily. And if the honey is raw, it still has the enzymes in it. It also contains B vitamins.

So I came up with my own sports drink recipe using herbs and honey. It's fresh and filled with nutrients. That's my idea of a good drink! I published the recipe at ehow so you can click here to enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Marathon Training Plan for This Week

I really need to get my act together in terms of training for the marathon I will be running at the end of April. I need to run at least 18 miles for my long run by the middle of April, which will give me two weeks to taper.

So for this week, this is what I need to do:

Wed- 4 mile run
Thurs -5 mile run
Sat - 3 mile run
Sun - 10 mile run

I ran seven miles for my long run last week.

This is my plan for next week

One 4 mile run
One 6.5 mile run
One 4 mile run
One 13 mile run

I don't know which days next week these runs will fall on because I will be on vacation! I'll be getting back on Sunday so the long run may need to be on Monday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Herbs that Boost Metabolism

Our modern lifestyles wreak havoc on the metabolism. Not enough exercise. Too much fast food. Chronic stress. Excess sugar and alcohol... all of these things can cause your body systems to not function at their best.

I like to use herbs to get the body back in balance. There are two parts of the body that I target the most - the adrenal glands and the liver, but most especially the liver. If your liver is strong, your body will be able to get rid of waste and process fat - two things that are essential for keeping the weight down and help you lose. Herbs for the liver include:
  • dandelion root
  • milk thistle
  • yellow dock
  • burdock
I target the adrenal glands because of stress. Excess stress can cause the adrenal glands to perform at a suboptimal level. If your adrenals are exhausted it could upset your body's hormone balance and affect your energy levels, among other things.

Some herbs for the adrenals include:
  • stinging nettle
  • astralagus
  • fo-ti
  • triphala (an ayurvedic herbal blend)
For more information on herbs to boost metabolism, check out my article at called How to Boost Metabolism with Herbs.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Pros and Cons of Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies are getting a lot of attention, especially nowadays that our prescribed pharmaceutical medicines carry along with them potential side effects and problems. A lot of “herbal” and “natural” health supplements and medicines are becoming more and more popular because of their known effects and advantages.

One of the advantage of using herbal remedies as supposed to your prescribed medicines is that they cost a whole less than pharmaceutical remedies. Since the herbs do not need to be manufactured or developed, they cost a lot cheaper, and are more convenient as well. You no longer need to get prescriptions from doctors in order to be able to use a particular drug or remedy, unlike the different herbal remedies which you can just purchase without any needed consultation from your doctors.

Another advantage of using herbal remedies is that the herbal medicines may sometimes prove to be more effective as compared to our traditional prescribed medicines. Our dissatisfaction for our current healthcare may be the reason as to why we seek some other alternative. One possible cause for the effectiveness of herbal remedies is its potency. Some herbal remedies may prove to be more potent than others, depending on a few varying factors that may affect the herbal remedy’s effectiveness, such as the growing conditions of the herbs like exposure to air, light and moisture, or even the way that it was harvested. The manner of preservation can also play a factor on the herbs’ potency.

Although using “natural” and “herbal” remedies may sound appealing to a lot of people, it is important to remember that not all “natural” and “herbal” remedies are safe. A lot of these “natural” herbal medicines are composed of elements that can cause potentially harmful side effects to people, especially those that suffer from very serious conditions.

Herbal remedies may have been used for centuries already, but it does not mean that they are safe, especially not if you just take them without consulting with your doctors or herbalists about it.

One disadvantage for using herbal remedies over prescription medicines are the side effects that they may cause on your body when you take them, especially if you use them for a long period of time. Some herbal remedies are known to cause high blood pressure in the vessels of the lungs, while others may even cause your immune system to weaken, making you more prone to sickness and diseases.

Another disadvantage for taking herbal remedies is that you are not entirely sure if you are only getting the ingredients that you want in every pack of herbal medicine that you buy. Although you get the ingredient that you need, there will be some other such as twigs, bark, and other plant materials that may find their way in there along with your herbal medicine. Sometimes, you don’t get the ingredients that you really need since the amount of the ingredient can influence its effectiveness on a person. Add the fact that sometimes your herbal medicine may contain some other ingredient at one point, and contain another ingredient at another.

Whatever your stand on herbal medicine may be, it is always important to consult with your doctor or herbalist before you decide to take anything. Also, make sure that the herbal remedy that you chose to use will not interact with your current prescribed pharmaceutical medicines that you are taking in order to avoid any complications.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

PrimeHerbal - Herbal Remedy

Vanessa Arellano Doctor from a SEO Company

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dandelion - My New Favorite Herb

I go through phases. What's my favorite herb? For a while, it was stinging nettle. Stinging nettle will always have a special place in my heart. But I think with spring coming, dandelion is on my mind. Dandelion pushes through the ground a lot sooner than nettle does. And besides, I don't see Nettle that often - dandelion grows in my own yard.

So, I did some research today and found out some things about Dandelion. These things take into account the whole plant - the root, flowers, and leaves. Each part is used for different things. For example, the flowers are high in antioxidants. The root is what people use most often for water retention and to help the liver. The leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals. Here's a rough list:
  • good for the liver and gallbladder
  • helps with water retention
  • source of vitamins A, B, C, D, E
  • good source of potassium, also has iron, zing, and magnesium
  • used for digestive problems including poor appetite and heart burn
  • often used for skin problems
I pulled this from different source - mainly from She also included recipes for things like Dandelion wine. Looks good!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Running the Vienna Marathon in April

The Vienna marathon is coming up. My training got off track. This week, I am devoted to getting it back on track. In order to do that, I am going to do two things.
  1. Walk 10,000 steps
  2. Go back to my running schedule
For my running schedule, this is my plan:

  • Wed - 3 miles
  • Thurs - 4 miles
  • Friday - 4 miles
  • Sunday - 10 miles
I'll keep you posted. I had an injury, and the flu - so I took a few weeks off. Injury is healed, flu is gone... so now, I can get back into it!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Prepare Yourself for Allergy Season

I woke up the other day with a running nose and itchy, watery eyes. Spring is around the corner and I can tell. That was the beginning stages of an allergy attack that often lasts for several months.

This year, instead of taking pills, I am going to treat it naturally. I thought back to a time when I barely had a problem with my allergies. Then, I figured out why - I drank a lot of stinging nettle infusion.

So, I wrote an article over at to explain how I treat my allergies using stinging nettle. It talks about how to best prepare the herb and gives information about using it.

Other things I use for allergies are:
  • Green tea
  • Garlic
  • Vitamin C
  • Quercetin
  • Grape seed extract
But, my number one favorite is by far stinging nettle.

Want more information on getting rid of allergies? Learn how to get Allergy Free For Life.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Exercising Through Stress

Let's face it. This life is filled with stressful things. Minor stresses are part of every day life. Major stresses also creep up now and then. For me, if I don't exercise my way through it, I really feel it adding up.

Lately, my favorite things to do to work through stress include running, dancing, and martial arts. I need to run because I am running a marathon and I have to train. But there is nothing more satisfying than a spontaneous round of front snap kicks or some energetic dancing in my kitchen.

If I don't do this, I know that unmanaged stress can lead to all sorts of health problems.