Health Through Herbs & Natural Healing

Karin C. Uphoff

Holistic Health Blog

Gently We January

January is a month that embodies the true starkness of winter on the coast. While it may be sunny, much native foliage, has tucked its juiciness under the soil. This natural inclination towards vegetative slumber when the sun draws a low arc across the sky is a sign to rest and repair. It may look like nothing much is going on for the red alder whose skeleton decorates our river valleys, but this tree uses winter dormancy to keep its house in order. For grasses and leafy trees, there is not enough light to make chlorophyll so nutrients like nitrogen, magnesium and phosphate are carried back from the leaves into the branches where they’re deposited in bark. Proteins are broken down and re-made and cell membranes are repaired. Excess sugar is salvaged and shuttled to roots for storage in anticipation of the energy needed to burst into life, come spring. For thousands of years humans living well above the equator have also saved energy and stored surplus to get through the lean, less productive months. Now modern humans can acquire whatever is needed and stay warm and well-fed through the winter, but physiologically our bodies are still in tune with the natural cycle of light. While your schedule might be full, it is of great benefit to take more time for rest and repair and nourish your roots at this time. During dark cycles our organs organize their own house keeping by detoxing and rebuilding damaged tissues. This is especially true of the kidneys, adrenal glands and liver where vitamins and hormones are synthesized. Since there is little vitamin...

Tis the Season

The damp coastal weather invites an incredible variety of fungal flowers (otherwise known as mushrooms) to pop up everywhere. Though mushrooms grow in soil and were originally believed to be an offshoot of the plant kingdom, recent studies have shown that most fungi are more closely related to animals than plants. They can’t photosynthesize (a requirement if you’re a plant) and depend on the food made by plants for their nutritional requirements, the way we do. Around 90% of land plants are in mutually-beneficial relationships with fungi through mycorrhizal associations where plants provide fungi with food in the form of carbohydrates and fungi help plants take up water, provide nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, protect them from predators and boost their immunity. Indeed many of our beloved ecosystems, including our farmlands are dependent upon this relationship of reciprocity between plants and fungi. It is strange to think that so much of the biomass of a mushroom we pick is underground. The cute little stuffed white button mushroom you nibble at the buffet table has a relative that occupies some 2,384 acres (nearly 4 square miles!) of soil in Oregon’s Blue Mountains. Based on the growth rate of this Armillaria ostoyae it’s estimated to be 2,400 years old but could be as ancient as 8,650 years, which would earn it a place among the oldest living organisms as well as the largest. So what do fantastic fungal fruiting bodies have to share with us? Besides their high mineral and protein content, they have chemicals that support our immunity and prevent cellular damage. They also remind us of how sharing resources...
Fukushima FALLout

Fukushima FALLout

Fukushima FALLout . . . The unimpeded outflow of radioactive material from 5 nuclear power plants has not abated, so if you have stopped thinking about it – it’s time to think again as contaminated debris and marine life is pervading the Pacific west coast. Step-up your cellular protection in the following ways: Avoid foods/drinks/products from Japan and Eastern China.  Stop eating tuna, pacific cod and taper off fish consumption in general (especially true for children). Drink carbon-filtered water or a combination of reverse osmosis-carbon filtered water (note that many bottled waters are NOT filtered and clean). Wash vegetables in water with a pinch of borax powder.  Consider growing veggies in covered greenhouses using filtered water that you can recycle. Most fallout arrives as rain/fog/dew. Reduce or cut out dairy products, especially cows as bioaccumulation from rainwater continues to raise cesium levels. Eat naturally occurring antioxidant-rich plants: fresh berries of all kinds, raw fresh vegetables, sprouted/naturally fermented foods and super-greens like grasses (oat, alfalfa, barley, wheat), spirulina, chlorella etc. Use adaptogenic herb that contain Nrf- stimulating phyto-chemicals on a daily basis (see What’s Hot below). Do seasonal bowel cleansing with substances that are known to draw out radioactive elements: clay, charcoal, and apple pectin. Eat sweeping fibers like flax, apples, chia, okra and some seaweed daily. Send out positive healing energy to the ocean and the earth and your body everyday.  Bless your food/drinks with your intention to heal yourself before you consume it.  Connect with nature in gratitude and listen for natural intelligence to guide you Here’s some more information . . and For more...

July means . . .it’s summer!

July means . . .it’s summer!. . . in the northern hemisphere where long days of sun bring us some of our hottest temperatures. If you live where it’s sweltering, you may also be living where air-conditioning is the primary way to stay cool.  In the interest of reducing greenhouse gases and avoiding the unhealthy transition from hot to cold and back, there are natural ways to stay cooler without missing the benefits (yes benefits!) of hot weather.  Heat that brings on a sweat can: cleanse the pores of your skin, burn fat and detox substances held in fat, increase overall circulation, relax muscles and help them stretch further, make it easy to eat more raw food, which is enzyme rich and strengthens digestion.  Cool off naturally by . . . Planning your outdoor activities in the early morning/early evening hours when it’s cooler.  Take short rests in shade if you are out mid-day.   Wetting your hair under your hat or helmet  if your are biking or hiking.  You can also wet your T-shirt or a thin cotton scarf that your wring out and wear around your neck.  Keeping head and neck cool is the most important.  Cooling the feet (standing in cold water) helps cool the entire body down.  Keep a hydrosol (distilled plant water) of rose or lavender in your refrigerator to spay on sunkissed skin. Drinking more cold water and adding electrolytes like lemon, lime, apple cider vinegar, Celtic or unprocessed sea salt. By adding hydrating plants to your water so your intestines can more readily absorb it.  These would include: chia seed, aloe vera...

Theta Healing

Tap into the power of theta brain waves to facilitate spontaneous healing.  If you are familiar with lingering in those precious moments between waking and sleeping – that is the theta brain state. Our brain produces electrical frequencies, which change according to the state we are in. In deep sleep, our brain produces very slow delta waves, while in another sleep state and the time between waking and sleeping the brain produces theta waves. During meditation and deep relaxation, the brain broadcasts alpha waves and when we are in full activity, focusing on our tasks, beta waves. Our ability to easily shift from one brain state to another ultimately means mental flexibility and good functioning capacity in all aspects of life.  Children under 13 who exercise their imagination and creativity spend lots of time in theta state, as do those practicing or receiving shamanic healing or energy healing, or when losing sense of time (“zoning out”) on a long distance drive or engaged in a task. This ‘waking dream’ state (you can still hear/ have a physical awareness) coupled with the belief/faith in a universal loving power has been the root of countless spontaneous healings for centuries, but now folks are consciously learning to apply it to themselves.  If we over-stimulate our brains with caffeine, sugar and stress, we get locked into the beta brain state.  While this state facilitates intensive learning, it also causes rigidity in behavior and reduces our ability to heal.  Taking some time out for day-dreaming, relaxing the mind in play, listening to music and chants (drumbeats) that move your mind to a deeper state...

Summer Skin

Our days of longest light – what a delight!  Summertime is a time of celebration and a time to feel the sun and fresh air on our skin.  Our largest organ synthesizes vitamin D1, is a barrier to pathogens and can release as much acidic waste as one kidney!  It is also vulnerable to damage by ultraviolet light, which is more intense on the planet at this time, so remember a little exposure of the skin can go a long way.  Here are a few ways to honor your skin during the summer months . . Dry Brushing – all those dead skin cells that are still clinging to the top layer (epidermis) of skin can be helped off with vigorous short strokes using a natural bristle dry brush.  This accelerates detoxification and stimulates collagen production in the lower layer (dermis).  Try this before stepping into a bath or shower. Salt or Sugar Scrub – you can buy a ready-made product or make your own (see below).  Massage the salt or sugar-plus-oil mix onto your skin (have a friend do your back) and leave on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing off.  Do not use soap afterwards, so the remaining oil nourishes.  On a hot day, refresh yourself by doing this procedure outside and hosing off! Cover-up – protect your skin from UV exposure by using a natural sun block (uses zinc oxide or titanium oxide particles that reflect light back) or clothing that covers.  Avoid cancer-causing chemical sunscreen and watch out for the intensified rays when light mirrors off water (swimming, skiing and yes, foggy weather). Nourish inside and...

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