Health Through Herbs & Natural Healing

Karin C. Uphoff

Holistic Health Blog

Chronic Poison Oak?

Chronic Poison Oak?

The Short Answer . . . .from Karin   I get re-occurring poison oak ever since I had a bad case of it – it may be systemic, how do I keep it from spreading? Whether it is poison oak or ivy, the oils hunker down into the pores of skin and are easily spread by contact, moisture and heat.  It is possible for certain compounds in the oils to get into the bloodstream (termed ‘systemic’) although the mechanics of this are not well understood.  Treat any contact aggressively by washing well in warm (not hot) water) with a drying soap – Dr. Bronners peppermint soap works well and soothes itch.  Pat dry with a clean towel (all towels exposed to oils must be washed each time).   Make a paste of green or bentonite clay and tincture or tea of manzanita leaf, plantain, sage, oak bark, lemon or apple cider vinegar (or a combination).  Cover all rashes with clay and leave on as long as it stays on.  Do not use any lotions or oils on your body at this time – you want to draw out and dry up any oils in the rash. If you can keep skin exposed throughout the day that helps.  At night rashes can spread easily by unconscious scratching and heat.  Before bed, re-apply clay and cover area with loose, light clothing.  Never use the same clothes twice until rash is gone and do not touch the rash!  Stay out of hot tubs, baths and shower after perspiring exercise.  Once the rash is gone, you can take a sauna (as more oils...

Post Pneumonia Care

It seems as if the moment the weather gets cool and damp, people are more susceptible to lung conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia or flu that turns into pneumonia. Pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses, mycoplasma, fungi or exposure to particulate matter (read more about types of pneumonia at Often doctors will prescribe antibiotics, even without culturing the disease. If it is bacterial in origin, antibiotics may help the body get over the worst part, so you feel better, but you are left with severe fatigue, foggy-brained, increased mucus and a cough that still scares your friends! Not only that, there is a good chance you still have the pathogens in your system (especially if they are viral and antibiotics haven’t touched them) and excess mucus is their jungle gym! What to do?   1. Drink 4 cups a day of a lung decoction. That means a tea that is simmered, covered on the stove for 20-30 minutes then let sit another 10 minutes covered before drinking. Easiest to make a quart pot in the morning and leave the herbs sitting in all day as you drink by the cupfuls (reheating each cup). My favorite blend is: 2 parts each of osha root (sustainably harvested only), elecampagne, slippery elm bark, burdock root and pleurisy root to 1 part each of licorice root, cinnamon chips and ginger. After your decoction cooks and you are ready to pour it into your cup, get your face right above it and deeply breathe the essential oils of these herbs! Breathe in the steam of every cup. Keep drinking this tea...

Favorite Anti-microbial Herbs

One of my all-time favorite anti-microbial herb is the common thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Thyme and thyme again this small, low-growing herb (of which there are many varieties) has shown to pack a powerful punch in dissuading or eliminating viruses and obstinate bacteria. Before the use of antibiotics, thyme was the most extensively used surgical wash and dressing. It is most potent as an essential oil because of it’s concentrated thymol content. Thymol is also found in oregano, cedar and horsemint and can be toxic in high doses, however, used correctly, I have seen it eliminate MSRA when nothing else did. Thyme leaves make a lovely tea that is excellent for colds and flu, indigestion and coughs and is safe for children. The fresh leaves or oil can also be used as a facial steam to open and protect the lungs and sinuses. To prevent illness spreading to other family members, use the oil of thyme in a room spray and counter-top wash and apply oil of thyme mixed in a little carrier oil or lotion to the bottoms of feet before going to bed. Another favorite, less often used but treasured by Native Americans is Lomatium or Desert Parsley (Lomatium dissectum). It is a strong, resinous root that is taken as a decoction (boiled tea) or tincture when in risk of, or during illness. It is strongly antimicrobial with regards to flu, pneumonia and other upper respiratory diseases and was the primary herb that helped many Native Americans survive the Spanish flu. It alkalizes blood and reduces inflammation and tends to throw microbes and waste products out towards the...

Flourishing Through Fallout:

How to Boost Your Immune System during Radioactive Times The Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan was never certified to withstand a quake greater than 7.9 and was opened in 1970, barely 50 years after the 8.3 Kanto quake. At a magnitude 8.9, the first earthquake of its kind in 140 years, the world sits stunned. The meltdown of these Japanese nuclear power plants have the very real potential to contaminate a large portion of the Pacific Ocean, Alaska and the Western United States. With leaking nuclear plants in Japan, there will be radiation moving across the Pacific in the next weeks and months. The wind patterns bring it first toward the west coast of the United States then on across the continent to be dispersed throughout the world. The smallest nano-particles suspend the longest and are considered more dangerous because they have a longer life. The water and rainfall will likely infiltrate water supply and effect our nation’s food supply for a period up to two years, and probably longer.It’s important that we help ourselves and each other in this crisis, instead of feeling helpless. Besides a big dose of courage, please know that there are foods and herbs that can greatly reduce the risk of radiation poisoning. The spiking demand to obtain potassium iodide to protect against radiation exposure may also prove foolish – many are using it preemptively, which can cause problems of its own – indeed, reactions that resemble radiation poisoning. Ironic. We have seen them sell as high as $600.00 for a pack of 24 on eBay.After any sort of radioactive exposure you want to be eating...

Summer Herbs for Kids

It’s the growing season for herbs and kids! So whether you have garden beds or potted plants on your front stoop, these herbs are easy to grow. Fresh herbs make good glycerate tinctures that are perfect medicine for children. Include your children in the process and they will appreciate the benefits even more! All the herbs listed below can be picked in season and dried for tea and/or made into a non-alcohol tincture. These medicines are especially helpful for children between the ages of 6 months and 7 years. For younger infants, the herbs are administered via the mother’s breast milk. Make tinctures in vegetable glycerin by crushing or blending the herb into the glycerin and storing in a jar in a warm, dark place for a month or two (the longer the stronger – up to 3 months). Check on the jar periodically, stir the contents and make sure all plant material is covered. When finished, strain off the glycerin, pressing out the liquid until all medicine is captured. Store the glycerate in a dark glass jar in a cool place. Storing in the refrigerator will allow it to last two years. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) The tea of this flower is great for applying directly to heat rashes and sunburn. Make a good strong tea before you leave for the pool or beach and store in the fridge so it is cool and ready to use! You can also freeze the tea combined with aloe and store in ice cube trays to cool burns. This herb is anti-microbial can also be taken to treat swollen lymph glands of...

Seasonal Support for your Respiratory System

In winter and the quality of our indoor airspace and amount of fresh-air activity breaks we take, greatly affect our overall respiratory health and our susceptibility to illness. Do you inhabit work, school and home environments that are heated, closed to outside air circulation and stuffy? Unless properly ventilated, this indoor airspace contains the residue of carbon monoxide (from burning propane or kerosene heat) or particulate matter (from wood-burning stoves or dust from forced air heating), plus the circulation of chemicals such as, petroleum residue from burning paraffin wax candles and chemicals from incense, air-fresheners or detergents. Add to that unseen molds and mildew that proliferate in damp un-circulating air, and you have a recipe for stressing, and consequently weakening, your respiratory system. The fastest way for a substance to enter the bloodstream is through the lungs, so it’s important to make sure your heat sources burn clean and are adequately ventilated. Chose household products that are eco-friendly and non-irritating to your personal ecosystem. Reduce the likelihood of molds by increasing air circulation (open window, fans, dehumidifiers) in rooms where moisture accumulates. Wipe down tile and windowsills with a cloth that has essential oils of thyme, oregano or eucalyptus.   If you live in an environment that is poorly ventilated, or smoke-filled, then consider getting an air-filter. If you have chlorinated tap water, get a filter for your showerhead as well as for your drinking water, since breathing in steamy chlorinated air, is one of the worst hazards for the lungs. When cleaning house, use a mask to protect you from exposure to dust and molds. Still, we’re all...

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