It’s the time of year when the nettles are up and the green is on. This is one of the times of year when wildfoods and medicine is abundant on SongCroft so you can often find me roaming the land with a basket, shovel and scissors in hand.
Today I was out wild-harvesting the nettles, Urtica dioica, that grow here. They are growing rich and dense in very fertile soil. In fact, they are an indicator species meaning that they tend to grow where the soil is rich and full of nutrients. An added bonus of this is that when we add the nettles for our meals, we are receiving the earths gift of these beneficial nutrients. I should add, that I am super happy that nettles grow on our farm since we have never used synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or anything like that so the soil is clean and safe to harvest from. Living on unspoiled land is a blessing in our life.
Back to my friend nettle. It has many benefits but I will only share a few of the arial (above ground) parts for now and I will revisit the topic in a later post. One of the most commonly known benefits is that it is rich in iron. Historically, it has been used as a tonic herb as well as a for anemia. Many studies show that nettles have even more iron than spinach. It has been used as a diuretic dating back at least to the Ancient Greeks and was used for blood circulation and as a topical stimulant by Pacific Northwest Tribes while canoeing long distances.
Nettle is also known for its antihistamine properties but there is some misinformation here. While nettle is a mast cell stabilizer, working at the H1 receptor) and it does have the ability to assist with lowering the level of histamine in your body, it can only do that in certain forms. Nettles that have been cooked or improperly dried loose this ability. For this benefit, you need to eat it raw or to dry correctly. Freeze-dried nettle is usually a good product.
Young nettle leaves can be eaten as a cooked herb, like spinach, or even baked in to cakes, breads or even made in to a pesto “nesto” as I will share with you. Because it is not cooked, you will be able to enjoy the deliciousness, get the many vitamins and minerals as well as the antihistamine benefits.
3 Cup (packed) young nettle leaves
5 garlic cloves
1 cup walnuts (pine nuts are fine too)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (you can substitute parmesan or asiago)
1. Place nettle leaves in your blender or food processor
2. Add peeled garlic
3. Add walnuts
4. Add olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice and nutritional yeast
5. Pulse until it is all blended and creamy.
6. Eat this like you would any pesto.
Toss it with pasta, put a dollop on top of grilled chicken or fish, make it a bit thicker for a healthy dip. This can also be frozen in ice cube trays or on a cookie sheet and cut in to portions before placing in a container in the freezer so it can be enjoyed out of season.
If this sort of thing interests you, this is only a glimpse of what you can learn and be able to utilize as one of my Wellness Coaching clients. Let’s work together to help you reach your goals.
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Yummy nettle pesto, or nesto. Enjoy it as a dip for veggies, on pasta or scrambled with eggs. If you love this sort of thing as much as I do and want to get more educational and fun information, as well as some special offers, sign up for our newsletter. http://songcroftnaturals.com/
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Shopping for the perfect Mother’s Day Gift?
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Warning: extreme gratitude may follow after giving this gift.
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Finally, we made it to spring. As I go for my morning walk I can see that the daffodils have bloomed and the catkins are forming on the hazelnut bushes and alder trees. We have a lot of hazelnuts and alders in our area and while it is exciting to see the first signs of spring emerging through the dark and overcast days, it also means that allergy season is just around the corner.
Beginning allergy prevention and support now before we get further in to the season can really pay off.
Within two weeks the pollen will be so thick that there will be a chartreuse coating on everything. It will coat windows, cars, picnic tables and our skin. It gets carried into the home on our bodies, our pets and enters through open windows, then distributed by the heating system.
Birch is also pollinating and making it hard for people that are sensitive to it.
It might be helpful to know that when a person inhales pollen, a histamine reaction usually occurs. The histamine levels are raised and inflammation is a result. This can simply involve the nasal passages, the entire ear/nose/throat system or manifest itself on the skin through hives or swelling. These are all common seasonal allergy symptoms but more serious symptoms are shortness of breath and asthmatic attacks.
It can happen with any pollen depending on the person. Birch, maple, alder, hazelnut and cottonwood are common heavy pollinators in my area. It is interesting to note that tree pollen tends to be much more aggravating than flower pollen. Because these trees are wind pollinators the size of the particles are smaller and airborne which makes it harder to avoid them.
Don’t be discouraged!
There are steps you can take to lower your pollen exposure. I use them for my own family. Vacuum at least weekly. But I would suggest vacuuming daily during the height of pollen season. It is fast and easy and really makes a huge difference.
I also keep the windows and doors closed as much as possible. Fresh air breezing through the house can be a wonderful thing but not recommended for someone with seasonal allergies. Airborne particles will get a free ride inside your home via an open window. So remember to keep them shut.
Those who know me well are not going to believe what else I am going to tell you to do. Or is that not to do? Do not hang your bed sheets outside on the clothesline to dry. As much as I love the scent of sheets drying by the sun and fresh air, they become nice big surfaces to catch pollen. The fact that they are wet makes the pollen stick even more. I hang ours indoors on drying racks during allergy season. This way you are not spending eight hours laying with your face on a pillowcase and sheets covered with pollen.
In addition, a quick shower before bed can be helpful as it will rinse the pollen from your skin and hair. This is one of the best things you can do as it will help prevent you from breathing pollen all night long and will better ensure a good nights sleep. Lots of rest will also support your immune system.
While you are in the shower I suggest using a neti pot. It can help to remove pollen from the nasal passages. Later, there will be a separate article on how to use a neti pot so stayed tuned.
Taking homeopathic remedies for seasonal allergies can also bring relief and, for most, will not bring on drowsiness. Many people also start taking Quercetin and Vitamin C at least three weeks before pollen season begins. Both of these supplements are anti-inflammatory as well as immune system supporting. However, you should check with your health care provider before taking either of these.
For many people, the contact that pollen makes to their skin can also be very irritating. I know this from first-hand experience. Using SongCroft Naturals Replenishing Skin Serum protects the skin by creating an environmental barrier from pollen and environmental toxins. Protecting yourself by using a moisturizer every day will help with seasonal allergies.
Spring is a wonderful season full of new life and energy. I hope this article helps you enjoy it a little more.
*This statement has not been evaluated by FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
There is so much unrest out there in the world. Even in our little town of Snohomish, WA., I am seeing more and more people who are needing stress and anxiety relief since the change in our administration. I feel blessed to be able to provide healing massage that soothes tension and eases stress. While I can literally feel first hand, how massage helps to lower stress and I know that massage is extremely beneficial but I would like to offer more for those who are in distress.
While I can’t make it all go away, oh how I wish I could, I can offer some options for people to redirect this energy into something positive. Think about it. Energy is energy. We can hold it inside and try to put a cap on it as it builds and threatens to overflow or we can redirect that energy towards something we believe in and it will flow naturally. I’m not saying it will all be easy but it is an opportunity to create positive change while taking care of one’s self.
With that, here are my ideas. Yes, I am positive things were left out so please include more below in the comments. This can be a living document that we all contribute helpful ideas to.
*Let’s keep it positive.
Here are some ideas for staying sane in the current world:
- Take care of yourself. Get sleep, eat well, exercise, meditate and practice yoga. Don’t let stress take over your health.
- Do things that make you happy. Dance, listen to music, create art.
- Get outside. Take in the fresh air and beauty.
- Pick one or two issue and stick with it. Focus your energy and don’t get side-tracked.
- Assist families in need, including an immigrant family.
- Reach out to a senior and see if they need help.
- Create a postcard campaign and have others over to do it with. You can create a calendar/flowchart of which to do by when to keep on track.
- Try to tune out some of the negative.
- Don’t participate in negative talk, focus on what we can do
- Join community groups that are already taking action, such as RESULTS, 350.org, etc…
- Join or start conversation circles in your community.
- Take the high road and don’t slander. Comments made based on looks, body type, etc are not helpful and are based in hate. They are no different from what is coming out of “his” mouth.
- Host or organize a conflict resolution/mediation training for your community.
- Work to hone your skills in community building, emergency response and first aid.
- Train to run for office. http://ow.ly/kvys308lXJX
- Donate, support (call, write and make the issues visible) and stand with Standing Rock. http://standwithstandingrock.net/
- Grow food and donate it to the food banks.
- Volunteer at food banks, in classrooms or anywhere else you are inspired to.
- Show up at rallies.
- If you can’t get to rallies and meetings, support those who are by delivering hot meals, childcare and providing transportation.
- Be inclusive in organizing but do not “lead” those whose issues they are.
- Ask someone from a marginalized community what you can do to help support them.
- Own and then use your privilege for good, if you have it.
- Start or join a Community Unity Alliance group in your neighborhood or town. Involve the NAACP, C3, LGBTQ groups, faith groups, school districts, alter-abled people, etc.
- Try to understand others, listen. We can’t work together if we don’t know what is in each others heads.
- Work to inspire others to get involved in the “good work” because we need more good and it is healthy to redirect negative energy.
- Adopt a park. Clean, weed, plant and enjoy.
- Volunteer for organizations that are losing funding.
- Create and distribute care packages for the homeless
- Smile, be friendly and reach out to others
- Know that you are contributing to positive actions.
- Be love and shine your light bright!
Why not do nice things for YOU on Valentine’s Day? Whether you are single or in a relationship, there is no need to wait for someone else to do something nice for you. Also, it’s great to do things for others–it can be really wonderful. Just don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Read More
As we enter the time of reflection and dreaming, I invite you to write down your dreams. Keep a note pad next to your bed and write down anything you can remember as well as your feelings and thoughts. Sit with these writings for a while. Let them build then, take some time to read through them. Is there an underlying message? Is there something you left out that you intended to do this year? Explore your dreams and then go live them.
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It’s Autumn and in Western Washington we have an unusually beautiful burst of color from the trees. Our hot dry summer has caused the trees to go in to an early flush of color and it is one of the most beautiful things i have ever seen. As I look our my window on to our farm, I can see orange, brown, yellow and red leaves drifting across the landscape. It is the type of scene that must have inspired Vivaldi when he wrote The Four Seasons.
Autumn is the time of vata. The Ayurvedic constitution that is best represented by air or wind. I can not only see it’s evidence in the drifting leaves but I can feel it in my body as this transitional state eases toward winter. As the wind gathers it’s strength in October and we brace ourselves for winter, we might pause to remember that the presence of wind is in essence an abundance of prana (breathe, essence of life). It is a time to pause, breathe, be present and move towards simplicity. We can see evidence of the vata dosha qualities in the dry, windy, unpredictable and cool nature of this season. Because like increases like (fall season and vata dosha being similar), it is important to balance excess vata this time of year.
Side note: In Traditional Chinese Medicine this is also the time for “wind invasions”, simplified as a time of possible pernicious invasion of illness.
VATA SEASON ROUTINES
Autumn is cool, dry and light so it is a good idea to balance your vata with warm, oily, nourishing goodness, inside and out. Using good facial moisturizers like Daily Shield Moisturizer and Skin Repair Serum as well as nourishing your skin with our Rose Shatavari Gotu Kola Face Mask is very beneficial and highly recommended. Another beneficial practice is to massage your body with oil. Oil massages are not only deeply moisturizing but they can also help to draw toxins out of the body. Sesame oil (not toasted) is one well tolerated and beneficial by most people. Massage it in before showering and washing it off with a mild soap.
Including healthy fats like ghee and coconut oil as well as proteins in your diet this time of year can be vata balancing. Adding warming spices like ginger, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and pepper to your meals can add a bit of warmth. Baking a pumpkin with these spices sprinkled on top of the meaty side and topping it with a bit of ghee is a great example of a vata balancing meal.
One of the best things we can do to balance ourselves during fall (vata season) is to maintain a regular schedule. Setting consistent times so that you sleep, wake, eat, meditate, exercise, work and play at the same times is super helpful. The vata dosha by nature can be a bit scattered, like leaves in the wind. When your daily routine is established, you calm your nervous system and ground your energy. You might find that it is helpful in many areas of your life.
Ashwaganda is a popular fall herb as it helps to support the nervous system, energy, digestion and strength. You can use the herbs mentioned above to make in to teas or you can just purchase a chai tea that already has them combined and ready for use. Pair the chai tea with some Chyavanprash and ghee on toast for a light breakfast. Triphala, helpful throughout the year as it contains amalaki, bibitaki and haritaki which together are cherished for not only containing five of the six tastes but also because they help eliminate excess vata.
Triphala is commonly taken as a daily supplement in a cup of water so that the taste, however unpleasant, is experienced and stimulates vata balancing. You can take it in capsules for a lesser effect.
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Share your tips for Autumn and Holistic Health in the comments below.
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Do you have a hard time getting a good nights sleep? Do you wake up feeling tired and fatigued? Are you often searching for a natural sleep aid? I hope some of these suggestions help you.
I am going to cover some of the reasons why sleep is so important and then give some tips that will hopefully be helpful. But first, I want to talk a bit about how sleep effects our entire being and how we are in this world.
Why is Sleep So Important?
Many people don’t realize how important sleep is. It is restorative. It gives your body time to heal and effects your immune systems ability to do its job. When we don’t get enough sleep, especially quality sleep, our immune system can become tired too. Sleep deprivation can result in being more prone to illness. People who are sleep deprived often catch more colds and when they do, they last longer. Unfortunately, this can start a cycle where a person can’t sleep well because they are sick. Occasionally, when we are sick, all we can do is sleep and that can be our body sending us a message that it needs to call in all of our resources to fight a virus or whatever it is we are going through. This is the time to allow ourselves to crawl into a comfy nest and sleep as best we are able.
Another challenge with sleep deprivation is the loss of concentration. Have you ever been so tired you can’t think straight? It’s a thing! It is hard to think clearly when our body and minds are exhausted. Sometimes, if it is possible, it’s better to take a nap and then try to do what you are struggling to stay focused on. It’s like my dad used to say, “you can chop more wood with a sharp ax.” Trying to work when you are exhausted can take much longer and leave you with a poor result. Of course, sometimes we don’t have a choice. Life is just what it is so if the baby has you up all night and your can’t find the your cell phone because you put it in the diaper pail in the middle of the night, hang in there. I’ve been there. Ewww.
Sleep also effects our skin. Not getting enough sleep actually ages the appearance of our skin. It can lead to or contribute to puffy eyes, sallow complexion and if it is a chronic issue, it can lead to fine lines and dark circles under the eyes. People who lose a lot of sleep tend to have a lack of that “glow” that so many of us are seeking.You can use a products like SongCroft Naturals Exfoliate and it will help, but there is nothing like a good nights sleep.
Tips for a Good Nights Sleep
Set a bedtime
Really. Set a goal for the time you want to be in bed and commit to it. Even better, create a bedtime ritual that you enjoy and you can benefit even further from practicing. I do a whole skin care routine at night. I cleanse my face using our Fresh Face Cleanser, tone with Frankincense and Rose Toner and then moisturize with After a few nights, you might start to feel so much more alert that you have more energy to get whatever it was that you thought you had to stay up late to do. Spray a little of our Lavender Dreams in the bedroom. massage some on to the bottoms of your feet. This is very popular in many medicinal herb practices. It can be very relaxing to some people.
Slow down and unplug a couple hours before bedtime
You don’t need to go into a sensory depravation tank or anything but at least consider lowering lights. Unplugging from the computer. Refraining from any action movies or games that can get your adrenaline pumping. Speaking of adrenaline, do not do work outs at night unless your whole schedule is flipped from the norm. Consider using our Rescue Me Aromatherapy Spray to help you transition to a calmer and less hectic time.
Exercise earlier in the day
Take a walk, pump weights, do yoga or whatever floats your boat. Even light exercise is better than none.
Take a bath
Claim this time for you. I avoid reading books during this time because I have a hard time putting a good one down! Magazines and articles are a much better read for me in the bath. Epsom salt can be especially relaxing, candle light is soothing and quiet is priceless.
Consider your sleep environment
Is your bed comfortable? Do you have a good pillow? Would blackout curtains be helpful? How about creating a sanctuary with calming colors and comforting textiles?
These are just a few tips. There are many others out there. If you are really sleep challenged, it might be worth seeing a healthcare provider in case you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be caused by all sorts of things and they can address that with you if necessary.
I hope this article has been helpful to you.
Until next time, be well-
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If you have any tips or hints for others, please do add them to the comments below. We are all in this together.
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Simple and Natural ideas for Puffy Swollen Eye Relief
I often have customers asking me for a product for their puffy eyes. Our Skin Replenishing Serum is wonderful for soothing puffy eyes, I want to share some idea on how to prevent the common situation.
Swollen eyes happen for a number of reasons. In this article, I am addressing how to calm puffy swollen eyes caused by the most common reasons; sleeping face-down on a pillow, environmental or food allergies, and crying are a few.
If you follow these general suggestions, you might find that your eyes wont swell anymore:
Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night
Stay well hydrated with plenty of water
Avoid salty, sugary and processed foods which can cause water retention and swelling
Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein
Avoid harsh chemicals and excessive rubbing around the eyes
Use sunscreen and other eye protection while in the sun
Wear a sunhat with a large brim or stay in the shade
Sleep on your back with your head elevated (to help gravity keep the fluid moving down away from your eyes)
Stay away from anything you are allergic to or get tested if you aren’t sure
In general, cold helps to reduce swelling on any part of your body by constricting the blood vessels. This is why we put an ice pack on a sprained ankle.
Cucumber slices are probably one of the oldest and most well known home remedies for swollen eyes. Many sources claim that due to a cucumber’s high water content and natural anti-inflammatory properties, it is the best natural choice. If you tend to have a lot of heat in your head, cucumber is a perfect match for you.
To use: Place a cool cucumber slice over each eye for 10 – 15 minutes.
Green Tea Bags
Green tea contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties (found in the chemical EGCG) and a small amount of caffeine. Some people find this to be soothing on puffy eye lids.
To use: Steep two green tea bags as directed in a small container and put the container in the refrigerator until cool. Gently squeeze out excess tea. Place the cooled tea bags over each eye for 5 – 10 minutes.
Chamomile Tea Bags
Chamomile is soothing, calming and anti-inflammatory. However, if you have an allergy to ragweed, do not use chamomile!
To use: Steep two chamomile tea bags as directed in a small container and put the container in the refrigerator until cool. Gently squeeze out excess tea. Place the cooled tea bags over each eye for 5-10 minutes.
It may sound weird but there is nothing magical about using cold spoons to reduce swollen eyes. They fit nicely into the eye sockets and don’t involve any sort of mess. You can keep them in the fridge (not freezer) and place them on your closed eyes as you meditate on your day. What a nice way to start your day! Cold spoons treat eye puffiness by simply being cold.
To use: Place two metal spoons in the refrigerator or in a glass of ice water until cold. Place spoons over each eye until puffiness improves.
****If you have extreme swelling, angioedema or any other such symptom, you should see a healthcare provider.
****If you are allergic to ragweed, do not use chamomile.
****This is not meant to be medical advice. Seek the advice of a licensed health care provider.