Topic: The body

Sleep part 6 – Sleeping soundly

Do you sleep well?

I used to. I used to sleep so many hours and so easily. And then, I started to share a bed and, even worse (for my sleep!), became a mother… both of which seem to have interfered with my ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and remain that way until the alarm wakes me.

My sleep got broken!

How do you fix broken sleep? After all, it should be so natural, right? We’re born to it and whilst it can take a few years, we usually sleep really well as children – deep, peaceful, restful and undisturbed sleep. Not always, of course, because life happens as well, but generally, it’s that way.

I think I have fixed my sleep…

What did I do?

I have been using the most unlikely practice.

I am using ‘sleep tape’ at night. No, it isn’t an old fashioned way of talking about pre-recorded music on a cassette, I am putting medical tape over my mouth at night! Sounds weird, huh? I started 3 weeks ago and my sleep is transformed. It’s really as simple as that.

The full glory of sleep taping…

I have had the best sleep in years since I started doing this peculiar thing and I hear from others that they are experiencing the same.

CAUTION: this is not suitable if you have sinus congestion or a cold

However, there are many, many scenarios in which this may improve your sleep too!

Are you game to give it a go? What have you got to lose?

Let me know if you experiment with sleep tape and how you got on.

With thanks to Ben Wolff and James Nestor for awakening me to this idea.

Sleep Part 4 – Over-The-Counter remedies

Over-The Counter remedies

There are lots of over-the-counter (OTC) sleep preparations. They can really help and some are excellent. There are two things about them which I don’t like:

  • They are often standardised extracts rather than full profile herbs
  • They usually contain valerian root
  • They may not actually have all that much herb in them.

Valeriana officinalis is a go-to sleep herb for many people and lots of herbalists. However, if you’ve ever taken it and found yourself MORE AWAKE after taking them than before, the chances are you’re like me (and roughly 5% of people), and you react in the opposite way to valerian!

Wow. Yes, it is possible to take a sleep herb and be more awake.

That kind of experience tends to give herbs a bad reputation. If you take something and it doesn’t work, you’re then likely to assume that all things like it also don’t work. After all, it’s been manufactured and then sold in a pharmacy, so it must be good.

Also, valerian root can leave people feeling a little muggy the day after, like they have a bit of a hangover. So, taking larger quantities may not be a great idea.

I prefer that the herbs I take are whole plant. If it is root, then I mean all of the root rather than pulling out the known constituent from the herb which is currently shown by research to be the active one. As a herbalist, I like the synergy which occurs between the constituents and how they inter-react. This is something which is hard to quantify and get scientifically accepted proof for. But, it has been shown that for example, the plants from which we can derive salicylic acid have constituents which protect stomachs unlike the synthetic derivative known as aspirin. There is an intelligence in the full spectrum of the plant and I prefer to have that in its entirety in my medicines.

I like collections of different herbs in a sleep mix. Then you get the benefits of a range of different ways in which your sleep is improved. It might be that you need to still your mind, relax your body or cool down from overheating.

I talk more about the different ways to improve your sleep in further posts on sleep. Look for Parts 5 and beyond.

Do you want to work on your sleep? Please get in touch as herbs are a gentle, non-addictive way to really improve the quality and length of your sleep.

Eating for Retirement

 

Saving for your retirement is now an absolute necessity if you wish to have any chance of autonomy over your living care arrangements. Perhaps you have a private and state pension and feel well covered for eventualities.

Eating for your retirement may sound like a strange concept. For me, it’s like an additional pension.

Dr Lisa Mosconi is a brain specialist who began in the field of genetics. Tough science. As her career progressed and her knowledge increased she started to find questions from her patients were unanswerable. “My parents both have Alzheimer’s, so my genetic predisposition is higher than average, what do I eat to change that?”

So, first of all, we have to get our head around the idea that genes are NOT SET IN STONE! We don’t have to live out our parents’ diseases. We can influence the expression of our genes with our environmental choices and that means lifestyle and food choices.

Dr Mosconi sees brain scans a lot. On those scans, she finds the somewhat shocking information that our brains can show signs of the deterioration of dementia in our 40s and 50s. Long before the cognitive symptoms that become visible usually in our 70s.

What if we could do something about that?

Well, actually, we can. Dr Mosconi studied nutrition to start looking for answers for her patients. And suggests these are 5 of the top things we can do for our brain health:

  1. Drink more water
  2. Eat caviar (!!) or any fish roe, or oily fish
  3. Eat dark leafy greens
  4. Eat berries (including the ones which don’t have vast carbon footprints!)
  5. Use lots of extra virgin olive oil

I don’t know about you, but I can hear a dozen recommendations but unless I know the whys and wherefores, they don’t have as much impact on me.

 

So, number 1 – every function of the brain requires water for the chemical reactions taking place. When we don’t have enough, we impair those functions and dehydration causes our brains to shrink! Our brains are 80% water. 2l per day is enough.

Set an alarm, reminder or put notes about the house. Drink more water!

Number 2 – Eat caviar. Fish eggs are like a microcosm of the macrocosm of our brains! They contain a very similar balance of brain chemicals and so eating it is direct brain food. All fish eggs are beneficial. Oily fish (including wild tinned salmon or anchovies) is also useful and, they all contain the DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) part of Omega 3 fatty acids which the brain needs.

Number 3 – Berries! Everyone tells us to eat berries. Blackberries (are free!) have the most comprehensive antioxidant properties. Gooseberries are also marvellous. Grow a few bushes in the garden and allow some blackberry plants to remain! Blasted weeds… they always win out in the end. 🙂

Number 4 – dark leafy greens. We’re all talking about them but the phytonutrients contained in leafy greens are protective of the plant and also of us. They have disease fighting capabilities! Wild greens are even better (a-ha, the herbalist awakes once more…)

Number 5 – Extra virgin olive oil. Full of goodness in the form of Omega 3s and vitamin E – which is renowned for its anti-ageing properties. It is also protective of the heart so it’s like a 360 degree goodness.

Get used to having these things on the menu. Get creative. So far, I can only think of fish eggs as a topping for eg blinis but there must be more ways than that!

Nigel Slater says that tinned salmon is only useful for fish cakes. Now, that sounds like a great way to get that oily fish in and use up left over spuds.

Stick a big handful of organic spinach leaves on your plate under your meal. It will wilt if it’s hot and contribute to the salad if it’s cold. YUM!

Water – tap is fine. Spring is ideal. Plastic free is best. 🙂

And berries, well, let’s get picking this Autumn…..

If you are concerned about your brain health, call me to chat about herbs which can support your brain and cognitive health alongside these wonderful foods.

Lockdown. Loneliness

21 Jan 2021 Written By Lucy Blunden. Image by Anthony Tran.

I hate it. I really hate it.

I am extrovert and so I gain energy from interactions with others. I restore my soul in conversation and connection. This is not natural for me.

At the same time, I am accepting, feel that it is necessary, understand that others believe that it isn’t but that we’re all gripped by something we can do nothing about. NOTHING. ABOUT!!!!!

Feel the pain in acknowledging that. We can do nothing about it. We are beholden to the political whims whether or not we agree with them. We can do nothing about it.

Or can we?

This is not an invitation to insurrection or even an incitement to use your right to demonstrate.

This is an invitation to Tap with me.

WHAT? How will hitting myself be of benefit in this situation? Surely that borders on personally damaging not fortifying?

Yes, I am inviting you to use EFT-Tapping to address the things you can change and find the strength to accept those that you cannot.

What am I talking about? Well, your feelings, of course.

I am a Tapping Evangelist and make no apologies for it. After years of talk therapy (which I value highly, BTW) I have found that my ‘truth, way and light’ is in tapping. It is truly transformational on a deep personal level for both me and my clients. (I do love a therapy which benefits both sides at the same time.)

The beauty of tapping is that you can release the ‘grrrr, arrrrrgh and uuuumph’ without even saying what they are. Without accessing their potent depths and without even re-awakening them from their slumber. And, because we are using the meridian lines within our bodies, we are also using that which we already possess to bring relief and resolution to ourselves.

I would love you to join me as we address our feelings in lockdown. My fortnightly ‘Catching the Tapping bug’ is a fantastic way to release feelings, connect with others (yes, online) and share the relief of release.

Each session is 45 mins and happens every other Thursday at 2030 GMT. I address all things which are requested for inclusion and we all tap together.

The community feel is wonderful. The togetherness is nourishing. The support of sharing is uplifting.

AND, your first session is free. I look forward to welcoming you.

Click the link to join us. ZOOM DETAILS: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/73875049349?pwd=U2RUQmpSNlVVUjE1Z3AwQ0xhM1hUUT09 or use the following access information:- Meeting ID: 738 7504 9349 Password: Welcome

Chilli oil

Watching the colours change

The jar on the left was immediately after putting the oil and chillies together. The jar on the right is after they have been infusing for just 10 days! What an incredible change in colour.

Chilli oil. Sounds yummy, right? But, I’m not making it for oral consumption! What do I use it for in my practice? Well, it goes particuarly nicely in creams for conditions such as arthritis and psoriasis.

Chilli is what’s called a rubefacient and we deliberately use those properties to stimulate a healing response from the body.

rubefacient [ roo-buhfey-shuhnt ]

adjective causing redness of the skin, as a medicinal application.

noun: Medicine/Medical. a rubefacient application, as a mustard plaster.

Nettle stings are a rubefacient. Now, I can imagine that you are wincing at the thought of a deliberate application of nettles… yes, it’s not fun, but what does it do and why do some people choose to do it?

The essential purpose behind it from a herbalist’s point of view, is to stimulate circulation. When you stimulate circulation, you bring nutrients in the form of oxygen and all the other goodies in your blood and you take away all the waste such as by- products of inflammation.

So, you see, there is method in the apparent madness…

Nettle stings are a traditional rubefacient for arthritic joints – and many swear by it. The Romans were reputed to use them to warm themselves when in cold, damp Britain. Anecdotally, I know the wife of a man who fell into a patch of nettles, was horrendously stung all over but has never had his severe and stubborn hayfever again. (That’s definitely not worth trying at home – it’s hardly a clinical trial – but is still a great story)

Contact me if you would like to make an appointment for your arthritic joints or psoriatic skin.

Eat yer greens

Eat yer greens

We all know we need to eat our greens. But, why?

For me, both as herbalist and human, the most important aspect of eating up greens is that they stimulate your liver into action. Our livers are a fundamental organ which we cannot live without (and ’tis strange therefore that we have only the one!). It breaks down for elimination the ‘non-self’ chemicals in our bloodstreams. Greens contain nutrients which trigger the break down process. This is the normal and natural part of detoxification which our body undertakes every day.

Once broken down, we then need the colour chemicals in dark fruits and veg which then remove the things we no longer need.

This includes hormones (it’s not just about sex you know! but also the hormones triggered by stress and other bodily processes), microbes, things we breathed in as we walked down a busy street… the list is endless. But, can you see how important it is?

Don’t like greens?

Well, at this point, I’m tempted to say “TOUGH LUCK” as my parents would have!!! However, as that’s probably not very constructive, I’ll modify it to…

Find different ways of preparing them.

Perhaps you’ll like them better stir fried and crunchy with sesame oil and sesame seeds instead of steamed or boiled to death?

Chop spinach finely and liberally smother with a home-made olive oil vinaigrette – what’s not to like?

If all else fails, look for some green smoothie recipes (but keep the fruit content low).

Include them daily and watch your health improve. And, you’ll start to find you like them after all…

HERBAL-REIKI RELAXATION

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HERBAL-REIKI RELAXATION

Never heard of it before? Well, that’s because it’s probably a new thing… I think I’ve invented it!!

I practised Reiki some years ago but stopped working with clients after moving but continued to use this marvellous energy medicine on myself.

Then, I qualified as a herbalist and moved into a different paradigm.

NOW, IT’S TIME TO BRING THEM TOGETHER!  So… what happens?

How your appointment goes:

  • ** medical history

  • ** a delicious infusion of relaxing and nourishing herbs

  • ** 45 mins of Reiki treatment

A quiet contemplative space to be you, where you are and at peace. The air filled with lush essential oils or incense and sounds of nature.

ALL THIS FOR JUST £35

IT’S NEW!
After keeping Herbs and Reiki as separate practices, it now feels right to bring them together. I have a deep sense that the two modalities will complement each other.

BETA TESTERS REQUIRED 🙂
As this is a new venture, I am offering you the opportunity to experience this marvellous therapy combination at a reduced price. In return, I ask that you rate & review on Google and Facebook and fill in a feedback form.

This is a one-time hugely reduced price offer so, book your places now. 🙂

Hawthorn – at the heart of it all

It’s September and the hawthorn berries are looking glorious. Plump and juicy. Time to get picking.

History and folklore

Hawthorn is ominous and magical, holy to Pagans and Christians. Scottish farmers traditionally harvest 13 weeks after the blossom scents the air. It’s gorgeous and heady. ‘Cast ne’er a clout til the May be out’ – refers to remaining dressed for winter until the mayflower (or hawthorn) blossoms. Rather wonderfully, if you have hawthorn in your perimeter hedging, it will ward off the bad faeries. And, who doesn’t need a bit of protection from them in their life!?

Identifying hawthorn

But what about the berries? There are a few types of hawthorn and one way to tell the difference is in the stones inside the fruit. Crataegus monogyna has a single seed, Crataegus leavigata has more and the cross between the two plants, Crataegus oxyacanthoides usually has more too. However, for once, this distinction is more important to botanists than herbalists as we can use them all. Hurrah!

The medicine

Some of the best medicine comes from mixing the flowers, leaves and berries together. In order to do that, you have to pick them at different times. So, in September, it is the time of the berries. You can allow them to dry by laying them on a sheet of paper in a very dry, warm place such as an airing cupboard or use a dehydrator.

The flowers have a distinct almondy taste to them. This indicates the presence of constituents which are known to be active on the heart. Harvest these with the new leaves in May. Herbalists generally like to make two hawthorn medicines (leaf and flower / berries) and sometimes blend them together.

Why use hawthorn?

Herbalists use hawthorn for heart conditions in order to encourage a greater flow of blood through the heart, to strengthen and slow the heart beat without raising blood pressure. It is said that sportsmen use it as it may enhance exercise duration. It has a very low incidence of side effects and has no known contraindications. Always preferable in a medicine.

Seeking help

There are many more ways to use hawthorn which are best done with a medical herbalist. Those conditions range through arteriosclerosis, atheroma, thrombosis, angina, tachycardia, atherosclerosis and intermittent claudication. If you suffer from any of these get in touch with a herbalist and see if you work well together.

Just for fun

I made a rather tasty Hawthorn vodka (as per Sloe Gin) which has the distinct notes of almonds which indicate the presence of constituents which work with your heart. However, this is purely an occasional drink, not a medicine – there’s way too much sugar which is renowned for damaging the cardiovascular system.

Notes: None of the information included here is intended as medical advice. Please seek help from a medical herbalist when using herbs for serious, life affecting conditions. Foraging is fun so don’t forget to leave plenty behind. Pick only what you will use and pick no more than 10%. Wildlife depend on wild foods to survive.