All About Herbs Wellness Blog
By Dori Cranmore R.N
Yarrow or achillea mille folium can grow to about 3 feet tall and is found worldwide, yet is native to California and found in abundance in Alaska. The flowers are quite colorful in whites, yellows and pinks.
The Latin name achillea comes from the Greek legend of Achelles, as he used it as a poultice to stop the bleeding of his fellow soldiers during the Trojan War. Chinese physicians used yarrow to treat snake bites, bleeding and inflammation. In India, it was used to treat fevers. Early American settlers used yarrow for diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhaging, bloody urine and menstrual cramps.
There are many medicinal uses documented over the centuries. It has been studied and used as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and useful in slowing heavy menstrual flow. Dr Christopher once wrote, “Yarrow, when administered hot and copiously, will raise the heat of the body, equalize the circulation and produce perspiration.” Thus is known as one of the best herbal teas to sweat out a fever. It can tone and dilate the blood vessels, which can help lower blood pressure.
Yarrow has been called the “woman’s herb” because of the many female uses. It can help relax the smooth muscles of the uterus and digestive tract. It is great for stomach and menstrual cramps, but it is not recommended during pregnancy. Used as a poultice it has been found to give almost instant relief from mastitis and sore cracked nipples. (See Sitz bath use below)
The bitter, pungent character is particular useful to stimulate the digestion and get the bile and pancreatic juices moving. It’s known to be used for anxiety, insomnia and a mild sedative due to its thujone properties that have been compared to marijuana and valium, but without the euphoria. The anti inflammatory effects relax blood vessels and improve breathing. Externally it can aid in blood coagulation, stop bleeding and can heal wounds. (People on blood thinners should avoid yarrow).
Many different preparations are useful:
Infused oil: For healing ointments or soothing creams.
Flower extract: Can help with hay fever.
Poultice or Compress: Placed over wounds, helps stop bleeding or used for first aid.
Tincture: For congestion in the reproductive system, asthma and high blood pressure.
Tea: For colds, flu’s and cystitis. Use as a wash for rashes.
Sitz Baths: For cystitis, vaginal infections, hemorrhoids, post partum healing.
Fresh Leaves: Used in salads or chewed to relieve a toothache.
Fresh flowers: used to flavor liquors and beer.
This information is intended for educational purposes only. It does not replace the advice of your health care provider.
Dori is owner of All About Herbs, Inc in Wasilla, AK. 907-376-8327
By Dori Cranmore RN
All salt is not created equal! About 250 million years ago, at the base of the Himalayan mountain range, there were crystallized sea salt beds covered with lava. Because this salt was covered in snow and ice it was protected from modern day pollution and preserved in an untouched, pristine environment. Many people believe that this pink salt is the purest salt that can be found on the planet.
What is so impressive about Himalayan salt is that it contains the same 84 trace minerals and elements that are found in the human body. The minerals are in colloidal form, which means that they are small enough for our cells to easily absorb them. The fact that it is less refined gives much less sodium per serving than regular table salt.
When Himalayan salt dissolves in water, it results in a concentrated, electrically charged matrix of the 84 trace minerals in the salt. The ionic salt and trace minerals nourish each cell in your body. This is called Salt Sole.
How to make Salt Sole:
- Fill a glass jar about 1/4 of the way with Himalayan salt, either ground or in chunks. Fill up with filtered water. Add a plastic lid (not metal!), shake and let sit overnight. You should always have some undissolved salt in the jar, this means the water is fully saturated.Add more salt if needed.
- In the morning, take 1 tsp. of sole, mixed into some room temperature water, upon waking. Never use metal utensils with your sole!
- Keep refilling your jar with salt and water when it runs low. It lasts indefinitely.
Common table salt is stripped of the majority of its minerals with the exception of sodium and chloride. It is then bleached and synthetic iodine added with anti-caking agents. The result of consuming common table salt is excess fluid in the body tissue, holding on to toxins which contributes to cellulite, excess uric acid (gout), arthritis, high blood pressure and kidney or gallbladder stones.
Some of the benefits that you can expect to enjoy by consuming Himalayan salt in place of regular table salt include:
- Supports healthy lungs and respiratory function
- Promotes a stable pH balance within the cells
- Reduces the signs of aging
- Promotes healthy sleep patterns
- Increases libido, balancing hormones
- Prevents muscle cramps
- Increases hydration
- Strengthen bones
- Detoxifies the body of heavy metals
- Aids in vascular health
- In a neti pot it can help with seasonal allergies and sinus infections
Himalayan salt lamps have to be the most amazing of all. They are made from salt crystal rock formed by nature and mined about 300 ft underground in mines in Asia and Europe. Each lamp is unique and many are hand carved. When heated they produce negative ions into the air helping remove toxic electromagnetic frequencies (EMF’s). They are perfect to have next to computers and TV’s and can make a great night light for infants and children. Since they come in so many shapes and sizes, many keep a Himalayan Salt Lamp in every room.
Information is for educational use only and not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Find Himalayan salt and lamps at All About Herbs,Inc in Wasilla. 376-8327.
Benefits of Sprouting
By Dori Cranmore RN
Sprouts are the ultimate locally grown food. Growing them yourself assures no unwanted chemicals are added.
The list is quite impressive of the health and nutrition benefits of sprouts. They have been known to help alkalize the body, improve the digestive process, be a metabolism booster, promote energy, increase enzyme activity throughout the body, help prevent anemia, assist with weight loss, help lower cholesterol, reduce stress on the heart and vessels, help prevent neural defects in infants, be a protector against cancer, work to boost skin health and vision while supporting the immune system and helping increase energy.
The highest concentration of available nutrients happens about a week after sprouting. Importantly, much of the nutritive value of sprouts is lost when they are heated. For the most nutritional impact, sprouts should be added to a meal in the raw form.
Sprouts contain significant amounts of protein, enzymes and fiber. In addition they have folate, vitamins A, C, K, lysine, essential fatty acids, pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, magnesium, iron and calcium. The vitamin content can actually increase by 20 times after sprouting.
Vegans and vegetarians typically don’t get enough protein in their diet and sprouts can help fill that space. Quality of the protein in beans, nuts, seed and grains improves substantially when it is soaked and sprouted. Protein is necessary for almost all bodily processes like creating and maintaining cells, organ repair, skin regeneration, bone growth and muscle development.
With up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than uncooked fruits and vegetables the body gets those nutritional building blocks it needs to work more efficiently. Enzymes are an important part of the digestive process and help to break down food and increase absorption of nutrients.
The high fiber content can help with weight loss by binding to fat and toxins and move them quickly out of our body. Fiber helps stimulate gastric juices and work with the enzymes in breaking down food efficiently. Sprouts are a great way to clear up constipation and diarrhea and a great prevention of colorectal cancer.
The great thing about sprouts is they are inexpensive, full of nutrition and very low in calories, so you too can eat healthy!
Dori Cranmore RN is the owner of All About Herb,Inc. 376-8327 in Wasilla, AK.
This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, cure or treat any disease.
By Dori Cranmore RN, Holistic Health Practitioner
Melatonin in the natural form, is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, to help control your daily sleep-wake cycles.
Melatonin is used to reset the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm. This rhythm influences how much melatonin the pineal gland makes, along with the amount of light you are exposed to each day. Typically, melatonin levels start to rise in the mid-to-late evening, after the sun has set. They can stay elevated for most of the night while you’re in the dark. Then, they can drop in the early morning as the sun rises, causing you to awaken.
For the millions of people who have trouble falling—and staying—asleep, synthetic melatonin can sometimes be the solution. It is best used by people suffering from jet lag, working odd hours, and for helping blind people establish a day and night cycle. Other uses include breast cancer, brain cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, head cancer, neck cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer. Melatonin is also used for some of the side effects of chemotherapy, including weight loss, nerve pain, weakness, and a lowered number of clot-forming cells (thrombocytopenia). Studies are ongoing.
The proper dosage, according to a 2001 study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is 0.3 milligrams. The research was conducted by Richard Wurtman, who pioneered the pharmaceutical use of melatonin as a sleep aid in 1994. Pills and supplements often sell 10 times the suggested amount in a single dose. This can lead to higher plasma melatonin levels the next day, which can cause a “hangover” effect that leaves users groggy.
People commonly make the mistake of assuming that taking higher doses of melatonin will lead to better sleep. But the opposite is true: Too much taken at once can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, or irritability, all of which can disrupt your sleep. So talk to your doctor, who may suggest different dosage guidelines or another natural sleep aid.
The safety of Melatonin taken by children is still uncertain. David Kennaway, the director of the circadian physiology lab at the University of Adelaide in AustraliaHe state there is “extensive evidence from laboratory studies that melatonin causes changes in multiple physiological systems, including cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems, as well as reproduction in animals,” and its effects on children’s developing bodies is yet unstudied.
Melatonin supplements come in pill, liquid, chewable, or lozenge forms, in doses ranging from one to 10 milligrams. For insomnia, it’s best to take a melatonin supplement 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. That way, it can put you in the mood to snooze by the time you want to turn out your lights for the night. Keep in mind, though, that melatonin supplements can negatively interact with many different medications, so be sure to check with your health care provider.
It is recommended to go to www.webmd.com if you are taking any prescription medication as Melatonin interacts with a very long list of them.
This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed health care provider.
Goji Berry – A Super Fruit
Goji berry is the commercial name for wolfberry or Lycium barbarum. They are a bright orange/red berry with a sweet, slightly tangy taste and native to China. In Traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are eaten raw, cooked, dried like raisins (most common way to eat), made into wines, brewed as a tea, made into liquid extracts or added to soups and other foods. They have been eaten for generations with the hopes of living longer.
The nutrients are very rich in the goji berry. They carry all 8 essential amino acids, vitamins A and C (helping reduce cold symptoms), iron, zinc and antioxidants. Beta carotene in the goji berry can help promote healthy glowing skin. Goji berries are a source of zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that may protect the eyes from high-energy light waves such as the sun’s ultraviolet rays (along with the carotenoid lutein).
A 4oz serving provides about 10% of our daily protein requirement. The complex carbohydrates in the berries can help keep the blood sugar from spiking and reduce the risk of a sugar crash after eating. Goji berries are low in calories, fat-free and are packed with fiber — which can help manage weight and keep your bowels moving regularly.
History shows people have used goji berries to support many common health problems like diabetes, kidney ailments, liver issues, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s, fever, and age-related eye problems. Many have noted a feeling of well being and calmness, better athletic performance and improved quality of sleep. Goji berries have also been known to help boost the immune system.
In large amounts, Goji berries could interact with some drugs. If you take warfarin (a blood thinner), you may want to avoid goji berries. Goji berries may also interact with diabetes drugs and blood pressure drugs, so talk with your doctor first.
Add goji berries to your favorite trail mix or eat alone. They taste great cooked with turkey or pork, adding a savory sweetness. Always a healthy snack for any age group.
This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed health care provider.
By Dori Cranmore R.N. and owner of All About Herbs, Inc in Wasilla, Alaska. (907) 376-8327
Dori Cranmore RN
The wild leafy plant yellow dock (Rumex crispus) is found growing throughout the world and belongs to the buckwheat family. This flowering perennial is characterized by the narrow leaves that curl along the edges, which is why it is also called curled dock, narrow dock, narrow-leafed dock and garden patience.
The name of the plant is associated with the yellow color of the herb’s fleshy root, which shows when it is slightly scraped.
The root of yellow dock is the major source of its medicinal properties. However, its sour-sweet leaves are not only added to salads, but also found as an ingredient in herbal remedies. Seeds are rarely used for medicinal uses.
When used as a powder, the yellow dock root is useful in treating psoriasis and other chronic skin conditions, itching, boils, sores, swellings and scabby eruptions. Yellow dock is prepared for medicinal uses as a syrup, a tincture, or an ointment.
Anemia symptoms respond well to Yellow Dock because of the high iron content. It’s been known to be used to relieve a congested liver. Over the years it has shown benefits for the digestive tract, skin and to nasal passage inflammation. One of the primary uses by herbalists is for skin conditions associated with poor digestion or poor liver function. There have been reports that it has been helpful for rheumatism and disorders like scurvy ad scrofula (glandular swellings).
Because of its mild laxative effect, it appears to stimulate the release of bile and digestive enzymes. The astringent action of the plant’s seeds is sometimes described as beneficial for the treatment of dysentery. Blood diseases, bleedings of lungs, and anemia are reported to be successfully treated with yellow dock preparations. The homeopathic tincture made of the herb while it is in its pre-flowering stage is a good remedy for an irritable tickling cough of the upper air-tubes and the throat.
Due to a lack of research, little is known about the side effects of using yellow dock. Yellow dock contains oxalic acid, which irritates the bowels and may cause mild diarrhea in some people.
Yellow dock should not be used by people taking drugs that decrease blood calcium, such as diuretics, Dilantin®, Miacalcin®, or Mithracin®. Yellow dock should not be used by people with kidney disease, liver disease, or an electrolyte abnormality.
Information here is intended for educational purposes and not to diagnose, cure or treat any diseases. Seek advice from your health care provider.
Dori Cranmore RN is the owner of All About Herbs, Inc in Wasilla, AK. Call for more information 907-376-8327
By Dori Cranmore RN
Garlic has been used in many cultures for both its culinary and medicinal properties. Folklore shows garlic to bring good luck or protect against evil, ward off vampires and at the same time guaranteed to transform any meal into a bold, aromatic and healthy experience.
Native to central Asia, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been grown for over 5000 years. Garlic was placed in the tomb of Pharaohs, and was given to the slaves that built the Pyramids to enhance their endurance and strength.
From a medical history standpoint, the antibacterial and antiviral properties of garlic are perhaps its most legendary feature.
Garlic grows as a “bulb,” which averages about 2 inches in height and diameter and consists of numerous small separate cloves. The taste of garlic is like no other—it hits the palate with a hot pungency that is shadowed by a subtle sweetness. Elephant garlic has larger cloves but it is more closely related to the leek and therefore does not offer the full health benefits of regular garlic.
Garlic is an excellent source of manganese, vitamin B6, a very good source of vitamin C, and a good source of selenium.
In recent years researchers have concentrated on scientifically validating its numerous health benefits including;
- Helping improve your iron metabolism.
- Effective in lowering blood triglycerides and total cholesterol
- Garlic’s unique set of sulfur-containing compounds can help protect us against—oxidative stress and inflammation.
- By blocking the activity of angiotensin II, garlic is able to help prevent unwanted contraction of our blood vessels and unwanted increases in blood pressure.
- Used for the common cold and flu, and also infection from other microbes including yeasts/fungi and worms.
- Supplementation can boost the function of the immune system.
- At high doses, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity.
Garlic oil applied to the skin or nails can treat fungal infections, warts, and corns.
For infants with upper respiratory congestion, garlic oil rubbed on the bottom of the feet can help.
For ear pain or infection, placing a fresh peeled garlic clove at the outside entrance of the ear can help. Garlic oil placed in the ear often can reduce pain and inflammation.
Caution: Garlic-in-oil mixtures stored at room temperature provide perfect conditions for producing botulism, regardless of whether the garlic is fresh or has been roasted. Store fresh garlic in either an uncovered or a loosely covered container in a cool, dark place away from exposure to heat and sunlight. Pre-peeled garlic does not retain the medicinal value of fresh.
The minimum effective dose for therapeutic effects is one clove eaten with meals, two or three times a day. However, keep in mind that there are some downsides to garlic, such as bad breath.
Information is intended for educational purposes only. Not intended to cure, diagnose or treat disease.
Dori Cranmore is a Registered Nurse and owner of All About Herbs, Inc in Wasilla. 376-8327
By Dori Cranmore RN
This sometimes ‘pesty’ weed growing in our gardens and lawn is actually edible and medicinal.
Chickweed got its name because it’s a favorite food for chickens and other small birds. It is very nutritious for us as well, high in vitamins and minerals and can be added to salads or cooked as a pot herb, tasting a bit like spinach.
Unlike other herbs that utilize just a part of the plant, Chickweed’s entire plant is used. As a leafy vegetable it is high in chlorophyll, calcium, iron, niacin, selenium, GLA, thiamine, zinc , vitamin C and beta-carotene. It has been shown to provide anti-inflammatory effects, both internally and externally by stimulating the production of mucosal fluids to cool the inflammation, soothe irritated tissues and promote healing.
Chickweed has been called one of nature’s top super foods for its ability to purify the blood and lymphatic system. These properties are responsible for its well known effects as an herbal skin healer. Chickweed is often recommended for treating abscesses, boils, eczema, psoriasis, skin ulcers, rashes, vaginitis and varicose veins. It can be taken internally and used topically which is proven useful for rashes, itchiness or other inflammatory skin issues.
Using an infusion or tea is useful in dealing with coughs and hoarseness, and is also beneficial in the treatment of kidney complaints. Pouring chickweed tea into a bath is known to help with rheumatic pains.
Drinking or taking Chickweed internally has been used to relieve constipation as it provides ample amounts of fiber and helps stimulate digestion.
A study done in 2012 addressed the use of chickweed for obesity. What they found was that using chickweed may prevent high-fat-diet induced fat storage in adipose tissue by inhibiting the intestinal absorption of dietary fat and carbohydrates.
Some ways to use Chickweed:
Infused oil: Fill a jar with fresh chickweed and cover completely with jojoba or olive oil; steep for fourteen days, shaking every day, then strain and use on irritated skin rashes and eczema—or add a Tablespoon to bath water for eczema sufferers.
Infusion: Drink 1 cup (2 teaspoons chickweed per cup of boiling water-do not microwave) 3 times a day for muscular rheumatism, urinary tract inflammations, or whenever a cleansing and cooling remedy is required.
Poultice: Apply fresh, crushed plant on gauze or in a muslin (cheesecloth) bag for skin sores, boils, abscesses, or gout.
A sudden large intake of chickweed can promote diarrhea, nausea and vomiting in some. It’s best to eat it in small doses and build up to larger amounts over a few days. Chickweed is not recommended during pregnancy.
Chickweed is available in liquid extract, dried bulk and capsules at All About Herbs, Inc. in Wasilla.
GABA to Calm the Brain
By Dori Cranmore R.N.
GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) is a non-essential amino acid found mainly in the human brain and eyes. It is considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it regulates brain and nerve cell activity by inhibiting the number of neurons firing in the brain. GABA is referred to as the “brain’s natural calming agent”. By inhibiting over-stimulation of the brain, GABA may help promote relaxation and ease nervous tension.
Mostly GABA is used for overactive brain activity such as those with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and Autism. ADHD is one of the most common behavioral disorders in America. It has affected millions of children and the process still continues. Because of the over activity with these disorders the body will use up the GABA leaving the inability to focus and concentrate.
People with a GABA deficiency may experience:
- anxiety/nervousness/jumpy or on edge
- heart palpitations
A deficiency of GABA in people with autism can contribute to the poor inhibition that allows their brain to become over stimulated, which results in their living in a constant state of anxiety.
GABA has also been named as “anxiety” amino acid as it utilizes vitamin B and Vitamin B3. In case of a proper functioning brain, vitamin B3 unites with benzodiazepine receptors, which helps in dealing with stress, properly. If there is a lack of vitamin B3 or improper utilization of the vitamin, it can affect the proper brain function.
Factors that can reduce GABA levels include:
- B1, B6, zinc, manganese and iron deficiency
- Chronic stress
- Chronic pain
- Mercury or lead exposure
- Inadequate sleep
You cannot get GABA naturally from foods. But a variety of foods contain substances such as flavonoids that influence how GABA works in the brain.
These foods include: Fruits, vegetables, teas and red wine.
Drugs for treating ADHD are often over prescribed and are not always very helpful. The medicines are basically anti-depressants or stimulants. Parents become extremely frustrated with the side effects. Amino acids, however, help in restoring the balance and keeping the mind and body calm.
GABA is not recommended for pregnant women or those with Bi Polar disease. Benzodiazapines, barbiturates and alcohol can decrease the effect of Gaba.
©By Dori Cranmore R.N.
Rhodiola rosea is not a common herb but it’s getting more popular every year. It typically grows at high altitudes in the Arctic and mountainous regions throughout Europe and Asia and has over 200 different species. Rhodiola rosea is now being grown and harvested in Alaska under the Alaska Grown label and is available at All About Herbs,Inc. in Wasilla.
One of Rhodiola’a attributes is that it is an adaptogenic herb. This means that it acts in non-specific ways to increase our body’s resistance to stress, without disturbing normal biological functions. There are many recognized herbs that are considered adaptogens. Ginsengs, Licorice Root, Maca, Holy Basil, Schisandra, Cordyceps, Ashwagandha, Reishi mushrooms, and my all time favorite, Rhodiola.
Russia and Scandinavia have been studying Rhodiola intensely for 35 years. They use it as a tonic, tea or supplement for fatigue, poor attention span, decreased memory, to help make workers more productive and to increase the capacity for mental work.
The Journal of the American Botanical Council, reports that numerous studies of rhodiola in both humans and animals have indicated that it helps prevent fatigue, stress and the damaging effects of oxygen deprivation. Evidence also suggests that it acts as an antioxidant, enhances immune system function, and can increase sexual energy.
Rhodiola appears to be able to significantly reduce the effects of prolonged and minor physical exhaustion that results in fatigue. Some research has shown Rhodiola’s ability to inhibit estrogen binding to a receptor and instead increased the metabolism of estradiol, thus labeling it as anti-estrogenic.
Because of the mild stimulant effect some may note when taking Rhodiola it has been used successfully to cycle off caffeine. Trying to quit smoking? Rhodiola has shown to greatly suppress physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Dosage ranges from 50mg up to 600mg a day. It is recommended to not exceed 600mg, as higher doses may be ineffective. Rhodiola acts as a stimulant when taken in small doses and a relaxant when taken in larger doses. The tea is made with the ground root and is steeped (brewed) for 4 hours. Rhodiola is not advised for pregnant women or those with Bipolar disorder.
Rhodiola rosea is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to cure, treat, or prevent disease. In fact, the FDA has forcibly removed some products containing R. rosea from the market due to disputed claims that it treats cancer, anxiety, influenza, the common cold, bacterial infections and migraines. Lucky us in Alaska, to have it grown and harvested in our fine state!
Dori Cranmore is a Registered Nurse and owner of All About Herbs inc. Call 376-8327 for questions or a personalized consult.