Homemade Herbals

Handmade Herbal Medicinals

2013

Elderberry syrup recipe

Elderberry Syrup
2 cups dried elderberries
1 quart boiling water
¼ cup raw local honey
¼ cup lemon juice
Cinnamon stick
Cardamon seed pods
Cloves
Fresh Ginger

Place berries in an uncovered saucepan and pour boiling water over them. Cover and let soak overnight. The next day, simmer the berries for 30 minutes. Purée the warm berries in a blender, adding remaining ingredients as you blend. Pour the syrup into a clean bottle, and store it in the refrigerator.

sitz bath herbs

SITZ BATH HERBS

A sitz bath is basically a small hip bath that you sit in to ease the swollen, stretched muscles and tissues around your vagina after giving birth.
Sitz baths will also help heal perineal tears. You can either use a small basin or plastic tub placed in the bathtub that you squat into, or you can buy an inexpensive, and much more comfortable basin that fits right onto your toilet seat.
Calendula flowers (Calendula Officinalis) - (calendula officials) - calendula is a great antiseptic, as well as being anti fungal and antiviral. It lessens inflammation and cleanses the body via the lymph system. It is often used for painful scars and thus may be helpful for cesarean scars as well as perineal tears or episiotomy.

Plantain Leaf - (plantago spp) - plantain is cooling and has the effect of drawing out impurities. It coats and soothes mucous membranes and lessens inflammation in tissues.

Comfrey Leaf - (symphytum officials) -Comfrey is soothing, constrictive and healing for wounds, cuts and tears. It is a cell proliferant - it promotes speedy wound healing both inside and outside the body. NOTE: If there is infection present, do not use Comfrey as it will heal the outside so quickly that it may heal over infected tissues inside. Make sure wound is clean before using Comfrey.

Yarrow Leaf and Flowers - (alchillea millefolium) - Yarrow is useful for stopping excessive bleeding and acts as an anti-inflammatory as well as being anti bacterial and antimicrobial, and helps to relieve pain. It can also be used for varicose veins.


Prepare your sitz bath
To prepare your sitz bath...
• Pour boiling water over four ounces of your herbal sitz bath blend.
• Let it sit and steep for at least four hours.
• Strain it into a bowl, or directly into your basin and then sit with your vaginal area in the tea for about 15 minutes.
• Repeat several times a day if you do not have stitches, and enjoy the powerful healing of a simple herbal sitz bath!

post partum nutrition and herbs

Post Partum Nutrition and Herbs

Mothering the Mother after birth is vital to her continued strength and future health, from the physical to the emotional and spiritual. The post partum period is considered the 'fourth trimester' by conscious and discerning health care practitioners. It is a period of reintegration and recuperation.

"Preparation for the fourth trimester should begin prenatally. There is nothing more important than connecting pregnant women with one another, or better still, with those who have recently given birth. Prenatal classes or support groups may serve to accomplish this, but however it happens, it is not optional."

Elizabeth Davis - Hearts and Hands.

During pregnancy, labour and birth, and afterwards with breastfeeding, a woman is giving continuously of her life force. It is vital that she is replenished afterwards to ensure her complete recovery. Elder women's wisdom speaks of proper care during the childbearing years easing the discomforts of menopause. More immediate still;
"the better she feels, the more easily she will integrate her new role and learn to distinguish the needs of her child from her own..
Care of new mothers assures survival of the species, but more than that, it positively affects the quality of life for us all"

Elizabeth Davis - Hearts and Hands.

Ain't that the truth!

Many cultures around the world stress the importance of keeping the mother warm - literally and metaphorically not leaving her out in the cold!
Women are incredibly opened by birth and susceptible to chill and energy loss. During the moon that follows birth, a woman is given only warming foods with warming spices, healing teas and tonics. She is attended by the entire family and community to ensure she has enough rest, comfort, food and herbs and assistance with household responsibilities.
The range of time spent indoors and resting ranges from culture to culture as well as needs, but the aim is restore balance through total care. Cold foods, hair washing and being in cold weather are discouraged due to the heat lost through childbirth.
Often fires were built in the rooms near the mother, or steam baths were used to bring warmth as well as healing to the perineum and pelvic area.
Pelvic Steam Baths relax spasms, bring warmth and increase circulation, nourish the internal membranes, cleanse and promote healing.

Most herbs used for the steam baths are aromatics, combined with antispasmodic, antiseptic and soothing herbs. They can be used fresh or dried. These include;

Calendula - anti microbial with wound and skin healing properties.
Lavender - antiseptic, antispasmodic, sedative, relaxing nervine.
Red Roses - astringent, relaxing, uplifting for emotional stress, sadness and depression, nervine.
Rosemary - antibacterial, stimulating, aids circulation
Basil - antispasmodic, sedative, nervine.
Lemon Balm - antispasmodic, antiseptic, nervine.

Other herbs include red raspberry leaf, myrrh, yarrow, comfrey leaf, nettles, oregano, witch hazel.

How to have a Vaginal Steam;

Add two large handfuls fresh/one handful dry herbs to about a gallon of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Let steep for 10 minutes.

You will need to set up a way for you to sit over the pot of steaming herbs. One way is to use an open slatted chair and place the pot on the floor below you. Another is to pour the herbs into a large rimmed stainless steel bowl that can fit inside your toilet, resting on the edge underneath the seat.

Remove clothing from waist down, leave on warm socks. Sit on chair or toilet over steaming herbs and wrap yourself with a blanket from waist down. Keep upper body warm too.
Relax over steam for 20 mins, reading, journaling or meditating.
Be careful not to burn yourself.. Test the steam before sitting down!

Keep warm after the pelvic steam. It is ideal to do before bed. If you are doing it at another time, make sure to warp yourself warmly up in bed for an hour afterwards. Avoid any chills or draughts for 24 hours afterwards.

Possible side effects; May include a temporary increase in flow including more debris and dark fluids. This is seen as an effect of cleansing.

Contraindication; Do not do if pregnant, menstruating, have an acute uterine infection, vaginal sores or blisters. Never add aromatherapy essential oils to the steam as these can burn your sensitive genital tissue.

Sitz Baths are another, more commonly practiced way of using herbs to heal the perineum and vagina after birth.. The principle is essentially the same, except that the area is placed directly in the water with the herbs, and often is combined with sea salt to aid any healing of tears and soreness.

Often women were wrapped with a special cloth or band to help the uterus and internal organs and tissues back into place. This is a valuable practice that can be combined with regular massage post partum to help ease pains and bring comfort from pregnancy, labour and the after pains of the uterus contracting back into place.

Benefit of Herbs and Nutrition Post Partum;

Blood building and nourishment are essential after birth; Often this has been traditionally done by the use of soups and stews and bone broths - often using herbs that clear the afterbirth and uterus and prevent infection as well as toning and nourishing the tissues and blood. There are many recipes for nutrition after birth, that vary with culture and taste as well as availability. I am going to focus more on Herbs that are useful for tonifying, nourishing and fortifying, which include;

Nutritive Herbs:

These are tonic herbs akin to foods, often containing vitamins and minerals in abundance. They are building and nourishing and can be taken over long periods of time.

Milky Oats - Avena Sativa.. contains Vitamin B complex which sustains our energy and soothes our nervous system. It is great for convalescence, depression, debility, exhaustion, anxiety, insomnia and is generally an excellent tonic for the overworked or overstressed, those who live on too much caffeine or nervous energy.

Alfalfa -Medicago Sativa - cooling, sweet, astringent herb that gently cleanses, controls bleeding and is rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium as well as vitamins A,D, E and K as well as chlorophyll and carotene.

Nettles - Urtica Dioca - Urtica is one of the finest nourishing tonics. It is reputed to have more chlorophyll than other herbs and contains vitamins A,C, D and K, and minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, Silica and Iron. It is a nourishing tonic for weakness, debility and anaemia. Nourishing to mother and baby during and post pregnancy. Aids kidney and bladder function and gently cleanses wastes. Nettle seeds are an adrenal tonic and restorative. Astringency can help check bleeding and contains vitamin K - can be used in sitz baths after birth. Useful in stimulating and nourishing breast milk.

Gotu Kola - Hydrocolyte asiatica - good combined with other nervines, reduces nervous exhaustion whilst promoting mental clarity. A connective tissue tonic, helps restore tone to ligament and uterine tissues, as well as useful for varicose veins as a circulatory tonic.

Red Raspberry Leaf - Rubus Ideaus - Increases fertility in both men and women, especially when combined with red clover.
Raspberry leaf is astringent and tonic - strengthens and tones and relaxes uterus, and entire pelvic area. Contains fragarine - an alkaloid that gives tone to uterine muscles and indeed tones and nourishes the whole body. It is the famous herb of pregnancy and great to use before during and after birth. Contains Vitamins A, C, E, B complex and easily assimilated calcium and iron as well as phosphorus and potassium among other minerals.

Rosehips - Excellent source of vitamin C as well as astringent and diuretic, benefitting kidneys and easing constipation. Aids the absorption of iron. Contains Vit A which is useful in nourishing immune system.

NERVINES

Catnip - Nepeta Cataria - Gentle, relaxing, antispasmodic, great for mama and baby for both after pains as well as colic symptoms.. Can be used in gripe water with slippery elm, fennel and chamomile.

Chamomile - relaxing, anti- inflammatory, antispasmodic, good for nervous tummies. Aids relaxation and well being inside and out.

Passionflower, - relaxing sedative, night time tea, aids insomnia.

Lavender - Gentle, relaxing, soothing, good for insomnia and aids let down reflex where due to tension and stress.

Lemon Balm - Calming, aids digestion, antispasmodic, antiviral, relaxing nervine - passes through to babe.

Skullcap - On edge, excited, much on mind, new changes, overstimulation, blues, exhaustion from lack of rest.

Vervain - Helps when irritable, on edge, angry, had enough, might lose it, great combined with milky oats and skullcap in tincture. Also good for PMS, mood swings when your moon cycle starts again soon after birth.


GALACTAGOGUES - help increase the flow of breast milk.

There are many herbs that increase the flow of breast milk.. here i will focus on a few that I personally know and have used.

Vitex - Agnus castus.. a merits berry for women if ever there was one!
Vitex is a reproductive tonic that rebalances our hormones by stimulating and normalizing the pituitary gland function. It is therefore useful for PMS, menstrual cramps, menopause, and after using birth control pills, as well as a long term fertility aid. It helps with irritability, depression, headaches, anger,pms as well as menopausal symptoms - and can raise the level of progesterone in cases where women are estrogen dominant.. thus useful for shrinking fibroids, regulating cycles and aiding fertility. Improvements of various conditions can be felt in as little as two months, although more lasting results take from 6 months to a year or longer. Vitex nourishes the supply of breast milk.

Blessed Thistle - Great in the first few weeks after birth as it helps with uterine bleeding and milk irritability. Helps aid milk production by stimulating blood supply to the mammary glands and good for sluggish digestion too.. It is bitter and best taken as tincture.

Fennel Seeds - great taste, improve milk production as well as digestion.

Fenugreek Seeds - Strong maple like taste that exudes from your pores. Increases milk production fast.

Best used with alfalfa, raspberry leaf, nettles, and marshmallow root.

After Birth pains - Motherwort is great for fatigue, cramps and to aid relaxation. It is a bitter nervine, moves stuck heart and womb energy ( it is an emmenagogue, therefore not to be taken during pregnancy), great for palpitations, temperature and mood irregularities.
Calcium/Magnesium is great for after pains as is chamomile, lemon balm, oat straw, nettle, wild yam, red raspberry and partridge berry..
Stronger herbs include cramp bark and black haw and blue cohosh - relaxes smooth muscles in uterus and whole pelvic area. Relieves and reduces after pains.

IronTea;
Dandelion Root, Yellow dock root, Nettles, Rosehips..
Yellow Dock root helps the body retain Iron, rose hips contain Vitamin C. which increases Iron absorption.

After Birth Tea;
Oranges, lemons, Ginger, Cardamon, Cinnamon sticks, Lemongrass, Raspberry, Borage, Star Anise and Honey.
Grate ginger, add cinnamon sticks and star anise to a large pot of water, bring to boil and simmer for 25 mins. Add oranges and lemons for ten minutes. Add rest of the ingredients and let steep. Strain and add honey. If you prefer this can be made with red wine instead of as a tea.

For Shakes, chills, sweats after birth , grate fresh ginger root and steep for 10-15 mins with 2tsp panax ginseng and dried licorice root.

Also Cinnamon tea - 1/2 tsp powder to 1 cup water or milk. Sweeten with honey if desired.



bach flower remedies for post partum


rockrose
Bach flower remedies for adapting to life after the birth












RemedyIndications
CeratoFor first time mums - this remedy can help you trust your innate wisdom on how to best care for your new baby.
ElmFor those who may feel overwhelmed at the responsibility of looking after a new baby, helps you to get a good perspective and look after your own needs as well as the baby's.
GentianMay be of help for those whose birthing experience was difficult, or those who feel discouraged or depressed
HollyFor those who might feel threatened by the new arrival to the family, e.g. jealous siblings or a partner who feels "left out."
OliveA classic remedy for new parents! Helps to address the tiredness and exhaustion that can occur after a long labour followed by sleep-deprived nights.
OakFor those who normally very capable but are struggling, with lack of sleep and work during the day e.g. mothers with other children.
PineThe remedy for guilt, many mothers experience this emotion, if they cannot give their absolute best all the time. Pine helps us to accept responsibility without self-condemnation.
Red ChestnutFor selfless concern and worry for others. A good remedy for those who are continually checking that their newborn is still breathing!
Star of BethlehemThis remedy helps to rebalance energy after the shock of birth, ideal for both mother and child. It is an ingredient of Five Flower / Rescue Remedy
WalnutAn invaluable for first time mothers to help them adapt to their new role. It also helps the newborn to adapt to life outside the womb.
How to take Bach remedies Add two drops of the chosen remedies to a 30ml bottle of spring water (special dropper bottles are available). Both mother and baby may take these diluted drops internally, but if you prefer, four drops of the mixture can be added to baby's bath or rubbed behind the ears. Discard the mixture after one week and make up another bottle with fresh water. Wash and sterilise the bottle and dropper before re-using.

Herbs for pregnancy tea


NETTLE LEAF (URTICA DIOCA):

Urtica is one of the finest nourishing tonics, containing Chlorophyll, Vitamins A,C, D and K, Calcium, Potassium, Silica and Iron.
It is a tonic for weakness, debility, anaemia and provides nourishment for the pregnant mother and fetus.
It aids the kidneys and bladder in it's diuretic function and speeds the body's cleansing of toxins and wastes. It's astringent action can aid in checking blood and can be helpful for cuts and wounds, and therefore may be useful in a tea or sitz bath for healing the perineum after birth.
Useful in stimulating milk production as a galactagogue, and drank internally by the mother both during pregnancy, birth and afterwards.

RASPBERRY LEAF(RUBUS IDAEUS):

Increases fertility in both women and men, especially when combined with Red Clover.
Raspberry leaf is a tonic and astringent, strengthening and toning the uterine and pelvic muscles and a pelvic and uterine relaxant. It is the famous herb of use during pregnancy, and is a tonic to the whole body. Used throughout history to encourage an easy and speedy childbirth, as well as afterwards to stimulate milk production and speedy recovery.
Contains fragarine, an alkaloid that gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus. Contains Vitamins A, C, E, B complex and easily assimilated Calcium and Iron, and many minerals including phosphorus and potassium.

OATSTRAW (AVENA SATIVA)

Contains high amounts of bone-building materials. A strong nutritive nervine for depression, effective herbal calcium and silica source. Strengthens nerves, and helps correct sugar use imbalances.

ALFALFA (MEDICAGO SATIVA)

High in nutrients, the richest land source of trace minerals, nourishes the digestive, skeletal, glandular and urinary systems. Helps the body eliminate excess water. Contains chlorophyll.

ROSEHIPS (ROSA CANINA)


Source of Vitamin C and Bioflavanoids and other valuable nutrients; Tonic, gentle astringent and diuretic.

RED CLOVER (TRIFOLIUM PRATENSE)

Provides nutrients, toning and supports female system. Red Clover supports circulation, which helps move blood through the reproductive organs. This boosts fertility and makes a luxurious environment for your baby to begin life. It also aids blood volume expansion, which is vital during pregnancy to make sure your baby is healthy and carried to term.

Pregnancy Herbal Medicine

NAUSEA/MORNING SICKNESS -

Common symptom of early pregnancy (or even the entire pregnancy) that can be mild or severe.
It can last a few days to weeks to even a few months. The change and surge of hormones creates this symptom and it is important to make sure there are small regular meals and snacks to keep blood sugar levels balanced.
Many women say that bland carbohydrates such as salted crackers, oat cakes or biscuits can help the nausea stave off.

Stay away from fried, greasy foods, and eat more cooked greens, vegetables, carbohydrates and chicken, fish, or beef.
Ginger is an excellent root and was a great friend to me when I was experiencing pregnancy nausea. As was mint, lemon balm, and chamomile and freshly squeezed lemon in water.
Other herbs recommended are raspberry leaf, peach leaf, especially if you feel overheated, and homeopathic Nux Vomica 6c or 30c for nausea and irritability. Pulsatilla 6c or 30c for nausea and teary/weepiness. Cocculus indica 6 or 30c can be helpful for motion related nausea, and Sepia 30c for nausea triggered by smell of food, and is not helped by eating.

Make sure you take your prenatal vitamins with food, and keep hydrated. If you find cold water hard to drink a lot of, drink sips of warm water or herbal tea throughout the day. If symptoms are severe, contact your doctor.



CONSTIPATION

As levels of Progesterone rise and the baby adds pressure to your bowels, Constipation can become more of an issue. Make sure you drink lots of fluids, especially water and herbal teas. When you are dehydrated water gets pulled from your intestines, which can make Constipation worse. The recommendation is 10 8 oz glasses of water a day. At least.
Eat plenty of fibre including fresh fruits and vegetables, prune juice and dried fruit if stools get a little harder. I have found that drinking hot lemon and honey or warm water helps soften stools as well. I also find warm water easier to drink that cold water.
Make sure you are getting enough Magnesium, which you can source in your diet by eating lots of leafy greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fish and dark chocolate.
Dandelion root and other herbs such as Burdock root, Yellow Dock root and Beet can also help with constipation and have the additional benefit of helping your body retain Iron.
Prebiotics and Probiotics can also help gut bacteria - Inulin in probiotics contains fibre and B lactis and L reuteri can help relieve Constipation.
As with many other healthy life style factors, making sure you eat well, sleep well and exercise will give you and overall upgrade to all aspects of your physical and emotional well being.


VARICOSE VEINS

The increase in blood volume, extra weight and need for blood to return back to the heart from extremities can demand extra pressure on the venous flow. In addition pregnancy hormones such as progesterone and relaxin soften the smooth muscle tissues of the body, including those that surround the blood vessels. If the valves of the veins that make sure the blood returns properly to the heart for re-oxygenation become too lax or weak they do not close efficiently, thus blood pools in the veins causing varicose veins. Varicose veins can appear as knotted blue veins in your legs where blood is less able to return to the arteries. It can be helped by putting your feet up as much as you can and not crossing your legs. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time, it is an excellent time to put your feet up and enjoy a cup of tea. Alternate with short periods of daily exercise.
Add Rutin to your diet in the form of berries - Rutin strengthens capillary walls and improves circulation. Increase magnesium in foods such as leafy greens, avocados and nuts. Take a daily small amount of apple cider vinegar with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Apple Cider Vinegar is naturally high in potassium which reduces fluid retention and cayenne pepper stimulates blood flow and circulation.
Herbs that act as astringents (meaning they tone and tighten tissues) can be helpful with varicose veins as well as being supportive to muscles so that they can perform optimally. This means that your body can birth with the support and adequate tone and blood supply necessary for healthy function.
Red raspberry leaf (Rubus Ideaus)- this herb is one of the most commonly used in pregnancy, it contains fragrine which tones the muscles of the pelvic area including the uterus. This helps the muscles function at their best for delivery, while the rich mineral content aids nourishment of tissues and blood.
Horse Chestnut Seed Extract is a popular European remedy that helps support vessel walls.
Butchers Broom (Ruscus Aculeatus) is also used for hemorrhoids, poor circulation, varicose veins, swelling and hardening of the arteries. It has not been recommended for pregnancy internally, but there are some great herbal creams for external use, including Planetary Herbals Horse Chestnut Cream that can be massaged into affected areas. It contains Horse Chestnut Seed Extract, Butchers Broom Leaf Extract, Witch Hazel Bark Extract, White Oak Bark Extract Myrrh Gum Extract and Rosemary Leaf oil.


You may also get varicose veins in your bottom, also known as hemorrhoids or piles. It is important to stay well hydrated and eat sufficient fibre to prevent hemorrhoids. You can apply witch hazel with a cotton ball to soothe and tone tissues.

Lady’s Mantle (Alchillea Vulgaris) can be used at the END of pregnancy, in the 9th month to prevent hemorrhage, it is an excellent and well known uterine tonic and female’s friend. Lady’s Mantle is astringent and anti inflammatory and can help tone tissues after birth, including being helpful with a prolapsed uterus. It is a great herb to add to your post partum sitz bath.


Main arteries and veins in your pelvis get pressed upon as your womb grows, this can cause a sensation of feeling faint as you lie on your back. It is better to sleep on your side and place a pillow between your legs and at your ankles to prevent this feeling and to support your posture lying down.



HERBS FOR LABOUR

While there should be absolutely no judgment over what type of birth you prefer or require, it’s worth considering the natural tools that can help you avoid preventable birth interventions. @avivaromm

It can feel like there is a lot of judgement or standards around how we birth as women. First and Foremost, we say, our babies should be healthy. And yet, there is the very real journey of us as women, how we will react to the pain, and tolerate the unknown length of time, how we birth our feelings of entering one end of a ritual as a woman and the other end as a mother. (If this is our first time). How we will adjust to the demands of multiple children. There can be added pressures of existing health conditions, how our health care providers will respond, whether we will be allowed to birth as we want or feel supported in those decisions. Where the boundary is between what we wish for and what we might medically need, as opposed to the convenience of the health care providers that so often comes up today in a medicalized birth setting. So many variables, and yet, our bodies have been birthing since time immemorial, and as my midwife said to me, “if we just get out of our own way..’ Our bodies know how to birth.
Even so, preparation is needed to help support our bodies physically and emotionally to create good conditions for birth.
Ultimately, the wisdom of herbal medicine for birth lies in nourishing the mother and supporting our own natural systems to function at their best. This means a healthy diet, good rest and sleep, regular exercise, hydration and relaxation on a physical level.
On a mental and emotional level, it means gathering information about your local birth resources, insurance, how your hospital responds to birth, if you plan to birth in a hospital, taking a tour there to know the lay out and what to expect from them, making a birth plan and making copies for your partner, health care providers including doctors, midwives, doulas and nurses.
Make a plan for how you might cope during the intensity of labour. If you are considering a home birth, hospital birth or birth centre, it is useful to go over different positions that can help during labour, different pressure applied to your lower back to ease sensation or learning which herbs and homeopathic medicines may be helpful at different points. It can be a great source of support and comfort to have a doula or midwife that knows about herbal medicine and can help ‘mother the mother’ as she transitions through this major life event. Outsourcing different comfort measures and making a plan allows for the birthing woman to feel supported, and at ease as she goes through the terrain of deepening contractions, so she can sink into deep body realms and to know that she will be met on the way, without having to micro manage details.

Helpful Herbs during the last 6 weeks;
Certain herbs and foods are ‘partus preparators’ which means they tone and prepare the womb for delivery.
These include Red Raspberry leaf, which you can take in a tea blend from the second trimester onwards.


While RRL doesn’t actually appear to be very effective at stimulating or shortening labor, research has found that drinking RRL tea or taking capsules can have a number of benefits.
The results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial consisting of 192 low-risk, first-time moms found that RRL tablets, taken daily starting at 32 weeks' pregnancy until labor, reduced the rate of forceps deliveries while 
another study found that raspberry leaf was associated with:
  • Decreased likelihood of preterm labor
  • Decreased likelihood of going too far past your due date
  • Decreased need for having your bag of waters artificially ruptured to stimulate labor
  • Lower overall rates of caesarean section, forceps delivery, and vacuum extraction.
avivaromm.com
Partridge berry - Mitchella Repens - Squaw Vine.

I used this herb for all three of my baby’s births, during the last month of pregnancy. It helped shorten the length of labour and seemed to smooth out contractions so that they were more effectual.
This is what Henriette Kress has to say;

If a good preparation of mitchella be administered once or twice daily for the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy, three times daily for the eighth month, and in larger doses as confinement approaches, the influence upon the entire system will be most marked. I have observed this influence in so many cases that doubt is impossible. Erratic pains and unsatisfied longings are removed, the nervous system assumes a tranquil condition, reflex symptoms abate, the urinary function is performed normally, the bowels become regular, imperfect digestion is improved, and the appetite becomes natural. Labor approaches, devoid of the irritating, aggravating complications, the preparatory stage is simple, the dilatation is completed quickly, the expulsive contractions are strong, unirritating, and effectual, and are much less painful than without the remedy; involution is rapid and perfect, there are no subsequent complicating conditions to contend with, the patient's strength is not abated, and the function of lactation is in its best condition. This has been proven in very many cases. After making the above statements, evidences accumulated rapidly confirming their truth.
Auxiliary measures such as judicious dieting, a thorough oiling of the enlarged abdomen, and an occasional hot sitz bath for the last few weeks will materially assist the remedy. Less of it need be taken.

Dates are often a food used in traditional cultures, especially Iran, to help ripen the cervix for birth - taken best six weeks before due date to help increase dilation, lessen the need for induction and decrease the length of the first stage of labour. Red dates and deglet noor dates specifically, medjool dates probably fine too. Eat 6-8 a day starting around week 37 until delivery. Dates contain fibre, vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates. Also helpful as a labour snack to aid energy and nutrition.

There is often anxiety of the timing of the due date. OBGyns often do not like to go more than a week over the due date before they start talking about interventions such as induction, however Midwives may support a more natural human gestation zone of two weeks after expected due date, barring medical necessity of course. Fortunately there are many tricks of the trade to help labour get going and herbal assistance if desired.
During my second pregnancy I was assisted by midwives that knew about homeopathic preparations to help labour start. I have used this myself and successfully for other women too. I love that it feels safe and there aren’t risk factors associated with homeopathy in any way. I say this thinking fo the safety factor associated with Blue Cohosh that is cautioned against using for labour. It is a root that was used by Native Americans for labour, likely in ways that were known to be safer than in our current context. Homeopathic Blue Cohosh however works in combination with other remedies and poses no danger, due to the dilution to imperceptible levels.
Here is the Labour Preparation regimen; Take up to 10 days before but often works in 3 or 4 days.
Homeopathic Arnica, Gelsemium, Caulophyllum, Cimicifuga, Pulsatilla - all remedies are 30c Add one or two pellets to water and take one sip a day every day around the same time, for up to 10 days.

Migraines are psychedelic

key hole garden whiterabbit

Migraines are psychedelic.

No doubt about it.

There’s a definite pattern of aura, peak, plateau and come down.
The aura can be zigzagging in the air, blind spots in vision, sensitivity to lights, sounds, smell, touch, temperature, sentience in general. Nausea, crankiness, aching joints, tight muscles, noticing your body’s uncomfortability in a heightened way. Sometimes the prodrome and aura can last for a few days, and this is the prime time to take ‘preventative’ measures, or nip it in the bud.

There is not always rhyme or reason, at least that I can identify, to when, where and why a migraine will strike. Chocolate, caffeine, sugar, stress, definitely hormones, tiredness, heck, life in general.. these are all triggers. It is its own world and domain, and once I’m in it, I have to play by its rules.
Yet some things, I am learning, do help.

This is my semblance of a regime:

When I get an aura, I take Magnesium internally and externally as Epsom salts in the bath, often with lavender and rosemary essential oils.
Lately I have been experimenting with Agrimony, Meadowsweet, Skullcap and Wood Betony tea.. Sometimes I add Blessed Thistle, sometimes Iris root and Dandelion. These herbs help when the migraine seems more abdominal, the nausea is strong and I feel like I’ve flipped 180 degrees in my body and I can’t quite find my centre. Although truly, at all times, digestion is impaired during migraines. For me it can follow a liver/gallbladder meridian, although not always.
I have taken Bupleurum and a Chinese herbal formula called Peaceful Earth to settle my stomach and calm my liver.
I take probiotics. And Omega 3.
I’ve taken homeopathic Gold, Nux Vomica, Belladonna, Sepia, Pulsatilla with much success if I take them early enough and I have taken many other homeopathic remedies, too numerous to mention.
When my muscles are tight and sore I take Black Cohosh and Vervain. Mostly I take Advil at this point too, to prevent a full scale attack.
For those of you who have ever suffered from migraines - need I say more…

My ability to think straight, or even at all is wounded during the full blast and plateau of at least 12-24 hours of a migraine.
However, psychic and dream space are opened up and a land of pretty pain emerges that reaches to the depths of my brain and brings out its hidden stories.
Talking to others is almost unbearable as I struggle to convey where I am in words at all. Yet at the same time, I want an understanding presence, sympathy and to be cared for and left alone to journey through. Psychedelic. Just like tripping.
And if I do communicate, often it is in the garbled, jumbled way of the catatonic. Wherein only I understand what I am referring to and often, singularly, find it hilarious. Often I weep with the unbearable quality of the pain.
Meanwhile, my baby sits and sleeps alongside me, like a faithful angel who understands my space.

After many sleeps, which is truly the only thing that helps, and many hours, the end is near. And it feels like a break in a very long, strong storm.
The clouds part and I see blue.
Then hot baths, so hot they warm my shivers and the heat pounds on to my head. Warm chicken soup, something about it that help my head. A thanks and a prayer to them.. Cascades of water, fresh and refreshing.
The next few days are like tripping too. Still so new and raw and sensitive and still integrating. Keep careful with that new body and new awareness of yours. Keep the balance, don’t do too much, don’t forget what you’ve learned. It takes the best part of a week to overcome the effects.
It amazes me that so many of us live with this insane pain. It’s so disturbingly unpleasant.
Time for another psychedelic sleep, me thinks, this one ain’t over yet.

Written in 2013.

A Few Remedies for Migraines;
Prevention:

Magnesium ~ studies show that migraine sufferers are often low in magnesium. Magnesium relaxes muscles and eases tension, which often goes hand in hand with migraines and tension headaches. Magnesium can be found in leafy greens, nuts, cacao, tea, coffee and spices.

Co-enzyme Q10 - involved in the creation of ATP the energy source of cells, as well as an antioxidant. Studies show that use of co-enzyme Q10 as a daily supplement for 4-12 weeks greatly reduced the severity and occurrence of migraines in sufferers. CoQ10 can be found in oily fish (salmon, sardines, tuna) and organ meats such as liver but supplementation is beneficial where needed.

Riboflavin (B2) - Helps convert food to energy. Found in legumes, lean meat, green leafy veg, nuts and dairy products. Reduced occurrence and severity of migraines showed in study groups over 3 months of trial.

Butterbur (petasites hybrids) -a perennial shrub found throughout Europe, North America and Asia. It grows in wet, damp forests and marshes, close to streams and rivers. Its name comes from its leaves being used to wrap butter in a warm climate. Studies show that use over several months reduces the severity, duration and occurrence of migraines.

Feverfew - In a four-month study of 170 migraine patients, completed in 2005, migraine attack frequency was reduced by 40 percent (study link).

Food allergies or reactions - these are varied among sufferers, although common culprits include sugar, dairy, citrus, soy, peanuts, yeast, corn, red wine, greasy, fried foods, sometimes caffeine, chocolate, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, aubergine, peppers), all the good stuff in life, you know?! Yet a good deal of these foods contain tyramine which can be a trigger for some migraine sufferers, or they can increase an inflammatory response. Cutting these out for a few months is definitely wise, and gives your body a chance to reset and calm down from the inflammatory response of pain and high alert. Slowly introducing foods one at a time over two weeks can give you clarity over what foods effect you and what do not.
For some, foods are not an aggravation at all and many crave certain flavors, such as salt.

Adding
Omega 3’s into your diet will also aid in calming down the inflammatory response which food allergies can bring, as well as adding good fats to your diet, enhancing immunity and aiding brain function.

Probiotics can help remedy the irritation and dysbiosis of your gut, and help settle nausea and abdominal migraine symptoms. Ginger, Turmeric, Cumin and Fennel tea also settle the stomach and help with nausea. Add Red Raspberry leaf, Nettles, Alfalfa, Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Skullcap, Wood betony, Meadowsweet and Oat Straw. A lot of these herbs either contain minerals which are excellent in aiding your blood and electrolyte balance, or they are nervines which work on your nervous system and help aid relaxation and tightness/tension thus easing the pain response.
Including other relaxing nervine herbs such as Passionflower, Vervain can be helpful too, more effective if some or all of these are just your daily brew giving minerals and vitamins and chlorophyll and calm.

Melatonin - studies show that taking melatonin can be as effective as amitriptyline.
https://www.practiceupdate.com/content/melatonin-shows-comparable-effectiveness-with-amitriptyline-for-migraine/44779

Acute:

Other herbs can be used internally for pain, such as;

Ginger - (Zingiber off.) Ginger has pain relieving and anti nausea properties which can both prevent and aid in stopping a migraine. Ginger is a warm circulatory stimulant and anodyne, and reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is said to dispel Cold-Wind. There are studies done that show it reduces the calcitonin gene related peptide response (CGRP) which has been shown to trigger migraines, and can be as effective as sumatriptan in relieving migraine.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23657930

White Willow bark - (Salix Alba) Helps lower the blood pressure in the small capillaries and blood vessels in the head, easing pressure. Contains Salicin and flavonoids which have pain relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.

Skullcap - (Scuttelaria Lateriflora) A relaxing nervine and cerebral vasodilator, it helps ease constriction in blood vessels, and thus any headache or migraine associated with tension, constriction, nervousness and stress, with muscle tightness especially in the neck and shoulders, that can lead to pounding headaches. Also useful for sick headaches where there is sensitivity to light and smells and other sensory perceptions. (Sajah Popham - School of Evolutionary Herbalism)

Black Cohosh - (Cimicifuga Racemosa) Where a migraine relates to menstruation, menopause or other hormonal tides, Black Cohosh can be helpful in its actions. It is an antispasmodic which means that it reduces the severity of spasms by working on the smooth muscle tissues in the body. It also contains phytoestrogens that can help reduce the severity of migraine symptoms if taken over time.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12224599. This worked especially in conjunction with Dong Quai - a herb used often in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to build blood, among other actions. Black Cohosh has been used for aiding alignment in cerebrospinal fluid and can therefore be helpful in migraines that have a structural component, caused by injury or wear and tear.

Jamaican Dogwood - (Piscidia erythrina or piscipula) A traditional remedy for treating nerve pain, migraine, anxiety and nervous tension. It can anti-inflammatory, sedative and pain relieving actions.

Wood Betony -
https://www.herbcraft.org/betony.html Wood Betony works on the enteric nervous system, calming and relaxing whilst also stimulating gastric flow. It helps us re-centre and align ourselves back in our bodies.


Externally an analgesic rub - tiger balm or similar products, perhaps lavender oil if scent can be tolerated.
My friend swears by using an ice pack on the head and sticking her feet into as hot water as she can handle. Other sufferers I know use the Cefaly - a device designed for chronic migraine sufferers.

Homeopathy can be very helpful for migraine as a constitutional remedy, and often if taken at the very first signs of aura. Here is an article by the British Homeopathic Institute
https://www.britishhomeopathic.org/charity/how-we-can-help/articles/conditions/h/the-preventive-role-of-homeopathy-and-the-treatment-of-headaches-and-migraine/

Hot baths with Epsom Salts (Magnesium) and added essential oils such as Rose, Rosemary, Lavender, Bergamot, Eucalyptus, Cedar, or anything you find pleasing and not nauseating! This is great for relaxing tense muscles and slowing down and breathing deeply. This could be followed with an ice pack to the head, neck and shoulders. One (older) theory is that migraines are caused by dilated blood vessels in the head and manifest as a pulsating, throbbing pain, most often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances.

Hemp/CBD has been studied and found to be helpful in relieving pain. In his book 'Hemp for Migraines' - Jeremy Orozoco claims that migraines are caused by oxidative stress and endocannabinoid deficiency. It shows how CBD can both prevent and lessen the pain of migraines.
https://www.migrainekey.com/cbd



“The biggest myth is that migraine is a type of headache. This is wrong.
Migraine is a complex neurological disease that affects your central nervous system. Headache is one of its symptoms, but migraine almost never consists of head pain alone. There are many other possible symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, hunger pangs, and slurred speech....
Migraine is caused by abnormal brain chemistry. Migraine is not something you’ve caused. It is not an emotional response to problems in your life, or some unconscious effort to get sick so that you can take a break from your daily challenges. Migraine is a genetic difference, in most cases inherited from one or both of your parents.... It is a chronic neurological illness you were born with. You can’t cure it, but you can minimize its effects on your life.”

The Migraine Brain by Caroline Bernstein M.D



Other theories of what causes migraines are discussed in this article;
http://drgominak.com/more-on-migraines.html

Here is a link to some helpful acupuncture points and principles that often show up in migraine.
http://tamacupuncture.com/acupuncture-and-natural-therapies-for-migraines

Here is some interesting information on how migraine affects the limbic system and how to help healing begin
http://www.primaryissues.org/home/2013/07/limbic-healing/

a cuppa tea


cup-of-tea-1
There are some things in life I just love..
One of these things, as i sit here and muse and write, is having a cuppa tea (in this case hot sweet black yorkshire tea with a few cloves thrown in) and biscuits. (read; cookies, if you’re american!)
I love dunking them in (in this case, gluten free ginger biscuits) and tasting the crumbly moist sweet warmth in my mouth no matter how much sugar is there!
I muse on..
Since I arrived in America 7 years ago, I have gone from a booze loving, smoking, toking, wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine drinking, thinking myself healthy, relatively happy consumer to being plagued by all manner of health complaints and radically changing notions of health and what’s good for you.
These days, I have migraines and severe stomach aches from eating wheat. Caffeine and chocolate seem to be triggers. I have tried cutting out tomatoes, corn, soy, chocolate, sugar, and grains to the point of suspicion of a plate of food. My baby spews up and gets cramps if I eat cow dairy.
I no longer drink caffeine, alcohol, smoke or toke or have fun with natures substances.
Some may say it is detoxing, some may say it is grains.
The point is.. everyone has a different opinion and ultimately, things change and completely seem to ignore the very real relation of food to mood and vise versa.
Has cutting out these foods made me happier and healthier? Yes, to some degree, no, in other ways. I am more conscious perhaps as well as more picky. I make many more meals at home, but find it harder to eat out at friends or at restaurants, which can amount to an awkward social food factor or the inevitable migraine if I lapse.
I have no doubt that my changing body ~ new environment, two babies and entirely new set of cells later, have in part made my reaction to certain delicacies so strong. I have read and heard about Paleo, Gluten and Grain Free, Lactose intolerance and Gut Dysbiosis and worried about whether my diet and my children’s is a leading cause of their/my dysfunctions.. All in all, I swing between clarity and confusion and I’m sure many of you can relate.
No doubt about it, this nation is health obsessed, for better or for worse. And it better be, with the amount of money people need to ‘fork’ out if they find themselves in need of care. Health care can literally cost ‘an arm and a leg’ and it is fabulous that more and more of us have access to ways of self healing, through diet, exercise, acupuncture, naturopathy, herbs and homeopathy and the myriad health modalities out there.
We are fortunate to be blessed with the quality and quantity of food and all its related allergens (!)
And yet, I look at people, my past self included, who do not have access to this knowledge and choice and see a more relaxed enjoyment of what’s on their plate. Less constant weighing up of contents and consequences.
A little voice pipes up at the back of my mind.. It belongs to a ninety year old lady called Beatty who had Tourettes syndrome in the Nursing home i used to work in, she once bit my head but thats another story… She always said about food, “If you like it, dear, then its good for you.”
I hear screaming at the unscientific basis of this old lady’s comment.. but, as it goes, when it all boils down to it there is something to be said for Beatty’s point of view.. at least in terms of enjoyment.. if you are what you eat, then make it a treat!