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7 Natural Remedies to Help You Sleep

Do you ever lie awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, begging your mind to turn off so you can get some shut-eye? At one point or another, we have all suffered from the frustration of sleepless nights. In fact, 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders or sleep deprivation. Some adults are so desperate for a good night’s sleep that they’d be willing to give up booze and social media for the rest of their lives in exchange for a lifetime of restful sleep.

girl sleeping
Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

The problem? When faced with a restless night, many turn to sleeping aids rather than natural remedies. Dr. Frank Lipman, New York Times best-selling author and founder of Be Well, explains that sleeping pills increase the risk of dementia, addiction, and harmful behaviors. That’s because sleeping pills contain sedative hypnotics called benzodiazepines (think Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and more) which are potentially addictive and can cause memory and attention problems if used over a long period of time.

All this to say, sleeping pills should not become the crutch that gets you through the night. Rather, consider these natural remedies to help you get the shut-eye you so desperately long for.

couples' feet in bed
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Sex

Yes, sex can help you sleep better!

Oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone”, is a chemical released in the brain after orgasm. This is the hormone that gives you that all-over, feel-good feeling after sex. Oxytocin acts as a sedative. It counteracts the effects of stress, which keeps you up at night, and rather bathes you in relaxation.

Next time you are having trouble getting to sleep, opt for a late-night rendezvous.

relaxing bath
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

A Warm Bath

After a long day, there are few things that sound as good as drawing a hot bath. Well, maybe there are a few things…(see point #1).

A nighttime bath, about an hour before bed, may be just the thing you need to get a good night’s sleep. That’s because, in order to fall and stay asleep, our core body temperature must drop one to two degrees.

A warm bath will cause your body temperature to rise and then rapidly drop when you get out. This loss in heat will pave the way for a night of uninterrupted, deep sleep.

ASMR

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR, is more than just an internet sensation made famous by Bob Ross. Yes, the iconic painter was unknowingly the first ASMR video creator.

You are probably wondering what the heck ASMR is at this point. Essentially, ASMR videos are binaural recordings designed to be heard through headphones that consist of ASMR artists whispering into a camera. Sounds weird, right?

Well, ASMR aims to trigger an experience involving a tingling, euphoric sensation that typically starts on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck, through the upper spine. Many have likened it to when someone plays with your hair, but with simple audio and video triggers.

Although there hasn’t been much research done on the effects of ASMR, there are a variety of individual testimonies of people reporting how ASMR has aided in the management of anxiety, depression, and sleep. ASMR artists must be onto something considering some have thousands of followers on YouTube.

CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an all-natural and legal compound found in the cannabis plant. It’s purpose is not to get you high. In fact, there are a variety of medicinal benefits to CBD oil. It’s known for its pain-reduction qualities, assistance in reducing inflammation, and calming effects. Another benefit? It aids in sleep.

CBD assists in reducing anxiety—you know, that pesky emotion that keeps us up all night. According to research, CBD has been shown to reduce symptoms of insomnia and increase our quantity of sleep. 

Marc Lewis, Executive Editor of Remedy Review, explains: "CBD empowers your body to better regulate its basic functions, things like mood, appetite, and sleep."

calming essential oils 
Photo by Tiara Leitzman on Unsplash

Essential Oils

Speaking of oils, aromatherapy has been proven to put your body in a state of relaxation. The use of essential oils such as lavender, frankincense, and Roman chamomile, to name a few, are known for their calming effect. In particular, lavender has been proven to increase the amount of deep, restorative, REM sleep we all need.

You can incorporate essential oils into your wind-down routine by diffusing them throughout your bedroom, adding a few drops to a hot bath, or applying them directly to the skin.

A Cup of Chamomile

Indulging in a cup of hot tea before bed is the OG, tried-and-true natural remedy for sleep. Although caffeine is a no-no before bed, many herbal teas, like chamomile, peppermint, and valerian, aid in fighting insomnia.

Next time you feel restless, try brewing your favorite sleepy time tea to help your body relax and unwind.

bowl of cherries
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Foods with Melatonin (Not Pills)

Melatonin is the hormone whose function is to calm and relax you. Although our body produces melatonin, there are certain foods we can eat to increase production of the hormone or are a source of the hormone itself.

Tart cherry juice contains the highest concentration of melatonin out there. Studies show that if you drink eight ounces in the morning and at night, it can greatly improve your sleep.

While a melatonin supplements can help, they don’t work for everyone. It’s much better to get it naturally from the food you eat. 

If you are struggling with insomnia on a regular basis, you may need to address the problem from a holistic point of view. Are you experiencing pain, from your mattress or an injury, that keeps you up at night? Drinking caffeine too late in the day?

Are there other disturbances to your sleep such as light, noise, and temperature? Assess your sleeping environment for possible disturbances and make adjustments accordingly.

Sleep is an integral part of overall health and wellness. It’s important you take the appropriate steps to protect it. 

Is Ayurveda Completely Vegan?

Eating meat is always a personal decision, based on your morals, religious practices, individual needs, and health status.

What might be the reason for the popular belief that Ayurveda is vegan? The reason might be linking Ayurveda and yogic, or saatvik, diet together. If you check the ancient Indian scriptures like the Vedas and Puranas, the description and explanation of meat has been given.

Do you know what Ayurveda says about food?

Ancient classic ‘Charaka Samhita’ says, “The life of all living things is food; the entire world seeks food, complexion, clarity, good voice, long life, understanding, happiness, satisfaction, growth, intelligence etc. are all because of food.”

Like plants and grains, Ayurveda also accepts meat as a form of food. Emphasizing upon it Charaka says, no other food excels meat in producing a nourishing effect in the body (mamsam brimhananam). And Ayurveda also gives detailed explanations on meat in eight different categories which include animals, birds and fish.

Here are the eight categories of non-vegetarian food mentioned in the ancient classics.

  1. Prasaha (animals and birds who eat by snatching)
  2. Bhumisaya (animals who live in burrows in earth)
  3. Anupa (animals inhabiting marshy land)
  4. Varisaya (aquatic animals)
  5. Varicara (birds moving in water)
  6. Jangala (animals dwelling in dry land forests)
  7. Viskira (gallinaceous birds)
  8. Pratuda (pecker birds)

assorted grilled meats with rice and veggies
Photo by Eiliv Aceron on Unsplash

The classics give numerous elaborate descriptions as per the properties of various meats—especially for their Vata-reducing properties.

• Those such as peacock for example were commonly used for improving eyes, voice, intellectual capabilities, complexion, hearing etc. and was commonly used.

• Goat meat was also well-known for bulking the tissues and often used as a meat soup or even basti (enema). Goat and mutton are said to be strengthening or tonifying for the body, and so good for Vata people and severe debilitated conditions. Goat also does not cause malas, or wastes in the body.

• Beef is said to cure dry cough, exhaustion, chronic nasal catarrh, emaciation, and excess hunger.

• Charaka says that fish is in general heavy, hot in potency, sweet, strength promoting, nourishing, unctuous and aphrodisiac.

• Acharya Charaka also says, good quality meats are brimhana (strengthening and building) and also balya (promoting strength). It states meat soups (mamsarasa) as one of the best for the body—that they are sarvarogaprashamanam (alleviates all diseases) and promote vidya (wisdom), swarya (good voice), strength (bala) of vayas (age), buddhi (intellect), and indriyas (senses) respectively.

Type of Meat

Nutritional and Medicinal Benefits in Ayurveda

Mutton

Homologous with the dhatus (body tissues), anabhishyandi (does not obstruct the bodily channels) and is nourishing

Chicken

Aphrodisiac and nourishing. It clarifies the voice, promotes strength, produces sweating

Beef

Exclusive vitiation of vata, rhinitis, irregular fever, dry cough, fatigue, atyagni (increased appetite) and wasting of muscles

Fish

Strength promoting, nourishing, unctuous and aphrodisiac, causes skin diseases, not recommended for daily use

Lamb

Vermifuge and tonic, improves intellect and digestion, laxative

But, keep in mind Ayurveda doesn’t recommend the intake of certain types of meat on daily basis. There is a detailed list of food materials that should or should not be included in diet on daily basis.

Foods for Regular Use

  • Ghee
  • Honey
  • Indian Gooseberry
  • Fruits, such as grapes and pomegranates
  • Rice and barley
  • Immature Radish
  • Chebulic fruit
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Meat of animals in arid or dry land

In short, dishes that are capable of promoting health and curing diseases are suitable for regular use.

Undesirable Foods for Regular Use

  • Cheese and curd
  • Alkaline preparations such as vinegar
  • Sprouted seeds
  • Black gram
  • Dried meat
  • Molasses
  • Tuberous roots
  • Sweets prepared by grinding cereals
  • Uncooked radish

This list of undesirable food materials is not because of any religious or spiritual reasons, but because too much of these substances can result in health problems.

Another popular misconception is that you are not supposed to take meat items while undergoing Ayurveda treatments or when having Ayurveda medicines.

The truth is that Ayurveda dose advises certain Pathya-Apathya (wholesome-unwholesome foods and regimen) depending on the nature of disease. This Pathya and Apathya are not for the medicines. There are certain disease conditions where Ayurveda advises the intake of meat as medicine. In tuberculosis, for example, after correcting the digestion, processed meat with certain herbs are advised as medicine. In certain sexual disorders meat is also mentioned as a medicine.

Bone broth has been used for thousands of years to build bone tissue in those suffering from fractures, dislocation of joints, etc.

Another common doubt is whether there is a particular time of the day to eat meat. 

It is ideal to have meat at mid-day because your digestive fire will be highest during that time of the day.  Cook meat properly with clarified butter, curd, sour gruel (Kanjika), acidic fruits (as the pomegranate etc.), pungent and some aromatic condiments (black pepper, etc.). Meat prepared like this is considered as very wholesome, though heavy to digest. It is possessed of relishing, strength-giving and tissue-building properties. 

Varieties of cooked meat are also mentioned in Ayurveda classics.

  • Ullupta (minced meat)
  • Bharjita (fried)
  • Pishta (made into balls or cakes)
  • Pratapta (roasted with clarified butter over a charcoal fire)
  • Kandupachita (dipped in mustard oil and powdered aromatic condiments and roasted and done to a honey colour over a charcoal fire)

In addition, the benefits of thin meat soup have also been described in detail.

A thin meat soup is a pleasant tonic and proves beneficial in cases of dyspnea, cough, and consumption. It subdues the Pitta and Kapha, destroys the Vata, and has an agreeable taste. It is wholesome to persons of weak memory and reduced semen. Meat soup, prepared with the juice of the pomegranate and seasoned with pungent condiments increases the quantity of semen and tends to subdue the action of all the three deranged humors (i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha of the body).

Eggs and Ayurveda

Ayurveda gives explanation about different types of eggs. Ducks, poultry and quail eggs are effectively used as medicine in various diseases like decreased sperm count, chronic cough, tuberculosis, heart diseases, and more. Eggs are also said to improve the growth and development in children.

Modern medicine explains that egg have nine essential fatty acids along with omega-3 fatty acid.

A large egg contains over six grams of protein. A large egg has 4.5 grams of fat, only 7 percent of the daily value. Only one-third (1.5) grams are saturated fat and 2 grams are mono-unsaturated fat. They contain, in varying amounts, almost every essential vitamin and mineral needed by humans, as well as several other beneficial food components.

Though eggs are highly nutritious, their heavy in nature as per Ayurveda. This heaviness makes it hard to digest. People with strong digestive power can definitely include eggs in their diet.

Fish in Ayurveda

Ayurveda also has explanations and details on consuming fish. Eating fish improves strength and helps in gaining weight. It is Vata pacifying in nature and can be consumed in diseases occurring due to aggravated Vata. It also increases Kapha, which means that fish is not advised for daily use.

Acharya Susruta explains, in detail, about the quality of fish residing in ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers. Ayurveda prefers small fish varieties over larger ones. Small fish, like anchovy, are light for digestion, provide instant energy, are delicious and pacify all three doshas.

Fish is a low-fat, high-quality protein. Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins, such as D and B2 (riboflavin). It is also rich in calcium and phosphorus, and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week as part of a healthy diet. Fish is packed with protein, vitamins, and nutrients that can lower blood pressure and help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Shellfish is one of the more common food allergies. Certain descriptions on allergic reactions due to fish has been described in Ayurveda as well. Intake of prawns and milk together are considered as Virudh ahara (incompatible).

There are two groups of shellfish: crustacea (shrimp, crab and lobster) and mollusks (clams, mussels, oysters and scallops). Crustacea cause most shellfish reactions, and these tend to be severe. Shellfish can cause severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis. Allergic reactions can be unpredictable and even very small amounts of shellfish can cause one.

Ayurveda considers prawns as the worst in fish varieties described since it aggravates all the three doshas.

Keep in mind the following thing when you consume meat.

  • Do not consume meat on daily basis, have it moderately, more in winter season when you have a strong digestive power.
  • Keep in mind your digestive power and constitution while consuming meat. A Kapha predominant person must consume less meat when compared to a Vata predominant person.
  • If you consume meat, make sure you exercise to keep the body healthy and fit.
  • Along with meat, include vegetables and grains and make sure you receive all the necessary nutrients in your diet.
  • Choose organic, hormone-free meat whenever possible.
  • Choose quality over quantity. A meatball size portion of meat (1/4 c) eaten daily with vegetables and grains is an appropriate amount that your body can process fully.
  • According to Acharya Charaka, healthy and wholesome food, even if taken in proper quantities do not get properly digested when the individual is afflicted with grief, fear, anger, sorrow, excessive sleep, and excessive vigil, therefore, mind matters.

Food taken in proper quantities provides strength, vigor, good complexion, and nurtures the health of tissues. In order to live healthy, one must live in harmony with his surroundings and follow a diet suitable to one’s own bodily constitution.

DIY Herbal Throat Spray

Echinacea
Echinacea Flower. Photo by Sarah Baldwin.

With fall just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what to stock up on for our winter apothecaries. Homemade herbal throat spray is one thing that I consider an indispensable household item for cold and flu season.

The dry air of woodstoves and heating systems causes our throats to become drier and more susceptible to harboring viruses. Herbs with antibacterial and antiviral compounds create an uninhabitable environment for viruses and infections. When you have a sore throat, these botanicals boost your body’s healing response to fight off the infection more quickly. If you use an herbal spray at the first hint of a scratchy or sore throat, you can often prevent a cold from ever taking hold.

Throat spray also comes in handy even when you don’t feel sick. While traveling, it can ease a dry throat that comes from flying in airplanes and sleeping in hotel rooms. Throat spray is also nice to use before all kinds of vocal performance, from speaking engagements to concerts. 

With a few key ingredients and a little know-how, you can create a homemade throat spray from scratch. This will ensure that what you’re ingesting is totally natural and also save you money. Plus, the process fosters a deeper connection with your medicine. When you get involved with your own healing process, you form a strong intention for health that works on multiple levels to keep you at your best.

Sourcing Herbal Extracts

Herbal throat spray can be simply made from a combination of tinctures, herbal extracts made with alcohol. If you buy a top-dollar herbal throat spray at the store, this is basically what you’re getting. It is more cost-effective to make your own tinctures from wildcrafted or cultivated plants. You can also buy dried herbs; I recommend purchasing organic herbs in bulk and making large batches to save money over the long run, especially since alcohol-based tinctures keep for years. (Glycerin-based extracts can also be used for throat spray if you’re avoiding alcohol.) Of course, you can also purchase pre-made tinctures, but it will add some cost to your throat spray.

Home-grown Goldenseal root
Homegrown Goldenseal Root. Photo by Sarah Baldwin.

There are many medicinal plants that can ease a sore throat and boost the immune system. Below are several to choose from based upon your specific needs and what is available in your area. You can start out with combining equal parts of these tinctures, and adjust the ratios as you please for taste and medicinal properties:

  • Echinacea (Echinacea spp.): Superb immune-booster; anti-inflammatory to ease pain; also cleanses blood and lymph for detoxification.
  • Red Root (Ceanothus americanus): Specific for sore throat, even severe conditions like mononucleosis, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis.
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Highly antiseptic, antifungal, and expectorant.
  • Horehound (Marrubium vulgare): Eases hoarseness and laryngitis; expectorant.
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis): Specific remedy for sore throat; antimicrobial and antioxidant.
  • Goldenseal root (Hydrastis canadensis): Antibacterial and antifungal; eases chronic inflammation of the throat and pharynx. (This is a strong remedy and at-risk plant, so use sparingly in your formula.)
  • Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis): Soothing and softening; especially useful for dry throat.
  • Elderberry (Sambucus spp.): Tasty and sweet; antiviral and anti-inflammatory.
  • Elderflower (Sambucus spp.): Opens up the throat for speaking and singing; also eases cold, flu and fever.
  • Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum): Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and expectorant; adds a pleasant flavor.

Final Tips

To sweeten the deal, add some raw, local honey to your recipe. Honey has natural antiseptic properties that will heal and soothe a sore throat while also greatly improving the taste of your throat spray. You can also add a few drops of high-quality, organic tea tree oil for an added antiseptic boost.

A one-ounce glass spray bottle is a great way to keep your throat spray handy and portable. If you make a larger batch, keep the rest in an airtight glass jar and store it in a cool, dark place. Alcohol and honey are natural preservatives, so your remedy will keep for a long time.

It’s as simple as that! Herbal throat spray is a wonderful tool that will help keep you healthy everywhere you go. It also makes a nice homemade gift for family and friends.


Sarah Baldwin is immersed in the world of herbalism, writing and teaching about the physical and spiritual benefits of healing plants. She is the author of The Herbal Healing Deck, an earthy and mystical oracle deck featuring guidance and wisdom from medicinal plants. Sarah is a regular contributor to Plant Healer Magazine and The Herbarium and has also written course material for The Herbal Academy. Her interests include gardening, yoga, meditation, dance, and music.

Natural Alcohol Detoxes

Enjoying a night out is a great way to celebrate. Whether you are out for a birthday, promotion, anniversary, or are simply having a night out with friends, it can be great fun. Not so fun, however, is getting up the next morning. Hangovers are a regrettable side effect of drinking alcohol, but they don’t have to ruin your weekend.

Fortunately, there are plenty of natural alcohol detoxes that you can use to conquer or avoid a hangover, as well as counter other unhealthy side effects that come with drinking. Of course, it is also a good idea to occasionally do a long-term alcohol detox for several weeks to truly let your body recover.

pexels-photo-290316
Photo by Pexels

Natural Hangover Remedies

Depending on how crazy your night was, eating might be the last thing you want to do after a night of drinking, and if you are hungry, you might immediately turn to unhealthy “hangover food.” Eating fried food, like hamburgers, tacos, and pizza might satisfy a craving, but it won’t leave your body feeling much better. Plus, a night out is hard enough on your body, especially if you didn’t get enough sleep, so eating a good, hearty, and healthy breakfast can be just what you need.

Get an Active Start

According to Time Magazine, the two best cures for a hangover are water and doing something active. Though lazing about for the rest of the day might be tempting, getting up and starting your day will help you feel better faster. Activities such as taking a shower or even going for a run will get your blood pumping, which helps get any lingering toxins out of your system.

Eat Some Honey

Another natural remedy for your hangover is honey. Honey is an antioxidant and is made up of a natural fructose that helps the body break down alcohol. For that reason, a great breakfast for hangover victims is a piece of toast with bananas, peanut butter, and honey.

Take Your Vitamins

Taking vitamins can help your body recover faster from your drinks. Vitamins B and C will help your body get back to normal, as will supplements of selenium, magnesium, and zinc. Since alcohol makes your body flush out fluids faster, you are not only in danger of being dehydrated, but your body also suffers from a lack of nutrients. Taking vitamins and other supplements will help your body replenish its supplies of essential vitamins.

Give Your Body a Break

Though alcohol is a common a marker of a celebratory evening, it is not the only — nor necessarily the best — one. Along with the sought-after benefits of alcohol, such as lowering your inhibitions, facilitating social interactions, and hopefully making your party happy, it also has negative effects.

Alcohol has negative effects on your stomach, heart, kidneys, immune system, and, of course, your liver. Side effects of alcohol can include dehydration, irregular heartbeats, a reduced efficiency of your immune system, reduced liver function, and more.

Giving your body a break from alcohol for a period of time allows your organs to recover from these lingering effects. Your liver, especially, can benefit from this, as the negative effects of alcohol can last for long periods of time. Detoxing will help your liver bounce back to be able remove toxins from your body better.

Detoxing from alcohol can also help you get a better night’s sleep. According to sleep experts, the impact of drinking alcohol can affect your sleep apnea and even snoring:

“Medical studies indicate that heavy or modest alcohol consumption can cause series of Obstructed Sleep Apnea (OSA) in individuals that don’t even exhibit it. To add to that, if you already have an alcohol related disorder, you are at a higher risk of developing obstructed sleep apnea, more so if you are a snorer.”

Additionally, alcohol consumption can increase snoring, which can get in the way of your partner’s sleeping as well as your own. Overall, detoxing from alcohol will help you sleep better at night.

Balance Is Key

When it comes to alcohol, it can make for a great night out, but it can also be a dangerous substance. Too much alcohol can cause major health issues, up to addiction and even death. When you detox, look out for warning signs that may point to alcoholism.

One easy way to recognize the symptoms of alcoholism so is to follow the CAGE assessment. CAGE is a series of four questions, and if you answer yes to two or more of them, you should take a deeper look into your habits.

  1. C – Cut down: Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  2. A – Annoyance: Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  3. G – Guilt: Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
  4. E – Eye opener: Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

Of course, many people are able to drink alcohol in healthy amounts. Just as with other pleasures in life, alcohol is fine in moderation. As long as you don’t drink too much on your nights out, take detoxing periods from drinking, and are aware

Grief Relief Using Aromatherapy

Grief is something we all experience. No matter the path we take, we will unfortunately walk the journey of loss.  You might have lost a relationship, a job, a pet, or even a loved one. We often experience loneliness during these times, and we can find answers in all the wrong places. I am not a psychologist or an experienced grief counselor, but I have experienced several losses in my short life. 

olfactory
Photo by Getty Images/Brzozowska 

Sense of smell is an essential part of our being, which is partially why we often connect smell to memories. We have something called “olfactory receptors” as part of our limbic system. After you smell an oil, these receptors send a message to your brain and you instantly make a connection. This is why many aromatherapists, including myself; believe aromatherapy can help ease anxiety, grief, and depressing during tough times. I have personally found solace through books, nature, and essential oils. By using essential oils for grief relief, you can allow yourself to face the truth while healing your wounds with the gift nature has given us.

In times of trouble, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the moment and ignore what it is we need most: self-care. Using certain plants can provide therapeutic properties to get you feeling better. For example, rose absolute (Rosa x damascene) is a tried-and-true option for easing the pain of grief. This oil can be soothing for grief and depression while restoring feelings of deep despair and anxiety. This oil also promotes the feeling of love, which can be lost during such tragic times.

If floral scents aren’t exactly what you love, then Melissa, also called lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is another great option. The scent resembles a mixture of lemon and lemongrass, and it is uplifting. Melissa can aid insomnia, anxiety, promotes calmness and is especially helpful during grieving. I often use this oil when experiencing anxiety.

A third and affordable option is grapefruit (Citrus paradise). This oil is uplifting, cleansing, and can reduce tension and depression. You can count on this oil when you need a pick me up. 

Citrus-reticulata
Photo by Getty Images/Sergdid

There are many other oils to help during times of trouble, such as jasmine absolute (Jasminum grandiflorum), green mandarin(Citrus reticulata), helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum), Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and more. I suggest researching each individual oil and finding which one resonates with you. In my opinion, it is important during tough times to personally identify with the scent of the oil. Many oils belong to the same chemical families and are able to provide similar results. For example, I love bergamot mint (Mentha citrata). This oil can bring balance and can be helpful during times of anxiety and depression. I personally resonate with Green Mandarin essential oil because I associate positive memories to its scent. Every time I open a bottle of this oil I can instantly remember the happy feeling I experienced at my cabin when I diffused the oil during a fall retreat.

Now that I have introduced you to these oils to help during tough times, we can begin to blend a few recipes.

Calming Grief Recipe

6 drops of Roman chamomile essential oil
2 drops of rose absolute essential oil
8 drops of lavender essential oil
1 ounce carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba

Directions: Add all ingredients to a 10ml roller bottle.
Use: Roll over wrist and temples.

Happy Thoughts Recipe

10 drops grapefruit essential oil
2 drop jasmin absolute essential oil
3 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
1 ounce carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba

Directions: Add all ingredients to a 10ml roller bottle.
Use: Roll over wrist and temples.

Anxiety Free Recipe

3 drops Melissa essential oil
10 drops green mandarin essential oil
2 drops sandalwood essential oil
1 ounce carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba

Directions: Add all ingredients to a 10ml roller bottle.
Use: Roll over wrist and temples.

You can find more blending ideas through the Aromahead website. We recommend visiting their site for more information regarding the proper use of essential oils.

Queren was inspired to write this blog post during her time enrolled in Aromahead’s Aromatherapy Certification program. She is a photographer and Digital Content Assistant for Mother Earth Living. You can follow her journey @kingfarmhouse

Rooibos: Much More Than Tea

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), also known as red bush, is a bushy plant in the legume family that is indigenous to the shrubland of South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces, specifically the small mountainous region of Cederberg. The needle-like leaves, from which the herb yields its characteristic rust color and earthy, slightly sweet flavor, are harvested and fermented much in the same way as black tea (Camellia sinensis). While rooibos has been a staple in Africa for centuries, it has only become popular in the U.S. in the last decade. Because the plant is naturally caffeine-free, it’s an appealing alternative to those who want a robust and full-bodied tea but without stimulating effects. Rooibos tea also has fewer tannins than black and green teas, making it easier on the sensitive stomach.

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Photo by FelixRenaud/iStock

Cooking with Rooibos

Like true tea, rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) is typically prepared as an infusion, served hot or iced with honey and lemon. But the herb also has culinary value. For example, the loose leaf can be combined with prepared mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and other herbs and spices, and used as a marinade for baked chicken or poached salmon. This mixture is also interesting when stirred into cubed potatoes before roasting. A simple syrup made from rooibos tea may be used to flavor panna cotta, ice cream, puddings and a variety of beverages, from chai-spiced latte to mojitos and other cocktails. Red bush tea alone adds vibrant color and flavor to soups and stews.

Natural Beauty from Roobios

Used as a final rinse after shampooing and conditioning, rooibos tea adds shine and softness to your hair. If dandruff is of concern, mix a bit of apple cider vinegar into the tea before rinsing hair. The vinegar will also add softness, while helping to restore the proper pH to your scalp. Final rinse means just that—you don’t wash it out.

A simple hand and facial lotion can be made from infusing two or three rooibos tea bags in a cup of hot milk. Let steep for 15 minutes, then strain and reserve the liquid. To this add 1/4 cup raw, organic honey and, if you wish, the contents of one vitamin E capsule. Stir well to combine and store in a clean, glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Drink to Your Health

Rooibos offers a number of benefits for the body. Rich in polyphenols, drinking generous amounts of the tea can help to prevent dehydration and premature aging of the skin. The plant also contains several antioxidant flavonoids, such as quercetin, luteolin and aspalathin. Studies have shown that rooibos compounds combat oxidative stress in a number of ways – by inhibiting lipid peroxidation, decreasing the presence of stress-related metabolites, regulating glutathione metabolism and by preventing the degradation of certain proteins.1 It should also be noted that consumption of the green, unfermented form of rooibos, which imparts a malt-like flavor, has been found to exert significant liver-protecting activity over its red counterpart.2 Among rooibos flavonoids, aspalathin is of particular interest as an anti-diabetic agent that may reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes and the risk of heart disease associated with it.3 Aspalathin is unique to rooibos and does not occur in any other plant on earth.

Sensible Cautions

Rooibos is vulnerable to salmonella contamination during processing, so be sure to purchase rooibos tea from a reputable supplier that uses ozone treatments or other deterrents. Also, be sure to prepare rooibos tea with boiling water to eliminate potential pathogens.

Drinking large amounts of rooibos tea may increase the effects of diuretic medications. It may also increase the production of liver enzymes. Some of the compounds in rooibos tea may promote estrogenic activity, so you might want to avoid this herb if you have a history of a hormone-driven cancer.

How to Brew Roobios Tea

For each cup of boiling water, steep one heaping teaspoon of cut and sifted rooibos (if using loose tea). Otherwise, one tea bag of rooibos will do nicely. Bring the water and tea together in a cup or pot, cover and steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain and serve. The tea is already on the sweet side, but a bit of honey or tiny pinch of stevia can be added after steeping, if desired.

Increase the amounts according to make a pitcher of iced tea. Some lovely flavor-enhancing garnishments for iced rooibos tea include fresh mint leaves and slices of lemon or orange. Try it iced with a splash of bourbon and a drop or two of vanilla extract!

Rooibos Simple Syrup

• 1 cup filtered water
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 6 rooibos tea bags
• 1 tablespoons raw, organic honey
• 1 one-inch cinnamon stick
• 4 black peppercorns
• 1 whole star anise
• 3 whole, green cardamom pods lightly crushed
• 1 vanilla pod, sliced length-ways with seeds removed (reserve seeds for another use, like vanilla-infused sugar)

Combine ingredients in a heavy saucepan and gently heat over a flow flame until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring often. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil for 15 minutes; stirring often. Strain and let cool before using. Keep refrigerated, and use within two weeks.

References

1. Hong IS, Lee HY, HP Kim. "Anti-Oxidative Effects of Rooibos Tea (Aspalathus linearis) on Immobilization-Induced Oxidative Stress in Rat Brain." PLoS One. 2014; 9(1). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897768/

2. BD Canda, OO Oguntibeju, JL Marnewick. "Effects of Consumption of Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) and a Rooibos-Derived Commercial Supplement on Hepatic Tissue Injury by tert-Butyl Hydroperoxide in Wistar Rats." Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014; 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967803/

3. PV Dludla,E Joubert, CJF Muller, et al. "Hyperglycemia-induced oxidative stress and heart disease-cardioprotective effects of rooibos flavonoids and phenylpyruvic acid-2-O-β-D-glucoside." Nutr Metab (Lond). 2017; 14: 45. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504778/

Self-Care Is Not Selfish

Life can just get too busy. No matter what age you are, not enough of us take the time out for ourselves. It is very important to be able to take some time out, switch off for a while, recharge the batteries, helping you to think and see clearer. Self-care is any activity we do, on purpose, to take care of our mental, physical, and emotional health. Pick a day in the week where you will set aside some time for yourself to try some of the following.

skin-care products
Photo courtesy Katie Guerin

Bubble Bath

Just before bed light some candles, turn on some nice music, bring your favourite book, a cup of tea and RELAX. Remember that you deserve it!

Face Mask

Apply a mask once or twice a week to help deep cleanse and clear your skin. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes. Lay down with some music on or soak your feet in a big bowl of warm water while you do it for the ultimate relaxation time.

Healthy Food

Making healthy food choices when possible is one of the best things you can do for your body. Taking the time to prepare meals and snacks ahead of time prevents making poor food choices, which not only affect our body but our mood. Healthy food = good mood!

Exercise

Moving around is a great way to release any tension in the body and mind. As a bonus it increases the serotonin in our brain (the feel-good factor). Find an exercise you like to do, pick a few days in the week to do it and you will feel and see the benefits.

General Appearance

Making that tiny bit of effort in the mornings makes a difference to how you feel. Spraying your favourite perfume, applying some lipstick, polishing your nails. These small things can add to your mood and when you feel good, you look good. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning to give yourself enough time for those things.

Meditation

Sitting alone, quietly, wherever you are most comfortable for a few minutes in the day is great to clear your head. Taking some deep breathes and focusing on your breathing. Meditation is something that takes time to get into, but everyone should give it a go. There is a very good app you can get on your phone called CALM. It is a guided meditation session and helps you to focus on the moment. The clearer your mind, the clearer you can think.

Beauty Sleep

Try to get as much sleep as possible as our bodies regenerate as we sleep. I really believe that sleep is a healer and you can see it in someone when they have not slept enough. Bring a book to bed with you instead of all the apps on your phone (unless they are meditation apps). Reading or meditating are the best things you can do before sleeping to ensure you get the best quality of sleep.