Oral health is an untapped field in the holistic health and wellness world, but your mouth really is a litmus test for the health of your total body. Chronically inflamed gums? You might wanna look at your cardiovascular health. Horrible halitosis (bad breath)? You 100% have a dysbiosis in your gut. Scalloped tongue? Your body is yearning for alteratives and a diet change-up. We've got a whole workshop going through oral health from an herbalist's perspective, but for now, read on about why we are selling our herby tooth powder.
Here's the Tooth Truth
Although it might leave your mouth feeling minty fresh, conventional toothpaste is not the path towards a healthy & balanced oral microbiome*.
While there are a few toothpastes we do love (read on to learn more!), we designed our herby Tooth Seekers Tooth Powder to stand alone or to be used in combination with your favorite toothpaste.
Our tooth powder is formulated to:1. Support healthy microbial communities of the mouth
-with antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral & sialogogue herbs
2. Fight inflammation and sensitivity
-with anti-inflammatory, analgesic, astringent, & immune supportive herbs
3. Correct the pH of the mouth to prevent demineralization & protect toothy integrity
-with mineral-rich & alkalizing ingredients
4. Freshen the breath
-with carminative, aromatic, & antimicrobial herbs
How to Use:
-Wet your toothbrush (we recommend soft bristle brushes)
-Dip it in the tooth powder so that all the bristles are coated in a solid layer.
-Brush gently using thorough, circular motions. Be sure to get every surface of every tooth. Aim for 2 minutes of brush-time, minimum.
-Alternatively, you can apply a nanohydroxyapatite toothpaste** to your brush and then dip it into the tooth powder for an added dose of herby mineralization (this is the method we recommend!).
*To Fluoride or Not to Flouride - that is the question
*To Fluoride or Not to Fluoride - That Is the Question
Fluoride use in toothpaste is a contentious topic. While fluoride applied topically has the ability to remineralize teeth, we feel there are far better, safer alternatives for daily use.
-There’s a reason conventional toothpaste has a poison control warning: fluoride is toxic. Due to its pervasiveness in our water supply and oral products, we are likely swallowing far more than we should.
-Where does it come from? Fluoride is an unregulated by-product of our fertilizer industry and the U.S.A has the most fluoridated water in the world.
-Numerous studies affirm that fluoride disturbs neurological development - especially in kids (Valdez-Jiménez et al 2011).
-The actual amount of fluoride you need to remineralize your teeth would require a prescription strength toothpaste or a visit to the dentist
**What is Nanohydroxyapatite?
For these reasons and more, we choose to avoid fluoride all together (thanks to our Berkey Filter’s fluoride remover) and replace it with a 100% non-toxic alternative that outperforms fluoride altogether. It’s called nanohydroxyapatite and these nano-sized particles are what naturally make your teeth and bones strong. Our teeth will readily absorb these particles and start rebuilding enamel giving your teeth a smoother, whiter, more reflective, and stronger surface
More About the Ingredients in Tooth Seekers
Orris root, Iris germanica
Taste/Energetics: bitter, acrid, pungent; hot, dry, aromatic
Actions: antispasmodic, aperient, aromatic, carminative, expectorant, pectoral, purgative, sedative
Orris root comes from the lovely Flag Iris native to the Mediterranean but naturalized in many parts of the US. Like other members of the Iris family, such as Calamus, Orris root has a dispersive, cleansing and purifying nature. Externally, it is cherished as an antiseptic and additive to perfumes and cosmetics for its pleasant violet aroma. Internally, its acrid and aromatic qualities are excellent at breaking up congestion while its antimicrobial action resolves the issue at the root. Historically, the fresh root was given to babies to chew on for healthy mouths and strong teeth. Today, Orris root is commonly found in tooth powders and pastes for its delightful aroma, clearing & opening qualities, and antiseptic (topical) and antimicrobial (internal) actions.
Arrowroot, Maranta arundinaceae
Taste/Energetics: sweet, bland cooling, neutral
Actions: demulcent, mucilaginous, nutritive
The rhizomes of this tropical plant have been used as a nutritive & thickening agent in foods and medicines for 1000s of years. The common name “arrowroot” refers to its historic use as an antidotal poultice for poisonous arrow wounds. It was also used as a topical remedy for spider and snake bites. It provides a nice, neutral base for tooth powders
Myrrh, Commiphora myrrha
Taste/Energetics: spicy, neutral
Actions: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, expectorant immune stimulant
This precious resin of the gum tree has been treasured for centuries for its ability to calm mucus membrane irritations from pharyngitis to UTIs. It’s particularly adept at resolving infections of the lungs and mouth. It’s antimicrobial and astringent action makes it an excellent gargle for sore throats or a topical application for wounds.
*Do not ingest myrrh if pregnant due to its emmenagogue effect
Echinacea, Echinacea angustifolia
Taste/Energetics: cooling, pungent, stimulating
Actions: alterative, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, immune stimulant, sialagogue, vulnerary
Echinacea root is one of our favorite remedies for dry mouth, bad breath, or inflamed gums. It’s powerful sialagogue action encourages salivary flow which moistens the mouth and bathes it in infection-fighting moisture. It’s a vulnerary, healing wounds in the mouth, and a gentle immune stimulant and alterative, improve the overall function of the immune and lymph systems.
Cinnamon, Cassia cinnamomum
Taste/Energetics: warming, drying, pungent, sweet
Actions: analgesic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, carminative, circulatory stimulant, styptic
With it’s spicy sweet anti-inflammatory and astringent action, Cinnamon was made for the mouth. We love it for its ability to: tone and tighten inflamed gums; get that nourishing blood flowing; promote breath freshness, and resolve microbial imbalances in the mouth
Clove, Syzygium aromaticum
Taste/Energetics: pungent, spicy, hot, dry
Actions: anesthetic (topically), analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial anti-oxidant, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, expectorant
People have been chewing on Clove buds to ease toothaches for centuries - Clove’s pleasantly aromatic, spicy taste and pain-relieving nature lends itself beautifully to any oral routine.
Did you know that every time you eat, you are de-mineralizing your teeth? Your body necessarily tells your mouth to create an acidic environment in order to aid the digestive process (this is why sticking to 3 square meals and not snacking is a very good habit for your teeth!). Baking soda is highly alkaline and therefore encourages a healthy pH, supports beneficial bacteria, and protects your enamel from decay. Plus it’s known to whiten teeth! On its own it can be a bit abrasive, so we’ve balanced it with other herbs to make it a-okay for moderate daily use.
This sugar alcohol is known for its abilities to reduce cavity-causing bacteria and freshen the breath. We add just enough to get the benefits without going overboard on the sweetness
Tahini is one of our most cherished ingredients - it's versatile, affordable, and loaded with health benefits. It is equally delicious in desserts, main dishes, breads, or by the spoonful for a quick snack (goes great with honey & sea salt if enjoying it this way!).
This creamy "nut butter" made from sesame seeds is a fraction of the cost of almond butter - with a much smaller environmental impact! Though from a tiny seed, tahini's nutrient density is impressive:
-Compared to other seeds and nuts, sesame seeds have a very high fat (55%) and protein content (20%) by weight.
-Tahini is also particularly high in minerals, especially iron and copper. Studies have affirmed that tahini is a heart healthy food: it's high in lignans and its 2 primary fat compounds- sesamin and sesamolin- have showcased anti-thrombotic effects. So let's get to the good stuff - our Ta-honey Mustard Recipe! This sauce goes great as a dressing or a dipping sauce for meats, veggies, or chips!
Ta-Honey Mustard Recipe
In an 8 oz mason jar, add ½ cup tahini and 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar. Stir together; as you stir the acid from the vinegar will react with the proteins in the tahini and make the mixture very thick. Stir in filtered water (~3 tbsp to ¼ cup, depending on the runniness of your tahini) until the consistency is silky smooth like Ranch dressing. Next, add 1 tbsp of garlic fermented honey* (regular honey will do), 2 tsp dijon mustard (or more if you are a mustard lover), 1 tbsp turmeric powder and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper to taste. This recipe is flexible - add more or less of anything to achieve your desired blend.
garlic fermented honey* recipe below!
Garlic Fermented Honey Recipe
Loosely seal the filled jar with a lid (we like these!) and let sit at room temp away from direct sunlight. The slightly loosened lid will allow fermentation gases to escape. Every other day or so, tip the jar upside down a few times (make sure you fully seal the lid when you do this!) to circulate the honey. You will start to see tiny bubbles indicating that fermentation process is at work! This alchemical process will begin around day 3 and continue for 1 month, but you can enjoy the honey at any time during this period. You will notice the flavor and texture develop over time - the garlic's pungency will mellow and the honey will become runnier.
Store in a cool, dark place for many moons. If kept sealed and away from heat and light, it can easily last 1 year or more! After I use up all the honey, I like to blend up the cloves in pestos and other sauces.
This cookies are packed with protein and energizing cacao - making them great for a quick breakfast or a pre/post workout snack.
Oh, and they go great with coffee :)
Pay attention to the room temp ingredients- it makes a difference!
½ cup of your favorite nut butter
¼ cup unrefined coconut oil, room temp
⅓ cup coconut sugar ( or 1/4 c maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, room temp
1 c nut flour (we like a combo of pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Simply pulse whole seeds until a grainy, coarse sand texture is achieved)*
1 c finely shredded coconut flakes*
⅓ c cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
Hefty pinch sea salt
Optional: ⅓ cup chocolate chips; extra coconut sugar for sprinkling on top of the cookie dough before baking!
*Depending on how runny the nut butter is, you may have to use ~½ cup more of dry ingredients.
Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
Using a spoon or whisk in a medium bowl, mix together the first 4 ingredients until well incorporated (much easier when the coconut oil and nut butter are room temp!). Next, mix in the egg (again, make sure its room temp or it will cause the coconut oil to clump).
In another bowl or directly into the wet ingredient bowl, add the remaining 5 ingredients to the wet until a slightly sticky batter has formed. You want your batter to come off your spoon in a solid ball when you forcefully drop the batter onto your cookie sheet (like the motion of flicking of a whip, except with a spoon). As mentioned above, you may need to add more dry ingredients to achieve this texture. You can use your fingers to shape the dropped dough balls into uniform spheres, but I like the rough and chunky look. You can also sprinkle with more coconut sugar at this point.
Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes until firm and slightly golden brown on the top and bottom.
Let cool a bit before transferring from Silpat to a wire rack with a spatula. These will store for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container kept in the fridge.
(They ain't gonna last that long though...)
We don't have babies yet, but we have many in our community carrying on the incredible role of being a mother. While having children is a gift, it certainly comes with its struggles of the body and mind. That's why we created this tea - to nurture the mother after delivery, supporting her physical and emotional body. Postpartum is a speck of time unlike any other, and with this tea we hope to augment the good and celebrate the creation of life! Read on to learn more about the herbs in Post-partea! *
***BONUS: this tea will nourish expecting mothers, too! All the herbs in Post-Partea are Class 1, meaning herbs that can be safely consumed with no identified concerns during pregnancy or nursing.
Lemon balm, Melissa officinalis, Lamiaceae
This lemon-y mint is indicated for those feeling weary and depressed - it is the ultimate, delightful antidote to that gloom-and-doom sort of depression that sometimes eclipses a new mother after going through such an incredible (yet exhausting!) experience. Lemon balm uplifts and revitalizes. As an antispasmodic and analgesic, she eases physical aches and pains while her nervine, anti-depressant properties tend to emotional pains. Lemon Balm has been used successfully in clinical trials to ease postpartum mother pains.
Tulsi, Ocimum sanctum, Lamiaceae
Progesterone drops after pregnancy, as does the sense of joy and meaning that high levels of this hormone provide. This drastic change in mood as hormones recalibrate is so common it even has a name - the baby blues - leaving new mothers especially emotional and sensitive. Fortunately, nervines like Holy Basil remedy this situation by nourishing the nervous and endocrine systems. Tulsi is also an adaptogen, enhancing your body’s ability to handle stress - something every postpartum mom can use.
Oatstraw, Avena sativa, Poaceae
A gentle, restorative tonic perfect for nursing mothers who need added vitamins and minerals to support their transition to motherhood. Drunk regularly, Oatstraw rebuilds tissue - particularly of the nervous system - and supports total body health.
Hawthorne, Cratageus spp., Rosaceae
This multi-faceted herbs tends to both the emotional and physical heart. Compounds in Hawthorne literally strengthen the heart muscles while its nervine properties build up emotional resolve. Hawthorne leaf, berry, and flower are tonics to the cardiovascular system, intended to be drunk regularly for gradual, inevitable improvement. When we improve our cardiac function, we improve blood flow and therefore nourishment and rejuvenation to the entire body.
It can be tricky navigating the does and don'ts of herbal remedies while pregnant. Unfortunately in the West, there's just not enough clinically backed science for medical professionals to advocate for the use of many herbs before/during/after pregnancy, even if they may be safe. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering using herbs while pregnant:
1. Where Does It Come From? This is HUGE. Herbs aren't regulated by the FDA which means you don't know what you are getting unless you trust the company you are purchasing from. Make sure the supplier you use is able to provide details on the herb/products origins, and always opt for organic - the benefits far outweigh the slight price difference.
2. How Much Are You Taking? "Danger is in the dosage" is a phrase that applies here. For example, a sprinkle of Cinnamon on your morning oatmeal may be a harmless treat, but in large amounts, Cinnamon's great warmth and moving energetics make it a powerful uterine stimulant while pregnant. For this reason, it's important to assess all the herbs - culinary & medicinal - you consume and make sure you aren't overdoing it.
3. Who Are Your Resources This one comes with a bit more nuance, but it's important to understand that there are many voices in the medical and herbal field. No matter the herb, you will get conflicting results for many a Google search about its safety while pregnant. Always exercise caution and go to sources you trust. Since there is so much noise on the web, we look to tradition and tried and true textbooks. If you are working with a midwife, doula, holistic doctor, they can also help!
Since we have so many mommas in our community, we wanted to share the safety ratings for the herbs used in our products. See below!
Also, don't hesitate to reach out if you have any clarifying questions!
1 - safely consumed when used appropriately
2 - the following restrictions apply unless otherwise directed by an expert
2a- external use only
2b- not during pregnancy
2c- not while nursing
2d- other specific use restrictions
3 - only use under the supervision of an expert; labeling must include dosage, contraindications, etc.
4 - insufficient data for classification
Powdered Herb Blends
Turmeric - Class 2b*, 2c*, 2d Therapeutic quantities not to be taken for those with bile duct obstruction or gallstones, stomach ulcers or hyperacidity; stand dose is 1.5-3 g daily; 4.5-9 g when prepared as tea
Eleuthero - Class 4 It is likely there are no issues if taking 1 tsp/day of powdered herb during pregnancy/nursing, but data is lacking. Always check sourcing for adulterated products.
Maca - Class 1, Class 4 A German doctor released his own article with claims that there is evidence that taking Maca during pregnancy can prevent miscarriage, likely safe but data is limited
Cinnamon - Class 1
Fenugreek - Class 2b, Promotes milk flow (galactagogue)
Cardamom - Class 1
Nutmeg- Class 1
Black Pepper- Class 1
Matcha- Class 1
Shatavari- Class 1
Rose- Class 1
Eleuthero- Class 1
Cardamom- Class 1
Ginger- Class 1
Dandelion- Class 1
Reishi- Class 1
Chicory - Class 1
Shatavari- Class 1
Ashwagandha- Class 2b*, 2d, May potentiate the effects of barbiturates; not recommended for those with hyper-thyroid function; Traditionally used to improve conception and to provide strength and stamina to mom and growing baby. After birth, it is thought to help mom regain energy and stimulate milk flow. Large amounts can cause early menstruation and therefore there lies the risk of abortion (uterine stimulant), which is why it’s discouraged by conservative doctors. Do not exceed 1 tsp/day during pregnancy and always check with primary healthcare provider
Cardamom- Class 1
Cinnamon- Class 1
Bless You Tea
Nettle- Class 1
Rose- Class 1
Calendula- Class 1
Elecampane- Class 2b*, 2c*
Horsetail- Class 2d, contraindicated in cardiac or renal dysfunction; don’t exceed 2 g/day of powdered form. Powdered form is not recommended for children due to silica. If taking 5 g, have with food
Ginger*- Class 1
Licorice*- Class 2b*, 2c*, 2d Not for prolonged use in high doses; contraindicated in diabetics, hypertension, liver disorders, severe kidney deficiencies, and hypokalemia; may potentiate potassium depletion of thiazide diuretics, stimulant laxatives, cardiac glycosides, and cortisol; reduce sodium and increase potassium when taking
Ginger- Class 1
Elderflower- Class 1
Elderberry- Class 1
Holy Basil-Class 1
Lemon Balm- Class 1
Licorice*- Class 2b*, 2c*, 2d, see previous
Cardamom- Class 1
Healing Harvest Tea
Roobios - Class 1
Oat straw - Class 1
Orange peel - Class 1
Licorice* - Class 2b*, 2c*, 2d, see previous
Ginger*- Class 1
Angelica* -Class 2b*, 2d avoid prolonged sunlight exposure; emmenagogue/uterine stimulant
Artichoke - too little data
Sexy Time Tea
Hawthorne (leaf and flower) - Class 1
Damiana - Class 1
Hawthorne Berry - Class 1
Rose - Class 1
Ginger* - Class 1
Licorice* - Class 2b*, 2c*, 2d, see previous
Hibiscus - Class 1
Lemongrass - Class 2b*; emmanogogue/uterine stimulant
Holy basil - Class 1
Schisandra - Class 1
Oat Straw - Class 1
Tulsi - Class 1
Nettle - Class 1
Raspberry Leaf - Class 1
Rose - Class 1
Ginger* - Class 1
Red Clover - Class 2b* (used in minimal amounts here)
Cardamom - Class 1
You’ve Got Male
Nettle- Class 1
Lemongrass- Class 2b*, emmanogogue/uterine stimulant
Hawthorn Leaf- Class 1
Hawthorn Berry- Class 1
Hibiscus- Class 1
Epimedium- Class 2d*, Not for singular long-term use at large doses; In very large doses, can cause vomiting, dizziness, dry mouth, thirst, nosebleed, and respiratory arrest
Ashwagandha- Class 2b*, 2d-see previous
Ginger*- Class 1
Licorice*- Class 2b*, 2c*, 2d-see previous
***Licorice, Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Artichoke leaf, and Black pepper can all cause issues when taking in unnaturally large amounts and without the balancing support of other herbs. We use very small amounts of these synergizing herbs in our formulas, not large therapeutic doses that can have a uterine stimulants effect.***
Our safety ratings were obtained from The Botanical Safety Handbook by The American Herbal Products Association Staff, 1997.
Herbal Contraindications and Drug Interactions Plus Herbal Adjuncts with Medicines, 4th Edition, Francis Brinker
Publications by the American Herbal Products Association
Understanding the magical history of matcha might elevate your tea-drinking experience
Matcha revolutionized the way we drink tea. Before 12th century Zen monks popularized this powdered form of Camellia sinensis, leaves were dried and compressed into bricks before drinking. Matcha’s first advocate, the Zen monk Eisai, taught his pupils how to properly cultivate and regularly consume powdered tea for optimal spiritual and physical health. Back then, the growing process was revered as much as the ceremony of drinking tea.
An Enchanting Upbringing
Tea bushes were treated with great respect and care from seed to harvest. In the winter, they were allowed a full season of rest in order to accumulate nutrients below ground. The tea bushes would awaken from their slumber in the spring, fortified by their hibernation and ready to transfer energy into newly forming buds. This is why the first spring harvest is always the sweetest and most nutritious - just as we feel best after a period of rest, Camellia sinensis creates the best product when it’s allowed the entire winter to restore.
Since sunlight causes bitterness, wooden structures topped with reed screens were built around the bushes to block ~75% of the sunlight. 10 days later, a layer of straw was placed over the reeds, blocking 90% of sunlight. This added effort renders an incredibly soft, bright green leaf to later be hand-picked by skilled harvesters.
After harvest, the leaves are steamed to prevent oxidation before being put into columnar wind turbines outfitted with nets to dry and catch all the leaves. Next the leaves are sent to ovens with three layers of conveyor belts where they go through multiple rounds of drying at various temperatures. At this point, the leaves are called raw tencha. It’s not until the leaves are cut, separated from twigs and veins, and stone-milled into a powdered form that they finally become matcha.
Before the 20th Century, matcha was consumed as ‘thick tea’ (koicha) in which a large amount of matcha was mixed with only enough hot water to make it fluid. Koicha was considered the purest form of matcha because in order for it to be drinkable, only the sweetest, most tender leaves could be used. Thin tea (usucha) was reserved for more laid-back occasions. This is what we drink today.
Reclaim Ritual - Make Your Tea Time Exceptional
Many people might not realize that they are as attached to the process of making a morning pot of coffee as they are to the caffeine. Humans crave rhythm and routine- it’s in our DNA! Creating a ritual around our tea making and drinking process can be highly beneficial to your physical and mental health. Maybe squeezing in a few words of gratitude, prayers, or simple stretches while your water boils and savoring the first few sips slowly and silently will not only calm your adrenals but also get your mind in the cool, calm, and collected setting it craves in our hectic world.
We've turned modern matcha magical with our carefully formulated blend.
To elevate the modern matcha drinkers experience, we add adrenal nourishing herbs like Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) and Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) to our Matcha Magic. These adaptogens fortify and calm our stress response. Heart strengtheners like Rose (Rosa rugosa), rich in Vitamin C, and Ginger (Zingiber officinale), improve circulation and support cardiovascular function. A touch of Cardamom (Eletarria cardamomum) supports digestive function, cleanses the breath, and imparts a lovely, aromatic finish. We use organic matcha, finely ground and with a bittersweet taste the pairs perfectly with the other herbs and a spot of cream.
The Perfect Cup of Magic Matcha
CC Flickr pics: Dinesh Valke, Christine Lynch, Markus riedi, Betty Dish, Brian Wotherspoon,
We’ve all got men in our life that could use some herbal love.
By and large, herbalism is a women’s world. There are many reasons for this.
Women naturally might be more attracted to medicine made from beautiful plants, and historically, creating herbal remedies fell under the realm of the homemaker. Herbs are also particularly useful in pregnancy, childbirth, and supporting hormonal health. However, men stand to benefit equally from plant medicine. These days, it’s hard to find a supplement for men that does more than just enhance libido. Men have needs too, and we wanted to create a tea that saw to them.
The herbs in You’ve Got Male are listed below. Our formula is carefully balanced to provide support without tipping any one system out of balance- a common issue in simple formulas showcasing only one herb.
More on the Herbs in You've Got Male
Hawthorne, leaf, flower, and berry, Crataegus spp, Rosaceae
Sweet, sour, warm, astringent, heart-opening + strengthening, cardiotonic
In our culture (and in general), its not as common for men to express their emotions as freely as women. Traditional wisdom acknowledges that when we repress our emotions, it manifests physically. High blood pressure, weakened or exhausted heart muscle, and other cardiovascular issues may all be a result of this repression. Hawthorne is known to strengthen the heart, physically and emotionally, with clinical studies to back it up.
Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus, Poaceae
Cooling, sour, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, diaphoretic, digestive
Lemongrass is the ultimate cooling remedy. Men tend to get a bit more overheated than women, so this mild yet effective herb can do the trick to calm and relax. It's traditionally used to cool fevers and release heat. As a diuretic and diffusive, it helps with the elimination of waste, reducing heat and inflammation once again. Apart from its purely physical effects, Lemongrass is also capable of promoting feelings of hope, confidence while helping to decompress and relax.
Nettle leaf, Urtica dioica, Urticaceae
Dry, cool, nutritive, alterative, alkalinizing diuretic, urinary tract tonic
Nettle is an amazingly nutritious tonic herb meant to be taken regularly. It’s high mineral content builds bone, muscles, and hair. It’s particularly high in iron for healthy blood, and magnesium, a critical mineral deficient in the SAD diet but that enhances exercise performance and nervous system health.
Roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Malvaceae
sour, slightly sweet, bitter, cool, soothing, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), reduces prostate
Another cooling herb with a propensity to enhance heart health (lowering blood pressure and lipid levels), Roselle (or Hibiscus) is tangy, delicious, uplifting energizing without containing caffeine! It’s also been used to help treat prostate cancer due to its high antioxidant content. Studies show that Roselle inhibits the expression of prostate cancer cells and their signaling pathways.
Horny Goat Weed, Epimedium grandiflorum, Berberidaceae
Dry, acrid, warm, possible adaptogen, strengthens HPA axis, hypotensive, aphrodisiac, anxiolytic, circulatory stimulant
Epimedium was made famous when a herder noticed his goats exhibited robust sexual activity after nibbling on Fairy Wings (common name of this beautiful ornamental).
Epimedium is used in TCM to support normal peripheral circulation and to tonify kidney yang energy, or the driving force of libido. In the West, icariin, an active constituent, has received great attention because of its ability to inhibit Phosphodiesterase type 5*, the same mechanism of pharmaceutical male enhancement drugs (although plant medicine always represents a safer, more balanced remedy due to the vast number of compounds working along with the active constituent). Historically, because of it's potency and potential for exhausting the kidney yang in the long-run, Epimedium is always used in balanced formulas.
*Do not take Horny Goat Weed if also taking a Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitor
Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera
Dry, warm, adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, astringent, immune amphoteric, mild sedative
We couldn’t make an herbal tea without adding the Sweat of the Stallion. This root is historically used to enhance the strength, endurance, and virility of men - and it works! Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen, providing strength and energy while also supporting the adrenals for calm and focus.
Licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Fabaceae
Sweet, warm, bitter, moistening , adaptogen, adrenal support, anti-inflammatory (specific to irritated GI tract), demulcent, expectorant, nutritive, antispasmodic, aperient (mild laxative), hepatoprotective
We add this sweet root to harmonize the formula while adding an adaptogenic touch. Like Ashwaghanda, Licorice is an adaptogen that enhances the body’s ability to handle stress. Due to its soothing, mucilaginous nature, it's been used to treat ulcers and inflammation in the digestive tract. Licorice is known to enhance the activity of other herbs when used in formula
Ginger, Zingiber officinale, Zingiberaceae
Warming, dry, peripheral circulatory aid, cardiotonic, hypolipidemic, analgesic, digestive, antiatherosclerotic
Herbs that enhance circulation are critical for healthy reproductive function, particularly if you have a long commute to work or sedentary job. Similarly, Ginger is renowned in its ability to strengthen the cardiovascular system but stimulating circulation. Ginger is a supreme digestive, soothing to the stomach, dispelling gas and enhancing digestion. Anyone with a sluggish digestion with gas and burping will benefit from daily Ginger. Ginger has also been shown to be as effective as aspirin for remedying headaches.
Creative Commons, Flickr: Carol Coward, Hair Prasad Nadig, Sidney Pacheco, Tatters, Forest and Kim Star, Christine Lynch, Markusriedi, Betty Dish
Grain free, no refined sugar, Paleo option available
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan with a bit of coconut oil and dust completely with oats and coconut shreds. Set aside.
Mix 1st eight ingredients together well in a medium bowl.
In another bowl, combine eggs, syrup, and banana. Slowly pour in melted coconut oil while stirring so you don’t scramble the eggs with the oil. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet with a large spoon or spatula. Fold in the zucchini.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with extra coconut shreds and/or oats.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden and the loaf is set (stick a knife in the center and it should come out clean). Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.
*Use 1 ½ cups almond or cashew flour and omit the oat flour if making paleo
Three of our favorite things all perfectly packaged in these delicious cookies. Bake some and tell us what you think!
3/4 c flour (all-purpose or gluten free)*
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
3/4 c coconut sugar
1 large egg
3/4 tsp vanilla
plus powdered sugar for topping the finished cookies
.Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix the first 4 ingredients well in a bowl and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk or beat** the olive oil and coconut sugar together until fully incorporated. Next, add the egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet until you have a thick batter. Let cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To prepare for baking:
Line a pan with parchment or a Silpad. Use a soup spoon to measure out 1-2 tsp worth of batter. Roll into balls and drop onto baking sheet spacing 2 in apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until flattened and set around the edges. Let cool completely before storing.
*I have found that all-purpose flours yields flatter, crispier cookies while gluten-free flour tends to keep the cookies much more short and fat. If you want thinner gluten-free cookies, you can use your fingers to press down your dough balls before baking.
**You can use a hand beater but I find using a whisk or spoon works fine.
Don't Be a Statistic: Why You Need to Balance Your Blood Sugar
Insulin issues are the name of the 21st century disease game. At the current diagnosis rate, 1/3rd of all children will have Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is essentially accelerated aging due to increased oxidation from excess glucose in the blood; at this rate, we are priming a whole generation to lead a disease-riddled, expensive life. Not only does diabetes profoundly inhibit health, but it is also seriously expensive. Yearly, an individual will spend $13,700 and our country will spend $825 billion just to ameliorate the effects of a 99.99999% preventable disease (Harvard Chan School of Public Health, 2016).
Insulin resistance is the precursor to Type 2 diabetes, and 25% of the non-diabetic population are unknowingly insulin resistant (and 25% will go on to develop full-blown Type 2 diabetes). We need insulin to tell our cells how to deliver glucose out of the bloodstream and into tissue so it can be utilized for energy. The conversion of food to energy is foundational to life; when the body loses the ability to do this task correctly, a domino effect of disease ensues. This is why insulin resistance (also known as Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X) and diabetes are always accompanied by co-morbidities: neuro-degeneration, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome, cancer, etc. The underlying biochemical defect of all these chronic degenerative diseases is all the same: decreased sensitivity to insulin signaling.
So why does our body stop responding to insulin? It’s a combination of things- mainly sugar, processed foods and trans fats (the two go hand-in-hand), stress, and lack of exercise. Obviously, there is a lot of this in the modern world, and some individuals are more susceptible than others. When insulin signaling gets disrupted and excess glucose remains in the blood instead of being transported to the appropriate places, our internal environment shifts to a disordered state. The pancreas will begin secreting larger amounts of insulin to overcome to the lack of insulin signaling. So now, there is more than enough insulin in the blood but the cells simply can’t get the message because of all the misplaced glucose.
All that glucose floating around in our blood stream eventually oxidizes, clunking up our vessels and jeopardizing circulation. Think crusty bread- the same reaction that forms crust on bread forms clunks in our blood: the excess sugar molecules react with the proteins in our blood to form clunky, gloopy advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) which are seriously bad news. They stress our body out, contributing to further inflammation and stress and screwing up blood flow.
There is great biochemical diversity among individuals, so some folks can maintain this hyperinsulinemic (“excessive insulin”) state for a while without developing diabetes, while others develop it immediately. Folks with Syndrome X will have a cluster of signs and symptoms: abdominal fat, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, depressed HDL (“good” cholesterol), cognitive decline, poor circulation, etc. With excess glucose in the blood, the body goes into an alarm state because it knows that glucose isn’t supposed to be there. The body’s alarm state is inflammation. It starts firing off inflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers), tipping our bodies further and further in the direction of disorder and disease. It’s a vicious cycle and the one spinning the wheel is us. Our unfit lifestyle and dietary habits are fueling the diabetic fires.
When you tally all the potential pain and expense you’ll be sparing yourself by making some simple yet effective lifestyle modifications, the answer is easy: do it! You can reverse diabetes and Syndrome X- it will take time and effort, lots of vegetables, herbs, and exercise, but your renewed vigor and figure will outshine your longing for simple, refined sugars. When you start eliminating sugar and processed foods and then go back to them, you will be amazed by how excessively sweet they taste. We must shift our bodies back to states of efficient metabolism, smooth digestion, and clean elimination. It is our responsibility on earth to take care of our bodies.
There is a simple formula to re-sensitize our bodies to that ever-important chemical, insulin. You can follow these recommendations as closely or loosely as you’d like, depending on your degree of insulin resistance:
10 Steps for Better Blood Sugar Handling
1. Eat vegetables, protein, with every meal. A typical day could look like this: eggs and greens for breakfast; berries and nuts for snack; sautéed vegetables and pesto with chicken/mushrooms/fish for lunch; an apple and cheese for snack; lentils and salmon for dinner; 70% or higher dark chocolate with a fat glob of coconut oil and sea salt for dessert.
2. Stay away from fruit juices, tropical, and dried fruits. Berries are the best fruit choices, then things like apples, plums, pears, and citrus fruits. Avoid all processed food and refined sugar. Avoid all breads and grains, especially white bread. After a while, you can start incorporating a bit of good quality, whole and ancient grain treats: sprouted grain bread, whole-wheat sourdough, oatmeal, and buckwheat are some fine examples.
3. Eat the right veggies. Dark leafy greens, brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc.), onions, zucchini, cucumber, squash, peppers, beans, tomatoes, turnips, radishes, lettuce, avocados, asparagus, carrots, parsnips… Wow! there are so many wonderful vegetables to eat. If you are concerned about blood sugar, it’s best to avoid super sweet starchy vegetables like sweet peas, white potatoes and corn. Starchy vegetables that are okay to eat include sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and Jerusalem artichokes.
4. Eat good fats with every meal. Omega 3s – essential for good health and lacking in the modern diet- shift bodies back to un-inflamed states. When we get our body to an un-inflamed state, it will begin to heal itself. Fish oils, walnuts, flaxseed oil, olive oil, and coconut oil are all good sources. Animal fat/butter are okay to eat in small quantities for they have many Omega 6s, which can shift our body back to inflamed states. Some body types, typically prone to constipation, are able to handle large amounts of good fats and need it for smooth digestion. For others, a modest amount of fat will do.
5. AVOID PROCESSED FOODS and TRANS FATS. Even if a processed food doesn’t have sugar, it is still playing a major role in perpetuating insulin resistance and inflammation. The more packaging and indiscernible ingredients, the more processed the food. Processed foods and trans-fats go hand and hand. Humans created trans-fats so they could turn liquid fat into a solid for transporting and processing purposes. Our bodies haven’t quite figured out how to process this new chemically structured fat. Therefore, it doesn’t get processed and just sits in the blood stream causing clunkiness and oxidation. Oxidized fats in the blood is a ticking time bomb for blood clots, heart attacks, stroke, etc. Sometimes, in a pinch you might have to rely on packaged food to fuel you. But feed your cells the right way! Instead, choose nuts, seeds, beef jerky, or a piece of fruit for a quick snack.
7. Get a good quality probiotic and eat fermented foods. Every aspect of our being is dictated by the bacteria in our gut (Salina Nelson, 2016). The bulk of our immunity and neurotransmitters is maintained and manufactured by our gut bacteria. They unlock crucial vitamins and minerals and make nutrients available to us. Gut dysbiosis – an unhealthy bacterial state in our tummies- effects our whole body. Gut dysbiosis, which largely results from lack of vegetables (they eat fiber), excessive sugar, trans-fats, and processed foods, is marked by inflammation. Remember: when our bodies shifts to the alarmed state of inflammation, everything malfunctions. Dr. Ohhira probiotics are a great choice. Stay away from cheap probiotics at convenient stores and those that need refrigeration (probiotics should be shelf stable).
8. Exercise. Move every day. Don’t sit down so much. Little subtle movements add up: use the stairs; bend at the knees rather the hips when you pick something up; take a 30 minute walk after dinner; do ten pushups during your bathroom break (and then wash your hands and smell your pits); stretch. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity, lubricates hungry joints, and facilitates circulation so that life-giving blood can travel to all the places it needs to go. Exercise reduces stress, too. Stress hormones cause inflammation. Are you seeing
9. Don’t eat past 8 PM. It is a bad health habit to go to bed on a full tummy. Digestion takes a lot of energy. Even though we are sleeping, our bodies are still working if we have to digest food and alcohol while we sleep. Night-time is time for our detoxifying organs to do rejuvenation and maintenance work. If you are starving, a small snack is fine.
10. HERBS and MINERALs.
While food and lifestyle habits are foundational, herbs and minerals help wake up our cells to insulin signaling and help us efficiently utilize the fuel we are ingesting. Here are some common herbs and minerals known to improve insulin sensitivity and sugar handling:
-Bitter melon, Momordica charantia
-True cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum
-America Ginseng, Panax quinquefolius
-Triphala (a traditional Ayurvedic blend)
-Turmeric, Curcuma longa
-Fenugreek, Trigonella foenum-graecum
-Licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra
-Blueberry leaf, Vaccinium ssp.
-Mulberry leaf, Morus ssp.
-Any bitter herb (Milk thistle, Artichoke, Gentian, Wormwood)
-Moringa, Moringa oleifera
Any adaptogenic herb is also great to take daily. Adaptogenic herbs strengthen our body’s complex reactions to stress. They are generally regarded as safe to take daily and come in many different forms. Find the one that works with your body. I like Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum/tenuiflorum).
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Like Julia Child says, “Everything in moderation, even moderation”. Treat sweets and breads like just that - a treat! When you do this, your appreciation and enjoyment of them will enhance greatly.
Head over to our online shop to check out our Healing Harvest Tea, designed to enhance digestion and blood sugar handling
Eileen Brantley & Amy Wright
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