Fresh Elderberry Syrup Recipe
'This is more of a folk style recipe, requiring more eyeballing than measuring, so tap into your inner kitchen witch and get cookin'!
Add 1 quart of freshly harvested elderberries and 1/3 c of filtered water to a pot. Bring to a gentle boil then quickly reduce to a simmer (uncovered) for about 15 minutes, until the berries are very soft and your house is fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool a bit before adding to a food processor or blender (this is an extra step that I think really kicks the flavor and medicine up a notch). Blend well and then strain out the seeds and stems using a sieve or colander over a bowl. Compost the solids and add the purple liquid back to the pot along with ~2 tbsp fresh or ground ginger and 10 green cardamom pods. Bring back to a simmer and reduce by half, about 15-20 min. Remove from heat and strain out the ginger and cardamom directly into a measuring glass,
At this point, you want to measure the reduced juice so you can add equal parts of honey*. Mix well and let cool completely before bottling. Store in the fridge for up to 3 months. Take 1-2 tbsp throughout the day at the first sign of a cold.
*it's important that honey isn't exposed to temperatures over 104 F lest some important enzymes be destroyed.
Enjoying Coffee in More Ways than One
Enemas aren’t anything new. We are talking about a practice that’s been happening since 1,500 B.C! From China to Africa and South America to North, inventive humans across the globe have fashioned animal bladders, bamboo pipes, and all sorts of contraptions to flush the bowels and jump-start detoxification.
Using coffee for enemas became a thing in WWI. Wounded soldiers were routinely prepped for surgery using water enemas. In a pinch with no water around, a nurse used coffee and the results were amazing! When soldiers started noting how much better they felt post-coffee enema, they became standard protocol.
Enemas: Much More Than Just Helping You Poop
We think of enemas as only clearing out poop, but their benefits are far more reaching than that. In fact, coffee enemas in particular support the liver as much as they clear crud from the colon.
Just inside our rectum (last part of our colon before the anus, or our butthole) resides our hemorrhoidal veins. These veins connect to the major venous system of the liver, the hepatic portal. The coffee’s vasodilatory effect opens these vessels up so that all of its antioxidant-rich compounds are delivered much more directly and quickly than simply drinking coffee. Plus, coffee ingested this way hasn’t been broken down by our stomach acid.
With all this stimulating coffee entering the dilated hepatic portal vessels, the liver is triggered to secrete bile. Bile is a critical component of detoxification but many of us, due to a surplus of toxins in our environment and food supply, have lackluster bile creation and flow. Basically, blood is sent to the liver to have all the waste filtered out, and at any given moment, the liver is holding ~10% of our blood! The bile is responsible for removing that captured waste. If we have a sluggish bile, the toxins filtered out of the blood will build up and create a sludgy mess. Sometimes this blocks the bile duct, other times it causes inflammation which stresses the immune system and leads to a vicious cycle of chronic disease. By stimulating bile flow, coffee enemas have the power to de-gunk and unblock, allowing relief and a revitalized detoxification system of the liver and colon. Coffee also stimulates contraction of the gallbladder, the organ that holds the bile for us during digestion. A happily contracting gallbladder means better fat digestion and toxin clearing and less risk of gallstones.
Coffee contains 2 unique constituents found nowhere else: kahweol and cafestol palmitate. Both are known to support healthy gene expression by turning on the genes that increase the rate of detoxification in our intestines. They’ve also been shown to increase the level of glutathione, our most powerful antioxidant, in both the colon and the liver. Glutathione and other antioxidants are vital for breaking down harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS), heavy metals, and other carcinogens and toxins. (1) In particular, glutathione plays a role in inhibiting neoplasia, or the uncontrolled & abnormal growth of tissue - basically what happens in cancerous situations (so my coffee shop customer was right after all!). Theophylline, also found in chocolate and tea, has been used to reduce inflammation in the liver and intestines.Caffeine serves to dilate blood vessels, improving circulation, Qi flow, and delivery of the healing compounds dramatically
As herbalists, we know the power of the whole is far greater than a few constituents isolated for science. While these identified compounds are fun to extract and goggle over, it’s the whole bean that offers a matrix of thousands of healing compounds. Together, they create a cooling, diuretic, parasympathetic-stimulating, and anti-inflammatory dose of goodness for our insides.
What You’ll Need
-Coffee - but not just any coffee. It must be organic, mold-free, fully caffeinated & light roasted (less roasting means more helpful compounds). We like Kion or this.
-Distilled or purified (reverse osmosis) is definitely the best option. I love LivePristine water filters for drinking and doing enemas. Berkey filtered water would be the next best thing, but try to use distilled or R.O. if you can! (definitely don't use water straight from the tap!!!)
-Coffee enema steel bucket - we like this one!
-Something to lubricate the end of the tube that goes inside you. We like coconut oil!
-A comfy spot in your bathroom to do the deed.
HOW TO* (I promise it’s not as messy as you think):
-The best time to do it is in the morning after your first poop. Removing all the poop and trapped gas beforehand will make the experience much more pleasant. Remember that coffee is stimulating so doing this later in the day may disturb your sleep.
-Choose a bathroom with a shower to set up your enema. Lay out a yoga mat or some towels on the floor or in the tub- somewhere close to the toilet. You will be laying on this during the cathartic experience.
-Make your coffee:
Take 3 flat tablespoons of your organic, mold-free ground coffee and add it to 1 quart of distilled water in a pot. Bring to a boil then let simmer for 10-20 minutes (depending on strength desired). Strain and cool until the water is slightly warm/body temp. If you are new to coffee enemas, add 1-2 tbsp of this coffee to 1 quart of filtered, room-temp filtered or distilled water & save the rest of this "mother" coffee for later enemas. As you get more advanced, you can work your way up to using the entire quart of the "mother" as your enema liquid.* (boiling/simmering will reduce the amount of water, so just add more until you have 1 quart).
-Pour the water-coffee mixture into your steel enema bucket, making sure the tube is clamped so it doesn’t immediately come pouring out. Hang the bucket from your shower.
-Rub some coconut oil on the tip of the tube or on your bum and gently ease it in while laying on your back or your left side. When you are ready, gradually undo the clamp so the liquid slowly flows out of the bucket and into you. Try to fill your booty up with ½ of the quart. If you feel cramping before this, close the flow and let the cramping pass or remove the tip and relieve yourself on the toilet. The goal is to hold each ½ of the quart for 10-15 minutes. Also, if you can’t hold it more than a minute - don’t fret! You are still getting some benefit and the more you do it, the easier it gets.
-Be sure to thoroughly clean, sterilize, and dry every part of the enema kit following the kit’s instructions.
The whole process should take less than an hour.
Take slow deep breaths when the cramping starts to help you hold it a bit longer. I like to breathe deeply while swaying back and forth on my back to take my mind off the toilet.
Start with 1 tbsp of coffee per quart of water, working your way up to 4 tbsp.
Start with 1 coffee enema/week, doing up to 3x a week (unless otherwise directed by your healthcare professional, multiple times a day is not a good idea - you can only release so many toxins at one time).
NOT TOO HOT, NOT TOO COLD.
Never use hot coffee to do an enema (YOWCH!) Let it cool down to a slightly warm or lukewarm temperature (diluting filtered water will facilitate this as well). At the same time, cold coffee enemas are not pleasant either. I like my coffee enema liquid to be gently warm to the touch; this creates a soothing experience.
You don't want to forget about cleaning out your kit. I do this with warm soapy water immediately after my enema and am sure to let it dry completely before storing. Running hydrogen peroxide through the tube is also a good idea.
*Be sure you speak with your healthcare professional before starting any new healthcare routine. Coffee enemas can be very helpful, but if you aren’t yet ready in your detoxification optimization journey, they could do more harm than good.
Are You a Tooth Seeker?
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
We love Dr. Mark Burhenne’s approach to oral care. You can follow him at @Askthedentist or check out his website www.askthedentist.com)
To learn more about the tooth truth about fluoride, visit www.fluoridealert.org
Creative Commons: Aracaria Biodynamic Farm, Nikonian Novice
How Mushrooms Heal Us (and the World!)
Mushrooms are medicine for humans and the Earth. Not many creatures can transform waste into raw materials to sustain life. While the majestic and beautiful animals like lions, elk, and eagles get all the glory, life simply would not exist without decomposers like mushrooms. We are wise to invest more time and energy into understanding these unique and sometimes ugly, weird, and smelly life forms. They humbly hold our world together and could be the answer to a handful of environmental and human health concerns, including toxic waste accumulation, cancer, and auto-immune disorders. Mushrooms are medicines for humans and the Earth.
Eileen Brantley & Amy Wright
We are Herb Girls Athens, LLC. Read our blog!
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