Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Brain Blend

I have made a brain blend which is roughly equal parts of:

Nettles
Macuna Puriens
Kava
Ginseng
Foti
Gotu Kola
Gingko
Saint John's Wort
Green Tea

Nettles gives Serotonin. Macuna Puriens gives Dopamine. Kava gives GABA. These three brain nutrients are necessary for biochemical sanity. Ginseng, Foti, and Gotu Kola are from a Taoist longevity formula with Ginseng being a very good general tonic that also helps the brain and Gotu Kola being an Aryurvedic brain tonic. Gingko helps the brain get the oxygen it needs and has been also considered a brain booster. I suspect that it is an "anapest" which means it helps to deliver nutrients to where they are needed inside us, especially to the brain. Saint John's Wort and Kava have a calming and balancing effect on mood. I suspect that they both help to regenerate the nervous system. Green Tea contains Theanine which is also a relaxant (which balances the caffeine in Green Tea) and also contains polyphenols which are antioxidants for the brain.

The blend has a Korea Ginseng powdered tea which rapidly dissolves in boiling water. I have been boiling an actual Ginseng root (Red Ginseng) with two cinnamon sticks in about 4 cups of water, then removing the root and sticks for re-use. I then add the brain blend, two tablespoons, and a little more water (if evaporation has reduced the amount). If I do add water, I now use double microclustered filtered well water. The mobile park that I live in has well water pumped, water softened, and tested for purity regularly (which it passes easily and is purer than the city water), then it passes through an inline Brita filter which takes out a lot of the clorine and other things. While the Brita filter is not as fine a filter as some water filters, it takes out large microscopic debris and chlorine well. I then spin the water in a Vitalizer which "hexaclusters" the water within a magnetic vortex. This means that six water molecules are magnetically linked together into a cluster. This is smaller than the usual microcluster (though I must admit, I do not have the equipment to verify this claim, yet the water does feel different and good from being vortex-ed). I then use a solid state high voltage arc device to run current across a thin glass of this water. My belief is that this ionized plasma field creates some beneficial ozone and also further breaks up the hexacluster to an even smaller cluster. With the smaller microcluster, the water molecules more easily pass through the cell membrane and can clear up more cellular debris. When I make tea with microclustered water, it usually is darker than tea made with regular water. It does seem to extract more potencies from the herbs. It seems that heating microclustered water may re-assemble the macroclusters, so rather than to pour microclustered water into a pot and boil it, I pour small amounts into the pot at intervals when the herbs are already present and stir.

After the brew has been made, I use a fine steel mesh strainer to remove the matter, and pour the liquid into a glass pitcher (I use old coffee pots which can be found very cheap at thrift stores and which are excellent). I sometimes go further and add:

Anise Essential Oil (1-2 drops)
Bergamot Essential Oil (1-2 drops)
Vanilla Extract (one dropper squirt)
Anise Extract (one dropper squirt)
Cardamom Essential Oil (1-2 drops)
Coconut Milk (four tablespoons)
Black Seed Oil (one small squirt)
Eucalyptus Essential Oil (1-2 drops)

I use a whisk and spin it by holding it between my palms and moving my hands in opposite directions back and forth. My belief is that the oils help extract further nutrients from the herbs and make them more bio-available.

The batch of brain blend that I made today had included some Cardamom powder (1 tablespoon). I may add this powder to the overall recipe, but at this point I have not yet decided. It seems to synergize very well with the formula and have a wide array of good healing effects. I suspect it combines well with the Eucalyptus Essential Oil to open up the lung/heart region and the sinuses. Cardamom seems to have most of the healing properties of Ginger (which belongs to the same herbal family) and more. I may also experiment with adding a very small amount of Ephedra. I put my Ephedra in spice shaker bottle and just spinkle a small amount into a brew. It would be equivalent to the amount delivered by shaking a salt shaker three times (one shake from a bottle with holes a little smaller than three ring binder paper).

Again, I am only sharing my herbal explorer notes and experience. The above recipe should not be construed as any kind of prescription or as a treatment for a specific illness. It is up to the reader to take care to make sure there are no contra-indications. For instance, Ephedra does not mix well with some Asthma prescription medications and could cause a heart shock. Having said this, the above herbs are generally very safe (Ephedra is the one that requires skill and if you are uncertain just skip it or keep it at the low dose I always use). One precaution is about the essential oils which need to be therapeutic grade and food grade. Some companies apparently do chemical extractions of the oils which may leave small amounts of toxic residues. These are usually labeled "for external use only" and often even admonish people to not even put them on their skin (at least not without cutting them with sesame oil or olive oil). Not all essential oils labeled this way are bad to take internally (always dilute), though, because some companies just play it safe legally by never saying that they have food grade or therapeutic grade. This way they cannot be legally liable. It is tricky, though, because many companies may buy different batches of essential oils from different sources, some being purer and better than others, and market them with the same label. Companies that play it safe and have a good purity will sometimes tell you on the phone that their products do have some potency and purity testing. They sometimes will also tell you their extraction method if they make their own essential oils. I like the CO2 extraction method and the steam distillation method. I would generally avoid chemical essential extraction oils.

I think it is also good to visualize your brewing pot as a magical cauldron and to invoke higher blessing energies from the Buddha worlds. I do often draw Reiki symbols over the brew and visualize light pouring into the brew. I activate sacred space and choose to brew the herbs within a meditative state and within conscious breathing. I do believe that this helps increase the potency of the herbs. I feel that herbs are more than chemical bundles and do have a living potency to them that does not reduce to a chemical action. By making the process conscious, intentional, and meditative, deeper subtle potencies can be brought out of the herbs. I think this also re-tunes are cells to receive the herbal blessings more deeply.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mullein

Much of my exploration of herbs has been to help my brother James recover from what has been assessed as "chemical sensitivity", "universal reactor syndrome", and "acute sinusitis". After conventional medicine, with its allergy shots, failed to give long term relief, he had been taking Benadryl just to get by. The side effect was feeling sluggish and drowsy very often. He eventually was taking six pills per a day and was pushing beyond the recommended dosage on the package. I was concerned that this would affect his liver function and have other side effects. By some good luck, I had bought some Green Tea with Cardamom at a Moslem grocery store while living in Minneapolis. The effect of this simple tea was miraculous and would clear his sinus headache within a half hour. When we had moved to Minneapolis, he was only able to drive for about 45 minutes a per a day and was basically a relief person when I was really tired. When we moved back from Minneapolis, he was able to drive more than half of the total trip to Oregon and enjoy driving. We kept filling up the thermos with hot water, stevia, the Green Tea with Cardamom, and a lemon rind. He got healthier and healthier along the way. We eventually ran out of the stockpile of this tea and could not easily find another source to get it. I found that I could make a better brew, though, by grinding fresh cardamom seeds and then boiling them. The Green Tea, while synergistically helpful, was not the crucial ingredient. It was the Cardamom that was the most helpful. We eventually built a medicinal Chai formula around this herb that was more supportive than the just the Green Tea (and had Green Tea within it too).

When I looked up the herb online, we found that nearly everything that Cardamom was known to help was a symptom that my brother had. It seems that Mullein is also similar in this manner. We are adding this to the list of herbs we have found that is helpful to my brother's condition. Among them are Ephedra (just a pinch), Fenugreek, Feverfew (especially for the headache part), Turmeric (generally good anti-inflamatory), Kombucha (for the enzymes and probiotics), Wild Cherry Bark, Slippery Elm, Saint John's Wort, Kava, Valerian, Mugwort, Camomile, Mint (as a synergist to help other herbs work well), Golden Seal, Oregon Grape Root, Andrographis (the last three seem to be anti-candida herbs or anti-systemic infection), Black Seed, and Cinnamon. There are a few synergist sets in the above list. Some are morning herbs and some are evening herbs. Licorice, Cat's Claw, Astragalus, Shatavari Root, Pleurisy, Bedstraw, Yellow Dock, Prickly Ash, Gotu Kola, Ginseng, and Gingko seem to also be helpful, but in a less obvious way.

I wanted to quote some sources that I found regarding Mullein:

From Practical Herbalism:

In more recent times, one of Mullein’s greatest advocates was Dr. John Christopher. He states, “It is the only herb known to man that has remarkable narcotic properties without being poisonous or harmful. It is a great herbal painkiller and nervous soporific, calming and quieting all inflamed and irritated nerves. In wasting diseases (such as tuberculosis or consumption), the weight steadily increases, expectoration becomes easy, cough calms, and the general condition is improved. Mullein soothes and strengthens the bowels and renal system, and is one of the most important for the glands and serous and mucous membranes. It stops the escape of fluids from ruptured vessels, and eliminates toxins.”

Mullein’s gentle nature makes it one of the very best herbs for use with children’s health problems. It combines wonderfully with Chamomile, Catnip, and Lemon Balm where appropriate, and can be used to address a wide variety of childhood diseases.

From The How To Herb Book:

  • Used in all respiratory problems and pulmonary diseases.
  • Loosens mucus and expels it out of the body.
  • High in iron, magnesium, potassium, and sulfur.
  • Calms spasms and is a natural pain killer.
  • Helps to reduce swelling in glandular system.
  • Oil or extract of mullein for ear drops.

Has been used in the following:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Coughs
  • Croup
  • Earaches
  • Emphysema
  • Glandular swellings
  • Lungs
  • Joints, swollen, fomentation
  • Pain
  • Mucous membrane
  • Pulmonary diseases
  • Respiratory
  • Sinus
  • Sores

  • From Nutritional Herbology:

    Mullein has a folk history of use that focuses on respiratory ailments. It has traditionally been used to treat coughs, colds, croup, bronchitis, and asthma. Because of its soothing nature, it has also been used to treat hemorrhoids, ulcers, and inflammatory skin disorders. The flowers and seeds contain an essential oil used to treat earaches. Mullein is considered the herb of choice of lung ailments.

    Contain mucilaginous compounds that decrease the thickness and increase the production of mucosal fluids. These compounds also soothe inflamed tissues. Mullein also contains aromatic compounds that increase the flow of urine. The herb has been used to treat bronchitis, coughs, colds, hay fever, dysuria, nephritis and sinus congestion.

    From The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine by Daniel B. Mowry, Ph.D., ISBN 0-936361-00-5, page 147:

    Mullein Leaf, a demulcent, is used externally in poultices and internally in capsules to soothe irritated mucous membranes. The leaf yields a peculiar fatty matter that reduces swelling and pain. It was recommended by Dioscorides several hundred years ago, and the technique has survived ever since. Even though the plant was introduced to American soil from Europe, many North American Indian tribes used it extensively, including Catawbas, Choctaws, Creeks, Potawatomis and Menoinees. In India, Mullein has enjoyed good popularity not only as a demulcent, but also as a bacteriostatic. In that country, and a few others, Mullein has been used to treat tuberculosis for centuries. That practice has found substantiation in laboratory tests wherein Mullein significantly inhibited mycobacterium tuberculosis.

    I am planning to experiment primarily with using Mullein as an ingredient in an a medicinal herbal tea. I like that it grows right in the area where I live (Southern Oregon) and can be easily gathered. I am hoping to transplant the herb into my garden and see if it will take.

    I made a tea for my brother James which had Mullein as the main ingredient and was supported by Wild Cherry Bark, Slippery Elm, Stevia, Chamomile, Alfalfa (for the calcium), Pleurisy, Marshmallow, Cat's Claw, Lemon Balm (from my garden) and Saint John's Wort. The focus was to choose synergistic herbs that would help the hemorrhoids. But it seemed that Mullein also mitigated a sinus headache and as a kind of nerve tonic to help relax. It seems whatever helps a person relax also helps to heal (provided it does not knock a person out like a powerful sedative).

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    Horseradish: Sinus Congestion Remedy

    http://www.organichorseradish.com/recipes/recipetoc.htm

    HORSERADISH TEA
    • Cut eight 1/2 inch cubes FRESH horseradish root
    • Place in cup
    • Fill cup with boiling water
    • Let stand a few minutes
    • CAUTION! The longer this steeps, the hotter it gets, so remove roots from cup when tea is the desired potency. It has a very pleasant taste, and clears my sinuses. Instantly!
    ______________________________________________________________

    http://www.essortment.com/all/horseradishroot_rrtx.htm

    The horseradish plant grows up to three feet tall and has lush green leaves, but the only part that is used is the root. The root contains a high content of mustard oil and is very favorable in Aromatherapy because of its natural healing abilities. Some of the many uses for horseradish are relieving the symptoms of the flu, sore throat, and bronchitis. It can be made into vinegar, in teas and syrups; it can also be applied as a poultice to improve blood circulation.

    [note: The article goes on to share how horseradish has enzymes and antibacterial agents, how to make a horseradish vinegar, and even how to mix it with warm milk to aid digestion and alleviate bloating. This article uses grated horseradish, rather than cubes, for making horseradish tea.]

    ___________________________________________________________________

    http://www.ghorganics.com/page15.html

    Horseradish
    (preventative for fungal disease)
    Penn State University announced in 1995 that minced horseradish holds promise in decontaminating wastewater and now says it may clean contaminated soils as well!
    Penn State's center for Bioremediation and Detoxification reports that minced horseradish combined with hydrogen peroxide can completely remove chlorinated phenols and other contaminants found in industrial wastes. Experiments involve applying the mixture directly to tainted soils or growing horseradish in contaminated soil and roto
    -tilling the roots just before applying hydrogen peroxide!

    The cleansing properties of horseradish have been known for more than a decade, however creating a purified form has been far too expensive. This method has proved to be just as effective, but at a fraction of the cost!

    Horseradish Tea: You can also make a tea from horseradish roots to use as a preventative spray for fungal diseases. This is especially useful against brown rot in apple trees. The white flesh of the horseradish root also contains significant amounts of calcium, magnesium and vitamin C.
    To make: Process one cup of roots in food processor till finely chopped. Combine this with 16 ounces of water in a glass container and let soak for 24 hours. Strain liquid, discard the solids. Now mix the liquid with 2 quarts of water and spray.

    _____________________________________________________________________________________

    I found these entries on some websites interesting in regard to horseradish. I plan to figure a way of adding this into a sinus congestion formula targeted for sinusitus. This is my initial research, but it does explain some of my experiences with wasabi (horseradish) when I have some cucumber nori rolls at a sushi place. As usual, please keep in mind that these are explorers notes. I cannot be responsible for how this might mix with prescriptions or any unique reactions from a specific biochemical individuality. If you have any doubts, please check with a qualified health practitioner. Horseradish is particularly strong and this consideration may apply even more than usual. It seems that a little bit goes a long way.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Mugwort and Green Tea


    A picture of Mugwort plants (light grey green leafy plant) growing near where I live.

    Disclaimer: The information on this website is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified health professional or meant to replace any medical treatment that might be necessary to overcome a specific illness. I am only offering my own pioneer notes and research notes about what I have found useful in my own experience. I do believe in biochemical individuality. What works for one person may not work for another. It is up to the reader to determine whether or not something might be useful for himself or herself in what is shared here. I cannot take responsibility for whatever the results are, positive or negative, that happen from being inspired by what is shared here. I do believe that the ultimate responsibility for our health and sanity is in ourselves and no one else. I will, however, do my best to offer reliable information, quote sources as accurately as I can, correct anything as quickly as I find out otherwise, and give possible contraindications for taking certain herbs or combining herbs with other things. If you are taking a medical prescription drug, it is up to you to make sure that anything you take or eat is compatible with the prescription and does not produce unwanted side effects. You may wish to check with a medical doctor or health professional to make sure. Some herbs are very powerful and need to be used wisely. Some herbs also do not combine with certain prescription drugs. For instance, Ephedra does not combine with certain Asthma medications and could lead to anaphalactic shock. I had one friend who took a powerful mix of oriental herbs in a tea form who was one Asthma medication and did go to the hospital in anaphalactic shock. This mix was propagated by an MLM marketer who told him that it was safe. The mix did not have Ephedra but seemed to have many strong stimulants that acted in a similar way. I mention this case, because it is an example from observed experience that there are some risks. I know that many disclaimers in health books and sites may only do so because it is legally required. I am putting this disclaimer here because I feel it is not merely legally important, but is also ethically and biologically important. I have worked with many people as a health professional and have seen met many people who have to watch everything that they are taking, including food. My personal feeling is that all of us, if we are aiming for optimal health, need to become sensitive to what truly helps us and what truly hurts us. Most herbs, when taken according to the traditional lore built up for at least hundreds of years of human experience and some for thousands of years, are very safe. Prescription drugs are still somewhat experimental to me having at best decades of human use and some clinical trials to support them. Some over the counter ones seem general safe to use if you follow the guidelines on the labels. Many combinations of prescription drugs are very experimental and may need a health professional to monitor their use to make sure the side effects are manageable.

    I wanted to create a blog where herbs can be discussed that help us to meditate and to heal. According to Zen tradition, Bodhidharma was getting frustrated that he was falling asleep in zazen (Zen meditation practice). In his frustration, he tore out his eyelids so that he could not fall asleep. Where his eyelids landed sprung two green tea plants. This story is allegorical, but was an inspiration for the Zen Tea Ceremony as well as the use of Green Tea to help Zen students meditate. The caffeine does seem to help a person stay more alert in meditation practice, while the theanine seems to relax a person. There are also polyphenols in Green Tea that act as a brain antioxidant. Green Tea also seems to have thermogenetic properties and therefore assists in weight loss and fat burning. I suspect that many herbs, like Green Tea, have a living potency to them that is not fully described by its known biochemical properties or by the traditional herbal lore. There have been studies that show that Green Tea has some anti-cancer properties. When it is dried in a high nitrogen environment, it seems to increase the amount of GABA in Green Tea. GABA is like the earth element for the Brain. It has a calming and grounding effect. In a book called THE EDGE EFFECT by Eric R. Braverman, M.D., GABA is one of the four main brain chemicals we need to have in balance in order to be sane and function well. The four chemicals are (1) GABA, (2) Serotonin, (3) Dopamine, and (4) Acetylcholine. GABA is the one we can take directly. The others need to be converted or synthesized from something else (Serotonon from L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP Tryoptophan, Dopamine from L-Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, or L-Dopa, and Acetylcholine from Choline, Acetyl-carnitine, and L-carnitine).

    Mugwort is an herb used in Acupunture Moxa treatments. I found a website that nicknamed Mugwort "Lucid Dreaming Tea" and recommended combining Mugwort with Camomile and Peppermint to support its effect. I have combined Mugwort with Oolong Tea and Stevia (my favorite nonsugar sweetener) and found that this also seems to work. My ability to remember dreams is fairly good, but it did seem to help a little. I could feel my third eye glowing a little after drinking it. I suspect it has some brain nutrients that the body finds useful. It seems to also combine well with Kava which is both relaxing and has brain nutrients like GABA. My brother has taken some tea brews with Kava and Mugwort about one hour before sleep. He gets up more refreshed in the morning and seems to need to sleep less. Mugwort has an interesting subtle aroma that seems to help remembering dreams and possibly helping to learn to be awake in dreams in realtime. Some people make little pillows stuffed with Mugwort and let the smell help them, sometimes combining the Mugwort with Lavender.