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Erbe e piante medicinali che non sapevi di avere nel tuo giardino (o balcone)

Al giorno d’oggi quando siamo malati siamo abituati a prendere subito una pillola o una piccola iniezione per sentirci meglio (o almeno così si spera!). Tuttavia in passato la conoscenza e l’uso delle erbe medicinali era l’unica soluzione possibile per curare le malattie. Col tempo vennero così studiate, catalogate e impiegate tutte le erbe e piante definite “medicinali” o “officinali“, ovvero usate e vendute nelle “officine” (=farmacie, speziali, ecc.) come vere e proprie medicine.

Gli speziali dell’epoca (i nostri farmacisti, per dire) erano coloro che conoscevano le varie tecniche di lavorazione, preparazione e conservazione delle piante, e se ne servivano per realizzare svariati rimedi medicamentosi (oli, unguenti, decotti, tisane ecc.), prodotti cosmetici e profumi. Non era inusuale che anche i monaci si dedicassero a questa attività, assicurandosi così un po’ di profitto per il monastero e più indipendenza dal mondo esterno (specialmente se seguivano una vita in clausura).

Oggi le erbe e le piante officinali sono per lo più utilizzate in prevenzione alla salute e al benessere, piuttosto che per la cura di per sè (tralascio al momento la naturopatia, fitoterapia, ecc.). Possono essere anche impiegate in cucina (le cosiddette “aromatiche“) oppure, attraverso processi chimici, per creare integratori, cosmetici e altri prodotti per la casa.

In generale, la parte utilizzata della pianta (foglie, fiori, semi, radici ecc.) è chiamata “droga“, ed è la parte che contiene il fitocomplesso cioè l’insieme dei principi attivi che caratterizzano le proprietà del vegetale, non riproducibili per sintesi chimica. Secondo l’OMS infatti, sono definite “medicinali” le erbe e le piante officinali che “contengono in uno o più organi, sostanze che possono essere utilizzate a fini terapeutici o preventivi o che sono precursori di emisintesi chemiofarmaceutiche”, ovvero da cui derivano preparati farmacologicamente attivi. Di conseguenza una pianta è definita officinale o medicinale in un paese e non in un altro a seconda delle legislazioni e dei processi di lavorazione.

Se avete intenzione di iniziare a coltivare voi stessi il vostro giardino officinale e/o aromatico, considerate bene se la pianta che volete coltivare è annuale o perenne, se ha bisogno di stare a terra oppure in vaso (generalmente le aromatiche possono stare in vaso), quanta acqua e sole necessita e se è compatibile o meno con altre piante attorno (per il rischio di parassiti ecc.).

  • MENTA / MENTA PIPERITA

Ne esistono di tantissimi tipi ma la menta piperita ha una concentrazione di essenza molto alta nelle foglie, che vengono raccolte tra Luglio e Agosto.

Agisce per lo più a livello del sistema gastrointestinale, perché aiuta la digestione e ha un’azione antispasmodica della muscolatura liscia. Il mentolo che la menta contiene ha un’azione tonificante, quindi non bevetela prima di dormire se non si vuole soffrire di insonnia. E’ inoltre noto che la menta sia utile per lievi infiammazioni delle vie aeree: i famosi suffumigi hanno un’azione battericida e liberano anche il naso essendo balsamici.

Attenzione! Non si usa sui bambini perché può dare spasmi.

  • TARASSACO

Tutti possono riconoscerlo grazie al suo caratteristico fiore giallo e al suo frutto, il soffione. Cresce spontaneamente in campi e prati, quindi non sarà difficile trovarne in abbondanza nel vostro giardino. Del tarassaco si utilizzano le radici, il cui raccolto va da Maggio a Novembre.

Una volta raccolte, le radici vanno essiccate al sole e conservate in barattoli di vetro o di latta. Possono poi essere utilizzate in infusione per la preparazione di una tisana dall’effetto diuretico e depurativo, oppure per uso esterno sul cuoio capelluto per combattere la forfora.

Attenzione! La tisana è controindicata per chi ha problemi ai reni, cuore, chi assume già farmaci diuretici e in chi soffre di allergia all’ambrosia.

  • AGLIO

L’aglio può vivere benissimo in vaso, piantandone i bulbi a Novembre per consumarlo in primavera. L’aglio è il più potente antibatterico naturale. Inoltre, abbassa il colesterolo e la pressione, contribuendo a fluidificare il sangue. Il sapore non piace a tutti, ma se essiccato dà generalmente meno fastidio.

Attenzione! Il consumo di aglio è controindicato durante l’allattamento, e va usato con attenzione da chi segue già cure per la pressione, colesterolo e fluidificazione del sangue, in quanto potrebbe potenziare l’effetto dei farmaci.

  • MELISSA

Ha un’azione miorilassante sulla muscolatura liscia dell’intestino e per questo motivo viene considerata come un ottimo rimedio per chi soffre di sindrome del colon irritabile. Usata in una tisana insieme ad altre erbe (camomilla, valeriana, ecc.), aiuta il rilassamento in generale ed è un buon rimedio contro l’insonnia e l’ansia.

Attenzione! La melissa stimola la tiroide ed è controindicata a chi soffre di problemi di salute in merito.

  • SALVIA

La salvia è un arbusto sempreverde la cui droga è rappresentata principalmente dalla foglia.

Da sempre usata masticandola contro l’alitosi e per avere denti più bianchi, è un battericida naturale, ha grandi proprietà digestive, diminuisce l’eccessiva sudorazione e contiene anche alcune sostanze simili agli ormoni femminili estrogeni che la rendono perfetta in caso di “caldane da menopausa”.

Attenzione! Ne è assolutamente vietato l’uso durante l’allattamento e in gravidanza in quanto blocca la produzione del latte ed ha molecole che possono interagire con gli ormoni femminili. Da utilizzare molto cautamente come olio essenziale.

  • ORTICA

E’ un’erba perenne le cui foglie possono essere raccolte da Aprile a Settembre, ovviamente utilizzando dei guanti (e tutti sanno il perchè!). Il potere irritante delle foglie di ortica scompare con l’essiccazione o dopo la cottura.

L’ortica è considerata benefica per il suo contenuto di sali minerali e vitamina C, nonchè per avere un potere antinfiammatorio (cosa piuttosto ironica). La tisana può essere bevuta calda al momento, oppure una volta raffreddata, è un ottimo tonico per il viso per la cura della pelle grassa o mista.

  • TIMO

In questo caso la droga della pianta sono le foglie ed i fiori, che oltre ad avere una buonissima aromaticità da usare in cucina, sono anche antibatteriche grazie al timolo contenuto in esse.

Il timo agisce benissimo sull’apparato digestivo e respiratorio essendo espettorante e mucolitico. Può essere usato anche come tonico del cuoio capelluto, stimolando la crescita del capello.

Attenzione! L’olio essenziale di timo non va mai usato per uso interno, perché anche a basse dosi può dar fastidio.

  • LAVANDA

La lavanda ama molto la siccità e se ne utilizzano i fiori appena sbocciati fatti essiccare al sole. È usatissima come profumatore di cassetti ed armadi o per fare cuscini aromatici.

E’ molto usata in aromaterapia perché rilassa il sistema nervoso centrale, oppure come sedativo in aggiunta alle tisane.

Attenzione! Se le dosi sono troppo alte ha l’effetto contrario di eccitante. L’olio essenziale non deve andare a contatto con la pelle dei bimbi.

Altre erbe e piante che vale la pena menzionare ma di cui non posso fare tutta le descrizione sono le seguenti: Dragoncello, Erba cipollina, Rosmarino, Finocchio, Maggiorana, Origano, Anice, Basilico, Prezzemolo, Peperoncino, Coriandolo, Santoreggia, Aneto, Issopo, Calendula, Camomilla, Echinacea, Tanaceto, Valeriana e Malva.


Mi raccomando fate attenzione quando utilizzate rimedi fitoterapici di qualsiasi tipo, specialmente gli oli essenziali. Rivolgetevi sempre al vostro farmacista o naturopata di fiducia riguardo il dosaggio e le controindicazioni e sempre prima di iniziare una cura. Non dimenticate inoltre di chiedere un parere al vostro medico curante!

5 Common Myths about Yoga

This is a guest post written by Emily Lopes (find out more). Thanks for this great article and for collaborating to Abundy Holistic Studio’s purpose!

 

Yoga has been making its way to the mainstream. According to a survey from the Yoga Journal and the Yoga Alliance, the yoga industry is booming in America. It grew from an approximate of 20.4 million in 2012 to 36.7 million yoga practitioners last 2016 in America alone. This 2019, the yoga industry is transitioning to be at the top of the fitness trends. The yoga revolution will continue to take place from 2019 to 2020, making the revenue projection to an approximate $11.6 billion in 2020.

But despite the rapid growth yoga shown within the years, there are still a lot of people who have a tweaked view about this practice. Here are the most common myths about yoga:

  1. If you’re not flexible, you can’t do yoga 

You have to do some stretching in yoga. That’s a fact. Practicing yoga regularly can improve your flexibility. But flexibility is not a prerequisite. With patience and dedication, you will become more flexible. No matter what your skill level is, you are always welcome to do yoga. Besides, nobody said that you have to be ripped or fit already before going to the gym. 

  1. Yoga is for the young

There is a stereotype that yoga is for the young, the slim, the active, or the beautiful. Since people think that yoga is for flexible people, there is a weight, body physique, or age requirement – which is generally incorrect. Just because we usually see people deemed to be perfect in figure or young and active individuals posting on social media, doesn’t always mean you have to be like that. While it is attractive and inspiring, it can be misleading. Yoga is for everybody. No matter what size, shape, color, or race, you are welcome to enter the world of yoga. 

  1. Yoga is not for men

In connection with the myth above, yoga has been associated with women. There are instances that when you visit a yoga studio, it is flocking with women. But to tell you the truth, yoga was pioneered by men. According to history, most of the best yoga teachers are men. In today’s time, more and more men are finally engaging and participating in yoga classes. The list includes Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Kevin Love. So if people say that yoga isn’t ‘manly’ enough, prove them wrong by joining a class or two. 

  1. Yoga is expensive 

If you’re worrying that you do not have the ‘right look’ for yoga, throw it away. You do not need a collection of branded outfits just to practice yoga. Yoga doesn’t care about who you wear. It cares about how you perform your salutations, how you keep up with the pace, and how great it is that you’re going to experience the amazing benefits of yoga. Though having such pieces of clothing can make you look good and feel good, yoga is not about the looks. As long as you are in your comfortable self in comfortable and yoga-appropriate clothing, you look good already.

In terms of yoga classes, there are a lot of studios from all over the world that provide free to less costly trial classes. Most of the yoga studios offer packages that help you save more than purchasing a single class from time to time. You can also attend yoga classes offered by different retreat venues for hire. The most important thing that yoga practitioners wanted you to know is that yoga is not an expensive practice. 

  1. Yoga is boring because it’s too slow and takes too much time

There are various formal yoga classes that run from 30 – 90 minutes. There are also lots of online yoga classes that you can try for 5 minutes or so. A class in a few minutes is not enough to unlock the whole package of benefits yoga has to offer. All good things take time. If you also worry that pace is too slow for you, you can find different yoga types that are more rigorous and that have more challenging styles and poses. 

Here are other misconceptions about yoga. Yoga is neither magic nor a religion. It is not just for the ‘hippies’ or the ‘cool ones’ but for everyone. Yoga is more than just an exercise or a body of work but a combination of it with psychology and spirituality. Yoga has a lot to offer and is best to experience for yourself. May we have the courage to debunk these beliefs if we hear them from someone somewhere.

Your tongue speaks for your health

“Stick out your tongue!” This is what a traditional chinese medicine (= TCM) pratictioner will say to you as soon as you are checked. But don’t worry, he is not making fun of you.

Your tongue does more than just taste food and articulate words, and that was well known since ancient times. Back then doctors had to practice the “tongue diagnosis” to check the overall patients’ health, when x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans did not exist.

But even now it is a very usefull diagnostic tool, because once this check is done and other aspects of the patient’s status are evaluated, the TCM practitioner may recommend treatment with such therapies as acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet and/or massage.

Why the tongue exam assess the overall health

In TCM, it’s thought that different areas of the tongue reflect connections in the body, both to the meridians and the 5 major internal organs (liver, lung, spleen, heart, and kidney). Therefore, it is very useful and important for confirming or not a diagnosis. It can show also strong visual signs of a person’s overall energetic balance or imbalance.

What to look for

There are mainly 4 features in a tongue that should be examined:

Color: An healthy tongue looks pink and vital. Of course the natural tongue color can vary individually, but taken in conjunction with other information, it is still a very good indicator of what is happening inside your body. Changes in tongue color are said to be te sign of a chronic illness.

Shape: Normal tongue shape is neither too thick nor too thin and the body is smooth with no cracks. This feature tells the amount of the fluids and moisture running through the whole body.

Changes in its shape may include a swollen or puffy tongue, presence of cracks and curling at the sides of the tongue.

Coating: Normally your coating is thin and white/yellowish, but if you are getting sick, you may see a thicker coating developing. The consistency of the tongue’s coating also indicates the state of the fluids and heat in the body (more or less dry tongue).

As the coating is the feature that changes more rapidly, it provides an indication of acute illness in process.

Cracks: When ulcers, wounds or open areas appear on the body tongue areas usually indicate an imbalance problem (deficiency) in that organ and/or meridian. For instance, horizontal cracks are commonly associated with Yin deficiency.

Some tips and key point

  • Remember that some disorders don’t show up in the tongue, and that’s why the TCM pratictioner evaluates the patients’ health considering more diagnostic tools.
  • The tongue should be examined for no longer than 15 seconds at a time, otherwise the extending position may cause changes in its shape and color.
  • Color can be changed by food and beverages, smoke or lack of personal hygiene. Please brush your tongue and avoid oral intakes such as coffee, green tea, beet, or artificially colored candies before your assessment.
  • Patient’s age, gender and weight can influence the tongue look. For instance, overweight patients can show a larger and lighter color tongue and infants tend to have white thick coating that is easily removed, or commonly peeled tongues.
  • The season of the year can affect the look of your tongue. Infact it should be normal during spring, but it may tend to be more dry during summer or more damp in the winter.
  • The time of the day could also be an influencing factor. The coating of the tongue usually becomes thinner as the day progresses, while the color becomes more red and shiny.

I bet now you are very curious to look at your tongue in front of the mirror and check your health. So…which tongue are you?

Discover the properties of Hawthorn

Hawthorn, also known as Mayblossom or Mayflower, is a medicine for the heart on all levels and one of the oldest known medicinal plants. Centuries ago tribes across the northern hemisphere, from North America to China, used this small thorny tree as a wonderful treatment. For instance its berries were the favourite of the Native American Indians as a heart tonic and used against gastrointestinal complaints.

But hawthorn’s effectiveness as an heart medicine was first described by AncientGreek physician, Dioscorides, in the first Century AD. Medical herbal research then has validated this use nowadays, and we can all benefit from it.

How does it look like?

 All the parts of this amazing plant (leaves, berries, and flowers) except for the root, can be used to create an herbal medication. As a plant species, hawthorn was only native to the northern hemisphere, where there are a variety of different types, which produce slightly different fruits. The most common hawthorn fruit is quite small, has a berry shape and is tart, red to pink in color. If you noticed, I did not say that they are berries, but that they have a “berry shape”. This is because they contain a single seed stone inside, much like peaches or plums.

How does it work?

Physiologically hawthorn can help improve the amount of blood pumped out of the heart during contractions, relax the the blood vessels further from the heart, and increase the transmission of nerve signals. It seems that all these effects are due to a component called proanthocyanidin.

Research also suggests that hawthorn can lower the accumulation of fats in the liver and the bloodstream levels of cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad cholesterol”), and triglycerides (fats in the blood). All these thanks to the increase of the excretion of bile, the reduction of the formation of cholesterol, and the enhance of the receptors for LDLs. It also seems to have antioxidant activity.

In 2002 a 10 week study was conducted on 38 volunteers who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Half of the subjects were given 500mg of Hawthorn extract and 600mg of the mineral Magnesium daily, while the other half received a placebo.

After 10 weeks, the Hawthorn/Magnesium group showed a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure, whilst the placebo group did not improve. Additionally, the Hawthorn/Magnesium group reported an improvement in mood as well as lower anxiety levels.

The benefits

  • Improves heart health
  • Stabilizes blood pressure
  • Reduces chest pain
  • Boost the immune system

In addition to the antioxidants eliminating dangerous toxins from the body, the vitamin C contained in hawthorn also helps in boosting the activity of your white blood cells to increase your overall health.

  • Reduces anxiety

Very often, this herb was offered to people who had recently had a broken heart, a loss of a family member, etc. because it was said to improve mood and mend a broken heart. Enzymatically, it turns out that hawthorn may have an impact on our hormonal levels, which then would explain why in the past it was believed so.

  • Increases energy

Hawthorn is known to expand the coronary blood vessels, which allows for more blood to be circulated through the body, which can result in a higher level of energy or alertness.

  • Improves digestion
  • Helps against skin conditions

The antioxidant content in hawthorn makes it useful for applying topically to the skin, particularly on burns, sores, or acne.

On an energetical level, this amazing herb can be used as an energy medicine for the heart. Infact as a flower essence, hawthorn helps open the heart to giving and receiving love, and can help in healing heartache. It encourages self-love and self-acceptance. As with many heart-acting energy remedies, hawthorn helps us to develop courage.

Interactions and side effects

Hawthorn is a gentle medicine that, when indicated, is safe and effective for long term use. It is also safe to use with common cardiovascular medications, but in some people, hawthorn can cause nausea, stomach upset, fatigue, sweating, headache, dizziness, palpitations, nosebleeds, insomnia, agitation, and other problems.

This herb is definetely not indicated if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or you recently had or are going to have surgery.

Hawthorn can also interact with prescription medications (such as digoxin or some beta-blockers), so you must always check with your doctor or medical herbalist before embarking on an herbal treatment plan!

ThetaHealing Explained

Have you ever wondered whether your beliefs may be preventing you from living the life you want?

Not many people have, as there is a tendency to blame your problems on other people, let negative thoughts control your reality and not take account for your own actions. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If there is something about your life that you want to change, chances are it’s your own beliefs that are preventing you from succeeding. ThetaHealing can help you replace these sabotaging beliefs with new, empowering ones!

Everybody benefits in some way from every session and sometimes the positive outcome may come in ways you do not expect. This type of healing empowers you to re-create your life exactly as you choose. Sounds too good to be true? Let’s explain better what exactly this meditation technique is and how it works.

Miraculous ThetaHealing

ThetaHealing was created by Vianna Stibal in 1995, when her own journey back to health with conventional medical treatment had failed. She was suffering from incredible pain, and nothing seemed to be helping, but deep within she believed she already knew how to heal herself. During this time, Vianna continued to work doing intuitive readings. While in this state, she found she could communicate with the Source (the universal life force), and be given answers to her questions. Her right leg, which had shrunk three inches shorter than her left leg, returned instantly to its normal size. The pain was gone, and her leg was healed. Since that time, Vianna has travelled the world to teach people how to use this powerful technique to transform their lives.

Brain waves and healing

How is that possible? You may not know but there are five major frequencies in the human brain: Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. These brain waves are all being used at any one time, but depending on the situation one frequency is always dominant. The Theta wave is the dominant brain wave during very deep meditation, when drifting off to sleep or while under hypnosis.

Scientists have discovered that the Theta brain frequency has been found to alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, facilitate deep relaxation, improve mental clarity and creative thinking, reduce pain, promote euphoria, and provide access to instant healings. When doing Theta Healing, the brain instantly goes into a Theta wave state. It is when in this state you are able to work directly with Source, Spirit, the Universe, God or Creator of All That Is, (depending on your spiritual and religious beliefs), to facilitate powerful healings. Everyone can learn to achieve this state easily.

ThetaHealing in practise

A certified ThetaHealing Practitioner will help you identify unconscious beliefs that are holding you back, or that can lead to physical unease in your body. Many people may be aware of conscious “limiting” beliefs, fears or doubts that prevent them from achieving what they desire. However over the years, we have discovered that there is often an unconscious belief or program that is at the root of the problem.

Once the Theta Healing Practitioner has helped you identify the root belief by “digging” for it, they will then use the Theta Brainwave to go to the Energy of All That Is, and command and witness an instant change to that belief. Once the witnessing is complete, the root belief and all beliefs that have arisen from it like a chain, are changed instantly. The effect can be felt immediately, and the client’s relief is fast and permanent. You will also notice immediately changes in the belief as it will be tested through a “muscle test”.

Create the life you deserve

The possibilities for using ThetaHealing are truly infinite and are really only limited by your imagination and desire to “try it” in any given circumstance! For instance, it has been used in such diverse areas as healing the physical body or rifts in relationships, gaining confidence for public speaking, helping secure new jobs, manifesting the ideal home and partner, improving sales performance and business relationships at work and much more!

You do not need to do anything in preparation for the session. You can use this technique on yourself, your friends and family and even your animals. Remember also that Thetahealing is a technique, not a religion and it is open to all people.

ThetaHealing is a simple, practical, straight-forward technique that is easily learned and refined through repeated use. The more you use it, the more you develop your conscious awareness of the day to day things around you, as well as your unconscious consciousness of the intangible world.

Wheter this is just placebo effect or true, I will let you decide. But I tried it on myself and other people and it always had a great outcome and a positive effect. For more info, finding a practitioner or a course to become a ThetaHealer: Thetahealing.com

Discover the properties of Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is also known as medicinal aloe, “lily of the desert” or “elephant’s gall” and it belongs to the family of succulent plants in the genus ‘Aloe’. Its origin is believed to be in Sudan and has been used for more than 6,000 years, being recognized by many civilizations including the Egyptians, Spanish, Persians, Greeks, Italians, Africans, Japanese, and Indians. It grows best in warm and dry climates and that is why it is densely found in those areas, but it can be easily grown both indoors and outdoors.

Aloe Vera plant is often a stemless or sometimes very short-stemmed juicy plant that grows around 60–100 cm in height and the offsets spread out wide. The leaves of this plant are thick and fleshy and the color varies from green to gray-green. Some varieties of this plant have white flecks on the upper and lower portions of the stem surfaces. The margin of the leaves is like saw-tooth and the flowers bloom during the summer. Each leaf is full of a slimy tissue that stores water, which makes the leaves thick.

This slimy, water-filled tissue is the “gel” we usually associate with Aloe Vera products, and it contains most of the bioactive compounds in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. This plant has also compounds such as mannans, polysaccharides, lectins, and anthraquinones that are extremely beneficial for human health. Let’s have a look at all the benefits of this amazing plant:

  • For skin care (wounds, sores, rashes, etc.)

The pure inner gel extracted from the Aloe leaf is the best natural remedy for skin abrasions and it also helps diminish the symptoms of aging skin conditions like wrinkles. Many skin care and personal care products, toiletries, and cosmetics include Aloe extracts. In fact, if you have its plant at home, simply tear a small part of the leaf, take the gel and apply it in the raw form on your face. The topical external use of this plant is the most commonly known and it has long been known as a treatment for sores, particularly burns, including sunburns. Some people prefer drinking its juice, which also enhances skin health, as the properties of the plant work internally. It also helps in curing stings, rashes, acne, and psoriasis.

  • For beauty (moisturizer, hair care, teeth care etc.)

Aloe Vera has proven to be an excellent option for promoting naturally hair growth and essential to retain voluminous and healthy hair. You can apply its gel to the entire scalp or use a shampoo, which stimultaing your scalp can improves blood circulation and keeps you away from stress and mental tiredness.

Dental and gum diseases can also be cured by Aloe Vera. You can try out this natural remedy at home: put some of its powder on your toothbrush, then brush normally. It will soothe your gums and cure any kind of infection or bruises.

  • For digestion

The adaptogenic properties of Aloe Vera are beneficial for a proper digestion. It ensures better nutrient absorption and also eliminates harmful elements through smooth excretion. Its compounds called polysaccharides have the ability to cure a host of digestive disorders and ulcers, which are one of the most prominent consequences of digestive problems. Many studies have proven that with its anti-inflamamtory qualities it improves issues like Crohn’s disease, peptic ulcers, and other digestive tract disorders, mainly driven by the inflammation of digestive organs.

  • For constipation

This time it is not the gel, but the latex, that provides the benefits. The latex is a sticky yellow residue found just under the skin of the leaf and the key compound responsible for this effect is called aloin, or barbaloin, which has well-established laxative and diuretic effects (however, some concerns have been raised about safety issues with frequent use).

  • For immunity

Aloe Vera gel, again, contains powerful antioxidants, which belong to a large family of substances known as polyphenols. These polyphenols, along with several other compounds in Aloe vera, can help inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections in humans. Beverages made with aloe vera juice possess natural detoxifying properties that effectively cleanse the digestive system and the circulatory system. As the absorption level of nutrients accelerates, it results in better blood circulation and also improves health. Infact, when the blood is oxygen-rich, it automatically provides nutrients within the cells more proficiently. Zinc is also an important component in this fantastic plant and it’s essential to maintain a proper immune function.

  • For diabetes and general regulation of blood sugar

Some evidence in humans and animals suggested that Aloe Vera is able to alleviate the chronic hyperglycemia (high blood sugar level) and perturbed lipid (fat) profile that are common among people with diabetes and are major risk factors for cardiovascular complications.

  • For pain

The extract of Aloe Vera has shown to be an excellent stimulant of the uterus and intake of its juice is very beneficial during painful menstruation.

The anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe Vera help it to work efficiently on joints and muscle pains, caused by heavy physical acivity or diseases like gout or arthritis. Applying Aloe gel topically eases inflammation and swelling of the joints.

Aloe Vera Smoothie Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cups of coconut water
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • lemon, if you like it
  • 1 cup of fresh mango (or any other fruit you like!)
  • 1 fresh banana (or any other fruit again!)
  • a handful of fresh mint
  • 1 medium Aloe Vera leaf filletted (1/2 cups)

How to fillet an Aloe Vera leaf:

  1. First, cut off any white parts close to the root of the leaf.
  2. Then trim the prickly sides by slicing them off entirely using a paring knife. When doing so, try to take off as little as possible.
  3. With the convex side facing up, use a potato peeler to remove the skin from the leaf. Alternatively, you can slice off the top skin with the knife.
  4. Then, slide the knife under the gel to separate it from the leaf skin, making sure there is no leftover skin on the gel.
  5. Dice the gel into smaller pieces. Refrigerate and cover your leftover Aloe.
  6. Add straight into your blender or juicer with the rest of the ingredients.
  7. Enjoy!

Chromotherapy in brief

Colour is a phenomenon which surrounds us and it is often taken for granted. Just think for one second about the wonder of the rainbow and the awe-inspiring spectacle of the nothern lights. Colours are the visual part of what is known as the electromagnetic spectrum, that comprises of different kinds of energy waves which range from radio waves (the longest) to cosmic energy waves (the shortest).

We also know that light is composed of colors. Along with colors, light also consists of chemical and emotional elements since it emits heat, electricity and magnetism. Light, along with its component colours, can be used for healing the mind, body and spirit. This is the basic principle behind Chromotherapy (=colour therapy). But the rediscovery of colour used as a therapy is still in its early states, as at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century Chromotherapy was temporarily replaced by allopathic medicine due to the discovery of new drugs and advances in surgery.

It is common knowledge that white light is made up of all the colours. One way of experiencing this is to shine light through a prism, which refracts the light, splitting it into the multi-coloured band known as the colour spectrum. This is because each of the colours has its own angle of refraction (they are red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, indigo, violet and magenta). Each of these colours has its own wavelength and sound frequency ranging from the longest wavelength and lowest sound frequency of red, to the short wavelength and highest sound frequency of magenta.

All the colours of the spectrum have a complementary colour, which is their opposite in the colour wheel, and they are always used for a treatment, as they tend to look balanced and brighter when they are next to each other.

Following on from the electromagnetic spectrum we know that each colour has also its own vibration, so by using colour on its own or with another therapy, we can maintain or change the vibrations of the body to a frequency which stimulates health and harmony. This because the frequency changes in the case of disease.

There are many ways to use these colours, such as coloured gem stones but you can easily wear colourful cloths, paint your home in specific colours or use coloured lamps and furniture. It’s up to you!

RED — COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR TURQUOISE
Red is a primary colour, which means that it cannot be produced by mixing any other colours. It is the colour with the longest wavelength and lowest sound frequency and, like all the other colours, it ranges from a very deep to a very pale red. It is a powerful energizer and stimulant, related to the masculine energy. If it is used in excess, it can cause aggression and sometimes restlessness. Red is the symbol of life, strength and vitality and helps to ground us, as it is connected to the base chakra and the gonads and reproductive cycle (great for the treatment of infertility). It is the colour to increase energy, raise body temperature and improve circulation and is therefore a colour of choice to use in cases of low blood pressure, anaemia and iron deficiency. When used with turquoise, red can help counteract infections and pneumonia and alleviate constipation. When red is mixed with white, it produces rose pink, the colour of spiritual love. Rose pink can be used in conjunction with violet for a broken heart. Violet restores dignity and self-respect and rose pink fills the person with spiritual love. Red should NOT be used when there is anxiety, emotional stress, high blood pressure or asthma.

ORANGE — COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR BLUE
Orange is a combination of red and yellow, thereby influencing both physical vitality and intellect. Related to the adrenals glands, it is the symbol of the feminine energy of creation. This is the colour of joy, the colour of dance, and as such is good for treating depression. Its antispasmodic effect works in cases of muscles spasms and cramp. It is also used in cases of kidney stones, gall stones, or for colds, underactive thyroid and bronchitis, fatigue or exhaustion.

GOLD — COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR INDIGO
Gold is the colour of wisdom and is indicative of high spirituality. In healing, this colour is only used with its complementary colour indigo, and for energising the body at the end of the treatment.

YELLOW — COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR VIOLET
Yellow is one of the three primary pigment colours and it is related to the solar plexus chakra which governs the pancreas, controls the digestive system and helps to purify the body through its eliminating action on both the liver and the intestines. The yellow rays carry positive, magnetic currents which are inspiring and stimulating. These rays strengthen the nerves, stimulate the intellect and activity the motor nerves in the physical body, thereby generating energy in the muscles. This colour is used to treat partial or complete paralysis, diabetes, indigestion, fractured or broken bones and all arthritic conditions. Yellow works on the skin by improving its texture, cleansing, healing scars, and helping conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

GREEN — COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR MAGENTA
Green is a combination of yellow and blue. Yellow being the last colour on the magnetic side of the spectrum and blue, the first on the electrical side, green is the colour of balance. It is the dominant colour of the heart chakra and has the power to harmonise the yin and yang in the body. It also has a harmonising effect on three aspects of a human being, namely body, mind and spirit. Green also possesses antiseptic properties, enabling it to be used in cases of infection. It also has the ability to detoxify, which makes it invaluable for use on a toxic liver and it is useful in constipation, shock and certain heart conditions.

TURQUOISE — COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR RED
Turquoise is a combination of blue and green. It is related to the thymus gland and located close to it. The thymus gland is part of our immune system, therefore turquoise is a good colour to use to strengthen this.  Turquoise has the ability to calm, making it an excellent colour to use for nervous tension.

BLUE — COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR ORANGE
Blue is the dominant colour of the throat chakra. Like red, it is a primary or pure colour. But unlike red, which acts as a stimulant, blue has a relaxing and expanding effect, and is used on asthmatics. This is because it is symbioses tranquillity, peace, inspiration and devotion. Blue is an excellent colour for healing and meditation. It is also a good colour to wear during pregnancy. The throat chakra is the centre of communication and creativity. Those people who communicate with difficulty, or work mainly with their intellect, will benefit from treatment with the blue ray. Other disorders which respond well to blue are tension, fear, insomnia, anxiety, jaundice, diarrhoea and mastitis. However an excess of blue can cause depression.

INDIGO — COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR GOLD
This colour is a combination of blue and violet and is related to the brow chakra. It is associated with the mind, eyes and ears, and therefore it is used for cataracts and sinus problems. It is a strong painkiller and has antiseptic properties. Indigo, applied with its complementary colour gold, is used for headaches, neuralgic pain, insomnia, eye strain, angina, muscular strains, hepatitis, inflammation and sciatica.

VIOLET — COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR YELLOW
This colour is related to the crown chakra and pertains to spirituality, self-respect and dignity. It is very beneficial to psychological disorders such as schizophrenia and manic depression. It also helps sciatica, diseases of the scalp and all disorders connected with the nervous system.

MAGENTA — COMPLEMENTARY COLOUR GREEN
Magenta is composed of red and violet and is associated with release or letting go. On a mental level infact, magenta enables us to let go of ideas and thought patterns which have become irrelevant. Emotionally, it helps us to let go of old feelings which are preventing us from moving forward. On the physical level, it leads us to relinquish physical activities which we have outgrown. Magenta is beneficial in tinnitus, benign cysts and detached retinas.

 

Focus on: The Crown Chakra

Sanskrit name: Sahasrara – thousand petal
Element: No element, or thought
Color: Violet or white
Shape: Round scullcap
Petals of the lotus: One thousand
Rights: To know and to learn
Endocrine gland: Pineal gland
Physical association: Central nervous system, cerebral cortex
Psychological function: Awareness, understanding
Challenge: Attachment
Plane: Truth, reality
Planets: Uramis
Incense: Myrrh
Herb: Gotu Kola


The Crown chakra, known as Sahasrara in Sanskrit, is the seventh chakra. It sits like a crown, at the top of the head or slightly above the head, radiating upwards, hence its name.

The meaning of its Sanskrit name is “thousand petals”, as its symbol is composed of a circle and a thousand petals of a lotus flower. This chakra is most commonly represented with the color white, although it can also be pictured as deep purple. The auric color of crown chakra energy can also be seen as gold, white, or clear light.

It is primarily associated to the pineal gland, and to the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, which work in pair to regulate the endocrine system. Because of its location, the crown chakra is closely associated with the brain and the whole nervous system. Also, because it is located centrally at the top of the head, Sahasrara gives us access to higher states of consciousness as we open to what is beyond our personal preoccupations and visions.

Infact, the function of the Crown chakra is driven by consciousness and gets us in touch with the universal. Its energy allows us to experience mystical oneness with everyone and everything in nature. The “way of the Crown chakra” is the way of going beyond the limits of your own ego, knowing that all of creation is interconnected at a fundamental level. The challenge of this chakra is to liberate the spirit, open to the divine, and at the same time stay firmly rooted deep in the ground, as energetically, it has a connection with the first chakra, as they both are at the extremities of the chakra system.

As we are immersed in the energy of Sahasrara, we feel a state of blissful union with all that is, of spiritual ecstasy, allowing us to access to the upmost clarity and enlightened wisdom. The quality of awareness that comes with it is universal, transcendent, and it makes us feel present, conscious, aware ofthe main connection and free from our limiting patterns.

A deficiency in the Crown chakra tends to cause subtle, systemic problems. These include: depression and mental fog, chronic fatigue, migraines and other chronic headaches, greed and materialism. On the other hand, an excess of energy in the seventh chakra can also cause problems including: sensitivity to light and sound, neurological or endocrine disorders, boredom and frustration, a sense of unearned accomplishment.

An unbalanced Crown chakra can also play a role in dementia, learning disabilities, comas, sleep disorders and mental illness.

But how can you open and rebalance Sahasrara again?

  • Meditate. Focus your attention on the top of the head and clearly set your intention of balancing the Chakra. Visualize the violet color when doing this. Thank the Universe and feel the connection to the Higher Being, since Gratitude and contentment are the simplest ways of strengthening this Chakra.
  • Aromatherapy. Floral essences such as Lotus, Angelica and white tulip when applied to the pulse points can aid the meditation process.
  • Yoga. Postures like Shavasana (corpse position) or Lotus position (Padmasana) are recommended for aiding the Crown Chakra. An advanced pose, the headstand or Shirshasan, also helps balance the Crown Chakra by increasing blood flow to the top of the head.
  • Practice silence. It is best for Crown chakra activation, because it does not distract from spiritual practice. The sound of Om and deep, tonal sounds can also be healing music for Sahasrara because of their universal nature.
  • Sunlight. The Crown chakra’s elements are thought and light, so spending time in the sunlight is good for opening it.
  • Work on these believes you may have consciously or subconsciously in order to figure out where they come from and solve them:

Crown Chakra Affirmations

I am part of the Divine.
I honor the Divine within me.
I seek to understand and to learn from my life experiences.
I cherish my spirit.
I seek experiences that nurture my spirit.
I listen to the wisdom of universe.
I trust my intuition.
I am open to letting go of my attachments.
I live in the present moment.
I am grateful for all the goodness in my life.
I love and accept myself.
I know that all is well in my world.
I am connected with the wisdom of the universe.
I am open to Divine wisdom.
My life moves with grace.
I am at peace.

Create your home made herbal remedy

Nowadays deciding to be treated only with herbal/holistic/homeopatic remedies is becoming a thing. People want to go back to the oringins, being more healthy and natural, find a way to cure themselves minimizing the risks and potential side effects. DIY is becoming generally very popular as well, maybe for the lack of trust in the health system or for feeding our curiosity and improve our own skills. No matter what are the reasons for both these tendencies, but I thought it would be interesting writing about it, combining the herbal remedies with the DIY side. Obviously you need some knowledge in order to treat yourself properly, so I suggest you to take these advices only if you have some experience or after you have spoken with a professional herbal therapist for the dosage and type of herb you may need to use.


Let’s start from the very beginning, so by collecting herbs from field or garden. For a number of good reasons you should gather your own herbs: you are assured of their freshness and potency, you also know their source, if they are clean, pure and wholesome. You will also save yourself money and gain self-sufficiency and with time you will build an increasing knowledge of plants and their medicinal uses. Although each herb is different and some may require unique handling, the following general principles can be used for gathering herbs:

  • Herbs are generally gathered according to their particular growth cycle: annuals (plants that have one growing season, the seed germinates the plant flowers and bears fruit and then dies), biennials (plants which germinate and establish a good root system during the first year, flower and bear fruit at the end of the second year, and then die ), or perennials (plants that live and bear fruit a number of years before they die).
  • Herbs must be gathered in dry weather, as those collected in moist or rainy periods are generally weaker and more apt to spoil.
  • Gather in the cool of the morning after the dew has evaporated or in the evening before the dew forms on the plant. Also before the sun is high in the sky.
  • Preferably gather wild plants from high, dry soils, exposed to clean air and abundant sunshine.
  • In all cases, gathering must be selective according to the type of plant and the part to be used (flowers, leaves, roots, etc.).

It is an excellent thing to do cultivating your own herbs in the garden, and I would encourage you to consider it, but try to be selective in the number of herbs you are going to grow. If you do not have enough time, space or knowledge, just purchase what you need from a health shop or a recognised herbal supplier. This is the most quick method to start herbalism.

Once collected your herbs, you need to know how to dry and storage them in a proper way, in order not to lose much of their medicinal value. Dry all herbs carefully outdoors (spreading a layer of herbs on a drying screen in the shade as quickly as possible), indoors (in a dust-free room, at mild temperature, on a drying screen covered away from direct sunlight) or with artificial heat (be very careful, oven drying under 38°C is difficult and often done improperly).

To store them, place them in a tight appropriate container, not made of formaldehyde or certain damaging plastic types, and seal with sealing wax to keep the air from getting to the herb. Always label and date them, and make sure they are used within a year. Never put them under direct sunlight or in room too hot or cold. If its a oil, use a brown bottle or can.

General guidelines should be also followed when starting making your own preparations, for example never use aluminium ware as it poisons with its gases and metallic acid, stainless-steel ware is the best because it does not break, although you should watch for over-high temperatures that cause burning.

It is time now to describe the most common various herbal preparations. Remember that dosages must be adjusted according to personal need.

Capsule: Take the herbal powders and other materials that, because of their nauseous taste or smell, would otherwise be difficult to administer, and place them into a soluble gelatin shell or capsule. These capsules are easy to buy and they are made in different sizes for easy swallowing, with numbers 1 to 4, 0, and 00 being the most common. To fill the capsule, simply take the two halves of a capsule apart and push these halves into the powder and towards each other, pressing the halves together again and at the same time compressing the powder. Dosage depends on the age, size, vitality, condition being treated, and the strength of the ingredients in the capsule itself.

Decoction: This is a process used with hard materials such as roots and barks, chips, etc. Decoctions are intended for immediate use within a twenty-four hour period (72-hour maximum limit when stored in a very cool place) and are generally made by pouring cold water upon fresh or dried herbs. The harder the material, the longer the simmering and extractive period will be. Consider to pulverize them first by mechanical means or pounding; next, soak the ingredients for twelve hours, then set this liquid on the fire and gradually heat to a slight boil. After the extractive period, drain off the liquid while hot and press the herb hard to make sure that all of the therapeutic ingredients are removed, then let stand until cool.

The usual preparation is 1 ounce of herb placed into 1 and half pints of cold water (the half pint will be lost in the extractive process). The herb and liquid is then brought slowly to a boil. The decoction differs from the infusion in that heat is applied and continued over a period of time, because roots and barks generally need longer heating to extract their active principles. When cool, pour off the clear liquid on top, separating it from the settlings and, finally, sweeten to taste. Add more water when decoctions are too strong. Dosage depends on age, size and temperament, but generally 2 fluid ounces to a cupful of liquid three times a day.

Infusion: An infusion extracts the active principles of herbs in water, or other fluid, without simmering or boiling;. Pour a liquid over the raw or powdered herb. The liquid may be hot or cold, but the flavour of the herb is generally much stronger and the action is much faster when made and administered hot. Generally a standard infusion is used with the lighter herbs (such as the leaves, flowers, etc.), and is made by placing one teaspoonful of finely cut dried herb or two teaspoonfuls of bruised fresh herb into a cup and adding boiling, distilled water; cover and let steep for 15 minutes; strain and drink.

Be sure to cover the vessel and stir occasionally, and then carefully strain off the clear liquid. Dosage varies according to type of herb and problem condition, but usually one cupful three times a day. Regulate the quantity to fit the patient’s strength, kidney problems, extreme debilitation, etc.

Oil: This preparation is made from the plant oils. For instance, with the mints (peppermint, spearmint, etc.), the oils come from the leaves. Many of these oils, when properly made (with olive oil), do not go into rancidity easily. The amount of herbs used depends upon the quantity of oil desired, but often a pound of fresh herbs to a pint of olive oil is used. Simmer the herbs for hours until the oil comes out of the herb. In the case of cloves, grind up fine, and simmer the powder in olive oil at a temperature of 50-65°C. Never use mineraloils. For olive oil, which is high in nutritional value, massage as much as the skin will absorb; it can be also used in small doses internally, except when for gallstones or kidney stones.

Ointment: It is a soft, semi-solid fatty herbal preparation used for a protective and emollient effect, liquefying when applied externally. Ointment bases are generally composed of various mixtures of waxes, animal and vegetable oils and the medicinal substances are mixed with them. Start with a melted base, such as olive oil and beeswax, and combine with herb. A good standard is 14 ounces of olive oil, 2 ounces of beeswax, and 1 pound of fresh or 1 and half pound of dry herbs. Place into a closed container, put into the oven and leave there at low heat (around 80°C) for 3-4 hours. Periodically, take a fork and lift the fresh herbs to see if they aregetting browned and brittle, and whether the oil has drawn the value from the herb. Vaseline as a base is generally inferior to animalor plant oils, but may be used if you do not want the preparation to be absorbed quickly into the skin.

Pill/Tablet: In this case the herbal agent is ground into a very fine powder and mixed with a mucilage of gum Arabic (made by dissolving gum Arabic in water), slippery elm, or a syrup, etc. which is then worked up into a pill mass. A portion is then cut off, sliced into small strips and then into smaller pill-sized pieces, which are then rolled into little round balls for easy administration. A small amount of powdered rhubarb or flour on the board in preparation will keep the mass from sticking, but keep the pill mass in a quite firm consistency, or else the excess mucilage or syrup will absorb too much rhubarb or flour.

Pills can be coated or uncoated, but the pearl-coated pill is a favourite and is readily soluble in the stomach. Pills are usually made so that one pill equals about 300-400 milligrams of the herbal compound. A pill differs from a tablet in that a pill needs mucilage or other substance added to keep the herbal agent in an adhesive mass, whereas the tablet will adhere by its own characteristics upon compression.

Poultrice: This herbal preparation is a soft, semi-liquid mass made of some cohesive substance mixed with water, vinegar or other substances, and used for supplying heat and moisture to an area, or to act as a local stimulant. Have the herbs ground or granulated. When using fine powder, just use enough moisture to make a thick paste, and when using the granulated form, a thick paste may be made with a mixture of water and cornmeal. If fresh green leaves are used, simply heat, bruise, triturate or chop the leaves up finely, and apply to the affected parts. Be generous in making poultices, covering the afflicted area thickly.

Spirit: It is an alcoholic or hydro-alcoholic preparation containing ordinary alcohol and a watery liquid that has been distilled from an alcoholic tincture or mash. It is a volatile prepared by distillation, whereas a tincture is prepared by infusing the volatile substance in alcohol. These are used as tonics, etc.  A few drops on up are used as specified.

Syrup: A thick, sticky liquid preparation made by dissolving sugar into distilled water, decoctions, infusions, juices, or other aqueous solution, and it is used to suspend medicinal or flavouring agents for easy administration alone, or to combine with other preparations. For making a syrup with herbs, settle out the heavier matter and pour off the clear liquid; then add to that 1 and 3/4 pounds of sugar, place into an appropriate vessel, heat until the sugar is melted, cool, and store for future use. Another formula for making a simple syrup is to pour 1 pint of boiling water over 2 and half pounds of sugar, place on a hot stove and stir until the liquid begins to boil, and then instantly remove. Dosage varies from 1 teaspoonful to 1 tablespoonful once or few times per day.

Tincture: This is technically a fluid extract, but the medicinal virtues are extracted into solution with grain alcohol or vinegar, which are better preservative for long term storage of extracts. Take approximately 4 ounces of ground dried herbs or 8 ounces of finely chopped fresh herbs and place them in a glass bottle with at least 16 ounces of alcohol or vinegar, until the herb is completely submerged under the liquid. This is tightly capped and each day for 10 days to 2 weeks the bottle is shaken vigorously at least 3 times a day or more. Extract all liquids, squeezing the herb residue thoroughly, with a regular juice press, or wring out by hand through cloth, etc.

After the liquid is extracted, place the tincture extract in dark or painted bottles, stopper thoroughly and store. When administering a tincture internally, you may evaporate the alcohol from the solution by putting it into hot water, or it can be taken as is. Dilute at least 1 teaspoonful of tincture to each cup of water.