Natural Beauty Rituals for Spring By Aisling Badger, March 14, 2017

Spring is approaching and it is the perfect time to renew and refresh our best and most beautiful selves. Our beauty rituals and routines offer a luxurious moment of calm, self-love and appreciation. What we use to nourish ourselves internally has as much of an impact as what we use externally. What we eat, where we live, and how we feed our body and soul all play a significant role in how we outwardly represent ourselves. No beauty products can replace how you are feeling on the inside. It shows on the outside when we feel good physically and mentally. Happiness and self-love are beautiful.

Tending to the Internal Garden: What you put on your skin matters, but it’s more important to pay attention to what you are putting in your body. The age old saying, “beauty starts from within” is true in many ways.

beauty red clover nettle
What you put into your body will also determine the health of your skin, hair, and overall physical being. It can be helpful to seek out the advice of a skilled herbalist or do research on your constitution, because often our constitution is optimally paired with specific foods or energetic qualities of plants, and this knowledge can help you work with imbalances. Gaining insight into our individual internal garden allows us to understand better what foods, plants and ingredients work best for us.

Whole foods rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins support your hair and skin. So load your plate with whole grains, leafy greens, root vegetables, berries, avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, superfoods like raw cacao, turmeric, maca, and green superfoods like spirulina.

spring rituals nutrient rich tea

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Science Update: Paleolithic Herbalism By Guido Masé, January 10, 2017

paleolithic-herbalism-tools

Jacob’s Bridge (Gesher Benot Ya’aqov) is an archaeological site in Israel, at a historic crossing of the river Jordan, just north of the Sea of Galilee. It has been a crossroads for thousands of years – for trade, for culture, and for migration of human populations. But in one particular area, archaeologists have been working on a site that is much older – closer to 800,000 years – where a wealth of evidence from stone-age culture has been preserved under layers of mud and water. The prehistoric humans who lived here (archaeologists estimate they occupied the site for close to 100,000 years!) were part of an ancient migration from Africa and into Europe and Asia.

Nira Alperson-Afil, who works at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has been studying this site extensively. She has been part of the research team that, at this site, uncovered perhaps the earliest evidence of human control of fire,1 as well as what seems to be a basic organization of the living and working spaces into sleeping, cooking, and manufacturing areas.2 Inhabitants created advanced stone tools, using rock hammers but also more subtle tools such as animal antlers, that were used for building, hunting, and (presumably) preparing and cooking plants for food.

paleolithic-herbalism-fennel-seeds

It is usually difficult to accurately characterize botanical remains form that long ago, because plants spoil very […]

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Embracing the Darkness: Halloween Traditions By Aisling Badger, October 28, 2016

Witchy bicycleWhether you are celebrating a traditional Samhain, or honoring past lives for the Day of the Dead, this time of year is traditionally a moment of ritual and celebration. Samhain is a Gaelic festival that marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.  The festival honors transitions and the year’s bounty with merriment, food and drink. Harvest season has come to a close. It is time to embrace the dark and find new ways to bring light into our lives.

The Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican festival that honors those who are no longer walking with us. This holiday is celebrated with parties, rituals, food, dance and beautifully vibrant decor. 

It is often said that the veil between the spirit world and our physical world is thinnest on All Hallows Eve, and thus it is the prime time to communicate with elders, past family members or the spirits. People have traditionally dressed in costume with the idea that if we are disguised on this night, we will be hidden from the roaming spirits and they won’t take us back with them to the Other Side.

This is a special time to honor and reflect upon the year, however you may choose to celebrate. A sense of magic often gets lost in a busy, fast-moving world. Magic can mean all sorts of things, but there is something primal about finding the time to connect with nature and to a deeper spiritual side, by allowing ourselves to feast, to be warm and to light up the dark together.

This year’s Halloween coincides with the New Moon, which is symbolically a threshold for new beginnings. This is a great time to […]

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Bitters and Heart Health: Emerging Research by Guido Masé, September 1, 2016

 

anatomical heart drawing

The first benefit everyone notices from trying herbal bitters is improved digestion. You feel it right away– the tongue awakens, your brow furrows, and in a few minutes a familiar rumble begins in the belly. Bitters make themselves known. But as we keep finding, the injection of digestive prowess that follows a bitter taste stimulus is just the tip of the iceberg.

Bitter taste receptors (part of a group of cell-surface receptors known as G-protein- coupled receptors, specifically of the T2R subfamily) are found almost everywhere in the body, and we are developing a new understanding about their importance in a range of functions: digestion and liver function, to be sure, but also immunity, blood sugar balance, mood, and most recently, cardiovascular function.

Taken as a whole, the effects that come from stimulating bitter T2R receptors conspire to moderate and balance many physiologic processes, generally improving their efficiency and making us more resilient in the face of challenge. While we used to think this just meant challenging foods – like poisons, for example – we are now finding that T2R receptors are able to help us weather a range of other challenges, too. First and foremost is immunity1: in the airways and sinus passages, T2R receptor stimulation initiates a strong and effective immune response2, helping to guard against bacterial (and even viral) incursion. This is because many of the substances bacteria use to communicate taste quite bitter, and in response, we secrete a range of immune-active compounds (from nitric oxide to immunoglobulins) to neutralize the potential invaders. This happens even before the microbes enter our system: we […]

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