Sunday, 5 August 2012

Proud to be British today

The UK today if filled with a sense of pride. The Olympics have brought together the nation. The Kingdom is United in a determination to show all that is Great about Britain to the world, and our atheletes, sports people and organisers have made us proud.
The sense of pride in all that is British was clearly seen in the opening ceremony. It did not contain the glitz and glamour of Beijing, it did however, contain a sense of real people doing real things and a sense that people were being who they really are. 'Forging' the Olympic rings from the sweat and grind of the common people - it was a stroke of genius. It contained a confidence that comes through rather than a front that is about 'having to put up a face' to the world - it showed who we really are, a diverse multi-cultural nation, that has a history steeped in culture, and hard work.
While watching the Olympics, there is real sense of unity, everyone in the UK of all colours, races and creeds proud of our athelets who teach us to strive on and 'go for gold'.
Great Britain really is a very special place to be these last few weeks, with huge screens showing the Olympics in all public meeting places, strangers are talking to strangers, coming together, showing all the best of what we have - inspring all who are a part of the Greatness that is Britain today - Inspiring all generations.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Herbal Energetics with Matthew Wood

I went to hear Matthew Wood, one of my favourite herbalists speak yesterday, it was just lovely to be in his company, and he is just as you would imagine him. Absent minded, rambling, and VERY knowledgeable. He spoke about the energetics of herbs, and for me personally, he gave me another perspective which I am going to integrate into my practice, though it will take me a while, and I my practice has been going that way anyway. 

He uses small doses, almost homeopathic, of herbs, whereas I was taught material doses, but to do this, you have to understand the energetics of herbs and people, and be a matchmaker, to put the two together. He went through in great detail 6 tissue states - irritation, relaxation, contraction, depression, atrophy, toxicity and matched their treatment to herbal energetics and their actions such as hot, cold, dry, damp.

 I had been aware of this, and read his  book on herbal energetics, but hearing him made it come alive. In particular, what made sense, was his view of different depths of herbal actions - for example, cold herbs are cold in 1st degree, where they will cool you on a hot summers day eg vinegar, whey, salads. Cold in the second degree, where they will reduce fevers (febrifuges), cold in the 3rd degree where they have a sedative influence on the nervous system eg callendula or cold in the 4th degree where they act as anasthetics, put you to sleep and reduce nerve sensitivity and excitment eg wild lettuce, californian poppy. These can then given to people depending on the depth of 'hotness' they present with.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Patience - A virtue that I need more of

Impatiens: you might know this flower as busy lizzie

 Impatiens is a bach flower remedy, indicated for … well, impatience, this is something that I need a lot of, a project that I was working on today has stalled, and I now realise that I will need more time than I thought.
One of my major life lessons is to keep doing what I need to without expecting quick results, eventually results do show, but wanting them makes them seem further away.
In clinic, I often have to explain to people that they need to take their herbs and remedies, and may not see results for a few weeks. Sometimes there are processes that happen under the surface, and suddenly, things get better, like a tipping point in a scale, not everything is incremental.
What makes me impatient? I usually know where I would like to get to, in my treatments as well as in my personal life, I like to aim for something, have a target, work towards a goal, and it feels like slow torture to wait.
Yoga is teaching me patience, to keep up my practice even though my body does not always want to bend and twist as it should, to sit and wait for things to come to me, rather than having to always keep pushing for results is not in my nature. Taking action towards a goal is 'male' and sitting and waiting is 'female' I guess we need a balance of both, as both are appropriate at different times.
Needless to say, Impatiens is a remedy I use quite a lot of in my mixes, as instant gratification is a sign of the times we are in.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Turmeric honey

Turmeric honey can be use topically on sores and ulcerations, although I would thin with honey or water.  In India, turmeric powder is frequently applied to cuts, and honey also is used in this manner.  You can use it as a soak for skin conditions, though it does colour the skin temporarily.

Tumeric Honey:
9 parts Tumeric powder
½ part dried ginger powder
½ part ground black pepper

Take enough tumeric to fill a jar about 1/3 full. Add the freshly ground pepper and dry ginger and mix well. Then start stirring in a thin local honey (you can heat it over warm water to help thin it.) Stir in until you have a stiff paste. The precise amount varies depending upon weather and honey, but the point is to put in enough to slightly cover the powder while helping the assimilation with the honey. I find that it is not so sweet as to affect blood sugar. Take a heaping teaspoonful once a day, can be added to warm milk (not cows milk though), or to food.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Warming anti-inflammatory tea

This drink is very warming and soothing. The heat of the ginger and black pepper compliment the soothing effect of the tumeric, and the sweetness of the jaggery adds a lovely tone to the whole drink. It feels as though it is a real taste explosion in every mouthful. Spicy, sweet, bitter and pungent all at once. Take it on a cold day to really feel the warmth inside. I use this tea when fasting as curbs my appetite, and really makes me feel as though I have had a meal, and restores my energy when it is flagging.

Anti-inflammatory and warming tea
1 - 2” ginger
pinch black pepper
½ teasp tumeric
lump of jaggery or honey
(add tulsi to this if you have it too)

Boil grated ginger, tumeric and black pepper in 2 mugs water for 5-10 mins, add jaggery or honey to allow it to dissolve., strain and serve. (The photo shows the approximate portions I use for 2 mugs of tea)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Turmeric - Queen of spices

Turmeric has a long history of traditional use in India, it is one ingredient we add to all food. Looking at what it does, it is easy to see why.

Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant, it is also anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, , anti-infective and antibacterial. It reduces cholesterol and is a circulatory tonic, so it is easy to see why I use it often as a part of an arthritis protocol and any situation where inflammation is a part of the picture.

Turmeric is bitter, dry, spicy, and warming. Dried turmeric is more warming and somewhat aromatic than the fresh root, the active ingredient of turmeric is curcumin, the orange pigment. When you mix turmeric with black pepper it can increase its absorption by up to 2000%. The herb itself protects and soothes the mucosa of the GI tract.

It interferes with the ability of cancerous tumors to establish a blood supply. It is nourishing, lowers blood sugar, protects the liver, helps stimulate the bile we need to digest and is carminative, allowing better digestion. It helps with back pain, joint pain, and any inflammatory condition. No wonder it is used in virutally every meal.

According to Ayurveda, turmeric is a blood cleanser that improves liver function, prevents coughs and colds, improves skin tone and is an antiseptic. Research sugggests that it helps with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and the curcuminoids in turmeric may help fight cystic firosis, colon cancer, arthritis and even Alzheimer’s.

Adding a small amount of this herb to food is unlikely to give you enough turmeric to make a marked difference to your body, a real therapeutic dose would be nearer a heaped teaspoon, try mixing with honey to make it more palateable (see recipe below), or taking capsules, I capsulate the powder which has the added advantage that the turmeric goes straight into the GI tract where it is most often needed to reduce inflammation.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Yoga as a corrective therapy for disease

Today I want to talk about Yoga and how it is used in India as a way of creating balance when an illness or dis-ease is present.
At the Centre where I worked in India, Soukyam,  whatever the patients complaint, there would be many facets to their treatment (all natural), there would be a combination of nutrition, hydrotherapy, fasting, massage, oleation, herbs, but everyone, no matter who, was given a Yoga programme individually tailored to them.
I did not come across one person who did not benefit from their daily yoga practice in a few short days.
In my training, I was taught that Yoga is not just a set of random exercises picked to improve general flexibility. It is far more serious than that. The exercises for each person are picked specifically based around their problems and symptoms. It is given as a prescription as much as herbs and medicines are prescribed.
Energy flow, oxygen, flexibility, improving subtle energy systems (nadis), chakras, breath, mental clarity, and spirituality are all incorporated into a yoga practice, a few simple moves and postures can do so much seems simplistic, but I have seen it and experienced it for myself.
Diabetes patients are gicen pancreas and digestive stimulation exercises. Hypertensive patients are given cooling breathing techniques, people with back problems are given postures that will specifically stretch the area of the back which has become painful, according to the capability of the patient. Yoga supports and underpins all other treatments.
Pranayama - yogic breathing techniques - typically taking 10 minutes or less - are also prescribed for each person - used to stimulate or calm depending on whether they are showin signs of over-stimulation or depression.
The beauty of Yoga is not just that it is free and easy, but also that once someone has been taught and learned, it can be continued easily from home, and will ensure that once health is returned, the person stays healthy.