Elderberry To The Rescue- How We Fight Off Fall and Winter Germs

mwt-elderberry

What is Elderberry and why it’s a mandatory staple in our house for the fall and winter months?

Elderberry is one of the most common herbs used for seasonal wellness.

Used for colds and flu primarily, they contain: organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid,vitaman A and B and a large amount of vitamin C.

They are also mildly laxative, a diuretic, and diaphoretic.

Flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry flowers and berries.

According to test tube studies these flavonoids include anthocyanins that are powerful antioxidants and protect cells against damage.

Elderberries also have a really pleasant taste, are safe for kiddos and for pregnant or nursing mamas as well.

Every fall/winter we make a simple elderberry syrup to take daily

1-2TBS/day for prevention, every few hours to treat illness -roughly 1-3 tsp. for kids 2 and up.

((Though with my daughter she received it as young as 1 year.))

elderberry-syrup-recipe

Syrup Ingredients:

 * ⅔- 1 c. of dried elderberries
*3-4 c. water ( some recipes use apple cider instead!)
*2 tbs ginger
*½ tsp black pepper
*1 tsp cinnamon
*1 tbs licorice
*½ tsp. Cloves
*½ tsp nutmeg(optional)

 Place all herbs in a pot.

Add water.

Bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Turn off heat.

Strain herbs using a mesh strainer and/or cheese cloth.

Combine the liquid with raw honey

(depending on how sweet you like your syrup use 1:1 ratio or ½:1 ratio.

So 1 cup of honey to 1 cup of syrup or 1 c. of honey to 2 c. syrup) or anywhere in between.

Other recipes use closer to 1 c. honey to 3 c. liquid decoction (the boiled liquid from roots/berries).

Stir.

Pour into glass jar or amber bottle.

Store in fridge for a month or so.

Make sure to label with dates for optimal freshness!

We have also loved turning our Elderberry Syrup into Gummy Snacks.

(great as a daily treat, or to munch on when your feeling under the weather)

elderberry-gummies-recipe

Gummy Ingredients:

 * Silicone Molds Or A Glass Pan
( you can cut them into squares once gelled)
*Beef Gelatin Powder
*2 Cups of Liquid

Mix 1 c. of cold syrup with 3 TBS gelatin.

Heat the other cup of syrup and then add to the mixture.

Whisk.

Pour into molds and put in the fridge for an hour or two. Voila!

Should you practice yoga during your period?

A lot of women have this question: Should I practice yoga while I have my period?  Or maybe this thought has never occurred to you!  After all, we live in modern American.  We have tampon commercials that promise us we can ride horses, wear bikinis, and never even notice we have a period.  So why not practice yoga? Why we should stop ignoring and start loving our periods is a blog post for another day (in fact, it’s written right here.)

But let’s assume that you, the wise and enlightened woman you are, want to work with your body and not against it.  Should you practice yoga during your period? And if so, are there certain kinds of practices that are better or worse to do?

“SHE SAID IT DIDN’T MATTER”

One of my clients once told me that her yoga teacher said there were no changes that needed to be made to her practice during her period, and there were no poses that benefitted a healthy cycle or fertility.

Well, Geeta S. Iyengar (daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar – an entire style of yoga) says that’s simply not true. She’s dedicated her career to helping women overcome painful periods, illness connected to cycles and womb health.   She says in her book The Women’s Yoga Book,

“Yoga is meditation in action.  If you organize your practice in response to all phases of your menstrual cycle, it will provide you with the power and comfort of ritual and will add stability to your life by reestablishing your link with nature’s cycles.”

I agree.  So, if we know that there are certain poses to practice during certain times of your cycle, we know that during your period you want to select poses that enhance the energy that’s already happening.

APANA VATA

Apana is the downward flow of elimination that is associated with eliminating anything unwanted from the body, including shedding the uterine lining.  If we want to work with this energy and not aggravate it (and cause symptoms to worsen or appear) we want to choose poses that are:

  • Gentle.
  • Don’t compress the belly, uterus or ovaries.
  • Don’t reverse the blood flow (i.e. inversions).
  • Help reduce swelling, cramping and fatigue.

Some teachers recommend you don’t practice at all during your cycle, and you may find that this rule works well for you.  But if you choose to practice during your cycle choose a home practice so you can tailor your postures to your needs.  Follow these general guidelines:

  • Avoid standing poses – they generate too much heat that’s already being created from menstruation.
  • Avoid twists – they over tax your organs and can cause flooding or clotting of menstrual blood.
  • Try gentle seated bends – they can help reduce swelling.
  • Use seated forward folds (leaving room for belly or gently compressing on belly can bring relief from cramps depending on what feels right in your body.) They quiet the brain and reduce fatigue.
  • Avoid inversions – they reduce that apana vata flow of mala or bodily waste like menstrual blood. Can contribute to problems like heavy bleeding and endometriosis.
  • Reclining poses are wonderful – they help with feelings of pelvic pain and fatigue or headaches.
  • Avoid backbends – they overtax the system.  Gentle supported backbends like an elevated supta bada konasana are exceptions.
  • No seated pranayama- too challenging on nervous system.  Choose gentle breaths in reclining positions.

Jot down how you feel or take note of what poses feel best during your cycle. Click here for my favorite yoga poses for fertility enhancing!

sandra yoga period

Mama Wellness Tip to make your house more joyful

Add this one thing to your shopping list for joy on your mama journey no matter where you are. It’s especially useful to enhance the romance of life. Make sure to choose roses or dried rose petals that are free of pesticides. Especially if you will be adding to your tea. What makes this even better, a girls night shared with a fellow mama soaking in the joy and sharing some tea time together.

Looking for on online collection of mama’s to join on this journey with, join us on facebook Happy WOMBen: Pre-conception, Pregnancy, and Mama Wellness. 

What held me back from having a great period for years. (Even after I went to Nutrition School)

love your period

It’s common in our culture to disdain that time of the month when we bleed.  Our commercials for period accessories try to prove how great they are by showing how they help us completely ignore our periods all together.

When I got my first period in middle school my mom sort of just said Ok, here’s a tampon, good luck. There was certainly no celebration of entering womanhood or passing on of womanly wisdom.  I did get a discreet envelope during my 5th grade “sex ed” class full of intimidating pillow sized pads.  That was super helpful. I got the message: we don’t really talk about this, except maybe to complain.

That message has been reaffirmed throughout my adult life.  I didn’t actually learn about how to chart ovulation or connect with the lunar cycle until I was much much older.  And in the meantime, I assumed that dramatic PMS symptoms like cramps, drastic mood swings, clumpy or heavy bleeding were just normal.  After all, isn’t this why we were supposed to complain all the time?

Turns out, I was wrong.

I wish someone would have told me in my early twenties that not getting my period for months at a time was not a cause for medication but actually about my strict calorie counting, self-loathing and obsessive exercising.

I wish someone would have introduced me to the idea that my lunar cycle is a celebration of womanhood, the potential for motherhood, and a unique opportunity to gently cleanse every single month.

I wish someone would have helped me understand the impact nourishment, rest and reflection would have on those “unavoidable” symptoms.

I wish someone would have passed on some wise woman wisdom about herbal, nutritional and yoga therapeutic remedies to help regulate my hormone production so my body didn’t feel the need to get my attention every month.  The role my liver, thyroid and adrenal function played in having a consistent cycle.

I wish someone would have told me about the toxic chemicals in most period accessories.

I wish someone would have taught me to love my period.

What if you could have a great period?

Ignoring it was the problem. It held me back.

I was talking to a client the other day who ignored the severe pain she was having for a year because her endocrinologist said “getting pregnant would fix it”. We need to get back in touch with our intuition, and stop ignoring your period.

What kind of words do you associate with it? Are you trying to get pregnant and dread that time?  Are you “postpartum” and can’t seem to find a good normal?  Have you been able to learn to love it? What are your favorite ways?

Any of this sound like what you’d love to know?  Let me help you.  Schedule your Mama Wellness Breakthrough Session by clicking here.  Let’s get an action plan going for your specific period needs.

Mama Wellness Tip – Herbs for PMS

herbs for pmsCramp bark is one of my favorite female herbs (read: herbs for pms!)  It’s a uterine antispasmodic, which means it relaxes the uterus. Best taken as a tincture or tea, it can be useful for painful periods, cramping or threatened miscarriage.  It combines really well with valerian root (also relaxing and antispasmodic), vitex (for hormone regulation), and wild yam (helps the liver process estrogen).  It can be taken while pregnant (for threatened miscarriage) and I know of no known contraindications like breastfeeding, but check with a knowledgeable care provider if you’re taking medications or have special conditions.  Can be taken multiple times a day during heavy cramping.  I have a “Mama Maurer’s Moon Tincture” with motherwort (for mood), vitex (for regulation), cramp bark (for cramping), raspberry leaf (for uterine toning) and valerian root (for relaxation).

MWT – Lemon Balm

 

lemon balm holistic pregnancy tip

 

Happy Mama Wellness Wednesday! Here’s your Mama Wellness Tip for this week.  This one is a holistic fertility, holistic pregnancy and holistic postpartum gem.

Lemon Balm is one of my favorite mama herbs!  Safe for fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding seasons of life, it can help to reduce tension and relieve a headache. The large amounts of essential oils in Lemon Balm (or Melissa) have an antispasmodic effect and can therefore help with digestion and gas relief. Combined with Nettle Leaf it’s a great allergy tonic for pregnant women.

But my favorite thing about Lemon Balm is it’s light, lemony flavor.  I add it to otherwise grassy or bitter tasting herbs when I’m drinking something medicinally.  I think it’s this taste that contributes to it’s ability to help with depression and insomnia.  (Two things that are my high priorities for all categories of clients: mamas trying to conceive, pregnant women and new mamas!) Because it tastes so delicious I recommend taking it as a tea or decoction.  It tastes great with almost anything and is good iced as well.

Mama Maurer’s Moodalicious Tea

  • 2-3 parts Lemon Balm
  • 1 part Motherwort
  • 1 part Red Raspberry Leaf

 

You can find Lemon Balm in my Happy Womb Tea and Fertile Mama Tea! You can also order in bulk from good sources like Mountain Rose Herbs.

Why not sip some Lemon Balm tea before you sit down for your Empowered Mama Guided Prenatal Meditation? You can download it here. Or click here for your Abundant Mama Guided Fertility Meditation!

 

Keep Your Yoni Happy!

I am slowly working my way through Herbal Healing for Women.  This great book I found from a second hand book shop on 2nd street in Philly. Written by Rosemary Gladstar in 1993, this book is full of great information for women.  I feel healthy just reading it.  (Do you think I can absorb her good vibes through the ink and paper??) I use it as a reference and then read through a chapter and then go back.  I’m an underliner and notetaker, so it’s getting marked up, which is how a well loved book should be in my opinion. 

She follows the Wise Woman Tradition.   Although a little new-agey for me, this philosophy does really support women’s intuition and wisdom and that is something I am huge fan of, obviously.  

There’s a great recipe I came across today called “Yoni Powder“.  I make a great Yoni Bath and Yoni Oil, but this is something new!  It’s used as a medicinal talc to treat yeast infections.  I also learned that I can help to treat excess yeast in the body by drinking apple cider vinegar and raw honey in warm water- which I already drink on a daily basis, so that’s good news! (We call it “Maurer Hot Toddy” and use it to treat colds, allergies or flu.)

When I did a google search for “yoni powder” I came across an apothecary that makes a yoni powder based on this exact recipe. 

What I have also recently found out is that healthy vaginal bacteria is influential in preventing premature labor and premature rupture of membranes (P.R.O.M.)  This makes this information all the more valuable for my doula clients and women who are pregnant or plan to be!

I’m thinking of adding a recipe to my Etsy shop as well.  

But if you’d like to make your own, here’s the recipe!




Whisk everything together and store in a jar.  Apply like baby powder to the yoni once or twice a day while infected.  Keep your Yoni happy!

Thanks to:
Here’s a great place to buy herbs:

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

What do winter blues and preeclampsia have in common?

Most pregnant women in America know they need to be taking their prenatal vitamins, but many, way too many are unaware that they’re still missing out on a fundamental vitamin that will not only help their pregnancy but their immunity, their ability to heal postpartum. 

Since we are an indoor country- living and working indoors most of the time, experts suspect that on Average Americans are losing vitamin D. Vitamin D is not something your body produces on it’s on, unless it’s in the sun. (Skin exposure, without the sunscreen).  Yes, there is some vitamin D in foods, but not enough to sustain our lack of sun exposure.  

Why is it important in pregnancy?

It’s been linked to preeclampsia, risk of c section and other complications. It also effects baby’s bone development and over all immnuity. 

“U.S. researchers Drs. Hollis and Wagner also found that the “core morbidities of pregnancy” — diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia — were reduced by 30 percent in the women who took high-dose vitamin D, amounting to 4,000 IUs of vitamin D a day (ten times the RDA of 400 IU).”


I know you’ve been hearing for years about wearing your sunscreen, and I’m not suggesting you immediately run to the beach and get a burn. But you DO need vitamin D. Here’s what to do: 

1.) Get a vitamin D deficiency test.  Your doctor can provide this. 

2.) Get sun exposure.  This is a great article about how to get the best out of the sun. Your face is an area of very thin skin, so you’ll want to cover that up, but getting sunshine directly on bare arms and legs is perfect. 

3.) Skip the sunscreens, especially with weird products in them.  Protect areas from sun exposure using mostly clothing. Didn’t know that sunscreens contain cancer-causing parabens? Check out this info about which sunscreens to choose for the times you do want to cover up.

4.) In the winter months when there is obviously little sunshine (and what sunshine there is outside isn’t as strong), get quality vitamin D supplement.  Preferably liquid (easier to absorb by the body).  Like this one. The recommendation is generally about 4,000 IU/day.  (Refer back to Dr. Mercola’s article for more specifics on dosage. )

5.) There’s an app for it, of course.  Check this out.
 


Be well!! 










BV- The Secret Cause of Preterm Labor, Courtesy of Squat

I regularly read anything about vaginas.  Truly.  A good yoni story makes me feel all amped up as a doula and a woman.  It always amazes me how much I still have to learn about my own body, and how many women know even less than I do.  The womb truly is a mystery, and it’s a beautiful journey exploring what power it has. 


My new favorite Yoni Resource is a magazine devoted to birth called Squat. There was an article about Bacterial Vaginosis (basically an imbalance in vaginal bacteria) and the relationship to preterm labor and preterm rupture of membranes. 

 “Bacterial Vaginosis occurs when the vaginal flora are in an alkaline state; the BV bacteria then help to maintain an alkaline state. Retrospective and prospective studies show that high vaginal pH (alkaline state) is a marker for BV and is predictive of preterm labor, and of preterm rupture of membranes (PROM)”(Read the full article here.) 

Did you know that a study in the Journal of Fetal and Maternal Medicine (October, 2011) showed that women who eat yogurt on a regular basis had a much lower rate of Bacterial Vaginosis AND a higher rate of lactobacilli.  This means they had all the good bugs and less of the bad ones.   Good news for the probiotic fans!

What can we do?  

Vinegar rinse: The mild cleansing solution disables common bacteria but leaves lactobacilli unharmed and able to quickly recolonize without competition. It creates an acidic environment, encouraging lactobacilli growth. Diluted vinegar is a time-tested treatment for unspecified ‘vaginitis’, is generally considered safe, and is accompanied by supporting research. (Note: douching should not be done during pregnancy. A vaginal “rinse” can be done without pressure by gen- tly pouring the solution over the vulval/vaginal area). The usual recommendation is 2 to 4 tbsp. vinegar to a pint of water. Use once daily for three days, then once every three days, then once a week for two weeks.
A gelled-vinegar cream is currently being tested for treatment of BV and AV.


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