natural motherhood, part 6: herbal baby care

i know that some of you out there love the super-informative posts, but i also know that there are a lot of folks who really love the project-y d.i.y. stuff—-this post is for both of you but will be a special treat to the latter.  (i’m right there with you, hands-on people!) for this entry, i wanted to take a good long look at all of the stuff we put on our babies (creams, ointments, lotions, oils, soaps, powders, balms…..oh my!) breaking everything down into the good, the bad, and the ugly.  a walk down any baby care aisle in the grocery store bombards us with all this crap (yes, most of it is crap), but because “that’s what you put on babies,” that’s what we all buy.  if you’re at all concerned about what goes into your baby, you should pay mind to what goes on her as well—pores, after all, are like little gateways to the bloodstream. Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 5: breast care

i googled “natural breast care” tonight—just to see what would pop up.  to my great disappointment, seven of the nine links were for breast augmentation or “enhancement.”  i cringed and peeked through one eye as i changed it to an image search—while i was glad to see as many pictures of breast self-exams as  i did pictures of blown-out self-tanned porn-star racks, i was horrified by the wide selection of machines that apparently use intense and prolonged suction for the purpose of “growing” larger breasts for you.  oh, and there were the creams for larger breasts, the contorting bras (watch how your pulled-around back fat can be made into more side-boob!), and the scary mixes of unnamed “herbal supplements” just shipped in from china—and all this from searching natural breast care.  what’s wrong with us? Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: honeys, oxymels, and elixirs

a bee from an egyptian hieroglyph

i figured i would take a short break from the series that i’m doing on natural motherhood and crank back up on a couple of my other projects.   something that i’ve been meaning to add for a while is a basic herbal preparations entry for sweet medicine—for honeys, oxymels, and elixirs.  honey (the common denominator between all three of these preparations) is a mysterious substance.  in the archaeology of beekeeping, author eva crane posits, based on neolithic cave paintings in valencia, spain, that honey has been a food source for humans for at least 10,000 years.  since the beginning of written history, thousands of medicinal and culinary uses of honey have graced the tablets and pages of our past.  yes, dried bee puke has held our interest for quite some time!  it has been used to treat wounds, to aid in the mummification process, to preserve food and drink, to sweeten things, and, as every granny knows, to stop a cough dead in its tracks! Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 4: downstairs maintenance

whether you’re planning on getting pregnant, are already pregnant, or have just given birth, it is essential to do your research on “downstairs maintenance.”  odds are pretty much in favor of your having to deal with at least one of these issues, and (although we’ve gotten better about it) women tend not to have as many frank discussions as we should when it comes to our lady parts.  actually, this post branches out a little further than “lady parts”–the uterus and vagina are not the only bits of anatomy affected by pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  you’ve also got to talk about your bowels, your bladder, your vulva, and your rectum.  how many of you cringed when you read that last sentence? lol. see what i mean?  we don’t talk about this stuff enough. Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 2: iron, calcium, and folate

as i began my foray into the world of alternative medicine, i made  the mistake that many (if not most) people make.  i adopted the heroic tradition’s view of the body as a dirty temple–one that must be punished and purified.  go into any health food store and you’ll see aisles of pills and potions meant to purge you from every end.  you’ll see bowel cleanses that work by irritating  your colon so badly that its only recourse is to pull precious water from your cells and flush out all contents.  you’ll see testimonials of people marveling at the horrible things that their bodies pushed out. Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 1: easing morning sickness

because many women today don’t track their menstrual cycles, and because some women have very irregular cycles, morning sickness can sometimes be the first sign of pregnancy.   this rather unwelcome herald of otherwise great news was a major focus of the pharmaceutical industry in its 1950s infancy.  anyone familiar with the drug thalidomide (sold as thalomid), given to women in the 1950s to assuage morning sickness, remembers that it was taken off the market a few years later after it was found to cause terrible birth defects.  most notably, “thalidomide babies” were born with phocomelia—they suffered from craniofacial deformities and were often born with missing or underformed arms and legs.  more than 10,000 cases of thalidomide-related phocomelia were reported, and an astounding 50% of these infants died. Read the rest of this entry »

herbal allies for college crunch time

eeek!

i was remarking to a friend at dinner tonight how odd (and completely wonderful) it is not to be writing 60-ish pages of final papers or preparing for final exams (for the first time in fooorrrrrr—eeeeeee-verrrrrrr).  i graduated with a master’s in english this past august, and for the three years leading up to that, november and april had always been times of anxiety, late nights, endless pots of coffee, sleeplessness, and eye-strain headaches.  i currently teach in the english department, but most of my friends are still in school there and are still having to deal with term papers and finals.  i feel their pain (even when i point and laugh >:D). Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: tinctures

when folks begin to stick their little toe into the big river of herbalism, tinctures are usually one of the places they start.  if you’ve ever been into a health food store, then you’ve probably seen tinctures before—they’re the little amber dropper bottles with bold plant names on their labels and little black squeeze droppers at the top.  they’re often in eye-shot of the registers because they are alcohol-based medicine (although i pitty the fool who downs an ounce of wormwood tincture thinking they’ll get a buzz…..blerrrg!).  they also come in glycerine as well, but these are harder to find and are usually less effective. Read the rest of this entry »

herbal solutions for cold-weather skincare

there are so many things that i love about cold weather.  i love the feel of clean, cold air on my skin, i love the smell of wood smoke from fires, i love the way that light falls differently in the afternoons, and (oddly enough) i love overcast days where billowing gray clouds seem like they’re reaching down to touch the earth.  emotionally, i start to come alive as the weather starts to cool down—i wish i could say that my skin harbors the same good feelings.  perhaps the only thing that i despise about cold weather (partly, mind you, because i’ve never had to drive in snow) is the havoc that it wreaks on my skin.  i was blessed with a veritable oil well from the neck up, and saharan sands from the neck down.   the good part about this is that i won’t have to worry too much about wrinkles, due to my “dewy southern complexion,” but the bad part is that, between the oil-control soaps i’ve been handed for my face and the arid wintry wind that exacerbates my already-dry parts, i’m quite possibly a walking wildfire risk! Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: lozenges

lozenges are one of my favorite herbal preparations because they give nearly instant gratification.  oils and tinctures are wonderful, but there’s all that waiting for the finished product.  with lozenges, you skip the 5 weeks of infusion in favor of a mix and a quick dry.  they’re less like a scary science experiment and more like instant proof that you’re your own herbalist!

there are other, more fundamental preparations that i was going to teach about first, like vinegars and tinctures, but today was my day with kindergartners and first graders, and you can only be coughed on so many times before you take the hint and write about something that folks obviously need this time of year.   the lozenges that i’m going to show you how to make are specifically for coughs and throat irritation, but with a few adjustments (that i’ll mention later) the recipe can be tweaked for stomach remedies as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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