Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We'll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care. Today we focus on wonderful Witch Hazel!Indigenous to North America, hamamelis or witch hazel has been prized for thousands of years for it’s astringent, anti-inflammatory and healing benefits. Native Americans boiled the bark and leaves to create an extract that was valued for its cooling and healing properties in treating swellings and inflammations. Early New England Puritans copied the idea and it’s use in America has been widespread after Dr. Charles Hawes found that steam distillation of the plant’s twigs was more effective. “Hawes Extract” came on the market in Essex, Connecticut in 1846. The process was further refined by Thomas Newton Dickinson, Sr. who began the commercial production of the product. Dickinson’s Witch Hazel is still on the market today. Because it’s naturally rich in tannins, which have a drying effect, witch hazel’s astringent powers have been found to be helpful in treating hemorrhoids, minor bleeding and skin irritation from insect bites and poison ivy. Some folks have also had success in using it to treat psoriasis and eczema. Because of it’s skin tightening properties, it’s also effective at slowing down and stopping bleeding from small cuts and scrapes. Witch Hazel is also prized by “Water Diviners” who practice an ancient technique called dowsing wherein a limb or branch of a tree is used to “divine” where water is located underground. They are also a great choice for landscaping as they are hardy, low maintenance and ignored by most pests. Whether you consider them a small tree or a large shrub, they are manageably sized, topping out at 10 to 20 feet. Some varieties will spread nearly as wide, making them a great addition when wanting to cover a lot of space in the yard. Best of all is the beautiful yellow glow you’ll see in your yard when its leaves turn in early autumn. Then in late fall, its spicy smelling, spidery shaped yellow flowers appear and will remain on the branches long after the leaves have fallen. We can enjoy witch hazel’s beauty and also incorporate it into our own beauty routine! It’s commonly used as a toner and some folks claim that it helps to reduce puffiness and dark circles under the eyes. To test it out for yourself, mix equal parts witch hazel and aloe vera gel and pat under the eyes. We’ve included links to some other Do-It-Yourself beauty products that include witch hazel below. Enjoy! DIY Rosemary, Cedarwood and Witch Hazel Facial Toner DIY Mouthwash with Witch Hazel, Peppermint and Aloe Vera Juice Homemade Makeup Remover Wipes
Suffering from fall allergies? The main culprit of the seasonal sniffles is ragweed. We feel its wrath during the spring and then it typically begins to release its pollen during the warm days of August, lasting all the way into October. Because it can travel for hundreds of miles in the wind, even if it doesn’t grow where you live you may still be suffering the effects. Today we’ve got some ideas for you on how to prevent and deal with your fall allergies.Know Your Enemy! If you do suffer from ragweed allergies, you should also minimize the following foods in your diet as they may exacerbate the symptoms: bananas, melon and zucchini. While we just sang the praises of chamomile in a recent post, those suffering from fall allergies may want to step away from the chamomile tea for a time too. Chamomile belongs to the same family of plants as ragweed. So as you might guess, it can also worsen your allergy symptoms. Clean It Up! One of the best things you can do to ease and prevent fall allergies is to rid your home of dust and allergens as much as possible. While we all want to save a little money and turn the air conditioner off, open windows let that pollen you are trying to avoid into your home. So keep an eye on the allergy index/pollen count and on those days, you may want to consider keeping the windows closed. Also, many people use humidifiers to help with breathing, but dehumidifiers may actually be better if you are sensitive to dust or mold as both flourish in humidity. Don’t forget to clean up outside. Mold is another huge trigger for fall allergies and it flourishes in damp spots outdoors. Take the time to clean up those rotting leaves and your sinuses will thank you. When you come back inside, leave those shoes at the door! Shoes track in pollen, dust and germs. Leaving them at the door and going shoeless in the house will help cut down on cleaning and protect you from illness and worsened allergies. Wash it Away! You know we’re all about hydration! Staying hydrated helps keep your system in top shape and will help to decrease allergy symptoms of dry throat and a runny nose. Add some re:iimmune to that water and you’re body will receive hydration support and the benefits of prebiotics and probiotics. These keep gut flora in balance which helps make your system stronger against susceptibility to allergies. Many people also find relief in flushing their sinuses with a neti pot. Showering regularly will also help keep the pollen at bay and relieve symptoms. Tomorrow we’ll also share some other natural helpers in the battle against fall allergies, such as specific foods and essential oils. Check back in with us!
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well” - Virginia Woolf
It is in this spirit that we present re:iimmune’s new blog series “Whole Foods Spotlight” where we will focus in on a specific whole food, its nutritional benefits and provide you with a few links to some tasty recipes that may inspire you to add more of that particular food into your diet. After all, good health begins with good nutrition! With Halloween just around the corner, it's a perfect time to talk pumpkins!Fall means pumpkin flavored everything and we’re totally on board! That said, lattes and pumpkin spice muffins do more for you spiritually than they do nutritionally speaking. Even though 90% of a pumpkin is water, that other 10% is packed with a wealth of nutritional benefits. We hope to inspire you to add more of this great gourd into your diet and reap the rewards! The oldest pumpkin seeds found so far came from Mexico, dating somewhere between 7000 and 5500 BC, so it’s believed that the plant is indigenous to North America. However, pumpkins from that time are not the round orange varieties we carve into jack o'lanterns today. Rather they were a crooked neck variety which stored well during long winters. After maize (corn) was introduced, some Native Americans began a clever planting technique known as “The Three Sisters.” Corn and beans were planted together so that the beans would twine their way up the corn stalks. Pumpkin and other gourds were planted at the base as the plant's large leaves helped create shade and hold moisture to the roots of the companion plants. Like carrots, pumpkins contain carotenoids which give it that orange hue and support healthy eyes and better night vision. Studies have shown that carotenoids also provide some protection from cataracts and age related macular degeneration. The pumpkin is also rich in beta carotene which has been shown to reduce cell damage and improve immune function. They are also a great source of magnesium which is important for energy levels, a healthy nervous system and strong bones and muscles. Finally, one cup of pumpkin has a whopping 245% of recommended daily amount of Vitamin A! We decided to skip over the zillions of pumpkin dessert options for our recipe suggestions since we know you’ll get your share of those lattes and slices of pumpkin pie this season. Instead we’ve opted to give you some links to more savory ways to get more pumpkin in your diet. Enjoy! Caramelized Onion and Pumpkin Soup with Curry Yogurt Sauce Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce and Pecans Savory Pumpkin and Sage Scones
Spices, herbs, tinctures and essential oils have been used for millennia to season our food, heal our bodies and boost our spirits. In our Throwback Thursday (#TBT) series, we at re:iimmune will take you back in history to learn how these gifts from Mother Nature have been used. We'll focus on their use through the ages and beneficial purposes in regard to nutrition, natural health and household care.
Ancient Egyptians believed chamomile to be a universal cure all and it certainly has a long history of being used to cure many ills and ailments. Both varieties of Chamomile, German and Roman, belong to the Astereraceae (daisy) family and are familiar to most people due to their popular use in teas to calm and soothe. It’s sometimes even called “the plant’s physician” as chamomile seems to help revive failing plants growing near it. In ancient Wales it was planted upon loved ones’ graves to bring about a happy afterlife. Here in this world, it has many beneficial uses! Chamomile has been used throughout history to calm upset stomachs, ease headaches, toothaches, teething babies, pink-eye, and to soothe sunburns. Chamomile oil is produced through steam distillation and during the process, a blue organic compound called azulene is produced. It is this compound, high in anti-inflammatory properties that makes it a good choice for alleviating the pains of arthritis and sore muscles and joints. Known for it’s power of soothing, it’s long been used in nighttime teas to promote a good and restful sleep. As with any herb, there are always precautions to think about. Too much chamomile can induce vomiting and some folks who are allergic to ragweed can have similar reactions. Also, it contains coumarin which is a natural blood thinner. So if you are already taking a blood thinner such as warfarin, you will want to check with your doctor. This pretty little herb also has a long history of being used in beauty products and treatments. It’s traditionally a go-to for calming inflammation in the skin such as eczema and acne and reducing puffiness around the eyes. Cosmetically speaking, it’s best known for bringing out highlights in blonde hair and for subtle lightening of darker tones. To do so, simply brew a strong cup of chamomile tea and let it cool. Apply to certain strands for highlights or do an overall rinse. Sit in the sunshine for about thirty minutes and then wash it out. Finally, chamomile is just one of the sweetest little flowers around! It’s fairly easy to grow, lovely to look at and a must have in the herb garden.