Natural Health

#TBT – Dill – History and Benefits

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 the wonders of dill!

These days, dill is known primarily as a pickling herb and though it is common in many gardens, it’s not widely used for medicinal properties. However, since ancient times and still today it’s been used by herbalists as a digestive aid to ease gas, infant colic, to induce sleep and treat kidney problems.

In the ancient Egyptian Ebers papyrus from around 1500 BCE, lists dill as an ingredient for a painkiller mixture. The Greeks are said to have used fronds of dill to cover their eyes to induce sleep and even it’s name is derived from a Norse word “dylla” which means “to lull” or soothe. Modern German studies have shown the herb to be an effective treatment against intestinal bacteria.

The seeds of the plant contain an oil which has antibacterial properties which help destroy the intestinal bacteria that lead to ulcers and other intestinal issues. The herb contains stimulating essential oils that activate digestive juices and is helpful in relieving constipation. It’s also very effective at combating halitosis and in India, the seeds are often chewed to treat bad breath.

It has also been commonly used throughout history by nursing mothers to increase milk production and deter colic in newborns. The essential oils of the herb can also help with the stimulation of hormones helping to keep menstrual cycles regular. The plant is also a good source of calcium, helping to reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women.

In addition to all of the above, dill is also a good source of fiber, manganese, magnesium and iron.

To store fresh dill, it’s a good idea to keep it wrapped in a damp towel or stems in a glass of water in the refrigerator. It is a fragile herb and therefore will only keep for a couple of days. You can also freeze it, whole or chopped in an airtight baggie or container. Dill seeds, if stored in a sealed container and kept in a cool, dry place, will stay fresh for about six months.

Cucumber Dill Greek Yogurt Salad

Creamy Cauliflower Dill Soup

Pickled Dill Green Beans

#TBT – Dandelions – History and Benefits

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. This week we focus on dandelions and their many benefits!

Folks who want perfectly manicured lawns fight against the dandelion but this herbaceous plant has so many benefits to us and our ecosystem, you might think twice about mowing over them or spraying them with chemicals. Dandelions have been around for so long in the Northern Hemisphere that it’s impossible to pinpoint their nonnative status but their use was recorded in Roman times and by Anglo Saxon tribes of Britain and the Normans of France and Arabian and Indian peoples. European settlers found them so useful that they brought them on their long ocean journey across to America.

This perennial flower, botanically related to the sunflower family, which also includes daisies and thistles, grows year round unless in an area that experiences a cold winter in which case they go dormant. They have a thick taproot that can penetrate 10 to 15 feet into the soil and because they spread via seeds that can travel on the wind for hundreds of miles, they spread quickly. The name dandelion is from the French term “dent de lion” which means “tooth of the lion”.  All parts of the plant are edible and dandelions have long been used as a food source, in making wine and for medicinal benefits.

Kidneys and Liver

Dandelions are very diuretic, helping to eliminate toxic substances in the kidneys and urinary tract. In France, they are also called “pissenlit” which translates to “urinate in bed”. So be under advisement! That said, dandelions can be very helpful in eliminating fat from the body as well as eliminating jaundice. Jaundice occurs when the liver begins over-producing bile which will then enter the bloodstream and messes with metabolism. The disorder causes the skin and eyes to develop a yellow tint. How interesting that the sunny colored dandelion is excellent for helping to eliminate jaundice from the body! It regulates bile production and because of its diuretic nature, it aids in eliminating excess bile.

Skin Care

The sap, called dandelion milk, is alkaline and fights against various germs and fungi. It’s traditionally been used in the treatment of ringworm, eczema and acne. The greens of the plant contain over 100% of the daily minimum of vitamin A which also benefits the skin as well as mucus membranes and vision.

Protect Bee Populations

Dandelions are one of the major food sources for bees in the springtime. Because bee populations are in serious decline and we rely on their existence for so many other foods, it’s important to keep this in mind. Show a little love to the bees not only by leaving dandelions alone but also by avoiding the chemicals in sprays that are directly linked to their decline.

 

How to Cook Dandelion Greens

Dandelion Wine

DIY Fine and Dandy Facial Serum

 

Natural Anxiety Buster Suggestions

Anxiety and stress can be detrimental to your health and well being. You may have a head of swirling thoughts, life’s pressures weighing down on you or perhaps battling phobias or bouts of panic. Each natural anxiety buster listed below can be incorporated into your life to help soothe and calm your brain and body.

Anxiety Buster #1 – Simply acknowledge what you are feeling. Just saying to yourself or even out loud, “I’m feeling stressed. I’m feeling anxious.” without any judgement on yourself can lift a bit of the weight of your feelings. After that, seek out a friend to talk to and share your feelings with. Releasing and connecting with another person helps take weight off your shoulders and strengthen the bonds of friendship.

Anxiety Buster #2 – Breathe. Breathe. Then breathe some more. Deep cleansing breaths help to steady your heart rate, relieve tension and release pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain to elevate moods. Deep breathing means breathing into the belly, not just the chest, and doing so stimulates the vagus nerve, part of your parasympathetic nervous system which calms you down.

Anxiety Buster #3 – Hear what Tibetan Buddhist Master, Mingyur Rinpoche has to say about simple meditation and training your “monkey mind.” This simple exercise can bring much relief and help to train your brain away from constant worrying.

 

Anxiety Buster #4 – Rev up your serotonin levels with exercise, time in nature and music that you love! A neurotransmitter, known for improving mood, serotonin affects many areas of the body including the gut. Many people feeling the pressures of stress and anxiety often have accompanying digestion issues, which leads us to our final anxiety buster. . .

Anxiety Buster #5 – Promote good gut health with proper nutrition and making sure your intestinal health is in balance. The re:iimmune formula was created to provide hydration support and through the addition of probiotics and a prebiotic, a food source for good gut bacteria to thrive, to help those battling with digestion issues. The gut and the mind are closely connected and taking care of each, helps the other!

 

Whole Foods Spotlight – Strawberries

 

While many folks today would list strawberries as their favorite fruit, this now beloved berry has gone through periods of history where it was practically shunned. Technically, it’s not truly a fruit since the seeds are on the outside surface. Botanically speaking it’s related to the rose.  We know that early peoples enjoyed strawberries as the seeds have been found at Mesolithic, Neolithic and Iron Age sites. However, the fruit was not cultivated until the 14th century.

The strawberry is mentioned in early Roman writings, including Virgil who warned children to keep an eye out for snakes when picking the wild, low growing fruit. This caution toward the berry stuck and strawberries became associated with danger, with 12th century Saint Hildegard of Germany declaring them unfit for eating because snakes and toads and other slithery creatures could crawl on and among the fruit. Finally in the 14th century, the French put an end to its undeserved bad reputation and began cultivating the plant.  The first 1200 strawberry plants were put in the gardens of the Louvre on the command of King Charles V.

As European settlers arrived in Americas they discovered that native people had also cultivated a wild strawberry with much more success in size and flavor. In the 18th century, the American and Chilean varieties were crossed, resulting in the first of all cultivated strawberries known today Fragaria x ananassa. The word “strawberry” more than likely derives from the practice of growing the cultivated fruit upon straw and some Native Americans called them “wuttahimneash” which translates to “heart-seed berry”.

High in fiber, the strawberry helps to improve digestion, especially if you are suffering from constipation or irregular stools. They help to improve cardiovascular health as the ellagic acid and flavonoids provide antioxidant effects. Strawberries also help to lower LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol which leads to plaque build-up in the arteries and the potassium found in the berry helps to counteract the negative effects of sodium, regulating pressure and preventing high blood pressure. They are also wonderful for skin care as the salicylic acid exfoliates dead skin cells, brightening and softening the skin and tightening pores.

 

Strawberry Oatmeal Face Mask

 

Strawberry Salsa
Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad with Chicken

#TBT – Ylang Ylang – History and Benefits

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 the benefits of ylang ylang essential oil!

Ylang ylang (e-lang e-lang), often called “the poor man’s jasmine”, comes from the sweet smelling, star-shaped flowers of the ylang-ylang tree. Native to Malaysia, Indonesia and other east Asian lowland countries the tree does not produce flowers until five years of growth but then produces up to 45 pounds of flowers for up to fifty years. High quality oil made from the flowers has a sweet and musky aroma and is prized for it’s amazing scent. However, indigenous peoples of the areas where it grows quickly discovered it was effective as a natural treatment for skin irritations such as cuts, burns and insect bites as it inhibits microbial growth and disinfects wounds.

Indonesians scatter the petals over the beds of newlywed couples on their wedding night. A hair pomade, Macassar oil, developed in the Molucca Islands became so popular in Victorian England that it led to the creation of the antimacassar, a decorative chair covering used to keep the oil from staining upholstery. In the 20th century, French chemists discovered that the oil was useful in treating intestinal infections and that the oil had a calming effect on the body, specifically the heart. Eventually, ylang ylang essential oil was used as the top floral note in the now famous Chanel No. 5 perfume.

Ylang ylang oil has also proven beneficial in treating eczema. Caused by malfunctioning sebaceous glands which don’t provide an adequate production of sebum, eczema is a painful skin disorder. Ylang ylang soothes inflammation and assists the skin in regulating sebum production.  It’s also loaded with organic compounds that are beneficial to the hair and scalp. Since it’s known for uplifting mood and promoting relaxation, it’s a terrific addition to massage oil.

If taken in excessive amounts, it can result in nausea and headache so it is important to use ylang ylang oil in recommended doses.

Spotting Nutritional Deficiencies – Part Two

 

Last week we focused on how our nails and skin can give us clues for spotting nutritional deficiencies in our bodies. Lack of vitamins and minerals can cause serious health problems in the body. However we have intelligent systems that give small clues that can make spotting nutritional deficiencies easier. Today we focus on how the rest of our body offers signals that something is off in our system.

Eyes

Poor night vision: Can be an indicator of too little vitamin A.

Ruptured blood vessels in the eyes: If not due to trauma, lack of vitamin C may be the culprit.

Pale lower eyelid: If the skin inside your lower lid is pale rather than pink, it could be a symptom of anemia, a lack of iron.

Twitching eyelids: This can be due to too little magnesium in your diet.

White ring in the iris: A white ring around the iris or colored part of the eye may be a signal of high cholesterol which causes fatty deposits. Small waxy white lumps on the eyelid can also be a signal of too much cholesterol in the blood.

 

Mouth

Pale and smooth tongue: This can indicate anemia, too little iron in the system.

Canker sores: These painful sores are terrible to deal with but can help in spotting nutritional deficiencies such as lack of B3, B12, folic acid, and/or calcium.

Cracks in the corner of the mouth: This is a symptom of too little B2.

Loss of smell or taste: If not caused by trauma, your body could be sending you a signal that you are zinc deficient.

Bleeding, painful gums: Often due to gingivitis and a lack of vitamin C.

 

Muscles & Joints

Cramping/Spasms: Can be caused by too little potassium, magnesium or B vitamins 1,2 and 6. Too little calcium could also be the culprit.

Tingling/numbness in hands and feet: B vitamins such as folate, B6 and B12 play a large role in nerve function. Too little can cause tingling and numbness in the extremities.

Joint pain: Vitamin A is essential for the health of connective joints and a lack of it and too much of it can damage bones and connective tissues which results in joint pain. Vitamin D and C levels should also be checked.

#TBT – Rosemary – History and Benefits

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. This week it’s the refreshing memory enhancer, Rosemary!

Native to the Mediterranean and Asia, rosemary or rosmarinus officinalis derives from the latin words for “dew” (ros) and “sea” (marinus) meaning “dew of the sea.”  Throughout time, this woody fragrant herb with evergreen like “needles” for leaves has been valued for its invigorating scent, for culinary enhancement and medicinal qualities. During the Middle Ages it was thought to be a love charm. Often, brides would wear a headpiece made of the herb. It has long been associated with improving memory and used as a symbol for remembrance for the dearly departed. Interestingly enough, modern studies are showing that the herb does positively enhance memory, speed and accuracy and helps keep one alert.

Rosemary has traditionally been used to improve circulation and is often used in massage to help decrease muscle cramps and soreness. Suffer from cold hands and feet? Mix a bit of rosemary oil into a carrier oil and use it to massage these areas regularly. It aids in circulation, so using it for massage is a wonderful. Even just inhaling the scent is ideal for helping to relieve migraines and headaches. If battling a cold, you might want to make yourself a rosemary tea. The eucalyptol within rosemary aids in loosening chest congestion and since it’s rich in anti-inflammatory tannins it also helps to soothe a sore throat.

If dandruff is an issue for you, try mixing a few drops of rosemary oil into your shampoo. However don’t apply the oil directly to your scalp as that could cause additional flaking. For centuries it’s been used, especially in the Mediterranean region, to stimulate hair growth.

In the garden, rosemary is a solid butterfly attractor and it helps ward off mosquitos! It likes very well drained soil and enough room to grow and can reach 4 feet high and spread out over 4 feet. Pruning it will help to keep it from getting lanky and it’s often used in topiary gardens as it holds beautiful shapes. It can also be grown in smaller containers both indoors and outdoors.

Last but not least, rosemary is a beautiful herb to cook with, perfectly pairing with meat, potatoes and other root vegetables, as well as enhancing many desserts. Along with the smell of pine trees, cinnamon and peppermint, rosemary is one of those scents closely associated with the holidays and all the comfort foods of the winter season.

Orange Upside Down Cake with Rosemary

DIY Mini Rosemary Wreath Garland

Lavender Rosemary Wax Melts

Eye Health and Nutrition

 

In regards to eye health, you have probably heard “Eat your carrots, they’re good for your eyes!” from mom several times throughout childhood. There are several foods that contain vitamins and nutrients essential for eye health. Protect your peepers by consuming more of the following. . .

Brightly colored Fruits and Vegetables – Yes, carrots are on the list of top foods for eye health. So are bell peppers, strawberries, pumpkin, corn and canteloupe and other yellow, orange and red fruit and veggies. Carotenoids are the compounds responsible for this bright coloring and help decrease the risk of many eye diseases. The Vitamin C found in many of these fruits and vegetables also lowers your risk of developing cataracts. Mom was right! Carrots and other foods which contain Vitamin A or retinol help your body to synthesize a pigment in your eyes that operates in low light conditions called rhodopsin. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness.

FishCold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which offer protection against dry eyes, macular degeneration and cataracts. Tuna, Salmon, anchovies and trout have high levels of a type of omega 3 called DHA, a fatty acid esential for the health of the retinas but one that our bodies don’t make efficiently. We need to replenish DHA with food rich in this nutrient.  Low levels of DHA are linked to dry eye syndrome.

Nuts – Pistachios, walnuts, almonds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and also offer healthy doses of vitamin E for eye health. Vitamin E helps protect membranes of cells throughout the body against free radicals, including parts of the eye. Cataracts may be formed due to oxidation in the lens of the eye and Vitamin E offers preventative help.

Leafy Greens – Spinach, kale, collard greens and seaweed are rich in luteins, nicknamed the “eye vitamin” as it is incredibly important for eye health. When we consume foods rich in lutein it is deposited in high quantities in the retina. It helps to fight free radical damage caused by exposure to sunlight, reduces eye fatigue and light sensitivity, protects against the development of cataracts. and halts the growth of cancerous cells. Lutein can also be found in those brightly colored fruits and veggies mentioned above!

Eggs – Another great source of both lutein and Vitamin A to protect against night blindness, dry eyes and general eye health and function.

Legumes – Kidney beans, black-eyed peas and lentils are good sources of zinc which assists the body in absorption of Vitamin A and reduce one’s risk of macular degeneration.

#TBT – Thyme – History and Benefits

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. This week the focus is on the powerful protector and palate pleaser: thyme!

Thyme, the most common variety being Thymus vulgaris, is an evergreen herb with a fragrance Rudyard Kipling described as being, “like dawn in paradise.” There are a couple of possible origins for the name. It may be derived from the Greek thumos and/or the Latin fumus, which both mean “smoke” or the Greek word thumos can also signify courage. The Greeks burnt the herb as incense in their temples believing it a source of courage. Later, during the Middle Ages, ladies would give knights and warriors gifts embroidered with a bee hovering over a spray of thyme as a symbol of protection. Danish and German folklore listed wild thyme patches as a place favorable to find fairies.

Thyme does have some powerfully protective disinfecting and deodorizing properties. The disinfecting qualities of thymol, a primary component of the oil, has been useful in treating psoriasis, eczema and ringworm. It’s also useful in dental care, traditionally used to treat tooth decay, gingivitis, plaque and bad breath as it helps to kill germs. It can help keep those outdoor pests away too and treat the bites you may suffer from the little critters. For women, it’s been used to help improve progesterone production and relieve the symptoms of PMS and menopause. Thyme is also a powerful immune system booster, encouraging white blood cell formation and increasing resistance to germs and bacteria. This makes it a great herb to use in your defense during cold and flu season.

As for its culinary uses, it’s best known for flavoring meat dishes, soups and stews. In some parts of the Middle East it’s a vital ingredient for the condiment za’atar. Thyme is also a component of the bouquet garni and Herbes de Provence. It can be used fresh or dried and in its dried form it retains its flavour better than most other herbs.

DIY Lemon Thyme Upholstery and Carpet Deodorizer

Honey Roasted Beets with Balsamic and Thyme

Eczema Skin Salve DIY

#TBT – Rose – History and Benefits

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. In honor of Valentine’s Day we are focusing on the rose!

Fossil evidence dates the rose as 35 million years old and there are around 150 species spread through the world. The Chinese were most likely the first culture to begin garden cultivation of roses, some 5,000 years ago. Throughout time the rose has come to symbolize romantic love and you are bound to love some of the surprising health benefits of this sweet smelling queen of flowers.

Dietary Benefits

Rose hips, the flowers which have swollen to seed are commonly used in tea and have been used throughout the ages to aid in relieving bladder infections, menstrual cramps and diarrhea. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, a natural antioxidant which can block some of the damage that can result from exposure to toxins and helps to support the immune system The flower petals are also edible and can be mixed into salads! The petals contain polyphenols which research shows help to prevent cardiovascular disease as well as osteoporosis.

Skin and Hair Health

Rosewater is a perfect choice for sensitive and irritated skin. Along with balancing out oily skin, softening, deep cleansing and toning the skin, rosewater also provides relief from irritation and itching. Those battling acne will want to reach for the rosewater as it contains antibacterial properties to dry up the acne, a natural antiseptic called phenyl ethanol and its a good moisturizer to boot! Rose essential oil is also useful in maintaining a healthy scalp and hair and many swear by it’s ability to prevent hair loss.

Aromatherapy

No wonder the rose has become such a symbol of romance and considered an aphrodisiac. The scent of rose essential oil is known to boost the libido and reduce symptoms of sexual dysfunction. The oil has also been used to treat depression, stress, anxiety and headaches.

Ready to reap the rewards of the rose? Here are some links you might want to check out. . .

Rose Petal Iced Tea

Rosehip Jam

Homemade Rosewater