Seed Cycling is a natural way to support female reproductive hormones. This is great if you are not cycling (amenorrhea) or if you are having irregular cycles & PMS.
If you are not cycling at all – or having extremely irregular cycles – use the Lunar phases as a guide for regulating your own flow.
The New moon will be Day 1 of your cycle. This will be your Follicular Phase, which is dominated by the hormone estrogen. Take 1 tbsp. daily of crushed Flax seeds and Pumpkin seeds (also known as Pepita seeds).
At the Full Moon switch to the Luteal Phase. The Luteal phase is dominated by the hormone progesterone, which is secreted from the corpus luteam of the egg after ovulation. To support progesterone take 1Tbsp. daily of crushed sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Do this until the New Moon.
Castor Oil is an incredible substance that is obtained by pressing the seeds of the castor plant, Ricinus communis(Euphorbiaceae). It is a clear oil that has been used for medicinal use in Ancient Egypt, China, Persia, Africa, Greece, Rome, and in 17th Century Europe and the Americas. Centuries ago, the plant was referred to as “Palma Christe” because the leaves were said to resemble the hand of Christ. This association likely arose out of people’s reverence for the plant’s healing abilities.
Castor oil is now widely used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, machinery and industry. Even Castrol motor oil for machinery is derived from castor oil….must be good for the joints?
The Good: Always start with the positives!
One of the more compelling health benefits is castor oil’s ability to support the immune system. This healing property does not require you ingest the oil, rather apply it externally. Castor oil “packs” can be an economical and efficient method of infusing the ricinoleic acid and other healing components of castor oil directly into your tissues.
Popularized by psychic and intuitive healer, Edgar Cayce in the 1930s and 1940s, Castor Oil packs became widely utilized. Some say Edgar Cayce was the father of the New Age Movement. His work with castor oil was later researched and proven by primary care physician William McGarey amongst others.
Even Ancient Yogis and modern day yogis of the Ashtanga tradition follow a Saturday ritual of a castor oil bath. This helps reduce any inflammation in the joints while providing a ritual during the day off from training. In this tradition castor oil is applied liberally while the practitioner lays in corpse pose (shivasina) for 10-15 minutes. Afterwards wash the castor oil off in the shower.
Castor oil packs applied topically can:
Stimulate and support the immune system
Drain the lymphatic system
Increase lymphocyte production
Have an antiinflamitory effect
Have an antiviral effect
Have an antifungal effect
Improve painful conditions and swelling
Some conditions treated are GI complaints, ovarian cysts, menstrual issues, irregular menses, painful menses, fibroids, acne, arthritis, lymph edema and chronic infections.
Topical Application: You can rub castor oil into the skin but if you truly want the most therapeutic effect try a “Castor Oil Pack”. Packs are the most common and effective way to apply topical castor oil.
In order to make a Castor Oil Pack You will need the following supplies:
High quality cold-pressed castor oil
Hot water bottle or heating pad
Two or three one-foot square pieces of wool or cotton flannel
One large old bath towel
Fold flannel three layers thick so it is still large enough to fit over your entire upper abdomen and liver. You can also treat over a local area, like swollen lymph nodes on the neck, ankles, knees…anywhere that needs additional love. Soak flannel with the oil so that it is completely saturated. The oil should be at room temperature. Place the flannel pack directly onto your abdomen; cover oiled flannel with the sheet of plastic, and place the hot water bottle on top of the plastic.
I recommend wearing old pajamas as the oil stains and is difficult to remove. Leave pack on for 45 to 60 minutes. This is a great time to do meditational breathing, reading or just relax. You can reuse the pack several times, each time adding more oil as needed to keep the pack saturated.
The “not so pretty” but effective Internal Uses of Castor Oil:
Castor oil has been an internal remedy for thousands of years. Remember Spanky from The Little Rascals being spoon fed castor oil? Castor oil can even be seen on Tom and Jerry as a way to harass Tom. Centuries of ingesting Castor oil by myriads of cultures have shown us that castor oil is a formidable laxative.
Castor oil has been proven to stimulate the intestines and the uterus and is often recommended to stimulate labor. I however do not recommend castor oil for labor induction unless in very specific conditions as castor oil as it can cause violent vomiting and diarrhea which can really be tough on a laboring woman.
The”Downright Deadly” but infrequently seen use of the Castor nut:
Unless you go into the business of manufacturing castor oil you will not come into contact with Ricin. Ricin is a highly toxic, naturally occurring protein and even a dose the size of a few grains of table salt can kill an adult human. Heating during the oil extraction process denatures and inactivates the protein rendering castor oil harmless.
In a few occurrences since the late 1970’s ricin has been utilized as a biological toxic weapon. As a matter of fact even this year, an envelope addressed to President Obama tested positive for ricin. All that being said, castor oil has been deemed safe and effective by the FDA so do not worry.
Castor Oil is an ancient and effective way to improve your health. Give it a try for yourself.
My family of Beekeepers recently paid a visit and I was so excited to chat with them extensively about the power of Bees and their extraordinary products. My cousin Gustav is a third generation of beekeeper and I have fond memories meeting his Grandfather (my great, great Uncle Einer) in Sweden when I was eight. I have an image in my head of my Great Uncle in his bee suit and huge drums of creamy honey in the basement. Maybe that started my deep love for honey?
Gustav had a lot of information to share. Sadly a lot of the discussion was about the disappearance of bees. He has been working extremely hard over the past ten years developing ways to keep his beehives healthy.
There were so many fascinating medicinal facts and bee products that I was inspired to write a 4-Part Piece on Bee products including Honey, Propolis, Bee Pollen and Royal Jelly. I’ll start with Propolis.
The Power of Propolis
Gustav called Propolis “the anti” because of its antiinflamitory, antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor and antiseptic properties. Honey bees are “propolis harvesters”. Bees collect resins from treebuds and mix the resins with a little honey, wax and enzymes to create propolis. Propolis essentially contains resins, balsams, essential oils, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and pollen. Analysis shows that bees don’t significantly change the resins they collect which makes propolis an herbal medicine similar to other medicinal gums and resins such as boswellia and myrrh.
Propolis is a Greek word that translates to “before the city” and is used by bees in the hives to line the hive to keep the hive clean. Propolis also acts as an adhesive as it assists in gluing the hive together and protect the hive from inclement weather. Bees not only line their hive with Propolis but leave Propolis as a “doormat” at the entrance. Gustav mentioned that bees step their feet in the Propolis before entering the hive to “clean” their feet before entering. Additionally Bees embalm invaders. Ancient Egyptians followed the bees knowledge and used propolis to embalming agents for their mummies. If a pest were to enter the hive and die the bees cover the dead animal in Propolis to keep the hive and the Queen Bee protected from germs.
Even The Gracie Diet, a diet created by Grandmaster Carlos Gracie, the forefather of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who lived and trained into his 90’s, listed Propolis as one of the 10 foods that should be eaten daily. Following the Hippocratean maxim “Let your food be your remedy”, Grandmaster Carlos Gracie aimed at founding a system that would primarily prevent illness on days of competition.The basic principle of the Gracie Diet is to keep blood pH level neutral by consuming only compatible nutrients at each meal.
A study on PubMed reported that “More than 15 Greek and Roman authors report on the preparation and application of the so-called third natural product of the bees (besides honey and wax). Aristoteles described the fundamental issues of its biology in his ‘Historia Animalium’ correctly.” Propolis has been utilized since ancient times as a topical antiseptic used for open wounds. It is said that Propolis is the most natural antibiotic man has ever discovered. The remarkable thing about this statement is the fact that this discovery took place some 2000 years ago.”
Integrate Propolis into your daily regimen:
In cell culture tests Propolis extracts have been shown to significantly inhibit the growth in the Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Staphyloccocus, clostridium, corynebacterium diptheriae and some streptococcus species.
Propolis Salve: Treating open wounds it is superior to use a blend of propolis as a topical salve rather than a single antibiotic in petroleum jelly. Antibiotics are overused and their overuse are creating a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria. The complex bend of compounds in propolis is superior to the single antibiotic in petroleum jelly. Gladiators know how to treat wounds!
Propolis as mouth wash: Propolis mouth wash inhibits the growth of common human oral bacteria which helps the body heal after surgery, prevent bad breath, gingivitis, tooth decay and gum disease.
Upper respiratory conditions:
Propolis can be added to saline for a sinus irrigation. In many Eastern European countries widespread use of antibiotics is less common than beekeeping. Washing, gargling and irrigating the sinuses with propolis rinses are more commonly used.
Promote heart health. Propolis has been demonstrated to be an antiinflammatory.
Emollient: Studies also indicate that Propolis may be effective in treating skin burns.
Immune Support: Propolis exhibits immunostimulant effects in numerous clinical trials.
Propolis is available in powder, lozenges, tincture, capsules and pills.
As my family was heading back home they were eager to hug and kiss everyone of us before boarding the plane. Gustav waved a hearty goodbye as he popped some Propolis in his mouth.
Cupping has been around for thousands of years and have been used by numerous traditions to support healing. Cupping reduces inflammation, reduce toxins and improves circulation. It also promotes a feeling a calmness and reduced anxiety. Many feel this is because it helps regulate the autonomic nervous system and reduce the “flight or fight” sensation that many people experience on a daily basis.
The earliest records of cupping date back to the Ebers Papyrus (1550 BC), one of the oldest living medical documents preserved today. Even Hippocrates mentions cupping in medical literature from 400 BC. Cupping has roots in the Middle East, Asia, Northern & Eastern Europe and North American traditional peoples. Cups can be made from glass, bamboo, animal horns and shells.
Cups are applied to the skin using a flame to create a vacuum, this is referred to as Fire Cupping. Cups can also be applied with a pump like suction that draws the air out of the cup. The skin literally draws up into the cup creating tightness.
Cupping is known to draw out toxins and purify the body. Some theorize that cupping promotes health by facilitating the removal of toxins. The cupping action draws toxins to the surface of the skin where the immune system is better able to eliminate them.
Others theorize that cupping helps reset the fascia that lies under the muscle and helps keep the shape of the muscle. Tension and stagnation can alter the tone of the muscle and fascia and create “knots” and trigger points. Cupping helps disperse this stagnation.
Regulate Qi flow:
Others believe that cupping works with the Traditional Chinese Medicine notion of Qi flow. Typically cups are applied along the Yang Channels of the back such as the Gallbladder, Urinary Bladder and Small Intestine channels. These channels are often tense and hold a lot of stagnation. Cups along the channel can help improve the Qi flow and reduce pain.
There are many Cupping Techniques that can be utilized.
Tonifying Cupping: Cups are applied for approximately 10 minutes and then removed.
Draining Cupping: Cups are applied for up to 20 minutes and then removed.
Flash Cupping: Cups are applied and then removed immediately.
Sliding Cups: Cups are applied over oil and slid across the muscle or acupuncture channel.
Bleeding Cupping or Wet Cupping (Hajimah or Haracat): The skin is pierced and then cups are applied. This is no longer legal in the USA but is widely used in Turkey and Islamic countries. 3 slices are placed on the skin, to represent Allah, and bled for 3-8 minutes.
Finnish Traditions also utilizes wet cupping in a warm environment, typically after a sauna.
I stick to sliding cups or flash cupping. Typically, I place an oil on the back and then apply the cups using fire to create the vacuum. I usually work with four cups and slide them along the channels to create a deep massage. People often feel very relaxed afterwards. In keeping with the ancients I avoid cupping if a woman is menstruating or if someone is weak or recovering from an illness. I also avoid cupping if someone has plans to drink excessively that evening as it could make people more susceptible to catching a cold.
Cupping is an extraordinary, sacred tradition that has withstood the test of time. Check it out for yourself!
Chilis are a diverse fruit that bloom on the nightshade family of plants. Not only do chilis enhance the flavor of food, they also have a dual function of nurturing life by treating pain as well as halting humans in riot control. In this sense, chilis embody the the Daoist nature of the Yin Yang symbol where opposites are intrinsically connected.
Chilis are also a natural and safe way to protect crops from vermin, dogs and even elephants by adding it to feed or lining the perimeter of fields with chilis. This diverse fruit boasts a variety of macabre names and grow in numerous grades of intensity and shades of greens to red. From topical salves for arthritis to euphoria inducing salsas to legendary 90’s rock band, chili peppers attract millions of people worldwide.
Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BC. Some historians credit Chrisopher Colombus for “stumbling” upon peppers in the Caribbean and disseminating them throughout Europe and the East through trade routes. Others believe that the Spanish missionaries were drawn to the chilis widely used in Mexico and South Americans. Today chilies are at the core of many cuisines worldwide, namely Asian and South American cuisines.
The hottest portion of the chili pepper is the white membrane, or placenta, that surrounds the seeds. This protective sheath keeps mammals from destroying the seeds in the wild whilst they do not affect birds at all, which helps spread the seed. The placental portion contains capsaicin that has been identified as a compound that elevates the body temperature, produces sweating and increases heart rate. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact. Capsaicin in the eyes and nose produces extreme discomfort, which is what makes it effective for crowd control.
Chilis are so hot that they are graded on an international scale called the Scoville Scale. The Scoville number refers to how much dilution would be needed to render the heat imperceptible. Currently Wikipedia lists the world’s hottest chili peppers as:
Carolina Reaper: 2.2M SHU
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion: 2.0M SHU
Bhut Jolokia: 1.58M SHU
Trinidad Scorpion Butch: 1.463M SHU
Naga Viper: 1.4M SHU
Many sources credit the Bhut Jolokia as the hottest pepper on earth. It is also known as the “Ghost Pepper” because presumably one “gives up the ghost” after consuming it.Just to put this into perspective, the Jalapeno measures 2,500 – 8,000 SHU.
In other words, the Jalapeno could be pulverized and used as baby food compared to the aforementioned chilis. These peppers listed above are pure gut wrenching, havoc-wreaking torture that create legends (or ER patients) at chili eating contests worldwide. Alternatively, these peppers are used as non-lethal weaponry such as the Bhut Jolokia grenades used by India’s Defense Ministry against protesters in Kashmir. Pepper spray is still widely accepted as a useful & powerful tool for self – defense.
When capsaicin touches the skin it creates a numbing effect, which is why it is used in topical ointments, dermal patches and nasal spray to temporarily relieve pain. This can be used to treat arthritis, psoriasis, muscle strain and peripheral neuropathy. Internally capsaicin increases blood flow and promotes sweating.
In Traditional Chinese medicine chilies are considered Yang in nature because they are hot and stimulate heat within the body. Taken internally peppers are effective for the treatment of “exterior” conditions such as the common cold. Cayenne pepper has been traditionally used to create a sweat at the onset of a cold. An early sweat can help release the pathogen and prevent the cold from settling in.
Additionally, chilies and spicy food in general is considered tonifying for people who tend to be cold, sluggish, phlegmy…chilies eaten can stoke the digestive fire and increase metabolism.
The Calabrese region of Italy boasts the Calabrian pepper, affectionately dubbed the Devil’s Kiss, which has been appropriated into a pendant called a “cornicello”. Some people consider the “cornicello” to be a horn and others a calabrian pepper. Either way, the pepper is used a kind of talisman to ward off evil spirits.
This is one of my favorite Italian American symbols, as a kid growing up in the Bronx in the late 80’s Red peppers dangled from the rearview mirrors of cars…(mostly IROCs or cars of a similar nature). Of Italian American decent myself, I began donning a pepper in high school and have been wearing one on and off ever since. The pepper is a big part of my life both past and present.
To eat a great meal and sense both pleasure and pain in one dish is what some people (myself included) consider real gastronomic pleasure. When my mouth feels like it will ignite into flames…as my heart rate increases and I start sucking air through pursed lips and beads of sweat accumulate on my forehead, I think “aaah…I’m alive”. I can’t help but enjoy the little bit of torture, it’s that little bit of reality that sharpens my focus and helps me remain on my toes. Since adrenalin rich sports have taken a back burner in my life, habanero-rich meals help keep the day-to-day a little more dicey.