Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Herb Crush: Reishi Mushroom

Since reishi is technically a mushroom, some may not even consider it as part of an herbalists repertoire.  Many herbalists are saying otherwise and considering just about anything that grows from nature as part of its arsenal. So yes, this includes reishi mushrooms and many other mushrooms too like chaga, turkey tail and maitake.  For my own biased reasons, up until this point I didn't bother incorporating mushrooms into my herbal usage simply because I don't like to eat them.... I've avoided them like Farrakhan would chitterlings at Thanksgiving.

Considering that I mostly eat a vegetarian diet, I noticed my hair was thinning and asked my holistic hair stylist (Ashley Lenee') what I should do; she suggested the best way to improve the condition of my hair is through diet -- she told me to get some reishi mushrooms. I objected, because did I mention that I REEEEAAALLLY don't like mushrooms?! The spongy texture and sometime fungal flavor leaves me saying, "ick, yuck, pewwh!"

No sweat she said, and recommended that I try reishi mushroom powder. She had some powder waiting for me at my next hair appointment and told me to add about a tablespoon of powder to a glass of water. Although she told me that reishi is high in protein and B-vitamins (great for restoring hair), I was nervous and felt like a 5-year-old stuck at the dinner table with a plate of food I didn't want to eat.

So, I had to get some nerve to even consume it and did more research only to discover that reishi is an *adaptogenic herb that has been widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for hundreds of years. In TCM it is called Ganoderma, and is revered for promoting longevity. So much so, it's referred to as the "herb of immortality."

In addition to that it improves immune function by increasing T-cell production, and there's loads of info about its cancer fighting properties.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, "Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) clearly demonstrates anticancer activity in experiments with cancer cells and has possible therapeutic potential as a dietary supplement for an alternative therapy for breast and prostate cancer."

There's more, according to Susan G. Komen...
"Reishi mushroom is used for boosting the immune system; viral infections such as the flu (influenza), swine flu, and avian flu; lung conditions including asthma and bronchitis; heart disease and contributing conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol; kidney disease; cancer; and liver disease. It is also used for HIV/AIDS, altitude sickness, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), trouble sleeping (insomnia), stomach ulcers, poisoning, and herpes pain. Other uses include reducing stress and preventing fatigue."
Eventually, I found the nerve to give it the old college try. As instructed, I added a tablespoon to my water, stirred, sipped and held my breath. Well, it was... actually really good. With the right water to reishi powder ratio it tastes like fresh water, in my opinion.

Although still a little biased about this mahogany colored mushroom powder, I immediately felt A LOT of energy. So much so, I felt like I wanted to run a marathon, I was so energized; then, I realized hours had went by and I still hadn't eaten. In my experience with the herb, it's a HUGE appetite suppressant and energy booster. Both my hair and scalp is feeling much stronger although, I'm not really sure I can attribute this to the reishi powder solely. My stylist also recommended a hair product, which I think has been very helpful. 

You ever eat something very nutritious and feel sudden super strength? Well this was my experience with reishi mushroom powder. Now, I add it to my water more regularly, cook with it and sprinkle over meals. It's my new favorite, and may have even helped me to become just an itsy bit more open to eating mushrooms.

If you don't have this hang-up against mushroom textures, it's probably best to eat the actual reishi mushroom. Consuming foods in their whole, natural state is always best as long as you can bare the taste, texture and smell. 

As for me, I think I have a crush on reishi mushrooms and it's getting kind of serious ;) 

*adaptogenic herb: helps the body "adapt" to stress factors by tonifying and restoring the body overall, mostly by supporting adrenal (nervous) and endocrine (hormone) systems.

Note: Herbs, as with anything else, will interact with everyone differently, which may not mean a bad thing just that each person's body functions differently. Consult your health care professional, do your own research and pay close attention to your body's responses.

- Avec amour

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Summer in the Wild: Herbal Adventures and News

This past summer was absolutely enchanting! Life has become vibrant, bountiful and enriching, as my summer has been spent going on several plant walk adventures, traveling, wildcrafting and creating. 

The phrase, "What you seek is seeking you," couldn't have rang more true as opportunities presented themselves. This summer I also: attended the first annual Great Lakes Herb Faire and D-Town Farm's 9th Annual Harvest Festival, attended a couple Herbal Chat & Chew events, had a marvelous time at Sage Smoke (gathering of community healers), cat-walked through botanical gardens, participated in community healing spaces, went camping for the first time, or as me and my friend Lottie called it glamping (glamour camping).

I began this blog after years of vision boarding/journaling sessions during which I'd written and drawn out my desires to pursue my passion for holistic health and merge it with my love for communications. In a split moment I decided to stop my whining and belly aching and get started putting my desires in motion. It was the best decision ever, as I still love my job working full-time in the creative arts field; I'm now able to create healing spaces while sharing what I've learned along the way.

It's my hope that you too will be encouraged to follow your dreams. You may not have it all mapped out right now, but take it one step in the direction of your dreams and the rest will begin to fall in place. I feel so much more alive because I don't feel creatively stifled, I'm able to bring my A-game to my work and personal life. 

I have soooo much more to share of the wonderful blessings that have been set in motion, please stay tuned and check back often for additional resources, information and updates. Oh, and a few of us Detroit-based wellness advocates will be opening an apothecary in a few weeks, check it out here

In the meantime I wish you much success in going after your purpose >>>muah<<<


D-Town Farm's Annual Harvest Festival

Malik Yakini, founder of D-Town Farm

Face painting at D-Town Farm
Harvest Festival

Signs of harvest season at D-Town Farm Harvest Festival

Free hayrides for kids at D-Town Farm's Harvest Festival

Devita Davison from
Detroit Kitchen Connect
and Foodlab Detroit, keynote
speaker at D-Town Farm's Harvest Festival

Paying homage to Detroit's
own food justice warrior, Charity Hick

Mama Sol from
Mama Sol and the Nuts performed
at D-Town Farm Harvest Festival

Pokeweed at D-Town Farm
International herbalist, Phe teaches learn-shop at D-Town
Farm's Harvest Festival. Attendees learn
how to make immune boosting tonic
formerly known as Fire Cider


Lisa Rose with her
 Burdock & Rose Botanicals products

Stacey Quade leads plant spirit walk

Energy field and plant meditation lead by Stacey Quade

Internationally renowned herbalist
and keynote speaker: Jim McDonald

Learned to make fermented food
(pictured: sauerkraut and fermented beans)
 from Shawna Wilcoxson
of Blue Dog Family Family Farm

Tinctures bought at this year's Great Lakes Herb Faire

Stickers, compliments of Mountain Rose Herbs
free at Great Lakes Herb Faire

Tincture I'm making...

Opening panel discussion from 
the Great Lakes Herb Faire

Yurt and classroom during Great Lakes Herb Faire

Working on Wellness (WOW) Summit at Exhalation Integrative Wellness Center

WOW Summit panelists 
WOW Summit Attendees

Dr. Karla Mitchell speaks about
alternative healing models at the WOW Summit



Echinacea at the Chicago Botanical Garden

Cool pic in downtown Chi
Chicago's botanical garden
encourages you to stay on your
path, how fitting ;)

Me at Miami Botanical Gardens


Me wildcrafting herbs

Lottie wildcrafting herbs

Huge tree had to snap a pic

Bleeding hearts... 
is nature trying to tell us something? ;)

Garlic Mustard's flower

Vinka a.k.a. periwinkle

Mullein growing...

Plant walk in class 
with Jim McDonald

Deer in the woods at work...
ironically, this wasn't during the plant walk

Winding road through the woods

Red clover


- Avec Amour

Sunday, August 9, 2015

HERB Crush: Chill Out with Motherwort

It's not often I mention an herb that isn't related to helping heal or nourish the skin. In my recent experience working with motherwort herb; however, I discovered so many new, amazing herbal interactions. I couldn't keep my findings to myself, so I just had to share.

I've recently had the pleasure of working closely with motherwort herb from wildcrafting to drying to nutritional and medicinal use; and in my opinion everything about this herb is awesome!

For the overworked, exhausted, high-energy, intense, analytical, high-strung sorta person; nature created motherwort juuuust for you. All jokes aside, it's pretty easy to get overloaded these days and over-extended (whether raising children, paying bills, running errands, dealing with the loss of a loved one... work, school, family ahhhh!!!), seems as though everyone is wearing too many hats these days.

Think about it, stress can wreak havoc on the skin causing acne, wrinkles, blotchyness, dryness or dark circles. It also exhausts internal organs, energy and body systems (but that's another blog post).

Nevertheless, when you're feeling overwhelmed, motherwort is a great herb to help check and balance stress. It's like the loving embrace that only a mother can give, hence the name.

Motherwort Herb
CREDIT: D. Gordon E. Robertson
The characteristics and its aesthetics are rather exquisite, as it's native to Asia, but now grows wild here in Michigan and throughout North America. This herb belongs to the mint family (genus) and is often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine when addressing women's reproductive and heart maladies. It is not to be mistaken as a minty tasting or fragrant herb, as the tea is bitter... VEERRRRRRRRRY bitter. I mean think of the most bitter thing you've ever eaten and its probably three times more bitter. But don't let that scare you off as it's very effective. I often add a little cinnamon and/or carob powder to make it more palatable.

Motherwort also is often used to help balance adverse PMS and menopause symptoms. It can help reduce menstrual pain, ease irritability, produce blood flow (good for menstrual cycles that are a little delayed), and improve mood. It is often used when addressing heart-related issues, as it's been known to help regulate blood circulation and induce a state of calm for hypertension.

In my personal experience with the herb, I've mixed the dried leaves with just a tad bit of kava kava in tea and felt a non-sedative sense of calm, and overall mood lift.

There is so much more I could say about this herb, but I to encourage you to get to know motherwort for yourself, something tells me you'll be "glad" you did. As always, please keep learning and researching for yourself. Here's another great source 
to get you started.

If you've had motherwort tea, tincture, syrup or have had this plant in any other capacity; please post your experience below. I'd love to hear how this plant worked for you. Cheers to motherwort! 

Avec Amour!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Modern Herbalists to Know & Tips on Preserving Herbs

I haven't posted in a while; I know, I know... mainly because the next couple of posts require more intensive research, and I've been in the lab in more ways than one. These days I'm taking a four season herbal intensive course with Jim McDonald and recently completed studying with Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine taught by Nicole Telkes. These are two spectacularly AWESOME herbalists and instructors. 

Btw, if you're looking to deepen your knowledge of Western herbalism, check out either Nicole or Jim; both of them have a gift for teaching the historical and modern uses of bio-regional plants. They each have a knack for demystifying modern herbalism, and making the information practical. In general, they're two all around amazing people to know.

So, while I'm off studying, running through the woods and vending around town; I'll end the radio silence on this blog. 
As stated in previous posts, the best beauty regimens begin inside. When we prepare food ourselves, we're ensuring quality and freshness, so here's a link to a post about how best to Preserve Herbs by Drying, Freezing, Pasting, Salting and Extracting.

Preserving herbs is easy and way cheaper than buying herbs and spices already preserved. Herbs can be preserved by drying or freezing them, putting them in salt and making extracts.

Avec Amour!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

5 Natural Alternatives for Eczema

One way to fight back an eczema rash is to use a topical cream like Amour All Naturals' Skin Luster cream. It helps stop itchiness while soothing rough scaly skin. Although, I'm glad to make body care products that alleviate common irritations, I also want to make sure you're well... completely. Total health cannot be packaged, so here's some useful tips and ways you can get involved with helping to prevent an eczema rash from happening at all...

1. RELAX: I cannot emphasize enough how much stress compromises the immune system and wreaks havoc on the body. Once your immune system is weakened it's like lowering the security gates allowing any pathogen (microbe, virus or bacteria) to enter and run amok. In such instances you may experience a symptomatic reaction, i.e. eczema.

2. STOP: Speaking of reactions, eczema could be the result of an allergic reaction from being exposed to something your body just doesn't agree with. For some, it's nuts, chocolate, dairy, seafood, gluten, etc. For others, it could be something you're putting on your skin: dyes (from clothing), reactions from chemicals in soaps, deodorants, laundry detergent, etc. Through boosting immunity, some have curbed their allergic reactions, please keep researching to find out whether this can help you.

3. AVOID: Some overall common triggers have been known to be dairy and refined carbohydrates (flour, rice, pasta, cookies, cakes, bread, etc.), which can spark inflammation. In our genetically modified food culture; several studies have pointed to many ailments being caused by malnutrition as a result of unhealthy diets and seemingly healthy food choices. The best course of action is to eat as fresh, whole and non-GMO foods as much as possible. I'm not here to tell you what to eat; but as with all things -- listen to your body. If you experience a negative reaction in your gut, skin or any other signals, avoid the food or food ingredient that caused it. SIDE NOTE: you may say I don't notice anything so I must be fine, eh huh... this could mean, unbeknownst to you that the body is busy fighting other pathogens or it didn't notice the recent trash you put into the body. If this is the case, what can help you notice bodily signals a little better is to detox... and stick to it, I mean seriously don't let up. For starters, here's a link to some detox recipes and programs. Keep researching until you find the one that best suit you if these don't.

4. SLOW: If you take prescriptions, are recovering, or suffering from serious health ailments (diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.), take all suggestions, even mine, slowly. Have your doctor and natural health care provider talk to each other, discussing how best to help you through this.  Add your input about other natural approaches, so that you're learning in the process.

5. FERMENT: Balancing the gut flora is important, considering more than 70% of the immune system lives in the gut. This puts into perspective how important it is to eat nutritiously fresh, whole non-GMO foods as often as possible. You've heard this cliche so much that it's almost lost its bang... but it still rings true, "It's important to eat a well balanced meal." In most instances, "balanced" is determined on a case-by-case basis. There are some general rules of thumb, which in most instances can help the average person, like including fermented foods in your diet to help balance gut flora. This includes: apple cider vinegar, pickles, kombucha, or anything pickled for that matter. They serve as natural probiotics, which helps keep balance in the gut. Gut balance helps nutrient absorption, reduce gas, indigestion and promote healthy, normal digestive activity.

Food is your first line of defense, so make sure it's food that's tasty and delicious; but most of all nutritious and healing. Stay committed to your health and your body, because YOU are worth it, you're worth finding out what works best for you uniquely, so keep going. If you have questions, please post them below. I don't have all of the answers (no one does), but I'll definitely point you into the right direction as best as I can.

-Avec Amour