I’ve always loved learning about the body and sharing what I’ve learned with others. Learning comes in many different forms. Of course there are the rigors and rewards of committing to advanced learning, and focusing one’s energy on a targeted area in order to gain deep knowledge and career opportunities. Then there is experiential learning that comes from being very attuned to your own body and how to offer the best support possible – in good times and bad – to your physical and energetic self. Thankfully in this day in age there is also an abundance of knowledge to be gained from the shared wisdom of others – be they professionals, or other impassioned humanoids that are on their own energized health journey.
When balance is out of whack in the body it shows itself in many different ways. Immersing yourself in finding the best solution, along with the help of professionals, healers, sisters, and inspiring neighbors and strangers is only effective if you first and foremost listen to your body. Staying attuned to your own health can prevent a chronic condition from occurring and is a wonderfully proactive and loving thing to do. No one else inhabits your being. No one else knows what you’re feeling. No one else knows your entire health history the way that you do. Take notes, pay attention and stay engaged with every suggestion and decision. And then repeat, because sometimes it takes 2, 3, 4, even 20 times and several different healers before a solution is found. But always stay engaged.
I believe that everyone, women in particular, should become familiar with herbal remedies. Their benefits are too many to even fathom – even for scientists. While I hold great respect for allopathic medicine and have benefitted from its care numerous times, herbs have personally helped me heal in deep and far reaching ways that have changed the course of my life. Without journeying towards herbs and plant medicine I might never have run a marathon without an inhaler, or conceived a child, or slept a full 8 hours, or changed the way my being responds to stress. I could easily be on steroids, inhalers, birth control pills, daily ibuprofen, and living a very sedentary, sickly life if I hadn’t set out to learn about plants. Knowing about what remedies I hike alongside everyday and the healing traditions and plant medicines that go back thousands of years all over the world has been the mostempowering experience of my life.
So learning, of every kind, brings us closer to where we are meant to be – in health, and energy.
I believe that each of us should consume different phytonutrients everyday from herbal teas, herbal meals, herbal supplements and the odd munch of a native leaf (that has been properly identified first). Now more than ever the body is inundated by chemicals, stress, indoor living, radioactive devices, intense UV rays, and a culture of toxic news that burdens the balance of our bodies. Daily proactive support from herbs and supplements offers a complexity, variety, respect, and language that the body deserves and responds to immensely well. To feel as alive and connected to this life as possible, one must learn about the plants and why they are here.
While there are oodles of fantastic herb books out there, the list below captures those that I first responded to with wild enthusiasm and clarity.Herbal Healing for Women, Rosemary Gladstar
Body into Balance; An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care, Maria Noel Groves
The Herbal Medicine Handbook, James Green
Making Plant Medicine, Richo Cech
Adaptogens, David Winston & Steve Maimes
A Peterson Field Guide for the native plants in your area: A Peterson Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs (Peterson Field Guides) By Stephen Foster and Christopher Hobbs or A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guides) by Stephen Foster
Herbs and supplements worth knowing about and getting familiar with as part of your energized living ‘toolbox’:
Herbal teas - Nettles, Raspberry Leaf, Lemon Balm, Hibiscus, Rose Petal, Thyme, Oat Straw, Licorice, Astragalus, Passionflower, Ginger, Angelica, Cramp Bark, Dandelion, Hawthorn, Chamomile, Rooibos, Elder Flower, Echinacea, Slippery Elm, Linden Flower…to start with :)
Supplements to know and utilize:
Powerful antioxidant to address modern inflammation: Turmeric extract with standardized curcumin content of 95% always taken with a full meal. Supports heart, lung, and brain cellular health, improves bile production and the integrity of the gut, increases fat absorption, alleviates painful menstruation, promotes liver health, wonderful alternative to NSAIDs and incredible tonic for athletes of all kinds.
Adaptogenic full body balancing and stress management support: Schisandra Berry. Slowly and gently creates profound changes while activating immune cells and tonifying different organ systems that restore balance, and help the body cope with stress. Particular affinity for the adrenals, liver/digestion, hormones/fertility, and nervous system.
Mental focus, anti-anxiety, stress and sleep support – L-Theanine. An amino acid found in green tea leaves, L-Theanine is clinically proven to create a state of calm and focused relaxation, without drowsiness. Incredibly safe to take, L-Theanine is an effective and affordable remedy that should be on hand for anxiety and stress. Extensive safety studies allow individuals to find the dose that is right for them. We love that it stimulates the production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to that achieved through meditation while being immune enhancing and anti-tumor.
To support health heart, hormones, mental health, eye health and so much more - important at every age: Omega 3s (ALA plant based or DHA/EPA from fish or algae). Most of us are severely deficient. Omega 3s play an important role in our overall health and greatly help to protect and support brain function. Wonderfully anti-inflammatory and so deeply nourishing to our cells, we all need to be taking this supplement and consuming numerous forms in our diet.
Heart health and mitochondrial support for cellular energy – CoQ10. The truth is that heart disease is the number one cause of death amongst women, of all ages. A dear friend in my life died of a massive heart attack at age 40. One of the most prescribed supplements for heart health, this powerful antioxidant is the energy source of each and every one of our cells. CoQ10 has been shown to protect the heart by preventing LDL cholesterol from oxidizing while energizing cellular metabolism in the heart (key for protecting the heart against cholesterol) and lowering blood pressure. When CoQ10 levels decline, energy wanes (as a side note because I get asked this a lot, I suggest this along with Schisandra Berry for women looking to conceive).
It's always hard to pick and choose - and we all have our own plant allies - but the above herbs and supplements are essentials that I have had tremendous success with personally, and throughout my practice. Read about them, experience them, and enjoy!