Barganic Alert: Free LearningHerbs Webinar with Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar This Thursday

Do you remember a little while back when I posted about the free webinar with Aviva Romm, M.D. that was hosted by Learning Herbs? In the discussion following that webinar they mentioned that the next one would feature Rosemary Gladstar, founder of the oldest running herb school in the U.S., noted author, and considered by many to be the “godmother of American Herbalism.”

The title of the talk is “Preserving Herbal Traditions: Stewardship, Remedies & Legacy” and will focus on traditional herbalism and how it translates to today. Of interest will be discussion about the ethics of wildcrafting, how to stop companies from attempting to trademark traditional herbal recipes (I suspect reference to a recent attempt to trademark fire cider that created an uproar in the herbalism community,) and how to bring an herbalism tradition into your home.

The webinar will take place this Thursday, May 21st at 5:30pm PST, 8:30pm EST. The webinar is free but space is limited. To register click here. I learned so much and was very inspired by the last LearningHerbs webinar. I am excited to listen in for this one as well. I hope to see you there!

Make sure that you don’t miss out on any Barganic Alerts, these babies tend to be time-limited. Subscribe to Crunchyparent.com to always be the first to know!

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Barganic Alert: Aviva Romm Webinar in Review and More Great Herbalism Freebies!

Were you able to catch the free LearningHerbs webinar “Your Herbal Comfort Zone: 9 Simple & Safe Remedies for Kids” with Dr. Aviva Romm that I posted about earlier in the week? I really enjoyed learning from Dr. Romm. I felt very validated that among her most highly recommended remedies was Umcka, a product that our family has used for many years. I also learned a great deal from the lengthy Q&A that followed with herbalist Rosalee De La Foret and John Gallagher, the co-founder of LearningHerbs.

Just in case you missed out, I wanted to highlight some of the upcoming events and resources that were mentioned during the chat that followed Dr. Romm’s presentation. First, if you weren’t able to hear Dr. Romm speak, or if you just want to have more information from her on-hand to reference as needed, you can go to her website and enter your email in the pink box along the right side of the page for a download of her free eBook “Herbal Medicines for Kids.” In addition, Rosalee De La Foret offers a free eBook download “Top 3 Herbs for Your Health” if you sign up for her newsletter. Other listeners of the webinar mentioned during the Q&A that Susan Weed, renown herbalist and author of books such as “Healing Wise” and “Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year” is currently offering her online course “Nourishing Herbal Infusions-Drink Your Way to Health the Wise Woman Way” for free (regularly $150). You can register for the course here. John Gallagher of LearningHerbs stated that he will likely be posting the video of the Dr. Romm webinar and Q&A online at a later date for those who missed it. When that happens, I will pass along the link. Lastly, John mentioned that the next free LearningHerbs webinar (date TBA) will be with legendary herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. I for one, cannot wait.

Make sure that you don’t miss out on any Barganic Alerts, these babies tend to be time-limited. Subscribe to Crunchyparent.com to always be the first to know

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Kings Road Apothecary Subscription Box Unboxing – April 2015

I took advantage of the Spring Solstice sale at Kings Road Apothecary last month and signed up for a multi-month subscription to the “Surprise Box.” Each monthly box features four herbally-based, small-batch, handcrafted items that center around a theme. The April theme was “Citrus and Blossoms.” As of this writing there are a handful of this month’s boxes still available for purchase. Box pricing increases starting with the May box to $53.50 plus shipping when ordered individually, but multi-month subscriptions will still include shipping. To see my other Kings Road Apothecary unboxing and reviews from prior months, look here.

I have a complete unboxing video here, but if you want to skip right to the photos and the nitty gritty, keep scrolling down.

Kings Road Apothecary Subscription Box April 2015 "Citrus and Blossoms"

The box came with all items individually wrapped in coordinated tissue paper and tied with kitchen twine. In addition to the individual items, the box also came with a cheery citrus and blossoms artistic rendering, a recipe for an orange blossom syrup, and a letter describing the box contents.

KRA Subscription box April 2015-bitters and tea

The four items included a 1 oz. dropper bottle of citrus and orange blossom bitters ($15.00) and a 1 oz. bag of orange blossom and oolong chai loose tea (value estimated at $5.00). The bitters had a fresh and sour citrus flavor, like a fresh grapefruit and are designed to get the digestive juices flowing before a meal to aid in digestion. They can also be used to make cocktails that call for using bitters.

KRA subscription box April 2015-bath fizz and body oil

The other two items included a 4 oz. jar of orange blossom and grapefruit bath fizz (value $10.00) and a 1 oz. bottle of orange blossom and elderflower body oil (value $13.00). I have yet to try the bath fizz, but the body oil had a wonderful silky feel on the skin and a very delicate floral scent that definitely evoked orange blossoms.

Overall, I am happy with this box. By using the spring solstice coupon, my individual box price was brought down to $47.38 each including shipping. The value is not as high as with many other more mainstream beauty boxes, but I think of myself as less of a consumer and more of a supporter when I purchase these boxes. I like that I am supporting a small, woman-owned business as well as the craft of herbalism. I love the curation of the box and the care that goes into the packaging and to each overall theme. I see added value from the KRA newsletter which discusses the box theme throughout the month and links to additional resources and recipes. Lastly, because the items are made seasonally and in small batches, sometimes the items included are entirely exclusive to the box recipients, and many of the ingredients used are fairly esoteric and not often seen in mainstream products (e.g., ocotillo).

The theme for the May box is “Ocotillo and Wild Rose” and will include four items. The current brainstorm list for products to feature includes ocotillo blossom and wild rose body cream; rose and hawthorn bath bomb; ocotillo blossom, wild rose and cardamom body oil; ocotillo, hawthorn and wild rose incense; wild rose, rose quartz and ocotillo blossom heart elixir; ocotillo, wild rose and devil’s club deep roots elixir; rose facial elixir; rose petal shimmering body dust; and rose, ocotillo blossom and hawthorn berry shrub.

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe!

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Barganic Alert: Free Herbal Webinar with Aviva Romm, M.D.

Seriously, no bargain beats free, and this is a particularly fantastic freebie if you ask me.

I just posted a video the other day on how to make medicinal herbal tinctures, but I am not an M.D. and am in no position to advise you or your family in using any particular herbal remedies. Enter the great news, Aviva Romm is a Yale-trained M.D. specializing in integrative medicine for women and children. In addition to being a midwife and an herbalist, she is well-versed and well-published in supporting health naturally, having authored seven published books including “Naturally Healthy Babies and Children: A Commonsense Guide to Herbal Remedies, Nutrition, and Health,” “Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide: How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives,” and “The Natural Pregnancy Book, Third Edition: Your Complete Guide to a Safe, Organic Pregnancy and Childbirth with Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices” among others.

On Thursday April 30th at 5:30pm PST, 8:30pm EST Learning Herbs will be hosting a free webinar entitled “Your Herbal Comfort Zone: 9 Simple & Safe Remedies for Kids” with Dr. Aviva Romm. The webinar will cover topics such as Dr. Romm’s top nine favorites herbs for children’s health, how to creatively use each of these herbs with your children, and how to increase your confidence in using safe and simple herbal remedies with your children.

The webinar is free but space is limited. To register click here. I’ve signed up, now I just have to get the kids on board with cooperating at bedtime so that I can tune in on time. Hmmmm, I wonder if there are any herbs to help with that.

Make sure that you don’t miss out on any Barganic Alerts, these babies tend to be time-limited. Subscribe to Crunchyparent.com to always be the first to know!

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Making Herbal Tinctures from Fresh Herbs (Video Tutorial)

Time to Tincture!

Sorry that I’ve been MIA. I was actually off on a fun adventure. I’ll tell you more about that in the days ahead. In the meantime, I’ve been spending lots of time as of late working with and learning about herbs and their medicinal properties. One thing that I’ve been doing is using herbs to make tinctures, which are essentially the beneficial compounds of the plant extracted into alcohol and then dosed with a dropper. You can see a video of the process here:

For those looking for the Cliff’s Notes version, you chop up your plant material into small, uniform pieces and put it in a glass jar with high proof alcohol in a quantity that is double in volume relative to the weight of your plant matter. You shake it up at least once a day, and after a period of time (7-10 days or 6-8 weeks depending on who you’re asking) you strain out the liquid from the plant material, squeezing out those last precious drops. Then you just bottle and label your new tincture. Voila!

Along the way in the video, I mention some helpful resources. The first is to help acquaint you with different herbs and gives some guidance as to the strength of alcohol needed to extract all of the plants’ goodness into your tincture. Some plant compounds can be extracted by lower proof alcohol whereas others need the heavy duty stuff. Mountain Rose Herbs gives the general guideline of using lower proof alcohol for high-moisture herbs and high proof for more resinous herbs and gums. I use high proof for everything during the extraction phase to hedge my bets. This also gives me the option of diluting with distilled water later if I want a less potent extract.

If you are looking for bottles for storing your herbs, you can order smaller amber or blue glass dropper bottles of various sizes from many retailers. I also purchase screw top larger bottles to use as the “stock” bottles to store my tincture and then refill the smaller dropper dosing bottles from them. I have ordered bottles from Frontier Co-op, Mountain Rose Herbs, and Amazon among other places.

As mentioned in the video, you can probably find high proof alcohol at your local liquor store (or at least, I did). If you want a larger array of options, wish to produce a grain-free or organic product, or anticipate needing very large quantities of alcohol, Alchemical Solutions is a great option. Shipping costs can be very high however.

If you are intrigued by the idea of making herbal tinctures, but don’t know where to begin in terms of which herbs to use for what, there are some accessible herbal guides and recipe books that may help you become more confident working with herbs. Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs book, Michael Moore’s books such as Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West, or Jesse Wolf Hardin’s books such as A Treasury of Herbal Wisdom: Vital Knowledge & Essential Skills among many others are great for helping you get better acquainted with the use of herbs to support healing. So are you ready to get started?

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Kings Road Apothecary Subscription Box Unboxing – February 2015

Well, it only took me seven years to do it but I have added another video to the CrunchyParent YouTube channel. I have been so excited to see that there have been over 325,000 combined viewings of my three other videos on wet felting with wool to date (if you haven’t seen them yet, go check them out!). I look forward to adding more crafting videos in the future, but right now the majority of my craft supplies are in storage as we are between houses, staying with family while we look for our next home. Until I am reunited with my wool, yarn, and other crafty goodies, I hope that you will enjoy this and other video demonstrations, tutorials, and reviews that I hope to feature very soon.

I mentioned the amazing lymphatic massage oil that I received in the Kings Road Apothecary February Surprise Box (with a lymphatic theme) in my last post, so I thought that you might enjoy seeing what else came with it. This box is currently sold out, but the March (Salt and Water) and April (Citrus and Blossom) boxes are still available here. I purchased the February box and was not compensated in any way for my review. All opinions are my own. To see my other Kings Road Apothecary unboxing and reviews from prior months, look here.

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe!

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Ways to Support Elimination of Toxins Following Routine Cancer Tests or Other Medical Procedures

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So today was one of those days on which I get to feel grateful that I am a cancer survivor, while also being reminded that I will always be someone who has had cancer. It is emotionally and physically uncomfortable for me and brings me back to the time of my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I remember what it felt like to go through and I try to process the whole experience a little more with each reminder.

This morning I had my routine CT scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis to check for possible metastatic disease and an MRI of the upper half of my leg, where I had my original tumor. Again this is just routine aftercare for me, hopefully no cause for concern. I am generally not terribly disturbed by the procedures themselves, although I will say that today’s MRI was the most uncomfortable one that I have had to date. Overall, it is the prep for the tests that I most wish that I could avoid (Berry Smoothie barium sulfate suspension is gross), coupled with how horribly I feel afterward when I am all jacked up on barium and iodine.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the more that I can do to support my body’s ability to eliminate toxins following these procedures, the less awful I will feel. If I’m not aggressive with the efforts to eliminate toxins, I can count on feeling nauseated, achy, and unsettled for a couple of days following these procedures, and sometimes a week or so later I’ll end up sick with a cold or other ailment.

Now I will take a moment here to remind you all that I am not a medical doctor and you should consult your own before engaging in any interventions or new practices. Additionally, some of the things that I will mention will help your body to mobilize toxins by getting your blood moving; others will help to eliminate toxins by supporting your liver, stimulating your lymphatic fluids, or giving the toxins an exit route. In my experience, it is important not to be too aggressive with mobilizing toxins if you are not being equally supportive of your body’s ability to eliminate them.

Okay, here are some of the things that I have been doing today or have done in the past to help me move the toxins out. Of course, you don’t have to have had cancer or any major medical procedures to benefit from supporting removal of toxins from your body. These tips are great to draw upon during times of illness, or as part of a healthy life practice.

(P.S. I try to link to items to help illustrate the products that I use in case you are not sure where to begin or you just want a suggestion for something to use. I am not compensated in any way by anyone associated with these products, and I am quite certain that they neither know nor particularly care that I am mentioning their products. If that should ever change, I’ll be sure to let you know.):

1. Drink lots of water: They will tell you this anytime that you have procedures such as the ones that I had today, especially since I received both oral and IV contrast. Actually, I was told to drink lots of fluids, with water, tea, soda, and juice all listed as options, but I would assert that water is your best bet. This will help you eliminate toxins by giving them a route out.

2. Dry skin brushing: I’m adding this here because I would have done this today, but my brush is in storage at the moment (we’re currently between houses and 95% of our possessions are living in storage). For those who can though, dry skin brushing is an easy way to help your body eliminate toxins by stimulating circulation and your lymphatic drainage system, as well as by sloughing off dead skin cells. You will want a brush with fairly sturdy natural bristles and a handle long enough to help get those hard-to-reach spots, but not so long as to become unwieldly. (When not in storage) I use this brush by Earth Therapeutics that is made with palm fiber.

Brush your skin with light to moderate pressure (this should be stimulating, not painful) brushing toward your heart. You can brush for several minutes, and this is great to do prior to taking a shower. You can brush your whole body, but you will want to avoid brushing delicate areas such as genitals, breasts, face, any broken skin, and in my case, I avoid the site of my surgical incision because that would hurt a whole lot.

3. Hot and cold alternating shower: This is admittedly uncomfortable for me, but it is effective in stimulating both the circulatory and lymphatic systems to help move toxins out. I do this at the end of my normal shower by first taking the temperature up a bit hotter than I would typically find comfortable and then leaving it there for a minute or two. Next, I turn the shower down to cold water and try desperately to tolerate it for a minute, but if I make it up to 30 seconds for the first go around, I give myself an E for effort. Continue this cycle several times aiming for a minute or two on hot contrasting with a minute on cold. End with cold water. As with dry skin brushing, you get the double benefit of mobilizing toxins by increasing circulation and eliminating them by stimulating lymph flow as well.

4. Lymphatic massage: I try to do this both in the shower and out. While I’m in the shower (before the hot cold alternating part) I use a body scrub, paying attention to the areas where the lymph nodes tend to cluster (helpful diagram here). I don’t focus on my neck with the scrub, because it would be too harsh in my opinion, but I get to that post-shower (more in a second). There are a lot of great scrubs that contain herbs, essential oils, and materials like salt, clay, charcoal, or other agents that can help encourage elimination of toxins. Today I used this Cellular Detox Scrub by Abra Therapeutics.

Post-shower I try to encourage my husband to help me out by massaging the same areas where lymph nodes are most present using a nourishing massage oil. If he isn’t available, I go over those areas myself because I am self-sufficient like that. I am absolutely in love with this Lymphatic Massage Oil that I received in the February subscription box from King’s Road Apothecary (for more information about their subscription box program and other crunchy-friendly subscription services look here). It smells beyond fantastic and has a wonderful feel on the skin that allows for easy gliding without being heavy or sticky. Overall, lymphatic massage will help with elimination of toxins by assisting your lymphatic drainage system in moving fluid and toxins out.

5. Foot soak: This is another one that I did not do today but have found helpful in the past. Our feet have a high concentration of pores, and large pores relative to the rest of our bodies, so they’re a good place to focus detox efforts through our skin. They also dangle off the end of our legs, making them easier to soak in some water when we don’t have time to get our whole body into a tub. A detoxifying foot soak is easy to do: just put some tolerably hot water into a foot bath or large bowl. Add a couple tablespoons of baking soda and a handful or so of epsom salts, which can be found at most drug stores or grocery stores. If you have some bentonite clay on hand, a couple tablespoons of that is a nice addition as is a few drops of essential oil. Ginger essential oil is a particularly good one for promoting circulation. The combination of ingredients will help to get the blood flowing, draw out toxins, and decrease inflammation.

6. Castor oil compress: I hope to do a video soon to illustrate how I was taught to do a castor oil compress because they are so helpful for liver support when your goal is to eliminate toxins, especially when battling a cold or virus, but they are less familiar to most people and a bit complex to explain. In essence, you want to saturate a cloth made from natural material with castor oil (I use about a large scrap piece of an old t-shirt along with Home Health castor oil, although I have also used NOW brand in the past). Place the saturated cloth over abdomen, making sure to cover the right portion at the bottom of the rib cage where the liver is located). Cover the cloth with a wool cloth larger in size (I use a piece that I cut from an old wool sweater that I had felted so that it wouldn’t unravel once cut). You then want to apply a gentle heat source over the compress to help the oil penetrate the skin, and then relax that way for at least 30-60 minutes. I was taught that the heat source should not be something electrical or microwaved, so I use a hot water bottle like this one, that I fill with hot water. In between uses, I store my castor oil cloth and wool cloth together in a plastic bag.

If you prefer one-stop shopping, some companies make castor oil compress kits with your oil and a cloth included. They instruct you to cover the saturated cloth with plastic wrap to avoid staining and to use your own heat source. Here is one example, and another.

7. Movement: A great way to boost the lymphatic system is through movement. I must admit that when I first came home today, I was feeling pretty junky and just wanted to rest, but after engaging in some of the above suggestions I am feeling much perkier and ready to get moving. Taking a walk, bouncing on a trampoline or rebounder, even swinging your arms around will all help to get those lymph fluids flowing faster to move those toxins out and get you feeling better.

I hope that some of these suggestions serve you well. I tried to include a mix of ideas that can be done with little-to-no special equipment along with others that may require a bit more planning, but can be used time and again once you become familiar with their use and benefits. If you have additional suggestions for supporting the elimination of toxins that you have found helpful, please add them to the comments.

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