The Ancient Paths Family Farm

Getting Back to Basics in Health and Nutrition

Archive for the ‘Natural Remedies’ Category

Stinging Nettle for Allergies

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on June 2, 2008

To the wild food and herb forager who has learned to respect its sting and recognize its attributes, stinging nettle is a true delight.  From ancient Greece to the present, nettle (both leaf and root) has been used for treating a wide range of ailments.  Stinging nettle leaf has anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties.  Stinging nettle has been used to treat urinary tract infections and as an aid in increasing milk production in nursing mothers.  When used as a health treatment, stinging nettle helps to reduce the inflammation of allergies, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and lupus, eczema, hemorrhage (nosebleed, excessive uterine bleeding) and chronic diarrhea.

Stinging nettle is a very valuable plant, used for food, medicine and fiber.  Nettle contains iron, vitamin C and chlorophyll – all of which aid in the treatment of iron-deficiency anemia.  I’ve been told that nettle has more iron than spinach.  Nettle provides the iron necessary for the production of red blood cells.  Stinging nettle roots also help keep testerone in an active form in both men and women.

We have been harvesting and drying stinging nettle for a few months now, this is our first year in using nettle at all.  After learning about how valuable nettle has been since ancient times, we opted to add nettle to our medicine cabinet this season.  In our family there are some who suffer terribly from seasonal allergies.  In fact, almost 10 years ago my husband was told by his allergist that he had the worst reaction to his allergy testing that he had seen in his 25+ years of practice.  He was almost rushed to the emergency room by the allergist from his testing alone!  This was days after his throat swelled almost completely closed from his allergies.  Needless to say, allergy treatments have been high on our family priority list for quite some time.

As I said, we’ve been learning about the value of stinging nettle as a treatment for allergies in the past year.  My husband is really excited to start with the nettle treatment.  I’ll write here about how we harvested and dried the nettle and how I’ve been making an extract for him to use here.  In only a few more days the extract will be ready for him to begin using and we’re hoping that he’ll find some added relief with it quickly.

Harvesting & Drying

It has been a cool and wet spring.  Right now it’s not even 60* outside.  Things aren’t growing very well so far this year so it has taken us longer than we had hoped to be able to harvest stinging nettle.  A few weeks ago we decided that one patch of nettle was big enough to harvest so Shalom cut several stocks down and I tied them in bunches to dry in the attic.  We were sure that Shalom left some stalks in place so they could reproduce for next season by dropping their seeds.  Herbs should be dried quickly and a dark dry place is preferred.  Beside our attic having plenty of room to hang herbs from the beams and trusses, it is the only place that is dark and dry that gets hot.  After a few days the nettle was dry and I crushed them into a jar for storage while I searched for how to make an extract.

Brewing Nettle Tea/Infusion

  1. Weigh out 1 ounce of nettle and place into a coffee press with the nettle below the screen.
  2. Bring to boil 1 pint of water, pour into measuring cup to allow to cool a little for 30 seconds, then pour over nettle.
  3. Allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Drink between 1 and 4 cups a day, depending on what you’re most comfortable with.  In peak seasons, more tea during the day can be cumbersome so an extract might be easier to manage.

Making the Extract

  1. Weigh out 2 ounces of nettle in a large mason jar.
  2. Pour 2 cups of a mixture of 60% water and 40% vegetable glycerin over the nettle in the jar.
  3. Shake well and let stand for two weeks.  Be sure to store your herbs in a cool place and in a dark colored glass jar and/or in a dark cupboard.
  4. After two weeks, place cheesecloth inside strainer over a bowl and pour the contents of the mason jar into the cheesecloth.  Wrap the nettle in the cheesecloth and squeeze the extract juice out of the nettle and into the bowl.  The cheesecloth prevents any stems or leaf pieces from making it’s way into your extract as well as providing an easy way to press the extract out.
  5. After you’ve pressed as much out as you can, the nettle leaves can be put in your compost bin.  Pour your extract into colored glass jars with lids.  I’m using small dropper bottles that I found at the local co-op.  Again, be sure to use dark colored glass.  And be sure to label your bottle!  On your label include what it is and when you pressed it.  It can last in the fridge for up to 9 months.

Extract Dosage

Dosages are between 1/2 and 2 teaspoons, up to three times a day.  During allergy season the dosage will be higher and more often than in the “off season”.  My husband will be starting with on teaspoon once a day until we know it won’t have any adverse affects for him.  Then we’ll increase his dosage to where he feels most comfortable.

I’ll write about how the nettle treatment is going after he’s had a few weeks to give it a try.  I’d love to hear from any others who have used nettle as an alternative treatment for their allergies, or for any other issue for that matter.

— For further reading —
Stinging Nettle @ The People’s Pharmacy

Stinging Nettle from University of Maryland Medical Center

Stinging Nettle from The Eclectic Physician


Posted in Alternative Therapy, Health, Natural Remedies | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Tips to Gauge Your Health

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on May 23, 2008

In a local paper the other day an article was published that I really appreciated.  Below are some excerpts from it.  I have made a few changes to some sentences and have included links to things I thought were relevant.  You can view the original article here.

In his new book, Medical Crisis: Secrets Your Doctor Won’t Share With You, Anthony Martin, a certified Natural Medicine Practitioner, asserts that breast cancer and prostate cancer are nearly 100% preventable.

It takes more than five years for most cancers to grow to the size of the top of a ball point pen. By the time cancer is found by routine blood tests or feeling a lump, the patient may have missed precious time.

Here are Martin’s four warning sign tips to find out if you are on the path to cancer, stroke or other illness:

1)  Energy

“If you’ve been tired for three weeks straight, your body is trying to tell you something is wrong,” he said.  Long-term fatigue is tied to red blood cells.  Red blood cell problems can lead to liver, kidney or brain trouble.

2)  pH Balance

70% of the human body is water.  Water, like in a swimming pool, is either acidic or alkaline.  An unbalanced pH is a breeding ground for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and pre-mature aging.

3)  Free Radicals

The body produces free radicals as a process of detoxifying itself.  When balanced, they are used by the immune system to destroy bacteria and viruses.  Unbalanced free radicals can lead to cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, arthritis or Alzheimer’s.

4)  Inflammation

You need cells to “puff up” to stop bleeding – but too much can strangle the arteries and cause coronary heart disease.  Fat cells are a side effect of obesity.  Too many fat cells, or cells that are too “puffy”, can lead to asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Martin suggests that people take charge of their health care and ask for specific tests:  urine, blood and saliva.  Once you and your Doctor know where you stand, you can start working on the antidote.

“Change your attitude, change your diet, change your exercise habits and change your supplements,” he said.  So much of what Americans are dying from these days is 100% preventable.”

Posted in Health, Natural Remedies | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

An Easy Headache Remedy

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on October 22, 2007

We all know what a headache looks like thanks to television commercials. Most of us understand that headaches occur when small blood vessels within the skull open up and pressure increases and that pressure is what we know of as a headache.

I read about a simple remedy that I thought was rather funny, till I tried it and it worked. I thought it was just me but then Shalom tried it and later DH tried it and it worked for them too.

So what’s the trick? When you feel a headache beginning over one eye, take a clothespin and put it on the ear lobe of the ear on the same side. DH tried the clothespin but Shalom and I simply pinched our ear lobes as hard as we could. In a matter of seconds the pain faded and disappeared. Why it works, I can’t say. But I can tell you that I do appreciate this little tidbit and I thought I’d share it with others.

Posted in Alternative Therapy, Natural Remedies | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Sweat Stains, pH Balance and Deodorant

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on October 16, 2007

If you’re like me you tend to sweat more than others. It’s a family trait, a genetic thing. I also do not wear white. It’s not that I don’t like white but white does not stay white on me. In a matter of time white turns to a dingy yellow. I’m not alone in this. I know someone who turns white shirts orange!

T-shirt sweat stain Dress Shirt - sweat stain

It’s rather bothersome and it can be embarrassing. And it’s not just pit-stains, it’s stains on any part of white clothing that rests against my skin. In doing some research several months ago I discovered that the yellow stain left behind by people like me is from an out-of-balance pH level. Apparently protein from the bacteria that normally lives on our skin will produce the yellowing stain. When the pH level is more neutral the bacteria will leave no stain, but if it’s off the stains will appear. (I never found a remedy for removing the stains that really works, only for not producing them) Apparently the darker the stain the more “off” your pH is. To find out more about pH and your health, see pH Balance and Health.

Anti-Perspirants and Deodorants

For quite some time now there has been a lot of speculation and study about long-term side effects of anti-perspirants and deodorants that use ingredients such as aluminum and zirconium. I’m sure you’ve heard the same things I have: “Aluminum causes Alzheimers Disease so stop using any anti-perspirant!” Whether or not the aluminum in the anti-perspirant does indeed cause some form of mental degeneration, I cannot say for certain and that is not the focus of this article. I do know that because anti-perspirants aid in the prevention of the body’s production of sweat in the areas it’s applied that the FDA considers any anti-perspirant a drug. Deodorant is simply a cosmetic, to keep you from smelling bad.

I’ve tried “all natural” deodorants before and I’ve found that either they stung and/or irritated my skin, they left a sticky residue or they didn’t last all day. Simply put, I haven’t liked them. So I’ve used a popular anti-perspirant/deodorant for as long as I can remember and have passed by those “all natural” deodorants in the stores.

It wasn’t too long ago that I read about a deodorant stone in a folk remedy book. I was intrigued and skeptical. Then I ran across one and decided to try it. Why not, right? I was very impressed! It wasn’t sticky or irritating or stinging, it didn’t smell (meaning it has no odor) and it did successfully keep me from smelling like sweat all day long. Even after exercising and sweating, it worked. The stone is made from a potassium compound and mineral salts that have been allowed to crystalize over time. Not only that but one stone will last as long as six commercial deodorant cans. This means that one stone can last for a year, on average. I like the monetary benefit in this product as much as I like the fact that it works and is a healthier alternative to your standard commercial deodorant.

Here is the product I’ve been using and some of the product information:

Deodorant Stone

Natural Deodorant

URI Deodorant Stone™ helps combat body odors naturally by neutralizing and inhibiting odor causing bacteria. When moistened and applied, the Deodorant Stone forms an invisible layer of protection that leaves you feeling clean and smelling fresh all day.

One of the finest deodorant stones available, the Deodorant Stone is 100% natural, pH balanced, hypoallergenic, environmentally safe, non-staining and non-irritating. Never sticky or greasy. Contains no harmful chemicals, perfumes, oils, emulsifiers, alcohol, aluminum cholorhydrate or propellants.

Contains: Contains potassium sulfate and mineral salts which have been crystallized over a period of months.

If you’re interested in learning more about the URI Deodorant Stone and our experience with it, feel free to contact us through this link.

The Bottom Line

So, what are the results of my quest to wear white again (and keep the clothes white)? Well in past weeks I’ve been able to bring my pH from quite acidic to almost completely balanced. I’ve cut out some things from my diet (like soda) and I’ve added other things to my diet (see this). With these two things I feel different – more energy and more rested, not so worn out. I’ve switched to the deodorant stone and yesterday I just got a brand new white t-shirt to sleep in. I’ll follow up in a few weeks to let you know if there is any staining to be found on my new white shirt.

*** Update May 22, 2008 ***

I have not had a single white garment turn dingy yet! I have, however, had a light green t-shirt fade a little in the armpit area, but that is the only thing I have noticed. The deodorant doesn’t keep you from sweating, just smelling bad. My husband has told me that I no longer smell like anti-perspirant (I always used the unscented kind, still….). Bottom line after 7+ months – I’m thrilled with this product. I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to maintain a more balanced pH and that I am now comfortable with wearing white again!

Posted in Alternative Therapy, Health, Natural Remedies, Product Reviews | Tagged: , , , , | 14 Comments »

Arnica Montana

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on September 23, 2007

This past summer I had a crush-injury to my foot. In less than 36 hours I was on an airplane heading to southern California for my Grandfather’s memorial service. I was required to walk a lot and wear shoes that, well, hurt my foot quite a bit.

On the trip south I sat next to a very nice lady who told me about a homeopathic remedy that she was very familiar with. She told me about Arnica Montana and recommended I get some and apply it ASAP to help my foot. To be honest, I forgot about it. I did have other things on my mind at the time. But a few weeks after getting home I spotted some arnica spray at the local health food store and bought some. It sat on the shelf waiting for an opportunity to be used.

This past week DH injured his forearm. It was black and blue by the time he got home, not to mention the swelling. At dinner when I went to get his MSM I saw the spray in the cupboard and brought it to him. He applied it to his arm and we began to eat dinner. Less than 5 minutes later he was up and applying more spray to his arm. I asked him why he was doing that and he told me: “I missed a spot. I can definitely feel a difference already in the area that I sprayed and the area that I didn’t. It doesn’t hurt at all like it did before I put it on.” We were all impressed! Now, DH is a very tough man and rarely comments about his injuries (carpenters often have a few injuries). This one hurt and was in such a location that every time he rested his arm on the table or the truck door it hurt. To be honest it hurt just for me to look at it. But DH is also such a man that if a remedy works, I don’t often find out. 🙂 Like I said, he’s a tough guy. The fact that this spray had such an effect was very impressive to all of us!

What is Arnica Montana? It is a topical substance produced from a flower. It is used to reduce the swelling and pain of bruises, sprains, muscle or joint problems, swelling of the veins under the skin, and for insect bites. It has also been used as a mouthwash for swollen gums and mouth ulcers. It comes in a lotion or a spray, though I suggest the spray because when I injured my foot I simply could not touch it for about 6 weeks. And with DH’s arm there would have been no way to apply lotion either. A spray simply makes more sense to me. I don’t find, in my limited search, any negative affects of arnica spray other than possible skin irritation.

I certainly recommend this product to anyone who has need of a remedy for the swelling and pain of bruises, sprains, muscle or joint problems. I’d be curious to hear about other experiences with arnica. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Posted in Alternative Therapy, Natural Remedies | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Cold Sore Remedy

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on September 17, 2007

I cannot thank my friend enough for telling us about L-Lysine! Our daughter, Miriam, has suffered from tremendous cold sores since she started first grade in the public school. These cold sores or fever blisters would show up and take over a rather large portion of her face. They were terribly painful and always embarrassing for her, not to mention they would last a rather long time. She has a few small scars left over near the corners of her mouth that are rather visible when the air is cold or her face is hot or flushed. We had tried various remedies and nothing really seemed to help very much.

We have never been able to pinpoint what causes these outbreaks. We have noticed them appear in times of stress and in peaceful times, when she’s been ill and when she’s been healthy, in all seasons of the year, etc. But one common factor we have noticed over the years: Pictures! If she is scheduled to be in an event requiring a photo, she will almost definately develop a cold sore. UGH! Poor girl!

Then a friend recommended we try L-Lysine. I went out and bought some right away. I gave her one before each meal as soon as she felt a new sore starting. She also continued to use Abreva often, though that didn’t ever yield as positive of a result as the L-Lysine.

Good bye cold sores/fever blisters!

Here is a great link about L-Lysine:
Lysine from University of Maryland Medical Center

Lysine is an essential amino acid, which means that it is essential to human health but cannot be manufactured by the body. For this reason, lysine must be obtained from food. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Lysine is important for proper growth and it plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping to lower cholesterol. Lysine appears to help the body absorb and conserve calcium and it plays an important role in the formation of collagen, a substance important for bones and connective tissues including skin, tendon, and cartilage.

If there is too little lysine in the diet, kidney stones and other health related problems may develop including fatigue, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, agitation, bloodshot eyes, slow growth, anemia, and reproductive disorders. It is extremely rare, however, to obtain insufficient amounts of lysine through the diet. Generally, only vegetarians who follow a macrobiotic diet and certain athletes involved in frequent vigorous exercise are at risk for lysine deficiency. For vegetarians, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) are the best sources of lysine.

Lysine is involved in the browning reaction, or carmelization, in foods such as pastries, doughnuts, cookies and cereals. In this process, lysine and sugar become linked together in a way that makes lysine difficult for the body to absorb. As a result, a diet high in cereals and baked goods, especially those that contain a lot of simple sugars, can result in low lysine intake.

Posted in Natural Remedies | 3 Comments »

Shalom and Coconut Oil

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on August 3, 2007

Shalom is getting close to turning 12. As a newborn he was diagnosed with GERD because he would have projectile spit-up, and always in large quantities, all the time. I was concerned that he was not getting much to eat so I addressed it with the family doctor. She put him on Tagamet – at 6 weeks old! But it worked, so we kept doing it. After a time we stopped, he must have been on solid foods by then (I don’t remember).

Shalom has had some very frustrating habits over his lifetime and it seems that a few of them have derived themselves from the GERD. He would constantly clear his throat in a few specific ways (ugh) and talk about his heartburn. We had tried everything from the apple cider vinegar treatments to Tums and milk of magnesia, and back to prescription meds. In recent years nothing has helped – no medicine and no natural remedy has seemed to completely alleviate his troubles. We’ve tried to modify his diet, but were left perplexed when he would come in from the garden eating a tomato and have no ill effects yet processed or store-bought tomatoes would cause him such agony. But it wasn’t just tomatoes, there are many things that were taboo foods for him. Because we’ve tried so many different things and have always preferred a “natural” remedy, Shalom has developed a strong interest in nutrition and natural remedies. He’s our little nutritionist and naturopath. 🙂

I have been plagued with concerns for his health and the damage that is likely being done to his stomach and his esophagus from the acid. He has always had bad breath and that, too, has helped to constantly remind me of his stomach troubles. Last week we had friends over and they were sharing their newfound “wonder miracle cure” of coconut oil. They had read The Maker’s Diet and (if I remember right) it mentioned not only eating according to Biblical standards/guidelines but it also mentioned coconut oil. I asked if they thought it would be helpful with indigestion and they assured me that it should.

So on Monday we went to town and bought a jar of coconut oil. Shalom put it in his oatmeal on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Monday afternoon I asked him how his stomach was feeling (trying not to discuss it much with him but always having it on my mind) and he replied, “It feels soft”. 😆 Wednesday night we had spaghetti. I’ve tried not to serve him meals that send his stomach over the edge, but there are also 6 other people in the family and sometimes the budget warrants a meal such as spaghetti. Our usual routine in the past with meals like this was to give him something to soothe his stomach before we ate and keep the milk of magnesia close at hand after dinner. This time we totally forgot our before-meal routine. Part way through dinner I gasped when I remembered. How would his stomach handle this meal?

Everyone was watching Shalom closely. We had noticed that he hadn’t been clearing his throat in his usual annoying way all day, and maybe all day the previous day too. Everyone kept asking, “How’s your stomach?” after dinner. You know what? His stomach was fine! He did not need anything to soothe his stomach after dinner or at bedtime!!

We are completely amazed that after three days of putting one teaspoon of oil in his morning oatmeal that he could eat a meal that usually sent him (and us) over the edge, and have no trouble at all. I do believe that we will be buying quite a bit of this oil over the next few years. 🙂 We are very pleased and I am hopeful that this will help his stomach to heal from the almost 12 years of torture it’s undergone.

I still hear his response ringing in my ears, “It feels soft”. LOL When I asked him what he meant by that he couldn’t explain it in any other way, “My stomach just feels … soft. It’s good.” 🙂 What a blessing!!

Posted in Natural Remedies | 8 Comments »