Saturday, February 11, 2012

Red Raspberry Leaf for Women's & Mother's Health

from A Modern Herbal

I've been busy with work and dance, but my mother has been busy helping me to remember some awesome herbs that deserve consideration. Our featured herb today, red raspberry leaf, comes from my mother's experience as a mommy-to-be and from helping others during their pregnancies. However, this herb is also wonderful for women's health in general. It's definitely one to keep in your cupboard!

dried red raspberry leaf
Red raspberry plants were said to have been discovered by the Olympian gods. Since then, it has been used throughout the history of folk medicine for many ailments, including canker and cold sores, anemia, diarrhea, gingivitis, and to stabilize other ingredients in herbal blends. It’s rich in vitamin C, vitamin E and the easily assimilated calcium and iron. (beware of those iron tablets - they are NOT a good source of iron!)  Raspberry leaves contain vitamins A and B complex and many minerals, including phosphorous and potassium as well.

raspberry plant
Red Raspberry not only has delicious fruit  but its properties are  very valuable during pregnancy.   Drinking tea made from the leaves is not only safe during pregnancy but is highly recommended.  It contains fragrine, an alkaloid  that tones the muscles of the pelvic area  as well as the uterus preparing it for the contractions during birth. Because of it’s abiity to tone the uterus, new mothers will experience less bleeding after birth as well. Mom personally attests to it’s effectiveness. She says her labors were relatively quick and  problem free as well as my recovery!

You don’t have to be  pregnant to enjoy the benefits of Red Raspberry. The calcium it contains will help with painful cramping, headaches, water retention and other symptoms that plague women during  menstruation. It also helps to promote healthy nails, bones, teeth and skin and unknown to me until refreshing my knowledge of red raspberry, it helps with canker sores and  cold sores. 

And the best thing- red raspberry leaf actually tastes really good, like black tea without the caffeine. I think I might start replacing my morning coffee with a nice raspberry tea blend of red clover, yarrow, nettle, borage, and red raspberry leaf. This blend is a great tonic for any woman to drink 2 or 3 times a day. Try making a large batch once a week to keep in your fridge and warm up a cup in the morning and evening.

raspberry leaf tea by Traditional Medicinal

Here are a couple of other blends to try for pregnancy and morning sickness.

Pregnancy Tea Recipe:
3 parts Red Raspberry leaf
2 parts Nettle
4 parts Peppermint or Spearmint

Morning Sickness Tea:
1 part Red Raspberry
¼ part gingeroot - grated
2 parts Peppermint
-The peppermint and ginger will help settle a queasy tummy-

Whether you are a mother to be or a woman looking to get more calcium and iron into your life, red raspberry leaf is a wonderful herb that has no side effects when used in moderation. Try a cup today instead of your morning coffee!

Sources:  Rosemary Gladstar
               Susan Weed
              The Complete Illustrated Herbal

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Windowfarms- hydroponic herbs in winter?!

Thought about growing vegetables and herbs in your apartment during the winter but wasn't sure where to start? Windowfarms, a vertical, hydroponic garden for your window, may be a good place to begin.

Windowfarms have been tested and developed by people around the world who have tried to build their own and have shared their experience with others online. These hydroponic farms depend on your climate-controlled apartment to yield vegetables all year long for a minimal cost. 

I want to build one right now. Imagine, fresh basil, cilantro, lettuce, and tomatoes growing in your window without any soil and without having to remember to water them every day. Or, how about being able to grow fresh herbs for your favorite herbal remedies right in your window?

Right now, you can find directions on how to build two different versions of a Windowfarm on their website. You can also choose to purchase three different sizes if you feel you do not have the time or skills, although they seem relatively easy to figure out with help from a friend. 
Also, you can join the online community who is there not only to help, but is also there so that you can share anything you've learned through the process of building your own farm. This helps the community as a whole make improvements with each new discovery. I love that the project is propelled by any and everyone who builds or uses a Windowfarm. It's pretty awesome!

If you are a brave soul like myself who would like to join in a group dedicated to helping each other build their own Windowfarms, I'd be interested in heading a group in Chicago. Just message me with an email address and I'll be in contact!