Friday, 23 January 2015

Herbal Rescue Remedy - Chocolate

Over Christmas and the New Year I had a heavy cold and hacking cough.  to find relief from the symptoms I search my Herbal rescue basket, herbal notebook and my collection of books on herbs.  I was surprised to find that chocolate was good for chest congestion. colds and flu.

I had already brought some Fair Trade, organic raw cacao to make hot chocolate for my visitors over the holiday season, I could now have some not only for the feel good factor but also to help get rid of my cough and cold. -  Oh Yum yum or Num Num as my cat friends say!

Chocolate has been maligned as the devils food.

It has been accredited as causing tooth decay, obesity, acne, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetics.   It has been cited as the cause of headaches, heart burn. Chocolate that has high amounts of fat, sugar added and too much could lead to weight gain which could lead to heart disease, diabetics.

Hey isn't the sugar and fat that cause the problem in some chocolate confectionery -  not Cacao and Dark 60% Chocolate?

Chocolate  reputation has been rising in the last few years as a number of studies have suggested that it could be a health choices.  Not milk or white chocolate but 60% dark chocolate. Though no-one has suggested yet that is a health food

Cacao appears to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Flavanols in Cacao beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols — which are more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate.  It also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function. (Mayo Clinic)

Dark chocolate is rich in vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron, which can aid in preventing stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.( Women Health Review)

There are more health benefits from Chocolate which are well documented in medical and health literature.  Chocolate and especially raw Cacao is good for you. but not in huge quantities, 1 oz a day is the recommended amount to eat for health.   I bought a 200g pack of Raw Cacao before Christmas and have used only 70g up to today.   I have used it in drinks with milk or almond milk on cereal, and with nut butter and drinks for friends.  100g of raw cacao has 309 calories and only 9.5 g of fat and 1.5g of sugar..   These calories have been spread over 28 or more days.  I have really enjoyed using it, and it has given me health benefits and has been a great treat and pick-me-up when suffering the misery of bad cold and cough.  Yea   - three cheers for Cacao!

Chocolate and cacao  contain caffeine but about 10 to 20 percent of  that coffee.  So it can be a good alternative to coffee to beat drowsiness, and without the jitters that drinking Coffee can sometimes bring. However gorging on chocolate may  give  you a high but then can quickly  plummet you into a slump.  

Chocolate Aztec gold to Fair Trade co-operatives.

Thinking about chocolate made me realize that I knew very little about it where does the Cacao  grows?  Now I know it grows in  Peru and along the equator.  I am going to find more about the Fair Trade Cooperatives for farmers who grow Cacao

I also did not know what the Cacao trees and its fruit and the beans looked like.  I certainly do not think I have seen the flowers before. They are beautiful, would stunning be a better word? These produce the cacao beans which were the Aztec's gold.

I love this picture of Wild Cacao flowers.

Chocolate was not known in Europe until 1509 when Cortez was given it in a drink in golden beaker, he was interested in the gold beaker but the Aztec ruler Montezuma informed him the 100 of the beans was worth more than the gold of the beaker. 

Cortez took chocolate back to Spain and it was kept a secret from Europe until 1660.  It was most popular in Holland and England where milk and sugar was added, it was was not until about 150 years ago that it was made into the bars and the sweets we are so familiar with today.

Chocolate is now in my Herbal Remedy basket for the feel good factor and for its health benefits.  

My Conclusion is dark Chocolate and especially Raw Fair Trade, Organic Cacao is good for you. 
 Are you a believer?

With Reiki blessings and a chocolate kiss


Here is a link to the Kitchen and recipes for healthy Hot Chocolate for you

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Herbal Rescue Remedy - Valerian officinalis

Valerian - I am getting Sleepy

 After a stressful time before Christmas I found my sleep was disrupted and  my back and shoulders and neck were aching. This pain, I suspected, was because I was tense rather than a strain from digging on my plot.. Finally just after Christmas  I developed  a heavy cold and cough,  Then I was more frequently waking up in the night and finding it difficult to get back to sleep.  During the day I felt exhausted.  After a couple of day of this I set off  find a herbal rescue remedy. I went to see my local Medical Herbalist. Sandy,  After a consultation we decided that Valerian was the rescue remedy I need.

I used one teaspoon to make herbal infusion which I drank half an hour before I went to bed. It worked almost immediately, although at first I was still woken in the night by my busy mind chattering away, or a bout  of  coughing would wake me.   However I  was more relaxed and I was able to get back to sleep much more quickly. Gradually my sleep pattern has returned to normal.   The aches in my back, shoulder and neck were eased effectively.. I used Valerian tea  for ten days..  It seemed wise not to use it continuously but only when needed.  It is not addictive but I did not want to become psychologically dependent on it to get to sleep.

The taste of Valerian is for many people unpleasant and often they add honey and lemon, or mint to it. I found it OK and took it straight without additions.

Healing with Valerian

All parts of Valerian have sedative effect but the highest concentration is in the roots. Valerian has been compared to Valium, but Valerian is much safer and milder sedative and muscle relaxant and does not have side effects  of Valium. Valerian is contained in many over the counter medicines to ease insomnia and to deal with stress.. In Germany over 100 medicines have Valerian as the active ingredient as sleep aids and tranquilizers, some of which are suitable for children over 2 years old.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin musician and Herbalist

The modern story of the Pied Piper has him enchanting the Rats with his flute playing but early German Folklore credits him as being a accomplished herbalist and he charmed the rats and children with the hypnotic effect of Valerian and his flute.  It would have certainly worked on the rats  Rats and cats love it and sprawl and roll on the plant in ecstasy. It has a similar effect on cats as catnip. Raymondo cat would bruise the leaves of catnip by rolling on them each morning.  I had a supply of Pots for him to enjoy,   If the Pied Piper had given the children a drink containing Valerian it could have relaxed any fears they may have had about following the Piper out of Hamelin

The Greeks and Romans called  Valerian  Fu  - phew  -because of its taste, it was used as a diuretic, antidote to poison, pain relied and by  Galen as a decongestant.  Around the 10th Century it began to be called Valerian  derived from the Latin "valeo" meaning  " I am well".   It was known in local folklore as  "all well" suggesting its use as an ancient medicine.  The term officinalis  reflects the fact that monks and nuns distilled  this herb  in their herbarium still room. The 10th Century the German Abbess  Hildegard  of Bingen, a distinguished  herbalist, recommended it as a tranquilizer and sleep aid.

Culpeper in the seventeenth Century described Valerian as:
As Excellent  against nervous affections
During the World War 1 Valerian was prescribed for soldiers with shattered nerves as a result of the artillery bombardment and the horrors of life they had to endure on the battlefields. and in the trenches.

David Hoffman author of  book Holistic Herbal calls Valerian
one of the most useful relaxing herbs.
I am glad that my Medical Herbalist Sandy recommended  its used  at a time for me of sudden stress and illness.  I take most herbal remedies as a cold infusion or as  herbal tea of fresh or dried herbs rather than taking supplements or over the counter medicines..

Growing Valerian on My Plot.

I am wondering whether to grow Valerian on my plot, it is a hardy perennial.  It can be grown from seed or root cuttings. The seeds however, have a short viability, therefore  I  would need to get a root. It grow in the wild in marshy places and damp hedgerows, It grows to 5 or 6 feet, the flowers are pale pink or white, the leaves grow in pair which distinguish it from Kentranthus-ruber or Garden Valerian. which grows leaves in groups and the flowers are like red spurs.  Garden Valerian in the wild  grows on cliffs and in stone walls.

Valerian officinals  does have odour which the herbalist Michael Moor described as:
Like the smell of dirty socks
Hmm may be I will think again about growing it on my plot!

To help with quieting the mind before going to sleep you may like to listen to ELFENTHAL The early music ensemble playing "Caritas in abundat omnia"  a chant composed by Hildegard of Bingen  
 Love lives in all things, from these lowest being to the highest stars

 Wishing You Good Sleep and Reiki blessing


PS  Chocolate is another  Herbal Rescue Remedy I used over Christmas.   I will blog  about this wonderful herb soon. Watch this space!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year to You, Ancestors - Jelaluddin Rumi

Before I sit down to write to or email family,friends and followers at on New Years Day I draw a card from John Matthew's Shaman Oracle.  I use this card to help guide my wishes for you all for the next year. Today I drew the card The Ancestor of Guidance  Here is its guidance for you all in 2015. 

Ancestor of Guidance

I am the Ancestor of Guidance, I remember you and so watch over you.  I guide your steps as you embark on your life-path and counsel you as you make important decisions. Because I am your family - however ancient I know well the deepest places of you heart and soul , and stand ready to assist you in discovering the path you need to follow.  John Matthews Shaman's Oracle
The Elk or Stag is a powerful symbol found in Prehistoric Cave  Painting and here it represent the guidance we can receive from our ancestors if we open our minds to listen to the ancient wisdom of our families.  If you are seeking a new direction then the echoes of profound wisdom of our inner guides can help us find our way successfully, or give us aspiration to lead us forward on our life path This Card reminds us that we have the companionship of our Ancestors on what can sometime feel a lonely and difficult journey through life.

Here is a poem that illustrates our interconnecting to the the Wisdom of the Universe

"Say I am You" by Jelaluddin Rumi


I am the particles in sunlight,

I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.

To the sun, Keep moving.

I am morning mist,

and the breathing of evening.

I am wind in the top of a grove,

and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,

I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.

Silence, thought, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,

a spark of stone, a flickering

in metal. Both candle,

and the moth crazy around it.

Rose, and the nightingale

lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,

the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,

and the falling away. What is,

and what isn't. You who know

Jelaluddin, You the one

in all, say 

I am. Say I

Here is a link to a beautiful video of this poem 

Wishing you a Happy New Year

Reiki Blessings and Light