Our Way of Life: What can we do to take care of ourselves?

“The ever-increasing pace that characterises our modern way of life is one of the worst poisons for our heart.” -Alfred Vogel

“As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul: -Anonymous

Wherever Nomfundo and I are, there are people wondering how they can deal with their stress levels. Our way of life insists that we have to be busy, so busy that even our rest time must be taken up with some activity. Taking time in each day to relax is unheard of, and so people rush from the time they wake up until the time they fall into bed. Or, even more problematic these days, we think that sitting in front of the TV, or playing games on our phones is rest and relaxation. The truth is that these activities overstimulate our brain which stresses our adrenals as they experience all this activity as adrenaline-inducing.

So what do we do about this? How is it possible to slow our pace when life insists that if we don’t keep ahead of the pack, we are going to lose?

Fields of Herbs

My reply to you is… What will you lose if you continue to live in this fast-paced way? Heart failure; Depression; Auto-immune diseases; Cancer… The list is long.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Take a break every day. Make sure that you take your full hour’s lunch and not in front of your desk. Instead, go and sit in the sunshine; Take a walk; Meditate, or just take time to eat your lunch mindfully.
  2. When your day off comes around, do something fun…Go on a fun run; Go to the beach; Read a book; Visit with friends.
  3. Watch less TV; Spend less time on social media platforms or electronic games. Unplug and Unwind.

Herbs that support our body when we are stressed and anxious:

  1. Adaptogens help our bodies, over time, to cope with stress. One such herb is Ashwaghanda. It is also called Indian Ginseng. It is known to reduce anxiety and bolster the immune system. It seems to enhance the body`s ability to cope with stress. The herb is also known as an Adrenal Gland Tonic as it gradually restores the health of these glands.
  2. Liver herbs are important to include as people are more likely to smoke, drink and overeat on the wrong foods when under stress. Including a herb such as Milk Thistle is important as it is known to help protect the liver and regenerate liver cells.
  3. Sedatives and Calmatives calm frayed nerves, settle anxiety and induce sleep. Valerian is one of the stronger herbal sedatives that can soothe away anxiety, relax tight muscles and relieve pain when given in low doses. St. John’s Wort helps to ease mild depression brought on by over-stress and anxiety. Passion Flower has been known to decrease anxiety and induce sleep. It is known as a toning and strengthening herb for the nervous system particularly when an overactive mind interferes with sleep. Chamomile, Lavender and Lemon Balm are also known to help calm the nerves and gently aid sleep. They are milder than their sisters which are mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.

As Alfred Vogel states: “If you have been infected by a hurried pace of life that it becomes a habit…the end result will not be what you expect.” Things will not get done well, and people will become more isolated and addicted to opioids and pain killers.

“A steady, persistent and joyful pace of work, and shorter rest periods, are better for our life and our physical and mental health” -Alfred Vogel

With lots of love and times of rest…

Sue and Nomfundo

Chronic Inflammation Causing Chronic Conditions

Inflammation is a localized physical condition which is often a reaction to injury. This is called acute inflammation and helps our bodies to heal by drawing more blood to these areas.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is when there has been long term inflammation. Many things can cause this, as we shall see. Chronic conditions are often inflammatory conditions: osteoarthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and more.

Foods causing inflammation:

  • Sugar and all related products)
  • Artificial trans-fats (margarine is the most well known one)
  • Vegetable and seed oils such as sunflower oil. These are most often extracted using petroleum based solvents, e.g. Hexane
  • Refined carbohydrates such as white flour
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Processed meats

We can’t do much about inflammatory triggers such as injury, pollution or sickness.

To stay as healthy as possible and keep inflammation down, we can focus on what we eat and minimize triggering foods.

Foods that fight inflammation:

  • Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene (a fat soluble nutrient) which reduces inflammation.
  • Olive oil contains oleocanthal, an anti-oxidant with anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Green leafy vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which may help reduce inflammation.
  • Nuts such as almonds and walnuts contain vitamin E
  • Fatty fish which is high in omega 3
  • Berries are high in antioxidants which reduce inflammation

Herbs that help reduce inflammation:

  • Buchu (Agathosma betulina)-helps reduce inflammation in cases such as osteo-arthritis and urinary infections.
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutitia) tea is beneficial in inflamed stomach conditions such as diarrhoea and stomach ulcers. (Herb or tincture form)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is an epithelial herb which means that it can reduce inflammation and heal conditions of the skin. It can also be used to reduce deep tissue swelling. (Herb or tincture form)

Essential oils that reduce inflammation:

  • Clove: helps reduce gum inflammation. (Add to glycerine and water and use as a gargle)
  • Thyme: Helps relieve pain from bruises and acne.
  • Peppermint: Helps reduce inflammation caused from injury.
  • Eucalyptus: Helps reduce respiratory and sinus inflammation.
  • Lavender: Reduces inflammation of the respiratory system, as well as in cases of injury and infection.
  • Frankincense: this oil plays a dual role-it is anti-inflammatory as well as analgesic.

The best way to use these oils is to add to grape seed oil or fractionated coconut oil and rub on the affected areas.