Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Honey, Nature's Health Elixir (c) By Polly Guerin

Thanks to the cunning little yellow and black critters, the bee turns nectar from flowers and plants into honey and stores it as a food source in the extraordinary wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Such architects of honeycomb construction are nature’s builders, and as humans we depend on this elixir of health not only as a sweetener, but as a food, drink and even medicine. Honey application to the skin is a good tonic to soothe burns, chapped lips, skin problems and it even helps to cure a sore throat. When humans harvest honey they typically either process it for resale in grocery stores and other outlets. As such these are good products but, I prefer raw honey which is typically found in health food stores, holistic and farmers’ markets.
When the great American prophet Edgar Cayce was asked, “What type of sweets may be eaten by the body?” He replied, “Honey, especially in the honeycomb; or preserves made with beet rather than cane sugar. Not too great a quantity of any of these, of course, but the forces in sweets to make for the proper activity through the action of the gastric flows are as necessary as body-building elements. Hence two or three times a week the honey upon the bread or the food values would furnish that necessary in the whole system.” How could I forget this sound advice? I remember my father’s favorite treat was spreading honey on toast.
The benefits of honey were discovered since the dawning of civilization. The frequent Biblical references to milk and honey provide a clue to the importance of these two oldest nutrients. Further evidence, provided in the archives of ancient cultures, include documents from, India, Egypt, Persia, Babylon and Assyria that attest to the fact that bees were already domesticated and extensively used for a variety of nutrient purposes and medicine. Honey in the ancient world was a valued commodity. Taxes and tributes were imposed in the form of payments of honey and wax. It was the equivalent to currency. Honey played a vital role in domestic life throughout the age and continues to do so today.
It may have been by accident that a beekeeper’s wife discovered that working with honey during the collecting season her hands became soft and smooth. So she gave herself a honey facial. Honey in cosmetics is as popular today as it was for the ancients. Poppea, the comely wife of Nero, who employed a hundred slaves to attend her beauty, used honey and tepid asses’ milk as a face lotion. Roman women knew a thing or two about this cosmetic tonic and even Louis XV’s mistresses, Madame du Barry and other royals used honey in their toilet preparations. Honey packs, honey masks honey facials and hand creams are easily available today so that modern women can soften her skin and soothe facial wrinkles. For an at-home remedy simply pull your hair back and apply raw liquid honey to your face and neck and let it stand 15 minutes then wipe it off with a damp cloth. Voila!!! There my dear is all you need do as a regular beauty regimen.
Bee colonies have been threatened quite recently and honey bee colonies have been disappearing at an alarming rate. The good news is that the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. (a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) is studying this dilemma and reports that honey bee colony loses are down from previous reports. The cause they cite is a parasite and some say it’s caused by inbreeding. Nonetheless, measures are being taken to address the problem and to restore the bee colonies.
The beauty regime of Italian and Spanish women gives us cause to consider the benefits of honey. Their beautiful complexions are due not solely to olive oil but also to honey, which will greatly improve not only the color but the texture of the skin. No need to restrict its use to external application do as the Creole women of Louisiana suggest and rub your entire body with a lotion consisting of honey and water, to which add spices of your choice. Nature’s greatest gift is honey the golden elixir to good health that helps to stimulate and support the body’s own healing process.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Herbs That Make You Feel Better (c) By Polly Guerin

Cultivating herbs for health is so easy that you can grow them in your window box or garden and reap the “feel good” benefits without even leaving home. Right at your fingertips for so little effort herbs’ have an innate ability to lift one’s spirits, produce calm, boost memory and mood, and even lower anxiety. You don’t need to be a gardener to plant herbs that contain the seeds of health-promoting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory seeds of renewal. Fresh herbs’ potency is higher than the dried variety. All the reason to grow your own.
To plant an herb garden all you need are some earthenware flower pots, a window box or a sunny spot in your backyard or front lawn. The good news for amateur gardeners is that in general, herbs tend not to be very fussy about soil, don’t require optimal fertilization, and are seldom bothered to any extent by bugs. If your local nursery doesn’t have herbs find them on the Internet at During the growing season, keep the plants moist and cut them back frequently to encourage growth. Imagine the convenience and the pleasure of plucking herbs to enhance any meal.
With its green earthiness and fragrant essence, Rosemary can help to reduce joint pain and is effective for weakness in the limbs. Both tension and depression are said to respond to the charms of rosemary. Greek students must have known that rosemary improves memory. Why else would they have worn garlands of rosemary around their heads? Chefs know a thing or two about rosemary in the kitchen. It can perk up the simplest meal. Toss it into salads, tie it into bunches for the stock pot, give a roast a boost and add jazz up dressing oil, stir it into softened butter for topping baked potatoes, whisk it into eggs for omelets, stir it into mayonnaise or mustard---are all delicious ways to get the goodness.
Peppermint’s brisk aroma and stimulating taste make it a fine beverage anytime to perk up a lackluster feeling, and it has the wonderful ability to make the stomach happy, settles and upset stomach and is an excellent remedy when you feel nauseous. Peppermint tea soothes headaches so drink a few strong cups and lie down and let nature over pills takes its course of recovery. The source of menthol, peppermint is one of the oldest household remedies and grows easily in almost any garden. A word of caution!!! Peppermint is such a vigorous grower that you must watch your peppermint patch carefully or it will completely take over your garden, lawn or window box. This is one plant that grows best in a separate bed. Put zest into any salad with fresh peppermint tossed in with the greens; add it to cream cheese for a tangy flavor. Sprigs of peppermint enhance summer coolers and other libations.
There’s no need to purchase expensive mouth washes, sage is highly valued, primarily as a gargle and mouthwash and for relieving sore throat pain or inflamed gums. However, you don’t have to have a problem to enjoy the bracing effect of sage. For a soothing beverage add half an ounce of fresh sage leaves to the juice of one lemon or lime. Sweeten with honey and infuse in a quart of boiling water. Remove from the heat, strain and serve hot or cold. My grandmother had an excellent winter tonic. Put a cup of fresh sage in an electric blender, mix and pulverize at high speed then pour into a bottle of claret or burgundy. To reap the benefits, during the winter months, sip small amounts, perhaps diluted in a small amount of water. Oh, so good to ease sore throats!!! Sage is a hardy perennial and likes a sunny area without strong wind and plenty of water, especially when it is young.
Don’t limit your enjoyment of cayenne to putting it on hoagies and steak sandwiches. Cayenne is one of the most effective herb medicines to treat fevers and when digested it is a harmless internal disinfectant. It’s best to take a capsule or two followed by two heaping glasses of water. Other authorities recommend cayenne as a powerful stimulant and a hangover remedy. If you can stomach the heat, mature red peppers are bursting not only with heat, but nutrition. They have more vitamin C than anything else that you grow in your garden. Cultures that eat goodly amounts of hot peppers every day are also getting important amounts of iron, potassium, and niacin from these spicy foods. Cayenne plants should do as well as tomatoes or eggplant in the garden and when perfectly dry, the peppers can be ground into a fine powder and stored for later use.
Wild herbs have been long known from almost all historical writings to possess “curative” or healing qualities. Its beginnings have been traced back thousands of years. In the Bible, for example, over 100 plants are mentioned which have uses beyond their edible properties. Native American Indians used herbs on the American plains to cure a variety of ills and legions of ancient military doctors schooled in folk medicine have saved lives with the use of herb poultices. Mothers of yesteryear, schooled in the use of herbs, were the first nurses in a family, but few, if any young mother’s today, continue that tradition of herbal care. However, it is comforting to know that modern medicine is beginning to realize that many herbs, used wisely, are the gateway to maintaining or restoring health. If you want to learn more: Read Mark Bricklin’s book “Natural Healing,” (Rodale Press), a practical encyclopedia of natural healing.