Cramp Bark Tincture for Menstrual Cramps

To learn about the causes and solutions of menstrual pain see my reducing menstrual cramps blog post.

Cramp Bark Tincture

My well used cramp bark tincture!

Before you get to the root of your problem you will want something in your toolbox that will fix the pain right now! Cramp bark tincture is an excellent solution for that. As it’s name implies, cramp bark is a root that when turned into a tea or tincture can reduce cramps. How does it do it? It decreases muscle spasms in your body, and since cramps are (usually) caused by uterine spasms, it lowers pain immensely. I am extremely impressed with this product. I had been a sufferer of menstrual cramps for eight years until I discovered cramp bark . My reason for cramps is endometriosis, which I discovered I had a few years ago. Amazingly, cramp bark tincture has decreased my menstrual cramps from an pain level eight to a two! I used to take Ibuprofun (NSAIDS) each month to control my pain. Since taking cramp bark I haven’t had to take one NSAIDS for the past nine months! Incredible.

How to Take it

From my first sign of period pain, I take a dropper full (about 30 drops) in a small amount of water. I immediately notice a difference, my lower belly feels a little warm and the pain goes away. Sometimes 5 or 6 hours go by until I start feeling more cramping and I take another dropper full. During the first day of my period (when the pain is usually the worst) I end up taking probably three droppers. The second day I might take one dropper full. Everyone is different, so figure out what you need. You can take it every 30 minutes if needed.

Cramp bark is not known to have any bad side-effects, of course start out with a caution to see if your body reacts positivity to it and don’t take large doses.

Bonus!

Two more two solutions for easing menstrual cramps are ginger tea and a hot water bottle. The heat from the hot water bottle is soothing and ginger tea helps with pain. To make ginger tea just cut up a few chunks of ginger and boil it in water. Sip slowly.

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Three Morning Habits That Can Improve Your Health

Sunrise

Mornings can be a time of reverence, peace and tranquility as a new days starts, the sun slowly rises and the birds start chirping. Or, they can mean a loud beeping on the alarm clock with a mad dash out the door. I believe that the habits you foster in the morning can make a big impact on your day as well as your overall health. Do you believe this to be true? A good morning routine really starts in the evening. The earlier you get to bed at night, the earlier you will wake up and more refreshed will feel in the morning. But, let’s not get too complicated since going to bed early can be a challenge for many people.

Let’s talk about three things that take a total of fifteen minutes that can create a positive change in your health. I suggest trying these out for a month and evaluating if you feel better. At that point you can eliminate what isn’t serving you, add something else, or just go back to the way you were before. It’s up to you. Each morning when waking up try these three morning habits:

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All About Five Pounds

{This was written a few months back, but I felt embarrassed to press publish. In trying to be more authentic and true to myself, I am now posting this}

pizza

Eating while on the road is a challenge, especially if you are traveling for eight months like I am. It’s hard to do too much “damage” when on a week long vacation, but eating out three meals a day for eight months can take it’s toll.

Thankfully I have been traveling to places that have a large variety of healthy food. Thailand has fresh fruit cut and sold on the streets, not to mention vegetable curry and rice noodles. The rest of South East Asia follows suit, with plenty of gluten, dairy and sugar free options. Regardless, it’s hard to eat out so much. Each dish has extra salt, sugar and fat, even if you think you are just getting a nice vegetable dish, chances are you will be served an oily, salty and yes, delicious dish.

I haven’t even started talking about the temptations! Walk around any market and you see deep-fried foods and desserts. Every time I look at a menu (at least two times a day) I am facing a plethora of temptations: pizza, dessert, fried foods and more; my will power can only last so long. Needless to say, my pants are tight (almost too tight) and I’ve gained about 5-7 pounds, which is no fun when you have a limited amount of clothes in your suitcase. There are only so many times that I can wear the same comfy leggings. Something has got to give!

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Simple Yellow Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup

A few weeks ago, we visited Sydney, Australia and stayed with a friend for nine days. I was ecstatic to be staying in a house and having access to a kitchen. I miss cooking! To stock up on items we went to the growers market (what I call a farmers market) and bought two grocery bags full of pesticide-free produce. Next we went to the natural food store to buy some legumes and other items. Basically my favorite type of shopping! Food in Australia is expensive. I was eyeing exciting foods like sauerkraut and gluten free breads (okay, I see how these might not be that exciting for some people..haha) but I decided to just buy some basics so we could stay within budget. I ended up cooking mostly soups, quinoa, pesto pasta and a lot of vegetables! After eating out for five months so it was heaven.

Split Pea Soup

As much as I like exciting meals, I also love simplicity, such as meals that don’t require a long list of ingredients or many hours reading over cookbooks. This soup, while simple, was a big hit. If you want more than just a soup for a meal, pair it with some whole grain bread or a salad.

For the recipe click below!

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One Simple Tip For Better Digestion

Favor drinks for an afternoon treat, or sometime away from your meals.

Favor drinks for an afternoon treat away from your meals.

Go to any restaurant and you will be asked “what would you like to drink what that?” Menus at restaurants have a long list of drinks to include with our meal and 85% of them are cold with extra ice and full of sugar (though sugar is another topic). This is not limited to restaurants, when people eat at home, most would not consider having a meal without a tall glass of water (usually cold) or some other liquid. Unfortunately, this habit is contributing to poor digestion.

A few signs of a sluggish digestion:

  1. Gas or bloating
  2. Sluggishness after eating
  3. Constipation (or irregular bowel movements)
  4. Ance

Good digestion is critical part of a well function body. Digestion takes place in the stomach; this is where enzymes, bile and everything else comes together to break down the food solids that we have ingested. After chewing (hopefully slowing and properly) the body then gets to work to get the solids moving through the intestines. When we drink a full glass of water with the meal we are diluting the enzymes and stomach acid needed for digestion. Without this strong concentration of enzymes and stomach acid, the stomach cannot properly digest the food, leading to the discomforts listed above. Add to this mix ice-cold liquids and it slows down digestion even more. Think of your digestion like a fire (agni as they call it in Ayurveda). Fire and water don’t mix very well, especially cold water.

Solution

Don’t worry, you can still have liquids, just make sure you sip them throughout the meal. Favor warm or hot liquids, such as hot water, tea or just drink room temperature water. If wine is important for you, just sip and enjoy it slowly. Also, don’t drink a big glass before your meal or about an hour after.

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Spotlight on Parsnips

parsnips

When was the last time you ate a parsnip? Probably a while ago, if ever. I like parsnips! This is probably not something you hear everyday. Sadly, parsnips seem to take the back stage to other root vegetables, namely carrots, beets and potatoes.Parsnips and turnips seemed to, at least in my mind, get put together in the same category. And while they might look similar, I personally do not like turnips, but will happily eat parsnips. Turnips are more watery and astringent while parsnips are creamy and sweet. They remind me of a mix between a sweet potato and a carrot.

Since I am not near a kitchen, I’ve rounded together two parsnip recipes for all of you. Parsnips are a great winter vegetable. They taste amazing when roasted and are a wonderful grounding and warming root vegetable. I have picked recipes that are similar to ones that my husband and I have enjoyed at home in the past.

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What We Can Learn From SE Asians

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m on a eight month journey around SE Asia and other countries. My husband and I have spent the last 3.5 months in SE Asia, enjoying the weather, food, sights and activities. Whenever I travel I’m always fascinated how other people lives their lives, what their daily habits entail and what they eat. I’ve come up with some tips that I’ve learned from the SE Asians.

1. Fresh is Best

fresh is best

People in Asia eat really fresh food. Most eat street food daily, which at first thought might sound dirty and unsanitary, but it is anything but that (of course there are exceptions). These food stalls take your order and make your food on the spot. You can watch it all unfold and everything they use is fresh and as soon as it hits the plate it is set in front of you. There are no packaged, frozen or microwaved foods sitting cooked waiting. It is all fresh! Not to mention, the ingredients are pure: rice or rice noodles, vegetables, meats, oils* and sauces. That’s it.

*Some street food can be quite oily, so you have to be discerning, but regardless, it’s still fresh!

2. Fruit is a Great Snack

Fresh fruit

Everywhere I go in Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, etc, every market sells fruit either whole or cut up and ready to be eaten. This is not surprising since it is such a delicious snack choice! It’s light, hydrating, sweet and nutritious. Fruit packs vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and much more. It’s also a great portable snack. For simplicity pick apples, bananas (if they don’t get too smashed) or grapes in a bag. Also, try to buy seasonal fruit. It’s easy to figure out what is in season. If it’s affordable and abundant at your grocery store then it’s most likely in season. Berries in the middle of winter are transported from far away so will be more expensive. Better yet, go to farmer’s markets and you will really see what is growing near you!

3. Community is Very Important 

community

One thing I love about visiting other cultures is you are exposed to different ways of living. In Thailand and other Asian countries I’ve noticed how important community is. People leave the doors of their homes open, children are playing outside with each other instead of staring at a television screen, families with four generations live and eat together and friends sit around shops drinking tea. The more I read about health and healthy living I see how important community and friends are. You can eat green vegetables and take multi-vitamins, but if your soul is not being nourished you will be lonely and possibly depressed. Find like minded people and find time to spend quality time together! Think about starting a girls night once a week, or join a club. People have reported illnesses disappearing from just adding more love and laughter into their lives. Incredible.

4. Be Patient

ferry

A four hour ferry turns into a 6.5 hour ferry, typical of travel in Asia.

It seems to me here in South East Asia people are more laid back, less stressed out and patient. They have to be patient considering things are slower here and things don’t go quite as planned! Not only is being patient good for social interaction, but it’s also good for your health. If you are impatient or upset, it increases your cortisol (stress) levels, which in turn increases your heart rate and causes your brain to think it’s in danger. Constantly feeling stressed or impatient (which causes stress) can be damaging for your health. Is it really worth it? When something isn’t going the way you planned, the line at the grocery store is long or traffic is stopped, before starting to get upset, take a moment to relax. Put the situation in perspective. Maybe focus on getting deep breathes, talk to the person next to you in the line or listen to a book on tape. Your body will thank you!

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One Hour a Day

photography

Food photography is something I’m interested in developing!

Do you have one hour to spare a day?

My husband just shared with me an interesting concept. He was reading an article where the author shared  the following concept popularized by Earl Nightingale: spend one hour (minimum) a day studying, reading and/or learning about something that interests you. That is the best part. It’s not something that you feel pressured to do. No, it’s something you want to do. Something that lights your spirit, something you are passionate about. Here is where it gets good. If you spend one hour a day, for six months, learning, reading and studying this new hobby, you will become an expert. Or at least you will be very knowledgeable about the topic and quite skilled at this point.

The example in the article was inspiring. It’s about a young man straight from college who wasn’t super excited about his job. His boss suggested he spend an hour a day learning something that he is interested in and see where it takes him. The young man decided to study graphic design. Within six months he got a graphic design job within the company, after a year he had doubled his salary and after 18 months he started his own company. Wow.

What is something you want to learn more about or learn how to do? For me, I want to keep on reading more about holistic health and wellness. There are many books I am excited to read, great documentary and a lot of recipes I want to create. That should keep me quite busy for one hour a day.

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What Did I Bring While Traveling? My Toiletries/First Aid Kit

Packing for a trip is hard. You never know what you are going to need, or what is going to be useless. I had never been to SE Asia, so I didn’t know what was available at the pharmacy or store and also didn’t know what the prices would be like. So, I figured better bring more than regret bringing less. While the items might seem like a lot, and they are compared to what backpackers would bring, I found them not to take up too much room. And they have been useful so far. Below is what I brought in terms of toiletries and first aid kit.

Plane Essentials

These are the things (minus the no-jet lag, plus therapy oil which is in the last picture) that I like to take anytime I travel. I put these in a baggy and bring them on the plane and have them next to my bedside table wherever I sleep. I find these items comforting and useful.

Plane Essentials

Click here to read more!

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Apple Tea In Seoul

When I was in Seoul, South Korea I spent a rainy afternoon in an adorable, cozy tea house called Tea Therapy. The shelves were lined with bulk herbs and teas in glass jars. All of there tea was presented so beautiful, little flowers in vases, bite size snacks all on a tray. They also had a foot bath outside so clean your feet. The whole place was just lovely, it was a super cozy and sweet place to hang out for a bit. There menu was also unique, instead of listing what was in the tea, they listed ailments/systems you wanted to improve, such as headaches, fatigue, immune system and more. It took a little bit of getting used to because I’m used to picking teas by the flavor so it felt like I was blindly a tea, but it was fun nonetheless.

apple tea

One friend ordered the seasonal tea and was presented with a delicious apple tea. From what we could tell they boiled the apples in water to make a tea. It was so simple and yet so soothing and delicious, much more delicious than the apple spiced tea you can buy in bags.

lemon tea

I ordered their immune boosting tea which turned out to be a simple lemon tea. They  boiled the lemon and lemon rinds in water with sugar.

Next time you want a warm drink I suggest using seasonal fruit and boiling it in water. Serve it with the fruit in the teapot or cup and enjoy the subtle, sweet flavors of the fruit.

p.s. We happened to pick the simple fruit teas, but they also had many herbs for more complex teas, if I go back I will try something more complex.

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