Ask The Herbalist

  • How can I grind Hawthorn Berries to make a tincture without breaking the grinder or food processor?

    Freeze the dried Hawthorn Berries to potentially help to make them fracture better, then break them up with a hammer into small pieces before placing into the alcohol to make the Hawthorn Berry tincture. - James Sullivan, N.D. Jim Sullivan, ND Read More
  • Which cleanse would you recommend for a 30 day cleanse/fast?

    30 days of cleansing is one thing, 30 days of fasting is another, if you ever decide to fast for that long amount of time it is extremely important that you replace any nutrients that you have depleted from your body, additionally you should also talk to your healthcare provider before doing something so drastic. The first thing you'll want to do is to define your goals and what exactly you are looking to accomplish, then you will know the best route to proceed. We have a number of cleanses to choose from, and even different amounts of time to do each.
    • Use Revive Colon Cleanse Kit if you haven't cleansed before and are looking for some help getting your digestive system back on track – 5 days, no fasting required.
    • Use the Colon Cleanse Kit if you want a deeper colon specific flush. This can be done in 8 days, 9 days or 30 days and it all depends on how much you want to alter your diet. Only the 8 and 9 day option involve fasting and that portion of the cleanse only lasts 5 days.
    • Use the Internal Cleansing Kit if you want a full body system detox – 21 day program, includes a Colon Cleansing Kit, optional 5 day fast
    • Use the Women's Rebalancing Cleanse if you are nearing the menopausal years and would like help specifically resetting your reproductive system – 5 days, no fasting required.
    - James Sullivan, N.D. Jim Sullivan, ND Read More
  • What natural remedy can I take to increase my chances of carrying my pregnancy to term?

    Chasteberry or Chaste Tree (Vitex Agnus-Castus) is best used to lengthen a shorter menstrual cycle, improve progesterone when low or relatively low compared to elevated estrogen. This is why it is so often in herbal fertility protocols. Chasteberry has a very good safety profile, though it is usually only taken throughout the first trimester when progesterone levels need support. An appointment with a tame gynecologist or experienced Naturopathic physician in your area will help you and your husband discover what, if any, hormones need balancing for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy newborn and mother. As for other natural ways to support your best chances, specific recommendations tailored to you, from prenatal vitamins (which you have taken) to herbs to reduce repeat miscarriage are answers best determined between you and a professional health care provider.   Yours, Amanda McQuade Crawford Amanda McQuade Crawford Read More
  • What can I take for anxiety and depression?

    States of anxiety do capture the body into a type of neurosis stress state that can be layered over time with states of depression. These states typically stem from deeply rooted fears and apprehensions as “root causes”, so one should examine all states of our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being for preventive solutions. Calming and relaxing herbs can certainly help to calm anxiety states and therefore release us from depression.

    Herbal remedies including Chamomile, Valerian, California Poppy, Passion Flower and St. Johns Wort used in combination should help provide relief. I would suggest finding a tea that may have a combination of some or all of these type herbals.

    Secondly, incorporate healthy habits into your lifestyle such as avoiding stimulants such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola drinks. Incorporate daily breathing and perhaps meditation time with positive thinking and walking outdoors, preferably in the woods or by the ocean. At times of high stress, try more strenuous exercise to benefit the heart action as an added bonus. Other forms of exercise may include biking, dancing, or skipping rope.

    - James Sullivan, N.D. Read More

  • Why does lemon juice & honey help with nausea?

    The lemon and honey remedy for nausea most likely has roots from some of the simplest cleansing regimes known in home remedies. Lemon is a perfect liver food and a great body cleanser high in Vitamin C and potassium and other minerals. The astringent action of lemon helps to contract the epigastric tissues in the gut that loosens up and clears the toxic reaction from the deep tissue and organs.

    The honey helps to keep the lemon juice into a matrix for delivery to the tissues of the gut such as like a “slow release” so the lemon can do its work. As a result the lemon water is also very alkaline which is the natural pH of our bodies as with our blood being a pH of 7.41. The alkalinity action results in overcoming the “nausea” that was a result of imbalance in the gut from various causes and exists as a “state of imbalanced health”.

    - James Sullivan, N.D.

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  • Can you recommended any products to help me stay "regular" and avoid constipation during pregnancy?

    There are several great ways to stay regular during pregnancy, though I recommend herbs last. Eat a plant-based diet to ensure optimal nutrition, including five or more servings a day of fruits in season, vegetables (raw salads and cooked vegetables), and one to two servings of whole grains that suit you.

    Supplement with plant proteins such as cooked garbanzos tossed on summer salads, split pea soup when weather turns cooler, and every lentil or bean you like (be sure to cook with aromatic herbs and spices to make them more easily digested).

    All that fiber and adequate hydration will keep you regular and feeling satisfied as your appetite naturally goes up during pregnancy. Whether you include animal protein is up to you, so I'll just note that excess cheese or red meat can contribute to constipation. Too much bread or the refined sugar-and-flour sweets some women seem to crave can lead to a sense of bloating, indigestion, or constipation as well.

    Plain water and soothing herb teas such as raspberry leaf, nettle leaf, lemon balm, ginger root, dandelion leaf and/or root, rooibos, fennel seed, and lemon verbena are just a few of the teas that pregnant women have been enjoying hot or cold for centuries, along with plain water. I like mine with a dash of fresh lemon juice added. We also offer a Pregnancy Tonic Herbal Tea Blend for this specific purpose.

    In addition, maintaining regular digestive function depends on movement. I would also recommend some light form of exercise, even if just walking. Tailor your activity to take into account some natural spells of fatigue as your pregnancy progresses. Many studies show exercise and fitness reduces complications at the time of birth, for mother and baby. The general guideline is to try a teaspoon of dried leaves in a cup of water just off the boil, covered, to steep 5-15 minutes. Strain the tea leaves and enjoy a single herb or a mix and match according to your palate. If it tastes too strong, you can always dilute with plain water until it tastes good to you.

    Yours, Amanda McQuade Crawford Read More
  • I was given an herbal mix for weight loss and I am wondering if it's safe since I am breastfeeding?

    Thank you for your excellent question. I sympathize that diet and exercise alone have not been enough but the good news is, breastfeeding is one of the healthiest ways to lose weight while re-setting your metabolism with food choices (avoiding that dread word, diet) and regular activity. Read More
  • Is there a link between Dong Quai & birth defects?

    You are still in your first trimester, and the dose of Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis), as you say, is well below therapeutic ranges, and far, far below "high" or problematic doses cited in the literature as a concern. In my estimation, you have nothing to fear about the little you took with the prenatal vitamins. Still, I agree with you: switch to a prenatal formulation that does not contain Dong Quai or other unfamiliar herbs, though, just for the record, nettle leaf, raspberry leaf, and other nutritive herbs are generally considered safe, even recommended by some midwives, during pregnancy.

    I re-checked the literature on Dong Quai and birth defects. There is one report, questioned by health experts, of one woman taking an herbal combination of several herbs including Dong Quai that may or may not have been a co-factor in her baby's birth defects. Of course, we want to know more. I am sad for her experience. The good news for you is, there is no other research linking this herb with similar problems.

    As I scan governmental, medical, and popular sites, I see a fair amount of fear of the unknown reflected in the blogosphere, not supported by either scientific or traditional information, about Dong Quai acting as an estrogen (it does not), and as a blood thinner (to some degree, but not significant in the amount you were taking). Occasionally, Dong Quai may even be prescribed for a pregnant woman if she needs it.

    Most healthy pregnant women on prenatal vitamins do not need it. So, rest assured, it is extremely improbable the amount you took did much of anything. Still, stopping the vitamins containing Dong Quai is my recommendation. I also recommend you give yourself credit for researching this, asking the right questions, and taking the safest, most cautious path for your peace of mind, all important to you and your baby. You have my best wishes for a safe and happy pregnancy.

    Yours, Amanda McQuade Crawford

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  • After colon cleansing, how do I keep up with "maintenance"?

    We recommend a daily probiotic for ongoing support of the intestinal system. Our probiotic is Friendly Bacteria Replenisher with 3 billion live cultures. Also be on the lookout for a daily digestive support product later this year.

    - James Sullivan, N.D.

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  • What are long term effects of taking Digestive Stimulator?

    There are no long term effects of taking Digestive Stimulator continuously – however, it is intended to be a supplement only. The primary goal would be to get your digestive system functioning correctly so bowel movements happen on their own vs. taking a supplement to assist them. Without knowing more information about you or why you need them it is difficult to help with a possible solution.

    - James Sullivan, N.D.

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