Red Clover Infusion for Psoriasis and Skin Conditions

January 30, 2015

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Only my hubby-to-be would ever agree to rolling out of bed (on his holiday) at the crack of dawn, to wander down to my secret spot, mason jar in hand, to forage and collect herbs for a medicine-making project of mine. Aww.

We must have looked such a site. Me lying in the grass taking pictures of red clover with the sun rising behind it, and him crouching down amongst the weeds carefully choosing the bestest clover heads for my infusion.

So whilst this is perhaps the simplest of remedies I’m sharing with you today – it’s actually a pretty special one.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) Infusion for Psoriasis and Skin Conditions

This pretty little flower is a common weed you may have seen growing in un mown grass and in the green patches on sidewalks around the city. It’s actually a very special herbal remedy for women and for skin.

One of its actions is as a depurative (also referred to as an alterative). This is actually a very old, traditional Herbal Medicine term, and refers to the plant’s ability to detoxify and assist in elimination – reducing the accumulation of metabolic wastes.

By getting the blood flowing and aiding elimination, you are able to clear skin conditions by moving the waste that builds up underneath the skin’s surface. This is what makes it such a beautiful remedy for chronic skin disorders including dermatitis and psoriasis.

Red clover flowers differ from the regular, pale brown clover, though both are a favourite with the bees and make beautiful honey. When you forage for them, it is best to choose an area that hasn’t been sprayed. A tradition I like to follow, is to give a small offering to the plant and ask permission before harvesting, only taking what you need and no more. In the Native American Indian tradition, they would give a little tobacco – which is a sharing plant – such a sweet offering. The late spring and summer months are the  perfect time to pick them.

In addition to purifying the blood, red clover was traditionally used to clear the respiratory system of mucous (due to its lymphatic and expectorant actions).

It is also traditionally used for the treatment of menopause and hot flushes, and as an anti-cancer medicine (again, for its ability to detoxify and aid elimination)[1],[2].

Red clover is a great source of vitamins and minerals, an extremely nourishing plant.

The recipes below use fresh red clover flowers – but you should be able to find the dried flowers at a natural foods store, or from a herbal supplier such as Astral Herbs (Australia).

 

Red Clover Tea

  • Freshly harvested red clover flower heads

To make an infusion, pour boiling water over a couple of teaspoons of red clover flowers and steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink the tea three times a day.

If you have any flowers leftover after making your tea, add them to a salad.

 

Red Clover Infusion

This recipe has a much longer steeping time than a regular tea (which many herbalists would actually refer to as an infusion) – as taught to me by my Herbal teacher on my Shamanic Herbal Apprenticeship.

  • 1 litre glass jar with a lid
  • Enough red clover heads to fill the jar

Fill a glass jar with red clover heads, right to the very top.

Cover it entirely with boiling water and screw the lid on.

Let steep for eight hours, or overnight.

Strain out the plant material, give it back to the earth for compost and drink the tea.

The benefit of preparing a long infusion this way is that it enables all the precious minerals to be extracted.

You can read about this in full in my article on Nourishing Herbal Infusions here.

 

1. Kerry, B and Mills, S. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Second Edition. 2013.
2. University of Maryland Medical Center, Red Clover. Ehrlich, S. 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2015 from:  http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/red-clover

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Basil, Hibiscus and Açai Bowl

January 16, 2015

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This Açai Bowl is something you can prepare in minutes to help you cool down in the afternoon sun. The perfect alternative to store bought ice creams laden with refined sugars and other nasties. I experimented with two new flavours here – adding the basil and the hibiscus to the berry base – it’s a winner. Hibiscus by the way isn’t just a pretty face…

Basil

This beautiful herb is often used in love spells, and once upon a time, it was said that a man would fall for a woman if he took a sprig of basil from her. It’s useful for calming an upset stomach and easing cramps. Basil compliments berries so well – such a flavour explosion.

Hibiscus

I literally had to do a u-turn while driving to stop and admire (ok, and pinch a few) stunning pink hibiscus flowers down a side street. It’s no surprise that these beauties are ruled by the planet Venus, and in folklore, they were used for their lust-inducing powers. It is easy enough to find hibiscus tea, and a bit trickier (but worth it) to source hibiscus powder. In traditional herbal medicine, they are used for the heart and circulation, lowering blood pressure, and for supporting respiratory health.

The flowers themselves are rich in protective antioxidants – there’s a bit of Venus’s influence – adding to longevity and wrinkle free skin!

 

Basil, Hibiscus and Açai Bowl

½ frozen banana
¾ cup frozen blueberries
¼ cup tightly packed fresh basil
1 tablespoon açai berry powder
½ cup freshly brewed and chilled hibiscus tea
2 teaspoons coconut nectar
1 tablespoon coconut butter
Good squeeze of lemon
Ice

Blend lightly (you want it a little thicker).

Serves one.

 

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6 Responses to “Basil, Hibiscus and Açai Bowl”

  1. Patricia Ely Frederick says:

    love the vibrant purple! Lovely

  2. Sprout & Co. says:

    Just gorgeous, can't wait to try this. Can I ask what the pretty pick powder is on top? Thanks for sharing x

  3. It is crushed, freeze dried raspberry powder – I am a little obsessed with it!

  4. Wow looks amazing can't wait to try it… I'm a little obsessed with freeze dried raspberry powder too!! , I also have freeze dried pomegranite powder to try out

  5. Ian Wynne says:

    Hibiscus induces lust and lowers the blood pressure?

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In Celebration of the year just been. 2014.

January 9, 2015

2014

Wow. It seems such a long time has past since I last wrote a post. I feel like I want to start the new year with a review of the year just been, a celebration of the journey that was 2014. A reverse horoscope if you will!

I think it’s really important to pause to reflect on how far you’ve travelled, and ask questions such as, what worked, what didn’t, what were my blessings, what were my lessons, and where to next?

In a perfect world, I always like to start my new year by setting some powerful intentions. The new year is something I always look forward to, a chance to re-set the compass, refocus, tighten the bow, pull the arrow back and fire. I always think of the Archer at this time too – the firing of the arrow is not necessarily to hunt, but to set a target, a reference point.

However, the beginning of last year was ushered in under a totally different energy, it was a real time of transition, loose footing, things up in the air, uncertainty, stress, and a really nasty auto-immune flare up.

2014. The year of contraction, yin, withdrawal, inner work, mental focus.

I felt like a spinning top whirling my way in to 2014. I literally up-rooted and moved countries, leaving my partner behind. I committed to stepping up the study, moving from part time study to full time – this meant less time Health Coaching clients one on one, and more time knuckling down and moving through those subjects. I moved home to New Zealand to be in a more nurturing environment so that I could turn totally inward and focus my energies on the task at hand.

Health

Last year bought lessons and blessings with my health. The chaotic energy I entered the year with, triggered a bad auto immune flare up (Ulcerative Colitis) that took close to six months to tame.

The lesson: stress trumps everything.

The blessing: the discovery of a few new beautiful herbs, and the re-kindling of my spiritual practice, both of which have nourished my nervous system, and helped me get back to a state of balance. The acknowledgement that I wasn’t ‘letting go’ of old grief.

The second health issue I had to navigate through, was the Interstitial Cystitis – so different to your usual bladder infection. This had been ongoing for 12 months already. Chronic inflammation and pain in the bladder, unrelated to a bacteria infection. I saw specialist after specialist, and, with genuine kindness, advised that I could try long term anti-depressants (which dulled the pain) or find comfort in the fact that within a few years those nerve endings may have burnt themselves out and the pain would cease (what a comforting thought that was!).

The lesson: that being frustrated or ‘pissed off’ at my situation was doing me no good.

The blessing: acknowledging these feelings and releasing them. Discovering an incredibly talented Naturopath, who worked intuitively with me, to tailor herbs specific to my constitution. The result, the complete elimination of that daily pain over the course of 9 months, by using herbs specific for parasites combined with an extremely low sugar diet. Fascinating. And I promise to write more on this in a future post. Yes – parasites were the cause of the pain – Interstitial Cystitis is not known to have a specific cause, medically, and is often referred to as an auto-immune condition. Well, that myth was busted (for me, anyway).

The third health issue I am still working through is chronic stomach pain. I feel like I am coming close to understanding the lesson, and have new herbs to experiment with. Every specialist I have seen has put it in the basket of ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome’ – in short – I don’t think they really know. Well, this is unsatisfactory, and the deeper I go, the closer I’m getting to the root cause. I will report back once I get to the bottom of it all!

Love

I had a long-distance love all year. It was hard, but we came out shining, and more together than ever. He took me on holiday in the middle of the year to Croatia, where both of our families are from. He proposed in Korcula in the middle of the old city square, my Nana’s hometown. The second he dropped to one knee his Babe Factor multiplied 100 fold. I nearly didn’t want to say yes because I wanted him to stay down, just so I could hold the image in my eyes as long as possible! We grinned like two little kids afterward and then ate palachinka together (Croatian crepes). That man is my light, my heart, my teacher, my universe.

We got through the year by speaking on viber, every single night. And, before bed, we would pick a place in the world we wanted to visit, and a method of transport (ie, turtle back, flying carpet, canoe… it gets weirder each time!) and then we would go there in our dreams. Are you dying of cuteness yet? I am.

The blessing: we got this, together we got this. And our theme for this year, togetherness, and teamwork.

Family

A year of blessings in terms of family. My parents have been so nurturing while I turn inward and study. When I leave, I’ll be flying at a whole new flight path, but for now, I’m still very much supported, and have extreme gratitude for that.

Business

2014 was contracted and introverted on all levels. But so necessary. I still had the pleasure of coaching some amazing clients, and launching my little passion project, the Raw Desserts App, but mostly, it was a year of study, and sowing the seeds for future business. I still have two full years to complete, but hopefully will have a heart-centred business offering to share at the end of this year, all going well.

The blessings: space to pursue my dreams and study whole heartedly. The many mentors I have met and worked with this year.

Spirituality

The year I rediscovered my spiritual practice. I have been so fortunate to be able to work with a Master Herbalist and Shaman who have both taught me how to connect with nature on a deeper level. This is something I am devoted to, so that I can use these new insights in my work. I learnt about plant spirit medicine, and I went deeper in meditation.

It was also the year I came face to face with my shadow aspects. I guess that’s what happens when you go inward. It was a really hard year, really testing on lots of different fronts. And the shadow aspects I faced were feelings of stuckness, inadequateness, loneliness, comparison, and frustration at my financial situation, being full time with study again. All pretty small minded stuff really, but I’m glad I got a chance to square it off. Are you serving me? No. Then get the hell out of my way. Done.

In a nutshell

This was my Year of the Hermit. A total, supported, purposeful, introverted turn inward, intense study and focus, and a year of making foundations to support the future. I am quite surprised I ended up in such a good place when I started with such a lack of clarity!

Looking ahead

With all the above in mind, I am now consciously making space for expansion. Yes, there is still study to go. But I’ve been busy behind the scenes with business ideas (of the heart, conscious, sustainable and compassionate type) that are going to start to come into their own in the later half of 2015. I’m ok with being The Hermit, for now, for a little longer. But it’s time to see the sun again soon. I choose opportunity, expansion, fruition, and resolution (for health).

I also see new doors opening into new areas of knowledge for me. As you know, I’m studying Natural Medicine and Nutrition, and no matter how the various colleges present themselves, they are still very much orthodox. It is great that they are raising the standards of education in alternative medicines, but I worry it comes at the expense of the traditional wisdom of it all. Changes across the board have seen restructuring in courses and subjects. Subjects like flower essences and iridology have now been replaced by more research based papers (where I study, at least, although it’s becoming a trend).

I will be supplementing my formal studies with a deep exploration of the traditional practice of Western Herbal Medicine. I’m most interested in the harmony of the science with the spirit, so I will be exploring with great interest the old teachings of astrology and alchemy in relation to Herbalism. A lecture I listened to recently put it beautifully, to study Herbal Medicine, truly, in the Holistic sense, you must take into account all things in life that influence the plants and how they work – the celestial and the elemental influences are just that. I value the science wholeheartedly, and I’m learning so much in my formal studies – it excites me, and I’m all over it like icing on a cake (100% for my last Anatomy and Physiology exam – #megageek) but, there is space for the spiritual to sit along side it, and I believe the strongest offering is one where the two are in harmony.

Finally, in the not so distant future, a new website and offering to you from me. Ascension Kitchen is growing (a community of close to 40,000 now – how did that happen?!) and creating a sanctuary online where you can come to learn about nourishing your body through nature. I have more healthy plant based recipes to share, more divine high-vibrational raw treats, more insights, more soul. I also will be opening the doors to Health Coaching one on one again soon, this is where I can really share my learning’s in recovering from stress and supporting the digestive system.

One of my old favourite sayings has always been,

If you don’t go within, you go without.

Well, last year was a year of going within on absolutely all levels! 2015 – bring it! There’s a whole lot of love, light and expansion to come.

Now, before the new year really kicks into gear, I wonder how your 2014 was?

What were your blessings?

What were your lessons?

What are your goals for the year to come, big or small?

What energy do you want to make space for and bring in?

What is your theme for the year?

I find all of this inner reflection and self awareness so relevant, and so necessary. To me, this is what Holistic Wellness is all about.

Health is so much bigger than the state of your body systems, your organs, your tissues… it’s just as much about the state and harmony of the mind and spirit, and taking time to pause and reflect on how you conduct yourself, the words you think, the feelings you experience, and the journey you are taking. We can then consciously make adjustments and changes as necessary, to bring in new energies, heal and grow.

Lauren.

 

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4 Responses to “In Celebration of the year just been. 2014.”

  1. Wow Lauren, this is such a beautiful reflection, I enjoyed every word :) I continue to love everything you do! So many blessings, so many lessons, so many goals. I am making space for regular space making :) My theme for this year is, 'a rising tide lifts all boats'. It is about finding harmony in all aspects of life, balance, love and joy in one area of life helps to bring those same qualities into every other area ♡ Thanks you for inspiring me to reflect :) I am so inspired by all you do, I look forward to your new story unfolding ♡♡♡ Namasté, Aimee

  2. Galina Darrow says:

    Best wishes Lauren!

  3. Renee Bell says:

    Such a beautiful post Lauren – thank you so much for sharing xx

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Matcha, Mint and Aloe Smoothie

January 9, 2015

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Find balance in the heat with cooling foods

Summer time – and post all the festive indulgences (phew!). This is the time where raw foods shine – light, energising, cleansing. Summer is the Fire Element – it is yang – outward, expansive, hot, dry, a time for flourishing, growth, activity.

The yin nature of raw foods, their natural sugars and their high water content, enables them to balance out the yang of summer. Yin foods are cool, soft, wet and moist.

Fresh juices, smoothies, soups, fruits, vegetables, herbs – raw, lightly cooked or fermented, counter the summer heat.

Some of the most yin fruits include bananas, strawberries and melons. Tropical fruits such as coconut are also very yin. Generally, the sweeter the fruit, the more yin its energy is.

In contrast, the cooler seasons are time for the warming, building, nourishing yang foods such as root vegetables, fats, and foods prepared with higher temperatures – slow cooking, baking, frying.

So, now is most definitely the time to stay balanced and enjoy some of the more cooler foods Nature has to offer!

 

Matcha Pineapple Aloe Smoothie 3Matcha Aloe Pineapple Smoothie

The Smoothie

This lovely smoothie has the cooling yin energies from the bananas, pineapple and mint. Aloe vera juice is optional but nice to include after all the festive indulgences as it helps calm the tummy and soothe digestion. Together with mint, it is a lovely remedy for bloating. A little bit of hemp oil helps thicken the smoothie and add some healthy essential fatty acids. Finally, matcha is a type of green tea powder that is highly concentrated in antioxidants.

Fun to know

Here are a few foods that fall into the cold or cool yin energies. Not surprisingly, these are all in season now!

Cold Yin foods:

Asparagus, banana, eggplant, seaweeds, spinach, sugar cane, strawberries, tomato, watercress, watermelon.

Cool Yin foods:

Apple, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, coconut, lettuce, mint, mung beans, oranges, pineapple, snow peas, sweet corn.

 

Matcha, Mint and Aloe Smoothie

¾ cup almond milk
1 frozen banana
10 mint leaves
¾ cup pineapple, chopped
2 teaspoons hemp oil
1 tablespoon aloe vera juice
1 teaspoon matcha (green tea) powder
Ice

Blend everything well.
Serves one.

 

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Strawberry Chamomile Ice Cream

December 12, 2014

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Only a few weeks till Christmas! How did that happen? I love the end of the year, despite all the chaos. I came across this quote (well, word, I guess) – and it perfectly sums up how I feel at the moment:

Vorfreude. {n.} The joyful, intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures.

Isn’t that beautiful? Nothing beats the excitement at the anticipation of a new year. And even though it’s Christmas and there’s crowds to face and shopping to do – I’m so enjoying having space to be quiet and journal and reflect on the year that’s been and the year to come. I have exciting things to share with you next year by the way!

Today’s post is something I prepared earlier for Nature and Health Magazine, published here. But it’s such a nice summery treat that I thought I’d share with you again before the holidays start. Enjoy!

 

Strawberry Chamomile Ice Cream

Serves 2.

A healthy, refreshing ice cream free from refined sugars and dairy, with a little bit of help from a herbal friend to ease stress during this pre Christmas rush.

Coconut cream is used instead of dairy, a great, natural saturated fat necessary in the diet for absorbing the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Strawberries are low sugar and rich in anti-aging antioxidants – choose organic as they are notoriously sprayed and always feature near the top of the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.

Coconut nectar makes a great low GI sweetener and is minimally refined, meaning it is still a rich source of minerals.

Chamomile is flowering now as we head into summer, a beautiful herb to keep in the garden. Ruled by the sun, chamomile is best known for her calming actions, and is a great remedy for digestive complaints. Perfect for this stressful silly season.

 

Ingredients

1½ cups frozen strawberries
1 cup chilled coconut cream*
2 tablespoons coconut nectar
2 tablespoons chamomile flowers and leaves, fresh & chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
*Buy a tin of full fat coconut milk/cream. Pop it in the fridge overnight. When you open it the next day, you will find the cream has floated to the top, this is what you need for this recipe.

Method

1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blitz till just combined and still chunky. If you go for too long it will become a liquid so be careful.

2. Transfer to a dish and keep in the freezer, sprinkle a few extra chamomile flowers over the top to serve.

 

 

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One Response to “Strawberry Chamomile Ice Cream”

  1. Oh my this looks delicious! Makes me wish it was summer right now..But it's starting to get so cold here in CH…Hopefully I will have time to try some recipes from your app soon :)

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