To Weed? or Not to Weed?

by Grace Bryce

The spring weather has been so pleasant.  Everything is green and the air is cool, it is hard to be indoors and not outdoors.  I love all of the new plants that come up and the new buds that pop out, as well as the old friends that return each year.

Weeds You Want

This time of year there are several lovely little plants that show up, that some people refer to as “weeds”.  Many of these “weeds” can be very useful food and medicine.  See my blog article “Medicine in Your Yard, Medicinal Winter Weeds” for more information.  Many of these plants are quite tasty & nutritious and can be added to salads and smoothies or cooked.  You can explore more about foraging for wild edibles in Mark Vorderbruggan’s book, Idiot Guides: Foraging.  Also, Charles Kane has a great pocket guide.

The photo on the right is Lamb’s Quarters or Chenopodium album.  I enjoy grazing on it while gardening.  It reminds me of spinach.

IMG_2628 2

This is an early bud of Echinacea purpurea, a wonderful medicinal herb. Definitely a keeper.

IMG_2642 2

This is Lamb’s Quarters or Chenopodium album.  I enjoy grazing on it while gardening and it reminds me of spinach.









Weeds You Don’t Want

After you have eaten your weeds and used them for medicine, there may still be some that you don’t want in your yard.  For instance, Beggar’s Lice can be edible, but the seeds are very pesky, if it is left to go to seed.  I personally do not want it in my yard.  (Please be cautious, before ingesting any of your weeds, make sure of positive identification, so you don’t poison yourself.)  The best way to remove these plants from your yard, is to pull them up or dig them up.  If you don’t


This is Torilis arvensis, also known as Beggar’s Lice or false carrot.  It produces lots of seeds that stick to everything, like velcro.

remove them by the roots, they will grow back.  If you only cut them off above ground, you are actually stimulating root growth and creating a stronger root system.  This certainly doesn’t eliminate them from your yard.  I do not use any chemical herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers where I live.  I do not believe it is healthy for me, my plants or my animals.  I also do not want to contaminate my water supply.  Sometimes, I will use a strong 20% vinegar to eliminate some plants, and protective gloves are recommended!    I have a great tool, called a Hori Hori, that is great for the job.  Be sure to wear gloves, to help prevent nail infections from the soil.  Nail fungus is difficult to clean up.  Pulling weeds is also good therapy and can really clear your head, so there is a bright side!

Whether you use your weeds for food, medicine or therapy, go out an appreciate them today and enjoy!



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Are You Ready To Be Transformed?

By Grace Bryce

When Spring comes, we think of many things along the lines of “cleaning”.    Spring cleaning can take place in your house and your garden.  It can also take place in your body, mind and spirit.

Spring is also a good time to let go of what no longer serves us.  This is a good time to 4reflect on the changes we want to make to be healthier, happier and more peaceful.  I’ve added something to my life that is absolutely transformational.  In fact, they call it Transformational Breath®.  It has truly transformed my life, personally.  It can help you let go of those things that no longer serve you.  It can help you process old baggage, very simply, through the breath.  Dr. Henry Rohrberg, a noted psychologist, trained in Transformational Breath®, is quoted as saying “One session is equivalent to about two years of psychotherapy”.  Does that sound cool or what? If it comes up in a session, it is on its way out and permanently integrated.  I’ve had amazing things happen for me personally, but I have also seen amazing transformations in my clients.

This breath work has an impact on three levels, body, mind and spirit.  Physically, we are fully oxygenating the body to bring vitality to the cells and promote detoxification.  We are also energizing the body.  75% of your energy comes from your breath!  In 1931, Otto Warburg was awarded the nobel prize for his work that showed that cancer can not live in an oxygenated environment.  Transformational Breath® is actually the least costly  and least invasive of all oxidative therapies. (Other therapies being hydrogen peroxide, hyperbaric chambers, MMS etc.)  60% of your toxins are released through your breath.  So, do you think you might want some of that extra energy and fewer toxins?

What do we do when we are stressed?  …We hold our breath.   We restrict our breathing.
Transformational Breath® brings awareness to your breathing.  You will become more aware of your daily breath and breathe more fully and more deeply, naturally, so you can be in the flow of your life.   This breathing is something you can do daily, just for a few minutes when you are feeling stressed or need more energy. Would you like to learn a quick and easy stress relief technique, that also re-energizes you?

8-breathing2 (1)Transformational Breath® is the only breath work that can clear restricted breathing patterns, which are often created by birth trauma, cultural influence and by emotional trauma.  Which brings us to the second level of Transformational Breath®, the mental and emotional level.     Once the breath is activated, the subconscious can be cleared and negative thought patterns and past trauma can be transformed. If it is coming up for you, it really is on its way out and permanently integrated through the breath.  Which means you are done with it!   No two breath sessions are the same.  When you are ready, the teacher will appear.  When you knock, the door will be answered.  What I find amazing, is that nothing comes up that I am not ready to resolve.  If I am actively working on an area and set that as my intention, I make greater progress.  As a trained certified facilitator, I use body mapping and positive affirmations during this level.  Emotions are stored in the tissues of the body and are more easily accessible in this way.  This only enhances the progress at the emotional level.

The third level of Transformational Breath®, is the spiritual level.  Our Spiritual connection is a very personal connection.  It is our relationship with our Creator.  It involves our deepest beliefs and our soul connection.  When we get near the end of a breath session, we are in a wonderful meditative state that allows us to connect more fully in a spiritual sense.  Maybe we have unanswered questions, or need peace around some situation, or maybe we are just open to insights.  Oftentimes, these answers will come at this time.  Maybe we need to get in touch with our life’s purpose, or direction.  The door is open and we are in touch with our higher consciousness and we may get answers or just a peaceful feeling.  Every session is different and amazing.

Are you ready for Transformation in your life?  New growth? What are you waiting for?  Do you want to take your (all) relationships to the next level? Do you want more love, joy and peace in your life?  Do you want a better spiritual connection?  Do you want to be healthier?  Are you ready to let go of that drama? those addictions?  Are you stuck? Your life can be YOUR life, through Transformational Breath®.  1

I have an amazing opportunity for you. I will be offering a Transformational Breath® Workshop on June 5, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.  This workshop will include a full facilitated Transformational Breath® session as well as breathing for stress relief for only $45.  If you sign up before May 23, your Early Bird rate is only $35.  This is a great opportunity for you to experience your breath and open new doors.   You can register here.

Private facilitated sessions with me are available and I also offer couples sessions and small private groups.  If you would like to make an appointment online, do so here. I can also come speak to your organization and give them a taste of Transformational Breath® and teach a daily technique for stress relief (1 hour presentation).  Please contact me by phone for these presentations. 512-818-7857   If you are outside the state of Texas and are interested, you can find a certified Transformational Breath® Facilitator near you by searching by state on this website or by calling 603.286.8333 for a referral.  Workshops and events for Transformational Breath® are also listed on the main website.

I look forward to a Transformational experience with you!  Make an appointment today!  Remember to sign up now for early bird pricing for the Transformational Breath® Workshop!  Download a flyer here. More workshops and events will be coming.  Sign up here to receive my  monthly newsletter and stay in touch.  To read more about Transformational Breath®, please visit my website here.


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Calendula: Sunshine in Your Medicinal Garden

By Grace Bryce

Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) is a great herb to help heal skin and the digestive tract.  It is listed traditionally as a “pot marigold”.  I found this confusing, when I  first studied


Tagetes marigold, not Calendula

Calendula, because when I hear the word “marigold”, I think of the Tagetes genus.  Also, the word “pot” ?! One you plant in a pot? I had to investigate further.  Calendula, historically was an edible flower/herb that was easily thrown into the stew “pot”, so it was considered a “pot herb”. Some of the older texts list it as marigold, but will refer to the Latin name as well, Calendula officinalis.  When in doubt, always check your Latin names.  Historically, Calendula was used as a natural dye for fibers and was also added to breads, soups and pickles for color and flavor.


Grow & Harvest
Calendula is easy to grow from seeds.  They are kind of wormy-weird-looking seeds, but IMG_3859they sprout pretty easily.  I typically plant the transplants in the fall as the weather starts to cool off.  It is considered an annual.  They grow great through the fall and winter and into spring, but that hot Texas sun will do them in.  They like full sun and average water and soil that isn’t too rich.  I grow Calendula for use in my products, so I know the IMG_3852quality is optimal.  My bees also love it, especially when less forage is available over winter.  It is a great herb to grow in your first aid garden.  They are usually found in shades of yellow and orange and the flowers are a little sticky to the touch.  You can harvest daily with permission, respect, and gratitude and they will continue to bloom.  Air dry the flower heads for later use.  Flowers take longer to dry, so even if they look dry they may not be entirely dry.  If you seal them in a glass jar and they are not dry, they will mold and you will not be able to use them, except for compost.  IMG_1414Dried herbs are best stored in a glass jar and protected from heat and light.  If the color and smell fade away from your herbs, you know the medicine has also faded away.

Phytochemical Constituents (abbrev.) in Calendula
Triterpenes (calendulosides A-D, carotenoids) ; immunomodulating polysaccharides (arabinogalactans); Flavinoids (rutin, narcissin), volatile oil, chlorogenic acid.
Basically, these phytochemicals help support immunity, act as antioxidants against free radicals and have antimicrobial powers.

Calendula is very gentle and is great for people who are especially sensitive or frail, young and old.  It has been said that it helps the little babies IMG_0323with diaper rash and the elderly with bed sores and everything in between. It is often found in natural baby products. It is also safe for use on pets.  It can be used internally and externally.  Make a tea from the Calendula flowers (petals or whole flower heads), tincture it (1:5 in 60%), decoct it in honey or throw it in your stew pot and eat it.

According to traditional uses and some studies, Calendula flowers are anti-inflammatory (study 1997), antispasmodic (helps with spasms);  anti-microbial; anti-fungal: anti-viral (1997) and diaphoretic (to help you sweat to reduce fever.) It has also helped with lymphatic support during recovery from illness.  Internally, it is an emmenagogue, which means it can promote menstruation. It IMG_1908works in a normalizing way for delayed or painful periods.  In Europe it has been used for ulcers and gallbladder issues, indigestion and digestive tract inflammation.

Calendula is antipruritic, so it helps with itching.  Topically, it has been used for burns, to help wounds heal faster (studies 2005; 2006), bug bites, hemorrhoids, bruises, strains and chapped lips.  (I used it in the lip balms I make.)  Infuse Calendula flowers in a fixed oil for topical use, or use the infused oil to make salves or lotions.  The flowers can also be used topically in a poultice or topically as a tea or tinctIMG_3585ure.  I have a client  who uses the tincture in his water pic and has restored his gums to a healthy state.  Calendula is often mixed with other herbs to enhance formulas for healing, but also works well as a single herb. Teas and tinctures of Calendula can be used internally or externally. Please inquire for purchases or consultations: or visit my Etsy store.

Calendula is generally non-toxic, however people with allergies to plants in the Asteraceae family, may also be allergic to Calendula.  There are no known drug interactions. Pregnant women should consult their physician or doula before using Calendula internally.

Herbal Constituents, Foundations of Phytochemistry, Lisa Ganora 2009
Medical Herbalism,  The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, David Hoffmann, Healing Arts Press, 2003
PDR for Herbal Medicine, 4th Edition, Thompson, 2007

Enjoy your Sunshine!


Please visit my website:

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Time For Fall Gardening in Central Texas!

by Grace Bryce


Raised beds are a must if you have more rock than soil.

This month’s article is full of gardening resources.  Gardening is fun and easy.  You can grow your own food and teach children or grandchildren about gardening and nutrition.  After a crispy Texas summer, temperatures are cooling off and we’ve finally gotten some rain.  It is a great time to plant herbs and vegetables in Central Texas.   Oh yeah, and in the fall and winter, it is not too hot to work outside.

Timing & Temperature
Fall gardening involves plants that will mature and bear vegetables before the last frost date.  Winter gardening involves plants that will grow and produce even in the very cold temperatures.  It is important to know the first and last frost dates.  Here are links for great interactive maps for those dates depending on where you live. Texas has so many  variations, so check for where you live.  Last Frost Date    First Frost Date
Check out this interactive USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for Texas for average minimal temperatures, for more specific places and temperatures.  The growing season can be extended for a little while, by covering the plants with row cover.


Intensive gardening makes great use of small space.

Plant what you like to eat.
Some vegetables are cool weather vegetables and some like the heat.  See this chart for Travis County (Austin, TX) what to plant and when to plant it. Check with your county extension agent for information on planting in your county.
Vegetable varieties make a difference for where you live.  This site will give recommended varieties by Texas region.  It will also tell the number of days until harvest.   Here are more gardening tips from season to season.

Get the soil ready.
Your soil may need to be amended.  I would stay organic and avoid the chemicals.   Check with friends who have horses or chickens and ask for some manure.  Adding it to your compost pile will help to break down other things in the pile and provide nitrogen that can be added to your soil.  Add your kitchen scraps to your compost pile daily.  Check this link for more info about organic choices and composting.
Go to this link, for month by month information, about what to do in your garden and what to plant for Central Texas.

Thyme growing in cinder block.

Thyme growing in cinder block.

Where to plant?
Once you have your soil ready and you’ve chosen which plants to want to grow.  Draw a simple garden plan of what you will plant where.  Raised beds do well in Central Texas and allow for drainage.  If you are East of I-35, you will have more soil to work with in the ground.  If you are West, you will be lucky to have 2 inches before you hit rock.  You can also grow many things in large pots, grow boxes or small intensive beds, you don’t need land to have a garden.  Keep in mind how large the root system is when deciding on the depth of the bed or pot.  You will need to consider that the deer will eat what you plant, if they can get to it.

Grow boxes make gardening easy.

Grow boxes make gardening easy.

Growing Herbs
Here are a couple of little herb books  with a lot of information about planting and growing herbs and what they require.  Herbs generally do well in poor soil and most grow well over winter (except basil, it is tender in central Texas).  You can even grow a lot of your culinary herbs in your kitchen window in a pot.  Cilantro is a good fall/winter herb to grow, and it goes to seed after the weather gets warmer.  If you have never gardened before, herbs are a good place to start.

Cilantro is a cool weather herb. Plant some now.

Cilantro is a cool weather herb. Plant some now.

Whatever you plant, don’t forget to add the Love.
More resources for gardening in Central Texas visit my resource web page.

Have fun and go plant something!

Registration now open for:  A Course In Practical Herbalism.

Register Here!

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Travelers’ Dozen, Remember to Pack These!

By Grace Bryce, MH, CNHP, CTBF

Summer is a time when a lot of people take a vacation or travel.  Whenever I pack for a trip, I try to think of all of the herbs and supplements I want to take with me, just in case I need them.  This list will vary depending on the destination, but overall in my experience, I’ve come up with a list of things to remember to pack.  This is an extension of my herbal first aid kit.

1.  Rescue Remedy 
This is great for anxiety.  Some people get really anxious in new situations or especially when they fly.  This can also come in handy before bed, especially when it is your bed away from home.  Custom flower essence formulas can also be helpful, depending on your needs.

2.  Emergen-C Packets
The body can use some extra vitamin C, especially when stressed, or exposed to airborne pathogens.  When traveling, we are often exposed to germs or allergens that can really mess up our vacation.  Vitamin C helps boost the immune system, so the body can handle it.  Emergen-C will also replenish electrolytes and provide anti-oxidants, which can help the body heal from sunburn.

3. Naturally CALM
I like to travel with this magnesium powder, because it helps me sleep, helps prevent constipation, and can help with muscle cramps, if I’m dancing, hiking or over-exerting myself.  Most of the population is deficient in Magnesium, the “Queen of the Minerals”.  It helps everything work better.
4.  Ginger
I pack ginger as capsules or tea or both, or as ginger candy.  Ginger helps with nausea, queasy stomach and motion sickness.  It also helps if I feel a sore throat or cold coming on and it also helps digestion.

5.  Olive Leaf
This is another immune booster.  I like to use it especially for sinus pressure.  This can be more of an issue if you are traveling to a different climate or different altitude.

6.  Activated Charcoal
This is good for gas and bloat.  It also helps with food poisoning, accidental poisoning or over-consumption of food or drink.  Unfortunately, if you are taking medications or other supplements, it can prevent the body from absorbing them too.  Timing is something to consider.   Always seek emergency medical care, if you suspect poisoning.  Bentonite clay capsules (made for internal consumption- please inquire) could also be a better alternative, since they do not interfere with other nutrients consumed.  Also, if you have over-consumed anything, homeopathic Nux vomica is good for over-indulgence, heartburn or hangover.

7. Digestive Aids
Remember to pack your digestive enzymes, Betaine HCl, and anything else you usually pack for digestion or gas relief.  Gas-X  or your favorite natural remedy such as peppermint candy or supplement designed for internal use.  Consuming different foods and eating out can often cause more upset than usual.

8.  High Altitude Supplements
If you are going to the mountains, there are several things to take with you to help you adjust to the altitude.  Some of these are gingko biloba, chlorophyll, osha root tincture, cordyceps mushrooms, and CoQ10 or  Ubiquinol, the converted form of CoQ10.  These help bring more oxygen into the body and tissues and may help increase lung capacity.

9.  Sleep Aids
I always pack ear plugs and an eye mask to help block out extra light and sound, when I travel.  If you are traveling across several time zones it is useful to pack melatonin.  I would only suggest it for temporary use and not for use with children.  Too high of a dose can have the opposite effect, but it can help re-set your internal clock, especially if traveling far.  Another sleep aid is passionvine tincture, which has traditionally been used for insomnia and anxiety.

10.  Topical Help
Sunburn can be relieved topically by Aloe vera gel or Soothing Sun Salve.  A good All Purpose Salve is great to heal up minor first aid issues.  Another Salve is great for anything itchy, bug bites or stings and rashes.  Check your mini-herbal first aid kit and see what you know you want to have on hand, with relation to where you are going to be, and stock it with your favorites.

11.  Diarrhea
There is a Jarrow probiotic called Saccharomyces boulardii that is great for stopping and preventing diarrhea.  It is great to pack, just in case.

12.  Trauma & Bruises  
Arnica montana homeopathic gel, cream or pellets, or InflamAway Salve are both useful for injuries or aches that you might have while hiking or vacationing.

Other things to remember to pack would include a Natural Bug Repellent, if you are going to be in a buggy area and natural sunscreen or protective clothing.  Natural products put less stress on the body and may not be readily available for purchase where you travel, so it is a good idea to get it in advance and pack it for the trip.  After all, who needs more stress?

Sovereign Silver, a bio-active silver hydrosol, is also great to pack.  I usually pack it in a travel sized spray bottle to help keep the germs at bay.  Most of these things I keep in my first aid kit and depending on the trip, I will pack the whole kit.


Remember to pack the vitamins and supplements you normally take.  Organize them in a vitamin box and secure with rubber bands to keep the boxes from opening during travel.  If you think you need a vacation from your supplements, maybe you need better supplements.  Your body needs good nutrition all of the time.  If you would like to make an appointment for a consultation to check your health and nutritional needs, click here.  I would be happy to help you.

Happy Travels & Be Well,
Remember to shop at Georgia’s Naturals before you leave town!  They only carry high quality products and have knowledgeable staff to help you.

None of these statements have been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. No medical claims are made.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information contained herein is not intended to offer medical advice or to act in any way as a substitute for care and advice from a licensed physician.

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Cool Off, It is Hot Outside!

by Grace Bryce

Yes, it is Texas and it is hot.  There are a few things  you can do to cool off. I have some recipes and tips to share.

Here are some refreshing recipes I make to help hydrate and refresh during our hot Texas summer months.
Cucumber water–  slice a cucumber into a pitcher of filtered water and refrigerate or serve over ice.  It is a very refreshing way to hydrate.  Cucumbers are not only cooling to the body, in that they reduce inflammation, but they are full of antioxidants and B vitamins & minerals, which help the body deal with stress.  Now you can be as cool as a cucumber.

Hibiscus Mint Limeade–  I was first introduced to this drink at a Native American feast day in New Mexico.  Make your limeade from fresh squeezed organic limes (about 1 cup), dried cane juice (3/4 C) per pitcher of filtered water.  Add hibiscus tea (1-2 C strong tea) to the limeade and bruised spearmint leaves.  Float slices of limIMG_2902e and mint sprigs in the pitcher.  Refrigerate or serve over ice.  Adjust to taste.   Hibiscus helps maintain normal body temperature.  It has also been used to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  Limes are cooling, have an alkalizing affect on the body and help with digestion, as does the spearmint.

A third drink, available at your grocery store is Coconut water.  It is a better and more natural electrolyte replacement that some of the other commercial replacements on the market.  Be careful to check the sugar content.  Read labels for sugar content.  There will be some, but it shouldn’t be excessive.


Keep your head cool, to keep your body cooler.  The body uses circulation of the blood, muscles and sweat to help regulate body temperature.  Water can help inside and out, so cool off with a dip in the pool or apply a fine mist of water to the skin.  Some outdoor places install misters to help their customers cool off.  The moisture will help carry the heat away.

The best way to escape the Texas summer heat, is to go to the mountains.  That’s where I’m headed.

Until next time…..Be Cool …..Be Well…..

Read More here:
Benefits of Cucumbers
Benefits of Hibiscus
Lemons or Limes?

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Medicine in Your Yard: Medicinal Winter Weeds

By Grace Bryce, MH, CNHP

In Central Texas, we begin to notice a little green emerging here and there in January.  For some people, it is time to remove the early weeds before they take over.  Many of these little winter weeds are useful  medicinally or as edible plants.  Many of them are rich in nutrients.  Plants have been used for medicine for thousands of years, and can be reliable medicine.  It is interesting that many of the same herbs are found in many parts of the world and will grow in various climates, although happier in some places, than others.  Perhaps you have wondered what these plants are, or if they are good for anything.  Hopefully, this will help you identify the “weeds” in your yard and maybe inspire you to make good use of them.

Dandelion Taraxacum officinale

There are so many plants that could be confused with dandelions, but fortunately, none of the look-a-likes are poisonous.  The only stems are the flower stems, which along with the leaves, grow directly from the root.  Dandelions get their name from the IMG_1341French “dents de lion” or “teeth of the lion”, because the leaves are shaped like lion teeth.  They are smooth and not prickly.  They may also have a little red coloring to them.  The leaves are a little bitter and are tasty in salads. Dandelion has a diuretic effect and helps remove urinary waste, without depleting minerals.  Traditionally, Dandelions have been used for liver, kidney, spleen and skin support.    I think of these yellow flowers as “little drops of sunshine”.

Chickweed Stellaria media

This cute little herb is found worldwide. It contains Vitamin C & flavonoids. Traditionally IMG_2075used internally for rheumatism, gout, stiff joints, tb and diseases of the blood. It is commonly used externally for hemorrhoids, inflammation, poorly healing wounds, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin disease, cuts or wounds, especially when there is irritation or itching. Juice it with pineapple juice for an extra boost or throw it in your soup. The little flowers look like stars.


Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastorisIMG_2070IMG_2097

This early spring herb has fruit that looks like little hearts. You have a Valentine in your yard! Shepherd’s Purse has been used traditionally to regulate blood pressure and for excessive and difficult menstruation issues. It works as a diuretic, styptic and vasoconstrictor. This is one of our early spring plants, in bloom now.

Cleavers Galium aparine

This IMG_2076delightful herb has a sticky feel to it. This is an old spring tonic herb. Culpepper said “It is a good remedy in the spring to cleanse the blood and strengthen the liver, thereby to keep the body in health, and fitting for the change of season that is coming.” Add it to your juicing or steam it and eat it as a veggie.  It doesn’t dry well, so use it now, while it is fresh.

Wild Lettuce Lactuca serriola

This one is emerging now as a bunch of upright leaves.  IMG_2506It will eventually form a stalk that can be a couple of feet tall and bloom yellow flowers.   If you pull a leaf near the stem, a white liquid will bleed out.  This bitter substance is a very mild opioid and at best might help a headache, if you are lucky.   Harvesting the resin is a tedious task.  It will grow throughout the summer and too easily will re-seed itself and can take over.

Plantain Plantago lanceolata

IMG_3581Plantains are beginning to emerge now, if you look for them. Traditionally, Plantain has been used for bites and stings to stop pain, itching and inflammation. You can make a spit poultice by chewing the leaves and then applying them to the sting. Plantain is also one of the remedy plants for poison ivy along with jewel weed. Another traditional use of Plantain is for hemorrhoid relief. Do you have any Plantain growing in your yard?

Henbit Lamium amplexicaule

IMG_2098This cheerful weed with purple flowers, is a member of the mint family and has square stems like the other family members.  It is edible and can go into salads or soups.  It is high in vitamins, iron and fiber.  Chickens like it, but livestock should not eat it.  Medicinally, it has been used externally in a poultice for bleeding, burns, bruises, stings, wounds and reduces inflammation.  Internally, as a tea, it has been used for diarrhea, fever, inflammation and rheumatism.  It is also an astringent, which helps to tone and strengthen tissues.

More than likely, you have one or more of these plants growing around you.  Some have a longer growing season than others.  If you plan to eat them, I would suggest putting them in a bowl of water first.  If there are any aphids or other insects or worms on them, they will fall off in the water.  Of course, you want to avoid any that have been sprayed with pesticides or poisons and only harvest, when there is abundance.  Avoid harvesting along roadsides where auto exhaust will contaminate the plants.  Remember to leave enough of the plants after harvest, for them to re-seed themselves for the next season.

Enjoy your winter weeds while you can.
Herbal Blessings,

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7 Tips For Allergy Relief

By Grace Bryce, MH, CNHP

This time of year, many people suffer with allergy symptoms.  There are several things that can help and offer relief.

1. Stress Management
Reduce your stress.  When the body is stressed, it is more sensitive to things like pollen and it won’t take much to set you off.  Reduce stress by regular exercise, breathing exercises, meditation, and  herbal adrenal support if needed.  Go to bed earlier and avoid staying up past 10:00 at night.

 2. Drink More Water
Take your body weight and divide by two, this is the number of ounces of clean pure water your body needs in a day.  Other liquid beverages do not count, when you are adding up your ounces.  Adequate water intake will cool down those hot allergic issues.  It also helps to improve digestion, elimination, and will help decrease sensitivity to pollens and allergens.

 3. Reduce Physical Exposure
Wash your face to remove allergens from the surface.  Use a neti pot to rinse the sinuses.  Wash your hair and or change your pillow case before you get in bed. Wear a mask especially if you are mowing the grass or doing other activities that kick up allergens.

 4. Eat More Vitamin A
Eat two or more servings of Vitamin A rich foods per day.  These include: apricots, sweet potatoes, mangoes,  etc.  (All of the yellow or orange foods)  plus beet greens, spinach, collards, parsley, & onions.   These vitamin A rich foods will help to strengthen mucous membranes in the lungs, mouth, nose and throat, which will help to reduce susceptibility to infection and allergies.

5.  Crank Up The Vitamin C
Eat two or more servings of Vitamin C rich foods per day.  These include: fresh grapefruit or orange juice,  blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, melons, tomatoes, broccoli and sweet peppers.  Add a supplement that is a complete Vitamin C with Quercetin and bioflavonoids.  Vitamin C is water soluble, so increase the dosage to bowel tolerance and then back off.  Vitamin C will also help support the adrenal glands, and fight free radicals, and acts as a natural antihistamine for allergy support.

6.  Avoid Dairy
Dairy products including milk, cheeses, cream, yogurt etc tend to increase mucus production and make the mucus thicker and harder to expectorate.  All dairy should be avoided during allergy season, especially if there is phlegm present.

7.  Herbs For Allergies
Ragweed (Ambrosia spp) tincture will help relieve allergies to ragweed, tree pollens, cat and dog dander, mites and molds.  Goldenrod tincture and Nettles are useful to dry up the runny noses.  Mullein flower and leaf tinctures help with infection and clearing mucus out of the lungs.  Elderberry and Elder flower are great for fighting viral infection as well as prevention.  Yarrow and Catnip help to break a fever without raising the body temperature and are traditional cold and flu remedy herbs.    It is best to test for sensitivity with one drop of tincture before using these herbs or if you are very sensitive.  As with any herb or supplement, please consult your doctor or pharmacist before use, especially if you are taking any medications.   Gracie’s Garden, LLC makes all of these tinctures. They are for sale individually or as a custom formula.  Please inquire for more information.  512-818-7857

Feel Better Soon!
Take Care,

This information is for educational purposes only and does not take the place of appropriate care by a licensed physician.

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Meet Multi-Talented Mullein: A Magnificent Herb

By Grace Bryce, MH, CNHP

Mullein, Verbascum thapsus,  is a biennial plant, meaning it takes two years to complete the botanical lifecycle.  During the first year, a rosette is formed of soft fuzzy green-silver leaves and the roots are established.  The second year, Mullein sends up a tall flower stalk, produces fragrant yellow flowers, which go to seed and then the plant dies.  It easily re-seeds itself to start again.  It can be weedy and invasive and is not native to our area, central Texas.  Mullein likes disturbed soils and can be found along roadsides and on slopes.  Roadsides are typically not a good place to harvest herbs, due to the contamination from auto exhaust.  Seeds can be sown in the fall, if you wish to grow it.  Some people confuse it with Lamb’s Ear.  It is NOT the same plant.
IMG_3960Mullein was said to have the powers of courage, protection, health, love divination and exorcism.  A few leaves worn in the shoes would protect the wearer from catching a cold.  Placed inside of the pillow, it would guard against nightmares.  It was also hung over doors or windows and carried in sachets to protect against evil or negativity.  In folklore, Ulysses carried Mullein to protect him against the spells of the sorcerer, Circe.  The dried stalks were dipped in fat or oil and used as torches.  Mullein has even been referred to as “cowboy toilet paper.”  Traditional medicinal use of Mullein has been recorded for several centuries, and is still used today.
Herbal Actions: Traditionally, Mullein has been used for many conditions.  Most commonly, it is known for respiratory uses and ear infections.  Herbal actions are known as: anti-inflammatory, demulcent, expectorant, astringent, anti-spasmodic, vulnerary and anodyne.  It is also a weak diuretic and has some lymphatic properties as well.
Traditional Uses: Cough, whooping cough, bronchitis, sore throat, laryngitis, tonsillitis, asthma, influenza, chest congestion, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, anxiety, insomnia, recurrent ear infections, earaches, wounds, boils, rheumatic pain, joint and back pain, hemorrhoids, and common cold.
David Hoffmann describes Mullein as soothing and tonifying to irritated mucosal membranes, particularly in the respiratory system.  As an expectorant, it stimulates fluid production (and coughing), so that congestion can be relieved, while reducing inflammation.  It is specific for bronchitis, when there is a hard sore cough.  Jim McDonald describes that it is useful, when there is a wheeze involved and can be paired with other herbs to use for asthma and other conditions.  A couple of years ago, on a plant walk, he talked about using Mullein for back pain and inflammation and to reduce swellings.   Matthew Wood talks about Mullein and describes using the leaves topically to set broken bones, particularly broken ribs. He says the leaves are used when the condition involves the lung and kidneys, but flowers are betIMG_3966ter for nerves. Michael Moore  talks about the antispasmodic uses of the flowers, especially when there is infection and raspiness involved. The root is diuretic and a urinary tract astringent.  By toning the bladder, it helps with incontinence and prostate inflammation.  There are also many stories of these and other uses recorded historically.
Dosage & Preparation Notes: The leaves and root collected from the first year plant and fresh flowers are the parts of the plant that are used medicinally.  The seeds can be somewhat toxic, so generally are not used for medicine.
If you are using the leaves for smoking, it is best to cut away the stems before drying. Leaves can be used as smoke, tea, tincture or poultice.
For tea, steep leaves or 5-10 fresh flowers for 10-15 minutes, consume 2-4 ounces, 3-4 times a day.   It is a good idea to strain or filter the tea, because the fine hairs can be irritating.  A strong decoction (simmered and reduced) can be made of the (sliced and dried) root or make a tincture from the root.
IMG_1680For tincture,  leaves are tinctured 1:5 in 40% alcohol, and the dosage is up to 1 tsp, three times a day.  Fresh flowers are tinctured 1:2 in 60% alcohol.  (Elixirs or syrups could also be made.)
Leaves can be crushed with aloe to make a poultice and used topically.  The root decoction can also be used as a topical fomentation.
Fresh flowers can be infused in oil, 1:1 for several weeks, then strained. Care must be taken to decant the oil to remove any moisture or gunk that has settled out after straining.  (Mullein flower oil can also be combined with garlic infused oil.)  Vitamin E is typically added to extend shelf life.  The oil can be used for earaches, ear infections, ear mites, flaky skin in ears or inflamed skin.  It should not be used if the ear drum is perforated.
Tinctures of Mullein leaf and Mullein flowers, and Gentle Ear Oil are available through Gracie’s Garden, LLC and locally available at Georgia’s Naturals.  Custom formulas and bulk herbs are also available, please inquire.

There are no known contraindications with the use of Mullein.  Some people may have an allergy to the flowers and may be more sensitive topically to the fine hairs on the leaves.  This should taken into consideration, especially if someone has a lot of allergies or sensitivities.
The information in this article is for educational use only and does not take the place of appropriate medical care by a licensed physician.
Cunningham, Scott.  Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. 1985
Fritchey, Philip.  Practical Herbalism, Ordinary Plants With Extraordinary Powers. 2004
Green, James. The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook. A Home Manual. 2000
Hoffmann, David.  Medicinal Herbalism, The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine.  2003
McDonald, Jim.
Moore, Michael.  Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. 2003
PDR for Herbal Medicines. 2007
Telkes, Nicole. Medicinal Plants of Texas. 2014
Wood, Matthew. The Book Of Herbal Wisdom, Using Plants As Medicines. 1997
Also, check out Ginger Webb’s Medicinal Minute on Mullein

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Breast Cancer & Breast Health

By Darla Carrillo, CN, CNHP

In the United States, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women.  It is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in women.  An estimated 40,000 women die from breast cancer each year.  American women have a lifetime risk of one in eight for breast cancer development.

Risk Factors For Breast Cancer:

Being a woman:  Less than 1% of all new breast cancer cases develop in men.  A woman’s breasts are fully formed by age 14.  Her breast tissue cells are highly active and responsive to estrogen until her first full-term pregnancy.
Age:   Women over 55 have a higher risk of cancer.  1 out of 3 cases of invasive cancer occur in women 55 and older.  1 out of 8 cases occurs in women under the age of 45.
Family History: Women with close relatives who have developed breast cancer are at higher risk.  A first-degree female relative  (mother, sister, daughter) having breast cancer will double your risk.
Genetics:  5% to 10% of breast cancer is thought to be genetic.  Mutated genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 may account for 1 out of every 10 cases. Researchers are learning that there may be another mutation of genes called SNP’s (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that increases cancer risk with or without BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations present.
Radiation to chest or face before age 30:  If you have been treated with radiation therapy for Hodgkin disease or non-Hodgkin lymphoma your risk of breast cancer is higher than average.   If you have had radiation treatments for acne, your risk is higher than average.
Personal history of breast cancer:  If you have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in the past, your risk is called “risk of recurrence”.
Being overweight:  Anyone with a BMI (body mass index) over 25 are at higher risk of developing breast cancer.  Fat cells make estrogen.
Certain changes in the breast:  Being diagnosed with certain benign breast conditions increases the risk of cancer.
Race/Ethnicity:  Caucasian: women are at higher risk for developing breast cancer than other races overall.  African American women are more likely to develop more aggressive forms of breast cancer.
Menstrual history:  Having a first menstrual cycle younger than age 12 will increase a woman’s risk as she ages.  Menopause after age 55 will also increase a woman’s risk.
Pregnancy history:  Breast cells are considered very active and immature until a woman’s first full-term pregnancy.  Pregnancy allows breast tissue cells to mature and grow in a more regular manner.
Breast-feeding history:  Breast-feeding will lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer.  If a woman breast-feeds for 1 year or longer, her risk is reduced even more. Making milk limits breast cells’ ability to misbehave.  Fewer menstrual cycles while breast-feeding results in lower estrogen levels. Women tend to eat more nutritious foods while breast-feeding.
Use of HRT’s:  In 2002 research linked HRT use to an increase risk of breast cancer. Women with past history of breast cancer or with mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 cells are advised against taking HRT’s.
Having dense breast tissue:  Women with dense breast tissue can be 6 times more likely to develop breast cancer.  Dense breasts have more gland tissue for producing and draining milk.
Use of alcohol:  alcohol can increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone induced breast cancer.  Women who consume three drinks per week have a 15% higher risk than women who don’t drink at all.  It is thought by experts that breast cancer risk goes up 10% for each additional drink consumed.
Smoking:  Smoking as well as being exposed to heavy second smoke will increase the risk of breast cancer.  It can also increase complications from breast cancer treatments.
Lack of exercise:  Research is showing that exercising for 4 to 7 hours per week can lower the risk of breast cancer.  Exercise controls blood sugar and limits insulin growth factor.  This hormone can affect how breast cells grow and behave.  Exercising also helps to maintain a healthy BMI.
Low Vitamin D levels:  Vitamin D may play a role in normal breast cell growth and may be able to stop breast cancer cells from forming.
Light exposure at night:  Night workers and ‘night owls’ may be at higher risk.  Research has linked the levels of melatonin to breast cancer.  Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep.  Levels peak at night and are lowered when your eyes register light exposure.
Eating unhealthy foods:  Diet is thought to be responsible for about 30% to 40% of all cancers.  Hydrogenated oils are known to cause cancer of all types.  Stay away from foods containing hydrogenated oils.  Labeling scams gives misleading information about trans-fats in foods.  The FDA states that a food label can list “0” grams of trans-fats per serving if there is less than .5 grams of trans-fats per serving.  High Fructose Corn Syrup is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver disease, and more.  HFCS has lobbied for a new name due to recent lost sales by educated consumers.  It now can be found as “corn sugar” on food labels.  Educate yourself about HFCS by visiting here  look up 5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup can kill you.
 Exposure to chemicals in cosmetics:  Many of these chemicals can be hormone disruptors.  They can affect how estrogen and other hormones behave in the body.  Choose cosmetics without Parabens and Phtalates.
 Exposure to chemicals in food:  Pesticides and added hormones can increase risk of all cancers.  Buying organic can be expensive.  Choose these foods for limited exposure. The Dirty Dozen (highest chemical residue)
sweet bell peppers
blueberries (from the US)
kale/collard greens

The Clean 15
sweet corn
sweet peas
cantaloupe (from U.S. only)
sweet potatoes
Exposure to lawn and garden chemicals: These chemicals are considered hormone disruptors.
Exposure to chemicals in plastic:  BPA is a weak synthetic estrogen. It has
also been found to affect brain development in the womb.  This can cause signs of hyperactivity, anxiety and depression as the child grows.  Look for plastics that say ‘BPA free’, don’t cook food in plastic containers, don’t use steaming or roasting bags.

1  (PETE, OR PET)  Clear plastic soda and water bottles. One time use is considered ok.  Do not refill these bottles.

2 (HDPE) Opaque milk jugs, detergent bottles, juice bottles, butter tubs and toiletry bottles.  OK to use.

3  (PVC) Food wrap, cooking oil bottles, plumbing pipes. Do not cook foods in these plastics.

4  (LDPE) Grocery bags, some food wraps, squeezable bottles, and bread bags.  OK to use.

5   (POLYPROPYLENE)  Yogurt cups, water bottles with a cloudy finish, medicine bottles, syrup and ketchup bottles and straws.  OK to use.

6   (Styrofoam)  Plates, cups and packing material.  Do not cook or used foods around this type of plastic.

7  (PLA)  A plastic made from plants (sugarcane or corn) that do not contain BPA.  Label must indicate BPA free, or it is made from plastic containing BPA.    Safe to use if BPA free.

Exposure to chemicals in sunscreen:  Look for sunscreen that contains Zinc or Titanium.
Exposure to chemicals in water:  improper disposal of unused medicines, birth control pills, paints, motor oil, pesticides, cleaners and other hazardous wastes can impact drinking water. Buy filters for your taps and showers.  Reverse Osmosis filters can remove contaminants left behind by other filter.
 Antiperspirants Deodorants:  High levels of mercury have been found in breast cancer tumors.


Xenoestrogens come from chemical compounds that produce estrogen in the body.  The most widely used compounds are found in plastics and fertilizers.  Other names for xenoestrogens include environmental hormones and EDC (endocrine disrupting compounds).  During the last 10 years scientific studies have produced evidence on the adverse effects of xenoestrogens.  They have a profound effect on reproduction, and can increase endometriosis.  Studies have shown xenoestrogens to cause breast cancer growth.  They can also have a profound effect on fertility, rate of miscarriage, thyroid disorders, early onset of puberty, behavioral problems in children, and diabetes.

Chemicals known to be xenoestrogens:
*Atrazine (weed killer)
*4-MBC (4-Methylbenzylidene camphor, used in sunscreen lotions)
*BHA (food preservative)
*FD&C Red No. 3
*Oral contraceptive pills
*Banned pesticides, restricted pesticides, and currently used pesticides (DDT is still being detected in the soil even after years of being banned)
*Parabens (found in most body lotions, shampoos, conditioners, soaps)
*Chemicals used to produce plastics (choose plastic food storage containers that indicate BPA free) Never use plastic wrap in the microwave!!
*Propyl gallate (extends shelf life of oils and fats)
*Growth hormones given to cattle, poultry, pigs and other livestock to speed up maturation or production of milk and eggs.
*House hold cleaners, including laundry soap and fabric softener.
*Chlorine and chlorine by- products.
*New building materials (if your house is new, open windows frequently to air out toxins emitted from carpets, cabinets, paints, etc.)
*Water:  There have been reports that high levels of estrogen are found in water coming from water treatment facilities as a result of oral contraceptives.
*Chemicals used in dry-cleaning methods

Reduce your exposure:
*Buy organic when you can.  Most important would be to buy organic dairy products, eggs and meat when possible, especially for children.  Be aware that imported produce could contain residue from pesticides that have been banned here in the US, but not other countries.
*Avoid processed foods containing food dyes and preservatives.
*Choose personal care products from “clean” product lines.  (Avalon Organics, Aubrey Organics, Dessert Essence Organics, Pure&Basic, etc.)
*Limit consumption of water from commercially bottled water bottles.  Buy reusable bottles that are BPA free.  Never leave your water bottle in your car.
*Buy organic coffee (high pesticide use has placed coffee on the xenoestrogen food list)
*Use water filters on tap water and in showers (Enviro-wave products have excellent filters for sinks, showers and the bath tub)
*Use personal hygiene products that are chlorine free

Phyto-Estrogen, also known as “plant estrogen” is chemicals naturally occurring in plants that may mimic estrogen in the human body.   In alternative medicine, these plant-based estrogens are sometimes used to prevent hormone related cancers.  A French study that was published the Journal of the National Cancer Institute states, “A diet rich in estrogen-like compounds found in plants may help curb breast cancer.”  Phyto-Estrogens are well known for their ability to reduce the symptoms of menopause when a conventional hormone replacement therapy is not used.

Estrogen Pathway:
1.  Estrogen docks to an estrogen receptor cite and sends a strong message to multiply and divide breast cells in the repair and replication of breast tissue.
2.  Rapid replication of breast cells that are fueled by estrogen can result in an inadequate resting phase between cell divisions.  Inadequate rest between cell divisions could result in the inability for new cells to eradicate genetic mutations.
3.  The uncontrolled replication of breast tissue may produce mutated genes that form a cancerous mass.  Estrogen will further fuel the replication of mutated genes.                        4.  Estrogen docks to an estrogen receptor cite and sends a strong message to multiply and divide breast cells in the repair and replication of breast tissue.
5.  Rapid replication of breast cells that are fueled by estrogen can result in an inadequate resting phase between cell divisions.  Inadequate rest between cell divisions could result in the inability for new cells to eradicate genetic mutations.
6.  The uncontrolled replication of breast tissue may produce mutated genes that form a cancerous mass.  Estrogen will further fuel the replication of mutated genes.

Lignan and Plant Estrogen pathway:
1.  When lignan or a plant estrogen is docked to an estrogen receptor cite it sends a mild message to multiply and divide breast cells.
2.  This slow and more controlled replication of breast cells allows for an adequate resting phase.  This may allow new breast cells to better indentify and eradicate genetic mutations.                                                                                                                                                 3.  When lignan or a plant estrogen is docked to an estrogen receptor cite it sends a mild message to multiply and divide breast cells.
4.  This slow and more controlled replication of breast cells allows for an adequate resting phase.  This may allow new breast cells to better indentify and eradicate genetic mutations.   Barlean’s is a favorite brand of mine.

Plant sources include saffron, flax, black cohosh, soy, tofu, red clover, nuts, oilseeds, legumes, red raspberry leaf, lentils, alfalfa, bourbon, beer, fennel, fenugreek, wheat berries, wheat germ, rice bran, rosemary, apples, carrots, pomegranates, other fruits and vegetables.
Soy:  Good or Bad?  While soy has been used by many cultures around the world for thousands of years, today’s soy has changed.  Soy has demonstrated many health benefits through thousands of studies in several countries, including the United States.  Today, here in the United States, over 93% of soy crops are grown from “genetically modified” soy seeds.   Reports of health problems started occurring after GMO seeds were being introduced to farmers.  The use of GMO seeds has caused export problems for the United States.  Most other countries will not accept soy produced from GMO seeds.  Not even for use in animals.  If you choose to use soy and you are comfortable with soy, check all food labels.  Make sure your label has a seal that identifies the product as NON-GMO.

Key Nutrients for breast health and Cancer prevention

Lignan Rich Flaxseed Oil:  A rich plant source of omega 3’s, this oil has health benefits that will affect every function in your body.  Full of the “good fat” our body needs for many metabolic functions, this oil is at the top of the list for breast health.  Make sure you choose oil that is high in ‘lignans’.  Lignan is the flax particulates that have not been filtered out of the oil after pressing.  How do lignans work against breast cancer?  In the same manner that phyto-estrogens work.

Pomegranate:  Suppresses breast cancer cells and slows the cell growth of tumors.  Other health benefits of Pomegranate include:  keeping cholesterol levels stable, prevents hardening of the arteries, chelates plaque from artery walls, prevents abnormal blood clotting, increases oxygen levels to the heart.  Helps to lower the risk of Prostate Cancer and fights cell damage.

Co-Q-10:  Coenzyme Q-10 is an antioxidant that is produced within the body.  This nutrient is responsible for producing energy within the mitochondria of the cells in the form of ATP (Adenosine Tryphosphate). It is structurally similar to Vitamin E.  Other names for Co-Q-10 are Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol.   In 1968 Dr. Karl Folkers at Merck reported the chemical structure of Co-Q-10.  Folkers later became a Chemistry Professor at UT Austin.  He is responsible for the studies linking a Co-Q-10 deficiency to heart disease. Folkers also pioneered studies using Co-Q-10 to treat various cancers successfully.  This nutrient is found abundantly in the heart, liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas.  Studies indicate that supplemental Co-Q-10 of 100mg to 200mg daily induces a partial or complete regression of breast tumors.   Co-Q-10 is well known for its heart health benefits.  Other health benefits include the prevention of migraines, slowing early macular degeneration, slowing the progression of early neurodegenerative diseases, protects against hearing loss, improves learning, prevents muscle wasting during cancer, supports muscle regeneration, promotes male fertility, guards against diabetic complications, lowers triglycerides, and benefits treatments for AIDS, muscular dystrophy, myopathy, and Parkinson’s disease.  In Japan it used to treat congestive heart failure.
Cholesterol lowering medications will reduce or stop the body’s production of C0-Q-10, causing an adverse affect on the muscle tissue and the heart.
When choosing a Co-Q-10 supplement look for one that is in a “soft gel”.  Co-Q-10 must be in a liquid form to be used by the cells in the body.  It is also best to take in conjunction with an oil (flax, vitamin E, or fish oil) for better absorption.
Good brands include:  Natural Factors, Jarrow Formulas, Bluebonnet, Nature’s Plus, Carlson’s.
Food sources include:  Meats, peanuts, sardines, and spinach.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is actually a prohormone that is classified as a vitamin.  A prohormone is a precursor of a hormone and does not add any hormone itself.   Vitamin D is vital for the absorption of all bone-building nutrients.  Calcium cannot be absorbed without Vitamin D.  It has been found to protect against muscle weakness. It is also used in the prevention and treatment of breast and colon cancer, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Postmenopausal women taking at least 1100 IU daily showed a 77% decrease in the rate of breast cancer.  Studies show that 75% of women with breast cancer also have a Vitamin D deficiency.  Other cancers that are shown to be reduced by use of Vitamin D include prostrate, bladder, ovarian, liver, lung and pancreatic cancer.  This is due to its ability to protect the cells from oxidative stress.
It is necessary for immune function as well as thyroid function.   Recent studies indicate that Vitamin D is essential in helping to reduce allergies, asthma, pulmonary inflammation, COPD, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer, Autoimmune disorders, IBS, Chrohn’s disease, Renal disease, muscle conditions such as rotator cuff problems and Parkinson’s.  Decreased Vitamin D levels can be associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Things that interfere with the absorption of Vitamin D include antacids, cholesterol lowering drugs, cortisone and mineral oils.
Cholesterol lowering drugs interfere with Vitamin D absorption by disrupting the conversion process the body naturally has for Vitamin D.  When we are exposed to sunlight, our bodies actually use cholesterol to convert that sunlight to Vitamin D.
Food sourced Vitamin D is not fully activated.  It has to be converted by the kidneys and the liver before being fully activated.  This is why people with kidney or liver disorders may be at higher risk for Osteoporosis.
There are three types of Vitamin D.
*Vitamin D-2 (ergocalciferol):  This is the form of Vitamin that is naturally occurring in food items.  This form must be converted by the liver and kidneys to the active form of Vitamin D.
* Vitamin D-3 (cholecalciferol):  This is Vitamin D in its most natural and absorbable state.  This form of Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.  Sunscreens and well as the natural aging process decrease the conversion of sunlight to Vitamin D.  People who have darker skin pigmentation will have a more difficult time converting sunlight to Vitamin D.  Today it is necessary to use supplemental Vitamin D-3 to obtain optimal health benefits.  Supplemental Vitamin D-3 is made from the fat of lambs’ wool.  Research indicates that supplemental D-3 is more beneficial than supplemental D-2.
Vitamin D-5:  This is the synthetic form of Vitamin D.
Foods that are rich in Vitamin D include:  dairy products, dandelion greens, egg yolks, oatmeal, oysters, salmon, sardines, and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin D, while fat-soluble tends to be very safe.  Toxicity usually does not occur until a daily ingestion of 40,000IU is reached.

Kombucha:  A beverage made from fermented kombucha mushroom.  Studies show that kombucha is full of nutrients and probiotics.  Can be useful at detoxifying the body and boosting the immune system.

Anti-Cancer Supplements
IP-6:  Inositol Hexaphosphate. A compound consisting of the B vitamin Inositol plus six phosphate groups.  Studies show this supplement may help fight cancer, prevent kidney stones, prevent and treat heart disease and liver disease, and reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  IP-6 can successfully boost and maintain the immune system of those undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  It also prevents fatty deposits from accumulating in the liver.  Dr. Abulkalam M. Shamsuddin has studied the use of IP-6 in cancer for many years.  He believes that IP-6 helps to take control of abnormal cell division.
Foods rich in IP-6 include brown rice, beans, wheat bran, grape juice, sesame seeds, and mulberries.
Supplemental IP-6 should be taken on an empty stomach for best results.

Essiac Tea:  First produced by nurse Rene Caisse from Ontario Canada, 1922 using an Indian recipe.  Brewing eight herbs together, Rene gave this tea to her patients who were diagnosed as being “terminally ill”.  Many of these terminally ill patients recovered from their illness to live an additional 20 to 25 years.  During the early years Rene was almost arrested twice for “practicing medicine without a license.”  In 1942 the government officially stopped Rene’s work.  In 1958 she partnered with Dr. Charles Brusch (personal physician to JFK).  Together they perfected the eight-herb formula.  Rene passed away in 1978 at the age of 91.  Essiac tea detoxifies and strengthens the cells in the body.  This tea has been used alone or in conjunction with western cancer treatments.

Flora’s FlorEssence:  A reputable company who also produces a supplement containing the original eight-herb formula.

*other anti-cancer supplements include Beta-glucans, mushroom blends, and apricot seed.

Breast Cancer Screening Methods
Self-Exams:  Get to know your own body.  Examine your breasts at the same point every month in your menstrual cycle.  It is preferred to do this during the first week after your cycle ends.  Before and during the menstrual cycle breasts can be tender or lumpy.
Mammogram: It is advised to receive your first mammogram by age 40 and every 2 years there after.  It has been thought the use of powders, deodorants or antiperspirants could interfere with the test results.  There has been recent controversy regarding the safety of mammograms, as well as accuracy of detection.  New software and the ability to use digital mammography may cut down on mis-diagnosis.  Like all preventive diagnostics there is always risk of false positives and false negatives.  If you don’t feel right about your test results, ask your Doctor about a second test.
MRI (Magnetic Response Imaging):  Can be a safe alternative for women who have breast implants, dense breast tissue, or are at higher risk of breast cancer.  Cancer can be harder to detect by mammogram in these women.  MRI’s have been known to detect benign spots.  New software was created called CAD-stream that is used with contrast.  The results have been promising using this method.  MRI’s can also be used to detect if implants have rupture or leaked any fluid.
Thermography:   Also known as Digital infrared thermal imaging. Non- invasive and pain free detection that can indicate potential problems in breast tissue up to 10 years earlier than mammograms.  There is a thermography clinic in Austin.  For more information click here.
Picture Your Health, LLC
3500 Oakmont Blvd.
Austin TX  78731

BRCA 1 and BRCA 2:  Blood tests to determine your genetic risk factor for breast cancer.  These are specific human genes belonging to a certain class of tumor suppressors.  Women at high cancer risk have shown to inherit harmful mutations of these genes.  If one family has mutated genes it does not mean that all family will have the same mutation process.  Women with abnormal BRCA1 and BRCA2 are also at higher risk for developing ovarian, colon, pancreatic, and thyroid cancers.  Removal of breast tissue will decrease the risk of cancer by 50%.  For more information and frequently asked questions about the BRCA testing the website for the National Cancer Institute has wonderful educational material regarding research on this blood test.

Breast Tissue Cleansing
Breast tissue cleansing should be done for at least three months.
*  Eliminate exposure to xenoestrogens
*  Flaxseed Oil (1 to 2 tbsp daily), or Brevail
*  Calcium d-Glutarate (400mg to 600mg daily)
*  Nature’s Sunshine Lymph Gland Cleanse (taken as directed on label)

A ginger bath can also be used as often as you like to help remove toxins:
1 cup sea salt
1 cup baking soda
3 tbsp ginger
Soak for 20 minutes.
Ginger will feel hot, start with a small amount and increase slowly.

Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is an integral part of the immune system.  It is responsible for producing lymphocytes.  These lymphocytes are responsible for the development of certain immunities.  They also help the body in detoxifying waste material from cells, pathogens, dead blood cells, toxins and cancer cells.  Other important roles include delivering fat –soluble vitamins to cells of the body and removing waste from the interstitial spaces between cells.
Lymph is a clear yellowish fluid that flows in one direction within it’s own system.  It flows upward toward the neck.   This is where it enters the venous system, and is pumped through the heart.  Since the lymphatic system works within itself and does not have the pumping motion of the heart, it must rely on the motions of muscles and joints to move.
There are 600 to 700 lymph-nodes in the average human body.  Another sad role for the lymphatic system is to help spread breast cancer.  Breast cancer cells picked up for disposal can begin to grow within the lymph-nodes.  Once cancer cells have spread into the lymph-nodes, it is easy for them to enter the bloodstream and metastasize to other areas of the body.  The more lymph-nodes that are found to have breast cancer cells, the more likely cancer will be found in other organs of the body.
*Nature’s Sunshine Lymph Gland Cleanse is an excellent product to help move and detoxify the lymphatic system.

Types of Breast Cancer / Signs and Symptoms
DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ).  This is considered to be breast cancer at its earliest stage.  This cancer is contained within the milk ducts.  While there is an increased risk of developing invasive cancer, the survival rate is near 100 percent.
Signs/Symptoms:  In most cases this cancer has no signs or symptoms. But signs that may occur include a breast lump, bloody discharge from nipples, puckered or unusual skin, or a thickened region under the skin.  This cancer is usually not detected by mammogram.
IDC (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma).  This begins in the lining of the milk ducts and invades surrounding breast tissue.  80% off all reported breast cancers begin here.
Signs/Symptoms:  new lumps, swelling of part or all of the breast, skin dimpling, breast pain, inverted nipple, nipple pain, any thickening, redness or scaliness of the breast or nipple, nipple discharge, a lump in the underarm area.
LCIS (Lobular Carcinoma in situ).  This cancer begins in the milk glands, but does not go through the wall of the lobules.  This is not actually a true cancer, but it does increase a woman’s risk of developing cancer later in life.
Signs/Symptoms:  This has no signs or symptoms.  It is usually discovered when a biopsy is done on a lump, or other tissue for any reason.
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma:  Cancer starts in the milk glands and spreads to other parts of the body.  This is the second most common type of breast cancer.
Signs/Symptoms:  Thickening or hardening of the breast tissue that is not a lump in addition to signs from all other breast cancers.
IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer).  This is a rare but aggressive form of cancer that is found in 1 to 3 percent of all breast cancer cases.  A tumor begins in the milk ducts, and as it grows it plugs the blood vessels and lymphatic glands.
Sign and Symptoms:  skin on breast looks dimpled like the peel of an orange, enlarged lymph nodes under the arm or above the collar bone, breast warmth, redness involving more than 1/3 of the breast surface area, thickening of the skin, ridging of the skin.
There are many more types and sub-types of breast cancer.  These are the most common.  Please take the time to further educate yourself, and ask questions during your routine exams with your Doctor.
There are numerous treatments for breast cancer depending on what type of cancer it is and how aggressive the cells are.  If you or someone you know is faced with breast cancer investigate every treatment option.  Naturopathic modalities can often be used along side conventional treatments to keep the immune system strong and lessen the side effects of treatments.  Austin has a wonderful Oncology center based on conventional treatments that are used along side nutritional and naturopathic measures.
There are other non-cancerous disorders of the breast that occur.  Calcium deposits can be detected in a routine mammogram.  Calcifications are most prevalent in women after menopause.  They are usually benign, but some cluster formations can be a sign of early cancer and warrant further testing for cancer.  You may be asked to return in six months for a follow-up mammogram to check cluster size and formation for changes.  Causes for calcification include any past injuries to the breast tissue and normal aging.  Dietary calcium intake does not cause breast calcification.
Fibrocystic breast condition affects more than 60% of women between the ages of 30 and 50.  It is characterized by lumpy breast tissue and some discomfort.  Lumps are benign.   The main contributing factor to fibrocystic breast condition is a woman’s hormonal variation.  The same hormone that prepares the breasts for producing milk is the same hormone that induces a menstrual cycle.  The breast tissue cannot slough off every month so it is programmed for cell death called adipoptosis.  Enzymes break down cells from within.  Fragmented cells and inflammation may lead to scarring from month to month.  Women who have fibrocystic breast condition have a 5% to 6% chance of developing cancer.  Nutrients that may help with the condition include Vitamin E and Evening Primrose Oil due to their ability to help maintain proper hormonal balance and reduce inflammation.

Darla Carrillo owns Georgia’s Naturals, Health Food & Vitamins, Inc.  located at 3010 Williams Dr., Suite 105, Georgetown, TX.  She is a Certified Nutritionist and a Certified Natural Health Professional.  She offers a fabulous selection of supplements & gluten-free groceries.    Thanks for being a guest writer, Darla!

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