Injury healing and tissue repair – Part 1

 Managing inflammation

Inflammation is often what causes pain but it’s important to understand that inflammation is the bodies attempt to repair a wound and resolve or prevent infection. When there is a broken bone or broken skin, inflammation is the magical process that helps knit everything back together again.

A little bit of inflammation is natural and helpful, but quite often when it comes to healing, it can help to dampen the inflammation process slightly, because our Western/modern diet and lifestyle tends to tip inflammation into overdrive or to steer it in unhelpful directions that hinder rather than help healing.

In some scenarios, inflammation is a natural response to irritation and friction. For example, in osteoarthritis the loss of friction-avoiding, shock-absorbing cartilage means that bones start to touch and rub against each other. This causes inflammation. Friction-based inflammation can occur on a day-to-day basis when we neglect our posture, put too much pressure on the musculoskeletal system by being overweight or ignore injuries and continue to aggravate them rather than resting and getting help to recover properly. One of the most important things you can do to prevent inflammation is to avoid sitting too much, pushing your body too hard, and engaging in repetitive physical movements that result in wear and tear of specific muscles and joints. Continue reading

Vegan Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding doesn’t work out for everyone, but if you can do it, there are some wonderful bonuses.

For the baby, breastfeeding provides food in its ideal form, just as nature intended, with all macro and micronutrients in perfect ratio to one another. Besides being filled with all of these nutrients, human breast milk also contains plant chemicals that boost health and protect your baby against disease, along with powerful gut-flora and immune boosting gifts from the mother’s body such as antibodies, cytokines, anti-microbials and oligosaccharides. Breast-fed babies are less likely to develop colds, ear infections, asthma, allergies and stomach upsets, and later in life, they are less likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease, obesity, or childhood leukaemia. It’s amazing to think that there is this incredible symbiotic relationships between the mother’s body and the child’s, with the composition of the mother’s breast milk adjusting itself constantly in response to the babies changing needs. Continue reading

Folate vs Folic Acid (food or supplements)

The name for this vitamin and the word foliage both come from the same latin word “folium”, which means leaf, immediately giving us a hint as to what foods this nutrient might be found in: leafy greens!

Folic acid is the synthetic lab-concocted version of folate that is used in supplements and fortified foods. Folate is the original, natural version of folic acid: the one found naturally occurring in food. The two are chemically different from one another in ways that science does not yet fully understand! (i.e. we are being experimented on, as usual)

Good sources of folate include asparagus, avocados (I’ll never become deficient! haha!) beans, oranges, beetroot, cashews, legumes, kiwifruit, kelp, almonds, nutritional yeats, sprouted lentils, quinoa, sunflower seeds, spinach, mung bean sprouts. It’s also added artificially to many, many foods, such as breakfast cereals, bread, flour, pasta, rice and corn meal. Continue reading

Agar Agar

IMG_0468Agar Agar (also known as agar, or kanten) is the mucilage content drawn from several seaweeds. As a herbalist, I’ve always been fascinated with mucilaginous herbs and foods. The action associated with mucilage content in an ingested herb or food is referred to as ‘demulcent’. If used topically on the skin, the action of mucilaginous herbs is referred to as ’emollient’. Emollients and demulcents are soothing, cooling, moistening and calming for body tissues they come in contact with.

This is a mechanical more so than a chemical action; mucilages are sticky, gooey, and almost mucous-like… hence the name! This consistency is what provides soothing to irritated tissues. The bit that always intrigued me during my naturopathic training was the idea that these mucilage-soothed tissues could send a kind of ‘calm and happy’ message to other mucous membranes in the body. Realistically, ingested demulcent herbs only come into contact with the digestive lining, and yet, their soothing effect can be felt in the lungs and the urinary system. No one knows for sure exactly how or why this is so, but it is possible that calmed nerve endings in in the gut-lining send a nerve-reflex ‘message’ to mucous membranes elsewhere. Continue reading

Lavender Cake

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Base layer

1/4 cup of caramelised buckwheat groats

1/4 cup of walnuts 1/2 cup of almonds

4 pitted dates

Process everything together in the food processor. If your mix isn’t sticky enough, add more dates! Press this mix into the bottom of a baking dish. This is your base layer.

Middle layer

5 pitted dates

2 tablespoons of almonds spread/paste

1/2 tablespoon of tahini paste

1/2 cup of cashews a pinch of salt

Blend everything together in food processor. Taste test and more dates if it isn’t sweet enough for you. Pour/spoon into your baking dish, and spread it evenly over the bottom layer. Put the baking dish in the freezer so this layer can firm up while you make the top layer.

Top layer

2 bananas (you can use peeled frozen bananas if you like)

1 cup of blueberries

1/3 of a cup of organic dried lavender flowers(or less if you want a more subtle flavour)

4 dates

1/2 cup of cashews

Process all ingredients. Taste test for sweetness and add more dates or blueberries as needed. Spoon this mixture over the middle layer and spread it out evenly. Put this back in the freezer overnight. The next day, remove from freezer, let it thaw out for a short time (e.g. 5-10 minutes), and then cut into squares and serve. 

The Therapeutic uses of Lavender

As a herbalist/naturopath, I find lavender particularly effective for relieving stress, anxiety and insomnia when there is a lot of anger involved, such as feelings of irritation and frustration. It can provide either a stimulating or sedative effect, depending on what the body needs.

ACTIONS

*Anti-inflammatory

*Antipyretic

*Analgesic

*Antiseptic

*Nervous Sedative

*Immunostimulant

*Relaxant

USES

*Agitated depression or depression mixed with anxiety.

*Restlessness, anxiety, frustration, irritation, insomnia, over-active mind.

*Low back pain, abdominal cramps, flatulence, aches and pains, headaches.

*Dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath, cold limbs, chilliness.

*Fever, sore throat, sinusitis, asthma, cough, infections and inflammation in general.

*Nausea, constipation or diarrhoea, appetite loss, sore liver area.

*Topical for burns, sunburn, itching, bites, eczema, acne etc

Raw Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

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Nearly all of my of my cakes are ice-cream cakes. It’s so much easier to make raw cakes than to cook them! This is one of Emily von Euws’s recipes. I made this with my daughter and we pretty much stuck to the original, except that we didn’t have enough hemps seeds, so I supplemented with walnuts.

Emily buys her raw nuts in bulk, soaks them for 3 hours and then freezes them. This makes them more creamy when you add them to the food processor. Great idea too, in terms of protecting the delicate oils in the nuts from going rancid, especially in our humid Darwin weather. At the vert least, nuts and seeds should be kept in sealed containers in the fridge.

I LOVE Emily. She has brought so much joy into my life and my kitchen. Here is her recipe, with photos of my cake below. This is definitely one of my favourites, right up there with the caramel and coffee one she taught me.

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