Thursday, June 22, 2017

10 Reasons to Try Tai Chi

     Living in Orlando, one cannot help but be aware that Yoga is one of the big fitness trends. Yoga is wonderful, and anything that keeps you active and flexible is a great thing. However, there is another low-impact (easy on your joints) exercise that I tend to recommend above Yoga for many people. Tai Chi.

     Tai Chi is an ancient practice that is most easily defined as a way of moving. It has been hailed throughout history as the “perfect exercise” because the health benefits are extremely high while the risk of injury is extremely low. Tai Chi is practiced by over 200 million people world wide, and it's practitioners vary in age from young children to elderly adults. Tai Chi is unique to most exercises because the focus is on developing one's qi (pronounced “chee”).

     In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the concept of qi is a major one. Qi is life force. All living beings have qi and the complete absence of qi leaves one dead. Qi is even present in the earth beneath our feet. Qi has many aspects and is constantly transforming. As such, if your qi is low you will feel sluggish and dull. However, when your qi is abundant you will feel alert and energetic, virtually buzzing with living possibilities.

     Tai Chi helps one to develop their qi, helping to improve mood and health. How this happens is often complicated and often filled with Chinese philosophical concepts that seem very foreign to most Westerners. However, modern science does see a great benefit to this form of exercise.

     In the last decade, researchers from the University of South Florida teamed up with Chinese researchers to compare the effects of Tai Chi on the brain. They separated elderly patients into 4 separate groups. The first walked, the second increased social interaction, the third practiced Tai Chi, and the fourth made no changes in their daily routines. At the end of the 40 day study, the results showed that the Tai Chi group had significant improvements in brain volume, which tends to decrease over time. Since then, there have been several other studies involving Tai Chi practices. Many of which showed significantly positive results.

Without further ado, I'll share with you my top 10 reasons for recommending Tai Chi.

1-Improves flexibility and decreases joint pain:

     Tai Chi uses slow, gentle, deliberate movements to increase flexibility, strength, and balance. This reduces the chance of falls and helps to reduce stiffness in the joints. The controlled movements also help to reduce joint pain, particularly in people with arthritis.

2-Improves your mood:

     Tai Chi uses your mind and body equally during it's postures. This engages the mind in a way that helps to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as promote feelings of well-being. The meditative state induced by the slow, deliberate movements, helps to benefit a large range of psychological wellness areas.

3-Lowers stress:

     Tai Chi's gentle, deliberate movements help you to focus on the moment. This helps keep you from dwelling on worries or anxiety. It's gentle and calming which helps to give one a since of peace. It also improves sleep which can help to lower stress levels as well.

4-Improves sleep:

     Not only does the physical exercise required in Tai Chi help one get to sleep, but Tai Chi has been shown to help improve the quality of sleep as well. Several studies have shown that people who participate in Tai Chi take less time to fall asleep, have fewer awakenings, sleep a greater amount of time, and feel more rested once awake.

5-Improves heart health:

     Not only is Tai Chi gentle enough to be safe for patients with cardiovascular issues, it also helps to improve cardiovascular health. Tai Chi increases circulation, improves blood pressure, aerobic capacity, and cardiac muscle strength.

6-Improves immunity:

     Scientists have actually found a remarkable increase in overall immunity in those who practice Tai Chi. These studies showed that people who practice Tai Chi are less likely to experience severe illnesses and are ill for shorter amounts of time. This is attributed to a combination of controlled breathing, slow movements, and a meditative mind state.

7-Lowers risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s:

     Tai Chi has been shown to improve cognitive function in people of all ages. However, most notably it has shown to improve cognitive function even in Alzheimer’s patients. It's thought that Tai Chi can even significantly lower one's risk of developing dementia.

8-Reduces symptoms of type 2 diabetes:

     A handful of the studies done involving Tai Chi have shown that Tai Chi has a definite and positive effect on insulin levels. Overall, Tai Chi was found to help increase glucose control, insulin receptors, and insulin receptor binding capacity.

9-Improves breathing and reduces asthma symptoms:

     The controlled breathing and slow movements of Tai Chi can increase oxygen consumption. Over time, Tai Chi can even help to improve the breathing of asthma patients.

10-Helps with weight loss:

     A standard 30-minute session of Tai Chi burns roughly 150 calories. This may not seem like much, but with the added benefit of stress reduction, it is definitely a great weight loss tool as there is a connection between higher levels of stress and overeating. Tai Chi also boosts metabolism which helps to burn even more calories more efficiently.

     I hope I have given you an appreciation for this amazing and ancient practice. If you have any questions or comments about your Tai Chi practice, or if you are curious and have questions about how to get started, please let me know below.


3 Reasons You Should Try Tai Chi: Prevention:
11 Reasons to Practice Tai Chi: The Alternative Daily:
Tai Chi, A Gentle Way To Fight Stress: Mayo Clinic:
What is Tai Chi?: Beginners Tai Chi:
What is Qi?: University of Minnesota:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Natural Hydration

     Growing up in Florida, I always knew that when I was dehydrated I needed to get some Gatorade. In recent years, I've also discovered Pedialyte, which is another rehydrating electrolyte drink, but geared more for children. Both are packed full of Vitamins and minerals and provide a great, easy way to rehydrate after a hard workout or in times of physical illness. However, both also contain some questionable artificial ingredients. If you want to have a better option available, I encourage trying these home made alternatives.

Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS)

(as published by the World Health Organization)

6 teaspoons Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt
4 cups of Drinking Water

Stir the mixture together until it's dissolved. The salt and sugar will dissolve better if you use hot water (not quite boiling) then allow the mixture to cool afterward.

This solution can be stored in a cool, dry place for 24 hours, or refrigerated to keep for up to 7 days.

Tropical Green Tea Rehydration

3 cups of Freshly Brewed Green Tea
1 cup of Pineapple Juice
½ cup Coconut Water
3 teaspoons Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt

Immediately after brewing your green tea, add in the sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Allow this mixture to completely cool. Add in the juice and coconut water. Enjoy!

This drink lasts, in the refrigerator, up to 3 days.

Hibiscus Lemonade Refresher

4 cups Hibiscus Tea
the juice of 2-3 Lemons (or about 1/3 cup Lemon Juice)
1/3 cup Raw Honey or ¼ cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt

Immediately after brewing your hibiscus tea, add in the honey (or sugar) and salt. Stir until dissolved. Allow this mixture to completely cool. Add in the juice. Enjoy!

This drink lasts, in the refrigerator, up to 3 days.

Orange Chamomile

2 cups Orange Juice
2 cups Chamomile Tea
¼ cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt

Immediately after brewing your chamomile tea, add in the sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Let mixture cool and add the juice. Enjoy!

This drink lasts, in the refrigerator, up to 3 days.

Cucumber Lime Cooler

1 Cucumber, peeled and diced
5 Mint Leaves
juice of 1 Lime
3 cups Drinking Water
1/3 cup Raw Honey or ¼ cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt

Warm up the water to almost boiling. Add in the honey (or sugar) and salt. Allow mixture to cool. Puree the cucumber and mint leaves in a blender. Pour the puree through a fine mesh strainer and press the solids to get all the liquid out. Combine cucumber juice with water mixture, stir in the lime juice. Enjoy!

This drink lasts, in the refrigerator, up to 3 days.

Cherry Powerhouse

2 cups Tart Cherry Juice
2 cups Apple Juice
¼ cup Drinking Water
1/3 cup Raw Honey or ¼ cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon natural Calcium or Magnesium Powder

Warm the water to almost boiling. Add in the honey (or sugar), salt, and mineral powder. Stir until dissolved. Let mixture cool and stir in the juices. Enjoy!

This drink lasts, in the refrigerator, up to 3 days.

     In any of these recipes, feel free to change the juices and/or teas to make them more to your taste. Some standard substitutions I use in my home are grapefruit (or any other citrus) for lemons in the Hibiscus Lemonade Refresher. I also like to change up my herbal teas, during the winter I'll use a Ginger tea instead of a Hibiscus tea. Have fun, play around, and let me know what you think below!


3 Natural Substitutes for Pedialyte: Daily Mom:
Homemade Electrolyte Drink: Vintage Kids Modern World:
Make Your Own Electrolyte Sports Drink: Wellness Mama:
Oral Rehydrating Solution: Rehydration Project:
Rehydrating Your Child Naturally: 100 Days of Real Food:

Monday, June 5, 2017

Red Spiderling

     There are some plants you see so often that they go unnoticed, unexamined, and neglected. The herb I'm sharing with you today is one of those. Boerhaavia diffusa, more commonly called either Red Spiderling or Tar Vine, loves to grow around sidewalks and in common waste areas. As a result, I tend to walk on it a lot, and not pay much attention to it at all. However, I was on a weed walk with Green Deane and he pointed this little plant out. His walks are mainly about edibles, but occasionally he'll throw in some medicinal information. When he talked about the Red Spiderling he mentioned that it was a commonly used Auyrvedic herb, but he was unsure of it's uses. This stuck in my mind and I started noticing the little vine more and more, until one day I decided to look it up.

Boerhaavia diffusa sprawling across a sidewalk

Boerhaavia diffusa flowers are really, very small

Medicinal Uses:

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Huang Xi Xin. Used to move blood, break up stasis, regulate menses, and strengthen the bones and tendons.

Ayurveda- Known as Punarava. This herb is considered bitter, cooling, and astringent. It balances the three doshas within the body. The whole herb is used to improve digestion, for anemia, and asthma. The leaves are used for dyspepsia and other abdominal pains, some tumors, and enlarged spleen. The roots are used as a diuretic, expectorant, vermifuge (expels parasitic worms), and to improve both kidney and liver function.

Liver- Boerhaavia is used to cleanse and revitalize the liver. Helps fight liver disorders such as jaundice, hepatitis, iron deficiency, anorexia, and sluggish liver. Since it helps to improve the overall health of the liver, this herb also helps improve the quality of blood.

Urinary Tract Infections- Due to it's diuretic and antimicrobial actions, Boerhaavia is great to use as part of the treatment for chronic and recurrent UTIs. It can even be used during pregnancy, under strict observation of a doctor and/or midwife.

Weight Loss- As a diuretic, Boerhaavia stimulates the removal of excess fluids and waste products from the body. It is also a mild laxative. These two actions together help shed excess weight without loosing excessive amounts of potassium and other electrolytes.

Diabetes- Several studies have been done involving Boerhaavia leaf extract. Consistently, the extract has shown to decrease blood glucose levels considerably, which in turn increases plasma insulin levels.

Kidney Health- Not only is Boerhaavia a diuretic, but it also helps prevent the formation of stones in the kidneys. Add in the fact that it's an excellent kidney tonic, and you have one of the best herbs for kidney health.

Arthritis- A paste made from grinding the fresh herb can help calm down the inflammation of joints afflicted with arthritis.

Gout and High Uric Acid Levels- One of the ways that Boerhaavia helps improve the health of the kidneys is by increasing the secretion of uric acid. This helps with gout and other conditions associated with high levels of uric acid.

Impotence- The seeds of Boerhaavia help to stimulate and rejuvenate the male reproductive system. Not only does it increase libido, but it also improves the quantity and quality of semen.

Summary of actions- Diuretic, antioxidant, antipyretic, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, stomachic, analgesic, heart tonic, kidney tonic, used in the treatment of jaundice, given to improve digestion, used in the case of an enlarged spleen, and useful for relieving abdominal pains.

Cautions and Contraindications- May increase blood pressure and affect the function of the heart. Anyone with ethanol allergies should avoid this herb. Use extreme caution during pregnancy.

     I only included a basic introduction to this amazing herb. I hope you have learned a new appreciation for this little vine that loves to be under your feet. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


Boheraavia Diffusa: Always Ayurveda:
Boheraavia Diffusa: Herbpathy:
Punarnava Facts and Health Benefits: Health Benefits Times:
Tar Vine, Red Spiderling: Eat the Weeds:
Traditional Indian Herbs Punarnava and Its Medicinal Importance: Journal of Pharmacognosy and Photochemistry: 


Greetings from the Bat Lady!

     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...