Thursday, February 22, 2018

Negative Emotions





     Sometimes I think I may rename this blog to “Confessions of a Florida Herbalist.” Not really, it's just that I seem to open up and confess a lot of myself here. This post I'm confessing that I am a metalhead. Yes. I listen to metal music. The more aggressive, the better. I don't always look like it, and my personality doesn’t always come off as being very metal. But I am. A lot of people, upon finding this little fact out, ask me how I can listen to music that is so full of anger and aggression and retain my “chill” and composure. It's simple really. Metal music helps channel out my negative emotions so that I can better interact with the world-at-large without wanting to strangle people. And that's what I want to share with you today. How to accept negative emotions and not fear them or let them end up running your life.

     American culture seems to be all about getting rid of negativity. Almost every January I hear/read about people's New Year's resolutions to get rid of all the negativity in their lives. Everyone is focusing on the positive and not leaving any space for the negative. Unfortunately I believe this is contributing to the problem rather than helping. I recently had an elderly friend who was told by his doctor that he might have a year left, if he's lucky, and there's nothing that modern medicine can do. When this information was passed on to his wife and friends, the response was always some variant of “well doctors don't know everything, you have years left if you stay positive and motivated.” Well, this is not the response he wanted to hear. He understood that there was always a chance to beat the odds. What he needed and wanted was help to get himself and his family ready in case he didn't beat those odds. No one acknowledged the real chance that he might die, any day, but most likely on a day within this year. Everyone just ignored that possibility and pushed on to “stay positive.” It's not just his situation either. Every day I see more and more positive statements and encounter people who ignore the negative. We, as a culture, are forgetting how to cope.

     Coping mechanisms are vital to life. They help us accept that bad things happen. They help us to work through hard times and grow as an individual. Without coping mechanisms, we don't work through negativity, we just bottle it up and push it down. When we don't deal with our “darker” emotions, we begin a life ruled by avoidance and occasionally those emotions we are avoiding will creep out in unexpected ways.

     Everyone has different and unique ways to deal and cope with hard times and dark emotions. However, the journey to learning how you best deal with these emotions is fairly similar for everyone.

Step 1: Stop Judging Yourself Because of Negative Emotions


A lot of people are afraid of these negative emotions. Afraid of the pain. Afraid of the stigma. Understand that having these emotions is normal. You can be sad without being clinically depressed. You can have mood swings without being bipolar. You can feel anxious without having anxiety. These emotions are an important part of life and everyone experiences them. They are not bad. They, in and of themselves, do not indicate a problem. Stop judging yourself for having them.


Step 2: Identify the Emotion


Once you are aware that these feelings are normal, stop and identify them before you react. When you experience the pain, fear, anxiety, anger, etc, take a moment and think about it. Understand what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. Take a moment to acknowledge that you are feeling sad and why you are sad before pushing it aside and forcing yourself to “be happy.” Be in the moment with your emotions.

Step 3: Accept Your Emotions


Once you have identified the emotion and identified the cause of the emotion, you now need to accept and release that emotion. Don't hold on to it. Embrace the emotion and then release it. When you embrace your emotions, you are not controlled by them. You understand that you are not your anger, embarrassment, shame, guilt, sadness, anxiety, etc. You feel these emotions, but they do not define you.


Step 4: Welcome The Impermanence of Emotion


Emotions come and go. Welcome them, embrace them, and let them go. Don't hold on to them. Be in the moment, don't live in the past. Often when we experience these negative emotions, our brains replay them over and over again. We analyze what we did, and torture ourselves for what we didn't do. Stop. When you do that, you are not releasing the emotion, you are being consumed by it. Stop playing the “what if” game, stop dwelling on things you cannot control, stop thinking about all the ways a certain thing is destined to “go wrong.” Understand that you have experienced an emotion and that emotions are not permanent. Address the emotion and let it go so that it does not take over. Understand that you will feel them again, and welcome when they come, but don't hang on to them.

Step 5: Release Your Emotions


Once you realize that you are not your emotions, you can safely release them. Whether it's by venting into a creative outlet, talking to a good friend about it, meditation, prayer, gardening, physical exertion, or just turning up your favorite song and singing along. Everyone has their own way of releasing these emotions. Some people even have multiple ways. Find what works for you.


Step 6: Find a Balance


The negative emotions are only part of your emotional spectrum. Use these same steps for the positive emotions as well. We don't necessarily want to let go of our happiness, pride, and other good feelings. However, when we hang on to them, the negative emotions seem all that much darker. They can also blind you to very real possibilities of things such as failure. Balance in all things, including emotions, is key to staying healthy and in harmony with yourself.


     I hope I have provided a little help and support for your negative emotions. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

Resources:

Accepting Your Darkest Emotions Is The Key To Psychological Health: Quartz Media: https://qz.com/1034450/accepting-your-darkest-emotions-is-the-key-to-psychological-health/

Are You Afraid of Your Negative Emotions?: Nerdy Creator: http://www.nerdycreator.com/blog/negative-emotions/

Dealing With Difficult Emotions: Kids Health: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/stressful-feelings.html

Emotional Acceptance, Why Feeling Bad Is Good: Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy/201009/emotional-acceptance-why-feeling-bad-is-good

How To Use Mindfulness To Work With Negative Emotions: Mrs. Mindfulness: https://mrsmindfulness.com/mindfulness-for-negative-emotions/

Is Accepting Unpleasant Emotions The Key To Happiness?: Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201708/is-accepting-unpleasant-emotions-the-secret-happiness





Monday, February 12, 2018

Damiana Dark Chocolate






Love and chocolate go hand in hand. That's why this time of year is full of chocolate hearts. It's not hard to take a little leap and make some amazing aphrodisiac candies with dark and decadent chocolate. It also helps that dark chocolate is actually very good for your heart. So here's my favorite recipe that is great for both heart and libido.


But first, a bit about the ingredients:

Cacao is the main ingredient in chocolate making. It's super supportive of the cardiovascular system, anti-inflammatory, full of antioxidants, a stimulant, and relaxant. It also contains small amounts of phenethylamine, which enhances our mood and increases our sense of “love.” This applies to cocoa butter as well cacao nibs/powder.

Damiana is one of the most well known herbal aphrodisiacs in the world. This little flower was used by the Aztecs for just that reason. It increases circulation to the sexual organs, which also makes it great for those with anxiety or depression, and helps to balance the hormones. You can read more about this amazing herb here.

Rose is an optional ingredient in this recipe, but it is also an aphrodisiac and antidepressant. Plus we associate the smell of rose with romance and adding rose to any aphrodisiac recipe increases that feeling.

Cardamom is another optional ingredient in this recipe. However it's another herbal aphrodisiac. Plus the flavor of cardamom may seem strange to add to chocolate, but it's so delicious, especially with rose. Read more about this herb here.

Cayenne is a great optional ingredient. Adding cayenne to dark chocolate adds an air of the exotic. It's also a great way to boost your aphrodisiac power. Because it works so well to increase circulation, it helps to carry the effects of your other ingredients more efficiently, and a little bit faster. Making it a great addition to any herbal recipe.

Damiana Dark Chocolate

2 ounces Cocoa Butter
2 ounces Coconut Oil
1 teaspoon dried Damiana Leaf
1-2 teaspoons Optional Dried Herbs: Rose, Cardamom, Cayenne
(one of my favorites is 1 tsp Rose Water, ½ tsp Cardamom, and 1 pinch Cayenne)
2 ½ ounces Cacao Powder
6 teaspoons Raw Honey (or sugar of your choice)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract


Instructions:
Combine Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, and herb(s) in a heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water, being careful not to let the bowl touch the water. Allow the ingredients to slowly melt and incorporate. Allow them to infuse for 20 minutes or more. Strain out the solids, making sure to squeeze the herbs well, to get out all the infused butters. Return the butters to a bowl over simmering water. Add in all other ingredients (if you're using sugar, put that in first to melt before adding other ingredients). Adjust sweetness if desired. Stir until smooth and shiny.

You can go the easy route and make this into a chocolate bark simply by lining a cookie sheet with wax paper then pouring this chocolate over the paper and freezing it. Once frozen, break it up into pieces. You can also use this to dip aphrodisiac truffles (such as these bliss balls). There are also some really cute candy molds out there these days. Get creative! But don't forget, if you are going to use molds, make sure they are completely dry before pouring in your chocolate, or you'll get little bubbles in your chocolate.


I hope you enjoy making these delicious chocolates! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!

Also join my friend, Ms Lisa Ray at the Florida School of Holistic Living this Valentines Day for a class all about making herbal chocolates!



Thursday, February 8, 2018

Liberating Goldenrod





     Spring may not be the time of year when people expect to see Goldenrod. But it is the time of year when several people (especially in Florida) may need to use it. Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) blooms around the same time as Ragweed (Ambrosia psilostachya) and, unfortunately, has been accused of causing seasonal allergies in late summer to early fall. However Ragweed is typically the allergenic culprit. Goldenrod actually has very little pollen with which to cause allergy problems. And the pollen it does have is sticky so it rarely gets to be airborne. Most people who have been introduced to both plants don't know how they could be mistaken as Goldenrod's flowers are beautifully golden while Ragweed has nondescript green flowers. Even though they're both in the Asteraceae family, there's a really good bit of differences between the two, and the Herbal Academy has a very detailed blog post about just that.




     Goldenrod grows just about everywhere from North America to Europe, and even all the way to Asia. There are over 100 species and all of them are beneficial in several ways. The two considered to be the most medicinally beneficial are Solidago canadensis and Solidago odora. Even the colonists loved Goldenrod. After the Boston Tea Party, Goldenrod tea, which they called “Liberty Tea,” became so popular that it ended up being exported to China.


Medicinal Uses:


Summary of Actions- Diuretic, drying, aromatic, antioxidant, expectorant, antifungal, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, vulnerary, tonic, and diaphoretic.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Huang Hua, Goldenrod is pungent, bitter, and cool. The meridians it works best on are the liver and gallbladder meridians. Goldenrod is used to dispel wind and clear heat, resolve swelling and remove toxicity. Especially useful when there is a sore throat, jaundice, headache, cold, urinary tract infections (UTI), kidney stones, fungal infection on the hands, or swelling on the back.

Seasonal Allergies- Goldenrod has an amazing ability to calm the runny eyes, runny nose, and sneezing that comes with seasonal allergies. Even Ragweed allergies. It's also an amazing decongestant.

Sinusitis, Flu, & the Common Cold- Goldenrod is antiseptic and antimicrobial, which makes it a great choice for dealing with a sore throat along with other symptoms of the flu, cold, and/or sinus infections. It also has great expectorant properties to help expel mucus from the lungs, and decongestant properties to dry those pesky sinuses. It's also extremely beneficial when fever is involved, as it helps open the pores and allows the body to sweat out the fever more efficiently.

Cardiovascular Health- Goldenrod is an excellent source of rutin which helps support circulation and capillary strength. It also shows promise in the lowering of cholesterol and preventing atherosclerosis.

Skin & Wound Care- Goldenrod's scientific name, Solidago, means “to make whole.” It certainly seems to work wonders on wounds. Helping speed their healing and preventing infections. It's also a great ally when dealing with eczema and other chronic skin conditions.

Kidneys- Goldenrod helps prevent the formation of kidney stones and can help clear out “urinary gravel.” (https://www.nativeremedies.com/ailment/gravel-kidney-stones-info.html)

Bladder & Urinary Track- Goldenrod is super useful for the urinary system. It's astringent and antiseptic properties make it useful for treating both bladder and urinary tract infections. It strengthens and tones the urinary system and helps reduce inflammation in both the urinary track and bladder.

Anti-Fungal- Goldenrod works well to help deal with Candida type yeast infections such as thrush or vaginal yeast infections.
Muscle Pain & Arthritis- Recently, Goldenrod has become fairly well known to help relieve a wide variety of aches and pains. It's especially known to help muscle pain and arthritis.

Contraindications and Warnings- Goldenrod can be overly drying to those with a dry constitution, if taken over a long period of time. Consult your doctor, midwife, or herbalist before taking Goldenrod if you are pregnant, have heart problems, or have kidney problems. Minor allergic reactions may occur in a, very, few people.


     I only included a basic introduction to this amazing herb. I hope you have learned a new appreciation for how amazing goldenrod is. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. And these amazing pictures are thanks to my friend Shannon at Ancient Grove Yoga and Wellness.

If you want to learn more about this amazing plant, join me at COAL on March 1, 2018 for our Monthly Materia Medica. For more information, contact Leann at BatLadyHerbals@gmail.com or visit the Florida School of Holistic Living in Orlando, FL. 


Refrences:


Foraging & Using Goldenrod: The Nerdy Farm Wife: https://thenerdyfarmwife.com/foraging-using-goldenrod/

Glorious Goldenrod: Susan Weed: http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Glorious-Goldenrod.htm

Goldenrod: Dr. Vikram: http://www.drvikram.com/goldenrod.php

Goldenrod: White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/goldenrod/

Goldenrod Medicine: Dana Tate Bailey: https://southernherbalist.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/goldenrod-medicine-solidago/

Goldenrod Plant: Herbs with Rosalee: https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/goldenrod-plant.html

Goldenrod vs. Ragweed: Herbal Academy: https://theherbalacademy.com/goldenrod-vs-ragweed-theyre-not-the-same-plant/

Goldenrod: The Bee's Knees: The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine: https://chestnutherbs.com/goldenrod/

Health Benefits of Goldenrod: Herbal Academy: https://theherbalacademy.com/health-benefits-of-goldenrod/

Herb of Common Goldenrod: TCM Wiki: https://tcmwiki.com/wiki/herb-of-common-goldenrod

Medicinal Uses of Goldenrod: Garden's Ablaze: http://www.gardensablaze.com/HerbGoldenrodMed.htm





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     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...