Thursday, July 26, 2018

Color Therapy





     We are all drawn to certain colors. Some of us are even repulsed by certain colors. Some of these attractions are influenced by culture and some are just what we like. Whether or not we have an explanation for it, these colors do effect us and many cultures throughout the world have tapped into this and found correlations. Quite a few alternative therapies, such as Ayurveda, have used our relationship with these colors to help heal the mind and body. These therapies use the vibrations given off (or bounced off) by each color to improve healing, this is often achieved through the use of colorful cloths, baths, or stones. To some people, this may sound a bit wacky, which is understandable. However psychology and advertising have used these same principles to help sway people's emotions and moods for decades. You can also use these principles to help improve your life and mood by surrounding yourself with helpful colors.

1. Red
     Red is associated with aggression, passion, energy, confidence, stimulation, movement, and intensity. Red raises blood temperature, stimulates appetite, stimulates circulation, and even raises blood pressure. Ayurvedic techniques use the color red to treat symptoms of anemia, fatigue, paralysis, and exhaustion. You can use many shades of red to enhance your environment. Red often makes a space warm and cozy, but if not carefully chosen, different shades of red can make a space feel claustrophobic and/or oppressive. Red is a great choice in areas of activity, to increase your energy levels. Try using red yoga mats, or wearing red when you are doing aerobic exercises. Try adding small pops of lighter shades of red, or pink, in the bedroom to stimulate romance. If you're having a family dinner, try adding a few bits of red to help stimulate everyone's appetite. Some studies also show that using red plates may stimulate appetite, but actually reduces the amount of food people can eat. Wearing a combination of red and black can also increase self confidence, try this at job interviews or when you need to speak in front of a crowd. However, it may be a good idea to avoid red when you are experiencing a largely emotional time, as red tends to bring out the more extreme emotions.

2. Orange
     Orange is often associated with energy, ambition, activity, socialization, change, happiness, warmth, stimulation, prosperity, and wealth. Orange gives the body vitality and has beneficial benefits on the digestive, and reproductive systems as well as on the lungs and kidneys. Often, orange is used to help stimulate creativity and improve mental clarity. It is also used, in Ayurveda, to help with thyroid problems and menstrual cramps. It has a freeing action on the body, often helping to relieve repressions and discouraging stagnation. Orange helps relieve depression and promote happiness and warmth. This makes it a great color for parties! The next time you want to stand out in a crowd, try wearing orange. You'll feel like the life of the party, and project those same feelings onto others around you. Or if you're hosting a party, try decorating with orange. It'll help your guests feel energized and excited, helping promote happy socialization. Overall, orange is a great choice for areas of creativity, helping stimulate your muse, especially when paired with shades of purple. However, it's not a good choice for the bedroom as it can be overstimulating and can lead to trouble sleeping. Excessive exposure to orange can actually lead to depression and aggravate sexual problems.

3. Yellow
     Yellow is one of those colors that have very different associations in certain colors. In Asia, it is the color of heaven, which is why Chinese emperors were the only people allowed to wear it in certain points of history. In certain Western cultures, yellow is associated with cowardice. But overall, this color is cheerful, being largely associated with happiness, curiosity, optimism, laughter, hunger, intensity, caution frustration, vitality, and sunshine. Ayurvedic practices use yellow to help aid digestion and liver function, cleanse the body (as a decongestant and antibacterial), relieve rheumatism and arthritis, promote clarity, and improve communication. Painting a room certain shades of yellow can make it feel warm and open. Or try adding pops of bright yellow throughout your decorating. This can help to bring cheer and happiness into an otherwise gloomy space. Yellow is great for entrance halls, activity rooms, and places where you intend to do some studying as it helps keep you alert and promotes feelings of confidence. Yellow is associated with hunger, so can be used to stimulate appetite in those who need help with that. However, people tend to eat more when exposed to yellow, so if you're trying to limit your portions or eat healthier choices, maybe avoid yellow in the dining room and/or kitchen. Yellow is also not a good choice for areas of possible stress or the bedroom. It keeps our minds aware and awake, which can agitate symptoms of anxiety and reduce the amount and quality of sleep.

4. Green
     Green is associated with nature, growth, fertility, envy, peace, renewal, and tranquility. Green creates a balance in the body. Ayurvedic practices use this color for heart and blood problems, as well as to reduce fever, stabilize weight, and calm the mind. Green encourages tolerance and understanding. This color is also very centering and grounding. The simplest way to utilize the color green in your own life is to take a walk outside. Surround yourself with trees and plant life. Pastel green is one of the most common colors for health offices, largely because of it's calming effect. When you need to center yourself and relax, try adding in some green. Take green clothes with you on your vacation to help you get the most out of your time of relaxation. Wear some green jewelry when you need to pray or meditate. Because of it's harmonizing nature,  you can use it in just about every room and situation, either by bringing in some house plants or by adding a pop of green into your decor. Green is great for the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, and really everywhere. Use it to balance out the other colors on this list, helping to dampen the stronger feelings associated with those bold colors. However, if used exclusively, green lead to inactivity and indecision. So don't use green as the basis for a monochromatic color scheme. Mix it up!

5. Blue
     Blue is the color of calm, serenity, focus, intelligence, wisdom, coldness, loyalty, uncaring, contemplation, and inner peace. Blue encourages independent thinking. In Ayurveda, blue is used to calm down inflammatory conditions, reduce blood pressure and heart rate, regulate sleep, and reduce fever. It also helps in the cases of bruising, eczema, rashes, sores, and several problems with the immune system. As well as relieving insomnia, migraines, and anxiety. Blue is appropriate for every room except those used purely for physical activity. Blue is especially effective in areas where study is going to occur, as it helps one to focus and helps reduce stress, anxiety, and migraines. Blue also encourages creative and independent thinking, so adding pops of blue when you need a creative boost is a good idea. It also conveys intelligence, so the next job interview you have, try wearing a bit of blue to emphasize your education and skills. Blue is another color that is popular for offices, particularly for health offices, due to it's calming effect. But don't use blue to excess, it can lead to a loss of compassion and to cold and empty feelings.

6. Purple 
     Purple is best known, here in the West, as the color of royalty. It's also associated with creativity, spirituality, mystery, wealth, respect, wisdom, intuition, luxury, and compassion. Ayurveda associates this color with the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Using it to help improve the sinuses, reduce congestion, and calm the nervous system. It's also used to ease joint stiffness and reduce angina. Purple is a great color for prayer and meditation. Try adding a bit of purple to your contemplative and spiritual spaces. Add pops of purple to your wardrobe and rooms increase confidence and creativity. Use pale violet or lavender in your bedroom to improve relaxation and sleep. Overuse of purple, however, can lead to suppressed emotions and spiritual stagnation.

7. Black
     Black is associated with power, authority, death, evil, strength, intelligence, and secrecy. Black is the total absorption of all the colors in the spectrum, this gives it strength, stability, and a sense of command. The strength embodied by this color is used for protection. In Ayurveda, black is used to stimulate a resistance to negative emotions. Black can be used to promote confidence and authority, which is why it's so effective when worn for business. When used with another color, black can enhance that color. It also helps to give space for reflection. Black works especially well when used with it's polar opposite, white. Together they help bring balance. When used singly, however, black can be overpowering and increase feelings of anxiety and/or depression.

8. White
     White symbolizes purity, goodness, perfection, light, innocence, sterility, ghosts, coldness, and emptiness. It is made up of all the colors, and is total reflection. In Asian cultures, white is the color of funerals and mourning, a symbol of endings and new beginnings. Ayurvedic practices use white to help reduce fevers, relieve pain, and calm the heart and emotions. White promotes clarity and illuminates our thoughts. It can be used with any color, though it makes certain shades of warm colors seem almost garish. White can also be intimidating when used singly, try breaking it up with pops of other colors.






     I hope this introduction can help you understand the role of color in your life. Please leave any questions or comments below.





Resources:

20 Ways to Use the Power of Color to Improve Your Life: Annmarie Skin Care: https://www.annmariegianni.com/20-ways-to-use-color-therapy/

Ayurvedic Color Therapy: The Ayurveda Experience: https://www.theayurvedaexperience.com/ayurvedic-color-therapy/

Color: Energy and Vibration: http://www.energyandvibration.com/color.htm

Color Meanings and Symbolism: Art Therapy: http://www.arttherapyblog.com/online/color-meanings-symbolism/#.W1Ns0tJKi00

Color Therapy: Innovative Medicine: https://innovativemedicine.com/solutions/color-therapy/

Color Therapy- Chromotherapy: Deep Trance Now: http://www.deeptrancenow.com/colortherapy.htm

Color Therapy and Healing: Art Therapy: http://www.arttherapyblog.com/online/color-therapy-healing-an-introduction/#.W1NsGtJKi00

Color Psychology-The Emotional Effects of Color: Art Therapy: http://www.arttherapyblog.com/online/color-psychology-psychologica-effects-of-colors/#.W1Ns09JKi00

Colour in the Home: Colour Therapy Healing: http://www.colourtherapyhealing.com/colour/colour-home

Healing Colors & Your Bright Life: Feng Shui Diana: http://www.fengshuidana.com/2015/07/08/healing-colors-your-bright-life/

The Power of Color: The Chopra Center: https://chopra.com/articles/the-power-of-color

What Is Colour Therapy?: Colour Therapy Healing: http://www.colourtherapyhealing.com/colour-therapy/what-colour-therapy





Thursday, July 12, 2018

Summertime Lemonades







     Summer is in full swing here in Central Florida. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and boy is it hot. This is the time of year for picnics, backyard barbeques, pool parties, and the consumption of large quantities of icy beverages. Most people go for either tea or lemonade in the summer, and I have a tendency to like unusual flavor combinations. So I decided to share with you some of my favorite lemonade recipes for the summer. There is one important thing to note when making lemonade. Adding lemon juice (or really any citrus) to hot water brings out the bitterness, so always add the lemon juice after any warm ingredients have already chilled. Who knows, you might even be able to lessen your honey/sugar by doing this.



1.   My husband loves watermelon in the summer, and what better way to cool down than to have your favorite summertime fruit in your lemonade? Maybe by adding some cucumber. So here is one of my favorite summertime lemonade blends.


Cucumber Watermelon Lemonade


2 medium Cucumbers, diced (with or without the peel)
roughly 2 cups Watermelon, seeded and cubed
the Zest of 1 Lemon
the Juice of 4 Lemons (about ¾ cup) 
½ cup Honey
6 cups Water (1 cup hot, 5 cups chilled)


Instructions:
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender and blend well. While blending, heat 1 cup of water in a saucepan on the stove. Add in the honey and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and mix with 5 cups of chilled water to cool. Add the honey and water mixture to your blended ingredients. Mix well. Chill for 1 hour before serving. *Optional, try using Soda Water (or Seltzer Water) instead of the chilled water for a fizzy treat.




2.   Green Tea and Lemonade are a classic mix. Add in a bit of refreshing Mint and you have a great summertime drink!


Matcha Mint Lemonade


4 tsp dried Mint leaves (or 2 tsp fresh)
4 tsp Matcha
the Zest of 1 Lemon
the Juice of 4 Lemons (about ¾ cup)
1 cup Honey
8 cups Water (4 boiling, 4 chilled)


Instructions:
On your stove, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add in honey and stir well to incorporate. Remove from heat and add in the mint leaves, matcha powder, and lemon zest. Whisk to incorporate, cover and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Once this mixture has chilled, add in remaining ingredients and place back in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.


3.  I love lavender and how it helps all of us to relax. Lavender and lemonade are a summertime no-brainer for relaxation. But how about adding in a fruity punch by way of peaches? Mmm tasty.

Lavender Peach Lemonade


4 tsp Lavender flowers
2 very ripe Peaches, peeled and diced
the Zest of 1 Lemon
the Juice of 4 Lemons (about ¾ cup)
1 cup Honey
8 cups Water (4 boiling, 4 chilled)


Instructions:
On your stove, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add in honey and stir well to incorporate. Remove from heat and add in the lavender flowers. Cover and allow to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Strain and pour over the diced peaches and lemon zest. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 more minutes. Add in the lemon juice and remaining water. Mix well and chill for 1 hour before serving. *Optional, for a spicy alternative, use 2 tsp fresh ginger in place of the 4 tsp lavender.



4.   Coconut is the flavor of the tropics. And what better way to spend our summers than at the beach? This lemonade is refreshing and helps us to imagine our toes in the sand, and the sound of the waves.

Coconut Kiwi Lemonade


4 Kiwis, peeled and diced
½ can Organic Coconut Cream (8oz)
the Zest of 1 Lemon 
the Juice of 4 Lemons (about ¾ cup)
1 cup Honey
6 cups Water (1 cup boiling, 5 chilled)

Instructions:
Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. On your stove, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add in the honey and stir to well to incorporate. Remove from heat and combine with 55 cups of chilled water to cool. Add the honey mixture to the blender and incorporate. Chill for 1 hour before serving. *Optional, use pineapple instead of kiwi for a Pina Colada Lemonade.


5.     I am not a big fan of grapefruit. That being said, there are some flavor combinations that I love that just happen to star this bitter citrus fruit. Grapefruit and Rose are one of those combinations. I can't seem to get enough of it. So I turned it into a summertime lemonade. Why not?

Grapefruit Rose Lemonade


2-3 teaspoons Rose Water (start small and add more if you feel the need)
2 cups Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice (about 3 large grapefruit)
the Zest of 1 Lemon
the Juice of 4 Lemons (about ¾ cup)
1 cup Honey
6 cups Water (1 boiling, 5 chilled)

Instructions:
Combine first four ingredients and mix well. honey. Stir to incorporate. Remove from heat and add to 5 cups of chilled water. Once cool, combine with other ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving. *Optional, throw in a few teaspoons of dried rose petals just before serving.







     In any of these recipes, feel free to change the ingredients around. Play with different herbs and fruits. Try using pineapple juice, lemongrass tea, or hibiscus tea instead of lemon juice. Throw in a handful of fresh berries, or pomegranate seeds, to any of these recipes and see what happens. Have fun, play around, and let me know what you think below!


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Beautyberry








     Here's a big surprise for everyone. My favorite color is purple. I know it's a shock and I can understand if you need to take a break and come back later to finish reading this post. However, since purple is my favorite color, I am drawn to purple plants. My favorite flowers are all purple, I adore plants that have purple leaves, and Beautyberry is super special to me because of the bright purple berries. I mean, just look at it, it's such a pretty plant!



     Luckily a variety of this awesome plant with such showy berries grows here in Central Florida, and has more uses than just good looks. Callicarpa americana is our variety, but there are over 140 different species world wide. Unfortunately, this plant is not commonly used in the West. Many Native American tribes used Beautyberry for several reasons, mostly medicinal in nature, however it's fallen out of use in the modern era.

     Many foragers have listed this plant as poisonous, however I have eaten it as a trail-side snack for years without any problems. It's possible that this stigma comes from one of the Native American uses for the leaves. Certain tribes would use the leave as a fish poison, stunning the fish so that they could be more easily caught. I don't consume the leaves, I just eat the berries even though the raw berry is fairly flavorless and kinda mealy. However, Beautyberry is known to make a great jelly. One of my favorite foragers, Green Deane, made a video that shows the plant and jelly. Check it out here. Authentic Florida also has a great and easy recipe for Beautyberry Jelly here.

Medicinal Uses:


Common Names- Beautyberry, American Beautyberry

Parts Used- The whole plant.

Summary of Actions- Antibacterial, Antiviral, Astringent, Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Diuretic (root bark),

Traditional Chinese Medicine- Known as Zi Zhu in TCM, Beautyberry has quite a few traditional uses. Astringent and cooling, this herb is useful to help treat bleeding in the lungs and stomach. It also helps to clear toxins, particularly in the case of skin problems. Beautyberry is also a common treatment for rheumatism.

Antibacterial- The bark of various species of Beautyberry has been tested, in numerous studies, for antibacterial activity. Many of these tests show that Beautyberry bark is antibacterial in nature, and even targets certain strains of bacteria such as Methicillin-resistent Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Bacillus cereus, Salmonella typhimurium, and many strains of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).

Antiviral Activity and Malaria- Native American practices used Beautyberry in sweat lodges to help reduce fevers and treat malaria. Modern practices also use Beautyberry to treat herpes simplex. A handful of studies have been done to confirm that Beautyberry extracts may actually prevent the replication of herpes simplex and polio viruses.

Antifungal- In Mexico, extracts from Beautyberry leaf are used to treat certain fungi harmful to plants. However it has also shown promise in helping treat certain yeast infections caused by Candida albicans.

Antioxidant Activity- Though the berries don't have much of a flavor raw, quite a few nutrients are present. Among the nutrients found in Beautyberry berries, there are a number of antioxidants. Several studies have also shown proof that Beautyberry extract has both direct and indirect antioxidant activities, which helps reduce inflammation and prevent oxidative stress.

Insect Repellant- My favorite use for Beautyberry leaf is as an insect repellant. Just crush the leaf and rub it on your body, clothes, and hair. Some people even wear the leaves in a hat band, or tucked into any number of crevices in their clothing. You can also use Beautyberry essential oil. This seems to work best on mosquitoes and fire ants. In the case of ticks, most ticks do stay away, but not all ticks do. It's advisable to still perform tick checks after spending long stretches of time outside. This herb is so good at this particular job that many tests have shown it being more active than DEET at repelling insects.

Contraindications and Warnings- Some people believe this plant is poisonous, however that belief may come from a Native American use for the leaves, as a fish poison. I have personally snacked on the berries for years and never had any adverse effects. However, allergic reactions might occur in some individuals.




     I only included a basic introduction to this amazing herb. I hope you have learned a new appreciation for one of my favorite plants, Beautyberry. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.



Refrences:


American Beautyberry: Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/c/callicarpa-americana=american-beautyberry.php

American Beautyberry: USDA Plant Guide: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_caam2.pdf

Beautyberry- Jelly On A Roll: Eat The Weeds: http://www.eattheweeds.com/beautyberry-jelly-on-a-roll/

Beautyberry's Powers Go Beyond Good Looks: Chron: https://www.chron.com/life/article/Beautyberries-powers-go-beyond-good-looks-3831149.php

Callicarpa (Beautyberry): Piedmont Master Gardeners: https://piedmontmastergardeners.org/article/callicarpa-beautyberry/

Japanese Beautyberry (Zi Zhu): Comprehensive Service of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) from China: http://www.tcmtreatment.net/plus/view.php?aid=951

Natural Insect Repellant: Beautyberry Banishes Bad Biting Bugs: Mother Earth News: https://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/beautyberry-natural-insect-repellent-zmaz09amzraw

The Health Benefits of Beautyberry: Healthy Benefits:https://healthybenefits.info/the-health-benefits-of-beautyberry/

The Health Benefits of Callicarpa L. in Traditional Chinese Medicine: ub Med: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23313870

What's a Beautyberry? 10 Intriguing Benefits & Uses Studied: Superfoodly: https://www.superfoodly.com/beautyberry/

Welcome

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...