Ayurvedic practitioners across the globe are out to prove that herbal medicine can win over allopathy, leaving no side effects on the patient. But authenticity in their voice can prevail only when those like Nick Polizzi (Founder of The Sacred Science) create more and more of the powerful scripts like this:
CHAMOMILE, THE BITTERSWEET HERB
What is the first herb you learned was actually medicine?
It's easy to get caught up in all the articles and new studies on promising natural remedies, but what about that first piece of herbal knowledge you ever came across? Maybe in your grandma's kitchen... or in a novel you read as a teenager?
For me, it was chamomile. When I was little, this bittersweet herb was given to me as a bedtime tea when I was exhausted or had a stomach ache. I didn't think about it much as a kid. I just trusted the magic in the cup and accepted its healing with child-like faith.
But as I began to study this common flower, I learned just how powerful chamomile is.
The first use of chamomile goes all the way back to ancient Egypt. And they used it in the same ways we do today: teas, oils, and baths... Chamomile's relaxation benefits were also recognized by the wanderers of modern-day Germany and all throughout the markets of ancient Rome. And guess what - they all used chamomile in the exact same ways.
So how could they all know that chamomile was a calming remedy? Their cultural lifestyles, spiritual practices, culinary processes and languages were all so different- yet this healing plant spoke to them in the same way. Crazy, right?
Well, the answer seems simple enough to me. If these very different ancient groups came to the same conclusions about this little white flower, it has to be what we call "empirical-based" medicine.
Thousands of years of practice and experience with chamomile back up these ancient claims, but modern science has taken it one step further. Researchers and healers have been studying chamomile and it's no surprise that this ancient wisdom is being proven out in modern laboratories. Turns out, our ancestors knew a thing or two...
So what have scientists discovered about chamomile so far?
Chamomile is a potent medicine.
When you break chamomile down into its chemical constituents, its two most notable attributes are volatile oils and flavonoids. The volatile oils are responsible for chamomile's sleep-time reputation - they relax muscles and calm the mind, while the flavonoids (specifically apigenin) have been proven time and time again to bring down anxiety and soothe depressive feelings.
In addition to that, studies have shown that chamomile is one heck of a pain killer. Not only does it work topically to relieve aches and pains, bring down inflammation, stop muscle spasms, and heal wounds - you can take it internally as a tea, tincture, or syrup and get the same results.
And here's the real kicker - chamomile is incredibly safe. (So safe in fact that it is traditionally used for teething or fussy children.)
It's no wonder this herb is a total "go-to" remedy for people across the world, young and old alike.
Most people can take chamomile every day for the rest of their lives with no side effects - and many of my friends do! You'd just get the gifts of deeper sleep, a strengthened immune system, and a balanced stress response.
Please note - it is quite rare, but some folks who have an allergy to ragweed, daisies, marigolds, or chrysanthemums might also experience an allergy to chamomile.
A tasty tip: my favorite way to drink chamomile in the summer time is to make a big jar of tea using heated spring water and a big handful of the dried flowers. Once it steeps, I then put it in the fridge overnight to cool off. Chamomile iced tea with a little bit of honey is a heavenly beverage on a hot day!
If you haven't already added this special plant to your herbal repertoire, make sure to give it a try. After thousands of years, this flower continues to be a household name and science can now back its safety.
- Nick Polizzi
We usually think of sight and hearing as our main senses. But what we smell has the strongest impact on our emotions. The olfactory receptors in our brain connect directly to the limbic system, where emotions begin.
That may be why essential oils -- the distilled essence of various plants and flowers -- are so potent.
There are over 90 types of essential oils, all with unique impacts on the body and mind. And they are extremely concentrated. For example, it's estimated that it takes roughly 220 pounds of lavender flowers to produce a single pound of lavender oil!
People use essential oils for all kinds of things. Some essential oils boost energy, while others relieve pain, kill germs, reduce stress and anxiety or soothe the skin.
One of my favorite applications for essential oils is to prepare my bedroom before I sleep - in order to get beautiful and restorative Zzzs.
It seems like everyone's sleep is a little off-kilter these days, and a lot of people's internal rhythms could use some TLC.
So without further ado, here are 2 essential oils to help you catch some better Zzs and sleep like a baby!
1. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil not only helps you fall asleep. Studies have shown that it can also improve the quality of your sleep.
Even for people with insomnia, this heaven-sent aromatherapy oil can increase the amount of deep, slow-wave slumber that a person gets.
Lavender oil has the added benefits of relieving anxiety, stress and depression - all of which are related to sleeping difficulties.
Physiologically, lavender oil also lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn relaxes you.
2. Bergamot Oil
Bergamot is a citrus fruit that grows in the tropics and in the warmer climates of Europe. It's a hybrid of bitter orange and lemon, according to the genetic researchers.
Bergamot essential oil is a fantastic calming agent, lowering heart rate and blood pressure - and reducing anxiety. Many people say it puts them right to sleep. I know it does that for me when I need it to.
One word of caution: You must use essential oils correctly. Never swallow essential oils. If you do, you may actually get sick.
Here are some of the most popular - and correct - ways to use essential oils:
Use an oil diffuser. An oil diffuser is a device that disperses the molecules of an essential oil into the air of a room. There are different types of electronic oil diffusers out there that use different types of technology, but they all work pretty well. You can also create your own oil diffuser of sorts if you want to be informal. Just put half a cup of water and four or five drops of oil into a spray bottle, shake it around a little, and off you go.
Inhale it from the bottle. Simple and straightforward. And you'll know immediately if it's too overpowering!
Apply it to your body. Use moderation if you do this - just a drop or two here and there. Do not slather! Most people will place drops on their wrists or neck or behind their ears - traditional pressure points.
Use it in the bathtub! Ooh, this is luxurious. Put several drops into your bathwater and then settle in for a nice, loooong soak. You will mellow out blissfully.
Put a drop or three on your pillow. This is my personal favorite.
Put a drop or three on an eye pillow. I love this one too.
When you start experimenting with essential oils, remember to pay close attention to how they make you feel in your body and mind. Scents are subtle and complex. Your experience of an essential oil will be personal and unique to you.
If you use them correctly, essential oils should not harm you or give you side effects.
They are natural and safe, strong but gentle.
And the ones I have recommended will help you sleep!
- Nick Polizzi
It may be tempting these days to stay inside more often because of the pandemic, but getting outside is still one of the healthiest things you can do.
Besides the fact that it's far more difficult to catch the virus outdoors than in enclosed spaces, fresh air is deep, nourishing medicine for the body and brain. Even just 15 to 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference in how you feel.
I love to take my time outdoors one step further and go on barefoot nature walks with my kids.
Walking barefoot on soft ground feels incredible on the toes, and did you know that there is a proven electrical exchange that occurs in your body when you go shoeless?
I'm not kidding. Just like the sun gives us energy and creates Vitamin D in our bodies, the earth beneath our feet is rich with electrons that help to "ground" us when we make contact. Go barefoot, and you absorb those beneficial electrons like a sponge!
Check out this snapshot of me with my two boys walking barefoot through the woods last week!
Like many things on this path, you need to experience them for yourself, to fully understand their benefits. Try walking barefoot on a soft lawn or in a park for just fifteen minutes. Or just sit out on the lawn with bare feet!
Breathe deep, and see how you feel afterward.
I bet you'll notice something.
- Nick Polizzi
Planting a herb garden is the perfect way to bring in the spring, and we humans have been doing it for thousands of years.
The ancients believed that every one of us can speak the secret language of plants. That we can learn how to harness their medicines by spending focused time with them -- just like cultivating a relationship with a new friend!
What's fascinating about this sacred belief is that it's being proven by modern science.
Get this: There's an abundance of scientific evidence that supports the health benefits of gardening. The data shows that tending to flowers and simply cohabitating with nature can calm anxiety, lift symptoms of depression and lower blood pressure! The subtle aromas from plants create an atmosphere of ease, while the meditation of working outside in nature has a number of its own physical and mental benefits.
Not to mention the amazing flavor and healing nutrients that these fresh herbs bring to every meal.
Ready to create your own herb garden this spring?
Here are three healing herbs that are easy to grow, no matter where you live.
#1 Peppermint (or anything from the mint family -- rosemary, lemon balm, etc.)
I consider peppermint an absolute must-have in the garden and in my life. Peppermint is an amazing ally for flu season because it is known to break fevers, soothe pain and calm stomach aches in record time.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is so low-maintenance that you'll hardly have to pay attention to it and it will still thrive. They grow very quickly, and even more so if you regularly pluck their abundant leaves for teas or for culinary purposes. (Just remember to cut gently at the stem and not take too much too soon or you will damage the plant.)
*Peppermint likes gritty, moist soil and partial sunlight.
#2 Calendula (aka Calendula officinalis)
These gorgeous golden flowers pop up in early summer if the seeds are tended to throughout the spring. Their petals are a powerful topical healer. Calendula is appropriate for any skin type. It can heal rashes, acne, minor scratches and bug bites. Taken as a tea, marigold petals help move lymphatic fluid properly to stimulate detoxification.
Plant these ASAP and see them sprout and bloom in the early summer. Give each seed about 12-18 square inches and bury them 1/4 inch into loamy, well-drained soil. Water regularly to keep the dirt moist, but not drenched.
#3 Dandelions -- Let Them Grow!
To quote my friend, Rosalee de la Foret of LearningHerbs, "Lawn purists" have poisoned this beloved herbal remedy for decades, but it continues to grow.
Truly every part of a dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is medicinal. It's widely respected as one of the premiere detox herbs, and decoction tea made of its roots is a great diet drink that helps you burn fat.
If you haven't tried this yet, fresh dandelion leaves are an amazing addition to salads and pestos to give a little bit of bite to sweeter recipes.
They're highly medicinal and extremely flavorful when prepared the right way, BUT it's the blooms and fuzzy seeds that bring giggles and laughter to children.
For all these reasons, I truly believe that dandelions should be protected.
With these three easy herbs-to-cultivate, you'll have a living medicine sanctuary that you can turn to for relief from everyday ailments.
- Nick Polizzi