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Jul 18, 2018

July Window to Wanderlust

by Abbie Warnock-Matthews

Jul 5, 2018

Your Experience is Valid, Too

by Aspen Anderson

I think the issue was that I had too much coffee. That is pretty hard to do, but when combined with a day of talking with people at a convention, as an introvert I definitely overextended myself. As I stood at my booth nodding as a woman told me the terrible story of how she found an abandoned puppy in a trash bag, trying to find the right combination of sympathy and active listening facial expressions, the conversation weighed on me and I felt dizzy and claustrophobic. It is a common feeling for me when someone I don't know well is talking and I don't know if the conversation will be easy to get out of. My social anxiety always keeps me thinking three sentences ahead, worrying that I time my reactions too soon or too late, make my voice or expressions too strong or not strong enough to express them properly. As the day went on, I tried everything I could think of to get my nerves to calm down - I hid in the bathroom for twenty minutes, I made sure I ate, I tried to breathe and take a walk. Nothing helped. My nerves were still raw. I would be speaking on the main stage, but I minded that much less than one-on-one conversations, so I knew it wasn't nerves. I was just tired and overcaffeinated. 

Desperately wishing I had brought some sort of anti-anxiety medication with me, I looked across the room and saw a booth heavy-laden with crystals. While other people in my social circles swore by their healing properties, it was not something that resonated with my often over-analytical mind. But at this point, I would try anything. 

I wandered over and asked the man tending the booth if he had anything for anxiety. He asked what kind, and when I told him it was social anxiety, he nodded, and much like I do when someone tells me their dog struggled with arthritis, his hand seemed to itch to rush to a solution he had explained hundreds of times before. He led me around to the edge of the booth and handed me a piece of black tourmaline. 

The effect was immediate. The weight of the large piece felt solid in my hand, grounding and secure. My arm almost felt like it was vibrating, warming, and the tension that had been in my chest all day long making it difficult to concentrate began to ease. It didn't disappear, but it felt like healing balm was being applied to my raw insides and that it would be over soon. I bought the large crystal on the spot and clung to it until I finally felt like I was myself again. I don't like believing in anything I don't understand, but sometimes comprehension can take a back seat to experience. If you find something that works, you don't need a thousand scientific studies to validate your personal experience. Just knowing it helps can be enough.  

Jul 5, 2018

The Benefits of Bitters

by Brittini Gehring, MH

We are all familiar with the idea of craving something sweet or salty. But do you ever crave something bitter? While bitters may not currently be on your cravings list, your body is wise and will start to hunger after the benefits of bitters over time. All three of these flavors have evolved into descriptions of feelings and personality traits. Being “sweet” is a good thing. Observing that someone is “salty” refers to sass, irritation, and even a foul mouth, but is still an upbeat term used humorously. “Bitter,” on the other hand, is a negative word to describe a level of nastiness no one wants to be around! While you may not want to be bitter emotionally, from a digestive perspective, bitter foods are where it’s at! If you are not accustomed to bitters, you should be. Here are the reasons bitters should be your go-to flavor.

Dietary Wellness Assistant - Bitters assist your body in making healthier food choices overall. Bitters help to curb cravings while stimulating an appetite for nutritious foods.

Nutrient Rich - Bitters are usually those dark leafy greens that are too often misunderstood at the grocery store, or they can be found amongst the weeds you are constantly battling in your yard. Regardless of where you find them, it would be sensible to take the time to look them over at the store and research how to prepare them. Or turn some of your weed patches into fresh produce at no cost! In doing so, you will load your body with oodles of potent nutrients that are both highly nutritious and protective for your cells.

Tastebud Sidekick - Bitters jump into action the second you put them in your mouth, waking up taste buds and kicking them into hyperdrive. Due to their biting flavor, chewing bitters helps activate the brain to start releasing digestive chemicals and notifying the digestive players in the body. They help stimulate enzymes in the saliva that alert the digestive system to start creating bile. Taking bitters in capsule form would, of course, override this action, but are still beneficial.

Digestive Companion - Bitters are your best friend when it comes to the digestive process. Amongst some of the supportive actions instigated by bitters are the ability to encourage certain organs such as the stomach, pancreas, and liver to effectively produce crucial digestive enzymes, support smooth muscle function, enhance digestion time, fight negative digestive responses, and help support healthy digestive tissue over time.

Healthy Organ Advocate - Your organs benefit greatly from bitters. Bitters support a healthy pancreas, normal blood sugar balance and a healthy bloodstream. They gently nourish the liver and support liver function and detoxification.

These are just some of the benefits of adding bitters to your diet. Bitter extracts go great in cocktails, too, and a big push culturally for bitters has been driven by creative bar concoctions (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) as well creative culinary recipes that include bitters in soups, salads, pies, and ice cream! Overall, bitters benefit your body and support health and wellness in ways no other food or supplement can.

Jul 5, 2018

The Best Reasons to Buy Local Produce

by Matt Warnock

People across America are mystifying their neighbors, as they discover the strange and wonderful joys of buying local produce. With a well-stocked supermarket on nearly every corner, why would people drive for miles and line up early on a Saturday morning to pay higher prices for vegetables by visiting a local farm stand, co-op, or farmer's market? If you don't know, you haven't tried it yet. But here are my top reasons.

1. Know your food. There is great comfort in buying your food right at the source. Want to know whether your produce has been organically grown? Would you rather look for a sticker, or personally ask the family that grew it?

2. More and better varieties. Supermarkets typically carry only one or two varieties of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, apples, and pears; a few kinds of lettuce; and usually only one or two other kinds of produce. But local farmers may be trying out a wide variety of different strains, including unique and flavorful heirloom varieties, that you may never see in a supermarket.

3. Field ripened and preservative-free. Supermarket produce is often picked well before it is ripe, then coated with wax or other preservatives to slow ripening while it is transported, and stored until it is finally ripe enough for sale. Warehouse ripened produce can't hope to compare in flavor or nutrition to produce that has ripened in a sunny field until nearly bursting with goodness.

4. Earth-friendly. Supermarket produce may travel for thousands of miles to its destination, using expensive and often non-renewable resources for processing, refrigeration, transportation, packaging, display, and lighting.

5. Support your local economy. Almost all of the money spent in your local farmer's market stays around to help and support your neighbors, rather than taking a side trip through some multi-national corporation on the other end of the country or world. And it encourages more of the same, helping to preserve the diversity and health of our mutual food supply.

Jul 3, 2018

DIY Laundry Detergent

by RidgeCrest Herbals

1 C. Borax

1 C. Washing Soda

1 bar Fels Naptha or Equivalent Castille Soap, shredded or ground

1 C. OxyClean 

30-40 drops of your favorite Essential Oils

Use a cheese grater or food processor to grind down your bar soap. Mix all ingredients, except essential oils, until well combined. Add in essential oils and mix again. Use 1 - 2 TBSP's for high-efficiency washers or 2 - 4 TBSP's for regular washers.

Jul 3, 2018

July Organtics

by RidgeCrest Herbals

Jun 26, 2018

June Window to Wanderlust

by Abbie Warnock-Matthews

Jun 26, 2018

Homemade Body Scrub

by RidgeCrest Herbals

Jun 26, 2018

Fresh, Dried, or Extracts?

by Matt Warnock

Any live plant is a chemical factory. Green plants grow by chemical processes, using sunlight for energy, and taking water, carbon, and mineral elements from the soil, and turning carbon dioxide into free oxygen. A lot of this chemical energy is used in building glucose molecules, the simple sugars that are the fundamental building blocks for cellulose, the material that makes up the rigid cell walls of plants. Cellulose is common to many plants, and may make up about a third of all plant matter, while other chemicals are unique to a particular family of plants, like citrus, or even unique to a single species, like tangerine. When using herbs as medicine, it is these combinations of unique chemicals that we rely on for their therapeutic effects. We don't rely on the water or the cellulose, both of which we get in large amounts in our regular diet. But as important as cellulose is to digestive health, it is these other unique compounds that deliver the goods in herbal medicine.

Traditionally, herbs were used fresh where possible, and that is still the best way to use them. But it isn't very convenient. Many herbs can only be grown in a particular environment, and if you live outside that environment, then growing isn't really an option for you. Fresh herbs are often seasonal as well, so you can't get them year-round. Fresh herbs will wilt unless used very quickly, and if not properly managed, they can even spoil and make you sick. For most people, anything more than a small pot of fresh chives, parsley and/or basil in a windowsill is really more herb farming than they really want to take on.

Dried herbs are much easier to transport, store and use, and when dried properly, are very nearly as potent as fresh herbs. Dried herbs have been used for thousands of years, so their characteristics are very well-known. Dried herbs can be stored for many years if kept out of sunlight, cool, and dry, especially in an airtight container. Dried herbs are generally cut and sifted, milled or powdered before use so they can be sprinkled on food or used in teas, tablets, or capsules. Once powdered, it is more difficult (but not impossible) to assess the quality of the original herb, and crooked vendors may try to pad their wallets by diluting expensive herbs with inexpensive powders like cellulose or maltodextrin. When buying any powdered herb, stick to well-known and reputable suppliers, and do your homework. Sometimes even reputable and knowledgeable suppliers have been known to fall for this old trick. Many herbs contain chemicals that are not very soluble in water, but are more soluble in alcohol, oil, or other liquids, so many other fluids have been used for extraction. More recently, “supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) has used gases like carbon dioxide to extract chemicals at high pressures but lower temperatures and at faster speeds than conventional methods. One of the difficulties with extraction is that there is no standardized extraction process. For example, a “4:1” herbal extract supposedly means that 4 kilograms of input herbal material were used for every 1 kilogram of extract produced. But small changes in the inputs or the process can produce huge changes in the extract. For example, if you boil a cup of tea or coffee too long, use more or less water, or use a different bean or leaf, you will get a very different result. By the same token, the quality of herbs and the process of extraction is likely to differ dramatically from one manufacturer to another. One manufacturer may use only the medicinal root, while another uses the whole plant to save money. One may use water alone, while another uses water and alcohol.

One may steep the herb for a day while another gives it a week. One may dry the extract onto maltodextrin, while the other dries it on unextracted herb. Rarely if ever does the 4:1 designation mean you can use 1⁄4 of the amount of the extract and get the same result, but it is very common for a 4:1 extract to sell for 10 times the price of the herb from which it was made. Extracts in most cases just don't seem to add value. Standardized extracts are not much better. They are typically “standardized” only for one certain “marker compound”. For example, a hot pepper extract may be standardized for capsaicin, while a black pepper extract might be standardized for piperine. In cultivation, hot peppers can vary from 0% up to about 6% capsaicin, and black pepper runs 38% piperine. Suppose the extract is standardized for 4% in both cases. A batch that tests higher than the specification can be diluted, and one that tests low can be spiked with the pure capsaicin or piperine to bring it up to specification. In either event, there is no specification or standard regarding the input material, what extraction process was used, or what other compounds make up the result. In practice, standardized extracts are not nearly as “standardized” as they sound.

Jun 26, 2018

Honoring Feelings

by Sherm Anderson

When I read through the long list of subject ideas, I have to admit that this one jumped out at me, as if to say: “This is important; you need to find out more about it, and, perhaps, find ways to become better at it.” It has been my privilege to research this subject, mostly for selfish reasons, because I know, deep down, that I have shied away from it for much too long, and have been in denial about its importance. Ever since my elementary school days, I have been a teaser and a jokester, hopefully not to the point of being abusive, but certainly not a model of kindness or empathy.

  At the outset, I want us to agree on one thing:  this is, undeniably, an important area of concern.  If you’re not convinced about that, consider the following quote by Elwood P. Dowd (played by Jimmy Stewart) in the 1950 classic film, Harvey:  “Years ago my mother used to say to me…. ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be Oh-so-smart or Oh-so-pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart --- I recommend being pleasant.  You may quote me.”

    Another reason that, for me, is compelling, is that, after many years of observation, I have come to believe in what is known as the “Law of the Circle”, which, basically goes something like this:

Whatever you send out will come back to you, sometimes magnified, or in greater proportions.

   How do we honor feelings, whether they be our own or those of another person?  Although it is, by no means, all inclusive, following is a list of suggestions that I have gathered:

 1) Practice listening

 2) Show interest in other people

 3) Look for the good in everything

 4) When you point a finger at someone, notice the other 3 (on your own hand) pointing back at you.

 5) Don’t sweat the small stuff (Newsflash: it’s all small stuff)

 6) Show reverence for all of God’s creations

 7) Don’t let complaints turn into criticisms, i.e., don’t make it personal.  Separate the sin from the sinner.

 8) Listen to and share good music; avoid music or any other “entertainment” that is not uplifting.

 9) Avoid profanity, and any other derogatory or belittling language.

10) Look for anything around you that is worthy of a compliment, and spend that extra time to give it.

11) Avoid negativity in all its forms.

12) Try to settle conflicts while they are small, thru understanding and talking it out.

13) Treat others with respect; give them the benefit of the doubt.

14) Avoid the urge to be sarcastic or hurtful.

15) Don’t be defensive; admit mistakes; learn to laugh at yourself.

16) Be reasonable in the time it takes you to respond to others’ questions, requests, concerns.

17) Watch what you eat and drink, and get an adequate amount of sleep.

Cavett Robert, one of my favorite motivational speakers, quoting Will Rogers, said this:“The Bible says, ‘Love your enemies’, but, just for practice, why not try it out on your friends?” The key to successful relationships, according to Mr. Robert, is making others feel important.

Let’s all give it a try.


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