Blend- It- Yourself Pregnancy Tea

Blend- It- Yourself Pregnancy Tea, with recipes for anxiety and heartburn! via Feed Me, Mama!

One of the very first sects of alternative medicine that I adopted into my own life was studying herbs and medicinal teas. Soon after I got married, I became fascinated with the properties of herbs- the way that chamomile tea could put me to sleep, but peppermint could wake me up, but both could help a headache? Who wouldn’t be fascinated by that? It wasn’t long before I started buying loose herbs and blending my own teas- a blend for sleep, a blend for immunity, a blend for PMS. My friends would come to me when they weren’t feeling well and have me blend something specific for their ailments. I loved the empowerment that came with understanding herbs and how they could help me!

When I first became pregnant, I could barely choke down a hot meal, let alone any kind of hot tea- so, supporting my pregnancy with this kind of alternative medicine was out the window (I went to acupuncture instead…but more on that another time). However, once I finally waded out of the nausea into the second trimester, I began drinking a few cups of Traditional Medicinals Pregnancy Herbal Tea each day, and supplementing that with specific blends from Earth Mama Angel Baby for heartburn and anxiety. Well, it wasn’t long before I started doing the math, and realized that it would be much cheaper for me to blend the teas myself- so I ordered some herbs from the Bulk Herb Store and got to work!

This is what’s in my daily pregnancy tea. The active ingredients are identical to that of the Traditional Medicinals tea!

Blend- It- Yourself Pregnancy Tea, with recipes for anxiety and heartburn! via Feed Me, Mama!

Peppermint
Red Raspberry Leaf
Alfalfa
Nettle

I mix equal parts of each herb in my french press and steep for at least ten minutes. Pour and drink!

When I am feeling anxious, I add in a half part each of Lavender and Chamomile.

When I have heartburn, I cut the peppermint in half and add some fresh grated ginger, or fresh squeezed lemon juice to the cup!

See? Mixing your own herbal tea can be that simple. I ordered half a pound of each herb, organic, from the Bulk Herb Store, and it will last me through the end of the pregnancy, and probably well beyond. The best part? I just ran across a great post from Modern Alternative Mama using these same herbs to make a hormone-balancing post-birth tea!

Do you have a tea blend that you swear by? Or a favorite that you buy without fail, that you’d like to learn to make? Tell me! Let’s try it!

Great selection of bulk herbs, books, and remedies. Articles, Research Aids and much more.
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Surviving the First Trimester- Naturally

firsttrimester

I was a pathetic mess my entire first trimester.

I’m serious. It was embarrassing. I wish I could say that I was one of those women who just brought along a trash bag and towel wherever she went and barfed when necessary and just powered through life, but it just wasn’t true. The nausea and vomiting was so bad that many days I never got dressed and didn’t leave the house. I am so, so thankful that I have a job that I can do from the comfort of my home 90% of the time. I seriously don’t know how I would have managed a 9-5 office job. It was completely the grace of the Lord that I got through alive.

All that to say, many women have it much more difficult than I do. I was never hospitalized, I was able to stay off of anti-nausea medicine (though it was offered to me many times), and I was still able to work. But almost every women who experiences pregnancy has some degree of nausea and vomiting, though it’s different for everyone. And we all have different things that make our nausea better! Today, I want to share the things that helped me make it through- regardless of how pathetic I was.

-Eat a complex carb before you lift your head from the pillow. My go-to was Trader Joe’s Rosemary & Raisin Crackers- filled with flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and lots of other fun super grains for my little girl. I must’ve eaten through 20 boxes during my first trimester. When I say “before you lift your head”, I am not kidding. I would grab the box, spin over onto my belly, and eat half a box of crackers before even thinking about getting out of bed. Not the cutest thing I’ve ever done, but it would sit heavily enough in my stomach to get me downstairs, let me go to the bathroom, and fix something for breakfast without spiraling into an all-day mess of nausea.

-Eat OFTEN. As in, I ate every 1.5-2 hours MAX. Keeping something in my tummy was the only way I could avoid feeling gross. It didn’t necessarily matter what it was, as long as I got it down. It was my ‘preventative measure’.

-Figure out what herbs work for you. For me, ginger made me even more sick, so I had to avoid anything with ginger in it, including virtually every anti-nausea tea on the market. However, peppermint worked wonders for me, as did chamomile. I would keep a small box of altoids in my purse and suck on one or two whenever I started to feel gross. Breathing in a chamomile steam inhalation (or simply making chamomile tea and sipping it) was also really effective.

-Stay hydrated. Lemon is another anti nausea aid that many people find helpful- I was pretty much constantly sipping ice water with a heaping amount of lemon juice in it, and it really did make me feel better- and staying hydrated is key to keeping yourself well.

-Try alternative medicine. I see a Chinese Herbalist and received acupuncture treatments throughout my first trimester that I really feel helped keep my sickness manageable. Check with your insurance to see if they cover alternative medicine- mine covers 75%! You might be surprised. Aromatherapy, focusing on ginger, lemon, or peppermint essential oils, can also be helpful- either applied in a carrier oil or used in a diffuser, or even in bath water.

-Up your magnesium levels. Some lovely mamas online suggested using magnesium oil topically twice a day, and I think this also contributed to my survival. you can also add magnesium oil, or a ton of epsom salts, into bathwater and have yourself a nice soak. I honestly don’t know all the science behind this one, but I can say that it worked for me, and for many other mamas as well!

-Don’t force yourself to eat what isn’t appealing to you. You will barf. It will suck.

-Take your prenatals and don’t stress. Your baby is very tiny and requires very little at this stage- do your best and your prenatals will cover you. But- DO your BEST too! Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat donuts all day. Your baby is a beautiful responsibility- take the best care of him or her that you can!

-Don’t be afraid to ask of help. I remember calling my mom and asking her to come over and clean my toilet for me one morning, and while it was very humbling, it was worth it. Especially if you have other children, give yourself grace. Accept a meal from a friend, an offer to babysit, take an extra nap while your kids sleep.

-Recognize when you need medical attention. Some people truly need anti-nausea medication to get through the first trimester. Others suffer from a debilitating condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which requires a lot of monitoring, and often medication, to control. If you can’t keep anything down and you can tell that something is wrong, take care of yourself. Your body, and your baby, will thank you.

Have any of these tips worked for you? What else helped you survive your first trimester queasies?

The World’s Worst Cold Season

Hi, friends!

It goes without saying how sad I am that I literally haven’t posted a blog in over a month. This blog is therapeutic for me- a way to process what I am learning, share what I am passionate about and, yes, release a bit of frustration sometimes. Well, that frustration has certainly come to a head in the past weeks because it seems that myself and everyone I know is sick! Seeing this, I thought I would share some steps you can take to prevent and combat the common cold when it has you down and out.

About three weeks ago, I came down with the worst cold I have ever had- I was like a walking Nyquil commercial. I had a sore throat, itchy eyes, terrible sinus congestion, couldn’t sleep as a result, it was just awful. Never had I come down with such a stereotypically miserable cold. It just so happened that I was co-Music Director for that weekend’s Chrysalis Retreat, and the one thing I was dreading was beginning to happen- losing my voice. Well, I made it through- and here are some of the tricks I used to keep my voice and my sanity during those stuffy days:

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Medicinal Teas. My two go-tos were both from Traditional Medicinals: Gypsy’s Cold Care and Throat Coat. Spoiler alert- they both taste kind of awful, but they are both very effective. Gypsy’s lessens general cold symptoms as well as cutting down on the duration of the cold, while Throat Coat is particularly useful if you are prone to laryngitis whenever you get sick, like me. There are mixed views on using Throat Coat when you are sick- especially if your throat issues are sinus related, it can sometimes make you produce more mucus in an attempt to lubricate the throat. Bottom line- use your best judgement. Don’t use it for the first time before a big performance unless you know how your body will react.

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Honey. So much of it. Raw and local is best. Over the course of the Chrysalis weekend, I downed close to a two pound bottle of raw honey (a lot of this in attempts to cover the taste of the Throat Coat tea!). Honey is an antiseptic and a lubricant, which helps both coat and heal your throat.

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Neti pot or other sinus rinse. Yes, this is uncomfortable at first, but you are not only removing excess mucus, but neutralizing PH and flushing out any germs and allergens in your nasal passages. I was doing this upwards of 4x a day when my cold was at its worst.

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BLOW your NOSE. I can’t emphasize this enough! Keep tissues with you all the time- Target sells really cute little ’tissue wallets’ that I should by stock in. The more you can get that stuff out, the better off you are going to feel. Sniffing and swallowing (gross, I know) is only going to keep you sick. It can even give you an upset stomach. Just don’t let it happen.

-Sleep sitting up. Not completely, but prop two or three pillows under your head to keep post-nasal drip at bay. It sicks but you will probably end up sleeping better than you would have originally.

-Check out your environment. We recently discovered a lovely mold infestation in our closet- no wonder we are staying sick forever! Make sure that you don’t have a culprit hiding somewhere…

-Healing baths. This can help any type of sickness- taking a hot bath is like having a self-induced fever- your body temperature rises and your body’s immune responses are heightened, which helps fight off germs. Adding helpful herbs like peppermint, eucalyptus, or rosemary can aid in clearing congestion. If you don’t have a bath tub, put some essential oils in the corner of your shower and inhale in the steam!

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-Steam inhalations– these are my favorite! Boil a pot of water, pour it into a bowl and add some essential oils (eucalyptus is the most effective). Form a tent over your head with a towel and inhale! Have tissues ready because this can work very quickly! I like to do this after I do a sinus rinse- it leaves me clear and feeling good.

-Supplements. Vitamin C is a given, but Vitamin D is also proven to help ward off sickness! Echinacea is an easy-to-find herb that is a powerhouse for strengthening the immune system. It is often paired with Goldenseal. Green tea and other antioxidant-rich supplements will help, too!

-Eat foods that will help your body heal. Focus on getting a plant-based, whole foods diet especially when you are sick. Get away from the processed foods! Dairy especially is a big hindrance to healing and makes you produce more mucus. Red meats take more energy for your body to digest, which pulls energy away from the healing process. Juices are great when you are sick, because they are chock full of nutrients but easy to digest- letting your body focus all of it’s energy on healing! Garlic and Onions are two foods that are especially good for mucus cleansing. Ideally- a whole foods vegan diet. I know it’s hard, but do your best!

-Get your rest. If you are run down, so is your immune response. Get enough sleep and take care of your body, it will take care of you!

Wishing you a health and energy this cold season,

Karli

Help Me! Anxiety

One of the most debilitating health issues that I have struggles with (and, sometimes, still do struggle with) is anxiety. It reached a head after Matt and I had been married for about a year, and I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I had always been the type of person that didn’t get stressed out, let things roll off my back, and was all-around easygoing. Suddenly, my heart would race if Matt wasn’t getting over to an exit lane quickly enough, or if I couldn’t find my dog, or for really any reason at all. I wasn’t myself and I didn’t know how to handle it.

One quick doctors appointment later (with a primary care that I had never met before, I might add) I had a lovely little pill to take that would solve my problems- at least, that’s what I was told. In the three months I took the medication, I only had negative side effects and never felt that my anxiety was alleviated. To make matters worse, I stopped taking the pills cold turkey, which made things much worse before they got better (apparently, my doctor should’ve told me not to do that, but that never happened). I became very aware that I had only done my body harm, and that I wasn’t going to get better (or at least manageable) without some life change.

One of the biggest things that I did (and most effective) was to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars. I was so, so addicted to coffee, and I love dessert like no other, so this was very difficult for me. However, caffeine and sugar both put the nervous system under stress, which allows anxiety to thrive. Instead of coffee in the mornings, I drank some anti-anxiety tea. You can make your own; any of these herbs work well (starred ones taste better than others):

Valerian

Kava

Lavender*

Chamomile*

Dandelion (young leaves, older taste bitter)

Lemon Balm*

Oats*

St. John’s Wort

Vervain

Many of these are available in blends or solo bags from Yogi teas or Traditional Medicinals, both of which are becoming readily available in local supermarkets. Make sure that you read up on how to prepare certain herbs- some must be boiled (like Valerian) while others are steeped like normal tea!

A hidden gem in the natural health world is a magnesium supplement called Natural Calm. Magnesium has an almost immediate calming effect, and this supplement (a powdered drink mix, much like Crystal Light) delivers deliciously. I loved having some before work, or before bed, or really anytime I needed a bit of a calming boost. Most health stores will carry it, and I have even seen it at a supermarket here and there. Very well worth it.

In addition to cutting out certain foods and adding in others, I strived to avoid processed foods and instead add whole foods into my diet- a change that now has become lifestyle for me. Our bodies readily receive the nourishment they need via whole foods, instead of having to drudge through processed foods for the sub-par nutrition available there! Keeping our bodies whole helps us function as we should.

Another key part of my recovery was the addition of exercise into my daily routine. I fell in love with yoga (thanks to the lovely Debra Corso), started rock climbing, and generally tried to stay as active as I could. Not only did this take my mind off of stressors in my life, but the exercise helped my body to function properly, which allowed me to handle situations with grace and ease that was hard to come by beforehand. These days, I practice a bit of yoga in my home, and run 3-5 times a week.

The most important part of my battle with anxiety has been conversations with people that care about me, love the Lord, and help me to focus on what is important. Christian counselors are invaluable if you are struggling with anxiety- the time that I spent speaking with trusted people about my struggle, the more I realized that focus on Christ and his Kingdom was necessary and missing from my life. Regaining vision for my life and praying through panicky situations helped me tremendously.

Please understand that I write these things from my experience and studies, not from a professional standpoint. My experience with anti-anxiety medication may vary drastically from someone else’s, nor can each persons case be treated the same. These are simply changes that helped me, and I pray that they help someone else, too.

Peace be with you,

Karli

Easy Health Tips: For Ladies Only

But seriously, if you’re a dude, just stop reading. You don’t want this.

Ok, let’s get real. Periods suck, and our coping mechanisms suck worse- popping pills with who-knows-what long term effects, medications that could affect our long term fertility, binge eating terrible (yet delicious) things, laying on the couch in agony? Is there really no other option?

Since I first got my period, I can remember lying on the floor of my bedroom trying not to move and positioning heating pads on my back and belly to try to relieve the pain. Painkillers didn’t help, so soon I just didn’t bother. I just accepted that one or two days a month would be hell and I would just have to get over it.

In the past few years, however, experimenting with diet and alternative medicine has not done away with the pain and discomfort entirely, but certainly has made it manageable. I hope maybe some of these tips will help you!

CUT OUT caffeine, sugar, alcohol, processed foods-especially the week before your period. All of these things mess wi your body and prevent it from being in a place to properly function. Eat whole foods and drink plenty of water.

STAY ACTIVE. This is the hardest for me, but it really is worth it. Even taking a short walk outside in the morning can lessen cramping for the day and help things to flow smoothly-literally. There are also many yoga poses recommended for dysmenorrhea (heavy cramping) including child’s pose, bridge, wide squat, and pigeon. Be careful, though, to avoid inversions while on your period. This is a great sequence to try at home.

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wide squat pose

AVOID HORMONES LIKE THE PLAGUE. So many women in the US struggle with hormone imbalances caused simply by eating foods and using products that contain hormone disrupting agents. This includes meats that aren’t organic, many cosmetics that are filled with chemicals, perfumes, and conventionally grown produce, among other things. This is a fascinating subject, one that Jillian Michaels tackles thoroughly in her book Master Your Metabolism. Key points-eat organic. Be careful what you put on your skin and what you clean your house with. This is all effective how your hormones work and likely making your periods worse.

GET TESTED for a serious hormone imbalance. I found out a few months ago that I gave a hormone imbalance, and I now use a little cream before I go to bed and it has made everything substantially better- shorter, lighter periods, less cramping, less PMS before my period. Be careful, however, with treatment options- synergic hormones are dangerous and can cause even more damage in the long run as your body starts to adjust to the new hormone level. Look for a bio identical hormone replacement that works with your body to boost your levels. I like Emerita Pro-Gest, and I have heard good things ago Arbonne ProLief.

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TRY A TEA. There are many readily available tea blends for treating period symptoms, I have tried most of them and always had good results. My favorite is Traditional Medicinals Female Toner. You have to drink a lot (2-4 cups per day) of these teas to really get the benefits, but it is so worth it.

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DETOX BATHS with things like Epsom salts, activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda help pull toxins from your body that could be disrupting your hormones, interfering with bodily processes, and making your periods worse. The heat and relaxation of a bath don’t hurt, either!

BE BRAVE and try some alternative equipment. Tampons have always been the easiest thing, but they could be causing unnecessary discomfort by plugging things up rather than letting them flow. Pads avoid this traffic jam effect, and there are many great companies that make reusable pads that are easy on the pocketbook. I can’t stand the diaper feeling, so I have moved to a Diva Cup with great results- check them out here.

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Do you have any tried and true tricks to share?