Women’s Practices for Maintaining Vital Health by Clinical Herbalist, Angela Willard

Women's Practices for Maintaining Vital Health

Women’s Practices for Maintaining Vital Health

I love life, and I love it even more when I feel the ease in my body during and after a cleanse. The thing is, we need to find ways to feel this way all the time, even when the cleanse is over and ‘regular’ life sets back in. After experimenting with finding my optimal health level over the past number of years, I have found certain daily practices to come to mean the difference between feeling alright, and feeling fantastic! Follow me on this journey in discovering your own super goddess that resides within you.

For us women, who have a rainbow of responsibilities we all too often need to tend to in our lives, we generally run with a vessel more on the empty side. With that, my goal in writing this piece is to guide women in all places and spaces, to be inspired to fill their vessel so full, that they experience life with ease rather than effort. When things come from a place of effort, all of our energy becomes focused on catching up, and restoring balance. Why not instead experience the blissful feeling of having abundant reserves, which fuel us to fulfill not only our responsibilities, but also our passions and creativity. It is in our creativity that we may find our solace, get to know our selves more deeply, and continue to grow and evolve on this path of life.

With that, I have compiled a list of simple practices to implement on a daily basis, whether cleansing or not, to bring fullness to life and allow us to come from that place of nourished contentment rather than from a sense of imbalance and struggle.

Fermenting Foods

Not only do I feel much better eating fermented foods on a daily basis, I get great pleasure and nourishment from playing a part in the fermentation process. Having a direct relationship with your food is a potent way of receiving healthful benefits. Fermentation is a vast area you can participate in, from making your own sauerkraut, to creating your own tempehs, delicious drinks such as beet kvass  and kombucha, or even special occasion beverages such as meads and herbal wines. Some plant properties are more potent and bio-available when fermented, and fermented foods are high in probiotic cultures that support and guard the GI tract. It doesn’t take too long to feel confident with fermenting, and usually you can get your favorite process down after one or two tries. I recommend you start with small batches until you feel you have it right. The following recipe for Beet Kvass is something I’ve really enjoyed making, and it’s positive impact on women through supporting liver function and hormone balance makes it an optimal daily tonic drink.

Beet Kvass Recipe:

  • 3 medium beets, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • Clean source of Water

Instructions: Add chopped beets to a 1 liter mason jar, sprinkle on salt, and top with water leaving about one inch of air from the top. Cover with a lid, give it a good shake, and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 days (if you are in a warm climate 2 days should be enough). Place in fridge and drink about ½ cup per day.  When the jar gets low on kvass, top with water again for a second batch. Save a little of the kvass to add to your next batch with new beets to help kick start the fermentation process. After using the beets to make your kvass, you can add them to your next meal as a delicious addition!

Consume Seaweeds

  • The health benefits of consuming seaweeds is a very extensive list. Keep in mind that if you are new to bringing seaweeds into your diet, it may take a few weeks to notice some of the benefits, as some receptors in the body need to ‘re-learn’ how to integrate seaweeds into the system. What I consider the top reasons for women to eat these wonderful foods are the following:
  • High mineral content, especially great for those that eat little or no animal products.
  • It’s iodine content helps regulate and balance the thyroid, a sensitive endocrine gland that when in a healthy state directly affects ones feeling of well being and ability to move through life with full reserves of energy.
  • High Vitamin content, specifically containing Vitamins A, B’s (B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12), C, D (contains ergosterol which the body converts to D), E, and K.
  • Fucoidan, a property specific to brown seaweeds, is a great life giver from the ocean. It has the ability to target foreign cells and dismember them while encouraging proper energy flow throughout the body and it’s integrative systems. The simplest way to consume Fucoidan is to take 2 tsp of any powdered brown seaweed (or you can use Harmonic Arts Fucoidan blend), add it to 1 C of water, and bring to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Take 2-3 Tbsp each day, mixed with juice if needed to make it more palatable.  Stores in a container in the fridge for up to 1 week. You may start to notice uplifted feelings in your sense of self fairly quickly, as it efficiently helps to improve mood within a womans hormonal cycle. Currently there are about 900 scientific studies around the world on Fucoidan, it appears to have an incredibly positive impact on overall human health.

Get your Daily Sweat On!

Whether it be from exercise, or relaxing in a steam or sauna, allowing the body to sweat supports the skin. The skin is one of the four eliminatory channels of the body. Regular exercise is proven to extend the human life span, and greatly increase the quality of life. A physically fit body is able to efficiently protect against invasive pathogens, process toxins and other substances that may be backed up and causing  imbalance. Exercise also strengthens the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, keeping them functioning at their highest. All of this increases oxygen to each and every cell, gifting your whole being a breath of fresh air.

The lymphatic system also benefits from the muscle pump action generated in exercise. As it is the pathway that toxins are channeled out in the body, the best way to cleanse it is through movement. To support the lymphatic system during a steam or sauna, alternating the session with very cold showers will give the lymph a good cleansing. Infrared sauna is ideal, but also beneficial are herbal steams, cedar sauna, sweat lodges, or the traditional latin american temescal.

Incorporate Superfoods and Superherbs into a regular regime

These potent botanicals can support a high quality lifestyle, for the long term.

Superherbs are basically powerful acting herbs that have an intelligent ability to adapt to current needs and stresses, in order to support the whole person system with greater flexibility in life. With that, many of them are considered Adaptogens and Longevity Tonics, as they act most prominently on ones internal weak spots and support the HPA axis for accurate stress response.

Superfoods can be described as nutrient dense low calorie foods, with little to no negative effects, allowing the body to consume higher quantities than other botanicals. Consuming the same amount of Superfoods as other common foods will deliver much higher nutrition to the body. Below is a list of some of my favorite super herbs and foods that deliver an especially great boost to the female reproductive and hormonal system:

1. Goji berries (Lycium chinense); these tasty berries are very high in antioxidants, protect and strengthen the liver, boost immune, and stimulate the release of HGH, a hormone that keeps us looking and feeling young.

2. Fo-Ti (Polygonum multiflorum); this traditional chinese yin tonic nourishes the body, as it builds energy reserves and slows the aging process.  It increases fertility and libido in women, allowing women to feel as though they are in their power and feeling their best.

3. Maca (Lepidium meyenii); influences the pituitary gland which in turn regulates overall hormone excretion. Increases energy, addresses a wide variety of women’s menstrual and menopausal discomforts, and contains significant amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B12, C and E, as well as minerals (calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, iron).

4. Schizandra berries (Schisandra chinensis); these berrries contain lignans which help to protect the liver.  It is said that if consuming Schizandra berries every day for 100 days, your skin will glow like the moon.  They also bring healing to the lungs and ability to take in oxygen, as well as keep defenses against external pathogens strong.

5. Medicinal Mushrooms; I couldn’t pick just one of them! Studies have shown that medicinal mushrooms are more effective when combined as opposed to used singularly. They are a potent way to help prevent most all illnesses through a number of mechanisms. They are proven to enhance immune response, improve the bodies ability to produce Vitamin D, are anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, liver supportive, and calming to an overactive nervous system. Harmonic Arts has two medicinal mushroom blends available~ 6 mushroom or 14 mushroom blend steam extracted powders, which are bio-available to the body as is, and can be sprinkled in anything from smoothies, salad dressings, and soups. Some examples of medicinal mushrooms are Shiitaki(Lentinus edodes), Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) , and Maitaki (Grifola frondosa).

6. Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum); Useful for coping with stress, helps increase energy, and raises the ability to deal with pain. All in all this herb is wonderful for fortifying and building overall strength.  It’s ‘holiness’ comes from the Vedic observations that it opens the heart and mind which in turn enhances love and devotion.

7. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus); Brings balance to symptoms of the female hormone cycles. Helps to improve sense of well being prior to menstruation, tones the uterus, lessens hot flashes in menospausal women, and maintains womens overall good health.

8. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera); The translation of this Sanskrit name is ‘to make like horse’, so if you can imagine the strength and vigor of a stallion, it gives you an idea of the force of this plant.  It is helpful to build back the body’s strength after illness, or during times of high stress.  It also has shown to help increase fertility in both men and women.

And Don’t Forget to Stretch

Stretching yourself comes in many forms. Often people think of yoga right away, which is a wonderful practice to bring into your life if you have not already. There are other ways you may wish to explore stretching in your life as well. Trying something new, or different than the way you normally would do things, can be both exhilarating and consciousness shifting. Sticking to patterns can work for awhile, but when it comes to evolving the self, patterns can equate to turning in circles versus spiraling up and cultivating growth.  Try to bring into your daily practice the choice of doing something you don’t normally do. Record each new experience down in a journal, and after a cycle of one month, look back on your recordings and notice how your self has changed with this practice. You may find that your growth has accelerated in the direction you wish to be going.

Along with the above suggestions, I recommend that you do a mini inventory on the daily influences that you allow into the experience of your life. We are regularly bombarded with un-natural sights, sounds, ideas, circumstances, and occurrences. It has now become a mass acceptance of the norm. Ask yourself if what you are experiencing in each moment lines up with your highest self. If it in any way does not, purge and cleanse that influence from your life and fill that space with something that fills your heart. Not only will this improve your experience in the world, it ripples out and improves the overall experience of the world, coming back at you as the love you are willing to accept. Using discernment with what you allow into your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual body will ultimately take you to a place of feeling ‘cleansed’ in every moment, gifting your life a continual experience of true well being.

 

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Angela Willard

Angela Willard received her Clinical Herbalist Diploma from the Wild Rose College in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 2005. She has since been in practice as an Herbalist through many avenues including consulting, growing herbs, wildcrafting, and co-creating the Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary with her husband, also clinical herbalist, Yarrow Willard. She has focused her practice and education in womens health, and as a result has had the opportunity to work with women on a variety of levels. She is the proud mother of two children, Rowan (4) and Linden (2), birthed naturally at home without complications, which she attributes to embracing the wisdom and practices of natural health. Angela and her family reside on Vancouver Island where they happily live in harmony with the plants and their community. They continuously breathe life into each other and their vibrant business, Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, which offers a full spectrum variety of herbs, herbal preparations, and superfoods, as well as information that empowers people to live with integrity to their highest potential. You can visit the Harmonic Arts Website here: http://www.haromonicarts.ca and Join their Facebook community: http://www.facebook.com/HarmonicArts
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About Angela Willard

Angela Willard received her Clinical Herbalist Diploma from the Wild Rose College in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 2005. She has since been in practice as an Herbalist through many avenues including consulting, growing herbs, wildcrafting, and co-creating the Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary with her husband, also clinical herbalist, Yarrow Willard. She has focused her practice and education in womens health, and as a result has had the opportunity to work with women on a variety of levels. She is the proud mother of two children, Rowan (4) and Linden (2), birthed naturally at home without complications, which she attributes to embracing the wisdom and practices of natural health. Angela and her family reside on Vancouver Island where they happily live in harmony with the plants and their community. They continuously breathe life into each other and their vibrant business, Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, which offers a full spectrum variety of herbs, herbal preparations, and superfoods, as well as information that empowers people to live with integrity to their highest potential. You can visit the Harmonic Arts Website here: http://www.haromonicarts.ca and Join their Facebook community: http://www.facebook.com/HarmonicArts

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