Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Elderberry For Winter Illness

Try cooking up some elderberries
before subjecting yourself to vaccines
and injections. 
Elderberries are an example of when cold and flu remedies for winter illnesses can be delicious, natural, and really work.

Every year I pick elderberries from the elder tree in our back yard and use them to make a darkly mysterious and utterly delicious syrup. Usually I have lots of berries left-over, so I freeze them in bags for later on in the Winter season.

Elderberry syrup tastes beautiful on yogurt, with pancakes, or mixed into hot water for a steamy drink, but I don't just eat it because it's tasty. Studies have shown that elderberries may provide measurable protection against upper respiratory infections and seasonal viruses.

In 1995 researchers published an article in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that showed ingesting elderberry extract reduced the duration of a flu infection by up to 60%. That's important information if you need to recover from a winter illness and get back to your studio or office quickly.

Other clinical studies have since continued to support the use of elderberries, showing they reduce both the severity of symptoms and the duration of illness in many strains of influenza.

Elderberries are also full of vitamins, minerals, and potent antioxidant compounds that may play a role in preventing cancer.

You can buy elderberry extract in stores, health food shops and even pharmacies (I recommend the Nature's Way Sambucus liquid) but if you know where elder trees are growing, try harvesting some of the berries and making syrup or even jam.

James Wong, ethnobotanist and television show presenter for "Grow Your Own Drugs", has a fantastic elderberry jam recipe on his website.

Medicine has never been so delicious! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Green Tea for Anxiety

Changing from coffee to green
tea may help mental health.
Green tea is so easy, quick, and healthy, and it may reduce anxiety!

While I am naturally more attracted to either coffee or black tea as my beverage of choice while working on a project, sometimes I use green tea as a natural nervous system support.

The leaves of the camellia sinensis plant that are used to make green tea contain a rare amino acid called L-theanine. In a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience in July, 2013, researchers state that L-theanine is able to modulate neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain, and also improve memory and learning while reducing stress.

Previous studies from around the world have also confirmed the ability of green tea and L-theanine to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, stress, while enhancing cognitive performance.

Great for when you need something to get you through a stressful project!

You can buy L-theanine capsules, but green tea is infinitely cheaper and has extra benefits for your immune system, cardiovascular health, dental health and weight control.

I'm not saying, replace all your coffee and black tea with green tea. I myself would never do that.

But green tea is such a simple and perfect remedy for when you're feeling anxious. Next time you are feeling under pressure, fork out for a high quality, certified organic green tea product and give it a try.

Let me know your feedback! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Good Green Spaces

The countryside is a good place for
exercise, and inspiration. 
If you work in a studio or an office, it is important for your health to get outside and somewhere green and alive. Going for a walk or taking a drive in the country may not just improve your mood, but help you live longer.

 According to a study published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in 2006, people who live in or near green spaces are more likely to be healthier and have a longer life-span.

Gardening and working outdoors has been linked with improved immune function, and there is a direct link between being close to where green spaces are visible, and decreased mortality.

While I always knew that I personally felt happier and more balanced when I had spent time in nature, it was a surprise to me when I learned that most people felt the same way too.

Green spaces provide obvious health benefits, like fresh air and sunlight, but it's also about mood and mental health.

 Anything that makes you feel down, depressed or sad is going to negatively effect your vitality, immune function, digestion and heart health. And nowhere is mental health more of a problem than in urban, developed areas.

Trees, flowers, and nature provide a connection to the seasons and the planet itself. It is hard to feel blue when eating wild blackberries, walking alongside a jewel-clear river, or jumping on Autumn leaves.

If you would like to learn more about how rural and urban environments effect our health, this an article I published back in 2011 titled "Differences Between Urban and Rural Lifestyles".

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Watch That Sugar

Make coffee or tea at home to have
more control over your sugar intake.
Do you know how much sugar you are eating every day?

If you do, then well done. You have risen to the ranks of a selected few.

When you're adding sugar to your tea, coffee, and cooking, obviously you know what sugar you are putting into your body. But how often do you brave looking at the ingredients label of products you buy?

Just recently, I discovered that my favorite iced coffee product (which I used to drink quite regularly) actually contains up to 12 teaspoons of sugar. Oh-ehm-gee...

What person in their right mind would add 12 teaspoons to their coffee at home? I feel slightly naughty if I just add 1 teaspoon of sugar or honey to mine.

Next time you are buying an energy drink, biscuit, "health snack" or iced beverage, take a look at the black and white label on the back. Don't be shy, no one will think your a scary hippie freak.


For every 4g of sugar added per serving, that's 1 teaspoon.

Be warned: this information may forever alter the course of your eating and drinking habits.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bored With Healthy Habits?

I am a health writer, but I am not a health freak. Don't get me wrong -- I absolutely love people who take their health seriously and do whatever it takes to look good and feel great. But having a healthy lifestyle does not mean that I don't live my life. When I go out I intend to have a good time. When my birthday comes around, I am dug into that chocolate cake deeper than a tick.

"Everything in moderation" is what my momma taught me, and even if it IS cliché, it is true. It is our habits that define who we are. The occasional vitamin C acid tablet doesn't mean someone is a health freak, or is even taking their well-being even somewhat seriously. Likewise, the odd beer or bag of buttery-golden popcorn does not make me a junk-food-junkie-junk-junk.

When living a healthy lifestyle, balance is key. Time and time again, when I have been far too strict on myself, verging on 100% raw food veganism, some stressful situation will come along and BAM! I fold like origami. I see this happen in my clients and in my friends as well.

Health is not about strict rules, diets, regimes and laws. It should be a natural expression of loving yourself, caring about how you feel and wanting to give yourself something wonderful. It shouldn't feel HARD. If you aren't enjoying it, then you aren't doing it right.

When things are looking too dull, do something different. Mix it up. Change something. Change yourself. Eat a breakfast filled with fresh, delicious berries. Add nasturtium petals and daisies to your salad -- they're edible and good for you! And most importantly, don't feel bad for enjoying your wine or having the odd ice cream. The worst thing to have with your meal is anxiety.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Truth About Travel Supplements

Travelling can sometimes be complicated. Depending on which country you are intending to visit and how long you are going to stay there, you will have to become familiar with diseases and infections which you might come into contact with. In order to protect your health and well-being while on the road, in the air, or on the sea, there are a few supplements and herbal medicines which come in handy. Check with your naturopath and your doctor before you leave, making sure you have all the vaccinations and supplements that you might require.


Echinacea (E. angustifolia, E. purpurea) is a North American herbal medicine which has gained world-wide acclaim as a immune stimulant and modulator par excellence. When travelling to distant lands, there are few herbal remedies that will match Echinacea for providing both protection and treatment. In 2012 Griffith University in Australia published a placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial on air travellers taking Echinacea extract tablets (produced by Australian manufacturer Mediherb) Participants who took the Echinacea tablets before and during their air travel experienced significantly fewer upper respiratory infections, and the positive effects of Echinacea lasted up to four weeks after their flights.

Other studies have found that Echinacea was active against both swine flu and bird flu, helping to inhibit the replication of the virus while also interfering with their ability to bind to receptor sites. Echinacea is equally as effective against medication-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, as it is against regular viruses.


Probiotics are steadily gaining in popularity around the world as research continues to find new health benefits from using them. Taking probiotics improves digestion, raises mood levels, and stimulates immune function. And when travelling overseas, it is possible that taking probiotic supplements may lend some protection against bacteria that cause traveller's diarrhoea. In a 2008 survey on people suffering from traveller's diarrhoea, researchers found that up to 23 percent of people who experienced traveller's diarrhoea self-medicated with probiotics. That's more than double the number of people who chose antibiotics  as their main treatment option.

In a review of research published in World Journal of Gastroenterology, probiotics containing strains of Saccharomyces boulardii were found to be significantly effective for a range of digestive problems, including traveller's diarrhoea. Other probiotic strains, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and  Bifidobacteria are mentioned also in the study as being effective. Because probiotics are incredibly sensitive to heat, ask your naturopath, health store retailer or pharmacist about which brands are travel-friendly.

Sweet Wormwood

Sweet Wormwood (Artemisia annua) is an age-old herbal medicine in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has received enormous scrutiny from the scientific community since the 1970's, when its active constituent artemisinin was discovered. Artemisinin is incredibly anti-malarial, with a similar toxicity to malaria parasites as prescription drugs such as quinine. By itself, artemisinin is not well absorbed by the body. Often doctors will prescribe artemisinin to be taken alongside other analogs of artemisinin, such as artemethar, which have been chemically changed to increase their bioavailability.

A study published in Molecules in 2010 suggests that other flavonoids present in the leaves of Sweet Wormwood may enhance the bioavailability of artemisinin, creating a synergistic action when the whole plant extract is used. Findings like this confirm the benefit of taking Sweet Wormwood in the form of a herbal tea to prevent a malarial infection -- as TCM has recommended for thousands of years.


Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is one of the most ancient traditional remedy for improving digestion and reducing nausea in the world. Despite it's long history of use, scientists are only beginning to understand how it works in the last 20 years. Ginger root reduces nausea from nearly every conceivable cause: pregnancy, chemotherapy, infectious disease, digestive illness, and motion sickness.

 The American Journal of Physiology published a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled study in 2002 that showed Ginger root significantly reduced motion sickness in participants when motion sickness was artificially induced. Whether you use Ginger tea, Ginger tablets or liquid Ginger extract, it's a handy herb to keep on hand when travelling by sea, air or car, if you know you have a sensitive stomach.


Andrographis (A. paniculata) has a range of benefits that may make it an appealing choice for travellers, depending on where they are going and what sort of diseases they are concerned about. If you know you are going away, Andrographis is a fantastic herbal extract to take to support immune function and stimulate your defences in general. Both the whole plant extract, and its isolated constituents called andrographolides, are active against bacteria and viruses responsible for respiratory illnesses such as tonsillitis and the common cold.

Andrographis may also offer protection against malaria. According to a study published in Alternative Medicine Reviews in 2011, Andrographis has shown activity against two different strains of malaria parasites, including plasmodium berghei and plasmodium falciparum. In addition, the roots have shown adaptogenic, antioxidant, anti-protozoal, antiparasitic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. One clinical study in China showed that ethanol extract tablets of Andrographis helped to cure 88 percent of dysentery cases, and 91 percent of acute gastroenteritis cases.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fairy Tales, Mother Holle and the Creative Journey

Fairy tales and folklore has always featured a huge role in what keeps me going as an artist and a writer. Creative Every Day has recently posted a guest blog, written by yours truly, on the role fairy tales and inspiration play in the creative journey -- and how one particular fairy tale has recently helped to keep me afloat. Please check out my article on Mother Holle and the Creative Journey.