Making a medical crises a bit easier

Seventeen years ago, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She is one of the lucky ones. After removing the entire lung, chemotherapy, radiation treatment and a whole bunch of other things, she was proclaimed cancer free within six months of her diagnosis. Cancer free is always music to the ears after a battle with cancer. Nevertheless, I am not writing about cancer today, I am writing about a simple tool that helped us navigate and get through the medical labyrinth with relative ease. We still use it today.

With every new diagnosis, there is a process, a new set of doctors to visit, and, to say the least, it is very daunting.  Unless you are experiencing the same illness, there is something new and there is always a learning curve navigating the process. When my Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, we were lost. This was a new illness for our family to tackle; there were new doctors, new tests, and new procedures. It was overwhelming and very confusing. Every new doctor and lab needed the same information, as well as copies of all the previous test results.

Therefore, instead of trying to remember the details every time, we came up with a medical history sheet.

The sheet includes:

  • Mom’s name, address, phone number, birth date
  • List of all her doctors, address, phone number, fax number
  • List of her allergies
  • List of previous surgeries and hospitalizations, including dates
  • Insurance, laboratory and pharmacy information
  • Medications, herbs and vitamins
  • Her Social Security number would be very helpful to include but we did not for security purposes.

I cannot tell you how handy the sheet was and continues to be for our family along with every medical staff that has interviewed my Mom and Dad, for that matter. Of course, we made one for my Dad too. Every time I would visit my folks, I made sure all the information was updated and noted the date that the update was made on the sheet as well (it’s important to use the most current info); medications tend to be added or changed quite often as one ages. My folks would carry the medical info sheets (for themselves and each other) in their wallets and a copy was taped to their refrigerator, in case of emergency. My brother and I both have copies to help facilitate services.

The sheet has been used countless times over the years. Like when my Mom fell down and broke her hip, 911 was called and my 86 year old Dad simply handed the sheet to the EMT; it was a blessing during a very stressful time. And recently, while my Mom was visiting my brother and came down with pneumonia, the sheet was given to the admitting nurse in the ER. Medical staff are always grateful for this helpful resource, as it no doubt facilitates care and make their job a bit easier.

Even 17 years after the first sheet was created, it’s still an incredible tool to make a very stressful situation a bit more bearable.

If you have elderly parents, you don’t have to wait for a crisis to create a medical information sheet, just do it. Perhaps you will never need to use it, but if you do, you will be thankful that you did.

What do you do to help facilitate getting through medical crises? Please share and I will continue to share.


Happy New Year!

May Peace, Love, Good Health and Happiness fill your New Year!

Merry Christmas

Have you heard about Elderberry Syrup?

See how the virus cell is covered in spikes?

Elder (Sambucus nigra) is a fantastic antiviral and the way it works is really interesting.  First, you must visualize a virus, which is round and covered with spikes. The virus’ job is to invade the cell by using its spikes to puncture the cell wall.  Elder strengthens the cell wall while neutralizing the spikes on the virus, thus making it more difficult for the virus to invade the cell, BRILLIANT.  By taking elderberry syrup, you are strengthening your immune system so it can fight off cold and flu viruses when you are exposed to them, as well as lessen symptoms and duration of the illness. Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.

Here’s to a healthy cold and flu season.

All information is shared for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Happy Chanukah

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. We celebrate by lighting the menorah and sending our prayers out into the world. We eat latkes with applesauce and play dreidel with chocolate coins. It is a time for us to pause as a family and think about our good fortune and freedom to celebrate the way we choose. Not everyone celebrates Chanukah his way, but this is the tradition Mike and I developed with Mathew over the years and it is very special to us. The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication,” which is an ideal name, as it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple. Check out the video below for a nice synopsis of the events that catalyzed this tradition.

May peace prevail on earth so we all get to celebrate the way we want to.

Happy Chanukah!

Connecting with your heart

I have always felt a deep release, perhaps better articulated as comfort and peacefulness, from listening to melodic sounds whether in the form of the wind moving through the leaves, Tibetan Monks chanting “Om Mani Pädme Hum” or Ladysmith Black Mambazo singing “Shosholoza.” The calmness is profound; it brings me into my heart space.  Sure, I love listening to music and enjoy singing along but there is something beyond the mere understanding of words that pulls at my inner being. The absence of literal translations creates the strength of how it resonates inside my inner core being. I like how Kalu Rinpoche explains it, “Through mantra, we no longer cling to the reality of the speech and sound encountered in life, but experience it as essentially empty. Then confusion of the speech aspect of our being is transformed into enlightened awareness.”

The chant “Om Mani Pädme Hum” is a perfect example. In fact, the International Journal of Science and Research published “Frequencies of the Buddhist Meditative Chant” in April 2016 delving deeper into its affects on individuals. “The six syllable mantra generates vibrations that somehow interacts at a cellular level; where every fibre of the body feels connected as they vibrate in synchrony; resonating at the same wavelengths. The syllables when repeatedly chanted can make one hear it more than music, as the mind aligns to its vibrations and frequencies.”

In my early twenties, searching for new experiences, I asked my brother, Michael, for a chant CD, and he gifted me “Tibetan Incantations – Om Mani Pädme.” I fell instantly in love with it and it became a high rotation CD; my “go to” when I needed focus and balance. I even played it at work, although it was a bit too much for some of my co-workers. I played it during labor as well as when Mathew was a toddler and needed to settle down. At one point, he also had had enough and would scream, “No more Om Mani Pädme Hum!”

Now, it has become the musical wallpaper for when I process herbs. Ever so often, I put on some Lady Smith Mambazo, which brings me to the same place of peace and presence ~ my heart space, which is important when processing herbs and what I want to infuse into my products.

What brings you into your heart space? Please share and I will continue to share.

Traveling Herbal Kit

I love traveling; there is no doubt about it. Traveling healthy is always best but things happen, so being prepared can make a world of difference in your trip. Over the years, I have assembled an herbal travel kit from my favorite products. The size and contents change depending on the type of travel and length. I have several different variations of the herbal travel kits but they all start with the basic core ingredients. Then I build upon them based on the location, type of travel (car, plane, backpacking) and length of trip.

The Basic Core Herbal Travel Kit:

  • Allergy Begone! Tincture – Made from Goldenrod, and tackles countless aliments along with drippy allergies, asthma, while supporting the immune system, stimulating digestion and reducing gas. It is an excellent wound healer. It can be used as a styptic (stops bleeding). It is antiseptic, a disinfectant, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal. It’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties soothe and heal urinary infections. I never leave the house without it.
  • Ginger Root (crystallized, tea or fresh) – Nothing beats ginger for alleviating nausea and motion sickness, it is also antibacterial, antiviral, a circulatory stimulate, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anti-fungal, anti-clotting, it helps dispel gas and prevent bloating, is anti-arthritic, analgesic, and promotes sweating. It’s antibacterial and antiviral properties help with respiratory infections and coughs. It is also an expectorant, and helps to thin mucous so you can move it up and out.
  • Valerian Tincture – It is so important to unwind and get a good night’s sleep when traveling. Valerian encourages relaxation and sleep, as well as extinguish muscle spasms such as menstrual cramps, back spasms, and even restless legs.
  • Elderberry (lozenges or syrup) – Elderberry strengthens your immune system so it can fight off cold and flu viruses when you are exposed to them, as well as lessen symptoms and duration of the illness. I start taking some a week before travel and while traveling to help me fight any germs I may be exposed to.
  • Pain Begone! – Accidents and sore muscles happen. Pain Begone! salve harnesses the medicinal powers of St. John’s Wort, Arnica and Goldenrod to reduce the pain of muscle and tendon injuries, aches, arthritis while reducing swelling. St. John’s wort is a nerve pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, and helps cells regenerate. Arnica stimulates the flow of white blood cells that process congested blood by dispersing trapped fluid from joints, muscles and bruised tissue. Goldenrod’s anti-inflammatory effect relieves muscle pains and aches including arthritis.
  • Soothe Thy Lips  This balm nourishes, soothes and heals dry chapped lips along with all other skin irritations. Calendula is a powerful wound healer that promotes cell repair while its antiseptic properties keep infections from occurring. It helps heal wounds faster by increasing oxygen flow to the damaged area, which in turn helps the body grow new tissue. It also stimulates collagen production to help heal the body’s tissues. It is high in flavonoids (plant-based anti-oxidants) that protect cells from being damaged by free radicals. Comfrey fosters the growth of new cells and is anti-inflammatory as well as mucilaginous, which soothes inflamed tissues. This compact lip balm is handy to carry as it can be used on any skin irritation.
  • Tea Bags – Traditional Medicinals and Yogi have a great tea line packed with organic and thoughtfully harvested healing herbs. When you’re under the weather, a nice hot cup of tea can be very soothing. Tea bags take up very little space; it’s so easy to throw together a bunch of tea bags. My favorites are Ginger, Chamomile (good for digestion and makes a nice compress for pink eye or skin irritation), Breathe Easy, Herba Tussin (great for coughs), Throat Coat. When making tea, steep longer than the box says – at least an hour or so to extract as much as the tea’s medicinal properties.

For longer trips, I add a couple more items to cover almost any illness (see below). On one of our winter trips, I was happy to have these herbs on hand when Mathew came down with the flu. He had all the classic symptoms: sudden high fever, aches, sore throat, cough and very tired. He felt so awful that he took everything I gave him with no complaints. As a bonus, we were staying at a hotel that turned out to be the perfect place for getting a lot of rest. And that is exactly what he needed most of all. Luckily, we attacked his flu quickly with lots of rest and herbs. The fever broke after 2 days and he was back to his old self by the third day.

In addition to the above, I packed:

  • Boneset Tincture – Nothing fights the flu better than boneset, especially if taken at the early onset of illness (we knew flu was a possibility since we received a message of reported cases in Mathew’s class right before we left for winter break). Boneset gets it name from the terrible pain one feels in their bones and the muscles from the fever of influenza, nicknamed “break bone fever”; the type of fever that makes you feel like your bones are breaking. It brings the chill to a head and flushes it out of the system. I also find it excellent for lingering coughs. It is very helpful for getting the toxins out of the system from rattlesnake and spider bites. It is always good to be prepared for anything when you travel.
  • Elecampane Tincture – Elecampane is one of the best herbs to treat all chronic and acute upper respiratory infections, whether viral, bacterial or fungal (even TB). It’s also a tonic for the respiratory tract.
  • Yellow Dock Tincture – Travel tends make a person “irregular” leading to feeling uncomfortable and bloated. Yellow Dock is a gentle laxative. It encourages both bowel movement and good digestion by stimulating the release of gastric juices. It clears toxins, moves stagnation, reduces inflammation, inhibits coli and staph growth, frees stored iron from the liver, aids digestion of fatty food, helps with acne, boils, and dermatitis. It is also relieves painful sore throat when the tincture is diluted into cold water and gargled.
  • Epsom Salts – They are excellent for drawing out toxins. So if you have an infection, mosquito bites, bee stings, simply soak it in a warm Epsom salt bath (or soaking a cotton washcloth in a warm water Epsom salt solution for the affected area) and voilá, infection and pain are gone. Table salt will work too but not as well. It can also be used for splinter removal, itchy skin, mild sunburn and poison ivy. Epsom salts are anti-inflammatory and great to use for reducing swelling and alleviating the soreness from sprains and bruises.

Some of my favorite things

Of course, there are numerous other herbs that would be helpful while traveling; the above are my favorite essential herbs that have come to our aid countless times. I travel with all the tinctures, each labeled in 1 oz. amber bottles (except Elderberry, which is stored in a 2 oz. bottle if using a carry-on or 4 oz. if not). I have never had any issues going through airport security (domestic or international) with them. The only time I was questioned was at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. When I explained what they were, they let me pass.

May your travels be free of illness and problems. However, it is better to be safe than sorry – bring some healing herbs just in case.

All information is shared for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.