Jan 29, 2014

5 Questions // Sara Seinberg & Portland Apothecary

I'm so excited about this new series we are putting together!  I have been dreaming about this series and the conversations and invaluable resources it will create for years now, so am happy to see it come to life. We are posing a set of 5 questions to healers and makers that we love and admire. They are two different sets of questions accordingly, but both have in common an exploration of plants, intention and creative/healing practice. Do weigh in on this conversation and we would love for you to link and spread the word about these amazing individuals. ---KD

We are kicking off this series with the inspiring Sara Seinberg of Seinberg Holisitic Health Coaching. She worked with us for the first year of our CSH (Community Supported Herbalism) contributing her wit and seasonal recipes to our accompanying booklet. You can find some of her recipes here on our blog. I happen to know that she has a few client spaces available for March; you'd be so lucky to grab a space with her! All photos below are by her, you can find more of her photography along with her partner Ginger's work at Robinberg Photography.

1. What motivates you to work within the health field?

I spent most of my adult life wishing my body was a different way than it really is. And since that's not really possible, to live in a body different than mine, I enlisted the help of many tools for checking out of the ole vessel. There were the usual suspects like a fervent enthusiasm for illicit drugs, dalliances in charged relationships that had very little to do with a true connection, and a deeply committed practice to misusing food as a tool to escape rather than an essential opportunity to fuel my body and my very existence with nourishment. I'm not saying I didn't have fun with ALL of these things. I did. But when the fun runs its course, and then there you are, still in your imperfect body with its stubborn, co-dependent insistence on not giving up on you even though you treat it like a baby treats a diaper, and you wake up one morning and find yourself counting your blessings instead of dreading another day, you decide to, well, live. I've lived in apartments my entire life, paying rent to one shitty landlord after another. But the place I really live is here in my body. I couldn't stand being a shitty landlord anymore. This is where I live. And once I decided to fix the joint up, decorate, garden a little bit and paint a little, I looked around and thought, "Dang. I'm lucky to live here. I have to take care of this place." 

I had no idea how much that choice would change everything for me. It's how I became a Holistic Health Coach. I help people to live in the bodies they have TODAY. Being in service to people, helping them be true citizens of their own bodies and their own lives is kind of the best thing I could ever do. We are so practiced at putting off joy until we succeed in our jobs or we lose 15 pounds or we land the right partner or we blah blah blah. But the truth is, mostly, we've got everything we need. Today. Helping support people as they commit to healing their bodies and living bolder and bigger and clearer and with more peace than they ever thought possible keeps me coming back to my office every day feeling lucky to have found this place in the health field.

2. Is there a certain piece of advice you find yourself giving to your clients often? HELL YES. 
If so, what is it? 

A. Drink more water.
B. Move your body. All moving is better than no moving. Anything at all.
C. Perfection is the LOWEST possible standard. It's like trying to date the Easter Bunny. It's not possible. So once you let that go as a goal, you are free to achieve anything. 

3. Favorite books within your healing modality? 

I love books. Here are some of my favorites from some different sectors of a Holistic Health perspective:
1. Vegetable Literacy - Deborah Madison
2. African Holistic Health: Your True Source for Holistic Health -  Llaila o. Afrika, PhD. 
3. Women, Food, and God - Geneen Roth
4. Radical Acceptance - Tara Brach
5. The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown

4. Are plants part of your practice and if so, which do you find yourself using the most and for what reason?

Plants are an enormous part of my practice. My job is very much about bringing people back to plant foods in a creative and meaningful way from discovering new vegetables to dicing herbs to using spices in ways that appeal to a broader pleasure experience. The more people connect to their food, the more meaningful food preparation becomes. The more meaningful food preparation becomes, the more rewarding the practice of eating becomes. Eating becomes a kind of sacred act we get to practice many times over the course of each day, re-connecting us to our home, our bodies, even our communities and ultimately our experiences in the present moment. Also, plants are bad-ass. They just continue to survive and reinvent themselves no matter what we humans dish out.

And they're pretty. So, not to be shallow but, I like a pretty plateful. Maybe it's my Libra rising. 

5. Please include 1 recipe (which could include remedies, exercise, art methods, food, visualizations, etc - please interpret recipe in your own way).

Succulent Winter Salad

The Salad
2 stalks celery, diced
4 fat radishes 
1 fennel bulb sliced thin
1/2 small purple cabbage, shredded
black sesame seeds
white sesame seeds

The Dressing 
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1 splash Ume Plum vinegar
1t toasted sesame oil
2t olive oil
dash sea salt
coarse black pepper
Put the colorful salad fixins in a big bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients then pour over the salad. Use tongs to coat the salad evenly. Serve the salad in the company of friends as a side to a warming dish.

Sara Seinberg is a Holistic Health Coach in the business of helping people live their dreams. Through a holistic approach she supports clients in their quests for health, wholeness, joy, and truth. Looking at nutrition as a starting point, clients team with Sara to tackle obstacles, face fears, and one day at a time, create new living patterns that topple years of blockage and hurdles. 

Jan 27, 2014

Fire Cider Recipe // Portland Apothecary

If you are an herbalist, or friends with one, you've undoubtedly heard about the business who has put a trademark on Fire Cider. It has created quite a stir, and brought up a lot of questions amongst the community, and hopefully isn't a trial run for a larger company wanting to do the same. Both of us here at Portland Apothecary are firmly rooted in Community Herbalism and have made it our life's work to empower people around their own health. So in that spirit we are wanting to share a basic Fire Cider recipe with you! 

This is Rosemary Gladstar's recipe, as so many herbal remedies are. You can take this baseline recipe and play with it a bit. You can add thyme like we do for your respiratory system, or maybe burdock to support your liver, the adaptations are endless. We like to put in a lot more heat! Traditionally you will make this in late Summer and like we do, bury it for at least a month or longer to brew. Dig it up in Autumn and take it daily as a tonic to ward off colds and flu, and to get your circulation running!

Fire Cider

1 part Garlic
1 part Horseradish
1 part Onions
½ part Fresh ginger
Cayenne to taste 
Honey to taste

Apple Cider Vinegar

Chop fresh garlic, onions, and horseradish into small pieces. Grate fresh ginger. The amounts and proportions vary according to your particular taste.. If unsure, start with equal amounts of the first three ingredients and roughly half part ginger the first time you make this; you can always adjust the flavors in future batches. Chop enough of the first four ingredients to fill a quart jar approximately half full. Put in wide mouth quart jar and cover with Apple Cider vinegar (keep vinegar about two to three inches above the herbs). Add cayenne to taste. Let sit four to six weeks. Strain and discard spent herbs. Add honey to taste (add the honey after you strain the rest of the herbs).

Jan 24, 2014

Chai with Astragalus, Burdock and Roasted Dandelion

I have tea on my mind during this final leg of winter. There's something so satisfying about sitting down with a big steaming mug of tea, even if it's just for a second of alone time it can work its magic. With half of the country snowed under and braving temperatures in the teens I thought I would talk about our version of Chai. Chai is a long standing favorite of mine in its most traditional sense with its blend of cardamom, ginger, clove, peppercorns and black tea. I like the ritual of decocting it on the stove and I love the kick of warmth it sends through my body, an ally against the cold winds of winter! We decided to play with the recipe a bit and added some of our herbal allies to further enhance Chai's health benefits. First off we used rooibos as it's base instead of black tea to avoid adding onto the amount of caffeine that can creep into a person's daily habits during darker days. The rooibos adds a full rich flavor that is packed with antioxidants. 

We then added astragalus, burdock and toasted dandelion to the mix. Astragalus is a strong and steady immune system booster with a sweet and mellow taste. Adding Astragalus to your diet either in tea, soups, rice water, etc can be a great way to engage with this herb to help strengthen your body against all of the colds and flus swirling around these days. Burdock and Dandelion, one earthy and sweet, and the other bitter and full flavored, add another layer to the blend. Both are aligned with the Liver giving it support in its function of detoxing the body. Some of us tend to over do it in the Winter with rich foods and a little too much wine, so why not give the Liver a little extra support?

You can find our Chai over in our shop if you want to give it a try!

Jan 8, 2014

Cold & Flu Prevention // Seasonal Medicine // Portland Apothecary

We all have strategies we try to adhere to in order to avoid colds and flus during the Winter Season, but sometimes it's easy to forget, so we thought we'd pull together a list for you to use as a reminder. 

1. Sleep! Sweet Sleep! Adequate rest is one of the primary ways to keep your system in tip top fighting shape. It's so easy to not prioritize this, but do. Pretend you're a bear. Get into bed and hibernate.

2. Turn your head away from the doughnut shop and walk quickly past. Sugar is no friend of your immune system and can make you much more prone to catching a cold. In Traditional Chinese Medicine too much sugar dampens your system, making your digestion sluggish and making you prone to phlegm. Winter is not the time to indulge in sugary treats! Sad, I know. 

3. Relax. It's common knowledge that stress creates havoc in your body in a myriad of real and significant ways. It's no surprise that you find yourself getting sick right when you are most stressed. Reel it in if you can. Exercise, take a bath, make a date with an easy friend, create systems that work for you that include time for self care. 

4. Take your herbs! We have two distinct camps here at Portland Apothecary. Elie is a big fan of our Fire Cider, which is a fiery brew of herbs steeped in Apple Cider Vinegar for at least a month. We make ours in late summer and bury it in the earth to steep until Autumn. Fire Cider will make your nose run and your hands hot - a great kickstart for your immune and circulatory system. I'm in the other camp, Elderberry Elixir. A proven anti-viral elderberry has been shown to be just as effective as it's pharmaceutical counterparts like Tamiflu. Our particular elixir has cinnamon, rose hips and Asian pear in it as well so is particularly delicious, as well as high in Vitamin C. 

5. Visit your acupuncturist! Acupuncture is an amazing ally in fighting off impending colds/flus and is a good way to stay out of the fight entirely. Yin Qiao San is a common herbal formula used by acupuncturists during cold and flu season and you can usually find this over the counter. Gan Mao Ling is another formula to take at the first signs of feeling the oncoming crud. 

6. Ginger, Lemon, Cayenne and Honey tea. Same idea as fire cider -- gets all systems going!

Hope this list was helpful! It's hard to stop, I could add fermented foods for probiotics, echinacea, astragalus, medicinal mushrooms, obsessive hand washing while avoiding antibacterial soap...but let's stay with six for now!

Jan 6, 2014

Tangerine Peels as Medicine! // Portland Apothecary

A common scene around my house is a mug of steaming tea next to a couple of tangerines that are either peeled or close to being peeled. I keep a huge bowl of them around at all times during the Winter because they make an easy delicious snack and because I think they are so vibrant and beautiful on these grey cold days. Most people simply compost these peels without giving them a second thought, but they can actually be processed into a tasty medicinal herb that you can store throughout the year. 

Tangerine Peels in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are in the regulate and invigorate the Qi category. (The study of herbs in TCM is so vast and detailed that this is just one of the ways they are broken down into categories, but that's a different post entirely!) What this translates as on a practical level is that they relieve stagnation, and with tangerine peels this means they help with gastric upset which is perfect for the Winter when we might be more sedentary while concurrently eating richer foods. So if you find yourself with any stomach pain, bloated of full feeling do reach for the tangerine peels! These bright orange beauties affect the Spleen Channel (digestion) and also your Lung Channel. The peels help to get rid of mucus, and are also great to take during those times when you find yourself with a cold. 

To turn your peels into medicine you can either do it the traditional way by separating the peel into thirds, making each section a dose, or a part, to add to a recipe --OR-- you can make it easier on yourself with the drying process and cut them into 1/4 inch pieces. I like to separate and scrape on the pith before cutting them so I don't drive myself crazy. You can leave the pith on, but it makes for a more diffused and bitter herb. I like the more aromatic version without the pith. After you've peeled, scraped and cut, spread the peels out on a wire rack, screen, or even your boiler tray and let the sit in a dry warm room for 2-5 days to dry. How long it takes will vary according to how damp your surroundings are. Traditionally they are sun dried, but here in the Pacific Northwest that's not so much of an option! When the peels are thoroughly dry, place them in a clean labelled jar in a cool dark place for keeping. 

Let me remind you here to use organic or unsprayed tangerines! I know you know this, but just a gentle reminder that if you are making medicine, make it clean. That goes for your mood too, never prepare medicine when you are feeling muddled or aggravated because it goes straight into the herbs.

You can use the peels in soups, teas or marinades. I like to throw them in with my black tea or chai mix. They also make an outstanding bitter if you throw them in with some vodka or brandy and let them steep for a month before you strain. So many uses for those peels you were going to compost! Do you use tangerine peels for anything, I'd love to hear some more suggestions. 

Jan 4, 2014

Winter Notes 2013 // Seasonal Medicine // Community Supported Herbalism

Every Season that a CSH Share comes out we include a set of notes that addresses the season we are entering and further discusses the remedies the Share contains. Here are the notes for Winter 2013! We will share the remedy notes soon as well. Please do pass these along if you find them helpful! 

Winter Notes // Portland Apothecary // Seasonal Medicine

In these notes you will learn some basics about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the wisdom it offers for staying healthy and balanced. The products and remedies we have created for the Winter Share support the natural cycles of the seasons and will help you feel grounded and connected
throughout those transitions.

Winter is upon us. The sun now journeys low across the sky and the days are short. Plant life retreats beneath the soil and lies dormant, nature is at rest. Animals are less active and some will even hibernate. The season brings us crisp, cold mornings with sparkling frost and dark starry nights. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Winter season is considered the time of ultimate Yin. Yin is associated with the feminine, the moon and
the qualities of inwardness, darkness, cold, rest and nourishment. In contrast is Yang, which is direct, focused, outgoing, hot and masculine (Summer is the time of ultimate Yang). In TCM, wellness is achieved through learning to balance both Yin and Yang.

Winter is a time to slow down, nourish oneself and go inward. If you embrace the increasingly dark days as a way to restore, replenish and renew yourself, when spring arrives you will be rewarded with a burst of healthy growth and energy. In Winter we
need to sleep more and seek out experiences that connect us to our deeper self. In TCM, the sense of hearing predominates now and this includes inner listening. Take time to remember and write down your dreams, this can be a powerful time to learn more about
yourself through what your dreams reveal. While we have just celebrated Winter Solstice and the slow return of the sun with its light and warmth, there is stillness to this season that allows time for the deep beauty of true introspection.

The organs associated with Winter are the Kidneys, Urinary Bladder and Adrenals. If we resist this inward time of Yin tendencies, we will become stressed out and face potential burn out and fatigue. Your Kidneys represent your internal fire, your core energy, and it is time to pay attention to what stokes your fire and what dampens it on both an energetic and physical level.

We have created this Winter Share to support you in slowing down to experience the magic of time with friends and the heart lifting moments of nature changing it’s tenor. Here are a few pieces of advice you may want to turn to from time to time to make this Winter an easy transition:

>>> Adjust Your Diet: Winter is a time to eat warming slow cooked foods. Use a slow cooker to make nourishing soups from beans and grains. Slow roast root vegetables with rosemary and garlic. Add warming spices to your recipes such as ginger, garlic, cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric and clove. These spices will help increase your circulation in the months where some of us have decreased our physical activities. Foods that are naturally salty like seaweed, miso, barley and millet are also appropriate at this time of year. Salty is the flavor of Winter. Bitter is also associated with Winter due to the close relationship between the Kidneys and the Heart. Bitter foods include, greens, rye, oats, citrus peels, chicory root and burdock root. Winter is a time for over indulgence in foods high in calories, fats and sugar, and bitter flavors will help to speed up your gastric response, you’ll find some Bitters in your Share, so please do take a few drops before you begin your feasting!

>>>Meditate: Take quiet time for yourself this Yin season. It can be hard for some of us to go inward but even just 10 minutes a day gives the benefit of feeling calm, centered and in touch with yourself. In TCM, indigo or a rich blue black is the color associated with winter. You can meditate on indigo by focusing on the night sky filled with stars, infinite in its greatness. Or inwardly picture the depths of the ocean filled with mystery and potential. Create your own images around this color or follow another meditation practice.

>>> Let The Light In: This could mean so many things. Where do you find light? Is it in laughing with friends? Listening to music? Learning a new skill? Winter can be a dismal time, especially in places where the days are endlessly grey. Hibernation and retreat are necessary and strengthening, but you have to pay attention to where the balance is. Winter is also a time where we get to create our own light. It can be literal like popping in some full spectrum bulbs, turning on a happy lamp next to your favorite chair or stringing up some fairy lights around the house. Invite loved ones over for a meal- ighting some candles, and sharing stories is a wonderful way to connect. Entering a home full of laughter over a shared meal with warm lights will help to not let the grey days bring you too far into the kind of darkness that doesn’t serve you. The emotion of the Winter season in TCM is fear, and while darkness and fear are commonly associated, with balance you may find that both the light and dark times can be healthy.

>>>Hydrate: The Kidneys and Urinary Bladder are the focus of Winter and they are both associated with water. Take this literally to keep your system flowing! It’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the colder months, but remember the artificial heat indoors is drying you out and if you are having a little extra to drink at holiday functions of hitting the coffee a little harder to combat darker days you will become dehydrated. Keep some water near you as you work or while you watch a movie, etc so it is an easy thing to remember.

>>>Keep Warm: To avoid colds and flus that are prevalent this time of year don’t forget to dress warmly including keeping the back of your neck covered. Like we talked about in our Autumn Notes the back of the neck has many acupuncture points associated with wind. The belief is that if these points are left exposed to the wind you will easily catch a cold or flu.  It is also a great time to continue taking Elderberry Elixir which is rich in immune support. We make a wonderful version that is available in our shop. Also please do stay home if you are feeling sick, it will treat you and the people around you, to a healthier Winter.

>>>Moxibustion: Visit your community acupuncturist and ask them about receiving moxibustion with your treatment. Moxa is essentially mugwort compressed into a long stick that is then ignited and held on various acupuncture points on the body. It is an amazing tool and when held over your belly can bring about warmth quickly as well as restore your energy reserves.

>>> Keep It Simple: Our culture lends itself towards excess this time of year. Pare down! Whether it’s piling a plate too high, or stuffing too many bags with purchases, try and resist. It’s easy to lose control of ourselves with so much momentum in the air. If you can step back for a minute, you’ll be better for it.

Associations with Winter in Traditional Chinese Medicine:

 Element: Water Organs: Kidneys, Urinary Bladder, Adrenals

Direction: North Color: Black, Indigo Blue

Flavor: Salty Emotion: Fear

Number: Six Sense: Hearing