First, yes holistify is a made up word. Second, thank you for reading on despite my made-up word.
Living holistically and naturally is sometimes a challenge in our artificial and chemical-laden world. Fortunately, the tides are turning. I’m inspired every time I see or hear people and patients ask for alternatives to what they’re used to seeing in the grocery store or pharmacy. These are all natural options to infuse into your daily routine. Try one or two or all of them, depending on how you’re feeling. Like I often say, baby steps are key.
Honey- I LOVE HONEY!! I love it so much that I am working on starting my own beehive. When I first started reading about the healing properties of this liquid gold, I of course went crazy. Then I backed off and started using it correctly and it changed my life. For instance, local honey acts like allergy shots and helps you build immunity to the pollen in your environment. Like everything else, start slow, like a ¼ teaspoon a day and build up as you feel better. Honey is also a natural cough therapy and is safe in children over the age of 12 months (do not use under age 1!). It has been studied as a sleep aid and to help with wounds and burns as it works as a natural anti-bacterial agent. Buy local and buy raw.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – I’ve talked about this one quite a bit. It’s my usual go-to for my patients in low-resource areas who can’t afford a probiotic or need to stay away from dairy. You can place a ½- 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in 16 ounces of water to boost your gut flora and your immunity, help you lose weight, balance your mood, improve insulin sensitivity, decrease blood sugar and relieve allergy symptoms. I like to heat up some filtered water, pour into a coffee cup, use one teaspoon of ACV and honey and drink it like tea in the morning, in silence, without distractions, of course.
Oil of Oregano – I first started using this after a colleague’s mom cured her horrible Austin allergies. I jumped in head first, like I usually do, but I don’t recommend and burned the heck out of my mouth. Like ACV, you want to dilute it before you ingest it, big time. In addition to being a strong anti-histamine for allergies, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, it stimulates digestion, fights infection and can beat athletes foot and warts. Topically, you can use it in a carrier oil like coconut or grapeseed oil to relieve aches and pains, particularly those of arthritis.
Arnica – I used this for the first time on my 500-mile walk for all the endless aches and pains I had throughout my journey. The pharmacist in Leon, Spain introduced me to homeopathic remedies and I was hooked (in addition to proper hydration and rest). Arnica is an herb that has been used for centuries in ointments, teas and tablets for pain, aches, swelling, bruising, and even diabetic eye damage. It comes in ointment form to place directly onto your skin or in homeopathic form to stop inflammation within. Make sure you check your source and dosage before you ingest it though and take arnica safely and properly.
Clove Tea/Oil – Clove tea, was first introduced to me by the brilliant Dr. Darshan Shah. He passes the recipe out for people with sore throats, mouth ulcers, colds and now I do too. Then I started using clove oil to clean by placing a few drops in white vinegar with distilled water. We even used it when my house was flooded last year to kill all the potential mold and it left the house smelling clove-fresh rather than mildewy and kept the mold from growing. Here is the OG recipe for Clove Tea.
Lemon Oil – Another multi-use oil, lemon is just good for everything. Lemon oil can be used to clean wood or silver, to clear off sticky surfaces, to whiten your teeth, in the washer if the clothes sit for too long and as a disinfectant. I use it in the morning in my diffuser to start my day and wake up and a drop in my water helps with reflux issues. You can directly inhale it on a cloth for a couple of minutes to fight fatigue and place it behind your ears and on the bottom of your big toe for allergies. In fact, I just had an allergy attack and did this exact process and I can breathe again! Sometimes I’ll add a drop of oil to my normal morning face oil to add a glow. For the house, I’ll soak my dish rags and scrubs in a bowl of water with two drops of oil overnight as well.
Vitamin-C – What did your momma tell you drink when you’re sick? Good old OJ! Its packed with Vitamin C, which helps repair tissues, is full of antioxidants, helps prevent sickness and helps with allergies. It also helps prevent damage to our essential organs caused by daily toxins. Squeeze yourself a glass of juice from a local orange or tangerine or add some goji berries or peppers to your salad!
Magnesium- According to functional medicine docs, 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient. If you drink bubbly sodas, eat sweets, drink coffee regularly, or stress a ton, you are likely deficient. It’s essential for our hearts, bones, brains and muscles. Magnesium is also essential for relaxation and sleeping. Luckily you can easily get it through food in spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, pumpkin seeds, turnip greens, summer squash and beans!! You can also find it in brazil nuts, ½ cup has has 250 mg of magnesium or flax seed, molasses, and dates. Increase the rainbow in your diet and increase the magnesium through food. You can also take a supplement, but that’s reducing your options, when they’re really endless. I’m a big advocate for eating your vitamins and nutrients!
Elderberry– I wrote a journal article about this doozy that I’ve been using since I was a teenager. We have lots of elderberry trees in El Paso, where I grew up, and my momma would make me tea whenever my allergies would hit or a cold snuck up on the household. You can buy it pre-made or make the tea yourself. It’s really great for fighting viruses and allergies. It’s has multiple effects on the body, but mostly it is used for its antioxidant activity which helps improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and can even lower LDL cholesterol.
Turmeric – My favorite go-to post-work out anti-inflammatory. I add this to salads, make tea from it, cut the root and place in smoothies. Turmeric has been around for centuries for all its goodness on fighting inflammation, inhibiting cancer cell growth and improving liver and heart function. If you buy in powder form, make sure its organic. You can also find it in root form in the produce aisles of natural grocery stores and chop it up like ginger. Turmeric tonic is really delicious and easy to make, just boil some filtered water, add 1 teaspoon of organic turmeric, mince some ginger, squeeze the juice of one lemon and add a bit of honey to sweeten.
Baking Soda- My grandfather passed along this one. I didn’t know him well, but photographs I have seen show the whitest teeth I have ever seen. You can use Thieves oil added to baking soda for toothpaste, as a skin cleaner, in a load of laundry and about 45 other uses. I replaced toxic drain-o with baking soda and vinegar mix and it cleared out my pipes faster than the bottled stuff.
I’ve shared just a few of my favorite ways to get healthy and go holistic. You can put any foods, herbs and items into your search box and they’ll be about a thousand more uses for them. Like I said, try one or two and see how it benefits you and your family, then ease into using another. Woohoo for whole foods and herbs and nature as medicine!
Here is your Winter Grocery List!!
(Yes, I know we’re not having a very wintery winter in Austin, but this is what our local farmers have growing.)