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Holistic Health Must-Haves, from A to Z

February 27, 2014

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The other day I read a blog post that included the line, “You know you’re a Health Coach when your medicine cabinet looks just like your kitchen pantry,” and I don’t think I’ve ever identified so closely with an Internet statement in my life.

I love raiding my kitchen for herbs, vegetables, and super foods that are versatile enough to supercharge my green smoothie while I smear the rest on as a facemask. With amazing food-based health benefits like this, who needs the pharmacy? Here is my A to Z guide of essentials for all-natural at home health and wellness treatments:

Ashwagandha

One of the most popular herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is very helpful in lifting your mood and managing stress. To fend off the winter blues, I take two capsules a day! Ashwagandha is available at most health food stores, and even in some major drug stores.

Brahmi

Brahmi is an herb native to Australia and India. In its dried, powder form it is a great supplement to take if you are forgetful, suffer from anxiety, or have trouble sleeping. Take a small spoonful, (about 300mg, also is available in capsules) with a glass of water each day.

Coconut oil

Coconut Oil is one of the best kept natural beauty secrets. I keep a jar in my bathroom to use as moisturizer or shaving cream, or I mix about a tablespoon of oil with 2 tablespoons sugar to make a moisturizing scrub!

Dill

You probably associate this herb with pickles, but did you know that it has incredible health benefits? The oils found in dill are very high in antioxidants, which can help neutralize carcinogens found in charred foods. Don’t hold back on the dill pickles or dilled potato salad at your next barbeque! 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is incredibly restorative for skin. Buy it in liquid form, (or even gel capsules that can be easily pierced with a pin) and apply a small amount to dry, uneven skin or to acne scars each day. The vitamin E will help protect your skin from future damage and even out its tone. For a less intense, all-over treatment, look for body moisturizers with vitamin E.

Fenugreek

Dried fenugreek leaves are very common in Indian cuisine, and fenugreek seeds in powder form work well as an acne-fighting face mask. Mix about a tablespoon of ground fenugreek powder with enough water or honey to create a thick paste, and spread it on your face. Leave it on for about 15 minutes to allow it to clear your pores and extract blackheads before rinsing it off. 

Ginger

Fresh grated ginger is a great addition to smoothies, juices, tea or even just hot water. It helps keep the immune system healthy, so it’s especially important to include fresh ginger in the winter months or when you’re starting to feel under the weather.  

Honey 

This is another one of my favorite holistic beauty products. Raw honey has very strong antibacterial properties, so it makes a fantastic acne fighting facemask. Use it on its own or mix in a small amount of fenugreek or cinnamon to keep your skin clear and healthy.

Ice  

This tip may seem obvious, but it often gets overlooked! Ice helps to ease swelling, but it’s not just for pulled hamstrings or sprained ankles. If you’re tired, massage ice in a circular motion under your eyes to reduce the puffiness, and do the same over acne to diminish redness.

Jasmine  

This herbal tea has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties, and is great at aiding the body in slowing down free radical cells that could cause diseases or illness. You can also add several Jasmine tea bags to a bath to help relieve stress and muscle tension.

Kale 

I’m sure by now you’ve already heard all about this amazing leafy greens! I try to eat at least 2 cups of leafy greens (kale, spinach, or Swiss chard for example) every day, because they are such nutrient-dense foods. They keep you looking young, and promote bone and lung health.

Lavender  

Lavender is commonly used to help people relax and fall asleep. In fact, the scent actually triggers a reaction in your brain that helps you to relax and feel sleepy. Just rub a few drops of lavender essential oil into your temples or sprinkle a bit on your pillow before bed.

Mint

Fresh mint is even more effective as a breath freshener than a stick of spearmint gum! Just add some mint leaves to your water and sip it all day long for “minty” fresh breathe!

Nutmeg 

This herb works really well to help diminish scars, particularly those from acne. Just mix enough water with nutmeg to create a thick paste, and apply to the affected area of skin. Leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing off.

Oregano

Oil of oregano is hands-down one of the best defenses against illness, especially a cold or a sore throat. Just add about 8 drops to a very small glass of water and drink it all at once! It certainly isn’t the most pleasant experience, but it will have you feeling better in no time!

Parsley

Finely chop about a tablespoon of parsley and mix it with 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt. Spread the mixture in an even layer under your eyes and relax for 10 to 15 minutes. Parsley is very rich in Vitamin K, which reduces blood flow to the eye area, reducing the appearance of reducing dark circles.

Quinoa

Another superfood you’ve probably heard a lot about, quinoa is a high-protein, gluten-free alternative to other grains like wheat or rice.  It’s also full of iron, fiber, and magnesium—who thought I wouldn’t be able to come up with something for Q?

Rose Petals

These pretty little petals are a vitamin powerhouse! They contain vitamins A, C, D, and E, can help alleviate eczema and psoriasis, and are a mild sedative and anti-depressant. To benefit from rose petals, you can sip on rose petal tea, add them to your bath water, or simply fill your home with fresh roses!

Spirulina

If you drink green smoothies, then spirulina will be your new favorite super food! Add a spoonful to your smoothie to keep your skin healthy and your hair and nails strong.

Turmeric

This is one health trick that I swear by. Every day I eat a small spoonful of turmeric and wash it down with a glass of water (you can also mix it into water or milk). It helps with bloating, reduces inflammation and promotes eye health!

Umeboshi

This Japanese pickled plum is great for your digestive health. Like many fermented foods, umeboshi promotes healthy digestion and eliminates toxins from your digestive system. Though they can be hard to find, most health food stores or Asian specialty stores should carry them. 

Vinegar, Apple Cider  

Another good trick to fend off a cold! Add a shot of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to kick-start your immune system and protect your body against illness.

Walnuts

Walnuts are an excellent source of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Just a handful a day can help keep you ALA levels healthy, reduce inflammation, and boost your memory and mood! My favorite way to eat walnuts is to grind them up with some spinach, garlic, and olive oil to make pesto!

X-tra Virgin Olive Oil

This is another oil that works as a great moisturizer, not only for your skin but also for your hair! It can be a bit heavy for some people, so mixing a small amount with a lighter oil is ideal if you have thin hair or naturally oily skin.

Yogurt

Yogurt is high in lactic acid, zinc, and enzymes that can help brighten and moisturize your skin. Just apply plain yogurt to your dry skin (this could be on your face or body) and let it sit for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse it off with warm water.

Zinc

This is one vitamin supplement that I swear by. Zinc builds up a strong immune system, so it’s an excellent addition to your daily routine in the winter, and it also promotes healthy skin!

What are some of the staple spices, herbs, vitamins or foods in your at-home holistic health and wellness pharmacy?