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Baby boom: pregnancy tips.

Perhaps it really is “Change you can conceive in,” as Newsweek put it.

In any case babies are popping up everywhere these days, and people have been asking me about herbs and healthy pregnancy.

This is what I tell them.

1. The “duh” list: Get enough rest, eat enough (good) food, and stay away from toxic stuff.

Rest: Your body will tell you how much you need. It’s best to listen.

Don’t freak out if you have trouble sleeping — drink a cup of chamomile tea, put a drop of peach leaf tincture on your wrist, or smell your hop pillow. And like I said, don’t freak out. (Remember, Barbara Kingsolver wrote her first novel when she had insomnia during her first pregnancy.)

Food: Don’t eat bad food. Do your best to avoid sketchy food. Do eat plenty of good-quality protein (including fish), all kinds of good fats, and lots of in-season vegetables. (Confused about fish? Check this out. And this.) Oh, and if you know you’re allergic or sensitive to something, just don’t eat it.

Toxic stuff: This is a hard one. There’s toxic stuff everywhere, and once you’ve determined how much you can practically avoid, it’s best not to freak out about it too much. (Sense a theme?) Stress isn’t good for babies. That said, here are some common sources of toxic stuff: cosmetics; cleaning products; plastic food and drink containers; paint and other new building materials; dust in old houses; dirt around old buildings. (The last two are due to lead contamination. And this is something to worry about. Read up on it.)

2. Pay close attention to your blood sugar.

Low blood sugar can cause morning sickness (or anytime sickness). High blood sugar can make your baby grow too big, or give it blood sugar problems later in life. (And you don’t even want to think about gestational diabetes.)

Avoid low blood sugar: Eat protein. Avoid refined carbohydrates (i.e., white flour, white sugar, white rice). Eat protein. Don’t eat carbohydrates by themselves (butter your bread; put cheese on your crackers). Eat protein. And eat fat, lots of good fat.

Avoid high blood sugar: See “avoid low blood sugar.”

3. Take care of your kidneys.

Your kidneys do a lot of extra work when you’re pregnant (they have to filter 50% more blood than usual). Be nice to them. Drink plenty of water. Use a good high-mineral salt in cooking (avoid cheap refined salt). And remember that nettles are your friends. Nettle tea is rich in minerals and also a lovely kidney restorative. Nettle seeds are a good choice too. (If your kidneys are unhappy, you’ll end up with puffy ankles and feet. You don’t want this.)

4. Take care of your nerves.

There’s a lot going on. Give yourself a break. Breathe a lot and stretch a lot and take time to be quiet. Also milky oats. And peach leaf if you’re highly sensitive and irritable. Mint tea is lovely for tired nerves, and so is bee balm tea, especially if those nerves are feeling frayed. Holy basil tea if you’re tense and worried. Rose if you’re sad and scared.

5. Take care of your veins.

Remember all that extra blood? It can be a lot for your veins to deal with, too. Eat lots of purple foods — blueberries, blackberries, beets. If you know you might be prone to varicose veins (did your mother get them? ask her!), you might take hawthorne berries or oak bark (small doses of oak) preemptively.

6. Take care of your belly.

To prevent nausea (especially in the morning), make sure you eat enough protein (especially at supper). Peach leaf and ginger are both great for nausea, but in opposite situations: peach is good for “hot” constitutions, and ginger for “cold” ones. If you don’t know, experiment. Take a little taste and see how you feel. Catnip and mint are also good if you’re feeling gassy and burpish.

As your baby grows, your guts might get a bit sluggish. Make sure you eat enough bulky and mucilaginous food to keep things in order. Flaxseed is great for this, and so are apples.

7. And of course, take care of your uterus.

Remember, the uterus is a muscle. For generations, midwives have reminded us that raspberry leaf tea makes it strong. This is a good thing. A cup of raspberry leaf tea everyday is pleasant, too.

(You’re right, I didn’t mention supplements. I’m not a big supplements person, and I don’t know a lot about them. But if you take a prenatal vitamin, make sure it’s good quality. And if you don’t eat fish, you might consider fish oil or cod liver oil.)

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Guest Post: Passion Honey from Robin Rose

Robin RoseWelcome to the first ever guest post in the Herbwife’s Kitchen!

Robin Rose Bennett is a lovely plant person, herbalist, and teacher from the New York / New Jersey area. This post is her contribution to the Aphrodisiac Blog Party. (My own contribution should be up this evening.)

Here’s Robin Rose:

I’ve been teaching a class every February for years now called Herbal Love Medicine for Valentine’s Day. Each year I cook up a brand new Passion Honey, inspired by my own favorite aphrodisiac or sensually pleasing herbs, along with the input of the students after we’ve spent nearly 2 hours looking at, talking about, sniffing, and tasting the herbs and preparations I’ve brought in.

I’m always a tiny bit nervous that this new and different honey may not come out right — but it’s exciting, too, not to know what it will be like. It always comes out somewhere between really good and truly wonderful and delicious. The Passion Honey we made last week was off the charts!! I don’t actually measure anything as I’m creating, but these are my best guesses as to the amounts. As I go along, I stir and sniff, and stir and sniff. Highly recommended technique for cooking!

Robin Rose’s Passion Honey – February 2008

(All the herbs are organic and all are dried, unless otherwise noted.)

To 1 quart of organic dark buckwheat honey add approximately:

1/2 cup Orange blossoms*
3/4 teaspoon grated Nutmeg
2 tablespoons Damiana
3-4 tablespoons Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Jasmine
2-3 tablespoons Maca root powder
3/4 ounce Rose glycerite**
1 teaspoon crushed up Cinnamon sticks***

We all tasted it and declared it amazing (as our knees grew weak). Normally I cook it on low for 30-45 minutes. We didn’t even do that as I’d run out of time. Now I have the pint that’s left steeping/infusing at room temperature at home, looking forward to what will happen to it as the flavors meld. Of course my sweetheart and I are sneaking in for tastes now and then because it’s simply irresistible.

Enjoy!

(For those who prefer things simpler — that’s usually me — one of my favorite past Passion Honeys was Roses and Vanilla beans in Linden Honey. It’s a yummy one, too!)

* Orange blossoms can be hard to get. You could put in crumbled or powdered sweet orange or tangerine peels instead — it won’t be the same, but still delicious.

** This rose glycerite was made with red (Rosa gallica), pink (Rosa centifolia), and Moroccan roses.

*** Cinnamon powder would be easier — I had sticks with me.

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