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Jennifer Lawson, aka Mother Gaia

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Catnip Leaf

(Nepeta cataria)

The flowering perennial known commonly as catnip, catmint, or catswort actually has the scientific name of Nepeta cataria, and although most people don’t realize, this treat so commonly reserved for its sedative, calming effects on cats, also has extensive benefits for human beings. It’s native range is quite extensive, stretching across much of Europe and parts of Asia, including China, but it has since become a global export and can be found throughout the world. It is primarily potent due to a certain terpenoid, called nepetelactone, but various other chemical constituents and nutrients also affect various aspects of human health.

Nepeta cataria is a short-lived perennial, herbaceous plant that grows to be 50–100 cm (20–39 in) tall and wide, which blooms from late-spring to the autumn. In appearance, N. cataria resembles a typical member of the mint family of plants, featuring brown-green foliage with the characteristic square stem of the Lamiaceae family of plants. The coarse-toothed leaves are triangular to elliptical in shape. The small, bilabiate flowers of N. cataria are showy and fragrant, and are either pink in colour or white with fine spots of pale purple.

You will find Catnip in Mother Gaia’s Cold & Flu Tea here.

Catnip can be applied topically via the leaves or the essential oil, while catnip tea brewed from the leaves is also popular. The extracts and essential oils are also quite popular. The historical range of catnip uses include teas, juices, tinctures, extracts, salves, and even as an herb to be smoked, in addition to its culinary applications. The various forms of catnip have been used for generations in alternative medicine, and modern research has also shown it to be a reliable treatment for some common maladies.

Health benefits of catnip for humans include:

Stress Relief

The same quality that makes catnip so attractive to cats, namely because it makes them slightly “high” and sedates them, can also apply to humans in a more controlled way. Catnip can provide stress relief and reduce chronic anxiety as an herbal remedy when eaten, consumed in the form of a juice or tea, or when smoked as an herb. This can also help to reduce the secondary symptoms of chronic stress and strengthen your immune system.

Swallowed Emotions

A favorite use for this plant is to address the specific kind of stress and anxiety created in the body when people can’t express their emotions. This is perfect for someone who isn’t able to tell the boss or the in-law just what they’d like to say because it wouldn’t be polite, or good for the family budget.

Sleep Aid

Catnip has been used by people with insomnia or sleep restlessness for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The sedative nature helps to slow down the body’s natural cycles and induce a calm, relaxed state. People are better able to sleep through the night for undisturbed, restful sleep. Many people choose to drink a cup of catnip tea before bed to ensure a refreshing sleep.

Reduces Digestive Issues

Catnip is particularly effective in clearing up digestive issues, especially constipation, excess flatulence, cramping, and bloating. The relaxing, anti-inflammatory effects of catnip’s organic compounds can ease the knots and inflammation in your gastrointestinal system and relieve tightness and discomfort.

Colic

Catnip is a digestive herb. The scent that we get when we rub its leaves between our fingers is evidence of a high amount of volatile oils. This plant chemical is responsible for its ability to calm the stomach of an adult or a nursing child with colic.

Menstrual Cramps

For women suffering from particularly painful menstrual cramps, catnip tea is often recommended as an alternative treatment, because it can quickly relieve those cramps and stresses on the body. Furthermore, the sedative, calming effects of catnip can also soothe other symptoms of menstruation, such as mood swings and depression.

Headache Reliever

Although the exact mechanism isn’t completely understood, catnip has proven to be very effective in the treatment of headaches, even chronic migraines. Rubbing the essential oil on the affected area can work, but drinking catnip tea or rubbing a catnip leaf salve on the temples can also offer quick relief.

Fever

This is one of the most popular herbs for reducing a fever. It is part of a class of herbs called febrifuges. These herbs have the ability to cool the body by inducing a sweat. It is almost never a good idea to interrupt a fever. For the rare times that a fever has been particularly prolonged (your patient is becoming dehydrated and listless) or too high (over 102° for a typically healthy adult, around 104° for a typically healthy child) it can be helpful to have a fever tincture around.

Speeds-up Healing

In terms of colds and flus, one of the fastest ways to clean out the body is to induce sweating and get the toxins flushed from the system. This is particularly true in the case of fevers, when the lack of sweating before the fever breaks is only keeping those toxins and pathogens in the body. Catnip induces sweating, so is often recommended by alternative practitioners for treating the common cold.

Anti-inflammatory Activity

As mentioned above, the chemical constituents of catnip are particularly effective as anti-inflammatory agents. This means that catnip can be effective in the treatment of arthritis, gout, sprained muscles, aching joints, and even hemorrhoids. Topical application or normal consumption of leaves, juice, or tea can be effective for all of these situations.

Treats Skin Conditions

The natural repellent quality of catnip makes it ideal for keeping bugs away from gardens when kept as an ornamental plant, but the organic compounds in the plant make it ideal for soothing bug bites and relieving irritation on the skin. Applying salves or extracts to irritated or broken skin can speed the healing process and reduce inflammation quickly.

Complete Nutrient

Although eating catnip leaves is the least common form of consumption for human beings, catnip actually has a rather impressive collection of nutrients, from beneficial chemicals and unique organic compounds to essential acids, minerals, and vitamins that our bodies need. In other words, the plant can do a lot more than knock out a cat!

Cautions

For people suffering from liver or kidney disorders, the use of catnip may be risky, particularly if you are regularly consuming the tea. Furthermore, pregnant women should avoid catnip, as it can prematurely induce labor. Other than those specific concerns, catnip is generally considered non-allergenic and harmless to users. The high potency of the essential oil should be considered, however, and extracts should always be mixed with carrier oils.

Catnip for Cats  Read More...

Tip of the Week

Need more or better sleep?

So you've cut out some caffeine and you're still having trouble sleeping.

Some thoughts -

1. Do you use electronics before bed? Try tuning out, disconnecting or shutting off about an hour before bed. The backlit screens interfere with our melatonin and serotonin production and disrupt our circadian rhythm. Try reading, stretching, deep breathing, or meditating instead.

2. Do you worry about getting everything done tomorrow? Often our lists run through our heads well in to the night. Or even wake us up halfway through it. Try writing your list for tomorrow before bed. Then you don't have to go over it.

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Recipe of the Week

Make Your Own Tincture

Ingredients: 

• 12 oz Glass Jar with lid

• At least 8 oz of dried herbs

• At least 12 oz of grain alcohol, everclear, vodka, rum, or brandy

Directions:

• Select a glass container.

• Fill the container ⅓ full with dried herbs

• Cover the herbs with your choice of alcohol

• Secure the lid. Label the jar and leave it sit for 4-6 weeks.

• Shake the jar occasionally.

• At the end of the 4-6 weeks strain the herbs out of your tincture and bottle it.

• Lasts in dark cupboard for up to 10 years.

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Vegetable Glycerin (Glycerol)

Glycerol also called glycerine or glycerin is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is sweet-tasting and non-toxic. The glycerol backbone is found in all lipids known as triglycerides. It is widely used in the food industry as a sweetener and humectant and in pharmaceutical formulations. Glycerol has three hydroxyl groups that are responsible for its solubility in water and its hygroscopic nature.

Glycerol is generally obtained from plant and animal sources where it occurs as triglycerides. Triglycerides are esters of glycerol with long-chain carboxylic acids. The hydrolysis, saponification, or transesterification of these triglycerides produces glycerol as well as the fatty acid derivative.

Typical plant sources include soybeans or palm. Animal-derived tallow is another source. Approximately 950,000 tons per year are produced in the United States and Europe; 350,000 tons of glycerol were produced per year in the United States alone from 2000 to 2004.

Food industry

In food and beverages, glycerol serves as a humectant, solvent, and sweetener, and may help preserve foods. It is also used as filler in commercially prepared low-fat foods (e.g., cookies), and as a thickening agent in liqueurs. Glycerol and water are used to preserve certain types of plant leaves. As a sugar substitute, it has approximately 27 kilocalories per teaspoon (sugar has 20) and is 60% as sweet as sucrose. It does not feed the bacteria that form plaques and cause dental cavities. As a food additive, glycerol is labeled as E number E422. It is added to icing (frosting) to prevent it from setting too hard.

As used in foods, glycerol is categorized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a carbohydrate. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carbohydrate designation includes all caloric macronutrients excluding protein and fat. Glycerol has a caloric density similar to table sugar, but a lower glycemic index and different metabolic pathway within the body, so some dietary advocates accept glycerol as a sweetener compatible with low-carbohydrate diets.

Pharmaceutical, commercial, and personal care applications.

• Personal lubricants commonly contain glycerol

• Glycerol is an ingredient in products such as hair gel

• Glycerol suppositories used as laxatives

• Glycerin is often used in electronic cigarettes to create the vapor

• Glycerol is also used to power diesel generators supplying electricity for the FIA Formula E series of electric race cars.

Glycerol is used in medical, pharmaceutical and personal care preparations, mainly as a means of improving smoothness, providing lubrication, and as a humectant. It is found in allergen immunotherapies, cough syrups, elixirs and expectorants, toothpaste, mouthwashes, skin care products, shaving cream, hair care products, soaps, and water-based personal lubricants. In solid dosage forms like tablets, glycerol is used as a tablet holding agent. For human consumption, glycerol is classified by the U.S. FDA among the sugar alcohols as a caloric macronutrient.

Glycerol is a component of glycerin soap. Essential oils are added for fragrance. This kind of soap is used by people with sensitive, easily irritated skin because it prevents skin dryness with its moisturizing properties. It draws moisture up through skin layers and slows or prevents excessive drying and evaporation.

Glycerol can be used as a laxative when introduced into the rectum in suppository or small-volume (2–10 ml) (enema) form; it irritates the anal mucosa and induces a hyperosmotic effect.

Taken orally (often mixed with fruit juice to reduce its sweet taste), glycerol can cause a rapid, temporary decrease in the internal pressure of the eye. This can be useful for the initial emergency treatment of severely elevated eye pressure.

Glycerol was historically used as an anti-freeze for automotive applications before being replaced by ethylene glycol, which has a lower freezing point. While the minimum freezing point of a glycerol-water mixture is higher than an ethylene glycol-water mixture, glycerol is not toxic and is being re-examined for use in automotive applications.

In the laboratory, glycerol is a common component of solvents for enzymatic reagents stored at temperatures below 0 °C due to the depression of the freezing temperature. It is also used as a cryoprotectant where the glycerol is dissolved in water to reduce damage by ice crystals to laboratory organisms that are stored in frozen solutions, such as bacteria, nematodes, and mammalian embryos.

Glycerol is used to produce nitroglycerin, which is an essential ingredient of various explosives such as dynamite, gelignite, and propellants like cordite. Reliance on soap-making to supply co-product glycerol made it difficult to increase production to meet wartime demand. Hence, synthetic glycerol processes were national defense priorities in the days leading up to World War II. Nitroglycerin, also known as glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) is commonly used to relieve angina pectoris, taken in the form of sub-lingual tablets, or as an aerosol spray.

Botanical extracts

When utilized in "tincture" method extractions, specifically as a 10% solution, glycerol prevents tannins from precipitating in ethanol extracts of plants (tinctures). It is also used as an "alcohol-free" alternative to ethanol as a solvent in preparing herbal extractions. It is less extractive when utilized in a standard tincture methodology. Alcohol-based tinctures can also have the alcohol removed and replaced with glycerol for its preserving properties. Such products are not "alcohol-free" in a scientific sense, as glycerol contains three hydroxyl groups. Fluid extract manufacturers often extract herbs in hot water before adding glycerol to make glycerites.

When used as a primary "true" alcohol-free botanical extraction solvent in non-tincture based methodologies, glycerol has been shown to possess a high degree of extractive versatility for botanicals including removal of numerous constituents and complex compounds, with an extractive power that can rival that of alcohol and water–alcohol solutions. That glycerol possesses such high extractive power assumes it is utilized with dynamic methodologies as opposed to standard passive "tincturing" methodologies that are better suited to alcohol. Glycerol possesses the intrinsic property of not denaturing or rendering a botanical's constituents inert (as alcohols – i.e. ethyl (grain) alcohol, methyl (wood) alcohol, etc., do). Glycerol is a stable preserving agent for botanical extracts that, when utilized in proper concentrations in an extraction solvent base, does not allow inverting or reduction-oxidation of a finished extract's constituents, even over several years. Both glycerol and ethanol are viable preserving agents. Glycerol is bacteriostatic in its action, and ethanol is bactericidal in its action.

Metabolism   Read More...

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Product of the Week

Mother Gaia's Super Moisture Balm

Beeswax, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, ZERO Water, & Honey.

Deeply moisturizing to dry, cracked, and flaky skin.

Find yours here.

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Subscriber Promotions

Offers only for subscribers of Mother Gaia's Newsletter

October: BUY ONE GET ONE - Orange Spice Spray. Wonderfully warming for the upcoming Holidays. Find it here.

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Upcoming Events & Classes

 

Dancing Gaia: Nature of Movement & Meditation

Every Saturday @ 8am, Aspen Lodge in Anthem Ranch

We’ll begin class with deep breathing, energy building, and gentle stretching warm-ups. Class continues with a unique blend of Tai Chi, Yoga, Qigong, and Tae Kwon Do style movements. Then we finish each class with a cool down and seated hand posture practice. These classes are for residents only. 

Want Dancing Gaia in your community? Send Mother Gaia an email here.

Wellness Education

Classes held at the Eaton Senior Community, Saturdays @ 1:30pm

323 S Eaton St in Lakewood, CO 80226 (open to the public)

What do you get to learn about?

• Nine dimensions health and wellness

• Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness 

• Understanding your body.

• Alternative Medicine — other than surgery and medications

• Ways to improve your health without spending money.

• Cheap and easy remedies to use at home.

• Simple, gentle exercise to improve function.

• Free gifts, snacks, and handouts for attending.

 

Group Classes Mother Gaia Brings to You

How about an unusual birthday party for that open minded teen, loved one, or friend that has everything? Or just a fun way to learn and experience the benefits of natural healing with friends and/or family? Mother Gaia brings all the supplies and information needed for a great educational experience.

Combine classes for a more complete experience and save $10 per person. Host a class and get your first complete set for free! Send Mother Gaia an email and we can schedule it on your time in your space. Mother Gaia is fully insured for your protection, references can be provided upon request.

Aromacraft  

Learn about and experience essential oils and all of their wonderful benefits, create up to seven (7) of your own products to take home including a ZERO water based spray, moisturizing lotion, aroma body/bath oil, natural skin toner, deeply cleansing mudd mask, strengthening tooth powder, and nourishing mineral milk bath. 

Herbalcraft 

Learn about and experience herbal remedies, their amazing benefits and simple uses, and blend up to six (6) products including an herbal tea, naturally scented herbal sachet, moisturizing herbal infused mineral milk bath, infused body/bath oil, cleansing mudd mask, and strengthening and antibacterial tooth powder.

 ***Every participant receives a handout booklet packed full of useful information.***

 

 Looking to try out a class? Mother Gaia offers many great classes here.

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