The Versatility of Cardamom.

Spring is in the air and it’s time to open the windows and open our hearts to new beginnings and renewed energies. I’d like to share a spice with you that can revitalize your energy as we shift into Spring. Cardamom has been one of my favorite spices for a very long time. I love the smell of cardamom bread as it reminds me of Easter time and Spring. On my recent trip to Sri Lanka, I learned to appreciate it more as an essential oil because of its many healing properties.

Steenbergs Cardamom pods lg

We ate the cardamom pods in a breakfast porridge in Sri Lanka with rice and raisins. It was warm and comforting and I savored every bite. Later I would learn about how it warms the heart space. I believe that’s part of what I felt when I was eating that delicious breakfast dish. I not only felt nourished but nurtured at the same time.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is spicy sweet, pungent with camphoraceous notes. The essential oil is distilled from the seed pods. It is an aromatic perennial shrub that can grow up to 6-12 feet high. It has strong shoots or long stems with long semi-floppy leaves. At the base, strong skinny, stick-like stems grow that produce pods or fruits that encase the cardamom seeds, as well as white-purplish flowers. It grows well in warm moist climates like Sri Lanka.

Among its many properties, it is an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, digestive aid, diuretic, nutritive and stimulant. Physically, it aids with acid reflux, digestive comfort, GI issues, liver function, PMS and over-exertion. Mentally, cardamom encourages concentration, relieves confusion, depression, exhaustion, nervous exhaustion, overthinking and worry. Emotionally this wonderful spice has the ability to soothe a cold heart, build confidence, relieve anxiety, restore vital Chi energy and inner passion, dispel emotional “starvation,” lack and self-neglect.

Cardamom has been used in Ayurvedic medicine in India and culinary practices for centuries. Today it is most popular in Chai tea. It has been called the “Queen of Spices.” The Greeks, Romans, and Chinese have all used this aromatic spice and Egyptians used it as a breath freshener. In my own experience, cardamom has provided emotional comfort and allowed me to open my heart and feel loved and nurtured.

CV17-lineIn my Aroma Acupoint Therapy training, I learned two specific points to apply cardamom essential oil to allow the heart to open. The first point is CV17. This point can be found on the sternum in the middle of the chest at nipple level. Place a drop of cardamom essential oil on your fingertip and then touch CV17 and hold gently and take 4-5 deep gentle breaths.

 

The second point is HT 7 on the wrist. Place 20 drops of Cardamom essential oil in a 1/3 oz. roller-ball container and top off with sweet almond oil. Apply to HT7 on the wrist to warm the heart, release lack and neglect, and invoke self-love and self-forgiveness. Reapply throughout the day.

acupuncture points for heart

Raise your vibration by using Cardamom spice and Cardamom essential oil in some of the recipes that follow, and open your heart to new experiences.

Rejuvenates the Spirit and Open your  Heart 

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Rose Hydrosol
  • 3 drops Bergamot
  • 3 drops Neroli
  • 3 drops Cardamom
  • 3 drops Spruce
  • 4 drops Sweet Orange

Directions: Mix essential oils and add to spray bottle filled with rose hydrosol. Shake well before each use. Spritz in a room or in your car to provide an uplifting atmosphere. Breathe deeply! CAUTION: Avoid contact with eyes.

A mind/body nourishing blend to warm the heart, restore the mind and nurture the body. 

Ingredients & Materials:

  • 4 oz. glass jar
  • 1/4 oz. unscented carrier oil (for example, sweet almond or jojoba oil)
  • 3.5 oz. Epsom or sea salt

Essential Oils:

  • 4 drops Ginger
  • 4 drops Nutmeg
  • 2 drops Cinnamon Leaf
  • 3 drops Cardamom
  • 3 drops Lavender

Instructions: Add 2 oz Epsom Salt or Sea Salt to the 4-oz. jar followed by the essential oils. Mix well using a stir stick. Add another 1 oz. of Epsom salt or sea salt and mix together. Add in the unscented carrier oil and mix well. Add in more Epsom or salt to fill the jar and mix well. Label and store in a cool, dark place avoiding direct sunlight.

To use: Apply 3 tablespoons to your skin during a bath or shower, using small circular motions towards the heart to stimulate the blood and lymph circulation and exfoliate dead skin cells. This will leave skin glowing and youthful and open your heart space.

Digestive Support Eases digestion and may assist in preventing gas and bloating.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. unscented lotion
  • 1 drop Bergamot
  • 3 drops Cardamom
  • 3 drops Roman Chamomile
  • 2 drops Sweet Orange

Directions: Blend essential oils in 2 oz of unscented lotion.
 Rub on your belly before every meal and before bed.

Chai blend: Here is both a drink and a wonderful diffuser synergy. The essential oils of these particular plants are in their seeds, roots, and bark; all fairly hard in texture and in need of heat to coax forth the aromatic oils. As a diffuser, the warm aroma of Chai makes any nest feel cozy and inviting, also staving off a sluggish mind and negative emotions. As a drink, these aromatics have a similar effect with the added benefit of increasing digestive function, decreasing physical congestion and warming the heart. It is also a great pick-me-up in the middle of the day. If you are sensitive to caffeine this formula is just as delicious without the tea or you could use Rooibos tea that is caffeine free. I recommend keeping a pot of this going over low heat all day, adding the milk and honey to your teacup as you are ready to drink it. This is especially nice as it offers a feeling of comfort and opens the heart space as well.

Ingredient:

  • 7 cups Water
  • 1 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
  • 6 Green Cardamom Pods
  • 12 Cloves
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/4 inch Ginger Root, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Tbsp of Black Tea
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 cup of coconut milk or almond milk

Directions: In a saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients, spices and water, cover and bring to a medium boil for five minutes. Turn off the heat and let it steep for ten minutes. Warm your brew to just below boiling and add the tea leaves. Add honey and nut milk. This recipe makes about eight cups. Note: You can find these spices here.

Inhaler: Heavenly Spice

  • 12 drops Cardamom
  • 5 drops Cinnamon Leaf
  • 10 drops Ginger

Directions: Place all essential oils on a cotton inhaler blank wick and seal. Use as often as needed to uplift, clear the heart and support your emotions.

Sesame Chai Green Smoothie. Here is a great smoothie to get your spice game on with cardamom.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 2 cups Kale Leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 4 drops of Stevia to taste as needed

Directions: Blend all ingredients, except the frozen fruit, in a high-speed blender until smooth. Add the frozen fruit and blend until creamy.

I hope that as Spring unfolds your heart will open up along with the beautiful flowers, showing the world your true authentic self and becoming all that you can be.

Happy Spring!

PMS: How to Manage it Naturally

woman-PMS

That nagging, monthly headache, backache, and bite-your-head-off responses to those around you. I know you just want to shut the world out or self-medicate with a pan of brownies or raw cookie dough. Believe me, I’ve been there! I also want you to know that this is NOT NORMAL and can be relieved and even eliminated over time using essential oils, herbs, and dietary changes.

PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, encompasses a group of symptoms that often affect women in the days prior to and up to the beginning of their menstrual flow. It can have an effect on women who are just starting their menarche, usually during adolescent years, and symptoms can continue until menopause. PMS typically affects women between their 20’s and 40’s most significantly.

Symptoms of PMS include emotional distress, mood changes, depression, aggression, anxiety, stress, and mental state alteration. Physical symptoms include fatigue, bloating, cramps, breast tenderness, low back pain, fluid retention, and headaches. PMS affects some women more adversely than others. According to Dr. Henry G. Beiler, who wrote Food Is Your Best Medicine, there are three lines of defense in the body: the gastrointestinal system, which allows you to digest food and absorb nutrients; the hepatic system, or liver, that filters toxins from the blood and intestines; and the endocrine system, which are the hormones that regulate menstrual cycles and hormone levels in the body throughout the month.

These systems work intricately with each other. When any of these lines of defense are compromised, the rest of the body suffers. Here is how your body gets “set-up” to have PMS symptoms:

  1. If you are eating food that is not nutrient dense or is “unhealthy,” you can’t absorb the correct nutrients and toxins can begin to build up in your intestinal system. This could prompt yeast and candida overgrowth or intestinal bacteria that is harmful. This is a break in the body’s first line of defense.
  2. The liver is forced to take on a heavier load to remove excess toxin through the blood system. It gets angry at having this extra responsibility and responds by initiating hot flashes or a snappy temper.
  3. The endocrine system has been getting poor communication from both the intestinal tract and the liver and becomes confused on how to respond. It begins to misfire as the toxic load is shifted to the last detox organ on the line–the uterus. This hormonal response is the origin of PMS symptoms.  In PMS, the uterus is used as an organ of elimination of toxins in the blood. The cramps, discomforts, and congestion associated with PMS are the result of toxins accumulating in the pelvic region prior to menses.  Edema, or fluid retention, is created by the inability of the kidneys to handle the toxins. Pain and headaches are due to the irritating effects of these toxins.  Finally, heavy menstrual flow, which results in weakness, anxiety, and anemia, is caused by the body trying to rid itself of as much toxic material as possible.

Thus, all PMS symptoms are related to a general toxicity of the blood. Over time these same toxins irritate the female organs sufficiently to cause cysts, fibroids, and other chronic reproductive problems.

I like to take a comprehensive approach to PMS and imbalances in the body using food, herbs, and essential oils. The creation of the 14-Day Hormone Balance Detox program teaches you how to balance seven key hormones using food as medicine.

Herbs that can benefit the symptoms of PMS include some of my favorite products from Nature’s Sunshine:

  • Chinese Liver Balance – aids the detoxification processes of the liver and colon. In addition,
  • Tiao He Cleanse – works especially well when used with the Chinese Liver Balance. It is particularly helpful for PMS that involves irritability with bouts of anger and anxiety.
  • Chinese Blood Build – is helpful with anemia and heavy blood loss.  Many of the herbs in this formula are standard ingredients in Chinese herbal formulas designed to help women have healthy periods throughout their child-bearing years.
  • Chinese Mood Elevator – helpful when PMS is accompanied by sad, heavy feelings and depression.  This formula is very supportive of the liver and gastrointestinal tract.

Herbs for PMS: I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Dandelion Root: Can be used as a healthy coffee substitute. This bitter root relieves fluid retention. It is prebiotic, which feeds good gut bacteria, flushes fatty deposits from your liver, and stimulates bile production to help your liver detoxify more efficiently.

Maca Root: An herbal adaptogen that balances progesterone and estrogen, relieving menstrual swings, fluid retention, and breast tenderness. Women who take maca during menopause and peri-menopause report less hot flashes, depression, sleep issues, nervousness, and anxiety.

Cinnamon: This aromatic spice stabilizes blood sugars and insulin levels. Rich in anti-inflammatory chemicals, it supports and strengthens your immune system thus reducing the risk of autoimmune conditions. Ceylon Cinnamon is recommended over Cassia Cinnamon, which can be toxic.

Lemon Balm: Often used as a mild sedative, a calming sleep aid, and for reducing anxiety. It has other hidden benefits, including use as a powerful memory enhancer and can improve concentration. It also acts an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Chasteberry: A powerful little berry that can reduce fluid retention and cravings. The chasteberry has also helped reduce hormonal symptoms such as depression and anxiety. It can be made into a delicious tea.

Essential Oils for PMS: I believe that essential oils and the use of aromatic plant medicine is one of the keys to effectively balancing hormones in regards to the mental/emotional aspect of PMS. We are emotional beings and when hormones are out of balance the emotional body is profoundly affected. I believe the emotional components are the most misunderstood symptoms or hormone imbalances and often misdiagnosed and mistreated by Western medicine.

Essential oils are one of the best and most effective ways to get to the root of the emotional issues of hormone imbalance and PMS and begin to directly “unwind” the body and bring it back into balance, naturally. This is why I have dedicated much of my holistic health practice to creating products and effective modalities to help my clients. Visit the aromatherapy store to see some of the products available for hormone balance.

Geranium (Pelargonium Capitatum) – is the rockstar essential oil for balancing hormones. It has been dubbed a woman’s oil for many reasons. This oil shows significant fluid decongestant and detoxifying actions that work in tandem with the liver, kidneys, uterus, and the whole lymph system.

Scented Geranium lg

When any of these organs are congested and burdened with toxins, geranium is the remedy of choice. Here we are looking at an important liver, blood, and lymphatic decongestant and detox mechanism. Noteworthy is the experimental success of the oil’s key component, geraniol, in detoxifying the liver and mildly reducing blood cholesterol (Broadhurst & Duke 1997).

Emotionally balancing qualities of Geranium:

  • Promotes emotional security and inner strength
.
  • Loss of emotional support, emotional loss, disappointment or deprivation; grief.
  • Emotional withdrawal, insecurity, neediness.
  • 
Low self-esteem, guilt, suicidal tendency.
  • Promotes emotional stability and calm.
  • Irritability, moodiness, frustration, mood swings.
  • 
Depression with anxiety, negative (distressed) emotions and outlook.

Primarily Regulating and Restorative Qualities of Geranium:

Female hormonal regulator/restorative: hormonal disorders from estrogen or progesterone deficiency, including Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS), dysmenorrhea, long cycles, and menopausal syndrome with hot flashes.

Adrenal regulator/restorative: adrenal dysregulation or fatigue with energy swings, low stamina, afternoon fatigue, salt cravings, menopause.

Pancreatic (blood sugar) regulator/restorative: hyper and hypoglycemia, diabetes.
Primarily Decongestant and Detoxification:

Liver decongestant and detoxification: liver congestion, metabolic toxicity, high blood cholesterol. Draining and detoxifying diuretic: edema, retention of toxic kidney metabolites.

Other essential oils with hormone-like properties that have been studied in relation to benefiting PMS symptoms include Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha). In addition, essential oils with estrogen-like properties that are believed to be effective include Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Sage (Salvia o cinalis), and Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea). Clary Sage is also an anti-inflammatory and can aid in additional symptom relief.

The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, by Salvatore Battaglia, lists the following essential oils as useful in pre-menstrual tension:

  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
  • German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
  • Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
  • Carrot seed (Daucus carota)
  • Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
  • Sweet Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce)
  • Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
  • Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
  • Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
  • Rose (Rosa damascena)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus o cinalis)
  • Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)

It is important to note that with any use of aromatherapy, essential oils can be beneficial in the relief of PMS symptoms if they are used over time. While it is possible to feel immediate relief of PMS symptoms shortly after using essential oils, in most cases, relief is achieved after the essential oils have been used continuously over a few months.

Here are some amazing recipes that I hope will inspire you to start using essential oils or attend one of my classes.

For more information, or if you have questions, email me at aromatherapy_works@yahoo.com

Anxiety Relief BlendPMS freedom