Give yourself a dose of inner sunshine to match the warm, sunny days we’ve had recently!
Sun exposure is massively beneficial, but it results in a little bit of natural oxidative stress (natural cell damage and the process behind ageing). SO, to give yourself a boost of cell-repairing, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, PLUS boosting your body’s own antioxidant capacity, whip up these little glasses of sunshine. You don’t even need a juicer!
(makes 8-10 shots) – 1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger (more if you like things spicy) – 1 little finger size piece of fresh turmeric – Juice and zest of 1 lemon (I literally put the whole half lemon in there too as the pulp and skin are super beneficial) – Pinch of black pepper – 1 cup of water
If you tend to feel overly hot, irritated and feel like you may have a ‘pitta’ imbalance, swap the lemon for lime, use less ginger, and make things more hydrating and cooling by blending with coconut water.
– Add everything to a blender and whizz well. – Pour through a sieve into your glasses. – Cheers!
Skin is an inside issue. Yep, despite the abundance of creams and lotions promising to transform rashes to radiance or pimples to ‘perfection’, the only real and true way to heal chronic skin problems is to dive beneath the surface. Creams, oils and lotions can of course be a big help, and oiling the skin (known as abhyanga in Ayurvedic medicine) is a vital aspect of self-care both physically and emotionally, but the skin is almost always a sign of something happening within.
Skin is the body’s largest organ, and one of its primary functions is detoxification. The ability for us to ‘detox’ via sweating and releasing wastes is so incredibly important, which is why swapping your anti-perspirant deodorant to a natural deodorant that still addresses body odour but doesn’t stop you sweating is an easy swap for better health. If the skin is unable to release wastes, these ‘toxins’ are pushed back into the body, where they look for other exit routes; the lungs (which aid in releasing toxins via breathing), the kidneys (which filter waste), and the liver, which is also a key organ for detoxifying wastes from the body. Caring for the skin therefore includes caring for the lungs, liver and kidneys, as well as gut health and blood sugar balance – all before putting anything on your skin!
Psoriasis is considered to be a chronic inflammatory skin disease, where cells in the epidermis (just below the skin’s outer surface) divide much faster than usual, and shed prematurely. According to Ayurvedic medicine, psoriasis indicates an imbalance in the Kapha and Pitta doshas: the building and massing qualities of the Kapha dosha encourage new cells to grow excessively, and the inflammatory, hot qualities of Pitta cause redness, itching and possible bleeding.
Poor gut health
A diet high in sugar and processed foods
Poor liver function
Compromised kidney function
Low hormone levels – especially oestrogen (or extreme fluctuations in hormone levels throughout menstrual cycle)
Side-effects from medication
Red, scaly plaques covered with overlapping silvery shiny scales
Most commonly found around the wrists, elbows, knees and scalp
Tiny dents in fingernails and toenails
15% of those suffering with psoriasis develop a type of arthritis and subsequent joint pain
Breathing techniques (breathing only through the nose, 4-7-8 breathing, alternate nostril breathing, Wim Hof breathing, chandra bhedana pranayama)
Increase fibre – this binds to toxins which may cause psoriasis, and promotes their excretion. Choose vegetables, fruits, psyllium husk, oats and legumes.
Cut out sugar, processed foods and highly acidic and inflammatory foods (including dairy and eggs, which can increase acidity and inflammation). Choose a plant-based whole foods diet.
Decrease alcohol and caffeine
Himalayan and Epsom salt baths
Coconut or castor oil applied topically.
An ayurvedic formula of ghee and water in a ratio of 1:2, mixed thoroughly. This is often left for a month to infuse, but can be used immediately if you’re able to mix it vigorously.
Get plenty of natural sunlight
Address your home environment – ensure it isn’t damp or harbouring mould, and keep it well ventilated.
Supplements: Vitamin D, E & zinc
Consider an initial juice fast of celery, apple & coriander for 1 – 3 days.
Herbs: Calendula, Turmeric and black pepper, Ginko Bilboa, Triphala, Ashwagandha, Milk Thistle, Cleavers
There are pros and cons when it comes to smoothies. In some cases they can cause bloating, and if you’re adding lots of fruit and sweeteners, you could be consuming way more sugar than with a regular meal. The really GOOD part of this smoothie however, is that it’s low sugar & packed with seasonal greens and powerful nutrients, giving you a dose of almost medicinal superfoods in one glass.
Whatever smoothie you’re making, fill it with greens to get your fill of antioxidants and vitamins. If you’re a confident forager, this is the perfect time to grab those seasonal greens and pop them in too. Today I found dandelion greens and sweet fennel whilst out walking. This blend is packed FULL of all the good stuff to boost digestion, lower inflammation, enhance liver health, and to aid in the body’s natural detox ability.
Sweet fennel does indeed taste quite sweet, and you’ll find it growing in hedgerows throughout May. As always, it’s important that you’re 110% confident about anything you pick, but if you do find some, the benefits include remedy-ing indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux, relieving constipation, reducing bloating and gas thanks to the component Anethole found in the plant. It can also help naturally soothe upper respiratory tract issues like coughs and bronchitis, and in infants it can help calm colic.
If you find sweet fennel – or any other seasonal greens this weekend – try something a little like this to get your green goodness fix!:
Serves 2: – 6 sticks of celery – 1 apple – 1 handful parsley – 1 handful sweet fennel fronds – 1 handful dandelion greens – 1 handful spinach – 1 Knob of ginger – 2 tsp ground milk thistle – 1 cup spring water
Living ‘seasonally’ is about much more than what we eat (although if you can eat seasonal foods, that’s a really good start!). We evolved for thousands of years to shift and oscillate as the seasons change – naturally opting for a more restorative Winter with hearty meals of proteins and fats, and a more active, vibrant Spring and Summer with plenty of greens, sunlight, and social engagements. You may already feel drawn to alter your habits from season-to-season, but there are still so many ways we prevent ourselves from living seasonally. All it takes is a few very simple, easy changes, and you’re likely to feel the huge physical and mental benefits of living in tune with the seasons in no time at all. Get all the info in my latest blog for Ekhart Yoga.
There really is such an abundance along the hedgerows at this time of year! Wild garlic, nettle, cleavers, dandelion, purple dead nettle, ground elder, wood sorrel, primrose, and so much more. What might look simply like a mass of weeds and plants is totally transformed when you begin to recognise these edible and medicinal herbs for what they really are. Of course – it’s important to only pick a small amount to make sure the plants can return next year!
If you’re feeling like a confident forager, wild garlic mustard (also known as Jack-by-the-hedge or ‘hedge garlic’) is a great plant to find right now – it tastes just as the name suggests – a little garlicky and a little mustardy! The whole plant (including the root) can be eaten and turned into a delicious wasabi-like mayo.
It’s super high in vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, calcium, iron and zinc, as well as having really impressive levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Try this superfood mayo recipe this week & always be 110% sure of anything you’re foraging!
– 3 entire wild garlic mustard plants (root, stem, leaves and flowers) – 3 tbsp white wine vinegar – 1 organic egg yolk – 1 pinch salt
– Wash the wild garlic mustard and finely chop. – Add everything minus the egg to a blender and whizz to create a hummus-like texture – Add in the egg yolk and whizz again – Decant into a clean jar and leave to set in the fridge for a couple of hours. – Enjoy as a dip, spread on sourdough, or toss through this season’s new potatoes
Oil pulling is an ancient technique that remains highly relevant and effective today. Before the invention of plastic toothbrushes, cleaning the mouth was a longer (and possibly more effective) process of using oils, herbal sticks, and medicated mouth washes. Today, oil pulling has become a popular practice amongst those studying holistic health practices, with the most commonly used oil being coconut. Oil pulling can be effective for preventing tooth decay, cleansing the digestive tract and sinuses, more deeply cleaning the mouth, strengthening the gums and teeth and providing a gentle daily detox. Although swishing coconut oil around the mouth is indeed beneficial, there are actually many different oils and techniques that can be utilised depending upon each person’s unique needs, the season, their age, and any imbalances they may currently be experiencing.
The classical Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita describes the benefits of oil pulling:
“It is beneficial for strength of jaws, depth of voice, flabbiness of face, improving gustatory sensation and good taste for food. One used to this practice never gets dryness of throat, nor do his lips ever get cracked; his teeth will never be carious and will be deep rooted; he will not have any toothache nor will his teeth set on edge by sour intake; his teeth can chew even the hardest eatables.”
– Charaka Samhita Ch V. 78 to 80.
Before oil pulling, use a tongue-scraper (I use Urban Veda’s – get yours HERE.) to gently remove any white coating from the tongue. This white coating is a sign of ‘ama’ (loosely referring to ‘toxins’), and is a sign that the digestive system is a little sluggish, that you have a build-up of ‘toxins’ in your body, or that last night’s dinner was unsuitable for you. It’s quite normal to have a small amount of white coating on the tongue each morning – especially if your evening meal was consumed late – but a thick coating of yellowish or green can indicate deep-seated ama, and needs to be addressed.
After tongue scraping, fill the mouth with 1 tbsp of oil, and gently swish it around your teeth and gums. Depending upon the type of oil used (indicated below), the practice can last for two to twenty minutes. The shorter oil pulling method is known as Kavala, and is beneficial for removing excess saliva, bacteria and helps more deeply clean the mouth. A longer oil-pulling method known as Gandusha, involves filling the mouth with a slightly larger amount of oil, and holding it in the mouth without swishing at all. Gandusha can help detoxify the digestive system, prevent tooth decay, strengthen the gums and teeth, as well as clearing the sinuses, remedy vertigo, and calm excessive Vata energy from the systems. Throughout this practice, hold the oil in the mouth for up to twenty minutes, or until the eyes begin to water, saliva fills the mouth, or the nose begins to run (these are all signs that the cavities of the head are becoming decongested). When you have finished the practice, spit the oil into the trash, so as not to clog the drains.
Kavala (the shorter duration of swishing oil around the mouth) has become the more popular modern-day choice, and is still very beneficial for oral health and the digestive tract. This method can be done as a daily practice. For sinus issues and overcoming illness however, Gandusha is recommended.
Which is the best oil for me?
As with pretty much everything in the world of Ayurveda & holistic health: it depends.
It depends upon your dosha, any imbalances you may have, and the season, as well as anything else you may have personally going on for you in your body or mind. A practitioner or wellbeing coach can help guide you towards which oil may be the best for you, but as your own healer, it’s great to be able to empower yourself to make these decisions.
Coconut oil. This type of oil is cooling, moisturising, and helps remove excess hot Pitta energy from the body. Coconut oil also contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities and is gentle enough to use daily. For easy-to-use Coconut Oil Pulling Pops recipe, click HERE.
For Pitta Imbalances:
Inflamed or bleeding gums
General feeling of ‘heat’ in your body
Knowing you’ve consumed way too many hot, spicy and acidic foods recently
Use castor oil for all of the above, especially if you feel a sudden onset of heat in your system. Castor oil can help remove heat from the body, and whereas you may need to ‘pull’ oils like sesame or coconut for 10-15 minutes for optimum results, castor oil can do the job in just a couple of minutes.
If castor oil is not available, coconut oil can still help remove excess burning and irritation of the mouth
Sesame Oil. Sesame oil is naturally nourishing and warming, (helping to balance Vata’s cold qualities), and is thought of as the most traditional oil to use for oil pulling. Sesame oil is cleansing for the mouth and helps strengthen the teeth and gums.
Chipped or weak teeth
Dryness of the body and skin
Use warm sesame oil if you feel generally cold asnd dry.
Use castor oil for just a couple of days if you’re suffering with incredibly dry, flaky skin. Do not use for longer, as the cooling properties of this oil can be too cold for Vata issues.
Steep 5 cloves in your sesame oil for a week, as this can help reduce oral pain and is warming
Sesame Oil. Sesame oil is naturally nourishing and warming, (helping to balance Kapha’s cool qualities), and is thought of as the most traditional oil to use for oil pulling. Sesame oil is cleansing for the mouth and helps strengthen the teeth and gums. Gandusha is very beneficial for clearing lethargy and mucus associated with excessive Kapha energy. Gargling with warm salty water is also a beneficial way to clear and cleanse the Kapha mouth.
Excess ‘ama’ on the tongue
Lethargy and general heaviness
Mucus and phlegm
Steep cloves in your sesame oil for a week, to promote more warming properties to the oil.
You can also add essential oils like myrrh and cinnamon, although it’s important to ensure the oils are edible and high-quality.
Medicated Triphala oil is a good choice for excessive phlegm and mucus.
After your oil pulling session, be sure to rinse out your mouth and brush your teeth.
The first in a new series of blog posts focusing on improving health and wellbeing naturally, with foods, movement, meditation, natural herbs and daily practices to help you feel your best! Be sure to consult a trusted health-care provider before implementing changes. Wellbeing consultations and health-coaching sessions available to book with me now, more details HERE.
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For hundreds of years, gout was associated only with the upper class, who had access to rich foods, meats, sugar, and frequently enjoyed feasting. Today, gout most commonly impacts men over the age of 40, but I’m seeing more and more young people suffering with it too. Unfortunately, the same goes for issues like diabetes, obesity and heart disease; these illnesses previously only occurred later in life, but children brought up with a poor diet high in sugar, little exercise and mounting stress are experiencing diseases earlier than ever.
Gout is an inflammatory joint disease, caused by having too much uric acid in the blood, tissues and urine. Uric acid itself isn’t inherently harmful at all – it’s actually a powerful antioxidant – but in excess it causes damage. Uric acid builds up as a result of excessive chemicals known as ‘purines’ found in specific foods. Most people are able to digest purines with no problem, but people who suffer from gout don’t naturally produce enough of the digestive enzyme uricase, causing crystal-like structures to form in joints like the big toe, ankles, knees, and even the fingers. Gout typically causes redness, pain and swelling, making the joint painful to move (although movement is actually very beneficial to help reduce pain and inflammation in the joint). If gout ‘attacks’ repeatedly continue, this can damage the underlying joint.
If you’re experiencing joint pain, it’s important to investigate thoroughly, as gout is not commonly tested for in blood tests. This has meant many people suffering with gout have wrongly been referred for operations and joint replacements, including those who have been diagnosed with a broken bone and put in a plaster cast for six weeks! These treatments entirely unnecessary and don’t help the root issue.
What causes gout?
A diet high in ‘purines’ (listed below)
Genetics (although this is not the cause of gout – lifestyle factors are the trigger.)
Poor kidney function
Joints that have previously been injured are more susceptible to gout.
Whilst the mainstream allopathic treatment for gout is often N-SAIDs like Ibuprofen or Advil, or prescription medications, gout is actually a condition that can very successfully be treated naturally. Whilst pills and prescriptions can be very helpful, the problem lies in the fact that they often merely mask symptoms without addressing the root cause, meaning the problem will never truly go away unless it is treated naturally.
Diet, herbs, supplements and simple lifestyle practices naturally and effectively help gout, so try the following:
Eliminate high-purine foods: beef, shellfish, organ meats, anchovies, mackerel, asparagus, gravies and broths, peanuts, yeast, sardines, sugar, beans and pulses, spinach. Some people find that strawberries, tomatoes and oranges trigger gout too.
Cut down on alcohol
Reduce refined sugar and processed foods
Limit dairy and eggs (which can be inflammatory)
Opt for a whole-foods, plant-based diet, favouring the following foods:
Omega 3s from nuts, seeds and healthy oils like coconut and olive oil
Consume plenty of folate from broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale
Ginger and turmeric are powerful anti-inflammatories
Quercetin (found in red onions, red peppers and apples)
Bromelian (an anti-inflammatory found in pineapple)
Add 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar to warm water and drink each evening to reduce inflammation, help break up purine crystals and balance blood sugar.
At least 2 litres of water per day
Fresh vegetables, especially cucumber, celery, sweet potatoes and carrots, kelp and green vegetables
Fresh fruits, especially cherries, blueberries, apples, bananas and pineapple
Consume anti-inflammatory herbs like oregano, turmeric with black pepper, ginger, boswellia, chamomile and celery seed extract. Ground elder or ‘Bishop’s gout weed’ is also beneficial, and grows freely in the UK countryside in Spring.
Ensure you’re getting plenty of good quality sleep, without excessive screen time or bright lights at night. The darkness and sleep hormone melatonin is one of the most potent antioxidants we’re exposed to, and a vital anti-inflammatory.
Apply frankincense, coconut oil and wintergreen oil topically
Get plenty of movement and exercise (swimming, walking, cycling and yoga are all great)
Ensure you’re getting enough vitamin A, E, and B vitamins
Practice reducing stress with guided relaxation, breathwork, meditation and time spent in nature
Spend plenty of time in natural sunlight
Beneficial supplements include: Magnesium, essential fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and glucosamine if you have experienced multiple gout flare-ups which may have damaged the joint and cartilage.
Have an issue you want to address naturally? Get in touch!
A super easy springtime recipe to help you reconnect to nature!
Once you’re able to identify plants like wild garlic, nettles, primrose, dandelion and purple dead nettle (amongst many others!) the Springtime landscape truly transforms. Our ancestors would’ve known the edible plants around them, where they grew, and the best time to pick them. Now, we’re lucky if we even live near an area abundant with plants and herbs, let alone knowing much about them.
Reconnecting to nature reminds us how human we really are, and foraging reawakens a part of us that so deeply nourishes us physically and emotionally. Foraging helps us feel like a part of the landscape, a part of nature, and a part of the world we live in, rather than an outsider. As well as helping us feel literally more ‘at home’ in the part of the world we live, foraging also helps us intuitively learn more about the seasons, and provides us with nutritionally dense foods at the exact time we need them. Plants and helps that helps prevent hay fever for example, are abundant just as symptoms start to kick in, and spending more time out in nature and in sunlight can even prevent hay fever happening in the first place.
After a long, dark winter, Spring is full of bitter greens, which help boost digestion and naturally ‘detox’ the systems. Historically, we would’ve survived on more heavy, protein-rich foods in Winter, so come Spring, this is a natural time to lighten up and make the most of plants rich in magnesium, potassium, vitamins C, K and B, as well as iron and antioxidants. This easy pickling recipe preserves the benefits of wild garlic and dandelion, for a delicious jar to help lower blood pressure, reduce water retention, boost digestion, lower inflammation and provide plenty of nutrients.
The next time you’re out on a walk (from April through to June), look along the hedgerows and forest floors, and you’re likely to spot one of these ingredients. As always, make sure you’re 100% certain of what you’re picking and consult a professional before consuming anything at all!
Makes roughly 1 jam jar amount
2 large handfuls of wild garlic greens and the unopened flower buds
1 handful dandelion flower heads
Roughly 1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp coconut sugar or stevia
1 tsp salt
Optional: 2 tsp mustard seeds, pepper corns and chilli flakes
Wash and sterilise your jar
Wash the garlic and dandelion, then pack them tightly into your jar
In a pan, add the vinegar, sugar and salt and warm to dissolve the granules
Add the vinegar mixture to the jar, using a spoon to ensure all the greens are covered
Add your chosen spices, and top up with any remaining vinegar
Fasten the lid tightly, and leave to pickle in a cool, dark place for three to five days
Transfer to the fridge and either continue pickling for a couple more weeks, or enjoy in the same way you’d use sauerkraut, gherkins and condiments!
A super simple, super green, seasonal, local and totally healthy soup. You’re probably walking past some of these plants every day, so have a go at foraging this week (as long as you know what you can safely pick!) and whip up this quick and easy soup with ingredients that are naturally local to you.
The Benefits Nettles are high in iron, they reduce inflammation and hay fever, contain vitamins A, C, K, + B vitamins, and all the amino acids. Wild garlic is powerful for reducing high blood pressure, and has antibacterial and antiviral qualities. Courgettes are cooling (important for anyone feeling overly inflamed / irritated or what we’d refer to in Ayurveda as having excessive Pitta 🔥 energy) and they’re also high in potassium, which is important for muscle health!
INGREDIENTS (Serves 2-3) – 2 courgettes, chopped – 1 big handful nettle leaves – 1 big handful wild garlic leaves – 1 red onion (high in quercetin, also a great hay fever remedy) – 1 tsp mustard seeds – 1 tsp coriander seeds – Organic stock cube (or home made or bone broth) – 1 litre water – Salt and pepper to taste
METHOD – Fry the onion and spices in coconut oil in a large pan – Add the courgette to soften – Add the stock, water + nettles – Simmer, then add the wild garlic – Cook until the courgette is soft, then take off the heat and whizz with a hand blender. – Serve with sourdough bread Enjoy!
One of my favourite things about working with ancient Ayurveda and modern wellness, is that when you combine the best of both, magic starts to happen.
This simple tea recipe combines locally picked herbs native to the UK, with Ayurvedic staples like cinnamon, cardamom and fennel seed.
Just as with Ayurveda and holistic health, there’s no ‘one’ way of doing things, and everything is an experiment. Everything in this tea is brilliant for supporting liver health, digestion, blood sugar balance, reducing water retentions as well as providing a good dose of iron. If you come across these herbs whilst out on a walk, give it a go!
Makes 1 large pot of tea
1 handful each of locally foraged cleavers and nettle