Are you looking for a remedy to soothe you to sleep, reduce anxiety, or to balance your hormones? Would you be surprised if I told you that you’ve already got some of the most effective remedies at home? It’s true! And the biggest surprise is that they’re in your kitchen cabinet, larder and pantry!
I’ve asked Maeve O’Sullivan and Emilia Herting, founders of Escapada Retreat to share their top pantry essentials on how to balance your hormones, alleviate fatigue, boost immunity, and improve digestion.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners, Maeve O’Sullivan and Emilia Herting are the co-founders of Escapada Retreat. As well as running health retreats in Mallorca, both run successful Integrative Health Clinics. (Maeve’s in Dublin and Emilia’s in Hamburg and Luebeck.)
How to Balance your Hormones
“Since lockdown began, women have been contacting us every day feeling off-kilter, wondering what’s wrong with them and what they need to take to ‘fix’ it. So often in our culture, imbalances (hormonal, digestive, emotional, sleep…) are due to very simple lifestyle habits and routines that are throwing us off balance. Because we practice these routines daily, our system gets out of whack, causing hormonal imbalance.
When we have an understanding of what’s going on, we’re better equipped to make a subtle lifestyle or dietary changes that will naturally correct and balance things over time. The beauty of this approach is, it’s all within your control. Eastern medicines recognise that different types of constitutions need to be looked after in different ways. From one’s general lifestyle and diet as well as herbal medicine and acupuncture formula when the body is out of balance. A person’s constitution is associated with genetic and postnatal influences, which include your age, environment, diet and living habits, profession, emotional influences, and relationships. These factors become the primary concerns in our TCM consultations. Once your type has been identified, there is so much you can do to support your body for greater health and wellbeing.”
For Your Immune-System
In Chinese Medicine, the lungs are responsible for the Wei Qi (immune system) as we breathe in sickness (i.e. colds and flus). Garlic is a powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibiotic properties and also works a natural decongestant to strengthen our lungs (and digestive system). At the first sign of an infection or illness, start taking one raw garlic clove daily. Alternatively, you could use concentrated allicin extract.
In Chinese Medicine, this oil has a long history of being used as an antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-fungal medicine. On top of that, it is one of the most commonly used herbal remedies to strengthen the immune system. It can be taken internally as an all-natural antimicrobial powerhouse to keep your immune system going strong all winter to combat yeast infections. Along with being used topically to treat antibiotic-resistant staph infections of the skin (MRSA). If you don’t have shop-bought oregano oil in your pantry you can make it at home using fresh oregano leaves. Or dried will work too!
How to Make Oregano Oil
Put 1 cup of freshly muddled oregano leaves into a jar and pour 1/2 cup of oil of your choice (we like olive oil for taste) over the leaves. Place the closed jar into hot water and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. This process heats up the oil and allows the oregano to release its natural oils. Remove the jar from the hot water and store in a cool place away from direct sunlight. The oil will need to infuse for at least 1 week, but ideally 2 with a shake/swirl every few days. When it is ready, it will be a rich dark brown colour, and you will need to strain the oil using a cheesecloth. Store the oil in a fresh glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator and use as needed.
How to Balance Your Hormones
Turmeric has been prescribed in Chinese Medicine as a food and herbal remedy for thousands of years. The orange root is packed with pungent flavours of earth, pepper, and bitterness and supports the function of your stomach and spleen. In TCM, turmeric acts as an anti-inflammatory to bolster the immune system by entering the heart, lung, liver and gallbladder meridians. As well as being used to invigorate blood, remove stagnation from the body and reduce inflammation.
We recommend always mixing turmeric with fat. It is a spice that is fat-soluble, meaning that it can only be absorbed properly by the body when in combination with this. This is why you will often find turmeric mixed with ghee (clarified butter) which is a delicious and healthy Ayurvedic and TCM substitution for butter. Using a pestle and mortar mash fresh turmeric root into a paste (or use powdered form) mix with ghee and use it in a multitude of savoury dishes.
For Digestion Issues
The most important organs we look at for a strong and well functioning digestive system are the liver, spleen, and stomach. So you need essentials that can help to regulate your whole digestive system.
This pungent root is a powerful anti-histamine and decongestant that delivers a one-two punch against cold symptoms. In Chinese Medicine ginger also works to helps tonify your Qi (Vital Energy) and Blood. Add in it’s natural form to stir-fry dishes or boil it in water to make a cup of ginger tea. Add lemon and honey for a pleasant and healing hot drink.
According to ancient Chinese Medicine, drinking a glass of warm water in the morning helps kick-start the digestive system. Hot and warm water, because of its temperature, aids blood flow. As your blood circulation increases, it helps detoxify the body, reduce painful contractions of muscles and refresh the mind. If you are feeling sluggish, have cold limbs, a sore throat, suffer from menstrual cramps or abdominal bloating then opt for a glass of warm water as you wake up daily. It’s also a great alternative to coffee, especially in the second half of the day when you hit a low.
For Hormones, Cycles and Mood-Boosting
Fresh Parsley Tea
Parsley is known to regulate the menstrual cycle and move Qi (vital energy) when we feel stuck. It also aids digestion and works to brighten the skin due to its detoxing and anti-inflammatory properties which in return boosts energy and clarity. In addition to these benefits, it helps to regulate water and eliminate toxins so it prevents oedema due to water retention. Parsley does a cleaning job by effectively detoxing the liver, kidneys, and bladder. Simply infuse a handful of fresh curly-leaf parsley in 3 cups of boiling water, add a slice of lemon, and leave it to brew for 5 minutes. Remove the parsley and lemon and add 1tbsp of a natural sweetener of your choice and drink 1-3 cups per day. You can also add the parsley into your smoothies, soups or blended drinks to receive the benefits of the herb.
High in antioxidants, Goji Berries boost the body’s blood and Yin to help with dry eyes, blurred vision, brittle nails, scanty blood flow, and headaches after your cycle. Soak overnight and add to cooked oatmeal, make as tea or use as a substitute in anything you might normally use raisins or cranberries.
Chinese Angelica Root
In Chinese Medicine, this phytoestrogen-rich root works to regulate and nourish the body’s blood, regulate your cycle and help with hormonal balance and menopausal type symptoms. Add to soups or stocks, or boil it in tea form with Goji Berries.
For General Well-Being
Black Sesame Seeds
Great for dryness in the body such as your hair & scalp and body as they nourish the Yin (nourishing aspect) of the Liver and Kidneys in the body. Add a teaspoon to cereals, sautéed vegetables (roast it), baking (banana bread or power cookies to boost up the nutrient content), or add into your smoothies or blended drinks daily.
Manuka Honey is a natural immune booster, natural anti-inflammatory agent, and antimicrobial agent. Used topically it has substances that can kill bacteria, and when ingested it can even work synergistically with antibiotics to improve their efficiency. We recommend adding 1tsp to warm water, teas or porridge in the morning for its ongoing immune-boosting properties.
Used for thousands of years and a staple in Ayurvedic healing practices, ghee is one of the most healing foods for your body. Also known as clarified butter, it is a pure butter fat that has no protein, lactose, solids or sugars, meaning anyone with sensitive guts or lactose intolerance can eat it! Ghee contains a type of short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid which has a number of useful health functions. These include reducing inflammation in the digestive tract as well as supporting the health of the cells that line it.
In addition, the fat content in Ghee is packed with fat-soluble vitamins, and itself is a direct source of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). We love to use Ghee as a healthy alternative in all our cooking and as a condiment gut health. We even use it in our beauty regimes! If you don’t have any in your pantry you can make it at home with our recipe here.
In Chinese Medicine moderate fatigue is generally caused by a deficiency of spleen Qi. This is the vital energy that circulates through your body. In particular, the spleen is responsible for the transformation from foods into Qi and blood. These are two vital substances that we need enough of in order to feel strong and resilient.
Insomnia Night Cap
If you are suffering from insomnia, this warming milk remedy will help strengthen the middle which works to calm the nervous system and body. Mix 1/2 cup of milk (almond/oat) with 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan and start to heat. Next, add a pinch of nutmeg and a dash of honey. Nutmeg has a calming effect when consumed in smaller doses thanks to its sleep-inducing and de-stressing effects. Once the mixture is combined and warm sip and enjoy.
Turmeric is revered in Ayurveda as an immunity booster, which also induces good sleep and relaxes the muscles. Particularly, turmeric tea, brewed using grated turmeric root or pure powder, is considered one of the most effective ways to consume the spice. Owing to its high anti-oxidant properties turmeric milk is very skin-friendly and regular intake can give you a healthy glow of radiance from within. How do you make Turmeric Milk? Add cold-pressed or powdered turmeric to milk or coconut milk, and serve with a liberal sprinkle of cinnamon. Finally, turmeric Milk, also known as golden milk can be drunk cold or hot and is our favourite Ayurveda health-elixir! This also works as a caffeine alternative for our morning pick me up.
If you would like to chat more with Maeve and Emilia on how to balance your hormones, you can book a virtual consultation. This is for anyone who wants to receive expert advice or receive an at-home integrative medicine plan. These plans are individualised focusing on diet, self-care, exercise, and home medicine. They are currently FREE OF CHARGE (15mins.) BOOK HERE.
Or if you are interested in a getaway after all this is over, please use the code “EARLYBIRD” for 10% off any Escapada Retreat from September. OR if you book a shared room with a friend you both get 15% off using code “SPECIAL15” from the combined package price. BOOK HERE.
|Natalie Shirlaw is passionate about healthy living and writes posts about wellbeing. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to pin it or share it!|