Fall is here and our senses look toward Autumn: nutmeg & cinnamon, pumpkin patches, warm coffee, light jackets, and gorgeous sunsets. There’s nothing like evenings in the Fall. It’s just cool enough during the day that cozying up with a warm tea is the perfect medicine to wind down. Here’s a list of some of our favorite fall drinks to warm you up, boost your immune system, and help you find relaxation in this beautiful season of transition.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghSeptember 12, 2022 clinical herbalist, clinical herbalist pittsburgh, herbalism, herbalist pittsburgh, holistic health, holistic medicine, integrative health, integrative medicine, integrative mental health, self care0 comments
- Cacao. We all know of Cacao from our favorite chocolate bars and desserts. But in its unprocessed form, Cacao is a highly medicinal and heart opening plant medicine with a rich history of ceremony and ritual. Cacao is full of antioxidants, supports heart and circulatory health, and has antidepressant properties. Prepared with just some hot water or milk, Cacao creates a rich, warming, and stimulating beverage. This drink is lovely in the company of others – be it a sweetheart or loved ones around a campfire, or in a simple ceremony on your own. Please note – Cacao does contain caffeine and can be quite stimulating. Please purchase raw Cacao or ceremonial grade Cacao from an ethical and sustainable source. Cacao Infusion
2 C Water
2 TBSP Raw or Ceremonial Cacao
Sweetener of choice
Optional: Cinnamon, Cayenne, Vanilla Extract, MilkHeat water in a pot until just before boiling. Turn off heat and add Cacao and sweetener and spices of choice. Stir until dissolved, and enjoy with a moment of reflection and contemplation.
- Tulsi. Otherwise known as Holy Basil, Tulsi is a revered herb in India and in the ayurvedic tradition. Tulsi is considered to be sacred and the smell and taste of the tea is indeed divine. Tulsi is known to be a wonderful immune booster and restorer of the nervous system, while also supporting the lungs, stomach, and heart. The tea is initially uplifting to the spirit, and then deeply restful and restorative. My favorite way to enjoy Tulsi in the cooler seasons is with warming chai spices and a bit of milk.
Tulsi Chai Recipe:
1 TBSP Tulsi
1 C Water
½ C Milk of choice
Sweetener of choice
A couple shakes of Cardamom
Add water, Tulsi, and sweetener to a pot and bring to a simmer. Strain. Add milk & top with cardamom.
- Roasted Dandelion Root. We often think of Dandelion flowers when we think of the spring. However, during the cooler months when the rest of the plant dies back, the roots become filled with rich nutrients and sugars and wonderful medicinal compounds. Dandelion root supports the liver and gentle detoxification, and is also full of inulin, a super important prebiotic for our gut flora. My favorite way to make Dandelion root tea is by first roasting the root in the oven which gives it a deeply rich and nutty flavor. Next, I like to simmer the roasted root gently in some water for 15 – 20 minutes to make a dark tea, and add some cinnamon and milk. A grounding and earthy fall flavor! You can buy already roasted Dandelion tea here at mountain rose herbs.Roasted Dandelion Root Decoction
2-3 C Water
1 TBSP Roasted Dandelion Root
Milk of choice
Bring water to a boil and add Roasted Dandelion Root. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Turn off heat and add milk and cinnamon!
- Elderberry. Elderberries are the deep purple fruit of the native Elder plant, most renowned in syrup form. Elderberry is also one of the most nourishing and immune boosting herbal medicines, and one with ample clinical data to support its use. Like many other colorful berries, Elderberries are full of anti-oxidants and flavanoids. Elderberries can be preserved through the fall and winter in their dried form, which makes a lovely immune boosting addition to tea, or made into a simple syrup and stored in the refrigerator.Simple Elderberry Syrup
1 C dried elderberries or 2C fresh elderberries
3 C water
1 C sweetener of choice (sugar, honey, maple syrup)
Combine berries and water with cold water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Turn off heat and steep for 1 hour. Strain berries using cheese cloth. Add sweetener of choice and stir until combined. Bottle and Store in refrigerator.
- Licorice Root. Our final fall herbal spotlight is on Licorice root, the flavor maker behind the love-or-hate licorice candies! Unprocessed licorice has a more earthy taste than the processed and synthetic candies that it has inspired, but the sweet and comforting anise notes are still very present. Licorice makes a wonderful fall herb specifically because of its moistening actions on all the mucous membranes of our bodies (think mouth, lungs, digestive system, reproductive system). It’s very important that these tissues stay hydrated and moist, which is why moistening herbs are such an important aspect of health (especially as we kick on the dry heating systems for our homes). Please note that Licorice root is contraindicated in those with high blood pressure.
Simple Licorice Root Tea
2 C water
1 TBSP Licorice Root
Optional: Ginger Root
Bring water to a boil, turn off heat, add licorice root (and ginger). Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and Enjoy!
Written by: Clinical Herbalist Annie Fox Derek.
If you’re interested in working with Annie you can reach us at 412-322-2129 or contact us here.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 26, 2022 clinical herbalist, clinical herbalist pittsburgh, herbalism, herbalist pittsburgh, holistic health, holistic medicine, integrative health, integrative medicine, integrative mental health, self care, Uncategorized0 comments
There are many herbs that can help us cool off on hot and humid days – whether by cooling and relaxing our tissues, helping open our pores to release heat, or by bringing extra moisture into our bodies. Here’s a list of 5 Cooling Herbs to beat the heat this summer and how to prepare them at home.
- Hibiscus has bright and luscious flowers that are enjoyed as a cooling beverage throughout the world. The taste is tangy, sour, and slightly astringent. I highly recommend trying this one iced and sweetened with a bit of honey!Also – If you happen to have Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, a common landscaping bush) growing in your yard – good news! This is a variety of hibiscus and the flowers can also be enjoyed as tea. Just make sure your plants are not sprayed with chemical pesticides! Iced Hibiscus Tea: Add ¼ C hibiscus flowers to a quart jar and fill with boiling water. Let steep for 30 minutes, add honey to sweeten, and chill in the refrigerator.
- Marshmallow Root: A cousin to hibiscus and yes, the namesake of the fluffy white confections that we enjoy in s’mores, Marshmallow is a wonderful herb to cool and moisten overly hot and dry tissues. Marshmallow contains “mucilage”, a lubricating compound that soothes and cools our the tissues of our body, particularly our respiratory, digestive, and urinary tract systems. This beverage is best prepared with cool or room temperature water and has an earthy and sweet taste. Marshmallow Infusion: Use ¼ C sifted marshmallow roots to a quart jar of cool or room temperature water. Let steep for 4 hours (or overnight), strain, and add ice and a bit of maple syrup.
- Rose: Did you know that roses are also medicinal and a lovely, cooling herb? Both the rose petals and the rose hips (the “fruit” of the rose) are edible and full of vitamin C. The petals are floral, sweet, and slightly astringent, and the rosehips are more tangy and sour. I love adding a small handful of rose petals to my water bottle in the summer time for a nice gentle and uplifting floral flavor. My other favorite preparation is a rose petal simple syrup (described below). If you have roses growing in your yard, you can use them as long as you don’t spray chemical pesticides or herbicides. Do not use commercially grown roses that you buy in the store as these almost always contain harmful chemical residues! Rose Petal Simple Syrup: Combine 1 C of rose petals, 1 C of sugar, and 2 C of water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let steep for 1 – 4 hours. Strain and store in the refrigerator! Add rose syrup to cocktails or sparkling water.
- Lemon Balm, one of the most bright, sweet, and sunny tasting herbs around, is from the mint family. This beautiful and aromatic herb uplifts the spirit and calms a restless heart. The physical effects are gentle and cooling, slightly sour and bitter. Lemon balm can be brewed as a regular tea infusion, or made into a “Sun Tea”. Lemon Balm Sun Tea: Pack a quart jar full of fresh lemon balm, or use ½ – 1 C of dried lemon balm. Fill with water, cover and place out in the sun all day long. After you strain, this tea can be chilled in the refrigerator and stored for 2 – 3 days.
- Raspberry leaf is high in vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, making it like a natural gatorade. It’s a well known ally for people that menstruate and pregnant folks, due to the high levels of iron and calcium and its action as a uterine tonic. The leaves are not quite as sweet and tart as the raspberry fruit, but they still contain a subtle tanginess that can be quite enjoyable! Raspberry iced tea: Pour 2 C boiling water over 1 tbsp of dried raspberry leave. Steep for 10 – 15 minutes, strain, add honey and chill in the refrigerator. To obtain more minerals and vitamins, infuse and steep overnight!
Written by: Clinical Herbalist Annie Fox Derek.
If you’re interested in working with Annie you can reach us at 412-322-2129 or contact us here.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 6, 2022 boundaries, burn out, caregiver fatigue, digital detox, Habits that make us happy, holistic health, meditation, mental health, nature therapy, outdoor yoga, relaxation, rituals for self care, rituals to reduce stress, self care, self care strategies for mental wellbeing, stress management, therapists, wellness, yoga0 comments
American Counseling Association has dedicated April as Counseling Awareness Month, a time of advocacy for the profession and celebration of the outstanding efforts of counselors in myriad settings as they seek to facilitate the growth and development of all people. This year’s theme—The Future is… Self-Care, Advocacy and Inclusion #BurnBrightNotOut—is focused on some of the avenues that will help ensure a brighter future for counselors, their clients and the counseling profession.
With the state of the world today and in coping with the last two years, many of us are simply burnt out. You’ve probably been searching social media or the internet looking for how to avoid burnout—well, you’re in luck! We asked our therapists how they personally avoid burnout and they shared their tips with us. They truly are practicing what they preach.
Therapists’ Personal Tips for How They Avoid Burnout
- “Having boundaries where I don’t bite off more than I can chew.”
- “Keeping a good portion of my energy for myself and my life so I’m not running on empty for what I need in my own life.”
- “Balance within my life: tending to myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and socially. Making sure I connect to these areas and feed them!”
- “Bike riding (indoor and outdoor).”
- “Prayer to help me with clients and for God to watch over my clients.”
- “Downtime for jigsaw puzzles, reading, HGTV, cooking, and my other flow activities.”
- “Exercise and guided meditations. I also try to make self care part of my every day routine.”
- “I try to dedicate the end of the day to at least one self-care activity that ‘cleanses the stress of the day away.’ This varies from day to day but usually always consists of watching an episode of a show with my husband, and then reading before bed. I try to keep screen time to a minimum since I provide sessions via virtual therapy.”
- “I refrain from checking my email when I am not in the office (with the exception of emergencies) and block time on my schedule each day for a self-care activity.”
- “Getting a yoga class in. Yoga helps me to stay centered and grounded.”
- “Going to my own personal therapist.”
We hope you can apply some of these therapist-implemented tips to your own life.
When counselors get the self-care they need, they burn brighter and avoid burnout. To learn more go to American Counseling Association, Counseling Awareness Month.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 5, 2018 anxiety, clinical herbalist, complementary medicine, depression, holistic health, integrative mental health, natural health, turmeric0 comments
The Amazing Natural Substance that treats Depression and Anxiety
Want to manage anxiety and depression as well as double down on a dose of wellness? We have one incredible natural health, food substance to report to you. Turmeric is a rhizome and a member of the ginger family. Turmeric a major ingredient of Indian curries and has also been used to dye clothing throughout history, due to its vivid yellow color. The scientific community continues to research its uses as a healing substance, specifically trying to gauge the mechanism of action and effectiveness of the active substance, curcumin.
Curcumin is known as the most active ingredient in turmeric and continues to intrigue the medical community with its ability to providing relief for symptoms like depression and anxiety. According to a recent metanalysis funded by The National Institute of Health, curcumin was shown to be safe and effective in reducing symptoms of depression (Hewlings, 2017). That study recommended that while there are some conclusive therapeutic effects in treating depression, more research should be done to determine it’s clinical role in the treatment of anxiety.
Turmeric entered the clinical limelight when researches wanted to investigate the differences in cancer rates between westerners and some eastern and Indian populations. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have used these plants for thousands of years. Natural and holistic health options find ways to use the medicinal properties of commonly used foods to enhance well-
being. Some common ways of administering them are by grinding them into a fine powder, then using it topically as a salve or ingesting them to treat multiple ailments ranging from skin lesions to memory enhancement.
While the mechanisms of Turmeric’s health and wellness benefits are not completely understood, it is believed that curcumins ability to reduce inflammation, is one of the major health enhancing properties which can affect the brain, cancer, lupus, and renal disease. Curcumins also have other functions in addition to reducing symptoms of depression, it benefits the entire body and can be used as protection from liver toxic substances, to manage Crohn’s disease, reduce symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome to name a few (Gupta, 2013). In addition to reducing symptoms, this amazing root is reported to also enhance post work out recovery, (Hewlings, 2017. ) Turmeric is not a replacement for pharmaceuticals treating depression. Patients should still seek advice from medical professionals since other medical conditions need to be ruled out. Nor does it replace the benefits of managing the symptoms of depression or anxiety by getting counseling. Rather, it viewed as complementary to current therapeutic options.
The beneficial effects of turmeric on health is dose-dependent. It is not sufficient to heap an extra serving of curry at your favorite Indian restaurant in hopes of healing the brain and body. The clinically relevant dose of turmeric is upwards 600 mg several times per day. We recommend that the reader consult with a clinical Herbalist or Nutritionist to assess the appropriate regimen to manage the symptoms that you aim to address. Most sources recommend turmeric in capsule form to standardize the dosage. Some also enjoy turmeric in a latte or smoothie for added tasting pleasure. There is also some research being done about whether it may be further beneficial to use turmeric as an accompaniment to black pepper and some other fats like coconut milk, which are known to allow greater absorption of the active compounds. With no known side effects and so much to gain, curcumin seems like a great place to start if you want neuro-protective and physically benefits all in one delicious root!
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- Gupta, S. C., Patchva, S., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2013). Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. The AAPS Journal, 15(1), 195–218. http://doi.org/10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8
- Hewlings, S. J., & Kalman, D. S. (2017). Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health. Foods, 6(10), 92. http://doi.org/10.3390/foods6100092
- Lopresti AL, Drummond PD (2017) Efficacy of curcumin, and a saffron/curcumin combination for the treatment of major depression: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Affect Disord.