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 PittsburghSeptember 6, 2018 blue cross blue shield, high fat diet, highmark nutrition counseling, insulin, integrative medicine, Nutrition Counseling, upmc, Wijkstrom0 comments
Open a women’s magazine or examine the back of a food label, you will find the ‘evidence’ there. It’s easy to find ready sources that say dietary fat is bad news for your waist line, cholesterol, skin, mood, you name it. Many clinicians still hold that saturated fats like coconut oil, butter and beef cause weight gain, clogged arteries, high cholesterol and heart disease. But, according to Certified Nutritionist Liz Mckinney, there is much to learn when it comes to the Big Fat Myth, read on to re-evaluate fat’s bad reputation. This blog will fill you in on the facts and research in order to assist your physical health, emotional health, and wellness goals by consuming fat and nourishing yourself with this well known macro-nutrient.
Myth: Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Increases Risk of Heart Disease
Today, a common scenario occurs when a patient walks in for a checkup or health screening and they learn that their cholesterol is high. The patient is then told to limit saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Cut down on foods such as red meats, butter, eggs, and oils like palm and coconut) and often a prescription for a statin drug follows when their cholesterol is over 200 mg/dL. This is probably due in part to misleading evidence that suggested that cholesterol levels are directly correlated to risk of heart disease. One such study was performed by a researcher by the name of Ancel Keys in the 1980’s that looked at 22 countries and found that dietary fat intake was related to increased risk of heart disease. However, data on only 7 of those 22 countries was published – those that fit his hypothesis. Since then, many researchers and physicians have refuted this study, and yet, the recommendations that come down the pipe from the American Heart Association and the USDA continue to perpetuate that dietary fat and cholesterol are bad for us.
Research continues to show that high quality animal fats and eggs aren’t the real culprit in heart disease. One of the most notable studies that shows this was called the Women’s Health Initiative, which studied over 48,000 postmenopausal women and the connection between a low fat diet and the risk of heart disease. Participants were followed for an average of 8 years and then assessed for heart disease. The group that reduced overall fat intake and increased intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables did not experience reduced risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CDC), stroke or CVD, over the control group. There are other studies that have found similar results, indicating that low fat diets don’t really have much impact on heart disease risk. A report published in 2010 by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that there was no substantiated link between saturated fat intake and outcomes of obesity, CVD, cancer or osteoporosis. And, if you need even more proof, a meta-analysis of 21 medical reports and studies also published in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that, “the intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or CVD.”
If not fat, then what?
So, if saturated fats aren’t the culprit in CVD and atherosclerosis, then what is? Enter carbohydrates. Most grains and sugars are highly inflammatory. As a society, our diets are high in processed and packaged foods like pastries, fast food, crackers, cookies and cakes. Eating these foods causes surges in blood sugar and taxes the pancreas, whose job it is to produce insulin to shuttle the sugar into our cells to be used for energy or stored for later. Over time, the cells become resistant to insulin and sugar remains in the bloodstream instead of being transported into the cells. Sugar in the blood stream sticks to protein molecules like LDL cholesterol (called “bad cholesterol”). This changes the structure of the LDL and causes an inflammatory cascade which leads to plaques in the arteries and the inability of LDL to carry cholesterol where it’s needed,especially to the brain. So, now we have a simple equation. Too many carbohydrates cause inflammation, which leads to oxidized or damaged LDL and atherosclerosis. This is what leads to heart disease, not eating too much dietary saturated fat and cholesterol.
Read on and look for next weeks post, Liz will share more details about how your health and wellness can be bolstered with fat as she shares all of the well researched benefits to Fat. She will also share a sample meal plan to help you take advantage of the most nourishing food options available.
Liz Mckinney, LDN, CNS
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15233
2539 Monroeville Blvd Monroeville PA 15146
Edited By, Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NCCLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 1, 2018 acupuncture, acupuncture monroeville, community outreach, counseling, Emotional Health, integrative health, integrative medicine, traditional chinese medicine, wellness0 comments
Acupuncture, Mini Retreat Spring Detox Led By Dr. Truncali, D.C, L.a.C
2539 Monroeville PA, 15146
Transitioning from winter to spring is a challenge for our bodies and a time to do some spring cleaning for our physical, and emotional selves. This is a group acupuncture session focused on cleansing and cleaning, boosting immunity, and calming the spirit as we let go of winter and move toward spring’s light, warmth, hope, and growth. Dr. Truncali, D.C, L.a.C, our centers new licensed acupuncturist, will be leading the workshop sharing practical tips to cleanse and care for yourself using his knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Holistic Health to reinforce our bodies ability to be healthy and strong as we come into the new spring season. If you have always wanted to try acupuncture this is your chance to do so at a special community rate. You will also be welcome to enjoy complimentary snacks from our “Brain Bar” and sip some “Be Well” herbal tea.
Call us at 412-856-WELL with questions!
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 1, 2018 acupuncture, acupuncture monroeville, cupping, integrative health, integrative medicine, mindfulness, moxibustion, qi gong, traditional chinese medicine, wellness center monroeville, wellness pittsburgh0 comments
Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine, sterile, single use needles into acupuncture points. The points used are specific to each patient and are individualized based on their Chinese medicine diagnosis and constitution. During your first appointment, we take focused time to do an in-depth consultation regarding the details of your health. This helps us to formulate an individualized treatment surrounding your personal health pattern. In an acupuncture session, the number of points used in a treatment varies, but the average number of points ranges from 8-12 per treatment. Most people say that the experience of acupuncture is not painful at all but describe it as pleasant and soothing.
Acupuncture can be used to offer support for a range of emotional, physical, and spiritual concerns including but not limited to anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, infertility, hormone balancing, arthritis, muscular and skeletal injuries, addiction, cleansing, diabetes, colitis, fatigue, insomnia and many more.
Cupping is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique which involves using glass cups on the skin usually on the back. The cups create suction which brings and moves blood in an area, and relieves muscle tension. Over specific acupuncture points, cupping can improve digestive and respiratory discomfort. Sometimes, Slide Cupping will be employed, which involves moving the cup while suction is maintained in order to relieve muscle tension and pain.
Moxibustion is a long-trusted Traditional Chinese Medicine technique where Dr. Truncali burns a non-toxic Chinese herb commonly known as mugwort. It is performed over specific acupuncture points or areas of pain to provide a warming and nourishing input. By warming the acupuncture points, moxibustion can regulate the digestive system, boosts the immune system, alleviates pain, and calm the mind.
Qi gong is a meditative movement practice that acts to improve blood flow, mental function, emotional stability, immunity, and more. It is a way for you to engage with your acupuncture and sinew channels outside of the office. Your practitioner, Dr. Truncali may recommend one or two medical qi gong movements for you to do at home. You will be taught the postures and/or movements in office, typically at the end of your appointment.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 22, 2018 Certified Nutritionist, counseling, Emotional Health, integrative health, integrative medicine, mindfulness, Nutrition Counseling, Nutritionist, wellness0 comments
What is Nutrition Counseling? Liz Mckinney, Certified Nutrition Counselor in Pittsburgh and Monroeville explains a little bit about how this works to enhance your health and wellness.
What to expect:
- One on one individualized nutrition counseling based on your goals and health complaints
- Detailed analysis
- Goal setting, coaching and working through barriers to change
- A clear cut program including diet, lifestyle and supplement therapy specific to your needs
- Existing lab report analysis and/or future recommended lab work either through a third party lab or through your primary health care provider
- Email support as needed between sessions
In your first session, we will:
- Go over your client intake form and three day diet diary
- Discuss your primary goals and current barriers to change
- Complete a nutrition focused physical exam
- Analyze any existing lab work you’ve had completed within the last year
- Set a program for you consisting of dietary, lifestyle and supplement therapy
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 9, 2018 Certified Nutritionist, dietitian, Emotional Health, integrative health, integrative medicine, Nutrition Counseling, Nutritionist, registered dietitian, registered licensed dietitian, wellness pittsburgh0 comments
Please see the bios of our certified and licensed nutritionist to learn more about the unique styles and specialties of our in house registered nutrition specialist!
Learn more about the locations and specialists who are here to help you in each of our counseling centers!Learn More