Origin: Middle East
A perennial evergreen sub-shrub belonging to the Labiatae family, lavender boasts narrow grey/green leaves and elongated stems adorned with mauve, purple, pink, or white flowers.
Plant Parts Used: Flower heads.
Lavender is a versatile herb with a myriad of properties including soothing, relaxant, carminative, sedative, local anaesthetic, antiseptic, disinfectant, analgesic, antidepressant, insecticide, deodorant, stimulant, tonic, skin rejuvenating, and stress relief.
Embracing metaphysical realms, lavender is linked to Yin, Moon, Blue, throat, Mercury (clears and relaxes the mind), Jupiter (emotional benefactor), creativity, devotion, chastity, and male aphrodisiac.
Beyond the physical, lavender embodies spiritual qualities, signifying caring and nurturing. It serves as a protective force for the Earth mother, a relaxant in psychic work, drawing spiritual energy into the physical realm and gently dispelling negativity.
Lavender finds its place in various medicinal applications such as steeping as tea (drink no more than 2 cups per day), bathing/hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, and topical use for burns, minor skin abrasions, respiratory ailments, and muscular aches and pains.
Lavender extends its aromatic touch to body care, featuring in perfumery, face/hand creams, body lotions, soaps, bath bombs/oils/salts/vinegars/bubbles, shower gel, shampoos, and talcum.
For crafting enthusiasts, lavender offers a canvas for creativity. Fresh or dried flowers, pot-pourri, closet/moth repellent sachets, sleep pillows, heat pillows, scented bags/paper, incense, and even furniture polish and varnishes are just a few of the possibilities. Note: English and Lavandin varieties dry best.
Lavender transcends its aromatic allure into culinary realms, enhancing delights such as lavender butter, biscuits, sugar, flavored honey, and ice-cream with its sweet and fragrant notes.
Cautionary Note: Exercise caution with broader-leaved varieties, as they tend to have a high camphor oil content, making them unsuitable for internal use. True English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has less than 1% camphor oil content, ensuring safety for internal consumption. When in doubt, seek organically certified products to avoid chemical residue and consult a Naturopath, especially during pregnancy or lactation/breastfeeding.
In the Garden
Lavender, known for its ease of cultivation, thrives in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Versatile across varieties, most lavenders are frost-hardy and drought-tolerant once established, making them a delightful addition to any garden.
Lukas and Lavender:
Spring is definitely here in Brisbane. The weather is warming up and there is a renewed sense of optimism in the air. Nature is flowing and growing in its season of new life and renewed vitality after the hibernation and nurturing foundation of winter.
We can flow and grow in alignment with the Natural World too.
Clearing out the clutter of our cupboards, wardrobes and bodies is naturally felt at this time. Gentle cleansing of the body is as simple as
1. Drinking plenty of water – 6-8 glasses per day rehydrates skin and tissues, improves digestion and renews the 80% water content of our bodies
2. Spending time walking or gardening is a gentle and enjoyable form of exercise. The weather is inspirational for all forms of exercise and moving the body is an excellent detoxifier.
As we move the lymphatic fluids of the body are mechanically dispersed through their system and nutrients are delivered to cells and tissues whilst any wastes are simultaneously removed.
3. Taking time to ‘smell the Roses’.
Appreciating the beautiful displays of nature, whether in flower blooms, foliage, butterflies birds or the changing colours of the sky is actually a form of meditation included in the Indian Vedas within the practise of Yoga which is essentially Union of the Self with the whole universe. The universe is vast yet nature and the earth we stand on is a vital and part of the whole. As are we.
Speaking of vitality and nature….
4. Is swapping commercially, over processed, convenience and comfort foods for nutritious whole foods and is a simple choice with the availability of fruits and vegetables at this time of year.
Adding some summer vegetables, herbs and fruits to the hearty winter menu helps by keeping up the sustaining warm meal staples during the still chilly mornings and evenings whilst bringing in the new fresh salads and seasonings of spring.
Fresh summer greens are plentiful and full of valuable vitamins and minerals.
Cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, capsicum, parsley, spring onion and coriander are a gorgeous lunchtime salad waiting to happen. With the addition of nuts and seeds, quinoa, burghal, olive, avocado or walnut oil, apple cider vinegar, seasoning and perhaps olives and fetta, it becomes a balanced meal with carbohydrates, protein, fibre and the small amount of healthy fats that your body needs.
The nutritional value of these humble vegetables is quite impressive.
Cucumber is one of the best vegetable sources of Vitamin E which is needed as an antioxidant and for the cardiovascular system and muscle efficiency. It also contains Vitamin A, silicon, Vitamin A and natural Iodine for bright hair, skin and nails as well as sulphur and chloride which are utilized in liver detoxification pathways. (1)
Tomatoes contain Vitamin A and C which are both essential for immunity and healthy skin, sulphur and chloride for liver detoxification, potassium and sodium for heart health, phosphorus for nervous system repair, silicon (1) and lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid type of phytochemical (plant ingredient) and is a brilliant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. As an interesting salad bonus, the vitamin E in cucumber enhances the effect of lycopene in the tomatoes. (2)
Lettuce is high in silicon, a mineral which ensures calcium does its job in the body as well as aiding the removal of wastes from joints and tissues. Surprisingly, lettuce is also high in Iron another very important mineral. Vitamins E and C as well as copper, chlorophyl and biotin are also present. Chlorophyl is a blood tonic and detoxifier whilst biotin is essential for metabolism of fats and promotes relaxation. (1)
Capsicum is a Vitamin C powerhouse and contains complementary bioflavonoids that assist Vitamin C absorption and promote healthy structure and functioning of the blood vessels in arteries, veins and capillaries. (1)
Parsley is easy to grow and full of potassium. Parsley promotes removal of wastes from the kidneys and maintain the proper pH balance of the body. It also contains calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, Vitamin A, C and B group Vitamins B1, B2 and B3. (1)
Onions have natural antiseptic oils that are beneficial to cardiovascular health and contain iron, calcium, magnesium, silicon the antioxidant Vitamin E and liver cleansing sulphur and phosphorous with small (trace) amounts of nickel. (1)
These fruits, vegetables and herbs are considered cooling in nature and are therefore appropriate to eat during the warm middle of the day in spring and into the hot days of summer. (3)
Using these simple spring cleaning tips helps your body eliminate accumulated wastes and harmonise with the weather and cycles of nature. Drinking plenty of water and moving your body get the circulation going and finding an appreciation for the beauty of nature and the amazing benefits of everyday whole foods is good for your mind, body and spirit.
As a Naturopath I assist people in assessing and adjusting their diet, supporting healthy lifestyle habits and treating dis-ease with natural herbs, nutrients and medicinal foods.
Spring Clean your daily food intake (diet) with a thorough analysis of your nutritional status, your bodies needs and find the best foods as medicine that you love and are easily added included in your meals and snacks.
Shairin loves Food as Medicine and completed University level study on this subject.
(1) Koch, M. (1984). Laugh with Health. The complete illustrated guide to health, diet, nutrition, natural foods and recipe preparation. Bairnsdale: Renaissance & New Age Creations
(2) Osiecki, H. (2010). The Nutrient Bible [9th Ed.]. Eagle Farm: Bio Concepts Publishing
(3)Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with wholefoods. California: North Atlantic Books
Today many of us are interested in our health and implement positive food choices, additional supplements and lifestyle adjustments to take care of ourselves. This is a fantastic thing and shows how often simple changes, that are right for you, can greatly improve health, vitality and happiness.
There is a plethora of health information available to us via friends, print media and online. Discerning fact from fiction and fad from cutting edge scientific breakthrough is a daunting task.
Consultation with a qualified Naturopath is an opportunity to review your health goals, discuss your medical conditions and symptoms and to analyse and evaluate your whole health picture.
It is an opportunity to draw on a wealth of modern health science and traditional natural medicine knowledge.
A Naturopath has the time to listen and explain and support you that Doctors and specialists often don’t.
As part of the overall health care system in Australia a Naturopath offers:
Support – by listening, hearing and encouraging you on your healthy living or journey to health for those with present symptoms or medical conditions.
Information – a thorough understanding of the human body, how it works and what it needs.
Naturopath training in Australia
Today Naturopaths study modern Health Science; human anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and pathophysiology, alongside herbalism, nutrition and Traditional Western Medicine philosophy.
Evidence based medicine (EBM), verified with clinical trials and scientific studies provide a sound foundation to safely and effectively employ natural medicines as a complement to conventional health care. Natuorpaths are required to keep up to date with medical knowledge and EBM findings.
Naturopaths provide nutritional analysis, diet plans, promote and support healthy eating and lifestyle practices that your GP would approve of.
Each Naturopath has other therapies and modalities that they train in and can offer to assist you. In my case I also provide Usui Reiki and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for stress relief, emotional balance and relaxation. I personally avoid homeopathy and am in favour of most Immunisations. I am a fan of science and the knowledge base that it provides. Marketing misinformation and profit driven purposes are a disturbing factor in the health and wellness industry, which are mitigated by seeing qualified professionals that have your best interests and health at heart.
With a Bachelor of Health Sceince Complementary Medicine - Naturopathy and as a member of a Professional Association - the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS), I am a fully qualified Naturopath.
You can read the full outline of minimum education standards for Australian Naturopaths here: www.atms.com.au/modalities/naturopathy/
Australian Naturopaths are considered Health Professionals and are covered by the The National Code of Conduct for Health Care Workers (Queensland) which you can access here: www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/444101/national-code-conduct-health-workers.pdf
The scientific evidence of the safety, mechanism of action and effectiveness of natural medicines available today gives a vast array of proven means to provide real health care benefits.
What does a Naturopath do?
A naturopath has the time to look at all of your body systems, past health issues, current signs symptoms and medical diagnoses to create a clear and holistic picture of your overall health.
With the inclusion of dietary analysis, iridology, blood pressure, blood glucose monitoring and urinalysis, a thorough and personalised health assessment is possible.
A unique treatment plan can then be defined for your individual needs. This treatment plan is based on a broad foundation of anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pathology, traditional nature cure knowledge, holistic thinking and current scientific research.
Any modifications to diet, lifestyle or prescribed therapeutic products are then gradually introduced into your daily routine in a simple yet effective way.
Benefits of Naturopathy
Real fixes for everyday problems such as:
Herbs that: prevent menstrual pain, wind, indigestion, bloating, calm the nerves, assist sleep, heal and manage skin conditions.
Nutrients for increased energy, skin, mood and whole-body health.
Pain relieving herbs and nutrients.
Prevention: diagnostics pinpoint areas of weakness in the body where systems are under pressure, strain or inflammation. These areas can be addressed to provide relief and potentially prevent further issues.
Medical information about current health conditions. Learn about the disease and then you have the power to take control of your health through diet, lifestyle and natural medicines that complement your conventional medical care.
More Benefits of Consulting a Naturopath
This is perhaps the defining role of a Naturopath as GPs and Specialists often have very limited time to discuss in detail our health concerns or to explain in detail how our body is functioning and what is happening. This understanding gives a purpose for lifestyle and dietary changes or regularly taking therapeutic supplements , herbs or pharmaceutical medication and empowers us in managing our health conditions and maintaining our vitality. Thereby giving a reason for taking care of ourselves in our daily lives.
Possible discovery of underlying health conditions, allergies, sensitivities and avenues of further exploration to find undiagnosed conditions.
Naturopaths are unable to provide diagnosis yet may be able to identify areas that need to be further explored by your General Practitioner Doctor.
Referral to GPS when needed and other therapists such as counsellors, psychologists, chiropractic, massage, cranio-sacral therapy, EFT, and many other health modalities.
Access to naturopathic diagnostics such as nail and tongue analysis and Iridology as well as hair analysis and allergy testing.
Treatment for signs and symptoms of conditions that remain undiagnosed and illusive.
Simple and safe remedies for common ailments and symptoms.
Complementing medical treatment and pharmaceuticals with herbs, nutrients and therapeutics
Providing alternatives to harsh pharmaceuticals in instances when such will not put the patient in a life threatening situation or prove detrimental to long term health.
Often drugs are used first and to treat symptoms that are easily and often cheaply alleviated with natural medicines. An example of this is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for indigestion and heartburn or in some cases meadowsweet herb. This symptom can be due to low stomach acid which ferments and froths causing symptoms. This is alleviated by ACV and the stomach is then able to carry out its function of breaking down proteins and food particles for absorption in the small intestine. These economical and safe remedies can replace the often prescribed proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Somac that affect the activity of numerous cells in the body outside of the stomach and acid production, interfering with vital processes that need not be disturbed. Proton pumps are sodium-potassium pumps embedded in the walls of cells that actively transport these ions into and out of the cell allowing correct cellular function and in some cells an energy gradient that provides the electrical impulses of nerve conduction. These pumps maintain body fluid levels, pH balance and form part of the bodies physical information communication highways. Inhibition of these for extended periods will upset the delicate homeostasis or balance of the body causing malfunction in multiple areas.
I am not anti modern medicine I simply believe that natural remedies should be used whenever possible and that herbs, nutrition, exercise, diet and lifestyle changes, and other natural therapies are very viable options.
A Naturopath views you as an individual and a whole being and aims to support you in gaining and maintaining health. Utilizing the combination of assisting the vitalism of your body, providing knowledge, treating the cause, viewing the body as a whole and doing no harm are the foundational principles of Naturopathy and allows Empowerment of individuals to retain Autonomy and enjoy health, vitality and happiness wherever possible.
In my clinic I Focus on providing professional personal Naturopathic consults with herbal medicine, food as medicine, dietary, nutritional and lifestyle support, flower essences and Usui and Tibetan Reiki energy healing treatments. Herbal formulas and nutritional supplements are ordered as and if required. I have access to practitioner only products which may be beneficial in acute situations and for managing specific conditions.
Diet and lifestyle are the health factors that we have ultimate individual control over.
It is us whom decides. We can choose consciously and profoundly transform our health.
A healthy body allows a healthy mind and in turn a healthy spirit.
Acid - Alkaline Foods
The many biochemical processes that the human body carries out to sustain life, require delicate and specific pH parameters. A situation of acidity in the body (Acidosis) or alkalinity (alkalosis), disrupts normal functioning and leads to ill health, disease and when extreme will potentially cause death.
The body self regulates its pH balance in numerous ways and it is usually not of any concern. Although if the body is subjected to an extreme load of either acid or alkaline producing foods, attention must be paid to rectify the situation.
It is important to remember that stress is a major cause of ill health within the body and trusting our truly amazing ability to survive, maintain health and prosper as an innate reality will allow peace of mind whilst we calmly embrace our body and assist it in health consciousness.
To balance your pH substitute acidic ash forming foods for alkaline or vice versa. Decrease intake of one and increase intake of the other for a short time and then and go back to eating a variety of foods from all food groups in moderation.
It is not the acidity or alkalinity of the foods in themselves that determines their effects in the body. It is the result of their digestion, metabolism and the resulting ash residue that determines a food’s pH in this sense.
The most common and detrimental imbalance in our modern diets is excess acidity. The simplest way to correct this is to consume mostly vegetables and alkaline carbohydrates such as millet. By increasing vegetable intake and it becoming a major part of the diet for two weeks the body can relieve itself of its acidic overload. A normal diet can then be resumed that includes meats, legumes, grains, fruits, nuts, seeds and lots of vegetables.
For a more detailed reference the table below lists common foods and which side of the acid/alkaline spectrum that they occupy.
The human body is an absolutely amazing chemical laboratory that ticks away with its own internal rhythms and beautifully choreographed symphony of delicate processes that create the physical structure, biochemical function and energetic vitality that is Life.
The fact that our food and beverages not only sustain life but create the very fabric of the body we live in, demands our attention. When our conscious awareness is drawn to the underlying reality that what we eat is more than just a daily experience, we delve into the confusing world of nutritional science.
In 1952 the Swiss Dr Verlag A Vogel had this to say in his book The Nature Doctor:
“It is difficult to feed ourselves and families along scientific lines and even experts in nutrition would find it problematic. Each year new discoveries are made in the realm of nutrition. In order to eat so that the body obtains all the nutrients, vitamins minerals and trace elements for adequate nutrition what should we eat? ” (Vogel, 1952).
He goes on to simplify the situation by looking to nature and his words are true to this day.
“This planet has provided all the foods we need to survive. Including all known and unknown nutrients essential for life. Eating these in the right proportions will fulfil all of our body’s requirements” (Vogel, 1952).
Enjoying the benefits of Fresh Food that is full of Vital Life Force Energy.
Whilst winter is fast giving way to spring in our southern hemisphere, the last of our winter vegetable crops is being harvested and we continue to enjoy the hearty health benefits that these simple nutritious foods bring.
To give some examples, the following essential nutrients are found in these common winter vegetables.
Leeks contain potassium, calcium, phosphorus and silicon minerals as well as B vitamins, chlorine sulphur and Vitamin C. These nutrients improve hair growth, bone health, digestion, nervous system function, support metabolism and cleanse the blood and lymphatic systems (Koch, 1984).
Carrots contain Vitamin A for healthy mucous membranes, eyes and the immune system and Vitamin E an antioxidant. Also the minerals calcium, phosphorus and magnesium for bone strength and a healthy nervous system. And chlorine and sulphur for blood cleansing and liver detoxification (Koch, 1984).
Radishes are good sources of silicon for healthy hair, skin, nails and teeth. Vitamin C sulphur and chlorine are constituents of radishes. Chlorine increases the digestion of protein foods, cleanses the respiratory system, removes excess mucous from the body, enhances immunity and prevents nervous exhaustion and mental fatigue (Koch, 1984).
Chlorine may sound like an unhealthy toxic compound that is associated with town water supplies and unnatural elements. Chlorine as a free molecule is a gas and is poisonous. It readily binds to minerals and when bound to sodium or potassium, as it is in vegetables, it becomes chloride and is a safe and stable element (Koch, 1984). It is actually a component of table salt and is a vital mineral needed by the body.
Chloride is used by the body to maintain extracellular fluid and pH balance, between cells. It is also needed for stomach acid production, transmission of nerve impulses and activation of one of the carbohydrate breakdown enzymes - amylase. These are all important bodily functions. The key here is the form of chloride and the micro amounts, such as those found in vegetables. The Australian recommended daily allowance (RDA) to sustain life is 750mg (Osiecke, 2014).
Onions contain fabulous antiseptic oils, silicon, vitamin E and minimal amounts of potassium, phosphorous and nickel. One of nickel’s benefits is its assistance in sugar utilization within the body (Koch, 1984). Nickel is needed in only very trace amounts to fulfill its function.
Garlic has a high sulphur content which provides the body with the means of lymphatic, blood and liver detoxification. Consuming this bulb improves immunity and clears the respiratory pathways as well as being a natural antibiotic. It also increases the body’s removal of excessive mucous secretions which are produced when we are eating large amounts of refined foods or dairy products, exposed to environmental pollutants or at the onset of a cold (Koch, 1984).
Beetroot is the best vegetable source of manganese a mineral which boosts memory. It also has a high magnesium content for providing brain and nervous system health benefits as well as some sodium and potassium which are vital for body fluid regulation (Koch, 1984).
Manganese - some 80 to 90% of this mineral is lost in processing methods which equates to 40% of the population potentially being deficient in this mineral. It has antioxidant properties and multiple chemical reactions within the body require it. Some of its functions include: nerve conduction; blood clotting; bone formation; metabolism; digestion; mitochondrial integrity; cellular formation and neurotransmitter production (Osiecke, 2014). A deficiency in this mineral affects the body’s ability to function in many areas.
This is the reality and necessity of good nutrition which is simply provided by whole foods such as the humble beetroot.
Phosphorus another less known mineral is required by the body for bone growth, ok not so interesting but what about, energy production and activation of most B vitamins and muscle contraction and is a component of cell walls and DNA. Pretty useful mineral. It also buffers the fluids with in cells providing a measure of relief from the effects of excessive antacid, and coffee intake. The RDA of phosphorus is 800mg.
A wealth of nutrients for optimal function of all body processes is contained in these humble vegetables. Easy to prepare, Natural Health Care.
'Let Food be your Medicine and Medicine be your Food' – Hippocrates c.400BC
Koch, M. (1984). Laugh with Health. The complete illustrated guide to health, diet, nutrition, natural foods and recipe preparation. Bairnsdale: Renaissance & New Age Creations.
Osiecke, H. (2014). The Nutrient Bible. 9th ed. Eagle Farm: AG Publishing.
Popeye Photography. (2015). Images by Rua SMITH.
Vogel, Dr. H. C. A. (1952). The Nature Doctor. A manual of traditional and complementary medicine. Melbourne: Bookman Press
Shairin is a Naturopath and Usui Reiki Master/Teacher with a Bachelor of Health Science in (Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Medical Systems).