Health

Anise

Wait until I tell you about this wonder herb called anise! 

Anise is a flowering plant in the Apiaceae family with “roots” in Southwest Asia and in the eastern Mediterranean. The seeds and oil from this herb are most commonly used to make medicine, but some people also use the roots and leaf part of anise. You can find or grind your own anise powder as a supplement as well! Anise has a semi-sweet taste and flavor almost like black licorice. This distinct flavor and fragrance of anise is sometimes used in natural soaps, lotions, and perfumes. I even read that the use of anise has been traced back to 1500 B.C. in Egypt!

And guess what?! Anise is a natural remedy for stomach aches and indigestion that can cause uncomfortable gas. The seeds contain an oil called anethole that can aid in food digestion. Anise also stimulates the production of gastric “juices” that make it easier for your body to regulate digestion without causing uncomfortable gas and pain. This powerful herb also contains anti-fungal properties that combat gas build-up and fermentation in the bowels. 

How do you use it?

The most popular way to consume anise is in tea form! You can buy pre-made anise herbal tea from most health food stores, and you can also use the whole seeds to brew tea. Whole seeds can be chewed on their own, but if you’re not a fan of crunchy seeds, then I would recommend brewing a nice cup of anise herbal tea. 

Ground or whole anise seeds can also be added to dough when baking and the extracted oil can be added to beverages for flavor. If you like the taste of licorice, then you will most likely love adding a hint of anise to foods of your choice.

I found ground and whole anise seeds, even powder online and in grocery stores.  But with all of these benefits, why not grow your own.

Here’s what you need to know to grow:

Anise is simple to grow in places like Arizona! To get started, find a location with full sunlight and well-drained soil. Plant the seeds about a half inch deep. You will need to water anise until it progresses into a grown plant (about 6-8 inches high), and then you can gradually reduce irrigation. By this point, it can withstand periods of drought and dry weather, which makes it perfect to grow in desert-like climates! The best time to harvest your anise is when the flowers have gone to seed so that you can collect those seeds, dry them out and save some of them for more planting!

Email us and let us know how you use anise! 

Health

Yarrow

The wound healing, fever reducing herb

 

Yarrow is a famed medicinal plant native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, and Europe and North America. 

The plant compounds are supposed to benefit wound healing, digestive issues, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, aid in brain health, and flight inflammation. 

Fun Fact: Yarrow is known for treating nosebleeds by putting a pinch of the plant in the nostril where the bleeding is and blowing it out after the bleeding has stopped fully. 

It’s use as a circulatory system remedy comes from its ability to stop bleeding and move stagnant blood, preventing and clearing blood clots. It tones the blood vessels and lowers high blood pressure.

 

Dried, powdered yarrow can be used to stop bleeding by sprinkling the wound with yarrow powder or you can use fresh leaves and flowers; just wet them and apply pressure. 

The dried, powdered yarrow can also applied after wounds are cleaned and be used to make wound healing salves.

Here’s a Salve Recipe

Melt around ½ oz of beeswax and mix with at least 4 oz of Yarrow oil and a few drops of any other essential oil if you’d like as well to create a balm like texture to use as a moisturizer, a lip balm, or as a burn salve!

 

Where do you get Yarrow?

 

I’ve seen dried yarrow flower, yarrow oil and yarrow tea all over the internet, but you can also grow it to make your own meds!

Yarrow grows best in sunny areas and in well-drained soil. 

To dry your yarrow, hang whole stems in bunches or place them on brown paper in a warm dry place. Allow a few weeks to go by and you will find them dry! Strip the leaves and flowers off the stems and crumble for use in tea. 

Yarrow Tea 

Use 1 teaspoonful of dried yarrow per cup of boiling water, and let it steep for 10 minutes. Strain and drink warm. 

If you are experiencing a cold or a fever you can drink some every two hours or at least three cups a day until you start feeling better. 

For cuts or abrasions use externally as a wash for cuts. 

For a healthy scalp and shiny hair use as a hair rinse. Just take the yarrow oil and mix it with a carrier oil.  Applying it to your scalp is supposed to help stimulate new hair growth.

Other uses for yarrow tea: 

  • Colds and fevers 
  • Scanty menstruation 
  • Heavy periods 
  • Menstrual clotting 
  • High blood pressure 
  • To tone varicose veins 
  • To prevent blood clots 
  • Tension
  • Weak digestion

 

Where do you get yarrow?

I’m always a promoter of growing your own.  Yarrow likes full sun and although it does best in well drained soil, it will also thrive in poor, dry soils – you just won’t get as big of a harvest.

Health

Fennel

Fennel is a useful and delicious herb to have in your garden. Native to the Southern Mediterranean, fennel is completely edible from the leaves to the seeds. It looks quite similar to an onion but has a lighter and refreshing flavor and many say it even tastes like licorice! And just like onion most people eat it raw, sautéed, roasted, or added to soups and sauces. 

There are a few varieties of fennel but Florence fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum) is the type you want to grow if you want to use the stems as a vegetable and use the leaves and seeds as well. 

Medicinal Benefits: 

 

Fennel can be used to treat mild gastrointestinal disorders, abdominal fullness, intestinal wind, cough and bronchitis, and hernias.

Fresh fennel bulb is a good source of vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin critical for immune health, tissue repair, and collagen synthesis – Both the bulb and seeds contain the mineral manganese, which is important for enzyme activation, metabolism, cellular protection, bone development, blood sugar regulation, and wound healing.

 

How to Grow Fennel 

Fennel should be grown where the sun can shine upon it and should not be planted where there is dill or coriander because the plant may cross-pollinate easily and seed production will be reduced. Fennel is self-sowing so if you plant it once, you’ll see fennel every spring! 

 

How to Eat Fennel 

Raw: 

Closely shave the bulb and marinate it in lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Eat on its own or add to a salad! 

Sauté it: Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high and then add oil, garlic if you’d like, and of course the fennel (thinly sliced). Season with salt and pepper and as the fennel starts to caramelize, add a splash of water to steam for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Use as side dish in any meal.

Roasted Wedges: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and cut the bulb of your fennel into wedges as thin as you’d like. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper for 25-35 minutes until the wedges are tender and caramelized around the edges. Enjoy as a snack! 

 

How To Make Fennel Tea (Especially Good For Digestion) 

Ingredients 

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly crushed fennel seeds 
  • 1 cup boiling water 

Directions: In a teapot, steep fennel seeds in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, depending on desired strength. Strain and serve.

Health

How to use turmeric for healing

I was fascinated when I heard about turmeric and the surprising health benefits it has. Turmeric is a relative of ginger that is yellow-orange in color and is a product of the Curcuma longa plant, which is native to South Asia. This is why turmeric is included in many Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern dishes! Turmeric is often found in powder form, but you can also find whole turmeric root and turmeric capsules (pills) in some grocery stores. Here’s why turmeric is worth the hype:

 

Turmeric contains a substance called “curcumin” that has anti-inflammatory properties, and is also what gives turmeric its yellow-ish color! People who have arthritis or other health conditions that cause inflammation in the body have claimed that consuming turmeric helps improve their pain. The Mayo Clinic even says that one study found that taking turmeric 3 times a day was comparable to ingesting a 1,200 milligram dose of ibuprofen! 

 

The curcumin in turmeric can relieve joint swelling and morning stiffness… get your minds out of the gutter, I’m referring to stiffness in your joints.  So it’s beneficial for those with arthritis and any joint pain.

 

I enjoy drinking turmeric teas because they help me feel more nimble and improve my day-to-day movement. 

 

Turmeric has also been linked to helping improve Type 2 diabetes, lowering cholesterol, and shown to stop tumor cell growth in animals. 

 

However, it is important to note that curcumin in turmeric is not well absorbed in the body on its own. Studies have shown that curcumin has poor bioavailability, meaning that it can’t always be detected in blood and other tissue. Not to worry, there are solutions!

 

  1.  Black pepper! There is a compound in black pepper, called piperine, that boosts how well your body absorbs curcumin. Piperine can aid digestion and improve headaches and nausea. When combining black pepper with turmeric, it can increase the curcumin that your body will absorb so that you don’t have to miss out on all of its advantages! One study suggested adding 20 milligrams of piperine to 2 grams of curcumin for it to be fully benefiting your body.

 

  1. You can also use the whole turmeric root. Since it’s not being processed, you don’t have to worry about losing any compounds, making it easier to absorb the curcumin.

 

  1. Another option is to mix it with healthy fats. The curcumin will bind to fat, making it easier for our guts to absorb it. So cooking with fats like coconut oil, or a smoothie with full fat dairy, almond or coconut milk will optimise the body’s absorption of curcumin… which brings me to one of my favorite ways to use it!

 

How to use it:

There are lots of ways to consume turmeric!

 

  • Make a smoothie

One thing I like to do is blend fresh, whole turmeric root into smoothies! It can have a pungent flavor, but when combined with other greens and fruit (especially pineapple) in smoothies, tastes very mild. I use 1 inch of whole turmeric root, which is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric per smoothie.

 

  • Drink Tea

Another way to get your daily dose of turmeric is to drink a cup of turmeric tea steeped for 3-4 minutes.

 

  • Spice up your meals

I also love adding about half a teaspoon of ground turmeric to a bowl of soup – it adds a unique flavor and spice. Truly I add turmeric AND pepper to most of my dishes including beans, eggs, even rice.

 

Because turmeric is a natural blood thinner, some experts suggest not taking it before surgery. If you’re unsure, consult your doctor.

 

If you have any other turmeric uses or recipes, send us an email and let us know!

If you find yourself trying out some turmeric recipes and make a mess, we’ve got you covered with 3 natural ways to get rid of turmeric stains!

Health

2-Ingredient Facials

The adjustment to life in isolation continues and more and more people are recognizing how convenient and safer it is to be able to make as many things as possible from home. We’re naturally being more self sufficient!

 

I’m sure you’ve already made your fair share of new dinner recipes but have you tried using some of those same ingredients to wash your face? If you didn’t know you could do that and would like to do one less circle at the supermarket and save some cash, then I have a list of masks, cleansers, and moisturizers entirely DIY:



1. AVOCADO & HONEY FACE MASK:

 

Avocados are a fabulous source of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. Honey is known for its antibacterial and antiseptic abilities and being a natural humectant! Those are the only ingredients you’re gonna need! For just one person mash half an avocado and set it to the side. Grab a tablespoon of honey (you can warm it up if you’d like as well) and then mix the two together! I leave it on my face for anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour and then rinse it off. My skin usually feels completely hydrated and when you scrunch your face it doesn’t feel like your skin is cracking. An especially great mask for people with dry skin!

 

2. TURMERIC & ALOE VERA GEL:

 

Acne , hyperpigmentation, and dullness are all tackled with this gel. For this gel it is recommended to use Wild Turmeric instead of cooking turmeric as it is safer for skin. Turmeric has healing and antimicrobial properties and also brightens your skin. Aloe vera nourishes the skin and is the base of this combo which will give you that gel texture. Use ½ teaspoon of the turmeric and mix with at least 2 tablespoons of Aloe vera! I usually leave it on for about 30 minutes before rinsing off!

 

If you have sensitive skin I would suggest testing a little bit of the mask on your hand before applying it to your face to gage your sensitivity to turmeric.



3. BROWN SUGAR & HONEY SCRUB:

 

Sometimes you have to make a mess to get rid of a mess! That’s a saying right? Exfoliation is key to buffing away any dead skin and allowing your pores to grab a bit of air. Exfoliation helps prevent acne and evens out skin tone. So what are you waiting for? You’ll need a tablespoon of each ingredient, brown sugar and honey. Brown sugar is a lot softer to the skin than regular sugar so make sure you’re using what’s kindest to your face. Sometimes I warm up the honey just the tiniest bit but it’s not necessary. Mix the two and then gently scrub your face in circular motions before washing off.

 

Do you have any DIY methods of keeping your face looking young and healthy? Send us recipes!

Health

DIY Hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizers are great when it isn’t feasible to wash your hands.

It’s just another step to keep germs and viruses out of our bodies.

But when I look at the ingredients in many of the bottles, my first thought is I don’t want that in my body either.

So I turned to hand sanitizers made with natural ingredients.

The high cost that I would have to consistently pay and really wanting to know what I was constantly putting in my bloodstream caused me to do more research. I found a basic recipe, which i will share at the end of this blog. I took the recipe over to my sister at sofreshsmells.com and we got inspired. We figure if we are going to be using this consistently, we may as well add other benefits, even healing benefits. We played around until we found 3 perfect blends; all of them smell amazing, feel moisturizing and they’re made with natural ingredients. 

One of my favorites is our peppermint blend.

The smell is addicting. And it feels great on my hands. But what I like most are the benefits to the rest of my body.  It’s the included Ylang Ylang essential oil. Have you heard of it?

It’s been known to boost your mood, alleviate anxiety and help with depression.

It’s also supposed to lower blood pressure, help with headaches, fever, even insomnia.

How can you use it? 

Some people apply it to their skin for the calming effects, other people use it in their food, and others include it in their cosmetics… even soaps. We add it to several products including soaps and hand sanitizers.

I promised you a DIY hand sanitizer recipe.

This is a basic recipe. I love that there are so few ingredients.

You can play around with adding other essential oils but do your research first.

All oils do NOT get along.

I’d love to know if you try it out. Send us photos!

 

DIY HAND SANITIZER GEL RECIPE 

Ingredients

10 drops lavender essential oil

25 drops tea tree essential oil

2 ounces ethyl alcohol 90%+ (180+ proof) or 91%+ isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol

1 ounce aloe vera gel

¼ teaspoon Vitamin E oil

Instructions

Add essential oils and Vitamin E oil to your bottle and mix.

Add alcohol to the oils and mix again.

Next add the aloe vera gel and mix well.

Shake gently before each use. 

Note – always use colored bottles when using essential oils so they are not exposed to light. The sun speeds up the shelf life and changes the oil.

Not feeling confident in your homemaking skills, or just don’t have the time or ingredients to make your own? Try any of our homemade hand sanitizers. They start with the basic recipe, but include other oils for other healing benefits.

Health

Ways to Boost Your Immune Health from Home

Ways to Boost Your Immune Health from Home

It’s a new year and that comes with new opportunities to take care of our bodies in natural ways! How you fuel your body affects everything from your mood and appearance to your overall physical and mental health. In a time where staying home is encouraged to protect the health and safety of everyone in our communities, here are some easy ways to boost your body’s natural defenses without having to leave your house. 

  1. Get outside for some moderate exercise.

Being outdoors when the sun is shining can give your body some much needed vitamin D and along with mild exercise – like stretching and conditioning/toning exercises – can reduce inflammation and promote circulation. Try to step into the backyard for 30 min a day for a light workout.

  1. Consume whole plant foods.

Whole plant foods – like nuts, vegetables, and seeds – are antioxidant rich and can help decrease inflammation. Many fruits and vegetables are also high in vitamin C, which can decrease the duration of a common cold. The vitamins in green leafy plants can boost your immune system and naturally deter harmful pathogens from remaining in your body. You can even grow these whole plant foods in your own garden making it a win for your health and a win for your wallet!

  1. Maintain a healthy sleep schedule.

This one may come as a no brainer, but getting good rest is the key to keeping a high functioning immune system. Lack of sleep has been linked to a higher susceptibility of illness and fatigue. Try having a cup of passion flower or chamomile tea before bed. An antioxidant called apigenin in chamomile can decrease anxiety for a better night’s sleep.

  1. Stay hydrated.

Water can help flush your system of germs and bacteria. In fact, not drinking enough water can lead to some serious problems including headaches, cramps, low blood pressure, seizures, even organ failure. The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking about 3.7 liters of fluids a day for men and 2.7 liters for women.  You can also “eat” your water! Foods like melons, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, oranges are great hydrating foods.

Incorporating these things into your daily routine at home may help you notice an improvement in the way you look and feel. You can use what you already have at home to make these changes! 

Health

Passionflower

Passion flower: A hypnotic herb

With everything going on in the world, it’s no wonder so many people are experiencing all sorts of negative emotions including depression, anxiety and of course boredom.  Look to nature for a cure!  You may be surprised at how many natural remedies are all around you.

Take the passion flower for example.  Some call it a hypnotic herb.

Did you know that many people use it for anxiety, insomnia, stress, stomach issues like indigestion, even ADHD?  There are even studies that show it’s known to help fight withdrawal symptoms from opiate medications when taken with the medication clonidine, And according to a study in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Biology, it’s a natural method to get rid of your nicotine cravings if you’re trying to stop smoking.

One of the best ways to get its benefits is by adding it to your daily tea.  I take one to two teaspoons of dried passion flower (you can use the stems, leaves and flowers) to a cup of boiling water and let it steep for about 10 minutes for my tea.

I’ve also read several articles touting that you can use the tea to treat inflammation and minor burns.  Just take a tea bag and soak it in a small amount of water.  Let it sit for about five minutes then apply it to the affected area for about 15 minutes a few times per day.  I haven’t tried this remedy so please definitely let me know if you try this one!

And if you have other remedies you’d like to share, leave it below or email us at info@greendesert.org

Health

Hibiscus

I call it hibiscus. I recently learned it has many other names around the world including… karkade, red tea, Jamaica sorrel, roselle, and sour tea.

Whatever you call it, it’s a staple in my home, especially now with so many viruses and germs floating around.

Using it as a tea is supposed to have tons of health benefits including fighting a cold, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, it can even help with weight loss.

That’s why I add it to my tea every morning! 

I love the red hibiscus variety!  It’s called Hibiscus sabdariffa.  Not only is it gorgeous but it’s filled with antioxidant and anticancer properties.  That’s why the red flowers of this variety are most commonly used for medical purposes. 

So let’s talk more about the benefits!

It contains Vitamin C and iron and as I mentioned, it’s a rich source of antioxidants.  But what does that really mean?

Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which attacks your cells and raise your risk for disease.

It also helps reduce oxidative damage, which is known to exacerbate the aging process.

I don’t know about you, but if there’s a chance that one plant can help protect me from disease, strengthen my immune system, lower inflammation, AND reduce wrinkles, I’m sold!  Did I say it’s also a delicious drink?

How to use it

One way to seep the benefits of hibiscus is by making hibiscus tea.  It’s naturally caffeine-free.  I found many articles online with several ways to use the flower for tea.  I keep it simple; I drop three whole calyxes (pictured above) into my mug, add boiling water and let it steep for 10 minutes.  I sweeten it with a little honey or stevia leaves from the garden.  Once you’ve taken your calyxes from your tea glass, they are still useable for all sorts of things including relish.

Throughout the season, I dry the calyxes and leaves so I can have fresh tea all year long.  Remember the whole plant is edible!  So toss the leaves in your smoothies and salad.  You can even sauté the leaves like spinach, although fresh will give you more benefits.

If you have a yummy recipe, I’d love to try it!  Send us photos and recipes to our email and I’ll post them on our social media pages.

If you don’t have the honor of planting a hibiscus plant right now, you can still reap the benefits.

You’ll find supplements and teas at grocery stores and online.

  • Do keep in mind; since hibiscus is supposed to lower your blood pressure and affect blood sugar levels, some suggest you stop using it at least two weeks before scheduled surgery. The idea is that since it affects your blood sugar, it could make it difficult to control during surgery.

 

Health

Is climate change solvable?

Is climate change solvable?

How to lower your carbon footprint.

It’s no secret that caring about our planet does more than help our environment; it helps our wallets, our health, our food supply, our sanity! I could go on and on. Science consistently shows our choices are killing our planet, so climate change is real… but it’s not unsolvable.

So let’s focus on solutions!

Here are 10 realistic things you can do right now to lower your carbon footprint:

  1. Grow your own veggies.

Growing a garden is not only beneficial for our body, it’s great for the environment. Replacing 20 percent of the food you buy with food you grow can reduce your carbon footprint by about 68 pounds of CO2 per year.  But that number can fluctuate, depending on other things you’re doing around your garden.  Things like mowing the lawn and using synthetic fertilizers and peat increases your garden carbon footprint so consider your resources with everything you do.

To put things in perspective… the average person exhales about 2 pounds of CO2 per day.

  1. Composting

Composting your food and yard scraps stops it from going into the landfill.  It’s also a great solution to the fertilizer issue because rather than the waste breaking down and producing the greenhouse gas methane, you are creating nutrient-rich soil.

Fun or not so fun fact: Greenhouse gas methane is thought to be more than 80 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

  1. Plant a tree.

Trees absorb CO2, then release oxygen into the air.  Just one mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year, while producing more than 250 pounds of oxygen each year. The average  person needs about 1600 pounds per year to survive. So every tree counts.

Other bonuses of trees include providing shade, absorbing and retaining water and many trees actually have medicinal benefits.

  1. Eat less meat.

You don’t have to completely give up meat but moderation does wonders.  For every day that you omit meat and dairy from your diet, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds!  Imagine if everyone committed to just two days per week of avoiding meat products; the results could be priceless!

  1. Choose Conscious Clothing

When you’re buying new clothes, choose garments made from eco-friendly fabrics including organic cotton and hemp, and buy good quality so that it lasts. Another option is to shop re-sale stores.

Also don’t toss your old clothes, upcycle them, trade with friends, or even sale or donate them. Most anything is better than sending them to landfills.

  1. Wash your clothes in cold water.

You can save up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year just by using cold water for two loads of laundry per week.

  1. Reduce your water usage.

There’s only so much water… we can’t really make any more of it, not enough to sustain our lifestyle.  So cherish it. That could mean taking shorter showers, turning the water off while brushing your teeth and only turning it on to rinse. Simply thinking of ways to conserve water.

Do you know how the water is cold when you first turn on the shower?  How many of us are going to start the shower cold?  But that’s a lot of water to waste.  While I’m waiting for the water to heat up, I let the cold water run into a bucket to use later.

  1. Minimize your energy use.

Adjust your hot water heater.  Turn it down to 120˚F. This can save about 500 pounds of CO2 a year.

Don’t forget the simple things like turning off lights and appliances when you’re not using them and switch to energy efficient light bulbs and of course limiting your time on the road.  All of this will help save you money as well.

Another way we minimize our energy is by using the sun.  It powers our offgrid container homes.  We also use the sun to make our meals which is so awesome because nothing burns!

  1. Just say no.

Avoid single use plastics and paper products by saying “no thank you.”  Take your own bags to the grocery store, and when you forget, simply ask for brown bags if it’s an option.

  1. Recycle and Reuse.

The goal is to keep products out of the landfill, so take care of your things so you can reuse and upcycle them.  That includes things that may seem disposable. For example, when my kids were younger, I packed some of their lunch in sandwich bags.  But the rule was to bring back all of their bags daily so we could wash them and reuse because realistically plastic isn’t going away, we use it too much in our society. But we can still be mindful.

So what’s your next step?  Calculate your carbon footprint… that means summing up the emissions from everything you do — from what you eat, to how you get around, to what you buy… even how you wash your clothes.

It doesn’t have to be a strenuous process.  There are tons of online carbon footprint calculators that make it easy.

So once you know how you are contributing to our carbon crisis, you can do something about it.  Simply make small changes in your lifestyle so it doesn’t feel hard or feel like you’re making huge sacrifices.  The little things count and they motivate all of us to do the bigger things.  And if everything feels to big for you, try other alternatives like carbon offsetting… it’s a simple way for you to pay for your carbon footprint by supporting programs that can help reduce greenhouse gases.

Remember, the problems aren’t going away just because we want them to.  Once carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, it’s in no hurry to leave.  It stays around for a long time… anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years.  So what we do today directly affects how we and our future generations live tomorrow.

The planet provides us with everything we need to survive.  Let’s not take it for granted. Instead let’s strive for zero waste. Let’s make our planet a priority. Let’s encourage our engineers to design with the end in mind… mimic nature.