Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grow-It-Yourself Alfalfa Sprouts More Fun Than They Sound

An ACHS student post on our Facebook has prompted us to update an earlier post about sprouts.

Alfalfa sprouts are a valuable source of vitamins A, C, E, and K, and the minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron[1]. Sprouts have also been shown to include concentrated amounts of phytochemicals, which support optimal health and wellness.

Alfalfa sprouts are easy to grow and make flavorful additions to raw-food meals like salads, sandwiches, and main dishes like quinoa tabouleh. Other kinds of sprouts, like broccoli sprouts and Brussels sprouts, make crunchy, flavorful additions to cooked dishes (or roasted in a little garlic, olive oil, and sea salt as a side dish).

Read directions for how to grown your own alfalfa, in our earlier post here.

For more tips about how to eat sprouts and fun, family-friendly growing projects (like broccoli sprouts) download your free copy of the ACHS Wellness Guide here.

[1] For a clinical summary of the health benefits and potential contraindications of sprouts, read the Sloan Kettering website here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Practical Aromatherapy: Using Aromatherapy to Help Attract Home Buyers

Experts say selling your home takes a little luck and a lot of preparation. With a gaggle of homes currently on the market, spending that extra time to make the best first impression may make all the difference. It certainly couldn’t hurt!

To prepare your home, realtors suggest taking several steps to present an organized, clutter-free and clean home, including cleaning out your drawers and cabinets, making minor repairs, and deep cleaning.

Part of deep cleaning is scent. For example, it’s important to clean out drains so they look nice, but also because hidden debris can encourage mold and an accompanying musty smell. A little tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil diluted in water can be an effective, chemical-free alternative to more traditional cleaning products. Plus, it smells better than synthetic cleaners and room sprays used to mask odors.

You may also want to diffuse some essential oil into the air before you show your home. This can help to freshen the air and to encourage a positive first impression. There are many essential oils to choose from, but you may want to select an oil that has general appeal, that is a familiar, and that is uplifting, such as bergamot (Citrus aurantium var. bergamia), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), mandarin (Citrus reticulata), neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara), and ylang ylang (Cananga odorata).

Watch Aromatherapy Blending from ACHStv next!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quinoa: A recipe for health

Is quinoa (KEEN-wah) the new couscous? Seems to be. It’s all over the Web—quinoa, the new must-have ingredient. And why not? It has great flavor. It has great texture. It has a simple no-fuss, no-muss presentation and is easy to make.

Why not?, indeed. No reason we can think of! Quinoa is a rich source of fiber, higher in protein than many other grains, and a good source of iron and magnesium. Plus, it cooks quickly, is relatively inexpensive, and is versatile—you can make quinoa as a side dish or add savory ingredients for a main dish. You can even use quinoa in place of rice, as the American Dietetic Association recommends.

Far from “new,” quinoa is native to South America and the “Andean Indians who first cultivated it call it ‘the mother grain,’” the Atlantic explains in a recent article, “Quinoa: The Story of a Cursed Crop.” Quinoa, the article explains, “provides 50 percent more energy than potatoes” and “is the only staple crop that provides a full suite of amino acids.” But the journey from ‘mother grain’ to American staple was not an easy one. Click here to read the Atlantic’s two-part article about quinoa’s journey from South America to our dinner plates.

Also, check out Well, The New York Times health and wellness blog, for the September 24 post “There’s Something About Quinoa.” Blogger Tara Parker-Pope includes several links to quinoa-based recipes like stir-fried quinoa with vegetables and tofu.

One small note: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) website warns that for people with Celiac disease, “quinoa may not be entirely safe.” Instead, the ADA suggests a rice-based pasta or a potato-rice pasta.

What are your favorite quinoa recipes? Post them here and together we'll build a Healthy Cooking with Quinoa collection!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This article has been provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Ben & Jerry's Has Opted to Remove "All Natural" Label

A short news article announced that Ben & Jerry's has opted to remove the "All Natural" label from their products.

Though the company, which has more than a 30 year history, does use hormone-free milk and cage free eggs, and has reportedly committed to using only fair trade products by 2013, a spokesman for the company "told Shots, the company pulled the labels to avoid engaging in a debate over what's natural and what's not."

The FDA does not expressly define what 'natural' does and does not mean. Rather, they say on their website Q & A that "it is difficult to define a food product that is 'natural' because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances."

The Center for the Science in the Public Interest, however, who contacted Ben & Jerry's and requested the label "All Natural" be removed, noted in their press release that there are "plenty of ingredients that really are 'natural' are still bad for your health, such as the artery-clogging cream that is the main ingredient in Ben & Jerry's ice cream."

So the question seems to be, how are we defining 'natural'? When it comes to our food, does the label 'natural' reflect origin or a relative lack of potential "bad for your health" properties?

> Read the full-length NPR article "Ben & Jerry's Takes 'All Natural' Claims Off Ice Cream Labels" here.

> Here is a link to the FDA Q & A website "What is the meaning of 'natural' on the label of food?".

Monday, September 27, 2010

Moroccan Argan Oil Antioxidant-Rich, Potential Skin and Dietary Support

Do you use argan (Argania spinosa) oil?

Also called Morocco ironwood, argan oil is from the soapwood family and has a history that can be traced back more than two million years.

Argan is a culinary oil and a cosmetic oil, and has traditionally been used in both skin and hair care. Medicinally, argan oil has been used to help heal wounds and with rheumatism and arteriosclerosis.

The oil, pressed from the trees’ kernels, contains more than 80% unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, and large quantities of vitamin E antioxidants and sterols; it may be very nourishing when used on the skin and may be effective as a dietary supplement.

Currently, there are about 50-60 women’s cooperatives in Morocco producing argan oil the traditional way. These cooperatives are growing in number as a resource for Berber women to revive the traditional hand-pressing method of extracting argan oil and to ensure an income. Read more about the women’s cooperatives on the Targanine website.

Traditionally, argan oil is hand-pressed by the Berber women. First the trees’ fruit pulp is allowed to dry; then it is removed. The remaining nuts are cracked between two stones so the kernels can be used undamaged. The kernels are lightly roasted and then ground by hand. An oily paste forms and the oil is removed through the use of lukewarm water and constant kneading. It is then decanted.

The picture in this blog post is from ACHS President Dorene Petersen, who recently hiked through the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and watched the women hand pressing the oil. Check back with ACHS Facebook for more info from Dorene about the medicinal properties and products of argan oil, and pictures from the women's cooperatives.

Here are some links to recent research articles about potential medicinal properties and uses of argan oil that you may find interesting:

1. Effect of dietary argan oil on fatty acid composition, proliferation, and phospholipase D activity of rat thymocytes

2. Consumption of argan oil (Morocco) with its unique profile of fatty acids, tocopherols, squalene, sterols and phenolic compounds should confer valuable cancer chemopreventive effects

3. Effect of Argan Oil on Platelet Aggregation and Bleeding Time: A Beneficial Nutritional Property

Share your experience using argan oil. Do you prefer it to olive oil? Is it more moisturizing than your traditional skin care base oil?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sunday is World Heart Day. Take Responsibility for Your Heart Health.

This Sunday, September 26, the World Heart Federation (WHF) celebrates their 10th annual World Heart Day, encouraging everyone to take responsibility for their heart health.

Heart disease and stroke remain the leading cause of death: 17.1 millions lives each year. The WHF launched World Heart Day to inform people of this statistic and to create awareness that "at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if the main risk factors, tobacco, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, are controlled."

"Building on last year and to ensure sustained change," the World Heart Foundation explains, "the World Heart Federation is targeting the workplace to promote heart healthy messages. The Workplace Wellness initiative aims to use the workplace to promote long-term behavioural changes that will benefit employers, employees and communities."

Read through the WHF list of 10 Simple Steps to help live a healthy life and make your workplace healthier.

Then take responsibility for your heart health and initiate a workplace conversation about how to make healthier choices together. An educational approach may be effective. Go into the conversation with a discussion topic, like hawthorn.

Did you know that hawthorn has been shown to help regulate the cardiovascular system? Or that hawthorn berries are harvested in the fall? Our Apothecary Shoppe offers a free, downloadable hawthorn monograph you can share with your friends, family, and coworkers. Download it here.

Live with heart!

Got Drugs? Don't Flush. Drop Them Off at a DEA Take-Back Site.

Got drugs? Perhaps you have some old prescriptions lurking in your medicine cabinet or stuffed into the kitchen junk drawer? Resist the temptation to flush your old medicines. Drop them off instead.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has organized a National Take Back Initiative for this Saturday, September 25. Find a local drop site in your area on the DEA website here.

The FDA says some medicines can be disposed of in the trash by mixing with a substance like coffee grinds and sealing in a container. But many medicines can be harmful, if not fatal, if consumed by someone to whom they have not been prescribed. And flushing medicines down the toilet can also be harmful for the environment and leech into our water supply.

The FDA does have a list of medicines they feel are safe to flush. You can download the list here. But recent studies also suggest that pharmaceuticals can find their way into our lakes, streams, and drinking water. The effect on people and wildlife has yet to be determined. Why take the risk?

Play it safe. Gather your old medicines tonight and drop them off at a DEA take-back location tomorrow morning. We thank you!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Using Aromatherapy in Fall: Bring the Spirit of the Season Indoors

Fall has arrived! And, right on its heels, cooler weather. The good news … there is a lot to love about the fall: pumpkin patches, rich colors, root vegetables, warm herbal teas, and essential oils.

Just as nutritionists recommend eating with the seasons, there are aromatherapeutic essential oils that complement the seasons too. Select spicy, earthy, rich aromas to bring the spirit of the season indoors and to create feelings of warmth. We suggest a blend of sweet orange, cinnamon, ylang ylang, and lemon (the Festive Spice blend from our Apothecary Shoppe).

Sweet orange Citrus sinensis essential oil helps to support emotional well-being and has a sweeter, fruity scent. It blends well with basil, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, lavender, neroli, lemon, and nutmeg. For more information about sweet orange visit here.

Cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum essential oil supports healthy digestion and stress management and has a spicy, earthy aroma. It blends well with ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, frankincense, and the citrus oils. For more information about cinnamon, visit here.

Ylang ylang Cananga odorata essential oil is attributed with analgesic, antidepressant, and aphrodisiac properties. It has a sweet aroma with long-lasting woody undertones and blends well with lavender, bergamot, the citrus oils, and sandalwood. For more information about ylang ylang, visit here.

Lemon Citrus limonum essential oil supports a healthy respiratory system and has a refreshing aroma. It blends well with cedarwood, chamomile, clove, eucalyptus, fennel, juniper, lavender, neroli, oakmoss, petitgrain, pine, sandalwood, and ylang ylang. For more information about lemon, visit here.

Festive Spice Blend
6 drops Sweet Orange
1 drop Cinnamon
2 drops Ylang Ylang
1 drop Lemon

We hope your first day of fall is fantastic and look forward to hearing more about your fall aromatherapy blends. Post any blending tips, photos, recipes …. here!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Planting Herbs in the Fall: Which Herbs Are Best for Your Zone?

It’s the first day of fall (already!). Can you believe how quickly the seasons are passing? Of course, it may feel a bit more of a dramatic shift here in Portland, Oregon, because we had a short summer. Cooler temperatures than normal and more rain.

But it looks like fall is here. The leaves are turning from crisp greens to fiery jewel tones and the air has more moisture. The rain in coming! But before the weather turns for good, it’s time to plant our fall herbs. Planting in the fall gives herbs the chance to root so they are ready for harvest in the spring.

The best herbs to grow depend on the grow zone you live in. Before you make your selection, we suggest you find your climate zone on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to ensure what you want to grow is compatible with your zone. Here’s the link:

Portland, for example, is hardiness zones 8-9. There can be lower levels of light here in the fall (and certainly in the winter), so Portlanders may want to select shade-loving herbs, such as parsley and peppermint.

Or, if you live somewhere that gets too cold for herbs to thrive and/or does not get enough direct light, consider growing your herbs in containers, so that you have the option to move them around (or even take them indoors, if needs be).

You also may want to concentrate on bulb herbs—like garlic, fennel, and saffron—which should be planted in the ground in the fall at least six weeks before the first freeze.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you may find this Monthly Garden Calendar from the Oregon State University Master Gardeners Program: - september

You may also enjoy the article “The best herbs to grow in fall” for ideas about which herbs to plant: - september

We hope your first day of fall is fantastic and look forward to hearing more about your fall herb garden. Post any planting tips, photos, suggestions …. here!

We’ve also started the discussion “What’s your favorite thing about fall?” on Facebook. Join the discussion here:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Health Benefits of Parsley Returns to Headlines

Last March we posted about the health benefits of parsley. Happily, parsley has made headlines again. This time in The Oregonian article "Make parsley the main attraction on your dinner plate."

For fun, here's an excerpt of our original post:

Perhaps our most well-known garnish, in other parts of the world parsley serves a heartier function. Leafy and a bit whispy, parsley can be used to make several sauces, including pesto, and is added to many grain and salad dishes, such as tabbouleh.

Plus, the rumors are true ... parsley does help freshen breath after eating more pungent foods like garlic!

Here's a link to a study[2] about how the antioxidant capacity of culinary herbs, including parsley, is affected by various cooking and storage processes:

You can read the full post here:

Sara Bir, Portland food writer and cooking instructor, has a delightful discussion about flat or curly, the eternal question, in "Make parsley the main attraction on your dinner plate." For example, flat is "grassier" and curly "brighter," and when chopped, flat has a universal look but curly gets "fluffy."

Which do you prefer? Help us promote good health ... Post your favorite parsley recipes here!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Essential Oils May Be Effective with Lice

Creepy crawly lice torture school-aged children. It can be hard to rationalize with kindergartners, to make them understand why they really don't want to touch their hair or scratch or share their personal hygiene products with friends.

Instead, it may be more effective to focus on prevention. Check your children regularly. Because lice can be spread person-to-person without physical contact, the USA Today article "Lice: Any kid can get 'em, so comb early, comb often" recommends 1. maintaining appropriate personal space; 2. having shorter hair, and; 3. checking your child's hair regularly.

If it's too late, however, you will want to check everyone in the house, select some kind of product to help rid the lice, and wash all clothes and furniture.

There are many products on the market, including chemical shampoos. But before you use chemicals, you may want to consider essential oils. Evidence suggests essential oils--specifically cinnamon, peppermint, and eucalyptus[1]--may effectively kill lice.

Natural Health Magazine suggests you "mix 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon leaf oil and 1/8 teaspoon of peppermint oil with four ounces of a basic shampoo. Apply to your child’s head, leave on for 20 minutes, and rinse. Don’t leave on overnight: Essential oils are too concentrated to be used for that long."*

If you have used essential oils with lice, we want to hear your story. Please post any suggestions you can share and/or essential oil recipes!

[1] Toloza AC, LucĂ­a A, Zerba E, Masuh H, Picollo MI. 2009. Eucalyptus essential oil toxicity against permethrin-resistant Pediculus humanus capitis (Phthiraptera: Pediculidae). Parasitol Res. Jan;106(2):409-14. Epub 2009 Nov 10.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Have You Seen Numen? It's the first feature-length film to explore traditional herbal medicine use in the US!

Have you heard of the new documentary Numen: The Nature of Plants? If not, you may want to check out the film's website. Numen--or, the animating force in nature, as defined in the film--is the first feature-length film dedicated to the exploration of traditional herbal medicine in the United States.

In addition to footage of medicinal plants, the film features interview spots with herbal medicine leaders, including Drs. Tiearona Lowdog and Larry Dossey, and Bioneers Co-Founder Kenny Ausubel (and many others!) on whole-plant medicine, ecological medicine, environmental toxins, the limits of allopathic medicine, and spirit and healing.

Watch the 10-minute preview here: The film's website also includes links to info about the film, the filmmakers, and a resource guide.

We added Numen's Facebook page to our favorites. Here's the link:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Scratch 'n Sniff Internet a Reality?

One of our Facebook fans posted the comment "scratch and sniff internet would be great right now" in response to the "Uplifting" aromatherapy blend we shared. That got us thinking ... what does the world have to say about the possibility (and how great would that be for sharing aromatherapy blends!)?

Believe it or not, if you type "scratch and sniff internet" into Google, several pages of results come up. Now, we're not saying these results are necessarily "realistic," but you have to take pause and marvel at the idea of it all.

Here's a blog we found that explores the trends in digital scent technology (a step up from scratch and sniff) ... decide for yourself ... Digital Scent Technology Blog

To download our "Uplifting" aromatherapy recipe, visit ACHS on Facebook here!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Antiviral Activity of Essential Oils: It's Never too Early for Good Health

It's started to rain here in Portland, a not-so-subtle reminder that fall is on the way. It seems this time of year usually comes with a spike in seasonal colds and flu, as well as the gray-scape of clouds. Not so fun!

Before the season sets in, you may want to take stock of your essential oil inventory at home. Do you have the basics--like eucalyptus, lemon balm, and peppermint--which are thought to help kill airborne viruses when diffused into the air? These essential oils can also be added into hand creams to help stop the spread of infection through person-to-person contact.*

For more health-promoting tips this pre-fall season, check out ACHS Academic Dean Dr. Arianna Staruch's article about the antiviral activity of essential oils:

You also may want to visit the Apothecary Shoppe, where most essential oils have posted information about their traditional use and wellness support, and some even include blending formulas.

Here's the recipe to prepare an inhalation from the eucalyptus webpage:

Alcohol, 90%: 4.5-cups
Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus oil: 6-t
Thyme Thymus vulgaris oil: 3-t
Pine Pinus sylvestris oil: 3-t
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia oil: 2-t
Lemon Citrus limon oil: 2-t

Mix all ingredients. To prepare as an inhalation, add 3-t to 6-cups of boiling water. This mixture can also be added to the bath water or to footbaths. Use 3-drops in the bath or 1-2-drops in a footbath.

* This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prescribe.

New FDA Rules for Antibiotic Use: Is the FDA Going to Ban Antibiotics for Cows?

There have been an influx of headlines this week about the FDA and some potential new rules for the use of antibiotics with cows.

As Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug, explains in "Is the FDA about to ban antibiotics for cows?", the FDA is not talking about a universal ban on the use of antibiotics with cows meant for the table, but voluntary guidelines in the hopes of stemming the growth of drug-resistant organisms that affect humans. "It's been clear for decades," McKenna says, "that antibiotic overuse in farming fosters the growth of drug-resistant organisms that affect humans. No, the agricultural industry does not agree."

Though the FDA's voluntary guidelines would not constitute legislation or regulations, they could be a step in the right direction!

Learn more about the effects of antibiotic use in farming: read McKenna's full-length blog post here:

You also might want to check out this Washington Post article "FDA seeks less use of antibiotics in animals to keep them effective for humans," which explains the FDA's plans as a "guidance" and says the "FDA has tried to limit the use of antibiotics in agriculture since 1977, but its efforts have repeatedly collapsed in the face of opposition from the drug industry and farm lobby."

>> Food and Drug Administration: Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Aromatherapy Essential Oils Help Reduce Stress

We spotted this article on and thought you'd find it interesting, "Use Aromatherapy to Reduce Stress." Though the information is fairly introductory, the author does makes some useful suggestions for simple ways you can start using aromatherapy as part of your everyday health routine.

The ACHS Wellness Guide includes some more specific information for how to use aromatherapy essential oils. You can download it here:

You might also be interested in this free download, What is Aromatherapy?, by ACHS President Dorene Petersen. The lecture was originally presented at the Portland Chinese Gardens as part of their Festival of Fragrance, and there is a lot of useful information about how essential oils are produced and how they can be used to support optimal health. Here is the link from the ACHS website, under News and Events:

To get you started, here's the recipe for our Calming and Relaxing Herbal Bath Blend. You can download more recipes from our Apothecary Shoppe. Select "Free Downloads" from the left-hand toolbar and click on ACHS Holiday Recipes:

Calming and Relaxing Herbal Bath Blend

Use 2-10 drops of essential oil per bath. Use equal parts of spearmint leaves, comfrey root, chamomile flowers, and valerian root. For a foot bath, use 10 drops of essential oil per 1⁄2 gallon of water.

ACHS Photo of the Week: Have you submitted your entry?

Help us spread the word ... ACHS has launched a Photo of the Week "contest" on Facebook. Every Monday morning we pick one of the photo submissions we received and post it to ACHS Facebook with the photographer's name and a little info about the image.

Photo submissions must be botanical images: from your own garden, from a public garden, from your community, a rooftop garden, from .... ? We don't care where it's from, just that it makes an interesting and unique addition to our collection of herbal medicine photos accessible to the public through ACHS Facebook.

You must, therefore, have the rights to distribute the photo, and you must be OK with us sharing the image on our page.

>> Visit ACHS Facebook to see this week's selection, submitted by Stacey Rayos!

We've Updated Our List of Favorite Blogs and Links

Happy Wednesday!

We've updated our list of favorite blogs and links to share with you. Some of these updates are from suggestions made by ACHS students, the blogs they like to follow.

Elana's Pantry, for example, is a blog our holistic nutrition students like to follow. The blog features healthy recipes the whole family will love. Right now there's a recipe for honey mustard dressing over fresh greens featured. Looks delicious!

We also added a link to the Healthy Recipes Index from the Mayo Clinic and to Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, a fun blog by Amy Green that provides many flavorful options for people with Celiac disease (or those just seeking a healthier way of eating!).

For the eco- and organic-conscious we added links to The Oregon Tilth magazine, In Good Tilth, and the Mother Earth News blogs Grow It! and Healthy People, Healthy Planet, among others!

Be sure to check out our toolbar of favorites and if you have any suggestions for holistic health and wellness blogs our readers and ACHS students would find useful, please share!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September is Pain Awareness Month. Are You An Advocate?

September is Pain Awareness Month. This is an important awareness event for those suffering with chronic pain. Whether you are advocating for your own health, for family or friends, or for those suffering with chronic pain in general, Pain Awareness Month provides a good opportunity to get educated and get involved!

Pain Awareness Month is sponsored by the American Pain Foundation Action Network, self-described as "a grassroots network of people living with pain, caregivers and health care providers, working in collaboration with other advocates, professionals and organizations who share our belief that people in pain have a right to timely, appropriate and effective pain care."

Pain Awareness Month provides an opportunity to learn about the issues facing those who suffer with chronic pain, as well as to connect with other members of the community, and to share stories. You can find local ways to get involved in your community through the Foundation's list of events for Pain Awareness Month taking place in your community.

We'd also encourage those suffering with pain or pain-relief advocates to dedicate some time to researching natural, holistic approaches to pain relief*. There are many herbs that can be used to help support pain relief, such as ginger root (Zingiber officinale) and oregano (Origanum vulgare).

>> To jumpstart your research, check out this online article from The Herb Companion, "The Best Herbs for Pain Relief."

*Herbs can have more than one action in the body, as well as possible contraindications when used in combination or with prescription medications. It is always best to consult with your primary care physician before making any changes to your health routine. This information is intended for educational purposes only; it is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, or prescribe.

Do You Have Your Beginner's Guide to Edible Herbs?

Do you have your Beginner's Guide to Edible Herbs? We now have this photo-rich, user-friendly book available through our Apothecary Shoppe college store!

The Beginner's Guide to Edible Herbs is full of beautiful full-color photographs and features 26 herbs that gardeners of all skill levels can grow and use. In addition to gardening information, the guide also includes basic medicinal information, food-pairing tips, and simple recipes for each herb.

We recommend this book to anyone who wants to build-up their green thumb and start integrating herbs into their everyday diet!

Check out the Beginner's Guide to Edible Herbs here:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Clove Essential Oil Support to Ease Pain, Kill Viruses

Clove essential oil is in the news ... again! A new article from is a great addition to our post last week, New Study Finds Clove Essential Oil May Help with Rashes.

Here's a snippet of the article, "Essential Oil Eases Pain, Kills Viruses," featuring the analgesic and antifungal properties attributed to clove Syzygium aromaticum essential oil:

"Easing Pain: Clove essential oil’s is best known for its ability to alleviate toothaches, making it a common ingredient in natural toothpaste and mouthwash. Additionally, it is often added to liniment and massage oils since it component, eugenol, has anti-pain properties.

"Kills Viruses: This potent aromatherapy oil has also been shown in studies to halt reproduction of the herpes viruses including those linked to cold sores and shingles.

"Because it is a potent oil and can be irritating to mucous membranes and the skin, it should always be diluted in a carrier oil like sweet almond or extra virgin olive oil (about 3 drops in a teaspoon of carrier oil). Also, be sure to do a test patch on the inside of your arm and wait for 24 or 48 hours to be sure you aren’t sensitive to the oil."

To read the full-length article, visit the website here:

Have you registered? New classes starting Monday, September 20

Have you registered for fall classes yet? New classes are starting Monday, September 20! It's not too late to begin your journey toward personal wellness and an exciting new career.

What Can You Achieve with Your Training?

ACHS classes provide the practical skills and training you need for a career in holistic medicine and healthcare through programs like Certified Wellness Coach, Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant, Holistic Health Practitioner, Master Herbalist, aromatherapist, and natural health sales associate. You can also earn your Associates or Masters degree in Complementary Alternative Medicine fully online!

Call us--or visit our website to learn how you can increase your future career opportunities, your lifetime earning potential and your own well-being while working in a field that makes a difference. Find out which classes are still available at (800) 487-8839 or email

>> For a complete list of aromatherapy, herbalism, holistic nutrition, and holistic health and wellness classes starting Monday, September 20, visit our online College Calendar here:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where Do I Find Information About Using Medicinal Herbs?

The Web offers a lot of information about the use of medicinal herbs and supplements, but sometimes the information conflicts and it can be hard to determine what is accurate and what is marketing. If you are thinking about incorporating herbs into your daily diet, you may want to spend some time researching.*

Herbs are attributed with many health promoting properties. How you use herbs may depend on the health benefit you are seeking: Is it general wellness or something more specific? Like pharmaceutical drugs, herbs can have several actions in the body, as well as potential contraindications, so if you plan to combine herbs--or to combine herbs with pharmaceutical medications--you will want to research the specific properties of the medicinal herbs you are interested in.*

Here are some research-based resources you can start canvassing. Remember to bring any questions you have to your primary care physician and you may even want to bring copies of your research!

> The ACHS Wellness Guide includes more than 120 pages of health and wellness tips.

> "Herbal and natural health tips for women experiencing menopause" on the ACHS website includes natural health and herbal tips and recipes for easing the menopause transition and improving overall health.

> MedlinePlus is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine from the National Institutes of Health and posts new and developing studies daily.

> The American Botanical Council regularly posts new HerbClips on their website. HerbClips are summaries and critical research reviews of articles about the research, regulation, marketing, and responsible use of medicinal plants.

> The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) offers an A-Z Index of Health Topics, including profiles of specific medicinal herbs, supplements, and CAM modalities.

> The Apothecary Shoppe College Store carries a large selection of organic, sustainably wildcrafted herbs. Most herbs include a description of their traditional uses, medicinal uses, active constituents, and many have recipes too!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Study Finds Clove Essential Oil May Help With Rashes

A new study from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) has found that clove essential oil may help with itchy rashes, such as those associated with scabies. (Perhaps it may be useful with bedbugs, considering the recent U.S. outbreak? Hmmm?)

"Essential oils and their active chemical components have long been proven to be effective against animal parasites such as cattle ticks, sheep ticks, and rabbit mites. Our research is applying this theory to the human scabies mite," said Pasay, one of the researchers.

"We also tested eugenol, which makes up 80% of clove oil, and its related compounds for their effects on the mites and found they were comparable to an existing treatment for scabies," Pasay said.

Clove essential oil contains the constituents eugenol, beta-caryophyllene, alpha-humulene, and is attributed with antiseptic, antispasmodic, and insecticide properties, among others.

To read the full-text research announcement, go to:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tea Tree Essential Oil Helps Clean Mold from Your Home

It seems like near every day there is a new article about the health benefits of cleaning your home with natural, chemical-free products. We're happy to see this information is out there for people to read and use!

In fact, we recently spotted an interesting article about a specific use for tea tree essential oil in the home. Mold. As explained in the article "Does Tea Tree Oil Help Kill Mold?" from, mold not only looks unsightly, is can pose several potential health risks, including triggering allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

Tea tree essential oil is attributed with antibacterial and antiviral properties, and is a good alternative to more traditional cleaning products, like bleach. Plus, a little bit of the essential oil used in water goes a long way. You may, however, want to wear gloves while cleaning with tea tree essential oil. It can cause skin irritation is those who are sensitive. We recommend using a skin patch test before cleaning your home.* recommends making a tea tree essential oil mold spray from 2 cups of water and 1-2 drops of the oil. Shake the bottle thoroughly before spraying. Then saturate the moldy area with the spray and allow it to sit overnight; wipe down the area the next day.

For more information about the chemical constituents and benefits of EcoCert organic tea tree essential oil, visit the Apothecary Shoppe Store: Tea tree Australia (Melaleuca alternifolia) and tea tree New Zealand (Leptospermum scoparium).

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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What You Need to Know About Food and Water to Be Safe During Hurricanes, Power Outages, and Floods

We're sending our best wishes to everyone who has been affected by Hurricane Earl and those who are currently preparing for the hurricane to land. You're in our thoughts. If we can be of assistance, please let us know.

Here is a link to the FDA's page What Consumers Need to Know About Food and Water Safety During Hurricanes, Power Outages, and Floods. Included are general tips for emergencies, as well as how to prepare for power outages and what to do in the event of flooding. For example, it may be a good idea to store some non-perishable food in waterproof containers and did you know that a full freezer can keep its temperature cool for up to 48 hours? To prepare for a power outage, freeze fresh water, which will help to keep other frozen items cool and will ensure you have fresh water. For more information, visit the FDA website here:

ACHS students and graduates have also posted their storm and power outage tips to ACHS Facebook. Read and post more tips here:

For more information about how to prepare for Hurricane Earl, here's a link to FEMA's suggestions posted via

Adding Fresh Herbs to Ice Cream is a Savory, Healthy Flavoring

The weather is heating up here in Portland. We've had a few days of cooler weather and rain, but we're expected to reach 85 degrees for the next few days! That means, cool and refreshing treats are in order. We happily came across the article "Fresh herbs make sweet and sophisticated ice cream" in the Oregonian a few days ago, which includes some great recipes from the garden. Fresh mint ice cream anyone?

Here are some herbal pairings suggested in the article that sound especially refreshing:

  • Chocolate and thyme
  • Rhubarb and rose geranium
  • Honey and lavender
  • Orange and rosemary
  • Rhubarb and mint
  • Pear or apple with rosemary
  • Blueberry, strawberry or peach with basil
  • Cinnamon and basil
  • Fig and rosemary
  • Cherries and sage
  • Stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums) and anise hyssop

ACHS Facebook fans have also posted their pairing suggestions to our page. Check them out here and post your own suggestions:

To read the full-length Oregonian article, and to download herbal ice cream recipes, go to:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Herb spotlight: Coleus forskohlii in the News for Its Potential Effect on Reducing Body Fat

Coleus forskohlii is an herb with a long tradition of use in the Ayurvedic tradition. In fact, Coleus is the Ayurvedic name of the herb. Some of the common Western names for this herb are blue spur flower and false boldo. The Latin name is Plectranthus barbatus.

In the Western herbal tradition its claim to fame is in supporting healthy blood pressure and the cardiovascular system. Recently there has been some interest in this herb’s effect on reducing body fat. A study in rats showed Coleus forskohlii extracts reduced body weight, food intake, and fat accumulation[1]. A small double-blind and randomized 12-week-long study concluded that Coleus forskolii mitigates weight gain but without causing any significant changes in fat mass or blood lipids. The Coleus group did report a decrease in fatigue and in hunger[2].

The active constituent in Coleus is forskolin, which increases the levels of the secondary messenger cAMP. The wide ranging effects of this include: bronchodilation, vasodilation, decreased platelet aggregation, lipolysis, a decrease in histamine release, and increased thyroid hormone secretion[3].

Coleus may be a helpful botanical addition to a diet and lifestyle plan to support health weight. However, it should be used in caution in those taking blood pressure or blood thinning medications, or with high stomach acid. Coleus should not be used in those that are pregnant or nursing.

[1] Han LK, Morimoto C, Yu RH, Okuda H. (2005). Effects of Coleus forskohlii on fat storage in ovariectomized rats. Yakugaku Zasshi. May;125(5):449-53.
[2] Henderson S, Magu B, Rasmussen C, Lancaster S, Kerksick C, Smith P, et al. (2005). Effects of coleus forskohlii supplementation on body composition and hematological profiles in mildly overweight women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. Dec 9;2:54-62.
[3] Coleus forskohlii. Monograph. [No authors listed] Altern Med Rev. 2006 Mar;11(1):47-51.

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