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Tinctures vs. Glycerites

Posted by on Aug 7, 2015 in blog | 2 comments

Tinctures vs. Glycerites

Herbal medicine has been an instrumental component in my practice with Integrative Wellness. Within the field of ethnobotany, the brewing of plant remedies becomes more accessible! Ever tried a tincture? Ever tried a glycerite? Ever wondered the difference? By definition, a tincture is, “a liquid herbal extract made by soaking herbs in solvents such as pure grain alcohol, which helps extract the active ingredients from the herbs. The liquid is strained out and the herbs are discarded. A tincture can be made of one herb or a combination of herbs.”[i] Alcohol based tinctures are most common; however, glycerites are made from vegetable glycerin to keep the tincture alcohol-free. The benefits of having a glycerite vs. an alcohol-based tincture are increasing. One of the major benefits is that glycerites do not negatively harm people who have any issue with alcohol. People in rehabilitation and detox centers can benefit tremendously from tinctures without harming their well-beings. Glycerites are made from vegetable glycerin. Herbal extractions, however can also be made by soaking the plant matter in vinegar or honey. When stored properly, (in a dark, cool and dry place), glycerites can last up to a year. Vegetable glycerine is actually a form of alcohol, but doesn’t taste anything like it. It’s very sweet in flavor, and doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels.[ii] Glycerites are also suitable for breast feeding mamas, pregnant women, children, and pets! Glycerol is considered to be a weaker solvent than ethanol. This is because the same intermolecular forces that cause the glycerol to be dense, viscous, and thick are the same forces that decrease its ability to extract the medicinal properties from plant material. [iii] When considering whether to make a glycerine tincture or an alcoholic extraction, it is important to consider the solubility of the material being extracted. Glycerine will extract sugars, diluted enzymes, glucosides, bitter compounds, diluted saponins as well as tannins. Alcohol will extract some alkaloids, glycosides, volatile oils, waxes, resins, fats, some tannins, balsams, sugars and vitamins. [iv] Another important consideration is the absorbance ability of the extraction method. Alcohol has a quicker access to the liver. Glycerine, on the other hand, is absorbed by the digestive tract 30% slower than alcohol. Additionally, glycerine is utilized through a “secondary pathway in the liver, ( known as the gluconeogenic pathway). “ This results in a lower glycemic load on the body than happens with alcohol.v The denaturing of a material in tinctures is a reality. How much the plant material is denatured is dependent upon the solvent. A benefit of using glycerites vs. alcoholic extractions is that the ethanol will denature the plant’s material far more than a glycerite will. v For this reason, glycerites are recommended in dealing with plants that are more complex in molecular structure, like polysaccharides for example. Another example would be a plant that is an aromatic. If the desire in making the tincture is to retain the original taste and aroma, a glycerite should be employed. Alcohol based tinctures are also known as an extract. It is considered to be one of the most effective tinctures because the alcohol itself extracts the medicinal properties of the plant better than any other solvent. This is explained due to the preservative properties of the alcohol. And when stored properly, alcohol-based tinctures can be kept for up to 2 years! Happy tincture brewing! [i] Tinctures. Wong, Cathy. August 2, 2013. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsherbalmedicine/g/tinctures.htm [ii] “Growing Up Herbal: Teaching parents how to take charge of their children’s health…naturally.” August 2013. http://www.growingupherbal.com/using-herbs/making-a-tincture-glycerite/ [iii] Glycerin and the Glycols – Production, Properties and Analysis, by J. W. Lawrie,...

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What is Integrative Wellness, you ask?

Posted by on Aug 5, 2015 in blog | 1 comment

What is Integrative Wellness, you ask?

Integrative Wellness is a practice and theoretical basis for the application of healing modalities, using a wide variety of techniques to address the physical, biochemical, social and spiritual dimensions of humanity. Integrative Wellness, among other health care philosophies rests on that of innate intelligence, that healing comes from within, harmonizing with other techniques applied from the external world. It is a section of health care with roots in Integrative Medicine, which can be defined as, “the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciples to achieve optimal health and healing.” The two modalities have few but some distinctive differences. One difference is based on the English understanding of the term, “medicine.” In the English dictionary, a “medicine” is something used to treat disease or enhance well-being. There are other philosophies that broaden the English definition of medicine by defining it as “the presence and power embodied in or demonstrated by a person, a place, an event, an object, or a natural phenomenon.” Medicine can be a material object, like an herb, an object, a kind word or prayer. It can be a stethoscope used by a caring and compassionate doctor. Medicine can be looked at as music, dance, love, laughter, exercise, eating and making good food, sharing intimacy, artistic expressions, bathing, singing, talking, listening. Medicine is anything that is healing. Healing is anything that improves the quality of life! Healing is completely unique to each person. Each person has different needs in order to establish, enhance and restore one’s quality of life. Integrative Wellness seeks to empower individuals to be self-accountable for their own lives, thereby enhancing health, well being and the ability to achieve one’s life purpose. Ultimately, Integrative Wellness is a life style practice, that supports the whole person in any and all appropriate healing modalities. This empowers the individual to engage purposefully, to participate in their own health care so that they may participate in the greater good of humanity and nature. Integrative Wellness is not just a singular modality of health, it is the dance towards harmony between the individual and the community working for a synergistic life-time of...

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Stress…..What’s a cat to do about it!

Posted by on Aug 5, 2015 in blog | 0 comments

Stress…..What’s a cat to do about it!

This society we live in endures constant, bombarding encounters of STRESS. In turn this affects the way we feel and engage with the world. Stress, although it is a common part of everyday life, overtaxes vital reserves and negatively affects mood, body and the ability to adapt to changing situations. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimate that “25-40% of American workers have experienced some form of stress-related job burnout, resulting in decreases in corporate productivity and $300 billion annually in stress-related compensation.” And that’s America. Consider all of the underpaid and overworked people in other countries who do not have the luxuries that most Americans do. Manageable levels of stress can be beneficial, and can promote expansion and growth. However, if not managed properly, stress can lead to chemical imbalances that disrupt the normal functioning of the body’s structures and systems. If not regulated, the imbalances can lead to detrimental effects on the heart, brain, blood vessels, nervous and immune system. An immune globulin called secretory IgA resides in the mucus secretions of the lungs, digestive tract, and urinary tract. It is the “first line of defense against invading organisms.”   Scientific research has proven that stress causes a substantial decrease in this important immune factor. One stressful outbreak of anger that lasts only five minutes can cause a decrease in secretory IgA that can last for up to five hours. When animals encounter stressful situations, cortisol, a hormone made by the adrenal glands increases. Cortisol is also known as the “stress hormone.” If too much cortisol is present for long periods of time, it decreases the immune system, and the body becomes even more susceptible to illness that it could otherwise fight against! So what to do? There are a variety of relaxation techniques that can be employed to prevent and diminish stress. One includes cranial-sacral therapy. Cranial-sacral therapy is a gentle, hands on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and improve whole-body health and function. Using pressure no heavier the weight of a nickel, Cranial-sacral therapy works with the soft tissues that surround the central nervous system. It is an excellent preventive health measure against disease and a wide range of medical problems, associated with stress, pain and dysfunction. Because the body cannot exist in a state of stress and relaxation at the same time, I practice therapeutic techniques that encourage relaxation, rest and repose. In turn, the body may feel safe to experience relief of suffering, healing and an improved quality of life...

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