Helping your aging pet

Many of us consider our pets to be a beloved part of our family and it is as difficult to watch them age as any other member. We are conscientious of how we treat ourselves, but because our beloved animals are unable to speak for themselves, it can be harder to relieve their pain and discomfort when necessary.

The pet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and holistic pet health is a growing subset of this. We at BHP believe that our philosophy for people holds true for our pets as well: that a natural lifestyle, with all things in moderation leads to a happier, healthier pet. We want to help you help your pet to the best possible quality of life throughout their whole life. As our animals age, they are afflicted with many similar problems as we are and to that end, we adapted some of our people products for our pets.

If your experience with your pets has been anything like mine, then they dislike taking their medicines as much as my kids do. Pets can be incredibly sneaky about avoiding something that tastes bad. We had a dog who would eat a chunk of cheese and spit out the medicine hidden inside. Because our products are a liquid, they can easily be mixed in food. We don’t recommend adding them to water, as it isn’t an easy matter of monitoring your pet’s intake that way and the tincture becomes overly diluted.

Here are a few of our products that help provide comfort and relief for our aging pets:

Kidney Bladder Relief

Hormone replacement therapy in pets and they get older can lead to frequent bladder infections. Use this as a preventative, before your pet gets sick.

Immune Boost

Effective for all animals. This can be used long term to help bolster a compromised immune system, or to help prevent illnesses.

Joint Relief

Our pets experience the same joint problems and pain that we do as they age, which can make moving around, going up or down stairs, or even going outside difficult and painful. Joint Relief assists in the safe relief of stiffness, swelling, and joint pain associated with aging and arthritis.

Skin Comfort

Your beloved pet can develop skin problems as they age. This helps to relieve skin irritations including hot, itchy, flaky skin. Use for skin-related allergic reactions or excessive licking. As our dog got older, he became more and more sensitive to seasonal allergies and this helped.

Tummy Ease

Helps relieve gas, abdominal discomfort, and mild constipation from overeating or mild food allergies.

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Treating colds and the flu

Here is another post by our Education Specialist, Samaya Cullerton:

This year the Influenza outbreak has been devastating with many deaths and hospitalizations. Unfortunately, the flu vaccine had a low rate of effectiveness against the mutation of the virus which hit the United States. The immunization field is working on a new type of vaccine, entitled the universal flu vaccine. The goal of such a vaccine is ambitious; however the side effects of such a vaccine are as of yet unknown. In this month’s blog we will discuss influenza from a Traditional Asian medical perspective, a preventative health, and integrative health point of view. Often when Western medicine falls short, traditional medicine has an opportunity to shine. The centuries old methods for the prevention and treatment of Influenza continue to be effective, safe and trusted options. Ancient medicine has seen epidemics before, and it has some seasoned treatments.

In traditional Asian and Western medicine, our innate immunity, our lifestyle, and underlying health plays a key role in how often we get sick, how sick we get, and how well we recover. Whether observing the human body from a Western scientific model or a traditional Asian model, the human body’s health and wellness is a very dynamic and complicated concept. In traditional Asian medicine the Wei Qi is often compared to our immune system. It is our barrier system against pathogens which can attack our body, causing illness. The Wei Qi originates in the stomach, is created from the qi of food and water. It circulates the exterior of the body within the muscles and the skin and regulates body temperature. The circulation of Wei Qi is dependent on the lungs. In Traditional Chinese medicine, the entire GI tract is also considered part of the exterior of the body. Wei Qi, the traditional Asian medical model for immunity, is the defender of our body. It is intrinsically related to our digestive tract function as well as our mental health. The function of a healthy spleen and stomach in the traditional Asian model keep us clear and calm. In Western medicine, we know our autonomic nervous system plays a vital role in our stress levels as well as our digestive function and dysfunction. Essentially, chronic stress, emotional disruptions, low grade health issues, and digestive dysfunction can all profoundly disrupt the Wei Qi, and our immunity.

From my perspective, the people I know are stressed. Our political climate has been a chronic source of stress. The issues affecting the human race today from climate change to political extremism, school shootings, a massive refugee crisis, the brutalities of war, the constant media stream, the personal issues each and every one of us are all contributing factors. Life can be a series of stressful events but lately it’s been at peak levels. This long term, chronic exposure to stress takes a toll. Worry and pensiveness damage the spleen qi. Grief, sadness and despair injure the lung and kidney qi. Having to constantly filter information, deciding what to take in and what to not have an emotional response to, will damage the stomach and gallbladder qi. Anger, rage and frustration will cause the liver qi to become disrupted. In traditional Asian medicine, emotions have a profound effect on the digestion, and the Wei Qi.

This brings me back to the dynamic nature of health. We need to address our own individual dynamic wellness in order to have strong defenses against the flu and other seasonal pathogens. We need to address our emotional and mental health, our digestive function and microbiome, and healthy daily lifestyle habits. Being rested, hydrated, fed a nutrient rich diet, and having good hygiene, and methods to reduce stress goes a long way on the path to prevention and quick recoveries.

When life is hectic and our immune system falls short of protecting us, when superbugs make the rounds and we do get sick, the path to a rapid and full recovery is the next goal. Your body is now begging you for rest and care. Fear not, we at Benedictine Healing Products have your back. Here is a quick break down of our cold and flu line of herbal remedies for adults. Be sure to also check out our children’s, and pet formulas for colds and flu, after all, we all catch a cold sometimes.

Immune Plus as a preventative measure. When everyone around you is going down with illnesses, or for when you know your immunity might be low due to stress, fatigue or poor self-care. This adaptogen rich formula stimulates your body’s innate immunity to stand strong. This formula should be discontinued if acutely ill, and replaced with a cold and flu formula.

Elderberry Plus can also be used as a preventative measure, as well as after becoming ill. Elder flowers when combined with the berries have been traditionally used as an antiviral formula. We think our formula is unique and outperforms other Elderberry syrups on the market because we use both plant parts, and it is sugar free.

Chinese Cold and Flu is our amazing formula traditionally used for the treatment of acute influenza. Based off the traditional Asian formula Chuan Xin Lian, this formula was created to clear heat and toxins, to treat sore throat, cough, and sinus congestion accompanied by a fever. When taken at the first sign of the flu, the formula works best. We believe our formula is unique and gentle as we add herbs to protect the digestion from the cold and bitter herbs in the traditional formula.

Anti X Sinus is our formula traditionally used to treat sinus congestion, head cold, and ear infections. Some people are more prone to head colds, sinus infections and ear infections. This could be caused by the anatomy of peoples sinuses and ears, or it may just be a weak spot for some people, for a number of reasons. This formula has herbs which traditionally target the face, ears, sinuses and head, with both broad spectrum antiseptic, and anti-phlegm herbs, but also herbs which moisten and regenerates the tissue of the nose and sinuses, as it can become so tender and raw.

Deep Lung is intended for the second or bacterial stage of colds and flu. In Chinese medical theory, colds and flu initially enter the body as a virus in the upper respiratory system. If they are met with enough resistance and a strong immune system at this point, the infection is arrested. If the virus goes deeper or a secondary bacterial infection occurs, this manifests as symptoms of deep coughing, phlegm in the lungs, and prolonged acute illness.

Deep Lung 3 in 1 is made as a blend of our three cold and flu formulas: Anti-X, Chinese Cold Flu, and Deep Lung. It’s a great remedy to have on hand in the medicine cabinet. It is the catch all cold and flu formula, which boosts the innate immunity, nourishes the body, and is broad spectrum antimicrobial.

Lymph Oil is a topical oil traditionally used for drainage of congested lymph. It’s a wonderful addition to the cold and flu regiment for easing sore lymph nodes, congested sinuses, and sore throats.

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Winter Season and Digestion

By BHP Education Specialist Samaya Cullerton

The winter season is considered in traditional Asian medicine, the yin within yin. The attributes of yin are femininity, darkness, coldness, introspectiveness, quiet, calm and slowness. During this time, even our modern world slows down for the winter holidays. From the place of utmost yin, the transformation to yang begins to grow. From the shortest day of winter, the days begin to grow brighter again. Many people take time off work during the holidays to be with family and friends. Winter has been a time of celebration for many of us. In my personal home, we celebrate three birthdays, Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, and the New Year all within the month of December. It’s a wonderful, sweet, busy, exhausting time. After all the lovely time with family, I’m ready to get back to work! I’m done eating so many indulgent foods, I’m ready to feel healthy, balanced and I’m motivated to get my body moving. Many people have made resolutions for the New Year, feeling emboldened or motivated to improve their lives in some way. To support this energy which naturally rises in people’s bodies and spirits this time of year, we look to mother nature for some pearls of wisdom.

From fertile, living soil spring flowers grow with the help of rain and winter snow. We can consider our own living microbiome our fertile soil. The bacteria that symbiotically live in our gut play a big role in our digestion and immune function. Many people indulge in sweet, rich foods, overeating, consuming alcohol and often pairing that with some stress over the holidays, which can really throw off our digestive capabilities. When our digestive function is impaired it can wreak havoc systemically, affecting the liver, the gallbladder, the immune system (this includes autoimmune disorders), the respiratory system, the skin, the gyno-urinary systems, the endocrine system, as well as having a big effect on our mental health. A healthy functioning digestive system, for good reason, is often considered the root of good health in traditional Asian medicine.

At Benedictine Healing Products we make several formulas to support the digestion in the many expressions of different people’s bodies. Holiday Bitters is an elegantly crafted formula with over forty herbs and honey. The flavor is complex, aromatic, floral, sweet, citrusy, bitter in a dynamic, delicious, and herby way. The traditional uses for these herbs warm the digestive fire, strengthening its capacity. Bitters stimulate our own innate secretions and digestive enzymes, to break down and assimilate nutrients efficiently. Some of the aromatic herbs are used to increase the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system, increasing again our ability to rest and digest the food we eat. Holiday Bitters are traditionally used to increase digestive function, reduce appetite, but also increase energy, overall vitality, and improve mood.

The other formula I’d love to talk about this month is Xiao Yao Plus. This formula considered by many a traditional Women’s health formula and it is, but it is also so much more. Xiao Yao Wan, the traditional Chinese formula which Xiao Yao Plus is derived, is often recommended for people who exhibit the symptoms of IBS, such as alternating between constipation and diarrhea, digestion being affected by mood, and stress levels. This formula is given to people to support the free flow of qi. The free flow of qi enables people to breathe freely and deeply, it allows fluids such as urine, blood, menstration, hormones and emotions to flow freely and easily. When we have obstruction on the free flow of qi, we feel bloated, feel different types of pain, have labored breathing, cramping, and blockages. Xiao Yao Wan is a therefore a widely used traditional formula, for symptoms ranging from digestive disruption, pain, hormonal balance, mood and sleep disruption. This formula is considered a harmonizing formula, meaning it assists in your body’s innate ability to come into homeostatic balance. This is my go to formula for digestive disruptions caused by stress.

I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of our favorite digestive formulas. For a full list of digestive formulas and all out products check out our website. Happy New Year from the Benedictine team!

 

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Get Ready for the Winter

Autumn is a breathtaking time of year to enjoy the natural world. As the season changes from warm to cool to cold, and the business of our modern world keeps charging forward at an ever-steady pace, we must remember to care for our precious health and wellness. In traditional Asian medicine, we observe the natural world. From our lessons of the natural world, we learn how to treat our bodies, and make our medicines. Autumn is considered the season of metal energy. It marks the end of the growing season, when nature makes a final stunning display of abundant harvests, then the bareness, the coolness, the dryness, and the turning inward of energy sets in, in preparation for the winter to come. The metal elemental organs of the body are the lungs and the large intestine. Much like the functions of these organs, autumn is the time to both be inspired, and to let go. We must allow the leaves to fall from branches, in order to compost the soil for next year’s harvest. Similarly, in traditional Asian medicine, the autumn is the time to take care of our digestion and our immune systems. When our immune forces are not strong enough, we are faced with the perils of colds and flus, ear infections, sore throats, respiratory and sinus infections. Preventative medicine is a cornerstone of traditional Asian medicine, and we at Benedictine Healing Products not only have a wonderful line of traditional cold and flu remedies, we also have elegantly formulated herbal remedies for preventative care, along with some sage lifestyle guidance.

The digestive system plays a major role in our immune function. If we are digesting, assimilating nutrients, excreting our waste products effectively, and our symbiotic ecosystem is healthy, we tend to feel well. Unfortunately, in our modern culture we tend to over indulge in food and drinks that are rich and sugary, and that has serious effects on our immune, respiratory and digestive function. If we make good decisions for our health and wellness regularly, we build a strong foundation, which can withstand a little celebratory indulgence without feeling unwell as a result. The food we eat, the exercise we get, the way we breathe and settle emotions are some of the daily choices which can have profound influences on our health.

The autumn time is a beautiful season to eat warm, nourishing soup. There’s a reason traditional cultures from around the world revere soup and have healing soup recipes for every ailment under the sun. Soup is powerful tool for wellness in the cooler months. Soup is an easy to digest, nutrient rich, source of food and water, which deeply moistens dryness. Digestive systems love soups packed with vegetables, proteins, fats, broth and herbs. Using bone broth is great way to boost your soup nutrient density, and increase its healing properties. Our Holiday Bitters can also be a powerful formula traditionally used to boost digestive function. Bitter herbs stimulate the body to secrete its own endogenous digestive secretions, such as stomach acid and bile, improving the break down and assimilation of nutrients. When our digestion is functioning well we feel satiated are less prone to over indulgence. Holiday Bitters has a lovely, tasty digestive aperitif which can be enjoyed alone, or in a cocktail to assist in your celebratory wellness.

Breathing the cool autumn air, and getting your body moving is essential for the movement of qi, and the prevention of stagnation, which can lead to not feeling well, pain, impaired digestion and immune function. I suggest people find a way to move their bodies that they enjoy, whether that is Tai chi, yoga, dancing, hiking, going for a run, going to the gym, surfing, walking, or gardening, just enjoy doing it. It helps with motivation when you just love the way it makes you feel!

The holidays are not a happy time for everyone. Often the holiday season remind of loss, brings up feelings of grief, loneliness and despair. In traditional Asian medicine, the lungs are governed by the emotion of grief, for as many of you know, we often physically feel grief in our chest. The lungs are affected by the feelings of sadness and loss. We are all on this earth together. We all feel the loss of loved ones if we are lucky enough to live a full life of people we have loved, and been loved by in return. The holiday season can be a beautiful time to connect with people, to give and serve our fellow human beings. I find giving, and kindness to be a powerful tool in healing our own sadness, despair and grief, and remind us of the true beauty of the holiday season. Stress and our heavy emotions take a toll on our health. Finding tools that help with stress management and emotional well being are an essential aspect to holistic healthcare.

Traditional Asian medicine excels at preventative medicine, in part due to the variety of powerfully tonifying and adaptogenic herbs which come from Asia. Immune Plus showcases many of these powerful herbs, and is a truly powerhouse synergistic formula. When cold and flu season sets in, Immune Plus becomes an essential addition to my health and wellness. Adaptogenic herbs help us adapt to stress, and optimize the bodies innate ability to function. Traditionally, the herbs in Immune Plus have been used to increase our energy and stamina, optimize the function of the immune system to stave off illness, optimize the qi of the lungs and kidneys, to increase digestive function, and to decrease stagnation. The herbs in Immune Plus are also rich in vitamins, and minerals which nourish the cells of our immune system.

When the flu hits, we here at Benedictine Healing Products hit back. Chinese Cold and Flu is our version of the TCM Formula Chuan Xin Lian Pian. The traditional indications for this formula are clear heat toxins and/or damp-heat evils. What does that mean you may wonder? It means it has traditionally been used in the treatment of seasonal epidemics, both bacterial and viral in nature, which can cause symptoms such as fever, body aches, headaches, sweats, sore throat, cough, digestive disruptions, and being irritable and downright sick. The traditional formula features the herbs Chuan Xin Lian (Adrographis paniculata), Pu Gong Ying (Taraxicum mongolicum) also known as dandelion leaf and flower, and Ban Lan Gen (Istatidis tinctoria). These herbs are all used traditionally to clear heat and toxins. Our Chinese Cold and Flu modifies the traditional formula with Wu Zhu Yu (Evodia rutaecarpa) which is used to warm the interior. This herb is added to protect the digestion from the power heat clearing properties of the other three herbs. The formula is used as an antibiotic, antiviral, antipyretic (anti-fever) anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, and immunostimulant. One of the side effects of the traditional formula is that it can injure the qi of the stomach due to its cold nature, which is why we added the Wu Zhu Yu. This allows people to take the formula for longer periods of time (in the fight against longer standing infections such as strep throat) without the impairment of digestive function. Chinese Cold and Flu is the formula I use to combat colds and flus with fevers, sore throats, and coughs due to lung heat.

I hope you enjoyed reading about health and wellness in the autumn months from a traditional Asian medical perspective. We sincerely hope you are all well, and finding your joy this holiday season! We have too many amazing formulas to write about in a single blog post, but some other autumn formulas to explore are our Immune for Kids, Sniffles for Kids, Elderberry Plus, Anti-X, Deep Lung and Deep Lung 3 in 1, Adaptogen Plus, and our Lymph Oil. Look out for more information about those formulas in our future blog posts.

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Our favorite oils

Melissa Pereira Gelin, our Educational Specialist, has a new video post about some of our favorite topical oils. She discusses the benefits and uses of Lymph Oil, Rose Geranium Oil, and the perennial favorite Yoni Oil.

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Salad dressings are easy!

For most of us, when we want to eat healthier, automatically add large salads as an easy way to include a variety of vegetables in our diet. This is an admirable task, especially when one goes beyond including salad basics, however it doesn’t address the problem of store-bought salad dressings. When using these, it is impossible to control the quality of the oils used, the amount of sugar or salt added, or whether any additional additives are included. Reduced fat or fat free salad dressings aren’t necessarily better for you either. In order to remove the fat and keep the flavor, sugar and salt are increased as well as ingredients to keep the dressing creamy.

Store bought salad dressings certainly require zero work, but homemade salad dressing isn’t difficult and only require a couple minutes to throw together. Many salad dressings can be made from pantry staples and only from a few ingredients. One thing that I enjoy about store bought dressings is how creamy they can be and that is easily remedied when an emulsifier is added to help bind the oil and water together. For emulsifiers, mustard, egg, yogurt, or sour cream are all options depend on the dressing you are making.

When making your own salad dressings, use high quality ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil, free range eggs, high quality cheese. My mom preferred to avoid refined sugar when possible, instead using honey or maple syrup. She was adamant about avoiding hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils such as soy, corn, cottonseed, or canola.

The possibilities are endless when making your own dressings! Off the top of my head, a sesame ginger may be one I will make in the near future. Find your favorite and make it at home, or use one of ours:

Balsamic vinaigrette

This is one that I make most frequently. I don’t generally use measurements but instead go for flavor and consistency. Whisk all the ingredients together and adjust for flavor.

EVOO

Balsamic vinegar

Dijon mustard

Salt

Pepper

Optional ingredients that I add from time to time:

Pomegranate syrup

Fresh crushed garlic

 

Caesar dressing

This was one of my mom’s favorite salad dressings. It is amazing for the skin because of the egg yolk and anchovy.

1-4 anchovy fillets (or anchovy paste)

1/4 – 1/2 lemon, juiced

1-2 tsp unpasteurized vinegar of your choice

1 Tbs EVOO

1/2 – 1 tsp flaxseed oil or 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Artic cod liver oil (my mom preferred the Nordic Naturals brand)

1 egg yolk

1 clove crushed fresh garlic

Pepper and salt to taste

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Blend ingredients together and use immediately.

 

Honey lemon cilantro

This one is a family favorite from the defunct India Joze restaurant in Santa Cruz owned by restaurateur Jozeph Schultz. Not only did we spend many a dinner here growing up but my brother worked there for several years (and went on to follow Joz to subsequent businesses) and we have incorporated it into our regular rotation.

1 bunch cilantro stems

Juice of 5 or 6 lemons

2 Tbs honey

1/2 cup peanut oil

Salt and white pepper to taste

Jalapeno

Blend all the ingredients together and use. This isn’t a dressing that will keep, it is best when it is used immediately because the cilantro will go bad in the lemon juice. Freezing the lemon juice (or using frozen concentrate) is one way to extend the life of the cilantro. I’ve even added ginger to give it a different flavor. Unless you have gum Arabic powder on hand, this isn’t a dressing to try and thicken up.

 

Papaya seed dressing

1 Tbs Fresh papaya seeds

½ Onion

Vinegar (red wine or cider)

¼ cup honey

Salt

1 tsp – 1 Tbs mustard depending on taste

EVOO

Blend all ingredients together and serve. The papaya seeds have a light peppery taste that enlivens a salad dressing and is nicely balanced by the sweetness in the recipe.

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Herb Walk Talk

Here is a video of excerpts from the herb walk we hosted a while back. Enjoy!

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Immune products

I wanted to share a video that Melissa, one of our Educational Specialists did talking about our immune  and cold & flu products and how and when to use them. She covers some of the formulas in our children’s line, as well as some oils that are helpful for a cold or flu.

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Herb Walk


A couple weeks ago we collaborated with the Farm at UCSC to host an herb walk discussing some of the herbs that are used in our formulas. Our Educational Specialist, Jasmine Wiest, along with David Shaw, founder of Santa Cruz Permaculture & UCSC Common Ground Center  as well as having been a professor of Agroecology since 2004; and Cameron Salomon, founder of Kindred Herbs lead the walk.

They covered a number of our more popular herbs including cleavers, fennel, lemon verbena, oregano, chamomile, lavender, and fever few as well as others. Many of the common kitchen herbs are incredibly useful and flexible and can be used for a variety of issues, which is why maintaining a small culinary herb garden can have so many unexpected benefits, aside from delicious food!

 

 

It turned out to be a gorgeous day and everyone enjoyed the walk. In addition to discussing how useful herbs are in our lives, Jasmine Wiest talked about BHP’s liver supporting formulas and David talked about the Agroecology department.

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Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies

One of my mom’s favorite pet projects was the propagation of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, a native butterfly. I remember helping my mom collect the leaves the caterpillars pupate on, then feeding them sometimes three and four times a day depending on how large they were. It was wonderful to be in her garden when the butterflies were emerging from their chrysalis. Here is a video my dad made about the Pipevine Swallowtail years ago, with a compilation of over five years of photos.

This is the time of year to look for the caterpillars on the pipevine plant. They spend six weeks as caterpillars, which is longer than many other species and because it only eats one variety of pipevine, makes it particularly vulnerable. If you live in and around Santa Cruz, keep your eye out for these beautiful specimens.

If you want additional information on the Pipevine Swallowtail, go to the website: http://butterflyproject.org/. It’s a little out of date, but the information is still accurate.

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