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As spring brings light and length to our days, our hair begins to come out from under our winter hats. Now is a great time to think treating your hair to a little extra TLC.

Healthy hair is actually more about doing less than about doing more. The loss of your gloss is actually due to the unhealthy practices of over washing, blow drying, and using chemical products. Even the best shampoo washes out the natural oils in your hair, leaving hair dry even after using conditioner. The first steps to healthy hair are wash your hair less, only once or twice a week. Rotate between shampoos to keep things balanced. Use a gentle, non-detergent based shampoo.

A healthy, balanced diet also contributes to both healthy hair and skin. Brushing your hair and scalp massages not only feel good but help to distribute your natural oils and stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles.

Instead of hair conditioner, consider using an herbal hair rinse or herbal vinegar rinse. You can buy an herbal rinse from companies like Honey Bee Holistics, with their Organic Rosemary Hair Rinse for itchy scalps, or a Sage Herbal Hair Rinse from Dragonfly Herbs. However, it’s also easy to make your own with a little patience.

Here’s a recipe for a vinegar hair rinse for dry hair.

1 oz. nettle

1 oz. marshmallow root

1 oz. calendula

Apple cider vinegar

Drops of an essential oil of your choice (peppermint or myrrh is great for dry hair)

Distilled water

1. Fill a quart jar halfway with the herbs. Cover them with the vinegar and cap tightly. Place in a warm spot for 3-4 weeks. Shake it daily to keep the mixture agitated.

2. After 3-4 weeks, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or double cheesecloth. Add the essential oils, rebottle it in a plastic bottle, and store this is your bathroom.

3. Before you take a bath, dilute the rinse with distilled water. For dry hair, dilute 1 part rinse with 6 parts water. After you shampoo, pour the vinegar rinse through your hair, massaging it into your scalp. Rinse with warm water and if you can stand it, cold water too.

You can play with the essential oils in this mix to give it different scents, but I chose peppermint not only for its properties but also because it is invigorating and awakens the senses. You can also use essential oils such as lavender or chamomile for normal hair, or lemon, patchouli, rosemary, and tea tree oils for oily hair.

I encourage you to get your hair out from under that hat, grab a friend, and exchange head massages with a drop of your favorite essential oil. You’ll thank me!

parsley

by Molly Kay Stoltz

Urban Herbal Girl here. Have you ever wondered why they place that piece of parsley on your plate at restaraunts? To add color? To freshen your breath? Yes and no. Turns out it might be the healthiest item on your plate.

Parsley contains the more vitamin C than any other plant and the most iron of any green leafy veggie. It is very high in iron, beta-carotenel chlorophyll, and vitamin A, B, E, K, and folic acid. It’s pretty much awesome! I’ll take some parsley over iceberg lettuce any day. Read the rest of this entry »

written by Molly Kay Stoltz

When I am sick or sore, when I’m uninspired, when it is dark and cold outside, or when I am stressed and need time alone, I take a bath.

Baths have become something of a luxury, but they shouldn’t be. Our lives are busy, and it is always easy to take a shower and get on with your day, but a bath forces you to slow down and think. And the benefits grow when you take a moment to add herbs or salts to your bath water.

The first thing to consider is the temperature of your water. Cool or room-temperature water can help to lower a fever or normalize your system, and can firm and strengthen you if you are able to brave the cold! On the other hand, warm water is soothing and opens your pores which can help you become decongested or eliminate toxins from your body, for example, after a hard workout or a massage. Read the rest of this entry »

by Molly Kay Stoltz

Feeling a little indigestion from your last holiday party? You probably have the remedy hiding in your baking cupboard.

Just today at work I was a bit full from my lunch. I reached into my secret stash of tea, and found the ingredient I was looking for- cinnamon.

A cup of chai roobis later, and my stomach was back to normal!

Cinnamon is a tasty herb made from the bark of a cinnamon tree. There are many varieties, but we in the U.S. use cassia, or Chinese cinnamon.  However, cassia is not actually the “true” cinnamon. “True” cinnamon comes from Ceylon, and is much more pungent than the variety we’ve all grown up with. You can find different varieties at specialty spice shops if you are looking for a stronger tasting cinnamon!

Cinnamon has been used as far back as 2700 BC in ancient Egypt and China, and was widely used in medieval Europe on meats and with fruit. Today, we sprinkle it in stews and soups, steep it in teas, simmer it in curries, and of course, bake it in our cinnamon rolls and pumpkin pies. I can’t imagine my morning bowl of oatmeal without a dash of cinnamon.

Cinnamon isn’t just tasty, however. It has many benefits for your health, including soothing an upset stomach and aiding digestion, clearing urinary-tract infections, helping diabetics metabolize sugar better, relieving pain and inflammation, slowing the flow of blood, and killing disease-causing fungi and viruses. Cinnamon is a powerhouse herb, but is also relatively side-affect free- IN MODERATION, of course. IMPORTANT: Too much cinnamon will create a laxative effect. Don’t over-do it!

During the holiday season, when we do tend to overindulge on everything but cinnamon, it can be helpful to use cinnamon to break down fats during digestion and reduce intestinal gas. A spicy tea like chai or apple cinnamon tea or a spiced apple cider is a wonderful after-dinner drink.

Here’s a recipe for a spiced cider- add a dash of amaretto for an extra-special treat : ).

Spiced Cider

5 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
5 whole allspice kernels
5 whole cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 gallon apple cider
1 or 2 oranges

Blend cinnamon, star anise, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and apple cider in a large pot. Use a zester or grater to remove the rind of the oranges, and add to the cider mix. Add the juice of the oranges to the cider. Heat to just below simmer for several hours. Ladle into mugs and serve with a cinnamon stick.

And the extra-added bonus? Cinnamon has a germicidal effect. Using cinnamon may add extra protection from the flu and colds that appear during the holidays. So, here’s to cinnamon for keeping us healthy and happy as we go about our merry way! Happy Holidays!

Resources:

Cinnamon Health Benefits on The Modern Herbal

Cinnamon Varieties by Vanilla Review

Posted by Molly Kay Stoltz

Ginger is a familiar herb. Its golden root and slightly spicy taste has appeared in cuisine throughout the world, from China to the Caribbean. Its yellow flowers can also be found surrounding people’s homes in sub-tropical climates. Ginger is accessible in most grocery stores, and is incredibly easy to add to your diet.

Ginger is fantastic for a few reasons. It is considered a primary herb for boosting the reproductive, respiratory, and digestive systems because it helps improve circulation, making its effects felt throughout the body. Ginger can also be used over long periods of time with no known side effects (as long as it is used in moderation!).  Read the rest of this entry »

Hello Sprout readers! This is Molly Kay, the Urban Herbal Girl, and I’ll be contributing to Sprout once a month with herbal remedies and facts. Herbs can easily become a part of your daily diet and are an affordable way to both heal and prevent illness. It can also be a pleasant way to reconnect to nature, even when you live in the urban jungle of Chicago!

Did you know that adults in the U.S. spent $14.9 billion on natural products, such as herbal remedies? It’s only natural that people turn to plants for their health, as herbalism reaches back to the age of the Neanderthal. In fact, herbal medicine is the oldest form of therapy practiced by humans, who, by trial-and-error and instinct, discovered helpful and harmful plants. To this day, scientists have found that our ancestor’s choices in plant medicine were right-on. Herbalists now rely on both science and lore to form what we know as herbal medicine today. Read the rest of this entry »

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