Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Eating Well: Ingredient to Watch For

Natural living means being vigilant. Eating and using products that are processed in any way means reading labels AND understanding them (no easy feat!). In this "Eating Well" series, we profile good and bad things to consume. Boline believes takes a holistic approach- we believe that what we ingest (whether through the digestive tract or our skin) becomes the building blocks of our bodies- and that means choosing natural*, high quality ingredients.

Today, we look at concentrated milk protein (also called MPC or milk protein concentrates). This is milk that has been put through an ultra-filtration process to remove all liquid and then dried. This makes it a lightweight and easily transportable additive for big food conglomerates to use to boost protein counts on their products like greek yogurt. They use MPCs to avoid the original (lengthier) process.

The problem with MPCs are that there is absolutely NO regulation on this ingredient. The milk can be sourced from anywhere in the world and in the USA, MPCs are all imported. Does anyone remember the melamine milk scare in China? The consumption of unregulated milk from questionable sources led to kidney failure and death. We honestly have no idea what's in these products so it is safer not to consume them at all.

What's more, the imports of MPCs are driving down the cost of local domestically produced milk, according to Food and Water Watch, thereby putting American dairy farmers out of business.

When buying items with dairy, be sure that the manufacturers know where the milk comes from- and that includes how the cows were raised and how the milk was processed.

"Natural" is a word thrown around a lot, especially by companies hoping to profit off of well meaning consumers. Because it has no legal definition the way "organic" does, they use it in a false way. What do we mean when we say "natural"?

  • Natural means all the ingredients are easily identifiable (and close to their original state as you find them in nature) and easy to pronounce. Nothing harmful, ever. No chemically extracted isolates. We employ no one in a lab coat! We use ingredients safely used by generations of humans.
  • Natural means Boline knows where all the ingredients came from.
  • Most are local and Lily, our herbalist, either raised the plants herself or saw the plants as they were growing (before harvest).
  • Other ingredients were raised by people that we know and trust or wildcrafted ethically, according to United Plant Savers standards.
  • Natural means organic whenever possible. No chemical pesticides or fertilizers ever when using cultivated plants and wildcrafting in chemical free areas.
  • Natural means every batch is made in small quantities, artisinally. This way, we have ultimate control over what goes in and what does not.
  • Natural means that Boline products that have bee products (honey, beeswax, pollen, or propolis) in them come from beekeepers whose emphasis is on bee and hive health- not rampant production.
  • These ethical beekeepers also do not treat their bees with chemicals and do not move their hives for monoculture pollination purposes. You may have heard that bees are in trouble, and by keeping bees organically and not moving their hives, we can do our part to save life on this planet. We only work with beekeepers dedicated on working WITH bees.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Links and Resource Roundup

From time to time, we come across important articles, websites, and resources that we want to share with Boline fans. They are about food and cosmetic safety, sustainability, and the like. Here is the first of many future link round ups!

National Geographic talks about worldwide food fraud and mislabeling.
Factory farming is helping create mega-bacteria to make us all sick.
Elle writes an exposé about GMO corn.

How to make your own vinegars.

After my first pregnancy and birth, I had PTSD, too. Read this survivors story and how she now is working to Improve Birth.

International Union for the Conservation of Nature is the world's oldest and largest environmental organization. They speak for food security and biodiversity and against unchecked development.

The SAFE Seafood Act in the USA and the Monterey Bay Aquarium's shopping guide to safe and sustainable seafood.

The new FSMA- Food Safety Modernization Act is supposed to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it. Below is additional information on FSMA. It was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011. Since this is the same president that appointed a Monsanto VP to head the FDA, we are more than a little skeptical about the law and its enforcement.

The Environmental Working Group has a "Skin Deep" program that monitors and educates about ingredients in cosmetics and toiletries. They are amazing.

Peru will be providing FREE solar power to its poorest residents!

More links to come!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

News Flash! Boline Apothecary being carried at City Folks' Farm Shop!

Boline is now in our first retail location, where our products will be available year-round!

City Folk's Farm Shop, and urban homesteading and gardening store, is now carrying four of our tea formulas (Allergy, Menopause, Sick Kid, and Dream Well), our Bug Off! Spray, and is also interested in me (Lily!) hosting a workshop or two in the fall! (What subjects or projects would you like to see me cover?)

As the products sell, we may be getting more and more variety into the shop. Stop by and pick up your gardening, chicken keeping, and beekeeping supplies and get some herbal goodness from Boline while you are there!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Product Profile: Moontime Tea

Boline's family of teas.

About all of our teas:
Boline blends very specific ingredients to create its custom formulas. Each ingredient has a specific purpose and adds to the remedy. Ingredients vary, batch by batch, based on what's in season and available. We work WITH the earth, not against it.

This also means the formula you get is more effective. Not only is everything freshly dried and far more potent, but the human body is part of a larger ecosystem with its own cycles- our method reflects that. If we run out of a key ingredient and we cannot replace it with something suitable, the product disappears off of the Boline website until we can make the product effectively again (we get more of a specific ingredient). 

This seasonal philosophy flies in the face of what most folks are used to- getting a product that consistently has the same ingredients. But that way of thinking is one of agribusiness, cost control measures, and monoculture that has caused more problems in the world than it has helped. 

Boline is different. We know that many different ingredients can achieve the same effect and make blends seasonally, in tune with the earth's cycles. We list all possible ingredients below on the website- but the ingredients you get in your batch are inclusively listed on the bag (we create labels batch by batch). If you have a question on whether an ingredient will be included in your current batch, just ask! We are happy to blend a formula with or without any specific ingredient just for you. So folks with allergies need not fear.

Fannings (left) and whole leaves (right)
Why buy Boline's tea instead of that bagged "medicinal tea" brand at the health food store?Sure, you could buy bags of herbal teas that have similar ingredients at the grocery store, but they will not work as well. Why? 

The main difference between loose teas and tea bags is obviously the size of the leaves. When producing the tea bags, whole leaves are chopped, sliced and diced into small particles ranging from 0.2 to 1.5 millimeters called "fanning" and "dusts". With all this slicing and dicing, the plant compounds interact with moisture and oxygen, leading to rapid quality loss. 

Whole leaves contain natural compounds such as antioxidants and polyphenols, and different essential oils which are the basis of the amazing tea flavor, taste, and medicinal properties. When the leaves are broken up, those oils tend to evaporate, leaving the fannings with a dull aroma which will lead to a tasteless and less potent beverage. 

Further, who knows how long that tea has lived in those bags, in that box, on a shelf somewhere? All of the teas Boline sells are fresh! So choose fresh (medicinal grade) loose teas! 

Like all herbal medicine, our teas work best when combined with a lifestyle that includes clean water, whole foods, gentle exercise, and plenty of self-love.

Boline's Moontime Tea

See the roots, leaves, and flowers? No dust here!
Each Boline tea comes with an infuser bag.

This tea has a combination of medicinal herbs that help alleviate cramps, mood swings, irritibility, bloating, and excessive bleeding due to monthly cycles.

Every menstruating woman needs it sometime in their life!

Ingredients: Motherwort*, Nettles*, Black Cohosh Root*, Crampbark*, Vitex*, Stevia* (*indicates organic)

Motherwort Motherwort helps bring on a delayed or suppressed menstrual flow, especially when someone is anxious and tense. Chinese women often use it combined with dong quai as a menstrual regulator. It strengthens and relaxes the uterine muscles and eases uterine cramping. 

Nettle Leaf Herbalists and midwives have recommended nettle leaves as a tonic for women for generations. It is high in iron, which is much needed during menstruation. It is also wonderful for treating and preventing urinary tract issues and has more chlorophyll than any other herb. The list of vitamins and minerals in this herb includes nearly every one known to be necessary for human health and growth. Nettle leaves are a storehouse of nutrition, with high iron and calcium contents, as well as an
excellent source of folic acid. Nettle strengthens the kidneys and adrenals, while it relieves fluid retention. Because nettle also supports the vascular system, it can prevent varicose veins and hemorrhoids. It is a great overall nutritional herb when you need it most in your cycle. 

Black Cohosh is an antispasmodic especially good for uterine cramps. Early American physicians used black cohosh for female reproductive problems, including menstrual cramps and bleeding irregularities, as well as uterine and ovarian pain. Herbalists consider it a sedative emmenagogue, meaning it promotes menses when uterine tension, cramps, and congestion hinder flow. Black cohosh relaxes the uterus, especially when tension is caused by anxiety. Black cohosh is believed to act on the uterus by
improving muscle tone. The herb is thought to have an estrogenic effect because its constituents bind to estrogen receptors in the body. The binding of a plant constituent to an estrogen receptor can increase estrogen activity in the affected tissues. Women who take black cohosh have not demonstrated the side effects usually associated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), leading researchers to believe that this herb could be a safe alternative to traditional HRT. Black cohosh can improve many symptoms of menopause, including uterine problems, such as poor uterine tone, menstrual cramps, and postmenopausal vaginal dryness. Black cohosh is used primarily for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. A number of studies using various designs have been conducted to determine whether black cohosh affects menopausal symptoms. Those with the best study designs are described here. 

Crampbark As the name implies, crampbark relieves cramps and spasms of involuntary muscular contractions. Cramp Bark will relax the uterus and so relieve painful cramps associated with periods (dysmenorrhoea). 

Vitex Both extensive clinical studies, as well as over two thousand years of use in folk medicine, have proven the effectiveness of this remedy. It works by stimulating and normalizing the pituitary gland, which regulates the balance of estrogen and progesterone in the body. In a normal menstrual cycle estrogen is higher before ovulation and progesterone is higher after. Many women don't realize that an imbalance of these hormones can lead to the entire range of symptoms associated with PMS and menopause! Vitex usually has the effect of enhancing progesterone and decreasing estrogen levels. Vitex itself has none of the hormonal building blocks that many of the
medicinal plants used for the reproductive system contain. Instead, this herb nourishes and supports the endocrine system to find its own balance. David Hoffman, a well-known herbalist, says "Vitex will always enable what is appropriate to occur." Almost all of symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle can be treated with this plant. It is the single best herb for treating the many possible symptoms of PMS: cramps, flooding, headaches, depression, water retention, constipation, acne, breast tenderness, and irritability. It can help normalize irregular or scanty periods. It is especially helpful for women who are coming off the birth control pill. For many women, cycles remain irregular for up to two years after stopping the pill. Vitex can greatly shorten that time and helps ease the body into regaining its own natural rhythm. 

Stevia is an all natural, low calorie sweetener that we added to counteract the taste of roots and barks, which tend to be bitter. 

Buy Moontime Tea for $7.50

*When making a medicinal tea, you must boil water, then steep the brew longer than a black tea (medicinal teas take 20-30 minutes) and you MUST cover the tea as it steeps. This means none of the essential oils (the medicines!) of the plants will escape with the steam.

Boline teas come in recyclable tea sacks- weights vary because some ingredients are heavier than others (we package by volume, not weight). We also include an unbleached cotton muslin infuser bag to assist you in making your tea.

Counterindications and warnings:You could be allergic to a plant or a plant family just like you could be allergic to a food. Use with standard commonsense precautions when trying new things. If any adverse reactions happen that coincide with the taking of this tea, discontinue use and consult your herbalist or doctor. 

Standard required disclaimer:The statements made here have not been approved by the FDA. These statements are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for herbalists and people like me but not big pharma, who is in bed with the FDA. After umpteen million product recalls, birth defects and deaths, big pharma still doesn't have to label like this- even though this product has been used safely for much longer than any pharmaceutical preparation has. Just sayin'.