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Article by Marie Cargill:
WHEN FOOD IS NOT ENOUGH

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Smoothies, Juices, Frothies, Elixirs, and More

There isn't a single medical system that doesn't have its roots in ancient plant medicines. Many of our "modern" drugs are derived from or imitate plant substances; indeed countless medical discoveries have their origins in traditional folk remedies. Yet for many of us the role of plants in our lives is primarily culinary.Herbs do add eye, smell, and taste appeal to food but plants are medicines as well.

Modern herbal medicinals are unique in the number of actions they perform: they are pick-me-ups; they detoxify and rebuild all body systems; they calm mental states; they provide tools for better immunity; all together they are a vital part of healing. Taking herbs or giving them to a dog is easy. Smoothies, herbal drinks, and elixirs combined with fruit juices or broths are tasty and simple to make. Depending on the effect you want, short and long term use of herbs is a safe way to help the body maintain a state of balance and wellness.

The ingredients and equipment required to make simple recipes are fairly easy to come by and herbal ingredients can be found in reputable health food stores or nutrition centers, by mail or on-line. A food processor is a must and is only as good as its blades. If you want a machine to perform heavy chores, you'll need a more expensive model with more horsepower. A good processor will have a motor shaft which directly rotates the cutting blade as opposed to a belt- driven model whose belt will keep slipping when you process a heavy load. Other equipment can include a juicer, a blender, or a handheld blending wand. A wand allows you to blend one serving at a time right in the cup, glass, or bowl. A press-type and masticating juicer yields a higher quality juice with more nutrients intact. The drinks should always be freshly packed and consumed within a short time to avoid oxidation and fermentation.

To make, enjoy, and benefit from these beverages, you don't need to turn your kitchen into a apothecary. Begin with simple recipes. The recipes that follow use liquid herbal extracts. This form is superior for use in beverages; it's quick, mixes well, and the standard dose is usually the dropper that comes with the bottle. Fruits and vegetables in the recipes are chosen for their own medicinal characteristics. You can make substitutions. A few recipes use green superfoods; they are available from reputable suppliers and provide vitamins and enzymes if you want to add more nutritional ingredients. Tofu can be used to make a smoothie as can good quality, unflavored, live-culture yogurt. Both provide protein if you want an enriched drink. I suggest using alcohol-free herbs, although some products do have alcohol as a base. Alcohol has been used in many of the individual herbs and herbal blends because it is one of the best ways to extract active constituents from plant parts.

Whenever possible, buy and use organically grown herbs and produce. This prevents many chemical residues from ending up in your glass or your dog's bowl. If unsure of the origins of your produce, peel and thoroughly wash items with a vegetable brush. You can also buy washes that will remove most chemical residue. If you are sure that the produce has been organically grown, you can use the skin. Do remove the skin on apricots, grapefruit, kiwi, papaya, oranges, peaches, and pineapple. In some cases the reason is the skin may be too bitter, or too thick to process, or too toxic. Pits and seeds should be removed. The stems and leaves of most plants can be left intact except for carrots and rhubarb. Soft fruits that contain very little water need to be pureed in a blender rather than a juicer. The puree is then added to juices. Be sure to use a variety of produce to obtain a range of nutrients.

If you are new to juicing, you might want to try a simple blend until you get comfortable with a juicer. Try 1/4 each of cucumber, lettuce, and watercress to 3/4's of a tomato. This drink provides lots of minerals. You might want a detox drink. You can try a vegetable mix of 1 part asparagus to 3 parts carrot; or a fruit mix of equal parts of apricot and peach with a tiny amount of grape. Fresh vegetable juices with a small amount of parsley or watercress helps to purify the blood. A few drops of fresh lemon juice into water promotes alkalinity and stimulates the enzyme activity of the liver and pancreas. Squeezing the juice from a freshly-grated, unpeeled potato is highly effective for helping stomach problems. This juice is rich in enzymes and highly alkaline. Small amounts of cooked red beets and beet greens with carrots produces a juice that benefits the liver and gall bladder.

If you are an experienced juicer, you will find some new ideas in the following recipes. In any recipe you can add or subtract herbs and supplements to change the effect.

 

Energy Drinks

Everyone wants energy, not just to start the day but to carry you through.

Variation #1

Pour 8 ounces of grapefruit juice in a 12-ounce glass. Combine with 1 dropper each of the following herbs: ginseng and astragalus to build energy; bupleurum herb to get the energy moving; and peony herb to get the blood circulating as well. Add herbal extracts to juice and stir well. You can add 3 ounces of sparkling mineral water to your glass and stir well again.

Variation #2

Juice dandelion herbs with a small quantity of parsley and add 1 dropper of ginger

Variation #3

Pour 8 ounces of orange juice into blender and add 1 ounce of wheat grass or green food blend and 1 dropper each of Siberian ginseng, American ginseng, and codonopsis herb. Blend until all is dissolved.

Variation #4

Take 6 ounces of apple juice and add 3-5 fresh apricots without pits and skin, several cherries without stems and pits, and 4-5 strawberries, all rich in iron. Blend with 4-6 ice cubes and 1 dropper each of astragalus and peony. Blend until smooth.

 

Digestion Off?

Variation #1

Combine 2 ounces of papaya juice and 6 ounces of apple juice with 1 dropper each of ginger and fennel herbs.

Variation #2

Blend a small amount of cabbage and string beans with one dropper of alfalfa and 6 ounces of a vegetable based juice such as "Vedge".

 

Nerves Frayed?

Variation #1

Put 8 ounces of orange juice, 1 banana cut into chunks, 1/3 cup pineapple chunks, into 1/3 cup plain live-cultured yogurt for a smoothie base. Add one dropper each of schizandra, kava kava, and hops herbs.

Variation #2

In a small saucepan, simmer 8 ounces of apple cider, 2 droppers of St. John's wort, 2 droppers of valerian with several whole cloves, 1 stick of cinnamon, and 2-4 pieces of fresh or dried orange peel for 3 -5 minutes. Pour into cup and allow spices to settle to the bottle before drinking. When serving to a dog, remove all spices.

Variation #3

Combine 1 fresh kiwi, peeled and quartered, ½ cup fresh pineapple, chopped, 1 banana cut into chunks, 4 ounces of guava juice, ½ cup sherbert of your choice (pineapple, orange, etc.), with 1 dropper ginseng and 1 dropper reishi mushrooms tincture or a medicinal mushroom combination. (This is a variation of a recipe from "Elixir's of West Hollywood")

 

For the Mind

Variation #1

Put 1 cup fresh blueberries, 1 cup melon cut into chunks, ½ cup plain, live cultured yogurt, with 1 dropper periwinkle herb, 1 dropper Gingko biloba, and 1 dropper polygonatum herb. Puree in a blender until smooth.

Variation #2

Process small amounts of carrot, parsley, watercress, and celery and blend in 6 ounces of tomato juice with 1 dropper of he shou wu herb, 1 dropper ashwagandha herb, and 1 dropper schizandra.

 

Using herb does require some basic information.

If buying them on your own choose a company known for its serious commitment to herbs. This ensures herbs grown in the cleanest, free from toxins environment and processing with good quality control. Most companies manufacturing herbs use standardization, an attempt to produce one major active ingredient. This marker serves as a standard measure for potency but it leaves open the question "What of the other 99 active ingredients?" Herbs in their natural state contain several active ingredients. Plus herbs like to work together helping each other in their range of benefits. Do be wary of advertising claims. Do follow the directions on the label. If you have a particular objective, seek professional advice.

Herbs are a great tool to achieve wellness and maintain it. You will be amazed at what they can do. If you start using them, you will be partaking of a history that comes from our earliest ancestors through centuries of civilizations, from many parts of the world, and a knowledge that has survived and even flourished for centuries.

 

For supplies and further information consult Marie Cargill.

 

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