The Simple Pleasures of Chamomile Tea

Chamomile flowers are full of chemical compounds responsible for a wide range of healing actions.

Chamomile Flowers are full of chemical compounds responsible for a wide range of healing actions.

By Patricia Kyritsi Howell, RH (AHG)

Sometimes simple things result in dramatic changes. One of my favorite examples of this is chamomile. One of the most popular herbs in the world, it is found in almost every tea blend sold in the US. It is cultivated in just about every country in the northern hemisphere, and has been used for hundreds of years and for good reason.

With its pleasant aromatic flavor, slightly reminiscent of dried apples, chamomile flowers are full of chemical compounds responsible for a wide range of healing actions. In fact, chamomile is my first herb of choice for just about any situation. Why? Because it gently relaxes the nervous system, something we can all use as we ride the waves of overstimulation in our daily lives. Think of chamomile tea as a way to turn down the volume on stress and it’s damaging effects.

When you experience stress, whether it is generated by positive or negative events, your endocrine system generates a cascade of chemicals designed to help you react quickly. In response you stop digesting, your immune system becomes less vigilant, the muscles of chest and stomach contract to restrict breathing and, well… you get the idea. In time, the over production of stress-generated chemicals, such as adrenaline and cortisol, will have a damaging effect on just about every aspect of your health.

This is where chamomile comes in. By simply stopping in the course of your busy day to sit down and drink a cup or two of chamomile tea, you can counteract the damaging effects of stress.

Specifically, chamomile gently simulates digestion while it relaxes any tendency towards spasms or cramping in the stomach and intestines. It exerts this same soothing activity on almost every muscle in the body to relieve tightness in the neck and shoulders, low back pain, menstrual cramps, and tension headaches. The volatile oils found in chamomile are anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. Pain and inflammation caused by stomach flu, respiratory infection, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, food allergies, gastritis, gastric reflux and ulcerative colitis, are reduced when you sip a cup or two of warm chamomile tea.

And chamomile is extremely safe for children and babies, pregnant or nursing women, and the elderly. So the next time you feel that life is moving just a bit too fast, sit down with a cup of chamomile tea and savor the simple pleasures of this gentle, calming herb.

Photo Source: Proverbs 31 Woman

Patricia HowellPatricia Kyritsi Howell, RH (AHG) is a clinical herbalist with more than 20 years experience and the author of Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians. A member of the Governing Council of the American Herbalists Guild, she is founder and director of the BotanoLogos School of Herbal Studies, located in the mountains of northeast Georgia.

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Breast Cancer Relaxation & Stress Reduction With Yoga Props

Reduce Breast Cancer Stress With Yoga PropsDiana Ross, E-RYT500Co-Founder Breast Cancer Yoga

For relaxation and stress reduction while in breast cancer recovery, a restorative practice is commonly recommended in which props are used in many innovative ways. The props allow the main components of the pose and the subtle adjustments of the body while healing to encourage relaxation and to assist in improving blood and lymph flow. Using props can open the chest, and expand the breath. This benefits oxygen exchange and rid the lungs of residual stale air volume. The deepened breath brought about by using the right props will physically bring increased lymphatic circulation and drainage. Moreover when props are used to support both the mind and the body they also offer mental and emotional benefits, which help decrease anxiety, fear, and depression which are common feelings when dealing with breast cancer diagnosis.

When emotional fears and anxieties are reduced, the Autonomic Nervous System which consist of the parasympathetic system “rest and digest” functions are made active, down-regulating the habitual responses of the sympathetic nervous system “fright or fear” which floods the body with stress hormones and creates emotional states of panic and fear. A great stress reducer is learning how to breathe deeply and with awareness.

It is important that there is a clear understanding of the use of yoga props as well as learning how to breathe properly to receive all the health benefits for stress reduction.   One may want to study with a teacher who has extensive knowledge in restorative yoga, breast cancer recovery and prop usage.   If one cannot be found  “Just be creative” !


Diana RossAbout Diana Ross:  E-RYT 500 restorative yoga teacher, survivor that cares and founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Diana is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at if you have questions.

Gardening – Sun Container Recipes

Succulents Can Be Brought In During The Winter And Brought Outside In Spring.

Succulents Can Be Brought In During The Winter And Brought Outside In Spring.

By: Ryan Vollmer Professional Gardener

For many years in the summer I would sit in bed at night fretting over all the things I had to do in the garden:  move the roses, not enough sun; pull the ivy off all the trees, refresh the driveway gravel….  The list was always long and my anxiety was always high.  I had to get everything done before the summer ended!

Leave it to me to turn gardening into a stressful experience!   Yet when I’m actually working in the garden, I’m always relaxed, focused, in the zone.  Nothing else makes me feel that way.   I keep hoping I’ll feel that way when I go to the gym, but I spend the entire time watching the clock and scowling over the perfect bodies on parade.  “I’ll never look like that…… It smells in here….  this hurts…”

When I’m gardening, I forget about everything, most importantly myself.  

Over the years I have tried to stop thinking about the garden as a giant “to do” list.  I’m not totally successful in purging these thoughts from my mind, but I’m not nearly as obsessed with “getting stuff done” as I used to be. The main reason:  the garden’s always changing.  I can’t control it.  It will never stay put.    Every summer there will be new things to do.  If it was finished, what would I do with myself?  How would I relax?  So I try to enjoy it and be in the moment.


Since the garden is always in flux, always changing, I’ve found a way to get some immediate gratification: container gardens.

I used to be obsessed with perennials.  Annuals meant impatiens, so boring.  Was I ever wrong.  There are so many amazing annuals.  I’m always discovering something new and wonderful.  Every summer I plant a number of containers because they look good immediately, I don’t have to worry about them and they are fun to create.   Through much trial and error I’ve learned how to put together sun and shade combinations that last through summer and fall.  A lot of annuals don’t last the whole summer, like petunias.  They look spectacular in May, but by August, they are leggy and funky, at least in zone 7.  But there are quite a few annuals that look spectacular and last until frost.  What follows are some recipes for containers that will give you months of color and no hassle.

Sun Container Plants

Mandavilla vine
Dragon Wing Begonia
Impatiens (all kinds)

Croton, Burgundy Grass, Pink Dragon Wing, Variegated Vinca

Croton, Burgundy Grass, Pink Dragon Wing, Variegated Vinca

Madavilla Vine and Double Impatiens

Madavilla Vine and Double Impatiens

Succulents Can Be Brought In During The Winter And Brought Outside In Spring.

Succulents Can Be Brought In During The Winter And Brought Outside In Spring.

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