Dandelions & Boobs

imageOctober is breast cancer awareness month. I’ve had family who had breast cancer, friends and coworkers.  I personally wish we could find a cure and end all cancers.

Back in 2011 I had my first mammogram scare. My midwife at the time suggested I start getting mammograms early because of family history.  In 2011, during what I expected nothing on my exam,  they found a lump in my right breast. I had been having pain there but really hadn’t thought much of it.  I’ve shared the nightmare I went though with my midwife and the diagnostic center. I am happy that I now use a nicer diagnostic center and have a new doctor.

This year I went for my yearly mamo and ultrasound. I now get them together since it’s easier and I have dense breast tissue. I assumed, nothing would be different.  A few weeks passed and my mammogram paper work came back saying I needed an ultrasound. I laughed as I had it done the same day as the mamo and they knew that.  I wrote it off in my mind that the ultrasound paperwork would be in the mail in the next day or two telling me I was clear and would see them next year. It never came. I finally called my doctor’s office and was told they were just about to call me. It seems something different was going on in my breasts and I needed to have more testing done.  This all ended up leading me to the Smilow Cancer Center at Yale. Which , I confess scared me.

I am grateful for the way they doing things. First they uploaded my images and had their diagnostic tech look them over. This step saved me from having unneccessary testing my doctor thought I should have. I got a phone call that the testing planned didn’t need to be done. I was relieved, and exhaled on the phone. Then I was told I needed to come in and see one of the surgeons.  The anxiety came flooding back.

I have to say the Breast Center at the Smilow center is beautiful. The whole cancer center is beautiful. I had become familiar with the healing garden that was just across from the children’s hospital when my grandson was at Yale.  The staff at the breast center was even more amazing.  The only thing upsetting was the fact that they gave me a hospital bracelet when I checked in. I guess in my mind I assumed it was just a doctor visit. No need to have a hospital bracelet. This somehow made it all to real. My anxiety came back again. Breath in….breath out.

The surgeon I saw was extremely nice and was willing to explain everything after he found out I wasn’t even sure what was going on and why I was there.  It seems my doctor and the diagnostic center  were worried about some cysts. All of which the surgeon explained were simply the result in hormone changes in my body that are normal. What he was concerned about was the lump that was found in 2011. It’s not a cyst. My mind then began focusing on the Black Cohosh study that was posted on the wall behind him. I kept thinking I should have stayed on it longer darn it.  My brain began thinking of a bunch of other things I should have done. I was “should-ing” all over myself.

He went on to say that he isn’t into doing anything invasive and so since he had all my records and images since 2011 he felt that there was nothing we should do. The lump had not changed at all in the years it had been there.  He explained why he would not remove it and why he would not biopsy it. He assured me it is not cancer but we would continue to watch it. If it changes we will discuss what to do then. For now there is nothing to do. Here’s where the big exhale came in.

I left feeling happy and confident. The only problem now is how to get this sucker to stop hurting. The pain I get now and then is what I imagine it would be like to have a steak knife put into my breast and then have it twisted. I am told this pain is the result of the breast tissue swelling due to hormones. Lovely.

I’ve read things of what to do for healthy breasts. I’m very fond of Susan Weed’s teachings.  So when my naturopath suggested dandelion oil to use for a breast massage I said , yep, that is what Susan Weed suggests.

Thing is there is not one health food store or herbal store around me that sells dandelion oil.  I thought ok, I’ll make my own. Reading up on it it’s the flowers that are best but you can use the root or leaves. I call around again. Nobody seems to have dried dandelion flowers. I had no luck. It’s fall so going out to my lawn isn’t going to do it either. So I bought some dandelion root tea to sip and a bag of dandelion leaves and some almond oil and made my way home.

Making your own oil is really simple. I’ve made a few over the years and they always turn out really nice. Once you have your oil you can add a little beesewax and you have a salve.

What you need is a glass jar with a good lid. What ever herb you are going to make oil from. Fresh is best but I found sometimes dried is better as there is less water in the plant. Each plant is different so experiment with it. Then you will need an oil. You can use almond or olive oil.  Play with that as well Just don’t use coconut oil as it tends to go solid in cool temps and never use canola or vegetable oil. Neither are healthy to eat so don’t use on your skin.

I am not giving amounts because the size of the jar and how much you want to make is the thing to play with.  Make sure your jar is clean, then pack it full of the herb your making oil with.  Don’t be afraid to really pack it full. Pour your oil in and with a chopstick or something like it,  push around to make sure to get any air bubbles out. This helps to use all of the herbs and prevent mold.  Fill with more oil if need. Your jar should be filled totally with oil and herbs. No air bubbles. Put the lid on and it put it in on a shelf away from direct heat or sunlight. I write on the lid the date I made the oil. Six weeks later,  strain off the herbs and collect the oil in another clean jar and you are all set to use  for massage. You can add your favorite essential oils to give it a nice scent.

I am eagerly awaiting for my dandelion leaf oil to be ready. In the mean time the pain in my breast acted up and I went online and found a little shop on Etsy and bought some dandelion flower oil from a woman in NC who does all organic oils. I am pretty excited to get that oil and I was told it has shipped. I’ll use that till my oil is ready.

It really is that easy.  Dandelion oil is not only good for breast tissue  and helping with the cysts and lumps some of us ladies get , it is also good for sore muscles, achy joints and I read some folks  find relief with gout.   A massage with dandelion oil is said to help release stored emotions and ease the body when stressed.

Ready to make your own oil?  What kind are you making?

 

Until next time!

Shelly

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Healing in the kitchen

Not everything I make in my kitchen is for eating. I also enjoy making medicinal things. Now I am going to turn that around now and say that not all that I cook is just for the reason of feeding my family. Sometimes it is to heal my family. I confess they are not always aware of it. I really get a joyful feeling when I make something I know is not only nourishment for my family but has a healing quality for them as well and they tell me how much they enjoy it taste wise. See not all medicine has to taste bad. Food can be a medicine as well.

Recently I made a salve. I really enjoy watching Shoshanna Easling of Bulk Herb Store and her videos on Youtube. She offers such great simple information anyone can do in their home. Why not see for yourself by clicking this link

Now I use to really make time for herbs and gardening and then I sort of got away from it as I had to much on my plate with teens and life in general. I noticed how much I missed it and and also how much my garden got away from me. Nice thing is some herbs are so easy to grow that even with a year or two of neglect (yeah I am that guilty) they are still there. Just at that point my garden markers were gone and I had to double check old notebooks (once I found them) to make sure things were what they were in the garden. I have to say keeping a little notebook with all my gardening and where I planted what was a helpful task I did just for fun one year when I really got my gardens going. See I have a neighbor whom means well but sometimes drops his extra plants on my doorstep. I have just found room and planted them never bothering to think what else is there or even sometimes what it is he gave me. I have one such bush in the garden now I need to figure out he gave me two years ago. No clue what it is and the one time I asked him he shrugged and walked off.

So last year I found my comfrey plants again. Not that they are hard to find. Unless you have sea grasses and other things near them. They were happy as ever and so I harvested the leaves, hung them in my utility room to dry and then broke the leaves up into mason jars till I figured out what to do with them. I did the same with some Yarrow as well. Now my youngest daughter is training to be a massage therapist and I gave her my last bottle of massage oil . I wanted more and thought I’d use my Comfrey & Yarrow to do just that. I also had ordered some Nettle for infusions and decided to make an oil of that too. Why not? All three each have their own wonderful uses for improving your skin and some skin conditions my family suffer from so it made sense.

So I took my jars with my herbs and poured in olive oil and cooked them on the stove for a couple hours and then let them cool overnight before I strained them.

Next I decided since I had this wonderful bees wax I’d make a salve as well my 11 year old son is not to keen on putting oil on his skin or staying still long enough for a massage. Though maybe this is just what he needs. So in a pot went a mixture of each of the three oils and some of the beeswax. I warmed this on a low heat till the wax melted fully then I simply poured into my clean jars you see below. I let that cool and I admit it was to hard to use despite my carefully weighing ingredients. It happens. Don’t worry if you have this result. It’s easy to fix. Just fill a large pot full of water, put a kitchen towel in the bottom, place your jars in (no lids) and warm everything up till the wax melts again. If you left room in your jars the first time you can just add a little more oil to each one. Now to avoid having to do this, test your salve by dipping a spoon into your salve after you melt the wax and let it cool for a few minutes and check the consistency. I learned this years ago but had forgotten it this time around. But hey we learn by our mistakes.

Now in my pictures you can see I have some oil left over that is in a pretty jar. If you went to Shoshanna’s Kitchen video’s on Youtube you will she used the same jar. It was to pretty not to and well at my local Walmart it was only $2. I couldn’t pass it up. I also bought the large mouth jars you see my salve in at Walmart as well. They were very inexpensive as well.

I keep my jars in easy reach for my family to use. One in the medicine cabinet to use as an oinment for bug bites, rashes, sunburns and another in the bathroom to remind me to use it for my own self care and enjoyment. Don’t forget once your salve has cooled and you put the lid on it to label and put a date on it so you know when and what it is you made.

I encourage you to grow some herbs in your garden this year and make your own healing concoctions in your kitchen for a fraction of the cost you can buy them in your local health food store. Learn what each herb’s healing properties are and try them out. You can get books at your local library to start out on herbs and herb gardens. Even some cooking herbs are great for remedies that can be used in your meals. I’ll share more about that another time. I found it best to start with one herb at a time. Always check to make sure you can use an herb if your taking medications so there is no interaction or with your own doctor before use. This information is not meant to be used as medical advice.

Till next time!