Healthy living

Time for tea

Like every self-respecting journalist, I have a vice, and it’s generally caffeine (and you can probably include sugar, too). But, and this is the truth, I know I need to curb the addiction. So lately, despite going from a three-quarter full coffee to a piccolo size, I’ve been gravitating towards tea. And there is certainly no shortage of them. The supermarket aisle is bursting with options, and there are dedicated stores dispensing every kind of tea you can imagine. I particularly love the range at Perfect Potion – lots of soothing blends.

So I was interested in a new line of teas by naturopath Mim Beim, called Beaming with Health Herbal Tea. The range seems to address common issues relating to digestion, anxiety, colds, low energy and so on. I wanted to ask Mim about the healing qualities if herbal tea, and address the scepticism you often come across when products claim to target certain conditions. (Think supplements and vitamins, etc).

Hope you enjoy the Q&A I did with Mim – even if you don’t subscribe to naturopathy (I can’t say I do!), I would give these lovely teas a try.

Mim Beim

Why is tea so good for our health?
It is important for good health, let alone glowing skin to be well hydrated. Herbal tea is the perfect alternative to soft drinks, alcohol or coffee. Herbal tea is not only and excellent way to fulfil the fluid quota in your day, but they are also medicinal. For instance peppermint tea helps with bloating and flatulence, chamomile helps relax your nervous system and the sweetly delicious liquorice tea helps restore flagging adrenal glands while  ginger is excellent for improving circulation and as an anti-inflammatory.

Nighty Night tea

Nighty Night tea

What differentiates your tea from other teas on the market?
Beaming with Health herbal teas are blends that are made from medicinal herbs that are predominantly grown organically in Australia. The blends are based on over 25 years of my clinical practice. The big difference with my medicinal blends is that not only are these teas good for you, they taste amazing. This is so important for patient compliance. No matter how good something is for you, no one is going to drink 3 cups of something that tastes awful.

How has naturopathy influenced your tea products?
I created the Beaming with Health blends in order to complement my naturopathic practice.  For each patient, in addition to dietary changes, and if necessary herbal tinctures or nutritional supplements I find recommending a herbal tea is a nice way to add to the treatment without being another tablet.  Drinking herbal teas is a way of bringing medicine into the day to day.  Because they taste so good, they can be enjoyed anytime of day, before meals or before bed.

A lot of people I know are skeptical about things that claim to be for a specific ailment. For example, tea that is good for stress, etc. How do you feel about that?
Herbs are mankind’s oldest medicine. There are more and more studies that back up the long history of the therapeutic benefits of herbs. Every culture has a history of using herbs and particularly herbal teas as medicine. Herbal teas may not be as strong as a herbal tincture or tablet, and for this reason are often recommended as an adjunct to a treatment plan. And as they are more gentle, can be enjoyed by all ages.

On average, how much tea is suitable for daily consumption?
The general recommendation is three (3) cups of a particular herbal blend daily to see therapeutic effects. It depends on the health condition. Something like reflux will respond almost immediately to a cup of Settle Petal, where as a skin condition such as eczema may take a few weeks to improve. Herbal tea can be enjoyed at any time, hot or cold and can be a large part of your fluid intake. You can’t really overdo it.

What is important to know about drinking teas that address bodily functions? E.g. water intake.
All herbal teas will add to fluid intake and will help the kidneys flush out bodily wastes and toxins.   Depending on the herb, this will determine what part of the body will benefit. For instance Dandelion Root is very good for liver function, calendula helps the lymphatic system and Echinacea helps your immune system.

Where can we find your teas?
My teas are available from www.beamingwithhealth.com.au

Beaming with Health tea by Mim Beim

Naturelusting is a way of life

Natureluster Stacey DemarcoOn the weekend, I attended a great  session by Stacey Demarco (aka The Modern Witch), where she talked about her new initiative, Natureluster. Stacey is well-known for her earth activism, particularly in raising awareness, cleaning up beaches and doing fundraisers for Sea Shepherd Australia. She’s pagan, which means she’s “earth honouring”.

Natureluster is essentially a way of life – “how we eat, act and seek pleasure”, and being Stacey’s brainchild, of course it’s plugged heavily into being earth-conscious.

It’s all pretty awesome. You can download a free program (1, 2 or 3 months) that guides you to embracing a healthier, more active and earth-friendly lifestyle. You don’t have to sign up to anything, or buy into a fad diet – just be open to improving your lifestyle. In Stacey’s words, if we love something, we save it, and we ripple outwards. So if you can get into this, perhaps others will, too. It creates a ripple effect and leads to immense change.

Stacey is very much an example of what she promotes – she’s fired up about conservation, protecting the earth and its beauty, including its animal life, and she is all about being a catalyst for change. This isn’t about your system of faith or spirituality, but about being active human beings, who not only lead healthy lifestyles that embrace being in nature and not tied to a desk, but also eating well, and being connected.

Burt and his bees

Burt's Bees installationAs a health and wellbeing writer, one of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of the job is discovering new products and ideas on living well. I’ve long been familiar with Burt’s Bees, its use of honey and its distinct packaging, but really what sells the range of products is that they’re natural. At a recent product launch, I discovered just how much. Most of their range is 100 per cent natural, and the goal is to eventually be completely natural across all of its products.

There is also a very sweet (excuse the pun) back story to the business and how it was built. You can learn more about it here.

At the launch, I had a quick chat with blogger, nutritionist and wellness coach Jessica Sepel, who talked not only about the benefits of using honey, but offered some healthy living tips. Ever considered cutting out dairy completely?

Why honey?

Honey is obviously a natural product and it is incredibly anti-bacterial, so by placing it on the skin, you’re removing bad bacteria. The other thing is, honey is something that people like to eat and it’s a better sweetener alternative compared to sugar.

Burt’s Bees products have been around for about 30 years. How are these products evolving?
That’s the beauty of Burt’s – he has kept the products so genuine, and he has hardly changed the classics since they were first made.

On a different note, should people have a daily routine for how they start their day? I hear some say it’s good to start with a glass of warm water and lemon, but others warn against it.

The reason why people drink warm water and lemon is because it detoxifies the body once you drink it and it stimulates digestive juices. It prepares your digestion for food essentially. It can also have a really amazing detox effect on your liver as it creates bile. So people are told to drink that because it can really kickstart their digestion and metabolism in a sense, and lemon is very high in vitamin C, which builds collagen.

Jessica Sepel for Burt's Bees

When it comes to honey as a sole ingredient, you don’t recommend that people have just it on its own. So how should people include honey in their diet?
Honey can cause the same glucose spike that sugar does so you have to be careful, but it is a much better alternative to white sugar. And it’s a natural product, it hasn’t been processed the way sugar has, and hasn’t been refined and stripped of all the essential vitamins and minerals. So it still does contain a lot of the vitamins and minerals, but I suggest you eat it in a very moderate way.

Any basic tips for people getting started on a wellbeing regime?
My two biggest diet tips when it comes to beautiful skin and digestion are to heal your gut and your digestion – eliminating gluten and dairy is a very big step. Studies have shown that when people cut dairy out, their skin clears, as dairy is mucus-forming and can cause toxic build-up.

The other thing is to cut the main culprits such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar and trans-fats found in most of your processed packaged goods. Those are the main things to decrease. One coffee a day I always say is fine. But also to include wholefoods in your diet – unprocessed, clean foods, as close to nature as possible. And that’s why Burt’s is so amazing, because it comes from nature.

Q&A with Rita Balshaw

It’s been a while, but my second novel (due out in October) has been taking up most of my non-work time. But not to abandon things completely, here’s a great interview with Rita Balshaw, life coach, aromatherapy expert and author of Hippies in the City. I met her at a workshop at Perfect Potion and found her to be thoroughly engaging and in love with her work. Make sure you read to the end for a very cool giveaway!

Rita Balshaw

Rita Balshaw

In five words, how would you describe yourself?

Creative – Calm – Curious – Caring – Complacent

Have you always been an earth- and health-conscious person?

Yeah, I truly have. Natural therapies, cooking and conscious living has deeply touched my heart ever since I can remember. I feel that I was born into the subject matter, and as a young girl I always found peace spending time in nature and pursuing creative projects. My passion for holistic living only continues to grow…

You live your message, evident in the way you eat, cook and work. Do you ever find it to be challenging the way so many of us do? Or is that healthy living is just your reality? (I.e. you don’t need to convince yourself not to eat junk food, because you actually don’t want it!)

I don’t find respecting my body a challenge, as each day I am rewarded by feeling physically and emotionally nourished! I actually find not living a healthy lifestyle a huge challenge, as it makes me feel miserable, uninspired and disconnected. Some days I feel out of balance, normally induced by lack of sleep or hormonal challenges, but I always observe myself and treat my body well.

You are a multi-talented guide to natural living. What first led you into such a natural, holistic approach to living?

I believe my life purpose is to inspire others to achieve a more happy and meaningful life though natural therapies and holistic living. I was defiantly lead to live this life by a source greater than myself, and for this I feel most grateful. When I left school I studied nutrition, this gave me a great foundation to understand food and the workings of the human body. I also believe that being diagnosed and treated with a melanoma when I was 23 years old had a lot to do with how I look at health and lifestyle.

Your book, Hippies in the city, is an encyclopedia on living your best life. From cheeky spells to nourishing winter recipes, as well as aromatherapy oil coverage, it’s clearly a blueprint for a healthy life. What was the process of discovery like for you? I.e. developing this guide to living?

An encyclopedia! I like that! It makes me feel happy to hear, as the book was very much a labor of love. I put everything I had into creating Hippies in the city and was desperate to share as much knowledge as I could with my readers. The process was organic and fluid. I wanted to formulate something unique that covered all things healthy living; food, aromatherapy, yoga and more. Inspiration is always available to me, and I was lucky that I was blessed with the drive, self belief and discipline to make the book come alive. And yes each day I learn so more about food chemistry, human behavior, plant biology and spirituality.

Hippies in the City by Rita Balshaw

Hippies in the City by Rita Balshaw

What do you think some of the misconceptions about aromatherapy are? I.e. do you think it gets lumped in with alternative treatments that aren’t scientifically validated?

People who haven’t regularly treated their health with natural therapies are often skeptical about the helping powers of plants, and will say things like, “does this really work?”. This for me is exciting, because you get to show them that “yes, nature is your most effective preventive treatment”.

As someone who gets to interact with consumers regularly, through your work at Perfect Potion, what do you think are the most common issues people face and want help with?

People come to us with an assortment of physical and emotional health concerns. Eczema, psoriasis, acne, anxiety, stress, depression, fatigue, insomnia, body weight and hormonal related issues are the most common. Perfect Potion has everything needed to assist with the body’s healing process, making my job super easy and very rewarding.

What do you consider to be the general benefits of essences, and do you think they should be combined with a holistic healthy life plan to be truly effective?

Essential oils affect us physically and emotionally, working on multiple levels to benefit the whole being. Yes, it is most certainly best to combine aromatherapy treatments in conjunction with other holistic healing methods. A clean whole foods diet, exercise and meditation will compliment a holistic living plan perfectly.

Rita Balshaw

Rita Balshaw enjoys retreats

It can be quite daunting to approach something as expansive as aromatherapy without the knowledge of what the essences do and their potency. What can beginners start with to get acquainted with oils, etc? What tips would you give to someone who is new to alternative methods of dealing with stress, physical and mental ailments, and poor diet?

Be open to the process of learning. If your intention is to start to feel healthier, happier and more connected to yourself then please trust that you will learn what you need to when you need to. The study of aromatherapy is indeed expansive, and little by little you can learn about this ancient and medicinal craft. Practical steps like attending our workshops at Perfect Potion and reading the Hippies in the City book is the best place to start. The beginning of my learning journey started with treating myself as the experiment as I explored all things holistic living. I do heaps of research and attend various yoga classes, workshops and seminars, simply because I enjoy it.

You do a lot of teaching, coaching and inspiring. What do you find most appealing about your work, and what’s next in terms of creating awareness?

My job is fundamentally to empower, educate and inspire others. I love the fact that each day I get to heal and nourish myself and help others. My professional and personal life is not at all separate from one another, it’s like I never clock off! It is nice to live a life each day of purpose and complete authenticity. What’s next? My second book, along with many workshops, wellness retreats and a Hippies In The City television series!

Finally, do you have a website and where can we buy your book?
At www.hippiesinthecity.com and #hippiesinthecity for some instagram fun!

Rita is kindly giving away a product from Perfect Potion (I think it’ll be a sleep one!). To enter, send me a message via this website’s contact form or like my Facebook page and send me a message there, and tell me what the secret to good sleep is!

Find your balance

Blackmores stress less campaignAs a long-time health writer (mainly in trade), you’re exposed to a variety of well-being offerings and, sometimes, you really click with a brand on a personal level. I’m a fan of supplements, and while some don’t subscribe to their potency, I do, in the same way I dig aromatherapy essences, mists and the like.

So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that Blackmores is targeting stress. The tagline is none other than my personal (albeit unofficial) motto for life: find a balance.

I don’t like stress, in the same way most reasonable human beings don’t. But as Blackmores points out, your stress levels can make you ill. I usually feel it in the gut and my digestion suffers. And my head feels like there’s a bag of cats fighting in it. And my sleep becomes rubbish.

So. I am pumped to try out the Digestive Bio Balance (which tastes very much like a fruit tingle) and the Multi supplement – Sustained Release Multi + Antioxidant. And there is also a Sleep Sound Formula that makes my heart sing in anticipation.

Basically, Blackmores’ offerings are a stressed-out supplement-lover’s dream. Like being let loose in the Wonka factory when you have a predilection for chocolate.

The new element to its stress campaigning is a survey – you can  assess your stress at Blackmores’ website, an exercise that in itself is useful if you’re trying to figure out why you let the bag of cats in.