DIY Coochie Steams!

Any kind of healing tenderness to the Cooch is of great benefit to humanity and the earth at large.  Treating  vaginal issues can be challenging! Yeast, Bacterial vaginosis, atrophy, are all difficult-to- resolve issues.As a health care practitioner, this has been a great asset to my practice as a DIY for patients when herbal formulas and acupuncture have fallen short. Coochie Steams are all the rage lately, offered up as Vaginal Steam or “V Steam” at salons and spas in many major cities. Origins are multiple, from Mayan culture to Korean. Its seems the cooch is getting lots of new and tender attention and care these days, and its about time. I have been prescribing at home coochie steams to my patients with the following complaints:

Sexual trauma, disconnect with sexuality, bacterial vaginosis, foul smell, yeast infection, pre/peri menopausal vaginal dryness and/or atrophy, amennorhea, irregular menses, and painful menses.

Use what you got! Or got to your herbalist for special recs.
Use what you got! Or got to your herbalist for special recs.

Though I have found no references to vaginal moxa or steams in Chinese medical literature, there is a practice of applying moxabustion to acupuncture point Conception vessel 1 (CV1), hui yin, yin meeting point also called “doorway to the earth” (Bensky).  It is also a Sun Si Miao Ghost point.  Ghost points treat the spirit, chasing entities or bodily inhabitants out…which can include in this case, energy from past partners, parasites, fungus and bacteria, anything that may be taking up residence.  This point is located on the perineum, on the mid-line, midway between anus and labia or anus and scrotum. Some call it the “taint,” for “t’ain’t the vagina and t’ain’t the anus.” Moxa applied to CV1 can have the following benefits:

 

  • cleansing and toning benefits for vaginal tissue in menopausal vaginal atrophy
  • decreased menstrual pain
  • improved sleep
  • enhances fertility from cold in the womb
  • resolves hernia
  • clears bladder and vaginal damp heat/candida infection
  • heals hemorrhoids
  • Strengthens the lumbus and boosts the kidney

I am going to make the leap that vaginal steams will treat the same and similar conditions.

WHAT MY PATIENTS ARE SAYING

“I just experienced my first ever, “Yoni Second Chakra Steam.” My cycles have been progressively becoming longer and longer in the last 18 years, to 32-35 days. I have 1-3 days of brown blood before my red flow starts and when my red flow starts, I have clotting and intense bleeding. This lead me to try the vaginal steam to help heal my uterus. The first thing that I noticed after my steam was that I needed to rest, and as I did so, I felt my pelvic bones have 8-9 powerful adjustment and this was followed by an intense emotional release. When I did have my cycle, after my first steam, black, thick blood came out, with no cramping, as if the old blood got liquified by the steam. It’s another tool in my belt for healing and I hope that it will bring profound healing for you as it did for myself. -Monica Tomasi

“I recently had a negative sexual experience that left me feeling … unclean, used and discarded, like a dirty rag. Soon after this encounter, I noticed a distinct and unpleasant odor coming from down there. The smell was persistent and repulsive. The next week my acupuncturist recommended doing an herbal steam to help shift the environment down there and hopefully alleviate the smell. She gave me a special yoni steam herb blend. As I sat the scent of the herbs wafted up to me, comforting me with the familiar scent of mugwort, an old ally of mine. My yoni felt warm and comforted, like I had built a sacred sauna, just for her. After I was finished, I was delighted by the beauty of the herbs floating in the bowl of warm water. My yoni scent has returned to normal, a gentle and pleasant smell that I am used to. The unpleasant odor has vanished!

Doing my steam feels like a ritual of self care specifically dedicated to remembering and honoring the feminine aspect of myself. Like the yellow flowers opening their petals in the water, I feel myself opening and relaxing into the warmth of the steam, the scent of the herbs, and the tenderness of a simple act of self nurturance. By giving this special love an attention to my vagina, I remember to honor all parts of myself with equal reverence, because they are all part of the greater whole of me.-SL

“I have had amennorhea for 8 years, and only recently has it worried me, when my womb began to feel empty, lifeless and dry. I did not want my sex life to dissipate and I wanted to feel whole as a woman!  When I saw Anna for acupuncture and herbs she prescribed me a tea, and a yoni steam with my favorite herbs, mugwort and shizandra. My second round of steaming created a day of my uterus and cervix vibrating! I waited a few weeks and then again, did the coochie steam with the same herbs. Again! I experienced vibrations or flutters from uy uterus all the way down to my cervix! There is no doubt in my mind the healing steam of these intelligent plants at the gateway of my womb is bringing Her back to life!! Woo hoo!!” -Brooke Sullivan

“I have had chronic yeast infections/candida on and off since my 20s. It had begun to cause fissures and pain from sex, so severe that I had to abstain from sex.  I received a special herbal steam blend from Anna. I have done 3 steams and my last sexual interlude was pain and fissure free.” -NW

HOW DO I DO IT AT HOME?

coochiesteamsetup

Best to do during premenstrual phase, or when bleeding is complete. Best to do it right before bedtime.  Put 2/3 cup of herbs into a pot with 8 cups of water. Bring to boil and turn off to steep and cool for 15 minutes. If at that time it is not cool enough, just add a bit of cool water to make it manageable. You can also get a  metal bowl large enough to fit into our toilet without falling in! Wrap yourself well with a blanket so as to keep in the warmth. Sit for 15-30 mins. It is important to wrap yourself up and go to bed so you can keep your womb warm, and not let cold into your relaxed and open womb. Let the effects of the steam resound throughout your lower burner as you rest. There are also vagi stools available that have an opening, under which you can place your hot pot of herbs. Another idea from Monica Tomasi is to put your pot under a milk crate and sit on top with a blanket wrapped around you. I have tried this and it works well! Do be mindful that the steam is not too hot, so as not to burn your butt or cooch!

vsteamchair

Chinese Scutellaria Baical, Cnidium, Angelica sinensis, Lily Bulb, Schizandra and Mugwort is a great blend for the peri/post menopausal cooch who feels frequent irritation from love making with fissures and a growth of yeast.

Calendula, plantain, mugwort is a simple blend for moving menstrual blood to clear cramps, and toning the vaginal tissue.

Here are some of my suggestions for my patients: Calendula, Plantain, Mugwort, Scutellaria Baical, Oregon Grape root, Schizandra, Marshmallow, Cnidium, Lily bulb, rosemary. The variety of herbs suggested can treat many things.

 

Black Locust Vermouth

20140428_082658Black Locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia, also called the false Acacia) are abundant in our Sierra Foothills, probably brought by the Europeans in the mining days. On my recent trip to Southern Cali I discovered them in my old stomping grounds, Topanga CA!!

They are a fast growing hardwood, used for bow making, and their legume-y vanilla scented blossoms are EDIBLE!! They taste like sweet pea flowers, nutty with a sweet hint from the nectar inside. They have a short showy bloom phase about now, late spring for about two weeks. You can just snack on them like popcorn, or sprinkle them as garnish on top of a light bowl of cattail soup (see Living Wild book for recipe). See here for identification: http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/black_locust.htm

I love to make beverages of all sorts. (Come to my QUENCH class in June for more sipping zippy delights!) My latest concoction is a Black Locust Blossom Vermouth. It lends a sweet floral pea flavor to the mild lemony taste of dry vermouth as a warm spring or summer sipping low alcohol beverage.

And it is super easy to make.blacklocustvermouth

  • You will need:
  • bottles, 12-16 oz
  • Dry vermouth, (or even sake!)
  • Lots of Locust blossoms

Simply gather your blossoms and pluck them off of their stems. Stuff to nearly full a bottle of your choice, with the blossoms, clear is nice to see the blossoms soaking. I like to use old GT Kombucha bottles, labels removed. Then pour vermouth to the top.

blacklocustbottleLabel your bottle and let sit for 3-6 weeks. Strain, saving some of the blossoms to garnish. It is lovely over a bit of ice. Locust Blossom vermouth is a delightful way to preserve the tastes of spring to share with friends.

 

 

Spring Sorrel Soup, “Potage Germiny”

sorrelsoup

My first job beyond babysitting was at 12 years old at a print shop in San Francisco, HJ Carl & Sons, on Capp St. We constructed and deconstructed hug metal print plates of recipes for local restaurants, flyers, and posters every Saturday. Lunch was delivered warm from Jack’s restaurant, and every week we had creamy rich yet light lemony sorrel soup. I have tried to recreate it many a time, and I finally came close to duplicating it.

Sorrel is a weed, as sheep sorrel, growing abundant right now and in perfect harmony with Chinese elemental correspondences, of Spring-Liver-sour flavor.  sheep-sorrel1You can find patches where it is big leaved…the Broad St Cemetery is a great place. You may have it growing in your yard! I harvested sorrel from my dear friend Liz’s garden.

Sorrel is high in vitamin C, antioxidants. Its sour flavor astringes fluids, the fluids, yin, water that we store up from the wet moist winters. We store our yin, so that we have enough to keep us from overheating through the spring and summer. Too much sour can dry out the ligaments and tendons, so check your sour cravings.

In western herbalism, bitter is the flavor associated with the Liver. Bitter in Chinese medicine corresponds to the heart. And it is important to keep the heart cool and drained for liver health, but some people cannot tolerate bitter, for it cools and drains too much, when they are in need of nourishing to their Liver.

There is a buzz of concern about oxalic acids being a health hazard, for they leach calcium from the bones. Oxalic acid is neutralized by lemon juice or a little apple cider vinegar, and it is important to always combine your sorrel, spinach, or chard (other greens containing oxalics) with a fat and protein. This soup is the perfect whole meal, yet light enough to give your digestive system a rest after the richer winter diet.

SORREL SOUP

1/2 yellow onion sauteed in 2 Tbsp butter

Add in 2-3 cups washed chopped sorrel

Sauteed in 3-5Tbsp butter. When they are wilted, add:

5 cups stock, best is chicken I made it with beef. Remove from heat and add a small amount of the soup to:

1/2 c cream and 3 beaten egg yolks. Then combine all ingredients and heat until the soup thickens slightly, but do not boil. I pureed my soup, for that was how I had it at Mr. Carl’s.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

My Lithuanian friend Aruna grew up growing rows and rows of sorrel, and eating sorrel soup all the time in the spring. Her family did not blend it, and they added meatballs sometimes.

I encourage you to explore the wonders of easy to grow and abundant wild foods to support your health and vitality. Our wild greens have a greater mineral value and life force for they thrive and adapt without our care.  Bon appetite!

 

 

Violet Gelatine!

Violet Gelatine!

VIOLET GELATINE

violetsMy favorite food to make for dear friends who are recovering from any major life transition is gello! I spell it with a “g” because it is different than our childhood treat. It is made with grass fed gelatin (available at HAALo) and because you can create your own amazing flavors as wild as your imagination can get. I am very into using seasonal medicinal plants in my food. In this blooming spring, the violets are out, in three colors, purple, fuschia(!) and white. They are everywhere around town on people’s lawns, roadside, wafting their sweet fragrance within a several feet distance from where they bloom. They impart their odor as flavor to all sorts of delicacies. I have two dear friends who are recovering, Megan from childbirth and Shea from major back surgery. They both need the same types of foods! Nutrient dense, easy to digest potent foods. So I have been feeding them gello.

Violets have been used traditionally to decrease inflammation and help one sleep. Perfect for these two dear lady friends! They are called “zi hua di ding”  translating to “purple flower ground spike.” They clear heat toxins, nourish blood, and regenerate flesh.

Here is my latest recipe: VIOLET GELATINE

violetgelatine

 

 

 

2 Tbsp gelatin grass fed, I like Great Lakes beef or porcine

1 1/2 c water

1 c heavy whipping cream (raw, or pasteurized, but NOT ultrapasteurized if you can help it). Alternately you can use coconut cream, it is just not as subtle.

A handful of freshly harvested violets, destemmed

2-3 Tbsp raw honey, or choice of sweetener, add to taste, really

pinch sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Pour gelatin into your mold container

Add 1/2 c cold water and let it dissolve.

Heat 1 cup water.

Meanwhile pour cream into a saucepan on low, immerse your violets in the cream. Do not let it boil. When warm almost hot, add honey and stir til it dissolves. Again honey is to taste.

Add hot water to dissolved gelatin in a mold, stir to make sure it all does dissolve. Then add your violet cream to your mold. Stir. Make sure your violets are nicely arranged on top. Chill.

The cream will separate creating a two-toned gelatine. Slice and eat with your fingers, or serve in quaint little bowls. Eat as much as you want. It is lovely subtle, gentle, nourishing heart blooming healing food. Enjoy.

violetgelatinslices

 

 

RIPE NOW!! WILD CALIFORNIAN ROSE HIPS, A.K.A. JIN YING ZI

WILD CALIFORNIAN ROSE HIPS, A.K.A. JIN YING ZI:  A Native Local and Traditional Chinese Plant Food Medicine!

Written by Anna Wederitsch LAc

Ah, the rose. Though most cherished for its intoxicating heart nourishing and heart opening (and heart qi moving) essential oil, few realize the potent healing properties contained in its fruit, hips, or haws as some call them. Many of you are familiar with rose hips for tea, but have you had them as FOOD? Yes, food! There are accounts of it being eaten with salt and butter!

Native American people have used this fruit in stews, soups, teas, and raw as snacks, to support their health through local available foods. When I see rose hips while hiking and foraging, my kids and I enjoy snacking on the softer hips for they are sweeter.

“…Native American people have used this fruit in stews, soups, teas, and raw as snacks, to support their health through local available foods…”

The rosacea family has fed and healed us with over 3400 plants: apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, pears, plums, blackberry, raspberry, hawthorn, agrimony, cinquefoil, and mountain ash, to name a few. Many of these plants were brought in by settlers as they came to new lands, because the plants were so valued for food and medicine.

Just when all plants have withered and dropped their energy deep down into the earth into their roots, out pops the rose hip, containing 5x the vitamin C contained in oranges. Up here in the Sierras where citrus is rare, may Rose Hips be our C of choice! During World War II, the whole of England turned to rosehips for their vitamin C during a crippling citrus shortage. All rose hips are edible, but most abundant right now is the Wild California Rose Hip.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE ROSE HIP

Most recent research and use has been in effectively alleviating pain and stiffness in the knees, hips, and other joints, associated with osteoarthritis. Its anti-inflammatory properties are attributed to its ability to reduce the C-Reactin protein (CRP) and creatinine, inflammation markers. Lower CRP levels are also associated with heart health and decreased triglycerides. It is rich in vitamin C, tocotrienols, beta carotene, pectin and many other health enhancing ingredients that protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.

JIN YING ZI, A CHINESE MEDICINE

Rosehips are considered one of the most important Chinese health tonics. They are highly valued by the Chinese, both as a food and as medicine. Rose hips are sour, astringent, and neutral; they go to the Bladder, Kidney, and Large Intestine. It stabilizes the Kidneys and retains Jing, which is our primordial essence, or battery juice if you will. If the Kidneys are weak, our lower gates will not be strong enough to contain our essence. We can lose Jing through excessive vaginal discharge, seminal emissions, and night time urination. Jin Ying Zi also functions on the Intestines, part of the lower gates. It binds the Intestines to stop chronic diarrhea from spleen deficiency. For most of these functions Jin Ying Zi will be combined with other herbs.

“…Rosehips are considered one of the most important Chinese health tonics…”

This herb is contraindicated in cases with excessive fire or fever, or excessive pathogenic factors (cold/flu/virus) and is better as an immune tonic. Long-term use may result in constipation.

RECIPE FOR ROSE HIP SYRUP

Pick after the first frost, as the hips are softer and come off easier. Before I begin picking, I check in with the plant, asking if I may use its fruit to make medicine for my family and community. Then I talk and sing to the plant, whatever song comes out, whatever else I wish to share in that moment with the plant. It is also a common courtesy to return to the plant just for a visit, to share with it how your concoction came out, who you shared it with, how its medicine worked.

Mince 1lb of rosehips in a blender, and empty straight into 3 cups of boiling water. It is important to put the hips in the boiling water immediately after mincing to minimize the loss of vitamin C. Stop heating and let stand for 15 minutes. Filter the mixture through a jelly bag. Put the mixture remaining in the bag back in the saucepan, add 3/4 pint of boiling water. Allow to stand for 10 minutes and then filter through the jelly bag again.

It is important to remove all the hairs that cover the seeds as these will be an irritant if swallowed. The recipe suggested re-filtering the first cupful of juice to make sure all the hairs are removed.

I add equal parts raw honey to the syrup and a bit of alcohol, about a 1/4cup, as a preservative. Even with these ingredients, it may ferment slightly, but it will definitely have a longer life. The fermentation can contribute to the medicine! Refrigerate. It may gel up, due to the high pectin content. Use it as a jelly! In Europe, traditionally a tablespoon a day was given in the winter months to the whole family. You will be able to find a Sierra Berry Elixir with locally harvested rose hips at HAALo!