Sunday, July 31, 2011

End of July Check in

My check ins are too few and far between but that is not because I am not doing anything…

I am still maintaining good grades at community college. This term I am taking technical writing, speech, medical terminology and eastern religion. All of these classes are giving me opportunities to expand my midwifery skills, from writing papers and studying for my technical writing paper which is on how and why we should reduce c sections.

This Wednesday I will be delivering a 5-7 minute informative speech about how the home birth rate has risen 20% since 2007. I plan on video recording this and using it on my blog and website for informational and advertising purposes. I am really looking forward to this project.

The medical terminology class has been very challenging and fun at the same time. I spend more time on that class than any other class at this point and have been taking weekly quizzes averaging about a “B.” I remember a lot of it from taking A and P for massage therapy school, but that was over 10 years ago and it is a good review!

The Eastern Religion class has been very “enlightening” and I am learning some very wonderful things about mindset and the role of suffering in life and how to overcome it from ancient texts and practices that suit me very well. I am going to a Buddhist temple for an assignment and am looking forward to learning how to better meditate and keep focus and centered and not allow my expectations or attachments to rule my life. I might even stick with this routine of going to “church” as Westerners would call it, Temple as Easterners do, on Monday nights as part of “me” time.

I spoke with someone in the college about teaching a childbirth education course as part of their community parenting classes. They were not very receptive and even went so far as to tell me they would not want to present a conflict of interest with the hospital’s classes. I had to inform them that the hospital’s classes would not be the same as my class because I was going to get down into depth of the actual physiology of birth, including the hormonal changes and aspects of the environment that will help maintain safety for the mother and baby both physically and psychologically without the use of any interventions, keeping the focus on NORMAL and not on medicalized birthing. She wants me to present her with my resume, references, a full outline, bibliography and an interview when I am ready to get started. I am looking forward to the challenge and my goal is to be teaching a summer class there next year, that will not only appeal to expecting or planning parents, but also some of the nursing program students as well. It will be at least a 6 week course covering pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I hope I am not biting off more than I can chew planning this, but I am certainly up for the challenge!

The bookshelf is getting fuller. I found a great deal on 3 ring binders at a 2nd hand store, 21 for $5, can’t beat that! I have been getting organized still and working on the list of assignments for phase 2. At this point, I am 2 weeks behind where I intended to be, but I feel confident I can make up some of that time now that my husband will be home more to help with the kids. The downside to that is that he will be home and also contribute to the distractions… ahhh, married life!

I have been working on my herbal knowledge and practices as well. Studying the local herbs, where to get them and what they do. I have even been consulting with some people about their ailments and helping them find herbs that might help out with things from allergies to infectious wounds, menstrual irregularities and headaches.

I love being a student midwife. I really really do!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to Make Herbal Tinctures

What is a tincture and why do you use it?
A tincture is a fast acting infusion of an herb or combination of herbs in an alcohol base. The herbal tincture is more potent than a tea or infusion, requiring a smaller dose and easy to administer to sick people and children. Tinctures also can be stored for a long period of time and still be effective making it a very efficient way of using herbal medicine.

Step 1: Gather needed supplies
How to choose herbs. Researching an herbal remedy for what ails you is important. There are many sources that conflict on the usefulness of an herb or how to properly identify an herb so make sure your source is credible. There are a few well known herbalists, like Susun Weed who publishes many books and tours teaching classes to the public. There is also an American Herbalist Guild that you can use to find out if there are any herbalists in your area that may help consult you on herbs that would help whatever your concern is. You can find them here http://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/

Herbs, dried or fresh?
After you have decided what type of herb to use based on your need, you then need to obtain this herb. You can easily find dried herbs in leaf or root form online at websites such as Starwest Botanicals (http://www.starwest-botanicals.com/) and buy them in bulk so you can make large quantities of your preferred medicine. If you are using dried herbs, the ratio of herb to alcohol is one ounce dried herb to six ounce of spirit. If you are growing your own herbs or can harvest them in the wild as some prefer to do, you can use one ounce of fresh herb to one ounce of spirit. (Weed, pg 137) If you are wild harvesting, make sure that you are finding a source that is free from toxins or bacteria. Don’t harvest from road sides, polluted river banks or areas where animals are likely to have defecated on the plants.

Alcohol. The type of alcohol you use to preserve your herbal tincture is a matter of preference. Homeopathic doctors and pharmacists often use pure grain alcohol, but this is very strong and can burn the inside of your mouth if you are using it without diluting it in juice or water. Most people use brandy, vodka, or rum, as long as it is around 100-80 proof. 100 proof means that it is half alcohol and half water and many dosages that you will find assumes this is the material used.

Appropriate sized containers. You will need to gather canning jars of the appropriate size for the amount of tincture you plan to make. I recommend using quart jars with tight fitting lids like you would for canning. You will also need to gather the jars you plan on storing your tincture in and administering the doses from, like the brown bottles with droppers that you can find through many of the stores you would buy your herbs from or from a pharmacy. The jars you use to store your tincture in long term should be colored to block the sunlight from your tincture.

Step 2: Combine your tincture ingredients
Now that you have your supplies in order, you can fill your jar with the appropriate measurement of dried or fresh herbs and the alcohol of your choice. Cap the jar tightly with a lid and label the jar with the ingredient used and the date. You will need to store the jar in a warm, dark place and remember to shake it daily for 2 weeks. This helps to release the properties of the herb into the alcohol. The tincture needs to steep in the solution for at least 6 weeks. Some people like to make their tinctures on a New Moon and that way, they know that if they wait 2 full moons their medicine is ready!

Step 3: Strain and Bottle
You have waited patiently and your medicine is ready to be used. Using a piece of cheese cloth or fin muslin, pour the contents of the jar through the cloth and into a clean bowl, squeezing the herbal material to release any remaining liquid. Discard the used herbs. Making sure your storage dropper bottles are clean and sterile, use a small funnel to pour the tincture into your bottles, label them and they are complete!