. Beauty Starts on the INSIDE – the gut and the skin are CONNECTED.
I’m 40 years old with 3 children and I’m constantly asked why I look so young.
It’s not my genetics. Youthful appearance does not run in my family.
It’s not my skincare regimen either. Yes, I’m diligent & conscientious about my skincare routine and have been since I was a kid, but that’s simply icing on the cake.
It’s my vegetarian, microbiome-supporting diet. That is my secret sauce.
I learned first-hand that natural beauty is really just good health through my career as a registered skincare specialist at a world-renowned cosmetic company & through my career as an herbalist. After talking to hundreds of people about their skincare problems, studying & testing hundreds of the best beauty products on the market, & gaining an understanding of how internal health issues show up externally, I realized that no topical formula would truly correct a skincare issue because the problem was internal. And gut health was the likely culprit. The gut’s microbiome is a huge underlying cause of inflammatory chronic skin conditions including rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, & acne. Additionally, healthy diversity in the gut microbiome is linked to longevity & healthy aging, and you can read more about the scientific studies done on this here. You can also learn more about the skin & gut connection, by checking out the Dr. Mark Hyman's podcast The Doctor’s Farmacy; he has several relevant episodes on the interrelation between the two.
I make it a daily practice to incorporate Apple Cider Vinegar herbal extractions into by daily health & beauty regimen. ACV contains a broad range of healthy microbes AND it's the number 1 solvent for extracting micronutrients, which the skin, hair, teeth & nails need to fight signs of aging, while delivering them to the body in a bioavailable way.
You can find these ACV herbal extracts in the GWG Beauty Collection along with BeauTea, an herbal tisane chocked full of herbs containing ingredients like vitamin C for collagen production; silicon for strong skin/hair/teeth/nails; iron to reduce dark eye circles, and more. It's also detoxifying and boosts circulation for hair & nail growth while clearing the skin of inflammation.
Are you suffering from an inflammatory skin condition like acne, psoriasis and eczema - and not able to get on a healing path?
It could be an imbalance in your microbiome.
Once upon a time, the epidermis was looked upon as just a layer of dead skin cells; but now we know it's inhabited by a vast diverse microbial ecosystem. And when that ecosystem is lacking in diversity, it shows up as a wide range of common skin conditions allergic reactions, irritation, dryness, acne and eczema.
Researchers are starting to unfold the complex relationship between the skin's microbiome and skin health. And what's more, there are studies backing up the gut-skin axis, where we see the state of the gut microbiota reflected in the skin. Basically, gut microbes are responsible for sending out signals that trigger proper immune response, which prevents systemic inflammation that shows up as various types of dermatitis.
So what are some potential culprits that could be causing imbalances in your own skin-gut axis, and showing up as dermatitis?
* Environmental toxins like glyphosate
* Stress (physical/mental/emotional)
* Diet high in refined carbs and processed food
* Lack of plant fiber
* Harsh soaps and exfoliants on your skin
What can you start doing NOW to improve your gut-skin microbiota:
* Switch to organic foods and wash produce well (even better, grow your own)
* Only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary
* Maintain methods to reduce stress. Try breathing exercises; adjusting lifestyle to allow for more rest; exercising regularly, and using nervine herbs.
* Eat more plant fiber, which serves as a source of food for the good bacteria
* Avoid sugar and refined foods because they encourage the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria
* Use gentle microbiome-friendly skincare products (coming soon to GWG!)
* Consume fermented food and drinks
* Use inulin-rich herbs, which provide a food source for good microbes
To learn more about the microbiome, check out the work by Zach Bush MD. And for medicinal, microbiome-supporting foods, SHOP the GWG kitchen collection!
After purchasing your GWG Herbal Brews (found in the kitchen collection), try these 3 easy, healthy, and delicious recipes:
** CHILL Sparkling Spritzer **
This relaxing & cooling blend features:
* Lemon Balm: soothes the nervous system, particularly digestive stress
* Linden: another nerve-soothing herb that also has an uplifting effect in times of heartache or grief.
* Chamomile: eases tension in the gut brain and relaxes cramps and tight muscles.
* Fennel Seed: carminative that releases trapped air
* Licorice Root: an adrenal tonic that restores healthy cortisol levels
1. Pour barely boiling water over 1 tbl of GWG CHILL herbal brew.
2. Steep 15 minutes, strain & while still warm, add honey to taste.
3. Mix with equal parts sparkling water.
4. Add a lemon, serve iced.
** Mate au Lait **
Trade your coffee in for this caffeinated, mineral & antioxidant-dense yerba mate tea blend featuring:
* Yerba Mate: anti-inflammatory action and immunity-supporting due to a combination of certain nutrients, including Vit C and E, zinc and selenium.
* Chicory Root gives this brew a rich flavor while improving gut health, thanks to it's inulin content, which is a prebiotic that feeds healthy gut flora.
* Cacao brings a whole lot to the party including antioxidants, iron, protein, magnesium, thiamin, carotene, and essential fatty acids (among other compounds). Cacao also boosts concentration and elevates mood by acting as an anti-depressant. Cacao may even lower blood pressure and improve virility.
* Peppermint has aromatic oils proven to boost mental alertness and clarity and reduce stress.
* Maca Root is a source of amino acids, magnesium, iron, B-vitamins (including B-12), and antioxidants. It helps with hormones, mood, and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
* Cinnamon reduces insulin resistance, which improves metabolic function, resulting in more efficient energy use.
* Licorice Root: acts as a sweetener and synergist while balancing cortisol levels.
1. Steep 1 bag of GWG NO CHILL herbal breww in 8oz of barely boiling water for 20 minutes.
2. Strain and add warm milk and honey to taste
** RESET Latte:
Skip the caffeine and get your extra zing with energy-boosting, mineral-rich herbs in this blend:
* Nettle Leaf is rich in sooo many nutrients including calcium, magnesium, iron, Vitamin K, silica, and protein. It strengthens the kidneys and adrenal glands, thereby building, energy and stamina while calming the nerves.
* Dandelion Root: supports liver function and improves digestion, allowing you to better assimilate nutrients, thereby improving energy and vitality.
* Reishi: used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a longevity tonic herb that supports overall health and vitality. It's antioxidants stimulate the immune system while boosting energy and memory.
* Maca Root: amino acids, magnesium, iron, B-vitamins, antioxidants - all which support healthy hormone function that leads to stable mood and blood sugar levels.
* Cinnamon: improves metabolic function for more efficient energy use.
* Licorice Root: supports adrenal glands by balancing cortisol levels.
1. Steep 1 bag of GWG RESET herbal brew for 20 minutes.
2. Strain and add milk and honey to taste.
3. Add foam with a hand held froth wand, blender or shake the milk first.
This full moon in Cancer is the last lunar cycle of 2020, bringing a culmination to themes related to your home, family and relationships. It's also shedding light on your most private sense of self - your emotions and intuition - so you can see where you're needs are unmet, and keeping you from that sense of safety Cancer seeks.
2020 no doubt has us all feeling like our sense of safety and & security is teetering on the edge in one way or another. With active Capricorn energy (Cancer's polarity) all 2019-2020, we've been learning many hard lessons, facing many hard truths, and learning about diligence, patience, and hard work. So as we close out this year of forced transformation, focus on those Capricorn lessons you have likely now mastered, and integrate them into your daily life.
These themes are further flavored by Mercury conjuncting the Sun and Venus conjuncting South Node while square-ing Neptune. Some old patterns related to love, money, and relationships are coming up in order to get dissolved. The trick is not getting tricked. Mercury in Capricorn next to the Sun wants you getting focused on your direction and purpose and planning accordingly. In order to do that, you need to lift the veil on where you've been deluding yourself in regards to those Venus matters of love and money.
Cancer rules the moon so moon rituals are well-supported when the moon is in this part of the sky. Intuitive practices like yoga, shakti dance, drumming, chanting are all especially potent at this time and can be included in your moon ritual.
Visit my IG for more ideas on how to do a Cancer Full Moon Ritual.
*** T H E G R E A T C O N J U N C T I O N ***
Saturn & Jupiter conjunct in Aquarius, tomorrow on the SOLSTICE, shifting us into the avant garde
Saturn and Jupiter are transpersonal planets so their dominion centers around institutions, beliefs, philosophies, & laws by which we collectively live. These 2 planets reflect society & how we function within society, and when they make aspect to each other, we can guarantee a shift in societal norms and functioning. When they come together in the sky (a conjunction) - about once every 20 years - we enter a new cycle, leaving behind old structures in exchange for novel expansion.
Tomorrow's Great Conjunction is more notable as Jupiter and Saturn are fully entering a new cycle wherein majority of their conjunctions over the next 200 years will be in air signs (they were in earth signs previously). Because Air rules the mind, communications, thoughts and intellect, we're going to see shifts from earthy material-based values (money, resources, material things) to valuing fresh perspectives, innovation, & originality.
And with these 2 planets now donning the Aquarian style, we're going to see new sciences coming online as well new technologies. We can expect these new methods to focus on the environment, agriculture, money, and even clothing/fashion. Because Aquarius is a freedom fighter and social activist, we'll hopefully see this new forward movement making positive change for humanity, the environment, food & water quality, & labor reform.
During this time, however, we'll no doubt see Aquarius' shadow side, which manifests as the anarchist and rebel without a cause. It's a fixed sign, which means Aquarian shadow becomes stubborn with a refusal to hear other perspectives. We want to steady remind ourselves that true Aquarian nature is free & embraces individuality, which promotes innovative originality leading to new ideas.
Aquarian energy is how bring out our own brand of genius.
** Do you know what area of your chart Aquarius rules? This is the area of life receiving this Great Conjunction activation? Let me know in the comments!
PS If you're new to astrology, click here for some astrology 101
Every year has at least 4 (up to 7) potent possibilities for life-changing circumstances thanks to eclipse cycles.
2020 is having its 6th (and final) eclipse tomorrow on 12/14.
Eclipses bring unexpected, major life changes that are either outwardly or inwardly noticeable. With wild card energy like this, it's best not to attach to any expectations, however astrology does give us ways we can anticipate the unforeseen:
The zodiac signs of the eclipses give clues into how the changes will show up. For example, our current eclipse cycle is on the Gemini-Sagittarius axis, so changes might be triggered by questioning old belief systems, changing direction on a goal, or implementing new communication methods. You could also take a class or education path that leads you on a fated path.
The houses that your Gemini/Sagittarius axis rules indicate the areas of your life or psyche that will be changed. ie: if Gemini rules your 1st house, then Sagittarius rules your 7th house - these are the houses representing individuality vs. partnerships. You may find yourself letting go of partnerships (personal or professional) that inhibit your independence or you could change your approach to partnerships so that individuality remains a priority. When you combine the zodiac signs with the houses, potential themes can center around communication methods within partnerships or letting go of old belief systems you had about partnerships.
Stay flexible & detached. Eclipses sweep Fate in, ultimately teaching us how to surrender, trust and embrace the process.
(#AstronomyTip : eclipses occur when the full and new moons line up with the lunar nodal axis - the 2 opposite points in the sky where the moon crosses over Earth's ecliptic; these points change zodiac signs about every 18 months).
First published in Witchology Magazine, April 2019 issue
As a novice greenwitch and herbalism student, one of the first activities my teacher had us do was walk around the school’s herb garden and “listen” to the plants. She told us to tune into our subtle bodies and feel for one herb that had a message for us. And so I kicked off my sandals and slowly walked barefoot around the dandelion-covered ground, pausing in front of each plant to touch its leaves, smell its fragrance, feel its vibration, and taste its leaf/fruit/flower. It was amazing what I “heard” simply from slowing down to connect with the essence of each plant.
But there was one plant that grabbed me - literally. As I walked past some overgrown vines, eyeing a large African Blue Basil that was buzzing with bees, something grabbed a chunk of my hair, short-stopping my trance-like reverie. I turned to see who was so insistent on my attention, and stared into the sunny, yellow faces and heart-shaped leaves of Black-Eyed Susan. I knew immediately she had a message for me. I stood facing her, grounding down through the soil, reaching out to her roots just beneath my soles. I inhaled the oxygen that Black-Eyed Susan exuded, while she breathed in the carbon dioxide I exhaled. I cleared my mind, opened my heart and asked for her message. Almost immediately, I felt a tightness in my solar plexus and became overwhelmed with anger that triggered a mental image of my parents. I became very aware of the anger I had as a child from always feeling like an alien in a rank-and-file family that never quite understood or accepted my individuality. Black-Eyed Susan wanted me to know that it was time to release that anger because it was holding me back from being in alignment with my own belief systems and values that would help me walk my soul path. And Black-Eyed Susan was going to help me find the courage to do that transformational work.
An hour after beginning that exercise, we were back in the classroom and I couldn’t stop contemplating the symbiosis that just occurred between human and plant. It was a day that I’ll always remember, and even to this day, I have a hard time just walking down the sidewalk without wanting to stop and reach out to each wild weed and exotic cultivar to hear its message. As I’ve matured and my greenwitchery evolved into a lifestyle, the plants continue to be my greatest teachers. The wisdom these Earth Elders hold is available to all who are willing to slow down and listen. I wholly believe that we all have plant familiars who come in and out of our lives at the times we need them most. They might drop a seed pod on your head as you walk past, or captivate you with a beautiful flower, or cause a craving for its fruit, or make a surprise pop up in your yard. These seemingly mundane occurrences are the subtle ways your plant familiars reach out to you.
Of course, communication is a two-way street between all Gaia’s creatures, and you can call out to the plant kingdom to ask your plant spirits to show themselves to you. Here are three ways you can find your plant familiars:
Take A Forest Walk
I’ve found one of the best places to communicate with plant spirits is in their native habitat. I’m also partial to working with plants native to your bioregion as it deepens the connection to the land were plants and people have co-lived and co-evolved for many years. Look for state or national forests/parks, natural areas around your town, wildlife refuges, or even a botanical garden. If you’re so inclined, take off your shoes and get your Earthing on! Planting your soles in soil deepens your terra connection, increasing your sensitivity to the call of your plant spirit. Allow your intuition to lead as you slowly walk around, introducing yourself to the green world surrounding you. Trust your innate knowing when you feel called to a particular plant. Sit with the plant and meditate, breathe, open your energy channels and “listen” to the wisdom your sage new friend wants to give you.
(Be careful about touching or tasting unfamiliar plants; having an appropriate field guide is always a good idea, so you can know how to properly interact with a plant you don’t know.)
Invite Your Plant Familiar into Your Life
Open your energy channels and ask your plant familiar to make itself known. And then start paying attention. You might have a vision during meditation, or your plant familiar might show itself in the dreamworld. You might randomly receive a packet of seeds from your neighbor or become keenly aware of a certain plant already growing in your yard. Stay open to the wide world of ways that your plant can appear to you.
Use a Botanical-Based Tarot or Oracle Deck
As an herbalist and wildcrafter with an extensive inventory of fresh and dried herbs and flower essences, I often consult my herbal Tarot deck to help guide me toward a medicine that can help restore an imbalance that I am or a client is experiencing. I love this method because it helps me tap into the spiritual side of our holistic health. There is a wide array of plant-based Tarot and Oracle decks for you to explore. One of the newest being an Oracle deck designed by Maia Toll that accompanies her new book The Herbiary, which is a beautifully illustrated herbal that offers plant-based spiritual guidance and rituals.
Finally, when your plant familiars show up for you, do the same in return. Make offerings to your plant spirits: leave a strand of your hair on their leaves, place crystals on their soil, feed them with your monthly lunar effluence. Nurture your relationship to your plant familiars, and hold gratitude in your heart for the teachings of these spirit guides.
Now that you've learned about the Astrological Archetypes existing in nature, our psyche, and the whole human experience, we look to the birth chart to see how those archetypes show up for us as individuals and as a collective throughout time and space.
Your birth chart is a snapshot of the sky at the exact moment you exited the womb. The placement of the celestial objects, points, zodiac signs, and the geometric angles they make to each other serves as a map and guide of your soul's journey. To access a free birth chart, you can visit www.astro.com. Having an exact birth time is necessary while the general city or region is ok.
When studying the birth chart, it's typical to take a geocentric perspective, meaning that the birth chart is viewed as if Earth (You) were the center of the universe and all the planets are moving around us. Its also important to note that we perceive the birth chart from a bird's eye view - as if we were looking down on the birth chart - so the left side of the chart is considered the Eastern hemisphere, the lowest part of the chart is the Northern hemisphere, the Western hemisphere is the right half, and the Southern hemisphere is at the top of the chart.
When you look at the chart, you see a circle divided into 12 slices - usually unequal but that depends on the house system you use (topic for another article) - with the zodiac signs going around the outside of the circle and glyphs (symbols) for the celestial objects placed inside the circle. You may also see lines connecting 2 glyphs - these represent the aspects, which are the conversations being had by the represented planets. For simplicity purposes, we're going to break down the birth chart into 3 parts for this article: the celestial objects and points, houses, and zodiac signs.
Astrology takes into account a wide variety of planets, asteroids, stars, imaginary points in the sky and more. The main ones used are the sun, moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and the lunar nodes. These objects represent things about ourselves and the collective, such as our personal belief systems (Jupiter) and values (Venus) and the beliefs and values of a collective or generation. How these "things" show up for us depends on the house and zodiac sign they fall into in our birth chart, as well the aspects (angles) to other planets/points in the chart.
The houses are shown by the 12 divisions made into the chart. Each of the 12 parts represents an area of life, your psyche, or human experience. The first line is considered the one on the Eastern horizon. The zodiac sign that this line falls on, is known as your Rising sign or your Ascendant and it encompasses the First House. The next line starts the 2nd house, and so on until you get to the last 12th house cusp. The line starting the 4th house is called the Imum Coeli (IC) or the Nadir, while the 7th house cusp is the Descendant (DC), and the 10th house cusp is the Midheaven or Medium Coeli (MC).
While there are housing systems that divide the houses into equal parts, many systems don't. Each astrologer has their own housing system preference according to the type of astrology they practice or the type of astrological chart being cast.
The zodiac signs also divide the circle into 12 parts, which don't necessarily align with the houses. There are 30 degrees in each zodiac sign and the signs make up the ecliptic path that the sun follows throughout the year. The planets and moon also stay in close proximity to the ecliptic path, while moving through each zodiac sign at different speeds. When houses and planets occupy a specific zodiac sign, that planet/house exhibits the style of that zodiac sign. For example, the house occupied by Capricorn often shows the part of life where you can have the most challenges, but also learn the greatest lessons and reap the biggest rewards.
Reading the chart requires you to weave together the different parts of the birth chart by blending together the archetypes of each house, planet, and zodiac sign. Further insight comes through the aspects that each planet/point is making to other planets/points. These aspects are conversations between archetypes that expand on the story of your soul. In Part 3 of Astro Virgins we'll dig deeper into aspects and how to understand them.