Kombucha is a fermented Tea. It is described as a ‘delicious sour tonic beverage’ slightly sparking and a little like apple cider. The drink is made with a SCOBY( symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Also known as “The Mother” just like with Apple Cider Vinegar. It is a bit like a disc which floats on the surface as it ferments.
Kombucha is an aerobic process so it has to float as its where the oxygen is- if it is not floating after a few days or generate a new film- sadly it may have died. Although sometimes it will sink then rise. It is best to use a wide glass vessel (no metal) that is partially filled. Your SCOBY will generate a film that is the same size and shape as your vessel. As you make more the SCOBY will get thicker and generally grow in layers that you can peel off and use to generate other batches and to share (babies!) As they have no added benefit by being thicker you can share or why not puree it into a paste and use it for a facial?!
This is how you can make it at home
Each SCOBY and brew will be different, much like Kefir. Some will be more robust than others and some may be able to brew herbal teas and adapt to other sugars. Some people have even used fruit juice. It is best to start with a more fail safe ‘tea leaf’ brew; black, green or white tea. Then play with the herbal teas in the second fermentation.
All you need is Tea, sugar and an acidic environment. The amount of sugar is dependent on your taste. It is possible to brew a strong tea as a concentrate and then water down (also to cool it). The tea can be sweetened while still hot (as it is easier to get the sugar to dissolve) but can also be done when cold
What you will need:
Wide glass jar (I use 1.6 litre Jar)
1 litre Cooled, strong brewed tea (black, green or white tea)
1⁄2 cup sugar (I use coconut)
Acid (either 100mls brewed Kombucha saved from last batch or 2 tbs of any vinegar) Plastic tongs (to transport the mother)
Piece of cotton or muslin/rubber band to secure)
Plastic Funnel and Glass bottle to store for drinking
Glass Jar to keep mother in (with some reserved tea)
The tea needs to be at body temperature (no hotter) mix in the sugar.
Then add 100mls Kombucha about (5-10 percent so for a litre about 50-100mls)or 2 tbs of vinegar (any kind) if you have no matured Kombucha.
Add the Mother (SCOBY)
Always cover the vessel with a light porous cloth that allows air circulation but protects from bugs and dust. Kitchen towel works well too.
Leave Vessel in a warm spot away from direct sunlight.
The length of fermentation will depend on how warm it is and how acidic you want your drink to be. Taste it every few days to see if you like it, but on average it is between 7-14 days (can be months- when it’s really cold)
When it is to taste, take the mother out and place in a bowl to separate the layers or the ‘babies’
Reserve in some of the tea to store in the fridge (cool temp stop fermentation). Have another batch of tea ready to start again and drink tea (bottle as is either in tight sealed bottle or open bottle and store in the fridge) or bottle with fruit for the second fermentation.
Sage has so many amazing benefits. It has seen to be effective at cooling down the body (especially during hot sweats) and reduce perspiration, it also helps to dry up excess phlegm and diarrhea.
It contains anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds which helps to protect and heal cells all through the body. This maintains good circulation of blood and flexibility of muscles and blood vessels throughout the body.
Read more about how and why Sage is so great here. I absolutely love the smell and taste of sage too.
Lemons are also amazing for the body. Rich in vitamin C, good for boosting the digestive system and restoring a ph balance to the body. Lemons stimulate the body and they go really well with Sage. Combined with the raw honey and water kefir, this cordial is great for an immune boost, hormone balance, is cooling and effective at helping to reduce any heat or irritability on the skin or in the digestive system.
The water kefir helps you to absorb and digest the volatile oils in the sage and also help to support the body back to balance. To make it see here or check out my book- Culture Your Life.
However, please consult your natural health provider if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, on blood thinners, or epileptic before using this recipe. It may have undesirable effects. As always listen to your body and try to take responsibility for your own health and knowing what your body needs.
Lemon Sage Cordial
A great cordial combining Sage, Lemon, Water Kefir and Raw Honey. An immune powerhouse and hormone balancer. Not to be used during pregnancy or breast feeding.
On the 20th of September (2014), One World Birth put together a worldwide premier of their new documentary- Microbirth. It was a clever way of getting small groups together to hold screenings around the globe to try to get people together to watch and be able to ask questions. Groups were held by midwives, doulas and professionals surrounding pregnancy. I heard about it through my Doula friend Kathy Kitzis, who knew with my passion for bacteria, how much I would love the film. We held the screening together and I was excited to watch it and now review it for you to encourage you to watch it too.
The film contains information from scientist and researchers talking about their latest work into understanding why we as a global community are getting so sick.
“we are amazing… we have never been sicker, and it is going to get worse.”
These are sentiments that I tend to start all of my courses and client sessions with. It was so refreshing and motivating to hear what I as a Naturopath have been experiencing throughout my almost 6 years of practicing. How come with all the technology and research out there, we not recognising what is staring us in the face. Our modern health care system is not coping and by and large not working.
What the film goes on to talk about is ‘non-communicable diseases’ they name some; asthma, cancer, mental disorders, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and so on. What I tend to categorize and are also known as; chronic disease. Through my own research to help my clients, family and friends find the cause of their chronic conditions, I have also come to similar conclusions as the films main purpose. It is all about the health and balance of our internal environment. Especially the balance and existence of bacteria in our body and in the environment surrounding us.
“Cost of treatment (for noncommunicable diseases) is $47 trillion by 2030…staggering”
“60% of all deaths” are caused by non-communicable diseases and it is estimated that it is on the rise- 17% over the next decade. The film cites predictions that the cost of providing care using the modern healthcare system is set to bankrupt the world economies by the year 2030. My response as a natural health care practitioner is, of course, that this is not surprising. We in the natural health community have been saying the same thing for years and we have been actively trying to get people to take responsibility for their own health. No longer expecting doctors and pharmaceutical companies to come up with another magic pill which isn’t so magical anymore. Changing to real food, remedies directly found in nature, fermenting, dealing with societies pressures, stress and being able to balance emotions. All of these require us to take responsibility and make different choices in our lives.
What was so encouraging about the film is that is is centred around motivating people and explaining how to change the possible very starting point of our problems. Getting the seeding right in our babies. This may set the rest of their potential future health in stone through three key things- vaginal births, skin to skin when born and breastfeeding for at least 6 months. These are all things we are very, very aware of. The film helps you to really stop and think about just how crucial these 3 things are to the future of our children and children’s, children. If at not all 3 then you at least consider the implications and try to include at least 2.
“we are a walking ecosystem…an ecosystem under threat”
Antibiotics are said to have achieved great things, but they are also overused and over relied upon. Combined with hand sanitising and cleaning products we have been waging war on the very beings who are their to keep us safe and alive. With the predictions being that half of the net worth of the world will have to be spent on health care we also have to consider that we will also become an invalid society. One that is too sick to work, without the caretakers or facilities able to look after us. This is a very real prediction, but we can make changes and we can do it very easily.
The film suggests we have one chance, at birth, to get this microbial environment correct. This is something I largely disagree with. Our internal and external environment is constantly changing and the film talks about epigenetics (see here for Brue Lipton, here for his book and here for a list of other books for more information on that). Epigenetics is the idea that genes (which dictate how our cells are formed) can turn off and turn on. In effect, we can change our gene expression but also our overall health. This can be done very easily by ensuring that we create an environment which switches off the so called destructive (some call them survival genes) and switch on the genes which allow the body to go back to normal- back to balance.
“losing our maternal heritage…we do not know what the implications of this is yet”
This is very exciting and the film merely touches on this as a way to show us that bacteria play a huge role in epigenetics, as does pregnancy and perhaps normal labour. So we can help our future generations by ensuring that we know while we are indeed preparing to get pregnant and whilst pregnant the gene expression we switch on and off with our babies is possible. A large part of this is suggested in natural, unassisted, unprovoked and tampered with labour.
The film touches on the idea that stress may be necessary for the fetus to switch on their immune system. That c-sections not only take away the ability for the baby to gain the necessary seeding of bacteria through the birth canal on their skin and in their mouth, but also they do not go through the ‘trauma’ of childbirth which is necessary for them to know what is safe and what is not. This is also affected by them not being allowed skin to skin with their mother in their first moments. Not only is skin to skin necessary to further seed them with bacteria from your skin but it can also regulate and stimulate their hormone production which allows them to calm down, to regulate their blood sugar levels and their instinct of hunger to then seek out the mothers nipple to being the third phase in seeding, breastfeeding.
It is exciting that people are talking in this way with several studies backing up their ideas, and not shying away from the risk of offending people who choose c-sections. Of course they all agree that sometimes c-sections are very necessary in come cases, but that they were never supposed to be an option to choose from. The rate at which elective c-sections is rising is completely alarming and can no longer be ignored as a factor towards the person’s future health. In that way it is very exciting that the film talks to a scientist currently conducting experiments into using a gauze swab which collects bacteria from the mothers vagina to be used following a c-section. The gauze is then rubbed over the baby and in their mouth trying to replicate at least one factor of the birthing process.
“their (bacteria) function should not be underestimated…we cannot cut out species and expect to still be balanced…we have lost about a 1/3 of our diversity…diversity protects us”
What comes across very strongly, which motivates me further, is the encouragement to see bacteria differently. For me it is my passion to see people fermenting and re balancing their bacterial levels in treatment of their chronic (non-communicable) diseases. That we are walking eco-systems. Bacteria make us normal and that we should be 90% bacteria. That fact “connects us to the universe a bit more” and I loved that about this film.
A baby with a c-section, especially those who are then fed formula are potentially at risk for some very serious long term complications. They may be picking up bacteria from an imbalanced environment, especially in a hospital. Their immune training if incorrect right at the beginning may or may not be possible to correct. It is seen to then go on to affect all tissue from brain development to muscle and mucosal lining development. These children and of course now adults born in this way must consider retraining and modulating their bodies systems by correcting their bacterial balance. The fact that breast milk provides, not only, bacteria and nutrients but also the very food source to nurture our bacterial counterparts at the same time. This is huge in support of giving baby what nature intended. I hope it helps motivate mums to keep trying and seek support. Otherwise to consider homemade formula and the very least probiotics for their babies.
So you dont have to be pregnant or working with pregnant women to gain something from watching this film. We dont have to contribute to the potential bankruptcy of the world as we know it. We can make big changes by turning to some micro-organisms. Seek out your local fermenting classes now! I dont believe that at birth it is the only chance for change but I am happy to promote that is it is a huge chance to start to change what you think about health and the future of our children and their children is actually in our hands.
“We cannot afford to wait”
Let me know if you watched the film and what you thought about it…
I love keeping orange, mandarin and tangerine peels. I dry them in the dehydrator and I blitz them in my blender to powder. As a natural Vitamin C supplement the peel has numerous benefits. Organic oranges are ideal as oranges do get sprayed and retain a high amount of pesticides. However Organic oranges are hard to come by in Hong Kong so I first soak my peels in a kombucha and water solution to help remove the waxes and chemical residues.
The Limonene and flavonoids found in orange peel (also grapefruit, lemons and limes) have been seen to have some anti-carcinogenic properties. Especially in Breast and colon cancer cases. The limonene oils may inhibit cancer cell growth. Studies have shown that limonin and limonene can start the enzyme activity an important detoxifying enzyme called of glutathione S-transferase. This helps as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which blocks the need of the cell to mutate to protect itself. The citric acid in the peel also plays a key role in this.
Orange peels are a natural source of pectin, a natural fiber which may decrease the rise in blood sugar after a meal. Thus being of some benefit to pre and type 2 diabetes. Pectin is also a pre-biotic- helpfully feeding and balancing our bacteria friends so necessary to the body (see Culture Your Life which is all about the benefits of bacteria).
This gives orange peel has antiseptic, bactericidal, and fungicidal properties by helping out the bacterial environment. D-limonene may also be helpful in dissolving kidney stones and beneficial in eliminating any kidney or urinary tract infections. Especially when the peels have been slightly fermented by the Kombucha in the soaking process. The Kombucha not only removes the chemical residues it may also begin the digestive process by increasing the bioavailability of the nutrients in the peel.
The natural properties in orange peel have also been seen to helpful in lowering cholesterol.
“In a May 2004 “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” article, Canadian researchers and the United States Department of Agriculture reported that isolated compounds from orange and tangerine peels showed promise as a natural alternative for reducing LDL cholesterol without the side effects of mainstream cholesterol drugs.” (source)
They may also help with heartburn. According to a 2007 Alternative Medicine Review article by Jidong Sun, Ph.D., Sun notes that an active ingredient found in the orange peel, d-limonene, possesses the ability to neutralize gastric acid and support normal peristalsis. (source)
This great powder is so easy to make and I add it to so many things!
A great way to get some vitamin c into your diet. Also a great anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient that can be added to homemade cosmetics, chocolate, drinks, baked goods, muesli, teas, kefir and kombucha. The possibilities are endless!
Soak your orange, mandarin, tangerine or other citrus peel in a solution of water and Kombucha (use about 1 tbs kt to 500mls water)
Use a dehydrator (at 100F) or oven at the lowest setting and dry your peel until it is hard and completely dry.
When your peel is completely dry put in a high speed blender and blitz until powder.
Add to fizzy water and drink otherwise it can be added to; chocolate, drinks, baked good, use it to flavour Kefir, kombucha or add it to teas, stocks and smoothies! Why not use in your homemade cosmetics!
so easy- give it a go- you were only going to throw the peel away anyway!
Another good way to use the peel is to add it to bath water
I get loads of great questions from you all. I want to share some of the answers too since some of the questions are very similar sometimes and we can all benefit from a good old Q and A session once a week!
If you have a question for me to answer please either email me or raise it by contacting me through twitter, facebook or g+. I look forward to seeing how I can help…
This weeks question;
Since having children (like many other mums I’m sure) I have started to think about what we eat much more carefully and try to ensure that my kids eat home-made, organic food most of the time, although this is not always easy where I live. The air pollution is driving me nuts and really stresses me out and I just wondered what advice you have to help little bodies process toxins, and what I can do to boost their immune systems?
I am already hiding kale, chia seeds and flax seed meal in everything, giving them macro cocoa greens, reducing gluten and trying to minimise sugar, but I just wondered what your top super foods / supplements would be? What about other ways to reduce the toxic load? I use a more natural toothpaste, natural sunscreen, plant-based shampoos, natural cleaning products etc but don’t make anything myself in terms of products. I guess what I asking is for your top ten tips on how to pollution proof my kids!
Here’s what Loula says!
Thanks for a great question. Pollution is a worldwide environmental impact that we have some control over. here would be my top 10 tips…
1. Natural air purifiers; Air purifiers can actually stress the body out. The body is a well tuned machine with inbuilt systems to process and eliminate toxins. We are designed to live in harmony with our environment and whilst I agree that there are countries/cities with a higher amount of particles in the air and our bodies need support- by creating a bubble with an air-purifier may actually stress the body out more than you appreciate (not to mention increase environmental impact with their energy needs).
Just like our body suffers from the constant changes from aircon/humid heat or heating/cold outside air, the body suffers from going from purified air to normal environment. Especially when the purifier is also eradicating all bacterial elements as well. Balanced bacteria as I will mention later is key to helping the body process and eliminate (or detox) toxins on a daily basis. Instead we should be focusing on trying to reduce our environmental impact everyday to do our small part to help heal the planet. Buy some natural air-purifiers- plants, salt lamps, use aromatherapy diffusers as a natural air freshener and ionisers instead.
2. Reduce environmental toxins that can be controlled. This means reducing all chemical cleaners and cosmetics. Also consider the chemicals your clothes have gone through before you bought them. Your home can actually contain more chemicals than your outer environment. All plastics, paints, cd’s, furniture and fire retardants used on carpets, mattresses and so on all release fumes into the air.
You can reduce this with the above natural air-purifiers but also by reducing any further chemical impact. Natural household cleaners are very simple to make. Culture Your Life is full of my recipes; including toilet cleaner, bath and shower cleaner (which is important to me because the kids sit in the bath every night), laundry detergent, veggie and fruit wash (as I can’t buy everything organic!) and multi-purpose cleaner (see my recipe here on Good Girl Gone Green. I also use a chemical free dish washing liquid. Steam cleaners are very effective and naturally effective.
3. Water is a huge cleanser and supports the body to help eliminate toxins. However most of our water supply is also devoid of balanced bacteria and teaming with chemicals. Chlorine and fluoride amongst others are going to have an effect on chemical impact. There are many different filtration systems. Drinking water can be re-mineralised with mineral drops, standing water on the side for a few minute can allow chlorine to evaporate. Fermenting the water is a key way to support the body.
Baths can be massively enhanced with epsom salts or himalayan salt, calendula tincture or cooled chamomile/calendula tea, lavender (or other aromatherapy oils), kefir and coconut oil/sweet almond oil. I ensure my kids bathe in a combination of these every night. The water not only supports the body but it also serves as their shampoo!
4. Fermented foods are the best way to consume balanced bacteria. Proven to boost the immune system and support the liver bacteria has so many roles in the body- some of which we still do not completely understand. A nice way of balancing your environment is using a kefir hand sanitiser (recipe in Culture Your Life), a room spray with kefir/kombucha and aromatherapy oils, as well as consuming them and using them as cleaners and cosmetics (there are many companies trying to use bacteria in their cosmetics nowadays!) See my post about it here on Thank Your Body. As a natural barrier a kefir sprayed on the skin for example after swimming can really make a difference (after swimming spray recipe can be found in Culture Your Life)
5. Sea vegetables are a very effective chelator of radiation and heavy metals. Chorella and spirulina are examples which you can get in a good green powder (I can help you source a good one- however raw organic ones are a good starting point- I like this one here) but also Kombu. Kombu can be added to soups, stews, stocks, sauces as a great seasoning and then may be removed before eating. Seaweed snacks are a great way to consume sea veg, however check your ingredients labels as many contain undesirable oils and msg. The cleanest one I have found is here or here depending on how you feel about sunflower oil. In Hong Kong I buy the organic one from Green Dot Dot or nori sheets from iDetox
6. Liver support is also important especially if alongside environmental toxins antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals like anti-histamines, anti-inflammatories or other medications are used on a regular basis. Glutamine, gelatin, milk thistle and bacteria (of course!) are good starting points. Anti-oxidants like vitamin c and vitamin a rich foods are also a good to include.
7. Immune support/Anti-inflammatory nutrients are key. Daily intakes of these nutrients can help support the body to do its job. Stress and inflammation go hand in hand so helping the body reduce some internal stress by providing nurturing nutrients is great when trying to prevent illness. This elderberry cordial is a great immune tonic and is very simple to make as is this honey and onion cough syrup (it tastes way nice than it sounds. Turmeric tea is also a great and effective way of moderating inflammation and is a great anti-oxidant and immune support.
Gelatin is also anti-inflammatory and I know my kids just love these Kefir Gummies (making them with the elderberry cordial makes them a double bonus!). You can make them with anything- here are my more adult coffee ones with kefir but I have also made chocolate ones and all sorts of fruit flavours using fruit puree. For anti-inflammatory and immune support try lemon, ginger and honey with kefir or berry puree and kefir! Fats are also a very important anti-inflammatory and immune supportive nutrients especially coconut oil. This can be used internally (a spoonful a day which can be added to smoothies, juices, nut milks) or externally on the skin as a natural barrier.
There is also interesting research that showed bees in more polluted areas actually provide support form those environmental pollutants in their honey. If you can find raw local honey (here is the Hong Kong Source) a spoonful of this will be a great addition to immune health. I dont suppose anyone will have trouble convincing a child to eat a spoonful of this (immune boosting) sugar!!
Vitamin D is also a key immune supportive nutrient. I recommend this product as it is easy to take and has all the nutrient co-factors that make it very absorbable. However a good intake of organic cultured or raw butter/ghee (get ghee here or here in Hong Kong) can also help increase vitamin d intake as it is a fat soluble nutrient. Also get out in the sunshine- the eyes actually process a big amount of vit d so allowing kids some time in the sunshine without any sunscreen/hats/sunglasses for a period of time (about 15-40 mins depending on skin colour and sun intensity) can be very beneficial (WARNING; never allow your skin to burn!)
8. The stress of pollution doing damage may actually be more damaging than the actual pollution itself! Stress maintains inflammation and therefore can actually weaken the digestive system and immune system. Emotion Freedom Technique (EFT- here is my experience with it) is a key way I have changed my core belief towards many limiting factors in my life. Halting life with fear keeps the body in stagnation and restricts enjoyment of life. Children will pick up on this and it will be built into their core belief system too. We can quickly and easily change this with EFT for us and the kids. EFT has been seen to change both physical and emotional impacts and imbalances.
9. Bach flower Remedies are another route to help clear the body of negative residues. Bach believed that all physical issues have an emotional starting point. Most of the damage of pollution is based on fear, fear leads to conscious and subconscious stress. As above- releasing these emotions is key to health. Simply using rescue remedy on a daily basis can help. It can be added to water too for ease of kids taking it- although mine love getting the spray! You can also contact your local Bach Flower Practitioner (me if I am local to you) to get a personal blend made up with some positive affirmations for go with them and move you forward energetically and also physically.
10. Other supportive treatments like homeopathy, bioresonance, acupuncture, herbal remedies, reflexology, massage (especially lymphatic drainage) and breathing (yoga, meditation, exercise) can all be massively beneficial to support the body physically, emotionally and energetically. Do something you love doing and don’t allow fear to keep you indoors. Coughs are the body’s way of getting foreign matter out of the body- never fear a cough or suppress it. Rosemary and thyme are great expectorants to help the body lift the phlem up and out!
Hope this helps and although I have had other questions this week I think this covers a few of them…