Drawn by the lovely Libby Vanderploeg

Drawn by the lovely Libby Vanderploeg

THE 15 MEND ME MINUTES

Laena's 15 minute core self-care routine: 5 minutes of Ayervedic self-massage, 5 minutes of restorative yoga, 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation. 

 
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HERBAL TONICS FOR WOMEN

Recipes for tasty + healing herbal tonics to keep you strong + resilient.

 
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HAPPY BELLY = HAPPY WOMAN :: BAEK WHITE KIMCHI RECIPE

Laena's recipe for Baek White Kimchi is gingery, mild, and chock full of vitamins A, B, and C, and "healthy bacteria" called lactobacilli (i.e., probiotics). 

 
 

self-care for women

Fertility Awareness & Cycle Tracking

 

I've written this guide to help you track your cycle & understand your fertility, build a set of healing rituals for your daily life, become stronger and more resilient, and enhance your relationship with yourself.  

Throughout the process of understanding your fertility and healing your cycle, be as loving and patient with your body as you can. 

If you need guidance and help with specific issues, such as PCOS, painful periods, fibroids, and infertility, contact Laena for a private session, remotely or at her Brooklyn studio.

 

Cycle tracking apps + online resources

CLUE is free and easy to use.

NATURAL CYCLES is a subscription-based, fertility awareness app that can be used as contraception.

THE BLOG FOR KINDARA, a fertility app and Bluetooth-connected Basal Body Temperature thermometer, is a great source for well-researched, smart information. I cannot vouch for their products (of which I have no experience) but for information and education, this free resource is great.  I particularly like this post on TRANSITIONING OFF THE PILL.

 

reducing stress

Stress is detrimental to the entire health of our mind and body, and the negative effects often manifest as hormonal imbalance and cycle irregularity. 

While most of us cannot remove the stress-inducer (i.e., jerk boss, commute, rent, job, etc), there are myriad ways to learn how to relax and reduce the effects of stress. Contemplative practice such as mindfulness, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and prayer, teach our mind and body to be resilient and strong in the face of adversity. If you want scientific proof, there's actually a number of studies on stress reduction through contemplative practice. Choose a form of practice that most resonates with you, and find a way to implement it into your daily routine.

If you need help getting started, here are some guides...

 

10 meditation podcasts that don't suck

I've made this list so you don't have to wade through all the crazy wackos on the internets with terrible voices (not a great way to relax, imo). These podcasts are all really interesting and helpful. I've listed them in order of my own personal preference. 

1. TARA BRACH PODCAST

This is the one I listen to most often. Tara Brach is an incredible meditation teacher. This podcast has both guided meditations and lectures she gives. Her work is grounded in both Western and Eastern Buddhist thought. Her podcast is a great place to start for those looking for more information about their practice. Many of her podcast episodes are from her recent lectures, which are great as well.

2. THE MEDITATION PODCAST

The Meditation Podcast was founded way back in 2006. The goal of this podcast is to help people have extraordinary meditation experiences in their everyday lives, sounds good to me! Jesse and Jeane Stern have created a great guided meditation podcast that immediately puts you into a meditative state of mind. It’s highly recommended.

3. MEDITATION OASIS

Meditation Oasis is all about helping you cultivate a sense of mindfulness in your own life. Mary and Richard Maddux will guide you through various guided meditations that will help you relax. You’ll also find instructions for practicing on your own. 

4. THE IDP PODCAST

The Interdependence Project offers a "glimpse into 21st century Buddhism". This podcast features a wide range of guests, from, best-selling authors, to world-renown teachers and speakers. They also infuse spoken word pieces and sound collage pieces for a truly immersive and awakening listen. 

5. LIVE AND DARE PODCAST

The Live and Dare Podcast is a fascinating look into modern-day meditation, mindfulness, and spirituality. This podcast features a wealth of information on traditional and modern meditation practices, and how to integrate meditation into your own life. If you’re looking to deepen your meditation practice, then check this podcast out.

6. THE DAILY MEDITATION PODCAST

The Daily Meditation Podcast is home to over 400 different daily meditations. Each podcast is around 15 minutes, which is perfect for most of us.

7. MEDITATION MINIS PODCAST

The Meditation Minis Podcast by Chel Hamilton is a great podcast for those looking for simple guided meditations to get started with. Each podcast is designed to help with a specific facet of your life. 

8. I SHOULD BE MEDITATING

I Should Be Meditating is a great podcast by Alan Klima that covers all aspects of meditation. This podcast features guided meditations, talks, and much more. If you’re looking to deepen your meditation journey, then check this podcast out. 

9. THE SELF HELP PODCAST

The Self Help Podcast is brought to you by Live in the Present. This podcast is dedicated to spreading emotional health and well-being. The combination of entrepreneur Edward Lamb and psychotherapist Sean Oxford is quite interesting and provides a unique perspective on what actually makes human being tick.

10. MEDITATION IN THE CITY

Meditation in the City is a podcast from the Shambhala Center in New York. They have a lot of different features, including, interviews, and glimpses of lectures that took place at their center. The content is very high quality and worth keeping on your radar. You can also go meditate at their center in Manhattan!

 

LAENA'S SELF-CARE RESOURCE GUIDE

My resource guide for buying herbs, oils, spices, essential oils, and medicine making supplies; as well as my reference library of books for learning more about herbal medicine, essential oils, fermentation, and meditation. 

SOURCES FOR HERBS, OILS, SPICES

MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS [ONLINE]

Organic medicinal herbs, spices, oils, extracts, essential oils, aromatherapy, herbal supplies and resources. The best and most comprehensive source.

RADICLE HERB SHOP [HERB SHOP]

Simple store offering organic dried herbs, teas, spices & extracts, plus herbal medicine classes.

394 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217 | (718) 422-7981

FLOWER POWER HERBS & ROOTS INC [HERBAL MEDICINE STORE]

Shop stocking a vast collection of dried herbs & extracts for culinary, medicinal & beauty uses.

406 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009 | (212) 982-6664

SACRED VIBES APOTHECARY [HERB SHOP]

Small, laid-back storefront carrying a range of medicinal dried herbs, spices & herbal teas in bulk.

376 Argyle Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11218 | (718) 284-2890

LIN SISTER HERB  [CHINESE MEDICINE STORE]

Snug, old-world herb shop offers traditional Chinese formulas & teas, plus acupuncture supplies.

4 Bowery, New York, NY 10013 | (212) 962-5417

KAMWO MERIDIAN HERBS [CHINESE MEDICINE STORE]

High quality products, along with professional resources and patient guides make this a one-of-a-kind pharmacy. On-staff doctors and specialists will help you find the treatment you need based entirely on diet and natural supplements. Also available are personal care products, home goods and massage equipment.

Kamwo Meridian Herbs, 211 Grand Street, New York, NY +1 212 966 6370

KALUSTYAN'S [SPICES, ONLINE + NYC]

Specialty market known for Indian & Mideastern spices, teas & other global food items, plus a cafe.

123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016 | (800) 352-3451

LA BOÎTE À EPICES [ONLINE + NYC]

724 11th Avenue, New York, NY 10019 | 212-247-4407

THE SPICE HOUSE [ONLINE + LA/CHICAGO]

Spices, cooking herbs, seasonings. Great quality. 

NOTE: you can get fresh and dried herbs, teas, and tinctures at the Union Square Greenmarket on 14th St in Manhattan :: Furnace Creek Farm on Wednesdays; and Tweefontein Herb Farm on Fridays.

 

LAENA'S LIBRARY

It's true, i'm a book nerd with an mS in Information science.

Here's my library.

Fertility Awareness & Cycle Tracking

Guess what??? There is a GIANT VOID of books on women's hormones, fertility, and the menstrual cycle. There is seriously ONE BOOK still in print that is not some hocus-pocus, snake oil bullshit or written for pre-pubescent girls. And the ONLY book is SERIOUSLY OVER TWENTY YEARS OLD, you guys. Ok, that's my rant. So, here it is, the only book.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

All hail the Queen of Fertility Awareness! Taking Charge of Your Fertility was originally published two decades ago (although this is an updated edition), and has helped thousands of women avoid pregnancy naturally, maximize their chances of getting pregnant, or simply gain better control of their gynecological and sexual health. Toni Weschler thoroughly explains the empowering Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) in this bible of fertility awareness.

Natural Pregnancy

 THE NATURAL PREGNANCY BOOK BY AVIVA JILL ROMM

A comprehensive guide to pregnancy, the ailments a women may encounter, and dietary suggestions and herbal therapeutics to promote wellness and ease the journey.

 WISE WOMAN HERBAL FOR THE CHILDBEARING YEAR BY SUSUN WEED

In the wise woman tradition, shares simple and safe herbal support prior to and during pregnancy to ease symptoms and promote health of mother and baby.   

 WOMEN, HORMONES, & THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE BY RUTH TRICKEY  

Discusses common conditions and complex disorders women face from puberty through menopause and dives into the endocrine system and hormonal replacement therapy; offers information on allopathic treatments as well as dietary and herbal therapeutics; includes a materia medica organized by herbal actions. 

Herbal Medicine for Women

BOTANICAL MEDICINE FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH BY AVIVA ROMM

A comprehensive resource of medical and herbal interventions related to women's health issues, Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health provides a unique combination of traditional and modern scientific data on herbal medicine. Written by Aviva Romm, MD, an experienced herbalist, physician, and midwife, this guide blends a clinician-sensitive and patient-centered approach to women’s health issues. Coverage of menstrual health, fertility, breast conditions, and more makes this an essential resource for everyday practice.

HERBAL HEALING FOR WOMEN BY ROSEMARY GLADSTAR 

Comprehensive and easy-to-use, Herbal Healing for Women explains how to create remedies—including teas, tinctures, salves, and ointments—for the common disorders that arise in the different cycles of a woman's life. By explaining the properties of specific herbs and the art of preparation, Rosemary Gladstar demonstrates not only how to achieve healing through herbs but good health as well.

HEALING WISE BY SUSUN WEED

A classic herbal book that sets forth the foundations of the Wise Woman tradition and uniquely describes the personalities and uses of seven nourishing herbs.

DIY Herbal Medicine

THE HERBAL MEDICINE MAKER’S HANDBOOK: A HOME MANUAL BY JAMES GREEN

This book has step-by-step instructions for making any kind of herbal preparation you could possibly think of. It also explains why you should do certain things, not just how, which is handy to know if you find yourself faced with the need to improvise. The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook is extremely detail-oriented, but still very readable – Green is authoritative while still being lighthearted. A prime example of this is the chapter on herb jellos, an unexpected and surprisingly useful way to prepare herbs for kids – and one that he stumbled on quite by accident! The book also contains a brief overview of 30 plants that he and the other co-directors of the California School for Herbal Studies developed for use as part of the school’s curriculum.

MEDICAL HERBALISM: THE SCIENCE AND PRACTICE OF HERBAL MEDICINE BY DAVID HOFFMAN

This textbook is not for the faint of heart, but it provides an incredible amount of information on the more medical side of herbalism. This tome is a great resource if you are interested in learning the chemistry behind herbalism, as it explains the different types of chemical compounds and goes into great detail for pharmacology, toxicity, and safety issues, formulation, and chapters for treatment approach by body systems. An extensive materia medica with herbal profiles is included at the end. It’s a fascinating and extensive look at the scientific side of herbalism.

THE EARTHWISE HERBAL, VOLUMES 1 AND 2 BY MATTHEW WOOD

One of the most thorough resources on herbal materia medica available anywhere, The Earthwise Herbal details historical use of many herbs and includes Wood’s personal experiences in working with the herbs in his clinical practice. Volume One focuses on Old World, European plants, while Volume Two discusses the New World plants of North America. Wood has focuses on western herbalism and a more folk-style approach, but his books are an excellent resource for herbalists of any tradition. These references are valuable both for beginners and experienced herbalists alike, as they provide valuable insight and lesser known perspectives on many well-loved herbs.

THE HERBALIST’S WAY BY NANCY AND MICHAEL PHILLIPS

One of the best volumes for folk herbalists searching for their path, the informal but detailed exploration of the art of herbalism in The Herbalist’s Way leaves you with the sense that you’ve spent the afternoon across from a wise elder, chatting as you both enjoyed tea. In fact, the authors highlight conversations with many herbalists throughout the book, so by the end of the book you have learned from the experiences of many others.  This book explores how to become an herbalist and why – from an overview of the many possibilities, to finding your niche, legal aspects, and more.

MEDICINAL HERBS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE: 33 HEALING HERBS TO KNOW, GROW, AND USE BY ROSEMARY GLADSTAR

In this introductory guide, Rosemary Gladstar shows you how easy it can be to make your own herbal remedies for life’s common ailments. Gladstar profiles 33 common healing plants and includes advice on growing, harvesting, preparing, and using herbs in healing tinctures, oils, and creams. 

Chinese Medicine

 THE WAY OF CHINESE HERBS BY MICHAEL TIERRA

Informative yet easy-to-follow, details the uses of herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and how to integrate them into daily life, includes recipes and formulas.

Foraging for Herbs

PETERSON’S FIELD GUIDE: EASTERN/CENTRAL MEDICINAL PLANTS AND HERBS BY STEVEN FOSTER AND JAMES A. DUKE

Geared toward the eastern and central United States and Canada; plant photos organized by color; text outlines plant traits, habitat, uses, and warnings for more than 530 important medicinal plants.

Herbal Nutrition

FOOD AS MEDICINE: THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF FOOD BY TODD CALDECOTT

Using the theories of Ayurveda and modern science, offers practical nutritional guidance (and recipes) to support individual wellness.

THE HERBAL KITCHEN BY KAMI MCBRIDE

No herbal home should be without this delightful book, which provides simple and creative ways to use herbs in the kitchen. Detailed profiles of many common cooking herbs and spices explain how these often over-looked plants are useful for health.  Delicious and unique recipes include cooking oils, seasoning salts and sprinkles, herbal honeys, cordials, and vinegars.  

Herbal Medicine for Children

HERBAL HEALING FOR CHILDREN BY DEMETRIA CLARK

A practical guide, this book gives parents an introduction to herbalism and teaches them how to make simple herbal remedies for common childhood conditions.

NATURALLY HEALTHY BABIES AND CHILDREN BY AVIVA JILL ROMM

Offers easy-to-understand herbal and dietary recommendations for the common health conditions and symptoms children face as babies through pre-adolescence

HERBS FOR CHILDREN’S HEALTH BY ROSEMARY GLADSTAR  

Recipes and instructions for making herbal remedies for common childhood ailments, offers clear dosing guidelines, and profiles 24 herbs especially suited for children.

Aromatherapy + Essential Oils

AROMATHERAPY: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE HEALING ART BY KATHI KEVILLE AND MINDY GREEN

In this encyclopedic guide to the most fragrant of healing arts, master aromatherapists Kathi Keville and Mindy Green draw on their extensive expertise with botanical therapies to provide a one-stop resource for students and practitioners. 

THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ESSENTIAL OILS AND AROMATHERAPY BY VALERIE ANN WORWOOD

A necessary resource for anyone interested in alternative approaches to healing and lifestyle, this new edition of Valerie's must have aromatherapy book contains more than 800 easy-to-follow recipes for essential oil treatments. This complete volume explains, in practical and easy-to-understand terminology, how to incorporate essential oils and aromatherapy into everyday life for personal care, physical, mental, and emotional health, and a safe home environment.

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ESSENTIAL OILS: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE USE OF AROMATIC OILS IN AROMATHERAPY, HERBALISM, HEALTH, AND WELL BEING BY JULIA LAWLESS

This is the definitive A-Z reference guide to essential oils commonly used in aromatherapy. In this detailed and systematic compilation of nearly 200 essential oils, aromatherapy expert Julia Lawless shares her extensive knowledge of oils both common and uncommon and their many uses. Easy to use, this volume lets you access information in a variety of ways with a therapeutic index, a botanical index, botanical classifications, and safety information.

Fermentation

THE ART OF FERMENTATION: AN IN-DEPTH EXPLORATION OF ESSENTIAL CONCEPTS AND PROCESSES FROM AROUND THE WORLDBY SANDOR ELLIX KATZ AND MICHAEL POLLAN

Winner of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship, and a New York Times bestseller, The Art of Fermentation is the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published. Sandor Katz presents the concepts and processes behind fermentation in ways that are simple enough to guide a reader through their first experience making sauerkraut or yogurt, and in-depth enough to provide greater understanding and insight for experienced practitioners.

Meditation

REAL HAPPINESS: THE POWER OF MEDITATION: A 28-DAY PROGRAM BY SHARON SALZBERG

Thousands of years prove it, and Western science backs it: Meditation sharpens focus. Meditation lowers blood pressure, relieves chronic pain, reduces stress. Meditation helps us experience greater calm. Meditation connects us to our inner-most feelings and challenges our habits of self-judgment. Meditation helps protectthe brain against aging and improves our capacity for learning new things. Meditation opens the door to real and accessible happiness. And there's no better person to show a beginner how to harness the power of meditation than Sharon Salzberg, one of the world’s foremost meditation teachers and spiritual authors.

THE MIRACLE OF MINDFULNESS: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PRACTICE OF MEDITATION BY THICH NHAT HANH AND VO-DIHN MAI

In this beautiful and lucid guide, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercise as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness--being awake and fully aware. From washing the dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, he reminds us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness.

SOURCES FOR BUYING ESSENTIAL OILS

Counterfeit oils are often toxic and always diluted, and they can be dangerous to use. Buy from a reliable source. It takes 250 pounds of rose blossoms to produce one (1) ounce (30ml) of rose oil, which explains the very high cost of pure rose otto or rose absolute (Encyclopedia Brittanica, 2015.) Some oils are easier to produce, but every oil requires a large amount of plant matter to produce a small amount of oil. This means that good quality essential oils will never be cheap. This does not mean that more expensive oils will always be better than less expensive ones, but the old adage, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” definitely applies here. Do not be fooled by discount retailers, big box stores, or random vendors who offer essential oils at very low prices or charge the same price for all of their oils. An essential oil business that cares about selling only pure essential oils will have their oils tested with at least two tests, usually run simultaneously, the gas chromatography and mass spectrometry tests, or GC/MS. Many offer the results of these on their website. 

INDEPENDENT SUPPLIERS (LISTED ALPHABETICALLY):

Aromatics International – Batch-specific GC/MS reports for every oil posted on the website. Organic, unsprayed, and wildcrafted oils available in various sizes. Owned and run by certified aromatherapists.

Stillpoint Aromatics – Batch-specific GC/MS reports for every oil posted on the website. Organic, unsprayed, and wild-crafted oils available in various sizes. Company owned and run by certified aromatherapists.

Florihana – A modern French distillery that sells organic and wildcrafted essential oils. GC/MS and other test results are available on their website for each batch of oil.

Native American Nutritionals/Rocky Mountain Oils – Organic and wildcrafted essential oils sourced from small farms around the world. GC/MS tests available upon request.

Essential Elements – Organic, wildcrafted and unsprayed essential oils. GC/MS tests available upon request. Certified aromatherapist, massage therapists, and aesthetician on staff.

Essential 3 – Staff has clinical aromatherapists, a massage therapist, an aesthetician and an RN for customer support questions. Oils are GC/MS tested.

Plant Therapy – Certified aromatherapists on staff for customer support. Batch testing GC/MS results of pesticide-free oils on their website. Supports a broad variety of charitable organizations world-wide.

Pompeii Organics – Owned and operated by a certified aromatherapist. Organic and wild-crafted essential oils are third party tested for quality. Batch-specific GC/MS test results on the website.

Elizabeth Van Buren – Long-time established company owned by a certified aromatherapist and a chemist. GC/MS results available upon request.

AnimalEO – Owned by a holistic veterinarian who has studied the effects of essential oils on both livestock and pet animals. She acquires oils directly from distilleries to create animal-appropriate blends and dilutions.

Aura Cacia – Sustainably sourced essential oils that are often sold locally in health food stores. On the cheaper side, but still fine. 

Mountain Rose Herbs – Dedicated to sustainability and fair trade. Organic and pesticide-free essential oils with GC/MS reports available upon request.