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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

cal-mag tea

Let's chat briefly about making a cal-mag supplement today. This has come up several times recently, in very different circles. I like to source out whole foods and use herbs as nutritional supplements where possible (let thy food be thy medicine, et cetera), so I first made myself a calcium magnesium blend of herbs for tea several years ago. I've tweaked it several times since then, and done a lot more reading.

As you can see, I am pushing a book at you. The below pics are of a book I own, Nutritional Herbology: A Reference Guide to Herbs, by Mark Pedersen. Very helpful book. It doesn't cover everything I like to keep in my little home apothecary, but it does cover a lot. When I want to put together my own herbal supplements, whether powdered for adding to smoothies or nut butter medicine bites, or chopped or rubbed dried herbs for infusing, decocting, or setting up in a tincture, I like to have some idea what I'm getting out of it. I don't want to overload my system with one set of vitamins and minerals while inadvertently missing out something else. While my methods are not an exact science and I couldn't tell you exactly what I'm getting of each vitamin or mineral, I do at least have a reasonable foundation for knowing what balance of nutrients I am putting in my body.

Hopefully, this gets you started.

Magnesium ranges = 500 mg + is very high
Book "Nutritional Herbology" by Mark Pedersen, Whitman Publications 2010
Why use a cal-mag supplement?
  1. "Calcium helps control blood clotting and is required for the absorption of B-12." I am prone to passing clots during my monthly period, which is more painful than an even flow. I am also prone to depression, and have been for most of my life. B-12 is a supplement I take as needed in liquid form, and several family members as well as I have found that the use of B-12 helps to control mood imbalances. 
  2. "Calcium is the main constituent of bones and teeth and helps to regulate blood pressure, the excitability of nerves and the contractability of the muscles and heart." 
  3. A number of enzymes cannot function without calcium. We cannot digest and absorb nutrients efficiently without enzymes. 
  4. Osteoporosis, the weakening and decalifying of bones, is an accumulative condition, built over a lifetime of habits and behaviors that diminish general health and/or vitamin D, which is a necessary synergist for calcium. "Vitamin D is the precursor to a hormone which triggers the absorption of calcium chelates (calcium bound to protein, amino acids, etc.) in the intestinal wall." 
  5. "Many sources of calcium contain significant quantities of heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury." I want to obtain calcium for strong bones without such strings attached. 
  6. "Magnesium is prevalent in bones and is the second most abundant cation in cells, especially the smooth, muscle artery cells. Optimum magnesium levels are vital in the synthesis of RNA, DNA and proteins." 
  7. The RDA is 350-450 mg daily, and we get roughly 120 mg per 1000 calories of food, which means that women, generally having a lower need for calories than men, might be more lacking in optimum levels of magnesium. 
  8. "Without the tempering influence of magnesium, the arteries, especially in the heart and brain, tense up. This constricts blood flow which can lead ot high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and migraine headaches." 
  9. "Magnesium deficiencies can also lead to Kwashiorkor, thrombosis, calcium oxalate kidney stone formation, uncontrollable muscle tics and premenstrual syndrome symptoms such as nervousness and a craving for sweets." 
  10. "Even living in a hot climate is a risk factor since humans do not acclimatize to magnesium loss through perspiration as we do for potassium and sodium excretion."
  11. "Calcium stimulates muscle fibers to tense and contract, while magnesium acts as a control mechanism that regulates the amount of calcium that enters the cells."
That's a fair list of reasons. In particular, women who are pregnant or nursing, or both, might likely find themselves feeling better, complaining less of nightly leg cramping or restless legs, suffering from fewer headaches, and providing for the nutritional needs of their children without depleting their own bodies by taking a cal-mag herbal supplement. 

Easy recipe, in the simpler's method -- parts measured by volume of your choosing. Most recommendations I have found suggest consuming calcium to magnesium in a 2:1 ratio, so that was my goal in this blend. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to read them in the comments at the bottom of the page!

Cal-mag Tea

3 nettles

3 oatstraw
3 shavegrass
2 peppermint
2 red raspberry leaf

2 dandelion tops 
optional 1 alfalfa 

(Alfalfa is high in vitamin K which aids blood clotting. I personally prefer to avoid all alfalfa in the week pre-menstruating as cramping is then significantly reduced.) 

optional stevia to sweeten

This is lovely as a tea, infused with boiling water in a covered pot for 15 mins.

As an alcoholic tincture, set up 1 oz weight of the mixed herbs into a pint jar, cover with a good quality brandy, cap and store for 4 weeks from full moon to full moon. The phases of the moon help to draw out properties of the herbs into the menstruum (the brandy) in the same way as the pulling of the moon affects the tide each month, so while not vital this can be a helpful way to make a potent tincture. I simply like to look at the moon so my memory is more easily triggered by a full moon than the calendar on the wall when I need to draw a finished tincture. Once strained of the herbs, add to the infused brandy 1 oz liquid of raw honey and pure bottled lemon juice, shake and store.

As a non-alcoholic tincture, set up
1 oz weight of the mixed herbs into a pint jar, cover with apple cider vinegar, cap and store for 4 weeks from full moon to full moon. Flavor with lemon and honey as for the brandy above.

Or, set up 1 oz weight of the mixed herbs into a pint jar, cover with 60:40 ratio of pure vegetable glycerine and pure distilled water, and follow the instructions here, by Bulk Herb Store, for making a glycerite in the crock pot. This video by Shoshanna shows a method that only takes three days and yields a safe, yummy tincture which is easy to feed to children and picky pregnant mamas, so this is my favorite way to set up a cal-mag supplement. You can mix together the glycerite tincture with the brandy tincture for a less alcoholic but very effective and good tasting tincture.

Most tinctures are strong enough in this proportion of herbs to menstruum that 1 tsp daily is sufficient for most adults.

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