Are you getting enough calcium?”  No dietary question seems to be asked more in this country except “Are you getting enough protein?”  I guess the meat and dairy industries have made sure of that.  What’s truly unfortunate is that when most Americans answer yes, they’re really answering no. The dirty little secret that folks in the U.S. mainstream don’t know is that the pasteurized milk products we consume actually LEACH calcium out of our bodies.

Furthermore, in our “take-one-pill-for-one-condition-and-you’ll-be-fine” mindset, most Americans also do not realize that the form in which you receive dietary calcium is crucial.  The body needs to be able to recognize the calcium as calcium.  I’ve mentioned this in other posts before.  Simply taking powdered and pelleted rock and marking CHECK on your Vitamin To-Do List may ease your conscience, but it won’t benefit your body.  In fact, by its indigestibility, it will harm your body.  That’s because the body needs calcium in a bioavailable form, or in other words, calcium clearly wrapped in the recognizable wrapping paper of a living cell.  That’s not all.  Calcium can’t do it’s job alone.  It needs cofactors in order to be fully utilized within the body, including vitamin D the body makes itself from the sun, and the mineral silica.

So if we can’t follow the wide, broad cow path on our merry way to calcium nirvana, where is our straight and narrow alternative way?  It’s right before our eyes, in a beautiful journey through the plant kingdom.

Letting our food be our medicine and our medicine be our food, we can deliberately choose to eat calcium-rich leafy greens and other vegetables, calcium-rich nuts and seeds, calcium-rich fruits.  If we can grow our own or buy from local farmers, we can be more assured of the quality of the soil, water and plants themselves.  Yet even if our busy lives require shopping at grocery stores and membership warehouses for our produce, there is still a way to ensure our diets have enough calcium to make us smile; It’s through herbal medicine.

Our family regularly uses three calcium-rich herbal formulas to feed our bodies the calcium they need.  First, we use Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Tooth and Gum formula to brush our teeth.  There is a noticible change in the temperament of our little ones when they are teething based on whether or not they are getting this formula every day.  There is more crying and whining when I forget to let them chew on their little powder-covered toothbrushes.

The other formula I like to use is also by Dr. Christopher.  It’s his Herbal Calcium formula.  I take this when I am pregnant or breastfeeding, especially when I have a teething baby.  I’ve also noticed that my overall health improves when I am getting this perfect form of assimilable calcium, and that makes me feel good because of the heart disease that runs in my family.  Heart health is closely linked to calcium levels.  Both of these formulas can be made by you at home, on your own, since Dr. Christopher chose to patent them, though he could have.

Finally, our family regularly consumes calcium-rich herbal teas. First, I buy and drink Dr. Christopher’s Calcium Tea with Comfrey. Unlike any other calcium formula out there, Dr. Christopher’s recipe does not omit silica, which is required by the body to utilize calcium.  The formula has shavegrass, comfrey root, oat straw and lobelia.  Second, we drink  a delicious Pregnancy Tea; a calcium-and-iron rich herbal tea formula which is great for more than just pregnancy. My kids drink it like other children drink pop or kool-aid, and don’t even ask to have it sweetened anymore. I obtained this recipe from master herbalist, Kal Sellers, and his wife Traci. I order the herbs in bulk online, mix them together in a 5-gallon bucket made of food-safe plastic, and keep all but a 2-quart jar for kitchen use safely stored in our cool, dark basement. As measured by weight, Pregnancy Tea requires: 2 parts Red Raspberry Leaf, 1 part Alfalfa, 1 part Comfrey Leaf, and 1/2 part Peppermint Leaf. As Traci recommends, we make the tea with a coffee maker. This convenience is VERY helpful for me, because it makes keeping this tea as a regular part of our diet pretty easy. We like to drink it chilled with meals.

As a side note, please do not be alarmed about the comfrey. There is a lot of deliberate mythology out there about this wonderfully nutritious herb. I found these resources about comfrey informative, reassuring and trustworthy.

These ideas have worked well for us, and I you might find that they work for you, too.  Let me know how it goes.