“Cold” Season

mandala, art, healing, play, ball, drawing
Image Cited

I recently had to battle the common cold! I felt the cold itself moving around my upper respiratory tract, from my nasal cavities and sinus, to my throat and chest. So many people experience the common cold and during “cold season” this bug circulates around small communities on a daily basis like wildfire.

What do you do when you feel yourself getting sick, or suddenly find yourself completely ill?

So much emphasis in holistic medicine is on prevention. Not prevention in the sense of a flu shot, but prevention in the sense of nutrition building so that your body can be ready to fight when it needs to (ie: the immune system defense). Most of the time when I ‘catch the common cold,’ I am completely stressed out, overworked, and full of stress hormones. Then, there is an emotional component attached to the state of being sick.

Catching a cold provokes blameful thoughts like, “I did everything to prevent this…how did I get sick?!” But this always challenges me to slow down, to listen to what my needs are, and to address them. It’s as if your body is saying, no, I need rest.

In the herbal community, we are encouraged to pay close attention to our body’s responses and symptoms. For example, if you have a cough, know everything about the cough. Is it a dry cough or a cough where you’re expelling mucus? Simple clues are important to help you to choose which remedies will help. Also, knowing these clues will help your care provider in treating you as well, not only with seasonal issues (as those are mostly cured with rest and nutrition) but also with other ailments. I think that this is the root of “being you own doctor.”

My friend shared a healing story where she caught strep throat and healed it through eating only nourishing soup for a number of days. In the soup she put: garlic, bok choy, mushrooms, onion. When I am sick I focus on ingesting high amounts of nutrients: vitamin C, garlic, honey, hot herbal infusions, chicken soup, and miso. I know that we all have our own ways of coping with the common cold, or other seasonal illnesses, please feel free to share some tips!

Food: the thing that keeps you going

I’m not sure what the dictionary definition of Winter Break is, but I have a suspicion that it goes something like: time to rest, reprieve, regroup, and recover.

As I use this time to catch up with myself, one of my main focuses is developing a meal planning strategy for the upcoming semester. It takes a lot of food energy to keep going during the semester. More than calories, it is so essential to maintain a balanced diet so that the body system can be supported to function properly and to avoid sickness and sluggishness.

My sister told me about a book called Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown. The book contains recipes for a $4 a day food stamps budget. This got me thinking because, while not on food stamps, this is my basic budget range for buying food each week.

Budget aside, my values for natural healing also tend to govern choices that I make when it comes to both purchasing and preparing food. I learned how to prepare whole meals from fresh and raw materials. Without a doubt it takes skill to transform a head of cabbage, a sack of onions, a bunch of kale, a pound of raw meat, and a gallon of water into a week’s worth of food.

It makes sense to me to eat whole foods, not because the grocery conglomerate is so hip, but because that is food in its most naked form. Raw materials are what come from the farm and these types of foods do not have corn, sugar, or hydrogen injected into them, for who-knows-what-reason. Looking at food as raw material deconstructs diet into the four basic chemically necessary macromolecules: lipids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, and proteins.

joetoddssoup
Photo Credit to J. Todd

But the sustenance part is the focus here. Digestion is a key player in mood stability, hormonal balance, immunity, the ability to handle stress, and to adapt to environmental changes. So, with budget and well-being in mind, I am preparing meal ideas with the help of some stellar resources including (and not limited to): Dr. Christopher’s The School of Natural Healing and The Moosewood Collective’s Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special.

Some highlights include: homemade mayonnaise, freshly prepared soup stock, raw salads with basic vegetable combinations, freshly baked breads and biscuits. Basic combinations offered by Dr. Christopher include: carrots, raisins, and celery; cauliflower, peas, parsley; apples, celery, parsley; cabbage, celery, onions, olives. One cooking tip is that you can make variations to salads with the way in which you chop the vegetables, for example: shredding versus dicing or finely chopping.

Garlic stock from the Moosewood Collective contains: fresh garlic cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, potatoes, celery, carrots, thyme, and parsley. Another tip is that if you need some quick protein and buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, use the carcass to make chicken stock by throwing in all kinds of vegetable scraps (potato peels, dried mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion skins, and dried herbs of all kinds). Stocks like this contain nutrients essential for your sustenance; just add rice and some fresh kale and miso paste (fermented soy)…. May the SOUP be with you.

https://i0.wp.com/www.prodifact.com/photos/Allium%20sativum%20L._1.jpg
Garlic (Allium sativum) Photo Credit: http://www.prodifact.com/1allium-sativum.html

Lobelia inflata

Lobelia inflata

Lobelia_inflata_-_K-hler-s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-218

This plant is native to the eastern united states and parts of Canada.  The common name for Lobelia inflata is Indian tobacco.  The flowers are tubular in shape and blue or white in color, although the parts used medicinally are the leaves, seeds, and seed pods. I have not been acquainted with this plant in its wild form, but the reputation of its medicinal uses precedes it.

I was taught about Lobelia inflata as a necessary addition to any first aid kit.  The tincture of the dried plant is used in emergent situations from anaphylactic shock and asthma attacks to other situations that may require regurgitation.  The tincture may cause vomiting, but this dosage is dependent on age and weight, and varies from two drops to a whole dropper-full.  The recommendation is that if lobelia is needed, then vomiting would be a mere side effect to a state of shock or labored breathing.

The tea of lobelia dried is also a used as a nervine tonic.  It is soothing, and can be mixed with mullein to promote smoking cessation.  Or mixed with chamomile to soothe a headache.  In addition to an alcohol based extract (tincture) and infusion (tea), a fellow herbalist told me that she used a salve (oil extract) with lobelia to soothe muscle spasms.  In soothing the nervous system, organ and muscle functioning is aided and regulated.

13357-vintage-illustration-of-the-human-nervous-system-pv

This herb is a great example of a plant which has many uses, and different applications for each respective preparation.  I think the way in which the plant chemicals are extracted from the plant lends to various potencies.  I have not been in the situation where I needed to use lobelia as an emergency herb.  But I have experienced its soothing effects from an infusion: I bought dried lobelia from an herb shop where they sell bulk herbs, and prepared tea.  It is without a doubt potent, but I did not vomit!  Rosemary Gladstar recommends that when learning about herbs, it is best to try the herbs, smell them, look at them, and keep a small amount in your apothecary.  In doing this, you will assemble a small index of plants and refer to their uses and preparations time and time again, so that a stranger becomes a new friend.

Autumn Alliance

Sunset

It’s harvest time! Honestly, autumn is my favorite time of year. It always feels profound to experience this major transition each year.  The leaves have nearly all fallen here, but there are still some vibrant yellows, oranges and red colors along the horizon.  Squash, apples and onions are fresh from the farm and are jam-packed with the nutrients we need to support our immune systems through the change.

I was listening to an archived interview last night, from The Herbal Highway.  I think this radio show has been on for a long time and has followers all over the country, it is streaming online. Find it here. Thanks to my sisters at the SEWW for telling me about this program!

The show that sparked my creativity to write this blog! The interview is with an herbalist from the pacific northwest, and she talked about plants that I often miss: such as Oregon grape root, elderberry, huckleberries, rose hips, and white pine. All of these plants have tremendous potential for maintaining health and healing certain conditions.

Rosehips

I don’t want to go into all of the uses for these plants here, but I really am feeling connected to this idea of the essence of plants, and of the connection these amazing fresh foods and herbs have with the harvest time! The huckleberries and the elderberries and rose hips all become ready to harvest this time of year (this post is either at the tail end or missing them, actually).  Similar to the smell of the autumn out East, musty, damp leaves and tannic black walnuts.  Native Americans named the moons to remind themselves what time of year it was, and the harvest moon takes on a whole new meaning when you’re tuned into what it actually means for your health and survival.

Black Walnuts Growing

In my own way, I am taking a moment to really be thankful for the plants that mark this seasonal change, and the influence that has for well-being. Tender moments like this, it becomes evident that the dance with nature is on-going and blessed.  The connection that we have with the lands where we live are superior to the box stores that you find in anywhere-America.  And the notion of living with the support that is being offered to us by those lands makes the herbal remedies more potent than a product from a store.  Furthermore, the responsibility we all have as herbalists to steward, revitalize and protect the land is great.  What is your favorite aspect of Autumn?

I hope you have a happy Autumn and harvest responsibly! Love and Light you Y’all..

Huckleberry

Have you called The White House Today?

Leonard Peltier; http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/home/about-peltier/artist/
Leonard Peltier; http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/home/about-peltier/artist/

On the daily there are so many issues that crave our attention. I guess we literally choose what to focus on, and sometimes it’s just our own lives because sometimes making that work is enough. Recently though, I heard about a surge of support for Leonard Peltier, which has really inspired me.

Leonard Peltier is a Native American elder, artist, and humanitarian who remains behind bars because of racial profiling and a flawed system.  As the election circus happens [again], Leonard Peltier is incarcerated in a maximum security federal prison. The Lakota Grandmothers, the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, and many more autonomous groups are all calling for Executive Clemency for this man who means so much to so many people.

An incomplete history of Native American people is covered in history class, but their struggle is not over.  The Native people, who tend the land and honor Mother Earth and all the beings here, sends a strong message to a fast-growing world which is disconnected from the devastation of the Earth and the separation of people and animals.

http://theendofbeing.com/2015/06/26/blood-in-the-hills-leonard-peltier-and-the-pine-ridge-reservation-shootout-40-years-later/
http://theendofbeing.com/2015/06/26/blood-in-the-hills-leonard-peltier-and-the-pine-ridge-reservation-shootout-40-years-later/

Leonard Peltier is from the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, a place that speaks so strongly and so loudly that it will move you to tears (which was my experience when I visited there).  The land and the people are so infinitely intertwined as they share their struggle, their oppression, as well as their beauty, their inspiration, and their spiritual strength.   I believe that the land-based movement has a part in the conversation for racial justice and ultimately spiritual solidarity. Calling for the support of Leonard Peltier’s will give voice to calls unheard by so many. President Obama, please listen and free this innocent man!

More about Leonard Peltier can be found HERE. And more about the case is HERE.

This movement has no central fundraising, and your voice will speak louder than any other contribution, so, Please, call The White House Today at 202-456-1111 and leave a message for President Obama. If enough of us call, he will listen.

Yours in Solidarity.

Volition of Nutrition

TreeofLife

Last weekend was the Southeast Wise Woman Conference.  This was my first year as a participant and a partial volunteer. Despite the rain, wind, and cold weather, women still gathered from near and far to learn, to share, to heal, and to be present with each other.  I learned so much about physiology, nutrition, herbal healing, and community herbalism, and have weeks of inspiration to draw from for this Blog project that I’ve been working on for over 5 months. Thank you to all of the presenters!

First and foremost, I want to share some things about a nutrition based lifestyle, specifically, as it relates to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. A proper diet is the center of health and healing as we know it. This aspect is growing in importance as our food security within the global community is jeopardized by large agriculture business, genetically modified foods, overpopulation, and fossil fuel scarcity.  Food security, in my opinion, is the root of healthcare.

On the cellular (and chemical) level, that which we ingest becomes a part of us. In addition, that which we put on our skins is integrated into the body’s system as well. I heard a lot of women this weekend say, “don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat.” Wow!

Just like the most basic cycle that we all learned about in elementary school, The Water Cycle, our bodies are cycles of input and output.  Each chemical message that our body receives, it responds to, either with a normal functioning response or with an immune response.

Our bodies utilize the nutrition it receives to send messages, to contract and relax muscles, to think, to talk, and function each day and night.  The body’s immune response is a defense mechanism.  Similar to the nervous system response to threats (ie: “Bear! Run!”), antigens prompt white blood cells to travel through the body to a site of inflammation, irritation, and distress.  The stress response and the immune response are different, but so very linked.

Back to inflammation. Depending on someone’s propensity to inflammation, the body may be in a feedback loop of continually responding to messages of distress.  We need nutrition to help soothe this imbalance and to nourish the body so that it may reorient from a mode of distress back to normal functioning.  Easier said than done, but not completely out of reach.

Without going into many details, below are some supplements known to assist in this healing process.  Tumeric, black pepper, fish oil, antioxidants! Antioxidants include foods with color such as blueberries, sweet potatoes, greens, fruits, and so on; spices such as: cayenne, cumin, mineral salt, garlic, ginger; aromatic herbs: marjoram, rosemary, thyme, mint, sage; and green tea is known to have antioxidant powers. These foods need to be consumed with regularity and consistency to have a serious effect on the body. Once you start a routine incorporating antioxidant rich foods, it will be hard to go back to the absence of this nutritious regiment.
If you’re in an emergent situation of imflammation, then the body should be flooded with more than a typical amount.  For instance you might want to intake higher doses per day of tumeric with black pepper to increase its absorption. Make a change, from coffee to green tea. Changing your regular patterns is a necessity.

Undergoing the change into living a healthier lifestyle centered around nutrition will bridge the gap between natural healing and emotional or spiritual growth.  This is because it is not easy to relinquish old patterns, and emotions and emotional patterns surrounding food run deep.

The conversation on this topic is ongoing and, as always, you wonderful readers are welcomed to leave comments, thoughts, suggestions. I wish you happy days and healthy foods!

Love and Light…
Liane

Black Walnut Part II

BlackWalnutI

I was able to collect a bunch of Black Walnuts this past weekend! They are sitting here in a box now, waiting for the green hulls to turn black so that I can remove the hull from the nut and use that for a tincture.  An amazing herbalist who I asked for recommendations about Black Walnut said that grinding up the brown, dried hulls for powder is a good addition to any apothecary too for use at a later time in the form of a poultice. The tincture may be used internally, digestion issues, and the poultice is topical, athlete’s foot.

I’m also really excited to eat the walnuts this winter! The nuts are known to be high in fats.  The Black Walnut tree bears a fruit that has many uses for healing and sustenance.  In the past, I’ve collected pounds and pounds of Black Walnuts, but this year I am keeping the harvest to a manageable size for one!

Juglans nigra, the Black Walnut tree is so amazing to me. They grow to be very tall, and of course is a hard wood. The bark is grayish and the leaves are single toothed, a long ovular, and alternate on the stems. Stay tuned for further pictures and posts about the progress of the autumn project!

The squirrels were here, gathering food for winter!
The squirrels were here, gathering food for winter!