I was inspired to write this after reading an article that really resonated with me and gave me reassurance that studying, utilizing, and aspiring to be an herbalist is well worth it! It was an article in the Guardian by Mark Boyle Click to view article. I am impressed with the author’s ability to “live off the grid” which, unfortunately, is not a lifestyle we are able to transition to at this point in our lives but maybe in 10-15 years it will be; especially if my husband and I can stay healthy.
What I really loved was the author’s mentioning of herbal remedies that he utilizes and that his girlfriend is also an aspiring herbalist. The hand drawn picture at the top of the page is a depiction of my own lifestyle, and coming across this article made me consider the reasons I’ve been drawn to discovering and researching the healing power of plants.
Now that my tinctures are stacking up and the various brown paper bags, wrapped with rubber bands, swollen and packed with dried herbs are piled up in the kitchen cabinets, I am experiencing a sense of “being prepared for the winter.” It has taken a lot of time and commitment but with each task there is a rewarding and satisfying result that I don’t get with most other chores.
Each day that I go out to the garden to discover what is ready to be plucked, nurtured, and gathered there is a peace and tranquility that enraptures me. There is honestly nothing that soothes and comforts me more than being immersed in nature. Then when that nature is a bountiful garden that I have helped to grow and nurture; it brings a sense of interconnection and attachment. The array of bees buzzing , dragonflies bobbing and weaving, and the butterflies fluttering and dancing on the wind is such a beautiful show to sit back and just observe while letting my mind be consumed by its vast delicacies and nuances. It is absolutely delightful and calming to my mental health.
This daily exploration is all part of my overall health and well-being lifestyle, but there are other things that I incorporate as well. Recently I started to reintroduce a yoga routine at least 3 times a week which includes meditation/mindfulness, and last week I began my transition to exercising at our local YMCA twice a week. Then there are my efforts to buy healthy foods when I shop and be vigilant about reading food labels. There is definitely room to improve when it comes to sweets/sugar because I will admit that this is where my weakness is. With my love of food comes an even greater love of baking, and even though I try to incorporate health into most of my baked goods, I continue to indulge too often in baked sweets. There are always goals and room for improvement in anyone’s health and this is definitely mine. My main concern is the heart issues which are prevalent on my dad’s side of the family.
Another aspect of my health that often goes unnoticed or under discussed is keeping my mind sharp. After our last presidential election I vowed to stay informed which has gotten me in the habit of reading current events articles, similar to the one I referenced above, on a daily basis. I try to stick to credible sources and balance between serious and leisure articles/posts; my favorite still being fellow bloggers’ writings! I also have introduced some word and math games into my repertoire as well as, more book reading (I am almost finished with my Descartes book!!).
Reading daily started to become a habit the more I did it and led me to realizing that word games such as Word Winder, Scrabble, and word searches became much easier the more time I spent doing it. Reading daily and searching for learning games that my 3 year old son and I can play together has not only helped me make the connection between the importance of reading and word recognition but has, as a result, given me more encouragement and reasons to NEVER STOP READING!!
Writing also goes hand in hand with this. The more I write, the more words I look up, punctuation rules I review, new words I learn, and practice I get. This is something that, as my children grow and demand less of my time, I plan to engage in much more!! They really do distract, divert, and take attention away whenever I am in the process of reading or trying to write. Even yesterday at the park a classmate of my daughter’s, even though she could see I was reading a book, came over and kept asking me various questions like, “What year were you born?” and then telling me a story as if it was true when she was actually lying the whole time and then nonchalantly saying, “None of that happened at all. I made it all up,” after I gullably commented. It seemed like a far fetched thing to have happened, but I was hoping if I nodded and just believed the tale it would pacify her and she would leave me to my novel.
Even though I have read a few articles negating and attacking homeopathy since I began writing this post, (crazy how within 24 hours my mood can change and doubts can take over about my new found craft/trade/passion) I can honestly say that drinking tea and my daily regimen of taking a few homemade tinctures has had effective and noticeable results; regardless of the their denial and nay saying. Both my children recently came down with colds, sneezing/runny nose/sore throat/cough; the kind that normally lingers for weeks because the drainage leads to congestion and a cough. I immediately started giving my daughter some tinctures in water a few times a day (Lemon Balm, Yarrow, Calendula, and Goldenrod). These are said to have various effects against colds and flues because they are immune stimulants. Lemon Balm is an overall immune booster and is known for its antimicrobial affects as well as, aiding the digestive system. Since our guts are the home to our microbiome which is directly responsible for our body’s ability to fight off disease, it seems essential to assist it with complimentary herbs; especially when sick. This is because herbs are such a wonderful proactive way to supply our insides with preventative little ninjas that spread the good stuff (antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, phytosterols and many other plant derived nutrient substances) throughout the body, increase our ability to fight off infections, and rid us of the bad stuff (toxins)!!
Goldenrod is used to reduce the symptoms of hayfever and other allergies, which is something I felt may possibly be responsible for their symptoms. It also has astringent, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties while helping to relieve upper respiratory issues.
Calendula is an herb and tincture with so many benefits across the board, but it is especially good when a cold has set in. This is definitely a preventative as well as, used for treating acute symptoms. It has antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Yarrow is especially useful for helping rid the body of mucus while soothing and reducing the swelling of irritated sinuses.
At one point my daughter complained her throat was itchy and sore so I immediately gave her about 1 ml of each tincture in water and within minutes she said it, “magically” felt better and didn’t come back again. My son’s runny nose only lasted a day where the last cold he got like this produced horrible mucus that lasted for about a week and a half and a cough that lingered for at least two. Neither of them had persistent coughs, sneezes, or runny noses this time; even with my daughter just having gone back to school before and after she got sick. The brunt of it cleared up within a day!
In the end I have observed and come to the conclusion that health is definitely a combination of various wellness activities, initiatives, sacrifices, and routines. The balance between all of them and being realistic about the vital importance of how life must be nurtured and cared for conscientiously for it to be enjoyable, fulfilling, and ultimately; worth living, is of the essence! It is critical and crucial for our lives to be a constant effort to keep the scales of responsibility, stress, emotions, pain, love, hope, desire, passion, creation, self-care, etc., balanced. I truly feel it is the primary solution for combating the abuses and exploitation of others and our environment. Be kind and nourish your body, mind and soul with a mindful and balanced approach for health and well-being; not just for you but for the betterment of our world!!!
Happy Autumnal Equinox!!
The research I have compiled is not meant to be a medical treatment or cure. It is based on information I have gathered and should be read as a suggestion/basic information for educational purposes. If you have not used herbs and are unsure about possible side effects please contact a licensed medicinal herbalist or medical doctor. Most herbs are not recommended for children or women who are pregnant/breastfeeding.