September Breeze, September Sneeze: Five Powerful Home Remedies for the Fall
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Beautiful Knotweed, loaded with Honeybees
On the tails of the sweet apple air of late summer, we get ragweed hay fever, viruses from schools and public places, and the increase in workload putting undue strain on our defenses. No one should be sick in bed during the most stunningly beautiful part of the New England year!
One of the first things I do when this season hits is switch up the kitchen habits.
Bone broth simmers in the crock pot, I buy extra garlic, ginger and onion, and I make a concerted effort to make nourishing herbal infusions every day.
If you're not familiar with nourishing herbal infusions (shout-out to Susun Weed and Juliette de Bairacli Levy here!) they are simple, power-packed 'teas' that lend an incredible amount of bio-available nutrients and are safe to use on a daily basis for optimal health. Many herbalists include them in their daily regime and will also attest to their incredible healing and fortifying capacity.
Left: Oatstraw, Marshmallow, Coconut,
Middle: Linden, Apricot, Fennel,
Right: Red Clover, Elderberry, Prunes
Nourishing Herbal Infusion:
Into a heat proof quart canning jar add:
~1 ounce by weight of dried nourishing herb
~pour in hot boiled water to the top
~cover (I like to reverse my liner cap so the heat wont suction it shut)
~let sit at least 4 hours, or overnight
~strain and drink, 1/2-1 quart per day
~Feel free to add lemon or honey or milk to your liking.
Herbal infused honeys are priceless to have stocked in the pantry for the germy seasons.
Honey as we know is naturally antimicrobial, and is incredibly soothing to inflamed mucous membrane tissue. Since it's also a natural preservative, it makes an ideal carrier for fresh aromatic herbs that treat the throat and stomach, like Sage, Thyme, Mint, Bee Balm, Lavender, and Basil. Tree medicine is delicious in honey too - Pine or Fir needles, Birch bark, and Sassafras root make honeys worth worshiping.
Dried herbs can also be stirred into honey for an excellent paste to aid strep throat, bronchitis, and tonsillitis. Turmeric, slippery Elm, and a pinch of ginger is my favorite combination for this use.
Herbal honey is especially useful when the stomach bug strikes and water is not desired unless lots and lots of fresh lemon juice is added. Herbal honeys added to the lemon water are almost always well tolerated and will contribute to hydration as well as help kill the virus.
Rose and Lemon Verbena steam
Aromatic Steam Tent
Ahhhhh steam. When the head and chest are blocked up with congestion and won't drain, an herbal steam is in order.
Herbal Steam: To a pot of just boiled water, add an aromatic.
Herbs I mentioned for the honey are excellent; as are Rosemary, Chamomile, Birch, and Hyssop. Just add a handful of your chosen herbs to the pot at the end of the boiling, and let steep for 1-2 minutes, covered, before using.
Essential oils should be added with care, especially with children, as too much can burn the eyes and nostrils. I like to use a dollop of my Breathing Balm for this, because I know it's just the right amount and the perfect combination. But you can use a few drops of your own Eucalyptus, lavender, or Rosemary essential oils.
Carefully place the pot on a potholder on a table, and cover your head with a towel to create a steam tent. Have some tissues on hand, and make certain you close your eyes!
10-20 minutes is plenty, and you can use your own judgement of how long you want to be under there, and how frequently you want to steam.
Not the kind that light up your Saturday night, but the kind that give you super-powers. Dried fruit included in your decoctions, added to dinner as a compote, or used in your milk decoctions are a supreme source of minerals and trace minerals which will be loved by your bones and your immune system. My Mama frequently makes what she calls a "Hot Date Shake" and while I can't give out her secret recipe, I can tell you that it has something to do with whole milk, (warmed with special spices), some nuts, dates, raw honey, rose petal jam, nutritive powdered herbs, and a heat proof blender ;) I can also tell you it gives you enough energy that you might actually want that Saturday night!
Heroic Snot... a side note
Now some of you might be poo-pooing the milk here. But as long as you're not allergic to milk, it can be a wonderful way to feed the mucous membranes of your body - which act as your first line of defense around viruses! If your nose, throat, and eyes are too dry and lack sufficient mucosa (which contain antibodies) the virus has a nice landing spot and nothing to shoo it out. (An aside, I'm a huge advocate for local raw milk, which often times triggers far less sensitivity in folks)
If you are sensitive to milk, I encourage you to use demulcent (slippery) herbs as your daily nourishing herbal infusion choice. Marshmallow, Plantain, Elm, Sassafras leaf, and Linden are good choices.
For more information on herbal milk decoctions, click here and read my previous newsletter dedicated to this nourishing delicacy!
This one may seem ephemeral, but I can attest to the powerful adaptogen effect. It's biochemically true; sharing breath with the forest imparts health by way of both freshly produced oxygen as well as anti-infective volatile oils that the trees and plants emit.
Spending time laying in grass and close to the soil, rocks or water equalizes our electromagnetic field, dissolves negative emotions, eases worry, and restores resilience in our nervous system.
In addition, watching the turn of the season by a daily sit-spot outside, journaling the weather each day, or tracking one or two specific plants and how they change from now into fall and winter, triggers your own body to follow along in a subtle and deep process of acclimation.
My practice as of late has been Barefoot Heron Gazing. The great blue herons as well as bald eagles have taken up residence in my back field. So I walk slowly out in the morning, I feel the dewy earth on my feet, and breath deeply as I admire these graceful, majestic, and patient birds. In watching, I've seen the slow turning of the maple tree from yellow to rust to red, and the undulation of the water level which has gone from about 5 feet after Irene, to a duck filled wading pool.
I feel the call of the seasons turning in my body, and the closer I listen, the more easy and compassionate my experience of nature's magic spiral becomes.
My cat Osha seems to know the value of this practice quite well.
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Herbal Blessings to each of you! May your September be golden and sweet.