As noted in my last post, I've been introducing some ingredients into my diet lately that I've avoided for quite some time. That paired with the glorious autumn season and the sugary root vegetables that accompany it has left me with a few flare-ups of symptoms that I could do without. Besides the usual stomach upsets, the inulin I've been ingesting (burdock root! sun chokes!) has seemed to affect my serotonin levels, and has brought on a few days of ye olde depression, anxiety, excessive and confusing fits of tears. Pretty awesome. The positive side of it, is that after a year of carefully monitoring my food, I have perspective and know that it's a result of food and brain chemistry, not a result of any lasting concern for my quality of life or being. Words can not properly express how freeing that knowledge is after years of very truly being in the dark! In the meantime, though, what to do to help accelerate my recovery? Never underestimate the power of herbs. I like to make a big pot of tea that I can drink over a day or two, allowing them to work their magic and clear my body of the offending substances. If you have indulged in some forbidden dairy products, I would suggest adding rosehips to the blend, as it really helps to soothe the joint pain that often accompanies it. Here is this week's prescription:
1/2 TSP LEMON BALM
1/2 TSP LICORICE ROOT
1/4 TSP SKULLCAP
1/2 TSP CATNIP
10 CUPS WATER
PUT DRIED HERBS IN A TEA BALL, AND PLACE IT IN A LARGE COVERED POT WITH THE WATER. BRING TO A RAPID BOIL, REDUCE THE HEAT, AND BOIL ON LOW FOR ABOUT 5 MINUTES. TURN OFF HEAT AND ALLOW TO STEEP FOR 5-10 MINUTES, DEPENDING ON HOW STRONG YOU WANT IT, OR HOW DISTRACTED YOU ARE. POUR INTO A 1 GALLON MASON JAR*, AND THE EXCESS INTO MUGS TO ENJOY. PLACE JAR IN THE REFRIGERATOR TO CHILL. DRINK COLD OR REHEAT AS DESIRED.
*IF NOT USING A MASON JAR ACCEPTABLE FOR CANNING, ALLOW THE TEA TO COOL BEFORE POURING IT INTO A CONTAINER!
ABOUT THESE HERBS:
LEMON BALM (AKA balm mint, bee balm, blue balm, cure-all, dropsy plant, garden balm, melissa, sweet balm) is a favorite of mine, as it takes care of a number of my symptoms. It is soothing to the nerves and digestive system, reduces inflammation, cramping, headaches, flatulence and melancholy, and on top of that has a wonderful almost milky flavor to it that compliments just about any tea blend.
LICORICE ROOT (AKA sweet licorice, sweet wood) is somewhat mucilaginous, so it helps to coat and soothe the digestive system as well as the throat. It also helps fight nerve inflammation, and soothes the nervous system in general. It is also recommended as an herb to help fight candida overgrowth; I find it particularly helpful in this regard simply because it is so sweet that drinking it can help curb my intense cravings for sugary indulgences.
SKULLCAP (AKA blue skullcap, blue pimpernel, helmet flower, hoodwort, mad-dog-weed, side-flowering skullcap) is another go-to herb for soothing the nervous system. It is also anti-spasmodic and diuretic.
CATNIP (AKA catmint, catnep, catrup, catswort, field balm) is the herb that I get the most cocked eyebrows about. It is a godsend for both us and our feline friends, although it seems to have a bit of a different effect on the nerves of humans than cats. Herb books will tell you that it is helpful for upset stomachs, spasms, flatulency, acid and diarrhea. In my experience, it also helps to bring a feeling of peaceful euphoria, settling the nervous system, curbing migraines and anxiety attacks, and generally just making my body all kinds of happy. For those reasons it is my favorite in my basket of medicinal herbs.
Herbs can be purchased in bulk online; I get mine in bulk from my local co-op in Cambridge.