Saturday, December 1, 2018

Winter Wellness ~ Colds and Flu: In Praise of Elder and A Good Night's Sleep

Hello Plant Lovers!

I'm getting things ready for our Winter Wellness ~ Colds and Flu class that happens tomorrow, Dec 2. There's still room for a couple of health minded folks!

As a Herbalist, I have a large and varied repertoire of herbal medicines from which to choose, to both create immune and respiratory resilience as well as to prevent and treat the cold and influenza viruses should they deem to take up residence in my respiratory tract. Most, in fact about 90%, of these medicines I've gather myself, from my own bio-region. Some have been ordered from reputable herb companies. It's a hugely satisfying and empowering feeling to know I have the remedies, the knowledge, skills and confidence, to treat a variety of respiratory conditions - all the way from making sure my immune and respiratory systems are nourished and healthy - the best stratagey, to dealing with common cough and cold symptoms like cough, sinus congestion, fever, achey joints and headache to name a few.

Just yesterday, after a long and hectic day "out and about" in "town", I felt a little tired and rundown. I hadn't been sleeping very well for the last couple of days and in fact had just recently had a bout of dealing with an intestinal bug. (Thank you Slippery Elm for helping with that).

It takes a lot of energy to prepare for a class like this and then a lot of energy to deliver the class. So, being a little concerned that I might not be 100%, I grabbed a bag of frozen Elderberries ~ Sambucus cerluea in this case ~ that I had gathered in Sept and brewed them up into a strong decoction and drank down two large mugfuls, each with a generous tablespoon of honey. As I drank down the delicious elixer I was transported back to the  day on which I harvested the berries. It was the perfect temperature - not hot, not cold..just the right temperature, the sky itself was almost the same colour as the berries - cerulean blue - which happens to be one of my favourite colours! The wind was gently blowing through the trees...all in all it was quite magical.

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In just a few minutes, a warming sensation began to flow through my body, spreading out to the periphery and my skin started to flush gently as Elder worked healing magic, gently relaxing and relieving tension. Elder - both berries and flowers - is an effective "relaxing diaphoretic" and exactly what my own constitution prefers and this circumstance warranted. Had I had been feeling chilled and unable to warm up I would have brewed up a concoction of ginger with some fresh lemon and a good Tb of honey - a more warming and "stimulating" diaphoretic. In fact given that it is cold and raining here this morning I'll most likely to just that and sip on some warming, stimulating, energizing ginger, lemon and honey as I prepare for tomorrow's class.

And then, at 8:30 I went to bed and slept soundly until this morning when I woke at 7:30, restored and refreshed!

Here's the thing....even though I have this large and varied herbal apothecary - in fact it takes up one whole room in my house (I like to be prepared, I like to harvest and I like to make medicine and I like to share)...quite often I simply "do nothing",  preferring to allow my body to heal without any intervention from me.

What I have discovered is that first and foremost, if given permission and allowed to do so, is that the Sleep Reflex takes over. Sleep, is in fact the bodies way of healing and to prevent infection - like colds and flu - and there have been innumerable scientific studies to prove just that:
  • "In one of the earliest sleep deprivation studies, mice that were kept awake for two weeks ate more but still lost weight and their body temperatures fluctuated wildly. After two more weeks of sleep deprivation all of the mice dropped dead. Blood samples showed that a massive infection had killed them as common bacteria that their immune systems should have been able to control multiplied rapidly and overwhlemed every organ."
  • "San Diego Veterans Hospital in California discoverd that limiting sleep to 3-4 hrs nightly reduces the number of NK (natural killer) cells and decreases activity of T-cells. NK and T-cells play a crucial role in dealing with respiratory infections like cold and flu. Peole sleeping 9 hrs instead of the usual 7-8 hrs have greater than normal NK activity!"
Scientists have in fact have in fact determined that Sleep is the number one contributor to living a long and healthy life. The beautiful thing is that our bodies know exactly that!

So, it's not too late to join us for our class on Winter Wellness and Colds and Flu. Sip and make some Immune Building tonic - chock full of those cerulean blue Elderberries and more wonderful herbs; create other simple remedies to deal with symptoms of cold and flu and hear about more cool research, discover a myriad of ways and means to stay healthy this Winter and get fed!

Spoiler alert - Herbal jello anyone?

Love and Plants,