Intuition: The Sensible Sense for Herbal Self-care

Listen to the plants.

Listen, because they’re calling us, calling out to us, to join them in their revelries of wholeness. Their purpose is connection, like their roots that reach out in the humus, reaching, gathering, joining. They connect with the sun, the moon, the soil, moisture and all their myriad plant friends—human, animal and botanical—as well as the offerings they give in not just beauty in appearance and perfect purpose, but also to each of us, as the favored recipients of their medicine for body, mind and spirit.

In studying Herbalism as an art, because it is more nuance than science, a consistent occurrence joins and rejoins, and that is the remarkable versatility of a single herb and how it applies in different circumstances. Just as we’re taught that there is no one-size-fits-all in Herbalism, as it’s not allopathic medicine where the symptom is treated with a broad regimen instead of attending the root cause, one herb may be heralded for a particular quality for self-healing, and it may not offer that same attribute to another individual in the exact same way, or even to the same individual the exact same way at another time. Body constitutions, plant energetics, actions, and how they all respond to one another are to be considered. As body constitutions change during imbalances, due to illness or other, or throughout life, those same qualities of an herb may not meet all the current needs as had been done in the past. So where does that leave us? Forever on a quest for the perfect match of herb and need for ourselves? Training and study enlist their aid in this journey of self-care, but that can still leave us in need of further discernment.

What that does is that it leaves us vulnerable, and that’s okay; when we’re vulnerable we open ourselves up to consider and communicate on a different plane. When we’re sick and/or afflicted, those trials can open us up even more to allow ourselves to listen by the spirit, by consciousness—to be still. The essence of plants, if we cast aside structured science, and we peel away the preconceived notions of what plant works for which ailment, we are bare, essentially. No ornamentation. Just us and the plants looking toward the sun. Together.  It’s an unspoken conversation we’re having.

When we’re deep down in a cold or flu, for instance, the mind may race, because systems of the body are in such disarray. All extraneous plans and efforts for day-to-day living are cast aside, as comfort and relief are basic, more urgent needs. Just breathing through the nose may be the simple challenge we seek to restore, or pause an ache or calm a cough while preserving our body’s need to expel. Stress from worry about a national resurgence of influenza, or guilt from getting sick in the first place, despite proactive efforts, add to the tumult. So we serendipitously find a simple recipe in our herbal community forum for thyme, lemon and honey cough syrup, and we begin to make it, but instead of using fresh thyme, as it’s not currently in the household, we instinctively include fresh sage instead, in one fluid motion. This support quells the cough and calms the body, mind and spirit, bringing peace to heal ourselves for a time, as rest is the number one remedy for colds and flu.

Sage is known to many as an astringent, toning tissues of the throat, but in this instance, it not only suppressed the cough, but allowed the body to expel what was needed in that moment to improve and rest. The added bonus was restorative peace, perhaps from sage’s known quality as a pain reliever. Would it work the same way for another, in their own self-care? Perhaps. Did it address the need better than thyme would have? Intuition says so for this specific instance and individual, in this expansive moment of awareness. It’s not empirical evidence and can’t be quantified. It’s not science; it’s food as medicine. No two people are alike, and no two circumstances are alike. Herbs in combination with each other aren’t always alike as they are individually, either; sometimes they’re enhanced, like how pepper improves turmeric’s effectiveness. Using combinations of herbs intuitively for self-care is a worthy study.

What doesn’t change is the connection we have at-the-ready, always, with nature. That connection is there for us, and our botanical friends are always there for us as medicinal aid, if we listen for ourselves in that knowing way we’re all capable of as be-ings in harmony with the Earth and all her gifts.

Another example of that connection is that plants are there where we need them. Sage was present when thyme was not, for instance, yet relief was still served. Perhaps visiting a special place we’ve frequented before, we now notice an abundance of herbal goodness had been within reach for many seasons, with realization that several wild herbs had joined the fold over the years that hadn’t been there before. Adaptation? Evolution? An awakening? These are all explanations that cause us to consider that all the senses come into play. Tasting. Smelling. Seeing, Feeling and Hearing—including from an inner sense or intrinsic knowing, which is intuition. It too, is a gift, one to be cultivated and nourished, just like the plants we hold in such high regard, so very near and dear to our hearts. Just like sage is wisdom, so too do our herbal allies impart that very thing, if we listen.

Disclaimer: Always seek Herbal education from a qualified source. The author is not a medical professional, nutritionist or dietician. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for legal advice, medical treatment or diagnosis and is not monitored or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration/FDA. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product. When wildcrafting or foraging for plants, do so ethically; be accompanied by an expert; and always have absolute certainty of plant identification before using or consuming any herbs. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.

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The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist/Wildcrafter, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature and wonder manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. A daily meditator and career Journalist, Author, Artist and Poet, she creates as Loretta Boyer McClellan. Her works as a publisher and writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of Oneness. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite. 

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Guilt and the Herbal Helper

 

 

Disclaimer: The author receives no compensation for this article. The author is not a medical professional, nutritionist or dietician. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for medical treatment or diagnosis and is not monitored or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration/FDA. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.

Colds are no fun. Unproductive coughs, combined with colds and/or flu are even worse. When you’re down for the count, and you ran out of “Fire Cider” before your cold was on the downside and before the next batch was ready, perhaps before the next batch was even started, because the cold/flu brought on a huge delay in herbal remedy productivity, the last thing you want to do is become involved in laborious processes for crafting herbal aid.  What about garlic honey? That was sitting on the counter. Oh wait… You ran out of that too. For hopeful planners, a discovery like that is mortifying.

Amidst the foggy brain, reminders to make remedies for colds ahead of time may swim upstream, laying all kinds of heavy guilt along the shoreline of shaky coherence. The little voice of opposition chastising getting sick in the first place may chime in too. Thankfully, with a little self-compassion, the guilt subsides and rescue is within reach.

If you’re one of the fortunate budding herbalists to sign up for Rosalee de La Foret’s “Herbal Cold Care” course, her mantra of use “the one you have on hand” will float into consciousness, like a fairy godmother. When illness and caring for loved ones tires you out, it’s nice to have a reference to come back to when you need it, to buoy you up.

Break out the ginger, because maybe there’s lots of it on hand that had been purchased for making the next batch of “Fire Cider” for prevention and support.  But chopping it may not only be a time issue for those standing woozily at the height of a heinous cold or flu bug, but sharp knives? Not a good idea. Thankfully, a cute little helper is available that brings joy to herbal aid, as well as cooking. Enter: Vibe, by Chef’n. It not only easily chops garlic with its zippy rolling motion, but ginger too (and says so on the package). And the sharp parts are within the little bubble of purposeful cuteness. It’s easy to rinse out, and deemed dishwasher safe in the top rack by the manufacturer. Perfect for the procrastinating herbalist in need of self-care and relief, fast.

The fresh ginger then gently steeps in a helpful water infusion, ready in minutes. And maker beware, don’t use a handy tea infuser ball, as the tougher ginger rhizome needs broader contact with the water. Just throw the ginger into the water and let it sit for what your recipe calls for, then strain it out if you’d like. Save the ball for leaves and flowers, the less dense “aerial parts” of our other herbal allies.

If you can smell the ginger, you’re way ahead of the game. If you can’t smell it, hopefully after a cup or two you will. That’s its job. Nasal passages begin to open and the brain fog lifts with peace settling in its place. Clarity, well-being and a mouth-breathing reprieve!  Win-win-win!

Ginger is a highly versatile herb and food. When the cold subsides a bit, then it’s time to add to the restoration of herbal remedies by making garlic honey too, because the Vibe will make that a quick job as well, and garlic honey is ready in 24 hours, instead of the four to six weeks until “Fire Cider” can rescue you.

Results may vary. Wishing you wellness and well-being!

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The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist/Wildcrafter, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature and wonder manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. A daily meditator and career Journalist, Author, Artist and Poet, she creates as Loretta Boyer McClellan. Her works as a publisher and writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of Oneness. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite. 

The Herbal Kitchen: A Book Review

“It is really not in our cellular memory to be alone in the kitchen,” writes Author, Herbalist and Teacher, Kami McBride, of LivingAwareness.com. Not being alone in the kitchen applies two-fold: for having both people and the herbs as kitchen companions, to prepare with and to dine together. This is the heart of her book, The Herbal Kitchen: 50 Easy-to-Find Herbs and Over 250 Recipes to Bring Lasting Health to You and Your Family. Through its 258 pages, Kami offers a cornucopia of recipes and plant wisdom, in support of wellness and togetherness, both with family and for effervescent hospitality for guests.

The book offers engaging storytelling, with tremendous insight on the author’s focus on food as medicine. Kami’s description of her upbringing laden with local fruit and nut harvests, and her experience of the ritual of picking blackberries in August, were so tangible I could taste the berries. Her ruminations mixed with the wholesome goodness of the meal created a longing within myself for a similar childhood experience. Her special relationship with her grandparents in particular, was abundantly clear. Family traditions evolving from food, such as the gathering of wild mushrooms made me want to ask, “May I please be adopted into your family?”

I grew up in Northern California as well, in what was historically a major fruit capital, yet the stork landed me in suburbia; the tract homes had already laid waste to most of the orchards and the fruit packing evidence was replaced by shopping malls. Kami’s reflections on her childhood and the bounty of fresh food left me waxing poetic, consoling myself that I experienced it somewhat in other ways, such as a backyard garden one summer as a youth, and my best friend’s grandparents’ weekly produce truck that would park nearby, where I would visit as a teen.

Not to be focused solely on the dietary or even the energetics of herbs, as there is a plentiful harvest of both, Kami reminds us of the sanctity of the Plant Kingdom. She writes, “Herbs and spices are a gift from nature. We are nature, and plants have an affinity with our bodies. They are our allies, not only enlivening the taste of our food but also working in hundreds of ways to keep our bodies healthy.” She also touches on the body-mind-spirit connection, or interconnection with herbs, specifically with Mugwort: “It enhances mental clarity, clairvoyance, and self-awareness. It is a purifying and stimulating herb that activates intuition and memory.” This is but one of the 50 herbs she showcases, providing not just a dynamic read, but also a ready reference manual.

The book’s beverage section alone will have readers clamoring to tinker with the hundreds of recipes and tantalize their taste buds, yet there is an additional, vitally important message: “With the widespread consumption of prepackaged and conventionally farmed foods, we are experiencing the phenomenon of being overfed yet undernourished. Eat fresh, whole, organic, and locally grown food and add herbs to as many meals as possible.” This established a sense of urgency, making not only perfect sense to a budding herbalist, parent, or chef, but a teachable moment fit for the masses.

Interspersed throughout the book are varied glimpses into the author’s personality. We can become acquainted with elder flower for its versatility, but its introduction by Kami on Page 63, paragraph one, also brings across the author’s ability to further sing its praises with an amusing brand of candor: “But when we are stuck with an exorbitant amount of fluid dripping and draining from various locations, it is time to engage the snot-busting features of elder flower.” Who ya gonna call?

Whether urgent, reminiscent or resplendent, Kami’s words echoed, leaving a legacy of truth that was deeply affecting, nothing more so than, “Many family home lineages in the Western world were lost in the last several generations. We were mesmerized by the novelty and scientifically proven ‘superiority’ of synthetic food and modern medicine. We cast our grandmothers’ teas and herbal powders to the wind. I have often wondered how it must feel to a grandmother when her clan dismisses her ancient wisdom as an old wives’ tale. This loss of ancestral food is nothing short of tragic.”

We can move forward with knowledge and thanksgiving, together, as in The Herbal Kitchen, we celebrate this multifaceted gem of Herbalism through recipes, teachings and insight that will leave an indelible impression upon the reader’s heart, just as the kitchen is the heart of the home.

Botaniscape™ received a complimentary book copy for an honest review.

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The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist/Wildcrafter, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature and wonder manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. A daily meditator and career Journalist, Author, Artist and Poet, she creates as Loretta Boyer McClellan. Her works as a publisher and writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry; conscious PR, brand, graphic design, and communications; and as an Arts instructor, journalist and artist, “sized the canvas,” so to speak, for a fruitful life of expression, connection and inspiration. Author of The Nature of BEing: A Healing Journey, The Misthaven of Maine Series, and Dodging Raindrops: Poems and Prose of Beauty, Peace and Healing, Lori creates from a place of Oneness. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite.