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. 

Japan’s Gifts of Herbalism Adventure

On a recent and very first trip to Japan, my number one objective for a souvenir was procuring a suribachi, a Japanese style mortar and pestle, suggested by Rosalee De La Forêt in her herbal-doubling-as-a-cookbook, Alchemy of Herbs, as one she liked. I love Japan, its people and especially its design aesthetic, so the book prompt immediately intrigued me. Since most of my family has lived there, one was born and raised there, and all speak the language fluently (I’m learning it), ties to the Land of the Rising Sun are strong.

The mortar and pestle is used to grind herbs. I could have purchased a very nice suribachi online; however, since I was going to be visiting Nihon, I wanted the tool to come with an adventure!

Visiting southern Japan in Fukuoka, I happened upon a kitchenware store. Numerous pots and pans and other gadgets adorned the shelves. Practical. Useful. Chef’s tools. So I asked the lady at the counter and sure enough, they had several suribachi to choose from. She prefaced her guidance to the right department, stating that suribachi are a very old method and not used that often, yet they had so very many in stock, right in front of the store entrance. I was given instruction on how to clean them, as the grooves tend to need a toothpick for finishing touches. Not low maintenance? I knew it and yet, it did not deter me. I was on a quest. My first Herbalism quest. And I was successful!

First the bowls, or mortar, then the very special pestles were displayed. I was sold the minute I saw the little tree branches that served as a pestle. They still had the bark on them! Other than some shaping on either end, they served as a perfect example of great Japanese design that honors nature. In this instance it was not just a nod, but nature herself. The pristine white mortar coupled with the branch-like pestle reminded me of the barren, ethereal trees in winter on Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan across from Siberia, where abundant snow is called yuki (雪)…

Fuki, or Giant butterbur.

…which is not to be confused with fuki, or Petasites japonicus, also known as butterbur, giant butterbur, great butterbur, Japanese sweet coltsfoot and bog rhubarb, among others. It is in the Asteraceae family, one of, if not the largest, with 1,620 genera and 23,600 species according to one source, and 483 genera and 4653 taxa by another. Also known for my good friends, Daisy and Marigold (Calendula officinalis), this member of the Asteraceae family grows prolifically on Hokkaido, seen  along roadsides and especially near boggy soil or bodies of water. On my travels I kept seeing this giant, primordial-looking plant. I knew I had to investigate. On a riverside hike I saw a very large area growing this plant in abundance. I fully expected a brontosaurus or other dinosaur to emerge, chomping on the massive herb, wondering why I had happened upon its mealtime. At a maximum span of five feet across, I believe fuki could indeed match size for size with the appetite of a hefty dino.

According to many articles and databases on the herb, much is not fully understood on the plant’s toxicity, despite being promoted as a culinary herb or vegetable in Japan and its historic use in both Western Herbalism and in the East as medicinal, particularly as an analgesic. I look forward to further discovery.


The heart of Botaniscape™ and budding Herbalist, Lori McClellan sees the Art of Herbalism as her lifelong connection to Nature manifested most fully—another exciting medium and source of abundant joy. An Author, Artist and Poet, creating as Loretta Boyer McClellan, her works as a 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 pure love and devotion. Writing, meditating, painting, and her relationship with Nature and all beings, most tangibly through Herbalism, are her connection to the Infinite.