The Theraputic Attributes of Herbs for Winter


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There is great activity in the areas of herbal cleansing and rebuilding of various organs during autumn, so the winter quarter of the year seems more quiet and restful. It may be time to simply snuggle up in front of the fire with a good book and a mug of steaming Chamomile tea on a cold wintry evening. In this last quarter of the solar year we traverse the signs of Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces � the signs where we achieve the goals we set at the beginning of the year in Aries (21 March - 20 April) � and we move into releasing those goals, resting a bit and formulating new aspirations.

Seasonal Notes

Here is an array of holiday seasonal notes from our ancestors, who used these helpful Herbs. Stress relief was found in Chamomile tea, botanical name Matricaria recutita, as it has tryptophan in it. Chamomile in bath herb mixes may soothe away stress (see recipe at end). Valerian, Valeriana officinalis, has calcium that is supplied directly to the nerves, so Valerian may help calm the season. Those who find sleep elusive often place a few drops of Valerian extract under the tongue about an hour before bed. For daytime calm, some like capsules. Some hold their breath or nose to avoid the odd aroma while opening the bottle to pop a capsule in their mouths.

Thyme, Thymus vulgaris, is a great herb to use, fresh or dried, in all holiday soups, stews, vegetables, salads or dressings, just about everything except chocolate chip cookies. Thyme has antibacterial properties to assist the body’s Immune System fight off whatever critters might invade.

Water is most important now as many dry cakes and cookies are holiday fare. Lots of water, an ounce for each two pounds of body weight to drink during the day, helps to move all critters and bacteria out and helps the Kidneys as well.

Sugar connoisseurs might like to know that each time sugar is eaten, the mineral chromium leaves the body. An important trace mineral, chromium is not easily found in foods. Mineral rich Herbs that contain chromium, such as hibiscus flowers, Hibiscus sabdariffa, (see recipe below) are helpful to take with each sugar orgy as studies have been conducted that show those with secondary Diabetes have no chromium in their systems. As aromas are important during the holiday season, a recipe for Scrumptious Stovetop Potpourri is included. The aroma reminds everyone of good times and predisposes guests to a happy occasion.

Water Energy Season: Kidney and Bladder

During the last quarter of the solar year, the body finds itself leaving the Earth and Metal energies of the autumn and on December 19 it moves into the Water Energy Season. Through mid-March the body focuses on water energy. This is a soothing thought, as most of us in the north need water at this time of the year. Shut inside our homes now, many of us have less water in the air, due in part to the heating systems we use � our skin and hair can easily become dry. We may be less likely to take a shower or bath since the air is nippy as we jump in and out of the tub. People may tend to drink less water now than in the warmer seasons as they do not need to replace body fluids lost through Sweat. All of these possible habits are reasons to focus on water energy now.

If we could observe our bodies internally at the winter solstice as Capricorn begins, (21 December - 19 January), we would find our water energy organs currently enacting their annual ritual of cleansing and rebuilding. The Kidneys and bladder continue cleansing and restoring now. It is helpful to assist these organs, especially for those who increase alcohol consumption during the holidays. Kidney cleansing is deep cleansing. Some cultures believe the Kidneys store the energy of the ancestors and so thoughts of parents and grandparents might surface now. We also may experience strange thoughts, as if from another time. These thoughts might never have been our personal thoughts, simply thoughts stored in the cellular memory of our Kidneys from generations past.

Metaphysicians feel the Kidneys store our fears, so unusual fears may surface now. It may become easier to release the thoughts and fears as they surface, rather than being caught in them, when we know they are related to the kidney cleansing itself. While releasing old, negative ideas, fears or thoughts, it is wise to stay open to important ideas and helpful concepts from the ancestors that may come floating past as the ideas and fears release. Thus, this time can be one of reflection, releasing and opening, a good time to carry a small notebook to catch the brilliance as it passes by.

To aid the Kidneys, people often drink a glass of water with an ounce or less of liquid chlorophyll mixed in it between dinner and bedtime. Chlorophyll is equivalent to the blood of plants and usually it is taken from alfalfa, Medicago sativa, a plant rich in Minerals and Vitamins due to the roots, which may pierce the earth to a depth of 40 feet or more. Chlorophyll may assist the body to build healthy blood, become more alkaline and, taken before bedtime, alleviate the uric acid Crystals that tend to accumulate in the Kidneys during the night.

During this water energy season, the element for Capricorn is earth. Earth and water produce mud, the very uric acid sludge we seek to release now from the Kidneys and bladder. Liquid chlorophyll is available at health food stores. Good varieties usually have mint added for flavor.

Herbs such as watercress, Nasturtium officinale, cranberries and Parsley, Petroselinum crispum, are also helpful for the Kidneys, eaten as foods or taken in capsule form. Parsley is another high mineral content herb and its nourishment of the body and Kidneys can create a diuretic action, allowing the body to release excess water and Toxins as the Parsley nourishes the Kidneys. I never plan a long car trip the day I begin to use Parsley in earnest.

Kidneys also connect to the bones, sometimes excreting needed calcium from the body. Women moving through Change of Life find that adding Horsetail, Equisetum arvense, or oatstraw tea or capsules to their diet assists the body retain needed calcium. Many Change of Life bladders also have found benefit and strength from the addition of extra silica, a mineral found in Herbs that assists us to absorb calcium. Some women notice their ability to control their bladders increases within a few days after beginning to ingest oatstraw or Horsetail. An added virtue of silica is that usually hair and nails grow more easily and have more strength. Another herb helpful to the cleansing and rebuilding of the bladder is Uva Ursi, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, available in capsules or extract form. Many herbal combinations for the urinary system have all of these Herbs included.

Water Energy Season: Adrenal Glands

During the water season, the Adrenal Glands are also busy cleansing and recharging. Parsley again plays a role as it also nourishes the adrenals. So, while people focus in Capricorn on kidney and bladder cleansing and rebuilding, the Parsley taken for the urinary system assists the adrenals as well. Usually people wait until Aquarius (20 January to 18 February) to nourish the adrenals during the post holiday season after the stress is reduced. In this water energy season, Aquarius is an air sign and air and water produce rain, or tears, something we often shed after the panic of an adrenaline rush subsides.

An interesting tea to support the adrenals is one I make by placing a few sprigs of fresh Parsley in a mug and pouring boiling water over them, covering and steeping for about five minutes before discarding the herb and drinking. Parsley won’t win the Tea Taste of the Year award, but it is pleasant tasting and yields great nutrients. Usually people drink a cup or two a day.

Parsley stays green all winter, even in northern gardens. I put sticks in the soil to mark the spot and clear the snow over it so the Parsley stays green, rich with Minerals. Others plant Parsley in a pot inside or buy fresh bunches at the grocery store. Fresh Organic Parsley is best due to the higher mineral content.

Licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra, also benefits the adrenals and is available in many forms. It has high sugar content and those with blood sugar concerns would be wise to discuss it with someone knowledgeable about Herbs or research it thoroughly. Licorice lovers should seek a balance with potassium rich Herbs, as Licorice may help potassium leave the body.

Potassium/sodium and calcium/ magnesium are electrolytes and must be in balance in the body. The typical American diet has more sodium than potassium so most health conscious people make sure they take potassium rich Herbs, such as Celery, Parsley, Lemongrass, dulse or Peppermint (see tea recipe).

Many women move into Change of Life with exhausted adrenals. Adrenals take over estrogen production when the ovaries complete their life work, so frequent nourishing of the adrenals with Parsley or Licorice may be helpful in providing food to the adrenals. I always have some on hand and occasionally take it just to keep adrenal exhaustion at Bay, especially in stressful times. Had I to do it over, I would have spent my forties nourishing the adrenals once or twice a year for a month or so.

Water Energy Season: Reproductive Organs

The last system of the water energy season is the reproductive system, usually focused on in Pisces (itself a water sign), beginning right after Saint Valentine’s Day (19 February to 20 March). Nourishing the body in watery Pisces assists the body to keep itself moist inside. Moistening and silica-rich Red Raspberry leaf, Rubus ideaus, is an herb women can take from the day they become a woman through their last day on earth, even during Pregnancy. It assists the reproductive organs rebuild and balance. It is a fine herb for men as well, as they also need silica.

Today a man called to thank me so much for educating him about silica, calcium and magnesium. His concern was a sluggish colon and within a week of starting those Herbs, his moving experiences were much grander, much easier and he felt lighter and more clear. A miracle thought he. A mineral deficiency thought I. We are so overfed and undernourished. Herb nourishment preventing problems once again.

When men reach 25 or so, some target Pisces every year to add Saw Palmetto berries and pygeum to their diets, usually in extract or capsule form. The Herbs assist the reproductive system, the prostate in particular, to stay in balance. The entire reproductive system for both men and women is in close proximity to the colon so that colon cleansing can also be helpful for the reproductive system. Various blood cleansers also assist the reproductive system. Yellow Dock seems most helpful in the lower torso area, so people cleansing the reproductive system or any of these water season lower torso area organs choose Yellow Dock in capsules. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, may also be helpful in blood and internal cleansing.

Since so many women are nearing or are in the Change of Life cycle, Wild Yam, Dioscorea villosa, is important to mention as it is a source of phyto-progesterone. No plants produce hormones; however, they produce substances that act as hormones do in our systems, without negative side effects. Wild Yam produces a substance that acts the way progesterone does in the body. The cream of Wild Yam is helpful for easing many concerns during this cycle, including heat and Bloating. It is critical to use Wild Yam as a cream, as research has revealed that the nutrients in needed by women are ruined during the digestion process of Wild Yam. Absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the skin, the substances in Wild Yam assist the body well.

Timing

A few questions I received in response to the last article regarded timing. Thank you so much for your inquiries. Surely it is possible to cleanse any organ or system at any time of the year. However, this more harmonious path to cleansing and restoring works with the organs when they are naturally cleansing, easing the body stress of cleansing. Information presented this way seeks to assist people to move away from the allopathic disease-and- cure mindset to a health oriented preventative build-and-cleanse mindset.

I trust these herbal ideas, many from my grandmother, add pleasing and stress-free notes and aromas to this winter quarter and water season of the year. Blessings on your path.

Herbal Recipes

Stress Free Herbal Bath Sachet

Mix all dried herb leaves and flowers. Store in tightly sealed glass container. For bath, take about a half cup herb mix, place in muslin bag or one of grandmother’s handkerchiefs, which may stain a bit Blue. Hang under tap or place in tub, run hot water first, adding cold when needed. Remove before Soap is added and dry to use twice more. I hang it on the sink faucet to dry.

Scrumptious Stovetop Potpourri

Store dried Herbs in tightly sealed glass container. Take 1 TBS or more and put into nearly full teakettle (top off) or pan and bring to boil on stove. Reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes to fragrance the home. I put on an oven mitt and walk the steaming kettle through the house for faster fragrance. Put on a timer so the pot does not boil dry.

Elizabeth’s SereniTea

Steep in a covered mug or pot for 5-10 minutes.

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