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Posts Tagged ‘cold’

In using our senses to better hone our skills as herbalists we must also consider what we observe.  Observation is an essential tool which allows us to better understand the terrain of the individual we are working with.  We as herbalists don’t diagnose, but rather use our senses to detect subtleties or deviations from the norm.  We are looking for patterns to help define the imbalance.  For example; what type of cough does someone have; is it dry or moist, does it present with fever or chills, etc.

Another skill which is essential to our success is our ability not only to listen to our clients, but also to “hear” what they are saying.  Many times we listen to someone explaining their health concerns and it’s almost as though we get tunnel vision focusing only on one symptom or another.  However, if we are truly “hearing” what they are saying, they may intuitively give us clues as to what their bodies need. (more…)

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Despite the myths it really does get cold here in North Florida.  So, my little herbal apprentice and I decided that today would be a great day to build a fire and enjoy a nice warm cup of Chai.  The word Chai actually means tea and usually refers to Masala Chai which originated in India and is a combination of aromatic herbs and spices. 

From what I understand there is not a specific recipe for Chai and it varies from family to family and country to country.  Some recipes call for the use of black tea and others for green.  I have a recipe which was passed on to me through my family which includes cinnamon, black and green cardamom, fennel, clove, milk, sugar and black tea.  Most Masala Chai recipes I have seen include cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, ginger, cloves, star anise and black tea.

Each time I make Chai I put a new twist on it by adding various herbs and spices that I might not have added to the previous brew.  The herbs and spices in Chai not only make for a very flavorful tea, but they also have health benefits and are often used for colds, flu and various digestive disturbances. 

Most of the herbs found in a traditional Masala Chai recipe are Carminatives.  Carminatives are herbs which help to relieve flatulence, griping and help to soothe the gut wall.  Some of the other properties associated with these herbs are antispasmodic, expectorant, astringent, analgesic, and antiseptic.

So without further ado here is my standard recipe for Masala Chai:

1 Cinnamon stick

1 or 2 Green cardamom pods

 2  Black cardamom pods

1 tbsp Fennel seed

1 tbsp Anise seed

6 cloves

4 cups of water

Place herbs and spices in boiling water and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.  Strain and serve.  Sweeten to taste with honey.  Serves 4

Now, that is my basic recipe and I am a “pinch and smidge” kinda cook.  I’m notorious for not using a recipe and just winging it.  It certainly makes it more exciting that way.  However, my smidge may vary from yours so you’ll just have to experiment.  Other variations I use include adding Astragalus, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, black tea, milk, burdock root or licorice root.  It really is a matter of preference and what tastes good to you. 

You could begin by using a basic recipe such as:

4 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Black tea

Add spices and water to a pan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and allow it to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.  You can leave it to steep a bit longer if you prefer a stronger tea.  Add milk and sugar and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Add black tea, cover and steep 3 minutes.  Strain and serve.  Serves 4.

The key to Chai is to be creative and use your senses to guide you.  Taste and smell each and every spice allowing you to pick and choose what appeals to you.  Have fun with it and enjoy!

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Seems like everybody I talk to is frantic about this whole H1N1 Flu.  A common stomach virus has everyone rushing off to the doctors office to determine whether it’s the flu or not.  Instead of reiterating all the information that is already out there on the web I thought I would direct readers to the most credible information I have found.

Swine Flu Vaccinations and Antiviral Drugs: A Matter of Faith – This is a post by Michael Tierra which discusses the myths associated with the H1N1 Flu and antivirals.

See also the videos I posted earlier from herbalist Paul Bergner.

Here is a list of herbs used for cold and flu compiled by herbalist Paul Bergner.

This article is written by herbalist Kiva Rose and discusses natural remedies for prevention and also how to avoid the cytokine storm which may come from over stimulation of the immune system.

Here is a fabulous article in the Journal of Medical Herbalism which addresses the issues associated with the 1918 pandemic and herbs and supplements to help prevent H1N1.

I hope that by reading some of these articles it will help people to help themselves by practicing prevention.  If for some reason you do get the flu or know someone with the flu…don’t panic.  There are a plethora of herbs which can aid the body even if the flu does set in.

 

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Ode to Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)

Lacerations and bruises, bleeding and chills, a fever and fibroids yarrow it heals.

Though bitter and pungent, cold and dry this herb will cool and tonify.

The tongue it is red and cracked down the middle, the veins they are blue and fast like a fiddle.

When you are irritated and tissue depressed, the veins it will cool along with the chest.

Dyspepsia, colitis, arthritis and gout Yarrow’s not an herb you want to rule out.

When the maidens flow comes to her late, yarrow’s an herb which will promote and stimulate.

Her loins they will cramp, her flow in excess, yarrow will slow the bleed and make it less.

When the pressure is high and the head it aches, a tea of the flowers for goodness sakes.

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