Seasonal Healing: Winter Herbal Medicine Chest
Several herbs are effective for treating not only the symptoms of too
much winter, but the causes of colds and flu Impaired immunity to
virus/bacteria, maintaining blood circulation and warmth, ensuring
vitality of the lungs and reducing the build up of congestion in the
Ginger: Ginger is used for the prevention and treatment of various
forms of nausea. These include motion sickness, the nausea and
vomiting of pregnancy (morning sickness), and post-surgical nausea.
Note: If you are pregnant or undergoing surgery, do not self-treat
with ginger except under physician supervision. Weak evidence
suggests ginger might be helpful for osteoarthritis. Ginger has been
suggested as a treatment for numerous other conditions, including
atherosclerosis, migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, high
cholesterol, burns, ulcers, depression, impotence, and liver
toxicity. Stops cough and stops vomiting. In traditional Chinese
medicine, hot ginger tea taken at the first sign of a cold is
believed to offer the possibility of averting the infection.
Elderflower : Elder flowers are highly effective in managing upper
respiratory congestion and infections. Picked from the elder tree in
mid to late summer, they seem to capture the dry warmth of this time
of year, perfect for drying up that runny or blocked nose. These tiny
pale white flowers have a delicate floral taste and contain
flavonoids and small amounts of mucilage and tannins, a perfect
combination for soothing healing and protecting mucous membranes. An
old tradition was to make fresh Elderflower wine in summer ready to
drink in winter Food as medicine?!?
Yarrow: Yarrow's principle action is on the circulation. As the cold
of winter slows down and redirects blood circulation, Yarrow dilates
blood vessels allowing increased blood flow, oxygen and warmth to
surface tissues (like the skin and mucous membranes). This enables
the immune cells to function at their peak, warding off infection and
keeping channels clear and open. The whole flowering tops are used in
a tea or other forms in mild fevers or minor congestion where
circulation is a concern.
Sage: Sage is a most powerful and effective herb for treating sore
throats. The different essential oils in sage exert an antiseptic
effect in the respiratory tract and helps to keep both the throat and
lungs free of infection. The additional effect of stimulating
digestion aids to minimise congestion in other parts of the body,
making fresh sage a valuable ingredient to winter recipes.
Rose hips : Rose hips form in Autumn following the rose flowers of
summer. They are the fruit around the rose seed, full of nutrients to
protect the seed during winter until the arrival of spring Let them
do the same for you. As a rich source of Vitamin C and flavonoids
Rosehips aid with nourishing you for defense against colds and flu.
Echinacea : First used by the Indigenous North Americans who
harvested the plants for extensive use in the treatment of infectious
wounds and burns or eruptive skin complaints. It enhances the
phagocytic activity of white blood cells- identifying and retiring
bacterial, viral and fungal infections, in addition to the clearance
of these from the lymphatic system. Higher doses are often used for
affecting acute immune responses.
Mullein : The leaves of Mullein are used as a soothing expectorant,
facilitating easier removal of lung congestion. This action is ideal
during or after colds where the persistence of dampness or mucus
impairs adequate lung function and clearance. Mullein soothes and
strengthens the mucosal membranes of the respiratory system where
these have been painful, irritated or sore from infection.
Astragalus : To be used after colds or infection to rebuild immunity,
Astragalus is a sweet tasting herb effective in restoring both
resilience to future respiratory infections, and efficiency of
metabolism to ensure optimal nutrition for immune reserves to fight
off those winter chills. This herb is the best for restoring energy
to the body very quickly.
Thyme: The pungent oils found in Thyme are an effective anti
microbial in the treatment of respiratory infections. When taking
Thyme, people often note tasting it on their breath as the oils
permeate through the respiratory system to reduce the proliferation
of viruses during infections. It also warms the digestion and reduces
metabolic congestion, aiding to clear the body of conditions for
Garlic : Garlic was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, chewed by
Greek Olympian athletes and thought to be essential for keeping
vampires at bay! But it is also good for zapping bacteria, keeping
your heart healthy, warding off coughs and colds. Garlic is an
antibiotic that can actually kill infecting bacteria and at the same
time protect the body from the poisons that are causing the
infection. It is known that the most sensitive bacterium to garlic is
the deadly Bacillus anthracis which produces the poison anthrax. Even
the forefather of antibiotic medicine Louis Pasteur acknowledged
garlic to be as effective as penicillin and late studies showed
similar activity to a more modern antibiotic, chloramphenicol. Even
the blood of garlic eaters can kill bacteria and it is also reported
that the vapour from freshly cut garlic can kill bacteria at a
distance of 20 cms!
Fenugreek: Soothes sore throat pain and coughs. From ancient times
through the late 19th century, fenugreek played a major role in
herbal healing. Then it fell by the wayside. Now things are once
again looking up for the herb whose taste is an odd combination of
bitter celery and maple syrup. Modern scientific research has found
that fenugreek can help reduce cholesterol levels, control diabetes
and minimise the symptoms of menopause. The ancient Greeks fed this
herb to horses and cattle. The Romans then started using it, too,
calling it "Greek hay." (In Latin, "Greek hay" is foenum-graecum, and
that evolved into "fenugreek.") As fenugreek spread around the
ancient Mediterranean, physicians learned that its seeds, like many
seeds, contain a gummy substance called mucilage. Mixed with water,
mucilage expands and becomes a gelatinous soother for irritated
Marshmallow : Marshmallow stimulates the immune system and the
production of white blood cells. It also soothes inflammation, slows
production of mucus,
Friday, January 6, 2017
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Seasonal Healing and the Winter Solstice
In the northern hemisphere, the Winter solstice is the day of the
year (this year it is December 21) when the Sun is farthest south.
The winter solstice marks the first day of the winter season. The
declination of the Sun on the (northern) winter solstice is known as
the tropic of Capricorn (-23° 27').
Winter is the time for rest and to replenish. As an expression in nature, The
Winter Solstice is the time to reflect on the power of our spiritual beliefs and
the belief in the power of ourselves! As we look forward to the beginning of a
New Year, we look at ways to resolve issues and create resolutions that will
manifest change for the better, in ourselves.
Winter is the time to take a good look at our health and our
lifestyle. Start by looking at the life around you. Are you living in
chaos? Is your home in a shambles? Is there clutter everywhere? You
may want to consider starting with a good packing and storing
session. Feng Shui, the ancient art of placement, can help you to
find order in your life.
The temple, our physical bodies, are the only thing we have to carry
the soul. When our physical bodies are not in proper working order,
everything around us ultimately suffers. Our good health is all we
have that stands between us and the aging process. The longer you
keep your physical body in optimum health, the longer you have your
temple to keep your soul on this plane. Detoxification is the best
way to keep the body at its most ultimate working level.
By enjoying a healthy, nutritional diet, getting good quality sleep
and moderate exercise this can keep our physical form at it's best,
always. Take the opportunities that are offered. Make the
opportunities that are not. Find your priorities of life and give
them merit. This is the best season to do this. This is the time when
we have the greatest energy to utilize the power we are given!
Celebrations of the Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice is the time of the longest night and the shortest
day. As the darkness peaks the Solstice is a turning point. This is
the point of the highest Yin (cooling) energy as the nights grow
shorter and the days grow longer into Yang (warming) energy. The
cycle of dark wanes as the power of the Sun waxes.
Customs most associated with the Winter Solstice are festivals such
as Chinese New Year, St Lucy's Day, Saturnalia, the birth of the
Christ child, Hanukkah, New Years and the Twelfth Night. Stories all
deriving from the conflict between dark and light.
A Ritual of Light
On the longest, darkest day of the year, a ritual of light is an ever present
reminder of the conflict, struggle and duality (yin/yang) of our lives. Using
candles as therapy has been around for thousands of years, and has been
practiced by nearly every religion. Candle therapy can be used to unite the
powers of mind, body, and spirit. From ancient times to the present, Candles
have lit our way through every transition! From celebrations and ceremonies to
proclamations and processions! The candle's flame has always been a metaphor for
the soul! It possesses a tranquil and almost hypnotic atmosphere to those who
allow its power to take them to a very special place.
A candle acts as a "self object". A self object is an object that is a
reflection of our self, a reflection upon which we can act. The candle reflects
the spiritual and ethical changes we would like to bring about in ourselves. It
burns as a reminder and symbol of our desires. Sometimes we have to hand our
dreams over to a force more powerful than we are.
Working With Candle Energy
When working with candles, you can be as simplistic or as complicated as you
would like to make it. I suggest that you always charge your candle before
Sit in a quiet place hold the candle in your hands at heart level and visualize
the area in your life you want charged (changed). This will personalize your
connections with the candle and allow the needed energy to come to you in a more
direct way. Begin by using a positive affirmation based on your specific
You get as much out of a candle (or anything) as you put into it. You must
create your own reality through the use of your energy, emotions and
visualizations. What you wish to create may come immediately or it may take some
time. Experience shows that results are only realized at the appropriate time
(the Universal time, not your own)! This allows us a great lesson.
1. Any time you light a candle, always state your true intention and end with a
2. Burn a candle based on the color you need.
3. Use the seven colors of the Chakra and light these candles to release the
color into the room. The rainbow colors have an amazing healing power when lit
4. Burn a candle for meditation. Sit in front of the candle and concentrate on
5. Burn a candle that is made from herbs and essential oils. The power of herbs
and scent are blended with the power of light to manifest a positive action.
6. Burn a candle to bring about clear change and affirmative thought. Transform
your intentions into reality.
7. Different geometric shapes will alter and enhance the effects of color and
scent. It involves understanding what particular geometric patterns can do by
using that particular layout around an individual to heal. Meditating within the
center of these configurations (a circle, square, triangle, for example) can
heighten the entire experience! Place candles in one of these sacred shapes.
Place them on a table or alter to burn or place them on the floor or in your
meditation space and sit inside the configuration. meditate on or within the
Candles can create any mood based on color and good intention. Utilize the power
of light and wax OR create your own special winter solstice ritual to usher in
the change of the season and reflect what this means to you.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac.
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016