Many people pay attention to taking their daily multivitamin, their B complex or maybe even their calcium. However, the role of minerals for our daily nutrition is often overlooked. Luckily mainstream media continues to catch up and magnesium is now getting its chance to shine. This magnificent little mineral is involved in over 300 process in the body and chances are you have experience some of the side effects of having not quite enough. Symptoms you might have experienced include irritability, fatigue, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and stiffness and cramping in muscles. While not all of these may be directly linked to magnesium, you can be that it plays a part. Magnesium deficiency has been linked with a variety neurological, psychological and muscular disorders so we have much more to learn.
Genus species: Viola odorata L. or tricolor L.
Energetics: cool, moist
Taste: cool, sweet, mucilaginous
Actions: expectorant, demulcent, diuretic, nutritive, alterative, emollient
Degree of action: 2nd
Tissue states: atrophy, stagnation
To say that I love peanut butter may be a slight understatement. When I first discovered that one of the great ways to take herbal powders was in a giant ball of peanut butter you can only imagine my excitement. Most herbalists have made or at least know of the infamous Zoom Balls from Rosemary Gladstar that is chock full of herbs to stimulate the body, enhance the immune system and supply a general support to the body's daily functions. If you haven't heard of these amazing little balls delicious medicine I would recommend asking Mr. Google to show you. If you don't know about herb balls the basic recipe is to take some powdered herbs and mix if with enough nut butter and honey (or sweetener of choice) to be able to mold it into a round ball that can then be refrigerated and taken as a daily dose of medicine. Simple right? Apparently not for me. Let's face it. I lack that creative ability in the kitchen and have a slight disability that make the majority of food I attempt to make... not horrible, just not as desirable as one might hope.
When the weather outside is cold, snowy and blustery there is nothing better than curling up in front of the fire place with a nice cup of hot cocoa to keep you toasty from the inside out. I found the kava kava cocoa recipe from Rosalee de la Foret's website. I adapted it slightly for my own tastes so you can see the original recipe here: Kava Hot Cocoa. I really found this an enjoyable drink. When you're stuck inside with the rest of the family or roommates, it's best to keep spirits lifted and everyone cheerful to avoid any reenactments of "The Shining." This recipe is easy, simple and contains ingredients and tastes that everyone can find comfort in.
Why did a I choose Kava? I myself was feeling a bit down and my stomach a bit restless due to some recent stressors. I have a gut that likes to let me know when I need to relax. Kava is just one of those things that helps me step back and take a deep breath and have a good laugh without the need for alcohol. Kava kava (Piper methysticum) has a long history in the Pacific Islands as an intoxicating ceremonial drink. It is often drunk during social gatherings and prior to important discussions or negotions in order to relieve in pre-existing tension before conversation begins.
Illness is everywhere. It seems that the wrong flu vaccine was given this year so naturally everyone is getting the flu. Woops! People might be able to fend off the flu better if their immune systems weren't already bogged down with all the extra vaccines and medications they use to "stay healthy" but I digress. My partner and I eat a relatively healthy and balanced diet. We incorporate as much fresh vegetables as we allow time for and many of our meals at home our made from scratch. Whole grains are plentiful and processed flours and pre-made products are minimal. However, event with this "healthy" diet we will still take every opportunity to keep us well defended from the bacterial and viral invaders that lurk on every door handle, counter top and grocery cart. I was thankful that my next level of herbal basics on HerbMentor was syrup, more importantly, elderberry syrup. Fancy that. Elderberry is well known for its antioxidant and antiviral properties and the flower as a diuretic. I was happy to oblige the lesson and make my elderberry syrup which has been gracing our table and morning breakfast since it was made. Here it is:
Step one was putting the elderberries (Sambucus nigra), cloves, cinnamon, and ginger on the stove with 2 cups water. The herbs were brought to a low boil then covered and left to simmer for about 20 minutes. The herbs were then strained from the mixture. I allowed the mixture to cool a little before adding the honey since I didn't want to lose the benefits of having a raw honey but tried to keep it warm enough that they blended smoothly. It worked and tastes lovely. I generally don't use honey since many vegans are quite uncomfortable with its use. I feel that if it can be found locally from someone who cares properly for their bees I will use the honey as an extremely valuable tool in the medicine cabinet. I'm not sure I know anything that cures a cold better than some hot fire cider and honey. This was short and sweet but this is still a new practice. Let's hope I get more motivated in the future.
Last August I obtained my M.S. in Therapeutic Herbalism from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. I love it! I don't feel like I've learned what I need to learn yet. I still have this lurking feeling that I am missing an important piece of the puzzle. When I stepped back to take a look at all that I have learned over the years I realized it wasn't one large piece that I was missing, but many small pieces located sporadically throughout the puzzle. So here I am trying to find all those little pieces. I'm going to start from square one and see if I can pick up some extra tidbits. I went back to the basics. Three weeks ago I made some basic herbal infusions. Simple enough. Herb, hot water, and steep. Got it. Then I made a lovely decoction. That turned out quite tasty. I used the Immune Building Chai Tea recipe from Herb Mentor. It was delicious.
Simmer herb (spices) in water for 15 minutes. Strain out herbs. Add milk to desired consistency and honey to taste. I used coconut milk since I like how thick it is however almond milk does add a nice flavor.