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IMG_0238I’m a child of modern medicine. You, too?

We’ve grown up with pharmaceutical solutions to almost every health problem out there.  Drugs and the medical personnel who skillfully prescribe them have saved the lives of more than one of my family members.

But what if we don’t need to run to the convenient care clinic for the Next Thing That Ails Us?  What if the curative and the remedy, the nostrum and the balm can be found in nature, placed there by our Creator?

I’ve always been a bit leery of practitioners of “natural health.” I’ve placed my faith in tiny capsules and tablets that come from behind or over a counter.  So I went to a workshop on medicinal herbs at our local library with more than a healthy dose of skepticism.

Herbs, which are simply plants used as medicines, have been used to treat illnesses of all kinds since the beginning of time. All that our First Parents needed to sustain life and health was given to them in the garden. The disobedience that caused their exile is told in our book of Beginnings, Genesis.

In modern times, herbalists – those knowledgeable in the healing powers of plants – are more common in Africa and Asia than in the west. Here in western North Carolina, though, there is keen interest in herbal preparations which use organic ingredients gathered from the forests surrounding us.  Park rangers describe the incredible bio-diversity here in the Smokies, with over 4,000 species of plants, 2,000 species of fungi, and 500 species of mosses and lichens in the region, more than any other park in the United States.

At the library workshop I learned about infusions and decoctions, tinctures and extracts. The large audience watched closely as our instructor made a simple poultice from a mash of freshly chopped comfrey wrapped in cheesecloth. “It’s good for wounds,” Dr. Sanderbeck explained, “plus a natural anti-inflammatory. It’s often used for burns as well.”

lavender-blossom-1595581_1920I’m already familiar with the positive properties of some herbs: lavender for insomnia and echinacea to stimulate the immune system. Chamomile is an anti-inflammatory (don’t you love it in tea?) and peppermint relaxes the digestive system. 

Other herbs readily found in the woods here in the Carolinas are new to me: marshmallow for sore throat and valerian for the nervous system. White sage and yarrow to break a fever.

We studied these medicinal herbs in both their dried and fresh forms and shared tips about the best places to gather them. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t trust this former flatlander to tell them apart just yet. I’m afraid I’ll poison my family so it’s off to the natural health store for me until I get educated in the ways of the woods.

Dr. Sanderbeck demonstrated an all-natural remedy that anyone can make just in time for cold and fu season.

Lemon, Ginger and Honey in a Jar *

Ingredients:

  • 2 lemons (thoroughly scrubbed)
  • 2 pieces of fresh ginger, peeled (about the size of your pointer)
  • Raw honey
  • 12 oz mason jar

Directions:

  1. Slice lemons and ginger
  2. Place slices in mason jar, alternating layers of each
  3. Slowly pour honey over the lemon and ginger. Allow honey to sink down and around the slices. Fill jar to the top with the honey and seal tightly.
  4. Store in the refrigerator. Over time the mixture will turn into a loose jelly.
  5. When you’re in need of some soothing tea, scoop 2-3 tablespoons into a mug full of hot water. Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes and sip away!

Note: keep refilling jar with honey as you use it.

It’s cold and rainy here today. At your place too? Wish you could join me for tea!

*Shared with permission from Michelle Sanderbeck, ND, http://www.bewellwc.com

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