Cultivating Relationships with Herbs as Preventative Care
I hope you are settling into this Fall season and enjoying the comforts of cozy sweaters, roaring fires, and hot cups of tea in the evenings. Lately I have been having a lot of conversations on how herbs can support us with winter wellness, holiday stress, and the inevitable cold and flu season that seems to accompany this time of the year.
There is a reason for that – a sort of formula that often leads to illness. The stress of the the holidays coupled with the less than stellar (but totally delicious) food choices that we make can lead to a weakened immune system in some people. Then add on the colder temperatures that allow certain viruses to spread, getting less fresh air, and being inside more often with people who may be sick...it's no wonder this season can be stressful for our immune systems.
So how can herbs support us during this time? There are tons of herbs that can help out the immune system and I'm not going to go into full detail on those here. But what I do want to do today, is to remind you that no matter what issue we are struggling with, whether that be anxiety or the sniffles, herbs are here for us.
In our modern lives full of busyness and distraction, we often forget that being well, at its core, lies through the most basic practice: preventative care. Sure, there are medicines we need for acute situations that we might not necessarily take every day. But many of the herbs that we take for modern ills like stress, fatigue, etc. must be taken regularly, over time to create a positive shift in our body. When it comes to immunity, herbal preparations like Fire Cider and Elderberry Syrup can be incredibly powerful allies when they are taken daily.
Related reading: A Recipe for Kitchen Witches: Fire Cider
I don't think I would be too presumptuous to say that all of us could do more to prevent the common cold, ease our frazzled nerves, or nourish our bodies deeply with foods, lifestyle practices, and herbs that improve our wellbeing. Most importantly, when we work with plant allies for these issues, we must tend to our relationship with the plants often, rather than the moment that illness has fully set in. In this way, herbalism requires a commitment – a commitment to care for yourself every day, not just when you are sick. (And of course loads of other commitments to the plants themselves, our Earth, and much more!)
Now I will be the first to say that I struggle with this! It is hard to remember to take my tinctures twice a day; it requires effort for me to make a quart sized herbal infusion at night for the next morning; and sometimes on the days when I'm anxious or depressed it can be hard to get out of bed at all and muster up the energy to take a spoonful of the very medicine that may make me feel better. But I have found that by taking the tiniest steps every day to build habits that keep me well, it gets easier and easier.
Remembering to take my potions daily also ensures that I have less bad days. Like I said, most of the herbs that we take require time to create a positive shift. Their effects build on each other. So when I do have those bad days, they often aren't as severe as they once were and I even have tools to help me navigate the tough times. I feel less...lost. Cultivating relationships with plant medicines offers me a sense of empowerment and self-reliance with my health that keeps me grounded and well, no matter what stressor comes my way.
So today I encourage you to take your tinctures, brew your teas, and engage in self-care every day as a form of preventative care. Remember that herbs work best in our bodies when we build consistent relationships with them. Set a reminder on your phone, keep your tinctures in your purse or backpack...do whatever you need to do to build consistency with your herbal medicine practice!