At the news of my recent flu comes the question I have been dreading:
“Have you been taking your vitamin pills?”.
I am 42 years old, however, to my mother, I still need reminding to take care of my health. This no longer comes as a shock to me, yet what does surprise me is that she thinks I will be resorting to man-made pills to recoup my full strength. Surely she knows me better than that?
Yes, I am determined to get back to optimum health, but instead of heading down to the pharmacy, I find myself foraging in the hedgerows of Holman Way with my friend Izzy, a medical herbalist.
It’s just another day in my weird and wonderful working life in Topsham – hanging upside down from a swing, concocting super green detox smoothie recipes, teaching people how to breathe out of alternate nostrils, and tasting weeds on my lunchbreak. Just your average Thursday really.
I’d turned to herbal medicine in the past when I was recovering from an injury, but I am intrigued by this idea of a medicine garden. There is something quite magical-sounding about it, and it just seems to make sense to me that the earth seems to provide everything we need.
As we walk around the churchyard in Topsham, and Izzy picks out the new spring flowers, I notice there is a lot of yellow. Apparently, the yellow plants and herbs are to support the liver, which is often weakened through the winter.
I have often been fascinated by the healing power of nature. I subscribe to the view of Hippocrates, who said “nature itself is the best physician”.
However, I didn’t realise until now that nature also gives us exactly what we need for that specific season. So, all our spring greens, and yellow flowers are there for a reason.
In both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, Springtime has traditionally been a time to give special attention to liver health and detox. “Spring cleaning” relates not just to clearing out the cupboards, but detoxifying the body of all that it no longer needs as we move from winter into summer.
In winter, the liver can become sluggish, causing us to feel fatigued, irritable, angry even. In Spring, we want to cleanse the blood of it’s impurities, metabolize the fat that has been keeping us warm, and and get some clean, fresh energy flowing through the body.
Luckily, we have everything we need in nature to help us stimulate the liver and put the spring back in our step. Think dandelion, nettle, yellow dock, and milk thistle, all can be made into a tea, or added to our food.
My favourite, however, of the spring healing herbs is wild garlic; known for it’s immune boosting properties, it also makes a fabulous pesto.
As always, in the case of illness, you would be advised to see a qualified practitioner, however, for general health benefits and just giving yourself that little boost, you need look no further than your own garden to see what wonders nature has prescribed.
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