December ~ Remedies For Overindulgence ;)

It’s that time of year again where healthy eating habits tend to go out the window and alcohol consumption, despite best intentions, increases. From personal experience I have found that the cleaner I am for the most part, those moments when I do fall off the wagon seem to hurt just that much more. So if like me you have become a light weight the following remedies may just ease the pain in the coming weeks – alternatively, like one of my dearest friends, you could go to a meditation centre half way through December for a 21 day silent meditation – personally I am not ready for that quite yet!

Overindulgence comes in many forms and for many of us it will involve eating over the coming weeks. For me it is not so much over eating, but eating foods I would usually avoid, alongside eating at strange times of day and night. Starting any meal with “bitters” whether that is a plate of dark green raw leaves, drops of bitter tinctures (such as wormwood or yarrow), or a cup of a bitter herbal tea, will help stimulate the secretion of bile and digestive juices. Bitters also slow the entry of sugars into the blood stream, make us more sensitive to insulin and curb our appetite, so as you can see it is a great idea to consume them all the time but especially when being presented with a big roast or snacking on finger food.

a serving of raw bitter leaves

a serving of raw bitter leaves

Mint and chamomile are two teas that would work well as a pre dinner bitter drink. If you miss the bitters before you eat all is not lost as mint, chamomile and ginger can all help with the post dinner bloat. Chewing on a piece of fresh ginger or simmering gently to make a tea can help with nausea, indigestion, flatulence and will improve liver function and help weak digestion. Chamomile eases heartburn and nausea and will calm inflammation of the gastro-intestinal lining. Mint can also ease indigestion, flatulence and nausea. Fresh mint leaves crushed and rubbed on the temples can help with a headache – which brings me to the next overindulgence – alcohol…

 

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fresh young coconuts

 

Water is so obvious – not just drinking a pint before bed and first thing on rising but also drinking a small glass of water between each alcoholic beverage will slow your drinking down and keep you hydrated as you go. Failing that I find that drinking coconut water, naturally rich in electrolytes, goes a long way to help with rehydration and is somehow easier to drink if you are feeling a bit rough the morning after. I am not a big fan of eating out of season but a handful of strawberries the morning after (and preferably also the night before) can really help your body bounce back – as an antioxidant they have a cleansing effect on the body, are a tonic for the liver and blood, and they help protect the stomach lining.

Another thing you can do to ease a hangover is to take a lovely soothing warm bath with a handful of Epsom salts in. The Epsom salts will help draw out toxins and metabolic waste that the liver has converted into water-soluble compounds and relax your tired achy muscles.

wild dandelion finding an urban niche

wild dandelion finding an urban niche

I don’t tend to use herbs to intensively clear my blood or liver if I am about to abuse them all over again the next night. However, once the silly season is over I like to put a lot of love back in to my liver and give my system a herbal mini cleanse – with a course of milk thistle, dandelion root, burdock root and wheat grass shots  – more about that in January…

If you are interested in learning more about using simple remedies, or are wondering what to buy your plant loving friend for Christmas then check out a copy of The Medicine Garden.

Don’t forget that going outside taking a deep breath of fresh air and if possible taking a walk in the woods are all deeply restorative to both body and spirit. Keep well and be happy 🙂

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Food as Medicine

Hippocrates apparently once said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, I often think about these words.  Over the last ten years my diet has changed significantly and I have added regular cleanses and fasts into my annual body maintenance regime.  At points I have eaten almost wholly raw plant foods, other times I slip back towards more junky comfort foods.  The thing is there is no greater feeling than eating a plant, be it a leaf, root, or fruit, fresh and raw direct from the plant. 

I am giving a talk at the Off Grid Festival this Friday entitled “Food as Medicine” which has reminded me, and helped me refocus on that point over the last few weeks, as I have been getting my notes together.  The thing is everything we put into our bodies either helps build, maintain and replenish them, or deplete, damage and ultimately destroy them.

Raw wild foods are especially strong and good for you, just consider how they grow, forcing their way up through gaps in pavements, in dark shady corners, all kinds of challenging situations and all depite our attempts to clear them.  Compare that to a lot of the cultivated fruits and vegetables that need watering, weeding, pruning, primping and preening to put forth their best edibles for us.

So what would I suggest as seasonal edible medicine right now?  Well it has to be blackberry.  Strong and rampant it grows on any bit of waste land, or hedgerow possible.  The fruits slightly tart yet juicy and satisfying are ripening up in abundance all around.  And their medicine?  Simple yet effective, the berries are antioxidant, they help cleanse the blood; they help to maintain our bodies keeping them healthy fresh and clear of toxic build ups.  So go and grab a handful, feast on natures seasonal bounty!  Don’t forget to take the kids; foraging for blackberries is a great, free, fun summer holiday activity that will help connect your kids with nature and help teach them where foods come from.  I recently read a statistic that said 42% of kids have never eaten a blackberry, lets work together to turn this around.

Read more about medicinal edibles in “The Medicine Garden” or join me Friday afternoon at Off Grid and be inspired!!

Please note: when foraging for foods or medicines from nature always consider where you are collecting from, look for possible sources of pollution or contamination such as car exhaust fumes.  Additionally never take all you find; leave plenty for other foragers such as the birds and animals, and of course the plant itself, so it can survive to the next generation.  Happy foraging 🙂

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