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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Essential Foragers Etiquette

After posting last week about the importance of wild greens I think it would be timely to discuss the essential foragers etiquette. bowl of stinging nettlesThere are some strict rules that must be adhered to when collecting plants from the wild, other points are more recommendations gained from years of foraging experience and connection with plants:

  • Never gather an endangered or threatened species.
  • Make sure you have the landowners permission before you collect plants from the wild.
  • Take time to identify the plant, use a good field guide.  If you are not sure, do not harvest.
  • Be aware of pollution, there are many kinds: car exhaust, dog pee, fertiliser & pestcide around the edges of conventionally farmed fields, etc.
  • Never take all there is, leave plenty for the birds, animals, other foragers, and of course so the plant can complete its life cycle and produce seed for the next generation.
  • Leave the “grandfather” plant and any that stand at the top of the hill as their seed will repopulate the slope, (but do take a healthy looking specimen).
  • Procede with caution in fragile environments such as rocky slopes and stream banks where treading and collecting irresponsibly may cause great damage to the local ecosystem.
  • Take care to replace the earth carefully where you have harvested roots, again to avoid damaging the environment or causing erosion.
  • Always take a moment of pause before collecting, just to acknowledge the plant.  Ask if you may collect, if it feels like a no move on to another plant.
  • Always thank as you collect and when you have enough, gratitude goes a long way.

basket of wild garlicWith this wet, cold, and windy weather my foraging basket has remained pretty bare this last week but my body feels the need for the nourishment it gets from deep dark wild greens.  Each bitter little leaf is stuffed with minerals and vitamins and consumed in small amounts alongside each meal can assist digestion and help the body achieve a slightly alkaline state of balance, its optimum for efficient function.  So with that in mind and the warmer, drier, weather forecast for this coming weekend I expect to have another green favourite to profile next week.

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