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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Tumeric & Black Pepper Oil

I was first introduced to the wonders of turmeric by a friend of mine several years ago. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and had begun to use it on a daily basis finding it relieved her condition. She recommended that I try making golden milk where you first make a paste with black pepper that you can store in the fridge and just use a little a day heating it up with your favourite nut milk and drinking it as the name suggests, as a golden milk. The recipe had too many stages for a lazy bones like me, so I never did try it. It did however spark my interest in turmeric (curcuma longa).

fresh turmeric root

fresh turmeric root

Tumeric contains phytochemicals called curcuminoids. Tumeric has been used since ancients times in India as a tonic for cardiovascular and liver health and for its anti-inflammatory properties which can aid in joint comfort and mobility. Curcumin and the other curcuminoids that turmeric contains have been found to be powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antifungal and anti-bacterial agents.

Piperine is the key chemical constituent in black pepper (Piper nigrum) and when combined with turmeric enhances the bioavailability of the curcumin. This simply means that using black pepper alongside turmeric allows more of the curcumin to be absorbed before it is metabolized by the body. In addition piperine has analgesic properties when applied topically, so it can be used to help reduce pain.

black pepper

black pepper

Curcumin is fat-soluble which means it needs to be dissolved in oil to make it to your intestines where it is then absorbed into the blood stream. This of course is why my friend was dissolving her paste in fatty milk, so that her body could effectively absorb the turmeric and black pepper as medicine.

With this information in hand I began more regularly adding the sacred trio of turmeric, black pepper and oil, to much of my food. Olive oil has its own properties including being antioxidant and so alongside the fact that I find it delicious it became the obvious choice of oil for the necessary combination. I even began occasionally adding it to my morning smoothies, as I am well aware of my less than perfect health, and the fact that inflammation is at the root of many conditions that seem to set in for many modern people as we age. This combination has even been recommended as a remedy for people managing certain cancers, or to help protect oneself from developing cancer in the first place, pretty powerful stuff.

On a trip to Asia last year I was visiting a market in Myanmar and spotted a huge sack of dried turmeric, it was the first time I had come across the root, always having only found it in powdered form in the UK. The man selling it saw my excitement and so when I tried to buy some he instead insisted I take a bag and refused payment. It seemed a little silly as he could have charged me 10x the regular rate and I would still have been happy not realising how much it should have cost. But his kind old eyes refused my offerings of money, so on my return to the UK I gave several of my herb sistas a handful each to use. The dried root grated easily, with an incredible smell and rich orange colour. It felt so much more vibrant and alive than the yellow powder I had been using.

dried herbs at market in Myanmar

dried herbs at market in Myanmar

Earlier this year not only my local health store, but also my local supermarket both started to sell the fresh root, happy days! The taste is amazing and so I continued its use, now with even greater enjoyment.

A few weeks ago I had a dream. In the dream I was told to make an infused oil of fresh ground black pepper, fresh turmeric root and olive oil. So upon waking that is what I did. I first crushed the peppercorns, then sliced the root and finally covered the combination with olive oil. I left the colourful jar to infuse, knowing that my medicinal infusion would be ready in 2-3 weeks.

infusing turmeric & black pepper in olive oil

infusing turmeric & black pepper in olive oil

About a week after the dream I began to have a peculiar problem with my little finger. It kept getting stuck in a bent position, especially during the night and long periods of inactivity. After a bit of self diagnosis I worked out that I had developed trigger finger! A ridiculous sounding condition where the finger tendon becomes inflamed and keeps catching in the tendon sheath. Unfortunately having type I diabetes and being female combined with my current age all put me in the category of people most likely to develop trigger finger :/

Now I know why I was being guided to make the sacred trio elixir (or with less grandiosity: black pepper and turmeric infused oil). I can not only drizzle it over my food, or add a dash into smoothies, but I can also use it topically, to rub at the base of my little finger where I have located the painful and inflamed area leading to my fingers peculiar symptoms.

Hedge-witches always say that the remedy you need will appear to you before you realise you need it, this time for sure that wisdom is true.

 

Cautions: Do not use this oil internally if pregnant, breast feeding or have had gall bladder problems. Discontinue use if on using you experience gastro-intestinal discomfort.

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