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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Cambodia’s Wealth of Fruit

I am a firm believer that what we eat directly affects our health, and so when I have the opportunity to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits I go for it. I am a massive fan of tropical fruits so imagine my joy when I recently visited a market in Cambodia and within the first 10 paces came across 4 of my favourites.

fresh green coconuts

fresh green coconuts

Actually my first one is a nut, not a fruit, still it’s staying on my list, it’s the coconut. Coconuts are abundant in Cambodia, you can find piles of them on most street corners. There are usually a few in the cool box and someone at hand to slice the top of and give you a straw to drink the liquid inside. Coconut water is so refreshing, I love it best when the coconuts are really young and sweet. Make sure you hang by the person with the knife so that when you have finished drinking they can slice it in half and you can scoop out the flesh. The younger the coconut the more slimy the flesh, it slides down your throat, mmm, yum! Of course they have incredible health benefits too, the water alone is full of electrolytes and so can help with rehydration in the steamy tropics.

red chili peppers

red chili peppers

Chilies were the next to catch my eye. Chilies are a fruit, not one that most people would bite into without caution, but one of my favourites nonetheless. They have great medicinal qualities which include helping to: expel intestinal parasites (when eaten raw), boost circulation, improve asthmatic conditions. In addition their high beta-carotene content may help guard against the development of cancer. I chop them raw into Asian style salads, and cook with them most days. The Cambodians seem a lot more shy about using them in their cuisine than their fiery Thai neighbours, but there were certainly plenty for sale at the market. [If you want to know more about chili’s medicinal properties look here.]

rambutans

rambutans

My next fruit is the amazing rambutan, a fruit that I have yet to see in the supermarkets of Europe, I guess it just doesn’t store or transport that well. Once you have peeled off the curious skin there is sweet white flesh inside with a large smooth seed in the middle. The flesh is not unlike, the better known, lychee. Perhaps I get so excited when I get to eat one because it is such a rare treat, only in the tropics and only when in season, unlike most fruits that can be obtained worldwide, year round. Unsurprisingly they too have health benefits and have been used as a traditional medicine in both Malaysia and Indonesia for hundreds of years to treat diabetes, hypertension and many other conditions.

durian fruit

durian fruit

The fourth and final fruit of my ten paces is another curious looking fellow, the durian. Durian gets a bad rap because it has a rather pungent odour. You will find signs on the window of buses and cabs, even hotel rooms, banning durian fruit from the vehicle/ premises. Actually it is another fruit that has yet to migrate to the supermarkets of Europe, I wonder why?!  It is however well worth the pong. The creamy yellow flesh is so rich and delicious, it feels as indulgent as the finest chocolate dessert. You don’t need much to fill you, but whenever I get a chance I eat a section. The flesh is a great source of vitamin C, B vitamins, and minerals including manganese, copper, iron and magnesium. So once again beneficial to health.

Who needs junk food when nature provides so many amazing and varied flavours, colours, tastes and textures? I can’t wait for my next trip to a tropical market!

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