Yesterday, I walked past one of my favorite bookstores in the City and a book literally fell onto my hands. For a mere two bucks I purchased, Herbs for Health and Healing. So far, the book is living up to it promise: a thorough resource guide for safe herbal treatments for most anything that troubles your body, mind and heart. This treasure trove has dozens of herbal recipes and formulas to treat everything from insomnia, to fibroids, from nausea to migraines. There's even a recipe to heal a broken heart, which you can check out after the jump. The one thing that kept coming up for me as I read the book were the home remedies and herbal teas and concoctions that my mom, aunts, and grandma prepared to alleviate the girls from menstrual cramps, to help heal the kids when we got scratches, bumps, bruises, tummy aches or just needed a good night's sleep.
In our kitchen and cupboard growing up I remember seeing linden flower, chamomile, anise, cloves, cinnamon, ginger root, yerba buena, and many other fresh or dried herbs that depending on what was needed, a special tea was brewed. In fact, rather than running to a pharmacy when we were burned, mom would cut a slab of aloe plant and put the gelatinous gooey flesh on the burned skin, and yes, pain would go away. Our home was typical of many Latin American homes when it came to understanding the power that herbs and plants possessed for healing.
But over the years, these same remedies were ridiculed by modern day science as old wives tales and sadly, many of this ancient plant wisdom has been lost. Since it's true that what we pay attention to grows, and our eyes were cast on pills and pharmaceuticals, the result has been that herbalists are rare, even in our families. So today, instead of drinking valerian tea to help regulate sleep, we take Ambien or any other pharmaceutical sleep aids available over the counter. Besides the costly side effect of addiction, many of these pharmaceuticals have side effects that break down other perfectly healthy organs. By the way, it's rare to overdose when using plants to heal.
I do believe that we have an innate plant intelligence that can be activated at any moment. The trick is to decide to focus on it. So, focus we must. Because for whatever ails you, there is a plant that can help in your healing.
So far my favorite chapter is one that explores fragrance and the mind, "Aromatherapy: Healing the Emotions." And it's filled with delicious recipes for lifting, reviving, or rejuvenating the mind. And you know what happens, first the mind and the body follows.
Know this: what you need, a plant can offer.
Here is a sweet recipe made with several essential oils that the author calls, Anti-Sorrow Fragrance. I just finished making it, and it smells like a beautiful sunny Spring morning. After rubbing it all over, I feel a whole lot better:
4 ounces sweet almond oil
10 drops marjoram essential oil
5 drops each clary sage, cypress or rosemary essential oils
1 drop of hyssop essential oil (expensive, so its optional)
1 drop melissa (or lemon) essential oil