Fern’s very first cold is two weeks gone, and we both have ceased to wake up choking on our own phlegm. Hand washing bordering on obsessive has become the norm, and I warily watch where my daughter’s digits go after playing in that petri-dish sand pit at the park. Becoming a germaphobe isn’t really my style though. Nurturing health naturally, however, is.
Beyond eating fresh, and in season (plenty of winter greens snuck into smoothies, butternut squash ravioli, squishy yam balls perfect for noshing), we are also partaking in winter tonics, as preventative medicine. Fern has her “Special Chai” in the morning. In Ayurvedic medicine, the spices used in chai support healthy digestion (sluggish digestion, common in winter with the weather and all the weird food we eat, contributes to bacterial ookiness), as well as being warming, stimulating and balancing. Here is a link to an article in Yoga Journal explaining it in dosha terminology. I add herbal tinctures several times a week
Fern’s Morning Chai
1 C soy or almond milk (you could use animal milk, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you currently have a cold, as dairy contributes to mucous formation. Mmmmmmucous).
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp fennel powder (or seed)
1/8 tsp allspice
1 dropper full of glycerine based ECHINACIA/GOLDENSEAL tincture OR ASTRAGALUS tincture. (I use the E/G tincture twice a week and the Astragalus once for tonic purposes. The rest of the time I leave it out).
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat gently until just boiling. Turn off the heat and let steep until it is a good temperature for you or a child. Pour over a fine strainer into a cup, and sweeten to taste. (We use agave).
I put this in Fern’s sippy cup and she sucks it down in 30 seconds.
Fern is also addicted to chest rub. She has a several times a day habit, patting her chest at every remotely appropriate moment, using her vocal I-Want-That chant, “Aaah? Aaah? Ee ya Das? Ee ya das?”. I will admit, I’m kinda addicted to it too. Invigorating, happy scents, combined with herbal properties that open up bronchial tubes and soothe headache. I make it into a salve with other secret ingredients, but you can also do a quicky version with essential oils and olive oil. Do make sure that the oils you use are clearly marked as “Pure Essential Oil” or EO. Beware of anything that says “natural fragrance oil”…cuz it ain’t. (If you live in SF, you can get affordable bulk essential oils at Rainbow Grocery. These are great for medicinal uses, but they are lower quality than those teeny tiny bottles of liquid gold you normally find. The quality only matters if you are concerned with perfume, or the way the scents blend…the bulk oils do not have olfactory clarity of the more expensive, but they still contain the important stuff.)
Aromatherapy Chest Rub
2 TB olive oil
9 drops each of Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Rosemary essential oils
Combine in a small bowl. Massage onto upper chest before bedtime or nap. Or during diaper changes, getting dressed, before dinner, after emptying out the laundry basket, while eating cheese, when the cat meows, after…..
Using an aromatherapy burner is also a great way to freshen the air, which can get pretty stale during the winter months when everything is shut up tight. (You can also try doing your laundry, which I recently did. 4 loads later and I realized that funky smell must have been emanating from the Mt. Vesuvius-like pile in my room.)
We have been rotating through:
Eucalyptus: heaven during colds or flu
Lavender: calming and soothing
Rosemary: invigorating, uplifting
Rose Geranium: anti-depressant, stimulating
I’m hoping we will make it to next spring vomit-free. I don’t know if the bugs are getting stronger, or what, but several years ago I went through a stint of going through flu viruses that I seriously worried might kill me. Nursing will be problematic if I am face down on the bathroom floor, reaching toward the toilet like a dehydrated desert adventurer.
And I love you and everything, but if you are sick, please keep your distance and don’t take it personally if I put on a hazmat suit and start spraying the surrounding area with tea tree oil.