What if instead of reaching for the painkiller for your headache, you could pop outside your own back door and picking a few herbs to heal what ails you?
Here is my step by step guide to growing your own healing spiral. You can make the space as large or as small as you desire and your allocated space allows. The healing spiral that we are making here is about 2 metres or 6 foot wide including the walls. If you get creative and have a small space you can down size this project and use pots. All of the herbs for our healing spiral will grow nicely in the ground or in pots.
Let me just start by saying that we are not talking about a purist permaculture herb spiral here, although it’s similar, we don’t have any set rules, so just do what works for you!
First, plan your design. All the herbs will require plenty of sun so have the opening of your spiral facing in North in order to catch a good amount of sun. Choose a spot that has good free draining soil and gather together some course sand and some small stones or gravel (broken crockery or pots work well) to add drainage. Source some large flat rocks, recycled bricks or pavers that suit the size of your spiral, these will also become the stepping stones for your healing spiral, so if using rocks you will need to earth them in the ground to make them stable. Mark out your spiral and clear the space of any weeds and dig out any grass.
Start with the outer edges of your spiral, place the largest stones down to form the edge of your bed, back fill as you go with the gravel, sand and good free draining soil mixed with compost and or fertiliser. Make the spiral with the stones or pavers as you go, you may like to slightly raise the middle section of your spiral by building it up with more stones, bricks or pavers, and back filling with soil, make sure that you add a layer of course sand at the bottom of the middle section as it is more built up, it will need more drainage.
See how you go, as I said there’s no set rules to how it should look so just play with it until you get it the way you like it. If you are growing in pots, you can just buy a variety of matching pots from large (for the centre plants) to small (radiating out of the spiral). In that case all you need to do is arrange your pots in a spiral formation, add a layer of stones at the bottom of each pot for drainage, and fill with potting mix as you plant. Easy!
Once you are happy with the shape of your spiral garden bed it’s time for the fun part- Planting!!
The middle of your healing spiral will be the home for the taller of our healing herbs. As we move further out the spiral, the plants will be shorter growing. Make sure you leave enough space for the herbs to grow. They will need at least 30cm between each planting.
In the centre plant Rosemary. Well known for its ability to enhance memory, Rosemary is a stimulating and warming herb that awakens the senses and strengthens the cardiovascular system. Useful in depression and anxiety where there is a loss of personal power or self-identity. For mental exhaustion Rosemary will help lift brain fog and provide clarity of thought. Rosemary is a great digestive, stimulating a poor appetite and assisting in digestive function. A Rosemary bath will help to ease muscle soreness and stimulate circulation.
How to grow: You can purchase a rosemary plant or grow one from a cutting.
Parts to use: leaves
Preparation: For digestive problems and low blood pressure take 1-2 teaspoons of Rosemary leaves to 1 cup of boiling water and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Add a teapot full of this to a bath for a stimulating Rosemary bath. Rub a few leaves to release the essential oil and inhale to enhance memory and to relieve any respiratory congestion. Make an herbal infused oil (see recipe below) and use as a stimulating muscular rub for sore muscles.
The next herb to go in is Echinacea. Echinacea, a popular immune booster in herbal medicine is great for a sore throat and swollen tonsils. You can use Echinacea for any kind of topical boils and abbesses. A few leaves applied directly to the skin can help soothe any bites or stings or hives. The tingling sensation on your tongue after taking Echinacea is a sign of its potency.
How to grow: Buy Echinacea as a seedling or grow from seed. It will often re-seed by itself. Echinacea will die down over winter and re-emerge in spring.
Parts to use: Flowers and leaves (whole plant is used in herbal tinctures)
Preparation: Make a tea from the leaves and flowers. Juice a couple of leaves or add a couple to your morning smoothie. Bruise the leaves and use them as a topical application for skin conditions.
Lavender is the next plant to go in. Everyone knows about Lavender for its calming essential oil, but did you know that Lavender is also used in depression? Dorothy Hall, a great Australian herbalist describes Lavender as useful for driven people with high standards who are prone to over work and over cleanliness. Lavender can assist migraines from over work, depression with irritable bowel, insomnia, tension and irritability. Lavender is also a great antiseptic for topical wounds and scratches.
How to grow: Buy a seedling or grow from cuttings, try to source true English Lavender for the best therapeutic value.
Parts to use: flowers and leaves
Preparation: Make a tea, rub the leaves to release the essential oil to inhale, dry and make a lavender pillow, and use the bruised leaves topically on skin irritations or on the temples in the case of a headache.
Next to be planted is Calendula. Calendula’s lovely sunny flowers are a strong healer for all skin irritations and wounds. A tea made from Calendula will soothe a sore throat, as well as soothe and heal mouth ulcers. If your glands are up, Calendula will help bring them down effectively. It works wonders as an anti-inflammatory, anti-septic and anti-bacterial for the digestive system.
How to grow: Usually grown from seed, it is annual so it will die down in winter in colder climates. The seed is easily saved to be used year after year.
Parts to use: Flowers
Preparation: Use as a tea, or dry the flowers and make a Calendula infused oil (see recipe below).
Lemonbalm, as the name suggests is a lovely lemon scented herb. In folklore this herb is closely related to bees; bees love to collect nectar from the flowers and the lemon scent, which closely resembles the pheromones of the queen bee, are said to keep the bees from swarming away from the hive. Lemonbalm is fantastic to relieve stomach upset, in particular when it is related to anxiety. Lemonbalm will calm the mind and is useful for insomnia and irritability. Lemonbalm also has an amazing anti-viral activity and is specifically used against herpes virus (cold sores, chickenpox and shingles).
How to grow: Buy a seedling or transplant a piece with root intact. Lemonbalm will die down in winter and re-emerge in spring.
Parts used: leaves and stalks.
Preparation: Make a tea and drink or use it in a bath. Make an herbal infused oil (see recipe below) and use topically on herpes skin lesions. Or bruise the leaves and apply to skin.
Once you have all of your plants in, give them a good water. You will be rewarded with the benefits of the medicinal plants in your garden all year round. Enjoy!
Herbal infused oil Recipe
Harvest enough of your chosen herb to fill a small glass jar. Take account for the shrinkage that will occur during the drying process, so pick a little more than you think you will need. Allow the herb to dry for several days (depending on the weather, this could take a longer or shorter time). You will want it to be dry enough to be able to be stored away without getting mouldy.
Fill the jar to the brim with your dried herb. Cover the herb with an organic cold pressed vegetable oil such as olive oil or sunflower oil. Put the lid on the jar tightly and label it with the ingredients and the date.
Store the jar in a warm place out of direct sunlight. Shake the jar once or twice per day.
In about 6 weeks your oil will be ready, it should be of a nice colour (reflecting the colour of the herb you used) and have no fermenting odour or mould. Strain the oil through a muslin cloth and throw away the spent herb. If you have mould or fermentation you didn’t allow your herb to dry for long enough, you will need to throw it away and start again.
Store the infused oil in an airtight jar away from direct sunlight and use topically. Keeps for 1 year.
There are some things in life that just feel good. There are some medicines that just make sense, some things that don’t need scientific validation for us to know that they are good for us.
In fact sometimes I think that “science” either purposefully or not is there just to confuse us. I remember being dumbfounded a number of years ago when science deemed that -“yes indeed, breastmilk is the best form of nutrition for babies” –WELL DERRRRR!!
It’s interesting to see that two of the top Editor in chiefs of the most prestigious medical journals have come out admitting that scientific research today, needs to be looked over with a more sceptical eye.
This is what Dr Richard Horton of the Lancet had to say:
“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”
Another editor in chief, Dr Marcia Angell, this time of the prestigious New England Medical Journal had this to say:
“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine”
The reason is that most scientific research is funded by industry and in it is in the interest of the funder and the recipient to come a favourable finding for the funder of the research. Studies with undesirable outcomes are just suppressed by the funder, meaning the researchers work is not published.
I think it’s time we took our health into our own hands and started listening to our common sense when it comes to health and healing. Good food makes us feel good. It is that simple. No scientific evidence needed.
Let’s look back to our wise grandmothers who used food as a healing. One of the staples in the healing pantry is good old Chicken Soup. Or what the trendy inner suburban cafés call Broth.
Here’s my basic Chicken Broth recipe
1 whole organic chicken
1 whole organic brown onion with skin on
3-5 whole cloves of garlic
1-2 teaspoons of Celtic sea salt
3-4 litres of filtered water
Optional herbs- Rosemary, thyme, parsley
Optional 2 sticks of celery & 2 carrots cut roughly
Optional 1 tbs of apple cider vinegar
Put the whole chicken in a large pot, add the rest of the ingredients. Add enough water to cover the chicken. Simmer on a low heat for 1 ½ -2 hours. Pick meat of the chicken and reserve. At this point you may use the broth or you can add the bones of the carcass back into the pot and simmer for longer. The longer you simmer the stock, the more rich and concentrated the flavour will become.
When you are happy with your broth, remove it from the heat. Allow it to cool and store in recycled jars in the freezer for later use. To avoid the glass breaking in the freezer don’t over fill the jars, allow about 5cm for expansion and the broth to cool fully before freezing.
Our grandmothers were wise, not ignorant.
Our family have recently made some changes to our diet. We thought we were eating pretty healthily before, but an illness in the family (I will talk about that in another post) has pushed us into exploring new eating styles. In an effort to learn more I took off last month and completed the Certified GAPS practitioner training with Dr Natasha Campbell McBride.
I won't say we are on the GAPS diet, because we haven't done the full introduction diet, but we are sticking mainly to the full GAPS diet in preparation for undertaking the introduction, hopefully during the school holidays when there is time to prepare everything and do it all properly.
One of the things we have completely taken out of our diet is grains. Taking bread (even though before we were only having home made sourdough) is a challenge when you rely on the trusty old sanga to get you through for the school lunches.
The second challenge is that our children's school is nut free and most paleo/grain free breads are based on some kind of nut meal.
I had to come up with some kind of nut free, grain free bread like that our kids would enjoy and that would at least loosely work in a bready kind of way.
So I have come up with a very tasty flax bread recipe. I am pretty dang happy with it! I hope that you enjoy!
This bread is spongy and holds well when cut (unlike crumbly gluten free breads). It stores well in the cupboard in a paper bag for up to a week.
Line a small loaf tin with baking paper
Separate egg whites from yolks and whisk egg whites until light and fluffy, put aside
Mix flax meal,sunflower seed meal and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
Add egg yolks and water, mix.
Fold in egg whites to batter.
Batter should be of thick cakey consistency
Spread batter in to prepared pan
Bake at 180 degrees C for 30- 40 minutes or until cooked right through
I find golden flax seeds have a nuttier and less bitter flavour than brown flax. Also the golden colour is more attractive!
After having a discussion with my son about why I won't be making brownies for his recess, I have come up with these low carb zucchini brownies. Not only have they survived the taste test, but he has asked for the recipe to prove to his cooking teacher that brownies can be healthy. Nut free, grain free, gluten free and dairy free!
I will forgive you for thinking that I made these for my love for Valentines day......
I'm sorry my love....I didn't, I made them for me, for when I get a chocolate urge late at night when the kids are in bed......but I will let you have some!
1 cup of raw cacao butter chunks
1 cup organic cashews
2 tbsp. of coconut oil
2 tbsp. of coconut nectar
1/2 tsp. of vanilla powder
1/2 tsp of Celtic sea salt
Put the cacao, coconut oil and the cashews in a food processor and blitz until a good smooth paste forms, this could take several minutes. Add the coconut syrup and process until well combined, you may need to scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times throughout the process.
Add the vanilla powder and salt and process until the mixture is as smooth and creamy as you can get it.
Pour into moulds and put into the freezer until set.
Makes around 30
Each chocolate comes in at about 1.6g of carbohydrate, making this a really decedent low carb treat.
My darlings, if you make some, don't forget to bring them over for me to try!
A question from Instagram follower @mischiwest: " How does a vegetarian go for protein??? Cheese is high in fat and so are nuts. However I do eat fish..."
What is Protein?
Protein is macro nutrient that is ESSENTIAL to life. Protein is made up of a bunch of amino acids. There are 9 amino acids that are essential- as in, they need to be eaten in the diet. They are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine.
Then there are 5 dispensable amino acids, alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid and serine- they can be made by the body out of the other amino acids (but remember if you aren't getting them in your diet, you are depleting your essential amino acids by making them).
Then there are 6 conditional amino acids- as in, they can be made by the body, as long as the conditions are right and co-factors are present. These six are arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline and tyrosine.
All these amino acids can be found in plant foods, but you need to make sure that you are getting the full complement of amino acids when eating a vegetarian and particularly a vegan diet. If you are lacking in some of the amino acids your body won't be able to function properly, because every function that occurs in the body relies on protein and protein is made up of a bunch of amino acids bonded to each other. If one of the amino acids is lacking then the chain is broken and the protein molecule can't be formed. If you are lacking in protein molecules your health will suffer -big time!
It's important- in fact I think it is your responsibility as a vegetarian or vegan- to understand where you are going to get your full complement of amino acids from.
You don't need to combine foods to get them all in one meal, but you do need to plan so you are getting a full complement each day.
How much protein do I need?
The general rule of thumb here is that you need 1 gm of crude protein per kg of body weight and more if you are exercising. So let's say you are a 70kg person, you will need at least 70kg of crude protein per day. Say you go for a daily run, then your protein need increases, depending on your level of exertion your may need 1.5-2g of protein per kg of body weight = 120-140g of crude protein per day.
Good sources of plant protein
Okay, so here is the answer to answer your question Mischi. Firstly I would say: don't think about the fat! The issue that I see with a lot of vegetarian diets is that they are so high in carbohydrates. That may be fine for the genetic type that can run on a high carbohydrate load, but many people are carbohydrate intolerant and their body will run much better with low carbohydrates, burning fat for fuel instead.
Frankly, vegetarians can't afford to be filling up on carbs; you need to focus on what protein value your food is giving you and making sure that you are getting your full compliment of amino acids. Don't worry about the fat, it's the protein : carb ratio that you need to look at.
The best source of low carb high protein plant based foods are nuts and seeds. You can increase the bio availability of the protein in nuts and seeds by soaking them overnight in filtered water and a dash of apple cider vinegar (known as activating). Most nuts and seeds have a value of 20-30gm of crude protein per 100gm. Except for macadamia's and pecans which come in at about 10g/100g.
Seeds such as Flaxseed and Chia have the added value of giving you essential fatty acids (something that you also may lack as a vegetarian).
My next pick would be tofu. Tofu has no carbohydrates or fat and comes in at about 15-20g of crude protein per 100gm. You may easily eat 200gm in a meal giving you 30-40g of protein.
Lastly comes the legumes (beans) coming in at about 5-10g/100g. The problem with beans is that they are high in carbohydrates about 60g/100g and then many people will eat them with a grain, like rice, even brown rice is 45g of carbohydrate per cup. So really what you are getting with legumes are a lot of carbs and not much protein. The best way to get protein value out of legumes is to sprout them, the sprouting process uses up a lot of the carbohydrates and leaves you with a protein rich vegetable. Sprouted legumes 13g/100g.
I am not saying don't eat legumes, but don't rely on them as your daily protein source and remember that they are carbohydrate rich so if your having a bean curry eat it with a high protein/low carb grain such as quinoa 4-5g/100g.
Then there are the incidental proteins that come from eating a variety of vegetables. The best vegetables for protein are kale 4.3g/100g, broccoli 3.8/100gm, mushrooms 3.6g/100g.
Let's have a look at a what a high protein vegetarian meal might look like: tofu steak (200g=35g), with stir-fry of mushrooms, kale, broccoli (150g=6g) on a bed of cooked quinoa (1/2 cup = 4g) , with a topping of sprouted lentils (50g=7g). This particular meal gives you a total protein value of about 52g and will only be around 20g of carbohydrates.
The last thing that I want to mention is protein powder. Protein powder is a good way to top up on protein. Their are some good vegetarian/vegan protein powders out there and they are a worthwhile way to make sure that you are getting your daily protein.
Thanks for your question Mischi, I really hope that this has helped.
Let me know what you think
I really appreciate all the interest that I've had for my Detox Myths series of posts on Facebook. Thank you so much for reading, liking,commenting and asking questions. I am going to start by answering these questions that came from the beautiful Tarnya McNair:
"What are the signs that your body may need a detox? and What can one expect to notice after detoxing?"
Here are the main signs that I would look out for when considering a detox...
Feeling Tired all the time...
You may want to consider a detox if you are feeling consistently fatigued, if you find it hard to wake in the morning and you are relying on stimulants like coffee, sugar and cigarettes to keep you pepped up during the day, then you would benefit from a detox. Your liver is a major organ that governs blood sugar control, along with the adrenals and of course the pancreas. If you NEEED your nanna nap in the afternoon, and you get the grumps before a meal, and you are constantly sniffing out sweets like a sugar ant, it's a sure sign that your blood sugar control is a bit out of whack and you need a reset.
What you can expect to feel after the detox:
Many people are surprised how much energy (like real energy) that they gain from doing a detox. My detox programs are a cellular clean up. Optimising cellular (mitochondrial) function is like recharging your batteries or filling the tank. So, instead of running on empty and topping up with stimulants, you have more sustained energy reserves. Most people on my detox programs find that sugar cravings become a thing of the past, because they have learned how to nourish their body i a more healthy way giving them sustained energy.
Brain fog, can't think properly....
One of the major detoxification organs is the liver, it is involved in blood glucose regulation and the filtering of toxins from the blood. What has this got to do with my brain? you say? Well the brains main source of energy is from blood glucose, so if your blood glucose is swinging wildly then your brain won't be able to function properly. An overgrowth of the yeast Candida will cause foggy brain and the accumulation of toxins in the blood stream will also affect blood flow, hydration levels and will impair your clarity of thought.
What you can expect to feel after a detox:
Once any candida is under control and your liver is functioning better you will find that you have greater clarity of thought and the clouds will lift from your head.
Digestive issues....constipation, diarrhea, reflux, ulcers, gas, bloating, wind, pain.
This is a big one! As the old and much quoted saying goes "all disease begins in the gut". Healing the digestive system is one of the main components of my detox programs. Nourishing mucous membranes, hydrating the bowel, encouraging healthy bowel function, reducing inflammation and re-balancing gut flora are an integral part of detoxing.
What you can expect to feel after a detox:
Who doesn't enjoy doing a good healthy poo?? Coome onnn!!! it's magic isn't it? Many people become desensitised to the impact that their gut issues have on other areas of their life, often told by doctors to just live with it, as there is nothing to be done..... it is not until they begin to experience good gut health that they realise how much energy it has been draining from them. And YES! there is something you can do about it! and NO! you don't just have to live with it.
Skin Problems.....rashes, psoriasis, ecezema...
Impurities in the blood, poor liver function, over growth of candida, gut issues and stress all have a big impact on the health of your skin. Detoxing address all of these issues in an wholistic way.
What you can expect after a detox:
Most people find that skin issues improve after a detox, often removing inflammatory foods (as is done in a detox diet) is of great assistance and can be a pointer for possible food intolerance. If you don't have skin issues, expect that after doing a detox you skin, hair and eyes will have a more vibrant and healthy glow. YES to that!!
Allergies and Hayfever
If you have allergies and hayfever, you can bet your bottom dollar that you've got poor liver function. Of course, as always the gut plays a major factor in any kind of allergy including any autoimmune disease.
What to expect after a detox:
Many people find that there hayfever and allergies improve after completing a detox. If the condition was mild or newly acquired then more often than not it is resolved from a good detox. Again, removing inflammatory foods while detoxing often points to any food intolerance that may need to be addressed long term.
Trouble losing weight
Think of your fat cells as a safe storage unit for toxins. When your liver becomes over burdened your body will store toxins away in fat cells to be processed- WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO..
When you do a detox, taking the burden off the liver, and decreasing your inflammatory foods, you give your body the signal- it is safe now. and THEN it begins to break down the fat stores to burn. Our body will much more readily break down muscle rather than fat to be made in to glucose when calorie intake is lower than energy expenditure. It is extremely important to maintain muscle when trying to lose weight! I can't stress that enough! We have to encourage the body to burn fat for fuel rather than muscle, that is how we reset metabolism and increase our basal metabolic rate. During my detox and weight loss program you get a weekly check on my Bio Impedance machine which measures your muscle mass, your fat percentage and your hydration. I can tell you it's fascinating!!
What you can expect after the detox
Sustained weight loss is my ultimate goal for my people wanting to lose weight, I'm not a starve yourself and lose X amount of kgs in X amount of weeks kind of Gal. Yes, some of my detox people have lost big numbers, but all of them have said that it is actually FEELING better that they most value. Feeling better means less stress, less emotional eating/drinking, and more exercise and self care. Oh look, you are probably going to lose weight too OK?!
So there you go... a few reasons to go ahead and do a good detox.
Tomorrow I will be answering a question from Mischi West on good protein sources for vegetarians....a very meaty topic (Oh god I'm sorry!!).
Ok, let's talk about Green Smoothies. I am a big fan, but there are some do's and don'ts to getting the most out of your smoothie and harnessing your healthy eating intentions to their full potential.
The following is a list do's and don'ts of green smoothie making to help you avoid DSAS- Disappointed Smoothie Aversion Syndrome
Still not convinced about the Green Revolution?
Here are 5 reasons why you should be adding a Green Smoothie to your day
Getting the picture??
Ok, so are you ready to give yourself the goodness of GREEN?
Here are some basics for your blend
2 Cups- Baby spinach (good for beginners), parsley, dandelion greens or lettuce
1 Cup- Flavoursome fruit: berries, mango, melon...ect
1/4- Banana or avocado for creaminess
1 tbs- of ground linseeds or chia seeds
1 tbs- protein powder or nut butter or coconut paste
2 Cups- Filtered water or nutmilk
1-2 tsp- Superfood powder of your choice; matcha, macca, acia, camu camu...ect
Happy Blending Beautiful Buds
As you can guess, I 'aint no food styler.....
What I try to do is bring to you snippets of stuff that inspires me and makes me feel good in the hope that it'll do the same for you.
Quite honestly I don't have time to scatter micro basil leaves or arrange a linen tea towel lovingly under the plate....not that there is anything wrong with that! It's just that I'd be hard pressed even finding a tea towel that wasn't stained or frayed in my kitchen. And quite honestly, it's hard enough grabbing a picture of this stuff before it is devoured!
But I'm not going to let that stop me from bringing some deliciousness into your kitchen.
My eldest daughter works at a news agency and every second month I am salivating at her waiting for the next edition of Nourish Magazine to come out. It's my fave magazine at the moment it's always full of inspiring and delicious recipes.
So anyhooo... this cake is inspired by a Raw white chocolate & raspberry slice by Sally O'Neil (@thefitfoodieblog) that appeared in the latest copy of Nourish.
I made this cake one sunny Saturday afternoon after a busy day cleaning the house and spending quality time with the kids; as in taking my eldest to and from work, and a beach crawl with the two younger ones (just like a pub crawl only with beaches).
1 cup of organic almonds
1 cup of organic desiccated coconut
8 mejool dates
Blend this up in your food processor and squash it in to line the bottom of a pie mold. Put this in the freezer or fridge to chill.
2 cups of soaked organic cashews (soak the night before in filtered water)
1 cup of frozen raspberries
1/2-2/3 cup of creamed coconut (I mean the hard stuff in the jar not coconut cream in a can)
2 tbs of maple syrup
handful of coconut chips to sprinkle on top
Put jar of creamed coconut in a bowl of hot water to melt. Lay the raspberries out on a tray lined with baking paper and drizzle the creamed coconut over them until the raspberries are covered. Put this in the freezer.
Put cashews and maple syrup in to food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Get the coconut covered raspberries out of the freezer and break them up. Carefully stir the raspberries through the cashew cream (try and do it a bit more carefully than me, or you'll end up with a messy looking cake: see above).
Spread filling on to base. Refrigerate until you can't stand it any more and then have a piece.
If you divide the cake into 16 pieces each piece has just over 9g of carbohydrates. (for those of you that need to count that kind of thing!)
Do enjoy, my lovelies, my pretties, my precious-es,
I’m feeling hurt, I have been let down, my expectations were greater than the outcome…..I’m feeling bitter.
Ok, I will let you in on a little secret I am a bit of a hippy about this kind of stuff and I don’t feel comfortable with bitter feelings, somewhere inside me I think that the world should be all Solar Powered Rainbow Tipis and Chai tea and Djembe beats.
But hey, life’s not like that. There is light and there is darkness. Which got me thinking. Could those bitter feelings actually be serving me? Might they be a red flag, a sign, a message from me to myself, saying “that stuff 'aint good for you, don’t swallow that shit!”
Should I say hello to my bitter feelings and befriend them? Maybe they have something useful to tell me.
The bitter taste in foods has been researched quite a lot, by people that are into that kind of thing. It is generally recognised that the level of bitterness in a substance denotes its toxicity. It is believed that the bitter taste allows us to know how poisonous a substance is when we are ingesting it. Basically when we taste bitter, our tongues are saying “Warning Will Robinson! This has poison in it!”
A certain level of bitterness is considered to be desirable, think of the bitter quality of coffee, chocolate or olive oil.
Being a herbalist I am quite used to using bitter medicines. Bitter herbs are used to strengthen the digestive system. Bitters stimulate digestive juices, tonify the mucous membrane of the intestines, help rid the body of parasites and encourage good elimination. Strong bitters are low dose herbs.
Let’s put it this way…
Bitters give you guts
Bitters help you rid yourself of things that suck the life out of you
Bitters will help you let go of unwanted toxic waste
Too much bitterness is poison
A certain level of bitterness is strengthening. It serves us. It sharpens our senses and wakes us up to things that are draining our energy.
I was drawn to a medicinal weed yesterday while I was taking our doggie for a run (her name is Luna by the way and she is REALLY cute!!). I had to stop and take a photo.
The herb was Centaury.
Centaury is a bitter tonic, mostly known these days for its use in Bach Flower essences, where it is indicated for those kind and gentle people who find it hard to say no. People who are considered “a push over”, the door mat type.
Yes I know, those of you that know me know that I am not a push over (to say the least) and those of you that don’t know me can probably tell :)
But sometimes you don’t have to be that way for people to treat you that way.
In Traditional Western Herbal Medicine Centaury is a bitter tonic that is used for gastrointestinal complaints, to stimulate appetite, and to relieve indigestion and constipation.
Centaury, like all bitter tonics sharpen our sense of taste. It hones our discernment for what we put in to our bodies and our lives.
Are you constantly swallowing that which does not serve you?
Is your taste not properly judging what good nourishment is for you?
Is your mantra “I can’t stomach any more of this!”?
Maybe you feel overwhelmed, and yet you still can't say no to yet another favour to a friend
Or you've allowed people to take you for granted
You've been overlooked, and under appreciated
Do you need more inner strength?
Are you awake to what is in your life that does not serve you?
Are you paying attention to that feeling of bitterness?
Do you need to let go of toxic habits or relationships that are not serving your higher purpose?
Am I asking too many questions?
Bitters can help us find that strength. And I think that my bitter feelings are fortifying my spirit against that which does not serve me, and allowing me to let go of what I no longer need.
Yes, harboring bitterness can be toxic, but remember it's the dosage that makes bitterness a poison or a remedy. Catch your bitterness in small doses, act on it's message, eliminate what is not in your best interest.
Peace out my lovelies
Melanie Turner, Naturopath, mother, gardener, lover of wholesome food