When I get sick, my first thoughts usually turn to, how can I make this GO AWAY!! NOW!! But I’m learning through experience that this approach is not always the best way. It seems the more I push at an illness, the more it pushes back, and the longer I have to deal with it.
If you remember from a previous post how sick I was recently, and how well Butterfly Weed helped me, you may be surprised to learn that I got another virus just as that never-ending one cleared up. I went to the doctor to rule out a more serious infection like pnuemonia and such. Clear mucous, no fever… probably just another opportunistic cold virus catching hold while my immune system was still weak and vulnerable — from my recent illness and also from racing through life at a frantic pace without enough rest or self care!
With that original illness, I had thrown everything herbal at it that I could think of. Lots of tincture taking and impatience as the symptoms hung on and on. Even the more nourishing remedies, such as hot bone broth soup, were administered with a forceful attitude. I was wanting to get back to my busy life at full speed, but I felt like shit. My thoughts were, what can I take that will zap this thing out of me and let me get on with it????
Susan Weed teaches a lot about “problems as allies.” The idea is that when an illness shows up, your body is trying to speak, to get your attention. It’s not an enemy to be thwarted, but an ally that can help you move toward greater wholeness and health. What was my body saying to me? When I became sick again so soon after just starting to get well, I decided to stop “fighting off illness” and embrace it so I could pay more careful attention to my body’s voice. It was saying that I needed sleep. I needed comfort and warmth. I needed nourishment. I needed some TLC and gentleness.
I took a couple days off from massage school and a day off from work. Through those days and into the weekend, I slept a lot more than I had in months.
After waking up from a nice long sleep on one of the days, feeling pretty relaxed, but cold and congested, I went to my herb cupboard and picked out herb for a hot steam. Calendula flowers, yes, that’s what I wanted. Some may think of the more aromatic herbs as the most appropriate here, but for some reason, I just wanted the calendula. I boiled some water and poured it over the dried flowers into a bowl and then covered my head with a towel to breath in the warm steam, letting in cool air as needed. Pure bliss, deeply penetrating warmth and comfort for my lungs and sinuses. When the water had cooled enough, I took some of the warm moist flowers and laid them over my eyes and sinuses, absorbing their healing energy.
My lungs were still feeling weak after these many weeks, still hanging on to a lingering, nagging cough. My glands and lymph were still swollen a bit. I went back to my herb cupboard a little later for infusion ingredients – to soothe my symptoms, not force them well, just soothe them. And I FOUND SOME MULLIEN!! I had thought I was out, but there it was, this wonderful lung tonic. Into the infusion jar went a small handful. Mellow oatstraw was calling to me also, so a handful of that next. Hmmm… dried elderberries… I briefly wondered if they would be good as infusion (I’d only been taking it as tincture so far). I thought yes, so a few of those added to the jar, too. Finally, some more of the yellow calendula petals (just petals, not the whole flower head; just what my body seemed to want). Pour boiling water over, cap, and leave for a few hours. Strain and drink. The taste is smooth, mellow, slightly fruity, divine. Everything elderberry is supposed to do for a cold or flu seemed magnified ten times over compared to the tincture. The the taste of mullien is like something I’ve been craving for a long time. The infusion soothes my cough. It relaxes and nourishes me deeply. I make this brew again the next day and the next and the next.
Chicken soup several days in a row, made with bone broth, lots of sage and thyme and pepper and salt. The warmth down my throat, the herbs, the minerals, all work together to start weaving back together my frayed system.
Several hot baths with bundles of herbs thrown in. Red clover blossoms and, once again, sunny calendula. Bone penetrating warmth, just as I needed.
By Monday, I felt rested and relaxed and just about back to my old self. My lungs felt healthy and strong, all my upper respiratory passages felt moist and at ease. An interesting side note – the tennis elbow I’ve had for months now STOPPED HURTING ALSO! Somehow through this process, that elbow got what it needed, too, so it stopped yelling at me.
This experience was two weeks ago. I’ve been mostly well since then, but everytime I start to over do it, scrimp on sleep, or fail to nourish myself properly with fluids and good food, that little tickling cough starts to creep back, and I understand the message immediately.
Notice all the water-based, warm, nourishing herbal remedies I instinctively reached for when the focus became listening and nurturing, instead of squashing and conquering. This is kitchen medicine at its best. A great lesson this whole experience has been for me in the art of Healing Wise, one of many I’ve been blessed with recently.