So I seem to have picked up the Swine Flu. And yes, I am calling it that, and not H1N1, after learning that the virus has been traced back to factory farms in the United States (and subsidiaries in Mexico) and that the hog industry lobbied for the much-harder to say jumble of letters and numbers.
In the days that I have been bed-ridden, I’ve received countless messages of support but also some words of warning. Many are concerned about vaccines such as Tamiflu and cite recent articles that draw in to question their widespread use in treating viruses that are all too often non-threatening.
With all these man-made assaults on my body, I decided to stay as natural as possible for my treatment. On day one of my illness, I pulled out of my fridge a medicinal elixir that my friend Nicole gave me earlier in the year. The tincture bottle is labeled “Elderberry Syrup” and is composed of the namesake berry, along with honey, brandy, lime, cinnamon, ginger, and clove.
I asked Nicole to explain the properties of the elixir.
The elderberry elixer was made from locally harvested elderberries. They grow all over the pacific northwest and are harvested in early fall. Elderberries are rich in anti-oxidants, vitamin C and are anti-viral and immune boosting. The elixer is an awesome remedy for colds, influenza and other respitory problems. It is also soothing to the throat and tastes delicious.
Elderberries (elder sambucus) have been used as a folk remedy for hundreds of years. They were a main medicine in England and also used by the native people of this area. Some Native American tribes made flutes from the elder branches and so called it “the music tree”. It was said to protect from evil spirits and in some traditions was planted on the gravestones of the dead. It is a very magical tree and has a strong connection with the fairies!
The elixer also has brandy, honey, osha root, licorice root, ginger root, rose hips and orange peel all increasing the medicinal qualities of the elixer. It was super easy to make, just put it all in a mason jar, let it sit for four to six weeks and squeezed it out with cheese cloth. yum!
I made a tea with generous amounts of honey and cayenne and then added her tincture.
I asked Nicole what made her interested in plant medicine.
I have always loved plants but became especially interested in plant medicine when I moved to Portland. I wanted to learn more about the plants that were growing right around me and how I could heal myself and my friends. I started reading books, making medicine and sitting with the plants themselves. I think plant medicine is an awesome way to take healthcare into our own hands and deepen our relationship with the earth.
Nicole and other plant medicine enthusiasts are converging later this month in a conference that marks a renewed interest in the practice. The 2009 Portland Plant Medicine Gathering will include discussions on such topics as Healing Herbs, Women’s Heath, Columbia River Gorge Flower Essences, Psychological and Spiritual Plant Medicine, Designing an Herbal First Aid Kit, Smoking Blends and more.
Of the conference, Nicole says:
The idea for the Portland Plant Medicine Gathering was born this summer with my friend and mentor Scott Kloos (of cascadia folk medicine) while we were up at Bonnie Meadows on the east side of Mt. Hood. We noticed a need for more connection in the herbal community here in Portland. There are so many great healers and herbalists and we wanted to get them all together to share their knowledge. Our main goals for the gathering were to keep it as affordable as possible and all local!!
The gathering will take place November 21 & 22, 10am-6:30pm at the Bamboo Grove, 134 SE Taylor St, Portland. For more resources, you can check out some of the conference’s sponsors, including Cascadia Folk Medicine, The School of Forest Medicine, and the Elderberry School of Botanical Medicine.
- Walk Along the Urban Grocery Aisle: Portland’s Edible Fruits, Nuts, and Plants
- The City Gardens: Growing food in Portland
- Giving eWaste a New Life
- Brew it Yourself: Part 1