Restoring your body’s balance with natural medicine

Posted on February 10, 2014 in Perspectives, Sustainability and ME
By USM Free Press

I have been studying herbal medicine and the magic of wild plants and herbs for a couple of years now. I have found a distinct change in my immunity and strength during the change of seasons and among these cold winter months now that I support my body with herbs daily. I want to share some of my favorite herbs and explain how they should be prepared with the hope that you can take them as your own and find out how powerful we can be when our bodies and minds are fulfilled and thriving.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
I have wild-crafted stinging nettles many times. While backpacking in Oregon I met a full-time wildcrafter and we drove into the Ashland hills and harvested ten pounds of nettles. Not only was it a beautiful two days in the forest drinking nettle tea and eating nettle stew, but those days spent simply harvesting nettles taught me tons about the plant. Stinging nettles are a tonic, which means they boost resilience and overall strength. Nettles support the body both to the stress of winter’s cold and to combat spring allergies.
To prepare: Use one tablespoon of dried nettles for every cup of water. Boil water, add nettles, cover and let steep for at least ten minutes.

Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
My first connection with tulsi was while I was staying with a family in Varanasi, India. My mataji (host mother) had a giant pot of tulsi growing on the back patio. One day I saw that the plant had candles lit in the pot and my mataji explained that the tulsi plant is thought to bring good luck and keep away bad spirits. Everyday, she would light the candles and do a small prayer for the family. Apart from the spiritual properties of tulsi, there are many medicinal benefits. Tulsi is an adaptogen, which means it helps the body return to a state of well-being. Tulsi is a beautiful way to relieve stress and feel at ease.
To prepare: Use one tablespoon of dried tulsi for every cup of water. Boil water, and pour over herbs. Let it steep covered for 5-10 minutes.

Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion root tea supports detoxification in the liver and kidneys. This herb keeps the body hydrated and balanced. Two years ago while studying with an herbalist in Lee, New Hampshire, I learned that skin issues are often an external representation of liver problems. For six weeks I took dandelion root tincture and my previously acne attacked skin cleared up beautifully. It is important to detox our kidneys and livers so they can do their job properly. Brew up some dandelion root tea every couple of days and restore your overall balance.
To prepare: Use one teaspoon of dried dandelion root for every cup of water. Put the water and root into a pot and cover. Let it boil for at least 20 minutes.

It is inspiring to see the bountiful resources that grow all around us. I am eager for spring to come around because Jocylin Egan, the coordinator of the Community Garden, and I will be planting a variety of plants at the community garden. As summer and fall roll around we will have an abundance of beautiful plants ready to be harvested! Join the herbal revolution and find a place of balance in your body and mind.

Stephanie majors in health sciences and fancies avocados and listening to Billie Holiday.