And by "evil" I mean, of course, the common cold. As I posted about a while back on my other blog Nourished Mother in a post entitled I CANNOT Get Sick Right Now, So Here's What I'm Doing To Prevent It, I usually go all out and take every herb I can think of whenever I have any sort of acute ailment come up. Many herbalists would disagree with this approach, and I cannot recommend it for beginners because then you don't know how each herb effected you or which herb actually brought relief, but I will say that it has worked well for me thus far.
But last week, when Mycie was sick and I was starting to feel something myself, I decided to rely on only three herbs. And since they're pretty much the three most recommended plants for colds in the herbal literature, I figured I couldn't really go wrong. The first two I took in tincture form (herbs which have been macerated and then soaked in alcohol until the alcohol absorbs all of the herb's medicinal constituents, at which point the herb is strained out and the liquid is put in a dropper bottle for personal use or sale). These two herbs were, you probably guessed it already, echinacea and elderberry.
Echinacea is perfect for the early onset of an illness for two reasons: it is anti-bacterial and enhances the immune system. As both my & Sasha's former herb teacher (before we even knew each other or lived in Grass Valley!) Kami McBride said, it creates a sort of parameter around the unwanted bug and keeps it in it's place until it dies off (meanwhile helping to kill it). Okay maybe those weren't her exact words but you get the gist.
The third herb I used is probably already taking up space on your kitchen counter. It is the herb that both Rosemary Gladstar (herbalist extraordinaire and leading figure in the 70s herb revival- I think her book The Family Herbal should be the first book on every beginner's shelf- whether they have a family or not) and Dr. Andrew Weil (like I need to introduce him) say would be their choice if they could only use one herb for the rest of their life. It was also named by the amazing Stephen Harrod Buhner as the strongest antibacterial herb in his book Herbal Antibiotics.
(Boy do I feel guilty praising this extremely helpful and delectably delicious herb because, you see, poor Sasha is allergic to...)
Super simple, you already know all about it. But keep in mind that it has to be raw to have the desired effect. So, make pesto, or just grate some over food. Or make Garlic Tamari Honey, and ingenious recipe that I got from Kami. I say ingenious because when you're getting sick (or already there) you probably don't feel like making pesto. This you make ahead of time and can take in less than a minute.
Here's the recipe (again, from Kami McBride). Gather to yourself:
1 cup peeled garlic cloves (whole, not minced)
2 cups tamari
1 cup raw honey
Then put it all in a jar and let it steep! Only thing is, it needs to steep for at least 3 months. I steeped mine for a year, and plan on making plenty more of it and letting it steep for even longer. The reason it needs to infuse for so long is so that the garlic becomes soft and mild in the tamari (although I have been known to eat fresh raw garlic in a cold's-coming-on emergency, I much prefer not to!), taking out the pungent heat of the herb that aggravates some people's constitutions.
But also, the garlic infuses into the tamari, and the liquid can be used in marinades and whatever else (just don't heat it too much!). Mycie, not surprisingly for a two-year-old, doesn't really enjoy eating a whole clove of garlic, even if it has been soaked in tamari. So I cook up a grain such as quinoa or barley (soaked beforehand and cooked in plenty of water, a la Chinese congee, in order to make it digestible- the last thing a body that's trying to fight off illness needs is to divert the energy it could be using for healing to digest heavy food instead), and drizzle the garlic tamari over it. It's super duper yummy and I feel good knowing it's going a long way towards helping her feel better.
Seriously folks, this is so simple and easy to make- three ingredients, throw 'em in a jar (okay you've got to peel the garlic but I think you can handle that). Make it now so it's ready as soon as possible! Just because winter will be over in 3 months doesn't mean you won't be getting sick (in fact, I've read that people get sick more in spring than any other time of year). Plus, keep that year long steep in mind- it really is easier to take when the flavor is milder.
For more on the many magnificent medicinal benefits of "the stinking rose", check this out.
(And try not to worry too much about Sasha, she is a fine herbalist and knows just what to do in spite of her garlic allergy :-)