Herbal allies are great! They are supportive in moving the body and mind back into balance, but you also have to do your best to get the sleep you need and nourishing food. Nothing can replace rest, water, a good meal, or a little bit of movement. These are all ways of taking care of yourself and those you love.
Guidelines for making tea: Use about 1 tablespoon per cup of water or if you plan on making a lot, 1 ounce of herb per quart. If you’re making tea with flowers or leaves, pour hot water over it and cover for 20 minutes. Strain and drink hot or let it cool. If you’re making tea with root, bark, or berries, simmer them covered on the stove for 20 minutes and then strain and drink.
Elderberry: Elderberry stimulates the immune system and acts as a respiratory tonic. It has an anti-viral effect and supports your body’s natural processes for dealing with illness, while preventing a secondary infection. Take it at the first sign of respiratory infection, cold, or flu. If taken as a tea, drink 2 to 4 ounces up to three times daily. If taken as a tincture, take 1 to 2 dropperfuls, up to 3 times daily. You can make a syrup by boiling the berries in honey, at a ratio of 1 part berries to 2 parts honey. Strain and take a spoonful when needed.
Milky Oats: The latex found in the ripe seeds of the appropriately named Milky Oats nourish a depleted nervous system. For those who haven’t been sleeping much, who are experiencing acute stress or the slow burn of long term fears and worries, Milky Oats is for you. While your nerve endings literally become frayed due to stress and a diet of easily oxidized fats (like vegetable and corn oils), Milky Oats repairs and restores what has been damaged. It’s best taken over time and can be helpful if you feel like you’re on high alert despite the threat being long gone, or if you are feeling more sensitive and reactive under stress than you would like to be. Milky Oats is best taken in tincture form since the alcohol preserves the properties of the latex. Take 1 to 2 dropperfuls, up to 4 times daily.
SLEEP AND THE UNQUIET MIND
Passionflower: Passionflower supports a restorative night of rest, quieting down an anxious mind. For those with endlessly circular thoughts, passionflower helps halt the cycle. It calms the body as well as the mind, gently relaxing muscles and soothing tension. If taken as a tea, drink 2 to 6 ounces up to 4 times daily. If taken as a tincture, take 1/2 to 1 and ½ teaspoons up to 3 times daily. Caution: Try a little to start. Passionflower occasionally causes anxiety in certain individuals, though it happens to only one in 50 people.
HEARTBREAK OF ALL KINDS
Mimosa Tree: Mimosa is known in traditional Chinese medicine as “Collective Happiness Bark” and has been found useful for those experiencing insomnia (especially if accompanied by bad dreams), depression, PTSD, mood swings, and anxiety. Folks who use St. John’s Wort (or who cannot use St. John’s Wort because it interferes with SSRIs) may find Mimosa a useful alternative. Mimosa can give you the strength of heart to face what you fear and helps to restore joy. That courage and sensitivity remain relevant to resistance. As Audre Lorde wrote, “Once we recognize what it is we are feeling, once we recognize we can feel deeply, love deeply, can feel joy, then we will demand that all parts of our lives produce that kind of joy.” Use the bark or flowers for tea. Drink 2 to 4 ounces up to 3 times a day or as needed. If you take it as a tincture, take 2 to 3 dropperfuls up to 3 times a day. Don’t use Mimosa if you are pregnant or experience mania.
Tulsi/Holy Basil: Tulsi is considered an adaptogen by some, which is just to say it helps the body handle stress. If you find yourself trapped in mental fog, Tulsi pierces through and clarifies the mind. Similarly, it can brighten and reorient your perspective if you’ve been feeling stuck, despondent, or hazy. Tulsi is grounding in the sense that it brings you into the moment, sharpening your focus, and facilitating appreciation for what is in front of you. Additionally, Tulsi regulates an immune system that is out of whack. It is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antioxidant, making it an herb that is useful to both mental and physical health. Tulsi makes a delicious tea. Drink 2 to 4 ounces up to 3 times a day or as needed. If taken as a tincture, use 2 to 3 dropperfuls up to 3 times a day. As a member of the mint family, it is easy to grow and prolific as well. Think about adding it to your garden.