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Monday, August 4, 2008

An Unfortunate Evening - Or why I am glad I am an herbalist

(I wrote this awhile ago...)

My dad is in town for the next three weeks. It's a special treat as he lives in Mexico and I usually only get to see him once or twice a year. We've been out and about showing him our incredibly beautiful and supportive community.

The first night in town we came straight from the airport (1 1/2 hours away) to a benefit party at the local pub. Several weeks ago someone lost control of their car and went over a cliff. He's recovering, but the hospital bills are stacking up. So, there was a great benefit party to raise money at the local pub. The music started at 6:00 and featured wonderful local musicians like Terry Hunt, Brad Pinkerton, Leah Larsen, and even Laura Love. Later in the evening there was great jazz, and my favorite was Eva Ashford - what a voice! Besides getting donations for dinner and music, there was a raffle for so many wonderful things by local businesses and artists. We not only had a great time, but even won a $50 gift certificate to the local health food store in the raffle. It seemed like there was a lot of people there with their checkbook in hand, so I hope they raised a lot of money and best wishes to the whole family in this healing process.

Last night, however, was not so great. Our plan was to go to the Winthrop Brewery, however, when we showed up it was closed. We wandered around town and finally settled for another restaurant... It's been years since I have eaten in a restaurant like this. All the appetizers were fried breads and cheeses, the "butter" came in plastic tubes as well as all the dressings. The vegetables served with dinner were frozen, and I don't want to think of the trans fats that were probably present in the food. As I was trying to eat the meal I thought, "If I was into telling people what not to eat, I would send them here as a great example."

The reason we had gone all the way to Winthrop (It's about ten miles from us and we try not to drive that far), is because a friend had told us of a short little hike to see some beavers. Of course, about ten minutes into the hike my stomach/guts seize up. After it lets up I realize I have to go... NOW. So, I grabbed some mullein leaves and headed for the bushes without a moment to spare. After several trips I felt pretty cleaned out, weak, but not longer cramping.

It's been a long time since food has made me that sick. I am not sure if it was due to something in the food or due to the fact I am not used to eating that kind of food. Whatever it is, I will definitely not be returning to that place.

As we walked back to the car I became aware that my arm was itchy. I looked down to see a rash quickly developing...hmmm was there poison ivy in those bushes? I frantically looked around my purse and pulled out a wormwood tincture. I always carry wormwood with me - ironically for food poisoning (it became a must after traveling in Mexico). My protocol is to preferably to let my system run it's course, and I only use it if things become unbearable. Since my body had taken care of itself in the intestinal arena, I was grabbing the wormwood for my possible poison ivy rash. The whole ride home I kept dropping more of the tincture on my arm.

So, I have to tell you this was not my favorite evening, although it did have it's ups. It's great to have my dad around, great to see Beavers in action and I do love going to dinner. However, between having to duck in the bushes to relieve my bowls, and dealing with nasty rashes - it was not my favorite.

So, I kept putting the wormwood on my arm and by the time I got home the rash was disappearing visibly and the itch was going away. I am not sure that poison ivy would retreat that quickly, but whatever it was the wormwood helped.

By coincidence I had several bags of plants at home from waiting to be processed. So the rest of the night I made alcohol and oil extracts of wormwood, mugwort, and bee balm with a renewed sense of gratitude for all the many gifts plants give us.

Besides being friends with plants, I love being an herbalist because there is a security in being able to take care of yourself. Whether it's knowing which plant can help you out as toilet paper, or take care of your rash, it feels good to know there is so much support in the community around me.

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