THIS SPRING, REVITALIZE YOUR HEALTH WITH 6 STEPS FROM HERBS
The same is true of our energy and inner vigor, which are beginning to stir from their winter slumber in the ground and poke their heads above the surface. Naturally, as the energy of the earth increases, so does ours. Ideally, it would. Some of us may find it more difficult than simple to come out of our winter hibernation and eating habits.
Even while we can be compelled to perform an internal "spring cleaning," the task can seem overwhelming, and we might not know where to start. Fortunately, we have a ton of beneficial herbs on our side, many of which conveniently appear as soon as spring arrives! Continue reading to learn 6 simple steps you can do right away to improve your health this spring using herbs.
1. Consume spring greens
This initial step is simple, enjoyable, and delicious! Just foraging and eating edibles from the wild, your garden's herbs, or the fresh greens that are sprouting up at your neighborhood farmer's market are some of the greatest ways to revive your health with herbs this spring. Try to eat a variety of spring greens every day and be creative with how you prepare them.
The taste of spring greens is often harsh. During a long, slow winter, this bitter flavor encourages our digestive fluids to start flowing again (Masé, 2013). The lymphatic system is stimulated by a variety of spring greens, which helps the skin, kidneys, liver, and lungs eliminate waste (Hoffmann, 2003). Consuming spring greens regularly might help cleanse and lighten the system after a winter diet heavy on heavier foods because spring greens are typically nutrient-dense (L'esperance, 1998).
The various edible spring herbs that are growing in your area will differ. Here are some typical ones to watch out for: cleavers (Galium aparine), dandelion leaves and flowers (Taraxacum officinale), lamb's quarters (Chenopodium album), watercress (Nasturtium officinale), wild spinach (Chenopodium spp.), nettle (Urtica dioica), chickweed (Stellaria media), nettle blossoms (Viola spp.), dandelion leaves and flowers (T (Barbarea verna). See our article on how to harvest spring nettle and enjoy it here.
If you are collecting your own herbs, there are a few things to think about. Before harvesting, make sure you have correctly recognized the herb. Before harvesting any plant, it is essential to get a good ID because many plants can initially look similar. Finally, before gathering any herbs, consider how the land is being used. Dogs may routinely urinate on the vegetation in lawns and parks, or pesticides may be sprayed on them. Pesticides and herbicides may be sprayed on agricultural land. Road salt, runoff, and herbicides could all have an effect on roadside vegetation. Historical contamination might have an effect on vacant properties. Last but not least, always get the landowner's consent before harvesting on someone else's property.
Spring greens can be eaten raw in a salad or blended into a smoothie, but one of my favorite ways to include them in my diet is to make a herbal pesto. Try this easy and delicious recipe:
Nettle Dandelion Pesto
Adapted from: Holly Bellebuono (Bellebuono, 2016). Ingredients 2 cups chopped, packed fresh nettle leaves 2 cups chopped, packed fresh, succulent dandelion leaves (don’t use old or wiry leaves) 1 cup chopped, packed basil leaves (optional) 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil 1 garlic clove, peeled ½ cup nuts or seeds (such as pine nuts, walnuts, or sunflower seeds) Salt and ground black pepper, to taste Directions
Blanch the nettles, dandelions, and basil (if using) in water for about 15-30 seconds before blending. Strain and rinse with cold water. (This helps keep the pesto from turning brown!)
Blend the blanched greens in a blender or food processor. Scrape the sides as you go if needed.
Slowly pour in the olive oil while the machine is still running.
Add the nuts and garlic. Blend until you reach your ideal consistency.
Mix in salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the pesto into an airtight container. Add a thin the layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation and mold from occuring.
The pesto will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
2. Have a daily nourishing tea
Winter is regarded as a season of bareness. To carry families through the "hunger months," cellars used to be stocked with root vegetables, cereals, cans, and jars of food. Due to this natural change in diet, many people didn't consume the same amount of nutrients (Prentice, 2006).
Thankfully, we have the luxury of eating bananas in the snow and consuming green juices every day if we choose to in this day and age. Nonetheless, many of us continue to consume more hearty, warming meals throughout the winter, which encourages a diet similar to that of our ancestors.
Drinking a daily cup of nutritious tea is a great way to use herbs in spring to restore your health. Since most nutritious plants have a neutral flavor profile, balancing the taste of a tea recipe is simpler. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), oatstraw or oat tops (Avena sativa), red clover (Trifolium pratense), nettle, violet, raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus), dandelion leaf, horsetail (Equisetum arvense), and rose hips are some examples of nutritious herbs you can use (Rosa spp.). Consider adding cinnamon pieces, licorice root, or spearmint (Mentha spicata) for a touch of taste and additional health benefits (Cinnamomum spp.).
Doing an overnight infusion is the best way to prepare a daily nourishing tea. In this manner, you are able to extract more of the elements from any roots or nettles you wish to add. This spring, try to drink a quart of nourishing herbal tea every day. If doing this all at once feels overwhelming, try starting with a challenge of one week or 21 days.
3. Start the Circulation
Get your blood and lymph flowing again in spring as a terrific method to restore your health with herbs! As we must bundle up every time we want to go outside in the winter, there is a general propensity to be more inactive during this period. Even while getting enough sleep is absolutely essential, it's time to get moving again now that the days are longer and the weather is warmer.
You can start dry brushing and self-massaging with an oil enriched with herbs right away. Dry brushing is a reviving technique for skin exfoliation and lymphatic circulation (Caldecott, 2006). Always remember to brush upwards and toward the heart, and steer clear of places with delicate skin (including the face). Make careful to rinse off your dry brush after each use and wash or sterilize it once a week if used regularly because it sheds so many dead skin cells and detoxifies the skin.
One of the most opulent, nourishing, and easy measures you can take to revive your health this spring is to self-massage with herbal-infused oil. This procedure, known as Abhyanga in Ayurveda, has been used for many years to improve people's health. The Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurveda treatise thought to have been composed between 400 and 200 BCE, contains a passage titled Sutrasthana, which states: "The body of one who utilizes oil massage frequently does not become afflicted much, even if subjected to accidental accidents or rigorous labour. A person who receives oil massages on a regular basis has a pleasant touch, trim body parts, and is less likely to show signs of aging (Banyan Botanicals, n.d.).
By brushing just before you take a shower and then giving yourself a minute self-massage with oil infused with herbs afterward, you can easily fit both of these activities into your daily schedule.
4. Regular Herbal Bitters
Daily consumption of herbal bitters is a fantastic habit to adopt this spring. Try consuming bitters on their own before or after meals if you haven't before (or if you only drink them in cocktails or other drinks). Using a herbal bitters tincture can help stimulate and regulate your digestion just like eating bitter spring greens does. Using herbal bitters is a fantastic additional step for reviving your health because you might not have access to eating fresh spring greens every day throughout the season.
Traditional treatments for indigestion and to restore normal levels of stomach acid during the digestive process include herbal bitters (when they are needed most). This means that consuming herbal bitters before meals can help our bodies assimilate nutrients and completely digest food (Hoffmann, 2003).
There are many bitter plants out there, as many herbalists are already aware of! This means that while creating your own bitters recipe at home, you can get creative. Fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare), gentian (Gentiana spp.), juniper berries (Juniperus spp.), dandelion root and leaf, angelica root (Angelica spp.), yellow dock root (Rumex crispus), chamomile, orange or lemon peel (Citrus spp.), and burdock root are a few well-known herbs to use in a bitters (Arctium lappa).
Just apply a few drops (about 5–15) to various tongue locations 20–30 minutes before or after meals. All over our tongues are taste receptors, therefore stimulating as many of them as you can would significantly improve digestion (Masé, 2013). Make sure you consume bitters on their own and not diluted in water or another beverage because tasting the bitter impact of the herbs is essential to triggering those digestive processes. You do not get the same digestive emphasis in action as you would if you took them straight on the tongue, despite the fact that they can be delightful this way (and make a terrific herbal cocktail!).
To remember yourself to consume them throughout the day, have a bottle of bitters in your kitchen, office, or bag. This is a wonderful approach to use herbal bitters on a regular basis to revitalize your health this spring.
5. Plant-Based Incense for Your Home
Inside and exterior spring cleaning are both done! Using herbal incense to burn in your home is a terrific method to move stagnant winter energy (especially since our doors and windows tend to be shut tight during that time).
Our mental state, mental clarity, and general vigor can all be impacted by the "leftover" or stagnant energy in a room on an energetic level. Burning herbal incense may physiologic help purify the air in our homes, including lowering some airborne bacteria levels (Nautiyal et al., 2007).
Let yourself to express your creativity while selecting the plants you use for your herbal incense since this activity is fairly intuitive. Here are a few to consider that are well-known to have positive benefits on energy cleansing and general air quality purification: the following plants: juniper, cedar (Cedrus spp.), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), lavender (Lavandula officinalis), copal (Protium copal), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), and yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
Remember to momentarily open the windows and/or doors when burning herbal incense in your home to help efficiently clear out stagnant energy and stale air. By doing this, you can also draw in vitality and new, fresh air from the outside. Using your herb bundle, go around the entire room, making sure to enter every nook and closet.
6. Explore nature
After a long, cold winter, getting back outside and into nature is very rejuvenating for your general health. Spending time outside and seeing what plant life is beginning to emerge and what herbs are coming to life around you is a wonderful opportunity to re-establish a connection with the changing seasons.
While most of us have heard how much fresh air is good for us, there is really a therapeutic practice that has been created around the health-improving attributes of nature, and this approach has many supporting clinical studies! Henry Lindlahr created "Nature Cure" over a century ago, and facilities and practitioners all over the world continue to advocate, use, and practice it today. The basic goal of the Nature Cure approach is to balance and harmonize a person's entire body, mind, and soul with all of nature (Lindlahr, 1914). Just getting back in touch with nature by spending time outside and taking in the weather and plant life around you is one of the main tenets of this therapy.
Take advantage of a warm day (or two) this spring and go for a hike, a stroll, or just to find a place to sit, relax, and enjoy being outside. Watch the surroundings change around you and take note of any new plant life. If you find a plant, try sitting with it and talking to it or just watching it in its natural setting. Let yourself to become acquainted with it on a deeper level without planning to physically use it or harvest it. The work you do as a herbalist and your health may both benefit greatly from this practice.
Renew Your Health
While there is never a bad time to use herbs to improve your health, spring is the best time to establish a new practice, reenergize your body's systems and natural energy forces, and align yourself with the rising energy of nature.