I may have mentioned before that I joined a winter herbal CSA. A couple of weeks ago was our first class and pickup.
You might remember me talking about Lisa Rose Starner this past summer because I took her foraging class. She really is a font of information when it comes to local food and herbs. By “herbs” I don’t mean their culinary uses, but their medicinal uses, although many times they are the same. For example, I LOVE Lisa’s Gypsy Tea blend. She had given me some when I had a sore throat and cold. The blend of wild bergamot, elderflower, sage, yarrow, thyme, and spotted bee balm is simply delicious–as well as supporting the immune system’s response to cold and flu.
What other goodies did I get in my CSA?
- Gypsy Tea
- Mindfulness Tea
- Nourishing Infusion Tea
- Sunshine Mood Mist (think air freshener, only not sickeningly floral)
- St. John’s Wort Oil
- Elderberry Elixer
- Wildly Honeyed
- Kick the Ick
- Peace Tonic
- Herbal Salts Scrub
- Be Calm Cramps Balm
- Breathe Easy Balm
- Winter Body Butter
All of these are handcrafted, with local and/or ethically sourced ingredients. I have sampled pretty much everything and have found it enjoyable. DH, on the other hand, thinks it’s a bunch of hooey. “It makes you feel better because you think it will make you feel better,” he says.
Maybe so, although I’ve been doing some research and my experience is also telling me that there may be more to it than that. And if it is really only a way to get you to relax? That may be beneficial as well, as I learned at the class.
Stress has all sorts of negative side effects. We’ve probably heard the phrase “fight or flight” response, and when you’re under stress, your body goes into fight or flight mode. What does that mean physically?
Here’s a list of 50 (!) symptoms from the American Institute of Stress:
1. Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
2. Gritting, grinding teeth
3. Stuttering or stammering
4. Tremors, trembling of lips, hands
5. Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
6. Light headedness, faintness, dizziness
7. Ringing, buzzing or “popping sounds
8. Frequent blushing, sweating
9. Cold or sweaty hands, feet
10. Dry mouth, problems swallowing
11. Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores
12. Rashes, itching, hives, “goose bumps”
13. Unexplained or frequent “allergy” attacks
14. Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
15. Excess belching, flatulence
16. Constipation, diarrhea
17. Difficulty breathing, sighing
18. Sudden attacks of panic
19. Chest pain, palpitations
20. Frequent urination
21. Poor sexual desire or performance
22. Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness
23. Increased anger, frustration, hostility
24. Depression, frequent or wild mood swings
25. Increased or decreased appetite
26. Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams
27. Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts
28. Trouble learning new information
29. Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion
30. Difficulty in making decisions.
31. Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed.
32. Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts
33. Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness
34. Little interest in appearance, punctuality
35. Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping
36. Increased frustration, irritability, edginess
37. Overreaction to petty annoyances
38. Increased number of minor accidents
39. Obsessive or compulsive behavior
40. Reduced work efficiency or productivity
41. Lies or excuses to cover up poor work
42. Rapid or mumbled speech
43. Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness
44. Problems in communication, sharing
45. Social withdrawal and isolation
46. Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue
47. Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs
48. Weight gain or loss without diet
49. Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use
50. Excessive gambling or impulse buying
Wow, that’s quite a list! So I would argue that, even if the primary benefit of these herbal balms, tinctures, and teas is to help one take a moment and relax, that alone will improve the health of anyone experiencing stress. (And let’s face it, who ISN’T experiencing stress?)
I’ll keep you posted as I learn more about herbal medicine, as I have the feeling I’ve only just begun.