Steamin’ and Dreamin’

Oh man. Being sick sucks! I’ve had some kind of respiratory thing going on for over a week now, causing mucous in my sinuses to increase to disgustingly high levels. I feel like the snot troll monster from Earnest Scared Stupid.

At this point, the mucous has decided to leave my sinuses alone for awhile and travel into my lungs, which is another problem. But I figure I ought to tell you all how I am dealing with this.

First off, I am still taking my daily probiotic capsule and dose of reishi tincture. If they aren’t helping as much as I’d hoped, they certainly aren’t hurting. I haven’t had a fever through all this, or aches or anything like that, so I’m not concerned that it’s Covid. Just the yearly respiratory gunk infection that tends to happen to me at least once or twice a year, despite my best efforts.

Anyway, during the first portion of this virus, I was blowing my nose almost constantly all day and into the night, causing the mucous membranes in my sinus cavity to swell up with inflammation. This resulted in a VERY stuffy nose, which of course does not allow me to sleep. So priority one was to get some moisture up in there, and while a Neti Pot does help, when my nose is that stuffed up the water just sort of comes out and stops and sits there, like a car stuck in traffic from a road block. So instead, I boiled some water in the tea pot, went to the herb garden (because thankfully, not everything is dead yet,) and picked a handful of thyme, oregano, and sage. I gave them a quick rinse under the sink and put them into a glass bowl. When the water was ready, I poured it over the herbs, filling the bowl about halfway, and got a large dish towel and a hankie ready. Then I sat down at the dining table, took off my glasses, placed my head over the bowl, and the towel over my head, and BREATHED. I sucked in HARD through my nose, forcing the hot steam filled with the volatile antiviral oils from those herbs up into my sinus cavity. I really enjoy watching the little bits of thyme dance around on the surface of the water with each exhalation. However, I literally cannot think of myself doing an herbal steam without recalling this scene from Crocodile Dundee:

But seriously, guys. THIS WORKS. If your nose is all stuffed up, this is literally the best way to break a passage through. Like a ship busting through an iceberg, my nostrils were suddenly letting air enter my lungs! Of course, lots of steam and wet mucous was running around too, so I had to blow my nose like crazy. But with this method, after I had blown the gunk out, I could actually breathe for awhile. At least well enough to get to sleep.

Today, the gunk has moved into my lungs. I have that lovely tight feeling in my chest, like I need to cough, but when I do, not much is coming up. What I really need now is an expectorant. So I’m going to take some of my wild cherry bark syrup and check on the status of the elecampane root tincture I made about a month ago. I am excited to finally be working with the Elacampane that I grew, as it is rumored to be an excellent herb for lung health, and an amazing expectorant. While I have also taken some of my beloved Usnea tincture to help get some air into my lungs as well, the effect of usnea is more short-lived than I would like, and I worry about its febrifuge (fever-reducing) qualities in the event that whatever virus has me becomes worse. I also made a small amount of echinacea root tincture, which I hope to try out, as echinacea tends to work better on your immune system once you have already gotten sick. I’ve played around with making an infusion of mullein leaf, goldenrod, and peppermint as well. It’s all an experiment right now to see what relieves my symptoms best and helps me recover. I will say that taking a long walk and doing some farm work where my arms and legs and whole body was moving around helped me out immensely, so don’t underestimate the power of exercise to move virus gunk through your system! I honestly believe that unless you are so sick with something that you can’t possibly get up, then getting up for a walk or light hike will help your body recover from whatever it is much faster, whether you actually want to do it or not. The lymphatic system can’t move on it’s own, and needs your muscles to move in order to push all the junk out. And don’t ever forget the healing power of SLEEP to get you through!

Anyway, that’s my share for this week. Hope my being sick can help you figure out how to help yourself with herbal remedies instead of sucking down Dayquil to survive.

Fire Cider Time

It’s that time of year again! I was always taught that you only harvest horseradish (the key ingredient in fire cider) in months that end in an “R”, and since September was still hot and dry, I waited until early October to harvest my root crops. Unfortunately, my attempt at growing ginger this year was a bust… but I DID manage to grow a small amount of horseradish, some turmeric, onions, garlic, various hot peppers, and all the herbs I put into my fire cider.

Giant jar of fire cider I made this week

Fire Cider is not exactly a ferment… I think it’s more of a tonic, really. You grate and chop all these ingredients, plus lemon juice and zest, and stuff them into a jar. Then cover with apple cider vinegar. I like to cheat and will buy a small jar of ACV “with the mother” to get the probiotic in there, and just finish off the jar with regular distilled ACV, since it will all incorporate anyhow. I let this macerate generally 6-8 weeks, shaking the jar occasionally.

First time growing turmeric!

Once that time is up, you simply strain all the solids from the vinegar and pour the vinegar into a clean glass jar, preferably with a (non-reactive) plastic lid. You can throw the solids into a blender and use them as a meat rub or add a bit to broth or soup for a wild kick.

Fire cider is generally drank in a shot glass– I will take at least half a shot’s worth if I’m feeling under the weather or think I may have a virus coming into my system. Definitely drink a full shot if you’re already sick. I suggest you try a small amount of the fire cider first before you decide how you want to take it. I think the easiest way it to just suck it back quick like a shot and slap your hand on the counter top with a whoop. To each his own…

If you aren’t keen on the flavor, you can try adding some honey, or mixing it with some juice or water. It can also help to have some juice nearby as an after-drink once you’ve swallowed the cider. AND if you’re a drinker, it actually goes really well with a little bourbon and mixed into a Hot Toddy.

The benefits of fire cider are simple— it’s basically a massive dose of antiviral medicine that will kick the living crap out of whatever virus (sand some bacteria) has invaded your body. It’s mostly used during winter time, when you’re stuck indoors and around other people, and your body’s immune system is barraged with tons of wee bacteria beasties with no chance of escape in the open air. But it can be helpful for spring time allergies or that weird unexpected summer cold that catches you off guard. Basically, fire cider helps burn the virus out of your body.

Do you take Fire Cider? Or do you make your own? I’ve been making mine every year for over ten years and now my family can’t live without it.

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