by Jill Chiacchia, Founder and Director of Be Healthy Institute
Ancient Medicine for Modern Times is the section title in an herbal book I’ve had on my shelf for a long time. The book, “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health” authored by Rosemary Gladstar. Rosemary Gladstar is often referred to as the mother of modern herbalism. Her wisdom and vision have inspired an entire generation of herbal healers.
I was looking through this book for a healthy herbal recipe to share with my readers when the sub-title piqued my interest so I read on.
At a time when herbalism us being overrun with the “-tions” of modern culture – that is, standardization, legalization, certifications and other such bureaucratic challenges – I wish simply to remind each of you who pick up this book that herbs have been used by humans as food and as medicine for hundreds of thousands of years, far back into the recesses of time. We have evolved thanks to the generosity of our green neighbors, our lives dependent on them for oxygen, food, medicine, clothing and spiritual insight. If there’s even the smallest shred of truth in the adage “You are what you eat” our bodies are enmeshed with theirs….In this day and age of modern miracle medicine, we’re sometimes encouraged to believe that herbalism is merely myths and old wives’ tales. If herbs weren’t effective medicine, wouldn’t a species intelligent enough to put a man on the moon have disregarded them a long time ago? In fact, it is in part because plant medicine has been so effective, despite raging plagues, disease, famine and warfare, that humans have nor only survived but multiplied beyond reason…Herbalism is an effective, natural, and inexpensive system of healing readily available to every human who chooses to use it. We have eons of human experience to prove it. Modern science often validates through meticulous study what our ancestors instinctively knew about the medicinal power of plants. This research has the potential to provide another window into the world of plants. Unfortunately, however, the information often provided by science can be misleading because it is often based on studies of a single plant constituent or dosage that are far more concentrated than nature ever intended to provide….The plants pay no attention to our modern scientific predicament. These most ancient of beings simply go on living and growing, thriving and multiplying, providing the substances of our life: food, shelter, medicine, oxygen and beauty.
The phrases, “despite raging plagues” and “effective, natural and inexpensive system of healing readily available to every human who chooses to use it” stood out to me. Yes! This is what I want to have during these troubling times, but do I really know which healing herbs to use given the ailment? Do I know how to prepare and administer herbal remedies? Despite my personal study, classes and home practice, I still have questions. Luckily, right here in our own Western NY backyard, we have a highly regarded herbalist, Sarah Sorci. When I have questions, Sarah is here to answer, teach and guide me. I have known and worked with Sarah for over six years. She is kind, articulate, extremely intelligent and passionate about herbs. I love my books and my favorite websites, but nothing is better than having easy access to someone who lives and works in our own community. Sarah is our WNY herbalist that I know and trust. As we enter a new season, we are faced with concerns about our health and well-being. I am happy to provide a means to share Sarah’s expertise and the beauty of herbal health. Look for Sarah to be part of Be Healthy Institute’s series, Healthy Bodies. The series focuses on all the good things we can do to keep our body healthy and to build a strong immune system to be well. We will also share ways if we happen to become ill to recover quickly and to naturally get well. Join us for Sarah’s classes so that you too can work with the herbs and live a healthy and vibrant life.
Oh, here is a recipe from Rosemary Gladstar’s book. Given the resurgence of healthy brews of cider on the store shelves here is an easy, effective one you can make at home.
This cider is an effective, easy to make, but the taste is not for those with gentle taste buds!
Make a batch before the cold season starts (3 to 4 weeks ahead).
How to use the finished cider: Take 1 to 2 Tablespoons at the first sign of a cold and continue to take 2 to 3 tablespoons throughout the day (approximately every 2 to 3 hours) until the symptoms subside.
- 1-quart vinegar (I personally like apple cider vinegar, but any kind will work)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup grated fresh horseradish
- 2 tablespoons powdered turmeric
- Pinch or more of Cayenne powder
- 1 cup of honey (I like locally harvested raw honey!)
Combine the vinegar, horseradish, onion, garlic, turmeric, and a pinch or two of cayenne. Cover and let sit in a warm place for 3 to 4 weeks. Strain the mixture, blend in the honey, rebottle. Refrigerate until needed.
Note: The mixture will keep well & stay effective in the refrigerator for approximately 4 months. Over time, beyond 4 months, the mixture will lose some of its effectiveness, but it will not “go bad.” I would recommend tossing out any unused cider after 6 to 8 months and make up a fresh batch for the next season.