Friday, July 11, 2008

ode part 2 + onion poultice

continued from part one
The thing about all of this is that my treatment would have worked and was working quite well except for the flying.
The cabin pressurization is a killer.
My contact lens cleaner bottle was mangled by the pressure, just as my poor ears were.
It somehow made me feel better, to see the evidence in a plastic bottle.

I was nearly better (again) when it was time to return home.
On the flight back, the pressurization was worse, because even though my illness was mostly gone, my ears were still sensitive from the first trip a few days before.
I actually thought of extending my trip, to let my ears recover a bit, but it just wasn't in the cards.

I won't repeat the drama of the pain, discomfort and all the million ways I tried to relieve the pressure in my ears, but I did come home unable to hear clearly for days and I woke up the following morning with terrible pain in both of my ears.
Every time I sat up I could hear and painfully feel liquid moving about in my head.

My partner had to go out of town on business which left me in charge of everyone.

I actually forgot to feed my dog one day.

I resumed with the hot teas with honey and tincture, while beginning a regimen of ear treatments.

Onion Poultice has worked for me in the past when one of us has had ear troubles, including water in the ears from swimming or too much wind in the ears from the beach or just a killer head cold.

The treatment is simple:
cut on onion in half
heat the onion by placing the cut side in a skillet, until it is warmed through
cover the cut side with cheesecloth or a thin tea towel
test the temperature so you don't burn yourself or especially not someone you're trying to heal and then
place the cloth covered, hot onion right on your ear and
put on a wool hat that will also cover the onion and lay down until the onion has cooled.
compost the onion
repeat if necessary with the other half of the onion.

This helped some, but it felt like there was too much fluid in my ears for it to work fully.

I had my daughter drop straight usnea tincture into my ears.

Usnea is incredibly drying and in the past I've used it for my black lab's ears.

That worked quite a bit.

I had to go to work and still wasn't fully hearing yet, that was uncomfortable so my daughter, thank goodness, offered to ear candle me.

So sweet, before school.

Ear candles are basically 10-12 inch long muslin tubes coated in wax that you stick in your ear, light the end and as they burn down they create a kind of vacuum effect and the smoke goes in your ear and moisture and wax are drawn up out of your ear and adhere to the cone.
You put the flame out as it gets a few inches from your head and you can open it up and see what it's pulled out of you. It's pretty cool.

Then it was off to work and that was pretty much the end of it all.

It was quite the saga and ended up lasting about 7 days with a few extra days of almost all better.
It was the kind of illness that once past, I couldn't believe how sick I had been.

I feel stronger in my lungs after all the elecampane.
I grew up in a household with multiple indoor smokers, so this has been a weak spot for me.

I don't wish this on anyone and I'm glad it's in the past and even though it's been a few weeks, I wanted to give a peek into the arduous and healing world of herbal medicine.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

an inadvertent ode to Cascade Anderson Geller

I woke up with a pain deep in my lungs.

The pain was as if I had been running in the artic or smoking cigarettes made of ice.
The lung pain was my only symptom, but I got right on treating it, just in case.

I began with hot tea and *local honey with our basic family tincture **the anti-infection blend.

I added about 10 dropperfuls of this to my tea a couple of times the first day. That night I had a dream where Cascade was with me. I told her about my lung pain and she warned me that it could be very serious. I asked her what I should do about it. She looked at me with her head tilted to one side and said "you're the herbalist, you tell me"

"Elecampane" I said. She smiled and said "good".

I woke up the next day and started a pot of super bitter tea. I knew I would be flying in a few days and wanted to really nip this illness in the bud.

The tea I made was elecampane & dandelion root simmered on the stove for a good long time.

Elecampane is a true love to me, the only plant I ever wrote a song for. That's cheesy, I know, but Elecampane is complex, strong, bitter, sweet, rich and unlike any other taste around. Elacampane is in the sunflower family and quite closely related to the sunchoke and even though it's called elf wort or elf dock, I find it to be a plant related more to Gnomes.

I drank some of this brew with honey and then added more water and let it continue to simmer. I must have drunk a gallon of this uber bitter brew throughout two days.

My lungs got better quickly but the pain and sickness had moved up into my upper chest.


I was sicker than I wanted to admit.

I kept on with my treatment. Stay the course.
This is the part where you get to hear the mantra that comes back to me often from fabulous local herbal teacher Cascade Anderson Gellar who once said to me "herbal medicine is arduous"
Basically why everyone takes anti-biotics these days. Herbal medicine is arduous, it takes time and patience and patience.

Cascade was the one who taught me all about the anti-infection blend.

The "infection" as it seemed to be, moved up out of my lungs and then out of my chest and now had fully landed in my throat.
I was trying to get things caught up at the store and make the million arrangements for the children, the house, the dog, the chickens etc.

I finally packed about 10 minutes before we had to leave for the airport.

At this point, I begin to feel better, with the illness mostly in my head, ha ha, not like that but in my physical head.

When the cabin of the plane pressurized my head began to seemingly swell with pressure from the inside that was threatening to burst. I was yawning and sucking candy and pulling on my ears while yawning, I was massaging my eustation tubes. I was dring sips of water. I was miserable. I was trying to be patient. I was using calming techniques. Breathing exercises.
The flight attendant came over to see if we were alright. My travel partner explained the problem because I could not hear very well, nor tell how loud I was talking at this point, and asked if she had any suggestions. She looked at me and said "did you try yawning?"
I honestly wanted to hit her.

So back on earth, I now had a killer head cold, plugged ears and still tons of pressure in my head.
This day was all about the runny nose.
The day consisted of putting salve on my nose where the skin was raw, finding kleenexes, sucking cough drops, blowing my nose, disposing of kleenexes, repeat.
Oh and did I say that I was at this point in Las Vegas at the World Tea Expo where I was supposed to be tasting and smelling teas all day.

to be continued: part 2 will include the second half of the super-fun week that was the tea fair which includes a double ear infection, oh joy.

**Anti-Infection Blend

Like all good recipes, it has guidelines and parameters, but is made differently based on the season and what tinctures I have on hand.

Here's a basic recipe:
each tincture is already made seperately then blended after they're complete.
25% echinacea root, dried
25% echinacea root, leaf and flower tinctured fresh
15% fresh ginger root
10% usnea
15% oregon grape root
10% licorice root
We go through about 32 oz of this throughout each year. It takes care of practically everything.
Thanks Cascade.

*a great book to recommend about the healing and magic of honey is Stephen Buhner's book Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers

***all of this is recommended for using your own judgment, I am not a doctor, I have no letters behind my name, I make no claims, this is my own experience.***