Herbal Spring Tonics

Haven't these last few days been wonderful­­ the sun feels warm and the air has that distinctive scent of spring. This is the time of year when many of us begin to think of spring house cleaning or spring yard work. Anything to get us outside­­ or the outside inside. Nothing smells sweeter than sheets or curtains that have been aired or dried on the line outside or to come inside after a days worth of yard work all tingly and invigorated from the physical work in the fresh air.

Okay, so much for the house and the yard­­ what about some spring cleaning for our bodies? We've had a couple of seasons of eating heavier foods, meats, grains, sweet things from all the holidays, and the pounds that sometimes go with it; it's time to clean house here too!

Nature has a wonderful way of handing us what we need just when we need it. As an example, many of our prolific springtime weeds make perfect spring tonics that cleanse and flush the liver and blood of excesses. Most herbalists say that what you need to heal your body is usually growing within a ten mile radius of your home. Of course, this won't be true if you live in a concrete jungle but for most of us here in the "Burg" that's not the case.

Case in point, I have two very loving but aging Cockers. All three of us somewhere around 1988 contracted Lyme disease. Each of us suffered its ravages but have recovered. Mattie, the blonde female suffered, I believe, the worst as she was not treated as aggressively and was only a puppy when she contracted this insidious disease. To this day, her joints still hurt her but in the spring she will carry her fat little body out in search of her own personal tonic, dandelion. She particularly likes the seed and the puffs. since she started this ritual, I find that through the summer she will improve. Her body will become more flexible and the joints not quite so stiff.

Dandelion is one of the best spring tonics for cleansing the blood and the liver. Fresh young dandelion greens in salads, steamed or in light soups, not only cleanse they taste good! Dandelion is also good for the digestion; it helps rid the body of excess salt and water and also helps iron deficiency anemia. The root is also effective­­ especially for balancing blood sugar.

Some other good springtime herbs are:

Burdock: Revered as nature's best blood purifier. Today, herbalists still recommend this herb for its diuretic action­­ increasing the flow of urine and promoting sweating. It also relieves the soreness of arthritis and rheumatism.

Plantain: Useful for flushing the kidneys and helps the secretion of urine acid. Its phytochemicals have antiinflammatory and anti allergic properties.

Parsley: claimed to be the third most nourishing plant on the planet. Parsley is a course in vitamin therapy all by itself, containing vitamin A, more vitamin C per volume than an orange, several B vitamins, calcium and iron. Use this herb in very small amounts only.

Red Clover: Traditionally, the blossoms from this plant were used as a tonic taken in the spring to promote good health and peace of mind. Currently, traditional medicine is looking at red clover for its use in the treatment of tumors and cancers when combined with other indigenous north American herbs like slippery elm and sheep sorrel.

So, this spring, when you're cleaning up the house and the yard, remember not to overlook your body's needs for house cleaning. Herbs always work best when combined with a cleaner diet and pure water. Also, and very importantly, do not to use plants that have been chemically sprayed.

If you would like to learn more about herbs from medicinal to culinary uses and more, join us. I'll be having a class at The Ivy Gate, 325 E. Main St. here in Galesburg. This informative session on "Herbs For Everyone!" is open to the public and will start Thursday March 27th until April 17th from 6:30-8pm. The cost will be $40 and will include some class material. Call now for registration as class size will be limited. (309) 343-5256.

This article posted to Zephyr online March 15, 1997
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