Holiday first aid

by Rebecca Huber

Expectations always run high during the holiday season. What will the day bring? What we envision and the reality of the day are many times vastly different. The idea that we can have whatever we want is referred to by some as the Santa myth. Of course it's good to know what you want and then ask for it, but it's limiting to receive goodness and happiness only when it comes in ways we expect.

As certainly as the day will come, so can we count on things going wrong. We choose to ignore the fact that the same people, places and things that thwarted our perfect vision last year may very well be with us again this year. We forget that trying to do everything ''right'' last year made us about as festive as a fruitcake! This year, as you look towards your holiday with anticipation, anticipate the shortcomings of your loved ones and yourself. Focus on your strengths -- and theirs, then let the rest go.

But if you should end up with a headache, indigestion or a hangover from food, drink, people places or things you cannot or did not control, here are some herbs that will help.

For headache: The herb, white willow, taken from the bark of the white willow tree works just as well as aspirin. In fact aspirin was originally derived from the bark of this tree. Steep 1/2 teaspoon of the dried herb in a cup of water and sip slowly for headache.

Feverfew is another well-known treatment for all kinds of headaches, especially migraines. it is best taken as a preventive, or before the headache really takes hold. This herb can also be steeped as a tea. A natural sweetener such as honey can be used, or add a small piece of licorice bark for sweetness as feverfew and white willow are very bitter.

Skullcap, renowned as an antispasmodic and sedative, can act to calm when the pain of a headache hits. Add this to feverfew or white willow bark, then go lie down and take that much deserved long winter's nap.

For headaches with indigestion, or other kinds of gastrointestinal upsets -- from heartburn to intestinal cramping, vomiting or diarrhea -- use ginger. When you do your holiday grocery shopping, pick up a fresh ginger root. Steep some water, slice two or three thin slices of ginger and allow it to sit for five to ten minutes. Drink a Chinese teacup full for symptoms. If you don't have a fresh ginger root, get into your spice cupboard, dried will work well too.

If you do not have ginger in the house, try some peppermint oil for nausea and indigestion. Many cooks have peppermint oil in their spice rack. Make it into a hot tea or place a drop under the tongue followed by a sip of water if the peppermint is too strong. Or, put a drop on a handkerchief and inhale it.

For sprains, bruises, muscle aches from overuse, think arnica gel. Arnica is amazing at stopping the aches and pains from these kinds of injuries. The sooner you apply arnica the better. it will actually keep an injury from bruising and swelling.

Our unmet expectations are often at the bottom of our bouts of minor headache and indigestion as well as our absentmindedness that may have been at the bottom of a trip or fall. Letting go of those expectations many times allows us to let go of the stuff that causes these minor ailments. Oh, and don't chase the cat when she knocks the Christmas tree over for the fifth time, a sprained ankle isn't worth it!

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online November 28, 2000

Back to The Zephyr