Friday, November 13, 2009

La Grippe or "Postcards From the Hankie's Edge"

It had to happen, right? It is, after all, an epidemic. We now consider ourselves officially epidemicked. Princess led the way, as is appropriate for royalty. It was heralded with a barking cough, quickly followed by a fever of 104.6. Bug, always a camp follower, wasn't far behind. Dog remained the stubborn outlier for a while, but eventually succumbed to peer pressure and decided to follow suit.

Once again, I'm hanging out our "plague" sign and quarantining us. The kitchen has gone into overdrive, making cough syrup, elderberry syrup, bone broth, and other such stuffs to soothe, satisfy, and otherwise stimulate the unwell. I'm pillaging my stores of elderberry, barberry, rosehips and assorted herbal matter. Tool Guy continually sniffs the air when he comes home, not sure if he is smelling dinner or medicine. The neighbors wonder at my frequent trips to the white pines in the yard as I jump for ever-higher branches, to strip off needles. What do I live for, but to be entertainment, no? Tool Guy is making sly comments about Marie Laveau and gris-gris. Philistine.

It is exceedingly hard to doctor by proxy and most of my dosing the Hobbits has been based on reading and the feedback they give me, both symptomatically and descriptively. Princess has gotten impatient with my queries about exactly where the irritation inspiring that cough is coming from. "I don't know how to explain it to you," she stated truculently. Sigh. I'm sure that this will be fuel for therapy down the road someday.

Happy day. I get to try all of this out on myself. The Flu Fairy came to visit yet again and I've been blessed. I haven't been ill-prepared, but I'm not best-prepared either; there were quite a few other things I'd wanted to have ready before coming to this. Still I've got enough tricks in my repertoire to at least do something besides lay there in a stupor.

So here's what I've found that works:

Elderberry is definitely wonderful. Something about the glistening liquid jewel tones pouring from the bottle is as reassuring as the thick sweet taste that coats the throat going down.

Andrographis continues to shine as an immune support. Gotta be right there in the cabinet next to the echinachea and astragalus.

Elecampane tincture helps to keep the congestion from building. Toward the end of our confinement, I dipped into the angelica that was maturing, to help ease the coughs. I think this one is going to be a staple in my cabinet, too.

Clary Sage and Red Thyme essential oils are definitely useful in damping down night time coughs.

Ginger continues to shine as my new favorite herb. Just prior to the onset of La Grippe, I decanted the herbs that I'd been researching while Dog was sick as a dog and had begun maturing. Ginger tincture was among the lot and, blessedly, I'd put up quite a lot of it, which freed me to use it without regard for supply.

I found that I wanted ginger tincture at my bedside so that when I woke up coughing in the night, a couple of droppers (approximately 30 ml) eased things sufficiently for me to return to sleep. This, paired with the essential oils, allowed me a reasonably restful night. Princess is right, though. It does burn all the way down. Heh.

And all of this has accelerated another bout of experimentation. My herbal mentor quoted Rosemary Gladstar as telling a story about going overseas to study with an herbal guru. The first two weeks of the study required absolute silence after which she would be allowed to ask one question. She spent the two weeks wondering what she would ask. What popped out of her mouth isn't what she had anticipated, but I'm glad it was the question she asked: "What is your favorite thing for lungs?" The answer? Juice up ginger, bury it for three months and let it ferment.

While the herbal class discussed this remedy, I began to envision what this project would look like. I immediately decided that an unglazed earthenware vessel was the container of choice. Why bury something unless it was to share the biota of the soil with the ferment? Like traditional kimchi. The Herbalist suggested that if I were going to do this, try one in a glass jar and one in the earthenware and see if the resulting ferments were appreciably different. Sounds like a plan.

Juicing ginger is a bit more of a muscular activity than juicing, say, grapes, but pretty soon, I was watching a chartreuse river flow from the mouth of the juicer into the jar. I divvied the yield up between the glass jar and the pottery. Given that ferments produce expanding gasses, I endeavored to keep the glass jar's lid as loose as possible to prevent subterranean explosions. I contemplated sealing the pottery with bee's wax, but opted out.

I dug up a likely spot in our woods--"likely" being any place that is more earth than rock--and buried the experiments. I put a rock marker on the spot, knowing that ginko might not help me remember the place on my own. The neighbors probably thought I was burying a pet. Oh, the things that they don't know...

Next postcard in three months.


Suzan Robertson said...

I love ginger. I'd eat it three times a day if I could work it into every recipe.

Great post. Hope you feel better!

- Water Lily

Loztnausten said...

Thanks, WL! Given how helpful this herb is, I think I'm going to have to put some effort in to propogating my own. Particularly if I want to have any left to cook's my favorite ingredient in kimbop!

Pampered Mom said...

When the rest of the family was down with the flu (somehow it missed "highly susceptible" pregnant me) many of my favorite herbs were on your list as well! I *love* Elderberry, Ginger, and Elecampane.

Loztnausten said...

Glad it missed you, PM! Aren't these herbs just the best? And soooo simple!

Psalms66 said...

Hey did you ever dig this up and share the results? I'm intrigued...

Loztnausten said...

Not yet! The ground is still frozen...LOL!