Healing herbal tea, sunshine and champagne
June 19, 2014 – My house party book signing for The Doctor’s Book of Natural Health Remedies ( Galvanized Press/Random House) last week in Mar Vista was a blast and a success! A beautiful day, great food, bubbly and friends old and new. About 40 people showed up and many bought multiple copies, so many many thanks, and thanks especially to Jill Frank and Tony Piscitelli (really righteous bruschetta), Jane Paul and Ken Ng for doing the heaving lifting.
My friend Paula, who is an ER doctor, was on hand to keep us all real. And since she is a believer in many complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) – she sees an acupuncturist and gets regular massages – it was quite validating to see her nod her head often.
I read from the introduction to the book, which explains the reasons for it; namely that we United States citizens need to take more responsibility for our own health care plans, and we know it. The conditions covered in the book are those that have been shown by science to respond best to CAM, and many mild conditions may be prevented from getting worse if your catch and treat early and gently. Many of us also would like to avoid going straight to conventional prescription medicine, which can cause side effects or even stop working and do not tend to help our bodies heal themselves. I read a bit from the chapter on Sexual Dysfunction, just for fun, and the audience was very open to the herbs that have been shown to increase libido and pleasure; two of which are maca and the Brazilian herb muira puama.
The audience was also open to the healing power of herbs in general, and seemed to like the peppermint and thyme teas I brewed for them; one friend had a sore throat, for which thyme is a remedy used widely in Europe. Next time you have bronchitis, try thyme tea or drops of oil or tincture in hot water.
Making a tincture is simple, and it’s one of the most effective (and cost efficient) ways to use your healing herbs. Here’s how to make your own:
A simple solution
Many of the studies done on herbs use an “oil” or extraction or tincture of the plant to achieve the maximum healing power. Oils are usually used externally; tinctures are for internal use (oil of oregano is actually a tincture). Here’s an easy tincture recipe from Gayle Engels of the American Botanical Council (ABC):
- Pluck stems and leaves and wash thoroughly.
- Place inside a clean glass jar with a tight lid.
- Fill with 80-proof vodka (Mark Blumenthal of ABC likes to use Everclear).
- Cover the mouth of the jar with wax paper or cling wrap. Close the lid tightly and shake well. Keep in a dark place for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily.
- Strain and keep in a glass bottle. Label with the name and date. It will keep for years if kept in a brown glass bottle and a dark cabinet. Add 10% glycerin to make it more palatable and you can use glycerin if you don’t want to ingest alcohol.
This month, look for my piece in Dr. Oz: The Good Life magazine on the power of healing herbs, and how to grow and use them.