I was planning on continuing to talk about Real Food this week…
But a very timely topic landed on my radar.
My friend and fellow flower farmer, Lori Jo Hernandez, from Three Acre Farm, contacted me because her knees have been bothering her.
She is about to embark on fall garden cleanup (like a lot of us are) and dahlia tuber digging season (for all us flower farmers) so she’ll be spending alot of time on her hands and knees.
Lori is not keen on popping pills to keep the inflammation down and wanted to know if I knew of something that would work as a natural anti-inflammatory?
Well, it just so happens I do and I’m so glad she asked.
While I am thankful for modern medicines and there is a place and time for them. We as a society tend to pop a pill and call everything good.
But most modern medicines don’t offer cures (even if we think they do). They mostly just treat symptoms.
Modern pain killers are strong and powerful but there are also risks and side effects that we often don’t take into account.
Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are not benign. Ibuprofen can increase risks of heart disease and Acetaminophen can cause liver failure. They both can cause leaky gut syndrome.
Studies have shown that even a single dose of a popular over-the-counter pain medicine can change brain chemistry.
Many experts in the health field speculate that if the major OTC pain relievers we rely on today were to be brought to market now (and before the FDA) they wouldn’t pass.
But guess what!?
You can be a master of your own health with medicinal foods and herbs. They are gentler, safer and have less side effects than their chemical cousins.
Most herbs (and medicinal foods) are a journey. They work in your body over time to tone and strengthen body systems. They work to alleviate the source of the problem rather then just treat a symptom.
So now, rather than later, is the time to start on the road to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
Inflammation is a natural reaction in your body. It is a form of self-correction and a strategy of the body to heal itself. The body is trying to tell you that you need rest.
Rest and Stress Reduction:
I know what you’re all thinking. I have to get this (whatever it is) done! I have a deadline.
I am right there with you but your adrenal system needs time to replenish or your body will break to the point where you are forced to rest.
Coincidently, as I was writing this, I found out that a friend seeing a naturopathic doctor, was just told to reduce her work week to 20 hours/week, to give her body time to rest and reduce the extrordinarily high levels of inflammation occuring in her.
God gives us an example of rest at the very beginning of the Bible. He created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. Not because he was tired and needed it, but to model rest for us.
This is such an important concept to Him that He put it in the Ten Commandments, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days shall you labor and do all your work…” You can find the verses in Exodus 20: 8-11.
I am not telling you that a specific day has to be your rest day, but if it was important enough for God to tell us to do it, we should do it.
Also helpful for rest is ditching tech for a time and allow your natural “old time” rythms to return. Don’t stay up all night watching screens. Sleep!
Make sure to build downtime into daytime as well. Your body shouldn’t be in fight or flight all day. Short periods of calm (I call them sit downs) through out the day give your body a chance to chill and calm itself. It’s a chance to regain energy and focus for your next task.
Along with rest there are herbal options to help you strengthen your body systems, build endurance, and reduce stress.
Ashwagandha is an endurance herb. Instead of giving you a boost, like caffeine does, it preserves your energy. A cup of daily tea from it’s root will build your body up over time.
Tulsi (Holy Basil) has been found to protect the body from chemical and physical stresses and can have positive effects on memory and cognitive function. Tulsi leaves can be consumed fresh daily or as a tea. Another option is to diffuse the essential oil into the air.
Medicinal Mushrooms such as Reishi and Chaga help your body deal with the effects of depleted energy, inflammation and stress. Put mushrooms in your bone broth and soups or drink it as a tea in place of morning coffee.
Nervine herbs such as chamomile, lemon balm, hawthorn, kava, skullcap, Californian poppy, passion flower, blue vervain, hops and valerian are all calming and slightly sedative. These all work great in teas as well. Drink a cup before bed time. (Can you tell I am a huge proponent of tea drinking! Just the act itself forces us to slow down. Tea is not gulped it is sipped.)
Food Intolerances/Leaky Gut
Because of the poor state of our food system and how we eat, many people have “leaky gut syndrome” and don’t even realize it. Food intolerances are magnified when you have leaky gut and leaky gut can cause food intolerances.
Ridding your diet of gluten, dairy, and refined carbohydrates can truly help alleviate inflammation.
Of course each person is different. I am not bothered by dairy but have found that my minor inflammational issues have cleared up on the Ketogenic diet (low carb/sugar/wheat).
Make sure you are eating plenty of healthy fats and purchase a good anti-inflammatory cookbook to help you find out what your triggers are.
Also invest in Dr. Josh Axe’s book, Eat Dirt. This book will get you on the path to healing your gut and/or improving your gut biome.
Turmeric is all the rage now. You’ve probably heard it is awesome for inflammation but there are other spices that work great as well.
Poppy seeds, red pepper, cayenne, and ginger all have warming effects on the body as well as Turmeric.
Mix these in a topical salve for some immediate, targeted pain relief or use them daily in your cooking to build up the benefits of these medicinal foods in your body.
You probably all know that aspirin is derived from willow bark. But modern aspirin can chew up your stomach. Making a tea from willow bark (or it’s young leaves, or the whole plant if it is small) as well as from poplar or aspen bark is excellent for alleviating pain and inflammation. Mix some meadowsweet (a demulcent) into the tea as well and your stomach will not get irritated.
Willow bark does thin the blood so do not take internally if you are on other blood thinning medications. However, bathing in it will relieve aches and pains as well.
I know very little about this form of inflammation relief but it is very popular in Chinese medicine and has been proven to reduce pain from inflammation. If you have severe or chronic inflammation I would suggest that you research this subject a bit more and give it a try.
You can find everything I’ve talked about at a good, local, health food store, herb farm/herbalist (I am working on a line of Fox & Glove herbs and products now.) or online. Many times you can get a premade product but a cost effective method is to get the basic herbs and spices and prepare them yourself.
How To Make A Simple Tea:
Use one ounce of dried herb or two ounces of fresh herb material.
Bring 1 quart of water to just under boiling and pour it over the herb.
Let it steep for 20 minutes.
Makes about 3 cups of tea which can be consumed throughout the day.
How To Make Spice Salve:
1 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup beeswax pastilles
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. turmeric
Mix spices with oil and let sit in a warm place overnight. Strain through cheesecloth. In a double boiler, combine infused oil and beeswax until beeswax is melted. Pour mixture into a small tin or jar. It will harden as it cools. Store in a cool, dark place.
Honey Turmeric Chicken:
4 chicken thighs
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp. local raw honey (You can also use maple syrup.)
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
3/4 tsp. turmeric
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of sea salt
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
Mix garlic, honey, soy sauce, turmeric, cayenne pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Coat chicken with mixture. Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add coconut oil to skillet to melt. Add chicken to skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown.
*This is not a keto recipe! You can try it without the honey if you want it Keto, but I think the honey helps the spices adhere to the chicken better.
There is one more anti-inflammatory herb you can use in your natural tool kit but I saved it for last because it is not ingestible like everything else. This one is purely topical.
An important medicinal herb in Europe, it is considered unsafe for internal use in America by the conventional medical establishment.
It was used by Native Americans, though, to treat muscular injury and back pain.
The flowers of the herb are dried and used in topical herbal preparations. You can add 1 Tbsp. of dried arnica flowers to the salve recipe above.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful in your fight with inflammation. I am a firm believer in letting food (and herbs) be our medicine.
I would love to hear your experiences so please share your herbal stories and healing experiences in the comment section down below.
I would like to remind everyone that I am not a doctor or nutritionist.
I make no claims to treat or cure any conditions. I highly recommend you do your own research on each herb or treatment.
If you are on other medications, herbal supplements, are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, have a compromised immune system or are thinking of giving anything to children or the elderly please consult with a doctor first.
Until Next Time,
Bloom & Grow!