We have had a very mild winter. We do have snow on the ground today but for the most part this winter as been super mild. Which is good in some ways (comfort) and not so good in other ways (we need snow to help with the drought). Even with the mild winter we’ve had a few colds and even a case of the flu.
Over the past year we’ve been trying to find non-pharmaceutical ways to treat illness and even prevent illness. Last month I finally decided to make a batch of Master Tonic. This is something I had been considering for several months but wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go through with it. With the ingredients- garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish and hot peppers- it scared me! I decided to bite the bullet and go through with it. The instructions say to start on the new moon and then strain on the full moon. Only problem was I was sick with a cold the days leading up to the new moon! Guess I should had started this the previous month. I decided not to wait until the next new moon. I bought the ingredients and mixed up the tonic (with my eyes watering the entire time) and let it brew for 14 days.
During the brewing time I would often smell it and even have the children smell it if they had a stuffy nose. That would immediately clear the nose right up! At the end of the 14 days I strained it and sampled it. YES. It is hot. But it is also strangely good. I enjoy the flavor of it. My little boy asked if he could try it. I gave him a very small amount (like 1/4 teaspoon) and he immediately ran for water. But a day or two later he asked for more. He has always enjoyed salsa so maybe the Master Tonic reminds him of it. Be sure to check out the instructions for Master Tonic at Heal Thyself. Master Tonic can also be used in cooking but I haven’t attempted that. We have been taking it by the spoonful. A word of advice, if you take it by the spoon do not slurp. My husband slurped up his one day (who knows why) and ended up in a coughing fit.
Herbs and Such
In November I shared my discovery of being smack in the middle (or dare I hope near the end?) of menopause. I have to say, this has not been a very fun ride. And a ride is sometimes what I feel it is. Like a roller coaster that never stops. I’ve been looking for natural ways to alleviate the symptoms. Late summer and early fall I was able to have a few appointments for acupuncture which seemed to help. I would like to continue those but my schedule and the acupuncturists schedule doesn’t always mesh. Acupuncture really helped with the tiredness that I have been experiencing.
My acupuncturist suggested that I start taking wild yam. A friend was putting in an order for some herbs and let me order with her. I ordered the wild yam and rhodiola, licorice root and also nettle leaf. I had been reading lots of good things about nettle infusions on Heal Thyself and on Susun Weeds website for menopause. My husband has a very mild case of adrenal fatigue and our acupuncturist recommended rhodiola and licorice root for him. While I do not have an adrenal fatigue diagnosis it does go hand in hand with menopause. I bought a bottle of vodka and made tinctures out of the wild yam and the rhodiola. Before the tinctures were finished I was having tea made out of the wild yam, rhodiola and licorice root. Let me tell you, the yam is nasty. In tea and in tincture. It has a very prominent flavor. I love the nettle infusion! It has a very fresh flavor (my little boy says it tastes like grass but I don’t think it tastes quite that fresh). The licorice root is also yummy. The book New Menopausal Years by Susun Weed has been very helpful. A friend loaned me a copy and I liked it so much I ordered my own so I can refer to it. Some of the ideas and suggestions in the book (and on her website) are not exactly in line with my beliefs and thinking but there is a lot of good information.
Aches and Pains
When I went to Oregon for work in December I was able to visit my oldest girl that lives outside of Portland. One of the fun things we were able to do was go to Carson Mineral Hot Springs for a bath, wrap and massage. Carson is a day spa of sorts and a hotel. It is extremely rustic. The hot spring baths are in individual claw foot tub. The bath is about 20 minutes then the attendant takes you to a room and wraps you in a warm blanket. That is another 20 minutes. After the bath and nap, I mean wrap, then the massage therapist arrives to take you back for the massage. Unfortunately, when I got up off my bed I stumbled a bit. I had been having some pain in one of my hips for several months and the rental car seat seemed to aggravate it. The therapist asked what was up and I told her I had a little owie. She said she would take a look at it. At that point I should have ran out screaming. I had no idea that when she took a look at it I would end up crying. Turns out my hip was a bit out of whack and she tried to put me back together. I could barely walk for three days after that. She suggested a few mild stretching exercises that I should attempt to help with things. I discovered that I am a bit of a mess in ways that I can’t specifically blame on menopause. So more changes need be made.
Change number one- I do not get enough exercise especially during the winter. I have a problem with the wind. I hate it. And it blows quite often in the winter (it also blows in the spring, summer and fall but it is warmer then and doesn’t bother me as much) so I avoid going outside. I still have to go outside to tend the chickens and ducks but I’m on a mission to get that task completed and get back inside. I do nothing outside for fun. When I returned from Oregon, Joe and I checked out our local YMCA. It is pretty nice and the price is fairly reasonable for a family membership. Plus they have a drop off daycare thing where our little guy can play while we work out. We’ve started going to the Y a couple of times a week. Because I have so many aches and pains I don’t do too much. At this point my motto is slow and easy.
I also recently visited a chiropractor. He took x-rays and it looks like I have several bone spurs and degeneration probably from an auto accident I was in 18 years ago :-(. I finally broke down and went to see him after having a headache for two weeks along with the lingering hip pain, occasional low back pain, TMJ, and other minor things. The chiro visit had a special included with it for a massage. I had that a few days ago and she was super easy on me. I was happy that she didn’t make me cry and I could comfortably walk out of there.
At this point my plan is to continue with the herbs, the light exercise, an occasional massage. I would like to continue with the chiro but my husband’s had a change in his work schedule with a coworker being out on medical leave. His new schedule makes it challenging to work around when the chiro is open. And if it snows he has to start even earlier. So until he his back on his regular shift I won’t have any more visits.
Focusing on healthy food is also a priority. We follow a Weston A. Price style of eating but not everything we put in our mouths meets that criteria. Our family goal is 85% WAPF foods and the remaining 15% we don’t worry as much about. While this will continue to be the family goal I am paying much closer attention to what I eat. I’ve noticed that a few items in the 15% are not my friends. For now I plan avoid the items I know are bothersome. In the future I may make other changes. Several months ago we started upping the amount of broth in our diet so I’ll continue with that. 14 Steps for Healthy Guts has some great suggestions that we have been implementing. We have not added all to our diets but many.
One of the items listed in the post for healthy guts is epsom salt baths. Epsom salts help with magnesium deficiency. I think this is something that is an issue for me. I have been using magnesium oil (a sample given to me by my acupuncturist) and notice that I sleep better and have less TMJ issues when I use it and when I don’t then the TMJ hurts and sleep is a problem. I’ve ordered magnesium flakes and plan to make magnesium oil. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
During my two weeks with a headache I broke down and took ibuprofen for a few days. This took the pain away enough so I could function but I soon had a new issue. I started having heartburn. I stopped taking the ibuprofen and the heartburn went away. It reminded me about the cycle that can start. I had pain and took a pill. This pill caused a new issue for which I could have taken another pill. I don’t want to go down that road again (did that in the past). I chatted with a friend who is very knowledgeable in natural remedies and herbs. She recommended a few things that are a natural anti-inflammatory (what ibuprofen is designed to do). I haven’t fully implemented these yet so can’t tell you much else but it is in the works.
It seems I’m falling apart all at once. I look forward to feeling like my ‘old self’ again someday soon.
Do you have any health issues you are working on? What are your favorite natural remedies for aches and pains? Have you made Master Tonic?