~pungent herbal power~
I am spending my day today with a few warming, pungent herbs (basic kitchen staples!!!!): shallots (a mild allium relative to the onion), garlic and mustard seed. I didn’t necessarily plan to spend the day with these herbs… in fact, I really expected to do my taxes and then spend some more time with the bitter herb exploration I set off on yesterday.
But today’s pungent herbal exploration *is* out of necessity. This winter has been a bear on my daughter’s respiratory system. Not even four weeks ago she fought a wicked case of bacterial pneumonia and now she is battling off a case of viral croup.
Thus, I am doing what I should have done a month ago (hence the overdue comment) — spend time with these pungent herbs to become more intimately familiar with their individual plant profiles and herbal action. I will also spend some time to see how they can combine with other herbs to make a syrup with my blend of elderberry elixir and the soothing herbal honeys (like the infused raw honey of elderflower and yarrow shown here) that I’ve got in my pantry.
Of course, the immediate goal today is to see how I can use them to help soothe my daughter’s spasmodic, barking dog cough and help speed her recovery against this new round of virus. I will play around with ways to get her engaged in her own healing process — like help with the shallot saute for the onion/mustard plaster and the stirring of the raw shallot into the raw honey and elderberry elixir for syrup (letting it sit overnight before using).
If my daughter is finicky about taking the syrup concoction, I think I’ll end up putting the shallot/elderberry syrup into our homemade concord grape juice (I make this from the grapes I freeze in the fall). I also thought about using the syrup as a base for an ice-slushy mix with the concord grape juice - and maybe popsicles, too - both of which I *know* she’ll like … but who knows. She might surprise me and take it straight up & throw it back (just like her mamma would).
As for the mustard/onion plasters, we’ll see how Emma does with that. However, I LOVE herbalist Rosalee de la Foret’s idea of a garlic oil for the feet. And while a little different in purpose than a plaster, seems like I could strain off the onion/mustard plaster saute and turn it into a foot rub. Throw socks over top and let the herbs soak into the feet.
I can’t forget the importance of an herbal steam when fighting a respiratory infection… and while getting my kid to sit over a pot of simmering wild bergamot like herbalist Jim McDonald-Style (with his signature duck towel) I will at least get the pot simmering in the house and have some in the bedroom … ooo…. wish I could simmer it IN the bedroom. I need to get a hotplate…
To deepen my exercise in pungent herbs today I am glad to have the writings of a few dear herbalists on hand to lend insight as I go on this pungent herb exploration. Check these readings out:
Rosalee de la Foret: A Summary of Pungent Herbs
Kiva Rose: Onion Poultices, Syrups & Tinctures
And while I am at all of this, I will put up some tincture of shallot, horseradish, and garlic because I don’t have any on hand and just should for future needs.
Love my herbal learning. Glad this day is teaching me something. As each one should.