Here in the dry, wood-heated Winters of the Southwest it’s easy to get all dry, cracked and chapped from the inside out. Besides keeping your skin greased with lanolin and herbal oils, and staying out of the moisture sucking wind, my favorite herbal moistening method is to ingest lots and lots of mucilaginous drinks and foods. That means lots of Okra in my stews, and Flax in my nut breads and crackers and tapioca for dessert, yum!
In my everyday nourishing infusions of Nettles or Raspberry or Oatstraw I add a pinch of two of a slippery plant like Mallow (flowers or roots or leaves or all together, depending on how much slime you like) or Flax (I don’t like the taste much, but some people are quite fond of it) or some Siberian Elm (check out Darcey’s excellent post on this underused Slippery Elm analogue). Any of these will really help temper any drying tendencies of the other herbs and add a very moistening effect to the whole brew. Elm is especially neutral in taste and temperature and can be added to almost any drink, or even to food as a powder. I usually add about a teaspoon of chopped bark to a quart of infusion for a significantly slimy beverage. Try a little less if you can’t deal with the gooiness or add more if you really need some extra moistening.
I like Mallow better for Summer dryness as it tends to be more cooling and diuretic, but it really is mellow enough to be used year round for nearly anyone, especially the Common Mallow as opposed to the cooler Marshmallow.
The moistening herbs are great for general dryness, and also for achy, inflamed bellies (I love a cold infusion of Chokecherry bark and Elm bark for burning gut pain from bad food choices), dry, unproductive coughs or sore throats (a few drops of a tincture of Mallow can almost immediately eradicate a sore throat from dryness and irritation), and also irritated, inflamed urinary tract infections.
I’ve also been trying out herbal soaks for dry, cracked, sore hands and feet made of a diluted infusion of Elm, Moonwort (Artemisia spp.) and Bee Balm, it smells weird but it works really well.
Note: Still working on getting the new satellite installed, and still behind on emails. The river is slowly going down and today we were actually able to drive out. Cross your fingers, as this means we’re more likely to get the internet connection sooner… which is great on all accounts, since my shoulders are sore from hauling supplies in and well, that water is cold to walk through! All this to apologize to those of you waiting for me to write you. I will get there, I have not forgotten you, and I’m very sorry for the delay. In the meantime, enjoy the new updated Anima site. And check out the new course offerings which will soon also be listed here.