You might have guessed by now, that we don’t yet have internet. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we’re rescheduled for installation this coming Saturday. ‘Course now the river’s up, and driving conditions questionable for bringing the satellite man into the canyon. Sheesh. It’ll seem like some kind of miracle if I can answer emails from home ever again, rather than from a café or parking lot.
The benefit of being in the village so much, is that I’ve gathered a rather large amount of Elm bark in the last month. This has come in handy for all the hot, dry, hacking coughs I’ve been treating. Of course, with no electricity, it’s a challenge to get it ground into anything smaller than matchstick sized pieces. I think there must be some primitive powdering technique I’ve missed. It seems possible with a mortar and pestle… but only if I have a spare year or two.
Even coarsely cut, it makes an excellent infusion for dry bronchitis. It moistens up the lungs and sinuses nicely, helping to prevent some of the pain caused by dry air combined with active inflammation. Right about now, the population of Catron county could use a whole body dip in the slippery, slimy Elm infusion. The current resp. virus is a particularly powerful one – extremely contagious, settling deep in the lungs and not uncommonly resulting in pneumonia. All of us in the canyon have caught it, the first time in years that most of us have been sick with even the tiniest cold. Loba has fared the best so far, with only a few snifflies and feeling generally wore down, while the rest of us have had a painful cough and a week’s worth of out of hand mucus production. Thanks to much ingestion of herbs and soups, as well as rest, none of us ended up with bronchitis or other complications.
Smelly chest rub and hot diaphoretic teas (sage, peppermint, bee balm and rosemary is the brew of choice just now) have been extremely helpful, as has continual doses of Elderberry Elixir. I’ve been recommending lots of onion poultices and syrup to the locals, since it’s soothing and simple, and something they feel comfortable making themselves. Onion syrup is amazingly easy to make, you simply chop an onion up, place it in a jar and cover it with raw honey. Let it sit overnight, and it’s ready in the morning. It may taste strange, but it’s a great old remedy for congested, inflamed lungs. For a poultice, just fry up some onions in olive oil, let sit until very warm but no longer burning hot and then wrap in muslin. Keep the poultice on the chest until it cools down, and reheat as necessary. Easy as can be!
A point I may have failed to make previously is that when you’re taking any diaphoretic, or an alterative like Elder to help bypass or treat a virus, is that it’s very important to stay hydrated. All of these herbs work to help flush the virus and waste materials out of the system, and being underhydrated can make their work much more difficult, and much less successful. It’s also helpful to your body to drink lukewarm to hot liquids, and to avoid cold or iced beverages. This is true all winter long (iced drinks are probably never a good idea), but especially when you’re sick. Diluted Nettle and Elm infusion heated to body temperature can be a good daily beverage, as can a thin broth of Nettle and Miso.
Small, frequent meals of bone broth or other very nutritive soups can also assist the body in its natural healing process by providing rich nutrition and lightening the load on the digestive system. If there’s a fever, it’s often of benefit to go very light on food, focusing just on teas or thinned broths for nourishment as desired. Whatever you do, avoid sugar as much as possible. While orange juice is often touted for its Vitamin C and therefor, cold-killing benefits, you can easily get as much or more Vit C with herbal infusions without the substantial sugar overload that juice generally packs. Laying off most dairy products, especially thick gooey ones like eggnog, is also a good idea during congestion.
And rest, rest, rest.