self reliant medicine


A few weeks back I wrote a post about the ever so lovely and wise Dori Midnight. I feel honored to have received a guest post from her to share with you today. In lieu of her regular full moon letter she has sent the following letter to her West Coast friends.  It is reprinted here in full. I am hoping that Dori will continue to share her insights and adventures here at The Urban Field Guide. To visit her blog for further reading please go here. And please share this letter widely, the content is important and poignant.

Hi West coast friends,

We are living in some intense times- the earthquake and nuclear failings in Japan is just part of it. This is not my usual full moon letter (it’s not the full moon!), but a just little peep about things you can do to help support your body (and spirits) right now. As you’ve probably heard, there may be some radiation moving across the pacific in the next weeks heading towards the west coast from Japan. To keep going, be alive, and not shut down, we need courage, nourishment, and support- make a pot of soup! (and can I be a grandma for a minute and say if you haven’t made an emergency kit, please do?)

I will be posting more recipes and some herbal first aid/community healing basics on my blog this week.  If you have friends or family in Japan or Hawaii, you can pass this along to them too.

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I’m not quite sure how I haven’t heard about the project post secret until now. Four years ago Frank Warren created an outlet for people to tell their secrets. He got the word out and invites people to send him their secrets on one side of a postcard. He shares them weekly on his blog, and has even put out a few books with the anonymous secrets he’s received. I’m still wanting to read more about the project, but thought I’d share some of the cards with you, so you too can have a new daily read.

I have long been a fan of Just Seeds collective of artists and activists. You can check out their website here. Josh MacPhee has played a huge part in getting this amazing site going and promoting artists who are sharing visionary work. His partner, artist Dara Greenwald is going through cancer treatments right now, and this great couple could use your financial help. A group of really amazing artists donated their work and an online auction has been created. Please click here to check out the auction. Here are some of the amazing pieces being auctioned off. Now, go! Spend your hard earned cash on art and health, it’s a good trade!

I have some experiments going on in my kitchen. I’m a little cautious, excited and overwhelmed at once. You see, I’m taking care of all these little micro-organisms all of a sudden. It started with going over my friend’s house last week. He handed me a wine glass of bubbly, pink hued, slightly sour, slightly sweet kefir water. It was so refreshing, and do I need to mention again pink and bubbly? I nonchalantly mentioned I would love to learn how to make it, and two seconds later I had a mason jar of kefir water grains with a plum floating in it and a black sharpied heart on the lid in my hands. Uh-oh. Responsibility for tiny lives. You can get a bubbly beverage in about 24-48 hours and I’m on my 5th batch now. The first time I opened up a batch and it made the carbonated sound I was so excited! I would give you  instructions, but this website is great and detailed; she even made you tube videos so check it out. Kefir is an amazing source of probiotics for healthier digestion and it is so inexpensive to make this drink. Just a tablespoon of sugar, some water and some fruit. Easy.

That being said, I know fermentation can seem a little contradictory of how a lot of you grew up. Encouraging something to rotten and bubble? No thanks, many of you may say. And I have to say that I had my doubts as well. The picky eater in me came out. The squeamish side of me balked. But then I took a drive through the agricultural belt in central california. I saw the huge monocrops and the massive silos. I saw one two story silo just for sunflower seeds. And it was good to see, because I forget about these monstrosities, what with my local farmer’s markets and front yard grazing. Compared to that silo my little jar of kefir creatures seems pretty harmless.

I’m also now in possession of a sourdough starter… but more on that later… I have to go feed everyone!

I just came across this great post from the Agricultural Society that breaks down all the herbs, oils and spices that can make up a super effective medicine cabinet. Click here to check it out!  I just spent a good chunk of my day last week at a Kaiser pharmacy and after watching the thousands upon thousands of meds being dispersed, and seeing all of the plastic those meds were encased in, I feel more committed then ever to preventative medicine. We’re all so used to hearing about whole foods now, with the logic that you should only eat foods that you can identify… but we need to start applying the same approach to our medicines whenever we can. At any rate, this article is a really good resource list.

There’s a pretty great article and slide show in the NY Times this week about homesteading type folks growing their own mushrooms. The article mostly centers around a group called Ecostation who have reclaimed a small garden in Bushwick that they now call ‘The Secret Garden’.  I wish I was in NY to check this place out because it sounds amazing. It took them 3 years to haul all of the contracting trash out of the lot and then after that they brought in truckloads of mulch that they innoculated with oyster mushrooms to help clear the toxins. Since then a group of gardeners have drilled holes in over 200 logs and filled them with spores. Each log produces over 1lb of mushroooms. There’s also over 250 burlap sacks throughout the garden growing mushrooms of all varieties. Don’t you want to go see that in person? In the middle of NYC? Their goal is to provide low cost mushrooms to volunteers and to sell them cheaply at the Bushwick Farmer’s Market. With the exception of those oysters that are cleaning up the place!

I have a plan. I have 4 weeks left until I’m done with my grad school program in Acupuncture. It took me 5 years with innumerable highs and lows, and I am bound and determined to finish on that last day with my health in tact and my energy high. So my plan is that every time I crack the books, or treat a patient in the clinic, I am armed with an herbal concoction in my teacup. Nettles is my go-to herb in this plan. It is so rich in minerals and such a perfect springtime herb for the liver. Somedays I add a little dandelion for an extra livery boost, or some skullcap or oatstraw to soothe my nerves. Last week I felt run down so I added a teaspoon of dried elderberries. I know a lot of you out there are feeling spring take off while you’re still coming out of hibernation, and I’d strongly suggest nettles to get you through. And, if you have seasonal allergies you might notice some improvement from the nettles as well.

When I make medicinal tea I’m not shy with the herbs. Take a big fistful and then add a few cups of boiling water to the pot and let them infuse for at least 30 minutes. I usually make a big pot at night and let it infuse overnight and then strain it in the morning and sip on it all day. Now, if only I could be drinking this tea out of Esther Coombs amazing tea cup and saucer that is in the picture above. The drawing is done by hand with a ceramic ink pen, beautiful! Check out her etsy shop here.

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