Elements of Health
Most traditional approaches to health and well-being, including Ayurvedic medicine, are based on the 5 elements. Understanding the balance of these elements within us can be empowering, allowing us the opportunity to soothe uncomfortable symptoms before they progress into disease. As an experienced naturopath and herbalist I love this common sense approach to well-being. When we have an actual disease, depletion or acute illness, herbs and supplements can help us to regain health (eg. Andrographis for the flu). However, sometimes the best medicine is simply “chilling out”, especially if we have hot type symptoms. At other times we may need to warm up or stimulate using foods and lifestyle choices, for example when we are cold, stagnating, putting on weight or slightly depressed.
Here we are in the midst of our winter – by using the elements as a guide we can restore or maintain health and balance. Eating warm nourishing food is best for the cold weather. Now is not the best time to cleanse or eat raw foods in general, as they are too cooling. Baked veggies, stews, soups, kitchari and casseroles are all appropriate. Cooking with herbs and spices to aid digestion and/or ginger and turmeric from the garden are encouraged. (Turmeric is hard on your liver if eaten raw – so ideally add it to foods while cooking).
Warming exercise is best during the winter months. Walking up hills and chopping firewood gets us moving and out in nature. Herb teas like echinacea, thyme, oregano or sage (ideally picked fresh from your garden) with lemon and honey, are great to boost immunity and keep colds and flu’s away. Add them to your foods too.
Even though we are not forced inside by snow here, the midst of winter is still a good time to go within. Meditating is easier at this time of year – so try it. Slow walking meditation focussing on your feet can be an ideal way to start, or gazing at the fire and simply being still and quiet. Mediation has been shown to cure many illnesses, whether they are physical, emotional or mental. It is a balm for the busy times in which we live.
Plain boiled Hot water is an in-expensive way to keep yourself regular and it clears the head nicely too. Try it if you are feeling` sluggish or tired, it is also useful for removing mucous. Sipped regularly it can help prevent weight gain in winter.
One of my favourite healing techniques in winter is a good long hot bath. I add a sprig of fresh lavender and some Epsom salts and it soothes me after a busy day…
Jacinta is available for consultations through Mullumbimby Herbals or www.omhealing.com.au