Does smoke cleansing really heal your mind and body?
Burning botanicals, wood, or resins for health and/or spritual reasons – smoke cleansing – is an ancient practice that is common through almost all the different cultures around the world, dating as far back as Ancient Mesopotamia.
Saining… smudging… smoke cleansing… whatever you call it they all have a specific purpose in their culture, whether it’d be for a rite of passage, purifying the room spiritually and bacterial wise, or to support the health of those inhaling the fumes.
Does it really have healing effects on our bodies?
Sadly, there are very few scientific studies around about smoke cleansing, but it’s not a coincidence that incenses and aromatherapy are getting more and more popular in the western countries.
What, where and how
„Many times, looking to our own culture, faith, community, or heritage in our relationship to the botanical world can help us identify herbal allies that are particularly aligned with us as individuals.”
This majestic notion is from Heidi of Mountainrose herbs, who wrote a really great article about the different cultures and their smoke cleansing practices.
Like the ritual of havan samagri in India where rose petals, sandalwood powder, agar, lotus seeds, turmeric, mango wood and a few more herbs are burned loose in a bowl, with the smoke filling the whole space they are in.
Or the fire saining of the Celtic people, where they built a ritual fire, often with juniper, elder or rowan for the healing protecting and cleansing effects of the smoke.
It helps not just your spirit, but your body too
A 2007 study, Medicinal Smoke Reduces Airborne Bacteria, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that burning havan samagri for an hour indeed significantly reduces the bacterial count in the air.
While another study found that „Inhaling the scent of lavender for 4 weeks can prevent stress, anxiety, and depression after childbirth.”
In some hospitals around the world they use lavender to aid the recovery of patients or to aid the mental health of the staff during the Covid crisis.
But many other herbs can have significant health benefits by inhaling their fumes, mostly on your respiratory tract, and on your mental state, by activating your olfactory bulb.
And even if many don’t have physiological effects, the pleasant scent can bring some peace of mind to you and help you clear your head even for a little time, but that can change the world for some.
+ Heidi also pointed out this great video about a Ngunnawal man, Adrian Brown where he demonstrates and explains the cultural significance of the smoking and plants he uses.
Snippets Of Herbalism
That purple scenery. The lavender fields of Moldova collapsed along with the Soviet Union twenty years ago, but Alexei Cazac decided it’s time to revive the traditions. Growing lavender for 6 years now, he tells his story in a breathtaking photo series.
Success. Flavored-infused sea moss, burdock root, Peruvian maca root powder, and chlorophyll? These are among the many things Kiki Ford sells online under the aegis of her brand Nature’s Nurtures. Her’s is a completely black owned business created to help the African American community.
Eat it. Two edible flowers that are great for your body and brain: We wrote about calendula last week though not from the edible flower viewpoint, but it’s Barbara Koltuska-Haskin Ph.D’s favourite alongside the flower of Nasturium.
A what? Want to see something cool, with an herb and zen flavor? Then check out the herb labyrinth of Cherry Point Farm. If you live in the U.S. at or around Western Michigan we think it’s a must visit place for you.
Do you love chocolate? If you do this recipe will make you want to eat tons of this herbal infused treat
The idea and creation of Mason of Mountainrose herbs is just what many of us were waiting for. A healthy type of chocolate infused with the likes of maca and bee pollen:
Bee pollen is safe for most people (everyone with pollen allergies should take caution), and it is indeed a nutrition bomb. It contains carbohydrates, minerals, lipids, protein and many types of vitamins. And while many recommend it for alcoholism, allergies, asthma, or stomach problems, these effects are not proven yet by studies.
Maca offers a great deal of health benefits too, like mood improvement, increased libido, skin protection, or memory enhancement among many.
The recipe itself straight from Mason:
Maca and bee pollen chocolate bar
- 1 cup organic roasted cocoa butter wafers
- 1 cup organic roasted cacao powder
- 1 cup organic crunchy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup organic honey
- 1 Tbsp. organic maca powder
- 1 Tbsp. organic bee pollen
- Follow steps 1-4 in basic recipe.
- Whisk in the peanut butter until fully combined.
- Whisk in the maca powder and bee pollen.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
- Pour into chocolate molds or onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to cool completely.
- Place chocolate in freezer to speed up the process.
Herbal Knowledge You Never Want To Forget
General rule: If you are pregnant don’t use any kind of herbal creations.
Unfortunately, herbs’ effects on pregnant women aren’t well researched, and we already know that many herbal constituents can cause a miscarriage or endanger your pregnancy in other ways.
You should stay all natural as long as you can even in those 9 months, but the risk is too high for you to use any herbal infusions, tinctures or anything created with herbs, especially internally
Is Willow Bark a Better Alternative to Aspirin?
Many people think that this is the case, because the active agent in aspirin is salicylic acid that happens to be one of the main constituents of willow bark. Salicylic acid has a blood thinning effect and is also a great anti-inflammatory agent.
While for this very reason people use willow bark to alleviate pain, it often feels useless and also in a case of an acute emergency it might be life threatening.
All because there is a big difference between willow bark and aspirin.
You can't consume that much
It is important to remember that generally pharmaceuticals contain one active agent and contain it in high concentrations, while herbs may have a main constituent, but they contain many other compounds too which makes it one complex substance.
Sajah Popham the founder of the School of Evolutionary Herbalism wrote that „thinking about willow bark as just a straight alternative to aspirin is not an effective way of thinking about it. It is in fact, applying an allopathic model to a holistic plant. You can, but it’s not going to give you the full picture of what Willow bark is actually doing.”
Actually Paul Bergner notes that 1 oz of Willow bark contains approximately the equivalent to ½ of a baby aspirin, and that is a small amount. So in case of an acute heart attack an aspirin might be life saving, while willow bark has slim chances.
So what is willow bark good for?
Thinking about headaches or blood thinning? Well, willow bark has its place there, for blood thinning you should think in some sort of formulation with Cayenne pepper, Ginko, or Lobelia, but there should be other mixtures that work well.
For certain kinds of pain willow bark is very useful. As it cools down heat, inflammation and irritation. It also drains fluid accumulation and swelling in tissues thanks to its complex mixture of constituents.
These combined with that relatively small amount of salicylic acid as part of that complex, helps relieve that that specific pattern of pain.
For closer a quote from the great Sajah Popham “It’s important to remember that plants do not only work through biochemical constituents, but through their humoral or constitutional effects as well. This is considering how the plant influences the ecosystem of the tissues, which is the hallmark of a holistic understanding of the body and herbalism as a whole.”
+ Here is the whole topic in video format by Sajah Popham. If you don’t have time to read his whole article you should just simply listen to it like a podcast.
and this week's list
3 Herbs that strengthens your immune system (from the home of ayurvedic medicine, again):
- Basil (tulsi): Basil contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-ageing properties. Basil is also a superfood; it helps to relieve stress and mental pressure. So, a cup of hot Tulsi tea on a rainy day can improve both your immunity and mental health.
- Gilroy: It bolsters our immunity, while the antioxidants present in it fight free radicals and remove toxins from the body. Giloy also acts as a hypoglycemic agent and helps type 2 diabetes and it helps to detoxify our skin.
- Turmeric: It has anti-infective properties which protects the body from infectious diseases during seasonal changes. It is also great for your skin and by increasing the metabolsim of your body it may help weight loss.
For a bit more information you can read the original article of Dr. Ameen Noorul here.
You may learn from her mistake
Just today a user named: Rubyjuice14 posted a message with the title: Please do NOT study with Susun weed
The message recieved 104 upvotes so far and 32 comments, from those who agree with Rubyjuice14’s notions, so there might be a great portion of truth in it.
This might be helpful for you and others around thinking about taking an apprenticeship.
Here’s the message:
“After apprenticing with her for a few days, I have to say please do NOT go and study with this extremely abusive person. No matter what you say or do you will be abused. As someone who has worked on themselves all through their 20s I thought I would be ready for this. You think her blog talk radio is bad? Try that times 100. Her out of date feminism which is transphobic and her patriarchal practices of power and abuse are trash. “She will get what she deserves” do not give this person you money, support, time or energy. Period point blank. My body was so shut down and I felt like a child trapped with an abusive parent. I don’t care how many herbal infusions you drink or how much time you spend in nature, talking to people as she does, causes so much cellular harm. She is phony and fragile tyrant. She screamed at me because she said I made her feel invisible. She is unstable and so unwell. Bad vibes. No fairies in her gardens.”
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