Wednesday 15 June 2011

A Taste of My Own Medicine Tea

The truth is I rarely think about my health, which is generally good, and it is twenty years since I last saw a doctor.

So when Rupert Read came to speak at Sustainable Bungay's Green Drinks on Shifting Cultural Values and said that to support the NHS and its founding principles of fairness, equality and humanity at a deep level was to support a 'positive deep frame', I became aware that it was not just about whether I went to the doctor or not, but that "if we support the NHS, we are casting our vote for those principles. We are saying that they really matter."

These principles really are going to matter in the transition from a high-carbon, energy intensive present to a low-carbon, energy-constrained future - in order for that future to be fair, healthy and even liveable. In this I fully support the NHS. I do not condone a system which says it's all right for some people to receive treatment if they have the financial means but not all right for others if they don't.

Having said that, the fossil fuel supplies which made the NHS (or any large public or private institution) possible in its present form are physically limited. The system will inevitably change, or face collapse. I see how we prepare for such change and what we do ourselves to keep both our health and those principles intact as a major part of what Transition is about.

I have spent many years working with wild plants. Beyond getting to know the plants and trees themselves and the physical medicines they carry, being present in and paying attention to the natural world is crucial to our well-being. It's something I write about frequently on this blog. It's also something everyone can do with a bit of practice. You don't need to be an expert to connect with the planet's living systems. But we do need to have our feet on the ground and know what our lives really depend on.

When I first began to pay attention to the plants outside my door a dozen years ago (I was 37), I thought "I'll never get to know them, I've left it too late. I don't have the capacity..." But I knew it was important somehow (and that was before I'd heard of Peak Oil, taken notice of climate change or experienced my own severe economic downturn!).

From the very beginning of my work with plants I've loved what I call medicine teas. These can be anything from a simple chamomile tea (relaxing, warming, good for the stomach) to a mega midsummer infusion with 20 flowers that lifts the spirits, to a plantain and yarrow tea that helps the immune system. You can grow the plants yourself or pick them from an unpolluted spot.

The tea I'd like to recommend today is lime blossom, very friendly and relaxing and a true Herb for Resilience in stressful times. When you're relaxed and connected with the natural world, you're not prey to the fears and hostilities of the 'human' one.

Limes are normally in blossom around the beginning of July though they are appearing earlier in some places this year. Here's how I prepare it. You take a handful of fresh limeflowers (it smells amazing), shake out any little insects and pop it in a teapot. Boil water and leave to go off boil. Steep for three to five minutes. You can leave it longer if you like it strong. A good time to do this is up to an hour before bed.

Pic: Ribwort Plantains in flower June 2011; Lime flower tea by Charlotte Du Cann, July 2010.

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