Lately, I’ve been putting in long hours growing my herb practice, taking an Anatomy and Physiology class and visiting my mom, who’s been in and out of so many nursing homes and hospitals over the past 10 weeks, I’ve lost count. I finally had to admit to a close friend that it’s been exhausting and I’m just plain tired. “Well, what would you tell a client who felt like you do?” she asked.
“Take tonic herbs!” The concept of tonic herbs is virtually unknown to Western herbalists, but it’s common in Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM]. The idea that the body recovers not only from rest, good food and good air, but also by taking in strengthening and nourishing herbs over an extended period of time, say 3-6 months or more, is central to TCM healing practices. I should know, since I’ve benefitted from tonics during other stressful, depleting times in my life. So, I spent practically the whole day making a wonderful tonic syrup out of Chinese herbs and one of my favorite old-fashioned syrup bases – blackstrap molasses.
I love the rich, earthy taste of blackstrap, but I learned to really appreciate it a few years ago when I discovered it has a significant iron content but doesn’t create the constipation that iron supplements can. It also has healthy levels of minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium and is known to help normalize blood sugar levels. Just what the doctor ordered for the marathon that is my life lately.
So, I cooked and cooked those Chinese roots and barks and healing herbs in a pot of water on the stovetop until the liquid was reduced by three-fourths, added the blackstrap in and cooked it down a bit further. I bottled the strained liquid and I’ll be adding a tablespoon to my morning and evening tea every day for the next few months. Just the process of slowly cooking this brew over several hours was a relaxing way to begin settling my life down a bit.
I’ll check back over the next few weeks, but what I’m prepared to feel is an energy lift, better focus and concentration at the office, and more sound, restful sleep. Stay tuned…