Tinctures ,Tonics and Teas: The Legend of the Four Thieves and the Healing Herbs and Oils that inspired it!
It's flu season and many of us are experiencing strains of Influenza that are stronger than anything that we've known on the past. I myself caught it right before Christmas and I've never been quite as sick as I was for that week. It's fairly dangerous stuff, turning into pneumonia in many and leaving you with a cough that can last as it did in my case for over a month. I'm generally really healthy, but I caught it working retail over the holidays when I dove for a ringing phone line right after a sick manager had been using it. Live and learn! I refused to go back to work until they promised to wipe down the phones after each use!
I took myself to the urgent care center to have the nasal swab test so I knew what I was dealing with and once it was determined that I had the dreaded Influenza A, I spent several days in bed and took care of myself using all of the remedies that I knew would help. Dayquil/Nyquil just made me feel worse so I didn't even try anymore after the first two times.
What worked? Piping hot baths with drops of essential oils of lavender (relaxing) and sweet birch (to promote sweating) , as hot as I could stand them really seemed to help with the aches and fevers , copious cups of elderberry tea, with drops of sage, chapparal tincture and lavender essential oils and honey and plenty of immunity boosting chicken soup!
I always put herbs in my chicken soup, but when anyone around me is ill, I make a special pot using the herbs and spices that I know will be helpful. I take my cues from the mysterious legend of the 4 thieves, a story in the aromatherapy and herbal world that has taken on almost mythic proportions, but has plenty of validity when you break it down into it's component parts. The story of the 4 thieves is an interesting one. In short, the bubonic plague swept through Europe on and off for approximately 600 years before it finally reached it's peak in the 1300's and continuing to claim thousands of lives well into the 1700's, almost half of the population. This is the time period that we begin to see those drawings of physicians running around in those silly looking bird beaked masks. It turns out those masks really did have a purpose as the Doctors of the age stuffed the beaks with herbs, essential oils and spices to keep temselves from breathing the infected air.
Around the same time a story was beginning to surface that to this day no one really knows if it was true. Supposedly 4 thieves who were incredibly successful at robbing the corpses of the plague ridden dead were caught ,brought to trial and offered leniency if they would turn over the formula that successfully kept them from contracting the illness. One look at some of the recipes makes complete sense to me. Lavender, sage ,cinnamon,turmuric, garlic,rosemary,onion,mustard seed, cloves, oregano and lemon are all known and potent anti- inflammatory/ anti- microbials as are ginger root, thyme and olive oil, which they used as the base for the oil that they massaged into their skin and gloves. We really do not know for sure if these thieves ever existed, but regardless, the recipes are interesting , potent and wonderful!
All of these read like a delightful and powerful chicken soup recipe to me so into the soup pot they go! The Asian cultures have done this for years and I love it. There are restaurants that you can go into all over Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Japan and China (these are only the countries that I know of , I'm sure that there are others!) and be diagnosed and cooked for at the same time proving once again that old adage..."Let your food be your medicine". Although I love a bowl of traditional chicken soup, the one I make is more like a bowl of Pho, with a spicy stock and shreds of organic chicken breast, shrimp or beef into which all of these potent herbs and spices go as well as whole basil leaves, slices of jalapeno , a dash of black salt and a squeeze of fresh lime.
The other thing that I do is make a spray out of raw vinegar and these essential oils: Lemon, lavender, cinnamon, clove, rosemary, sage, oregano, white thyme and eucalyptus. Basically I use 2 cups of vinegar and 20 drops (a little goes a long way!) of each of these oils. Shake well before each use and spray them on countertops, telephones and other surfaces. These oils can also be diffused in a traditional aromatherapy diffuser and they do smell wonderful as well as healing! Eucalyptus oil, lemon,sage and lavender oils mixed with some extra virgin olive oil makes a very healing and delightfully aromatherapeutic chest rub.
If you are going to try to ingest any of these oils internally, only use a drop or two because they are potent. All of the oils that I have suggested are ingestible in minute amounts with the exception of the eucalyptus which you should never take internally. One or two drops of a couple of these (Please not all at once!) in a cup of tea with some elderberry syrup and raw honey will help you feel better quickly! If you have any questions at all , please do not hesitate to ask them in the comment section below or go to www.bethschreibmangehring.com to fill out a health history form and I'll get to back to you with a time a date that you can schedule a free, absolutely no obligation 50 minute health consult with me .
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I am not a registered nutritionist , dietician or personal trainer. I am a Board Certified Holistic Health ractitioner. Any advice that is given is based upon my own personal observations, opinions or experiences I've had in life and the training that I've accrued.
Many don't realize this but the craft of herbalism is not regulated nor licensed by any governing body in the US. There are no real legal title designations for American herbalism. This means anyone who desires to do so can deem themselves an herbalist with any title they choose and any level of training. To maintain personal standards and relay the degree of learning obtained, herbalists in America typically use the title their school or teacher gave them . Use your own instincts to determine the level of expertise posessed by any practitioner that you consider using to help you enhance your health and well being. I am of the opinion myself that this places the onus on us to be teachers who will help you in your quest to become healthy and that if we do our job right you'll be able to understand and utilize these plants, foods and extracts yourself for your overall wellbeing.
As an Herbalist/Aromatherapist I will not ever diagnose your condition , treat you medically or interfere with any treatment that your Doctor may have prescribed. Keep in mind that every person and every body is different. Don't expect to have the same results as me (or anyone else). And while I don't think any of my behaviors are risky, they may be risky for you depending on your own personal health. Herbs, Flower Essences and Essential Oils should always complement whatever treatments have been prescribed for you by your physician and never be used in place of such treatment without first obtaining your Doctors permission .
Herbs, Flower and Crystal Essences and Botanical Essential Oils can generally be used with and enhance almost any other form of therapy, however I do recommend that anyone becoming my client makes sure that they first see their primary care physician to properly diagnose and begin treatment for any physical or emotional dis/ease they may have.