October 8, 2008

By Rebecca Henkins, M.H.

Having been a lover of everything herbal since I was a small child, I have always been an avid collector of herbal books and plants.

In order to learn more I saved money and enrolled in the Master Herbalist course through the School of Natural Healing. In my first year I was still using allopathic methods to treat myself and my husband. I wasn't secure enough to actually try some of these things, but still I read and I began to grow some of the herbs we learned about.

One day I wandered into a little herb store and found a yarrow plant. I took it home and planted it in a huge pot. As it grew and flowered it spread to fill the whole pot and then began creeping into other pots as well. I harvested my first blossoms and dried them, unsure what to do with them yet, but I knew they had uses for colds and flu.

Soon thereafter I became ill with the latest, serious flu epidemic circulating about the hospital where I worked as a nurse. I had read about the cold sheet treatment, and while I didn't have all the supplies to do it, I figured doing something was better than doing nothing (and certainly better than taking more chemicals to try and rid my body of a bug that was there because of all the chemicals in my system). I took my yarrow and made a potent pot of hot tea.

I wanted to make sure my body had a chance to fight well so I used the heat bath and added a tablespoon of ginger, mustard and low BTU cayenne. The water was as hot as I could handle. I drank the tea of yarrow and I stayed in as long as I could. I had no sheet so I rinsed off in cool, tepid water and wrapped up in flannel pajamas and tucked myself into bed.

I slept well that night, and when I awoke my night clothes were dry but they were colored pink, brown and yellow!! I rinsed off and got dressed and headed to work drinking only juices the rest of the day. Not having followed the cold sheet treatment to the detail I was very pleased and surprised at how effective the tea and bath alone had been. I was well and everyone else I knew was sick for days to weeks. Over the next year, whenever I felt like I was coming down with something, back into the hot bath with mustard, ginger and cayenne I went, and a huge glass of yarrow tea as well.

At times I didn't have yarrow tea, but had yarrow in capsules and I would take up to ten capsules and drink a huge glass of water with it. I even took my yarrow on trips with me! I began using more and more herbs and became more and more convinced of their usefulness. As I have learned to trust myself and my own guidance from within, I have started relying on herbs first.

Dr. Christopher recommended you take yarrow with elder flowers and peppermint when you are feeling sick. Here is his recipe:

Cold/Flu Brew

2 1/4 teaspoons Elderflower blooms
2 1/4 teaspoons Yarrow flowers and leaves
1 3/4 teaspoons Peppermint
1/4 teaspoon Stevia (your choice)
2 1/4 teaspoon Echinacea leaf
3 cups of distilled water

Place all herbs except Peppermint in water, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Take off heat then add Peppermint. Steep this for an additional 10 minutes. Strain off herb and throw away. Drink up to 3 cups daily as needed. Keep tea in refrigerator. This blend is comforting and healing during the misery of colds and flu. It helps remove toxins and heat from the body. It fights viral infection and acts as a decongestant.