Since I was a kid, I have always had experience taking into account how food, emotions and external stimuli affects the body.
I grew up with eczema and asthma, and my Mam and Dad had tried every possible cure known to mankind to try and cure me. From Holy Water Wells to Peeing on my hands (a little less holy!) we tried lotions and potions, diets and food recipes, rummaging around in poo, and yet nothing seemed to work.
Now, I admit that while they were bringing me to all these places and we were doing all these things, that I, as a kid, wasn’t the best at keeping to strict regimes (which is why I believe they didn’t always work long term)! In fact I hated the routines that came with trying to cure my eczema. It made me feel different and separated from others.
I felt that when others were out having fun, I was in getting steroid skin-cream put on my body……..When my cousins and brothers were running around in their PJs before bed in my Nana’s living room, I was getting the crusty sap and puss wiped from the backs of my legs…… While my brothers were watching their favorite evening tv shows, relaxing before bed, I was shouting at Mam and moaning in pain from hot poultices being put on my infected hands……. While the boys were out playing in the trees and in the fresh cut summer grass, I was being re-wrapped in bandages that had come away while I was having fun and sneezing and wheezing from allergies. While we always had lots of various animals in the house, I always had allergies to most of them. There was always the itchy’s or sneezies with me!
So, to add onto this every day regime, a load of restrictions and potions, wasn’t my idea of fun, and I guess ‘not’ fully doing them all correctly was the only control I had!
In general I did try. I knew that Mam and Dad were upset to see me sad or in pain and knew they wanted to help me. I guess I didn’t know any better than to just be itching and in pain alot of the time, so although I wanted to ‘be better’ too I had no idea how that actually felt, so didn’t really understand what I was hoping for? (Does that make sense?)
So, I tried most things as best I could and failed on some things… more especially the Sugar Free Diet! (Seriously…to put a kid on a ‘sugar free’ restricted diet was like putting a diabetic in Willy Wonkas Chocolate factory! It was never going to work…. especially because I didn’t understand the seriousness and reasons behind these plans).
So, I would stay on this sugar free diet as best I could, I would drink herbal concoctions which were kept in the fridge (which looked like pee and tasted like bitter frog spit), and then would rub what looked and smelled like tree bark all over my body… which would sting like a thousand bees at once! It all seems so severe.
I participated in all these experiments, but would sabotage them in secret by cycling up to the local shop and eating more sweets than I could consume in one sitting…I would ‘forget’ to drink the fridge pee, and would either scratch all the tree bark off my hands or sometimes even wash it off when I had the chance (especially if I was to be in school the next day, as I would smell of wet rainforest, which was not good ammunition to hand the kids in school who already hated me because I was so different and covered in bandages all the time- although I always had the best shot at best mummy costume at Halloween….unintentionally!!)
While alot of these things didn’t work fully when I was a kid, I believe that it was because maybe some of them just weren’t meant for me, and others I just sabotaged!
I can also say now, on reflection, that alot of my issues with eczema were emotional, stress and diet based.
As I have grown up and become better at dealing with all these things my body has become more resistant. I can say for certain that when I went traveling in 2009, my eczema started the change toward good. The sun certainly helped it disappear for the most part. Also, I found freedom in myself which I didn’t have before and grew alot in that year and certainly even in the years after returning home.
However, when I switched to eating a predominantly Paleo Diet 80:20 of the time my skin improved massively and to this day it is almost completely gone. This is a testament that what you put in you is what comes out! With Eczema, this really is true! It’s still there, and flares up every now and again, but it’s 90% gone. So, although some of the natural remedies I tried as a kid didn’t fully work, I believe after I had finished going through changes as a kid, and when I had control over eating correctly (most of the time) that this has helped!
As a kid I didn’t understand any of the things we did or that my Mum brought me too, however it’s amazing as an adult looking back at a time that Holistic or Alternative medicine was not as freely available, or as widely practiced, how many things we were able to try out. We also lived down the country, and so the fact that these things were available then is just fab!
Some of the things we would have done were Homeopathy, Kinesiology, Allergy Testing, Diets, Natural and Herbal remedies etc. and as I have grown into my adult years I have always had some romantic interest in all these areas.
You would think that I would hate them all considering how they didn’t work for me at the time, or at least with any long term effect, and you would think that this would turn me off. But oddly enough, I had never actually linked the things that I did as a child to any of my adult interest in natural remedies to all these exposures early in life, not until very recently!
I have always found it interesting that normal every day food can provide medicinal cures to common ailments. Like, everyone knows honey and lemon are fab for a sore throat (not the sweets, but the real deal). However, if you mix this with some cayenne pepper, some thyme, and some tumeric and even a little bit of Ginger you have a fab throat soother and also a great cough remedy!
(Lemon has Vitamin C which is great for your immune system and Honey is anti-bacterial and soothing, Cayenne is an anti inflammatory and great at creating saliva to lubricate a dry throat or to help loosen phlegm, Turmeric is an anti inflammatory and great for esophageal issues, and thyme helps to relieve symptoms of cough and helps the bronchi oles).
In the last few years I have been reading more and more articles about natural and herbal remedies and I even went on a foraging course which was FAB! If you haven’t done one yet…. then you really should! They are fun, a great way of getting out doors, and you can learn so much about all the lovely wild things that are growing right on your doorstep! Check out ‘Wicklow Wild Foods‘ in Co Wicklow (obviously)! Geraldine if fab and a fountain of knowledge.
It’s such a shame that knowledge which was an every day use years ago and so practical is now seen as a novelty. I think everyone should be able to walk around in a park or woods or in nature and be able to see the food and medicine around them. Most Medicine is available to everyone, and at a fraction of the cost of going to a Doctor if you know what to look for and how to use it.
I am only in the infancy of learning small bits here and there, and it seems so incredibly daunting to me that there is so so much in the world of herbs and natural therapy and remedies I have not yet discovered. I sometimes wish I had opened my eyes to everything sooner so I would have more years of knowledge under my belt!
In saying that, I would have only been able to appreciate all I’m learning now in my adult life, the same as I wasn’t able to appreciate it when I was a kid.
I have tried to make natural therapy, however big or small my knowledge, a reasonable everyday part of my life. I am constantly trying out new recipes, making my own remedies (even making them for friends and family), researching and reading articles on food and herbs and natural therapies, what they do, how they nourish, how the body needs different food and herbs for different ailments and in different ways.
It’s fun to know there’s so much ahead! I have only scratched the surface of fun and frolicks! In truth I know I will always be learning! I will continue to learn more and be able to have enough information, and retained information, that I can use it to help family and friends and to integrate it more into my life on a daily basis. This is my goal!
Watch this space, I’ll certainly have lots of recipes and nuggets of info to pass along to those who are interested.
I’ll leave you with an interesting and lovely video I came across on The Power of Herbal Medicine, enjoy!
PS. I admit that when I am eating pizza or when it’s take away Friday that I don’t always practice what I preach, however I do feel that as I grow older I am more and more aware of how we are a society who is consumed by sugar and stimulants! So, I may be preaching the above, but doesn’t mean it’s an easy road to stay on. I would love to hear and learn from others who are carving their way in natural therapies or tipping their toes in to foraging! Feel free to comment X