Note that this sale has expired; we’re leaving the post up so that the information about these Spagyrics is available. To see what’s currently on sale, click here.
Our smoky late summer came to a halt with the coming of the rains, and hopefully with them, some relief from the fires once again plaguing the West. Between the weeks of smoke and the changing of the season, our respiratory systems are a bit off. Plus, we’re thinking about heading into and through the winter season in good health, and so we have a sale on tonics for this time of year. Click here to go right to our sale page, or read on for more information.
Those fires I mentioned are all over southern Oregon and northern California, and although the flames and damage are far from us, our coastal winds often shift and bring the smoke to our area, leaving us feeling tired, irritated, and coughing. When we need to fight back against the bad air, we reach for a few Spagyrics.
Yerba Santa is probably our favourite respiratory tonic, for many reasons. Its flavonoids act to protect the integrity of the respiratory and mucus membranes, making them less permeable and reactive. This support can be applied to short-term issues like pollution or an infection, or used as a long-term tonic for asthma and chronic problems. Our Yerba Santa Essence is also quite delicious, its aromatic nature opening and easing tightness in the chest and digestive system within just a short time of taking it.
If an infection or stagnation is also present, we add some Oshá to the mix, as its sharp, warming nature quickly breaks up phlegm and its aromatic oils fight viruses, bacteria, and fungal invaders. This herb works by bringing more moisture to the lungs, so in our wet climate, we don’t use it for too long at a stretch, and we make sure to drink plenty of extra water while using our Oshá Essence.
Devils Club is a Northwest herb with many of the same hot, defensive properties of Oshá, but turned up several notches. This spiny plant of the old growth understory is a literal fight to collect, as it is defended by long, sharp spines all along its tall stem. These spines, and its tendency to grow in circular stands, connected under the soil, gives groups of the plant a fortified stockade quality, which is a good description of its energy, as well.
Northwest First Nations considered it the defender of the forest, and our Spiritualized Essence of Devil’s Club is a Spagyric I reach for whenever I feel like I need to get back my “fight”. Related to Ginseng, it’s an immune tonic and vitality booster on a physical level, and on a subtle level, it’s a classic herb of Mars, bringing in balanced power and fiery strength.
Another aromatic herb with an affinity for the respiratory system is Sage. This classic cooking herb has the opposite effect of Oshá- its is very drying and astringent to tissues. It can be used alternately with other herbs to thin and then dry lung congestion, or it can be used at the first sign of sinus, throat, or lung infection to shrink inflamed tissues and keep things from getting too “boggy”. Our Essence of Sage is also great as a digestive tonic, stimulating and warming to digestion, especially helping with the heavier foods of this time of year.
More warming, and equally popular for winter foods, is Ginger. This bright, spicy root is a great ally for those of us with sluggish digestion or a cold nature, or both. It is antibiotic to a number of invaders, boosting immune response and metabolism, and it is especially balancing to the gut. If your digestion tends to be slow-moving, cold, gripy, or easily imbalanced by rich foods, our Ginger Essence could be very helpful.
Turmeric is another excellent digestive tonic, related to Ginger, but bitter and cool instead of sharp and warming. Turmeric also has very strong anti-inflammatory effects in the gut and throughout the body, and it’s a good choice for almost any type of digestive upset. Its bitterness stimulates movement and liver function, and it’s particularly helpful for digesting fatty foods. Plus, our Turmeric Essence works very well for joint and body pain and inflammation, so it’s an overall help in many ways.
Even more bitter than Turmeric is Hops, the vining plant best known as a flavouring agent in beer. Bitter herbs stimulate the liver, bile flow, and digestion, and Hops certainly hits those notes. Additionally, Hops is a calming muscle relaxant, so if indigestion is accompanied by cramping, our Hops Essence can ease the pain and restore balance.
It’s also an estrogenic herb, so along with its calming effects, our Hops Essence can be very helpful for night time hot flashes and the insomnia they cause.
For more general support of immunity and the body’s defenses, especially when it seems illness is imminent, we reach for our Echinacea Essence. This well-known herb boosts immune response to fight all kinds of invaders.
Now commonly used to ward off colds and other winter infections, it was traditionally used for poisonings and venomous bites, which it is also very good at healing. Echinacea seems to be best for short-term use, starting as soon as illness is felt or suspected, or if people around you are getting sick and you (understandably!) wish to avoid joining them.
A less well-known herb that we consider a companion to Echinacea and other immune tonics is the Northwest’s own Red Root. One of my favourite trees for its beauty and usefulness, Red Root is not directly anti-pathogenic, but instead, it supports the cleaning functions of the spleen and lymphatic system.
Our Red Root Essence is a very popular Spagyric with our practitioner clients, as it helps immune boosters like Echinacea and Oshá do their jobs better by cleaning out the dead pathogens that those herbs deal with directly, while also preventing the negative effects of cleansing that can happen with imbalanced immune response.
Now that we’ve supported the body and its physical defenses, we should also think about seasonal support of the higher aspects of the self, from mood and energy, to immune tonics that can be used from now until Spring. For these Spagyrics, also on sale, see part two of this article.