Friday, February 18, 2011


As my near and dear ones know all too well, I suffer from...well, snot issues. I am the world's leading producer, and single-handedly keep the Kleenex company in business. If I could find a way to invent a super glue from snot, or a way of using snot to power internal combustion engines, I would have enough money to end world hunger.

Chronic sinusitis and rhinitis are pretty minor as health issues go, but still, they're a bit of a pain. My sinuses are so clogged I sound like a labouring steam engine when I sleep, and sometimes my poor nose gets weary of all the blowing.

I have spent years trying to find a cause, and a solution. If I can stick to a diet free from gluten, dairy, sugar, eggs, some nuts, caffeine and alcohol, it makes a difference. But man, is that hard.

Some of you may remember my herbal experiments from last year: I used comfrey, calendula and lavender harvested here at Mucky Boots to make a salve for insect bites, scrapes and burns. That got me interested in the idea of growing and using more medicinal herbs. I'm going to try out some new herbs in this year's garden, and in the meantime I have been reading lots of books about growing and using medicinal herbs. And didn't my eyes light up when I read that elderflowers and elderberries are good for reducing mucous production. Just what I need.

So about six weeks ago I put about 4 ounces of dried, organic elderflowers in a big mason jar and covered it with 100-proof vodka. I have faithfully stirred and shaken it every day since then, and finally, a few days ago, I decided the tincture was ready. I strained it twice, once through a fine colander and once through cheesecloth, then bottled it in a dark-coloured bottle to protect it from the light. A dose is supposed to be an ounce, but I see that as a bit of a problem: taking a few doses a day of 100-proof vodka could amount to a drinking problem. Especially since I'm not supposed to be drinking booze at all, never mind booze made from grain. So I'll stick with one or two eye-droppers as a dose instead, and see how that goes. While I see how that works, I'll investigate how to make a tincture without alcohol.

I've got another herbal experiment on the go: an elderberry "elixir" made with dried elderberries, brandy and honey. This one is beautiful - deep purple and a bit syrupy. It's not ready yet, but once it is I might be tempted to forget about its medicinal benefits and just serve it over ice cream. Soy ice cream, that is.


Rae said...

Have you tried using a neti pot? They're a little tricky to use the first few times, but fantastic once you figure out how to not drown yourself. Lol. LJ and I use them fairly regularly. A neti pot won't cure the problem, but may provide a little relief.

Paula said...

A neti pot's a good idea- they can be very soothing. Just be careful of your salt.

Have you thought of keeping bees, Miriam? Consuming honey and pollen from your own backyard is supposed to be a good way of fighting allergies. It probably wouldn't help if all your allergies are food borne though.

It sounds like you need a big bunch of nice soft hankies. I have chronic nasal drip, and I love my hankies. The only time I resort to using paper on my nose (in the guise of toilet paper) is when I have a cold and don't want to save germs. That's when I keep of roll of TP and a paper bag right next to my side of the bed. But otherwise, hankies all the way! I even have some large men's hankies that my friend Dave gave me for when I work outside.

Good luck with your herbal remedies, some of which I believe in wholeheartedly. If I run across anything new, I'll let you know.

Toni aka irishlas said...

Oh, how I can relate to this!

A neti pot works great once you get past the dynamics of it.

Sadly, I'm allergic to so many herbs, I'm afraid to try any tinctures although I do like try and keep myself educated about them.

Wonky Girl said...

My husband suffers from chronic sinusitis and rhinitis. I will send a link to this blog post to him.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Hello Miriam!! Once again, I've not been paying attention and I'm sorry, I have missed your last few posts! To start, I am right there with you on simplifying the wardrobe, I do the exact same thing! Give your students 'extra credit' for paying attention if they've noticed!

Second, I will be anxious to see if you have spring chicks!

Third...I know nothing tinctures, but hope you're feeling better!!!

Flartus said...

Hey Miriam, I just emailed you a pasta recipe--it might end up in your junk mail, so don't delete it!

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