I have been laid low this past week by a rather severe case of bronchitis and it’s my own bloody stupid fault because I should have dealt with the problem sooner. I’ve been wheezing for months now – probably an allergic reaction to having a new puppy in the house. I’ve also been getting very tired and a bit overwhelmed by life and I put it down to my not breathing properly. Of course I didn’t think that my immune system might be taking strain. So when Peter got a throat infection and passed the bug on to me, it went straight to my lungs. These bugs sure know how to suss out your weak spots! Usually, when I feel a cold coming on (it starts with a scratchy, burning feeling at the back of my throat) I dose myself with vitamin c and Dr. Schüssler’s tissue salts. More often than not my immune system then kicks in and fights the baddies. Not so this time. This time I needed to see the doctor who prescribed a shitload of meds; antibiotics the size of bullets, probiotics to counter the antibiotics, prednisone, decongestants and cough syrup. And I’ve been using a nebuliser 3 times a day with a cocktail of bronchodilators and corticosteroids. It worries me that I’m putting so many chemicals in my body, or more specifically into my lungs, and I do find it ironic that I am prepared to do this but not use chemicals on my veggies.
Recently I watched a brilliant movie called Symphony of the Soil (thanks Kiera for giving me the heads up on that). I’m a firm believer in growing things without the use of chemicals but I’ve never bothered to learn much about the biology of the soil. The movie beautifully illustrates:
the elaborate relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals. The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil’s key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Symphony of the Soil ……. highlights possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet.
We make, and buy in, a lot of compost. All our veggie beds are raised and topped with compost so the soil is never dug over. We have a worm farm and use the worm wee to feed the veggies. We practise crop rotation and companion planting. We don’t use chemical fertilisers or pesticides. So I think, by and large, we are looking after the soil pretty darn well. But the movie has made me rethink our policy on weeds. There is a scene shot in a potato field where weeds have been left to grow among the potato plants. The farmer explains that weeds do not compete for nutrients, which is what I’ve always believed. Far from it in fact and this is explained through plant and soil biology; good bacteria in the soil are attracted to the food given off by the roots of the weeds and these are, in turn, beneficial to the crop in preventing disease. The farmer then digs up a potato plant to demonstrate how healthy it is and his dog comes strolling into the frame and lies down on top of the potato plant. The farmer laughs and says something to the effect of that being the end of the potato lesson. It was not only a cute scene but, for me, it summed up what is a healthy relationship with the land. In permaculture, weeds are cut, not pulled out, and a tea is made from the leaves to feed back to the soil. The argument being that nature always tries to establish a balance and that the weeds are there for reason. So in future I’m going to pay more attention to the soil and the weeds growing in it. Nature is a constant reminder that:
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
The day after watching the movie I visited the Garden Show (held every year at the Royal Show Grounds in Pietermaritzburg) and made a beeline for the Livingseeds stand. They sell heirloom and open pollinated vegetable seed online and have also just started shipping seedlings. I’ve never bought from them before because our postal service here is very unreliable and to courier stuff is mighty expensive. However I’ve met a woman who is also passionate about growing vegetables organically and we have plans to set up a seed group in the area so that we can order in bulk, save on delivery costs and swop seeds. We went a bit crazy with our seed purchases – as well as veg seed, I bought a lot of seed for microgreens and sprouts, which I love to use in salads and stir fries.
All this focus on healthy soil, healthy seeds and healthy food reminded me that I should be looking after my body naturally too. Once again part of the problem is not paying attention. Perhaps if I had dealt with my wheezy chest when it first started it wouldn’t have developed into bronchitis. Anyway, I unearthed my well-thumbed copy of The Fragrant Pharmacy, A complete guide to Aromatherapy & Essential Oils by Valerie Ann Worwood, stocked up on some new oils and concocted a lovely massage oil to treat bronchitis.
One of the side effects of the medication that I’ve been taking is insomnia. However, after using the essential oils, I not only slept like a log but woke up with a much clearer head and chest. This is Worwood’s Bronchitis Synergistic Oil (great for both breathing and sleeping problems):
- Cinnamon 2 drops
- Nutmeg 2 drops (I couldn’t find this oil)
- Ginger 2 drops
- Red thyme 10 drops (I used plain thyme oil)
- Eucalyptus 10 drops
- Benzoin 4 drops
Diluted in 30 ml carrier oil (I used Jojoba)
Worwood also recommends a drink, apparently popular in Switzerland in the treatment of bronchitis. Dilute 1 drop of eucalyptus oil in a little brandy then add it to a cup of hot water to which you have added some honey and lemon. I may give that a bash later.