Staying Healthy, Locally
Note: These articles are not meant as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult with your medical practitioner before using any type of remedy, herbal or otherwise.
By Anna Wiens, Wellness Buyer
It’s here: The sneezing, the coughing, the sore throats, and the nose blowing. Earlier than expected, we are seeing the first of the season’s illnesses. With the start of the school season and the drop in temperature, the colds and flus are back in full swing. Luckily, Vermont is populated with many herbalists, alchemists, doctors and healers. Here are some Vermont-made products to help keep you and your family healthy this season.
Urban Moonshine is located in Burlington, Vermont, right down the road from City Market. Their small team crafts quality herbal products made from organic ingredients, local honey, and as many local herbs as possible. They currently have two immune products that are quite popular and effective; the Immune Tonic and the Immune Zoom. What’s the difference? Let’s take a look.
The Immune Tonic is meant to be just that, a tonic. Taken every day prior to feeling ill, the Immune Tonic helps build the body’s innate immunity and support its natural defense system. It is comprised of medicinal mushrooms such as Red Reishi and Maitake and packed with adaptogenic herbs, such as Astragalus, Eleuthero, Licorice and Codonopsis. Guido Mase, one of Urban Moonshine’s Herbalists, describes adaptogenic herbs as herbs that “allow the body to adapt, or respond with increased efficiency, to internal and external stresses.” For example, the adaptogenic herb Astragalus acts like a pathogen (in a benign way) by activating the body’s immune cells and heightening the immune cell activity. This is essentially helping the body “practice” fighting a pathogen by responding to Astragalus as if it were dangerous. This kind of practice helps the body become stronger and enables it to respond to actual, future disease-causing pathogens in a quicker, more direct way.
In contrast to the long acting immune building tonic, the Immune Zoom is used when the illness has already arrived. The Immune Zoom is great to start using at the onset of symptoms or to shorten the duration of the illness. It includes warming and stimulating herbs such as ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon and immune enhancing herbs such as Echinacea and Elderberry (and raw Vermont honey!). The recommended dosage is pretty high and the 2 oz bottle is expected to last about three days. When taken this way, I’ve heard many accounts of people avoiding the onset of a cold/flu or shortening the duration of what would have been a longer lasting sickness.
Vermana Herbals comes from Hyde Park, Vermont. Carly Harrison, owner and creator of Vermana Herbals crafts her products with the intention to “capture the spirit of the Green Mountains” in her herbal blends. Her line of immune enhancing products are prepared from ethically grown and wild harvested herbs. Two of our favorite products are the Fire Cider and Adult Immune Blend.
Fire Cider is a traditional recipe that is still being effectively used to boost acute immunity. The formula can vary based on the local herbs in season, the herbalist, and the desired taste profile. The recipe usually consists of a base of apple cider vinegar, garlic, horseradish, citrus, and hot pepper. Vermana’s recipe includes apple cider vinegar, horseradish, ginger, garlic, and onions as well as the citrus fruits of lemon, lime and tangerine. Carly suggests using Fire Cider for the common cold, cough, sinus congestion, heartburn, sore throat, and as a digestive aid. If you haven’t dared to try this yet, find Carly at the farmers market and sample a shot!
Her Adult Immune Blend is packed with wide ranging immune modulating herbs. In addition to some of the more common immunity herbs like Echinacea, Elderberry, and Goldenseal, it also includes a variety of herbs that you won’t normally find in most immune blends. From Rosehips, to Lavender, to Nettles, and Oats, this immune toning blend also targets allergies and the nervous system. For more information about Carly and Vermana herbals check out her web page at: www.vermanaherbals.com.
Samhain Herbs was birthed from the mind of a Vermont Doula and Clinical Herbalist, Jill Frink. City Market carries a few of Samhain’s products including tinctures of Echinacea and an Echinacea/Goldenseal blend, but we are most excited about the Elderberry Syrup. Unlike most Elderberry syrups which tend to be very sweet and almost too delicious to be used as medicine, Samhain Herb’s Elderberry Syrup is crafted with ginger, cinnamon and lime (and previously clove) giving it a more savory undertone. For added medicinal benefit, the elderberry syrup also contains Echinacea, raw honey, and fresh well water. The Elderberry Syrup is made exclusively from Vermont elderberries and local honey. For a truly local, home-brewed Elderberry Syrup with a touch of magic, Samhain’s Elderberry Syrup is definitely worth a try.
For our specific Vermont climate, it makes sense that the medicinal plants grown in our own soil will help our body adjust to the change in seasons and conditions. It is the plants that are grown around us that are adapted to our weather conditions, our seasons, and our ecosystem and that know how to respond to the season’s pathogens. We can turn to them (as well as our local healers and herbal companies) when our bodies don’t quite make it on their own. So, if you’d like to prepare for the season to come, start with Urban Moonshine’s Immune Tonic or add in a teaspoon of Samhain’s Elderberry Syrup to your daily tea or glass of juice. When you are begin to feel the first of a sore throat or are more tired than usual, turn to Urban Moonshine’s Immune Zoom or Vermana’s Fire Cider. And when you already have a full blown cold or flu, reach for Vermana’s Adult Immune Blend or Samhain’s Echinacea, Goldenseal, Elecampane tincture. May you and your family be well and stay well throughout the season!
The Health Genie