One of my greatest joys in working as a naturopathic doctor is seeing simple things work really well. When I walk into my kitchen, I appreciate all it can do. Not only does my kitchen feed my loved ones, my friends and myself healthy and nourishing food, it has a lot of simple and profound medicine in it as well. I imagine my ancestors knew this type of medicine like the back of their hands. For me, it is a joyous re-discovery handed down by naturopathic tradition and herbalists.
Let me give you an example…
A couple of years ago I developed dyshidrotic eczema; I have no memory of ever having eczema in my life before this. Sure enough though, these profoundly itchy, small, fluid-filled bumps started showing up on the outside of my little finger. I’ve seen them on other people before. They can occur on the hands, the fingers, and the feet. Like most eczema, there can be many causes.
In one of my recent outbreaks, I was reminded of tea bag poultices. My finger was itching profusely. I fixed myself a cup of black tea. Then, I pulled out the tea bag and gave it a minute to cool. After squeezing out excess fluid from the tea bag, I carefully wrapped it around my finger and secured it with the string attached to the tea bag. Voila! It was instant relief. Immediately, the itching stopped and simply became a vague tingling. I kicked back with a book, relaxed and enjoyed my cup of tea. (After all, there was no doing work on a computer with a teabag wrapped around my finger!) It was probably 20-30 minutes before I removed the tea bag. The rest of the day, I might feel a tingling, but no itching. In fact, the itching didn’t come back until new outbreak many weeks later. Without the tea bag, an outbreak would last much longer and with much more discomfort. Amazing what a simple tea bag can do!
I first learned about tea bag poultices from herbalist Cascade Anderson-Geller. With a twinkle in her voice, she admitted that she (like many other herbalists) would pick up tea bags wherever they went, just in case they needed a simple poultice in an emergency. Oh-what’s a poultice, you might ask? A poultice is the application of moistened material in a cloth (or tea bag) directly to the skin. Poultices can be made of all kinds of things—certain “weeds” in your back yard (i.e. plantain), cabbage leaves, activated charcoal, salt, carrots, onions. If you read the old texts, traditionally poultices have been used to draw out inflammation and infection.
The healing wonders of the kitchen don’t stop with tea bags; there’s yogurt, garlic, onions, fennel seeds, cayenne, nourishing broths, vinegar, honey, rosemary, and many more! Do you find this intriguing like I do?
On Saturday, July 25th, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., I will be doing an experiential workshop at 2BWell where you can re-discover many kitchen remedies. I’ll be providing a handout filled with information you can use at home. There will be hands-on demonstrations and a chance to experience some of these remedies. Learn how to reduce swellings, soothe an earache, dissipate gas and bloating, calm muscle aches and pains, soothe a sore throat, and much more. The class is $30. Pre-registration is necessary so I can make sure there are enough materials for everyone. You can pre-register at https://2bwellspringfield.com/events/kitchen-pantry-medicine-with-dr-bogdon-july-25/. I hope to see you there!
Katrina Bogdon, ND, FABNO, provides naturopathic health care services at 2BWell. She received her naturopathic medical doctorate at the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) in Portland, OR, in 2007. She is licensed as a naturopathic physician in the state of Washington. She lives on a small farm with her amazing kitchen pantry in Nixa, Missouri.