RE-ESTABLISHING GOOD VAGAL TONE AND BALANCE WITH HERBS
The vagus nerve was for a while thought of as ‘just one of the cranial nerves’. Its very name implies it is a wandering vagabond of a nerve, meandering around the body to nearly everywhere (not the adrenals though) and doing this in a vague manner. It is one of the cranial nerves but it is also a huge part of the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways of our autonomic nervous system. The nerve starts in the brainstem, just behind the ears and travels in multiple branches that diverge from two thick stems rooted in the cerebellum and brainstem, down each side of the neck across the chest and down into the lowest reaches of the abdomen. It connects from the brain to the lungs, the heart, the spleen the guts, the kidneys and the reproductive organs amongst other places. It also networks with the nerves involved in speech, facial expression, eye contact and much more. It receives stimulation from a lot of these organs and the information it receives can be very influential on whether we feel relaxed, confident, capable and energetic (toned) or stressed and alarmed. It conveys information from the different centres back to the brain to get a consensual decision. Stress, inflammation, trauma, or tension in any region can cause an overall lack of balance or tone or lead to some quite unusual symptoms that are often dismissed as being hypochondria or psychosomatic, or all in the head. The vagus nerve can produce quite pronounced symptoms without the presence of organic disease process but these can be extremely debilitating to people. This happens when the parasympathetic activation of the vagus nerve does not kick in to balance out sympathetic response to adrenaline and cortisol by releasing neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and GABA to slow us down. The symptoms of loss of vagal tone can be many and varied and may range from:
For our first attempt at mead (or more properly metheglin, since mead is usually just made with honey according to some people whilst metheglins use herbal infusions and honey) we made a strong infusion of meadowsweet flowers and left it sitting overnight. The next day we strained it off and added 1 part honey to 5 parts infusion in a large pyrex bowl; we have recently discovered the benefits of doing small R&D runs. We decided to see if it would ferment with the wild yeasts on the flowers and in the atmosphere. So we covered the bowl with muslin and just stirred it every day. For the first 3 days it did not look too promising but one the 4th day it started bubbling nicely. We decided just to leave it for 8 days as we were not interested in a high alcohol content. After 8 days we decanted it off into bottles which we put in the fridge maturing and found we had an excellent crop of starter yeast in the bottom of the bowl. Those who have sampled it have pronounced the flavor excellent. It has a nice effervescence and the taste is a lovely combination of meadowsweet and honey; a bit on the sweet side for me. It should be great medicine for the stomach and gut flora and be full of B vitamins as a live ferment.
Nature Whispering brings us deep into the powerful Earth Medicine we need to BE the evolutionary shift. Become authentically indigenous and learn how to communicate with Nature Beings, perceiving accurately what they are saying and share the Sacred Earth healing we have to offer each other.
SEED SAVING; Increasing biodiversity, restoring our native species populations, herb and plant sovereignty
A few years ago someone in the local gardening group suggested that we get someone to give a workshop on how to save seeds. I think in the end some people travelled down to Brown Envelop Seeds, a great company that sells a range of vegetable and herbs seeds that they have grown and saved themselves (see the Veriditas Hibernica resources section for a link to their website).
I decided just to give it a go and see how many plants we could save seeds from to share with the students and other interested people and how difficult it would be to do this.
The last two summers have been great for getting good yields of seeds. What we discovered was that seed saving is not difficult. One difficulties here can be high humidity or preciptation levels so that one has to watch out for the ideal harvest day and optimum seed maturity and hope that they coincide. If they do not I discovered that one can harvest the mature seed and blot them with kitchen paper and allow to dry gradually for storage.
“It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again ‘invisibly’ inside us.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
Did you know that:
- As well as being a food, a medicine and a plant fertiliser nettles have also be used to spin the finest linen?
- As well as producing delicious fruit blackberries are also used medicinally and that the leaves contain more antioxidants than green tea?
- Dandelion leaves can be used in salads, are a potassium supplement, a diuretic and also a tonic to the liver, whilst the roots can be steamed or stir fried as a vegetable, used for a liver cleanse or roasted as a coffee substitute?
- The elder tree produces flowers that can be used for food and medicine, it produces berries that can be eaten but which have also been shown to as effective for colds and flus as Echinacea is? As well as being effective they can be harvested sustainably; because the berries are being harvested the plant is not destroyed and can continue to provide food for bees and insects and birds and to provide a habitat for several species, including badgers who often build their dens near elder trees. As a native species it is particularly important for supporting native wildlife.
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not teach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient laws of life.”
One of the central visions of Veriditas Hibernica is to help people to reconnect with the natural world and to step into care-taking our plant kin and ecosystems so that we can co-create a healthier future with them. As people engage with this work they reconnect with themselves and discover who they actually are.