Monday, November 10, 2014

Comfrey: my new favorite medicinal herb

A pretty typical Colorado sunset

A few weeks ago I decided to go for a walk. I didn't get more than a couple of houses down when I felt something snap in my right calf. The pain was excruciating and I almost fell. Grateful that I only made it halfway down the block, I hobbled back home and admittedly, decided to research my own pain rather than be all dramatic and head to the ER. I could always call my doctor later if I didn't improve, after all, right? (Don't try this at home, kids).

I eventually decided that I had probably pulled or sprained my achilles tendon. I could only walk with the aid of a walking stick to lean on and only applying pressure to my heal since I couldn't point my toe. I had heard great things about comfrey healing sprains and other such injuries so I called my local Vitamin Cottage (Natural Grocers to those who are fairly new to Colorado or live elsewhere) to make sure they had the dry herb available and made my way over.

First, it's pretty hilarious to hobble with a big walking stick made of lodgepole pine through a health food store. People part like the Red Sea to make way for the injured with the Gandalf staff. I found the comfrey and headed home to play mad scientist and see if I could put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I added just enough boiling water to about a cup of dry comfrey to moisten it, but not drip, and spread it out in the shape and length of my leg onto some plastic wrap. I placed the plastic wrap with the goo on top of a towel and then propped my bare leg on it. I wrapped the plastic around my leg and covered it all up with the towel to keep it warm and moist and didn't move for 60-90 minutes.

What I learned: use a large towel that you don't mind getting stained, use a lot of plastic wrap to allow for some dripping, placing some cheesecloth or gauze between the poultice and your skin is helpful; you still get the full benefits of the poultice without having to clean the goo off of your skin later, and the injury WILL itch while it heals. It'll itch like a mother effer and you can't do anything about it except know that it's doing its job.

After I removed the poultice and cleaned up the mess, the relief was immediate. Yes, it still hurt and I was still limping, but it did feel much better. I did another poultice that night and another one each day for the next few days. At that point I decided that there had to be an easier way. I was better enough that I could walk with just a small limp; I just had to be careful and move slowly. I still wanted to use the comfrey, but the poultices were so messy so I decided to make some comfrey oil to use instead.

I got some 16 ounce canning jars and filled them almost halfway with the dried herb and filled the jars up all the way with grape seed oil. I placed them in a crockpot and filled the crock pot with water up to just below the jar lids and left it on the warm setting for two days; making sure to refill the water as needed and shaking the jars a couple of times a day (you can so this without the crockpot, but it takes up to six weeks in a warm window for full infusion). When the oils were fully infused, I strained the oil through some cheesecloth and poured it back into the cleaned and dried jars.

At this point I put some into a small dropper bottle to use as needed. Easy peasy. I applied the oil to my leg and wrapped my leg in plastic wrap and was free to walk around or go to bed or whatever. My sprained leg was better within a week instead of however long it would've taken and no copays or follow up visits. Boom.

Since then, I have found multiple uses for the comfrey oil so I went even further and made a salve for an even easier application. I placed a metal bowl over a pot with enough water in it to barely touch the bottom of the bowl. On low heat, I melted one ounce (one small brick) of organic beeswax with eight fluid ounces of the comfrey oil. I removed it from the heat and added some chamomile essential oil. You can add whatever essential oil you want…if you want, I figured the chamomile would help for skin infections and whatnot, plus it smells nice. I poured the concoction into some tins and let it set up before I covered and labeled them.

I use the stuff on everything from dry and damaged cuticles to pimples to cuts and bruises. I stubbed my toe the other day so badly that it was black and blue and swollen. I applied the salve and some plastic wrap overnight and the bruise was half faded by morning. I continue to apply it and two days later it's almost like it never happened. I've become like the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding with the Windex…only I put comfrey on everything now.

Now is the point where I tell the idiots out there who would sue me for their own poor judgment and lack of common sense that I am not a doctor or a licensed herbalist and to use this herb at their own risk. Don't take it internally either because it's apparently not great for your liver. If you do something bad or stupid it's not my fault. This is for entertainment purposes only, blah blah blah yadda yadda. You get the idea.

Now, go forth and do stuff.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I cut all my hair off

For those who don't see me on Facebook all the time...yeah, I cut all my hair off.

After the C word back in 2011-2012, I wanted to have as much hair as I possibly could. I was bald for five months so it's fair to say that I developed some kind of PTSD neurosis about my hair. For the longest time I would have a tiny stroke everytime I ran my fingers through my hair and pulled a couple of strands out. I remember once, after it grew back and I had to have it trimmed, the stylist thinned it out without asking me first and I flipped when I ran my hands through it later because it felt like it was falling out again; it had been much thicker before that cut.

So I let it grow and it got pretty long. Then about a month ago I decided that I did indeed need it thinned out. Ironically, there was too much of it. I couldn't get a brush through it without struggle and it felt like my own personal heating blanket on my neck and shoulders. So what did I do? I got a pixie. Don't know what that is? Google Jamie Lee Curtis or Ginnifer Goodwin. That's a pixie.

I decided that it was time to move on from my cancer hair drama and just have a haircut I was happy with. It's easy, it's cute and I feel free as a bird. Yay!

Does this mean that I'm finally starting to recover from the mental hoopla that comes with being a cancer survivor? God, I hope so.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Is anyone else as obsessed with the zombie apocalypse as I am?

It's not like I sit around daydreaming about killing zombies and smelling like corpses for days without a shower or anything; it's the idea of living off the grid in a post apocalyptic world that really gets me excited. Yep, I said it gets me excited…not sexually, you perv. That's gross.

Excited meaning that I get a sense of a certain level of freedom that a world like that would hold. A freedom that comes with living off of the land and being self sufficient as opposed to having a dress code or uniform and having to alter your personality for 40 hours a week. Comprende? Yes, it would be super hard work, but I think that being that close to the Earth and doing all of that for your own quality of life as opposed to some CEO's would just make a huge difference in the satisfaction derived from the whole experience…unless you're already a life saving nurse by day and a super hero vigilante by night, that is. Then your life is probably already pretty damned satisfying what with all of the life saving and such.

A friend of mine and I were discussing this the other day and we decided that the idea of planning for such a zombie apocalypse is really just an excuse for forming a commune. We really just wanna live like hippies and not have to sit at a desk all day. That makes sense to a point, but really, what the f*ck is up with the whole zombie thing? Why zombies specifically? Yes, I love The Walking Dead…that show is a religion all its own and you can get some pretty darn good tips for post apocalypse survival if you pay attention, but is the world obsessed with zombies because of all of the movies and shows about them or are the shows there because of the world's obsession? I'm going with the latter and I'll tell you why.

I think that people in general are just wired for survival. Yeah , I know, I'm captain obvious…read on. We have wars, famines, pandemics, victims of class and economy and people just want to do one thing: survive. On some level, many of the seven billion of us on this planet understand that the Earth simply cannot take too much more of our bullshit; our carbon footprints are too damned big and we take up too much space for the Earth to comfortably shelter us anymore. This means one thing: something's gotta give. Will that be a pandemic like Spanish influenza, the plague, a super volcano that blocks the sun and changes our climate so drastically that we go the way of the dinosaurs, a massive shift in continental plates ruining our infrastructure and forcing us all off of the grid or perhaps something that we don't have to think too much about because it's the least likely to happen, completely fictional and we therefore don't have to take it too fracking seriously even though it's on all of our minds? That's right; the zombie plague, ladies and gentlemen. If we make the consequences of our over breeding and irresponsible first world habits into something we know that will never really happen then we can continue to ignore our wicked ways and impending demise and just keep talking about the best way to kill a zombie because it's fun.

So, all of that heavy shit aside, I love planning for the post apocalyptic party of doom. I'm not going to share my exact plan with all of you because it's brilliant, I say, and you'll just steal it and beat me to the punch if the time (God forbid) ever really does come. But it's a good one…trust me.