Wow, things have been popping around here. In a word: transition. From Costa Rica, between apartments, getting established, re-established and uprooted. Life, love, friendships and money have all been morphing and evolving. It’s an exciting time, and a little challenging to stay grounded and keep that sweet peace I cultivated in the tropics.
It’s easy to find stillness when you’re surrounded by jungle, but the challenge is keeping that stillness in the middle of the opposite of the jungle: Chicago. Lush, misty green has been replaced by chrome and concrete. I have to wear shoes and clothes that resemble more than scraps of fabric. I feel thrust back into an environment that is inherently familiar and shockingly strange all at once. (More on this later.)
One of the ways I’ve been keeping some of Costa Rica with me is by immersing myself in books about herbal remedies. I dove head first into reading while staying with Rachel at Hidden Garden in Puerto Viejo. Her library is extensive, and I devoured books about medicinal plants, biographies of curanderos, modalities of healing and even a little feminist literature. I am still fascinated by healing herbs; books about wild, Midwestern medicinal plants litter the floor as I research and cross-reference the plants growing in vacant lots and sprouting furiously from cracks in the sidewalks. I’ve begun buying dried medicinal herbs from the co-op, and experimenting with teas and tinctures. I am unquenchably thirsty for this information!
Naturally, we become most interested in how things are applicable to ourselves. If you have trouble sleeping, you’ll look into herbs that relax you. If you’re constipated, you’ll look into digestives. What plagued me coming right back from Costa Rica? A urinary tract infection. (Pause for the collective empathetic murmur.)
If you have lady bits, you’ve probably had one of these at some point or another. Some women get them more than others because of the way things are anatomically situated or because your’e particularly susceptible, and as one of those women, let me tell you that it is a treacherous journey.
We’ve all heard the precautions to take:
- Pee after sex
- Stay hydrated
- Cranberry extract supplements
- Eat whole, healthy foods and keep sugar and processed food to a minimum
But every so often, despite your best efforts, a UTI rears it’s ugly, uncomfortable, It-feels-like-I-gotta-pee-even-though-I-just-peed head.
I’m not a doctor, and UTI’s are no joke. I once left one untreated and ended up in the emergency room with a 104 degree fever and a mean kidney infection. However, there are gentler, more natural ways to knock that UTI out than the requisite course of antibiotics (which can wreak havoc on your system). I would much rather get my medicine through a teacup than a prescription bottle. So without further ado, I give you:
- One part damiana
- One part yarrow
- One part uva ursi
- Mix up ingredients. I put them in a glass jar, then shook and rolled it around. Bam. Now you’ve got a container to store your tea in, too.
- Pour near-boiling water over 1 tbs of the mixture in a tea cup. Cover with a non-plastic saucer.
- After 10-15 minutes, lift the saucer and tilt it so the condensation drips back into the cup.
- Quietly and slowly sip.
- Extra credit: Conjure some gratitude, meditating on how the essences of these amazing plants are helping your body heal itself. High five.
So what’s so special about these herbs?
Damiana is awesome for so many reasons. I first came across this baby while looking into nerve tonics–herbs that relax you. Turns out, damiana also acts as a urinary tract astringent, tonifying and detoxifying the urinary tract. It also increases blood flow to the whole genital area, which gives it libido-enhancing properties also. Keeps the urinary tract healthy while also calming you down and turning you on? Sign me up.
Yarrow has astringent and antibacterial properties, which helps get rid of unhealthy bacteria that causes infections. This is another great Lady Plant; it helps normalize irregular periods and ease cramping.
Uva Ursi is the antibacterial powerhouse here: a compound in this plant turns to hydroquinone in the bladder, which is particularly effective against E. Coli, the specific bacteria that causes UTIs. It can also act as a diuretic when prepared at cooler temperatures, helping to flush out the whole system.
What I love about using herbs is that they are totally multipurpose, gently bring you back into balance. They work on lots of tiny systems of the body, fixing what’s askew. One of my favorite resources for info on all sorts of plants is Herb Wisdom, a huge searchable database of plants that will have you meandering around for hours. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Til next time!