Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mother Naure, May I?

One Thanksgiving I played hooky from the traditional family gathering, opting instead to accomplish one of the items on my bucket list—witnessing the miraculous monarch migration in Michoacán, Mexico. Unfortunately, I was stricken with pneumonia upon my arrival. On the trip I encountered one mishap after another, making it a miserable vacation, but a riveting story (for another time). To reach my destination, I traveled by plane, train, charter bus, chicken-bus, pick-up truck and finally by foot. A Mexican farmer was my guide, directing me up the mountain to the sweet spot, where the only sound was the flapping of millions of butterfly wings. I coughed, hacked and wheezed my way up the mountain, periodically pausing to rest. Noting my failing health, my guide wandered off the trail for a bit, returning with a handful of green leaves. He motioned vigorously for me to rub them on my face.

“Not the face!” I silently gasped. Uttering a hesitant, “No, gracias,” I nudged the foliage away. But he insisted, explaining in Spanish that the leaves contained healing properties and were commonly used in his village as a natural botanical remedy. Dubious, but not wanting to offend, I took the leaves and scoured my face with them. When we reached the summit it seemed my malady had lifted. Whether it was the leaves or the surreal experience of the butterfly migration is a mystery. At the time I was just thankful I didn’t end up with a hideous rash covering my face.

For thousands of years nature’s bounty has supplied medicinal herbs and botanicals to cure what ails us. In our current venture to conceive I am trying an herb that is known for enhancing fertility. The ironically named chasteberry (vitex angus castus) is associated with reduced prolactin levels which influence Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and estrogen in women. Studies also reveal additional benefits, such as PMS relief and clear skin. Luckily it can be found in both a capsule and a tea, so I don’t have to rub it on my face!

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