The lovely and abundant trifolium pratense, aka, RED CLOVER. From fields, to parks, to ditches, to garnishes on fancy food- most of us have stumbled upon red clover. It is not only medicinal for people, but it is also cyclically used in farming to nourish fields, taking nitrogen from the air and reintroducing it into the soil.
A field of red clover at Meadow Sweet Farm in Gormley Ontario
The flowering tops of red clover contain over 100 phytochemicals, including isoflavones which are phytoestrogenic. This means that the molecules are similar in structure to the hormone estrogen. Botanicals are by nature balancing. As such, isoflavones are estrogen modulating- meaning that they stimulate estrogen receptors if there is low estrogen and block estrogen receptors if there is high estrogen. Red clover also contains constituents that have anticoagulant qualities,reducing the formation of clots in blood (most notably in menstrual blood). From the description above, it is obvious that this botanical can be extremely helpful in regulating the natural hormonal rhythm and flow of menstrual cycles.
I highly recommend taking a personal day to spend a little time with yourself. My favourite “Marnie Day” activity is going to my favourite secret place in Toronto. I usually break out my longboard, put my moleskin notebook in my backpack, stop on my journey to grab a sandwich or a shawarma and a beverage or 2, then continue onwards to the beach. I take the path less travelled and then duck through the brush to get to a beautiful little pebbled beach. Bliss.
Also known as Burdock, I found a few of these plants in my neighbour’s (unbeknownst) herb garden. One might call the patch of plants growing in between the cracks in the pavement “weeds”, but I prefer to call them medicine. There they were, a few Burdock plants, nestled in with a patch of Solidago canadensis (aka, goldenrod).
Burdock has many medicinal qualities. Most notably, it is an alterative. Plants that have alterative agents produce gradual beneficial change in the body. In a sense, Burdock is both cleansing and nutritive. It helps the body get rid of what is no longer needs and provides nourishment for healing to occur. It is especially helpful in skin conditions (which are often manifestations of inadequate nutrition and impaired elimination/detoxification processes).
Plants are full of life and energy, and as such, act on a spiritual as well as physical level. Energetically, “Burdock helps us to deal with our worries about the unknown… It helps the person who is afraid to become more hardy, while it brings the hardy wanderer back to his original path.”
Godfrey, A et al. (2010) Naturopathic Botanical Medicine. Toronto, ON: CCNM press.
Seriously. Actually ask yourself – What brings you a sense of unattached contentment and delight?
Now ask yourself – How can you cultivate those aspects of your life and share them with others?
As a clinician, it is imperative that I ask myself – what am I doing to help my patients enhance joy in their lives? A patient who struggles with chronic pain expressed her fear of losing her ability to garden. When I asked her what she loves about gardening she responded beaming with joy, “I love flowers. In the spring, when I’m driving, I see the flowers beginning to bloom- and I think to myself: there is hope.” Her treatment plan included a weekly prescription of cut flowers.
Here are some things that bring me joy: folding warm laundry, laying in the grass on a sunny day, baking a cake from scratch- and letting the process take way longer than necessary, live music… kittens.
1. Start by adding in healthy foods instead of restricting yourself.
2. Eat more vegetables. Period. Go green. If it’s COLOURFUL is has vitamins.
3. Get creative! Cook, bake and experiment with new recipes. Listen to music.
4. Make healthy PROTEIN a staple- especially for breakfast. Think nuts, eggs, lean meats.
5. You need to REST to DIGEST. Stop, breath, eat and enjoy.
6. Eat with others MORE than you eat alone. Show your LOVE through sharing food.
7. Sweets are ok in moderation (a few times a week)- especially if they are homemade.
8. Water. Drink water when you are thirsty because that is what your body wants. Carry a reusable water bottle around with you.
9. Olive oil, when in doubt, season with olive oil. Get at least 2 tablespoons a day.
10. Walk to the grocery store.
The winning video I made for a marketing contest at my college, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.