Herbs for Labor XIII: Ginseng
Article excerpt via The Birth Institute
“Frost is in the air,” states Grandmother Growth, with a nod and a smile as she puts a big piece of wood on the fire and adjusts the damper. She does not invite you to sit down. There is no teapot, with its fragrant and familiar steam, awaiting you.
“Time to dig roots,” Grandmother Growth explains, brushing her hands off and nodding toward the tool shed.
“Time to go hunting for the most valuable root in the world: ginseng. Worth its weight in gold, it’s said. Quickly now! Gather digging tools, gathering baskets, and a small bucket as well. You are dressed warmly. Good. The sun is shining, but so low it brings little heat, and our way is long; it may be dark before we return.
“Here!” She hands you a small piece of a white root. “No need to hold it. That’s right. Put it in your mouth. Chew it, chew it like gum, and swallow your saliva, but don’t swallow the ginseng root. When you tire of chewing, tuck it into your cheek, where it will be safe, and available when you need a little energy.”
“Come, come, we must be off. It is a long and strenuous walk to get to ginseng’s mountainside home, and then to return home again.”
We walk the winding trails into deeper and deeper woods, silently, listening to the life around us, being present in the moment. We are feeling winded long before Grandmother calls a stop, and declaring that we are less than half way there. “We can stop for a short while here, to gather ourselves for the climb ahead. We have come far up the mountain, but ginseng hides far, far away from people.
Grandmother Growth’s voice is soothing and restorative. “Herbs used in labor is our topic, is it not? Yes, for a bit longer. And where were we? Or better yet, where are we?” She winks.
“Digging roots. That’s where we are! We started our discussion of labor herbs with the roots of black and blue cohosh. Then we focused on the leafy and flowering herbs useful during labor, like catnip and skullcap, liferoot, passion flower, lobelia, marijuana, and hops, nettle, evening primrose, and raspberry. Of course, we did meet three roots, the aromatic roots of wild ginger, angelica, and dong quai, as well, but now, now, we return to the roots.”
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