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Cold Season Immunity Booster: Elderberry

Cold Season Immunity Booster: Elderberry

    Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
    – French Solider, Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1974)

    The first time I ever heard of elderberries was from watching TV. While Monty Python’s quote is easy to remember, I also remember the pioneer shows where “good, old fashioned” remedies included elderberry wine, syrup and tincture. I just assumed it was the alcoholic properties of the wine that did the “job” in reducing cold symptoms, but a year ago my wife joined the elderberry team. She made us some tincture, and insisted I have some every time I started the cold season sniffle. At first, I thought she was just being silly, but when I made it through the cold season without getting sick, I thought maybe there was something to my mad-scientist, real food ninja wife’s elderberry magic.
    Simply put, if you want to fight a cold this season, look no further than the old fashioned remedy of elderberries.

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    The Benefits 

    Below are a few of the many benefits that elderberries can give you through this cold season:

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    1. High in antioxidants
    2. Treatment for flu, cold or sinus infection due to anti-inflammatory and anti-viral qualities.
    3. May have potential anti-cancer properties
    4. Diuretic, laxative and emetic
    5. Speeds up recovery times

    (source: University of Maryland Medical Center)

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    Those are some serious benefits and thus the age old remedy actually makes sense.

    Elderberry Solutions

    What are some ways to take elderberries?

    1. Pies, tarts and other treats
      A great way to enjoy elderberries, but one has to balance out the bitter berries with large amounts of sugar.
    2. Wine
      Probably one of the better known solutions and the wine can be made from either the flowers (the white wine) or the berries (the red wine). Both provide great results. Often, people used it as an aperitif.
    3. Tincture
      This is a great way to get a solid dose of the elderberry benefits. However, it is also extremely bitter. It feels like it works because no self-respecting cold would go near something that tastes that bad. With that said, it is very common and a great way to boost that immune system. This is alcohol based, typically made with a proof of 80 to 100, often vodka.
    4. Syrup
      This is my favorite way out of the solutions. It has a long shelf life. It is sweet, and it doesn’t have any alcohol. Drinking the syrup is similar to drinking Nyquil. It is thick as it coats your throat, and you are getting the great health benefits and boosts. You also get great benefits from the honey and spices used to sweeten the syrup.
    5. Tea
      I have not tried the tea, but it is a very common solution mentioned. While there are a lot of options, one of the simpler tea options is to mix the tincture in with tea in the morning. However, it is also possible to brew the flower petals or berry into your tea solution.

    Considerations

    As always, consult with a qualified health care provider before trying remedies. Do not eat an elderberry without first cooking it. While the remedies used widely in Europe and in the homes of many real foodies for cold and flu treatments, elderberry is not recognized by the FDA to manage flu conditions.

    Sources For More Information:

    • Real Food and Health Digital Magazine (kindle or pdf)
      The November issue contains a recipe for elderberry syrup along with additional information
      (Disclosure: my wife is the editor for the magazine and wrote the article on elderberry syrup)
    • LiveStrong.com – Elderberry Section
      A great selection of articles on elderberries.
    • Mountain Rose Herbs
      A place to order elderberries in bulk if you do not have a local health food store that carries them.
    • Deep Roots At Home Elderberry Tincture
      A good tincture recipe is hard to come by, but Jacqueline’s recipe is pretty good. It made my wife’s seal of approval.
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    Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

    Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

    There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

    “For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

    Primal Therapy

    Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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    How it Started

    “During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

    It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

    “I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

    Delving deeper

    Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

    Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

    Some Methods To Practice Screaming

    If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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    • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
    • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
    • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
    • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

    After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

    Scream Sing

    Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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    • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
    • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
    • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
    • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
    • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
    • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
    • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

    If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

    Scream into a pillow

    Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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    Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

    Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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