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Open Your Heart With an Emotional Detox

Photo by Adobe Stock/Maridav

We all benefit from honoring the seasons’ natural influences upon our animal selves, which include our diets, activity levels, and sleep patterns, as well as our emotions. A “spring detox” usually refers to supporting the body’s seasonal transition from winter’s slower, inwardly focused energy to the vibrant, upward growth of spring — but what of the emotional self? 

This spring, allow your emotional self to grow with the season, without the weight of fear, sadness, anxiety, grief, trauma, criticism, and self-recrimination bogging you down. These types of adverse feelings contribute important aspects to our emotional lives, but it’s also easy to get stuck in revisiting these feelings long after they’ve taught us their lessons. One of the most important things we can do for our emotional health is to work through our self-sabotaging feelings.

Herbs and Elixirs to Clear the Heart

Clearing the heart specifically creates space for new emotional growth during the lengthening days of spring. Certain herbs can help support us through lingering pain, hardship, and other emotions that no longer serve us as we process those feelings and leave them behind as facets of the past.

Photo by Adobe Stock/drubig-photo

Herbal elixirs blend raw, infused honey with tinctures. Honey itself is the perfect vehicle for delivering medicine to our emotional hearts; as an anabolic nutritive, it helps us build physical and emotional strength. The sweetness of raw honey decreases anxiety by telling our brains that all is well. The presence of probiotic and prebiotic compounds in honey also lessens anxiety because of the gut’s important role in mitigating the anxiety response.

Warm, soothing brandy creates the perfect tincture base in this elixir. In addition to effectively extracting plant medicine, brandy acts as a preservative, keeping elixirs shelf-stable for years. If someone in your life prefers to avoid alcohol, consider making a ginger oxymel instead of using brandy.

Heartfelt Healing Herbs

Heart-opening herbs and other elixirs are most effective when used in concert with other healing modalities to specifically address the issues in question. Taking a dose of elixir immediately prior to emotional or physical activities that support self-empowerment and healing — such as therapy, meditation, acupuncture, massage, craniosacral therapy, yoga, tai chi, or even dance class — can synergistically magnify the effectiveness of both the elixir and the activity itself.  It’s wise to bring a small dropper bottle of the elixir with you, both to increase the effectiveness of the work, and to have it on hand to help impart calm if difficult emotions are released during the activity or therapy.

Photo by Adobe Stock/graletta

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) warms and stimulates the body, with an affinity for the digestive tract and the lungs. As a dispersant, it helps rid our bodies of waste, ranging from gas and phlegm to stale emotions. It’s especially helpful for those of us who experience anxiety, sadness, self-recrimination, criticism, or other negative feelings in our guts. Since the gut contains a significant majority of receptor sites for neurotransmitters that make us feel happy and calm — such as serotonin — high-stress moments may cause some people to experience nausea; loss of appetite or patterns of bingeing and fasting; or patterns of constipation or diarrhea.

Ginger is equally useful when we feel those emotions in our chests that make our hearts race, and when we experience shortness of breath or cold sweats on our backs. As an anti-inflammatory, it can be particularly helpful for people with inflammatory arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract. Used in the Rose, Lemon Balm, and Ginger Elixir, it disperses the stuck and stale negative feelings we’ve bravely worked through, and, with the help of rose and lemon balm, prevents us from re-compartmentalizing them.

Rose (Rosa spp.), a relaxing, non-drowsy herbal remedy, relieves the sting of life’s thorns. One of the most used heart-opening herbs, it helps us feel sadness, grief, and other important negative feelings so we can effectively process them. Taking the time to “smell the roses” doesn’t simply address mindfulness and enjoyment of life’s little pleasures, but it’s also practically useful; taking slow, deep inhalations of blooming roses can help decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. Rose combines beautifully with other gentle heart openers and herbs that ease the nervous system, such as lavender, lilac, motherwort, and hawthorn. Used in the Rose, Lemon Balm, and Ginger Elixir, rose helps us feel the things we need to process in order to move forward into the next season of our lives, without allowing those old feelings to overpower us.

Photo by Adobe Stock/Ruslan Olinchuk

A beloved, calming herb for nervous system health, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) relaxes without sedating, while still increasing alertness, focus, and memory.  Lemon balm simultaneously enlivens and grounds us; it brightens our minds while bringing us back into our bodies, where we’re calm, alert, and ready for life’s next challenge. The Rose, Lemon Balm, and Ginger Elixir helps us remain calm and strong in the face of the negative feelings we’ve been carrying with us for so long, and helps us feel courageous as we move forward into a future without them.

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Juliette Abigail Carr, Registered Herbalist (AHG), RNC, is a clinical herbalist and the proprietor of Old Ways Herbal School of Plant Medicine, which offers various courses on herbalism in person and online. She also offers long-distance appointments specializing in trauma-informed care for women and people with uteruses. Read more and contact her at Old Ways Herbal and on Instagram @OldWaysHerbal.

Published on Mar 6, 2020

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