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Food

A Jewitch Herbal: How peaches ease menopause

“A Jewitch Herbal: Mystical Reflections on Food, Nature and Urban Farming” is a regular column by Devorah Brous charting the ways we can use mystical Jewish wisdom, earth-based practices and herbal wellness to reconnect with ourselves in harmony with nature. Dev is an urban homesteader, lifecycle ritualist, and green consultant in Los Angeles. Find her online offerings for the Sabbatical year @Dev.Brous

In the seemingly interminable dry and sweltering heat of the summertime, where everything around and within is dry, many of us seek ways to keep cool – both physically and metaphorically. Let’s explore a plant medicine to cool you down from inside-out: peach.

In Los Angeles, the peach- harvesting season has just ended, and I’m pruning our tree so it can draw energy back to the root system to regenerate — timed perfectly as we prepare for the ancient Sabbatical year that starts next month.

Sitting down under the peach tree to write, I’m collecting the leaves and branches – not for the compost – for the home apothecary to get us through the heat of all the unknowns this coming year.

Peach is a great herbal remedy where there is irritation— in the bladder, lungs, stomach, and bowels. Crushed peach leaf brings relief to fire-engine-red skin irritations (bites, rashes, stings) as it shares many of the cooling, soothing and moistening properties of its cousin, rose. Peach also cools emotional irritation when a person is hot, and nearing burnout.

Herbalist Benjamin Zappin teaches that cooling herbs fit into two categories: refrigerants and diaphoretics. Refrigerants actually lower the body’s temperature through the tissues, not the taste buds. But, diaphoretics make you sweat. After living with this mystery of this question for 15 years, now I know why many Muslims and Orthodox Jews wear long dark-colored cloaks and drink hot tea and coffee all day in the brutal heat. Sweating is the body’s ancient, climate-wise air conditioner.

Cooling herbs help remove excess heat and bolster one’s strength in the face of ailments such as hot flashes, dryness, dizziness, night sweats and insomnia.

Menopause has not been easy for me, so I started mixing herbs to stymie the inferno. Far and away, the mother of all cooling herbs is peach – a tree known in Chinese folklore for flowers so esteemed they possess supernatural powers – and it’s had that effect on me, more-or-less. Fruit, flower, leaves, and bark are all used in herbal remedies that cool and soothe.

There are many ways to try peach medicine in what remains of summer: food-as-medicine; steep and sip; make a spritzer and mist your face and neck; or soak in a cool herbal bath. Skin is our largest organ – so taking in herbs topically or internally is an effective hack for bringing down the heat, while boosting overall health.

When you are red-faced, hot and dry, and where there is inflammation, irritation and all-around agitation that is exacerbated by long bouts of heat—think peach!

My Herbal Remedy: Zenopause High Noon Mist

Ingredients: Peach leaf and bark, local honey
Optional add-ons: oregano flower, rose water, mint

Mist spray bottle

Courtesy of Devorah Brous

1. Harvest any combination of peach leaves, flowers and twigs with gratitude and offer the tree some compost!
2. Rinse and cut the leaves into small bits in order to break open the cell walls of the plant and maximize the potency of your homemade herbal medicine.
3. Fill a pot with the cut leaf, honey and a pinch of any additional cooling herbs mentioned above, and cover all plant materials with boiling water. An infusion of 1/2oz of bark or 1oz of dried leaf to a pint of boiling water is plenty!
4. Brew as a strong tea. Add local honey. Steep, strain, and cool.
5. Pour into a spray bottle or BPA-free atomizer to relieve tension, anxiety, and irritability from the heat of the moment.
6. Offer a blessing or say an affirmation when you regenerate with this herbal mist! Keep it simple, “I was a hot mess, but now I’m cool.” Know with each spray that while viscerally cooling down through somatics, you are protecting your skin from environmental toxins, growing your skin’s vitality and nourishing yourself deeply with herbal medicine.

Herbs aren’t regulated by the FDA. Research and ask questions! Some herbs can interact with prescribed medications or cause allergic reactions. Find a local herbalist.

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