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by Community Contribution October 01, 2022
Love/hate relationships abound with the substances that often infuse our social circles. In the city, we find just as much of an appetite for stimulation as we do for dissociation. Uppers or downers, which one are you?
After a buzzing summer, many of us are probably looking in the mirror with some ambivalence around our habits or perhaps just exhaustion from the high levels of social engagement that probably feels like a complete 180 from our first and highly isolated summer of quarantine. The nights out, Sunday fundays, street fests, and everything in between have brought me to resent every known flavor of alcoholic seltzer the market’s thrown at us over the past few years.
Let’s get real for a second... did anyone else look back at quarantine like a fond memory after an entire three months of non-stop, back-to-back events? * I asked that question with a hand on my lower back and a heavy exhale * My body sure misses it... The slowness, letting my nervous system breathe, and the lack of social pressure to imbibe.
Alcohol & substance use can be quite damaging for your body and mind – from the cellular level, to the whole ecological picture – but I probably don’t need to tell you that. What I’m here to share is that after diving into herbalism, I’ve found other (and far better) ways to evoke the sense of energy, inhibition, and liberation the more harmful substances often provide.
Replacing alcohol and other substances with well selected herbal preparations may sound farfetched, but I bet you’d reconsider after experiencing how in tune you can feel with your body through these herbs and the experience they foster.
Need I also add, zero hangovers or comedowns.
Stimulating Concotions (aka the 'Upper' replacement):
Ginseng Ginger Tea
Across Asia, but especially in Korea and China, ginseng root is highly regarded remedy for a variety of ailments. Despite it being caffeine free, it is still quite stimulating. It can be rather hard to find the specific root, so for this recipe, I shared a simple loose-leaf tea to make with additives.
The ginseng common to Asia (Panax ginseng) is a lot more stimulating than the native American species (Panax quinquefolius) and can be challenging to find a quality sustainable source. Check out the United Plant Savers website for good sources on forest cultivated varieties. Please do not purchase wild-foraged or wildcrafted as this plant is highly at-risk and wild stands need to be nurtured and protected.
Calming Concoctions (aka the 'Downer' replacement):
Kava Kava Tea
Kava kava is an herbal remedy that some people use to relieve stress and anxiety and boost sleep. The infusion made from this root has a calming, euphoric effect that some people compare with the feeling of inebriation you might get from alcohol. But try it yourself, and you'll see it's its own thing :)
Kava Kava is another herb that has some sustainability issues if purchasing from wildcrafters, here is another herb you want to purchase from companies using fair trade practices and cultivating rather than wildcrafting. Root of Happiness is one that herbalist Christopher Hobbs recommends as a good source.
This post is a contribution to our Community Apothecary Zine 'Green Currents' and is offered by Kat Simonovic, student of First Curve's Bioregional Herbalism Course.
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