Languages heal the brain

I was delighted to see this article confirming that bilingualism aids in recovery from stroke, because it corresponds to my experience working with people recovering from concussions. Granted, concussions differ greatly from stroke, but both affect memory.

When I work with people recovering from concussions, I use a complex approach including herbs; shiatsu; specific acupoints for headaches, nausea, and other symptoms; and outgoing qigong, also known as qi projection. I often combine mental challenges with qi projection.

The client and I choose the mental challenge together, but it often involves language. Sometimes it’s rapid-fire transitions among languages, or telling a story – usually one that teases the memory in its own right, such as a minor  conversation from three days ago; or a description of a scene from a five days back that includes details about smells, sounds, textures, and colors as well as conversation – and translating the story into at least one other language. The qi projection makes it easier for the client to remember both the details of the story and recalcitrant words.

Since I am a linguist and a philologist as well as an herbalist  and shiatsu and qigong therapist, I particularly relish the opportunity to bring languages into healing. Fortunately, it turns out to be a very effective combination. In the future I may even combine language instruction with healing work.



My New Favorite Fire Cider Add-On Ingredient

Yesterday, I taught a workshop on making Fire Cider at Debra’s Natural Gourmet in Concord, MA, where I shared my new favorite extra ingredient for the first time. Fire Image 3 - Version 2Cider is a wonderful and delicious immune-stimulating, warming beverage that Rosemary Gladstar introduced to the herbal community and named in collaboration with her students. Its origin go back to folk herbal and Eclectic traditions.

Like many ingredients, this one came to me serendipitously. Last summer, when I was setting up to demonstrate making Fire Cider at the Westford Farmers’ Market, I noticed some fallen branches on a nearby tree. The tree was a white pine, Pinus strobes. I  decided that as long as they were there, I should include them. I added about a cup of pine needles to the quart jar that I was filling. Pine needles are full of vitamin C and have been used to stave off scurvy. They are also rich in vitamin A, anti-oxidants, and bioflavonoids.

When you enter a pine forest, what do you notice? Do you feel more peaceful and wider awake? Do you notice your lungs opening, your breath growing deeper and more comfortable? These are some of pine’s gifts. White pine stimulates the immune system, opens the lungs, and is a reliable ally for the entire respiratory tract.

Susun Weed first introduced me to pine vinegar, which tastes like balsamic vinegar. A boon to the avid forager, pine needles offer their bounty even in the middle of winter, when everything else is dormant or blanketed in snow.

In the early fall I decanted my pine-blessed Fire Cider. Wow! The addition of that balsamic  flavor to the spicy, sweet, bitter, and sour lifts Fire Cider from the superb to the sublime.

Watch Rosemary demonstrating how to make Fire Cider here.

Read more about Fire Cider, and why there’s a legal battle to keep the name “Fire Cider” available to all, here.