Heart Health

Gladdening the Heart

Happy Valentine's Day from Green Haven Living!

Inspired by the "heart hearty" Valentine's Day, February is a popular month for reminding ourselves to care for our hearts. According to the American Heart Association, February is "American Heart Month", and on their website is a wealth of important, useful information on how best to care for this vital organ. Indeed, there are many wonderful herbs that serve to support cardiovascular function - hawthorne, motherwort, and even our favorite cinnamon. In this newsletter, however, I would like to share with you another aspect of heart health - the idea of "gladdening the heart".
Historically, "gladdening the heart" speaks to the feeling of melancholy or what we, today, would call depression. In the deep of winter, as Maryland Februarys tend to be, the cold and darkness may have a profound effect on our sense of emotional well-being. "Gladdening the heart", then, becomes vital for us to comfort ourselves and each other through this time of year.

Ideas for Gladdening the Heart

So how does one "gladden the heart" in the deep of winter? Traditional herbalists sought to increase vitality, which was often done by supporting the link between the emotional and physiological. Increasing warmth - both literally and figuratively - can work wonders on a cold, crisp winter's night: snuggle up in a cozy blanket with your favorite book; take a long, hot bath with a few drops of essential oil; spend an evening with friends or loved ones.
Another option is to embrace the gift of winter and the stillness it brings. In our fast-paced world, welcome the gift of staying home. Take the opportunity to write that letter you've been meaning to write, call an old friend, take a nap! Make a nourishing soup, enjoy a hot cup of warming, ginger tea: Peel a small piece of fresh ginger and slice off 4 - 5 thin slices. Boil in 2C water for 10 minutes. Strain the ginger out, add lemon and honey to taste.

Be restful in knowing that spring is just around the corner and the world will come alive again soon. Until then, revel in the snowy wonderland as you rejuvenate yourself for the seasons to come.

Indeed, the peace of wintertime "gladdens my heart".

Brought to you by:

Donna Koczaja, MS Therapeutic Herbalism, Master Gardener

Herbal Clinic hours: Tuesdays: 2 - 8; Alternate Sundays 9 - 3
Special thanks to Ayo Ngozi, herbalist and mentor, who inspired the topic for this newsletter.