Woodford Files — The Song of Spring

The song of spring is echoing through our pages this month, bringing fresh ideas for attuning to the season. Since spring is an ideal time for liver cleansing, bitter herbs like dandelion and turmeric, along with lemon juice and flax seed oil, are essential aids. By flushing out old poisons stored in the liver from chemical detergents, polluted air, water, food, and personal care products, this important organ is able to return to optimal function. The benefits of liver cleansing are many – from renewed energy and pain-free menstrual cycles, to improved digestion and blemish-free skin. In fact, many of the chronic diseases we face today can be traced back to inflammation of the liver, so a good spring detox can work to eliminate many symptoms – including headaches, irritability, and chronic fatigue.

This month, food writer Linda Gabris brings us her favourite recipes for preparing the wild foods of spring which are both medicinal and nourishing. Whether you try a cup of stinging nettle tea, a salad of dandelions and garlic, or a bowl of cattail soup,  you will feel renewed as the wild flavours of the season dance and sing in your cells.

Since we shift toward a lighter, greener diet in spring, Pat Crocker’s feature on vegan sauces arrives just in time. Here we find a pesto sauce perfect for asparagus spears, a creamy white sauce for drizzling on roasted vegetables, and a sinful raspberry sauce for crepes and waffles. Who knew that dairy-free sauces could be so divine?

And just as we were putting the finishing touches on our “How to Survive a Stay in Hospital” feature, news hit the headlines about the dangerous C. difficile bug that’s re-emerging at local hospitals. Since our feature is focussed only on the nutrient-deficient food fed to patients, here is an addendum that pertains to visitors as well. To whit: If you need to visit a hospital, there is no surefire way to prevent exposure to C. difficile and other superbugs. But what you can do is reduce your risk of becoming infected and falling ill upon exposure. For prevention, load up on antibacterial and antiviral herbs such as garlic, St. John’s Wort, and Andrographis. And to eradicate invaders from the body, probiotics are highly recommended.

After all, we are exposed to myriad germs on a daily basis. The ultimate determinant of who succumbs to the germs and who doesn’t has much to do with the strength of our immune system and the health of our intestinal tract (i.e. if you have a healthy intestinal terrain full of friendly bacteria, you will recover more quickly from exposure). According to Townsend Letter for Doctors: “The efficacy of probiotics has been best demonstrated for diarrheal diseases ranging from rotavirus to traveler’s diarrhea. A large number of clinical trials show that probiotics can reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) and may be useful in the prevention and treatment of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD).” (Also, see the excellent feature on Chinese herbs which are being used successfully to treat C. difficile, archived on our website.)

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful moms out there, and to our mother earth.

Julia Woodford, Editor ~ Vitality Magazine