By Belle Benfield
For as long as I can remember into my childhood, it was littered with moments spent doubled over in piercing abdominal pain; harbouring a dull, perisitant ache below my right ribs; constipation or all of the above. At that time, ceoliac disease and gluten intolerance was not in common consciousness and after endoscopies and blood tests, the doctors would just pat me on the head and tell me it was all stress related.
They prescribed me drugs that switched off the acid production in my stomach. Eventually I traced some of the pain to my consumption of wheat, but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I took the plunge and cut gluten out of my diet all together. Over the following 18 months, my health improved enormously and I began to kiss goodbye to pain and anemia. However, it wasn’t an overnight recovery and there are a few herbal allies who really helped me along the way.
Growing up, I got used to referring to my pain as a “tummy ache” but one of the biggest turning points in my healing happened once I began the Sensory Herb Apprenticeship and we were led to start studying anatomy and body function. My studies led me to understand that my pain was in fact coming from my liver and spleen and when I began to use herbs that support these organs, rather than my stomach, I started seeing great results.
If I eat gluten by accident, my stomach bloats instantly so I look six months pregnant. My neck and shoulders get stiff. Then two, three or sometimes even five days later, I begin to get liver ache. It is a sharp pain on my right hand side accompanied by nausea. Once this pain starts, it is very hard to shake it and it used to take me 6-8 weeks to recover. Now, I can recover within a week or two by following my gluten protocol that I’d like to share with you.
Belle’s Gluten Protocol
Last year, I heard Fred and Natascha’s talk on mushrooms at the Radical Herb Gathering where Fred mentioned his use of white button mushrooms for his gluten allergy. My first port of call if I feel a gluten reaction coming on, or I know I have accidentally eaten gluten is to eat at least seven white button cup mushrooms raw. I can attest to Fred’s hypothesis. Often if I do this and eat two or three raw mushrooms each day for the following week, I have no gluten reaction.
If my stomach has puffed up and I eat the raw mushrooms quickly, the deflation they cause is instant – nothing short of a miracle for those of us who endure this discomfort. Sometimes I don’t have access to mushrooms and the gluten reaction proceeds to the more serious level of liver ache. In which case I do the following:
1) Switch to an alkaline diet: I try to make a green juice each day with bitter greens like dandelion, watercress, celery and wheatgrass, and I start trying to incorporate as many green and alkaline foods in my diet as possible.
2) Dandelion Root decoction: Dandelion is one of our native superfoods. Its leaves are bitter and alkaline (see above) and offer medicine for the liver and kidneys. Dandelion root is my go to herb when I feel nausea and pain coming from my liver. I measure out a generous teaspoon of dried root per cup (approx. 6 teaspoons in a medium size pan full of water) directly into a pan of boiling water and leave to simmer for at 15-30 minutes with the lid on. The liquid reduces, so it’s really important to simmer on a low heat and keep the lid on or all your decoction will evaporate. I usually make a big flask of this tea and then drink it throughout the day.
3) Bitters: Seed SistA’s Liver Cleanse Digestive Delight bitter herbs, such as dandelion, wormwood or angelica, move stagnation in the digestive system by promoting the production and release of bile. In this way, they can be used as a tonic for the liver and gall bladder restoring them to their best function. I take drops of our Liver Cleanse herb mix about 15 minutes before each meal. The blend of angelica, lavender, barberry, meadowsweet, rosemary and wormwood work to get my digestion moving again after the shock of its reaction to gluten.
4) Marshmallow, Althea Officinalis: Marshmallow is a beautiful herb that grows taller than us with a super strong, tall stem, soft, velvety leaves and floppy white-pink flowers. The root is high in mucilage which makes it the perfect herb for cooling and soothing an inflamed digestive tract. I take powdered marshmallow root in capsules each morning before eating breakfast and at night before I sleep.
To learn more about mushrooms join us on 11th October, 2017 in Hertfordshire for a Medicincal Mushroom Workshop.Buy NowBuy Now