By Sandra Dee Owens
Every summer my skin was covered in slime. My immune system’s response to the itchy blistering rash caused by southern Vermont’s most prolific crop, the poisonous parsnip.
Within minutes of mowing, cutting weeds, or hiking, the skin on my hands, arms, chest, torso, and legs would become hot and itchy, a precursor to the appearance of weeping blisters – and itching, I would suffer for the next 3 -4 weeks.
Our medicine cabinet was overflowing with topical creams, drying agents, anti-itch solutions, antihistamines, topical steroids, gauzes and bandages of all shapes and sizes.
A lifelong allergic, I have lots of experience with my body’s reaction to environmental invaders, but no medical or scientific knowledge of histamines, inflammation, infection, blisters, rashes, poisonous plants or the functioning of our immune system.
And honestly, I wasn’t interested in knowing more.
I was, however, interested in finding a way to work and play outside in the summer, without all the suffering.
So I took the time to think.
I thought about all the products I owned that would dry out, numb, calm and relieve discomfort once a skin breakout occurs – and the fact that none of them are designed to prevent a breakout. .
Since it is almost impossible to avoid contact with poisonous parsnips in my environment, I wondered if it was possible to live my life outdoors and prevent an outbreak from occurring?
So I took my attention away from my skin and went deeper, to the heart. I thought of the word “nucleus”: “the origin, the marrow and the marrow. I thought of an apple core and its hard off-white seed case inside – an apple seed’s little home. , terrestrial blisters which we call volcanoes.
I thought about my own core, that elusive center of mine, where heat is generated.
The core, where it all begins.
I thought about my beloved practice of cold water swimming and the term “after the fall,” which refers to the body’s core temperature continuing to drop even after getting out of the water.
And I thought about how, after summer chores, my core temperature stayed warm, for a very long time after I stopped working.
One day, after a bit of hot and sweaty garden work, I sat down to rest and soon noticed that I was absently scratching the back of my wrist. The urge to scratch had been so subtle that by the time I realized it, I had a burning patch of skin with a single raised bump in the center.
Once that little bump appeared, the itchy feeling all over my body started to increase exponentially.
It was as if the warmth of my heart had radiated to the surface of my skin, with absent-minded help from me.
And suddenly I realized that I had been complicit in my own suffering.
So I decided to be a watcher and become “skin sensitive”. I made it my intention to notice every itchy sensation, especially the first small and subtle ones, and I made a commitment not to scratch.
Then I went out and mowed my lawn, under the hot sun.
Then I stepped into a cold shower to rinse the oils from the plant off my skin and concentrated the ice cold water on my head and chest, slowly circling in the cold spray.
I imagined my core hissing like an extinguished campfire, radiating cold beneath my skin.
I was amazed that over the next two weeks, whenever I got hot, I noticed the subtle return of the itching sensation. Committed to noticing this, I was careful not to scratch and “chill” myself with a cold shower or a swim in the lake if necessary.
That first chilling experience was six summers ago and I haven’t had a poisonous parsnip or poison ivy outbreak since. I’m thrilled (and a little shocked) at how effective this simple, drug-free approach has been, and I especially LOVE my medicine cabinet space.
Last spring, I (along with millions of others) suffered from a seasonal asthma attack.
It was horrible.
In a quick search online, I learned that allergies, eczema, and asthma are kissing cousins.
Remembering how effective my “Core” approach was in dealing with poisonous parsnip (and poison ivy), I wondered if I could relieve the inflammation in my chest, throat, and lungs. What did I have to work with to create the healing power of “cold” for my respiratory system?
One sweltering spring day, my husband and I went to our neighborhood store for a cold drink. Much to my delight, the cream machine was up and running for the season, so I ordered a chocolate coconut cone and went out to race in the sun, lick to melt.
Immediately, I felt the fast-melting treat sending a numbing chill down my throat and spreading around my chest and lungs. The cold temporarily restricted the inflammation of my respiratory system and I felt my airways relax.
Although the effects were temporary, it helped, and again I saw the healing power of cold revealed in a new and delicious way.
I love Funology Medicine!
For more information about Sandra, visit: sandradeeowens.com.