On the countertop of my bathroom sink you will find a tray filled with items that rightfully belong in our kitchen pantry — a big fat jar of VCO, Himalayan pink salt, Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, cayenne pepper, raw Manuka Honey, a little bowl filled with calamansi that is replenished daily, a Swiss Army knife (but one of many such gifts from my MacGyver Daddy; others include more Swiss knives, batteries, pepper spray, a taser — maybe I can tell you that story some other time); on a lucky day I will also have, on a plate by the window sill, a stalk or two of fresh aloe vera. Recently, a dear friend from college, Mabelle, gave me some to plant and they are growing very well. Witchery, the husband and child call it, for not only do I have all THAT, there is more — for starters, a tray full of innocent little bottles which are actually different kinds of therapeutic-grade essential oils (with more of them stashed in drawers here and there).
I laugh along when they laugh at me. And go on my happy way — a potion here and there, a natural cure for every ill or ail, imagined or not. Now I am no way near being an expert by any measure, nor do I claim to be one — all that I do and take on I do for myself. I am my own guinea pig. And as I do this, I do not mean to undermine the professionals and the experts. What I do now is just my own interest rekindled from that time in my childhood, maybe, when our yayas would bathe us, upon Mommy’s instructions, with water boiled in guava leaves. All four of us siblings also had many yayas between us, each of whom brought with her a knowhow of leafy and plant-based cures. Going back to old ways, from the old days, so to speak, something fostered by growing up in a home where most everything was handmade and homemade — where food was cooked slow, from scratch, dresses were made by a sastre, coconuts were picked from the backyard, fruits and vegetables brought down from the farm. Canned goods were a treat, so were instant noodles — something we did not have ordinarily, mainly because the kitchen was manned by Manang Kessin, she who could cook anything and everything anyway.
I remember how room service (literally taking meals in our room) was only allowed during sick days, and those were thankfully few and far between. Because taste buds were off, we could have all the Spam and corned beef we wanted, the Maggi noodles on rice, and I know now that though they could not rival the nutrition of chicken soup and slices of fresh fruit and freshly cooked vegetables, we were allowed that, and I would like to think that they, too, did something good, perhaps in as far as our happiness quotient was concerned.
Once, very recently, Richard cupped my face as he arrived fresh from the airport, and I had on a calamansi and honey mask (one I concocted, of course) and he laughingly said I was sweet but sticky, and that if I keep at it he might one day wake up to find that half of me had turned into a beehive. He chuckles at my growing collection of essential oils and says he might come home one day to find that I’ve turned our home into a spa! And this daughter of ours one day said to her dad, as they went through my little bottles, “That’s what happens when you leave Mom for too many days, Dad, she accumulates more oils.”
Yes, I am that kind of happy witch.
I’ve seen it work for me, some more than others, and I continue to learn as I go along — from other such “witches,” from the yayas, from our helpers, from real natural medicine practitioners, from my good friend Google. As I write this, I’m thinking it might be hilarious to read an article of the same story, but from Richard and Juliana’s perspective, they who have seen me at my witchy highs and lows. Their position is ideal, for they only get to try and experience the ones that are foolproof, tested already by me. And I laugh, too, because even as they make good fun of all that I do, they let me have my way, and when they feel a pain here, a discomfort there, they call me, and I’m there — potions, plants, and oils all ready. I love it.
At night, I diffuse my essential oils. In a pouch in my bag, I have everyday oils — lavender for a happy calm, peppermint to pick me up midday or when I have a royal headache, one to boost the immune system (called Thieves, a wonderful blend of lemon, clove, rosemary, cinnamon, eucalyptus) when you feel cough or a cold coming. In the plane when other passengers start coughing/sniffling, I rub lavender oil on my nostrils, my ears, my throat, like a guard, to ward off the virus or the bacteria. I also remember that one time when we traveled at the height of winter, and the cold was just too much for me. I did not have any meds with me, much less antibiotics, but I did have my pink salt, my oregano and basil oils, another Swiss knife from Daddy (I always keep one in my travel toiletry kit), lemons I bought at the grocery store. To cure my sore throat, which was of the most horrid kind by the way, I gargled religiously with warm saltwater infused with a few drops each of basil and oregano oil, and if I needed to numb the pain I would add some cayenne pepper to the mix, too. I am teaching my immune system to fight back stronger each time, I told myself, pretending I was a soldier at training camp, enduring some measure of discomfort and pain so I could come out stronger. After I gargled that every few hours, I would soothe my throat with a warm honey-lemon concoction. It was two to three days of extreme pain, but it all paid off in the end for, when I got well, I was good as new. Pardon my partiality, but truly, most of what we need to heal/cure/repair us, God has already provided in nature.
By the way, that potion is all that I am sharing with you right now, but yes, I have so many more. One day, some day. This very moment, though, I am thankful for Daddy’s Swiss Army knives (for in the comfort of my room and even far away I never have to scamper for some tool to cut through a fruit or a stalk or a leaf!) and people in my life like Des and Arthur and Chechel, holistic enthusiasts all, and my BFF Denise and acupuncturists Sr. Michelle and Sr. Liu and their holy needles, my girls here at home who make me different kinds of yummy vegetable juices daily.
As you read this, it is a Sunday. Maybe you would like to play around with some VCO and honey from your kitchen?