“A Jewitch Herbal: Mystical Reflections on Food, Nature and Urban Farming” is a regular column by Devorah Brous describing ways in which we can use mystical Jewish wisdom, earthly practices, and herbal wellness to reconnect with us -same in harmony with nature. Brous is an urban homesteader, life cycle ritualist, and green consultant in Los Angeles. Find his offers online for the sabbatical year @ Dev.Brous
At the end of Sukkot, I have a dose of Jewish herbal medicine for you: Save your Etrog.
People often wonder why the only fruit we celebrate on the Sukkot harvest festival is an etrog. With a huge amount of marrow and a seed-rich fruit that could hardly be categorized as delicious (even by the most indulgent palette), why the etrog? But I sing the praises of the etrog for its medicinal qualities.
In Latin, Etrog is Citrus medica, a citrus fruit with medicinal properties. All citrus fruits have high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C, but the lemon fruit is touted as one of the original citrus cultivars from which all other citrus fruits were developed, either through natural hybrid evolution or by genetic hybridization.
The medicinal fruit is touted to increase fertility and induce labor. It’s known to help alleviate everything from cramps to bad breath, and it serves as an anti-inflammatory digestive aid – which is useful for many diet-related conditions, including what the researchers are focusing on. the most today: the etrog for diabetes.
I could list a bunch of compelling research to think about, but here’s one: A peer-reviewed study published in 2013 determined that a powdered etrog leaf extract “exhibits significant anti-hyperglycemic activity.” And it doesn’t taste bad either.
Rather than throwing in the etrog after the eighth day of the festival is over, there is an abundance of art projects and recipes you can find online. My favorites are the lemon-ginger tea and the homemade etrog moonshine made from herbal lemon liqueur which we share with friends all year round.
This year, I was given the challenge to create a Sukkot activity for Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters at their annual event. So I designed a fun, simple, and healing remedy.
May the mystical Jewish tradition around this sacred fruit as the heart of our harvest remind us to humble ourselves before nature and to keep the heart at the center of all things temporary and permanent.
Etrog anointing oil
To make etrog-infused oil, start grating and zesting the holy fruit in a quarter-sized mason jar until it is half full. Use the skin, not the flesh of the fruit.
Ethically harvest a small handful of the seasonal herbs that grow near you this season. Make a compost offering during the harvest, it is our sabbatical year 5782, high time to nourish the earth that nourishes us.
I like to add a few sprigs of lavender, rosebuds, cinnamon and holy basil. You can use the stems, leaves and flowers. Cut this plant material into small leaves.
Add a light carrier oil (organic sunflower oil, jojoba oil, or fractionated coconut oil) and fill in until all of the skin is submerged and there is about an inch of oil on top. skin and herbs.
Place the bottle in a cabinet for 40 days – or preferably for a season – shaking it daily.
When your oil has a fragrant scent infused to your liking, filter the plant material and compost. If it’s not strong enough, give it a shake and let it sit a little longer. Pour the oil into a separate container and label the ingredients and the date. Store in a cupboard, away from direct light to extend the shelf life.
Add a few drops of your homemade Etrog oil to a bath, anoint yourself or your children during Havdalah, or smear this sacred healing oil on your body. You can also mix a few drops with distilled water and a little witch hazel in a spray bottle to purify the air – instead of using chemicals to “freshen” the house or car!