Everyday products that we buy from grocery stores always have a cleaner and greener alternative. After sitting down with the medicine making class in Laurier’s Aboriginal Student House,  learned how to make the most natural alternative to heal that pesky cough that comes with the upcoming winter season.

As I make my way down the Hallway of the Aboriginal house, I come across eight unfamiliar faces around a large black table; I ask awkwardly, “Is this the medicine making class?” and take a seat. On today’s agenda: natural cough drops. A mixture of Marshmallow root, cinnamon, ground ginger, echinacea root and a few other natural and locally sourced ingredients, blended together to replace the sugary products that we buy at the grocery store.

“Food is medicine” The group leader Kitty R. Lynn explains, “It’s empowering for people who have maybe only ever bought these things from the store, to know that they can do it on their own. You realize you are capable of a lot”.

The Aboriginal community emphasizes the need to give back to the earth what we take, and give thanks for the things we cannot repay. Something as simple as a glass of water is one of the things that is taken for granted the most. As Kitty speaks to the group, she brings up the fact that the seasons have already started to change, but not like they used to. It is unusual that the weather would be this mild coming into November, but the ones who have gardens and who pay attention to the ground itself are more aware of the impact that human interference has already had on the seasons.

The process begins, and armed with a mortar and pestle, we began the grinding down the goldenseal, echinacea and marshmallow roots. After the labour of love, we mix all the freshly ground roots and spices and mixed it with local honey, forming it into pea size balls with a light cinnamon coating. The end result, looked somewhere between melted chocolate and rabbit poop, but the room was filled with the smell of a warm bakery and filled with good company.

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Photo’s courtesy of Kat Binder/The Sputnik

In order to help reduce the waste humans create, learning to put the most natural ingredients into our bodies and learning what plants can do to help is a highly useful skill.

“Even if you never make cough drops again, you are still going to remember what certain plants can do for you. When you get a sore throat, you can remember that marshmallow root or slippery elm is going to help”, one member Chelsey Bouchard says.

Although this group is open to everyone, it’s usually all women in attendance. As women were the traditional healers in native cultures across the world, Kitty attributes the low testosterone in attendance to the historical background of the practice.

The group is a nice escape from the everyday life of a student. The activity of making something with your own two hands is a true feeling of accomplishment. When you look down at your paper plate of rabbit-dropping looking cough candies, it’s hard not to smile and think “I made that.”

The group meets every Tuesday in The Aboriginal Students Building at 3 p.m. until 5 p.m., everyone is welcome but space is limited.

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