For many freedivers, the main issue they have when learning to freedive is overcoming equalisation issues. In this post we’re going to look at two great herbs to help equalisation: Plantain and Eyebright.
On our most recent RAID Freediver course, one of our students, Nic, who works as a therapist, mentioned that she recommends herbs to help with upper respiratory issues and how the same herbs could help freedivers. So let’s start by looking at issues freedivers can have.
What problems can freedivers have with equalisation?
Freedivers can have all kinds of equalisation issues, from not getting the technique right, to over-extending their head, to trying to dive with a cold.
Beginners freedivers often try and force equalisation and this can create inflammation around the eustacian tubes which reduces the ability to equalise. This can then cause reverse block, where the expanding air inside the middle ear cannot escape back down the eustacian tubes on the ascent. A reverse block may cause the eardrum to perforate or rupture outwards.
Inflammation and irritation can also be caused by repeated and fast pressure changes, which occur when a freediver is repeatedly going up and down to 10m.
Anti-inflammatories to help equalisation
Many freedivers use Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. A common one is Ibuprofen. However these can cause stomach ulcers, holes in the stomach or bowel, indigestion, headaches and dizziness, just to name a few symptoms!
Using herbs medicinally can a much gentler way to address equalisation issues. Although you should always consult a medical herbalist or doctor, both of whom are legally allowed to diagnose and prescribe.
Herbs to help equalisation
There are many herbs to help equalisation, however the two we’re going to look at here are Eyebright and Plantain.
Eyebright is rich in tannins, which help to tighten inflamed mucous membranes. It is used as an anti-inflammatory for hay fever, sinusitis, upper respiratory tract infections, and catarrh (inflammation of the mucous membranes). As an astringent, it is used for dry congestion.
Taken internally, plantain has an anti-histamine affect on the body which can reduce allergic reactions. It is also used for irritated mucous membranes in the upper respiratory tract, digestive tract and bladder
Clinical studies across the world have shown it to be beneficial in easing coughs and irritation of the mucous membranes associated with upper respiratory tract infections. It has been shown to ease chronic bronchitis and acts as a demulcent by forming a soothing film over affected mucous membranes.
By combining Eyebright and Plantain you have a great mix of herbs to help equalisation but you do have to take them for a period of time. It isn’t a quick fix.
How to take Eyebright and Plantain
Combine equal parts of dried Eyebright and Plantain and then take in tea form three times a day.
You need a teaspoon per cup, so three teaspoons per day.
The herbs can be bought from a medical herbalist, a shop such as Neals Yard or even e-bay!
The action of herbs can have a cumulative effect in the body and so it is recommended that you take daily for a period of six weeks. Use a teaspoon per cup. This can either be made cup-by-cup or made in a pot and drunk throughout the day.
When you make the tea, leave to steep for at least five minutes before drinking.
What does it taste like?
It has a surprisingly bland taste. It’s a little grassy and woody but perfectly pleasant. If you wanted it a little sweeter you could always add some honey which has the added benefit of soothing the throat and being anti-microbial.
Want to know more about the healing power of herbs?