In the early seventies musicians Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were at the peak of their career. They were traveling a lot and performing all over the country. As inevitably happens, their chaotic and careless lifestyle lead to choices that would impact their health. When performing at a fair in Scarborough, New York, the balance tipped toward catastrophe. That's right, Simon and Garfunkel ate too many corn dogs and then, with the reckless self-destructive abandon so characteristic of young musicians lured in by the temptations of the road...they ate some elephant ears and funnel cake too.
The recovery and rehabilitation from these events prompted Simon to compose a song warning others of the perils of Scarborough fair. These sorts of autobiographical songs aren't uncommon among musicians. Who of us, for example, will ever forget Madonna's brave anthem about the battle with bladder incontinence...Express Yourself! But I digress...
The difference in Paul Simon's song was that he offered wonderful advice on how others could enjoy the fair and still manage the inevitable, intestinal consequences.
Are you going to Scarborough fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme!
Remember me to one who is there (likely the herbalist that sold him the remedies)
She once was a true love of mine (he was very grateful and smitten by her herbal knowledge).
So, why did Paul Simon recommend parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme for fair goers? Let's have a look.
Parsley is perhaps the best herb in the world for bellyaches. I can't tell you how many times I've been found puttering around the herb garden in my bathrobe at three in the morning looking for parsley after having eaten too much Mexican food the day before. This of course is why they put parsley on your plate at restaurants. They're apologizing in advance for the food. It's the culinary equivalent of saying:
We're really sorry about this greasy mess but here's some parsley...no hard feelings.
Parsley is also an excellent diuretic for urinary tract issues, pulmonary congestion or prostate problems. The root is as good as anything I've ever used for urinary stones or gallstones.
Sage is helpful for post-fair intestinal ills as well. As anyone who's honest will tell you, fair food leads to a significant loosening of the bowels and prolonged sessions in the bathroom. Sage is an excellent remedy for diarrhea for two reasons. First it is an effective astringent and second, like all its minty cousins, it has a strong, calming effect on the guts. Sage is also useful for other cases where astringency can help such as sore throats, hemorrhoids or sitz baths for post-partum ladies. Sage also has a significant positive impact on memory. Thus it's as useful for students cramming for exams as it is for parents trying to remember the name of their kids. In my own case, only one of my 15 children is still at home but I still have to run through the entire list of names every time I call for her. A good dose of sage can shorten my list from 15 to only two or three names! Sage is often good for headaches as well...especially when combined with rosemary.
Rosemary is also in the mint family and shares the family affinity for calming bellyaches, gas, colic and nausea. It's also excellent for headaches (another consequence of fair food and fun). Additionally, rosemary is a good diaphoretic for breaking fevers and often works well as an asthma treatment.
Thyme is a mint as well...isn't everyone? Thyme is a good parasite medicine. Internally it kills worms. Use of the tincture topically will kill head lice, body lice and other creepy crawlies that pester the skin. The early seventies were a good time for head and body lice. This is apparent in Simon's recommendation of this fine plant. Fungal infections were apparently an issue as well as thyme tincture topically is quite good for athlete's foot and other fungal dermatitis issues. As a mint, thyme is of course also excellent for all things digestive. It's also a good antiseptic and can be used for mouth sores, sore throats etc...
So there you have it! Simon and Garfunkel's excellent tool box for combatting the consequences of fair food. As we approach Thanksgiving, another historic occasion of culinary indiscretion, It might pay to heed Paul Simon's advice. Who knows, you may get through the holidays and still end up Feelin' Groovy.
Click the links below to see our formulas that contain the herbs above.