Monday, November 6, 2017

Mortality

We're all going to die. This isn't a mystery to any of us, and yet many people shy away from addressing this reality head-on. I'm not referring to a simple acknowledgement such as that contained in the oft-repeated comment about how the only sure things in life are death and taxes. I'm referring to real conversations about living well even while dying, and it's best if we don't leave the talk for the final days or weeks.

As we settle into autumn and head into winter, I've generally found myself drawn into reflection about dying. How could I not when the seasons are revealing this process all around me? This beautiful song by Carrie Newcomer is one of my seasonal favorites; she sings how "leaves don't drop, they just let go, and make a space for seeds to grow":



When I lived in Maine, the year after my dad died I volunteered for a short while with the local hospice. I would go out to sit with an old woman who was bedridden and dying at home, providing a few hours of respite for her son and granddaughter. They all lived on a working farm, and the dying woman's bed faced a window where she could watch the birds and flowers, and even glimpse someone walking to or from the barn. Her surroundings were simple, as were her needs. My purpose was also simple: to sit with her while her family stepped away for some time to themselves. Not everyone has this kind of opportunity to meet death from their own home, but it would be nice if they could. But in order to even have a chance to do so, the conversation must happen first and early enough to make a difference.

Recently, I listened with pleasure, and a definite poignancy, to the On Being with Krista Tippett conversation with surgeon and writer Atul Gawande. Their talk was based upon his most recent book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. The show (I always listen to the unedited version, but both are available) was titled "What Matters in the End." I would strongly urge you to listen or read the transcript; this is vital conversation for all of us to engage in.

The above-referenced conversation between Tippett and Gawande wasn't focused on hospice, though, or the end-stages of the dying process. Rather, as does his book, the talk revolved around aging, as well, and how to meet old age living well and not with frustration, anger, fear, and suffering as our constant companions. One of the unique aspects of Gawande's book was that it came from the perspective of a doctor and surgeon, a man trained to "fix people," who realized that there were always times when fixing might be stopping aggressive treatments. He realized that he needed to ask "what does a good day look like" for that person and where they were at that moment in their life.
"The conversation I felt like I was having was, do we fight, or do we give up?
And the reality was that it’s not do we fight, or do we give up? It’s what are we fighting for? People have priorities besides just surviving no matter what. You have reasons you want to be alive. What are those reasons? Because whatever you’re living for, along the way, we’ve got to make sure we don’t sacrifice it; and in fact, can we, along the way, whatever’s happening, can we enable it?"

Gawande's book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End is absolutely brilliant and beautiful and much needed. I hope you will make the time to read it, share it, and have a conversation with your loved ones about living well ... now and through the aging and dying process.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Heal Thyself

Sharon Blackie in If Women Rose Rooted quotes a woman herbalist, Nikki Darrell, at length in the chapter “The Fertile Fields” and says that, 
“It is clear from everything she says that Nikki strongly believes that community empowerment is the critical ingredient that’s lacking in traditional herbal training. That, in refusing to acknowledge the long traditions and great strengths of folk medicine and community herbalism, it runs the risk of becoming — like conventional medicinal training — both exclusive and excluding.” 
I wholeheartedly agree with Nikki Darrell (from what I read in Blackie’s book); she seems to have similar, valid concerns as I do that the natural healing modalities are removed from lay people by initiating a fear in them that these methods have to be practiced by so-called professionals with licenses and degrees and college medical training. Practical, base-level healing can be easily learned by the average person with an interest in personal empowerment, with minimal risk. Entry-level training is quite effective for the majority of acute ailments and would result in reduced visits to emergency clinics where an over-prescription of drugs is the common outcome. 

This is one of the reasons that I do not support or seek mandated state or federal licensing of Herbalism, Homeopathy, or Ayurveda. I abhor the thought of Ayurveda going the way of Traditional Chinese Medicine where it is tied up in red tape and restrictions and too expensive for most people to benefit from. The medical establishment has been disempowering people and segregating them from their own health management for several hundred years now and it needs to stop. Books and/or classes (or now the easy availability of online seminars) provide all we usually need for starting our learning journey.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Poke

Let's talk Poke -- often referred to as Pokeweed or Pokeroot, aka Virginian Poke or, in the Homeopathic pharmacopeia, the Latin name is Phytolacca Decandra (syn. P. Americana). 

I have a big patch of Pokeweed growing at the lower edge of our hillside open space (it's pictured to the far left in the photo), so I've been researching it's history as a native plant of the Americas. There is a good article on this plant at Herbs2000.com; the author of the article cautions about side effects, which is advisable due to the toxic nature of the plant, so if you should decide to try the Homeopathic remedy on your own, please use a potency of 30C or higher and NOT a lower potency.

First, please note that Pokeweed is poisonous unless properly cooked (boil it down numerous times, pour off the water each time). Indigenous people used it mostly for medicinal purposes, but there are also ways to cook the early spring shoots, leaves, and even the juice of the berries to make them safe.

Pokeroot tea was used for a variety of ailments, including rheumatism, by many people in the Ozarks (of Missouri and Arkansas). Boiled Pokeroot was also sometimes used to cure "the itch" but most old-timers said the cure was worse than the the ailment (the way it was administered topically "burned like fire".* Since Poke is an American plant, chances are good that these remedies originated from the indigenous people, and settlers took it up from them.

The Homeopathic remedy Phytolacca Decandra is made from the root (Pokeroot) and can assist the body system to heal from a variety of symptoms including the one that works like magic for me (remember that remedies are individualized): sore throat. Whenever I feel the first tinge of a sore throat coming on, I take a dose of Phytolacca 30C and, 99% of the time, the sore throat never worsens and often disappears entirely within a few hours. In relation to the throat, this remedy may work well, also, for mononucleosis or strep throat; one of the beauties of Homeopathy is that it addresses similar symptoms and, since mono and strep often feel the same and produce very similar outward symptoms,  Phytolacca might help the body system to relieve either or both, depending upon the individual.

Please feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about Phytolacca Decandra (Pokeweed) and how it might help you heal.

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* Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph (1947).

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Mild Remedy


Although I've never been to a Ball, I have many remedies at my disposal that offer the symptom relief of an aperient (generally, a mild laxative although here being promoted to remove the potential for headache). What natural remedy do you prefer as an aperient?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ticks, Lyme, and Healing

Tick-borne diseases have been on the rise for decades now, and one of the most prominent has been Lyme. This one is tricky to address for several reasons.

One is that we often don’t know that we have acquired the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria (specifically, a spirochete) until symptoms begin; the often mentioned “bull’s-eye rash” that can occur after a tick bite where B. burgdorferi is introduced into the system only occurs in about 37% of people infected.[1] And, second, generally speaking, antibiotic reversal is only effective when used during the first few months following infection; after that, treatment is much more challenging due to the intelligent nature of the spirochete. I won’t go on at length about the bacteria and its co-infections because, while fascinating to explore (you can find lots of information online), most of you reading this post will be more interested in how to reduce your symptoms (or those of someone you love, be it person or animal; seeking support for my dog who contracted Lyme disease about a decade ago was the impetus for my own journey into how non-conventional modalities could help him recover).

That said, before getting to treatments and lifestyle shifts, I do want to mention that my perspective is not that of conventional medicine, which should be no surprise to anyone who is on my blog. I am firmly in the camp that versions of this syndrome have been around for thousands of years, and that the degree to which we are each affected by an infection is a direct result of our susceptibility to the bacteria, and is not something to be turned into a battle against the bacteria, which would be a battle against the natural world. My primary focus is to increase vibrational harmony in one’s own system so that it is no longer appealing to the bacteria and they die naturally without reproducing and spreading.

How do we do this? We move through my Five Petal Path of Healing. At the core of this approach is understanding one’s own Nature through which lens we then look at Lifestyle, Food & Spices, Cell Salts, Homeopathy, and Flower Essences, and how each of these might assist in bringing ourselves back into holistic vibrational harmony. Much of the process is distinctly individualized, rather than a one-size-fits-all, which is why few specific remedies are mentioned below.

Knowing our Nature, or innate temperament and/or constitution, is important because not being aware of our tendencies is often part of how we get out of balance. I evaluate a person’s basic nature via the five elements and the dosha in Ayurveda. Once understood, we can then shift Lifestyle and/or Food & Spices to better support the journey back to harmony. Using Ayurveda’s wisdom, I would agree with Gerard Buffo, MD, that the primary physiological effect, when chronic symptoms emerge, is one of deranged Vata dosha in the system; we can see this derangement in the most common Lyme symptoms.[2] The inflammatory response of the body, however, is distinctly Pitta dosha – and ties into a majority of Lyme patients tending toward a Type A personality (which makes them more susceptible).

The next two petals considered are Cell Salts and Homeopathy. Use of these related modalities can depend upon where you are in the phase of infection, whether acute or chronic. They can provide support for tissues or render subtle detoxification; they can build strength or lend prevention to further infection, and much more. There are some remedies quite specific to Lyme dis-ease, while others are broader in their scope.

The final petal can also be the first one, depending upon how we decide to approach your individual situation. This is the phenomenally powerful modality of Flower Essence therapy, and affects everything we do in bringing back a life and body of harmony. In particular, I incorporate a flower essence research protocol developed by Delta Gardens, which also addresses energetic recovery from co-infections of Lyme.

As always, please contact me if you would like more information and/or a consultation. I would be happy to help.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Teacher of Ayurveda

I have listened to many teachers of Ayurveda since my training began in 2008. During the past year, I've enjoyed hearing the wisdom of Ayurveda as taught by Dr. Indu Arora; here she is providing a very brief Introduction to Ayurveda. Beautiful!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Why Not Try It?

I'm always puzzled when I mention natural remedies or a change in food choices, and the person responds with a resounding and negative "that won't work." They usually cite reasons like "you'll find studies supporting anything if you look hard enough" or "that doesn't make sense so why bother" etc.

Now, I wouldn't have even mentioned the topic to these people except that he or she is complaining about health issues and the expensive drugs they are taking (drugs that even the doctors admit are only to try to reduce symptoms but have no effect upon reversing or curing the dis-ease itself). My puzzlement around the person's vehement objections then arises from the simple perspective of: "it can't hurt and might help so why not try it?"

Based upon that premise -- it can't hurt and might help so why not try it -- I would urge you to watch the film What The Health and at least consider trying a vegan diet for a month. Or even just a couple weeks. Commit to eating only a WFPB diet (that's Whole-Food Plant-Based) and see how you feel. Isn't the possibility of getting better worth trying something new, especially when it won't cost you a dime? There are people who experience phenomenal results and those who see little to no change, but wouldn't it be exciting to be one of those with the life-changing results? Just imagine!

Here's the link for the film and how you can watch it: What The Health.

For information on a vegan diet as well as free recipes, go to: Forks Over Knives.

And, as always, if you have questions, I'm happy to help -- just contact me!