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Herbal Stories

I am not a doctor, a lawyer or an Indian chief. I am just someone who has studied natural ways of healing for the last 30 years and I still consider the day wasted if I do not learn at least one thing every day. I have several certifications in different natural healing modalities, however, they do not include diagnosing, prescribing or treating health conditions which, by-the-way, would be practicing medicine without a license.

My natural health consultations include sitting and listening to and observing a client and then educating her/him so they can make their own decisions about natural health options. We look at several herbal options and then learn easy healing movements they could do daily to perhaps improve their condition and/or join a tai chi or qigong class for health and healing that also may help with their issues. In other words, we add natural compliments to what their medical professional has recommended.

If they are on medications, THEY need to research their medicines (I am also not a pharmacist) and check for contraindications with the herbs they have decided upon. In other words, they need to take responsibility for their health and their choices. Unlike when I first became interested in natural healing techniques, this research is easy to do. Just search online for drug and herb contraindication guides or go to your local bookstore and buy a contraindications book.

Over the years, I have seen herbs work beautifully for many people, however, I have also seen cases where the herb being used did absolutely nothing to alleviate the condition for which it was being taken.

For example, recently Linda B. made an appointment with me to help her find natural ways to help with her migraine headaches. Of course, as an herbalist, the first herb that came to mind was feverfew. Some migraine sufferers have great success with feverfew not only lessening the frequency but also the severity when they use feverfew on a regular basis. In fact, folk herbalists recommended that migraine sufferers eat a couple of feverfew leaves on buttered bread every morning. However, some folks, like Linda, see no difference when taking feverfew. That maybe because migraines may be divided into “hot” and “cold” and you need to decide which they are before choosing an herb. After asking a few questions about her headaches, we decided Linda was more prone to “cold” migraines. We came up with an custom herbal blend for her (without any feverfew) and then I taught her several easy qigong techniques that she could do to both prevent migraines and ease a banging migraine.

FYI: A “cold” migraine is usually worsened by cold, cold weather, or cold drafts. These headaches may respond favorably to a hot towel applied to the head. “Hot” migraines are the opposite. “According to traditional British herbal thinking, feverfew is best for the “cold” type of migraine….” says Susan Lynn Peterson, PH.D., in her book Western Herbs for Martial Artists and Contact Athletes. You don’t have to be an athlete to appreciate this pearl of wisdom! (More about migraines in a future column.)

Last fall, Dan F. stopped by our house on the way home from UVA. He had Lyme disease and at this point, the only recommendation the Docs had was to send him to Florida for intensive treatment. I had learned from naturopath and Master Herbalist Matthew Wood that teasel, taken daily for at least 18 months would root out even the deepest parasites associated with Lyme disease. We even put it our dog’s water bowl as she also had Lyme. Since then, I rarely have a month when I am not starting a batch of Lyme Disease tincture (teasel blended with other helpful herbs). Mother Nature is so full of Native Intelligence and healing power if we just take the time to listen.

Another writer had told Dan how much my teasel tincture had helped her Lyme so he wanted to try it for himself. His story goes like this: “I couldn’t believe that a weed could help me when I had tried so many medications that just didn’t help, or helped at first and then the Lyme got worse again, but I was desperate. I didn’t really believe in this sort of thing, but at this point, I was ready to try anything. I was in terrible pain and all I did was sit in my chair and whine. Within a half hour of taking the tincture I was beginning to feel better. I said no way, it’s got to be my imagination. But every day that I took it my pain lessened. Once in while I would forget to take it, or I would go out of town and forget to take it along and within a day or two, the deep pain would roll back in. I just can’t tell you what a difference this has made.”

Several weeks ago, a friend called and said her husband was in such pain from a knee replacement complication that he said it was the first time he had ever really thought about suicide. She wanted to know if I would make the hour drive to their house and “work” on him. As a qigong practitioner, I know that it sometimes relieves pain if you can get the blocked energy flowing again and bring healing energy into the body and injured site. I also thought that we might “test” him energetically to see if any herbs traditionally used for pain and helpful for healing after surgery might benefit him. I loaded up about a dozen different herbal tinctures and hit the road.
The session went like this: I tested his energy flow, balanced it and then did qigong on his knee. His pain level on a scale of 1-10 was at least an 8 or higher he said when we started and a 2 when we finished.

Now it was time to figure out which herbs would be helpful for him. We ended up with four beneficial herbs and blended him a custom tincture. Then we did a second Qigong session on him. He had not slept at all for three days but after the qigong sessions and the tincture, he sat down in his recliner and slept for a solid three hours. He said it felt like he had had three nights of sleep! His recovery has been slow, but between the herbs, the qigong and his medical team, he is doing much better. You see, it really does take a village!

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