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Posts Tagged ‘botanical medicine’

While reading some wise words from herbalist Susan Weed I came across her version of a common paradigm for healing that Naturopaths are taught “The Six Steps of Healing”.  It was great to revisit this information, to mull over it, and to let it steep into my essence.  In the realm of healthcare it is easy to get locked into palliation – people want to feel better immediately – and if they don’t, they often go looking somewhere else for a solution.  I will say this again and again – symptoms are merely an expression of a deeper disharmony.  Our rational minds take the symptoms as the actual illness when in fact they are merely expressions.  An example of this is the classic fever.  People spend thousands of dollars each year on doctors’ visits, Tylenol, and other suppressive therapies designed to eliminate a fever.  We are confused!!  Fever is our body’s natural way of eliminating the microbe that is potentially hazardous in the first place; it is the attempt to literally fry whatever invasive organism found its way past our initial immune barriers.  Because a fever is uncomfortable, however, we try everything in our power to stop it – getting lost in the symptoms rather than looking at the greater picture.

Susan Weed reminded me to spend more time with my patients explaining how the symptoms are not what we are treating.  Medicine is both an ART and a science.  The art piece is finding the root of the patient’s illness, choosing the correct levels at which to treat it, and helping the patient to understand what the goals are in the treatment.  Thank you Susan for sending this wisdom my way again and for strengthening my conviction that medicine is not only science, it is art too.

THE SIX STEPS OF HEALING by Susan Weed

Step 0 – Do nothing. (Sleep, meditate, unplug the phone or clock.) A vital step.

Step 1 – Collect information. (Low-tech diagnosis, reference books, support groups, divination.)

Step 2 – Engage energy. (Prayer, homeopathic remedies, ritual, crying, visualizations, color, laughter, aeromatherapy.)

Step 3 – Nourish and tonify.  (Herbal infusions/vinegars, love, some herbal tinctures, life-style changes, physical activities, moxibustion.)

Step 4 – Stimulate/sedate.  (Hot/cold water, many herbal tinctures, acupuncture, most massage, alcohol.)

Step 5a – Use supplements.  (Synthesized/concentrated vitamins or minerals, special foods. These are more potent and less “natural” than step 3.)

Step 5b – Use pharmaceuticals/drugs. (Synthesized alkaloids, hormones, etc. Overdose may cause injury or death.)

Step 6 – Break and enter. (Fear-inspiring language, surgery, invasive diagnostic techniques, biopsies, etc.  Side effects are inevitable and may cause permanent injury or death.)


 

 

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Over the past few days I have been rereading one of my teacher’s books – A Family Herbal – by Rosemary Gladstar.  During my time at the California School of Herbal Studies I got to meet this incredible woman and to spend a day creating herbal wonders with her.  Perhaps the most memorable creation were her “Zoom Balls” a luscious treat filled with uplifting and invigorating herbs along with tahini, almond butter, honey, and cacao.  Rosemary is one of the people who kept Western botanical medicine alive – diligently working with the plants, learning their medicine, and disseminating her wisdom in a tangible and effective manner.  Rosemary is dedicated to United Plant Savers, www.unitedplantsavers.org, an organization dedicated to conserving endangered medicinal plants in North America, and has her own school of botanical medicine through the Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center – www.sagemt.com.

So why do I speak about this woman when the title of this post is “Men’s Medicine”?  An excerpt from her book explains the story:

When I opened an herb store in 1972 in the midst of a lively alternative community in Sonoma County, California, most of my customers were women.  They came to buy herbs for themselves, their children, and sometimes their partners.  I can remember the occasional male customer who ventured into the store.  He would generally wait until no one else was in the shop, slowly wind his way to the front counter, and begin talking about everything under the sun but the specific problem that had brought him there.  I’d find some quiet way to create a space for him to talk about his prostate problems, or herpes, or impotence, or even heartbreak…

Being young, I figured that men weren’t comfortable talking to me about their health problems simply because I was a woman.  I hadn’t yet discovered that men seldom talk about these things with other men, either.  I also erroneously thought, as many people do, that men don’t have the same degree of complexity of physiological function as women.  After all, where are breasts, the womb, the ability to give birth?  I find this rather limited perspective amusing now, and I apologize for it, having discovered how complex, marvelous, and cyclic the male system is.

What is finally being acknowledged is that men’s bodies are just as complex as women’s, and that men have many concerns about their health — they just deal with them differently.  Women talk about their problems.  They seek help. They turn to other women.  Women spend a great deal of time talking together about their feelings, their desires and dreams, their health, and men.  These are not topics that come up often in men’s circles…”

I find this too in my practice – a predominance of women and children.  This is no surprise as approximately 60-80% of annual visits to the doctor’s are by women.  By the time a man comes into my office his affliction is usually quite severe – excruciating pain, elevated blood pressure, deep dark depression, and so on.  There are many reasons for this discrepancy – sociocultural constructs of the masculine and feminine, different daily demands, genetic make-up…it is complex and subject to extensive philosophical discussion.  Similarly, as I am a young female doctor, many men would rather seek a man for their healthcare – a desire that is completely understandable!  I remember the looks on the faces of the young migrant Mexican workers in a clinic where I worked when they found out I was doing their sensitive male-exams!  They were not happy…

All of this aside, Naturopathic medicine is not only medicine for women and children.  It is preventative medicine, wellness medicine, lifestyle medicine.  From sports performance to neurotransmitter balancing, prostate health to weight loss, effective, natural alternatives exist.  Men’s health and wellness does not need to be kept in the dark and saved only for emergencies.

I have gratitude to Rosemary for including a whole section in her book on recipes and suggestions for men’s health.  As winter continues to deepen here in Montana, it is important for all of us to nurture ourselves during these short days.  For many it is easy to hibernate, to invert, and to disconnect during this time.  Personally, my goals for the holiday season are to make the special men in my life some fantastic and delicious botanical treats.  Recipes such as “Good-Life Wine”, “Male Toner Tea”, and “Chai Hombre” seem like perfect gifts to nourish the male body, mind, and spirit…

Men’s Medicine – Quick tips for Prostate Health

1. Wear padded bike shorts on those rides!

2. Drink plenty of water.

3. Eat foods rich in zinc : oysters, eggs, molasses, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, almonds, sesame tahini, greens.

4. Include seaweeds in your diet.

5. Take your Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

6. Include a high-quality probiotic in your daily routine.

7. Get your spine aligned for proper nervous function to your pelvic region.

8. Use hydrotherapy – sitz baths, end each shower with a cold spray to your pelvic region, take a relaxing bath.

9. Get that prostate exam even if you are dreading it.

10. Stay sexually active AND practice safe sex.

11. When you have symptoms – burning, incontinence, pain, irritation, erectile dysfunction, blood in your urine, etc. go see your doctor!!

 

 

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