Currently residing in the Pacific Northwest, Greg blogs about his upcoming books in The Sy'Arrian Legacy Series. His posts also explore the creative process and what feeds our imaginations.

An Herbalist Perspective

In the first draft of the introduction to this blog, I referred to myself as a “budding herbalist” but quickly removed it. My initial thoughts at the time was a desire not to bring too much attention to a topic, which rightly deserves its own website. Couple it with the fact I am also vegan, and you can have article upon article devoted strictly to these two subject matters. I did not want those facets of who I am to detract from the heart of this site.  

Fast forward to the present where I have realized the omission of these two facets only serve to put me in another type of closet; a place I shall never revisit. Being a vegan and one who has received a small fraction of herbal schooling are only fragments of my greater whole. Nonetheless, I am inspired by both to not strictly be a better human being but use my knowledge to better the lives of all sentient beings.

As a believer in the philosophy that life is a continuous learning process, I am more than content with adding these elements to the overall purpose of this blog. My intent is to provide a brief explanation of how learning herbal healing has become my second, greatest passion.

A caveat before we begin. This will not be an exhaustive nor painfully thorough elucidation of herbal healing practices. When appropriate I will provide links after referencing certain ideologies or philosophical practices. Also, I am still very much a novice in my learning of an approach dating back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. There is a plethora of information available relating to the art of utilizing medicinal herbs to heal what ails us. Please keep this in mind as you read further.

 For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a desire to help all living things. Biped, quadruped, arboreal – it does not matter. If I notice someone or something in pain, I want to help alleviate said pain. When I was younger, my personality was very different due to a poor outlook, so I did not practice this sentiment very well. I was always respectful and kind to animals but humans were another matter. Now, I am amazed at how utterly void of compassion so many in this world have become. Alas, a topic for another post.

 My husband and I have two very close friends. In our eyes they are family and have helped us in so many ways, I do not know where to begin. They helped us transition to being vegan and helped cultivate our interest in healing from an herbal perspective rather than relying on harmful pharmaceuticals. Their success in treating cancer to diabetes and everything else in between at their clinic is what spurred us forward to enroll at The School of Natural Healing.

The School of Natural Healing was founded by Dr. John R. Christopher in 1953; known to those who knew him as Dr. Christopher. The school has a specific approach and methodology designed to teach its students the intricacies of applying herbal remedies with prudence and skill. It is registered as a Post Secondary School by the State of Utah given there is no nationally recognized accreditation for herbal schools. Furthermore, accreditation or being licensed is not a requirement for a Master Herbalist diploma, which is what I would like to achieve at some point. This information is available on the schools website whose link is listed at the end of the article.

I want to mention the above information because I have discovered a myriad of responses from people when you reference herbal healing in place of visiting medical doctors. Most people I talk with are generally receptive and genuinely interested in alternative methods. However, I have also sensed from others an air of suspicion regarding herbal practices as if it is some type of “snake oil” salesman approach designed to take advantage of desperate people. My response to such a sentiment is this – you can make such an argument about almost anything.

This is why I stress to people they do their homework. Do not read five or six articles via an internet search engine and call it good. Consider the source when researching any issue, practice, or product. If an article in your AARP magazine cites a certain herb is harmful to you just don’t accept it because the author of the article is a medical doctor. Medical doctors receive no training or schooling on applying herbs for medicinal use. How do I know? I asked my doctor and other specialists I have seen. If they are aware it is because they have pursued it in tandem with “modern” medicine. In the example mentioned above, I would research the herb and determine if the specific one mentioned in said article was the whole plant or an extract; knowing the difference will change your perspective, trust me.

Let me be clear. I, nor any of the herbalist’s I know, are anti-doctor.  In fact, the herbal healer’s I am learning from share a philosophy of working WITH doctor’s not against them. Nothing good ever comes from the “us versus them” mentality. In the area of emergency medicine, doctor’s excel and should be commended for the extraordinary deeds they perform on a daily basis. Ideally, my vision of a synergistic system would be once a doctor puts a patient back together, the herbal practioner would then come in to rebuild the body from a natural and wholistic approach. This may sound a bit lofty but once you consider the viability of both systems, the benefits are quite clear. What works against such a synergistic system is greed and special interests.

Let me circle back as to why this has become my second, greatest passion. The healing approach I am learning and have subsequently adopted in my personal life is called vitalism. This approach has been around for centuries dating back to the time of Hippocrates (Greece, 460BC to 370BC) who is referred to as the father of modern medicine. At its core vitalism is about going to the source of the problem; vitalists treat the cause not the symptom. Treatment methodologies focuses on cleansing herbs, wholesome foods, and healthier living habits. What I have just described is extremely succinct and has been provided as context. The opposite of a vitalist is an atomist, which I may cover in a future article.

I have witnessed first hand the effectiveness of the healing power of herbs. My husband, Jared, was on seven different medications; one was an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibiter). Another was gabapentin for nerve pain and restless leg syndrome. His adrenals, the endocrine glands located on top of the kidneys responsible for releasing hormones in response to stress, were near collapse. He had tried to commit suicide twice. Although relatively “healthy” looking on the outside, his internal workings were stressed to their limits. My fix it personality was at its wits end.

Once Jared began taking the cleansing herbal formulas developed by Dr. Christopher; switched to a vegan diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables along with whole grains, nuts and seeds his health progressively got better. He worked with his medical doctor to lower the dosage of his prescriptions while working with our friend who is a Master Herbalist to substitute those prescriptions with their herbal equivalent. As his body healed and rebuilt itself, so did his mental outlook on life. Now Jared in on no prescription drugs and his use of herbal remedies is slowly diminishing. He is the vibrant and witty man I fell in love with 19-years ago.

I, too, have used herbal formulas to rebuild areas of my body with tremendous success. For the first time since my childhood, I have had no bouts of asthma and seasonal allergies. I am successfully treating an eye condition known as keratoconus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keratoconus ) Although slow going, my eyesight without my special contact lenses is the best it has been in years. As with Jared, the herbs I used would not have been as effective had I not changed my diet.

So, when someone asks me why herbal healing has become my second, greatest passion all I have to do is tell my own personal story. If you have a similar one, I would like to hear it.

Feel free to post your questions, comments or concerns. I will respond, if need be, when I am able.

Information in this article was obtained from the following sources and considering the subject matter it is not exhaustive:

Dr. Christopher and The School of Natural healing can be found at Christopher Websites: http://www.christopherwebsites.com/

Hippocrates: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocrates

Vitalism: The History of Herbalism, Homeopathy, and Flower Essences by Matthew Wood (1992, 2000, and 2005)

Original Natural Healing: Herbs and Vitalism by Kal Sellers (December 1, 2008)

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