Life Direction, Process Work and Bach Flower Remedies

Life Direction, Process Work and Bach Flower Remedies

You doubt that this job is the right or best direction for you. You choose Wild Oat, a Bach remedy that is used for people who are suffering because they are unhappy with their life direction and the conflict is not allowing them to fully attend to the present. You also chose to apply the flower essence to the “gate of life” acupuncture point. Find out what happens.

Season Awareness Day - Winter Solstice

Season Awareness Day - Winter Solstice

Winter

This is the season when water is the dominant element. It is the time of feelings, a deep Yin time. Winter is the time to replenish yourself and bring all the constitutions into balance. Read what you can do to balance yourself.

Focusing (Emotional Healing)

Focusing by Eugene Gendlin, PH.D

Felt sense. Feeling or sensing something with your body. Much larger and more vague than an emotion. An overall body feeling. Touching a problem, issue or concern with your body and sensing\feeling how it responds. Deeper than the thinking mind more like a body mind.

Tasting it with your whole body.

Six steps of Focusing:

1. Clearing a space.

            Say, I feel wonderful and wait for something to come up. Feel\sense what comes up then put it to the side for now.

            If that was resolved what would come into my body? Give it time to surface. Repeat the above.

            Now I feel wonderful. If you get to an open good feeling you may want to spend the session enjoying a refreshing break from these problems for awhile. If not then pick one problem and move to step two.

2. The felt sense.

            Bring the problem up in front of you and ask what is it "all about" this problem and allow at least 30 seconds for your body to respond with a body feeling. When you have the body feeling, say hello to it. Ask it if it is OK to spend some time with it.

3. Finding a handle.

            When you have established contact with a distinct body feeling look for a word, phrase or picture that fits the body feeling. eg. cramped. closed in or a ball and chain. When you feel you have a handle then let go of the body feeling for a bit and then use the handle to bring it back.

4. Resonating.

            Practice letting go and bringing it back a few times.

5. Asking.

            Become the felt sense and see the problem\situation from it's point of view. Ask it "what is the worst of this?" "What does this felt sense need?" "Is there an emotional quality to it?" If so "what gets it so....? When you get a definite answer you will feel a slight shift in the felt sense.

6. Receiving.

            Ask the felt sense what "all OK would feel like". Ask it to show you what "all OK would feel like. Spend a little time absorbing the body feeling, accepting what your body gives you. Ask it if it is OK to leave soon or does it have something else it wants to communicate. If not, thank it and assure it that you will be back. You can use the handle to get you started during your next session.

To learn more about Focusing and other emotional healing techniques Click Here Now!

Body Symptoms and Dreaming by Don Ollsin

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Body Symptoms & Dreaming by Don Ollsin

First, satisfy nutrition, reduce inflammation, improve circulation and enhance detoxification. As these concerns of your body are satisfied you can turn to deeper concerns like your dreaming body. As long as our body cells are in a state of distress we are usually not as interested in dreaming.  

Now to the dreaming process:

At the end of this exercise I will ask you to reflect on your experience and record it with words, sound or pictures. The intention to bring it forth into this world often deepens the experience.
 
“According to old assumptions, the body is merely a machine. Currently there is a great deal of concern with the body, but most people have not yet discovered that special kind of “bodily sense” that is the “sense of a situation”.

Why does focusing work? How does "the process" come to be so wise? It is the body that is so "wise," but of course it is not the body reduced to physiology, not the body-as-machine, but rather the body “from out of which you are living”. This body is not one thing while you are another, a second thing. Your body enacts your situations and constitutes them largely before you can think how. When your attention joins this living, you can pursue many more possibilities and choices than when you merely drive the body as if it were a machine like a car. The body lives inherently with others. The body is born into interaction and physically implies moving toward and with people. When the body first arrives, it implies nursing and being held, and after the body absorbs all the complex human circumstances, it can suggest an intricate new move in an unheard-of predicament if we allow it.

The international nature of the “body-in-situations” is contrary to most theories. But even if we reject the theories, the old assumptions remain; they are built into common words and phrases. In my philosophy I find a way to devise phrases and sentences in which words come to be used in new ways, so that we can go on from here, to think further. I have built a theory with concepts of a new kind that have both logical and experiential connections. With those concepts I am able to build a new understanding of the physical body as continuous with and capable of, animal behavior, then of language, and at last of focusing.”  Focusing – E. Gendlin

This exercise is something that can be done in almost any circumstance or situation.  For the purpose of training I will recommend an ideal setup.  Set aside a period of sufficient time, say 10 to 15 minutes.  Make yourself comfortable but not so comfortable that you will fall asleep.  Turn your attention to the inside.  

Ask “what wants my attention today?” For the purpose of this exercise choose a body symptom.  We can apply this process to strong emotions, moods, sensations and situations.  

The first skill that we need to develop is one of a warm welcoming attitude.  We do this by saying “hello” to what ever we encounter.  We welcome it.  We talk to it in a warm and friendly manner.  We ask it if it's OK to hang out with it today.  Once we have established contact and we feel that we are in a healthy relationship with our body dreaming we can go on.  

I find it helpful in this work to have a map of the three levels of awareness that we are going to explore.

To start with, we will be working in consensual reality and dreamland.  Later on we'll explore dreamtime and the sentient level.  So we all generally agree that a body symptom is a disturbance in our body that is usually aggravating and probably interfering with our over all sensation of well-being.  Generally, we consider body symptoms as undesirable.  In this paradigm shift, we are going to consider body symptoms as body dreams and see if they're dreaming has a message or purpose for our over all wellness.  To access the dreaming we are going to establish a relationship with our body dreaming.  We consider the body symptom as a doorway to dreaming. 

Now, we are going to enter in to dreamland via the body symptom.  Below I have mapped out a number of different pathways in dreamland.

Some of the simple ways that we can work with the symptom is to explore it in different pathways.  After establishing contact with the symptom as outlined in the beginning you can now ask your symptom:

1.     What kind of sound it would make.  Allow your symptom to express itself through you as a sound. 

2.    Ask your symptom, what it looks like and allow it to express itself through you as a drawing.  Color allows greater expression; so you may want to have crayons, pencil crayons, pastels, paints or markers available.  Modeling clay can also be an excellent medium for the dreaming to express itself. 

3.    Ask your symptom if it has a movement and allow it to move your body.  Start with small movements and if it feels right, slowly expand them.  You may or may not want to stand and allow your whole body to move.

4.    Does your body symptom have a smell associated with it? These pathways relate directly to our self.  Some of them will be more familiar and easier to access. 

The other pathways are more related to the world.  You can ask yourself the following questions and explore the answers.

  1. How does this body symptom relate to my relationships?  Who is wrong with me? 

  2. What do this body symptom and my work have to do with each other? 

  3. If the body symptom were a part of my community what would it say about my community? 

  4. How does my body symptom relate to the environment that I live in? 

These questions may or may not reveal information that is important to you at this time.  The last pathway that we will explore is the spirit pathway.  This is the dreamtime or sentient level of awareness.  What was the symptom before it was a symptom?  The simplest method of exploring this pathway is to ask “what the symptom was before it was a symptom” (Zen koan) and see if you can access the state that preceded the symptom.  This is a lucid foggy nonverbal (preverbal) state without duality.  This is the quantum level without form, the formless.  Vagueness and fogginess are important tools to access this level. 

“In Dreaming While Awake, Arnold Mindell defines lucidity as awareness of sentient experience, which precedes everything you think, see, hear and do.  When you are lucid, you sense tendencies as well as actualities.  Lucidity is a detached, diffuse state of mind that is essential for working with sentience.  It is adept at catching the slightest suggestions of experience.  Consciousness involves writing or knowing the notes of a song, while lucidity is awareness of the feeling background that gave rise to the song. Mindell also refers to lucidity as "cloudedness" to emphasize its loose, relaxed, not knowing quality.  Like peripheral vision, is not focused on any one object or point of reference.  It does not involve working or searching for meaning: nor does it try to achieve, understand or clarify.” Julie Diamond 1

Shamans call it “stopping your story.”  What is this energy without any story attached to it? 

Another way to explore the spirit pathway is through movement.  It is a little trickier but often rewarding.  You need to imagine something or someone creating the symptom.  We call this the symptom-maker.  Once you have discovered the symptom-maker, you need to embody it (shapeshifting).  Once you have embodied the symptom-maker you allow your body to move as the symptom maker.  Once your awareness is well anchored in the movement, you begin to slow the movement down.  Using your awareness, notice what most fascinates you in this movement.  Find the impulse (the kiss before the kiss) to make that movement.  Right at that pre-movement, notice what flirts with you.  It could be anything.  Again, vagueness and fogginess are important to the process.  We are like Alice in Wonderland.  This is the rabbit hole.  This is the unknown.  It may be weird or wonderful.  Part of the process is to suspend the rational part of our mind.  Healing often happens in this pure state of awareness prior to the existence of the symptom.  In this unformed state, form (the body symptom) can change.  We are dipping into the world of spirit. This is the last pathway called the spirit pathway.

After getting in contact with this energy it is valuable to reflect on your experience and record it with words, sound or pictures.

  1. A Path Made by Walking - Julie Diamond and Lee Spark Jones

  2. Pathways to Healing, a Guide to Herbs, Ayurveda, Dreambody and Shamanism by Don Ollsin

To learn more about Focusing and other emotional healing techniques Click Here Now!

Anami - the nameless one

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When I was in India as a young man I had this wonderful experience around words. I woke up one morning in the ashram pondering the thought "how does a preverbal child spell the word love?" The longer I pondered it, the more intoxicated I became. As I was musing on this I wandered over to my teachers residence. It has a beautiful courtyard surrounding the house and a gate keeper to let people in. As I was standing outside the gate in the early morning sun, a small child toddled by toward the gate. The gate keeper seeing the child, opened the gate and the toddler toddled in. The gatekeeper looked at me and beckoned me to follow, so I did. The child walked through the entrance, salon and into the bedroom where my teacher was sitting on the bed doing correspondence. I had followed and was standing in the back of the room. Kirpal lifted his head from his correspondence and smiled at the child, who smiled back in return. I had my answer.

Plants Can Benefit From Probiotics, Just Like Us by Dan Nosowitz on July 20, 2015

If you’ve seen a yogurt commercial or read a wellness blog in the past few years, you may have noticed that probiotics—helpful bacteria—are breaking through to the mainstream.

Probiotics have been advertised as a treatment for everything from allergies to digestive issues to, amazingly, social anxiety. New research indicates that we might not be the only ones to benefit from probiotics, though: a study from the University of Washington suggests that plants might grow bigger and stronger with a dose of bacteria as well.

Friendly bacteria in humans, mostly located in the gastrointestinal system, can have all kinds of effects, breaking down foods and chemicals and turning them into nutrients and compounds that can be more easily or efficiently absorbed by the body. In plants, they work a little bit differently, and are not very well understood.

Past research shows that all plants have what are called endophytes, basically the plant version of probiotics. Endophytes can be bacteria or fungi, and by definition are, at the very least, harmless. (Harmful bacteria or fungi would be classified as some sort of parasite.) But we know hardly anything about how the relationship between the endophyte and the plant itself works.

Older research has focused on endophytes found in little nodules attached to the roots of plants. It’s known that the endophytes in these nodules sometimes serve a similar purpose for plants that probiotics do for us: the endophytes turn a key element for growth, in this case nitrogen, into a form more easily absorbed by the plant. Nobody’s quite sure how they get there (guesses include an early presence in the seed and movement through the environment), and their behavior is mostly a mystery.

The new research takes a huge step forward by finding endophytes elsewhere in the plant body. Working with poplar and willow trees at first, the team, led by Sharon Doty of the University of Washington, found endophytes in leaves, stems and the roots themselves, not just in the nodules attached to the roots.

In a paper published by the American Society of Agronomy, Doty and her team not only isolated these endophytes, but extracted them and transferred them to an entirely different plant species: rice. This is where things get interesting, and possibly groundbreaking, in terms of agriculture, because the rice given a booster shot of endophytes grew fuller and stronger root systems, even though the amount of nitrogen in their greenhouse home soil hadn’t changed.

This is a huge leap forward, because it allows plants to make better use of limited nitrogen in their environment. Nitrogen is the great problem in plant nutrition; nitrogen-based fertilizers can have a really nasty effect on the environment, and by giving the plant a sort of life hack to make the most of the nitrogen it has, we could potentially decrease the amount of nitrogen fertilizer we have to use.

Who knew? Looks like plants aren’t so different from us, after all.

Image via Flickr user Noelle

Are you a highly sensitive person and love herbal medicine? Most of the thousands of herbal students who have studied with me are.

Photo of one on my herbal students does not necessarily mean she is an hsp.

In A Relationship With A Highly Sensitive Person? Here's What You Need To Know.

Let's be honest: relationships are complex, no matter what kind of personality you have. And some truths are universal, like fighting is never fun. Romantic gestures are usually appreciated. Communication is definitely valued. Compromise isn't always easy.

But a lot of these nuances are only heightened if you're of a more sensitive nature. Below are nine things to keep in mind if you're in a relationship with a highly sensitive person.


We're intuitive.
It's no secret that HSPs pick up on subtleties in a room or conversation, but it's a point worth driving home. If our significant other is upset, chances are we're going to notice. Sensitive individuals are very intuitive when it comes to mood shifts, whether it's a quippy remark or even just a different texting tone. There's a big difference between "Can I see you tonight?" and "Am I seeing you tonight?" or "I'm fine!" and "I'm fine."

We love deeply.
Because we are so driven by our emotions, that usually means we don't take any relationship -- or our feelings about it -- lightly, according to Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person and one of the original scientific researchers of HSPs. "We don't think about anything if we're not motivated by some emotion, whether it's curiosity, love, anger or fear," she told The Huffington Post. "We think about things because we feel something about them."

We struggle with conflict.
Fighting with a significant other is terrible for anyone, but for an HSP, conflict is particularly uncomfortable. That's because we're having an internal debate of our own during the process. "Sensitive people get torn between speaking up for what they feel is right or sitting back because they don't want a violent type of reaction [from others]," Aron previously told HuffPost Healthy Living.

HSPs respond more productively to positive experiences rather than negative ones, Aron said. That means we're more likely to reach a solution through a more supportive interaction than an aggressive one.

We need our emotions to be validated.
Phrases like "you take things too personally" can feel like a significant dig. For us, there's no such thing as feeling too much -- and it hurts when our emotions are viewed as a weakness. HSPs also tend to withdraw when they're being judged for their sensitivity, Aron said.

We get bored easily.
According to Aron's research, sensitive folks get a little restless in relationships that lack meaningful interactions -- but that doesn't mean we'll throw in the towel. If anything, it's only going to motivate HSPs to create more stimulating conversations, she said.

We're more emotionally reactive in our interactions.
PSA: We're probably going to cry. A lot. A partner who is understanding of a HSP's tendency to show their emotions is ideal for a successful relationship, Aron pointed out. "Sensitive people can't help but express what they're feeling," Aron said. "They show their anger, they show their happiness. Appreciating that is really important."

Our ideal date involves a little downtime.
We love dinner parties and exploring museums just as much as the next person, but don't forget to factor in a little "off" time. "They usually prefer to avoid overstimulation," Aron said. The bottom line? We prefer your company, the activity is secondary.

We pay close attention to what our partner wants.
In Aron's research, she's also noticed that HSPs may have characteristic called "mate sensitivity," or the ability to quickly assess what pleases their partner and act based on that knowledge. This behavior also goes for platonic relationships as well.

"They not just in tune to what's good for them but also what's good for others," Aron said. In other words, it makes us happy to make our significant other happy.

We don't expect our partner to wear their heart on their sleeve.
Approximately 20 percent of people are HSPs, according to Aron's research. That means a significant majority doesn't identify with the personality trait -- and that's perfectly OK with us. Just because someone is highly sensitive doesn't mean they can't be in a relationship with someone who isn't (in fact, Aron says she identifies as a HSP while her husband does not).

Ultimately, what matters to us is how we feel when we're with our significant other. Like all romantic partnerships, our relationships take patience, understanding and work. We just may have a few extra tears thrown into the mix -- and there's nothing wrong with that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/22/highly-sensitive-person-relationship_n_7614832.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

Plants Communicate Using An Internet Of Fungus

 

Hidden beneath the surface and entangled in the roots of Earth’s astonishing and diverse plant life, there exists a biological superhighway linking together the members of the plant kingdom in what researchers call the “wood wide web”. This organic network operates much like our internet, allowing plants to communicate, bestow nutrition, or even harm one another.

The network is comprised of thin threads of fungus known as mycelium that grow outwards underground up to a few meters from its partnering plant, meaning that all of the plant life within a region is likely tapped into the network and connected to one another. The partnership of the roots of plants and the fungi is known as mycorrhiza and is beneficial for both parties involved; plants provide carbohydrates to the fungi and in exchange, the fungi aids in gathering water and providing nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen to its partnering plant.

This fungal network has been found to allow plants to aid one another in growth and flourishing. University of British Columbia graduate Suzanne Simard was the first to show that trees such as the Douglas fir and Paper birch were capable of transferring carbon to smaller trees that may not be receiving enough sunlight, allowing seedlings to grow in the shade of other trees. Simard believes that many of the world’s seedlings would not be able to survive if it weren’t for the lifeline this network provides.

A study conducted by Ren Sen Zeng of the South China Agricultural University found that this interconnectivity also allows for plants to warn one another of potential harm. In the study, the team grew potted pairs of tomato plants where some of the pairs were allowed to form mycorrhizae. When the fungal networks had formed, one plant of each pair was sprayed with Alternaria solani, a fungus that causes early blight disease in plant life. Air-tight plastic bags were used to assure there was no above ground interaction. After 65 hours, the team tried to infect the second plant of each pair and found that those with mycelia bonds were far less likely to contract the blight and had much lower levels of damage if they did contract it than those with no mycelia.

A similar study was done by University of Aberdeen graduate David Johnson and a team of colleagues that showed Broad Beans also utilized the fungal network to eavesdrop on one another for impending danger. As hungry aphids fed on the leaves of one of the Broad Bean plants, the plants connect via mycelia began to excrete their anti-aphid chemical defenses, while those that were not connected had no reaction.

"Some form of signalling was going on between these plants about herbivory by aphids, and those signals were being transported through mycorrhizal mycelial networks."
-David Johnson

Like our internet, this fungal connectivity is also susceptible cyber crime, terrorism, and even warfare. Some plants, such as the Phantom Orchid, do not have the chlorophyll necessary for photosynthesis and must leech the necessary nutrients for survival from surrounding plants. Other plants, such as Golden Marigolds and American Black Walnut Trees have been found to release toxins into the network to hinder the growth of surrounding plants in the fight for water and light.

Some research suggests that animals such as insects and worms may be able to detect subtle exchanges of nutrients through the network, allowing them to more easily find savory roots to feed on; however, this has never been conclusively demonstrated in experimentation.

"These fungal networks make communication between plants, including those of different species, faster, and more effective. We don't think about it because we can usually only see what is above ground. But most of the plants you can see are connected below ground, not directly through their roots but via their mycelial connections."
-Kathryn Morris

The more we learn about this phenomenon, the more our understanding of the plant life of our planet will continue to change. Perhaps one day, we may be able to peacefully map out these complex fungal networks to appreciate them in their entirety.

Sources
Fleming, Nic. "Plants Talk to Each Other Using an Internet of Fungus." BBC Earth. N.p., 11 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

Harley, J. L., and J. S. Waid. "A Method of Studying Active Mycelia on Living Roots and Other Surfaces in the Soil." Sciencedirect. Department of Botany, University of Oxford, England, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

Photo Sources
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141111-plants-have-a-hidden-internet

http://timewheel.net/Tome-Plants-Communicate-Using-An-Internet-Of-Fungus

BBC - Earth - Plants talk to each other using an internet of fungus

It's an information superhighway that speeds up interactions between a large, diverse population of individuals. It allows individuals who may be widely separated to communicate and help each other out. But it also allows them to commit new forms of crime.
No, we're not talking about the internet, we're talking about fungi. While mushrooms might be the most familiar part of a fungus, most of their bodies are made up of a mass of thin threads, known as a mycelium. We now know that these threads act as a kind of underground internet, linking the roots of different plants. That tree in your garden is probably hooked up to a bush several metres away, thanks to mycelia.
The more we learn about these underground networks, the more our ideas about plants have to change. They aren't just sitting there quietly growing. By linking to the fungal network they can help out their neighbours by sharing nutrients and information – or sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxic chemicals through the network. This "wood wide web", it turns out, even has its own version of cybercrime. Read more.......

 

If you have a garden, a wooded lot, a compost pile, or a sunny area where you can't plant vegetables, you can grow King Stropharia.

Fungi Garden Workshops  

http://www.grassrootsherbalism.com/fungigardens-workshop/

This mushroom can perennialize and take resident in your garden soil, coming back year after year if it can find a source of hardwood chips to feed on. King Stropharia tastes earthy, like asparagus cooked in a splash of wine, meaty and delicious. Both the cap and the stem are edible, so don’t trim and toss the stem like other mushrooms! It is called King Stropharia because the mushrooms can get very large, but they are best to eat when young and firm, when the caps are tight to prevent bug infestation.

KING STROPHARIA IS GREAT FOR YOUR GARDEN
King Stropharia (Stropharia rugoso-annulata), also called the “Garden Giant” or “Wine Cap” mushroom, is very good at cleaning soil and water as well. Our chicken house has King Stropharia mycelium threaded through the soil all around it, eating woodchips and straw bedding, forming a mycoremediation barrier for reducing and eliminating coliform bacteria.

Our gardens also have King Stropharia colonizing and enhancing the soil, building and binding the soil together for the plants, unlocking minerals for them, and attracting earthworms that will also contribute their valuable castings to the area.

DON'T HAVE A GARDEN OUR AN OUTDOOR SPACE?
If you don't have a garden, and would like to grow these in your house, just buy one of the 5 lb sawdust spawn bags, open it up upon receipt, and top it with some moist potting soil, about 1 inch deep, close the bag back up with a clothes pin, or some staples, so the moisture is preserved, mist often and then wait. As soon as you see buttons emerging from the soil, mist them to keep moist, so they don’t dry out and shrivel up. One of the easiest mushrooms to grow indoors!

http://www.mushroommountain.com/grow_your_own/kingstropharia.asp

History of Herbalism

Herbalism.

According to the to the World Health Organization, herbal medicine is “the use of crude plant material such as leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds, stems, wood, bark, roots, rhizomes or other plant parts, which may be entire, fragmented or powdered.” (Light, 2012, p. 24). The history of Herbalism is deeply embedded in the development of human cultures, so is shaped by culture and historical context. Since the time of Galen, a famous Turkish physician whose teachings dominated the practice of medicine in Europe for 1500 years, there has been a divide between the professional and the lay practitioner of medicine (Hamilton, 2001). This divide persists today. The main practice of herbalism has been and continues to be a vernacular medicine of the people for the people. Even though the use of herbs as possible preventatives and therapeutics is extremely popular today and represents a large source of revenue ($249,664,836.00 in 2009[1]) for purveyors of natural and health food products there is still only a limited number of professional herbalists.

My colleague, Rowan Hamilton, a British-trained herbalist acknowledges the multitude of herbal healers who came before us:

I would also like to acknowledge and honor those who left no written word behind. These healers, ordinary and extraordinary, knowledgeable, wise and compassionate just got on with the business of healing the sick. They are the silent majority here. From the hills of Wales to the villages of Greece, from the lodges of British Columbia to the cities of Persia; they are the grandmothers and grandfathers who have always cared. They often know more of nature and life itself than the grand physician or philosopher. For them an injured lamb or a child in fever calls all their attention. They are still there and care for us in need if we only know how to find them and listen. (Hamilton, 2001)

We humans have a long history of using herbs. There is evidence that by 1500 BC there was a thriving trade in herbs.  The materia medicas (a system of classifying medicinal herbs giving detailed descriptions of the plants and their uses) of ancient cultures like India, Egypt, and Babylon reflect that trade in their similarities (Hamilton, 2001). Plaques illustrating herbs have been discovered in Persia (modern Iran), that when carbon-dated were found to be over 60,000 years old[2].  As Alexander the Great engaged in the conquest of  the known world in the third century B.C. his physicians recorded all the medicinal herbs they came upon ranging from present day herbs like flaxseed to garlic and cannabis (Hamilton, 2001).

It seems probable that the rhizotomaki or root gatherers in ancient Greece created the first materia medica.  The earliest written record is from Diocles, a pupil of Aristotle in the fourth century (Hamilton, 2001). The biggest leap in the development of the modern materia medica was made by the armies of Rome as they recruited and maintained the best doctors and surgeons (Hamilton, 2001). For example, Yarrow, a powerful styptic (used to stop bleeding) was applied by Roman physicians on the battlefields.  Yarrow was also one of the plants pictured on the pre-historic Persian plaques.  It is also thought to be the plant used to bathe Achilles when he was a baby to make him invulnerable. Unfortunately, Achilles mother, who had been told by the Gods to bathe her son in a bath containing the extract of Yarrow, had to hold onto the baby by one foot while she dipped him in the bath. The place where she held him was the heel of one foot, which was not covered in the solution of Yarrow. Hence, Achilles was not protected at that one point—his heel, so he was killed by an arrow which struck him in the heel (Achilles’ heel is still in use in our language today). 

The great materia medicas were developed through a combination of trade and warfare among ancient peoples. It was with the advent of the first herbals (medicas written for the lay person), that herbal knowledge really began to spread. Herbals were among the first books printed in China and Europe.  In 1653, at around the time that the first moveable type printing press was developed in the west, Culpepper published the Complete Herbal[3]. Women, who were the primary caregivers of the family and the community, were the most frequent users of his herbal. 

Today women are still important family caregivers and female students comprise 90% of my face-to-face classes.  Furthermore, my teaching is still focused on medicine for the people by the people—practical herbalism.  Herbals were, and are, currently available for self-education and guidance on safe self-medication, as in the case of Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine (1995).

Given the widespread sale and use of herbs today, there is more than ever a need for good herbals, herbal education, and wise healers (women and men). Modern allopathic medicine does not encourage self-medication, although large numbers of synthetic patent medicines are available over the counter at any western drug store and sales of patent medicines (non-prescription medicines) represent a major and highly profitable business. The division of opinion and practice between conventional medical practice and herbalism is still very much alive and well.

To complement and enhance a student’s study of Herbalism I have added some very basic introductions to the major studies of Ayurveda, Process Oriented Psychology, and Shamanism.

The oldest existing therapeutic systems used by humanity for health and well-being are called Traditional Medicine or Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TM/CAM).    Increasingly, TM/CAM is being formally used within existing health-care systems. When practiced correctly, TM/CAM can help protect and improve citizens’ health and well-being. The appropriate use of TM/CAM therapies and products, however, requires consideration of issues of safety, efficacy and quality. This is the basis of consumer protection and is no different, in principle, from what underpins modern medical practice. Upholding basic requirements for the modern practice of TM/CAM therapies can support national health authorities in the establishment of adequate laws, rules, and licensing practices (World Health Organization, 2010, p. vii).

 

[1] http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue86/article3530.html

[2] http://www.greenbush.net/historyofherbs.html

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Culpeper