Often when I mention herbal medicine, people tell me that it is not practical. They argue that herbal medicine cannot help all medical situations. I agree with that statement. I do not think that western medicine is all bad. I think that if we combine the positives of western, eastern, and what I refer to as “ancestral” medicines then we will have the best of all worlds. However, from my perspective and experience, western medicine leaves a lot to be desired in their approaches of how they treat medical situations, especially the non-emergency (non-life-threatening) ones.
We have to truly take into account the entire realm in which western medicine is practiced in most cases. It is a society that is in a time crunch, detached from ancestors’ wisdom, majority have unhealthy diets, and a quick answer to short-term symptoms and even chronic issues is often easier than a hard resolution to a long-term problem. The majority of people’s bodies is often in constant battle and overwhelmed with toxins. But, here is an example of herbal medicine and how it helped my family.
This past week, my house saw the worst health of all of our family in over a year or longer. My daughter started with a stomach bug. I thought we were done after that. Then I got sick, then my son, and then my husband. My daughter turned around and got sick again. Now, for a family that has seen nothing major but stuffy noses and upset tummies for over a year, this was difficult. As things progressed, it appeared we may have been battling a mild flu or a very nasty cold type of illness.
I did not rush my children or husband off to the doctor’s office. We rarely go and knew what the typical response would be. The doctor may prescribe a bit of antibiotics, some steroids, or some over the counter medication to mask the symptoms so we could carry on with our lives and not respond to our bodies. No, that won’t work for us. So, what is one to do when your children are uncomfortable, your husband is miserable and needs to work, and you are sick while caring for them all?
You listen to your body and offer up some natural remedies. So, here is an example of where our practical herbal medicine and other treatments helped us get through this time.
For my daughter – I offered her up lavender to calm her nerves about her stomach and help aid her in sleep. I used lavender essential oil and could apply it directly to her skin with no harm. We let her stomach empty, sleep, and then begin with slowly re-hydrating. Then later, I applied peppermint essential oil on the forehead to ease her headache. We used cool rags to keep her comfortable for the worst part of her fever, but never did it get too high to cause alarm. Willow bark was on stand-by to help with the fever it would have gotten much higher. We let it run the course and she is back to normal and feeling great.
For my son – Lavender essential oil was also used to help him calm down a bit as he is very energetic and does not allow anything to run its natural course. Again, we emptied his stomach, rubbed his head to help him doze off from time to time during the worst of the nausea, and also slowly reintroduced water via sipping slowly and sparingly to ensure not to upset his stomach. He started getting pretty stuffy and green discharge from his nose. I would take the cap off of the eucalyptus essential oil and he would breathe in deeply. This seemed to do the trick with a lot of blowing of his nose once we had loosened it up a bit. In the past, I have had the children do eucalyptus steam treatments if the congestion got to be too much, and have massaged eucalyptus essential oil diluted with a carrier oil of almond on their chest to help break up chest congestion. He bounced right back (before the rest of us were ready for his energetic self, but we celebrated with him from our lazy spots… or tried).
My husband had nausea but was luckier than the rest of us, so he was treated with ginger and chamomile tea to help settle his stomach and help him sleep. He was also the last to be “infected” and so we were able to nip his in the bud a bit better. I made him a vegetable soup filled with fresh garlic (Vitamin A,B,C) and rosemary (great for colds and flu) (both antibacterial), parsley (antioxidant, Vit A and C), Oregano (antiseptic – great for digestive issues) and black pepper (stimulates digestive and great for colds), and some fresh organic veggies. He also took two doses of elderberry (anti-inflamatory and terrific for boosting immune response – great for colds, flu, and other feverish illnesses). He recovered almost wholly by the next day.
Me… well, I kept the lavender oil on, slept when I could, two doses of elderberry and water. I did partake in the soup as well, which helped me bounce right back.
Now, the day my husband really started showing signs of his illness creeping in, he had just gotten a new tattoo. Well, he needed an ointment for his tattoo. So, I mixed up the following essential oils in some coconut oil with some vitamin E: tea tree, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint. He has used it to apply on the freshly inked area to keep from any infection and to relieve his skin. I could have turned into a balm by mixing beeswax with the coconut oil (melting them both) and then adding in the remaining oils. It would have then hardened and been balm vs. an ointment. However, I was not feeling that at all! But the tat looks great and is healing well!
Now, I admit that we could have popped some over the counter meds and just went about our days spreading our gifts. However, that is not what our bodies needed. We listened to them, took their advice, and gave them what we could – rest, nourishment, time, and love. Our bodies are the most amazing healers, if we don’t do anything to get in their way. We relieved our symptoms the best we could, and I think it turned out to not be any worse than being sick for a week because we didn’t listen to our bodies.
Now, keep in mind, we are fairly healthy people. We eat well and almost all organic and homemade. Our bodies are not fighting near as many toxins as most, so they may be able to fight illnesses better than some. So, is herbal medicine practical? It can be and was for us. There will be a time when herbs and oils will not cut it, and we will not reject other forms of medicine as long as it is the right thing for the situation. However, I am going to keep on studying herbal medicine and other “alternative” and ancestral medicines as well.
We listened to our bodies, and they responded. We showed them love, and love responded.
Please… practice any form of medicine, healing with respect and knowledge. I am not saying that our experience will work for everyone. It is what worked for us.