I’m really excited about today’s topic. One of the Mamas on our team- my illustrious sister, Mesha just happens to be a nurse, a teacher, and herb genius extraordinaire. (I know, you’re all jealous. You should be. If I wasn’t me I’d be jealous of me.) I have been going through classes that she has taught and for this post I have focused on the portions where she has talked about the spiritual and practical sides of the “Why” of herbs. We are unabashedly Christian here at NMM but we try to keep the principles applicable to almost any faith. Sometimes you may have to change a title, but for the most part the points contained herein are universal. Here is a partial transcript of one of her classes that discussed this topic(keeping in mind that this is a transcript, and people do not talk like they write, so the written form of her talking will be a little different than a formal article):
‘…Mom turned to herbal capsules and she found some that really helped her a lot. She also found things that were very helpful for us as we were growing and she always felt very strongly about not eating processed foods so that is how we were raised. Then I went to nursing school and I’ve been a nurse for 20 years so I’ve spent my career in the medical field and I didn’t go away from herbs but I was distracted. But through my career I would always think, “Is this how the Lord intended it to be? My mom was really good about teaching us to think that way.” I have taken care of really sick people, most of my experience is in cardiology. I spent 4 years at the University of Utah and I took care of neuro-trauma patients, I served a mission in Bolivia and I’ve seen a lot of poverty and seen illness as a result of poverty and it really has made me think about what our purpose is. Really what the purpose of our bodies here. I thought a lot about- is this how it should be. And I don’t say this to deride medicine because I spent my career in that I’ve taken care of 1000’s of people and there is nowhere else in the world I would rather go if I was in a car accident. We have the best trauma and plastic surgeons in the world. There is nowhere else I would go if I had an acute illness. We have the best medicine in the world so I do not wish to deride that. I think my concern comes in some of our management of chronic illness and prevention of those things as well.
So a few years ago we were having a get together in our family and we were talking about how we all needed to go back to what we had grown up with and learn a little bit more about it. It was somewhat stimulated by the expense of regular health care. So we decided that we were going to start teaching each other. We got together twice a month to start teaching each other and we started planting things in our yards and learned how to grow them and use them. We learned as we went. We also have had concerns about, ‘What if I couldn't get this stuff? What if I couldn’t order it?’ We started understanding that the Lord gave us the things that we need around us. Where we live that we have the remedies we need. That is part of the beauty of this earth. We believe that the Lord gave us these herbs to benefit us.
‘Scripturally speaking, after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, it says that ‘the earth was cursed for his sake’ and I find that really interesting because sometimes we see that as a detrimental thing. 'It was cursed so he could have trials and tribulations.' But weeds have the best nutrition that we can find. Yellow dock, burdock, stinging nettle are all weeds that are loaded with minerals and vitamins and really good things for our bodies.
Here the amazing things about the plants too. When you eat a plant it has all the other things your body needs to digest the nutrients. An example of that is Rosehips. We all know that we need vitamin C. and Vitamin c is water soluble. What that means is that as soon as your cells are saturated with it that your body gets rid of the excess in your urine. So you can’t really store vitamin c in your body. But rosehips have magnesium and chromium and other things that help your body break it down so you metabolize it better and utilize it better. When you take a vitamin c tablet from the store, it just saturates and it’s gone. But when you take rosehips or oranges your body holds onto it a little bit better. My next scripture is from Psalms 104:14. ‘He causes the grass to grow for the cattle and herb for the service of man that he may bring forth food out of the earth.’…
‘ In my dream world, Allopathic medicine would be blended with alternative medicine and then we could do amazing things. That’s just my opinion. We need allopathic medicine but I feel that we can do a little bit better. And there are some physicians who are recognizing that. Normally you’d have to go to naturopathic doctor or a certified herbalist but now there are actual MDs who are practicing actual integrative medicine. It’s gaining traction which is awesome.
Let’s compare how medications are made verses herbs. A plant has complete stuff in it. Like beans when you soak them, soaking them makes it so you get the enzymes that make it easier to digest them. But a medication is an extract- a really finely tuned extract. Let’s step back to the beginning of allopathic medicine. Aspirin is a derivative from willow. There is a chemical in willow called salicylic acid. Someone learned (probably from Native Americans) that they were using it for pain and said, “Well maybe if I extract it then I can market it” and they figured out that they could extract it from willow and that is the base for aspirin. And so aspirin is a great drug. You can use it to prevent heart attacks but it also can cause your stomach to bleed and other problems and that’s because it’s one chemical from the Willow. If you were to make an actual extract from Willow, you’re not going to have a GI bleed, it’s not going to eat up your stomach because it has all of the other things in your stomach to protect your stomach so that you don’t have the problem and you still get pain relief from it.
Another example that you may hear of if you continue to do more research is Comfrey. Comfrey traditionally is talked about as being a really bad plant internally. If you look carefully at the studies that were done (which really were not very many) there was one study where they took the Comfrey root and they extracted allicin and made it really potent. Like 6 times more than a person would want to use and they fed it to young rats exclusively for 6 months. Lo and behold the rats got cancer. When you look at that study you have to ask, ‘Is that the way that Comfrey is meant to be used? Was it meant to be extracted down and potentized and fed to young rats?’ No, that’s not how it was intended to be used so it’s not really a surprise that the rats got cancer because that chemical wasn’t being used the right way.’
‘If you think about things like morphine it comes from the opium plants. Digoxin is from the digitalis plant. Most of our medications are taken from nature and changed. To me that is one of the biggest evidences … we have changed our thinking so much about this.
I think it’s really interesting to read these statistics. I tend to be careful about reading statistics. Partly because I take care of those people- who when people talk about ‘x’ number of people died in car crash because they didn’t wear their seat belts or because they did this or did that… I’ve seen them, they are not just numbers. They are real people, they have real lives, they have real loss... I’ve taken care of those people. There are thousands of people that die every year from prescription drugs and that is a real thing and I don’t mean to say that to scare anybody like, ‘Don’t take your prescription drugs’- that’s not what I’m saying… to me it is just a another evidence and opportunity to ask, ‘Are we really doing this right?’
‘This is something that’s really important and I don’t know what everyone’s background is but I really hope it’s something you’ll consider learning more about. We have what we would consider traditions of our fathers as it pertains to medicine. That is, ‘Take a pill and fix it.’ or, ‘Take this pill and call me in the morning.’ And that has worked for us ok. So for example, 'I’ve got eczema, I’ve got asthma, I’ve got diabetes. So that means I need eczema cream, I need and inhaler and I need insulin.' Just remember when we take those things I call it a bandaid approach. It doesn’t heal your body at all to put an eczema cream on your eczema, it doesn’t heal your body to use a steroid inhaler for asthma- it just covers the symptoms. This is actually what they call it in medicine, it’s called, ‘symptomatic treatment.’
So what I’m encouraging you to do is to take ownership of your health. What does that mean? What that means is that we think about why? There are many ancient approaches to health. There’s the Chinese approach, there’s the Ayurvedic approach, there’s the Native American way of doing medicine, etc. They all vary but they all have very interesting similarities. They’re all from different parts of the world (and remember that these practices have been used for thousands of years) and all of them ask, “WHY”. Why do I have eczema? What am I missing in my diet that’s given me eczema? What if I have asthma? What do I need to do to support my lungs better? . This is also one reason why people get frustrated with alternative medicine is because one size does not fit all. Everybody’s body chemistry is unique. We need to ask what have I done to create this dis-ease? What is out of balance in my body?”
What did I tell you? She’s pretty amazing. Of course, that wasn’t an entire course. She’s full of all kinds of philosophical treasures and nuggets of botanical wisdom. She has much more knowledge to impart upon the waiting world. It is on our ‘To Do list’ to expand our educational offerings so be watching for her spring of sagaciousness in the near future.
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