In an attempt to not sit on reviews for months before publishing, I'm writing this one on my commute home from "Green Medicine - An Introduction to Herbalism," which I just finished. In typical me style, I knew nothing about the class (liked the title) nor the venue (New York Open Center) but on an excited whim, signed myself up for a slew of lessons on a variety of subjects through fall, winter and into next year. Today was straight from work to Whole Foods for a dinner that I ate while walking (not chic but eating was a nice change from the juice cleansing I was loyal to all weekend) and into a night class. As if we need more to do. Hold please - transferring trains. The class was so good. I want to take the full um four month three-days-a-week course except that I might have to give up sleeping to do so. I'll keep you posted. For now, here are some highlights:
- Herbalism and natural medicine was last mainstream in the 1960s, obvi. After which point it was overtaken by Western Medicine via opium to the discovery of morphine; heroine on the shelves alongside aspirin; The Germ Theory vs The Terrain Theory; vaccinations, pre-antibiotics, antibiotics and vaccinations.
- Herbs are not as effective as traditional medication. Simply true. However effective is subjective (are we talking pain management or healing?) and acute versus chronic ailments are important to understand. More on that below.
- Facilitate healing, which our bodies are always doing naturally.
- Are perfect. Not "super" a la superfoods, but perfect. For example, there is no need to hybridize.
- Are sustainable. Ecologically and biologically. (Peeka (teacher) recommends having some type of herb in the body at all times.)
- Do not create dependencies.
- Where to get them? Weed your yard. Offer to buy your local farmer's weeds. Join a community garden. (I run by one every weekend and for the first time, yesterday stopped and considered joining. Probably will. See above re quitting sleeping.)
- Can the herbalist name her favorite herb? A cure-all if such exists? Well, the three that lived through Western Medicine's weed-wack are: lavender, chamomile and peppermint. No surprises. Peeka also loves Rosa Gallica ("The Apothecary Rose" which I now need, and for which rosaries were named) and Damask Rose - both un-hybridized since the 12th (?) century.
- Rose was successfully used to treat The Plague. And those ominous beak masks the doctors wore? They were full of flowers.
The Plague Doctor's Costume: The mask had glass openings for the eyes and a curved beak shaped like that of a bird. Straps held the beak in front of the doctor's nose. The mask had two small nose holes and was a type of respirator which contained aromatic items. The beak could hold dried flowers (including roses and carnations), herbs (including mint), spices, camphor, or a vinegar sponge. The purpose of the mask was to keep away bad smells, which were thought to be the principal cause of the disease in the miasma theory of infection, before it was disproved by germ theory. Doctors believed the herbs would counter the "evil" smells of the plague and prevent them from becoming infected.
- She loves Tulsi (so do I - one of my first herbs, actually), and lemon balm (aka "the gladdening herb". But, a cure-all? Nettles. (Saw that one coming huh?)
- Rather than studying the encyclopedic benefits of the world of herbs, get to know a few intimately. Consider them your allies. Grow from there. (And I'm reminded again of my intention to begin plant dieting, which is actually on my to-do list. Plant dieting is a shamanistic study, not a tea cleanse.) ;)
- Acute ailments (cold, flu, fever) are forms of discharge, or our bodies expelling illness. We aggressively suppress these (via meds). Potentially, the result of that is chronic disease (diabetes, cancer).
- Caveat: this is Peeka's POV ->Cancer is the body's inability to distinguish natural from unnatural due to having been overwhelmed by toxins, medication, poor diet and lifestyle. Herbs provide a reawakening for natural healing to occur. They serve to augment and cultivate daily health. Which is, prevention.
- We are vibrational beings. (No caveat, this one is truth.)
- Recommendation: Consume local herbs. To lessen your footprint but also because they are best for grounding and reassociating you with the land on which you stand (and/or see from time to time, if you live in NYC).
- Peeka Trenkle, tonight's teacher
- Book: Green Pharmacy: A History of Herbal Medicine
- American Herbalists Guild
- United Plant Savers
- American Botanical Council
- Hoxsey Therapy and a film about Harry Hoxsey, When Healing Becomes a Crime
- ErthlyDlights, for Cliff Notes from the high road.