Iím an herbalist. Herbal medicine is the form of medicine I chose to use, just like I might choose a particular religion or form of worship. And to me, the right to decide which substances will be put into the bodies of my children and into my own body, is, or ought to be, a fundamental right. As Americans, do we have this right? Does the Constitution protect our freedom to make this choice? Who is in charge of my health? Who is in charge of your health?
My answer is ME! Iím the one who gets to decide. My decision should be based on wisdom, and I should have freedom of access to those who have that wisdom. I donít want to be prejudiced either way. I want whatís best for my family, my clients and me. We have a wonderful joke among herbalists, "Donít take me to an herbalist if I get hit by a truck―take me to the emergency room." Now Iíve been known to saw a cast off so I could put a poultice on a bone, but Iím not so blinded by my love of herbs that I donít have the wisdom to seek appropriate medical attention. Either way, itís still me who decides. Or is it?
I recently spoke at a meeting at our capital in Des Moines, Iowa about this freedom. Herbal medicine is called the "traditional medicine of the people," I said, since most of the world still uses it as the major form of medicine. I think of Modern medicine as an option, that I use as infrequently as possible because of its bad record of negative side effects. A three thousand year history of herbal medicine use holds a lot more weight for me than 50 something years of rat research. I spoke of my 13 plus years of private practice as an herbalist without ever hurting a single person. I spoke of the benefits of our allies, the plants, and of how wrong it is to say that no one can teach the wisdom of these beautiful beings and help people use them in safe and healing ways. Tears blurred my vision as I asked them to consider all of the people who would just have to suffer without the ready availability of these therapeutic plants. We need their medicine and spirit energy to survive as the antibiotics and superficial chemical drugs fail to work (as they already are starting to do). We canít even breathe without them.
This issue of who is in charge of my health has to do with self-responsibility; it has to do with a belief that the body heals itself. Real plants are much more able to work with the genetic/evolutionary coding in our bodies. Our bodies were made to work with the energetic patterns given off by the plants when we ingest them. They help our cells, our tissues, and the energetic integrity of our bodies remember how to be in balance once again. I donít think one can get that from a pill made in a chemical laboratory.
We got lazy; it isnít the doctorís fault. We all wanted the magic pill. We didnít want to have to eat better, develop healthier life styles; we wanted the quick fix. We gave away our power. At my sonís elementary school I took some power back. They suggested that maybe medication would help him learn faster. Since the chemical drug they were suggesting is an addictive stimulant, I stated that I would put him on an herbal program instead. He did better, but not good enough. They suggested the drug again. I said, "If he could be dosed his herbs at school they would be much more effective." I was told that a medical doctor would have to "sign off" (approve) on the medicine. "What an interesting concept!" I thought. However, I did go to my sonís doctor, who didnít remember us since we only go for mandatory physicals for sports/school, but who did, in the end, sign the school form for the formula I designed. My Childrenís Nervine formula contains over 12 different herbs, and when our doctor asked about "that new herb echhinacceeeaaa," thatís when it hit me that this whole situation was totally absurd. Why does this person who knows nothing about herbal medicine have the authority to sign this paper? So, in my subtle way I said," Isnít this kind of like having the Electrical inspector sign off on the Plumbing inspection." I donít think she got it.
I did take the signed forms back to my childís school and he did get his herbs right alongside the kids getting their potentially harmful stimulants. I did tell the school nurse that this situation wasnít right, and that I was the tip of an iceberg, that people will want to be able to go to the expert ― that is, to the person they hold to be the expert concerning the form of therapy they prefer ― and have their expert sign the form, not a person that canít even pronounce Echinacea. I thought to myself, I pay that nurseís salary just like all the other taxpayers; why is my form of medicine discriminated against? I offered to do a free presentation on herbal medicine to the nurses in our school district; she never took me up on it.
I try to walk softly in this world; the plants are under my feet. I value my freedom and my health. I was shocked to know that the laws as they are currently written make what I do everyday illegal. I thought that as long as I was careful, honest and made no claims inappropriate to my training and education level that my practice would be honored. I was wrong. Technically, anyone can be accused of practicing medicine without a license for suggesting anything that is healing. This would include recommending peppermint tea for a stomachache. This would incriminate Peter Rabbitís mother for giving him chamomile tea to get him to sleep. We need to stand up for our birthrights to be able to use the plants of this earth, the weeds that grow in your own back yard, spiritís gift to you for being a member of planet earth.
"Herbal Discrimination," Trilby Sedlacek, AHG, from The Stone Path and the Green Health Archives
Copyright © 2005 Green Angels & Healing Arts