Address Chronic Complaints Holistically with an Herbal Consultation
Do you have a little ache or cough or bigger, scarier ongoing condition that you haven’t completely decided that you’ll just have to live with? Welcome to the club.
In my consultation practice, I see more than a hundred people every year. Most of them walk in the door with a specific health concern. It may be anything from a frequent bladder infection to migraine headaches. They may have tried over the counter drug store remedies, asked their doctor for advice and even tried to determine the most appropriate herbal treatment by themselves. Many of my clients are driven to my practice by pure frustration, the final feeling: "I’m through screwing around—I want something that works!"
Take Lisa, for example. She came to me a few weeks ago because she had headaches that appeared at approximately the same time every month and had recently developed a nasty rash, resembling hives ― all signs indicating liver/hormone imbalance. After she made her appointment for the initial consultation, I gave her my usual homework assignment. (I like to get people involved in their own health right off the bat!) I asked Lisa to fill out a 3-day food diary as well as a simple, but complete, medical history. Additionally, I asked her to bring to the consultation "everything you’re taking" (in the original containers). In Lisa’s case, this consisted of her daily vitamins and supplements. For anyone who is taking prescription medication (including birth control pills!) it is especially important to tell your health care practitioner exactly what you are taking, because some items might conflict with an herbal program. I like to have the exact information on the bottles so I can do my own safety research.
Lisa’s homework assignments gave us plenty to discuss during her 90-minute consultation. Although Lisa was maintaining a balanced diet with more fiber and less sugar than most Americans, she needed to be reminded not to use plastic containers in the microwave and a few other eating tips. I provided handouts. Her medical history was fairly straightforward—a broken bone, but no major trauma or surgeries into her mid-thirties. I made a few suggestions for switching suppliers on some of her supplements, mostly towards purer forms. If I can get someone to take an herb instead of a supplement, I believe it is more absorbable and usually cheaper.
In addition to the three tonic teas (nettles, red clover and oat straw) included in Lisa’s Starter Kit, I addressed her acute concerns with capsules of Burdock Root, omega-3 capsules of essential fatty acids, and a Milk Thistle Seed tincture. Four days later, Lisa called to say that her rash had gone away and she was feeling very good! (These results are VERY typical.)
Because she was making such fast progress on the condition that drove her to consult an herbalist, she was eager to address less critical health concerns. We turned our attention to her overall health, focusing on a liver support program. She also was experiencing minor panic attacks and sleep problems. I’ve given her a tincture of Passionflower, Agrimony, and Valerian Root to help reduce the "mind chatter" that is common with difficult sleep patterns. We will continue to track her progress with "tune-ups" or re-check sessions, as needed. It is my hope that she will see the simple beauty of herbs and incorporate them more and more into her life for overall better health.
Many people feel that consulting with an herbalist would be too much time and trouble. They put up with discomfort or real pain for months or years while trying to chase down the "magic bullet" pill or herb that will make everything better. They may never understand that nutrition is the foundation to health. They can’t expect to keep feeding their bodies fast food hamburgers and French fries, washed down with a super sized diet soda, and enjoy the benefits of radiant health. New information and research continually indicates that natural forms of food prove to be best in the long run (i.e., real butter vs. margarine). I tell my clients to emphasize "smart food" every day. Grocery stores, while carrying many foods I wouldn’t think of eating, are beginning to carry some convenience health foods like organic fresh/frozen vegetables that were picked at their ripest and will keep almost all of their vitamins when gently steamed. Think simple and as close to a natural state as possible when selecting food. Finding and sharing local organic food sources is a constant interest of mine.
For snacks, I emphasize fruit and whole nuts in the shell, the ultimate convenience food. Slip a couple of tangerines in your pocket and you’ve got a sweet pick-me-up for the middle of the afternoon; an ideal source of your RDA of vitamin C.
Lisa is still doing well; she’s even started asking questions about herbal medicine for her children and husband. Nothing like a little herbal magic!
"Address Chronic Complaints Holistically with an Herbal Consultation," Trilby Sedlacek with LaDawn Edwards, from The Stone Path and the Green Health Archives.
Copyright © 2005 Green Angels & Healing Arts