Self Care and Activism: What I Have Learned The Hard Way

selfcareOkay, so the election happen. Suddenly I have clients coming out of the woodwork needing help at a time when I am not doing so well myself.  While I would like to blame that on post-election anxiety, that is not my problem.

Some of my close friends know that that I am not exactly neurotypical. Even when things are flowing smoothly, daily life taxes me.  I also have chronic health issues I was born with. I know how to handle it, but it is super frustrating to have to work twice as hard to accomplish anything- including sticking to a regimen. I believe that it my own struggle that makes me especially good at helping my clients adopt strategies.   If I can do it, anyone can.  Unfortunately that doesn’t mean I don’t stumble.  Everyone stumbles

One of my problems is that I am by nature one of those people who needs to do something about the problems I see in the world.  I tend to jump into activism and helping others, often at the expense of my own wellness.

As we move into days when more of us are going to take up the role of activist,  I want to share a story with you.  I know people talk about this on a “how to” level times, but I hoped a very personal story might do more to establish a need, in your mind.

My husband and I threw ourselves into the Occupy movement with a fervor. I had some basic teach-ins on avoiding hypothermia and warding off illness in tight quarters, but none of the occupiers really embraced  the importance of self-care to the sustainability of the movement.

We learned that lesson the hard way.  We lived through tragedy and dealt with disappointments by burning out or turning to shitty coping mechanisms and bad decision making. Recovering from that took awhile for both my husband and I— and a shit ton of  therapy.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always let up to give you time to heal.  The last couple of years has been tough on my family.  It seems like just when we got through one crisis, another one popped up. I  was so busy taking care of everyone else, taking care of me slipped through the cracks.

The smallest thing can be your undoing.  For me,  it was a broken tooth and a round of antibiotics that threw me off  my game so far that symptoms started cropping up. I fell behind on work because sitting in a chair for too long hurts. Everything I write  sounds like crap because my brain is foggy due to lack of sleep and constant pain.  RIght now, I am so overwhelmed, fighting with the Internet company to come out and fix my broken e-mail seems like it is just too much to handle.

All of this is just a very long way of saying, it is easier to stay healthy than it is to get well.

When you work as a clinician, it can be a weird emotional dynamic to admit that in this moment; your illness has the best of you. It is embarrassing.  It seems like a shortcoming, or possibly even a marketing liability which is ridiculous.   I found myself worrying that someone would let me go from an assignment if they found out I was struggling.  So, I chose to keep quiet about it until now.

But pretending to be okay when you aren’t, isn’t setting a very good example.

I will get back on track. I’ve managed my physical condition for most of my adult life with little input from physicians or other herbal clinicians.   Before this fall, the last time I had to work briefly with physicians was after a trip to the ER in 2012.   I am focusing on me now and I’ve got this.  But like any protocol, I won’t be better overnight.

And this time I vow to do that without feeling guilty about putting myself first.   It isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity. It can be the difference between being able to participate in creating the change that needs to happen, or not.  I found the quote above and I plan on living it.

I am thinking lot about how I can better guide my clients towards healthy outcomes, too.  We need new approaches that are inexpensive and accessible–especially as it seems least possible that the country will be taking giant steps backward in regards to healthcare access.

Don’t worry I don’t want to talk about politics…yet.

I want to use my story as an example.  I want to urge my clinician friends to really engage in radical self-care, right now.

Our  communities are going to need us to be at our best.  Remember that your first responsibility in the hard days that may follow is to care for yourself.

It is also important to encourage others to care for themselves.  Reach out to those  clients you think might be in danger of burning out. Insist that your apprentices and students make time for themselves. At Goddard we were required to show that we were engaging in self-care in order to get our degree.

Be wary of groups who don’t encourage their members to take breaks and make themselves and their family a priority.  Know that there are activist groups out there whose leadership will burn through  their volunteers’ spirits and leave them quite literally for dead.

I guess what I am saying is look out for one another, please.  I love you all.

Yellow Dock’s Versatile History

Yellow dock provides such interesting contrast in color and texture to a garden.

Yellow dock provides such interesting contrast in color and texture to a garden.

I don’t put a lot of my plant articles on my blog because they are usually long and heavily referenced, but  one of my publishers Amanda does allow us to  publish the articles we write for Natural Herbal Living Magazine on our own websites.  You should definitely check it out if you are interested in more great articles about Yellow Dock!  You can subscribe to upcoming issues of the magazine and order backcopies!  Today I am posting this article because I went out to pick some rue and took a picture of my yellow dock I wanted to share with readers. 

The herb yellow dock has a long and interesting history of use that might actually surprise some people who only use the root, but I first want to explain that when you start looking into this history, it can be a bit confusing. For example, Chin-ch’iao-mai is sometimes given as the Chinese name for yellow dock, but this name is also used to refer to Fagopyrum cymosum (golden buckwheat).1 This seems to be a regional difference with at least one source mentioning “at Peking this is Rumex crispus.”2 This confusion continues to occur in modern times. Here in Iowa, you frequently hear old-timers calling Rumex crispus “sour dock” despite Maud grieves’ assertion that sour dock was a name reserved for sorrel (Rumex acetosa).

Historically, the name dock seems to apply broadly to various member of the Rumex species including Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock) Rumex verticillatus (swamp dock) and Rumex crispus (yellow dock). For example, the Anglo Saxon manuscripts mention dock, but which species this refers to is unclear.3

The Greek Dioscorides didn’t specifically mention a curly-leafed dock in De Materia Medica, although his entry on “lapathum” mentions four different kinds of Rumex including one that resembles plantain.4 It seems likely that these docks were used somewhat interchangeably throughout history. In fact, William Cook writes in the Physio-Medical Dispensatory “the roots of these several species are of the same general characters, though that of the crispus is decidedly the most effective and least astringent.”5

If you are searching specifically for Rumex crispus in sources from the UK you will want to look for the common names of “curled dock,” “curly dock,” or “narrow-leaf dock.” In Irish, Rumex crispus is also copóg chatach which again means “curled dock,”6 and in Scotland, it is called simply docken or copag.7 One herbal historian mentions that children in northern England would draw dock stalks through their fingers to “milk” out the sap and call the plant “curly-cows,” leading one to believe they were speaking specifically of the curly leaves of yellow dock.

A Tonic Root
In On Regimen in Acute Disease, Hippocrates noted that people who have skipped lunch are unlikely to be able to digest their dinner and recommended that “Such persons should take less supper than they are wont, and a pudding of barley-meal more moist than usual instead of bread, and of potherbs the dock, or mallow.”8  This advice makes sense, given yellow dock’s actions in improving digestion which you can read more about in the article on Yellow Dock syrup on page 39.

Culpeper was a fan of all of the docks (he seemed partial to herbs ruled by Jupiter) but asserted that yellow dock was best for those whose “blood or liver was affected by choler,”9 meaning that it countered excess yellow bile due to its cooling properties. According to Greek medicine, yellow bile was a bodily substance that was hot and dry in nature and when present in excess resulted in hot conditions such as fever or irritability. Many modern herbalists take this to mean that yellow dock cools liver heat. He suggested boiling meat with any dock root to make it boil sooner and strengthen the liver but then complained that women wouldn’t add dock to food because it “makes the pottage black.”10

Culpeper was by no means the only herbalist to embrace the root as a liver tonic. Centuries later, the physiomedical physicians such as Cook and the eclectic physicians such as King, Scudder, and Fyfe, classified yellow dock as an alterative which was “especially valuable in cases in which there is evidence of bad blood.” 11 The root was also prescribed by eclectic physicians for a peculiar malady called “melancholia dependent on brain anemia.” This condition, asserted some, was brought on by excessive activity of the mind and excessive excretion of phosphorous resulting in “a diminution of the mental capacities.” 12

Specific Indications
In the days before antibiotics, the dried root was frequently included in formulas that were meant to address specific complaints-most likely because of the root’s perceived ability to cleanse the blood. By 1890, Park, Davis & Company in the US was producing and marketing many different preparations of the root including a fluid extract, a solid extract, and a rumicin concentrate. Yellow dock root was also an ingredient in two of their compound formulas—one being a syrup that contained a few other interesting herbs, including bittersweet nightshade and Virginia creeper:

Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus) 60 grams
Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) 30 grams
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) 15 grams
Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa) 15 grams
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) 60 grams

This formula and others like it were widely used to relieve symptoms of scrofula or skin diseases associated with syphilis. Yellow dock preparations were also mentioned as being specifically useful to those who had a hereditary predisposition to glandular swellings, referred to as strumous diathesis.13

More than Just Root Medicine
Yellow dock probably springs to most herbalists’ minds as a root remedy, however that is really selling this plant short. Dioscorides mentioned the seed of lapathum as being useful against dysentery and other gastrointestinal complaints.14 Culpeper agrees, saying the seeds “stay lasks and fluxes of all sorts,” and “is helpful for those that spit blood.” 15 Maud Grieves confirms the seeds are useful against dysentery.16 Given the prolific number of seeds this plant produces, modern herbalists should investigate these uses. Just keep in mind that the seeds are useful due to astringency, so don’t overdo it.

Another very interesting use of the seeds mentioned in the Anglo Saxon manuscript The Lacnunga is mixing dock seeds and Irish wax and, after a short ritual, placing it on the wounds of a horse that has been elf-shot. This term was used to explain many different illnesses that set on suddenly in both Anglo Saxon and Norse lore.17 In this particular case the term likely refers to a horse suddenly going lame for some reason.

Bald’s Leechbook also mentions dock as being a remedy for water-elf sickness a term that was used during medieval times to refer various illnesses that were accompanied by skin eruptions chicken pox, measles and possibly St. Anthony’s fire, the vernacular name for ergotism.18 The following elf-charm was to be recited after applying the remedy:

“I have wreathed round the wounds the best of healing wreaths, so the baneful sores may neither burn nor burst, nor find their way further, nor turn foul and fallow, nor thump and throb on, nor be wicked wounds, nor dig deeply down; but he himself may hold in a way to health . Let it ache thee o more than ear in earth acheth.
Sing also this many times, “May earth bear on you with all her might and main.” These galdor a man may sing over a wound.19

More frequently though, the Anglo Saxon manuscripts mentioned dock leaves for addressing swellings such as boils or as a remedy for burns and nettle stings.20 This practice carried on in the UK.

The leaves were commonly used as poultices or plasters for various conditions in the early 1900’s. Gabrielle Hatfield’s ethnographic survey of East Anglia revealed that people in that area used the leaf frequently. One respondent sharing “Another remedy I remember was the cure for all bumps, cuts and bruises, was the dock leaf, these too were applied to the wound like plasters, and stopped the bleeding and brought down the bump.” 21  In Ireland, the juice of the leaves would be squeezed onto a cloth and used as compress for bruises.22

Healing Ointments
The plant also has a long history of being included as an ingredient in healing salves. English sources report “the poultice made from narrow-leaved dock ‘has been known to cure a growth on a man’s hand.” 23 Scottish healers also made a healing ointment by boiling the root until it was soft and mixing it with fresh butter.24 Grieves recommends boiling the root in vinegar and then mixing the pulp in lard. The leaves are also useful in salves, herbalist Ryan Drum still includes yellow dock leaves in the recipe for Dr. Drum’s All-Purpose Healing Salve.25

Dock in Nettles Out
Many healing charms in the UK involve taking a bit of dock and rubbing it on nettle stings to relieve the pain. This is an ancient practice first mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Leechbook. In Cornwall, a common healing charm “Dock leaf, dock leaf, you go in; sting nettle, sting nettle, you come out,”26 while in other areas of England, you might hear: “Out nettle in dock; Dock shall have a new smock.”27 One old-timer explained to a researcher that most people didn’t do this right, saying: “The real cure was where a new leaf was growing down at the ground, there was a drop of liquid in it, and this liquid rubbed on the sting cured it.”28 I have to admit that I had used dock somewhat unsuccessfully on nettle stings until trying this trick and I find that it does seem more effective.

Dock in Folklore
In many Irish folktales, you see the phrase bán ag dul ar scáth na copóige, referring to a bright moonlit night. It is a shortened version of a longer Irish saying which translates to, “the moon seeking the shade of the dock and the dock receding from it.”29 Dock also figures prominently in Scottish tales, which credit the plant with being able to break a fairy’s hold over a child. Possession by fairies was a frequent theme in Gaelic lore.
The stories sometimes passed along practical knowledge as well. Hans Christian Anderson’s tale “The Happy Family” talks of the dock forest planted by the people who lived in the manor house as a home for the snails,30 which probably speaks to a once common practice of using docks as shelter plants in heliciculture, the farming of edible terrestrial snails.

1 Shiu-ying Hu, Food Plants of China, Chinese University Press (2005) p 370.
 2 Shizhen Li, Porter Smith, and George Arthur Stuart, Chinese Medicinal Herbs: A Modern Edition of a Classic Sixteenth-Century Manual. Dover Publications (2003) p 385.
 3 Stephen Pollington, Leechcraft: Early English Charms, Plant Lore, and Healing Anglo-Saxon Books (2008).
 4 Dioscorides, Translated by Tess Anne Osbaldeston, De Materia Medica. - Five Books in One Volume: A New English Translation, IBIDIS Press (60AD) p 263.
 5 William Cook, The Physio-Medical Dispensatory: A Treatise on Therapeutics, Materia Medica, and Pharmacy, in Accordance with the Principles of Physiological Medication, Wm. H. Cook (1869) p 457.
 6 Niall Mac Coiter, Irish Wild Plants: Myths, Legends and Folklore, The Collins Press (2008).
 7 Mary Beith, Healing Threads: Traditional Medicines of the Highlands and Islands, Birlinn (2004) p 214.
 8 Hippocrates, Translated by Francis Adams, “On Regimen in Acute Diseases,” 400BCE.
 http://classics.mit.edu//Hippocrates/acutedis.html.
 9 Nicholas Culpeper, Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician [1981 Reprint], J. Gleave and Son, Deansgate (1826).
 10 Ibid.
 11 John William Fyfe, John Milton Scudder, Specific Diagnosis and Specific Medication, 2nd ed., John K. Scudder (1909) p 699.
 12 Waldo Forbush, “Rumex crispus,” Journal of Therapeutics and Dietetics II. (1908) p 169.
 13 George S. Davis, Organic Materia Medica: Including the Standard Remedies of the Leading Pharmacopoeas as Well as Those Articles of the Newer Materia Medica ... and of the Preparations Made Therefrom, 2nd ed., Park, Davis & Company (1890).
 14 Dioscorides, Translated by Tess Anne Osbaldeston, De Materia Medica. - Five Books in One Volume: A New English Translation, IBIDIS Press (60AD).
 15 Nicholas Culpeper, Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician [1981 Reprint], J. Gleave and Son, Deansgate (1826) p 64.
 16 Maud Grieve, A Modern Herbal: The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs, & Trees with All Their Modern Scientific Uses Vol. 1., Dover (1971).
 17 Alaric Hall, Elves in Anglo-Saxon England: Matters of Belief, Health, Gender and Identity, Boydell Press (2007).
 18 Audrey Meaney, “Extra-Medical Elements in Anglo-Saxon Medicine,” Social History of Medicine 24(1) (2011) 41–56.
 19 Thomas Oswald Cockayne, Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England : Being a Collection of Documents, for the Most Part Never before Printed, Illustrating the History of Science in This Country before the Norman Conquest Vol. 2 Longman (1864) pp 353-354.
 20 Stephen Pollington, Leechcraft: Early English Charms, Plant Lore, and Healing Anglo-Saxon Books (2008).
 21 Gabrielle Hatfield, Memory, Wisdom and Healing: The History of Domestic Plant Medicine (Kindle Locations 1974-1976), The History Press (2012), Kindle Edition.
 22 David Elliston Allen, Gabrielle Hatfield, Medicinal Plants in Folk Tradition: An Ethnobotany of Britain & Ireland, Timber Press (2004) p 97.
 23 Mark R. Taylor, Taylor MSS (1920), Norfolk Records Office, Norwich, England 4322.
 24 Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, “18th Century Book of Herbal Remedies: Complete Transcription,” (trans. 2012) Accessed April 10.
 https://www.rcpsg.ac.uk/Librar.
 25 Ryan Drum, “How to Prepare Dr. Drum’s All-Purpose Herbal Salve,” Island Herbs (2010).
 http://www.ryandrum.com/salve.htm.
 26 Niall Mac Coiter, Irish Wild Plants: Myths, Legends and Folklore, The Collins Press (2008).
 27 William Black, Folk-Medicine: A Chapter in the History of Culture, Elliot Stock, (1883) p 194.
 28 Roy Vickery, A Dictionary of Plant-Lore, Oxford University Press (1995).
 29 Niall Mac Coiter, Irish Wild Plants: Myths, Legends and Folklore, The Collins Press (2008).
 30 Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales from Hans Andersen, Oxford University Press (1999).

Reviving the Bean Feasa: Ethnomedicine 101

harvestI wanted to start this new series by explaining my understanding of the pluralistic nature of the health care system that exist in any given society and some other anthropology terms.

I feel like this is important, if a little dry.  Some of the terms I use are also used by people outside the discipline and they don’t  always mean the same thing.  That doesn’t mean anyone is necessarily wrong. It just speaks to the lack of cohesion between disciplines, which is one of my strongest critiques of academic.

Anthropologist, Arthur Kleinman first defined a society’s health care system as being comprised of the popular, folk, and professional sectors. This is the model which I learned in college and has been useful to me in studying the history of healing.

Professional Healers

The professional healthcare sector is comprised of academically trained providers such as MD’s, naturopathic physicians and yes, clinical herbalists.  In the past these healers were often trained through an apprenticeship to a professional healer who agreed to see to their education.  Prescriptive formulas or professional patent medicines employed by professionals. frequently replaced native medicinal preparations.

Cultural healing systems such as Āyurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) were constructs of the literati of their respective cultures. Study was most frequently limited to males of the elite class and required education of a level that few received in these highly stratified societies. Education in these modalities is still expensive to obtain.

Western practitioners mentioned by those discussing the history of herbal medicine, such as Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Gerarde, were academic elites and as such members of a professional healthcare sector.  Even Culpeper, who was frequently at odds with the English College of Physicians,  began his career having been apprenticed to an apothecary.

This leads me to tangent for a moment on the term “herbalist” which I find more and more problematic to use. Historically,  the term herbalist came about as a descriptor for someone who had authored an herbal.  Take John Gerarde as an example. Gerarde is often spoken about as an herbalist. Technically he did author (or at least plagiarized) one of the most influential herbals of the Middle Ages,  but he  was not a naturalist.  He was a junior warden of the  Barber-Surgeon’s Company and consequently a professional physician, in his era.  He was also a sexist, asshat-but I digress.

My point is that herbalist is at best a modern construct and you would be hard pressed to find a historical figure that corresponds with the modern idea of an herbalist.

Folk Healing

The folk health care sector is comprised of the traditional healing specialists of a community. Historically, these healers included lay midwives, fairy doctors, bean feasa, and “cunning folk” with far more in their repertoire than the therapeutic delivery of plant medicine. Folk healers often work from a framework influenced by indigenous cultural ideas about the spirit world influencing health and the communal aspects of wellness.

Folk healing is not limited to a particular spiritual practice. In many Gaelic communities, priests were called on as folk healers when it was thought an illness was caused by the supernatural-what anthropologists sometimes term a “naturalistic” cause. Modernly it is at least theorized that a lot of these types of  conditions were due to mental health problems and mental health professionals now fill this roll.  To my way of thinking that is just wrong. But more on that later.

Popular Health Care or Domestic Medicine

Popular health care refers to self-care, or familial care, practices informed by popular knowledge. Often knowledge of this nature is passed along by word-of-mouth – frequently as home remedies that are passed down through the generations or through community skill-sharing networks. In its strictest sense, the term does not apply to any particular type of remedy. It also is not limited to addressing illness. Self-care in the form of diet, hygiene and simple protective measures are aspects of the popular healthcare culture.

Self-medication still accounts for more than 80% of medical care in our society.  It is not a thing of the past; it was simply co-opted by the pharmaceutical companies. People stopped self-medicating with the old home remedies and started buying over-the-counter replacements. We take aspirin or Tylenol instead of decoctions. We stopped making ointments and turned to Vick’s Vaporub, Ben Gay, and more recently –essential oils. Grandma’s marshmallow syrups were outperformed-first by patent medicines and then by Robitussin.

The work I have done in trying to educate people about the early practice of domestic medicine is in part, trying to illustrate the widespread nature of early popular health care practices.  I am also restore our respect for women as the “keepers and carriers of knowledge”.

Where Modern Herbal Healers Fit? 

Traditional Western Herbalism employs  botanical therapeutics in a way that is grounded in Greek Medicine and the professional methods of physicians the late 19th and early 20th century.

This is what some anthropologists call cultural sedimentation. Basically what this means is that professional medical practices of the past are picked up by the folk healers and common folk,  who keep using these methods even after the professionals have moved on to new approaches. Tinctures are an example of a type of patent medicine used primarily by the professional healthcare sector, until modern times.

That in no way invalidates their usefulness.  Botanical preparations were the only type of medicine animals and humans had at their disposal until the beginning of the 20th century and we certainly learned much about their effective delivery through centuries of  trial-and-error experimentation.

All of that being said,  I really hesitate to label Traditional Western Herbalism as folk healing.   It is taught and disseminated in a way similar to other professional healing practices.  In fact, that may be one of our greatest challenges. As members of the professional sector, we have had to pay for our education and clinical training, but we are not duly recognized as professionals in many places.

I also think the training a modern herbalist receives omits many of the responsibilities that I consider inherent to the role of the folk healer.

What is Ethnomedicine?

My anthropological focus is actually ethnomedicine, rather than ethnobotany.  I investigate far more than how plants were used by a culture because I was taught that to understand a native healing practice, you have to know a place.  You have to understand that culture’s history,  social structures,  agricultural practices, and spiritual beliefs in a way that gives you a complete picture as to how healing occurs in a society-both physical and emotional.  You have to learn to  view illness and treatment according to a native explanatory model and put aside the biomedical model.

Illness vs Disease

Disease is a biomedical condition or a pathological state that exists whether or not they are culturally recognized.  Illness is more of a social construct -based on whether or not, a condition has been stigmatized or devalued in a society. Anthropologists tend to understand that is not always easy to distinguish between the biological aspects of illness and the social aspects.  This distinction is what makes it entirely possible for me to view ASD as an illness but not think of it as a disease that needs to be cured.

So that covers some of the terminology that I might use as I eventually move on in this series and some ideas that I have explored in my research.

Reviving the Bean Feasa

harvestThe blog is going to switch gears for a bit to discuss the focus of much of my anthropological research. You will have to read through to the end of this series of posts, before I get to my very exciting new project based on this research, but I do hope that you find it informative, and maybe even a little inspiring, along the way.

I suppose I should explain to people who read my last series of posts,  that  research questions don’t always have to do with interventions and outcomes.  They cannot be always be answered through microbiology or clinical trials.  Some recently acquired readers might even be surprised by the fact that the person in this picture  likes to spend hours pouring over research about how plant agents impact neurotransmission or endocrine function.

While I will admit a certain compulsion towards understanding the mechanisms of action behind a botanical therapy, I do not believe cutting edge technology is the solution to creating wellness in our society. I have no doubt it will cure  some diseases but that is a very different thing than creating wellness.

When studying clinical herbal practice in college, I began to question whether herbal clinicians should  only focus on the therapeutic delivery of botanical medicine or if our roles extends to something more?  This question led me to my anthropological studies and an investigation of the pluralistic nature of health care practices in early societies, which I will explain tomorrow.

I am often asked why I think this is important work? While working on my senior project, I realized that at one time, before religion and capitalism interfered, wellness in a community was created through respectful cooperation of many types of healers.  Much of my research has been gathered in my efforts to understand what this cooperation looked like and how to make that work in a modern context.

The conclusion I arrived at is summarized best by the abstract of my thesis Reviving the Bean Feasa: Building Resilient Communities through Folk Healing which states:

This thesis draws from the study of the past, when there existed an alternate paradigm of healing. These healing systems, grounded in autonomous self-care and common production of locally available plant remedies, seemed to be more successful than modern professional systems at addressing the social and ecological determinants of health. These popular health cultures, consequently, contributed to the resiliency of their communities. I recommend the wide dissemination of this common knowledge of our ancestors regarding health as means of restoring wellness to the land, the plants and the people.

I’d like to distribute the thesis to a wider audience, but I doubt that many people would be interested in sitting down and reading the whole 130 page of my thesis, here on my blog, so I am going to spend some time discussing some of the beliefs I presented in it.

These are the beliefs that informs much of what I write for other people and classes I teach at herb conferences. They are the beliefs that inform how I work in my community.  They are the beliefs that that inform how I live.

Friends who know me know that it has been a weird couple of years for me personally, but just the other day my dear friend Wolf commented that despite this series of deeply disturbing challenges, I haven’t let it crush my spunky spirit. I attribute that capacity to  these beliefs.