Pandemics and Preparedness

This is not my sciencey viral intervention post.  That one is going to take me a few days to fact check and I am honestly dreadfully dreary of reading scientific journals and sitting through WHO modules. We have the first three confirmed cases of this blasted virus in our town and not surprisingly all contracted it on a cruise ship.  I am reminded of a story I heard once about the cnotan na gall – the “strangers’ cold” that came in on a vessel from a far away land. Continue reading “Pandemics and Preparedness”

Targets of Viral Interventions

But first I want to address the many emails I got about the history thing.  My other (much neglected) blog focuses completely on historical herbalism.  I teach history classes at conferences and I have a lot of history articles on this blog.

That’s kind of my area of expertise.  I only dabble in the science stuff enough to be able to support my use of traditional remedies.  Sending emails  calling me out for being a “young  person who doesn’t know anything about tradition” are a little foolish.  It made my eight-year-old granddaughter laugh when I read that to her. Continue reading “Targets of Viral Interventions”

When Not to Use Elderberry: An Example of Using Discernment in Your Formulation

I’ve been struggling with how to start this next installment on viral illness and then I found the following statement on a website. 

“Elderberry also upregulates IL-6, IL-8 and TNF, suggesting an indirect effect on viral immune response in the body. Interestingly, elderberry was shown to have this effect but not its major bioactive compound, cyanidin 3-glucoside.”

To begin with, I don’t consider that anthocyanin to be the major bioactive compound of this plant.  I only use elderflower for influenza, and I consider its major bioactive constituent to be pectic polysaccharides, but that’s absolutely not important to this conversation.

Also, none of this is meant to say you should never use elderberry. I am just using it as an example to illustrate some of the questions you should be asking yourself about every herbal adjunct you use.  How does it work, when shouldn’t a person use it, and are there safer alternatives?

Basically what I have decided concerning the use of elderberry is that while I can’t  prove that any of these things will be a problem, I can’t prove that they won’t  be.   That should be a deciding factor of any  risk-benefit analysis.

Continue reading “When Not to Use Elderberry: An Example of Using Discernment in Your Formulation”

Stages of Acute Illness: An Integrative Perspective

I spend a lot of time wrestling with false binaries, but the one that is particularly annoying during cold and flu season is the idea that natural health modalities  and conventional modern medicine are on opposite ends of a spectrum.  The two modalities can and should be working together to create the best outcomes for people.

I really don’t know what fuels this divide?  I mean some of it is undoubtedly marketing competition and some of it is probably ego driven dogma and a lot of other nonsense.  None of that is in the best interests of the people I serve. Continue reading “Stages of Acute Illness: An Integrative Perspective”

Making Distillates at Home

Pot distillation has been around for a very long time and the oldest methods involved simmering plants in liquid and collecting the liquid that cooked off them which I refer to as the distillate.  Simple distillation apparatuses were discovered at both the Tepe Gawra (Mesopotamia 3500 BCE) the Mohenjo Daro (Indus Valley ca. 3000 BCE) excavation sites.

The Alexandrian perfumers’ guild (which was actually a group of early alchemists) was using simple alembics to distil floral essences beginning in the 1st century BCE.   There is actually a very interesting story that alchemists sometimes tell about their discovery of a malleable glass that has been lost to time.   In a 4th century manuscript written by Zosimus of Panapolis, he shares a pictures of their system. He is a good person to study if you are into alchemy and its history.  In his manuscripts he tells each of his students they must obtain an alembic and instructs them on how to use them. Continue reading “Making Distillates at Home”