Sunday, July 27, 2008


I'm back after a few hectic days. Recently I've had several successes using herbs for healing. I've dabbled in herbs for many years now, but until recently most (not all) of my experiences were along the lines of "Well, that might have helped... I think that worked..." That's not good enough for me, if someone is putting their health in my hands. I need to KNOW they work.

Thinking back over the times they have and have not worked dramatically, I noticed a pattern. Generally speaking, the herbs that work for me are those I've been personally introduced to, mostly by my herbal mentor, Jennifer Tucker. Inspired by my recent successes, I went to visit her last week to be introduced and reintroduced to some more. At some point, sometimes after a single introduction, sometimes after more than one, the herb sort of "crystallizes" in me. I can recognize it at a distance and I have a feel for its personality and a sense of at least one way it can be used. I understand it -- not all of it, but an aspect of it.

It is like getting to know a friend. When someone is no longer an acquaintance but a real friend, you know that person -- again, not all of him, but some important essence of him.

Who are you more likely to help: your friends, or a total stranger? Your friends, of course. The same is true for herbs. The ones that are my friends are much more likely to help me. Just knowing an herb from books is not enough. It would be like expecting a celebrity to be friendly and helpful to you because you've read so much about her and seen all her movies.

Sometimes, of course, we do help strangers. Herbs you look up in books do work sometimes. But I am not that kind of herbalist. I use herbs that I grow or gather myself, or are gathered by a friend. I don't want to live in an anonymous world. I best learn about an herb by hearing stories about: not "This herb is used for X, Y, and Z," but anecdotes about how someone has used it before, the person she used it on, etc. I especially like Matthew Wood's stories and descriptions of the personality and signature of the plant.

A rational explanation for my success only with plants that are my friends is: obviously, I know them better so I know when to use them. True, but there is more to it than that. I believe that the same herb for the same condition works better after it has become my friend than before. I think it works better only after it has given me its friendship and permission to use it.

I was ecstatic after my walk with Jennifer last week, because I made some new friends and deepened some existing friendships. We repeatedly found St. John's Wort, which I had been acquainted with before, but this time I felt that crystallization, that connection, and now it is my friend. A number of others too: Figwort, Wild Bergamot, Self-Heal, White Vervain. I feel more whole the more new friends I meet; each connects me to lost aspects of myself and to the richness of being that is our birthright, that we all sense and long for. We lament its loss and strive toward wholeness. It is natural to me then, for plants to help recover it.


At July 29, 2008 at 1:08 AM , Blogger Joe Verica said...

If I had read this two years ago, I would have thought you were crazy - perhaps even dabbling with too many "herbs" yourself. However, my own experience with herbs and Chinese medicine has taught me otherwise. It has made me realize my own arrogance.

As a westerner by birth, and a biologist by training, I had formerly been duped into believing that only modern chemistry can produce effective medicines. I had lost faith in the ability of my own body to heal itself when its balance was restored. I now realize that such thoughts were ridiculous. For thousands of years our ancestors have made effective use of the healing poweres of herbs and fungi. Moreover, many western medicines trace their roots back to the forests and meadows.

The connection between your "friendship" with herbs and their subsequent effectiveness may sound strange or softheaded to the western-indoctinated mind. It even suggests a psychosomatic effect. However, if one is capable of moving reductionism aside, this "friendship effect" makes perfect sense.

In my experience, herbs tend to be patient healers. They heal by restoring balance to the body, rather than alleviating specific superficial symptoms (which is not healing). As such, their affect tends to be more subtle. It requires one have a positive mindset and to be in tune with their body to "feel" an herbs influence. A negative mindset can cause stress, which can block healing. Familiarity with an herb makes one more aware of this process, and subsequently more "open" or receptive to healing. The reductionist mindset dismisses this as a psychosomatic effect because it has no way to measure or "variablize" this openess towards healing.

At August 25, 2008 at 7:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vibrational Medicine?

Musical friends like Chopin:



At August 25, 2008 at 7:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clink! Wrong link.

Here's the right one:



At August 25, 2008 at 7:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try, try, try again:


I wish there were an edit function so I wouldn't look like a technophobe in front of the whole class!


At January 15, 2009 at 5:45 PM , Blogger Heather said...

I second Joe's thoughts. I've had incredible success with Chinese herbs, concocted by a Doctor of Chinese Medicine. He gives me bags of what looks like leaf litter, I brew it up and drink it down...I've never felt better in my whole life.

At March 24, 2009 at 4:46 PM , Blogger Phoenix said...

I am commenting about your book (the one that talks about the age/concept of the separate self dissolving).
I understand what you are explaining in that but I couldn't find what you are proposing as a solution, or maybe another means of achieving the "unification" or "one-ness" (call it what you may.)
Is the book mainly an explanation of the phenomenon or are you also proposing additional means (apart from those which we are seeing emerging for example the Internet) of coming closer to that one-ness?

At September 16, 2009 at 11:40 AM , Anonymous How to Loose Weight said...

What herb is good to treat stomach problems; my child has problems to go the bathroom and the drugs the doctor send to him are not effective could you please tell me if there is anything good for him.


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