This winter has been noted as the warmest winter since record keeping began at Environment Canada and all its previous incarnations. There is an old joke saying that everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it. Now we can talk about greenhouse gases, deforestation, melting polar ice caps and air pollution in the same sentence and suddenly the joke becomes ironic. We are doing something about it. We are causing the weather with every lifestyle choice we make. What and how we consume can be measured in the ecosystems on our shrinking planet, Earth. Let us look first at our foods. Picture yourself and your family at the table eating dinner. Imagine there is an empty oil drum adjacent to the dining area. Look at you plates and see what is on them. Is there meat? Is it free range or factory fed? If it is...Read More
I have been noticing a change in the flora in the parks in Toronto and in the countryside outside the city. Many years ago I was teaching a gardening course and a student in the course had a special map. It was a publication of a botanical study in Ontario. The map was covered with symbols that showed the name and number of plants in an area. Serendipitously I saw a map in the newspaper mapping cases of children with asthma. The second map clearly showed that dense population centres in which there was a lot of manufacturing had higher incidences of asthma cases. I believed there would be a third corresponding pattern and was sagacious enough to overlay the two maps. There, in the regions where there were concentrations of asthma, were concentrations of Elecampane (Inula helenium) and Mullein (Verbascum thapsus). The places and curves of overlap were too...Read More
The word “holistic” is relatively new to the lexicon of medical science. It was coined to describe an integrated form of perceiving and acting in a way that was generally associated with the subject of health. Holistic health is usually the way the terms appear in context. We say someone is a holistic practitioner when he addresses the patient’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual components of life. Each different component may have a different modality to treat it or they can be part of a multilayered treatment protocol. Suppose a herbal clinician, in the course of the consultation, burned incense, offered counseling, gave a massage, and the patient left the office with an armload of dried herbs, tinctures, flower remedies, and instruction sheets for meditation exercises. Some may consider that herbalist to be labeled “holistic”. Holistic thinking is being applied to other pursuits and meets its greatest resistance when it...Read More
In our day-to-day communications with one another, language alone can convey vast amounts of information. What gives our interactions depth and dimension is the subtext of the subtler messages that accompany speech. Consider the significance of scratching one's head when trying to remember something. We are literally trying to access the thought we are searching for by physically connecting with the source - in this case the brain/mind. Compare this with the poignant gesture of placing one hand over the heart when making a promise or vow; the physical action of connecting the words to the heart adds depth and solemnity to the words, signalling that they come from the very core of the speaker. Who truly knows the ways of the heart? Poets? Mystics? Surgeons? In this reflective letter we will be addressing treatment protocols for illnesses related to this organ of such profound significance to us on both...Read More
In our last discussion we brought up the concepts of “magical thinking, placebo, acculturation, cosmology and the order of healing methods i.e. word, herb, knife.” Since then, there came screaming news headlines about how the drug, Prozac, has been shown to be no more effective than a placebo. What this means is that you really have to believe that Prozac works and then it still only works some of the time. This would not be so bad if there were no side effects. Most often, there are no side effects associated with placebos. If a drug has no more efficacy than a pill of ground almonds but has a side effect of suicide then the comparison to a placebo becomes ludicrous. The scientists, who reviewed the drug studies, concluded that even talk therapy was more effective than the drug. Hippocrates was right when he said “first the word, then the...Read More
When someone identifies himself or herself as a herbalist, what are they saying? What do you have to do to become a herbalist? What do you have to have to practice herbalism? What do you have to be to practice herbalism? What are the tools of the trade? What are the distinguishing marks between the laity and professionals? Many people have hobbies that use the equipment and jargon of the respective professionals. The hobbyists and professionals preface their descriptions of their work with explanations detailing, “work for pay” opposed to “work for joy.” Photography and astronomy are two professions that attract numerous hobbyists. Whilst amateur photographers can button hole you, trapping you with their picture books documenting every aspect of their lives and what they believe is interesting, astronomers tend to hide in the dark, late at night awaiting for the clouds to part so they may observe some faint...Read More
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