No Matter, Never Mind

The Taoists have a parable about our original nature. In the Golden Age there was no history recorded; there were no great deeds and there were no great people. Birds flew in the skies and nested in the trees. Deer ran in the woods. Cobblers made shoes and farmers grew crops. Children respected their elders. Since everything was as it should be, no one thing was “great” and so there was no history to remember. Chuang Tzu advocated wei wu wei, “doing by not doing”. He meant leaving things as they are and not interfering in the natural way of life. Some might say “going with the flow." Somehow simplicity is no longer considered a virtue. We have involved ourselves in such complexity that it is hard to perceive or believe in a natural order existing and persisting behind this chaotic world of the 21st century. Walk down the streets...

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Maimonides’ Medical Writings- A review of 10 books in 7 volumes

Moses Maimonides is one of the greatest authors in the history of Western medicine. At the end of the 12th Century, he had gathered the most important medical writings of the time and re-presented them through his unique character. Western science or "natural philosophy" as it was called, began in ancient Egypt with the writings of Thoth (or “Hermes”.) Later, during the golden age of Greece, development of scientific concepts continued in the works of Thales and Anaximander, and Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle. Science was speculative for the most part rather, than empirical or experimental. The medical descriptions of the constitution of man was based upon a framework of concepts relating health and disease to four humors; blood, bile, phlegm and melanche; four elements; air, earth, fire and water; and four qualities; hot, cold, wet and dry. Hippocrates of Cos used this framework as his template and wrote extensively on...

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How Do You Know That?

What all herbal medical traditions have in common is some kind of inherent world- view. In order to understand the view, we need to see not just static images but a motion picture. The intrinsic qualities of the paradigm are revealed when we observe the pattern of the changes as they occur. All the components of a static system can be arranged to relate to each other but, when the forces of transformation are included, deeper truths are revealed. The process always starts with observation and perception. We have begun to see and know when we experience some kind of pattern recognition. How do we reach this state of cognition? Most modern medicine is based on Cartesian logic i.e. analytic reductionism. If we break something down into small enough parts we can isolate a conclusive fact , which may or may not be useful in the context of the moving...

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How Do You Explain Yourself?

We live in a country that prides itself for its multi-cultural population. One of the first differences noted by Canadians on observing Americans is that one is pressured to relinquish all ties to one’s cultural heritage and “become” an American. Unless you are running a restaurant that serves ethnic foods, you are free to be a participant in the dream of your new country. When an ethnologist is studying another culture, their success in reporting is proportional to their ability to understand the nuances of the metaphors of the language of the people being studied. Imagine your favourite book of poetry being translated by a scientist instead of by another poet. How would it sound? We believe we are our own selves but how much of whom we are and what we do is predicated upon our culture? How many children in Perth, Ontario want to become shepherds compared to...

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“How” Do You Do?

Politicians and advertisers act on the premise that perception is stronger than truth. For example, look at the methods and resources used to sway public opinion on a daily basis. Why do we have heated debates and constant inundation through the various media outlets on matters of style? Can we not link cause to effects and delineate facts, plain and simple? How does this apply to medical choices? Traditional medicine with deep roots in ancient cultures has evolved with small variations but meets the test of time and the scrutiny of modern science. While modern science cannot always explain HOW traditional medicine works, it can state unequivocally that it does indeed have efficacy within certain parameters. The Eclectic physicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries promoted many theories, attempting to employ scientific terminology to explain the "how" of their medicine. When their reasoning fell short they were not overly...

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Findhorn Lessons

Have you ever watched a flock of birds flying overhead suddenly change direction and all the birds instantly move in unison? They do not move in succession but all at once without bumping into each other. How do they know to turn so precisely? Once they land and move about, they seem independent and random in their movements. What principles are at work that we are observing? Previously, we discussed the evolution of consciousness from nescience to sentience and beyond. When the birds are a “flock”, they are of one accord and are of one mind. When the birds mill about, they have the beginning of sentience. Ultimately their genetic programming will dictate the majority of their actions. Some birds, when building a nest, will not stop until it is completed. Rascal scientists have removed branches that had been set to observe birds work unto exhaustion. The scientists learned something...

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Evidently, My Dear Doctor

We are hearing a lot about evidence-based medicine as the new standard for clinical practice and information reporting. In the field of orthodox medicine, which is using pharmaceutical products, this has shown, in some cases, the shortcomings of the drugs. By collecting large amounts of data, the adverse events become evident. Many of the scandalous behaviours of the drug manufacturers and their relations with corrupt government overseers eventually get revealed. But do they really? Perhaps if we compare the statistics about acetaminophen (Tylenol) with those of piper methysticum (Kava) logic would have us ban the former and reverse the ban on the latter. The list goes on and on leaving us bewildered. Who is looking and at what evidence? In the middle of the 19th century, a naturalist, John Muir, was hiking in what is now named Yosemite National Park and he came upon a vista. Standing upon a promontory,...

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Ecology of Economics

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...

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Divine Knowledge

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...

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Cosmological Vision of Hildegard Van Bingen

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...

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