Should We or Should We Not?

, March 24, 2015 in Reflective Essays

At a “World Symposium of Herbal Medicine” (1995), sponsored by the OHA and Mohawk College, I attended many classes as well as after hour discussions into the night. I even gave a presentation. Speakers came from many countries and represented numerous national organizations. At a class on Premenstrual Syndrome that was filled with about forty women and two men, a lively discussion ensued as the floor opened up. Long lists of the usual “Do’s” and “Don’ts” were quickly tabulated as if the group seemed to have rehearsed the information. When the speaker made the last call for input, one of the men meekly raised his hand and suggested that some of the “Don’t” list items were high on his “Do” list.

Specifically, he suggested strong cups of (black) tea ad lib, and chocolate, dark chocolate, the good stuff! Soon half the room confessed that they could recite the healthy litany but in their own lives they chose “junk foods” which they believed to be unhealthy but which brought them comfort. With refreshing honesty the group recategorized “Don’t” foods as “egregiously junky and indulgent” and as “emotionally therapeutic comfort- foods”. This group included chocolate, coffee, tea, macaroni and cheese, and canned soups. This second grouping was at least palliative in nature. By removing the internal conflicts of guilt and hypocrisy, the newly viewed comfort foods provided true relief, allowing people to walk between indulgence and abstinence, while nurturing well-being. The same principle is applied to celebration foods. We don’t eat birthday cake every day. The medicinally therapeutic herbs and supplements and foods do the most good in the long run and, when adhered to most of the time, should provide the opportunity for positive transformation.

Now, eight years later, chocolate and tea are elevated to the therapeutic medicines category. From a holistic point of view, mental and emotional healing complements and completes physical healing. These gentle tolerances in behaviour allow enough movement to encourage compliance and reasonableness.

Modern embryology shows that as the fetus develops and the tissues differentiate, there is little difference between males and females, even as the tissues form proto-organs, until certain sex hormones activate processes within target sites. As adults, we create and respond to hormones of both sexes. There are many “women’s” herbs that we just don’t consider useful for men and perhaps have not tried. If we collect enough anecdotal information, perhaps we can open new areas of understanding. Should we not be looking at herbs that have affinity to specific female organs and find uses for them in the embryologically identical tissues in men? Send in your experiences.

A group of herbalists around Canada are trying to form a national organization similar to ones that exist in the US, UK, NZ, Australia, and elsewhere. The main members are professional herbalists. They represent the industry and the public at large by providing a voice in the political arena and an organization for self-regulation and public protection. The professional wing of the OHA has been invited to join. Given that our journal’s name is “The Canadian Journal of Herbalism” and that we have a 15 year publishing history (if we begin with the fine work of Keith Stelling who brought us from a newsletter to a true Journal), I believe that the CJH can be the voice of the new organization. The Journal will grow in length by the inclusion of news from other regions while still maintaining our traditional features. The General Membership will still be addressed by articles of a practical nature but some more technical articles directed towards professional members and the more knowledgeable readers will form the bulk of the text.