“A MANTRA FOR HOME HEALTH CARE. I am my own healer. I have a radiant voice within that guides me. I can make decisions for myself. I can rely on others as needed, but at my discretion. It is my body, my health, my balance, and my responsibility to make right choices for myself. Right choices include working with competent health-care professionals when necessary, allowing friends and family to help as needed, and, above all, being true to my beliefs, with the wisdom and willingness to change as part of the path of healing.“
― from “Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Used”
For as long as I can remember, herbal healing was part of our medicine regimen at home. It wasn’t so much that anyone made a big deal about it. No one referred to herself with words like herbalist or healer, but it wasn’t uncommon for my mother to pull out some peppermint or chamomile to soothe an upset stomach or ease a bad day. I imagine she learned it from her mother, who grew up in the country and had memory of a lot of traditional folk remedies and customs. My grandmother always had bottles of Franzbranntwein (a mix of essential oils) and arnica for her legs. And, especially when we were visiting my mom’s homeland, we were just as likely to go to the Apotheke to buy some natural remedy as we were to mess around with any prescription or over the counter medicines. It was just a normal thing for our household and not anything I ever really questioned or saw as special.
Sometime during my late teens, I started collecting books on herbal medicine, vowing that I would learn about it. As it turned out, I would become more of a collector than a practitioner. The first one I ever bought was called Health from God’s Garden by Maria Treben. It is a lovely, accessible edition filled with drawings and plant properties. It still sits on my bookshelf today. Over the years, any time I saw an interesting book on herbalism, I’d pick it up. I’d thumb through them, but never really did much beyond casual browsing.
Then, last year, when I lost my job, I had to switch insurance plans. As luck would have it, one of the few places that was covered under my new insurance for my broken shoulder that was not a million miles away and was accepting new PT patients happened to be a holistic health center called Kwan Yin Healing Arts. Their staff was made up of professionals like Acupuncturists, Naturopathic Physicians, Massage Therapists, and other assorted healthcare professionals, and the next thing I knew, I had an appointment with the Naturopath who would become my primary care provider. After one meeting with her, I knew I loved her. I have been seeing her for about seven months now and she truly is the best doctor I’ve ever had. Under care, I started taking things like hawthorn tea for blood pressure, herbal medicines for other health issues and using flower essences for the stress that came along with breaking a major bone and losing my job around the same time.
Parallel to that time, an acquaintance tried to get me involved in joining her team to sell essential oils with one of the big, multi-level marketing company. As it turns out, while I love essential oils and value their healing properties, I am not a big fan of the big MLM essential oil industry itself. Having spend a good portion of my career working on sales compensation, their plans seem like a lot of smoke and mirrors that (like all compensation plans) ultimately benefit the company most. More importantly, however, I don’t feel a lot of reverence or respect toward our plant allies with them, and I have concerns about turning untrained people loose to dispense what are powerful medicines with no training beyond how to build your downline and maximize your compensation plan. I’m not saying that there aren’t consultants who don’t know their stuff, but I know that when I was signed up I didn’t and don’t feel I had any business selling people anything that could be used in a healing way. That is a personal ethics issue for me. It bothered me enough that I enrolled in an introductory aromatherapy course and, wow, was I hooked! Since that course ended, I’ve been learning all I can, concocting my own medicines and toiletries (so much fun!), and looking at certification programs.
All of this is my long way of saying that I feel like I’ve finally reached this space I’ve been travelling toward for a couple of decades. Maybe I wasn’t ready when I bought that first Maria Treben book. Who knows. All I know is that I am now and I am loving it and can’t wait to learn more.