Musings, Reflections, Spirituality, Plant Medicine

Of Dark Days and Shining Knights

Spiritual Resilience in the Age of Invisible War

 

 

“YAHUAH is my shepherd; I do not lack. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; he leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. For You are with me; Your rod & your staff, they comfort me. You spread before me a table in the face of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup runs over. Only goodness and compassion follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the House of Yahuah, forever!” (Psalm 23)

 

It is to our detriment that we ever allowed Church to separate from State. That’s a dangerously controversial statement to be sure, because both have atrocious histories (and present realities) of controlling and traumatising the people, but rather, here I am using them as a symbol for Spirit and Matter. (I must also iterate that I am here talking of the Western experience. Many cultures around the world, including indigenous and First Nations people, as well as eastern cultures still acknowledge & pay due respect to the effect that Spirit has in our lives.) When church and state, spirit and matter, separated, we the people became consumed with the new paradigm of reducing everything to its material existence. We became consumed with material possession, seeing natural creation as a mechanical thing that could be broken down into parts and reassembled at will, and owned. As a collective, we forgot about Spirit. We forgot to keep telling our children the stories of how it informs our world. And some of us just downright don’t believe it exists.

I personally believe that in order to achieve optimum wellbeing, we need to also be spiritually healthy. When this aspect of our holographic being* is imbalanced, we become spiritually unhealthy, and very, very vulnerable. Because like it or not, we may have forgotten about the spiritual realm, but it hasn’t forgotten about us.

 

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Night by Edward Robert Hughes.

On being aware of our vulnerability

 

On the fourteenth day from the first new moon from today’s equinox, the Passover will be upon us. Far from only being a Jewish observance, believers and followers of Yahushua (gk: Jesus) recognise the preparation for this as a time of deep introspection and self-reflection on how our thoughts, and subsequent enacted  behaviours have impacted our lives, other people, and our spiritual journey, and whether we have allowed Divine Love to work with us and through us, over the course of the previous year.

 

As I write this, I am struck by the events of the first Passover, of the people sheltering together in their houses while the death angel passed over, and the similarity to the situation that many of us now find ourselves in.

We journey along, allowing this love to work in us, making us humble in order for it to come to our awareness that there is a pattern to these behaviours, which have then become roadblocks in our growth and character development. We seek to uncover their origin, bring it to the Light of Divine Love and work out healing them in order to move forward in our life. We forgive ourselves, we forgive each other, we are forgiven by Love, our hearts soften, and we move on. I’ve recently been led to explore my own birth imprints as the origin of some of my patterns of behaviour. It is quite an enlightening and empowering experience to see the patterns and their origins and then turn that on its head to identify how I can use them as a lesson and a gift to move forward. Ideally, we need to be self-reflecting on a continual basis throughout the year and checking whether our hearts are in alignment with Divine Love all the time. Because knowing our vulnerability and areas of weakness, and bringing them into the light serves as a powerful tool that we might add to our armoury in order to protect ourselves spiritually. Like I said, we may have forgotten about spirit, but it hasn’t forgotten about us. It’s not all flower faeries, angel wings, and pixie dust.  I am reminded of a particularly salient quote by my favourite novelist, Sir Terry Pratchett;

“… people didn’t seem to be able to remember what it was like with the elves around. Life was certainly more interesting then, but usually because it was shorter. And it was more colourful, if you liked the colour of blood.” (Lords & Ladies)

Dark humour aside, why am I talking about this?

As I’ve watched the way in which the drama around the novel virus SARS-Covid19 has unfolded, and have witnessed the entire world, particularly the western world (take note) succumb to mass hysteria and panic consumerism, it occurred to me that amidst all of the (often confused) advice about building up our physical immunity or preparing ourselves physically for extended periods of quarantine by stocking up on supplies, I’m not seeing a lot of talk about building up our spiritual immunity, or preparing ourselves spiritually. The local and global confusion, chaos, emotional manipulation and fear this has sparked tells me that this is not just a physical issue. Some of us, not just from looking at the anomalous numbers, have enough discerning sensitivity to understand that this is being fuelled by Something Else. And we’ve been warned about this for some time.

 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

 

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Saint George and the Dragon, Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1868, William Morris Gallery

Now whether you are a Bible believer or not is irrelevant, we see this influence considered in many ancient sacred texts, we see this awareness amongst indigenous people, and also because many other souls more sensitive to these matters have picked up on this particular nefarious zeitgeist. It is not superstition. It is real, and it is here.

Again we are warned,…in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the offspring of disobedience..” (Ephesians 2:2)

Note that the adversary to Divine Love is called ‘the prince (or ruler) of the power of the air’. How quickly does communication of all types fly across the world now? How quickly does the zeitgeist spread? I’m not saying not to use the airwaves to communicate with (obviously, I’m using them now), but perhaps be mindful of its power to influence. How immune to its influence are you? Repeatedly shared thoughts take form. We call that ‘going viral’. Perhaps consider the Hive-mind. Again, Terry Pratchett observes;

“It came crackling over the hills like an invisible fog. Movement without a body tired it, and it drifted very slowly. It wasn’t thinking now. It had been months since it had last thought, because the brain that was doing the thinking for it had died. They always died. So now it was naked again, and frightened.

It couldhide in one of those blobby white creatures that baa’d nervously as it crawled over the turf. But they had useless brains, capable of thinking only about grass and making other things that went baa. No. They would not do.

It needed, neededsomething better, a strong mind, a mind with power, a mind that could keep it safe. ..

It searched…..

 …And away on the hills something, a thing with no body and no mind but a terrible hunger and a bottomless fear, felt the power. It would have sniffed the air, if it had a nose.

It searched.

It found.

Such a strange mind, like a lot of minds inside one another, getting smaller and smaller! So strong! So close!

It changed direction slightly and went a little faster. As it moved, it made a noise like a swarm of flies.

The sheep, nervous for a moment about something they couldn’t see, hear, or smell, baa’d…

…and went back to chewing grass.” (A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett.)

 

[A side note to avoid causing offence: the Creator/ God the Father is Love, therefore if the use of the word ‘God’, ‘Creator’, the pronoun ‘His’ or ‘Father’, “Great Mystery’, or ‘Great Spirit’, or ‘Elohim’ offends you, please insert the word ‘Love’. I will use Divine Love where possible. This is the essence, the author, meaning, and goal of our existence.]

Again we have been told, that if we come into heart coherence or alignment with Divine Love..

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

On fear – we are told “Divine Love is not the author of confusion, but of peace..” (1 Corinthians 14:33).

On power – we are told “Divine Love gives power to the faint, & to those who have no might, He increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:9)

On love – this is the divine love ‘No one has greater love than this: that one should lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) I have previously posted on this Love here.

On self-control – a warning “And if you do not make good choices, towards the door is temptation with damaging consequences. It is lying in wait to pounce on you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:7 amplified for people who baulk at the word ‘sin’ – which is an archery term that means ‘to miss the mark’.)

It is beyond the scope of this article to get into the finer theological and philosophical details of the debate about morality, or good vs evil, or even God, and the existence of such, and quite frankly I consider that a distraction. The point of this article is to let you know that enough of us ‘knowers’ from all walks of life throughout the entire course of human history, and during these times have confirmed this spiritual reality, and that you need to be aware of it, you need to be aware of your own vulnerabilities, and you need to get yourself into alignment with Divine Love. Only through this awareness can you then start to cultivate spiritual protection. Otherwise, it’s not going to be an entirely pleasant ride. More often than not, your spiritual wellbeing informs your physical wellbeing, but perhaps this is a mystery to be explained another day.

If you’ve managed to hear me out and have arrived at this point, thank you. If only because you’ve resonated with the scientifically-proven fact** (because that’s important to some people) that when we allow our hearts to be open and come into heart coherence with Divine Love, that Love then flows through us, and brings other people’s hearts of perception into coherence with ours. It has a flow on effect. It creates a collective unified consciousness of pure love and pure joy. A morphic resonance. Only these can overcome fear & confusion.

Believe it or not, we are in the midst of spiritual warfare. So, imagine if you will that you are a warrior. A successful warrior is aware of their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, makes sure that they have suitable armour to protect their most vulnerable organs and strengthen their core stability, and they gather about themselves the aid of powerful allies. In other words, they are proactive and they take responsibility for their own lives, their own growth and development as warriors, which in turn enables them to also watch out for their brothers at arms and stand in the gap for the most vulnerable. They are also aware of their enemy’s weakness. In this case, the adversary feeds on fear. But let’s now get down to the nitty gritty of what this armour looks like. We’ve already discussed the importance of being aware of our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and then working with them to turn them around. As Oscar Wilde once said, “I can resist all things except temptation.” That’s probably something to be aware of. Most of us are in the same boat. So, we should probably start counting the costs of that lack of resistance. What are your triggers? Rest assured, the denizens of spirit know what they are. Do you?

But Divine Love does not leave us lacking. He gives us a whole armoury.

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Joan of ARC by Charles Amable Lenoir

 

On putting on armour

 

“because of this, take up the complete armour of Elohim, so that you have power to withstand in the wicked day, and having done all to stand. Stand then, having girded your waist with Truth, and having put on the breastplate of Righteousness, and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of Peace; above all having taken up the Shield of Belief with which you shall quench all the burning arrows of the wicked one. Take also the helmet of deliverance, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of Elohim, praying at all times, with prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Breaking this down in the least offensive way that I know how – because at the end of the day, the spirituality that informs my life is about relationship rather than religion. (I grew up in a draconian religion. Life with the elves was less guilt-stricken.) Let’s take a brief look at each item.

The helmet of deliverance – at its most simple, this is the peace of mind & relief that comes with the very humbled understanding that your most beloved brother, who loved you with a love never shown by a human before, died willingly so that you could have life. True, free, joy-filled, peaceful Life everlasting. Regardless of how your own family or friends, or the world treated you as you grew, imagine having someone value you and love you that much. That Love is real.

The breastplate of righteousness – sounds a bit religious, but righteousness simply means being right with, or in alignment with Divine Love. Think about it. A breastplate protects your heart.

Gird your waist with Truth – pretty self-explanatory. If something doesn’t jive with Divine Love, if it induces toxic shame, irrational fear, or unjustified guilt, it’s not the truth. We also typically wear a belt (or a girdle) around our waist, the area of our solar plexus – this is the centre of will & focus, of intestinal fortitude. Our driving force & inner fire. Seeking truth & pursuing it earnestly motivates us and keeps us on our toes.

Speaking of toes….

Fitting your feet with the preparation of the good news of peace – as much as we are at war, we really need to be bearers of peace, encouraging one another with the message that Divine Love reigns supreme.

The Shield of Belief – belief in Divine Love gives you the power of protection from the burning arrows of the one who is not fighting fairly, and who preys on our weaknesses. My shield is pretty big. I’ve been doing this for a long time.

The Sword of the Spirit – this is the Word of Divine Love. Every word inspired by Divine Love is an instruction of how, or how not to, come into alignment. It’s what we use to discern & test the spirits that come at us. And we do need to be continually discerning the spirits.

Prayer, meditation, fasting – used since time immemorial by all peoples to draw closer to the Divine Love and seek guidance, understanding, and wisdom. In order to build a relationship with Divine Love, you kind of do need to talk to Him, and you need to listen. It’s a two-way dialogue. Divine Love is also your commanding officer, giving you direction and overall protection. You won’t know that if you don’t engage with Him. Actually, if you attempt to put on the armour without knowing Who is in charge of your overall safety and direction, it won’t really work, and then you’re pretty much an open target. Sorry. Spirituality of any description really is about relationship. Is your relationship healthy? And how is that reflected in your other relationships?

“And what does Yahuah require of you but to do right, to love kindness & to walk humbly with your Elohim?” (Micah 6:8)

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Tristan and Isolde with the Potion by John William Waterhouse. 1916.

 

On engaging the allies

Plant people rejoice! Obviously our most powerful ally is Divine Love and He promises us protection and deliverance if we trust in Him***, yet in His compassion and joy in creating this verdant Earth, He also gave a particular charge to the green beings to aid us in our times of need. And because the green beings are also holographic, they ride in our medicine bundles to help us with our spiritual health as well. If only Achilles had remembered his. If you’ve ever read old English herbals, really old herbals, you’ll see an abundant evidence of this acknowledgment of and strong belief in Divine Providence as it moves seamlessly through notes of clinical observations and lived experience of working with the botanicals. For most of us herbalists and plantfolk still living in the hedgerows, the acknowledgement of Spirit is still paramount. Below, I will discuss several plant allies for spiritual protection that I have had personal experience with. There are numerous others and I encourage you to research on your own if this interests you. I often find that the simple act of gardening, or walking in nature and noticing the fractals, the repeating patterns of creation, and reconnecting with the earths energies also offers a chance to align oneself with Divine Love and original intent. With the plants I have worked with below, they can be used as flower essences, in smudges or incense, or taken internally as teas or tinctures. For working on the energetic/ spiritual level, I prefer drop doses of the tinctures – only 1-3 drops, once every 3 days, unless the situation is acute. In acute situations, once or twice per day is often enough.

Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen Abbildungen mit ku

Yarrow (because Achilles, who should have known better) – in my recent reflections & venture into the void of internal darkness on the quest to find and heal the origins of my soul wounds, I journeyed with Yarrow. We had an interesting conversation. Yarrow staunches the bleeding of heart energy from wounds sustained from deep trauma. Trauma where one feels ‘cut to the bone’. Often, trauma in particular creates an energetic wound in our heart. It can then either bleed continuously, our life force being robbed by other people’s demands on us (real or imagined), or the wound can encase itself in scar tissue, essentially hardening our spiritual heart and blocking our ability to receive and give Divine Love (for scar tissue, we might want to work with Hawthorn or Rose). In cases where the heartwound still bleeds, a person emotionally, mentally, or spiritually disconnects, unable to feel safe in their own body, or safe in the knowledge that they are worthy of receiving Divine Love. Yarrow’s role here is to stand in the gap. To prevent further trauma, bleeding out or indiscriminately giving away of life energy. Yarrow is a warrior with feminine energy, encompassing both protection & nurturance. I saw Yarrow as the flaming sword that prevents us from re-entering Paradise. It says, that in order to come back to Paradise, we must first see to the wound that caused us to disconnect. My friend, Heidi Wedd, has done extensive work with Yarrow. Her account of it is here. I also find Yarrow a reliable ally for helping protect from and mitigate harmful electromagnetic frequencies. Yarrow also exhibits an anti-microbial action.

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Wood Betony woodcut by Leonard Fuchs 1549

Wood Betony– Culpeper attributes the use of Wood Betony in protection against witchcraft to Antonius Musa, physician to Augustus Caesar.  Many herbs have been used over the millennia as protection against witchcraft, and one might imagine witchcraft in this sense to mean malicious intent using paranormal means (which, given its historical pre-eminence as a virtue to be held in an herb, seems to be a problem that has plagued humanity since the beginning). Wood Betony is an herb that acts on the gut-brain axis. That is, it has particular affinity for afflictions of both the gut and the head, but especially when they are connected – such as with headaches after drinking too much alcohol. I personally find it useful for anxiety related gut issues. Of oft irrational fears of the unknown, or the supernatural. I’ve put forward the theory in the past, due to my own experience of sleep paralysis and a sometimes relentless parade of uninvited entities, that people who tend toward parasitic infestation in the gut, where their own protective microbiome is imbalanced, are more prone to attracting energetic or spiritual parasites. Wood Betony is a grounding herb, meaning that it helps people feel more anchored in their bodies, to the earth, & in listening to their innate gut instincts. It is suited to people with poor boundaries who are prone to ‘go off with the faeries’, or prone to be taken by them. Matthew Wood confirms this by its successful use in cases of ‘those who are being or threatened to be kidnapped by aliens, faeries, or supernatural beings’Herbalist, Sean Donohue uses it for people who don’t feel at home on earth.

 

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Fringed Lily. Thysanotus tuberosus. by Fanny Anne Charsley. 1867

Fringed Lily/ Fringed Violet– a delicately beautiful Australian native of the vast Lily family. Delicate because it’s flower only opens for one morning before it leaves this plane. Delicate because its petals are defined by a fine hair-like fringe. The signature of fine hairs or hair-like features on a plant can often reflect the cilia, or the filtering hairs in the body, such as those found in the lungs, but they can also reflect the state of the nervous system. Fringed Lily, typically taken as a flower essence, is for people whose auras remain wide open after birth. That is, the perimeter of their personal sovereign energy never seals. We might see this reflected in the physical process of the closing & natural sealing of the fontanelles of the newborn’s skull in the days and weeks after birth. People whose personal energy or aura remains stuck open, are more likely to ‘leave’ their body energetically during shock. For this reason, Fringed Lily is an excellent remedy to be taken immediately after anything that inflicts trauma, when the body is in a state of shock. Some people mentally or emotionally disassociate from themselves if the trauma thev have experienced becomes too overwhelming for the mind to process. This also means that we can leave ourselves wide open to impressions and influences that might not be in our best interest. It also makes us much more sensitive to the more subtle planes and nuances than our anchored peers. Fringed Lily may be used after the trauma and shock has already taken place, in order to seal the energy field and bring the person back into their body. I have personally found it useful for helping children born by Caesarean section (myself included). The very process of a c-section means that the child misses out on the physical massaging action of moving through the birth canal, of moulding the head and moving the fontanelles, of gently caressing the newborn senses awake. The child also misses out on receiving the flora from their mother to begin colonising their own microbiome in their tender newborn gut. Of course, if a c-section birth is inevitable, these actions may be mimicked through the use of gentle massage of the child’s head and body immediately after birth during the skin to skin in arms phase of bonding with mother. (There are also now probiotic strains available for newborns, but the mother can still share her flora with her babe through breastfeeding).  Ian White, the developer of the Australian Bush Flower Essences, recommends very gently massaging one drop of Fringed Lily essence into the baby’s head area during this time to help the newborns task of ‘coming into its body’ and sealing the aura.

 

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St. John’s Wort– The botanical name for St. Johns Wort, Hypericum, comes from the Greek which conveys the meaning of having ‘power over the image’.  It has a long association with Wood Betony, sharing its workings with the gut-brain axis, and also having a long history of use in protecting one against faeries, witchcraft, and evil spirits. It also has a special affinity for the head, as well as injuries in which the nerves have been severed. Where Wood Betony grounds the person who is given to flights of fancy and away from the body, St. Johns Wort is particularly strengthening to the solar plexus (it being a solar remedy and indeed when infusing it in oil we use the power of the sun to draw out its virtues), and the gut instinct. I’ve used it for people who have lost their drive. It strengthens a person’s sense of purpose, resolve, and gets them back on track.  Herbalist, Gail Faith Edwards writes, “The ancients believed St. Johns Wort imparted inner strength and protection for those engaged in spiritual work. The Greeks wrote that a mere whiff (of this not particularly aromatic herb) sends harmful spirits fleeing.”  St John’s Wort has been found to possess anti-viral activity.

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DIY smudge stick by M. Carnochan 2019.

There are herbs such as White Sage, Thuja, and Wormwood that would probably be very annoyed at me if I didn’t at least mention them as allies for protection. If you’re familiar with Native American ceremonial practices at all, then the act of Smudging, particularly with White Sage will be familiar. For those not familiar with smudging, it is a way of cleansing oneself of any negative energies picked up from others, or cleansing ones’ space using the smoke from a bundle of herbs that has been dried and then lit like incense and allowed to smoulder for this purpose. The herbs used are chosen particularly for their cleansing and purifying virtues. White Sage is one such perhaps more famous herb. Possibly because all of the nouveau-bohemians have latched onto it. I have only started working with this plant because I decided to grow it. I would advise that if you feel the call to work with white sage, that you also grow this plant, rather than harvest from what I read are dwindling communities in its native habitat or purchase from companies that also exploit the wild herb.

Many cultures all around the world, if not all of them, burn some sort of incense, or plant preparation, as a part of their spiritual ceremonies, to clean and purify, or sanctify the space to be used. Resins like Frankincense, myrrh (interesting that these were given as royal gifts), or from cedar, and pine are used. All of these possess some anti-microbial virtues on the physical plane and serve to inhibit infection and spread of disease. Other herbs with similar properties that might be considered for this are thyme, lavender, lemon myrtle, and eucalyptus. Hyssop is another noted cleansing herb of spiritual importance.

I wanted to make special mention of Thuja as a protective herb here as well. It is often used in smudge bundles, but it has also been used over the last century of experimentation that we have found ourselves in as a protection for the after-effects of vaccination. Whether you are pro, against, or somewhere in the middle is of no concern to me. I only mention this because of the simple fact that a vaccination bypasses the normal route of microbial attack on the body (and therefore the normal immune defence cascade) & it injects a foreign entity into your blood. The life of the flesh is in the blood. You might want to protect that.

 

Wormwood is another herb with a long history of use in dealing with parasites, both physical and metaphysical. Sean Donahue says that wormwood is ‘psychotherapy in a bottle’. He says that plants like Wormwood which are not only aromatic but also nauseatingly bitter, “can serve to root out deeply festering energetic infestations.”Sean recommends 1 drop/1x week of the tincture. I can confirm this is successful in dealing with the more stubborn energetic parasites. It appears to reconnect the lapses in nerve transmission that they take advantage of. It is often useful in combination with wood betony in this regard. Mugwort can be used in the same way but has more of an affinity for females, as does Angelica – another plant that serves to bring things into the light.  Wormwood, Mugwort (and other Artemeisas), and Angelica can all be used as smudges.

 

I’d like to end with sharing an experience that Matthew Wood had of working with Holly as an ally. This is of particular note, because as I said at the beginning of this article – we may have forgotten about the spirit realm, but it hasn’t forgotten about us. In fact, there are aspects of the spiritual realm, that which I am talking about protecting ourselves from here, that positively hate us. This adversarial spirit will go out of its way to divide us, to isolate us, to prey on our weakness, to make us doubt ourselves, and bring us down to its lower vibrational level. If allowed, it will incite in us a terror and a fear, and a hatred toward each other that reduces us to nothing but a long-forgotten cytoplasmic puddle. It hates us with a passion. Again, look at what is happening in the world just now. Matthew felt this thought-form and describes his experience in a post recently shared on Facebook. I have copied it here as he has written it (but if you would like to read his thoughts on this virus as a whole, please visit his page here.)

 

“Yesterday a friend and i drove into town (Santa Fe, where I have been teaching)—- from the countryside. As we drove in we felt assailed by a presence that kind of clouded our brains. As all of you know, any little tickle in the throat, cough, sneeze, or sore gland triggers awareness and maybe even fear for the minute or two it lasts. But it felt more like a psychic presence and we took a dose of Holly flower essence (Bach) each. Better. 

This is the Bach flower remedy for irrational hatred, fear, paranoia, and that seems the emotion of the hour and even months past. I have used for exhaustion from bacterial infection in Lyme co-infections on myself and two others, so I was expecting it might help in a viral infection with exhaustion. But we both agreed totally on our experience: it was not the virus but the mind state that was “infecting” the community at large and passing on to us or accompanying the virus on the emotional/psychic level. We need to be conscious that these irrational thoughts do not infect us. We ALL will be prone to them at some time or another, but the more we can rise above them the better we and the community will be.

On Dec. 21 or 22 I woke with a feeling of tachycardia, but I soon realized it was something else. My heart was being expanded and then some spirits said to me, “there is only one thing that is required for passing into the next spiritual world: an open heart.” Well “of course,” I thought. What else could be required? Not intelligence or dogma. And I lay there for an hour with my heart blasted open. 

A number of people have been having the same experience of their heart opening. 

After the recent “exposure” to the thought form I felt the virus hanging over me, face and chest, hating me and hating me. After half an hour I finally said, “why do you hate me so much?” It said, “I am everything that you hate.” So I now see this virus and its mindset/thoughtform as a precipitation of our own human hatred and paranoia. 

I believe holly clears this darkness, which opposes the heart and characterizes the present test for humanity — and Holly is helpful here. But love is better.

Addendum: use the bach remedy or leaves from the English Holly (widely planted) or American—the berries are toxic, not the leaves. Mild doses. tea or tincture.”

 

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You know, it’s been said that the greatest trick the devil ever played was to convince the world that he didn’t exist. This wasn’t the greatest trick. The greatest trick was making the people forget who they are and where they come from. In many ancient cultures, the most evil thing that could ever befall a person was the forgetting of his or her name. No other punishment  was greater than someone having their name wiped away from all living memory.  Don’t forget who you are, and where you came from. You were conceived in the mind of Divine Love before the earth even existed. Don’t let the powers that be take that knowledge away from you.

Stay strong, stay in the Light. Be Love.

In Peace.

Michelle x

 

*I refer to our whole organism – body, emotion, mind, spirit as a holographic being because all of these aspects are intersectional and interconnected. What affects one aspect, affects all others. It is also holographic due to its fractal nature. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, because the parts reflect the whole.

** https://www.heartmath.org

*** Psalm 91 – He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.
In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grassroots Healing, Plant Medicine

Pragmatism in the Age of Novel Pandemics.

Or How not to Panic when you get the ‘flu.

(And a few recipes)

 

As we come to that transitional turning of the great wheel of the year again when here in the southern hemisphere summer begins to slowly release its grip, giving way to autumn, and winter tentatively begins to let spring take the reins in the northern hemisphere, it’s not uncommon for people to come down with colds, flu and other respiratory issues. For some in the north, the winter may have been particularly unforgiving, and seasonal colds did indeed move into a full-blown flu. Here in Australia, our usual bright summer sun was largely shrouded in smoke from nation-wide bushfires, and so many of us who didn’t already have respiratory problems have risen from the ashes with smoke-damaged, or at the very least, traumatised lungs & frazzled nervous systems. I know of no one here that was unaffected in some way. Whether freezing cold & frigid air, or searing heat with a thick blanket of smoke to greet our days for several months of the year, it is not surprising that our poor overworked and overstressed bodies suffer in some way, particularly if we are largely unprepared. With this in mind, I’ve been hesitant to comment on the novel coronavirus Covid19, which may or may not be a pandemic, according to which narrative one chooses to follow. Watching the narrative unfold, across both mainstream & alternative media, has been an interesting study in learning the mechanics of social engineering. In fact, I’ve felt a very strong visceral resistance to comment about this particular virus, maybe because I don’t think fear-mongering helps anybody, but there are also a lot of anomalies across all narratives being offered. The numbers simply aren’t adding up, & certainly aren’t any more alarming than other yearly statistics relating to influenza mortality. So, I’m not going to talk about that. I invite you to question the narrative for yourself. Question any and all narratives! Question what I’m going to put forward int his article. Prove all things for yourself. What I will say however is that there appears to be three common factors in all of these so-called epidemics, whether it be swine flu, bird flu, SARS or Wuhan flu SARS V.2;

 

  1. They begin in an area of very high density population.
  2. There is typically a very poor standard or complete lack of personal or public hygiene – whether sanitary or food-based (including the choice & preparation of foods people are eating).
  3. The area typically has extremely poor air quality due to high levels of pollution.

 

Maybe think about this, because context is important.

 

It might be more beneficial if instead we take a holistic, more pragmatic approach to how we prevent & treat colds and flu in general. Because a coronavirus is essentially the same spiky-sheathed virus that is found in the common cold and your typical winter type influenza – which typically also mutates or morphs each year. And because thinking holistically & pragmatically is how I roll, & no one really benefits in the long term (except the company selling it, or the Globalists behind it) if I just said, ‘go & take this magic pill, or get this magic shot’.

One of my other passions, besides plants & pursuing truth in all things, is history. Before I allowed the plant path to consume me completely, I began a degree in archaeology & anthropology. One day I may return to this & complete the circle with ethnobotany & archaeobotanical studies, but in the meantime, I will fascinate myself with the history of herbal medicine because as I have eluded to in previous posts, there is much wisdom in the work of our forebears. All of which was obtained in the thick of the battlefield, or at least boots on the ground experience, not just from books or from clinical studies.

 

“Does this work?”

“Well, we’ve been using it successfully for this thing for thousands of years, but I guess we won’t really know until someone extracts it with a solvent that herbalists have never used & then does a clinical trial on it using animals, & then we can put it in a pill, standardise it & charge lots of money.”

 

 

Our forebears knew stuff about how the body works & how to work with it, which by & large in contrast, we’ve now become too lazy & ‘convenienced’ (yes, I just made that word up) by our modern technological medicine. With regards to colds, flu, & fever they were particularly well versed.  And although many people died, mainly due to standards of hygiene before Florence Nightingale came along & said “hey, let’s clean this place up”, many people survived & thrived from the skill of these wortcunners (whether indigenous, pioneer, or colonial) (yes, that is an actual word. No. it’s not rude).  So, what did they know that maybe we don’t even bat an eyelid at today?

They knew that the two most important aspects to begin helping a body overcome illness was to build the vital reserves (ie: nourish the nervous system), & to support the thermoregulatory system.

Being perhaps the highest centre of regulation in the body, one’s physiological functions can therefore only be as strong and as healthy as one’s nervous system. Too stressed & uptight? Nerves ‘frazzled’ or ‘on edge’? or as a tightly strung harp that has been wound to breaking point, the system becomes too relaxed, lethargic, fatigued, and burnt out. Every effort is just too hard. In either case, this will be reflected in the cascade of regulatory functions that follow. For example, whether the state of a condition can be characterised by being too tense, or too relaxed, & further to being too dry or too damp, or too hot or too cold. This nervous system input is particularly evident in the thermoregulatory system, that system you’ve probably never heard of that is really the first line of defence proceeding the immune system. To put it simply, the thermoregulatory system is governed by the hypothalamus, a centre in the brain, which through various neurotransmitters & receptors & interaction with the thyroid, monitors the internal temperature of the body in relation to environmental stressors, both external (eg: climate) and internal (eg: pathogen, or undigested food). Using the medium of water in the body to control the internal temperature because water conveys heat, the hypothalamus then instructs the autonomic nervous system (the branch of the nervous system responsible for involuntary action of smooth muscle tissue, for example things we don’t have to consciously make an effort to maintain – like breathing) to dilate or constrict the capillaries (fine blood vessels under the surface of the skin) to control circulation of the blood & to open or close the ‘vents’ of the body to release or retain this heat. These vents are the pores in our skin which are surround by tiny bands of smooth muscle (and to a smaller extent pores in our mucous membranes where water is lost in the form of mucous.). Our blood vessels are also bound by smooth muscle tissue which is directly innervated by the autonomic nervous system. To illustrate this, in the heat of summer, the hypothalamus senses this temperature range so instructs the nervous system to dilate the capillaries so more blood will flow to the surface, & then open the pores to release heat via sweat. This maintains the core temperature of the body, so we don’t overheat & ended up cooking ourselves from the inside out. In the cooler climes of winter, the hypothalamus instructs the nervous system to close the pores to retain heat, stop us from sweating & keep the core temperature warm. This is a very sophisticated but simple mechanism that is occurring constantly throughout every second of our lives.

 

We can therefore make the distinction between two parts in this system – the Core (the internal ‘fire’ or centre of heat) and the Shield (the periphery, or our skin & mucous membranes – the inner skin.). The importance of the Core & maintaining its temperature has been recognised through all traditions of healing across all cultures. In Ayurveda, this inner fire is referred to asAgni& its strength is ultimately responsible for the health for the whole body. In the western herbal tradition, Samuel Thomson, practicing in the early 1800s in North America learned, along with other pioneer-era botanical doctors, from village wise women, & observed in indigenous American practice of the sweat lodge, the importance of keeping this inner fire stoked & the vents functionally effectively in response. In the folk tradition of the North American South, the observance of whether the blood is thin or thick also plays an important part in this process. For example, in the summer, thin blood is more desirable because it is more water-rich, enabling heat to be released through sweat more readily.  It has been noted that many elderly people are lost to heat stroke in the summer months in the deep south because their blood is too thick to release the heat needed to maintain their core temperature. The observation of the interplay between the core & the shield was imperative in the successful treatment of fever, frostbite, & other concerning maladies of the time.

 

There is no mystery in it, the whole plan consists in keeping the determining power to the surface, from the fountain of the body, which is  the stomach;  from  which all  the  limbs receive  their  support and warmth,  and  when you  cannot  raise the  fountain  sufficient to  give

nature its power course, you must lower the stream, or outward heat, by  keeping the  heat  down on  the  limbs, and  raising  the inward  heat, when  there can  no  mortification ever  return  from the  limbs  to  the body, any more than a log can float against a stream. (Samuel Thomson. 1828)

 

What has this all got to do with WuFlu, or any seasonal flu?

 

Consider this.

 

Many of us live or work in an air-conditioned environment. This is an artificial environment that electromagnetically is also very draining to every single electrically charged cell in your body, and ultimately confuses the body’s nervous system, which I like to think of as our own electrical wiring.

At the time of writing it is nearing the end of Summer here in Australia. Over the last few months it has not been uncommon to see temperatures in my area hit the low 40s. This is typical for this time of year, and yes, I turned on the air conditioning. Air con is sometimes a necessity if we want to continue to have a productive life, but we need to keep in mind the subtle changes that our body needs to make to regulate our internal temperature when we move between the cool air conditioning and the heat outside. Or vice versa in winter with indoor heating. These subtle changes of internal temperature regulation are under the direction of the nervous system. Do you see the catch-22 here? In this case, in being mindful we need to dress appropriately for these transitions, but more importantly we need to address the needs of our nervous system. This will also address the fear factor that the media machine feeds on. If we are under chronic stress the NS regulation of the internal temperature via the pores in our skins (vents), can become stuck or confused and appropriate regulation fails to take place. This in turn impedes the changes necessary to the internal environment that will help fend off invading pathogen – such as a virus- and infection begins to take hold.

 

As a side note, this is one of the reasons why vitamin C is such a benefit in preventing illness. Vitamin C is among a myriad of other functions, essential for adrenal health. Stress depletes vitamin C stores rapidly as the adrenal glands produce the hormones needed to regulate body in order to deal with the stressor. One of these actions is anti-inflammatory. An invading pathogen such as a coronavirus triggers inflammation in the body, a critical step in the immune response, but also dangerous if the body cannot produce its own anti-inflammatory mechanism to keep it in check. So, up your intake of vitamin C. Starting your day with a shot of freshly squeezed lemon juice in water will give you a good amount of vitamin C. Lemons also helps cut excess mucous in the body. Vitamin C is also a prime antioxidant, meaning that it deals with the ‘rust’ (oxidation) or debris left over after the normal metabolic processes of the immune response.

 

Interestingly, it is only AFTER (albeit possibly nanoseconds after) the thermoregulatory system kicks in that the immune function as we know it begins to take over. In the capillaries at the periphery, mast cells are ready & waiting to gobble up any pathogens that do make it through the very first defence of temperature change.

 

I said that I like to take a very pragmatic approach to these sorts of things, and I do that within the context of a paradigm I learnt from herbalist, Steven Horne. This is the ABCD approach. It stands for Activate, Build, Cleanse, and Direct aid.

 

Get Activated

 

In this regard, we want to activate the body’s vital reserves for both prevention and healing. This is where we address the nervous system. How do you nourish your nervous system? Do you take regular time out of your day to just relax and rest? Do you allow yourself to switch your mind off from the chatter of the world and the demands of work, school, or family life? The first thing I would do is turn off the TV and limit your screen time. Be mindful of what you are feeding your mind and your heart. What sort of emotions does it produce in you? If they are mainly negative, then it’s a good idea to turn it off because ALL of the cells in your body will be feeling the same way.  Then I would recommend getting out in nature somewhere away from the chaos. I also recommend a regular practice of gratitude and forgiveness, of meditation & prayer. Surround yourself with encouraging friends. If you find it difficult to switch off, take an Epsom salt bath or footbath 2 -3 times per week. This is a very affordable, very quick, and very noticeable way to switch your body from being on constant alert to simply letting go and being. (This is not something you want to do if you have an open wound however. It will sting like the blazes.)  The magnesium that makes up the salts not only relaxes the nerves & muscles, it also opens the pores & encourages detoxification. You might also want to consider any unresolved issues and subsequent emotional blockages that you might be aware of. For example, unresolved grief often lies in the lungs. Unresolved fear in the kidneys. Much of what can be contributing to disease development is an underlying emotional issue, therefore, In order to really activate your vital reserve & healing response, it would be prudent to begin working on these. Here we might consider flower essences along with counselling or somatic experiencing to help release these unresolved traumas and shocks to the nervous system.

 

Anxiety, tension, cold, & fright tenses the sympathetic nervous system & therefore thermoregulation of the skin – herbs that we might consider here that have a special affinity for soothing the nervous system include lemon balm (also anti-viral), lavender, passionflower, skullcap, milky oats (a nutritive tonic), & vervain (if cold is felt in the back). I find it interesting that one of the tactics of causing fear or panic among the general populace, is to completely saturate all forms of media with around the clock coverage. The same mantra, or scripts are repeated on loop ad nauseum. Passionflower in particular is specific for people who experience anxiety generated from obsessive thoughts. They are stuck in a loop that they can’t seem to break out of. A nice tea blend for general relaxation, as well as helping one to sleep soundly, & can be made up and added to a bath contains equal parts of Lavender flowers + Chamomile + Skullcap + Passionflower. A nice gentle tonic that is particularly calming for children (of any age) is a combination of chamomile + oat straw.

 

Build

We then want to build the body and support optimal function. We do this through choosing to eat good, clean, nourishing whole food, through movement, through getting adequate sound sleep, and sunshine, and fresh air, and clean water, through supplementing if necessary (such as with vitamin C, Vitamin A for mucous membrane integrity, Vitamin D if inadequate sun exposure, the B complex vitamins for nerve support). Foods like citrus, rosehips, elderberries (also anti-viral), all the dark berries, are high in vitamin C & bioflavonoids. Typically, many begin coming into fruit around late summer & moving into Autumn, a perfect time to start preparing for the extra demands the body goes through to adjust to the cooler months ahead. Every year around the Autumn equinox I have a tradition of making Elderberry syrup. I call it my Luminous Immunity Winter Elixir. Often, I sell it & I always end up needing to make several batches. It has gone through various incarnations over the years, depending on availability of herbs or what I am intuiting might be a good addition for that years’ particular flu, but generally it is based around this formula (all herbs are dried):

Elderberry_Seeds

Elderberry Syrup

2 parts elderberries

1 part rosehips

1 part echinacea whole plant or 1 part calendula

1 part star anise

1 part cinnamon

 

Add all the herbs to a pot & add about 400mls water, this would be if you were using teaspoon measures of herb. I use slightly higher measures because I do a deep decoction which concentrates the brew. Bring to the boil, & then reduce to a simmer. Partly cover & simmer for around an hour, or until the liquid has reduced by half. Turn of the heat & let cool. At this point, while it is still hot, you can add any dried leafy herb that prefers to be gently infused rather than vigorously decocted. Herbs such as blackcurrant leaf, lemon balm, or tulsi might be a nice addition here to help support the nerves or adrenals. Once the decoction is lukewarm, strain and add an equal amount of either raw honey or food-grade vegetable glycerine. I use glycerine because people with blood sugar issues or those who can’t have sugar can take it & it still adds the sweetness. Either way, bottle, cap tightly, & store in the fridge once opened.

 

 

The third point that I listed in considering the common factors of where these epidemics come from referred to poor air quality. This is going to have a big impact on the integrity of our lungs, and in cases such as these coronaviruses we need to be building up our lung health as much as possible. Here I would employ herbs such as mullein & plantain to tone the lungs & repair damaged tissue. I make a tea blend specifically for this purpose, made from equal parts of:

Mullein leaf + plantain leaf + liquorice root + oatstraw + peppermint. This is a moistening, nourishing, & cooling blend which I made specifically for those of us having to breathe through hot, smoky air during the recent Australian bushfires. I called it Desert Lungs – implying that it will help hot, dried out, damaged lungs. The liquorice & oatstraw I added to support the nerves as well as the adrenals, as well as adding moistening & nourishing properties. If your air quality is already cold, swap the peppermint for a warming herb such as angelica, thyme, elecampane, or cinnamon. Reishi mushroom is also considered a lung & immune tonic that maybe beneficial in adding to your lung loving regime. On an emotional level it also helps to release unresolved grief.

 

A note about air filtering face masks: I’ve read numerous conflicting reports about the efficacy of face masks in preventing spread of the virus. I would recommend them if 1. You live in area with poor to hazardous air quality, and 2. Your lungs are already damaged. It’s important to note that we live in a sea of viruses, bacteria, yeast, fungi, & other micro-organisms. They either live in us or on us. Constantly. They become an issue when our internal environment provides the optimal conditions for their survival. Understanding this helps us to understand that it’s our overall approach to health that is important.

 

 

Cleanse

 

Let’s start with hygiene first. Everybody should know to wash their hands after they’ve been to the bathroom or changed their baby’s nappies, after touching animals, after touching other people or kids if helping with first aid issues etc. Everybody should know to wash their hands before touching food, especially if they are preparing it for others. You don’t need to use harsh chemical detergents (and you shouldn’t because we also have vast populations of microflora on our skin which protects us), a mild pure olive oil or castile soap will suffice. We all should know how to store food properly. If we eat meat and cook it ourselves, then we should be aware of what fresh good quality flesh looks and smells like when we buy it. If you aren’t sure, then find out. We should also know how to cook it properly, particularly if eating flesh that has a tendency to harbour hidden parasites. (Like bats and rats, and pig, and fish. Maybe there are some flesh foods that just shouldn’t be eaten) We should all know to cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze. And most definitely, we shouldn’t be hawking up phlegm and spitting it into the street where people frequent. Find a tissue, use that and then flush it.

to-prevent-influenza-a108877
To Prevent Influenza, Illustrated Current News, October 18, 1918
National Library of Medicine #A108877 (courtesy of https://circulatingnow.nlm.nih.gov/2015/01/15/influenza-precautions-then-and-now/)

Secondly, if you do have a cold or signs of any type of flu, please quarantine yourself. No, DON’T soldier on. You just inflict it on the rest of us, and if you work with air con in your office, or sit in it on the train to work, it is largely a closed system. Other people will eventually suffer,  because at the very least you will be breathing on them when you talk to them. We need to be mindful of cleansing ourselves internally. I’m not talking about following a rigid full-on detox sort of lifestyle full-time. A small three day cleansing diet from the Ayurvedic approach to help the body adjust to the changing seasons may be beneficial, particularly if you’ve been eating unhealthily over the holiday period, or eating too much stodge over winter, or too many cooling watery fruits in summer. Instead I’m interested in taking an overall approach to eliminating too much or all refined sugars, processed foods, & foods with lots of additives in them from your diet. We also want to remove any known food sensitivities or allergens. A great deal of our immune function resides in the gut. If we are continually eating foods or food-like products that our body finds difficult to digest, or just not compatible, then this can cause inflammation & congested lymph in the gut, which in turn engages our immune response & diverts it away from, or reduces the effort of where it might be more needed. Reducing alcohol & quitting smoking is also going to help your body process toxic build-up more effectively, as is removing personal care & body products that contain a vast array of chemical ingredients that no one can pronounce but do clog your skin & get into your blood stream.

The goal here is to make clear the pathways of elimination. These include the colon, the kidneys, the lungs, & the skin, & the lymphatic system as the all-important adjunct to immunity. The reason for this is that not only does it keep your body functioning smoothly & efficiently overall, it also keeps the movement of metabolic waste product flowing through the body for ease of elimination. During the normal processes of metabolism (the usage of nutrients, the building up & breaking down), waste products are produced (just like on a macro level when we eat & then need to go to the bathroom). Waste products are also produced when bacteria move in to help scavenge up debris after a viral attack. We’ll talk a bit more about this aspect when we discuss Direct Aid. If we can’t eliminate this from the body effectively, it contributes to poor health & poor immunity. The lymphatic system is largely responsible for picking up this waste, processing & filtering it, & making it ready for excretion through the kidneys in urine & through our colon in faeces. The lymphatic system, however, does not circulate through the body like the blood does. It needs the aid of muscular movement to move it through the body through its various ducts. Thus movement, whether it’s formal exercise or just the everyday activities of doing household chores, shopping, walking to the bus or train, etc helps move this lymph. Just move more than you rest throughout the day. Another way of moving lymph is by ‘rebounding’ on a mini-trampoline, which creates a gentle pulsing rhythm throughout the body. 15 minutes a day is enough to activate this flow.

 

Dry skin brushing of the face & body also moves the lymph, and it gently improves circulation & encourages the pores to open. This latter function may also have something to do with the gentle stimulation of the nervous system as you do it. I’ve made a habit of brushing my face & body before I have a shower each morning. I find it invigorating but calming at the same time. It gets me ready for the day & puts me in a good mood.

 

It is hardly  necessary to  call  attention to  the  importance of  a healthy skin, as associated with good health, and to its impairment as a frequent  cause  and constituent  of  disease.    This  organ  not only removes a large amount of nitrogenized waste, but it also regulates the temperature, and assists in the respiratory function.  If its function as a regulator of the temperature (safety valve) is impaired, we will have a  wrong of  this  condition of  life  which will  work  a  wrong  of every  function  of life.   If it  fails to  do  its work  of  excretion, the  blood  must suffer from  the  retained material,  unless  the kidneys  and  bowels do vicarious work.   Impairment of the skin thus imposes additional labor upon the lungs

(Dr John Scudder, 1881. As quoted by Matthew Wood 2020).

 

Calendula is a lovely bright & sunny herb that blooms year-round & was used in European tradition to help warm the core, move the lymph, & prepare the body for the cold winter months. The flowers were picked & added to soups & stews. This is why it is also known as ‘pot marigold.’ Calendula plants are easy to grow form seed, & the seedlings are easily found at most nurseries. Even Bunnings sells them! You can add the bright petals to salads, soups, stews, or make a tea, or add them to the bath as well. Calendula is also what is known as a vulnerary, this means that it helps wounds to heal, particularly pink, puffy inflamed wounds like a cat scratch. It can be used internally for this purpose as well & is great for helping to heal inflammation in the gut, including ‘leaky gut’.

IMG_8498

You might also want to consider cleaning up your liver, particularly if you regularly drink alcohol or are taking prescription medication. The liver also detoxifies a lot of waste leftover from immune activity. Dandelion root is a gentle liver supporting herb  & can be taken as decoction or tea. Saint Johns Wort also helps the liver to detoxify & has anti-viral properties, but because it has such an effect on the liver it can interfere with some medication, so it would be wise to check with a medical herbalist first to see of there might be any adverse interactions for you.

 

Direct Aid

This is where we get down to the nitty-gritty of dealing with colds & flu, & learning to work with the body rather than against it.

Many of the herbs that we use for building the body up & nourishing the ‘vital reserves’ can also be used for direct aid. In this regard we want to think of herbs to nourish the nervous system (particularly dealing with anxiety), herbs to warm the core, herbs to help open the pores, and herbs to clean the lymphatics if they’re congested or stagnant. And these herbs can also address the energetics of whatever cold or flu that might be going around.  For example, Chamomile can be effectively used on its own for children (of any age) to calm the nerves, open the pores & help bring on a gentle sweat in order to break any fever associated with the flu. Chamomile also helps calm inflammation, gas, & bloating in the stomach that may be due to food sensitivities & allergies.

 

At the first sign of a sore throat, we might start simply by gently massaging the glands in the neck & underneath the jawline. This helps to activate & move the lymph in that area. Gently massaging for 10-20 minutes can sometimes be all the relief that you require. If it continues however, check your diet & eliminate refined sugar in particular as well as dairy if that typically causes you to make more mucous. Consider a hot lemon, honey, & ginger tea.  Building, cleansing, soothing, & warming – this tea is a great all round first aid to help activate & work with the body’s efforts to prevent further infection.

 

If you begin to feel a head cold coming on with thin watery mucous, red watery eyes, & maybe a post-nasal drip that causes an irritating cough, think of onions. A simple onion syrup can be made by cutting an onion in half and sitting it on a saucer into which you have poured a tablespoon of honey (preferably raw honey). The honey, medicinal in its own right, draws out the juice from the onion. Take a teaspoon full every 2 hours. If there is an earache with it, saute the onion in a little water in a pan on the stove, then wrap it in a clean handkerchief or cotton cloth & hold this over the ear while still hot (don’t place on the ear if it will be hot enough to burn). This will relieve the pain & reduce the inflammation. But we want to deal with the cough before it settles in the chest.

 

If the sinuses are congested, make Fire Cider! This can also be used, like elderberry syrup, as a tonic preventative. Fire Cider has as many variations as there has been people making it. The term Fire Cider was originally coined by the ‘grand-mother’ of modern north American herbalism Rosemary Gladstar. Her recipe looks like this & like most of the Fire Cider recipes that followed is based around horseradish & lot of other potent food medicines:

 

Fire Cider

  • ½ cup grated fresh horseradish root
  • ½ cup or more fresh chopped onions
  • ¼ cup or more chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup or more grated ginger
  • fresh or dried chopped cayenne pepper. Use as much as it will give a nice kick, but only what will be tolerated.

Place herbs in a one litre jar and cover with enough raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to cover the herbs by at least a few inches. Cover tightly with a tight fitting lid.

Place jar in a warm place and let it sit for one lunar cycle (eg: from one full moon to the next). Shake it daily to help extract all the goodness.

After three to four weeks, strain out & compost the herbs, and reserve the liquid.

Add enough raw honey so your Fire Cider tastes hot, spicy, and sweet. You want a nice balance of all three tastes.

Bottle & store in the cupboard or fridge once opened. It has a long shelf-life.

You can take a small shot glass every day as a general tonic, or take a teaspoon or two every couple of hours if you feel a cold coming on.

 

Wasabi is a paste made from Japanese horseradish, if you’ve ever had that, then you’ll know what to expect with this Fire Cider. Horseradish is renowned for really clearing out the sinuses. Onion helps clean up mucous production, garlic is anti-microbial, ginger is anti-inflammatory, & moves the blood to the head & to the surface, bringing lots of immune cells with it, & cayenne pepper also brings the blood & helps bring on a gentle sweat. Fire Cider can also be used as a topical linament for sore muscles. Which might be useful if the cold moves into a flu, & the whole body begins to ache.

 

Traditional  medicine  treats fever  and  other diseases  by  opening and closing   the   peripheral  ‘vents’  of   the   body  –   the   sweat  pores, sebaceous  glands,  and capillaries.   It does not  attempt  to ‘kill microorganisms’  directly.   Instead, it  dooms   these   critters  by

changing the environment in which they live. By opening the pores and   capillaries  heat   trapped   in  the   surface   is  released   and   the environment returns to normal – a state in which viruses and bacteriacannot live. Thus, traditional medicine  works  with fever,  a  natural process, to restore health. ~ Matthew Wood. Unpublished essay Samuel Thomson: Naïve or Sophisticated? Thermoregulation in Traditional Medicine. 2020.

 

If the flu begins for you with an overall achey feeling, a headache, or like a chill is trapped in the bones, then it’s time to start warming up the core, opening the periphery, & inducing a serious sweat. You can do this relatively easily by taking a hot bath in which you’ve dissolved 2 cups of Epsom salts, while drinking a brew of yarrow, elderflower, peppermint, & boneset.After about 25-35 minutes in the bath, get out of the bath, dry off & dress warmly, wrap yourself in warm blankets, and then put yourself to bed. If you’re not sweating already, you soon will be. If you don’t have a bath, you can successfully do with this with a footbath. Just fill a basin with hot water to cover your feet, ½ cup of Epsom salts, & you can make the tea & add it to the footbath if you don’t want to drink it (this is a great way of helping fussy kids take herbs). Soak your feet for about 30-40 minutes, and then rug up.

 

So, why do we want to support the body during fever, rather than supress it?

 

Fever is a healthy and intelligent response from the Vital Force to the overwhelm of pathogenic infection. A functional fever, or a fever that increases antibody, white blood cell production and metabolism, and ‘cooks out’ a pathogen is said to occur between 37.2 °C (99F) and 40°C (104F). The Influenza virus is said to die at 37.2°C a lot of other pathogens are killed off at 40°C, and at 41°C (106F) bacteria such as pneumococcus as well as spirochetes (such as those responsible for Lyme Disease and syphilis) die.

Unfortunately, a fever of 41°C brings with it the potential for febrile seizures, and in infants, the elderly, and fragile or immune-compromised individuals, this can prove to be a dangerous temperature. Therefore, in this regard, the fever needs to be monitored. A fever that reaches 108-110°F cause brain damage and our own cells and tissues begin to die. The normal body temperature ranges between 36-37°C.

Let’s look at the four stages of fever and how to manage them.

Stage One– the thermoregulatory/immune response is activated, cold, shivering, and pallor of skin occurs. Here we want to encourage the body to reach the new temperature set by the hypothalamus via messages from our thermoregulatory system. We want to keep ourselves, or our patient warm with extra blankets, a warm or hot bath, and a warm room as described above. We might also use herbs that are warming such as ginger or cayenne (small amounts), thyme, yarrow, or rosemary to help the circulation move. These can be taken as a tea or diluted in the bath.

Stage Two– the new temperature is reached, and you feel warm/ hot, the skin is red and dry. This is because the blood has been moved to the periphery, to the surface, but the pores of the skin are closed and can’t yet release the heat as sweat. The pulse is also rapid, and superficial (right under the surface of the skin). When the fever reaches 99.5°F (37.5°C), the digestion is no longer a priority, so here we want to fast during the fever. Eating during the fever will only suppress immunity, and prolong the infection, making it worse. During this stage, the immune system is very active and very ‘hungry’, so it begins to strip amino acids from the muscles to fuel itself and form more immune components. This results in muscle aches and pains. During this stage we want to keep hydrated with water or herb teas, or fresh juice such as watermelon, and also replace lost electrolytes (which we can do by adding a small pinch of full-spectrum Himalayan pink salt to the water or drinking coconut water. You can also buy electrolyte powders to add to your water). Taking a tepid or lukewarm bath will also support this stage of the fever and calm the nervous system to release tension. Taking a cold bath or consuming ice at this point will suppress the fever, so it’s not recommended. Herbs that will support this stage and can be taken as a hot tea include elder flower, lavender, boneset, lemon balm, yarrow, and peppermint. Helping the body to release tension then prepares for the next stage…

Stage Three– when it receives the signal from the immune system, the hypothalamus resets the temperature back to what it should be normally. The fever is still peaking at this point at around 103°F (39.4°C), so you’ll still feel really hot. At this point, the pores of the skin open, the fever ‘breaks’, and sweat is released as the temperature starts to drop. Here we need to rest and continue to fast until the fever drops below 99°F (37.5°C), and until hunger returns. When this occurs, we break the fast with nourishing and easily digested soups and broths. We also tend to hygiene: change the sheets, and clothes, take a shower, and open the windows in the sick room to allow fresh, clean air to circulate. You may also like to diffuse some essential oils like eucalyptus or lemon, or some cleansing blend.
It is important to note here that it is not uncommon for the fever to go back and forth between stages 2 and 3. This results in alternating chills and fever, or intermittent fever. In this case we both stimulate and relax appropriately using the guidelines given above.)

Stage Four– this is the recovery or convalescenceperiod. This is not a word that is used much anymore, probably because everyone is rushed to get back to work or the general busyness of life. But the period of convalescence, or recovery, from an illness is just as important as how one treats the illness. It should be as long as the fever period, or duration of the illness. Here we want to maintain our focus on rest, recuperation, and nourishment. We don’t want to return to strenuous work, and we need to allow the immune system as a whole to take care of any residual issues. If the illness lingers, this is more often than not due to returning to strenuous activity too soon. To help the body deal with clean up of any residue, we can use herbs that are strengthening, nutritive, and blood cleansing such as Nettle, or Calendula to move the lymph, and we can go back to the ABC’s.

Over the counter medications such as Panadol, Aspirin, Tylenol, and Neurofen all suppress the fever mechanism. A more appropriate response to fever then is to follow the guidelines given above and use time- honoured herbs that support the movement of the Vital force during this important process of healing. A traditional blend of equal parts of Yarrow, Elder flower, and Pepperminthas been used with good effect for this purpose. This blend of herbs covers stages one to three. It can be taken as a hot tea and sipped every 10 minutes or so, or added to a hand, foot, or full body bath. For active infection, particularly with chills & aching in the bones, I recommend adding Bonesetto the traditional blend of yarrow, elder flowers, & peppermint. Boneset will also bring up mucous that is hard to expel.

For managing fevers in children, the temperature must be continually monitored.In babies and infants, the continuation of breastfeeding during the fever is encouraged as the composition of mother’s milk assists the child’s immature immune system and provides comfort during a time that can often be scary for young children. In this case, the breastfeeding mother should also keep herself well hydrated to ensure a good supply. Children of all ages should be encouraged to sip water or a fresh vitamin C rich juice (like orange or blackcurrant) every 15-20 minutes in order to prevent dehydration. A warm chamomile tea can be given, as this will also help the fever to break and calm the nerves. This can also be used in a tepid bath or to sponge the child down to also ensure that the fever doesn’t go over 103°F -104°F(40°C). Keep sponging the child until the fever comes down to at least 102°F (38.8°C), but don’t do this for more than 2 hours. Once the temperature comes down, put the child to bed, keep encouraging them to drink, and monitor the temperature every 20-30 mins, and follow the guidelines given above for stages three and four. Chamomile is also wonderful for infants who throw a mild fever when they are teething, either as a tea or in the homoeopathic form. If the temperature remains high, or rises suddenly, seek medical assistance and give the homoeopathic Aconite 12c or Belladonna 12c.

Attention to basic hygiene should also be more focussed during this time– washing hands after using the bathroom and before eating, keeping the sickroom clean, well ventilated, and open to natural sunlight, changing and washing clothes and bedsheets, towels etc that are used by the patient. Throwing used tissues away and keeping the house free of rubbish. If the flu has gastrointestinal involvement, and vomiting and diarrhoea is involved, it is especially important to isolate the patient and keep the bathroom clean, and to use gloves and a mask when cleaning up after them.

Smudging dried herbs like white sage (from cultivated sources), lavender, rosemary, thyme, lemon myrtle, eucalyptus, or vaporising essential oils such as eucalyptus or ti-tree oil to sanitise and freshen the air during this time is also useful. If people in your school or workplace are coming down with colds or flu or worse, you can also use the trick of the Four Thieves of medieval legend. These wise souls managed to escape the curse of the Black Death by using a combination of herbs with anti-microbial properties infused in vinegar & sprinkled on a handkerchief and tied around their face to protect themselves. It can also be used as a household cleaner, an air freshener or body spray, it can be rubbed on as an insect repellent, or it can be taken internally. plague-woodcut-by-hans-WEB-700x462

 Four Thieves Vinegar (courtesy of The Herbal Academy)

2 cups of raw apple cider vinegar

2 tsp dried garden sage

2 tsp dried rosemary

2 tsp dried lavender

2 tsp dried juniper berries

1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp dried thyme

1 bulb fresh raw garlic.

Add all of the herbs to a clean 650ml jar and pour the apple cider vinegar over until you it is about an inch from the top of the jar. You might need to use a chopstick or clean spoon to mix the vinegar through, so all the herbs are well covered, & remove any air bubbles. Tightly cap the jar with a plastic lid (vinegar will corrode metal) or place a piece of baking paper between the lid & the jar if you only have a metal lid. Place in the cupboard & let the vinegar infuse for a full lunar cycle (eg: from full moon to full moon). Shake the jar daily to extract all the goodness & keep the herbs saturated with the vinegar. After about a month, strain & bottle the vinegar. Again, there have been a number of variations on this recipe. If you can’t find juniper berries for example, you could use eucalyptus leaves, lemon myrtle, or lemon balm leaves, or tea-tree leaves, or cloves.

 

It should be noted that viral infections are often followed often almost seamlessly by a bacterial infection such as pneumonia if the chest has become heavily congested. This will typically be observed by noting the change in colour of the mucous. Generally speaking, clear mucous indicates a general irritation to the mucous membranes – the first effort to launch an immune response, white mucous indicates immune cells are moving in, yellow mucous that a viral infection has taken hold & there is a lot of debris, green mucous indicates a bacterial infection, blood in the mucous indicates damage to tissue, dark brown mucous may indicate pollution, tar, or a septic condition (other signs will also indicate sepsis, & this requires emergency medical care). Bacteria move in to scavenge viral debris, as well as metabolic debris. This is helpful & may also provide a distraction of sorts as the virus can move onto infecting the bacteria instead of the host. But the problems arise with bacterial infection as the bacteria excrete endotoxins – waste products from their metabolic processes. Warming, decongesting, anti-microbial herbs such as thyme & elecampane are specific for breaking up these deep-seated infections characterised by green mucous, and relieving the cough associated with them.

It is important to note that deep, severe, or septic infections of any type are more likely to gain a stronghold if the overall state of our internal environment is one of cold depression. That is, as we began this discussion, the thermoregulatory system is most often confused, and the core is not warmer than the periphery, the circulation isn’t moving effectively, & much needed nutrition isn’t getting to the area.

 

Herbalist,Matthew Wood reminds us that to be really specific we need to understand the energetics of the illness as much as we need to understand the energetics of the herbs we are working with. For this novel coronavirus (Covid-19 or n19 or ‘WuFlu’), the information shared during Facebook discussions (ref; Matthew Wood- Herbalist, or The Luminary Medicine pages), the energetics are ‘damp turbidity’. This basically means “toxins blocking release of heat, mucous building up not allowing emptying of the lymphatics.” (M.Wood 2020)

DoctorSchnabelVonRom-217x300

The treatment strategies being employed in Traditional Chinese Medicine for this seem to be relying on aromatic herbs, in steams or inhalation, around the house or hot teas. Chai spices are good here if that is all you have available. (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper, star anise, ginger – add these to dandelion root & you also have some nice liver support). They are also focussing largely on what we have discussed in the above ABCD approach;

  • Warm the centre
  • Clear the lymphatics.
  • Open the periphery

We also need to watch for a shift from viral to bacterial dominance. This can be dangerous because it can move into pneumonia. Using an onion or mustard poultice on the chest (place a cloth underneath if using a mustard poultice, it can blister) encourages circulation to lungs & chest, which in turn will help remove the heavy mucous & bring in new immune factors & white cells, & more red blood to carry in new nutrition. To make an onion poultice, use the same method outlined for using onion for earache.

If pneumonia does become an issue and fluid builds up on the lungs, we need to ask ourselves why? Is the skin closed, are the kidneys dealing with more? Is the lymph stuck or congested? Are we keeping our organs of elimination open & working effectively? Herbalist & former Green Beret army medic, Sam Coffman noted early in the outbreak that this particular coronavirus seems to be targeting the kidneys. In our ABCD approach of building & cleansing, we might want to pay attention to how well our kidneys are functioning. Herbs such as Stinging Nettle, Golden Rod, and Astragalus (astragalus is not advised during active infection because it closes the pores) can all help to nourish the kidneys. But before we consider the herbs, simply keeping the kidney area warm & making sure we are adequately hydrated is essential. Again, for keeping the kidneys warm, baths & warm packs will help here.

One herb that appears to be a good ally for this particular flu is Angelica archangelica– it relaxes the vagus nerve (the nerve that innervates the core), warms the core, opens the periphery, has an affinity for the respiratory tract, as well as the stomach, & is anti-viral. We use the root in particular. It would make a nice addition to the Elderberry syrup as a preventative, in the Fire Cider, or in Four Thieves Vinegar. Or it can be added to the traditional yarrow, elder, & peppermint tea blend for during treatment.

 

All of the other factors that I’ve gone into above need to be taken into consideration first and during active infection. Changing the internal environment so it is hostile to the invading pathogen, and building a healthy immune response is more beneficial long term for the body and will prevent future threats, than to just go in off the bat with something that kills the pathogen directly without considering the body as a whole. The above ABCD approach will do much in the way of helping to prevent this flu and knock early symptoms on the head, and this can be used for winter or spring colds & flu. For an active infection that has set in, or you have a history of respiratory issues, or other issues that may impede healing, a skilled herbalist can assess the condition, offer advice on how to prevent or manage the current condition, and formulate a custom treatment protocol that will help it reach a resolution. A herbalist is also the best person to ask about finding good quality herbs if you don’t grow your own, aren’t familiar with them enough to find them in the wild, or can’t access them at a local health food shop, or if you have any questions or concerns generally around how to prepare herbs, or just about your health or your loved ones. To find a herbalist near you, enquire at your local health food shop if you have one, or contact a state or national organisation such as the NIMH in the UK, the AHG in the US, and the NHAA in Australia,  that has a list of practitioners in your area. In the meantime, I hope you have found this useful & I wish you many blessings of good health.

If you take away anything from this brief summary of how to work with the body to treat or prevent colds & flu, it might be summarised in two easy steps:

  1. Don’t panic. Turn off ALL forms of media.
  2. Go & have a relaxing bath.

 

 

Many Blessings,

Michelle x

 

 

Resources:

Free Fire Cider Recipes

Organisations to help you find a herbalist near you:

https://www.nhaa.org.au (Australia)

https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com (USA)

https://nimh.org.uk (UK)

For people into the science of this viral infection. COVID19 specific protocol by Stephen Harrod Buhner https://www.stephenharrodbuhner.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/coronavirus.txt.pdf 

Suppliers of herbs:

Australia

mullumherbals.com.au

highland herbs

USA

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com

UK

https://www.indigo-herbs.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Grassroots Healing, Plant Medicine

Learning to converse with Pain and understand it’s language.

A Primer for the Post-Opioid Age.

 

Friday 26/07/2019

Last night I woke suddenly from a seizure of sleep paralysis that had made me feel trapped inside my own head. My brain felt drained and sore, like the top of my head had come off and everything was leaking out. I’ve had these episodes many, many times before over the last twenty odd years. The nature of the seizure changed about 4 years ago, but now on rare occasions when I’m all together exhausted, stressed-out, dehydrated, and have had sugar, one will come along and render me useless for a day or two. The episode itself is terrifying, exhausting, and traumatic, but the pain afterward is almost unbearable, as my already acute senses are heightened with the shock, only to be then bombarded with every usually inaudible sound around me. Pain is something every human suffers with at some point in their life – whether it is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual – it hurts, and it makes us stop in our tracks. We either hold our breath hoping it will pass while our body frantically produces endorphins to try and numb it, or we numb it with external aids like drugs, alcohol, or whatever vice we have on hand. At best this just supresses the pain, and the underlying cause waits for the right conditions to align again when it can scream at us and try once more to get our attention. At worst, we continue to numb it and ignore what it’s screaming and end up either addicted to the drugs or with some degenerative and possibly terminal condition, or both.  Some of us are good at ‘relaxing into it’, or ‘breathing into it’, and this is also useful to a degree (it has particular merit during childbirth). But at some point, we just have to sit with it, and to really listen to what it’s actually telling us. Last night, while waiting for the cannabis root balm that I’d applied all over my head to take effect, I did exactly that.

As herbalists, more often than not we prescribe herbs for pain based on the nature of the pain itself – for example if someone presents with cramping in their gut, we may make up a formula with Wild Yam in it – which we call a spasmolytic, because it relaxes the spasms occurring in the gut, to which it has an affinity for. For period pain, we may also prescribe a formula with Crampbark in it – again because as its name suggests, it helps relax spasms and cramping – particularly in the smooth muscle fibres of the uterus. Sometimes we may also prescribe more general anodynes – or pain-relieving herbs – like Jamaican Dogwood, or Willow bark. These are all great and effective, and I use them as well, but we can easily fall into the reductionist trap of ‘here, you have a headache, take this generic pill that I give to everyone with a headache’. In our sometime anxious efforts to relieve the suffering of another, we can sometimes forget to check not only the nature of the pain, but what is actually causing it. Why is the uterus cramping? Why does my head pound at times, yet at other times I have sharp shooting pains radiating through it?

As I was contemplating all of this last night, I realised that the current iatrogenic (man-made) epidemic of opioid addiction, and antibiotic misuse and abuse fed this mindset of prescribing just to numb and supress. If we look at the energetics behind our medicines and the correlating energetics inherent in our physical makeup and the language through which our bodies communicate, both opiates and antibiotics are energetically very cold. Opioid drugs – originally derived from the Opium poppy – are ‘cold in the fourth degree’, according to the ancient Greco-Arabic system of medicine (and across most traditional systems of healing). This ‘cold in the fourth degree’ means that they can sedate someone to the point of death because cold is the absence of heat, or life. This category of medicines should only be used wisely and with great skill, matching with the persons own level of vital reserves. Modern antibiotics are the same energetically – literally the name means ‘anti-life’. So, the flagrant and unskilled use of both of these class of medicines can result in the cold/depression(as in lack of functionality) tissue state. This tissue state then makes a nice environment for opportunistic infections to move in. In the mental sphere, we might equate this with apathy, lack of interest in life, lack of motivation. In this state of apathy, we might lose our ability to discern and so we become more ‘suggestable’ and susceptible to things that in the end, aren’t really in our best interest. Cold is also constricting. In the mental sphere, this can equate with a chronic introspection to the point of narcissism. How well does this tissue state describe our Western culture just now?!

In the practice of holistic herbal medicine, we are in the unique position of having access to a vast materia medica of plants that may not seemingly be related to the nature of the pain itself but can effectively relieve that pain, largely by addressing the underlying cause.The pain, like most symptoms of the body, is the language used by the innate intelligence to tell us and direct us to a more specific and long-lasting remedy. In this regard, we are working with the body, rather than against it or simply ignoring its pleas. Learning to listen to this language, to understand the language of pain in particular, tells us a great deal about what’s actually going on. And, it has a lot to do with the energetics – again something that is peculiar to holistic herbal medicine across all traditions – including the Western tradition. Let me illustrate this concept with the example of processing the language of my own pain.

As I sat with my pain last night and began to listen to it, to really feel it, I felt an ache, a dull but belligerent, all-encompassing draining ache. I instinctively cradled my head in my hands, as if creating a helmet that would hold my brain in. In technical jargon, we might say that my pain was ‘better for pressure’. I reflected on all of the pain that I had suffered through in my life, and for me, it is always relieved by pressure. I began to process why a pain might be ‘better for pressure’, and my thoughts immediately went to the First Aid principle of applying pressure to a bleeding wound. This action not only ‘clamps’ the blood vessel/s effected, but also shunts the now restricted blood flow into the surrounded capillary beds, which can expand up to forty times, thus reducing the flow of blood from the original wound. In the tissue state model, or underlying energetics of the tissues, this free, unrestricted blood flow (in the case above, from an injury), we refer to as damp/relaxation. There is no tone or restriction to hold the blood or the fluid in (until we apply pressure, or an astringent to tighten the tissue, or a circulatory stimulant to diffuse the blood into the surrounding capillary bed). If this damp/relaxation state is left unchecked it can lead to dry/atrophy– or a withered, malnourished state with loss of function. I note that these ‘seizures’ that I have often occur when I am really stressed and dehydrated. Therefore, the pain is worse when dehydrated. Already we can see a pattern; things dry out when there is too much relaxation of the tissue and there is excessive fluid loss that can’t be replenished at the rate that it’s being lost. Instead of just drinking a glass of water, which may help, we also need to address the underlying cause of the relaxed tissue tone. We have a class of herbs here with an Astringent action that work to tone and tighten the tissue, and we also have a class of herbs with Moistening qualities that help to rehydrate the intercellular and intra-cellular fluids throughout the body and help maintain that moisture.

At the same time, as we have damp/relaxation, this can cause pooling in some areas and contribute to damp/stagnation. For example, we often see this manifest as varicose veins. The vein walls lack the tone to effectively allow the blood to move along, and so the vessel may ‘kink’ and the blood begins to pool. The damp/stagnation tissue state can then lead to the cold/depression tissue state because there is no movement. In these tissue states, we need to use herbs that stimulate and move the flow of blood and fluid. These herbs generally also have a very warming quality, thereby returning vital heat to the area. An example of this particular type of pain may be with period pain. The uterus may feel aching and crampy, but also congested and boggy, it feels better for a hot water bottle and a back rub (again, note the need for pressure to diffuse some of that congestion). The cramping is coming from a damp/stagnation and cold/depression tissue state, rather than just spasm. The spasm of the smooth muscle tissue may be seen as a knee-jerk response to these underlying tissue states, as the body tries to create some sort of heat through the movement, as well as responding to a diminished flow of nutrient. We might use ginger here, as a tea, in tincture, or infused in oil and made into a balm to rub onto the abdomen, or added to a nice warm bath.

As our perception of pain is transmitted through nociceptors (or pain sensors) on the end of the nerves, we should be aware that the nerve endings are also influenced by the basic quadrune of life – the meeting point between capillary, extracellular matrix, cell, and lymph vessel. The integrity of this unit, of how well the flow through this inner ocean occurs, I believe reflects the type of pain we feel. For example, if an area of tissue is drying out, the nerve endings here will sense this, and the insulating properties of the myelin sheath will also begin to wither and leave them more exposed and more sensitive. Like a rocky shore at low tide, all of the rocks below the shoreline are now exposed to the elements. They are vulnerable. And over time, as the tides and seasons and climates change, a certain amount of erosion can set in. To me this feels like an ache. One might think a longing of things lost (dry/atrophy – although pain that occurs due to dry/atrophy I find to sometimes also exhibit a sticking like quality, due to a lack of lubrication.), rather than the burning passion of things anticipated – the pain of heat/excitation. The pain of heat/excitation (where there is too much friction or irritation, or too much blood) can be sharp and shooting or tingling, as in nerve pain, when the nerve is either severed or impinged, or pounding and throbbing when the blood is high, thick, and fast. Here I think of a strike of lightning, and the contrast to a hot desert sun beating down relentlessly on hapless explorers. The pain of heat/excitation may also more likely be tender to the touch. In both of these tissue states, we might also see damp/stagnation, or dry/atrophy as contributing factors, although heat/excitation can lead to a literal burning up of the fluids causing dry/atrophy. In the case of heat/excitation, we look to herbs that are cooling, and sedating. Many members of the Rose family find value here.

The last tissue state, which is perhaps partly most familiar, in terms of a general sense of pain, is wind/tension.The wind here denotes symptoms that change suddenly or alternate (such as with the alternating constipation and diarrhoea of Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Tension simply means just that. This is the pain often associated with bloating and gas in the gut. Or a true tension headache after a stressful day at work staring at a computer screen and dealing with uncooperative or demanding colleagues or customers. A pain typifying tension will be one of spasm, as opposed to the tension we create in ourselves when we hold our breath or hold in our emotions. It may also feel stretched, like a guitar string that has been wound too tight, or a belly that has just received a really big meal. It can also arise from the previous tissue states. Oftentimes, wind/tension arises from dry/atrophy as tissues start to dry out and harden or become rigid. For example, recently I supported a woman who needed a knee replacement. The tendon behind the knee that was being replaced was incredibly tight and caused a great deal of pain, in fact it had caused more pain than the actual knee which had, by the time I saw her, become bone on bone! The reason for the knee replacement was due to osteoarthritis, which I assessed was due to the dry/atrophy tissue state, caused largely by damp/relaxation and wind/tension (according to her constitutional pattern and an extensive case history). I gave Solomon’s Seal – a moistening herb that relaxes or tones tendons as needed, and she was able to find great relief, to the point where she noticed a difference when she had run out and needed another bottle. Her recovery from the knee replacement operation was also notably quicker than usual. However, generally speaking in this wind/tension type of pain, we do rely heavily on herbs with direct relaxing qualities, or herbs that directly affect the nerves.

In all of this ‘pain language’ of the six tissue states, we also want to juxtapose it with our individual constitution, as I described in the case above. We may have a tendency to lean in a particular energetic or elemental direction, and this may determine the way we perceive the pain and how it manifests. For example, I am a typically cold person, leaning toward dryness and nervous tension. In the Ayurvedic tridoshic system, I am predominantly Vata (a combination of the elements of air and aether/space). So, my pain will more often than not come from an underlying cold, dry condition. I need warming, moistening, astringent, and nerve nourishing herbs, that are also grounding. Currently, I am taking a formula that I made consisting of:

Agrimony (astringent, relaxing) – my constitutional remedy, Wood betony (circulatory stimulant to the brain, grounding, protective, astringent, relaxing), Skullcap (nerve nourishing, relaxing), Milky Oats (moistening, nerve nutrient), Sage (warming astringent, balances fluids, help assimilate the essential fats).

I also drink a chai or a Tulsi (relaxing, warming, adaptogen) tea with ginger (moistening, warming) every day. And once or twice/week I drink a cold infusion of marshmallow root, which is deeply hydrating. Because hydration should also include how well we use oils in our body, I usually eat a lot of good quality fats and use sesame oil on my skin. For acute situations like last night’s experience, we still want to match the acute remedy with what’s going on (e.g: when some women instinctively reach for the hot water bottle)I used cannabis root infused in olive oil and made into a balm because 1.) it is warming, 2.) it is anti-inflammatory and 3.) it does have relatively immediate analgesic and anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) and sedating properties, and 4) when infused in oil it also takes on the moistening and nerve-insulating properties of the oil.

When we consider pain, not only do we look at the tissue state, the overall constitution, the type of pain itself, but we also consider its: a) Onset – was it the result of an injury? (here we would consider first aid herbs for bruising and wound management, and if it began with an injury then it’s wise to give the herb we would have given at that time), when did it begin? What was happening in our life at the time? (In the example of my situation, I could see that I had been under a fair bit of stress, and had too many late nights, and wasn’t keeping up my hydration levels); b) Palliation/Provoke– that is, is there anything that makes it better (eg: pressure, warmth), or worse (eg: dehydration, stress, cold, touch, etc); c) Quality– what does the pain actually feel like (dull ache, sharp or shooting, congested, hot, cold, throbbing, tight, etc?); d) Radiates– where is the pain actually and does it radiate or travel anywhere else? This tells us a lot about the tissues, organs, or systems effected and helps us choose herbs that have an affinity for these particular areas. For example, this is quite evident with gallstone colic. Gallstones can form due to a number of reasons, such as congestion in the liver, heat in the liver, tension in the ducts, or drying out, and inactivity (remember the six tissue states?). Gallstones caused by dryness (due to too much heat in the liver) can be seen manifested in dry skin and hair throughout the body, and particularly if the skin of the right temple feels a bit rough like fine sandpaper. The pain associated with this may radiate from the area up through the back between the shoulder blades and over the head to the right temple. In this situation we need to cool and decongest the liver, and rehydrate the tissues; e) Severity– how severe or debilitating is the pain on a scale of 1 (mild) to 10 (extreme torture)? This tells us how much the area is affected, as well as providing a good way to measure how effective our treatment is; f) Timing– when, how often, and how long does the pain occur? Does the pain occur at various times of the day? After eating? Is it effected by seasonal changes, or changes in position, movement etc? This can help us determine if the pain is due to allergies or intolerances, as well as contributing food, lifestyle, or environmental factors; g) Concomitant symptoms– what else is going on with the pain? Constipation or diarrhoea, nausea, excessive or scanty urination, bleeding, etc?

Asking good questions and making observation of how we also instinctively respond to the pain (amongst our general observations of the complexion and feel of the skin, looking at the tongue, the eyes, and feeling the pulse) can give us a tremendous amount of useful information for not only being able to understand what the body is trying to tell us about its interior health status, it can also point us to selecting very specific remedies and treatment plans.

The formula that I made for myself, listed previously, will not look like a formula I might make for someone else because I’ve formulated it for my specific needs. None of the herbs I’ve used are specifically pain-relieving. This is the beauty of herbal medicine, that we can really make our remedies specific, not just for the pain but for the person as a whole, and sometimes we don’t need to use blanket pain-relieving herbs at all. Even our acute remedies can be more specific than “here, take a neurofen”. When we combine this with sound dietary and lifestyle habits (something which I fell back on and thus suffered for last night), we can affect positive, lasting change.

To summarise the flow of thought that I’ve written above, I’ve put together a simple chart highlighting the tissue states, the types of pain that may be felt arising from each one, the various virtues that we look for in herbs to remedy these, and some examples of these herbs. It is certainly not a comprehensive chart, just a quick overview to show that we have a range of herbs at our service to help with pain that speaks to us from a multitude of reasons. We might also consider herbs specific for nerve pain itself (sharp, shooting, tingling) such as Saint John’s Wort and Prickly Ash, as well as nervines (herbs that act specifically on the nervous system) for supporting the stress of living with chronic pain. These herbs not only include the more sedative herbs like passionflower, skullcap, and lavender but also adaptogenic herbs (herbs that help the body recover from and handle chronic stress) such as Ashwagandha, Tulsi, Eleuthero, and Reishi.

I hope that in my dull-ached and semi-functional ramblings I have been able to encourage you to see a way beyond the current opioid crisis and the modern view that nothing else can be done. Plenty can be done to alleviate people’s pain! We just need to learn to listen and take a wider view. If you are suffering from pain and would like to explore this way of approaching it, I encourage you to visit a herbalist to help you J

 

Tissue State Types of pain that may typify this. Medicinal Virtues Needed. Examples of herbs.
Heat/Excitation Hot, tender, throbbing, pounding, burning, sharp, shooting, intense. Cooling

Sedative

Rose

Hawthorn(cardiovascular)

Linden flower

Peach leaf

Chamomile

Yarrow

Lemon balm

Lavender

Peppermint

Passionflower

Catnip

California poppy

Yellow dock

 

Cold/Depression Dull, sometimes pins and needles type pain. Stimulating, warming. Ginger

Rosemary

Prickly Ash

Saint Johns Wort

Cayenne

Cinnamon

 

Damp/Relaxation Ache, sometimes a bearing down pain, can lead to spasm and twitch. Astringent (tightening and toning). Agrimony

Raspberry leaf

Blackberry leaf

Herb Robert

Ladies Mantle

Yarrow

Sage

Damp/Stagnation Congested, boggy, full, sometimes bearing down, sometimes dull and achey especially after sleep. Can be inflamed. Stimulant, warming, diffusive, circulatory stimulants, alteratives/blood cleansers, cooling diuretics (if hot and inflamed). Cayenne

Ginger

Black pepper

Prickly Ash

Rosemary

Turmeric

Cinnamon

Yarrow

Angelica

Celery seed.

Nettle

Yellow dock

Cleavers

Dry/Atrophy Sticking, crackling, stiff, a pressure type pain as tissue rubs against other tissue with no lubrication in between. Demulcent/moistening, emollient (softening and moistening) Solomon’s Seal

Marshmallow

Slippery elm

Violet

Red clover

Burdock

Liquorice

Wind/Tension Changes suddenly or may come and go, spasm, cramp, tight, stretched, tension, twisted and unable to relax. Relaxing, nerve nourishing, carminative. Agrimony

Wild Yam

Chamomile

Ginger

Fennel

Crampbark

Magnesium salts

Cimicifuga

Valerian

 

Many Blessings,

Michelle x