Musings: We Are All Born Healers

My 83-year-old friend Jerry shared this story with me recently about natural healing “the old way.” Over seventy years ago when he was just around 12, Jerry got a Coke bottle stuck on his thumb. Seeing a handy wall nearby, he whacked the bottle on the wall to free his thumb, slicing a deep gash nearly to the bone.

Rushing home, holding the wound closed as best he could, Jerry ran to his grandmother in the kitchen, who set to work immediately on tending to the wound.

First she lifted her skirt and ripped a strip off her petticoat and gave it to him to staunch the bleeding. Next, she started preparing a salve with butter, garlic and herbs from the kitchen. She went out to the garden and collected more herbs and leaves. Grandmother cleaned the wound, applied the salve she made, wrapped a leaf around it, then ripped another strip from her petticoat and neatly bound it all up. No doctor was called, no hospital trip made, no insurance forms were filled out and in time, the wound healed fine, leaving its distinctive scar as a reminder.

In the past half a century, we’ve seen the practices of healing and medicine gradually move further and further outside the home so that mothers no longer feel confident giving warm drinks, hot baths and steam inhalations to their children for congestion, and instead, buy a pharmaceutical elixir and schedule a doctor appointment. Even worse, during the past ten years we’ve been subjected to the most massively successful advertising campaign waged by the pharmaceutical and medical industries to persuade us that drugs are the cure for all our ills. Despite the listings of all the possible side effects and warnings these drugs carry, we are more afraid of not taking them, so convinced are we of the superiority of western medicine and the protection this health care system will provide us. Imagine if all the billions of advertising dollars spent on promoting drugs as the elixir of life, health and happiness were used instead to show us how vibrant, sexy and fulfilling life could be through eating delicious vegetarian food, exercising, contributing to the community and having a positive attitude?

While pharmaceuticals and surgery certainly have brought miracles of hope and cure to the planet, they were never intended to replace common sense and using our own healing abilities for taking care of ourselves. Consider that “health” insurance policies rarely cover preventive treatments to keep you well because this system of medicine is illness-based, not focused on health. If we want to enjoy good health, we need to be aware of how to create it in our lives. We need to remember that we are all born healers; we all carry our own medicine to heal ourselves and, and very often, can share that power with others.

Herbal medicine is a fascinating and rich storehouse of healing information that is accessible to everyone, regardless of education or experience. From the simplest remedies — eat parsley to control bad breath! — to the most complicated pharmaceuticals like the heart medicine digitalis — the world of herbal medicine is bursting with secrets to keep us healthy. This issue of Spirit of Change offers some basics to get you started, as well as quite a few herbal classes, workshops and apprenticeships listed in the calendar and throughout the pages. A working knowledge of plants and herbs for recipes and remedies is easy to acquire and will never be outdated as a source of practical wisdom. There is no better investment you can make than to invest in your health!

Here’s a simple healing tea that was shared with me by Mayan grandmother Elena Ixcot. Use it throughout the winter to relieve colds and respiratory symptoms and restore balance. Brew 2-3 cups at a time, and refrigerate to use as needed, or cook a fresh pot each morning to drink throughout the day. Slice up about 2" of organic ginger with the skin on. Simmer in filtered or spring water for 10 minutes. Add one or more cinnamon sticks, slices of organic lemon, and fresh mint. If you have eucalyptus, even better! Simmer about 5 minutes longer. Add honey and drink.

This tea is so simple, yet can be more effective than any bottle of purchased medicine. In addition to the fruits and herbs which have absorbed the light of the sun, infusing it into the tea, you add love and healing intention as you make this medicine for yourself or those you care about. You can boost your healing power by resting as you sip the tea throughout the day, instead of slurping a dose of syrup so you can rush out the door again, business as usual. Kids, too, can always benefit from a day of complete rest from school and activities to let the body recharge.

For the most part, the body knows what it needs to stay healthy, and is amazingly adaptable to all sorts of garbage and obstacles we throw in the way of our own good health. However, some unnatural interventions are bound to override the body’s finely tuned balance, leaving it vulnerable to disease. Abuse or excess of any substance, food, or tendency is also likely to give illness a foothold. Women are wise to carefully consider the consequences in taking hormones which suppress their menstrual cycles to occur just 4 times a year. Medical texts and spiritual teachings from all over the world and throughout history talk about the vital role of a woman’s monthly cycle, which connects her to the most powerful energy on the planet — the creation of life. Not only does she draw on the power of that monthly ebb and flow within her to create new life, but also to cleanse herself psychically and emotionally, and replenish energetically each month. Radically cutting the body off from its natural rhythms as a form of convenient birth control seems dangerously shortsighted. For those who experience PMS symptoms or a disdain for their “moontime,” listen to your body and its cries for connection to the feminine, unconscious and deeper mysteries in life. Then just like a plant, give it the love, care and tending that it needs to grow healthy towards the light again, root deeply and stand strong.

Carol Bedrosian is the publisher and editor of Spirit of Change Magazine.