Over the past several decades, the demand for medicinal herbal products has grown by leaps and bounds—as a result, the marketplace is flooded with thousands of herbal offerings, with more appearing every day. Not too long ago, if you wanted herbs, you pretty much had to grow or wild craft them yourself. But today, herbs and herbal formulations are dispensed by holistic healthcare providers, or can be self-prescribed by perusing the offerings at health food stores, pharmacies, “big box” stores, or on-line. Even the local gas station convenience store carries an assortment of caffeine-laced herbal energy drinks. The positive side of the flourishing herbal products industry is that people are recognizing the healing potential of medicinal plants, and are seeking an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs. At the same time, I have significant questions and concerns that I believe need to be addressed.
Whether it’s sauerkraut from Eastern Europe, miso from Japan, or yogurt from Bulgaria, cultures worldwide have appreciated the unique benefits of fermented foods for thousands of years. Traditionally, people have used fermentation to preserve foods or to make them more digestible; in the process, they found that these foods also kept them healthy.
In my blog post last week I talked about why I’m opposed to flu shots, and outlined a holistic approach to supporting the immune system and increasing the body’s ability to resist pathogens. Because botanical medicine is central to my healing practice, I’d like to address in more detail the herbal protocol I use for protection during the changing seasons.
Just this past week, the CDC stated that the flu has officially reached epidemic proportions. If you follow the recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’ve probably already gotten your flu shot for this year. You might even be congratulating yourself for being proactive in defending yourself from what’s being called “the worst flu outbreak in the past decade.”
A recent article published in The New York Times is entitled “The Island Where People Forget To Die.” In this fascinating true story, the author writes about Stamatis Moraitis, a Greek American who returned to his native island of Ikaria after a diagnosis of terminal lung cancer in his mid-60’s. That was in 1976; although Moraitis hoped for nothing more than a peaceful death on the island that he loved, he instead found his way back to health. Today, at 97, Moraitis continues to thrive on Ikaria.
As October comes to a close, the enormous amount of publicity given to Breast Cancer Month wanes a bit. I’m a strong proponent of education, and of preventive health care. But unfortunately, for many women, the fear of breast cancer has now reached epidemic proportions. Fear is a stressor that, left unchecked, can actually contribute to cancer. Stress heightens endocrine and nervous system activity, contributing to allostatic overload and exceeding our ability to adapt, restore energy, and maintain health and balance. This interferes with our body’s natural cancer-protective abilities. It’s important to realize that much of the fear propagated by the media is fueled by misinformation and misunderstanding. For example, studies show that most women believe that their risk of breast cancer is far greater than it really is.