In my post last week, I discussed at length the use of kava (Piper mythesticum) for the treatment of anxiety. Kava is one of my favorite herbs—not only for its beneficial effects on the nervous system, but also because it appears to have unique anti-cancer properties. However, as with any herb, I recommend using it in combination with other herbs and nutrients. In my practice, I’ve found that combining herbs and nutrients enables me to create formulas that are far more effective than relying on a single herb. This is the traditional manner of practicing herbalism, and it is as much an art as it is a science.
Many people feel anxious when they’re under stress, but for approximately 40 million Americans, anxiety is more than a passing state of emotion. Shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, dizziness, upset stomach, tension, irritability, sleep difficulties, memory problems, and feelings of dread are common daily experiences of people who suffer from chronic anxiety. For those who consult a physician, the first suggestion is usually drugs: tranquilizers (benzodiazepines), often coupled with antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). But these medications come with a long list of unpleasant side effects, and have a significant risk of dependence.
My wife Jen and I are off to Israel to teach for a week (see flyer below). For the first time, we won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving with our children. Although we would much prefer to be with our children, family, and friends on this and every other holiday, we recognize that this is a unique opportunity for us to share knowledge that is greatly needed. And we are grateful for this opportunity.
With the warm days of summer approaching, I begin to look for the sunny beauty of the humble little flowering plant, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum). Called St. John’s wort because it blooms around the feast day of John the Baptist (June 24th), the plant grows prolifically in southern Oregon, particularly along roadsides and in meadows. The bright yellow five-petaled flower resembles a halo; when pressed, the flowers release a crimson liquid that symbolized to early Christians the spilled blood of their beloved St. John.
I often recommend an inspirational essay to my patients entitled “In The Gray Zone,” written by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. A nationally recognized physician and educator, Dr. Remen is a pioneer in the field of mind/body medicine, and has cared for people with cancer for more than 30 years. What makes her work truly inspiring and unique is that she addresses the role of spirit in health and healing—in fact, she regards the practice of medicine as a spiritual path.
From the beginning of recorded history, music has played a significant role in our wellbeing. The ancients were well aware of the power of music: In Greek mythology, Apollo was revered as the god of both music and medicine, and the great philosopher Plato wrote, “Music is an art imbued with power to penetrate into the very depths of the soul.”
Music offers a direct way to tap into the innate knowledge that resides deep within our cells. It is through music that we experience and harmonize ourselves with the Divine, because music is capable of bridging heaven and earth, and our human mortal-self with our spiritual immortal-self. Simply put, music inspires us in a way that nothing else can. I am sure that everyone, at some point, has had the experience of music piercing through their being, effortlessly opening their heart and soul.