Traditional Healing, Part 3
First of the 3 S's:
Source, Sanitation and Skill
Photo Credit from https://learningherbs.com/herbal-training/how-to-make-herb-tincture/
As discussed in Part Two, so many of the commercial preparations we have all been conditioned to buy have their genesis in natural herbal remedies. In many cases, the natural remedy that you can make yourself is far superior to any of the commercial products on the market.
In fact, in your kitchen right now you have some very powerful herbs with incredible anti-pathogenic and healing properties.
We recently had a major water leak in our house from a failed kitchen connection that flooded our basement overnight. Our insurance carrier sent a professional company to mediate the water damage before the contractors could come in to do the repairs. Of high concern was the potential for black mold to get traction.
What did the professionals use to not only kill the existing mold and mildew, but spray as a preventative? Some high powered bleach? A highly toxic industrial chemical formula?
Nope. They used a commercially prepared proprietary blend of herbs that consisted mostly of thyme and rosemary oils.
Yep. You're reading that right. This is a large, well known company with regional reach and they relied upon scientific research and double blind studies to determine that thyme and rosemary were superior in not only killing black mold but preventing it from re-establishing itself over commercial bleach and other "anti-fungal/anti-mold" chemical preparations.
The number two alternative that they stated was better than bleach, but not as effective as thyme and rosemary?
Apple cider vinegar.
This was confirmed to me in lab, where we did standard plating and compared our herbal tinctures for anti-pathogenic activity to the standard references taught in basic undergraduate microbiology lab. Thyme was hands down, the most effective across the broadest spectrum of pathogens: viral, bacterial, fungal.
Remember how I mentioned metformin, a well known drug for managing diabetes, has it origins in French lilac?
Several commercial cleaning products have thymol - one of the main constituents of thyme.
For everyday cleaning, I now add fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs (that are free of visible moisture) to a gallon of white vinegar. Shake, and allow to "steep" in a cool, dry, dark place for at least three weeks before using. Strain, and add to a spray bottle for cleaning bathrooms, especially touch surfaces: door knobs, taps, handles. It works really well on kitchen countertops. The vinegar as the carrying agent also does double duty by reducing lime scale and soap build up in addition to disinfecting and sanitizing.
"Thymol, as the main active ingredient responsible for the activity of thyme EO, has been shown to possess antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, anthelmintic, antiviral, antioxidant, expectorant, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, sedative, anti-rheumatic, and even anti-cancer, anti-hyperlipidemic and anti-hyperglycemic action."
Source: PubMed Central ID PMC7571078 Anti-viral properties of Thyme
There are a number of other papers on PubMed that discuss Thyme's proven anti-viral properties with respect to SARS-COV, HIV, Herpes, etc.
What would you rather use around your home, your children, your pets for sanitizing and cleaning? Chlorine Bleach, which is toxic, or a spray bottle of white vinegar and thyme and other anti-viral herbs of your choosing?*
(*I will provide a recipe and how-to to do this safely to avoid creating conditions for pathogens to grow in a later post).
So - as promised, a toe dip into the topic of Herbalism with the 3 S's:
Be careful, and be a skeptic. Evaluate your sources carefully and use your best judgement. That applies whether it is information, herbs, seeds, or promises as to its effectiveness and claims.
Sources of information is very important to me. Perhaps because of my industrial chemical background, I tend to be a skeptic and operate more on a "show me" basis. I was not convinced of thyme's anti-pathogenic properties until I tested it myself using standard reference lab techniques, and then sourced several well written papers for my lab write-up.
Use proper Botanical or Scientific names. This is important when doing research into an herb, its uses, its effectiveness, contra-indications, etc. For example, in one of my classes, someone referred to the "Tree of Life" plant. We had three students, from three different healing traditions backgrounds/cultures ALL assume it was a different "Tree of Life".
There are truly evil people out there who wish people in the Prepper/Homesteading community harm.
This is no joke. I wish it were. On several blogs and on the "Chans" I saw posts of plants that were stated as "medicinal" and urging people to go out and "forage" them and consume them for a wide variety of ailments - "you'll feel better immediately".
Two of the photos posted were of deadly White Snakeroot and Hemlock, with statements that they were "wild carrot" and "yummy".
Know your sources.
For these reasons, do not go "foraging" - buy plants from a reputable naturopathic nursery or herbalist, or support the small companies that are trying to save heritage seeds. Besides the risk of foraging something deadly, the damage to the environment and the sustainability of medicinal plants is at risk.
In the United States, American Ginseng, Saw Palmetto and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) are some of the medicinal plants at risk because of over harvesting. Don't be a jerk. Buy from a reputable nursery, or grow from seeds purchased from an honest seed saver. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Many of the items sold on Amazon originate in China. Investigate the source - several companies dishonestly buy product from China cheap, and then repackage it in the US and claim it is "US origin".
Rosemary Gladstar and James Green, the "Godmother" and "Godfather" respectively of the modern American Herbalist movement, both taught at the California School of Herbal Studies (CSHS) in the 1980's and mentored an entirely new generation of herbalists.
They have both published several books, and are exceedingly generous with their knowledge, wisdom and recipes.
This again is one of the differences between the allopathic approach and the naturopathic approach. Allopathy is all about proprietary information, procedures, methods, etc that are grounded in secrecy and provide a revenue stream; naturopathy is all about a culture of abundance, sharing, giving and openness of heart and information.
These are two of the sources recommended at the beginning of my learning journey:
Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar.
"175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures and other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family".
400 pages, easy reading, also includes instructions on dosing.
It's about $15 new on Jeff Bezos' Company Store, but you may find it in your local library or used book store to save money.
I recommend this as a great beginner's reference, and I have purchased it as a gift to give to others.
(*As an aside, Amazon has deactivated my Affiliate account, so I do not earn any commissions from links to Amazon.)
James Green, "The Herbal Medicine-Maker's Handbook - A Home Manual"
370 pages, not as much plant pr0n photos as Rosemary Gladstar's, but a good beginner's reference guide and addition to your home library you will want to have "off line" IYKWIMAITYD.
You can use your budding knowledge and interest in herbalism and nutritional gardening to help build a community of trust, cooperation, mutual aid, resiliency and openness. The time to do so is now - not when you actually need to rely upon it.
For example, Indian Gooseberry, aka Amla, (Emblica officinalis) is a powerful plant used in Ayurvedic medicine. I am attempting to grow some plants from the seeds I harvested from frozen Amla berries I purchased at an organic Indian health food store. If I am successful, I will keep one for myself and I will gift the others in my class that are interested in Ayurvedic medicine. Gift - not sell.
It costs me nothing to show someone how to make an effective first aid tincture or herbal based bug spray that is effective against mosquitos, biting insects AND ants. But it does buy good will, fellowship and community. The hunger for community and knowledge is there. I will discuss different strategies for building community in my post on Nutritional Gardening. No matter your personal feelings, "food is medicine" and what we put into our mouths has a greater impact on our healing and well-being than pretty much anything else.
Part Four I'll continue with the second S - "Sanitation".
Just like not knowing your sources can be deadly, so can lack of knowledge about sanitation.