Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Clearing the temple

Paul and I are having exceedingly bad hair days.

That's just one of the symptoms of the flu-ish type thing we seem to have picked up on a shopping trip. (I'm figuring flu simply because it came on so fast. Colds kind of creep up, flu is a 'wham', you're sick kind of thing).

Apart from the bad hair - which is amusing more than anything - we're not feeling too bad. Gross, yes, but not entirely miserable about it. No doubt it is psychologically easier to be sick when you're retired and don't have anything really pressing to attend to, just the usual chores which can be done more slowly and with a chuckle. The foggy brain means we have to think about what we could normally do with our eyes closed. I had really had to concentrate when I made the bread yesterday and Paul had some trouble folding his laundry.

In our strange and twisted private world-view, catching a virus once in a while is a good thing.

(It strikes me here that the expression of 'catching a virus' is odd. Shouldn't it be 'being caught by a virus' since the common point of view is that viruses are predators out to get us? Or is that my addled brain?)

Anyhow, whether we caught it or it caught us, a virus is a good thing sometimes. It gives the immune system something to do, for one thing, and as the immune system clears out the virus it seems to clear out any and all detritus that's accumulated, as well, don't you think? Why else do we so often feel far better after we come out of an illness than before we went in?

'Clearing the temple' .. I've had the title kicking around in draft, waiting for the day I could coherently vent my spleen about all that is wrong with the world, or commercial 'herbal medicine', or whatever it was I was pissed enough about to rant on. Righteous anger and all that.

We can clear our own temples (bodies/minds) of what is inappropriate without being angry. Can't we?

'Alternative medicine', unfortunately, still seeks to cleanse us of our sins. The treatments of today's Naturopaths - enemas, chelation and other 'cleanses' - are harsh and debilitating. They force the body into overdrive in the hopes of eliminating the invaders we have allowed in with our lousy diets and lifestyles. The focus is always on eliminating 'culprit' foods or 'toxins' and 'stimulating' the immune system or the organs of elimination. It is considered normal to feel worse before we feel better from those treatments, too, a sort of penance there I think. And we're expected to pay rather a lot of money, too!

I think that approach is more wrong than right; it does nothing to build up trust in our bodies to do what they are designed to do, it just reinforces the belief that we are weaklings and sinners who have desecrated our temples. Then we need a hero, a saviour - a white coated authority figure with a degree - to come along and fix/save us from ourselves. This is called the 'heroic tradition' and Susun Weed has an excellent chapter about it in her book "Healing Wise".

I strongly believe that we can do far more for our bodies and most importantly our relationships with them, by supporting them and trusting them to get on with what they know how to do. If we are guilty of anything it is that we constantly tinker with systems we just plain don't understand. That's why most of the medicine plants I work with are food-level safe, offering me nourishment in a form the body can recognize and work with. It's incredibly rare for me to ingest anything that will force or stimulate any system in my body. I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to think I know better than my liver!

Today I am craving onions - so it'll be onion soup for supper. I've read that onions contain lots of inulin, which the gut bugs love, but it's not the reading that is making me crave onions, it's my body/mind connection, so that's what I'll listen to. I craved onion soup when I was sick long before I read about 'why' that would be so.

I have turned off/disappointed more than one reader who has asked me for help in 'getting healthy' because of my approach. I never (never) tell anyone to eliminate their bad habits. I'll strongly suggest they quit what they think are good habits sometimes (supplements, vitamins, enemas) but if they smoke or drink soda? Go ahead, I say. What I want them to do is add in more nourishment. Have a bowl of home made bone broth every day. Go outside and greet the sun every morning. Make bread with your own hands. I don't tell them to give up sugar, I tell them to add a cup of stinging nettle infusion to their routine.

Why? Because this business of health isn't about punishment, it's about being kind to ourselves. I believe the kindness should come first, the giving to ourselves should come first, and then we will be more likely to experience giving up whatever is bad for us as a gift, too, rather than a punishment.

I even (sometimes) suggest that they thank their ailments, because every symptom is a lesson, a signpost to what can be done to help the body (which is you, after all) to recover. I often have to argue this one and remind them that if the body - like everything in nature - is designed to survive, it makes no logical sense to believe it is 'attacking you'.

Then there are 'autoimmune diseases', which I believe are nothing of the sort. There is no way the body would attack itself; it is confused by something, yes, but clear up the confusion and the so-called attack will end. Yes, I do know such a statement could have me burned at the stake for heresy these days and no, I cannot offer studies as proof. I can only go by my own experience and others I have seen who are now free of what were diagnosed as autoimmune disorders. How did it happen? Nourishment and a changed relationship with the body/self.

After all, our bodies are who we are, at least as long as we live in them. Being human is complicated and oh boy can we ever be fools. But beating ourselves up with harsh treatments and anger, just for being sick, doesn't make sense to me.

So this flu? Yummy onion soup. Equally delicious yogi tea. Spoonfuls of mullein syrup to keep the fluids from getting stuck in the chest - delightful. A couple of lazy days in pyjamas, and relaxing long steamy showers. Oh and hot water bottles at our feet. In other words, we will pamper ourselves until we're better.

That's how I believe natural medicine works. When I think of all the beautiful medicine plants that I've worked with (to relieve me of what 'they' called symptoms of fibro, the rigours of menopause, the joints worn out from cleaning rich women's houses and the various twists and injuries from my adventures) I feel that I have pampered myself by giving my body what it needs, every time. And why not? I deserve love, and the first person who has to love me is me.


  1. I had to work in close proximity to a guy from Seattle who came to Alaska with the flu. I have not been "sick" in years, but this guy's out-of-town bug got me. I had that familiar achy, sniffly, sore throat kinda blah thing. I drank a pot of chaga, rooibos, ginger, lemon, and peppermint tea, went to bed early a couple nights, and shook it off nicely. I used to get this sort of thing a couple times a year, and it always lasted a lot longer. I think it's what you do and how you eat throughout the year that makes the biggest difference in how you'll handle these assaults.

    I haven't had a flu shot in 6 or 7 years, but I did get a Tetanus booster the other day.

    Here's to your health!

  2. I don't think of giving up something as punishment if it is the culprit.My body has been in a state of confusion and it is not doing a very good job of communicating with me.

    I do get frustrated with my body but I do see all that I have learned and the friendships that I have developed through this process.

    1. I know what you mean navillus, that communication thing is one of the big Mysteries and probably different for each of us. But try not to get frustrated with the body, because even that sets off a cascade of stress hormones and subconscious messages that interfere with the conversation.

      It's a wilderness in there, an eco-system. This is why I believe it is imperative that folks find a way to sit in wild-ish places, quietly, and just BE. Learning to do that with the outer natural world puts us in a place where we can do it with our inner world. It's all about trust, something we've had trained out of us from the get-go. I trust my body to know better than my brain or any expert does ..

      When my 'fibro' experience was at its peak the one thing that helped me the most was just lying down on the grass in my yard, doing nothing, stilling my mind. I suppose we could say it was 'grounding', being away from electronics, out in the fresh air, the sun on my skin creating Vit. D. Or we could say it worked because I had stopped trying to 'fix' anything and just let go. Either way, it was the best medicine.

      And then of course all the plants that began to come up, unbidden, turned out to be just the ones I needed to nourish and support me.

      So yeah, I suppose I am grateful for that awful time .. it opened my eyes and heart to a new awareness.

      Giving up certain things, like smoking or a heavy sugar habit, *feels* very punishing at the time. Once someone is ready, maybe less so. But real withdrawal occurs and that's damaging in itself. I want people to add in the good stuff first so they have a little more strength, both physical and emotional, to deal with it.

  3. Yes, being retired has way more benefits than I could ever imagined for myself. The biggest is that I actually have time for ME. Spending all the time I want outside, rediscovering who I am and what I need, learning new things about what is important and how to make them so and so much more! I now know how to "listen" to me, Creation and Father in ways I didn't even know existed. And, I have only just begun!

  4. I definitely see your points. However, before my GI tract finally shut down and stopped moving, I didn't really worry about it. I rarely had pain. I just made do. I didn't really think about my issue much at all, except as I had to. For me, my slow GI tract was like my blue eyes. Just a part of who I was. I always thought (knew) I was healthy. So, for me, my body woke up my mind!!!! Because otherwise, my mind was like, "We're fine here. Don't see anything to worry about. Feeling 'normal.'" My body told my brain otherwise. Which is perhaps what disease often is, I guess, eh.

    1. "my mind was like, "We're fine here. Don't see anything to worry about. Feeling 'normal.'" My body told my brain otherwise. Which is perhaps what disease often is, I guess, eh."

      Actually, I'd say that's what recovery is.

    2. Hey! You're right! I say the same things now, but I think I'm right this time. When I was saying those words 5-10 years ago, I was in ignorance. Now I say it with some insight.