Formal study in herbal medicine – what you don’t know could kill you…

This is a guest post by Brenda E

Formal study in herbal medicine, as Donna noted recently, is expensive. As she suggested, there is good reason to select a structured training course. It forces one to be disciplined in studying. Of course, the money factor also comes into play. If we pay for something we are more inclined to stick to it in order to get our money’s worth.

She mentioned the East West School of Planetary Herbology (planetherbs.com), which is an excellent training program that covers Western, Ayurvedic, and traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. It is run by master herbalist Michael Tierra, the author of Planetary Herbology.

Even with the current discount (reduced to $1599 for a 36-lesson professional course), the school’s master course is beyond the means of many of us. It is also a very large investment for a course of study that does not lead to professional licensing. The school also offers a 12-lesson family herbalist course at a little less than half price.

As I indicated, these online courses by correspondence schools do not lead to any kind of professional status other than a “degree” or certificate of completion from the school itself. One example of this is the now-defunct Clayton School of Natural Health, an unaccredited school in Birmingham, Alabama. You may recall seeing their advertisements in the back of magazines. The school closed suddenly in summer 2010, leaving students adrift.

Unless you are committed to working for a professional degree and licensing as a health care practitioner, and spending the tens of thousands of dollars required to do so, you might think there is no way to learn about herbal medicine in a structured way and at a reasonable cost.

I do, however, have two pieces of good news for you. One is that those preparing for tougher economic times are already very committed individuals. “Sticking to it” is already in their DNA. Secondly, there are less expensive options for training available if the goal is knowledge and expertise and not a professional credential.

If your goal is gaining personal knowledge about herbal healing (or to use in a SHTF situation), the following information is for you.

One of the best family herbalist courses comes from the School of Natural Healing founded by the late, legendary Dr. John R. Christopher.

The school offers two choices: (1) a home study course, with ALL required materials shipped to your home for a one-time fee of $495; and (2) an online course – with ALL materials found only online – regularly priced at $495 but now just $295.

There are also payment plans available for the school’s Master Herbalist Correspondence Courses and other courses (Reflexology, Aromatherapy and Homeopathy). See schoolofnaturalhealing.com for details and a number of links to herbal websites.

Rosemary Gladstar is a well-known Vermont herbalist. Every year she hosts the New England Women’s Herbal Conference at the Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center & Botanical Sanctuary. This year it will be held August 24-26.

Gladstar’s Science and Art of Herbalism home study course costs $375. It is on sale through February 15 for $295. See herbsandearthawareness.com for details.

There is a section on Gladstar’s website called The Formulary. It includes free information on herbs for longevity, digestion, and natural cosmetics and skin care, as well as step-by-step directions for making a tincture and a brief Materia Medica of herbs for family health.

Gladstar also founded the California School of Herbal Studies (cshs.com) at Forestville in Sonoma County. Classes are all held on location. The website does publish a useful herb of the month profile.

Herbalist Susun Weed, founder of the Wise Woman Center in Woodstock, New York, also offers inexpensive online herbal courses. Weed’s 8-week Herbal First Aid: The Wise Woman Way course is only $175. Her full herbalism course costs $550 but can be paid for in eleven $50 installments. You will receive course installments as you pay.

Weed’s teachings can be followed in more than 110 YouTube videos under “Herbal Healing Wise Woman Way.” Her website at herbshealing.com is loaded with links leading to more information.

Blazing Star Herbal School (.typepad.com) in Western Massachusetts offers several low-cost do-it-yourself herbalism courses. “Spring Tonics and Wild Foods” includes 4 weeks of reading, assignments, and medicine making. The course starts March 21st and costs $150.

The school’s self-paced 20-module Family Health Course includes a Materia Medica of 20 herbs used for children and common childhood disorders; growing, harvesting, drying, and storing herbs; home remedies and first aid; nutritional preparations; topical preparations; and more. It can be paid for on a sliding scale of between $250 and $350.

If you want to learn about Ayurvedic medicine, Vasant Lad’s Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico at Ayurveda.com is the place to go. Under “Sections” click on The Online Resource. Here you will find a free page of information links that ranges from general information to food and nutrition, Ayurvedic cleansing procedures, and recipes from the Institute’s journal.

The Ayurvedic correspondence course, including audio portions on CD, costs only $225. You can view the 18-page pdf overview of the course for free, of course.

In case you might think that Ayurvedic herbs are not readily available, many of them are the same as Western and Chinese herbs and are available through Banyan Botanicals on Amazon.

Also do not rule out local health food stores and practitioners who offer classes and apprenticeships.

I did not include correspondence or online courses in Chinese medicine. To the best of my knowledge, there are no layman-level training courses available in Oriental medicine.

I speak to you as a long-time practitioner of that particular healing art. Practitioners are licensed in most states and are highly regulated – and for good reason. Oriental medicine is very complex and the use of Chinese herbs requires precise diagnostic knowledge.

The good news is, as I wrote above, many Western herbs are the same as Chinese herbs and Ayurvedic herbs. You already know several of them very well: clove, ginger, cinnamon, skullcap, dandelion, frankincense and myrrh , and so forth.

While this is by no means a complete resource list, these are resources I can personally recommend to you as reliable and safe.

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.

Comments

  1. I find it interesting that instruction in this type of use for herbs and spices is available. I do understand that ones that have the knowledge of/ or education in this arena should be compensated.
    But all prices seem high to me.
    As with anything one should practice “CAUTION”. The use of herbs is no exception. But would believe and hope that this would be a better alternative to modern day medicine, especially in times of dire need.
    As with anything there are things that can kill you. And would believe if you didn’t use the right herbal method it would do the same as say being allergic to penicillin (medicines) foods etc.
    I think the beginner, such as I, would start with tried and true herbs and spices. Then add one at a time to see that they had no reaction and therefore being able to note the problem.
    I would love to learn how to make tinctures and salves. But untill I find information will use Vicks or cloverleaf salves and other cremes and ointment on today’s market. The only tincure I have is iodine (some are allergic to iodine).
    I appreciate the information. Now I know of at least one other type source to look up. Which sure helps out.

  2. Veridical Driver says:

    It is also important to know that there is no scientific basis for most “formal” system of herbal medicine. Scientific studies have shown some herbal medicines do work (and are often the basis of prescribed medicines), some herbal medicines don’t work (or are even dangerous), and most have never gone through any clinic trials at all.

    These “formal” systems are based on folklore, not on properly done clinical trials. Like all folklore, there is stuff that is true and can be extremely helpful, and stuff that is bullshit and can be harmful. Avoid the whole mystical/supernatural stuff that is in a lot of “alternative medicine”, and try to find herbs that have real verifiable therapeutic effects.

    Also, stay away from things like homeopathy, which has been proven to be completely ineffective and is essentially ritual magic.

    • If nothing else, Veridical Driver, I would hope you’d take the time to track down Dr. Christopher’s “Plague Tea” formula. I have used it clinically in a capsule form (you can make it into a tincture, too) and I can assure you it is a miracle worker for what are considered very difficult diseases. If you had no other herbal formula on the shelf or in your kit, you would really want this one. You might have to bet your life on it someday.

    • Verticle Driver
      Well the folklore of herbs and homemade remedies was also a practice and was handed down in families. It was practised well into the modern age of medicine.
      And just as herbal medicine does not always prove beneficial, niether does modern medicine.
      A lot of old home remedies were practised up in to the 20th century but also the doctor still made housecalls. And the doctor’s of that time were not totally adverse to using some of them theirselves.
      Pharmacopia and herbals have been siblings of sorts for centuries. I don’t think the kinship can be disputed.
      Modern medicine has made great strides, but it has it’s drawbacks. Now there are things running rampant in hospitals that seems those wonderful antibiotics will not even touch.
      Yes, I will agree there is bull out there, but they have hawked things for years that never did any one any good just took their money and ran.
      It is a shame that herbal medicine and the usage of herbs was dismissed and it took health nuts and now preppers to see that once again the benefits of the use of herbs (and spices).
      We should consider ourselves blessed that we have “all the herbs of the field” for our use.

      • Pharmaceutical companies are so in love with many traditional “herbals: from China and Japan and India that they are spending zillions of dollars trying to extract the healing substances from them to market as expensive drugs. The holdback for them on herbs and other healing substances (not all “herbals” in Ayurvedic and Oriental medicines are herbs and spices; many are rocks, bones, insects, etc.) is that they cannot be patented or claimed as exclusive. While Big Pharma continues to lobby against certain herbs and substances to knock them off healthfood store shelves, it spends untold amounts of money to track down the “magic potions” they contain.

        If you can locate an older Merck Manual you will find many herbs described in them and dosing information. Older pharmacoepias also include herbal and other herbal substances.

        True. The old-time local MD made house calls and dispensed natural substances (and were more skeptical of unproven drugs). Big Pharma didn’t install the latest medical equipment in MD offices back in those days — or other “training” trips to Tahiti or the Bahamas or hand out cartons of free samples.

        Bastyr College in Seattle is one reason that alternative healing is so popular in the Northwest. It was one of the schools on my list when I was looking for training. It was too far away (opposite coast) and way too expensive.

        http://www.bastyr.edu/

        Also, naturopathy has not been recognized nationwide for too many years and was restricted to only the very few states that did license or recognize it, like Washington state and Arizona, in the early days. Florida had a naturopathic organization that worked for a couple decades to get recognition but failed and the old fossils leading it have pretty much died off.

        In some states, acupuncturists are allowed to use injectables, too. I have never supported the practice nor wanted to do it. All the other “tools” in my medicine bag work just fine without using drugs.

        Oriental medicine has been popular on the Left Coast for a very long time.

        • Our country had herbal doctors (usually the granny in a certain local) that would be the one called on to help out in an illness stricken family.
          As I said this knowledge used to be passed on in the family and they were known as the “healers” of the communities.
          I know that many modern medicines known now are of the plant origin. That even though the controllers of medicine and the medical field like to act like they have been the wonders of the world they stem from the herbel doctors and medicines of old.
          With the fact that the medical field decided that they were “perfect” and could do the best for the populace it became a stigma and a crime to call on those that knew about the old ways.
          As herbal medicine saw most of the decline when doctors and hospitals became the way of life. It was not till the ( I absolutely hate to give credit) the hippies went into their clusters of free love compounds that it had a resurgence.
          ( I should interject here that there were those that used herbal medicines into the 20th century that had nothing to do with the hippies. I cannot remember the name of the book but there was a family that wrote about the benefits of herbs and what they were good to use for. It was popular during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The book was quite useful, but I have been unlucky in losing my copy)
          Then the health movement and those seeking to live till they were 200 that it really began to be considered again.
          Now because of our way of life being threatened we preppers have taken up the use of herbal medicine and studying like heck so we know more than we did yesterday.
          Just as with anything in life we must be diligent in all our pursuits and use our “common sense” abilities to the hilt.
          As far as attending an institution for learning more about herbs and how to use them, how lucky we would be. But as the cost is prohibitive even in the less costly ones we will have to learn for ourselves and ask a lot of questions. Nothing wrong with that.

        • bmerry,
          If you have a copy of one of those older editions of the Merck Manual, up to what edition number still has references to the herbal treatments? I think there are at least 13 editions, edition one being published around 1899, I think. Would editions from the 1950s have already dropped the older herbal references? If you know. . . that is.

        • “Big Pharma didn’t install the latest medical equipment in MD offices back in those days — or other “training” trips to Tahiti or the Bahamas or hand out cartons of free samples”.

          True but then again, there was no “Big Pharma” and people died before they got old. When the patient died the witch doctors response was always the same, “They didnt have strong enough faith”.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      Veridical Driver,

      It is impossible to count the number of ‘potions’ that can be concocted by direct purpose or by accident. Some are benign, some curative, some are harmful.

      The pitiful condition of the system you support is that no ‘potion’ will ever go through a clinical trial unless there is potential for profit.

      Whatever may help or harm mankind is irrelevant to that system.

      • Hunker down – you are absoutely right. Unless there is a clinical trial (which are always paid for by a drug company), the product will only be allowed to be sold as an “unapproved” item in a no-name store. It can’t be regulated by the FDA. Data in clinical trials can be skewed too, making things sound worse or better as they see fit. There is an excellent book, “The risks of prescription Drugs”, by Donald W. Light which uncovers a lot of the corruption in the system.
        This year, they came out with a warning on simvastatin causing muscle pains, and recommended lowering the dose. DH laughed when I told him, and he said “duh – you have been telling me statins were bad for years!”

        • What “they” do not tell you about the statins is that they not only block the “evil” effects of cholesterol but that they block the functioning of the good effects of cholesterol.

          Drugs are not “smart” enough to know where to target just what to target.

          The not-always-reliable Wikipedia does include accurate scientific info on cholesterol:

          “… an organic chemical substance classified as a waxy steroid of fat. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes and is required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity. In addition, cholesterol is an important component for the manufacture of bile acids, steroid hormones, and vitamin D. Cholesterol is the principal sterol synthesized by animals, predominantly in the liver; however, small quantities can be synthesized in other eukaryotes such as plants and fungi. It is almost completely absent among prokaryotes, i.e. bacteria. Although cholesterol is important and necessary for the aforementioned biological processes, high levels of cholesterol in the blood have been linked to damage to arteries and cardiovascular disease.”

          The Mayo Clinic will only go so far as to say that statins “can” or “may” lower cholesterol — not that they will.

          The brain also contains high levels of cholesterol. I’d really prefer not to have statins eat away at my brain (yes, there is the blood-brain barrier but that won’t keep the statins out).

          Dr. Mercola (whom QuackWatch – aka AMA front group – loves to diss) is worth watching and heeding when it comes to statins and a lot of other things.

          http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/20/the-truth-about-statin-drugs-revealed.aspx

  3. i thought your article was very informative. thank you

  4. Thank you, pam s.

  5. I liked the article! But definitely be cautious — I found out the hard way that I’m severely allergic to feverfew (it’s supposed to be a migraine preventative, and I’m a 30+ year severe migraine sufferer, so I’ve tried everything but Botox).

    I also find it incredibly interesting that herbal medicine has become such a widespread and popular practice in the Pacific Northwest that state-licensed naturopathic physicians (there are about 900 in Oregon) have been allowed to prescribe synthetic medications as well as herbal since 2009. Many insurance plans in the Pacific Northwest cover naturopathic & herbal treatment. (I don’t know about other areas of the US; I live in Oregon.)

    • Hunker-Down says:

      JeanneS,

      My DW takes MAXALT for migraines. It helps most of the time, many times it eliminates her migraine.

      • Hunker-Down, I do like MAXALT except for the cost! Even with my excellent prescription coverage, my copay for that drug is just over $5 per pill (and it may take 2 doses to get rid of a migraine, so that’s like swallowing a ten-spot!). Imitrex is much cheaper, about $1 per pill on my prescription plan, but the side effects are really awful. Considering that I get 6-12 migraines a month and none of the dozen or so “preventative” medication I’ve tried has helped, it’s stupidly expensive to have this condition. I’m going to try therapeutic Botox & see if that works, as soon as I find out whether or not my insurance will cover it & how much my share of the bill will be!

        • Hunker-Down says:

          When the DW gets in the ‘donut hole’ her cost is over $18 each. Last year we paid over $600 for a 90 day supply, and have medicare supplemental insurance. Our insurance forces us to buy a 90 day supply, else the price goes up.
          But not to worry, its not figured in the cost of living statistics, so, there’s no inflation.

          We can’t buy preps like powdered milk because of issues like these.

          • That is so awful! If a generic becomes available, it will get better… but not for a year or two afterward. When Imitrex went generic, it was about 2 years before I saw a decent reduction in the price. I hope things get better for you & your wife.

    • JeanneS, you do not say what your allergic reaction to feverfew was but it sounds more like you had a sensitivity issue with it — or did you really have an allergic reaction that sent you to the ER?

      There are a lot of reasons why a reaction to feverfew may have happened, including drug/herb/supplement interaction, the form that you took, how much you took, etc. It’s always good to know what actually happened in the future just in case feverfew might be the only option available to you.

      Perhaps this University of Maryland article on feverfew will come in handy. It includes a long list of clinical research articles.

      http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/feverfew-000243.htm

      • bmerry, my allergic reaction was that the entire inside of my mouth (except for my teeth & tongue) started turning bright red, becoming highly inflamed, painful & swelling, and bleeding. It was like my gums & under my tongue & the insides of my cheeks just started slowly weeping blood — not a lot, but just enough that you could see it if I kept my mouth open for a minute or two. It began about a week after beginning a daily regimen of dried feverfew in caplets, lasted for about 4 days until I figured out that it could be connected to the feverfew, and and continued until 24-36 hours after I stopped taking the caplets. It obviously wasn’t life-threatening, but I was terrified what it might have been doing to the rest of my digestive tract. Nothing like that has happened before or since, I had to conclude it was the herb.

  6. cooolwoods says:

    JeanneS,
    My wife had headaches for years, turned out to be diet soda. a salesman at work was talking about “sweet misery a poisoned world” last I checked it was still on youtube. we watched it and she hasnt had any aspertaime(sp?) since. she only get the occasional headache now. just a thought

    stay safe

    • mountain lady says:

      I gave up aspertame about 2 years ago, and getting off diet soda was hard, because I cannot drink regular soda because of the sugar. As far as I know the only safe sweetners are stevia and saccarin (sp)? I was having what I called heavy legs, and it went away with the aspertame.

    • Aspartame is not the only culprit. Splenda, which is dumped into just about everything “sugar free” and “low sugar” these days — even in minute amounts that are not disclosed on labels due to thresholds set by the FDA — is equally dangerous.

      http://www.fda.gov/food/labelingnutrition/foodallergenslabeling/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/ucm106108.htm#table-i-1

      Splenda is often described as sucralose, a non-caloric substance not absorbed or used by the body. It is not 100% sucralose. If you read the Splenda packet you’ll see that it is 95% dextrose and/or maltodextrin (a hyper-processed corn sugar) and 5% sucralose.

      Even though Splenda is processed from sugar, it is not a natural product. It is a chlorinated artificial sweetener .. and the sugar lobby does not like it (money of course, but it does have a valid argument).

      http://www.truthaboutsplenda.com/index.html

      You might also want to read this Duke University study about the affect sucralose has on the digestion system, particularly the healthy bateria in the gut that is needed not only for digestion but for the healthy functioning of your immune system and how your body absorbs and uses nutrients and medication.

      http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15287390802328630

      Stick to/grow stevia for a healthy sweetener.

      • bmerry, you are absolutely correct about Splenda. I have been using Splenda for years, was actually introduced to the product through my Endocrinologist. I was buying Splenda thru the mail before it was introduced in the stores. Only recently have I read the truth about this product and now have eliminated it from my diet. I have also told my husband, “no more pink stuff”, learn to use a little real sugar! Also, not mentioned is the addition of high fructose corn syrup to almost every commerical product. Please everyone, read and research how high fructose corn syrup is effecting your body.

    • ccooolwoods, I’m that rarity in the modern world — I don’t drink soda! Never developed a taste for it. My favorite beverages are water & unsweetened iced tea. Okay, and a slight Starbucks coffee habit. 🙂

      My neurologist determined that my migraines are largely hormonally-related. They started at puberty, disappeared entirely during both pregnancies (I would have had more than 2 kids if I hadn’t developed a non-related problem that made further pregnancies dangerous), and tend to occur more often at certain times in my cycle. The doc said if I’m lucky, they’ll disappear or reduce greatly once I hit menopause, but I’m still 10 or 15 years away from that. You can bet no woman has ever been as eager for menopause as I am!!!

  7. Wow, Brenda, thanks for the great information. I have been studying herbs on my own for years, because I could not find a reasonably priced course.

  8. Well done article Brenda.
    I have to have surgery next month for a malignant tumor, so I’ve been speaking to a lot of folks about herbal products that may help to ease the side effects of the post-operation chemo treatments. Esp. thanks for the Gladstar website info.
    Veridical Driver may be right on the folklore aspects, but I figure anything is worth a try.

    • K Fields,

      I suggest you start taking Jarrow Formula Curcumin 95 you doctors will be scratching their heads trying to figure out why your tumor has gotten smaller… Please let me know how it turns out…

      • I am quite the believer in the spice, Turmeric. I started taking Curcumin capsules three years ago, prescribed at the time, by my new Herbalist. This was the first herb/spice she recommended to help me with my arthritic pain. I researched the spice and found it is used for many health ailments including tumors. There is a British study that proved Curcumin to shrink tumors in the esophagus. Don’t expect to see studies done in the U.S. for a product that won’t make money for big Pharma. I now fill my own capsules with Turmeric root powder and give my husband a couple a day for good measure.

        • I have to be very careful here to not cross the line between providing information and prescribing.

          What I can tell you is that SwansonVitamins.com sells a supplement called Red Clover Combination. If you check the SV website for it, you will discover the ingredients. If you research the ingredients combination you will discover how it has been used.

      • Thanks for the additional info – good to hear from folks who have actually used herbs / spices with good results. I’ll definitely try them out.

  9. A very well writen and thought provoking post Brenda. The research on training courses is impressive. A few stray thoughts OTC [over the counter or Nonprescription drugs ] should also be viewed as a hazard to the uninformed. Acetaminophen [Tylenol] overdoses are too comon because of it’s wide range of uses, one could take a cough remedy, a decogestant, and a fever/ pain reliver for cold symptoms and get a dose in each of acetaminophen. My solution was the Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs, a very good read for anyone using OTC drugs. Some of my favorite Herb books are The Green Pharmacy, by Dr. Duke, Herbal Medicine by Dian Buchman, PDR for Herbal Medicines, and Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia. Many spices and foods are in some ways Medicines in thier own right. Ms. Buchman’s book uses many common foods, covering making of Decoctions and Tinctures as well as Vinegars [making and blending]. Indeed too much or too little of certain foods cause most of western soceities preventable disease. Caution is always advisable, but I believe thst government regulations have interferred with wise use of herbs by banning the listing of thier effects on packaging. Keeping the consumer ignorant then blaming the herb seems counterproductive to me, but what do I know I’m a libertarian party supporter. Like anything in life guns, cars, herbs or drugs study what you have and how to best use it. Research what you need and then leran how to use it and when not to.

  10. ** that should read much of western, not most**and ** I believe that, not thst** sorry it posted before I finished proofreading

  11. As “conventional” medical care gets farther out of reach (and in many cases out of touch) with patient needs, alternatives will have to be found. My MD recommended “alternative medicine” for a condition I had 10+ years ago that involved extreme fatigue. The conventional medication had no effect after 2 weeks, the alternative worked in 3 days.

  12. Thank you for your effort and sharing, Brenda. Well done!

  13. Great article, Brenda! I have recently been reading, “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy” and “Herbal Remedies for Dummies”. I have been wanting to incorporate both into a base knowledge from which to expand a holistic approach on healing.

    Iowa doesn’t allow for the licensing of naturopathic physicians. It’s actually something I think we should be aspiring to, as opposed to big pharma trying to fill our bodies with all sorts of manmade fixes and trying to stifle (every time I use that world I think of Edith Bunker) more natural remedies.

  14. SrvivlSally says:

    To practice any type of natural medicine, it would be wise to first refresh in regards to, or study, anatomy and the signs and symptoms of diseases/illnesses to get a good understanding of things. A little hands-on experience would not hurt, either, but if that is not possible then consulting lots of photos may be helpful. When tshtf, people are going to be faced with giving treatments, hoping, praying and waiting it out or just taking their chances without the possibility that an herb or root can help. Best to start studying, growing herbs and learning how to prepare them now than to wait until it is too late because there will not be time to learn anything then. A good herb book with full information, to include cautions, about each herb that is intended to be used would also be assistive. Looking at the tongue and fingernails was a normal practice in my family up until a few generations ago and it used to be that doctors always looked at their patient’s tongues and fingernails. Sadly, those days are gone. The last good ol’ doctor around my town retired about ten years ago and I have not found another since.

  15. SrvivlSally, you will be happy to know that practitioners of both Oriental and Ayurvedic medicine still want to look at your tongue and fingernails — and your skin tone, eyes, among other things.

    There are a number of books available that go into great detail on this topic.

    However, here’s a basic do-it-yourself page to get an idea.

    http://beyondwellbeing.com/herbs/tongue-diagnosis.shtml

    Oriental medicine, sometimes referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine (thank you Chairman Mao), comes from a number of regional styles and theories. One that could be useful to the layman in simple terms is known as Five Element Theory. Although it is complex on the one hand, it can provide some basic understanding of how to identify imbalances.

    This is a book for the general reader and does not require technical training or knowledge.

    http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Acupuncture-Law-Five-Elements/dp/0912381035/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327611572&sr=1-5

    • I once asked a Thai soldier, a buddist, why the Thai Army had no Medics. His response was, “When Buddha say it your time it your time:. So much for oriental medicine.

      • Sorry to burst your bubble, Ron, but Thailand is not a hotbed for Oriental medicine. In fact, I’ve never heard anything about Thailand’s medical traditions.

        We use Oriental medicine as a collective term for what is more commonly known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (again, thank you Chairman Mao). Japanese traditional medicine is very similar but different in a lot of ways. Ayurvedic medicine is also similar but different. And, there are also the Tibetan traditions, which are very primitive in some ways (branding comes to mind) but exquisite in others, particularly its outstanding but secret herbal formulas.

        Some licensed practitioners of Oriental medicine in the U.S. do claim to treat using Tibetan medicine but I’d be skeptical of that. Using techniques and formulas from Tibet is not uncommon among those of who are licensed. That does not mean that we are genuinely practicing Tibetan medicine.

        I recommend caution if anyone should recommend you take the Tibetan Precious Pill, for example.

        http://www.jcrow.com/incense.html#pills

        • bMerry, you Didnt bust my bubble because I dont have one. Just not a believer insnack oil and I dont care who is selling it because none of them are doing it for free. For one to call the other greedy and evil??? Competing for the same customers, fearful people who are facing uncertain health situations. Thats absurd but the people are buying it.

  16. mindyinds says:

    Ellen, I believe the name of the book you are thinking of is Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss. Original copyright, 1939; I have a yellowed 1988 edition.
    A huge amount of information on traditional herb use, plus recipes and sections such as “Skills in Caring for the Sick. “

    • mindyinds,
      I have a copy from the early 1970’s and the only thing I really remember about it was a group of us having a good chuckle over a remedy using “sheep dung tea”. DOn’t remember what it was supposed to treat, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget that remedy.

  17. Brenda – Thank you so much for this information. I am going to look into some of these programs. I have been interested in herbs for many years, but have never pursued it – and here’s why: I am a pharmacist and a few years ago, the company I work for paid for me to get my doctorate. I am now a clinical pharmacist with a collaborative practice agreement, which means I actually order medicines under the supervision of doctors. I don’t diagnose patients, but I adjust insulin, blood thinners, blood pressure meds, cholesterol meds, etc based on lab values and interviewing the patient. The more involved I become in this “sick care”, the more I realize that all I do is put band aids on festering wounds and never treat the source of the infection (so to speak). I see so much corruption with the drug companies and insurance companies, and it breaks my heart seeing how patients are treated. My dilemma is that they pay me so damn good, I can’t leave. DH is not working, son just moved back in, daughter and son both in college. But I AM going to pursue herbal training and maybe I can start by helping the patients that want help by offering them alternatives. I will have to do it “off the record” though because the government agency I work for would not allow me to make such recommendations.
    The other sad thing I find is a lot of the patients I try to help don’t want help. They want to eat at McDonald’s dollar menu and then complain about how lousy they feel. I believe nutrition is also vital to health. The part of the country I am in does not eat healthy.
    Thanks again for the info!! I have been looking at the EastWest website for 2 years now wanting to sign up, but not wanting to pay so much.

    • Donna, I am so glad that you brought up the subject of herbal training. It becomes more and more necessary going forward.

      I was a self-taught herbal enthusiast for many years. I started by buying a few books, little 1-ounce bags of different herbs and combining them into formulas for myself and eventually family and friends. (In fact, I still have my shoebox full of envelopes and little herb bags.) I took that to the next level by taking some herb classes with more experienced herbalists.

      To go any further — being able to diagnose and prescribe legally — I knew I had to get formal training and become licensed. That’s how I learned about East-West and Bastyr and other resources. (This was before all the wonderful information and cleasses were readily available on the internet. You remember, the snail mail days. I still want Rosemary’s classes/training. Susun Weed believes in using singular herbs/tinctures and that doesn’t work for me.)

      Anyhow, I understand your dilemma. If it makes you feel any better, by far I see many many more clients seeking sickness care than wellness care. The majority come because they have either exhausted treatment options or are in trouble because of the treatments (and drugs) they have already received — or don’t trust doctors (gasp).

      The very good news is that the majority of Oriental medicine practitioners are trained as excellent diagnosticians, meaning that we create an extensive medical history profile that includes many non-traditional pieces of information. This is the difficult part. The choices for treatment are easy once we have a complete picture (assuming the client is being totally open and honest). Western medicine no longer allows enough patient time. (Take this pill.)

      You are absolutely right about people being their own worst enemies. Everyone is looking for the magic pill. It is discouraging, I agree. It’s even more difficult when you have to stand by, as you do, and not be able to advise them otherwise.

      Being healthy begins with taking responsibility for one’s actions and health. Regardless what kind of practitioner you are, you cannot make anyone do that. There are no magic pills.

    • Hunker-Down says:

      Donna,

      My DW visits a person like you every 2 weeks to get her rat poison adjusted.
      Warfarin; an example of a harmful compound doing good!

  18. cooolwoods says:

    you all are great! the wealth if info is amazing.
    on another note, if my comments seem random…. my internet sucks. sorry if I dont get back or stay in a thread in a timely manner.

  19. Uncle Charlie says:

    Go for it Donna, but keep the job while you can. JP in MT, want to share the natural remedy with the rest of us? We all get fatigued now and then. KFields I had to go through 8 months of chemo back in 96&97, one of the best things you can do to get through is to keep your sense of humor. Raucous laughter used to come from our bay in the infusion center and it worked for me anyway after I was given a 17% chance of survival. Laughing is good medicine.

    • Charlie – 8 months of chemo? man, you’re starting to scare me…
      I’ll remember to laugh, but 8 months?

  20. Uncle Charlie:
    Not sure I would recommend this for general fatigue. It was called Osha Root. You were supposed to put 5 drops in a 16 glass of water. Good luck with that. I put 5 drops in 1 oz of water, treated it like a shot, and followed it with the other 15 oz. It smelled like fermented lawn clippings and I couldn’t choke down a 16 oz glass. But it was like my body said “if you’ll stop pouring this stuff down your neck, I’ll kick out this bug!” I was over it within 3 days.

  21. Thank you for this post, I really enjoyed reading it and the comments as well, I have had a interest in herbs and spices and how they can be used in regards to health for many years, I am lucky enough to have a girlfriend that is a actively involved in this field and was a collage roommate, and so I have been “in training” ever since.

  22. Uncle Charlie says:

    Kfields: sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I had lymphoma and had no tumors to cut out so it took longer. You’ll be half way home after the surgery. I meant to emphasize the fact that here I am after all these years. I went into remission in October of 1996 and here I am. I am currently suffering from old age (which is great considering) with no side effects from the cancer or chemo therapy except that my red hair went brownish and now is limp instead of wirey. I can live with that 🙂 With pre-meds I didn’t feel nauseous or anything. Cancers come in all sizes and shapes and today cure rates are higher than ever. So hang in there and laugh baby, laugh!

  23. I’d recommend caution in this setting. While most of ‘big pharma’ is foremost pursuing profit, so are many of the people selling expensive ‘training programs’ in non-traditional medicine. Five hundred or two thousand dollars for a course and materials that could probably be picked up for $50 in books online or the local bookstore and be more useful to the layperson. It’s like purchasing gear. The super-gizmo 5000 can provide home defense, fresh water, and babysit your kids for the low low price of 4 thousand dollars, but 200 bucks, a bit of elbow grease, and a few busy weekends can provide the same result.

    I would especially avoid reflexology and homeopathy as neither are based on logic or science.

    I don’t want to sound all negative about this, because I know that medicine pays tribute to it’s herbalistic and folk-lore roots. Many folks are happy with the herbal remedies they use and that is one of the important things. As always, most problems have more than one solution. Too often we default to the quick and easy solution of modern medicine, ignoring other possible solutions.

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