by Susun S. Weed
I love to separate this from that, as
Vasalisa did during her stay with Baba Yaga in the chicken-footed
house. Separating this from that -- making piles of
similar things -- helps me make sense of the complicated
world I inhabit.
Separating this from that especially
helps me make sense of medicine. What to do with all
the modalities, methods, and manners of healing? I sort
them into seven medicines, based on their safety. This
helps me maintain and regain health simply and safely.
The first four medicines -- serenity
medicine, story medicine, energy medicine, and lifestyle
medicine -- build health. The more we actively engage
in them throughout our lives, the healthier we will
be. The last three medicines -- herbal medicine, pharmaceutical
medicine, and hi-tech medicine -- are life-saving in
emergencies, but undermine overall health.
The safest way to heal is to let Nature do the work.
This requires nothing from us. And the more nothing
we can provide, the more effective serenity medicine
is. Unplug the phone, leave the computer turned off,
enter the silence, cultivate acceptance, abandon the
mind's ceaseless control, and be here now.
The stories we tell ourselves, according to my mentor
Jean Houston, create our lives and thus our health.
What are the stories you tell yourself about your life
and your health? This is story medicine.
When we seek diagnosis we are looking for story medicine.
Different healers offer very different kinds of story
medicine. Receiving information from people telling
different stories can be very confusing, until we see
the sameness in their stories.
I sort story medicine into Scientific, Heroic, and Wise
Woman types: Something is broken and needs to be fixed
(Scientific). Something is toxic and needs to be cleansed
(Heroic). Something lacks nourishment and wants to be
whole (Wise Woman).
Story medicine is information medicine. Information
alone may be heartless, however. So we open ourselves
to wisdom and intuition, to our unreasonable fears and
longings, even as we search the internet and seek second
opinions in story medicine.
Hands-off diagnosis is much less likely harm the questioner
than -- and in skilled hands as good as -- x-rays, CAT
scans, radioactive tracers, and exploratory surgery.
Chi, ki, veriditas, kundalini, life force, orgone, wankan
tanka . . . even if we can't measure it or see it, we
know there is an energy that animates and heals. Ways
to use this energy are as myriad as our ability to imagine.
Hands-off healing, laying on of hands,
Reiki, Muriel, comfort touch . . . we sense this energy
in our hands and in the hands of healers. We know we
can use the power of our intention to help direct this
Homeopathy, flower essences, gem stone elixirs, mojo
bags, rituals and ceremonies . . . energy medicine gives
us physical things to focus our intention on, to help
us envision our health, our healing, our reality.
Sound healing, color healing, art therapy, drumming
. . . energy is vibration and vibration can heal. Resonance
gathers our wholeness. Prayer, chanting, kirtan, focused
meditation, visualizations . . . energy medicine attunes
us to health.
Chakras, and auras, shamanic journeys, trances and hypnosis
. . . energy medicine gives detail to our story and
helps us change from the inside out.
Did someone say placebo? I'm fine with that. Instead
of energy medicine I could call it placebo medicine.
It still works, as science as shown us. And since placebo
medicine does so little harm, I'm all for it.
Nourishment and activity are the core physical components
We nourish ourselves with all our senses. Nourishment
occurs in single instances. The specifics of nourishment
have been argued by Americans for hundreds of years,
with no particular winners. My simple rules for superb
nourishment: Eat foods without ingredients. Eat locally.
Eat widely. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup, enriched
flour, all soy foods except miso and tamari, and all
oils pressed from seeds.
Tonification builds functioning, unlike stimulus, which
erodes it. Tonification is rhythmic and, for best results,
occurs regularly and repeatedly. Daily is usually too
much for most people. Muscles are strengthened by being
torn; they need several days rest to recover and gain
Herbalists are especially likely to
confuse stimulation and tonification.
Herbal medicine does not stand alone here, nor is all
of herbal medicine encompassed in this section. Nourishing
herbal infusions and most herbal vinegars, for instance,
are part of lifestyle medicine.
The medicines here stimulate and sedate. They include
hydrotherapy, many massage therapies, and acupuncture,
as well as herbal medicine.
I break this section into ten smaller sections so my
sorting can give me more information on safety and make
my choices easier. (1) Motherwort tincture sedates and
tones, (2) skullcap tincture sedates and nourishes,
(3) chamomile tea mildly sedates, (4) catnip tea sedates,
(5) passion flower tincture can sedate strongly, (6)
hops tea very strongly sedates and may be mildly addictive,
(7) valerian root tincture sedates strongly and can
be very addictive, (8) poppy head tea is a strong, addictive
sedative, but it is not a narcotic, neither is the potent
sedative (9) wild lettuce sap, but (10) poppy sap/opium
is a narcotic.
Morphine and heroin are drugs made from poppies; they
are part of pharmaceutical medicine. I define a drug
as something that does not grow out of the ground (thus
opium is not a drug) and cannot be made in your kitchen.
I include vitamin and mineral supplements and essential
oils in pharmaceutical medicine.
So useful. So enticing. So dangerous.
Here we break boundaries: We stick our finger down our
throats, we break our child's will, we run fluids up
into our intestines (enemas and colonics), we control
our feelings with psychoactive drugs, we open our bodies
with surgery, injections pierce our skin.
So useful. So enticing. So dangerous.
Set a Time Limit
I have arranged the medicines according to the harms
they are likely to cause, how likely those harms is,
and how severe those harms may be. But all bets are
off unless you set a time limit for working with each
medicine. Neither rushing into hi-tech medicine, nor
procrastinating about acting, will support optimum health.
For best results, when I have a problem, I start with
serenity medicine. If I am not "well" in the
appointed time, I go on to story medicine and again
set a time limit. Without time limits it is easy to
get pulled into frustrating repetitions of non-diagnosis
and clashing opinions. Become your own expert; write
your own story. And use the tools of energy medicine
to make it real, within your time limit, of course.
Change your diet if you need do; exercise more. But
don't be afraid to use herbal medicine when your time
limit there is through. And do go on to drugs if herbs
don't do what you need in the time you set.
Sometimes surgery and hi-tech saves the day, but set
a time limit on this, for sure.
In emergencies, I use all the medicines at once. Sorting
them this way helps me cover all my bases instead
of say, doing ten different energy medicines. All
the medicines at once is integrative medicine, and
it can work wonders in my experience. Just remember
to set a time limit for leaving daily use of herbal,
pharmaceutical, and hi-tech medicines behind and relying
on health building with serenity, story, energy, and
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