It matters. Knowing where your medicine comes from has become as important as knowing where your food is from. Whether we are talking modern medications or ancient herbals, there are important questions to be asked.
More than 1/2 of the plant material taken from nature heads into the pharmaceutical industry to become pills. This led me to look deeper at the modern drugs so many take without question as the governing authorities and formularies often do not disclose the source of their raw material they begin with. So with some digging I learned that Heparin - a common blood thinner needed in acute hospitals situations - is made from pig intestines. Now this was surely not the information I expected and I thought deeply about how vegetarians and those refraining from pig intake for religious reasons would feel about such information. True, your life may be at stake when a nurse is hooking intravenous Heparin into your vascular system and so the priority list and questions do re-organize themselves, as they should.
Coumadin - another common blood thinner prescribed in pill form for use at home is made from Turmeric Root - a common cooking spice and the main ingredient in many curries. What I do love - and many medical professionals hate - about Coumadin is that it is hard to track and "control" for it acts differently in different people. These people need frequent blood tests and dose adjustments in an attempt to control the therapeutic effects. One thing to consider are the risks of frequent venous punctures. How about all the chemicals made and used to analyze blood? Where does it come from and go to? So what if one went deeper into the why of needing a blood thinner like this. What if it leads one to shift their diet and address issues at a healing restorative level? What if one learned to make a tumeric paste and stirred it into warm water to be enjoyed with honey or coconut milk?
The questions about where the Turmeric came from is logical. Was it sprayed with toxic fungicides and herbicides? Most likely and that is in your medicine too unless you ask the right questions and seek good roots to make good medicine. Formularies are not doing this or they would state it.
Back to Heparin, there was a huge and quieted problem with the quality of the pig intestines harvested in remote areas of the world and this made bad medicine that ended up in people's bodies who subsequently got very ill. The problem was "found and corrected" we are told from authorities.
So my question remains this, if you can make your own medicine and learn to care for your body well using simple changes in diet, lifestyle, and turning to the plants for healing that stimulates our natural way of restoration and regeneration, would you do it? Our bodies know what is happening and responding in every moment. I love that Turmeric Root, within the Coumadin manufacturing process, has retained some of its original wildness - that which will not be controlled essence.
What do you think and feel about this? What are you willing to do about it? Refusing modern medicine may not be the best answer in all situations. Taking only herbals can be a luxury some cannot afford either. So we have to sit respectfully at the same table to address our healing needs as a society and consider how things are made too. It affects everything right on down to how the raw material is farmed or where it is sourced and how it is handled in transit. Shutting down and taking what you are told is another option.
I do suggest a middle ground of stretching out of the comfort zone and learning new ways and asking the hard questions. What say you?
What does it mean to expose your roots?
I find myself mesmerized by exposed roots. I'm drawn to the trees that can unearth their roots and yet thrive. One would think it means becoming unstable to unearth the very network that grounds and anchors your whole self from falling over, right? Spending time in Nature tells another story.
What are roots to you? What connections do you make? Where are your roots? Do you look at your bloodlines for ancestral clues? That works until you get to the wars and genocides plaguing humanity and then the stories are told differently or lost or silenced. But the roots still exist. The trauma is on the surface and it's really part of "the weather conditions" during growth. We are being asked to go deeper than defining ourselves based on our traumas, our local weather, and our conditions. Yes, these weather elements affect growth but at the very core of the roots is a driving force that is anchored in the original way. We all have ancestral roots running into the ancient sea of time and while we may not know where these roots are anchored, they still support us right here, right now. Some roots are demanding to be exposed to strengthen our growth and expand our ability to see.
I know a story of one family who thought they were from Italy from as far back as their parents and grandparents could remember. Through genetic testing prompted by the children, it turns out they are fully rooted in Arabian, Spanish, and Northern and Central America Native People. It does make sense if you follow the genocides and the trade routes, right? This news, when given to the elderly parents, rocked this tribe at first like the shimmy of subsoil above the tectonic plates as pressure is released and soil falls away and there seems like there is no solid ground to place one's foot. They swayed as their roots demanded to be exposed. Had they identified with a people that was not rooted in their lineage? Maybe, on the surface, but I say look even deeper and farther. These gorgeous elders found humor and lessons and forgotten memories that exposed their roots. It exposed why they put cinnamon in their companata, and why uncle-so-and-so did this or that, and why cousin-this-one looked like this and was adopted into Lenape or Inuit tribes. Be careful holding tight to a belief that elders can't learn or change. They can and do and sometimes with elegant speed and grace while working in a nap too.
Did you know there's a tree that walks? This one unique exception in the tree world called the walking palm tree (Socratea exorrhiza) is found in Latin America. Many people believe it can literally walk around more or less because of its unusual, exposed root system. Most trees have one trunk, but this palm splits into many smaller roots a few feet off the ground, giving it the appearance of many little legs.The ambulatory ability of this walking tree has been told by many a story teller and appears prolifically in sources on amazing plant adaptation. The tree slowly 'walks' from shade to sunlight by growing new roots toward the light and allowing old roots in the shadows that interfere with its wanderlust to die. Exposed roots have much to teach.
So tell me, are your roots demanding to be exposed? What is shaking and shimmying and trying to get your attention to go deeper and get past the conditions that limit understanding so you can see more clearly and deeply? Gems await us wise one. This I know!
Much Love - Jen Costa, Herbalist, BS, RN, CST and Founder of ElderMoon School of Herbal Medicine and Earth Awareness at www.eldermoonschool.net
Class Begins Friday 8/14/15 - Birthing an Herbalist - An On-line Herbal Apprenticeship at ElderMoon SchoolRead Now
You want to make good medicine, right? Me too. Did you know it starts with you right where you are right now?
Did you know we all already make medicine for ourselves, our family and friends, our community, and the Earth just by being who we are and doing as we do. Let's deepen this with the help of the plants. Join me for a 13 moon journey through the plant world as we cultivate an intimacy with them and ourselves and bridge that gap between health, the body, and Nature. It's time. It's easier than you think too. Check out the course at www.eldermoonschool.net
Jennifer Costa, Herbalist, Teacher, BS, RN, CST, and Founder of ElderMoon School of Herbs & Earth Medicine