an article by Susun S. Weed
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 to harm
the questioner than - and in skilled hands as good
as - x-rays, CAT scans, radioactive tracers, and
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 energy.
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,
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 has shown us. And since
placebo medicine does so little harm, I'm all for
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
* 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 tone.
Herbalists are especially likely to confuse stimulation
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
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
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
are, 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 are 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 lifestyle medicines.
PO Box 64
Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
For permission to reprint this article, contact
and involved, Susun Weed has garnered an international
reputation for her groundbreaking lectures, teachings,
and writings on health and nutrition. She challenges
conventional medical approaches with humor, insight,
and her vast encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine.
Unabashedly pro-woman, her animated and enthusiastic
lectures are engaging and often profoundly provocative.
Susun is one
of America's best-known authorities on herbal medicine
and natural approaches to women's health. Her four
best-selling books are recommended by expert herbalists
and well-known physicians and are used and cherished
by millions of women around the world. Learn more
article is © copyright Susun
S. Weed 2004 - Republished here with kind permission.
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