When it comes to chronic health issues (and most especially ones with an autoimmune component) one of the things I ask my client these days is: “How much time and effort are you willing to commit or are you able to commit to your healing or remission?” It’s a question that I think is an important one because it will determine how much they can or are willing to do to get better, and it will be a major factor in the amount of time any health plan will take to bring them to a better state of health. Some clients are all-in, and some not so much. Some are able to do many things, and some due to their health can only do so much until they get to another level that allows them to do more. With some clients, little changes are necessary; with others, big changes are possible. But it all comes down to commitment.
Unlike allopathic medicine which requires little more effort than popping pills a few times a day, the art of herbal and/or aromatic medicine requires a greater commitment. Herbal/aromatic medicine is both an art and a science. There are many factors that are taken into consideration when aiding a client in the healing process; and it requires far more participation on the part of the client than does allopathic medicine.
WHAT ARE YOU GETTING YOURSELF INTO?
If you come to me or any practicing herbalist/aromatherapist with a chronic health condition, you can expect to participate far more in your healing process than you likely know. You will be asked to do things that take more time than simply popping a pill. You will find that we don’t just focus on symptoms and symptom management, but the root of the problem; and sometimes that takes time to “ferret” out. You will find that your road to healing or remission be a slower process than your are used to when it comes to allopathic medicine. And you will find that some of the things you will be asked to do in your health plan will be time-consuming for you.
UH OH. HOW MUCH TIME AM I GOING TO HAVE TO PUT INTO THIS?
When speaking about my own chronic health issues, one of my mentors told me: “It took time to get your body into the state it is currently in, and it is going to take time to restore it its proper state — or at least some semblance of it.” It’s true. Healing — true healing — from chronic health issues can take a long time; and sometimes there is damage that cannot be repaired so the only thing that can be done is symptom management. But the truth is, optimum health can be achieved, whether that is back to what things once were or as my mentor said “some semblance” of what things once were; either way, things can get better.
But when you come to an herbalist/aromatic medicine practitioner such as myself, your plan to put you on your path to healing from chronic health issues is going to have components that allopathic medicine ignores. You will have a components in your plan of:
- Physical healing
- Mental support
- Lifestyle changes
Those are the things you can surely count on. What does that look like?
You might have to make tea. In fact, it is highly likely you will have to make tea. Herbalists like tea. We like having you make tea; and making tea takes time. So, you will have to plan to make sure you have your tea made ahead of time for your busy day, or plan time into your day to make it.
You will likely be asked to take medicinal tinctures and/or supplements. You will need to buy these. Of course, we will tell you the best ones to buy (or in the case of tinctures or tincture blends we will sell them to you. But you will have to get used to taking them because…well…herbalists like tinctures and supplements; and herbalists like having you take tinctures and supplements.
You will likely be asked to take time to exercise. Exercise at whatever level you can manage is important. Your body NEEDS exercise. It keeps the fluids moving and motivates the body to perform at its highest levels whether at work or at rest. Herbalists like exercise (but not all of us); and we like asking you to exercise because it will help you to feel better and sleep better.
Speaking of sleeping….you will likely be asked to sleep better. Good sleep hygiene is something all of us — healthy or unhealthy — severely neglect. But commitment to whatever sleep levels help you to be well rested in the morning is going to factor largely into your body’s ability to heal. Herbalists like sleep; and they like to ask you to sleep better. And…who doesn’t like sleep?
You will likely be asked to find things that help you mentally. More often than not, we will provide you will help to engage in mentally calming exercises such as meditation or anything else that will calm the mind and body. A healthy, calmer, more focused mind and body helps our body to heal.
Well, that doesn’t sound so bad does it? But wait, there’s more.
RUH ROH. THIS IS GETTING SERIOUS NOW.
Yep. There’s more. And you guessed it — it is more serious. It concerns the one things that can determine success or failure in achieving better health and coming out of chronic illness. And that is….DIET. Yep. Diet. And now things really are getting serious.
Herbalist Paul Bergner maintains that in his thirty years of practice very few who have chronic health issues get well without a change in diet. In the case of autoimmune conditions, serious changes in diet. He explains that almost none of the people with chronic health issues (and especially those with an autoimmune component) ever get well unless they are willing to make changes to their diet.
Most likely, if you come to an herbalist such as myself and are asking for help with your chronic health condition, we are going to ask you to try an elimination diet. The two most common are going to be dairy and glutenous grains. If you are working with a good practitioner, they will first ask you to eliminate dairy, taking a diary of how you feel day by day, and then a health assessment after three weeks and then at six weeks. We will then ask you to add certain dairy back into your diet slowly, taking a diary along the way to record how you feel. The same will be asked of you regarding glutenous grains. This will take some effort, time, and willpower, but we promise it will be worth it, especially if we find out dairy or gluten are a contributor to your chronic health issues. A good herbalist will ask you to do these things one at a time, not only to make the burden less on you, but also to make sure there is a way to make a true determination of what component is responsible, if any. If an issue if found, it might be necessary to eliminate either one or both for a period short period of time, a long period of time, or forever. Forever? Yep. Possibly. Why? Because it just may be that in the course of your illness your body had developed antibodies to casein which is in all dairy and/or gluten. If this is that case, you will never be able to eat products containing them again without getting sick. Your immune system will always attack them and make you sick if you eat them. That is sometimes a reality, but it is not always the case.
In the case of chronic health issues with an autoimmune component, it is we will always ask you to do an elimination diet as mentioned above; and, frankly, it is more likely that not that you will have an issue with casein or gluten. And it is likely that you might have a forever aversion to one or the other, or both. It seems to be a fact of life.
The point here is: You will have to work hard and be willing to put in the time, effort, and energy with a willingness to help us help you get to the root of your problem; and diet is almost always a component with chronic health issues. This is not easy, but us herbalists understand fully. Even if we have not had health issues that have put us in the position of doing elimination diets or any other diets, we have likely done them. How is that? We are trained to try these diets. We have tried these diets. We want to know what it feels like to do these diets so we know what you will feel like doing them. That is just what we do. In some cases, we will even do them along with you. How’s that for service and empathy? We want you to be well. We want you to be successful. And we are willing to help you in whatever way we can. But, as I have been saying: You must be fully committed. Fully. You will not get better in the slightest and you will be wasting time and money if you are not willing to fully commit.
ADJUSTMENTS WILL BE MADE
Keep in mind that your initial health plan may change. Herbalists do our best to get things right the first time, but sometimes for whatever reasons, we might have to make adjustments to your plan. Sometimes it’s because there is something that does not sit right with you. Sometimes it’s because we only need to do the initial things…well…initially…and then we move forward to continue to progress in your path to better health. Sometimes, we just don’t get it right at all and need to adjust our thinking. It’s a journey for us and for you. And I mean journey. We are committed to you.
ONE MORE THING
Some of the medicine we give you will…shall we say…not taste so good. It is important to remember that we will chose medicines — teas and tincture, etc. — that will best serve you and that will help you to comply as best as possible. However, there will be times that things will not taste so good. What you must understand is that medicine is medicine. The teas that we ask you to take will be medicinal teas. They will be strong and they might not taste so great. We will help you make them taste better or even give you a comparable tea that tastes better, but you cannot always put lipstick on a pig. It’s just the way it is. We will avoid at all costs giving you anything that is just downright unpalatable. If we do, it will be a tincture; and those are taken in water or other liquids that will mask the nastiness and make them at least tolerable. Again, we know what these things taste like. We have tried them. Sometimes we wish we didn’t have to, but we do it for you. And again, You must be fully committed to taking the medicines we give you or you will not get better in the slightest and you will be wasting your time and money. We don’t want that for you. We truly want to help you get better, even if we give you some nasty tasting stuff sometimes.
SO….ARE YOU COMMITTED?
Well….are you? Haha. Just kidding….well, maybe….ok…I’m not. Seriously, you need to be committed. Coming to an herbalist and going through the entire process of intake, planning, etc. is a commitment on our part. We will meet you where you are at. We will take things really slow if you want, or we can go faster…or we can slow down. All we ask is that you be committed. Commitment leads to success, and we want you to be successful in getting all or at the very least the best level of health your body can come to. It is going to take major commitment and dedication on your part. We are your guide, but we cannot do this for you. After all:
“It took time to get your body into the state it is currently in, and it is going to take time to restore it its proper state — or at least some semblance of it.”
but it can only happen if you are fully committed.