I want a customized diet plan that outlines exactly what I should eat each day based on caloric intake and the proper ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Do you offer this service?
Nope! There is no way for me to know what you need to eat. In the past, I have done this occasionally for clients, and it never worked out well. Eating plans are often rigid and not sustainable. My intention is for you to learn to eat in peace, not via my dictations. Eating is a dynamic experience, and our dietary needs change constantly. Our Western culture feeds the notion that there are ‘experts’ who have all the answers, particularly in the realm of nutrition. Your body is the expert and knows what it needs better than anybody else! I will provide you guidance and offer you specific dietary experiments. As your practitioner with clinical training, I bring objectivity and experience to the situation, saving you time, money, and effort. In our consultations together, we will hone your skills of self observation, and very soon you will effortlessly tell me what foods serve you best.
How often will I need to come see you?
It depends. I like to see people more frequently when we first start working together, sometimes weekly or at least every two weeks, then moving to monthly and even seasonally. I created the Premier Package and the Ultimate Eating in Peace Vitality Program to encourage momentum and commitment: making changes requires focus and support. There are no magic bullets and despite the occasional exception to the rule, one visit is not enough. My intention is to teach you the art of self care. As your practitioner, the burden is on me to figure out where or how your vitality is being blocked, and the burden is on you to make changes. We form a partnership. Once again, there are no quick fixes. The way I look at it: if I do my job and you do yours, then eventually you will not need to come see me!
What are herbs going to do for me?
The possibilities are endless when it comes to how plants can affect your life. One of the beautiful aspects of herbal medicine is the intention that goes in to herbal formulations, both on the part of you as the client and me as the practitioner. We decide together what herbs can do for you (within reason of course)! Ultimately, I use herbs to increase vitality.Vitality is defined in the dictionary as:
1. The peculiarity distinguishing the living from the non living.
2. Lively and animated character.
3. The capacity to live and develop.
4. Physical and mental vigor.On a more personal level to me, vitality is waking up each morning happy and eager to start my day. Sometimes the vitality gets blocked, and energy does not flow smoothly. It is almost as if the body forgot how to do something. Herbs can remind the body of how to function again. Sure, like any tool, herbs have limitations, but when they hit the right button, long-lived physiological patterns can dissolve, and you feel full of life.Another way of looking at it is that an herb asks the body to do something. This is why they work best in combination with changes in diet and lifestyle. If the resources are lacking in the body, herbs will not perform as well, or maybe not at all. This is why nothing can compensate for a poor diet, an unrecognized food allergy, chronic sleep debt, or unhealthy thought patterns.
I’ve purchased herbs from the health food store, took them according to the directions on the bottle, and nothing happened…I don’t think herbs really work!
Well, there are many things to be concerned about here.First is the proper dosage. Many times the dosage on the bottle is too low to be effective.Second is the quality of the herbal material. Where was the plant grown? Is the herb being delivered in the proper medium? Some herbs are more effective as tinctures, others in teas, and still others in powders. Is the herb on the label actually in the bottle? Is the appropriate part of the plant being used?Third is that herbs are for people not diseases.
Matching plants to people is one of the most enjoyable aspects of practicing herbal medicine. Diseases are helpful labels, but can manifest very differently with each person. A headache, for example, can be dull and achy or it can be sharp and stabbing. A cough can be dry and feel hot, or it can be wet, with lots of mucus and expectoration. The marketplace cannot make these distinctions for consumers; they want to keep things simple. There is usually no harm in this, just ineffectiveness. Herbs have been used for thousands of years as a form of healthcare; when used properly, they work, no doubt about that.
So how do herbs work?
Very often we are not sure how they work. Scientists like to look for the active constituent in an herb: let’s discover exactly what is responsible for this herb’s action. This is the origin of many pharmaceutical drugs. Sometimes we will discover the active constituents in a plant and be able to study how we think the plant works, but very often the identified constituent will not have the same effect as the whole plant in the human body.Herbs contain unidentified numbers of constituents that work together synergistically, and for this reason, do not fit into our reductionistic model of thinking. They work best in their whole plant form, gently nudging the body back into balance.As previously described, herbs create movement where there is stagnation.
Exactly how herbs do this is beyond me, and I am humble in the face of Mother Nature and the human body. Very often, it is not the herb doing anything anyway; it is the body’s response to the herb that is responsible for its effects. One drop of a bitter herb such as gentian on the tongue does not do anything, but the body responds to the taste by up regulating its digestive function. The person may notice increased saliva production or appetite, if it was lacking before.What we can be sure of is observable phenomenon. When an herb shifts your physiology, you will feel it. Herbs do not want to be intellectualized, they want to be experienced and felt in the body, just like food. For this reason, eating and herbal medicine is more of an art, than a science.
I didn’t realize herbs could be taken so many different ways…what are my options again?
The concerns here are: compliance, effectiveness, and cost. For the best results, herbs need to be delivered effectively in the appropriate medium within the context of your lifestyle. Very often I will have an idea of what I would like to give you. I will explain my rationale to you and then you can reflect your thoughts and concerns back to me. Together we can determine the best plan of action. Below is a brief outline of your options.
Tincture – A tincture is usually a water and alcoholic extraction of an herb; sometimes glycerine is used. Tinctures have a long shelf-life, and the alcohol helps draw out various constituents. Herbs delivered in this way reach the bloodstream quickly, and they are very easy to take. Tinctures are also nice for the purpose of custom formulations. The downside is the cost, relative to the other options.
Tea – Teas require preparation, which can often serve as a form of medicine in and of itself. You have got to slow down enough to make it! Teas are great for the lining of the digestive tract. Serving as both an enjoyable and medicinal beverage, teas are also a perfect means of staying hydrated considering that most people are chronically dehydrated. The downside has already been mentioned: you have to prepare the tea.
Powder – An herbal powder blend can usually be consumed as a food. You can add it to a smoothie, put it in applesauce or yogurt, prepare herbal energy balls, and/or simply mix it in water or fruit juice. Powdered or crudely ground herb is also nice when delivered in a honey preparation. The downside is that powders degrade rather quickly due to their increased surface area, often taste peculiar, and can have an odd texture.Capsules or tablets – This is a great option when traveling. The major drawback here is that unless you are willing to break open the capsule or chew the tablet, you will not taste the herb and that is where a lot of the medicine resides.
When can I expect to see results?
It depends. Making dietary and lifestyle changes in conjunction with the use of herbal medicine creates synergy and can certainly speed up the process. As a general rule, I will give you a week’s worth of an herbal formula to make sure that we are on the right track. Sometimes results are almost immediate, and other times you may not notice anything for a quite a while. Again, this is about self observation and getting in touch with your body; some of these changes will be very subtle. If nothing shifts or your symptoms worsen, then this is still valuable information, and we can alter our plan accordingly. What we want to see is movement; the perceived shifts will be determined desirable or undesirable based on the context of each individual.
How long will I need to take my herbal formula?
It depends and is determined on a case by case basis. I like to defer to the wisdom of the body here. You may find at the beginning that you love your herbs and never forget to take a dose. As time passes, you may grow less fond of your formula and find yourself missing doses. Or you may feel intuitively that you want to take a break. It also depends on the duration of your complaint. As a rule of thumb, you will need three months of treatment for the first year of your complaint, and one month of treatment for each year thereafter.Once herbal medicine finds its way into your life, it is very likely to stay in one form or another. You may become more conscious of cooking with herbs or you may have a couple of teas or tinctures that you come to rely on. It is estimated that our ancestors ate over 150 different types of plants; the modern American is fortunate to eat about 10 on a regular basis. The habitual use of herbs can help fill in this gap.
I am taking prescription drugs…will the herbs interfere? And can I eventually replace my pharmaceutical with herbal medicine?
Herbs affect physiological pathways in the body, so yes, there is a potential for herb-drug interactions. There are obvious combinations to be concerned about at times, and this is one of the reasons why seeing an herbalist is superior to going to the health food store and self-medicating. This is a hot topic among health professionals and the general public, but the conversation is often operating under a number of assumptions.One is that herbs are drugs. Herbs are not drugs. In their whole plant form, herbs contain numerous chemical constituents that affect countless physiological pathways in the body.
Very often, herbs will not shift anything in the body, unless something needs to be altered In contrast, drugs are designed to target one physiological pathway in the body and will do this regardless of whether the body wants to or not. This goes back to the idea that herbs teach the body how to function properly, while drugs perform functions for the body. Second, many assume that all herb/drug interactions are bad, and this is not the case. Many times herbs and drugs can work together in beneficial ways. For instance, with someone who has digestive disturbances, such as chronic diarrhea, herbs might be very effective at shifting this bowel pattern, thus helping the body hold on to the drug. Another example is a classification of herbs called adaptogens, which can support the adrenal glands in the face of prolonged corticosteroid use.
Herbs can also support detoxification pathways in the body, such as the liver, lessening the toxicity of certain drugs without affecting the drug’s effectiveness.The bottom line is that herbs do not replace pharmaceutical drugs and should not be feared. I like to think of herbs, drugs, medical doctors, food, massage, acupuncture, nutritional supplementation, chiropractic adjustments, etc. as tools in your Wellness Toolkit. Addressing all of your health concerns with only one tool is silly. This would be like trying to hang a picture with a screwdriver when you need a nail and a hammer. Know your body, understand your tools, and only then you can make educated decisions regarding your health.