vitalism

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Dying Back

as herbalists, we are closely tied to the plants, and to the cycles of the year. it’s appropriate to take time to contemplate those cycles sometimes! herbalism is also an exercise in self-mastery: not the bludgeon of discipline (though discipline is often good), but the more compassionate acknowledgement of who we are as individuals, of…

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Not Everything Is Going To Be Perfect.

For those of us who are actively experimenting and taking action to improve our health, who are carefully noticing that what we eat or how we sleep or how we live affects our well-being, who are researching and learning about ways to be healthier: Often there is an expectation, not always consciously, that if we…

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Harm Reduction for Everyone

Usually, when you hear the words “harm reduction”, you’re thinking about illegal drugs or perhaps alcohol abuse. Needle exchange is a good example: if someone is going to inject drugs, let’s at least be sure that they aren’t also injecting disease – less disease is less harm. But the truth is, we all self-harm. It’s…

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Toxins and Terrain

When someone starts to talk about detoxification or cleansing, I often find myself st[r]uck with a question: “What do you mean when you use that word, toxins?” (With echoes of that movie line – you know the one – in the back of my mind.)

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You’re a Trainwreck.

Hi. My name is Katja. I’m a total Trainwreck. Hi, Katja…

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Farm Food February

Each year, our students do projects related to food, lifestyle, sleep, and more. All of our students do these projects, though they vary slightly from group to group. We do them each year too, different projects with different groups so that we can be in solidarity with each of them. When the Second Year students…

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Men’s Cycles and Self-Reliance

Often, discussions of “women’s health” or “men’s health” are limited to the reproductive systems. When I teach about men’s reproductive health, I like to include an overview of common problems for men, because sexual function is dependent on the vitality of the rest of the body. But even before I get to that, I start…

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The Beauty of Imperfection and a Tea for Gracelessness

I teach, a lot. Life as a teacher essentially means being on stage, most of the time. My students and my clients have images of me in their minds, and I’m quite certain that those images are better than what I really am, or that they are taking their image of my Best Self and…

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Enough.

We are a culture of More. We like words like SuperSize, Maximize, and Fullest Potential. We like, whether we admit it or not, concepts like Planned Obsolescence, because it allows for words like New, Shiny, Improved, and of course, Shopping. We believe things like “You can never be too rich, or too thin”. We, as…

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On the Merits of Fluctuation

This week, one of my pharmacy students stayed after class to ask for help. She wanted me to explain about the way insulin is supposed to cycle in the body again, because she has a friend who is a young doctor, and they had gotten into a disagreement. The young doctor friend claimed that a…

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Raising Healthy Children, part 6

When I was a kid, my mom sent us out to play. We went out for hours, and didn’t come back till someone was hungry. We played in the trees in the yard, or in the “trails” across the street – some wild undeveloped land along the banks of Bear Creek, that boys had ridden…

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No Cure for Cancer: Healing This Client

Katja’s recent article on the [mis]conception of “cure” in our culture reminded me of a related thought, one that comes to mind whenever I see another “Cancer Cure Found!?” headline. And since everything’s more concise in couplets: when fleshly red turns tumor-black, of this you may be sure: though whitecoat’s works may push it back,…

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“Cure” vs. Health

A fellow called me the other day to talk about vitiglio, asking whether I could do something about it. I began to explain that vitiglio is an auto-immune condition, and so the majority of my protocol for working with him would be similar to those for other autoimmune conditions, and that we may also add…

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Vital[ist] Lifestyle Interventions

We practice and teach Traditional Western Herbalism in the vitalist tradition. We believe that the strongest factor in healing is the body’s own spirit or vital force, and that if the spirit is well cared for and nourished, all illness and injury can be overcome from within. This means much of our work is focused…

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Weaving Our Way Fourward

An answer to the question: What is Traditional Western Herbalism? It is sometimes suggested, and often presumed, that the present practice of herbalism in the West is a matter of matching single herbs to individual ailments, in contrast to the better-known systematized forms of traditional medicine—TCM, Unani, Ayurveda, and so on—which emphasize constitutional assessments, individualized…

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