Facing The Lupus Giant: My Herbal Journey To Healing
On my way to healing naturally....
When I left off I was telling you all about my journey toward my lupus diagnosis.
In this section I will tell you the beginning of my herbal journey towards healing my body using natural remedies. I will not be able to discuss everything here, as that would be closer to a novel than a blog discussion. I trust that you find the information posted here valuable, and useful.
After my collapse in the herbal store, I was rushed to the Emergency Room on the verge of cardiac arrest. While at the Herbal store, I had already had a consult with the herbalist, and had purchased several items that I would start that day. After arriving at the ER, the attending doctor asked what medicines I had taken that morning. When I answered, he questioned me extensively to make sure that my response is what I wanted to say, apparently. He then went on to tell me that the two pharmaceutical drugs that I had taken should never have been prescribed together, much less taken together, and that the combination had contributed to my collapse.
Herbal Starters - Food as Medicine
After discussing my diagnosis with the Master Herbalist, Anneke, she advised that I should start with an anti-inflammatory blend to help with the joint damage that could result from lupus. This blend contained Frankincense, turmeric and ginger in a powder capsule form. These three ingredients, on their own, have great anti-inflammatory properties. Together, they are a powerhouse. I have been using this blend now for about 3 years.
Most people recognize frankincense as one of the gifts given to the Baby Jesus by the Magi. Frankincense has great anti-inflammatory benefits, and is used for arthritis, as well as other illness that cause inflammation.
I also use it in my skin care regime, as well as in aromatherapy. I make, and drink, frankincense water also. I also make incense with frankincense as it is suggested that burning frankincense daily in the house brings good health.
Turmeric is generally used as a spice in Indian culture, but has so many other benefits ranging from skin to hair, to cancer, to arthritis and other joint pain. Turmeric and ginger are anti-inflammatory in nature and can reduce the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric contains curcumin (an antioxidant) that can go a long way in treating arthritis.
I started taking this blend immediately. She also advised that I start using bee pollen to help with the B-12 deficiency. Bee pollen is basically food for the young bee, but provides the following benefits for us as humans.
Bee pollen is a rich source of:
• carotenoids (which convert to vitamin A)
• Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin E
• Calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, silicon, sulphur and 59 other trace minerals
• 22 amino acids, which contain five to seven times the amino acids found in equal weights of beef, milk, eggs or cheese
• Enzymes including amylase, catalase, cozymase, cytochrome, dehydrogenase, diaphorase, diastase, lactic acids, pectase and phosphatase
I also take bee pollen because it was:
1. A great immune system booster, and is very effective in strengthening the immune system. This kind of goes against the grain when one has lupus. Most patients are prescribed immune-suppressant drugs but here I was boosting the immune system. I knew that the immune system needing healing since that was the problem. I did not believe that suppressing it, and opening myself up to more illness and infections was the way to go.
2. Helps the cardiovascular system. Bee Pollen possesses great amounts of Rutin; an antioxidant that helps strengthen blood vessels and capillaries, exhibiting anti-clotting properties which can help prevent heart attacks and strokes. This was critical for me, already having cardiac issues.
3. Helps the nervous system problems. Since I was already diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, bee pollen was a great started herb. It helped with so many of the problems I was already having.
4. Improves Digestion. I had to control myself because, not only is bee pollen good for you, but bee pollen tastes so good.
Back to Herbal Roots
After being discharged from the ER, I continued to take the herbal capsules and bee pollen. I also started a heavy study into herbal remedies to learn how to heal my body. I knew that pharmaceuticals was not for me. Within a day or two of taking the herbal anti-inflammatory capsules I was able to walk without pain, was getting my energy back, was able to sit and stand effortlessly. My discomfort was a fading memory.
I had been raised on herbs. I remember going out into the yard, or my parents going out into the yard and picking some weed or bush, making some concoction, and giving it to me or applying it to what hurt. However, living in a country where pharmaceuticals seems to be the norm, I had started to forget all about God's medicine cabinet. I had fallen into the habit of taking prescription medicine for what ailed me. That quickly changed, with lots of studying and research.
Hawthorn berry for my heart
Hawthorn: Traditionally used for indigestion, healthy circulation, and as a tonic for heart health, hawthorn is also top notch for emotional support- especially when blended with rose and angelica. Perfect for the emotional fallout that may occur after an emergency situation, or even just a particularly stressful day.
I started taking hawthorn berry to help with the heart issues that I had been experiencing. It helped with the high blood pressure as well as with calming the rapid heart rate that is a norm for me.
Herbal coffee with Dandelion root and Chicory root for my liver
My favorite herbal coffee blend contains chicory and dandelion roots.
To many lawn owners, the poor dandelion is considered an enemy that needs to be doused with Round-Up, burnt, ripped from the ground, but it is actually a very nutritious food. Dandelion roots have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years, and are known as an herb that helps “cool the blood.”
Chicory is related to the dandelion. The root of the plant has been used as a coffee substitute for generations, It has been cultivated along the Nile river area for thousands of years.
Chicory is high in vitamin C and also has the highest concentration of inulin of any other plant containing inulin, which acts as a prebiotic in your gut. Chicory has long been used for liver support, as it is a natural detoxifier and also promotes bile flow.
I love this herbal coffee for its detoxification benefits.
Herbal Coffee Recipe
Prep time 5 mins
Cook time 20 mins
Total time 25 mins
1 tbsp. ground dandelion root
1 tbsp. ground milk thistle
1 tbsp. ground burdock root
1 tbsp. ground chicory root
1.5 quarts of filtered water
Honey for sweetening
- If you're using whole herbs, use a coffee grinder to grind into a fine powder.
- Bring your filtered water to a boil.
- Add in your ground herbs, cover, and reduce heat to low.
- Simmer for 20 minutes and then turn off heat.
- Let coffee cool to room temperature.
- Strain off herbs.
- Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Each serving is approximately 1 cup. Tastes great hot, iced, or frozen with your choice of sweeteners, flavors, and cream.
Becoming a Certified Herbalist
I grew up in an herbal household- my grandmother grew a wide variety of herbs in her gardens, so I suppose I come by my love for all things herbal as a matter of course. Most of the herbs was used for cooking or enjoyed their beauty and ability to attract birds and butterflies, but when I was diagnosed with lupus, I went on to explore the health benefits of herbs as a way to heal my body.
Every opportunity I could find to study, I took it. I took every free class on Herbalism, until I had learnt as much as I could going the free route, and realized that I now need to dive deeper into herbal studies. It was then that I started taking various advanced courses to get my certificate as an herbalist.
Really learning herbalism requires developing a different mindset when it comes to viewing health and the human body.
My daily herbal capsules
My Hypo-thyroid blend contains herbs such as ashwaganda which help with getting my thyroid back to normal functioning, as well as helps with fatigue and weight gain.
My Neuropathy blend includes herbs such cayenne pepper, eleuthero, ginger root powder, chamomile
My Anti-inflammatory blend is made from Frankincense resin, turmeric powder and ginger powder, with a little black pepper which acts as the transporter for the turmeric. These ingredients all have great anti-inflammatory properties.
My Liver blend contains Oregon grape root, wild yam, licorice root and milk thistle, which, together, help the liver to rid the body of built up waste, and to retain proper function.
Triphala blend is an ayurvedic herbal blend that helps with digestion, but has numerous other benefits. I found that it improved my vision, after plaquenil severely damaged my vision.
If you take turmeric supplements, you want black pepper in it as it acts as the catalyst for the turmeric!
One of the items that was critical for me to change was my toothpaste. After researching, I finally designed a toothpaste which would strengthen my teeth and gums.
This toothpaste, in addition to oil pulling, which you will read about in my next installment, truly saved what teeth I have left. You can see the ingredients of my herbal toothpaste in my photo.
Elderberry syrup for cold and flu prevention, and general health
Both the elderflower and elberberries can be used, and both are expectorant. Elderberry is great for boosting the immune system. I make an Elderberry syrup for cold and flu prevention. It is a must for my medicine cabinet, especially during the cold and flu period. I do, however, make it throughout the year. I make large batches of this medicinal syrup, and it is my go-to cold & flu fighter, and for staying healthy throughout the year.
Breathe With Ease Tea for my lungs
Since I was also diagnosed with COPD and mild emphysema, I was also determined to find an herbal alternative to the breathing medicines that I was taking at the time. I developed a tea which has Hyssop and Mullein as the main ingredients.
Mullein: Most well known for it’s use as an oil for ear and skin first aid, mullein also has a host of other traditional uses that include support for proper healing from broken bones and as an ingredient in herbal cough formulas.
Hyssop: Hyssop is perfect for coughs with congested mucus. It both stimulates mucus and expectorates mucus, which enables the lungs and coughing to rid the mucus from the body.
Rose: Excellent topically for skin problems, rose is also beneficial as a tea or in extract form for emotional support. Rose petals can offer herbal support for stress related headaches, allergies, dry coughs, and sore throats; rose hips are a great source of vitamin c, and are also sometimes used instead of cranberry for urinary tract health.
Rose hips is an integral ingredient in my immunity building syrups or tinctures. It is also great for the skin. I make a rose-hip infused oil which is the foundation for the moisturizer that I use on my skin.
Herbal Epsom Salt Pain Relief Bath Blend
Just a synopsis....
Obviously I could not possibly write about every single herbs that I use in my treatment, as there are so many. However, the ones that I wrote about here are the most critical, and the "can't-do-without" herbs.
Empowered To Heal
With each passing day I see improvement. Had I not known any better, I would probably have accepted the only traditional treatment at the time- plaquenil and prednisone for life, in addition the other pharmaceuticals for breathing conditions. But I had pledged to do everything in my power to avoid pharmaceuticals and was having great success. Some of you may be concerned about the cost of maintaining a constant nutritional regiment such as I’ve described. Traditional medications may be less expensive than nutrients because of health insurance, but I am happy to pay the price of supplements in exchange for good health.
Join me for the next installment of Facing the Giant in Facing The Giant: My Aromatherapy Journey to Healing.
In this segment I will discuss the essential oils and oil blends that I use that are an integral part of my daily therapy.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to post a comment or question below. I welcome them!
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© 2015 Gina Welds Hulse