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The Power of Herbal Remedies

Updated on March 1, 2010

Aloe Vera Flower

Aloe Vera is great for burns.
Aloe Vera is great for burns.

Herbs for Health

I was first introduced to the power of herbal remedies when I was 19 years old and worked for a small business called Mahayana – A Natural Health Food Store and Herb Shop in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles. It was way back in 1970 when I was turning on, tuning in and dropping out, as Timothy Leary used to say. My generation was taking a deeper look at the prosperity and indulgences of the fifties, the rise of packaged foods, TV dinners, fast food restaurants and the beginnings of Monsanto’s assault on our food supply. We were questioning the onslaught of prescription drugs entering the markets and the overuse and blind trust given these remedies by the general public. There was a shift occurring in the American Mind, one from brave, industrious pioneer to the brainwashed mass consumer. Yes, times they were/are a changing.

Long Road

It is a long road
It is a long road

The Road to India

While working at this wonderful store I met my future husband, an Italian painter who was traveling with a Belgian friend, also an artist, as they were painting colorful murals on the main wall of the Natural Food Restaurant on the other side of the shop. He spoke decent English, enough to totally allure me into his world, and several months later I found myself on the road to Italy, and eventually on the overland trail to India via Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and finally the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. This is another story to be told, but how does it fit in with herbal remedies? We’re getting to that.

Indigo Powder Qing Dai used to treat leukemia

Active Ingredient indirubin
Active Ingredient indirubin

An Amazing Cure

During our many exciting travels, we had lots of time to talk and discover different levels of existence. I learned my husband’s father almost died of leukemia some twenty years previous to our meeting, but had recovered due to the intervention of a French psychic who also practiced alternative medicine techniques. She had put him on a regimen of herbal teas, natural foods and specific breathing and visualization exercises to eradicate the destructive cells. The medical doctors had given up on him, the French woman was his only chance, and his best, as his father lived another thirty years after his miraculous cure and died of heart failure. Lorenzo was very erudite and had many stories of alternative healing and cures. He was in another dimension than most, and his talent and spirit struck all who met him.

The Ganges in Varanasi

Ahilya Ghat
Ahilya Ghat

The Diagnosis

We travelled to numerous exotic places, all with barely 50$ in our pockets and only a backpack full of personal belongings, constantly relying on the kindness of strangers and our own ability to attract the next meal, the next bus ride, the next destination.  While we were staying in Benares, a very holy city also known as Varanasi, in the northeast section of India right on the Holy Ganges River, a curious thing happened to Lorenzo. He came down with a very high fever and was tossing and turning in his bed, unable to get up or eat or do anything but lie there suffering. After a day or two of this with no relief, I went to the owner of the building that we were renting from and asked if perhaps he had an aspirin or something to reduce my husband’s high fever. Much to my surprise, the good man said he was a homeopathic doctor and would take a look at my Lorenzo. It didn’t take long for him to announce that my husband was suffering from malaria and that he would go and put some herbal remedies together for him to take immediately.

It's a Miracle!

Malaria! That was a foreign, evil disease that killed quickly, wasn’t it? I was so scared, but it made sense. There are lots of mosquitoes in India, and the bite of a female anopholes mosquito will transfer the disease. Our good doctor came back up to our room within half an hour with some capsules full of fine herbal powders and gave us directions for their consumption. I don’t know exactly what was in those capsules, only that they brought down the fever and the delirium within a day, and after four days Lorenzo was feeling much better. I imagine there was some form of quinine, a natural white crystalline alkaloid derived from the cinchona tree first used by the Quechua Indians in Peru and Bolivia. It was one of the first effective treatments for malaria in the 1600s through the 1940s when other pharmaceuticals were developed. It’s still used to treat lupus, leg cramps and arthritis.

This was my first eyewitness exposure to the power of these natural plant powders, and combined with the plain white rice bought from the local chapatti shop and plenty of herbal tea, Lorenzo came back from the brink to live again. It was amazing. Within days after that the whites of his eyes turned yellow and the good doctor diagnosed hepatitis B, came back with other herbal packets and instructions to eat lots of fresh radishes, plain white rice and no butter or milk products. I was also able to buy pure sugar cane juice from roadside vendors that expedited his recovery from the dreaded hepatitis B that so many westerners returned home to recover from, taking months in some cases. We stayed over a month in Varanasi, and in that month my husband recovered from two deathly diseases because we had the extreme fortune to be staying in a room rented from a benevolent homeopathic/herbal doctor. We didn’t pay for his services. He wouldn’t take extra money. I helped clean and do chores in exchange. Those were the days, my friend!

Other Herbs to Reduce Fever

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