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Archive for April, 2010

I began giving the girls their cough medicine. The house was cough free for about a week.

Then the weather changed again and the next thing I knew, I had a fever and was coughing. I got rid of my cough in three days by resting all weekend and drinking a cup of mullein infusion with a dropperful of echinacea tincture every two hours. I was thrilled.

But then Serene started coughing again. And then, so did Joy-Shanti. Buoyed by my own healing, I decided to take matters back into my own hands. I wanted my girls to experience something beyond the quick fixes that medicines sometimes bring. I was confident I had something in my kitchen to bring their little bodies back in balance.

The first thing I did was something Robin, my herbal teacher, had suggested earlier. She noted that I might be less overwhelmed caring for the girls if I wrote down everything I did to treat them.

I also realized that I needed to be more centered to be effective. Fear had driven some of my actions the first time around. Fear and feeling like I had to have all the answers. So I took a deep breath and decided on this treatment:

  • A ginger foot bath followed by garlic and goldenseal sock treatment
  • 1 teaspoon Chestall (homeopathic cough syrup) every two hours with 2-4 drops elecampane tincture
  • 15-17 drops hyssop tincture
  • mullein and echinacea tea every two hours
  • frequent vitamin c powder drinks

This treatment worked very well for Serene. In four days her cough vanished and she was back to her old tricks.

But not Joy-Shanti. Her cough got worse. She began having fevers every other day. Just when I thought she was on the road to recovery she’d cough more, get a fever and refuse to eat or drink much of anything. I made a syrup and I consulted Robin.

Robin suggested plantain, elder berry, elder flower and catnip. She also asked if I was giving Joy-Shanti a high enough dose of echinacea.  I went back to the drawing board.  As I did I gave thanks for the  biggest realization of this experience:  I have a community of people I can call on when I don’t know what to do. I don’t have to come up with all the answers alone. Knowing that centered me more deeply.

  • 1 dropperful of plantain tincture
  • 1 dropperful of elderflower tincture
  • 1 dropperful of Herb Pharm immune defense tincture
  • 1 dropperful hyssop tincture
  • 3/4 tablespoon elderberry glycerite (Joy-Shanti delights in elderberry)
  • 3-4 drops elecampane tincture in three tablespoons of rose hip, violet,echinacea, mullein, dandelion leaf syrup.

I gave Joy-Shanti these plant medicines three times a day and saw immediate improvement. No more fevers. Within seven days  there was no trace of the cough either.

I learned so much from this experience.

  1. You can be using the right herbs in the wrong dosages
  2. Writing things down takes lots of pressure off of a caregiver,
  3. Having one highly skilled herbalist to talk to about what you are doing can mean the difference between a trip to the emergency room or one to the kitchen cabinet
  4. There are times when it is absolutely appropriate to consult a doctor and  YOU will know when/if that time arises.

I saw a doctor during Joy-Shanti’s healing process when I learned her symptoms–particularly the off and on fevers– could be a sign of pneumonia. It turned out her lungs were all clear so I continued my herbal course of treatment. Keep in mind that in order to give effective herbal treatments, we need to know as much as possible about what is going on.

The other thing I gained an appreciation for is just how much we are taking on when we decide to be the primary healers in our families. There were many times during this experience when I was tired, frustrated, confused, searching.  I understood the urge to turn to someone else and say “fix this, please.” This situation reminded me that the path to healing can be a winding one. Compassion for ourselves and the people we are trying to assist is key.

And this is the thing I love learning and leraning and learning again: herbs work! There are so many gifts in the plant world. Nature is writing us prescriptions every day. I am so glad I am learning to hear.

What lessons have you learned from a particularly difficult healing situation? Please share.


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I want to share the winding story of a healing in progress with you.

The last month and half has presented me with the most challenging experience I’ve faced in terms of working with herbs to heal my children. It all started with a cough. There is something going around in New York. My friends and neighbors have been making beelines to doctors and emergency rooms with their children because of respiratory ailments. It seems like every time I get on the subway folks are coughing like nobody’s business. But I have always been able to handle my children’s coughs and colds. I use mullein or do a ginger foot bath, I use homeopathic cough syrup or elderberry syrup, I pull out the echinacea and presto: the cough is gone.

But not this time. This is a stubborn something that has bounced from my four year old to my almost three year old. I got rid of it all (using the methods I mentioned above) only to have it reappear when the weather decided it didn’t want to be warm anymore. Then it got ugly. Both of my girls got sick, coughing through the night, feverish, hacking, crying. I tried everything I knew but nothing worked. The girls’ coughing continued. Mucus echoed in little Joy-Shanti coughs and Serene’s dry coughing pierced the silence of the house at night.

After two weeks of no positive changes I broke down and took the girls to the doctor. He prescribed cough syrup for Joy-Shanti and said that Serene would be fine. I did not fill the prescription that day. Joy-Shanti had never taken medicine and I was none too eager to give it to her. And that night, an odd thing happened: Serene woke up screaming, hot and hallucinating. We put a cold cloth on her head and called 911. That night she was prescribed the same cough syrup her sister was. It was bizarre. The next morning I filled the prescriptions and gave the girls their cough syrup. I was unwilling to see my girls suffer because of my ideals. I was very tired and honestly felt that I was all out of ideas at that point.

What do you do when you’ve seemingly exhausted your herbal options?

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