Monday, July 19, 2010

Your First Homeopathic Visit

We have all been to doctor’s offices with certain expectations in mind. A dentist will look in your mouth, the doctor will check your vitals, the massage therapist will massage, the acupuncturist will poke you with fancy needles. Homeopathy, though the second most used system of medicine in the world and despite having been around for over 200 years, is relatively unknown in North America, and many people are unsure of exactly what will be done during the appointment.

What should a new patient expect from their first homeopathic visit?

First and foremost, remember that homeopathy is a system of medicine designed to treat the individual as an entire entity. A homeopath does not prescribe based on only one or two symptoms, but rather use these as a guide to treatment in combination with your own personal constitution (just “how/who you are” in the world), alongside your personal expression of your major symptoms.

1. Expect the appointment to be about 1-2 hours in length. Homeopaths want as much pertinent information about you as possible. This appointment is all about YOU! Homeopaths need to know your personal history, medical history, and a full picture of your symptoms.

2. Details details details. I want to know about YOUR pains, YOUR aches, YOUR feelings, YOUR expressions. It is not enough to say, “I have a stiff neck.” Expect questions such as: “What time do you notice your neck is stiffest? What can you do that makes it worse/better? Is it more stiff on one side than another? Describe what “stiff” means for you.” The greater detail the homeopath can be, the better the prescription will work for you.

3. Honesty is always the best policy. We all have things we don’t like to admit, even to ourselves. Classical homeopaths are trained in non-judgement, as much as is possible in any human being. If there are things you are uncomfortable expressing, simply stating this discomfort will help your homeopath decide on the best course of action and best prescription for the stage you are in. Homeopaths recognize that the practitioner/patient relationship is built on trust, and that trust has to start from somewhere.

4. Expect to be listened to. A good homeopath is able not only to hear what you are saying, but truly listen and allow you the space to express what needs to be expressed.

5. Do not expect immediate prescription. Some cases can be very clear, while others may require a bit of analysis and further thought. Try not to be discouraged if your homeopath asks for a day or two to consider what is best; s/he wants what is going to work best for you, and such decisions are not always immediately apparent. I like to give my new patients a bit of homework after their first appointment, regardless the speediness of prescription. This may involve something as simple as adding a 15minute walk to one’s routine a few times/week, to keeping a food journal, to keeping a regular journal, to brushing one’s teeth with their non-dominant hand. It varies depending upon the person and the case. However, no one ever leaves Riverflow empty handed.

6. Expect that some physical examination may be involved, depending upon your case, complaints, and personal history. A good classical homeopath is trained in the art of physical examination, possesses the necessary equipment, and has extensive training in human anatomy, physiology, and pathology.

7. Follow-up appointment scheduling will vary depending upon the person and the case. Intervals of 3-5 weeks are the average for Riverflow.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Riverflow Presents:

A huge bag of awesome!!

(Note: All information contained within is not meant to replace the advice of your personal qualified health care practitioner.)

I love growing things. I used to kill every green thing my black little thumbs touched: cactus, venus fly trap, bulb flowers, "unkillable" ferns; you name it, I've slaughtered it. A friend of mine once showed me a book called "Plants even YOU can't kill." After a short browse, I noted that I had destroyed at least 40% of the books offerings and placed it back on the shelf. Last year, I decided enough was enough. I bought good, beautiful, organic, and practical plants (generally all of these attributes in one) and set out to keep them alive.
Thus far, my success rate is about 60%. The spider plant is the biggest I've seen in a long time, the 2 basil plants suvived the winter and are going on one year old, the mint had a rough go for a while, but there are some buds poking through the once decimated soil, and the pretty yellow flowers are still alive and kicking. In the battle I've lost rosemary, thyme, and a butterfly plant. I mourned them properly.
The other day I decided it was time to strike out again. I headed out to China Town Redux (Broadview/Gerrard: my name is not the official title of the neighbourhood) to find some good, healthy and cheap potted herbs.
And what a find I had.
All the herbs I bought possess culinary, medicinal, and magical properties. Below is a short, keynoted list for each herb on my own balcony. I will do this one herb at a time, as I think they're all so glorious and deserving of individual posts.

I highly recommend balcony/backyard/rooftop gardening to anyone living an urban (herban!) lifestyle. They're beautiful, function, good smelling, magical and health giving. What more could a person possibly ask?

Culinary: marjoram is part of the collective "herbs de Provence" and is generally sweet and wonderful. Be sure to collect "sweet marjoram" else you'll have a flavourless mountainside herb with no value but its admittedly loveley greenery. There is also a variety called "wild marjoram" which is generally known as oregano. Sweet marjoram can be used dried or fresh, in cooking or raw in salads and as a garnish for just about anything. When looking into recipes using marjoram as the major herb, it seems to be paired with main ingredients possessing very strong flavours; lamb, brussels sprouts, chicken, beef, even onion. Marjoram is often nicknamed a 'meaty herb.' It is not generally used for baking.

What I've always found interesting is that one can use a significantly smaller amount of dried herb than that of fresh; about 1/3 the amount of dried to fresh is the average ratio. I assume this is because of the presence of volatile oil in relation to the amount of actual leaf matter, but I could be making this up. This is true for pretty much all herbs in the dried/fresh dichotomy.

Medicinal: Marjoram has many medicinal affinities with oregano, which is becoming more and more popular in natural medicine. Marjoram (and oregano as well) is a natural disinfectant, antifungal, antibacterial agent. It can aid digestion and ease stomach cramps and flatulence. It can be used to calm anxiety, releive menstrual cramps, and even help to calm fussy children. It is generally given as an herbal infusion (like tea); the leaves and flowers are used. Dr. John Christopher used marjoram as part of a tonic for diaphoresis (excessive sweating). It may also be used as a steam inhaled to clear the sinuses and relieve laryngitis. Professional singers often drink marjoram tea sweetened with honey to preserve their voices.
Marjoram is not to be used medicinally during pregnancy as the effects have not been sufficiently studied.

Magical: Ancient Egyptians used marjoram in the embalming process, and also burned along with other herbs to please the gods. This is likely because it is an extremely wonderfully aromatic herb, pleasing to more than just the gods. It is said that if marjoram is found growing on a gravesite, the person contained will enjoy a pleasant afterlife. Legend says that if one annoints one's self with marjoram before bed s/he will dream of one's future partner. Marjoram is universally thought to promote happiness and well-being.