My husband, Dave, uses herbs the way most people use radiator coolant. Herbs are always around but he only seeks them out when his engine goes dry. Since he lives with an herbalist, he has an admirable knowledge base of botanical medicine. He eats garlic when he gets a cold. He uses Tiger Balm on his aching muscles. He takes Oregon Grape tincture when he gets an infection.
Dave is patient with the bouquets of stinging nettle hanging upside down in the hall. He doesn’t complain when the house fills with the potent odor of homemade cough syrup. He watches silently as the dining room table is abducted to sort elderberries. He is the very model of a modern herbalist spouse.
He is not, however, a convert. As far as he is concerned, herbs are a lot more trouble than they are worth. He has seen me return from wild crafting, covered in mud, burs and scratches. In his secret opinion, herbalists probably only use the herbs that they have collected because they have injured themselves so brutally trying to collect them. He might be right but his viewpoint is doomed.
Dave suffers from migraines. He has, like every other desperate migraine sufferer, tried everything to stop them. He has gulped pharmaceuticals, controlled his diet, and checked himself for allergies. Nothing has worked. Last week, after an afternoon of migraine wrestling, he decided to try herbs.
Debilitating illnesses like migraines are how we herbalists get our converts. A young woman contacted me a few years ago about the migraines that confined her to bed writhing in agony several days a month. How do you keep a job with this kind of life? How do you find the courage to wake up and face another day?
She, like Dave, had also tried everything and was now ready to experiment with herbs. I gave her the standard herbal advise: watch your diet, drink lots of water, exercise, reduce her stress and eat one feverfew leaf every day.
A few months later, I got a phone call from her. She was an herbalist reborn. Feverfew had picked up her life, dusted it off and handed it back to her. Now she new alternative medicine Messiah. Who knew that the solution to her suffering was growing in a planter by her front door?
Like Dave, she was familiar with alternative medicine and natural living before trying feverfew. The relief from the this sunny, little plant pushed her into the deep end of the herbal pool. Hold your breath, Dave. Get ready to take the plunge.