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  • Writer's pictureMARY LIGHT ND MH LMT

Herbal Therapeutics & The 8 Pillars of Naturopathy

Ten years ago I created a model to help everyone understand what methods, tools and approaches traditional naturopaths draw from to create a healing protocol, a program, a treatment.

This model is called the EIGHT Pillars of Naturopathy, and herbal medicine is one of the pillars. The understanding is that all 8 of the pillars inter-relate, like a living mandala of energy influencing our life , our wellness, our potential to heal. If I am missing one "pillar" , or it is weak in my life, I may have a harder , longer time in my quest for well being.

Herbal Medicine is supported by all 8 pillars, and certainly the clinical herbalist's use of food medicine (diet pillar), hydrotherapy/thermotherapy, bodywork, education & counsel, sleep & rest dynamics, energy medicine, & movement can add synergy to whether herbal formulations and protocols work well. In addition to this, as I teach traditional naturopathic herbalism, the "PEMS" levels of our reality-Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual (or Subtle energy if you prefer) - are always considered as to what may be needed or may need to be addressed, when choosing herbal applications for any desired outcome.

Here is one little, perhaps amusing example- years ago I had an apothecary visitor ask for some St. Johns Wort, and I asked her why she wanted it. She said she wanted to put it in her husband's coffee thermos he took to work with him at night. This idea clearly illustrates the wrongful use of both food medicine , but also "sleep & rest dynamics". I had to explain to her better ways to put the PIllars to work, to address the issue of achieving a positive outcome in the use of St. John's Wort herb, and of course one of them was to see him personally, and not through an intermediary.

As a Naturopathic clinical herbalist , I can, and teach our students to, use hydrotherapy and thermotherapy principles to strengthen and improve the body's response and absorption of herbs. These principles are from the natural sciences and laws of physics.

We can also make sure the digestive system is working well enough to absorb nutrients from herbal formulations so that their intended effect is successful. Tapping into the pillars of Bodywork , Movement, and again, Diet, will support that goal. So you see, the Traditional Naturopathic Herbalist, as we bring it to our practices and classes, is a strong force of synergy in the realm of herbal practice.

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