This post is a continuation of my series focusing on individual herbs. In herbalism, we call in-depth documentation of individual herbs "monographs", and we call a compendium of monographs a "materia medica". My personal materia medica is over 300 pages long by now, so I'd like to provide some of the information I've gleaned about specific herbs that I think the CF community will greatly benefit from. So far we've covered astragalus and elecampane. Today I'd like to discuss one of the most revered medicinal herbs in Chinese Medicine: reishi mushroom.
In this article, originally published in AromaCulture Magazine in July, I discuss herbal and dietary support for CF children and adults. I discuss digestion, respiratory disease, liver support, and modulation of CFTR sodium chloride channels by natural means.
Cystic fibrosis is an autosomal recessive genetic disease that leads to the malfunctioning of several organ systems but most especially impacts the lungs, sinuses, and digestion. It is the most common autosomal recessive genetic disorder (meaning that each parent must be a carrier of the genetic mutation) in people of Western European decent. There are approximately 30,000 people living with cystic fibrosis (CF) in the United States, and more than 70,000 people worldwide.
Hi friends. I recently taught a class on using herbs in acute and chronic respiratory infections. Here is the class description:
Prepare for winter by enhancing your understanding of how respiratory infections develop and how herbal, nutritional, and lifestyle interventions can make a big difference regarding prevention and recovery. In this class we will discuss how to use herbs to address a wide variety of respiratory complaints including colds and flus, acute and chronic lung infections (bacterial, fungal, and viral), bronchitis, as well as chronic sinus irritation and infection. Our focus will be on moderate to severe respiratory illnesses. Students will gain deeper knowledge of how to use natural means to combat infections in order to minimize the need for use of antibiotics, steroids, and other pharmaceuticals.
Below is the lecture, which is split in two parts. I've also added a slide show of my power point slides. Enjoy! Let me know if you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences.
Okay so it's been more than a month since I posted my last herb of the month... sorry! Summer is a super busy season here in Vermont because the growing season is so short, but I hope to post more regularly now (please bug me if I don't!).
Anyway, I wanted to talk about elecampane this month because it is a staple of herbal respiratory care in the Western (Euro-American) herbal tradition and one of the more important herbs for people with chronic respiratory diseases to know about! It is one of the first herbs I recommend to people who have lingering lung infections that won't clear. In regular doses this can be very helpful for people with functionally normal lungs to help clear bronchitis or aid in recovery from respiratory viruses. It's especially helpful when you want to make sure a cold doesn't settle in the chest and turn into a lung infection. In higher doses this may be helpful for people with CF, in combination with other herbs and therapies, who are battling lung infections. It is antimicrobial in the respiratory tract and digestive tract, and is also an expectorant, helping us to thin mucus and clear it out more easily through coughing. Here is a more detailed monograph from my Materia Medica on this helpful herb...
Hey there friends! I have been meaning to do some more in-depth monographs on some of my favorite herbs, particularly ones that are beneficial for most people with CF. I mention a few helpful herbs in the section called Herbs for CF, but there are several herbs that are so helpful that they deserve a more lengthy discussion.
Let me explain: a "monograph" is a lengthy description of a particular herb (there are also drug monographs, but I will not concern myself with those) that usually includes Latin name and botanical family, common name(s), parts used, how to identify them and grow them, where/how to source or buy them, their energetic profile (according to organoleptic analysis and traditional healing practices), physiological actions, clinical uses, key constituents, relevant scientific literature, safety concerns, preparation methods, and dose. A "Materia Medica" is a compendium of medicinal herbal monographs. There are many materia medicas from different herbal and traditional medical modalities, such as Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Eclectic Medicine, Tibetan Medicine, Modern Western Herbalism, and so on. I will not post my entire collected materia medica (mine is over 300 pages long so far and growing), but I will post a few herbs that I think everyone with CF (and many other people, too) will benefit from knowing.
I've been experimenting with taking cinnamon to control my blood sugar for years. And yet, I never really did enough controlled experimentation to get to the bottom of how it could help me, especially with my reactive hypoglycemia in the morning, until now.
I have discovered that if I eat more than 25 grams of carbs for breakfast, I will have a reactive hypoglycemic reaction about 1-2 hrs afterward. I contemplate why this might be happening in a previous blog post. But regardless of why it was happening, I was not able to prevent a reactive hypoglycemic reaction unless I ate less than 25 g of carbs for my first meal of the day. Carb restriction is a reasonable approach, but sometimes carbs (like an apple with nut butter or a fruit-nut bar) are the most convenient thing to eat quickly before I start my morning treatments. So recently I've been experimenting with eating about 30 g of carbs for breakfast and taking different combinations of cinnamon and insulin to see what happens.
I have some wonderful things to report after several weeks of self-experimentation. I've been inhaling essential oils since late February, and after seven weeks I feel like I have enough of consistent results to report my findings (I am a scientist, after all).
First of all, before I started inhaling essential oils I had just gotten off of oral antibiotics (minocycline and bactrim) and was planning on going into the hospital for some IV vancomycin to treat my MRSA infection. Fate brought me a snow storm that prevented me from getting to the hospital, and instead I decided to test out the eucalyptus essential oil I had bought the day before. I am so glad things worked out the way they did, or I would never had made these radical discoveries!
Why Use Essential Oils?
It's been on my mind for many months now that I should begin inhaling essential oils. In herbalism school we talk a lot about plant constituents, and that those herbs that are the most antimicrobial (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, etc.) contain a high amount of volatile oils.
Mica is a clinical herbalist specializing in cystic fibrosis, severe respiratory diseases, nutrition and digestion, diabetes and blood sugar disregulation, immune disregulation, and much more. Through their own personal experiences with chronic illness, they are passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health with natural, holistic, and integrative approaches. Please ask questions or share what's worked for you!
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