The HomeGrown Herbalist Blog
Water Water Everywhere! August 29 2017
"Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink" is a line from the epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In the poem, the mariner is stranded in a becalmed sea. He is surrounded by water on all sides but is dying of thirst because the salt water is undrinkable. He might as well have been in a desert!
In our modern society, we have easier access to water than any people in the history of the world. A simple turn of a knob brings clear, cool water to drink any time we want it. But what are we really drinking?
Municipal water sources vary widely in the levels of contamination they contain. Fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals, arsenic, bacteria, pharmaceuticals and chemicals used to remove or neutralize contaminants can often be present in the water we drink. We are told the levels of such contaminants are "considered safe". Until recently, most plastic water bottles contained BPA, a chemical that can play havoc with the endocrine system and is a carcionogen. Yeah...they told us that was safe too.
All of this water contamination information seemed academic to me until recently. I have a client that has suffered with terrible abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting almost daily. I have used various herbal approaches with this wonderful lady and have had some success decreasing the symptoms but I haven't been able to completely eliminate the attacks.
A few months ago, she and her husband were puttering around Costco buying groceries and were waylaid by one of those pesky home water cooler salesmen...You know, the guys that tell you your water is bad and that you ought to drink theirs instead because it's from a natural spring up in the mountains somewhere. Well This lady decided to get on the program.
The day after the new water arrived, her symptoms stopped completely.
She had no episodes whatsoever for months. After a while, in a forgetful moment, she had a glass of tap water at a church function. The next day her pain and nausea were back. She's back "on the wagon" now and has been symptom free ever since.
There are, in our modern world, some individuals that serve as "canaries in the mine". Their bodies are more sensitive to toxins and insult and they serve as a reminder to the rest of us that there are things in this world that can cause us harm. Lack of symptoms does not equate to lack of harm and we would all do well to pay attention to things that cause our modern canaries to suffer.
When working with clients these days, water is one of the first things we talk about...and we talk about it a lot. It's astounding to me that I have, for so long, failed to emphasize the importance of water quality as one of the most important cornerstones to good health.
So, drink a lot of water..but make sure the water you're drinking is wonderful. It could make all the difference.
Dr. Patrick Jones is a traditional naturopath, clinical herbalist and practicing veterinarian. He is founder of The HomeGrown Herbalist School of Botanical Medicine and author of The HomeGrown Herbalist. Dr. Jones is available for personal consultations in person or by telephone.
A Chilling Plant Walk! July 27 2017
Don't Just Do Something...Stand There! July 24 2017
It was 1991 and I was a senior veterinary student at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine's Large Animal Hospital. I was standing in a stall "attending" the birth of a foal from a thoroughbred mare. She had been working on things for a bit and was making good progress. Suddenly she gave a last, gentle push and out came the foal. I quickly grabbed some scissors, umbilical tape and iodine to cut and dip the the cord. I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder. It was my old mentor Dr. Boehm who'd been in practice for longer than I'd been alive.
"Don't just do something" he said softly, "Stand there".
He then pointed to the mare. The umbilical cord was still attached to both mother and foal and I could see it pulsing rhythmically. It did so for what seemed a long time and then, gradually, the pulsing stopped. "OK" said the old vet "Go ahead". I tied off the cord, cut it and dipped the navel in iodine. During the time that I was "standing there" a significant amount of placental blood and nutrients was transferred from mare to foal...blood and nutrients that would give him a stronger start on his first day of life. I've often reflected on this experience and it has had a significant impact on my practice as a veterinarian and as a naturopath and herbalist.
Modern medicine is about intervention and control. The philosophy is to control outcomes by leaving nothing to chance. According to the Center for Disease Control (note the irony of the name) the rate of caesarean section births in the United States was 32% in 2016. That's one out of three births. Why so many? Because a caesarian section represents ultimate control over the highest number of variables.
While the "intervention and control" model has its place, I would submit that there is another model, perhaps a better one, that we ought to focus on as natural healers. That model is trusting the body. This model is well-represented by home-birth midwives. A 2005 study of 2000 women that gave birth at home with a certified professional midwife (CPM) showed that 3.7% of those mothers required transport to a hospital for Caesarean section.
So what's the difference? When a woman under the care of a midwife fatigues during labor and contractions slow or stop, the midwife trusts the body and has the woman take a nap. When rested and refreshed, the mother continues her labor and the baby is born. Contrast this with the "intervention and control" protocol of giving IV oxytocin injections to the exhausted mother that is too tired to continue and whose body is saying so by slowing or stopping contractions. The oxytocin causes powerful uterine contractions that frequently stress the baby. When the baby is stressed, it's time for a C-section. Simple as that.
My wife is a midwife and has colleagues that run a birth center in The Philippines. Recently, super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda roared through their community destroying property with high winds, flooding and landslides. In spite of the storm and disastrous conditions, women continued giving birth. The midwifes, who had little in the way of supplies, resources or facilities, set up tents. Within the tents they created a calm, peaceful, safe space for the women. Hundreds of babies were born in these conditions with very few complications. The midwives were amazed to see that simply allowing women to labor and deliver in a calm, peaceful environment provided most of what they needed to give birth safely. These midwives in this circumstance had no choice but to trust the body and allow nature to do what it has done for millennia. And the bodies they were trusting showed them very clearly how things ought to be.
As healers, we would do well to have more respect for the amazing capacity of the body to manage itself. We can support with nutrients and herbs and other modalities but our success will be greatest when we do these things with respect for what the body is trying to do.
A good example of this is the phenomenon of a fever. Fever is the body's way of debilitating bacteria and viruses so that the body's immune system can kill them. The intervention and control model uses pharmaceuticals to chemically eliminate the body's ability to continue in its feverish state. This is contrary to what the body is trying to accomplish. In other words, we're helping the bugs! Herbalists have similar tools in the form of willow bark and meadowsweet. These plants contain salicylic acid (the active ingredient in aspirin) and work in much the same way as pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories. However, here are other herbs called diaphoretics which also help to eliminate fever but do so in a way that trusts the body. A classic example is yarrow. Yarrow works by briefly intensifying the fever. Once the fever has done its work, it decreases naturally. So, yarrow doesn't suppress your fever. It actually helps you have a better, more effective fever which, because of its increased intensity and efficiency, doesn't need to last nearly as long.
If we go back to the horses we can ask "Why do we cut the umbilical cord and dip it in iodine?" The answer is that the foal is being born in a stall and the stall is full of bacteria that could cause an infection because horses poop in it. And why is the horse giving birth in a stall?
Because we want to control everything.
Horses have been foaling for thousands of years without any help whatsoever from humans. Navel infections in foals born outside in grassy fields whose cords were never professionally cut and whose bellies never got sprayed with iodine are almost unheard of. The path of intervention and control always leads to more intervention and control.
As I said before, the intervention and control model has its place. But, the very nature of that model tends to create more and more need for intervention and control until, in some cases, the model itself is causing as many problems as it's solving.
Modern medicine and natural practitioners alike would do well to trust the body more and follow old Doc Boehm's advice.
Don't just do something...Stand there.
Squirrel!...The Secret to Rapid Wound Healing February 10 2017
By Patrick Jones, DVM
Before we start, I want to advise you that there are some graphic wound images in this article that may be disturbing to sensitive souls. If you are a sensitive soul, please cover your eyes while reading this. :0)
Over the years I've worked on hundreds of wound cases in the veterinary clinic and in conjunction with my personal consultation service. These cases have historically been treated with a poultice formula containing the following herbs:
Comfrey Root: A remarkable vulnerary (cell proliferant) that accelerates healing
Calendula: An effective antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary
Plantain: A soothing, detoxifier that also has mild antibiotic and vulnerary properties.
Flax Seed: Mechanically draws fluid and gunk from wounds and contains soothing mucilage.
Marshmallow Root: Contains high levels of soothing mucilage and inhibits tissue death and gangrene.
Lobelia: An antispasmodic that relaxes tissues and improves micro-vascular circulation to and from the wound.
Yarrow: Another good antibiotic and anti-inflammatory that also stops bleeding
Cayenne: Stimulates circulation and numbs the nerves (after a little initial zingyness!)
I give another formula internally to work the wound from the inside.
Poulticing works well with humans because humans tend to be well behaved and rarely chew off their bandages. Dogs are another story. Even with an Elizabethan collar (a.k.a. cone of shame) and significant bandaging, some dogs will manage to get the thing off! Nevertheless, I soldiered on with the poultice method and had good results.
Then one day I had a little yorkie come into the practice. He'd been burned and lost most of the skin on his lower back. I tried to poultice the wound but it was hopeless. There's nothing quite so wiggly as a happy yorkie butt! It was impossible to get a poultice on him, let alone have it stay for more than a few minutes. Finally, in exasperation, I made a tea of the poultice formula, put it into a spray bottle and told the owner to spray the little stinker a couple of times a day. The wound healed beautifully.
I tucked that case away in the back of my brain but continued poulticing other cases. Then we had the case of Juno. Her wound was also on her back and impossible to poultice because of its size and location. I had the owners make the tea and spray it on and she, as expected, healed beautifully as well.
Juno Before and After
A couple of weeks ago I met Morgan. Morgan is a little shi-tsu that broke her leg. Another veterinarian had put a cast on the leg (I don't like casts). The cast was too tight and created a nasty pressure sore (Did I mention I don't like casts?).
Morgan Pressure Sore: Day 1
I removed the cast and did surgery to plate the fractured bone but we were still left with the sore. Because her leg was so tender from the surgery, I decided that changing a poultice multiple times a day wouldn't be much fun for her and that she might be a good candidate for the spray-on-the-tea protocol. I gave the herbs to the owners and told them how to make the tea, strain it and put it into a spray bottle.
At her two week checkup, Morgan's wound was markedly improved. Even I, who have seen hundreds of these cases heal up was surprised at the rate of healing.
Morgan Pressure Sore: Day 14
I asked the owners what they were doing.
"We're just spraying it with that tea you gave us." they said.
When I gave them the herbs, I told them to spray her every time she went outside figuring that would be three or four times a day. I asked them when they were spraying her and they confirmed that they were doing it when she went outside. I scratched my head...then the light bulb came on and I asked the magic question;
"How many times a day does she go out?"
"We don't know," They said, "probably nine or ten times a day."
Further questioning revealed that there is a squirrel on their property that is having a border dispute with little Morgan. This delicate political situation requires constant monitoring and regular patrols on Morgan's part...Hence the high frequency of outside excursions and increased number of wound spray applications. The increased frequency of spray application markedly increased the rate of healing.
So, apparently, more wound spray is...well...better! Go figure.
As a result of this latest case, I don't see myself poulticing many wounds in the future unless there is a lot of pus or wound gunk (yes...that's a medical term) that would benefit from the powerful drawing benefits of a poultice. From here on out, it's going to be the internal BTC formula and the wound spray tea made from the poultice formula.
...And one other thing, I'm going to have to figure out some way to trap squirrels and release them into my clients' yards!
Dr. Patrick Jones is a practicing veterinarian, clinical herbalist and traditional naturopath, author of The HomeGrown Herbalist, and founder of the HomeGrown Herbalist School of Botanical medicine.. If you'd like to learn more about wound management and other herbal topics, we'd love to have you join us at one of our workshops or plant walks.
By Dr. Patrick Jones
Juno is a little American Eskimo. Her favorite part of the day is when "Dad" comes home. In her enthusiasm to greet him one day, she didn't wait for the car to stop in the driveway and got trapped beneath a wheel.
Juno was rushed to the vet and x-rays showed her pelvis to be fractured in four places. The determination was made to allow the fractures to heal on their own and she was taken home to convalesce.
Ten days later, while bathing Juno, her owner discovered that the skin beneath her fur had turned black and the hair and skin were coming off in handfuls. Juno was rushed back to the veterinarian. The vet determined that the blood vessels had been damaged in the accident and that a large portion of the skin on her lower back had been destroyed. The prognosis was for multiple skin grafting surgeries that would cost hundreds and potentially thousands of dollars.
It was at this point that the owner remembered having sat through one of my lectures on herbal healing where I discussed another wound case. He gave me a call and we got to work.
Juno was started on four of our HomeGrown Herbalist Formulas.
Immunity: Internally to stimulate immune function.
INFXN - BugBuster: Internally to prevent infection of the wound.
Bone, Tissue & Cartilage: Internally to accelerate healing.
Poultice: Topically to control infection and markedly accelerate healing.
Because of the location and size of the wound, applying poultices was problematic. In the past several years, I've had several cases where poulticing wasn't realistic. Ever tried to keep a poultice on a happy yorkie's butt?...Not happening! In those cases, instead of applying a poultice, I made the Poultice Formula into a strong tea and put the strained tea into a spray bottle and had the owners spray the wound several times daily.
We used the same approach with Juno. The following are photos of her progress to date. Her healing is a testament to the power of herbs and the wonderful nursing care of her faithful owners.
October 6th & 8th
Oct. 10 & 17th
Oct 21st & 22nd
Oct. 25th & 27th
Oct 29th & Nov 5th
Nov. 14th & 17th
Nov 23rd & Dec. 5th
Jan 15th All better but the comb over. :0)
As you can see, the wound has, within the space of a couple of months, healed completely. Juno is also walking on her healing pelvis. This sort of wound healing is very typical of the healing power of the body when helped along a bit with God's wonderful weeds!
Dr. Patrick Jones
Grow Yer Own. The Other Stuff's Garbage! March 31 2014
By Patrick P. Jones, DVM
Hopefully preaching to the choir here but...
A recent study showed that many of the herbal supplement products on store shelves contain little or none of the herb on the label.
Researchers chose several popular herbs (Echinacea, St. John's Wort,Gingko bilboa...) and purchased randomly selected products at healthfood stores and other natural supplement outlets. They then did DNA analysis of the contents of the products.
Of the 44 products tested, 1/3 contained none of the herb on the label.
Many of the remaining 2/3 contained so much useless filler as to render the small amount of herb actually found medicinally irrelevant due to dilution. Fillers included, soybean, wheat, rice, powdered weeds and even walnuts (which could be lethal to a person with nut allergies!). Remember, these were not herb blends or formulas. These were all products labeled as single herbs.
My Book and all of my other writing, lecturing and teaching is founded on the idea that we need to become what I call "HomeGrown" herbalists. In other words, we need to be growing or gathering our own medicines so we know what the heck we're dealing with. The quality of the stuff you grow or gather will be vastly better than the bulk herbs you buy even from the most reputable companies. Their aromas and colors are so much more intense that it makes me wonder what the heck the companies are doing to their stuff.
Sadly, the days of us trusting corporate America to protect its consumers are gone. There is no regulation on the herbal supplement industry in the United States. None. Consumers are completely at the mercy of the companies producing the products. As bad as our situation in the US is, depending on foreign companies to produce and distribute safe products is even a worse idea. Can we really believe the poor guy in china that's getting paid a dollar a week to wildcraft herbs really cares what he stuffs into his bag? Can we really believe the company he works for has a strong commitment to the welfare of their American customers? Not so much.
There are some companies that I feel I can trust in a pinch but, by and large, I prefer to grow or gather my own medicinal plants. I have about 1/2 acre of property dedicated to herb production and am growing about 90 different species. All of my landscaping is medicinal, edible or both. Within 5 miles of my home, I can easily find and harvest that many more species. It's amazing what can be done when we get motivated.
So, my advice is to leave those fancy bottles of "herbs" on the store shelves and grow yer own...like a good HomeGrown Herbalist.
Crime Spree Strikes Pockets of Would-Be Herbalists.
Many Cannot afford Herb School!
According to reports from across the country, Kris Kringle (a.k.a. Santa Claus) spent much of the months of November and December taking the disposable income of millions of Americans. Among the victims were many would-be herbalists anxious to enroll in the HomeGrown Herbalist School of Herbal Medicine.
In light of these events (and with much cyber-wrangling and geek consulting), I've figured out a way to allow installment payments for the HomeGrown Herabalist School enrollments for those who are a bit tight after Santa's shinninigans.
If you'd like to sign up for the school but can't swing the whole $799, just add the school to your shopping cart and click the little button that says "Pay for this with a payment plan". The rest is easy.
The HomeGrown Herbalist School of Botanical Medicine December 22 2013
The HomeGrown Herbalist School of Herbal Medicine.
After many requests, much reflection and some major re-arrangements in my life to make it possible, I've decided to expand the offerings of herbal education offered by HomeGrown Herbalist, LLC.
I believe it’s critical that we learn to take charge of our own health and become medically self-sufficient. There are many herbal education programs available. Many are quite expensive. Many focus too little on medicinal plants and too much on commercial formulas they’d like you to buy. Many are, frankly, not based on anatomical and physiological facts but depend instead on esoteric, metaphorical systems of diagnosis and treatment that have little to do with what’s actually going on in the body or the plant. Most of them have no hands-on learning or personal instruction with the teachers.
- What would it be like to be taught the principles of anatomy and physiology that would really help you understand how the body works in a clear and direct way?
- What would it be like to really understand what the plants are doing to the organs and systems of the body?
- What would it be like to be taught by someone that has actually used medicinal plants in his clinical practice all day, every day for many years?
- What if that teacher didn’t just treat head colds, acne and low energy but actually used herbs to address serious wounds, rattlesnake bites, gangrene, systemic infections, MS, Lyme disease, and all manner of other serious conditions?
- What if that teacher personally cultivated and processed over 80 different medicinal plants on his own property and could teach you to do the same?
- What if you could spend time with that teacher learning, hands-on, how to make tinctures, glycerites, salves lotions and other herbal medicines?
- What if you could walk through the deserts and forests with that teacher and be taught how to identify and harvest medicinal and edible plants yourself?
- What if you could spend several days with that teacher in deep-learning, masters’ seminars?
Here’s the good news…
Now you can find out exactly what all those things are like!
My name is Patrick Jones. I am a practicing veterinarian and a clinical herbalist. For years I’ve used the power of herbs to bless the lives of my veterinary patients and my human herb clients. Because of my veterinary credentials and license, I have had the unique opportunity to treat cases that most herbalists wouldn’t dream of addressing. I can give you the benefit of that experience. Because of my passion for herbal education and, frankly, my dissatisfaction with what is available for would-be herbalists, I’ve decided to create a comprehensive herbal education experience.
Here’s What the Program Includes
50 online lessons on topics such as ...
- History of herbal medicine
- General Principles of Herbal Healing
- Principles of Herbal Medicine Making
- Principles of Creating Herbal Formulas
- Central Nervous System: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Respiratory System: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Immune System: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Cardiovascular System: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Kidneys and Bladder: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Male Reproductive: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Female Reproductive: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Liver and Gall Bladder: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Muscles, Tendons, Ligaments: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Bones and Joints: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Digestive System: Anatomy, Physiology and Herbal Interactions
- Wound Management
- Managing Venomous Snake and Spider Bites
- Bacterial infections: Pathophysiology of disease and herbal intervention.
- Fungal Infections: Pathophysiology of disease and herbal intervention.
- Viral Infections: Pathophysiology of disease and herbal intervention.
- Poultice use
- Herbal Pills, Boluses and Electuaries
- Advanced Tincture Technique (beyond pouring booze in a jar)
- Herbal Energetics
- Spirituality and Herbalism: God and His Greens
- Ethics and Legal Principles of Herbal Practice
- Working Up an Herbal Case
- Herbal Gardening
- Collecting wild Herbs
- Drying, Processing & Preserving Herbs
- Dozens of Monographs on individual plants…
Online courses will be available at a rate of 2-4 courses per month. You can complete them at your own pace. Some will include written or hands-on assignments.
Access to a Private HomeGrown Herbalist Student Forum
Log in to the forum any time to discuss assignments, ask questions or shoot the breeze with other students.
Two Masters’ Seminars in 2014
These Seminars will be held in Utah and/or Southern Idaho They will be Saturday, all-day events with deep instruction on herbal topics.
Two Herb walks in 2014
One in the mountains, one in the desert. We will deeply explore each of these environments and learn the plants that live there. The walks will be held in Utah and Southern Idaho.
Herbal Medicine Making Workshop
Role up your sleeves…we’re makin’ medicine! These seminars will be held at various times in 2014 in Utah and Idaho. Attend as often as you like!
What’s the Course Worth?
- 50 online lessons @ $15 each….$750
- 2 Masters’ Seminars @ $100 each……....$200
- 2 Herb walks @ $75 Each……$150
- 1 Herbal Medicine Making Workshop…$75
- Taking charge of your own health and being self-sufficient...Priceless!
Looks like about $1175
So, What’s it Going to Cost?
How about $799 for the whole shebang?
Why so inexpensive? Because I think it’s really important that you do it. In fact, I think it’s so important that I’ll do you one better…
Enroll today and your spouse can join you for free!
That, friends, is a screamin’ deal.
This offer doesn’t include boyfriends, sisters-in-law, daughters or friendly neighbors, only husbands or wives legally and lawfully wedded.
Ready to Get Started?
The Question of Questions December 22 2013
Patrick Jones, DVM
People are discovering, more and more, that modern Western medicine doesn't have all the answers. It's my belief that the principle reason they don't have more answers is because they are asking the wrong question! The entire basis of modern medical training and practice revolves around one question. It's the first question we are asked by our doctor in the examination room and the only question that receives any real attention;
"What's wrong with you?".
This question isn't all bad certainly. They do need to know what a person's symptoms are and why they have come to see them, but the question is flawed. The problem with asking "What's wrong with you?" is that it implies that the symptom is the problem. This, of course, leads naturally to the fallacious conclusion that making the symptom go away equates with curing or healing the disease.
I would propose that there is a much better question; "Why is something wrong with you?". This is a very different question that leads, by its very nature, to very different answers.
I recently had a young woman come to see me for an herbal consultation. She had been to several dermatologists and received from them a diagnosis of eczema. The skin condition had started several months previous to our meeting as a small dry spot behind her ear. Three months later, it had become a truly horrific scaly mess covering her neck, much of her trunk and most of one arm. She had consulted with several different dermatologist who, having asked "What's wrong with you" and answered "A nasty case of eczema.", proceeded to prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacterial pathogens and corticosteroids to eliminate the inflammation.
As her condition worsened, the physicians continued asking their same question and arriving at the same answer (funny how that works). They tried various variations on a theme with their antibiotics and steroids but nothing seemed to help. In fact, her condition became alarmingly worse.
When the young lady came to see me, I visited with her for about an hour. As we visited, I tried to find answers to the following questions:
"What has changed in your life that has made you so susceptible to this condition?"
"Why, even with pharmaceutical intervention, can your body not heal itself from this condition?"
"What is the source of your dis-ease?"
In other words, "Why is something wrong with you?"
In the course of our conversation I learned that the young lady was going through a difficult divorce. She was working two jobs trying to manage as a single parent. She was living off vending machines and drive-through windows as she went from one job to the next. She was consuming large amounts of caffeine and tobacco in an effort to maintain her energy levels and keep up with her impossible life. She had lost ease and harmony in her life and dis-ease had taken its place.
So, we talked. I recommended she eat something good for her every day. I recommended she cut back on the artificial stimulants and get some sleep. I suggested some herbs that might be helpful; burdock and yellow dock to support the liver and kidneys, red clover, wheat grass and alfalfa to deeply nourish, oat straw to feed and soothe frazzled nerves and Siberian ginseng to help her respond to stress and get some sleep. Interestingly, not one of those herbs has any anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial properties.
She came back about a month later to show me her skin. It was beautiful and smooth without a trace of dryness or scales.
She finally got the answers she needed. But only when we asked the right question.
Patrick Jones, DVM
The Book is Here! The Book is Here! December 22 2013
Well, I finally got the rascal done! The HomeGrown Herbalist is officially available.
The emphasis of the book is to make herbal medicine accessible to everyone and to illustrate how and why to base our botanical healing principally on local plants rather than products.
There are, of course, directions for making herbal medicines. But, most importantly, there is an introduction to 20 amazing plants. If a person really learned these particular plants, he/she would be in a position to do a great deal of good.
To get on the list, the plants had to meet two criteria; they had to be medicinal "rock stars" and they had to be readily available either in the wild or in your gardens.
Whether you're a seasoned herbalist or a newbie, this book will give you plenty to think about.
You can get yours here.
Garbling The Gumweed December 22 2013
Garbling The Gumweed
The Toes Know December 22 2013
Patrick Jones, DVM
Scooter is a nice little sheltie. He has a lot of responsibility. He gets mom up for breakfast at 7 a.m. sharp every morning, circles the kids to keep them in a well-mannered flock in the backyard and, most importantly, defends the perimeter from undesireables. Not long ago this last part of Scooter’s job got him into trouble. One of the neighbor dogs had started a hole under the fence in preparation for a raid onto Scooter’s turf.
This, of course, was not acceptable and Scooter and the interloper started having an altercation via the half-finished hole. During the fight, Scooter’s foot ended up in the other dog’s mouth. Ouch!
When I saw him, it was clear that the foot was in real trouble. The flesh over much of the top of the paw and several of his toes was just gone and the bones and joints were exposed. To make matters worse, Scooter was showing the early signs of gangrene. A faint line of demarcation was beginning to appear which would mark the division between that tissue that would live and that which would die.
There was nothing to be done surgically...just not enough tissue to pull over the gaping wound to button things up. But, there was, in my experience, one thing that could help, Marshmallow. Marshmallow (Althea officinalis) is a most remarkable herb. In addition to its soothing mucilage that just makes everything feel better, it seems to have an almost magical property of convincing cells that are contemplating gangrene not to die.
Our HomeGrown Herbalist Poultice formula is a blend of herbs that are wonderful for healing wounds. Some of the herbs are anti-bacterial. Others are anti-inflammatory. Still others stop bleeding or reduce pain. There are even several plants in the formula that increase the rate of cell division and speed healing. And, of course, there's marshmallow.
I mixed up the herbs in a small bowl with some water and made a paste. This I applied generously to the wound and wrapped it.
The next morning, Scooter came in for a re-check. The “gangrene line” was gone and all the remaining tissue looked healthy and vital. I applied more poultice and sent a jar home with mom with instructions. I saw Scooter again the other day. His foot has healed completely and he’s back to working full-time. Though, his owner says that these days, he keeps his toes to himself.
Some Thoughts on Herb Capsules December 22 2013
Patrick P. Jones, DVM
I was walking past the pharmacy section of my local grocery store the other day. It was amazing to see how many herbal products they had on the shelves…Echinacea, St. John’s Wort, Gingko, garlic…all kinds of stuff. It’s great that herbal supplements have become so popular. The only downside was that every single one of those products was packaged in capsules.
I’m not a big fan of capsules. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they don’t have some significant advantages. Capsules make herbs “easy to swallow”. Capsules are particularly nice when dealing with herbs that have an unpleasant flavor or texture. They’re also terrifically convenient. Encapsulating gadgets can be purchased at most health food stores and are easy to use. However, there is one BIG disadvantage. Herbs taken in capsules don’t start interacting with the body until the capsule is dissolved. This usually happens somewhere in the small intestine when the gelatin capsule is finally digested by the body’s enzymes.
So, what’s wrong with that?
Well, the fact is that some herbs have some or all of their medicinal effect because of their strong flavors or intense stimuli. The stomach bitters are a perfect example. This is a group of herbs that soothe the gastro-intestinal system and ease digestion. The bitter taste of these plants stimulates saliva and natural bicarbonate production and peristalsis (gut movement). In order for those things to happen the bitter taste must be experienced in the mouth. Cayenne is another herb that depends on its local effect in the mouth for some of its medicinal properties. The effect of cayenne in capsules is very different than the effect of cayenne without capsules…
Spine: Sir, we’ve just received a message from the duodenum. It appears there was some sort of accident.
Brain: Accident? What kind of accident?
Spine: Well Sir, apparently they were processing some gelatin and there was some kind of explosion.
Brain: (Yawn) Duodenum…duodenum...Isn’t that down in the bowels somewhere?
Spine: Yes Sir…small intestine I believe.
Brain: Well I can’t possibly be bothered with that right now. I’m nearly to level five on my Tetris game. Tell them whatever it is I’m sure it will pass.
Spine: Ha ha ha. Good one Sir.
Contrast that response with the response to cayenne taken without a capsule…
Brain: Is it getting hot in here?
Spine: Yes Sir. Mouth temperatures just increased by 500%. Apparently the whole place on fire!
Brain: What? Fire? Here in the head?! Increase heart rate and respiration! Dilate all the blood vessels! I want a full circulatory flush!
Spine: Mouth temperatures still rising Sir.
Brain: Impossible! Increase salivation and bicarbonate production! Dump everything from the sinuses! Get those tear ducts and sweat glands pumping! I want to throw everything we’ve got at that fire!
The taking of medicinal herbs should be a holistic experience. Ideally, the plant should be able to interact with your entire body all the way through. The stronger the flavor of an herb, the more likely it is that much of its effect happens in the mouth. So, ironically, the herbs we’re most likely to want to put into a capsule are the ones most likely to have their medicinal value diminished if we do so.
Certainly an herb in a capsule is usually much better than no herb at all. And there are some herbs that can be encapsulated without their medicinal effects being diminished. But, for the most part, I believe you will get better medicinal effects without the capsules. Don’t be a sissy. Take your herbs the way God designed them to be taken. Your mouth may be mad. But the rest of your body will thank you.
Head Wound Case: Herbal Healing of Tissue Defects December 22 2013
By Patrick Jones, DVM
Warning: Contains graphic images of wound healing. But they get better. :)
I received an email from a gentleman in Februrary. He had seen my post about Miracle Max and wanted to know if I could help his wife. We'll call her Susan.
Susan had had a mass removed from the top of her head. The surgeons had taken a large circle of scalp and left nothing but the bone underneath. Because of the size of the defect, closing the wound was not possible.
The proposed solution for this problem was to take a large skin graft from Susan's bottom and graft it to the scalp. While this certainly would have covered the open wound and solved the problem, it would have left poor Susan with a permanent hair style like Friar Tuck, two painful surgeries and a large scar on her bum. Susan and her husband suddenly became very interested in alternative medicine and no wonder.
They asked me if herbs might help the wound to heal without surgery. I said that I'd seen worse cases and that it was certainly worth a try. I made some recommendations of herbs I thought would be beneficial to support the body in healing itself. Susan and her husband got the herbs and faithfully followed a regimen of daily herb poultice use.
The big player here was comfrey. In addition to soothing mucilage, comfrey contains a chemical called allantoin. Allantoin is a strong stimulant of cell division and thus accelerates healing. In my experience with veterinary patients and human clients, comfrey use decreases healing times measurably.
The body, when given the nutritional and herbal support it needs, has remarkable healing power and Susan's body was no exception. The wound contracted and filled in and, within a few months, all that was left was a small scar.
The Herb Poultice Applied Directly to the Wound
There are several good lessons to learn from this case. It is, in my opinion at least, a perfect example of how modern medicine and herbal medicine can and should work hand in hand.
The physicians that removed the mass from Susan's head did exactly the right thing. People often approach me about helping them to remove skin masses and cancers from their pets using herbs. While there are some plants that can be used for such things, none of them is remotely as efficient or effective as a scalpel. I often tell my clients "Stainless steel scalpel blades are all natural and have no side effects." The herbal alternatives to the scalpel for such cases are messy, sometimes painful and can occasionally leave disfiguring scars. It ain't the apocaylpse yet folks. We just don't need to use less than optimal solutions for our health problems.
Susan managed her case perfectly in my opinion. She went to a physician who made a correct diagnosis and used the best technique available for removing the mass. Doctors are great at diagnosing and ought to be used whenever possible. People fond of alternative medicine often spend a great deal of time and money using the wrong therapies because they never had a correct diagnosis in the first place. It's pretty tough to get a bullseye if you're aiming at something other than the target. Modern medicine has literally made a science out of diagnosis. They have amazing tools and skills in this area. Use them.
Susan was also wise enough to immediately realize when her doctors were not the best solution. Her surgeon was suffering from professional myopia, the inablity to see solutions that don't involve his own profession. As a surgeon, he saw only one solution for Susan's head wound...more surgery.
Modern doctors are, as I said, fantastic diagnosticians and mechanics for the body. They are very adept at repairing trauma, suppressing unpleasant symptoms of disease and killing pathogens and cancers but they have few if any tools to actually promote healing or to restore the body to it's natural condition of vibrant wellness. It just isn't part of their training or tool box.
Susan's surgeons could certainly have "solved" her wound problem. But only her own body, with a little help from the herbs, could heal her.
Talking to Teasel (Dipsacus spp.) December 22 2013
By Patrick Jones, DVM
Not long ago I was driving down a country road. I saw a plant growing on a ditch bank and had a most intense interest and attraction to it...Really intense. I asked the guy I was with what it was. He didn't know. A week or so later I was on a friend's place and saw the plant again and again I had the same intense feeling about it. I asked him if he knew what it was. He said it was Teasel. I asked him what it was good for. He said he didn't know that it was good for anything.
I said, "No, It's really good for something."
So we started snooping around the web and reading books etc and it turns out that teasel is a wonderful herb with some very unique properties. It's useful in cases of severe, chronic muscle and nerve pain and has been used with good success in cases of Lyme disease, fibromyalgia etc...
"Hmmm, so why is that so important?" I wondered.
A couple of days later a lady came to my office for an herb consult. Guess what her problem was, severe chronic nerve and muscle pain. Within the next few weeks I had several other ladies come in with similar issues.
Apparently, God and the teasel wanted to get together with those folks and help them.
Not long after that, I was out wildcrafting and managed to get stung really good by some stinging nettle. I immediately started looking for some plantain to take away the pain...no luck, too dry. As I was scouring the ground looking for plantain, I saw a little first-year teasel plant. The little guy started jumping up and down and waving his arms shouting "Pick me, pick me!". OK, not literally but that's how it felt. So, I grabbed a little pice of the leaf and ground it up and put it on the sting. Instant relief. The pain was completely gone. I had never read or heard of teasel being useful for this application or any other external use.
If there is an herb for which you have an unusually strong affinity follow those feelings. If there is one for which you have an inexplicably strong aversion, follow those feelings too.
Listen to the weeds. You might be surprised what you learn.
The War We Are Losing December 22 2013
Patrick Jones, DVM
In 1928 the world changed. A microbiologist named Alexander Flemming discovered a miracle. The miracle was called penicillin. Penicillin is a chemical produced by the Penecillium mold. The mold doesn’t like to compete with bacteria...so it kills them. Penecillin’s discovery opened the door to more research and antibiotics were born. More and more of these wonder drugs were discovered, developed and marketed. Disease was on the ropes and it seemed mankind had struck a devastating and final blow to the microbial world. It seemed only a matter of time before bacterial disease was eradicated from the face of the Earth. In the midst of the enthusiastic physicians’ cries that the germ war was over and the businessmen’s rejoicing over the birth of a new multi-billion dollar industry, was one quiet voice of concern. It was Alexander Flemming again. He said he was seeing something unusual in his laboratory...some of the bacteria were becoming resistant. No one listened.
In 1929, one year after Flemming discovered penicillin, 14% of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria had become resistant to the drug. In 1950, 59% were resistant. In 1995 the number had reached 95%. Other antibiotics have produced similar results. Our hospitals are now populated by “Super Bugs” some of which are resistant to all known antibiotics.
As a result of the indiscriminate use of antibiotics the microbial world has changed. For most species, evolution takes eons. For bacteria, it takes days. When a bacterium is born that is naturally resistant to an antibiotic, it has the ability to transfer that resistance to other bacteria, not merely by passing the gene to its own offspring (at a reproductive rate 500,000 times faster than our own) but also directly to other adult bacteria. On their cell membranes, bacteria carry small packages of DNA called plasmids. When two bacteria meet, they exchange plasmids and incorporate the other bug’s DNA into their own...and they don’t even have to be the same kind of bacteria! Even worse, the bacteria seem to have the equivalent of a microbial “internet” using chemical signals to communicate with other bacteria inviting them to come and get a copy of the neat new, drug-resistant plasmid they have. Researchers have also proven that bacteria can develop resistance to multiple other antibiotics with exposure to only one drug.
Fortunately there is another solution, medicinal herbs. Many plants contain anti-bacterial compounds. Almost without exception, those compounds are more complex and vastly more numerous than the medicines found in antibiotic pharmaceuticals. For example, penicillin has one active ingredient...penicillin. Garlic by comparison, contains about 37 active ingredients. These complex botanical wonders present the bacteria with such numerous and varied chemicals that resistance is practically impossible. Combine several herbs together and you can increase the effect dramatically.
In addition to anti-microbial herbs, there are also many herbs that stimulate the immune system making it easier for the body to resist or defeat infections. There are even herbs with anti-viral properties. Something that modern medicine is just beginning to address with pharmaceuticals (and which will certainly meet with the same resistance issues that bacteria have developed).
There have been many times in my veterinary practice when I have been faced with patients with severe infections that were not responsive to antibiotics either due to resistant bacteria or viruses. With the help of botanical allies, I often have success turning these cases around.
Echinacea, The Rest of The Story December 22 2013Echinacea has long been touted as a great immune stimulant and such it is. But, there is much more to this beautiful plant that makes it the perfect choice for snake bites, hobo spider bites and much more!
Miracle Max: Leg Wound and Sepsis Case December 22 2013
Patrick Jones, DVM
I was sitting in the house one morning trying to get motivated to comb my hair and go to work when my phone rang. It was my receptionist.
“Doctor Jones, you’d better come out here.”
My morning commute is about 30 feet. I left the house and walked over to the clinic to see what was up. What I saw was a young chocolate lab with the most grizzly wound I have ever seen in twenty years of veterinary practice.
“Max” had been riding in the back of his owner’s pick up. He was tied up, which is a good thing, but he had too much rope...bad thing. He had just enough rope to go over the side of the truck bed and hang there.
Being a 5 month old lab with limited brain function (it is a well-established scientific fact that the labrador brain does not begin to operate until the age of two) over the side of the truck bed he went.
The owner who was slightly “over lubricated” did not notice Max’s predicament. The poor dog’s back leg got tangled up with the truck’s tire. It was a long time before the inebriated owner noticed. When he did notice, he rushed Max...home...so he could wait three or four days before going to the vet.
By the time I saw Max he was in real trouble. All the flesh and 1/4 of the bone on the inside of his leg between knee and ankle was gone. The remaining bone was completely flat as if someone had taken a large belt sander to the leg. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Max also had a fever of 106 degrees and was septic.
When I pinched the end of Max’s toe, he weakly pulled up the leg. He had some other significant nerve deficits...couldn’t tell whether his foot was upside down or right side up, but the fact that he pulled it away gave me hope that there was enough functional wiring to keep him from dragging the leg.
I told the owner what the cost and commitment would be to try to save Max and he elected to give him to me and go away. He is currently enjoying the hospitality of the State of Idaho for serial DUI.
Now, in a case like this, modern medicine has two solutions, amputation or euthanasia. The tissue loss was just too extensive for any sort of surgical solution or grafting. Because of previous successes with similar wounds, I was convinced that we could make a difference with herbs.
I put Max on IV antibiotics to combat the systemic infection. I also put him on several Silver Lining Herbs formulas, #24 Immune Support and #25 INF-X. Then I made a poultice of #16 Power Dust and water and wrapped the leg.
After 48 hours, Max’s temperature was still 106 degrees and he was fading. The infected bone was getting the best of him and the IV antibiotics were doing nothing. I switched antibiotics. After another 24 hours Max was worse and his fever was still above 106.
OK, I thought, time to turn up the heat.
I discontinued the anti-biotics and went right to the source of the problem, the sheered off, infected bone. I took some goldenseal and calendula, made a paste with water, and rubbed it into the exposed bone marrow. I then wrapped it in the Power Dust poultice again and increased the frequency of #24 Immune Support and #25 INF-X to every two hours. I also added straight echinacea at a rate of 1 tsp every two hours. Within 12 hours Max’s fever was gone and he was eating. I have seen a lot of miracles in my practice over the years but this turn-around was absolutely astounding to me.
Now that the infection was under control, it was time to get Max’s wound healed. The #16 Power Dust contains a number of herbs that accelerate cell division and speed healing but I wanted to do more so I added #12 Bone, Tissue and Cartilage Support. This is a new formula I had worked up only a few months before meeting Max. Like Power Dust, it contains herbs to aid and accelerate wound and bone healing but it is given orally and does its work from the inside out.
As shown in the pictures, the results speak for themselves. After two months of daily herbal therapy, Max now has full use of his completley healed leg. The only evidence of his injury is a scar running up the inside of his leg. He runs, jumps and plays with best of them and all nerve functions are completely normal. He was adopted and has a wonderful new home.
Even after all these years, the power of herbs the body's ability to heal continue to astound me. I've had several similar wound cases over the years but none of the others had bone loss exposing the marrow and none of the others had the systemic sepsis. This case was truly amazing for me to watch.
Below are a few photos of Max's progress.
They are pretty graphic but hang in there...they get better. :)
Day 1: Note the flatness of the bone surface. The periosteum (outer bone layer) was completely gone exposing the marrow.
Day 1: This is the other side of the same leg. Skin is missing from about 1/3 of this side.
Poultice application directly on wound. The poultice was applied daily. After about 2 weeks I started going 12 hours on, 12 hours off. I wrapped it with gauze and vet wrap.
Day 6: Wound is already granulating (the lumpy appearance) this usally starts at about 10-14 days.
Day 14: Wound starting to contract over bone.
Day 16: Wound contraction and filling continues
Day 30: Bone completely covered
Day 45: Just waiting for skin and hair now.
Day 60: Almost done. Max has full use of the leg. 2 weeks later wound is completely closed and looks like the white scar on his ankle all the way up.
Max's adoption day! On his way to a new home.
Happy, healthy and still dumb as ever! :)
Join us here Here to discuss this case.
Some folks asked about how the poultices were prepared. I just add the powdered herbs to water and make a thick paste. This paste is put directly onto the wound and wrapped. The next day the poultice is removed, the goo wiped off (lots of goo on these) and the poultice replaced.
Poultice can be applied directly to the wound if the patient isn't wiggly.
Otherwise, spread it on 4x4 gauze pads and slap the pads on (herbs to wound) and wrap while he's licking the techincian's face.
Then wrap lightly with gauze...
Then some more gauze...
Then some cotton padding...
Then a bit more gauze...after all this is a labrador!
Then some vetwrap (comes in many colors).
The wrapping musn't be too tight obviously. With humans one needn't do so much wrapping as humans rarely chew off their bandages. :)
This Too Shall Pass: Some Thoughts on Kidney Stones December 21 2013
This Too Shall Pass:
Some Thoughts On Kidney Stones
Max is one of those Boxers that fills every room he enters. Nicest dog in the world but man, what a lot of energy! Whenever he comes into the waiting room of the vet clinic it’s the same. He bounces off all the horizontal and vertical surfaces in the room and washes the face of every person that leans over to say hello.
So when Max came in one day and just stood there I knew we had big trouble. He was a pitiful sight as he walked gingerly across the floor.
“ Max can’t pee” said the owner. “ He strains and strains and only gets a dribble.”
I palpated his abdomen and felt a large, full bladder. Max turned and looked at me and gave me a half-hearted lick. The normal procedure for these dogs would be to anesthetize them, pass a urinary catheter to drain the bladder and then do surgery to remove the stones. I explained this to Max’s owner. She told me they just weren’t in a position to manage the expense. It seemed euthanasia was Max’s only option.
It was a sad thought. Max was in the prime of life and such a great guy. Nope, I couldn’t do it.
“ Can you leave him here for a few days?” I asked “ I can’t make any promises but I think we may be able to work through this another way.”
We had nothing to lose. I took Max out to the yard and gently compressed his bladder. A slow dribble of urine came. “ OK, we’ve got a chance.” I thought. Had we had no way of relieving the pressure on the bladder, surgery or euthanasia would have been the only options. But, as long as he was moving some urine we had some hope.
I went to the herb room and mixed up a formula to dissolve the stones. I prepared a dose in a syringe full of water and squirted it down Max’s throat. He hardly resisted. “ Boy you are sick.” I thought.
I continued dosing him every two to three hours. Half an hour after every dose we’d be out in the yard expressing as much as we could from that bladder. By the next morning we had a continuous dribble...by the next night, a weak stream. On the morning of the third day I went to the run to give Max his slurry. He was ready for me. I left the kennel with much more of the mixture on my clothes than down his throat. “ That’s my boy.” I said laughing and wiping myself off. “ Now let’s see what you can do.” I turned him loose into the fenced yard and he immediately went to the nearest bush and nearly drowned it. It was a beautiful thing. He came back and jumped on me and washed my face. I wasn’t prepared...one would have to have a snorkel and wet suit to be fully prepared for one of Max’s special greetings. “ That’s it.” I said “ You’re going home.”
I sent Max home with on a daily maintenance dose of Silver Lining #37 Kidney Support.
I've had several human clients with stones this year as well. The formula I usually use for kidney and bladder stones is as follows:
2 Gravel Root
2 Parsley Root
I usually suggest that humans take 1 tsp several times a day (or make a tea). Dogs get a teaspoon if they're big dogs. Itty bitties get 1/4 teaspoon. Dogs in between gets the appropriate fraction based on weight.
Gravel root and parsley root actually help to dissolve the stones. Marshmallow is soothing to the irritated lining of the urinary tract. Lobelia is an excellent antispasmodic and helps to relax the plumbing so stones can get through. The ginger is included as a catalyst...just something to get the body's attention so that the herbs are better absorbed and utilized. If there is also a urinary tract infection involved, I add Uva ursi to the mix.
The cases of urinary obstruction that I've seen have typically been rapidly responsive to the formula.
If you don't feel like making your own, you can purchase this formula below. :0)
Kidney - NoStonz Formula
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