Image by Stefan Rodriguez

“God put everything we need to heal ourselves right here on earth. We just have to find it”
                                                                                                                                             – My Granny
 
Growing up, my granny and my mom used all kinds of weird remedies to nurse us back to health when we were sick. I remember having cut potatoes in my socks to reduce a fever, paper bag soaked in vinegar on my head to relieve a headache, and trying to swallow the most horrible onion syrup for a cough. The weird thing is, it worked. Or maybe it was the placebo effect and it worked because we expected it to.

My mom told tales of being scared when she found jars of weird roots submerged in liquid in the closet. She thought Granny was dabbling in witchcraft. I realized years later that Granny was making tinctures.

I had no interest in natural healing or herbal remedies, however, I have always loved plants and usually had something growing somewhere in the house.

When my father was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, I became very interested in alternative therapies after we were told there was nothing doctors could do for him. Of course as a novice, there was nothing I could do either. He passed away the day before Thanksgiving that same year.

My research of herbs and botanicals during that sad time started a passionate interest in plants as medicine. When my teenaged niece told me about her struggle with eczema, I began researching herbs to help her out. After several trials, I made a salve that cleared her eczema within two weeks. She still uses the salve today!

Some time later, I burned my arm with a tea bag (long story). The burn took away several layers of skin. I used a commercial antibiotic ointment several times a day but the burn would not heal. Finally, I cut a piece of my long-neglected Aloe Vera plant and applied it to the burn. The next day the burn scabbed over. I couldn’t believe it! I wanted to know how and why it worked.

In January 2014, I enrolled in the Master of Therapeutic Herbalism program at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. I was not expecting such an intensive program. I actually cried trying to complete my first assignment (and a few other assignments). But…during the course of the program, I learned SO much and have been able to put a good majority of my lessons into real-life practice.

I learned:

  • 50% of pharmaceutical medications are created from plants, or from the constituents in plants

  • The history of the medical system in the United States, including the move away from plant based medicine

  • Understanding the physiology of the body, how our major systems work, and how they are impacted from imbalance and illness

  • The importance of nutrition and exercise (I’m still working on this one myself 😊)

  • How to incorporate historical research and current scientific studies in the development of my formulas

  • How to formulate a variety of herbal preparations

  • And much more!

During the program, I grew a new respect for Granny and Mom. They probably had no idea how the plant remedies worked, they just knew they did – no doubt using knowledge passed down from family along with first hand experience with the plants.

​Granny then Mom always said “God put everything we need to heal ourselves right here on earth. We just have to find it”. I will keep doing just that…trying to find ways to bring comfort and healing to everyone I can.

In wellness and gratitude,
​Charlena

 

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