Journal of Herbalist: Digestive Problems

Case: Eva came to me complaining that she had a condition labeled as irritable bowel syndrome. She sometimes had bowel movements eight times a day and usually on days when she had stress. Also, she had recurring problems with a sore throat and loss of speech. She was looking for an herbal tea she could take to heal her.

Eva was very enthusiastic about taking herbs. She wanted to find a magic formula that would heal her from all her problems. She had attended my lectures and purchased some herbs.

Moreover, she took notes during all the sessions and waited impatiently for me to give her some herbs. She was disappointed when I didn’t give her a herbal tea because she wasn’t ready for it.

Eva’s situation was similar to many peoples. She wanted to heal and was looking for a formula to help her. She had bad experience with medication since her poor digestion left her little ability to tolerate anything synthetic.

However, she wasn’t able to see how her lifestyle, spiritual life and eating habits were affecting her health. She was so set on finding an herb to heal her. Unfortunately, she didn’t consider that the power to heal was in her own hands and not in that of a plant.

I first suggested that Eva use sage tea as needed to soothe her sore throat and help her regain her speaking ability. Sage tea is a powerful antibiotic and healer of the throat. It’s famous in the singing community for its power to restore strained vocal chords.

I also suggested that Eva take psyllium seed powder twice a day. This would help her bulk up her stools and calm her bowel. These herbs would help her symptoms and assist in her healing. However, I emphasized to her that this was not the program I was giving her.

The program I gave her involved three steps to changing her lifestyle and eating habits, which would enable her body to be receptive to any herbal tea mixture I might give her.

The first step in her program was to increase her food intake. Her iridology reading showed that her bowel and stomach were extremely “strictured”. This is a sign I see in all people who have reduced their diet beyond safe levels.

On most people, if one examines the eye with a magnifying glass and a penlight, they will observe a ring around the pupil extending away from the pupil at least a quarter of the distance between the pupil and the sclera. In Eva, this ring was so close to the pupil it was almost indistinguishable.

Giving herbs to people with inadequate diet can often result in a worsening of the situation. In that case, the body will interpret the mineral and vitamin rich teas as food. It’ll even cause a further decrease in appetite and sometimes an inability to consume any food at all. When I asked Eva about her diet she admitted that she had been eating very little to lose weight.

I introduced her to the concept of the Alkaline Diet. This system allows the dieter to eat healthy quantities of food, but within a strict pattern of food combining rules. The result is that the dieter consumes a balanced diet of adequate proportions and nutrients. Yet, the foods are combined in such a way that weight gain is almost impossible.Digestive

The basic pattern of the Alkaline Diet is to eat fruit in the morning, a vegetable with a starch at lunch, a vegetable with a protein at dinner and vegetables and nuts as snacks. Other rules of the Alkaline Diet are that one cannot consume protein with starch or protein with fruit. Furthermore, one must forgo all coffee, sweets, processed foods, sugars and fats other than olive oil.

The second thing I asked Eva to do was to try to break the cycle she was unconsciously creating with her health. Her everyday thoughts and worries were being transformed into health problems in her body. That’s because she wasn’t dealing with them in any other way.

She felt that she had no voice at home with her husband and sons. In addition she was deeply worried about her father, a lifetime smoker, who had lost his voice for the past two months. I suspected that her voice problems stemmed from one or both of these situations.

Furthermore she was releasing her frustrations and worry in her bowel movements rather than in writing, speaking or moving. Her body wanted to release all the anger and worry and frustration that she had inside. However, since she did not have enough outlets for this release so her body was creating a release in the only way it knew how.

Simple awareness of how our thoughts can create illness is often enough to ease healing. I felt if she became aware of the role her thoughts were playing in her illnesses that she would also be more able to control her health problems.

The third thing I asked Eva to do was to stop taking all her vitamins and minerals and multi-vitamins and herbs for a few weeks. Oftentimes a body that is experiencing digestive problems is worsened by more challenges to the digestive system in the form of vitamins and powerful herbs. Many natural and synthetic vitamins, especially multi-vitamins are difficult to digest and thus can cause further digestive upset to the person.

In addition, the starved body may become accustomed to living on the vitamins and minerals provided by the supplements and become unable to process the same vitamins and minerals from real food. Or, the body may perceive that it is getting enough nutrition and thus refuse to eat any solid food.

Within a week Eva’s digestion improved dramatically and she started to regain her appetite as well. She even lost five pounds. In addition, Eva became more aware of how negative thoughts were affecting her health and started to replace the thoughts with more realistic or positive ones.

After two weeks her bowel problem disappeared and she has been free from a sore throat for three weeks now. Soon, she will gain enough strength to take an herbal tea that can help her to further heal herself.

This article is from Science’s archive and we’ve originally published it on an earlier date.

About Dr. Karima Burns
Dr. Karima Burns has been counseling as a Home-path for over 9 years. From the U.S. she is a doctor in Naturopathy, a Master Herbalist, and teaches with inspiration from the Waldorf school. She uses art, health and education to heal others.