Friday, November 12, 2010


by Nelson, Dr. Christopher's Herb Shop

Today's newsletter will deal with the most medicinal natural remedy in all of natural Materia Medica. With herbs, there are a lot of plants you can use to get someone to sweat, purify the blood, diuretics, laxatives, etc. Usually plants will have many medicinal properties.

But nothing has as many varied usages, or maintains health or provides such a direct impact on disease as water. In fact, water can be so successfully employed that it has its own branch in medicine - hydrotherapy. We have had some herbalists say that they use hydrotherapy more than herbal therapy, and this should be no surprise.

In fact, some herbs will not work at all without water. An example would be a traditional protocol for gangrene. Gangrene is no laughing matter, and within hours can become a serious or fatal problem if limbs aren't amputated. Dr. Christopher employed marshmallow tea in these instances, bathing the affected area in hot marshmallow tea for 30 minutes, then cold water for 5 minutes. He then would repeat this procedure with fresh marshmallow tea all day. Within hours the color of the skin would come back, and many people owe their limbs to this procedure.

But if the gangrenous wound is packed with marshmallow powder, it will not work. Why is that? When water is used on wounds or congested areas, its diffusive nature allows it to draw toxic material into it. One reason that so much marshmallow tea must be used is that the poison is being pulled out of the bloodstream into the water.

One reason Dr. Christopher used herbal teas was because they were hydrating. This is very useful, particularly with the cleansing formulas when a lot of water is needed to get the job done (Lower Bowel, Kidney, etc). Dr. Christopher also considered the Cold Sheet Treatment to be the most effective remedy for colds and flu. Likewise, hot baths, enemas, douches and the like have played a central role in our programs for similar reasons.

Truth be told, you can get a lot done with water by itself. Hydrotherapy alone is not used as extensively today as it was 150 years ago. This is probably because of the amount of time it takes to successfully employ it. Jethro Kloss recounts a case where his wife woke up completely paralyzed. He spent several hours doing nothing else but fomentations of hot and cold water. By the end of it, his wife was fully mobile again. Kloss' book, Back to Eden, provides a solid foundation for hydrotherapy applied in simple ways.

Alternating hot and cold can act as a pump to any clogged area of the body, be it intestines, arteries or nerves! And it is with the level of heat that we decide the medicinal attributes of water. Few substances have as high a specific heat as water, meaning it can hold a lot of thermal energy. This means that hot water will cool down much slower if put in a refrigerator than something like hot copper.

Given hot, it will will promote sweating as a diaphoretic. Given cold, it will promote urination as a diuretic. Hot, it will promote circulation and speed healing in this way. Cold, it can be a refrigerant to lower the body temperature more effectively than other substances. In all ways, it is a blood-purifying alterative. So on and so forth.

There are many historical accounts of using hot and cold water, used for problems ranging from colds and fevers to life threatening problems like appendicitis. 200 years ago, Thompsonian herbalists would spend several hours to a few days with their patients- giving them hot foot baths, fomentations, teas to make them sweat, vomit and evacuate their bowels, scalding hot teas to rehydrate them afterwards and stimulate them, etc.

From that alone, you might guess why Thompsonian herbalism died out, despite a very high success rate with many illnesses. The pleasantness of a remedy has always played a factor in its use. Herbalism today is often done long distance, or through private consulting where it is up to the ill person to do the work. So the labor intensive therapies are not done so much anymore, even though a good portion of the time someone can feel well the very next day.

A few diseases actually respond better to water than to herbs. Some proffesionals have been saying for years that the primary cause of Alzheimer's disease is chronic dehydration, followed by aluminum build up in the brain. The cases where you hear about major reversals from Alzheimer's are usually elderly patients who have been in retirement homes for years. It is hard for a nurse to keep someone hydrated when they have to change the bedpans.

Nonetheless, just like anything else, water can be overdone. The kidneys must filter the water, and they are at their best when they have plenty of it. But drinking too much water too quickly will wear them out. It will also flush out minerals and other important things the body needs. It makes sense to space out your intake of water throughout the day. A 16 ounce glass of water drunk within an hour should be mild to the body. A quart or more in an hour may be a bit much.

It is important to drink before you feel thirst come on, as thirst is a late indicator of dehydration. Lately it has been said to drink half your body weight in fluid ounces. Others say to drink your full body weight in fluid ounces. I say keep this in mind, but take as much as your level of activity calls for, varying from day to day, letting the way you feel be your primary indicator.

With water being common and accessible, even should we find ourselves without herbs or other medicines, we will still have one of the most powerful healers at our disposal.

Find Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Formulas, single herbs, essential oils, books and more at Dr. Christopher’s Original Herb Shop:

NOTICE: All information in this newsletter is given out as information only and is not intended to diagnose or prescribe.

Friday, November 5, 2010


by Nelson

Often my friends and I have been approached for help for a variety of problems, ranging from anxiety, baldness, headaches to digestive disorders and beyond. Anyone who has given advice for health, from the amateur to the professional, can all understand that there are many ways to deal with one problem. It hasn't ever been that difficult to find something that helped or made the situation bearable, but it’s always been our goal to do better than that if we can.

I recall a case I had earlier this year. This woman was suffering from some digestive problems. She had poor digestion, poor elimination, and a variety of similar problems. Being a student of Dr. Christopher, of course I was thinking of the health of the bowel. So I asked her about her diet. It wasn't ideal with the white flour biscuit she ate regularly, but something was odd. I have no endorsing love for white flour, but even though she was eating it, she was eating fruits, vegetables and other wholesome foods, and shouldn't have been having problems as severe as she was.

She was also eager to use any herbs she needed to to feel better, as well as do anything dietary that would help. So I started to probe a bit. I told her I didn't think that some of the food she was eating was helping or doing any good for her, but I didn't think that explained her problems. She asked what herbs people use for these problems. I told her about slippery elm, cleansing the colon, and things of that nature.

When I was asked if she should do these things, I expressed my concern. I knew she would certainly notice some improvement, but I dislike it when someone only feels 30% better, then plateaus in their progress. It is easy to give someone hope, and make them excited with a formula that will help them. But what really happens? This is why feedback is so important. Not getting told how someone is responding to a therapy makes it difficult to get a statistical idea of how valuable it is. Even if it does help, six months down the road, is the problem forever gone? Or does it pop up again? This is the very problem that kept mercury in use as the miracle, essential drug of choice for hundreds of years, despite the inevitable, horrific deaths.

So when I answered her question, I told her that on a very rigid diet and faithful use of herbs, I expected her to only make mediocre improvement from where she was. This is not what I normally say. I'm sure many dietary programs I've put together for people could be accurately called 'mercilessly inflexible'.

I then asked her if she had been under a lot of stress recently. That's when the tears started coming. With the amount of turmoil this person was going through, I wouldn't have expected her to digest lettuce very well. This is when we find ourselves having to work on things on an emotional level, where the concrete minerals, chemicals and plants don't have that big an impact.

We have been very fortunate in recent times to see what does work in these extreme cases. It is no secret that during World War II, you had some prisoners in concentration camps go through years of shear torture, survive, and be happier, brighter and healthier than some that had been there mere months. In almost all of these stories, the people who witnessed these scenarios attributed the well-being of these prisoners not to physical constitution, but their positive perspective on the situation. There was a common thread of love in these individuals that made them unique in the way they viewed things.

This is not to say that those with illness are hateful beings (although you can certainly find some people that are). But it does make it clear that the way we view things is worth our consideration, and might serve us in the long run to change them.

There are some curious approaches to working on the emotional level. Apart from state of mind, you see a lot of other methods in alternative healing for these. Homeopathy would be in this realm. I think Dr. Bach explained this point of view rather well. He spent years observing plants and their 'personalities'. He noticed quirks they had, like the black walnut tree growing without any other plants being able to grow near it. He saw the black walnut tree as a living example to own one’s own power, free from the influence of others.

So he prepared homeopathic extracts of these plants, in which he attempted to catch the spiritual essence or energy of the plant. The end result had no real amount of the plant or physical components left in it, which flies in the face of an atomistic point of view, which would call it a placebo at best. This debate is not the point of the newsletter, but I do nonetheless find it fascinating that homeopathy has been the biggest forerunner in developing an emotional laxative.

Stories like this happen in our own area. The manager of our local herb shop recalls a case where a woman who suffered years of coughing asked for help. She told this woman the usual herbs and traditional remedies for coughs. The woman said she had tried all of them with no results. So the manager said 'Well, what is it you're trying to say that you're not being allowed to say?'. The woman briefly looked shocked, regained her composure, and said 'Oh, well, fine then'. She then began to open up.

I have more experiences I could quote, but for the sake of brevity, I will just note some common patterns I have observed. The experienced disease is painful. It eventually hits a peak where the pain becomes so great, that the person will let go of a strong attachment to a person, thing or belief. At first they may feel like they've lost everything. But then they find that the sadness linked to what they were holding onto wasn't based on anything true. Suddenly the pain is no longer something they have to fight, but was working with them to show them what is really going on, or who they really are. It becomes a great blessing in their eyes, having helped them discover something they otherwise wouldn't have known. Gratitude swells in them for every particle of the experience, and the situation can either immediately shift or physically remain the same. It doesn't matter either way. All that's left is love.