by Lee Warren

I’ve struggled with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for years. It’s one of those chronic illness that occurs to women and it has a strong psychological component that leaves most allopathic practitioners puzzled.

For the most part I’ve avoided mainstream health care for more than 20 years–especially when I realized they were pushing drugs they knew nothing about and never really seemed very holistic-minded. I’ve equipped myself with a strong sense of my body and a passionate desire to feel well.

For years I managed my IBS with food. In fact I built my life around it. Wanting a regular, clean, and nutrient-rich source of good food, I started a farm that grows dairy cows, meat animals, and eggs. I rebuilt my health over ten years and my IBS disappeared into the background, all but forgotten.

A year ago, after a divorce and some other huge life changes, the IBS came back again. Through experimentation I realized I was eating too much dairy and backed off. I decided I wanted to look into the idea of allergies a bit more.

I went to a practitioner that is connected to my community. Because It’s important in that world to see “empiric evidence” he wanted all kinds of tests performed….iron, thyroid, liver, parasites, allergies, blood count. On and on the list went.

I agreed to two allergy tests – milk and eggs and then I fled from the office. I don’t swim in that world very often and got easily overwhelmed by the paradigm that all these things could be wrong, that all this evidence must be gathered.  Yet to my surprise, the tests came back positive for allergies to these beloved foods. I did nothing for a long time – a year actually.

Recently I went back again to determine other food allergies. I told the practitioner that I needed him to slow down. People in that world seem like the authority to those of us who live simpler lives. They seem confident and have the world of knowledge and facts and figures on their side. The softer, intuitive, and different approaches get swept aside. But I persisted. I mentioned that I was overwhelmed, that I didn’t share his paradigm of looking for every possible bad thing and that if he wanted me to make good decisions we would have to work together to keep me relaxed. He was confused and curious about how I believed.

It took me a minute but I managed to blurt out that the closest thing to representing my worldview is the wise woman tradition. Every time I come back to this masterpiece of a lens within which to view health and illness, I am struck with how elegant, how feminine, and how life-honoring, earth-honoring, and body-honoring it is.

I sent him a printout of the following and had him put this in my patient file. When faced with a health problem (non emergency-based), this is how I’m going to respond.

The phases of journeying towards wellness include:

  • (1) don't do anything at all - breathe, rest, disconnect from technology, relax
  • (2) gather as much information as you can from respected professionals, teachers, friends, support groups, non-invasive diagnostic methods etc
  • (3) switch up the feelings - experiment with energetics, laugh, cultivate joy, pray, dance, sing, affirmations, mantras etc
  • (4) replenish, tone, and support the body through nourishing herbal preparations (teas, vinegars, oils, infusions), re-mineralization, supplementation, massage, yoga, diet/nutrition and lifestyle strategies. Energize and ease via alternative health modalities such as a regimen of herbal tinctures and extracts, acupuncture, etc
  • (5) use isolated compounds (i.e. drugs) as an adjunct beneficial modality as you feel comfortable doing so and under the guidance of a trusted professional.

Although they are essential to health, steps 4-5 are incredibly impactful and can have the possibility of complication or harm. Steps 1-3 almost never cause harm. This journey towards wellness if non-linear, spiraling, and unpredictable, and often unmeasurable. 

Find out more about the Wise Woman Tradition here.


May 23, 2012 — Red Moon Herbs

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