Love Over Hate

A quote:

“For many years we've been trying in our own bumbling way, to illustrate that love is a far greater force, a far greater power than hate. Now we don't mean you're expected to go around like a pirouetting Pollyanna, tossing posies at everyone who passes by, but we do want to make a point. Let's consider three men: Buddha, Christ, and Moses…men of peace, whose thoughts and deeds have influenced countless millions thourghout the ages–and whose presence is still felt in every corner of the earth. Buddha, Christ, and Moses…men of good will, men of tolerance, and especially men of love. Now, consider the practitioners of hate who have sullied the pages of history. Who still venerates their words? Where is homage still paid to their memory? What banners still are raised to their cause? The power of love–and the power of hate. Which is most truly enduring? When you tend to despair…let the answer sustain you.”



(And who is Smiley? None other than Stan Lee, writer and editor of Marvel Comics, quoted here from Stan's Soapbox, part of the Marvel Bullpen Bulletin, in the comic book The Incredible Hulk issue #116 published in June 1969)

Herbs: Michael Tierra, the Man Who Invented Echinacea

Michael Tierra, famous herbalist, founder of Planetary Herbology, has had a remarkable career from the beginnings of the herbal revival in the 1970s until well into the 2000s as a “natural healer” (naturopath), “master herbalist,” and herbal educator.

I have listened to uncounted herbal talks and classes by Dr. Tierra and he has been a primary influence in my learning about herbs, herbal medicine, and the concept of integrating holistic modalities.

Some of Michael Tierra's accomplishments include:

• Becoming a Master Herbalist under Dr. John Christopher's system of herbal healing in the 1970s

• The first distance learning program for herbal healers launched in 1981

• One of the first herbalists in the United States to teach the traditional uses of Chinese herbs

• One of the first North American herbalists to classify herbs according to “energetics” such as hot/cold, wet/dry

• Developed the concept of Planetary Herbology, a humoural and energeitc categorization system for unifying Western, Ayurvedic, and Chinese herbal therapeutics

• Helped revive Eclectic herbal medicine, an American school of herbal healing in the 19th Century

• Originated the idea of the American Hebalists Guild, a professional organization for clinical herbalists

• One of my favorites: Tierra found a relatively unknown herb in an Eclectic herbal book and decided anything with such a strange name must be good for something. He began trying it out on his friends. At some point he decided that more is better and told his “patients” to take the herb every hour until their cold or acute situation had passed. This was Echinacea angustifolia, now one of the best selling and most used herbs in the world. This “protocol” of hourly doses of echinacea is now recommended by writers, doctors, natural healers, and lay people, some of who have never heard of Michael Tierrra. That's why I call Michael “the man who invented echinacea.”


St. Augustine–Bumper Stickers


St. Augustine: A quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem.

Question Gender


Surfrider Foundation

I Dig 1565

Watch for Motorcycles

I Brake For Turtles

Music Matters

Pink Slip Rick



St. Augustine: A quaint little philosophical village with a libertarian problem

St. Augustine–Founded by UFOs

St. Augustine: Love Your Local Vortex

I Brake For Lesbians

My Dog is a Vegetarian

Come Back Great Cosmic Happy Ass!

My Prius is Better Than Your Insight

Governor Rick–My Favorite Martian

If you live in Florida you understand the Rick thing. If you live in St. Augustine, you probably get the rest. There was a New Age book store in town in the 1990s called Dream Street whose owner moved to Asheville, North Carolina and started a business called the Great Cosmic Happy Ass. (What a great book store it was).



To understand natural healing, one must understand natural healing philosophy. The practice of Naturopathy has three main components: philosophy, science, and therapeutics. In Chiropractic this is called the “three-legged stool” of science, art, philosophy.

Naturopathic science encompasses more than materialistic science, and is a way of interpreting information that is indeed scientific, but seen through a vitalist lens. An example of this might be that a lower body temperature points to lowered vitality, not simply the thyroid's lack of ability to produce hormones. This is especially useful if the patient has normal thyroid test numbers, but has fatigue with a temperature below 97 degrees. This type of thinking leads to critical problem solving and developing a rationale for treatment.

Therapeutics is the how and why the different techniques are applied in a given situation. An example would be using hot packs for chronic muscular rheumatism, and cold packs for acute inflammation or trauma. While this example sounds simple and rather conventional, if similar thinking is applied through a whole range of therapeutic endeavors, then one truly understands how to use hydrotherapy. For instance, who would think that placing one's hand in ice water can lower the brain's temperature and induce relaxation of the nervous system? Another classic example is using a hot foot bath to draw down fever which usually shows up as a red face and hot head.

So it would seem that from the above that a good understanding of physiology and applied therapeutics is the key to natural healing (which we are here calling naturopathy). The third component of philosophy combines with science and art to produce clinical excellence and takes Naturopathy to another level. While Naturopathy does not have a monopoly on vitalist thinking, it is essential to the practice of its therapeutics. Here's a list of some of principles of Naturopathy:

First, Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)

The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)

Treat the Cause (Tolle Causam)

Prevention (Praevenire)

The Physician is a Teacher (Docere)

Treat the Whole Person (Tolle Totum)

Additional principles can be found through other lists offered by different Naturopathic practitioners or organizations.

After Chiropractic, Naturopathy has the best preserved vitalist philosophy from the late 19th and early 20th Century. This is possibly because these two disciplines were the last in line to be created of the alternative medical systems. They also had strong vitalist practitioners in their traditions.

Distance Learning, Part 2

(Back on the CAM, Herbal, and Naturopathic trail)

The modern version of the correspondence course is distance learning. No one questions now that colleges or high schools or even post graduate studies can take place through a computer or over long distance without the student setting foot in a classroom.

My observation is that all trainings, even college education, are only preparation to enter a field or profession. Education is not a guarantee of excellence, but simply that the student has met the minimum requirements to practice or work in their chosen field. One acupuncture school graduate I knew said that his education, after four years, was really just enough to begin to understand Chinese Medicine. It would take many years for him to become truly competent and become excellent. In the mean time he and his fellow graduates would start “practicing.” Massage school, not matter how good the school, only prepares you to enter the profession. The first thousand massages, the first thousand bodies you lay your hands on is the apprenticeship.

Competence in practice is gained on the job, through experience, and after learning the theoretical basics, fundamental techniques, and lexicon of a particular field. Many Chiropractors I know believe that the actual practice of Chiropractic can be learned in 2-3 semesters of learning after extracting the extraneous medical knowledge and educational padding that has accrued in their four year educational process. (I also know a few Chiropractors who said what they needed to know to give adjustments in practical terms could be learned in three weeks). Ironically, many Chirorpactors have to graduate before they can learn Chiropractic philosophy and truely understand their profession's history.

I have not taken any distance learning course in Naturopathy. I'm sure there are some exellent courses out there. At some point I would hope that a student of such a course would have a mentor, tutor, and ultimately a practical exam. I have taken and studied herbal courses through distance learning. All the criteria I have have laid out as being important were met. There was a mentor, there were tests, there was a graduatiion exam (which I took closed book), and there were practical classes that had to be attended “on campus.” I found this process as being deeply rewarding and a true educational experience. I spent many hundreds of hours beyond the credit hours awarded studying herbs and herbal healing. Every moment of it has benefited me and my patients.

I would say that there is a necessity for distance learning in alternative medicine. There are very few places to learn quality traditional naturopathy, herbalism, or other forms of natural healing. Unlike the modern medical educational system, you can't go to your local community college to take a course on herbal healing like you can nursing. One day there will be institutions like that in the United States. In the mean time we have to get education where we can.


Alternative Medicine: Distance Learning

Alternative Medicine: Distance Learning

(This would include Herbs, Naturopathy & Natural Healing)

Distance learning has been a part of natural healing education in America since at least the early 1900s. In an earlier post, I commented on an offering by Benedict Lust, the father of Naturopathy, in which he offered to teach nature cure through a correspondence course.

Correspondence courses have had a bad odor about them in the not-too-distant past. I remember comic books from the 1960s that offered to teach home auto mechanics and criminal investigation through correspondence. This seemed unlikely to me even then as a child. Later, there were correspondence courses offered on television by companies who used minor celebraties to pitch for them. It seemed like an endless list of professions they offered training in for the prospective student. I'm sure the question in many people's minds then as now was whether they were legitimate trainings or certifications.

A partial answer to “legitimacy” is that many skills and professions are not licensed or regulated. However one obtains training is then entirely legitimate if there is an actual course of training and the company or institution offering the course is not a diploma mill. (Diploma mills I shall address at a later date). If there is an adequate course of training that prepares a person for entry into a field or profession, then that is all anyone could ask for. I have come to this conclusion based on my own experience, and have a number of reasons to back this up. I shall give two here.

There is a lot of book work in learning natural healing, far more than most people understand. A student should be able to study and read books and course material at a distance as well as in a class room. It is important to have homework or tests that are sent in and read and graded. There should be a mentor or teacher that the correspondence student has to ask questions of or to monitor the student's progress. If those requirements are met, then there is no shame learning through a “correspondence course.” Let me reiterate: there is no quickie way to deeply learn natural healing–you have to study, study, study, and many of the books are very expensive. Then you have to practice.

Distance learning is now an accepted part of our culture. People expect to be able to take college level courses at a distance on the computer. There are some for credit classes in alternative medicine offered at universities and accredited schools. Some of them can be taken online. The material and literature those courses are drawn from are not from higher education, but from books and practices developed by practitioners from over a hundred years ago. Some of those practitioners may have started out with correspondence courses. Distance learning in alternative medicine has come full circle.


The Evolution of Natural Healing

I was introduced to natural healing, the professional variety, through Chiropractors and a few Naturopaths. There was exposure to the milieu natural through the Post Counter-Cultural Explosion of the 1970s, but most information came through lay people like myself who just shared cool things with other like-minded souls. There were very few people making a living doing massage; there was no acupuncture, no herbalists (a few herbologists were around but none in my area), spiritualists, psychics, Cayce mongers, and natural hygienists–but one was never quite sure what that discipline entailed–nudism? colonic irrigation? people that smelled funny and drank carrot juice? The only professional healers that I knew about had the credentials DC or ND. Now, years later, I realize that I probably have more training than most of the NDs I met back then, and know more about natural healing than all the knowledgeable DCs who turned me on to so many mind-blowing ideas.

Things have changed for sure. There are so many excellent classes, schools, and teachers out there. A number of disciplines have masterful teachers, and accomplished practitioners. The range of practitioners, depending on the discipline, or the area one is in, run the gamut of great to excellent to good to merely competent.The below average or seriously bad weed themselves out. Unlike regular medicine, it's a cash business, and the public supports those who help them get well.

Our culture is changing and natural healing is becoming part of it. The rate of acceptance of wholistic and vitalist models of healing is accelerating. People don't understand it all and they aren't supposed to. They are drawn to what's natural. It is the practitioner's job to educate them in healthy practices. We are now living in a fitness and wellness culture, so much so that even the medical industrial complex is having to adopt some of our natural healing principles and philosophy. If they don't, they will not only lose market share, but the people's faith in their form of medicine altogether.

I have seen this shift happen since the late 1970s. So many people have worked so hard to make this happen. So many have given so much to create a better world of healing. It has been beyond the understanding of the intelligentsia, the big brains, the industrialists, the shapers of opinions, and the government. People are more empowered now. They are students of natural healing. The practitioners, especially the excellent ones, are the teachers of health, what some define as a “true physician,” an educator.

We all started out with a blank page. Isn't that what the educational process is? We were Know-Nothings. Now we are Know-Somethings. I fondly remember many of the things I was turned on to even if I can't remember all the people or names that were involved. I've in turn passed on those things to my patients and the people in my world. It's important to remember the humble beginnings of the Natural Healing Revolution so that we don't forget that a lot of it is the application of basic principles to living. No matter how many degrees or institutions are created to perpetuate professional natural medicine, it started out as a philosophical interpretation of Nature and how to live naturally.