Medicines from the Earth News: Chanchal Cabrera’s Biophilia Intensive
Speaker Chanchal Cabrera is a medical herbalistpracticing on Vancouver Island, Canada. She lives at Innisfree Farm, a 7-acre botanical reserve and herb farm she and her husband Thierry Vrain created over the last ten years.
Linnea Wardwell spoke with Chanchal last week to find out more about biophilia, the instinctive bond humans have for all other life forms on the planet. It shapes her recent work on the farm, and is also the subject of the intensive workshop on Saturday afternoon at the symposium.
LW: Whenever we have a chance to chat, it seems there are new initiatives in your practice and farm activities. We’d like to find out what’s going on recently.
CC: Oh, that is a big question! I am always busy and always dreaming and scheming for the next opportunity to spread the word about herbal medicine.
Since my 4 months of training at Kew Gardens in 2013 and 2014, the farm has been listed on the international register of botanic gardens, one of 7 registered gardens in BC. Our specialty is medicine and food plants but we are also offering more and more education as well. We are running workshops, hosting events and teaching classes. Last year the 2nd biennial Vancouver Island Herb Gathering at Innisfree Farm had 270 people attend over 4 days. Next one is June 2017!
On top of that, I am still running the botanical medicine department at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in Vancouver, as well, so plenty to keep me busy.
LW: You’ve been a practicing medical herbalist since 1987 and were made a Fellow by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (the United Kingdom’s leading professional body representing herbal practitioners) in 2009. What is the main focus of your clinical practice? Continue reading
The answers are easy: a peaceful oasis on 1200 mountainside acres, the rushing streams and the wild plants and trails so near at hand. Being able to leave our car behind and walk everywhere. You won’t find a TV in your room, or a cocktail lounge here, but you will enjoy fragrant nights with fireflies! Ahhh.
We asked some of our regular attendees what they appreciate about Blue Ridge and thought you’d enjoy their answers. (Photos courtesy 7Song were all taken at Blue Ridge Assembly)
Blue Ridge Assembly has a special ambiance that keeps me coming back. I like the beauty, especially the creek with its soothing sound and the boulders where you can sit and put your feet in the cool running water and meditate. The whole place just has a special feeling. — S.M.
Back in 1996, the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) occupied a small building in Scottsdale. The school had recently opened its doors and the first Southwest Conference on Botanical Medicinewas held that April. We had an enthusiastic crowd of naturopathic students, health professionals, local herbalists and volunteers. Some of you may remember that first panel discussion on Saturday night, under the stars in the inner courtyard–since there was no central meeting hall large enough!
SCNM has since moved to Tempe, andis now one of the top schools in the US for training naturopathic physicians. It is also one of the first colleges in the country to qualify for LEED certification, a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. The herbal conference is an annual event here, and the profits help support the botanical medicine program at the school.
The two photos above illustrate why SCNM is such a special place: the commitment to the environment through sustainable… Continue reading
As some of you may know, Deborah Frances, a naturopathic physician from Oregon, has been in seclusion for several years due to chronic disability and environmental sensitivity. We recently received a letter from her saying that she is definitely improving and hopes to be back to teaching, maybe not next year, but soon. We know how many people she has touched over the years, at our herbal medicine conferences and in the wider world, and would like to send her our support and love as she continues her healing journey.
Whether you know her or have yet to meet her, this video from 2015 is a reminder of the inspiration she has brought to so many.
Donate to Deborah through our website: Herbal Educational Services We have created an account on our website to receive donations of any size which will be transferred to Deborah for her living and healing expenses. For a donation of $25 or more, we will send you a copy of her 2014 book Practical Wisdom in Natural Healing: Sage Advice for the Modern World.
In Practical Wisdom in Natural Healing, Dr. Frances draws from over thirty years of experience in homeopathic, herbal, and naturopathic medicine to provide practical and easy-to-apply therapies for a multitude of conditions. The book opens with a discussion of basic principals of healing and is followed by a chapter explaining the science of homeopathy. The rest is dedicated to practical tips for a multitude of conditions, interspersed with more lengthy discussions of several herbs, highlighting each plant’s unique personality and ability to impart spiritual as well as mental, emotional and physical healing. This book is full of practical advice and scientific references, but does not ignore the spirit that is alive within each of us and the plants who help heal us.
Right now Deborah (Lakota name: Beautiful Little Dancing Crow) is living in eastern Washington State, cut off from the teaching and healing activities she loves. We want her to know we haven’t forgotten. Please send what you can–and if it’s $25 or more receive the book that’s useful for self-care and detailed enough to use as a reference in clinical practice. Donate through our website Herbal Educational Services:
An excerpt from the recent letter we received from Deborah Frances: “I tell you, it’s other people’s love that keeps me going. LOVE is truly the greatest power on this Earth.”
Both Ayurveda and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) excel in diagnosing underlying imbalances and treating the whole person, not just the specific condition. Our library includes over 40 presentations on these ancient systems of healing.
Jerry Cott, PhD has been on the front lines of research design in mental health studies for over 30 years, working with NIMH, drug companies, NIH and other government agencies.
He reports that the only major change in psychopharmaceuticals in the last 30 years has been using the same type of drugs with more potency and often more serious side effects, when what’s really needed are new treatments with unique mechanisms of action in mental health.
Jerry’s passion has long been research in alternative and especially botanical medicine for mental health conditions. The lecture describes his involvement in the SJW (St. John’s wort) and ginkgo clinical trials at NIH in the 1990’s, and the outcomes of “no better than placebo.”
He brings to light the major flaws in research design, outcomes and media coverage of these studies, providing an authentic first-hand account of what went wrong.
And finally he offers hope in the fact that many new studies are now being submitted to FDA for approval to study botanicals and nutrients for mental health conditions, including anxiety.
Kevin Spelman, PhD has spent over twenty years in clinical research on botanical medicine. In this lecture he points out that with recent legalization experiments in several states, Cannabis is here to stay and as herbalists we need to acquaint ourselves with “the good, the bad and the ugly” of Cannabis use.
He describes the two main active ingredients in Cannabis: THC which is a euphoric, and CBD, a psychotropic. The difference is that CBD does not induce the feeling of being “high” but has widespread effects on brain chemistry.
Studies on active compounds in Cannabis are reviewed, which indicate positive benefit in opiate addiction, PTSD, seizures (especially in children where pharmaceuticals can have lasting negative effects), Alzheimer’s disease, cancer pain, and the spasticity of multiple sclerosis. He discusses preliminary research (and anecdotal reports) of the use of CBD for cancer.
Moving on to the negative effects, he cites reports of memory deficit, anxiety, psychosis, inability to focus, addiction, and a decrease in coherence of brain wave activity in heavy recreational users. This can be especially problematic for the developing brain in individuals under 30.
When Jerry Cott attended a conference at NIH in the 1990s on omega-3s for psychiatric disorders. it sparked a lifelong interest. In this presentation he tells the personal story of patients with with bipolar disorder and the dramatic effect omega-3 fatty acids had in their lives.
Since then he’s carefully followed research on omega-3 oils for brain health. The brain is 60% fat by weight and he reports that every synapse, membrane and cell needs essential fatty acids for their functioning. That may be the reason for the therapeutic effects.
The rest of the lecture describes research on omega-3 therapy for post-partum depression, bipolar disorder (especially in pregnant women where medications can be dangerous to the fetus), Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The anecdotal reports on TBI are inspiring and moving.
Written notes: Each of these recordings is enriched by their lecture notes, which provide an additional resource for understanding the material.
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