Herald Journal, Feb. 13, 2006
Holistic healing seeks to find what is wrong
By Liz Hellmann
After reconstructive surgery left Mary Schmidt’s brother lying in the hospital with three metal plates inserted into his face, Schmidt, of Winsted, knew she had to do something.
“His face was so swollen it looked like he weighed 450 pounds,” Schmidt said, both her arms extended almost a foot past her own face to illustrate.
Schmidt, who is in her last year of a master’s program in herbal studies, used her knowledge to help heal her brother.
She gave him an herb called yarrow, which is a capillary stimulate.
Schmidt’s brother made three weeks worth of progress in three days.
“The surgeon who operated on him said he was a poster patient it was just miraculous,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt has been studying herbs for the past 10 years, and is excited to finish her degree from the Northwest School of Herbal Studies.
After obtaining her degree, Schmidt hopes to help others by becoming the community herbalist someone people could come to for consultation and treatment from a holistic approach.
Traditional herbalism is about restoring the body to balance, so the body takes care of the problem, not the herb,” Schmidt said.
First studying the tradition of herbalism through Native Americans, Schmidt is interested in bringing her knowledge on the subject full-circle.
“I had a need or desire to understand the left-brain science of why herbs work,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt is part of what she calls a distance learning program, where she receives lectures on audio cassette, course work through mail correspondence, and some computer quizzes.
Through nutrition courses and lectures explaining how chemicals work within the herbs, Schmidt has learned how each herb tells the body to respond, part of which she already knows.
“I have the information, I’ve been helping friends and family for years,” Schmidt said.
Traditional herbalism is different from western medicine, because it is a holistic approach.
For example, the western approach to a headache is to take an aspirin.
But the holistic approach would be to determine what is wrong.
Indigenous people have used similar systems for more than 1,000 years to determine what is wrong, according to Schmidt.
The system decides if a person is too hot or cold, or wet or dry.
If the person is too dry, then the cause of the headache might be that they are dehydrated, Schmidt explained.
“We take an aspirin, and the headache will go away, but you are still dehydrated. It’s just removing the pain, it doesn’t remove the reason,” Schmidt said.
Once the reason is discovered, the treatment method follows.
Schmidt has herbs available in several different forms, to suit the individual and their situation.
Herbs are available in dried leaf form, in tinctures, and topical treatments.
Tinctures are herbs concentrated in alcohol. They are made by slowly extracting the herbs over a four- to six-week period.
Tinctures are one of Schmidt’s favorites because they are handy and powerful.
They come in small bottles, which are easily transportable, so they can be taken anywhere.
A few drops of the tincture onto the tongue, and the alcohol delivers the mixture straight into the bloodstream.
“In some cases, you can feel the difference almost immediately,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt holds many of her herbs in a cool, dark room in her house, but she is working on starting a commercial herb kitchen in a shed on her property.
Schmidt is already used to growing things, as she has been in the gardening and landscaping, with her Gardens Galore business since 1988.
Once she graduates, Schmidt will be able to continue helping others, this time as what she hopes will be a “community herbalist.”
“I can take phone consultations. I can see people generally right here in my home over a cup of tea,” Schmidt said.
For more information on herbalism, or to set up a consultation, call (320) 485-3562.