Alleged Allium Assault!

Ah, anger. Some alternative health types run screaming whenever it appears, as if it were a rabid Opossum. Lusty thoughts, fiery loins and body odors strike fear into the hearts of Graham-cracker-eating, self-flagellating raw prune eaters. And then they spread their fear-based rhetoric all over the internet….

“Garlic is a poison.”

“Onions are toxic.”

“Leeks induce anger.”

“Scallions are a direct line to masturbation.”

“One must ensure that all of one’s senses, including taste, are controlled and kept pure-in order for the mind to be kept pure.”

“Being in a malodorous state in the presence of the Lord is a sign of disrespect.”

“Garlic kills cells”

“It penetrates the body and putrefies the blood”…and it “desynchronizes the brain!”

We are still being encouraged to eat bland foods and sit quietly on a pillow to suppress our carnal urges,  and to eat corn flakes in a cold bath to avoid self-abuse.

OK, enough of this crap. First of all, you are an animal. Surprise. You have a body. Stop trying to escape it. Maybe you are not a pure Lotus flower, Maybe you are a horny Tiger, and maybe that is OKAY.

Hey, baby, do you come here often?
Hey, baby, do you come here often?

Where does this rhetoric come from? Maybe this constant fear of having an odor is part of what makes us angry? Maybe the focus on Latin and Italian stereotypes as loud and lusty is racist, classist and rife with fears of the other? Maybe our valid feelings being compared to demonic possession is pissing us the F off? Maybe this endless focus on “purity” and “pollution” is enough to drive us into a fit of rage?

And what is up with constant Angrophobia anyway? Expressed anger has a role to fill in our culture. REpresed anger leads to weirdness…and that is all we are doing here, people, with this avoiding and fear-mongering. Attempting to repress people’s valid feelings of anger.

Anger and lust can be exciting, invigorating, moving, interesting, real, validating, normal reactions to the input of the world.

And what really causes anger? Is it REALLY onions? Or is it maybe the reality of navigating a culture which does not believe in justice for everyone? Is it perhaps living in a world that is out of balance, which blocks us, suppresses us, cuts us off from nature and presents us with state-sponsored violence and a military-industrial complex that chews us up and spits us out. Sexism, racism, inequality, colonialism, polluted air and water, inaccessibility of needed care…..

And what actually helps us to move and process anger? Having an outlet. Being heard, being able to influence the world around you and having a mission in life.  Being able to help others. Physical movement, access to education, justice, freedom.

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When we substitute a straw-man like alliums for a deeper understanding of reality we do not help anyone or anything. When we cower in fear of expressed anger, in fear of lust and bodies and ecstasy and longing and the complex, sometimes messy reality of life in a human animal’s body, pushing people to avoid the fire which exists inside of them due to fear and disgust…we do not resolve the feelings of anger and lust that come up.

Anger and lust are normal emotions that are only a problem when they are not expressed safely, and constant messages that  purity and perfection are the only way forward are counterproductive bullshit that clouds potential human growth and healing.

And really, maybe it is exposure to the obnoxious, clearly angry internet posts arguing about whether or not garlic is the cause of anger, putrefaction and addiction that is the true cause of anger….

Who knows you best?

I have heard, within alternative health care, that we each know our own bodies best. That we know our children best. That we each know what is the best food, exercise program, and herbal treatment for ourselves. And due to top-down hierarchical structures that boss us around and manipulate us, it makes sense to want to rebel against this crap and take control of our future in every way. But I am not so sure it’s that easy.

I believe 100% in our own body sovereignty. I do. I own my body and it is always my decision to make. You own your body and you are free to make decisions about your healthcare and self-care, if you are not harming anyone else. Informed consent is lovely. And as parents, of course we are charged with the decisions about our underaged children’s care.

But. Do you really know your body best? I have occasionally found myself unable to view my body and health objectively, and have found talking to someone else to be useful in helping me get a new perspective. We don’t always have access to unbiased knowledge about ourselves. Humans get stuck into ruts, into patterns and pre-conceived notions. It is not necessarily that someone else knows me better, but that they are able to point out, to give voice to certain things that I am unaware of or afraid to mention….issues I may be dancing around, feelings I may be afraid to expose.

Certain things I have just, over time,  become accustomed to.

It is about getting more than one view, more than one angle. Seeing with new eyes.

We repress truths, we avoid realities. It is human nature. It isn’t bad, it’s just reality. And we have projected all kinds of external crap onto ourselves, onto our children and our loved ones. Even our dogs. Our hopes, our dreams, our fears, and the criticisms of 3 or more generations, all handed down in a messy little package.

I certainly get a barrage of my own parents’ baggage every time we talk–the idea that those closest to you can see you the most clearly is just not always 100% accurate.

So there may be value in getting another’s perspective, a trusted person or people, perhaps a counselor or a practicing herbalist, not some douchebags on Facebook or Instagram. There is value in seeking counsel form a trusted but un-biased elder or a grounded healthcare practitioner. There is value in adding others’ input to your intuition and research, and coming up with a solid integrative picture of the issue you are facing.

We can follow our dreams AFTER we have examined them. We can believe in ourselves AFTER we have built a character to believe in. And we can know our own bodies best AFTER we have accepted that sometimes it is not that simple.

There is value in trying something new, a way of eating or a movement practice outside of your “type”. Value again in going outside of your comfort zone, in opening your mind and asking good questions. And ultimately, there is value in learning how to give and receive feedback, open to possibility, open to a transparent future.

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PCOS: It’s complicated.

PCOS has been identified and diagnosed more widely, and as a result there are more people looking for a solution. There are also many less-scrupulous folks out there willing to provide a solution…an oversimplified solution that requires you to buy their product, that is. Let’s cut through the crap and examine the many layers of solutions that may help support someone dealing with this condition.

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is a syndrome, not a “disease” and that means it is more a collection of symptoms that each have to be addressed in their own way rather than, like, an infection that you can cure. The syndrome and symptoms manifest differently in different bodies and the treatment will be rather individualized.  It may be that a person will be managing this situation in a long-term way. What I mean is, please do not expect to take a tincture for a few weeks and then move on with your life.

That said, it is not all doom and gloom. PCOS is not the end of the world, you are not broken or bad, and you’re in great company–it is a very common condition. Positive thinking will not save us, but sulking and dwelling on the negative alone can block us from seeing solutions. Sometimes anger or frustration can drive us towards change, if you allow that. Find a balance.

So first let’s remember that often, Insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction are at the root of hormonal imbalances, including PCOS and others. It may be helpful to address that underlying issue in a long-term way rather than focus solely on manipulating the ovary.

I strongly suggest starting with exercise, at least some of it vigorous, as the foundation of a PCOS management plan. Don’t fear a little challenge, try brisk walking, running, kettlebells, dance, basically anything that builds muscle. Building muscle is a great way to address the underlying metabolic issues. Merely parking farther away from the mall doors will NOT cure you of anything. But sometimes starting slowly is appropriate.

I also suggest lower-glycemic eating. I am not a fan of extreme dieting, but learning about the glycemic index and choosing (mostly)  more lower-glycemic foods, more vegetables and less refined carbohydrates is a good start. You do not need to give up all sugar, all grains and all dairy forever –in the absence of allergies. You do not need to give up on Holidays and pizza parties. You do NOT need to “go on a diet”. Take a balanced approach and see where it leads you.

Sleep, hydration, stress reduction are all important contributors to overall health too. Massage therapy can be helpful, stretching programs such as-but not limited to- Yoga and deep breathing or meditative practices can also support relaxation.

Ok, herbs. The most important question to ask with herbs is “What are we trying to do here?” Remember, many books, blogs and ads are trying to sell you something–let’s use a problem-solving approach.

So perhaps your testosterone is higher than you’d like. Licorice root is one route to helping lower it.  We do want some testosterone of course, but when it is too high we may see symptoms that are called “masculinizing” . Allow me to address this briefly, there is no shame in these symptoms. IT IS JUST AN IMBALANCE. Please note that gender is complex and female-bodied people grow or lose all kinds of hairs — we do not all fit into standard gender boxes and that is FINE. That said, too-high serum testosterone over time can have unwanted effects.

One way to support your Endocrine system is with tincture of  Licorice root and Peony Root, a TCM combination which may help normalize ovulation, lower circulating testosterone and reduce symptoms of PCOS. Remember that a chronic lack of periods, or amenhorrea, is often caused by a lack of ovulation so the intention is to promote ovulation, which leads to the shedding phase, NOT irritate the uterus into bleeding with no ovulation. I suggest taking this combo as a tincture 2-3 times a day, but there are other options too, such as tablets. In many cases a few months of this combo is enough to normalize the system and promote normal cycles but in other people maintenance doses will be ongoing.

Please note that in some cases, high doses of Licorice root can exacerbate hypertension and interact with medications so please do your research on that, and if you notice BP issues, stop taking it or lower your dose.

Additionally, you might wish to help your liver process the higher amounts of androgens being produced. Blessed Thistle is my personal favorite for this purpose, or a bitters blend with one or more other plants like Milk Thistle, Artichoke Leaf, Burdock root, Dandelion, Angelica, Wild Lettuce and Mugwort. In general, most people benefit from some bitters in the diet and/or as a beverage and most livers are happy to have a little extra support. But for those of us who need a bit of help breaking down these hormones, bitter herbs really show how useful they are.  It is not just that your hormones exist, but that they are not exiting in a timely manner. Imagine a traffic jam of androgens. Bitters are an herbal  traffic cop that says “GO” when too many are lined up causing problems.

Bitters can be taken daily, before meals, as food or as needed.

Relaxing nervines are a category that can help support relaxation, rebuild the nervous system and promote better sleep. Milky Oats is one of my very favorites. Scullcap, Blue Vervain, Rose, Chammomile and Passionflower are all herbs I use and suggest to help support the nervous system. Living in a state of chronic nervous irritation may exacerbate inflammation, which does not support the healing work you are doing in other areas, and does;t usually feel great either. Tinctures can be used daily or as needed during times of stress.

And finally, balancing the overall body and supporting all of the systems–it doesn’t sound very glamorous but the big secret of human health is that the underlying terrain of your body held determine how you express your imbalances. Thus, immunomodulators, adaptogens and tonics specific to the individual can help in a longer term way to bring the body back into balance. This could be medicinal mushrooms, needed vitamins and minerals, more protein, a lymphatic mover, and so forth.

I generally suggest speaking with an herbal or integrative practitioner to help you find the right tonics.

Ideally, I have given you some ideas of where to start. Each of us will find our own way towards wellness, and every improvement is worth celebrating. Remember, you are not broken and you don’t need to punish yourself with diets, detoxes, raw food, cleansing or extremes. Integrative, common sense approaches promote long-term health. Natural approaches are nice but NOT always better….Do what works. It might take time to undo the condition, be patient, nourish and support your body.

Daucus
Daucus