Healing Herb Calendula

Healing Herb Calendula
One of my favourite medicinal herbs, this calendula flower was visited by a bee when I snapped it at the Lismore Community Garden.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I was disturbed by the sad story of a young woman who had bowel cancer, and I was disturbed by the story of her experience with natural therapies. Taking the story at face value, as I have no knowledge of the people involved, I felt alarmed at the approach taken by the woman and her husband, and particularly her homeopath. I would like to reassure people that this story is absolutely not the usual approach taken by natural therapists.

All of the naturopaths and herbalists at Traditional Medicinals encourage clients to use medical tests when the symptoms warrant this. Any bleeding from the bowel should be tested, no matter what the age or apparent health of the client. With a diagnosis of bowel cancer, our natural health practitioners encourage the client to follow the advice of her/his medical specialist, and natural remedies are used safely and appropriately alongside this medical treatment. The medical treatment may involve surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation treatment.

We would never discourage a client from having medical treatment, but would respect someone's right to refuse treatment if the prognosis according to the cancer specialist is very poor and the side-effects likely to be distressing.

The woman concerned in "Australian Story" chose to use homeopathic treatment and believed that a positive attitude was essential to her healing. These choices were supported by her husband and her homeopath. I believe that this approach could be an adjunct to treatment, but that a broader approach is warranted. The danger with this approach, as the story revealed, is that signs of deterioration can be misunderstood as a "healing crisis", and also that the family is pressured to not express concerns about what they see before their eyes, for fear of introducing negativity. Clearly other family members in this story felt powerless and frustrated by the refusal of some to see what was really going on, that is the young woman was dying from the disease.

Natural remedies can make a significant contribution to the quality of life for someone with cancer. Remedies can be given to prepare the body for surgery, and to assist with recovery. Some herbal medicines can be safely given to help the person cope with the side-effects of chemotherapy. Blood-building and immune system support can be given at the appropriate stage in recovery from medical treatments. Healthy diets can also be tailored to the stages of recovery. Longer-term revitalising of health can be achieved through nutrition, supplements and herbal medicines as well as addressing stress and emotional wellbeing.

When someone is terminally ill, there is a role for natural remedies to provide a measure of symptom relief and to support the person emotionally during the latter stages of his or her life. These remedies can complement any treatments offered medically. Tragically for the young woman in "Australian Story" and for her family, there could have been a different outcome if her early symptoms had been investigated, and treatment decisions had involved both her medical specialist and her homeopath.


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