1. tinkertailor

    tinkertailor Senior Member

    In the past, I was incredibly interested in crystal healing. Most of my modest pocket money in high school was spent on various polished stones and crystal formations from a small local crystal shop. I was living in an incredibly stressful home situation and found comfort in the idea that stones had vibrations that resonated with the human body. I meditated while looking in to my favorite rose quartz and slept with a carnelian in my hand (for courage, I was told) and a labradorite under my pillow (for lucid dreams and astral projection, I was told). I liked the thought that something so beautiful and ancient, formed in the earth, could somehow resonate with my humble human body. I read all the books on the subject and did, indeed, feel better when I was near my crystals. I discovered chakras and sacred geometry, all these incredible extrasensory ideas. I told myself that they were working, and they really seemed to. Holding a certain crystal would make me feel connected to it, or grounded, or soothed. The idea made so much sense to me and I was really drawn to it.

    Today I'm a second-year community college student who is headed to state college for a degree in a health-based career. I'm cautiously friendly with science and math, having struggled through (but aced! :) ) statistics last spring and biology last semester. Last year, I decided to take on an internship for a semester because I needed an extra unit and some job experience. I had been making my own body products--lotion and the like--for years and was interested in the properties of various herbal remedies. I decided on a local herb shop, applied, and got accepted. I was surrounded by herbs for four hours a week, and I was taught some of their properties*.

    I can't lie, it was incredible. I have no complaints about the way I was taught and I really enjoyed the experience from start to finish. I was fully aware of the kind of environment I was going in to, so before beginning I made sure I was fully vaccinated. Some of the herbalists (most, even) didn't believe in vaccines. I knew this and didn't bring it up very much at all.

    There are some kind of interesting (from an outside perspective) aspects of the herbal world that I'd like to mention:

    First, and most shocking to me, most of the herbalists I worked with were adamantly against any sort of homeopathy. Homeopathy and herbalism are completely different. Herbalism believes in treating symptoms of diseases with herbs to alleviate or eliminate them, while homeopathy believes that incredibly (ridiculously) small doses of a medicine that causes the same illness and/or disease can heal. Very different concepts, most of the herbalists I know believe so too.

    Secondly, there were a shocking amount of people coming in to the shop who were in the Western medical field. Doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, all of these educated, scientifically-minded individuals came in for an ounce of this or that. There were a few surprise customers in there--around Valentine's day an ancient woman came in and ordered a level pound of an aphrodisiac* herb known as Horny Goat Weed--but the most surprising customers were always the medical or scientific professionals.

    Thirdly, most people who came in the shop were there in conjunction with Western medical treatment. Someone with consistent back pain might be told by their doctor that Arnica could help them, and we would hand them a salve with a smile on our face. Someone who was tired of paying for tub after tub after tub of Icy Hot for their troublesome knee came to us and got a much more economical bottle of essential oil which gave the same feeling but could be stretched out much farther. Mothers came in with children and a note from their pediatrician recommending chamomile tea, which we gave them. I can only think of one or two occasions where people came in with complete disdain for all things Western medicine. Generally, once these customers left we in the shop were a bit perplexed by them.

    At some point midway through the semester I stopped believing in crystal healing. I just started thinking about it logically (for once) and realized that the 'properties' of the stones were based on color or common name and nothing more. Rose quartz, with its soft pink hues, was for love. Moonstone was touted for PMS, bloodstone for anemia. Carnelian, with colors ranging from pinkish flesh to yellow to deep red, was for courage. Due to its name, though, it also was touted for carnal desires too--something I'm sure the elderly woman with the Horny Goat Weed could tell you. It's interesting to me that one really bunky belief--crystal healing--was replaced by a marginally less bunky belief--that some herbs have constituents in them that have an effect on the body. What I told myself was that I could sleep next to an amethyst (which is purple, the color of lavender and generally associated with calm) to help my anxiety or I could have some chamomile tea and a bath in epsom salts and physically feel relaxed. In some ways, I think my herbal exploits were a nice step into more scientific thinking.
    I ended up turning in to a volunteer after the semester was over, and through the summer I continued to love the environment in the shop. I had heard a few whispers by customers about chemtrails, but I didn't think too much of it. When fall semester started and I was swamped with studying and exams, I needed more time so I left on good terms.
    I'm still friends with many of the herbalists. In agreement with my doctor, I take herbs to treat mild somatic symptoms like nausea or slight insomnia. I can still list the properties* of the common weeds I see on the side of the road and I still like to read about botany and the healing properties* of some herbs. I'm sure there's a good chance that I'm sometimes taking placebos. As long as I'm not doing harm to myself, I'm pretty okay with that and so is my physician.

    Early last semester, I started feeling a bit uneasy with the more hardcore herbal community. I live in an area where medical marijuana growing is a huge business, with an influx of 'trimmigrants' as we call them arriving each fall for the harvest season. Alternative health is big here, growing is big here, and somewhere around October I began to see small groups gather on the overpasses with "LOOK UP WAKE UP" signs. I believe it was something to do with fear that the spraying was affecting the community's crop and also making us sick, blocking the sun, the usual. Then it grew, and there were pamphlets in coffee shops. One local woman kept replenishing my college's job opportunities bulletin board with flyers about aluminum detox home remedies and general 'they're spraying' information. Somehow quite a few of these pamphlets ended up on the campus's outdoor grounds. I was picking up some, had some free time before my next class and looked geoengineeringwatch up on my phone. As I mentioned in the welcome thread, I couldn't really look away. It was like a car crash or something, terrible and yet eye-catching. Some other CT site I was looking at talked about government shills which led me to Metabunk and I was a lurker for months.

    I think my experience can teach the debunking community something about helping people who believe in bunk. Perhaps if convincing them cold turkey that their beliefs aren't logical, the evidence doesn't support it, etc doesn't work we could see progress in a step into somewhat less radical CT believing. In other words, if I have an uncle who's gone a bit off the deep end and won't stop talking about Obama's plan to poison us all with chemtrails during Thanksgiving dinner, I could consider it forward progress when he recants and says Obama's just doing it to seed clouds during Christmas dinner. Maybe the key to helping more radical believers isn't to push them out of the conspiracy nest all in one go but to take it nice and slow and try to teach them to use their wings**.

    *alleged, perhaps not scientifically proven but accepted in the general herbal community. Not saying I believe it either.
    **excuse the odd analogy...
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  2. Marin B

    Marin B Active Member

    Sounds to me like Mendocino county :) (I know a trimmigrant (despite never having heard that term before!))
    Your comments about herbal medicine are interesting. I believe there probably are a lot of herbal remedies that have a real effect. The problem is that the clinical studies required to prove that an herbal treatment provides a statistically significant benefit are extremely expensive and pharma companies won't invest in those clinicals because they can't get patent protection for an ancient herbal remedy.

    I've tried something similar to this. The point I try to make is that the trails left by jets may indeed be harmful and something to be concerned about -- not because they are spraying harmful chemicals, but because the cloud cover produced can contribute to global warming, and then I refer to an article in a prestigious journal, such as this one, http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v1/n1/full/nclimate1078.html. (*)
    but so far I've had no luck with this approach (after about 2 years of trying - I should probably just give up). I think one value of Metabunk is to catch people before they fall down the rabbit hole -- people who are on the internet searching for information on a conspiracy theory they just learned about, and provide tools for critically thinking through the proposition - but once someone has committed to an idea, I'm afraid it's usually too late to really do anything about it.

    (*) Note: The link to the Nature Climate Change article doesn't appear to be working at the moment. The article is from 2011 titled "Atmospheric science: Seeing through Contrails", and the author is Olivier Boucher.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2016
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  3. tinkertailor

    tinkertailor Senior Member

    That's pretty much my view on herbs. California Poppy has a calming and antispasmodic effect on the body according to herbalists and I have found that to be true with my body. I mean, it's pretty well established that oleander is poisonous and drugs like marijuana and heroin alter human perception, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that some plants might have a good effect on the body. The key is to be realistic about it and, above all else, SAFE. If someone has cancer and they follow a rogue herbalist's recommended "herbal chemo" program, it won't work. Treating your four-year-old's bronchitis with lavender essential oil and lemon slices won't work. But if you have nausea and chew a piece of ginger before a meal, it might work and you might feel better and if it doesn't you won't be any deader than you were before it.

    I'm actually on the other side of the Emerald Triangle--Nevada County! I think last year I met a gentleman who flew to Sac International from France to trim here. Around Halloween it is not completely unusual to see someone withdraw ten thousand dollars cash at the bank, and the smells of dry leaves and pumpkin spice carried on the wind ride on top of a smoky, skunky base note...

    You really hit the nail on the head regarding the beauty of Metabunk--helping people before the point of no return. That or getting paid by the gubbment to spread misinfo, I forget which...
  4. NoParty

    NoParty Senior Member

    Thanks for your story...I messed with homeopathy in college but never hung with herbalists...or anyone, really. :p

    Your history with crystals is interesting to me, though I personally never really got the "vibration" thing.

    I mostly just piped up to say "Welcome," and that I used to live in that neck of the woods...
    in a cabin (a bit nicer than the Unibomber's!) off Robbins Ranch Rd., about 20 clicks east of North San Juan...
    I miss my little 20 acres of sugar & ponderosa pines...and the clean air... (in SoCal now...)...
    it's lovely country...don't take it for granted... :)

    Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 10.39.21 PM.
  5. tinkertailor

    tinkertailor Senior Member

    Oh the area is incredible, don't get me wrong. The river, pine trees, the views of the Sierra... I love it. I'll probably do that thing that everyone does in this area and just move somewhere else and then come back when I'm older... If I can afford it, that is.
    It is SO gorgeous out where you used to live! The Washington area has some great river spots that no one really knows about and the trees there are absolutely stunning. I like to drive out there and just get lost on all the backroads. 20 acres... drool!
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  6. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Senior Member

    As a musician who has for many years been playing in the more 'spacey' psychedelic side of rock and roll (sorry, I just love the wild improvisational side of the genre and I am not a good enough guitarist to play jazz) I've run into a lot of people who have tried to help me out with various ailments and conditions with herbs, crystals and other types of new age stuff.

    I will honestly say some of the herbal stuff I've been given has helped. A bindweed infusion really helped with a bout of constipation brought on by a junk food road diet. Willow bark powder helped with some arthritis pain. When I cut a finger changing a guitar string and it turned septic a cute hippy* chick made a bandage with a crushed garlic compress, and it cleared the infection in a day or three and when a few months of sitting on hard flight cases in the back of cold transits caused a minor case of piles some hippy* womans Hazel and Horse Chestnut ointment worked a treat. I also suffer from depression from time to time and when I was struggling with the side effects of certain anti-d's my GP suggested St John Wort, and indeed it did help keep me stable. However, I've also acquired a sizable collection healing crystals, magic stones and other shiny rocks that never did anything but look pretty on a shelf in my living room.

    I can see the possibility of some herbal medicine. After all before modern treatment and science it was all there was, and there is archeological and documental evidence that using herbal curses and concoctions people could recover from battlefield injuries, infections and ease pain etc. But I've always been a bit of a skeptic, and could never understand how the whole crystal healing could work in the first place. Some believers have told me that I have to believe to see results, which gets me thinking that there if the is anything in crystal healing, then its some kind of placebo effect.

    (* NOTE - I am not using the term hippy in any kind of derogatory way, I know, love and respect a lot of hippies)
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  7. tinkertailor

    tinkertailor Senior Member

    Oh, it absolutely would. Try as we might to sell gold mining t-shirts and cappuccinos and theater tickets, our local economy would be decimated if we didn't have all the tourism for cannabis. In a smallish town, Amazon Prime gets used more than many of our shops and quite a few people still do all their shopping at the Costco and mall in Roseville. The marijuana industry has been instrumental in helping our community's economy. Just the amount of gardening and hydroponics shops has gone up in the last ten years, creating more jobs. People who otherwise wouldn't be able to work 9-5 jobs are paying their rent just by sewing up cylindrical bags for growing. Then we have the trimmigrants themselves, who often spend a couple hundred bucks each in town at the end of the harvest. It's a blessing, and even though I don't use the stuff or have any desire to I think it's important to utilize it.
    Exactly. Most the people my age who go out and get their medical marijuana recommendation don't do it for health reasons, but many people are using it instead of painkillers which I think is better. There's a lot of addiction in our community, and keeping people away from the hard stuff is good IMHO. Even the people who have medical marijuana prescriptions not for strictly medical reasons are kept out of the jail, a very good thing.
    The key with any kind of natural medicine is BALANCE. I do my part by being vaccinated, going in for checkups with my MD and seeking professional medical help when I need it. If I have a cold, I'm going to use some slippery elm bark (demulcent, lubricates sore throats and helps water absorption), California Poppy (antispasmodic, soothes uncontrollable coughing), soup and bed rest before I head to the doc for some codeine cough syrup. If the herbs don't work or my symptoms persist, I head to the doc. I'm really happy with this system and I think that marijuana has promise as a medicine in the not-to-distant future.
    I suppose that's the thing with all sorts of bunk. Most believers might casually think something's amiss with the contrails in the sky but go about their lives just fine, not broadcasting it. Some might just be curious. Some take it to the next level, and try to change it by voicing their opinion. The real true believers can be a bit of a vocal minority, making their relatively small numbers look much larger just with their fervor and volume. Perhaps there's hope for the true believers, but if there isn't we can always try to enlighten the casual or curious before they fall in to the rabbit hole in the first place.
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  8. SR1419

    SR1419 Senior Member

    Aren't most traditional western medicines based on or derivatives of naturally found substances? Ie; Aspirin is based on the salicylic acid found in willow bark etc...To me, the basic element of "natural" remedies seems logical and its really going to the source rather than the pre-fab bottles of Big Med.

    Heck- the SFgate- the entertainment blog for the SF Chronicle even has monthly reviews of different pot strains:

  9. tinkertailor

    tinkertailor Senior Member

    Completely. Digitalis medication for heart health is based off of foxglove, a poisonous plant. Opiates are derived from the opium poppy.
    I've had prescriptions for dicyclomine, an antispasmodic, in the past but found that the effectiveness with abdominal cramps was little to none. Cramp bark, peppermint and California poppy work better and don't need to be taken as often to be effective.
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: the key is to be smart about it. Herbs can't do some things that Western medicine can. If your appendix is bursting, don't chew on spearmint (or whatever you think will help you). Go to the ER. Herbs can't immunize you against harmful diseases that can seriously injure unimmunized people around you. Get vaccinated. But if you're mildly ill or experience unpleasant symptoms on occasion, talk to an herbalist and try a plant or two. Talk to your doctor, make sure you aren't taking anything that reacts negatively with your meds. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to a doc and an herbalist. It's really simple. Take what works from both schools of medicine and utilize them TOGETHER.

    As a side note, I'd just like to say how wonderful you all are. I was expecting at least some hesitancy and skepticism about herb use and so far you've all been positive, funny and the perfect blend of skeptical and accepting. You're the best.
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  10. JRBids

    JRBids Senior Member

    You have to agree, though, it's a heck of a lot easier to pop a Bayer aspirin from the bottle than to manufacture it yourself. Plus, you know how much you're getting in a dose.
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  11. SR1419

    SR1419 Senior Member

    Oh absolutely! I tried wrapping my head in willow bark but it didnt have the desired effect :) What I was getting at was that I am not averse to folks using natural remedies as there is likely some element of truth/effectiveness to their continued use.
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  12. Rico

    Rico Active Member

    I just read the OP the first time. Some good stuff. It actually kind of brings back memories for me.

    I actually used to want to be a herbalist myself, and perhaps the only reason why I never pursued it was because of the money to dive into it, and plus I had a bit of doubt on how well I can actually make a living out of it. One of my dad's friends even told me straight out how impractical it was. This said, I did used to have a lot of wild beliefs though.

    The New Age movement was actually something that struck me as interesting many years ago. I enjoyed the spiritual / peaceful / love your neighbor kind of feel from it. What really appealed to me was the various forms of healing. It was something that makes one feel special, while at the same time, you feel as though you are actually helping someone in a unique and easy way.

    Believe it or not, I pursued Reiki (became a Reiki Master apparently) and Pranic healing. I was introduced to crystals too, so I know what you mean by "vibrations," and all that, and what certain stones are supposed to do. I also learned a little bit about the chakra system, and how healthy chakras = healthy spiritual body = good health. There was a lot of wishy-wash beliefs in some of the spiritual circles I was in, but whatever.

    One day though, I decided I wanted to get into University and finish a degree. Initially, I found people--particularly profs--to be a rather cynical, closed minded bunch. There was always an overemphasis on "critical thinking," which seemed like a bogus excuse to complete assignments without the proper tools. But then, my beliefs in alternate medicine started to falter too, and I actually did start to understand the merits of critical thinking. It helped build reasoning and understanding, and it also made me reflect on my own belief systems. During my time in U, I also started developing myopia on both my eyes. Because of my failure to heal even half of a diopter, reality started to slap me in the face.

    The whole thing about Chemtrails only recently came on my radar a few years ago. I think I might have believed it had it not been for bit more critical thinking. I also have a background in aviation, and had my pilots license as well, so at least knowing the science in the atmosphere, how airplanes worked, and how airlines are ran helped. But in a way, I do understand why people believe in it. In fact, there are a chunk of chemtrail believers who are disposed to New Age and alternative medicine. And quite frankly, how airplanes actually work in unison to the environment can be complex topic to learn.
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  13. Soilmaker

    Soilmaker New Member

    I'm a new member to this site and while exploring various threads came across this one. The last post was April 25, 2016 but I thought "what the heck!" I'll add a reply since these topics (herbs, crystals, and alternative health practices) are of interest to me.

    I grew up in a home with parents that loved to garden and cook. We had large flower and vegetable gardens, house plants, and floral arrangements decorating the tables. I took it for granted that everyone grew up in a similar fashion, which I suppose is what most children think about the world. In high school I developed hay fever and stomach problems. In college I developed psoriasis. Many aliments were largely a result of stress, but because of them I became interested in how my eating habits affected my health. New neighbors in our apartment building were vegetarian and I learned how to cook without meat from Maggie. I joined a large and thriving food coop in our community and started buying whole bulk foods; beans, grains, and spices. In my sophomore year of college I took a philosophy class on world religions and met a very wise old fellow that taught me Hatha Yoga and meditation.

    I have been gardening all of my life. It began with flowers, advanced to trees and shrubs when we bought our first new home, and finally moved into vegetables and herbs. The first herbs I grew were simply for their beauty in the garden and their attraction to bees, butterflies, and humming birds. I slowly learned to grow herbs for culinary use (basil, cilantro, garlic, chives, oregano, thyme, marjoram, savory, sage, etc.). I find it very satisfying to go to the garden or greenhouse and cut fresh herbs for something I'm cooking. My gardening friends are always offering me various plants and this led me into herbal tea (chamomile, mint(s), and hyssop), which inevitably led to herbs for medicine. I met a woman who worked at a local health food store and she was a walking library of information on the medicinal uses for herbs. Her college degree is in food and nutrition but she has worked in the business of natural supplements, herbs, and health food for many years. We share many areas of interest and often exchange books and have stimulating discussions about shamanism, spirit healing, and herbalism.

    I credit her with the start of my interest in herbal medicine. I began buying and growing specific plants and "exploring" their uses, as recommended by one of my favorite herbalist writer/practitioners, Mathew Wood. I like to spend time getting to know a plant, as writer, herbalist, plant mystic, Stephen Harrod Buhner describes. When my doctor asked me if took any herbal medicines I asked her if pesto counts. She got irritated and replied "That is food! I'm talking about medicines." But food is medicine and pesto is a marvelous example. Basil and garlic provide many heath benefits. Yes, plants have specific compounds in their leaves, root, or seeds and sometimes can be extracted or synthesized and made into a potent therapeutic agent we call 'medicine'. Or perhaps they contain toxic compounds that are poisonous and can kill us, or just give us hallucinogenic visions. Herbs are a field of practical and scientific study that goes back into prehistory, when the 'wise woman' or shaman used plants for healing, visions, or rituals.

    I don't buy crystals but as a geology student I love collecting rocks and minerals on various hikes in various parts of the country. I bring them home and decorate my garden. I enjoy a home filled with baskets, rugs, wooden trays and bowls, dried flowers. I find the company of living plants and natural materials in my surroundings to be very comfortable and relaxing. My friends tell me I have a "green thumb" because I appear to be able to grow almost anything. Chinese friends tell me my vegetables taste better than anything they can buy and they love it when I bring them a basket full. When I walk into a room or garden I notice plants. I can usually recognize if they are being cared for, the state of their health. It isn't rocket science to notice if a plant is getting too much or too little sun, water, or nutrients. Like most things in life we become an "expert" because we have experience, education, or simply an interest in a topic. When I am interested in something I become a voracious reader, sifting through the information and ideas others have recorded. Then I experiment, finding wisdom in hands-on experience. I learned how to learn during the many years I spent in college; changing majors from art to science and then completing BS and MS in science and a PhD in engineering. College broadened my thinking and understanding of the world. Learning is a lifelong pursuit.

    I have had a longstanding relationship with plants. My experiences formed the foundation of my current world view. Family gave me a love and appreciation for plants as a source of beauty, food, and simple enjoyment. 'Hippies' at the food coop taught me about eating clean, and cooking with whole food. College taught me critical thinking. Reading, meditation, gardening, cooking, spending quiet time doing nothing has become wonderful pursuits in my life. Through these experiences I have found what works and what doesn't...for me.

    I suppose I'd sum up my position on herbal medicine this way. Health is well-being... physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Cultivating health is about cultivating "being well", finding out what makes us feel better, happier, more grateful to be alive. Health is what gives life meaning and purpose. My life is made richer by my contact with soil, plants, insects, birds, animals, people, and cultures. I enjoy cultivating the soil and seeds, aware of the sun and rain that make the plants around me grow, and from which my food is derived. My joy is the food I prepare, eat, and share with family and friends. My happiness is being in the garden or woods.

    Maybe plants are simply plants, and I admire their urge to live and thrive similar to my own. Maybe plants have taught me to appreciate spring rain and the feel and smell of rich soil in my hands, knowing the microbes are active and thriving. Maybe my connection to plants is what makes me turn my face towards the sun and breathe deeply of fresh air. Maybe appreciating plants has taught me to sit quietly, to be simple and humble in the face of the mystery awaiting. No matter what reason I chose, plants are still plants, and how to enjoy them or benefit from them is up to each of us to discover.
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