Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Solstice!

Welcome winter!

The winter solstice has come and gone and the world hasn't ended yet! There were a lot of doomsday predictions floating around out there concerning the ending of the cycle of the fifth sun according to the Mayan calendar. Fortunately, most of that information was based on misinterpretations of the teachings of the Mayan prophesies.

Although much of the popular information about this time was inaccurate, there have been some positive outcomes resulting from all of the hype. There were probably more people gathered with their families, friends and communities around sacred fires around the globe honouring this sacred time than has occurred for centuries. One of primary reasons that we face global ecological, social and spiritual crisis at this time is because the dominant paradigm of our society sets us apart from the world that we live in. We live in a dangerous illusion that we are separate from the world and have lost touch with our interconnectedness with the life of our Earth Mother and all of the plant, animal and other beings that we share our lives with - including our fellow humans! Honouring the sacred cycles, places, medicines, and all of the gifts of this life through prayer and ceremony is an important and necessary prerequisite if we are to bring about the potential global shift in consciousness of the new cycle of the sixth sun. Even if we don't believe in the Mayan prophecies, a significant consciousness shift is essential if we are to avert global disaster, including possibly even our survival as a species.

How long do we have? Who knows! It's a big, awesome, mysterious world that we live in and it is ignorant and arrogant to think that we've got it all figured out. But the signs are all around us and it's time that we get our individual and collective heads out of the sand and heed the warnings. The way we live is unsustainable. Period. Whether we put our faith in reason, science and technology, or believe that we are going to be saved by aliens or some kind of divine intervention, we are only fooling ourselves. We can not heal ourselves if we are not in a healthy, harmonious relationship with the world. The changes that need to occur must come from us as individuals, as communities, and our society as a whole. It is all about who we are and how we interact with the world. It is all about relationship. Contemplating at this time of the winter solstice, the beginning of the natural new year, the shift from fall into winter (or spring into summer in the Southern Hemisphere), provides us with a beautiful reminder of this. However misguided, all of the hype about the end of the world has brought a lot more people to that place of contemplation. The truth is, the world as we know it has to end, for the sake of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and all of the other beautiful beings that we share this life with. It's time to reconsider our priorities; to get in touch with what is really important in life.

Honouring the medicine: Queen Ann's lace (Daucus carota) in winter.

In our community we honoured this sacred time of the winter solstice in ceremony. We offered thanks for the blessings of the fall and the year that has passed, and offered our prayers for the winter and year that is beginning. Our ceremonies will continue for the next couple of days. I am so grateful to be given the precious gift to live to see the beginning of another winter and another year. I offer my prayers of healing to all of the people of this world, both the human people and the other than human people. May it be a year of greater love, peace, healing and harmony!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Treating Respiratory Infections

The antibiotic amoxicillin is commonly prescribed for the treatment of respiratory infections. However, a recently published study [see:] has found that this antibiotic is not effective for the treatment of most of these kinds of infections. This is not surprising. For one thing, most respiratory infections are caused by viruses and antibiotics are not effective for the treatment of viruses. However, this study found that amoxicillin is not even effective for most respiratory infections where a bacterial infection is a factor.

This is a pretty serious concern considering the over-use and misuse of antibiotics these days, which is leading to the development of more antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Antibiotics are very powerful drugs and should only be used as a last resort in very serious illnesses. Had they been used in this way since their discovery, they would still be very effective medications and the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria would be minor. The prescription of amoxicillin for common respiratory infections is another example of the misuse of these drugs. Although the major responsibility here lies with medical practitioners, it is also the case that many people seek medical attention for minor infections and often expect to be given some kind of medication. So, some of the responsibility lies with the public as well. This is an even bigger problem in many developing countries where antibiotics can often be purchased over-the-counter.

I realize that in some cases even common respiratory infections like colds and flu can be very serious. But this is usually only the case for people whose immune function is compromised in some way. Governments and medical practitioners would do a lot more for public health if they focused on dealing with the real issues, like poverty, environmental degradation, and educating people about nutrition and lifestyle issues, rather than on band aid pharmaceutical "solutions". With health care issues such as these, "an ounce of prevention" isn't worth a "pound of cure", it's worth a ton of cure!

Common purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is one of the most
common herbs used for the treatment of respiratory infections.

There are also various natural means to improve our overall health and vitality, and the functioning of our immune system that can be implemented by anyone with some basic knowledge. These include many natural remedies such as herbs. This topic tends to be very popular at this time of year as we move into cold and flu season (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). I'm not going to write another long post in several parts on this one because a fair amount that I have already written on this topic is readily available online on the Vitality Magazine website. Because this topic is so popular, they tend to ask me to write something about it every couple of years and there are at least six articles on this topic archived on their website. Each time they ask me to discuss it from a slightly different angle. There is a lot of overlap between these articles, but each one focuses on different things and collectively they cover a lot of ground. Here are links to a few of them:

From November 2002:

From Novermber 2003:

From December 2005:

For anyone interested in this topic from the perspective of treating children, there is an article from September 2007:

Also, for those who are interested, we have just launched the first in an ongoing series of online lectures. This first one is on the treatment of colds and flu, since it is an important topic at this time of year. The lecture format allows me to cover certain things in much greater detail than can easily be done in a blog post or an article. You can find more information on this and other lectures here:

Finally, I would like to send out good medicine to everyone on this winter solstice (or summer solstice, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere)!