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Ebola and Herbal Medicine Remedies

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I've been reading a lot about Ebola and natural remedies over the past few days. Even writing that line, I'm feeling a bit of trepidation. The level of hostility towards anything that isn't sanctioned by Western medicine is disturbing. Given that no one knows for sure what will work, isn't it worth considering all avenues?

One element of the whole thing I find fascinating is the utter damnation towards people and groups offering herbal and other natural "cures." As if Western medicine, especially here in the US, is somehow above that. Or that the companies rushing to find a successful vaccine are doing so solely, or even mostly, out of altruism.

I mean, seriously people, the entire health care system in the US (with its global reach) is built on profit making, and yet some schmoe peddling turmeric or colloidal silver is enemy number 1? Something is really wrong with this picture.

Before anyone goes hyper on this post, I want to state clearly that I support the preventative and precautionary measures being put forth by Western medical agencies. In addition, I am in awe and humbled by those working on the front lines, trying to save lives, while also trying to not contract the virus in the process. In fact, I stand with all front line medical workers (wherever they are) who are currently fighting for better protection measures to be put in place. All of this is horribly tricky, and everyone who is actively care-giving and making a good faith effort deserves our support and well wishes.

If anything, I see this crisis as a perfect opportunity for the fragmentation, marginalization, and colonization of medicine to start coming to an end. That, instead of the continued hegemony of Western medicine over all other systems, enough of us worldwide find ways to bring forth whatever might be helpful from our various traditions and backgrounds in service of collective healing. For example, as an herbalist, I think that front line caregivers could benefit from immune system boosting, adaptogenic herbs like Tulsi and Ashwagandha. Herbs that may or may not prevent the virus, but could definitely make recovering from it more likely. I can say this because there are multiple studies from previous Ebola outbreaks suggesting that folks with better functioning immune systems were more likely to develop antibodies against Ebola virus proteins. Another herbal link that might be of support is gentle liver health plants like Dandelion root, given that the liver is one of the main target organs of Ebola.

Furthermore, I know that traditional African medicine practitioners in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and elsewhere have some piece of the puzzle. Where's the respect for their wisdom? Where's the willingness to reach out to those who have cared for their people for generations on end to see what their insights are on dealing with this crisis?

The reality is that anyone saying they have the whole answer on something like Ebola are liars. Western medicine clearly doesn't have it. Herbalism in it's various forms doesn't have it. Shamanism doesn't have it. No one does. And that's totally fine. No matter what happens, it's always a combination of approaches that calms major collective health crises. Always. Anyone who says otherwise needs to go back and study a more globalized history of medicine, one that moves far beyond what's been handed down by the same people who gave us the colonialist history books.

I sincerely wish for the world that we someday wake up and develop truly collaborative, dynamic health care approaches that honor indigenous wisdom, privilege preventative medicines in whatever form they take, and are driven not by greed, arrogance, and power games, but by a shared desire to heal and awaken hearts and minds.

*Note: The specific herbs mentioned in this article are provided as category examples only, and are not meant as specific treatment recommendations.

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