Healing and Nature

Nature has an instinctive tendency towards wholeness, but to understand Her, we must, as my uncle said, observe her closely. She does not reveal herself casually but rather subtly to those who approach Her with sincerity and a willingness to be guided.

In learning any new subject, it behooves all of us to look to our predecessors for guidance and wisdom. We should, however, also bear in mind that Mother Nature is generous and has offered us many solutions for what ails us. Jonathan Hartwell researched 5000 years of ethnopharmacological history and identified 3000 herbs effective in cancer treatment. Thus, a patient living in India four thousand years ago or Europe in the twelfth century did not require poke root or bloodroot in order to be cured of cancer.

Hildegard of Bingen made a cancer salve of violets in the twelfth century, a tea of yarrow, and a duckweed elixir. Seven hundred years later, Eli Jones, MD, claimed an 80% success rate using pastes of bloodroot and a syrup with scrophularia. John Christopher made two different cancer salves, one with cayenne and the other with poke root as the main herb. His tea for cancerous growths contained equal parts of red clover, violets, burdock, yellow dock, dandelion root, rock rose, and goldenseal.

Burdock was one of the ingredients found in cancer tonics dating as far back as Hildegard and right on up to the present, including the famous Essiac formula that is predominantly burdock.

Given the mutagenicity of cancer and the extra stress of modern pollutants, it is not possible to gauge the relevance of an historic formula in present times. This is something we are still trying to learn by re-creating the formulae and trying them with persons who are searching herbal support for their diseases.

Herbs also mutate, some of them faster than others. Some herbs, adaptogens, impart to us the gift of coping better with the pressures of life. Even if we cannot estimate the probable success of a given protocol today, I am relatively certain that motivated patients working with gifted healers can find the relief they seek, even when the body has been severely compromised by disease and degradation of the air, water, and food needed to survive.

In presenting the material on salves and suppositories, my goal has not been to deliver an herbal protocol for cancer treatment but rather to provide patients, herbalists, and sincere health care professionals with enough historical and anecdotal material to stimulate inquiry. Not all cures work for everyone, not everything represented as a cure is actually effective, and not all people are curable. Whether evaluating a conventional or alternative treatment, discrimination is crucial—so, too, is the willingness to explore what people throughout various ages have found helpful.

I have often remarked to my friends and students that I do not understand anything at all about how electricity gets into my home or why any of my appliances work; but for me healing is simple. The obvious reaction to this sort of "ignorance" is that if it were so easy, doctors would have cures for everything and everyone, and people would all be well. They are also usually quick to try to remedy my lack of education by explaining to me the nuances of electricity. I still do not understand electricity, but I do have a moderate grasp of magnetism.

The energetics of food, herbal healing, and psychospiritual healing all rely on the affinity or lack thereof for what is offered as a "cure." They are therefore forms of chemistry, and I feel I do understand the chemistry of attraction and repulsion.

My first contact with herbal medicine was in Hawaii. There, the kahunas, the Hawaiian healers, taught me that one must talk to the patient about what is wrong and what is needed. Then, one must go to the forests to talk to plants and the Spirits Who dwell with them. We are to tell them what the problem is and why we are seeking their help. They then agree to help us or make other suggestions which we are ethically bound to accept.

When I moved to Santa Fé and found myself surrounded by herb shops with dry and desiccated desert and imported herbs, I felt nostalgia for the mystery of the tropics. However, I learned to use herbs that had been stored in bottles. I also learned to read books about herbs, but I still miss the intimacy of the Islands, the reverence of the kahunas, and the feeling of being connected to what is being used for healing.

My mother was a considerable student of Hawaiiana. She was also an incredibly sensitive and psychic person. She detested what she felt to be the barrenness of the desert. She preferred the lushness of the tropics. She had her point. The tropical rain forests are the source of an incredible diversity of botanical and animal life. We also know that they harbor many medicines, some of which may be critical to our survival. It is not a coincidence that as we destroy the rain forests, our own resiliency is impacted. All life is interrelated.

As the oxygen supply diminishes, we must expect a deterioration of health. We know from the work of two-time Nobel laureate, Otto Warburg, that cancer cells are anaerobic, that they thrive when there is a deprivation of oxygen, that they die when exposed to oxygen. This has been the basis of many alternative cancer treatments.

We know, too, that oxygen is essential to life and vitality, that there is malaise and despair when it is lacking. We need plants to perform the photosynthesis necessary to life, and we need them for medicine. When forests are destroyed, existence is threatened. When a particular plant becomes scarce or extinct, its price may soar, but a substitute may be available—such as bloodroot for golden seal. However, when whole forests are destroyed, not only are the treasures of Nature depleted, but the survival of animals and humans is impacted.

At this critical time, when the incidence of cancer is rising and the cure rate is unimpressive, it is only reasonable that fresh strategies for prevention and treatment be sought. In my opinion, however, nothing will work if cells are too devitalized to respond to the inspiration that is an integral part of respiration. In the inhalation process, we are taking in much more than oxygen; we literally imbibe life as well. When exhaling, we discard what is no longer healthy to us, but before it can be rendered safe, the plant kingdom must recycle our breath. It is that simple. We are utterly dependent on plants for the services they render. We owe them a great debt of gratitude, but we need to understand them and to protect them with the same fervor we would use to shield our children from harm.

For me, the quest to rebalance health is exciting but it is inseparable from the balance that all the other Kingdoms of Nature also require. We cannot advance the human race by making our survival depend on unspeakable torture to animals or destruction of plants. Many have said it before: if you find peace in yourself, it affects the world around you. We seem too small to make a difference, but are we?

We are like ripples, and our waves can roll far. However, to travel beyond the familiar, we need a spirit of adventure. We also need to learn how to become aware of what is subtle and unfamiliar. So far as the healing cancer is concerned, spontaneity and openness to much needed new ideas may do much to overcome resistance and stagnation, the forces which may be inhibiting life more than anyone realizes.

Of course, no one advocates abandonment of common sense or reason, just open-mindedness and fairness. Where unproven methods of treatment are concerned, it is not the spirit of free inquiry that will heal. Only the right approach will work—and that is not the same for everyone. People are badly out of touch with themselves. It is essential that patients find the key to themselves that will open the door to their own wellness. Botanical remedies may not be right for everyone, but neither are chemotherapy and radiation right for everyone. In the search for your own cure, focus on what you need, be observant, dare to ask questions and to pray for guidance, and do not persevere when not getting the results you are seeking. A sane strategy is one that meets your particular needs and delivers satisfactory results in a reasonable length of time.

I wish you success and health!


 Biological Terrain


Biological Terrain

Mistletoe Iscador
Cell Phones: Vibrations, Waves, and Cacophony Biological Terrain
Healing and Nature Constitutional Balance The Body-Mind Connection
Legacies from the Twentieth Century DNA and Cancer
Unusual and Little Known Protocols Quality of Botanical Products
Herbs, Patents, and Propaganda



Much of the material on this site is historic or ethnobotanical in origin. The information presented is not intended to replace the services of a qualified health care professional. All products discussed on this site are best used under the guidance of an experienced practitioner.

We encourage patients and their friends and family to avail themselves of the information found on the Internet and to share their discoveries with their primary care practitioners. If there are questions about the suitability of a product or strategy, please have your practitioner contact the web hostess.

We are interested in feedback, clinical data, suggestions, and proposals for research and product development. While we naturally hope for the happiest outcome in all situations, the authors of this web site, webmaster, server, publishers, and Sacred Medicine Sanctuary are not responsible for the success, failure, side effects, or outcome of the use of any of the information or healing strategies described on this site.


Sacred Medicine Sanctuary
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2000, 2001, 2005


*The information provided at this site is for informational purposes only. These statements and products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this page and these products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. They are not intended to replace professional medical care. You should always consult a health professional about specific health problems.