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Finding a good herbalist

Whether for you, or someone you care for, this article is for the person who wants to know more about how to get the help they need from Nature. The general recommendations further below are entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist to guide you into to a safe and effective treatment program and there are some notes to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

Case Histories

I've been in practice since 1989 in Christchurch, New Zealand and in that time many people; younger and older, have come in with the symptoms or diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

The treatment of ADD or ADHD with a natural approach takes time and commitment, but if the person is ready to put in the work then past experience suggests it is likely they can get an excellent result.

There is common ground between people and some general recommendations are given further below that may be of benefit to anyone. Firstly however, from the clinic files, the following two histories show how each case needs an individualised approach...

Owen

Owen was 10 years old, when he first came to see me, beginning year 6, his last year of primary school. He came in with his mother, a gentle Maori woman who only had Owen in her home to care for. I was never told the details, and it never came up to ask, but Owen's father had been involved in some kind of serious crime as he had been in prison since Owen was 7 and I was given to understand that he would not be getting out for at least another few years.

Owen had been seen by several health professionals and had recently been formally diagnosed with ADHD. He had been prescribed the usual medications, but the mother was in deep conflict about putting her son on any kind of drugs and I did understand that there were some family history reasons behind this.

As the story came out, Owen was generally quite a happy kid at home, but he had a terrible time at school; misbehaving and constantly being disciplined for acting-out in class.

One of the great things about being a herbalist is that you are completely out of the mainstream system. It doesn't matter if someone has been labelled with x, y or z condition, there's nobody forcing you to keep them under the label they came in with. If you so choose, you can meet them with an open mind, and seek to understand where they, the unique individual, are at.

I liked Owen right away. He had a spark of vitality and intelligence that I always see in children with these labels who haven't yet been too heavily drugged. Yes, Owen wanted to quickly find the limits of what he could get away with, for example how much he could roam around my room or interrupt his mother and I talking, but that seems quite normal for any boy that is relaxed enough in any environment. He was also perfectly able to hear and understand what was ok and what wasn't.

Starting with a clean slate, putting the label aside for the moment and so not only focusing on mental health and behaviours, it soon became apparent that there were a number of key areas in Owen's life that were badly out of balance. Namely his sleep, food, and exercise habits were all highly irregular and, as these three things form the foundation of much of our essential rhythm and harmony, everything else was being badly affected as well.

Owen would be tired and fractious in the morning, restless and over-excited at night, without appetite when it was mealtimes, starving for quick fixes in-between times. Reluctant to so much as walk to or from school, then unable to control himself from going 'crazy' with physical movement in the playground and sometimes in the classroom too.

In an earlier time, a boy like Owen would not be labelled or even seen to be as sick, he would be understood to be imbalanced. Fortunately for us, for our evolution and our survival, balance is something that Nature is very good at helping us to find...

The Prescription

Morning Formula

Withania 60 mls
Skullcap 60mls
Damiana 40mls
Basil 10mls
Rosemary 10mls
Licorice 30mls

To make 210mls. We make our own tinctures from organic dried herbs, therefore you must understand that the optimal dose range will vary with different preparations made by different companies or practitioners, but for a reference point I will share that the dose we used of this formula was 8mls once daily in the morning, which I would see as a maximum dose for a boy of his age and size.

Evening Formula

Withania 60mls
Skullcap 60mls
Hops 40mls
Lobelia 10mls
Lavender 10mls
Licorice 30mls

Again, to make 210mls and again to use the maximum safe dose of 8mls once daily in the evening. You can see that large parts of each formula are Withania & Skullcap. These two herbs are talked about in the section on general recommendations below. The other herbs in the morning formula have tonic, uplifting effects on the nervous system, the other herbs in the evening formula have calming, relaxing actions on the nerves.

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The Work

The first step in any healing journey is the one in which we let Nature help. At some point; younger, older, all of us will get sick. If we are wise we will know that we need to ask for help in a way that does not just remove our troubles without our involvement, but rather uses these ancient allies, these herbs, whilst seeking to address the reasons we have become unwell.

The first steps for Owen were to commit to taking the above prescriptions and to 'let them in'. In his case, this meant that he needed to sit with how the herbs felt for a few moments after he took them. To let his body feel them before they started to affect how he felt.

People are very open to this process if you explain it to them and we often give them their first dose before they leave so that can experience it for themselves in person. In Owen's case, it was after school in the afternoon when we first met so I gave him his first dose of the relaxing herbs in person. Within a minute or so his pulse rate and respiration had notably slowed (this also helped me to check that the prescription was not too weak or strong as some of these herbs are really very potent) and Owen began to experience the power of the medicine to help him to feel more relaxed. He made a fuss about the taste, as you would expect, but he loved the effect and couldn't wait to try the morning one the next day, especially when I explained that it would get him energised before going to school!

The next step after 'letting Nature in' is what I call the 'work'. It is what the patient does to help themselves. Underlying all the old ways of healing is an understanding that all living organisms have the innate ability to self-regulate and self-repair, unless something is obstructing that self-healing intelligence. The 'work' is usually about doing something that helps to remove the obstacles that are getting in the way of their getting well. In Owen's case there were several things that were clearly damaging his well-being and balance.

The first was his diet. Many people who work extensively with ADD and ADHD put a great deal of emphasis on diet, even to the point of stating that they believe it is things like food additives that are the root cause of the condition. I'm not so sure about that, but I do know that every mother or father I have ever met who has bought in a child, like Owen, says that they see them being adversely affected by excess sugar and junk food. It always makes things worse and how could it not? The brain is the most sensitive organ in the body. Of course, it will react to such stimulating chemicals with imbalance and hyperactivity.

The foundation of our initial 'work' was to get a healthy, wholefoods diet into normal everyday life. Not to be having any kind of processed, high-sugar foods in the house. Friends and extended family had to be told that Owen was on a prescribed 'healthy foods diet' and they were not to help him to cheat, however much he tried to persuade them. Owen showed none of the usual indicators for food intolerance in his history or from his physical exam, so he was advised to be sure to eat some protein in the morning, in the form of eggs, or some kind of meat, or some kind of dairy products and to likewise have some protein as the basis of what was in his lunchbox. Bread had to be a true wholegrain and was set at a maximum of four slices a day. He could eat as much fruit and vegetables as he liked but not in a processed or chemically altered form. Those are some of the key points, there is a more detailed page that goes into what a healthy, whole-foods diet looks like, along with a sample menu, in an article found here

The next big step for Owen was about how he wound down in the latter part of the day. I could see, from how he responded to them, that the herbs would help him a lot in this regard, but he also needed to do some 'work' to learn how to relax himself. Owen knew how to get revved up and excited, but he was hopeless at knowing how to chill out and relax. The only way he could stop was by plugging into technology but, as soon as he unplugged, he would be back to where he was, unable to relax, unable to get to sleep easily and so setting himself up for being 'tired but wired' the following day (which, by the way, describes how many people with ADD or ADHD say how they feel on the inside; 'tired and wired')

Owen had to take his herbs when he had finished with his activities, and his technology, but he wasn't expected to go to bed right after. I said to take them at least one hour before it would be good for him to be asleep and then to have all that time to do anything that didn't involve technology, or achieving anything, or even particularly interacting with anyone. His mother was told to get the lights nice and dim, if possible to light some candles and to let him get used to having some free time where he didn't have to do anything.

I asked her to put on some peaceful music and to either read a book for herself or to do some kind of craftwork herself. To not talk too much if he was looking to stimulate an argument or a discussion but rather to just not engage with it, instead to just smile and shrug it off. But if he wanted a story to be read to him then by all means to do so.

People don't like change, they resist it, even when it is exactly what they most need. I warned her that he would probably need plenty of evenings to get used to this and not to expect it to work perfectly from the first time. That it would take him time to learn how to relax and to actually feel ok with having and enjoying free time. So much of the misbehaviour of a boy like Owen is when they perceive that they have to do something they don't want to do and so are going to feel 'bored'. Eventually, when they realise that they are in charge of themselves and relax into being free, they begin to love it, to be okay with their healthy imaginations and active minds without needing to be up half the night when they know they need to be asleep. So much of the troubles of our children come back to their having every moment engaged with doing something to get somewhere. Losing the freedom to simply be is a dangerous business for anyone at any age, for a child it can be catastrophic.

The third great step for Owen, easily as important as getting his diet healthy and learning how to relax before going to sleep, was to get his body pushing itself to its limits with exercise. It is an utter travesty that we will give children powerful and mind-altering drugs before seeing what would happen if we put them into an intense regimen of physical exercise. The ancients knew it, and not all of us have forgotten it, that there are many boys that cannot be expected to sit still in a classroom until they have 'rinsed-out' their excess physical energy with physical exercise and play.

In Owen's case, especially with the situation with his absent father. I felt sure that the best course of action was to involve an experienced Sensei of one of the martial arts schools that does well at looking after youngsters. Seeing their address and knowing a good person to recommend, I asked the mother's permission to speak to the Sensei about Owen so that he would understand that, as well as a commitment to attend the classes twice a week, he would also help to construct a daily exercise program that Owen could do before school in the morning. As it was his great ambition to play rugby at a high level, and as it could be truthfully said that this kind of training would go a long way to help him towards that goal, Owen was more than ready to commit to all of it.

I saw Owen once a month for 6 months in total. In that short time, a mere half cycle around the sun, he went from being an angry, destructive, 'tired and wired' naughty little boy to a funny, smiling, respectful, happy young man. His teachers, principal and social worker all said they thought it was the 'magic herbs' but, on hearing this, I asked the mother to explain to them that the herbs were really only one part of it and that Owen's diet, his night time routines and his exercise commitments were all to be credited, at least as much as the herbs. I did not want them, or anyone else, to think that any child could get such a remarkable result without doing the 'work'. Herbs are not a natural substitute for Ritalin.

I remember on the second appointment that there were positive signs we were on the right track but there was also clearly a long way to go. The main hindrance was that the martial arts Sensei had been contacted by phone, but they had not yet gone in. It turned out that money was the obstacle so, learning this and that the mother was on an extremely limited income, I insisted that from now on she ask for help from one or more of her family, not just for the martial arts lessons, but also for Owen's ongoing appointments and prescription costs. People are proud about this kind of thing (and won't even think to do it if you don't tell them to!) but the truth is that there is nearly always at least one person who can be asked, someone who has money, and is usually only too happy to help. In fact, their being involved tends to get them invested in the process so they also want there to be a good result, and this can spill over into helping with the motivations to eat healthier, exercise, take the medicines etc. which is exactly what happened in this case.

I met the mother by herself for another reason a few years later. Of course, I asked about Owen and found out that he had never looked back after that time. He was in his school's first 15 Rugby team as a winger who scored numerous tries, therefore in New Zealand culture he was now the school hero instead of the school villain. Owen was a good student, not into drugs or other mischief.

The herbal medicine helped, as did the therapeutic relationship that we developed, but the great majority of the success was due to Owen himself being willing to do the work, and of course his mother, who did everything she possibly could to give him a good life, good food, and a good home..

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Trevor

I first met Trevor when he was 28 years old and working in construction. He had been diagnosed with ADHD when he was 12 and had been on Ritalin and then Adderall for nearly 10 years after that. In his late teens he and some friends (some with the same diagnosis and the same prescriptions) began to get heavily into cannabis, alcohol and altering their medications into forms that they could get high on. Trevor eventually got into some minor trouble with the police and stopped being able to get prescription medication, but he continued to purchase stimulants on the black market whenever he could and likewise used a great deal of cannabis on a daily basis all through his 20s.

Trevor described his diet as 'atrocious'; nothing but coffee and cigarettes for breakfast, high-caffeine drinks such as 'V' through the morning, sweets, cakes, meat pies, rolls, chips and other takeaway food for lunch and dinner. Trevor said he lived day to day, just for himself, no commitments or long-term plans. He said that he was used to feeling 'pretty average' but could always find a way to get altered with drugs, coffee, sugar, dope, something.

According to Trevor, he would have kept this lifestyle going indefinitely, but what eventually caused him to become derailed was his body, more specifically his skin.

On his first visit, Trevor showed me photographs of the sores he had developed on his legs, arms, chest and back. It had begun nearly a year before we met and, at first, he thought he had been the victim of a spider-bite, because it started with an angry wound on his leg that wouldn't heal. Then the same kind of sore came up in several different places on his body. He panicked and went into the emergency department of the hospital where he received antibiotics and was sent home.

What happened over the coming months was enough to convince him that he was in real trouble. The wounds would only partially heal and then would start to spread or come up somewhere else on his body. He took multiple courses of antibiotics, including a period where he was admitted into hospital and given IV drugs for several days, but he still just couldn't come completely right.

No-one was able to give him a simple answer for why he kept getting these sores and he became increasingly paranoid that he had some kind of deathly disease that no-one was able to detect. One day, when he was at his local medical centre getting a dressing from the practice nurse, he was asked about what he was eating. He told me that this was the first time since he had been in contact with the medical system that anyone has asked him about his diet...

When he gave a run-down of his usual lifestyle, the Nurse told him that this was the reason he was getting sick and that he needed to stop thinking he could fix his problems with drugs and start taking care of himself.

This may seem so obvious to you who are reading this, but awareness is something that people develop in their own way and time. Trevor had been living a somewhat 'disembodied' existence for a long time. You could see the intelligence, the spark, buried deep inside him, but all those mind-altering chemicals had impaired his emotional maturation.

His fellow workers and peer group were in their late teens and early 20s, and most were living a party lifestyle and getting away with it. His own good genes and relative youth had enabled him to get away with a terrible diet and lifestyle for a long time too, but eventually his body couldn't keep going without getting sick.

When he came to see me, he had done a lot of the hard work already. He still smoked cigarettes and pot every day but had stopped drinking and taking any street drugs. His diet was still far from ideal, but it was much improved from what it was, and he had stopped living off energy drinks.

However, his skin was still breaking out with sores and they were still rapidly getting infected. He was on his 11th course of antibiotics within a year and was feeling terrible; anxious, confused about what was wrong with him, angry and upset that he was still getting sick despite the changes he had made.

The Prescription

From Trevor's symptoms, his history and from carefully examining his tongue and pulse, it was apparent that the first priorities were to support cleansing and nourish immune health. We started with the following

Immune & Cleansing Formula

Echinacea 160mls
Astragalus 120mls
Skullcap 100mls
Celandine 60mls
Barberry 60mls
Licorice root 60mls

This equals 560mls of a combined formula from tinctures we make in our clinic from dried, organic herbs. Most of the herbs there are to support immunity and assist detoxification, with the addition of Skullcap to nourish his nerves. Dosage 10mls twice a day.

St Mary's Thistle capsules

This is from a standardised concentrated extract of St Mary's thistle, a herb with remarkable properties for a damaged liver and one of the best of all medicines from Nature to help a person who has effectively been systematically poisoned by drugs, alcohol and bad diet. We started at the very high dose of 4 capsules, twice daily.

Wormwood capsules

4 capsules each night. Each capsule contains 480mg of organic Wormwood, freshly milled before being sent to a local company for encapsulation. This is one of the best of all medicines to kill bad bugs in the gut.

Withbiotic

This is a product we make in our clinic using organic dried and powdered Withania root (also commonly called Ashwaganda) that we combine with 14 different beneficial probiotics. Each dose gives several grams of Withania and over 6 billion healthy bacteria to repopulate his antibiotic-decimated gut. One heaped tsp, slurried into water and drunk once a day in the morning.

Tonic tea

Make and take a cup of Tonic tea in the morning. Ok to make extra cups if he grew to like it and wanted more. For anyone interested, the recipe and instructions for this tea are found here

Relaxing tea

Make and take a cup of Relaxing tea in the evening, Ok to make extra cups if he wanted more, recipe and instructions here

After 2 months (i.e. one repeat) of the above treatment program we stopped the Wormwood & Withbiotic, reduced the St Mary's to 2 capsules twice a day, discontinued the first large formula and instead went on to using the following mixture

Nervine & Immune Formula

Skullcap 160mls
Withania 160mls
Echinacea 160mls
Licorice 80mls

Trevor had grown to like drinking herbal tea and carried on with these, I can also see from the notes that he added a few more teas that he self-selected from the dispensary. He continued with the above formula and the St Mary's thistle for many months, eventually reducing the doses and stopping when he was ready.

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The Work

Before he became sick, it would never have occurred to Trevor to visit with a herbalist, let alone set out on a healing journey that would ultimately transform his life. This is the power of what we sometimes call the 'sacred sickness'. A condition that is so compelling that you must confront what you are doing to harm your body and your life. A terrible problem that shows you the way forwards when you have become badly lost.

Trevor was badly frightened by the way his body had broken down and was sprouting wounds that became infected, painful and unsightly. He was ready to do whatever it took to get well, and to his great credit and courage, he never once failed to respond to the challenges that he was given, one by one in the following months that we worked together.

His first work, apart from taking an extensive course of herbal medicines, was to follow a cleansing diet and to make a record each night, on a printed page, of everything that he ate, drank and smoked, how much sleep he got, what if any exercise he did, and how he felt each day.

This ' keeping a diary' is a tool that I often use when people have gone a long way off from where they need to be. Writing things down brings an awareness that wasn't there before. They know that they are going to have to show the record when they come back, and this also gives motivation to make lasting changes. It also helps, if and when they have a bad patch, to get it out in the open and so more quickly get over it. Lastly, and crucially, they make strong connections with the way the feel and how they eat, sleep and exercise.

Trevor took the above prescription and worked hard on his diet and lifestyle for 2 months. His notes show that on day 10 of the program he reported that he simply stopped smoking anything, the drugs were out, he was all in.

Even by the end of the first month, when we had our first follow up, his skin was greatly improved, and he was no longer getting any new sores. By the end of two months his skin had completely healed and only some scar tissue remained where some sores had been badly open.

We could have stopped there, and would have if that was what Trevor wanted, but we had already begun to talk about his childhood and his past life. He wanted to keep sharing and opening up and I was most certainly willing to continue supporting and guiding him for as long as he needed.

All herbalists throughout history have also been dieticians, exercise coaches, and counsellors. Holistic medicine doesn't see a separation between the mind and the body, everything has the potential to matter, and it is simply whatever needs the most attention that gets focused on the most.

One of the main themes that emerged with Trevor is that he didn't feel like he mattered to anyone and that he could do whatever he liked, including abuse himself with drugs etc. because no-ne really cared. I won't go into the family background in this case history, only to say that his perception was not entirely backed up by reality and that there was a healing reconciliation some years later.

What I want to recount here is that we used another old way which was to challenge Trevor to obtain and start looking after one or more young house plants and that, once he had proven to himself that he could do that, to seriously consider taking the next step, which is to obtain and raise an animal from young.

Trevor did apparently buy some plants, and he also bought a new puppy into his next appointment! He said he was so excited by the idea that he just couldn't wait. This turned out to be a truly a life-changing event for Trevor. It turned out that he had a deeply affectionate nature and absolutely adored training and caring for his new 'best friend'.

You can probably guess where this story is heading, but what had to happen before Trevor could start his own family was that he needed to regain confidence in himself. Like so many boys diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, Trevor was convinced that he was below average in his mental abilities. He had completely failed the school system and, as a consequence, believed that he wasn't bright...

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Trevor was from the Eagle constitution, I will talk more about that in the next section, but here just want to point out that he, like so many other school boys, wasn't getting bored and losing their attention because they were stupid, he got that way because he wasn't being stimulated and engaged in a way that he could relate to.

The next great challenge for Trevor was to get out of living from day to day and to make some real plans for the future. Plans where he would focus on what he really wanted, and then make it happen.

Trevor's innate drive and intelligence was always there, even the first time we met I could feel it under the surface. As he cleaned up his life and started to take care of himself and, crucially, started caring for other living things around him too, the man inside began to emerge. He had worked in all kinds of areas since he left school at 16, and being naturally intelligent, he had picked up an enormous number of practical, useful skills. The mission he chose was to save enough money to buy a broken down old house, do it up, sell it on, and then move to the next one.

Trevor still comes to see me every year or two. He is nearly 40 now. He has a wonderful wife, a girl just started school and a boy who will be starting soon. He is the owner and director of a property development company and has two crews of guys who do up houses and move them on.

Trevor is a happy man. He is getting a little fat, and I tell him off about that, but if you could see the joy in his face when he talks about his dogs, his kids, his wife, his business, you would know that here is a man who a lot of people got all wrong, including himself. He's not a loser, he's great.

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Constitutions & the Healing Cycle

Constitutions

I mentioned above that Trevor was an Eagle. This is about what constitution he was and this ancient way of understanding our differences, according to how we are naturally either hotter or cooler, and at the same time dryer or damper, underpins much of the understanding and approach of what kinds of foods, herbs etc, will best help a person.

Ok, so here's something a little quirky. I don't have a speciality, I just meet with all kinds of people with all kinds of problems. That said, I have a lot of experience in practice now and that includes a good number of people who have been diagnosed with ADD and ADHD and here's the thing. So far, without exception, every single one of them, as well as being male, have all been from the Eagle constitution.

I should add that, this is at least as far as I can tell, because it's not always possible to tell with a child until they're older. All the same, I have the feeling that they're all going to turn into Eagles eventually...

The Eagle is the constitution that is both 'hotter' and 'dryer'. They have a number of qualities that include being high-vitality people who need a focus in order to channel their energy. Seeing this pattern repeated dozens of times, I am convinced that what we are labelling and medicating as a medical disorder is, in fact, a grievous misunderstanding of the inherent nature of a large subset of our population.

The proof of this can be seen in real life when the Eagle has a goal that they want to pursue. They can be more focused, attentive and concentrated than just about anyone when it is something that they want. Yet put them in a situation where they don't see the point of what they are doing or supposed to be learning, and they are equally likely to have less tolerance and attention than just about anyone too!

Instead of blaming the child for this mis-match, I think the fault lies in the education system. A high-energy boy is not meant to be stuck in a classroom being bored by something they don't see the point of. That's just a recipe for disaster. Giving them drugs that stimulate their brains to the point of being able to focus on things they don't want to do is a nice solution for a system that wants its students to conform, but the long-term consequences can be catastrophic for the person who then needs drugs to feel normal and forgets what it is that actually captures their natural passion and interest.

I have been interested to meet with a number of 'high-flying' men over the years who are clearly from the Eagle constitution. In a number of cases, if we have the time and it has been appropriate for us to get chatting about things, I will ask them about their life path and what it is that they attribute their success to.

In most cases they fit the description of what used to be called a 'self-made man'. They may not have been people who did especially well at school but rather they excelled at their chosen trade or business because they had the ability to hold a single-minded focus on something that they wanted to do. Do you see the absurdity of this? They are dismissed by teachers as bad students with poor attention spans and yet in the real world they can hold their attention longer and better than anyone!

Anyway, if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, I highly recommend you work out if you or they indeed are from the Eagle constitution and, if so, to learn all about it. The section that introduces the general subject of the constitutions is found here, a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are is found here

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The Healing Cycle

After getting a sense of whether a person is naturally cooler or hotter, dryer or damper, the next level of knowledge to take the kind of personal approach that can be essential to a great result is to look into the healing cycle. There are four stages in the cycle; cleansing, activation, nourishment and rest.

This is a fascinating subject in itself and understanding it can give great insight into what needs to be done to treat the cause and help healing happen naturally.

Owen needed help with both relaxing, activating and nourishing his system back to health. Trevor needed a strong emphasis on cleansing in the beginning and then we moved more towards the nourishing aspects of the cycle.

Before I put the link for anyone who wants to learn more, I want to say that I fully recognise that many people are not ready to take the kinds of steps you see being talked about in the case histories above or in the general recommendations below.

They would rather use prescription drugs and get on with their lives with as little disturbance to their habits as possible. Yes, probably, if there are underlying issues that aren't being dealt with, there will be further trouble to come, but none of us are getting out of this alive no matter what we do and I deeply believe that people should choose their own paths as much as they possibly can.

So, these old ways are not for everyone but, that said, I can also say that, if a person is ready to let Nature in and work on the causes of wha'ts stopping them get well, then it can be seen that they can get better from just about anything. To learn more about the cycle of healing read here


This chart can be seen in more detail in a PDF found here

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General Recommendations

I trust that the above examples have illustrated that the holistic treatment of ADD/ADHD requires an individualised approach that works alongside the person wherever they are at and, as mentioned at the beginning, if your condition is very bad or you know you need some guidance in person, then I hope you will be able to find a good herbalist who will get involved and guide you to getting and doing whatever you need to get well.

However, it also may be that the condition is not so severe, or even that it is but you just don't have the option of working with a holistic practitioner. In these instances, I want to share some general suggestions, starting with some reliably effective medicines from Nature, which are both safe and highly likely to help anyone.

Nourishing the Nerves

I don't know how much you picked up on my comment earlier where I said that everyone I've ever met with ADD/ADHD can describe their internal state as feeling 'wired but tired'. Referencing the stages of the healing cycle introduced above, it's exhausting being in the 'activation' stage overlong. Your system wants to rest but doesn't know how to do it in a way that doesn't feel bad, so you end up using uppers in all kinds of ways, diet, drugs, sleep deprivation, video games, etc.

Whatever is the 'work' that you need to do to address such imbalances let Nature help too. In fact, let Nature take the first step. In this case two of the safest and most effective herbs in all of Nature are called Withania & Skullcap.

Withania & Skullcap

Withania somnifera comes from the great Ayurvedic tradition of medicine. It has the remarkable property of being both relaxing and strengthening to the nerves. Withania is a 'feel-good' medicine that most people report benefits from having soon after they start using it. It is widely available and should be easy to obtain.

Dosage is critical in herbal medicine, they are, after all 'natural drugs' and need to be taken in sufficient quantities to have a reliable effect. The matter of dosage, the science and history, some personal experiences and some suggestions on some different ways to use it are all written up in detail in the article on Withania found here

Skullcap may be of great benefit to any person with ADD or ADHD. It is also a deeply nourishing herb for the nervous system and it also has a gentle calming and relaxing effect without being sedating. It may take a little more careful searching to get reliably good quality Skullcap but hopefully, you will have a herbalist or a reputable herbal supplier that can guarantee you a fresh and potent supply of it. If a person is sensitive to its effects, the action of Skullcap on quietening down a restless, hyperactive mind can be striking.

These two herbs usually form the cornerstone of my treatment programs, they have been seen to make at least some positive difference to everyone that has them. More about Skullcap here

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Diet matters

Diet is hugely important to the health of our minds no less than the health of our bodies and there are two general recommendations that I would make to any adult diagnosed with ADD/ADHD or to any parent with a child that has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.

Cleansing Diet

The first is to be open to trying a one-month experiment with a cleansing diet that eliminates all processed food and gives the system a break from red meat and dairy products for a few weeks. Not that meat and dairy are necessarily unhealthy foods at all, but having a rest from them lets the system have a kind of 'reboot' a lot faster. When you reintroduce foods, you will be much better able to tell what, if anything, has any adverse effect on mood or behaviour. Even just cutting out sugar alone can have a profound level of benefit. The cleansing diet is described in detail here

Food Intolerances

The second area that has the potential to be a big part of the issue is an undiagnosed food intolerance, something that has clearly been a major issue for many with cognitive function problems. If there is any childhood history of eczema or asthma, then food intolerance must be seen as a likely issue. Frequent bloating or indigestion are some other common indicators. When it is a problem, it needs careful diagnosis and diligent treatment, details here

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Find your Way

Probably the most important general recommendation for anyone for whom any of this is an issue is that, whatever else you do, you must find a way to channel your energy in a way that serves your greater good.

You can see from the above case histories how important this aspect of the healing journey has been. Eventually, someone will need to ask you, or you will need to ask yourself 'what do you love?' or 'what do you really want? and then 'what are the steps you need to take to be heading towards what you love or what you want?

Do not buy into the idea that you've been made badly and wired wrong, and that you need to be chemically altered to have a normal life. If anything, you probably have a nature, a constitution, which simply needs freedom and hates to be bored. You are going to be a man who needs to march to the beat of his own drum so, find your way.


Withania somnifera (Ashwaganda root)

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A final perspective from Paul Bergner

Here are some final thoughts from great American Herbalist, Paul Bergner

"One other consideration in the multi-factorial dys-ecological state of ADD is the basic sense dominance of the child. Most people are visual or hearing dominant, and the school system, sitting in a desk, works for them.

Some individuals are 'spatial-kinaesthetic" dominant. The dominant sense is a sense of where they are in space, and in motion.

I know a man here in Boulder who is a holistic optometrist, and also has worked for thirty years as an optometrist in the Army Reserves. He was given a group of men to study, 30 of them, who were unusually successful "point men" meaning they could spot the booby traps and ambushes, and presumably because they were still alive after doing a lot of this, they were very successful. The Army wanted to know if there was something special about their vision. The only thing this man found  in common with all 30 of them was "cross dominance" meaning that the dominant eye was the opposite of the dominant hand.

This is a characteristic of spatial-kinaesthetic dominance, so this was the common factor. He said the great majority of them had been diagnosed with learning disabilities or ADD in school, and none had been successful in a school setting. since I heard this, I've watched for it and found it common in skilled outdoors people, including Ab Taylor, one of the great living man-trackers alive in the North America today.

The problem in school, is that an s-k dominant child can only figure out what's going on when they are moving around. So, we are drugging our most skilled hunter-gatherers, and not training them to their skills. The other piece coming out lately is that the adrenergic response in general suppresses learning, so we keep the kid in his seat, but suppress his learning and memory."

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Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!

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© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd