food as medicine

carlyroseanneDecember 12, 2012

Hello! I am new to this site and hope I am posting in the right place. I have a dream of becoming somewhat of a modern day medicine woman where I can "prescribe" people different foods/herbs to cure them of their ailments. I would want to grow as much of the food myself. I am envisioning quite the set up.

I do know quite a lot about the different healing properties of many foods but I know I have so much to learn before I could actually qualify to dive into this dream of mine.

My first question is, does anyone know of a proper name for someone who does this kind of work? Secondly, what books do you recommend to achieve more information on medicinal properties of foods? And last, what do you recommend I do to get started in this adventure? Has anyone done this before?

I know there is so much information out there and it's overwhelming to comparing to what I know. I know it will take time to earn respect and trust from the community but I am a firm believer in food as medicine and want people to have access to a safe, natural alternative to man made drugs.

Many thanks and much love in advance!

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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Who has done this? Many people. Hippocrates is quoted as saying, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Many people still do this. In fact anyone worthwhile (in my opinion) in any healthcare profession will work with you to make sure your lifestyle supports your health - good foods/healthy eating, exercise, sleep, etc. All the pills and herbs in the world can't solve the harm you do yourself if you have bad life habits.

What books? Any encyclopedic herbal reference of any size will include food plants and their benefits. For example, the book "The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses" by Deni Bown is sitting next to my computer today. I picked it up and opened randomly. Opened to "Morus" (aka mulberry). Not only does it tell you the effects of the leaves and twigs, it covers the fruits as well. The fruits are wonderfully tasty and make a terrific pie. We can't get enough of the fresh berries to eat out of hand when they are in season - most of the summer here. Reaping their benefits with every handful.

Plants for a Future is a wonderful online source of information on many plants and their uses - Any nutritional food sites would cover vitamins, minerals, and etc. which will be important to know.

Get training in herbs and nutrition would be my suggestion.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 6:39PM
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chervil2(z5 MA) is a wonderful resource. The podcasts are great and many of them are free at iTunes. The discussion forums require a modest membership fee that is well worth it. Attending herbal conferences is inspirational and empowering.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 9:49AM
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If you're planning to advise people on how to treat specific medical problems (or prevent them) you could run up against the law preventing the practice of medicine without a license. I see the state of Hawaii has certain exceptions, including this one:

"Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit healing practices by traditional Hawaiian healers engaged in traditional Native Hawaiian healing practices, both as recognized and certified as such by any kupuna council convened by Papa Ola Lokahi."

So it might pay you to get in touch with Papa Ola Lokahi. :)

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 1:06PM
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a lot of people currently do this work. i am one of them. it takes years of study and experience to do this work but if you are committed its totally do-able. i have degrees in plant sciences, education and nutrition and am also a graduate of two herb schools (Chinese and Western style herbalism) that teach herbalism, a&p, disease pathology, medicine making, clinical skills, etc. for a google you'll see there are many herb schools around the country, look closely at programs to see what works best for you.

'healing with whole foods' by paul pitchford has good info on food energetics.

laws regulating practice vary from state to state, check with your state health dept. for specifics. you should know now that this work is appreciated by real people but the establishment medical profession, the FDA and big Pharma (all in bed together) have been trying to legislate us out of business for years so we'll all be forced into using what they have to offer. laws are becoming increasingly restrictive...less than 100 years ago all medicine was botanical very little. and if you look at the CDC's stats on drug v herb safety there is no question which is far far safer...Herbs!

on the bright side, its very satisfying to work with an underserved population..either folks that want to use natural healing methods or those who cannot afford the cost of a doctor's visit or medications but still need health care. follow your dream and best wishes with it.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 5:26PM
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What typically leads to legal action against unauthorized medical practice is that someone is harmed by an unqualified practitioner and/or there is a complaint, as in this case in Iowa.

Anyone can open an office and claim to have degrees and expertise. When they start offering people advice for treating specific medical problems, that's where the trouble starts. It is very common for quacks to claim there's a conspiracy to persecute them, and to proclaim their dedication to "health freedom". What they're really concerned with is the freedom to make money without the regulatory oversight that legitimate practitioners must accept.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 8:38PM
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these are the words of a condescending and very small man. lots of strong opinions about things you know little.

in your attempt to trivialize herbalists/me and our/my work you wrote "What they're really concerned with is the freedom to make money without the regulatory oversight that legitimate practitioners must accept."

you write as if you know the motives of every herbalist working today, you do not.


herbalists ARE legitimate practitioners (many of us have more education than medical doctors) and its absolutely laughable that anyone becomes an herbalist to make money, we spend hours getting to know each client so we can treat the whole person... there is no way the little we charge covers our education, time, experience, etc.

compare this with the average 7 minutes a doctor spends with each patient before writing a prescription for some pill that often has side effects that are worse than any relief it brings. a person will generally spend more time of each visit filling out paper work and paying their bill than they do with the doctor....this tells us exactly what the doctors priorities are.

herbalist do this work because we love it and want to help the underserved get the healthcare they need for a price they can afford.

now, you go cry to the forum admin that you've been mistreated, its what we expect from you.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 12:19PM
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"in your attempt to trivialize herbalists/me and our/my work you wrote "What they're really concerned with is the freedom to make money without the regulatory oversight that legitimate practitioners must accept."

Actually, I was describing quacks. There are many herbalists who are not quacks. There are also many herbalists who view their work as complementary to mainstream evidence-based medicine and don't attack it at every opportunity.

The FDA does not regulate herbalism; it may fall under the jurisdiction of state laws if the person is felt to be engaging in the practice of medicine.

The FDA also does not regulate private use of herbs or prohibit individuals from growing them. Federal or state laws may cover use or possession of herbs. The FDA occasionally acts against companies that sell herbal products when they are marketed as drugs.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 8:29AM
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your ignorance is showing eric. your information is outdated and so, incorrect.

if it were anyone else i'd take the time to explain but i know you too well for that.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 1:03PM
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If using our daily food diets to "cure" ourselves was as effective as people are lead to believe, then there would be no need for the science of herbology. Truth is, our daily diet's greatest benefit is preventing acute illnesses, but not preventing nor effectively curing chronic conditions/illnesses.

I base my comments on several decades of seeing my patients try about every diet imaginable with no success in getting over chronic illnesses. I've discovered through experience that chronic illness begin with a breakdown of the digestive systems. By the time clinical symptoms develop, a person can eat the finest foods in the world and not get any benefit from them since the digestive system is too weak to do its job of breaking down nutrients effectively.

However, using herbs is a drastic change in diet. It's a step above daily diet and more effective in helping the body to heal itself.


This post was edited by HerbDoctor on Sat, Feb 16, 13 at 10:24

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 7:36PM
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hope everyone here is wearing their virtual wading boots, its getting deeper in here by the minute : )

i hope no one buys into the previous post that diet is of secondary importance. for pete's sake! common sense tells us differently. folk wisdom says it plainly 'you are what you eat', there is often a lot of truth wound up in old folk sayings.

two of the greatest docs of all time do not agree with HerbDoctor nor do those with deep knowledge of traditional healing systems.

Hippocrates said 'let your food be your medicine'
Avicenna said 'your food is your medicine and your medicine is your food'

using food as medicine works and works well but only if people actually do it. most people don't and that's why it doesn't work. and its not always that person's fault, the american public been lied to for decades by the FDA, food and pharmaceutical industries about what is healthy or not and over time many of us came to believe those lies. time crunched doctors often trust what their pharmaceutical reps tell them about the drugs they prescribe rather than do the research themselves. i can't count how many clients have come into my herb clinic who are taking many medications, often multiple drugs for the same problem, that are contraindicated for use together. its insane and yet i've seen this hundreds of times conservatively.

the average doctor spends an average of a totally inadequate 7 minutes with each patient...ever felt like after a long wait in the reception room the doc rushed you thru once you actually got into the examinging room? yeah, me too. please compare that with the 2 hours i or another herbalist will spend on just the initial consultation with a client so i can get to know who they are and why they might be will and educate them as to proper diet and lifestyle that will help them regain health.

yeah, food is a primary therapy. many traditions, including chinese medicine that HerbDoctor professes to be an authority on, teach that once a person has to resort to herbs to heal they have already missed the boat, that the most healing and basic of therapies is food.

ancient practitioners of traditional chinese herbal medicine were paid a monthly fee by their patients to keep them healthy. if the patient got sick they stopped paying.

here in the west its the opposite. doctors make more money when we stay sick. get it? there is little incentive to spend time researching a drug or studying nutrition so they could advise patients re a proper diet.

i'm thankful for some aspects of modern medicine but prevention of disease and health maintenance is not their forte. for a bad accident or heart attack? yes. for health building and illness prevention? no.

wouldn't our healthcare system change dramatically and quickly if doctors were paid based on their performance rather than the letters that come after their names?

and finally, there is no such thing as an Herb Doctor and its actually illegal to claim to be one, at the very least its intentionally misleading. the AMA does not look kindly on those who use the title of Doctor without the creds.

whether you are a credentialed doctor or herbalist or something else one thing remains true.... if you have the same patients for decades who are still chronically ill and you have not been able to help them find the diet and life protocol that leads to health, there is a problem with the way you are practicing, you're not effective. the proof is always in the pudding!

einstein famously said that 'insanity is doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results'. yep.

if you find yourself wasting your time, money and energy with such a doctor or alternative practitioner dump them and find another fast as you can, you deserve better!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 4:32PM
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"the average doctor spends an average of a totally inadequate 7 minutes with each patient"

I don't know where this claim comes from, but it doesn't mesh with reality.

"Recent findings from multiple data sources indicate...that the duration of the visit in a primary care setting is increasing, the number of patients being seen during an average week is decreasing, and the number of hours spent working during the week has remained the same. Specifically, longitudinal data using the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) for the decade 1988-1998 indicate that physician-reported face-to-face interaction time has increased 2.0 minutes to an average of 16.3 minutes per encounter. NAMCS data from 2003 indicate that among general and family physicians, the average visit duration is 18.7 minutes."

And that figure doesn't count all the behind the scenes work (ordering and reviewing lab tests and imaging studies, for example) that physicians do for their patients.

From another, more recent study:

"The number of adult visits to primary care physicians increased between 1997 and 2005, and the visits lasted longer, according to a Nov. 9 Archives of Internal Medicine study.

"The study examined whether a 10% decline in physicians' net income from 1995 to 2003 might have produced shorter visits as physicians tried to make up for lost revenue by seeing more patients...The reverse was true. The average visit increased from 18 to 20.8 minutes. And there was greater use of quality measures, such as medication reviews and blood pressure screenings, the study said.
"It's reassuring that in spite of increased pressure to be efficient, it doesn't look like primary care physicians are spending less time with their patients," said lead author Lena Chen, MD, a clinical lecturer in internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System."

Something else to bear in mind is that spending more time with patients doesn't translate into better quality care unless the practitioner is well-trained and uses quality evidence-based therapies. Personally, I'd rather spend 20 minutes with a good caregiver than an hour with a naturopath who prescribes magic homeopathic water or similar quackery.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 8:41PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)


You remind me alot like myself. I am studying to be a naturopath/herbalist.. My favorite doctor is Dr.Robert Morse, he is a naturopathic doctor who has a 95% cure rate of cancer and all other dis-ease. He has sued/ been sued by the FDA for standing up for our right to know the truth! He has a 95% cure rate on raw foods and herbs... His book is one of my favorites. if you are interested in helping people Dr Robert Morse is a must!!! His book - "Dr Robert morse detox miracle sourcebook". If you don't have the money he has thousands of free videos on YouTube type in dr Robert morse... He is known for cellular regeneration/detoxification via raw food diet and herbs. Also, people who started natural medicine - Dr shelton, tc fri, Arnold ehrhet.. Who knows we could be working with eachother later on. Let me know what u think of dr Robert morse. Best of luck

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 12:56AM
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