Recently Read: 500 Treatments for 100 Ailments

I recently… “read” isn’t the right word. I can’t say I read every page. I lookedIMG_7680.jpg through all of the pages and *read* (and marked for later!) many of the pages in “500 Treatments for 100 Ailments”, by Gustafson, Ren, McEoin, Espinosa, and Caley.

I’ve been getting into herbal medicine lately as an adjunct to Western medicine. For instance, I know there’s no cure for the common cold, and most cold medicines are just doing what a number of things in my kitchen and garden can already do, without Red Dye #40 or Blue Dye #5 or weird fillers and preservatives. I’ve been getting curious about what else I can treat at home – either in place of over-the-counter meds/Western medicine or in conjunction with it.

The book is organized by complaint – muscle aches of various sorts, allergies & colds, skin issues, etc. For each complaint, there is a short “diagnosis” section describing the complaint, a short list of “symptoms”, and a “treatment goal” – often stating something like “we don’t aim to magically cure you of this thing, rather we aim to help reduce the inflammation/pain. If X happens, go see your regular medical professional”. The Treatments for each and every Ailment comprise five parts: Conventional Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (to include herbs and acupressure points), Naturopathy (to include diet changes, supplements, and herbs), Homeopathy, and Herbalism.

I like that this is how the book is organized. Most books are organized around the herbs – 40 things to do with Calendula, 23 things to do with Mugwort. Which is great if I have a ton of Mugwort in my yard, and I can remember all the things it’s good for when those ailments come up. But that’s not really how my brain works with regards to health-related material. When I have a headache, I want to know how to treat it.

This book will not teach you how to make salves, tinctures, compresses, or infusions (though it does give very general information on making the teas). It also will not teach you how to identify the herbs in the wild (actually, it assumes you’re likely buying from a reputable herbal/homeopathy shop). Fortunately, that information is easy enough to find elsewhere. I was also surprised to find it doesn’t have a glossary of any sort. Some terms are defined within a sentence, but not every time that term is used. It also doesn’t give you *all* the possible herbs/supplements/acupressure points to address any given ailment – it gives *some*, and there are a few brief cross-references here and there (“this tea/tincture is also good for similar ailments such as…”).  And it gives *very* little info on contraindications – things like “don’t mix these particular herbs because you’ll create a nasty combination” or “don’t use these infusions/salves if you already use X medications”. To their credit, throughout the book they let you know this book is mostly for informative, beginner purposes, and suggest repeatedly you start with very low doses of any given treatment, and consult your medical professional or a qualified practitioner of whichever approach you choose.

I’m excited to try out some of the treatments. We have a variety of serious illnesses in our family, and I feel I have a pretty good sense of where my limits are for what I’m willing to try and what I’ll leave to professionals. We’re also pretty good at looking up components of treatments for possible negative interactions with the meds we currently take. I also feel like I’ve got access to resources – professionals I can talk with, more reading I can do on herbal preparations & interactions, people with a wide range of experiences in making and using herbal treatments – to support my learning. I’ve got a couple of good “here’s a plant, here’s how to identify it, here are some things you can treat with it” books. It’s nice to have this book that works the other way ’round.

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