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MARCH 2013 Geo’s Triumverate

Schisandra: low thyroid, weight loss, energy and liver/gallbladder support that strengthens four body systems: immune, nervous, endocrine, and cardiovascular.

Usnea: a broad spectrum anti-biotic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic that does not kill friendly gut flora. Geo uses it in cold and flu formulas for children and adults, and has found it effective on strep, staph, mono, MRSA, even herpes. And there are no reported drug-herb interactions with it.

Turmeric: her favorite herb for the cardiovascular system, as it “goes to the source of cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol to reduce vascular inflammation.” She believes it is a wonderful analgesic for arthritis, joint and tooth pain, a natural Cox-2 inhibitor, and a powerful anti-cancer herb.

completely, migraine-free.” But most of the time, she

said, “A custom formula is not always required for success.” Derick’s picks for “seven safe medicinal herbs” that people can easily incorporate in their daily lives include the culinary forms cinnamon, ginger, garlic, rosemary, turmeric, thyme, and cacao (chocolate). These kitchen herbs and spices contain nourishing and immune- enhancing anti-oxidants. Many are anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-infl ammatory as well. Additionally, all have been shown to interfere with various types of cancer proliferation in many research studies and clinical trials, according to Derick.

Attention gardeners: Of

the millions of plants on the planet that are both nourishing and medicinal, here are some valuable local plants that grow wild here, according to Derick. Those she uses clinically include dandelion, chickweed, yarrow, stinging nettles, American ginseng (over harvested), poke (poisonous; must be used in small, controlled doses), and all the clovers. Knowing which parts to use, when to pick them for medicinal value, and how to prepare them are critical to their effectiveness. As a

rule of thumb, Derick says the leafy parts are best harvested before fl owering; fl owers are picked when freshly opened and after the dew has dried in the late morning. The roots are most potent in the late fall as the plant top dies back and their chemical compounds settle downward. She cautions: Always identify your plants positively, prior to harvesting. When herbs don’t work:

If you have tried herbs for your condition and have had no success, (eg., Echinacea for colds), there are generally four reasons for failure, Derick says. Number one: The product was made using the non- medicinal parts of the plant. Number two: The product or herb was no longer fresh, and/ or out of date.

Number three: Your dose was insuffi cient. Or,

Number four: It was the wrong herb for you.

If you have a ragweed allergy, for example, you may have a reaction to echinacea


chamomile, along with other plants of the Compositae family. So not only will it not work, but it can make your symptoms worse. Most retail brands under dose their product on the directions for use, according to Derick. Many herbs need

to be dosed more heavily and more frequently than people realize for a therapeutic effect. Echinacea is most effective at preventing colds and fl u if taken in doses of 2,000 mg every two hours, up to seven times a day. However, Derick cautions, it is important to know the safe limits before assuming more is better.

Safety Concerns: As a clinician in a rural area, Geo believes it is critical that her work is both safe and effective—if she hopes to continue a successful career. Occasionally someone has an unfavorable reaction to a plant, or just can’t manage their protocol. This happens when using pharmaceutical drugs, as well. But the non-poisonous herbs rarely present a life- threatening danger, she said. As far as safety is concerned,

herbal medicine has a pretty good

record. According to

Dr. James Duke of the USDA, statistics on the likelihood of death from various sources places herbs and supplements as the safest (1 in 1,000,000). As for drug-herb interactions, “We are in a continual learning state on this subject,” Derick said. “Most often, the herbs enhance the drugs, as they nourish the cells and support intercellular communication. However, people on blood thinners must be most careful. Since certain herbs are also blood thinners, bleeding episodes can occur when combined. Herbs like St. John’s wort activate the excretion of toxins and medications, so they are rarely compatible with pharmaceutical drugs. Certain foods are actually more of a concern than herbs, as they are taken in much higher doses and share many of the same actions,” Derick said. “The plants have been on

the planet for billions of years. We humans have been here for a few million years,” Derick said. “We rely on plants for life itself: oxygen, water, soil, food, energy, shelter, medicine. As for medicine, they are all we ever had until we began

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heavy metals, single constituents (since 1802) and synthetic pharmaceuticals (since 1945). I call herbal medicine, original medicine. If it didn’t work, we wouldn’t be here as a species!” Geo Derick offers offi ce consultations,

phone and

Skype consultations, and has a booth at the Clarke County Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings from 8am till noon,


May through October. Visit or contact her at or 540-955-4769.

JiJi Russell, a writer, yoga instructor, and Integrative Nutrition practitioner, serves as the wellness coordinator for American Public University in Charles Town, W.Va. Reach her at


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