Episode 11: Herbal Medicine & Systems Thinking (with Judyth Shamosh)
“He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.” – The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
That’s a favorite quote of my guest Judyth Shamosh, which she relates to seeing each person’s health as a whole system, and as part of even larger whole systems. How can we really understand a cell by looking at it only once it’s been removed from the body it was part of? Removed from the pattern of life in which its true nature is expressed?
Judyth is an herbalist, trained in Ayurvedic, Classical Chinese, and Western herbal medicine, as well as in modern physics. Her role in The Great Turning involves practicing and teaching herbal medicine and systems thinking. Exciting for me, of course, because these are passions of mine as well. I see all holistic medicine, and especially medicines that use therapies which are low-impact on the ecosystem, as ways to serve both personal and global healing.
Judyth has been practicing since 1994, and has held multiple leadership and teaching positions including with the American Herbalist’s Guild and Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. She’s brought together much of her wisdom in her new book, The Physics & Poetry of Eastern Herbal Medicine: How Modern Physics Validates Eastern Medicine, which is geared toward herbalists and other medical professionals, as well as laypeople. Click Play above to hear us talk about her book, and so much more. You’ll also hear:
- an intro from me about the idea that some approaches to medicine “just suppress symptoms,” and how to understand when Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine practitioners say things like, “cold and damp is stuck in your body”
- how ancient medical wisdom and the new language of modern physics are giving us ways of seeing what it takes to have a life-sustaining society
- how even herbal medicine and plant-based diets need to be looked at in context, as parts of whole systems, if they’re going to truly support health and sustainability
- and some practical info about how to eat healthfully with the six tastes, or flavors, according to Ayurvedic medicine (like how sweet foods can make us more “heavy and damp,” and why we need bitter and sour foods too)
Here’s the quote about a clockwork universe I mention in the episode:
“Our preference for cause-and-effect view of body function is a result of what [Arthur] Koestler [1905-1983] has called ‘the greatest superstition of our age’—the materialistic clockwork universe of early nineteenth-century physics.” – Larry Dossey, M.D.
Be sure to check out the Turning Season resources page as well, to find ways to keep learning and, if you’d like, take a quick, simple action in support of The Great Turning by donating to one of the organizations I’m highlighting right now:
- the Rainforest Information Centre (also currently collecting signatures on a petition to protect Ecuador’s rainforests)
- and the Nonviolent Peaceforce.
Connect with Judyth on her website: judythshamosh.com