Homework!? I used to hate homework. Yes, you may have noticed that I used the word “hate” right there. (I don’t use it often). I use “hate”, because all my memories of homework are layered with feelings of dread, boredom, frustration, and annoyance. The busy work that was labeled homework was often meaningless, and seldom (if ever) related to anything that I was passionate about. (granted, there wasn’t much in the education system that I was passionate about when I was a teen). So, the unassuming word “homework” has left a bad taste in my mouth, and had up until this point been saddled with a negative connotation.
That has all changed! (yes, things can change…it may take decades, but things can change) Over the past few weeks I have let my interest in natural healing bloom into a passion, and with that passion comes a deep need to know and understand all things related. (hang in there…this is where the homework comes in) And, as I started digging deeper into holistic health I could no longer limit myself to the narrow view that I was comfortable with. There are a multitude of perspectives to view holistic health from, and each one has something that resonates with me. So, with this new found desire to expand my view and increase my knowledge (and more importantly my understanding) I have set out to become educated. And, since the passing of time has not eroded the need for homework in an education, I now have homework…again!
The difference this time around, is that I am the one assigning the homework, and it is meaningful and relevant to my life. A couple of weeks ago, I assigned myself a task of removing one OTC item from our medicine cupboard: cough drops/throat lozenges were my chosen target. I started by gathering and removing the bags and tins of partially used drops from the medicine cupboard. (most were expired and barely used) Then I set out to make our own healthy replacement. (Little did I know that this wasn’t going to happen overnight)
Now, it wasn’t just a simple matter of tossing out the old and then making a healthy replacement. I took the time to look at the old products, and then analyzed what was in them, and what symptoms they were meant to address. Soothing a sore throat, stopping a nagging cough, opening up nasal passages, boosting an immune system…these were all actions that these drops originally set out to do.
If I had to gauge their effectiveness, I would have to say that none of them did what we needed. (why else would we have several types of each on hand? If the first brand would have worked, we would have just stuck with it…right?) So the reason we had so many different brands was due to the fact that what we already had on hand wasn’t effective, or didn’t work last time. So, naturally, I would set out to find the next best thing on the drugstore shelf. Obviously I did this over and over and over again.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Well, enough was finally enough. With all the other life changes we have been making regarding our food and health around here, it seems that this drive to educate myself was the catalyst I needed to make even more healthy changes to the medicines and remedies that we are using.
So, after the analysis of the old product, I began the research phase for the new product. (yep, more self-assigned homework) I Googled “homemade throat lozenges”, found a recipe on some blogger’s website and voilà we have a replacement!
Wow, would that be easy or what? But where is the research? Where is the education and understanding? I didn’t want to just follow someone’s recipe. How do they know what is right for me and my family? Where did they get their knowledge from? I wanted to take responsibility for what I was making, and have full knowledge of all the ingredients that I was choosing to use. So, this is where the research began in earnest.
Well, truth be told, the research probably began 10 years ago. My progression looks a bit like this:
8 years ago – We began using some natural remedies, and we were introduced to Ayurvedic Medicine.
6 years ago – We found relief with Acupressure, Acupuncture, Meditation and Reiki.
4 years ago – Natural remedies outnumbered OTC ones, and we began using essential oils in a limited capacity.
2 years ago – We added homemade fermented foods to our daily diet, started making our own cheese and kefir and started juicing. We increased usage of essential oils and herbal oils; healing salves became the go-to items along with bone broth.
1 year ago – An opportunity to expand my oil inventory helped to launch an even greater use of essential oils, which in turn has driven me to get educated on the Pharmacology, Pharmacokinetics, and Pharmacodynamics of Aromatherapy.
So, this entire 10 year process has landed me here, at the beginning of yet another path. Standing here and looking back at where I came from, I didn’t exactly feel like a newbie (after all, I already own several Natural Health books, Gluten Free/Paleo Cookbooks, Aromatherapy Encyclopedias, and Eastern Medicine books, and my browser bookmark menu looks like a traditional/holistic medicine reference table), but I still felt my view was too narrow. I really wanted to find the science behind the natural products, I really wanted to be able to wrap my head around the “why” and the “how”. I have seen and experienced first hand the healing properties of non-traditional, alternative, and holistic medicine, yet I felt there was still a layer of fog where knowledge and understanding should be. So, I set out to research holistic organizations whose main focus was on research, knowledge, safety and education.
And I found this mission statement…
NAHA’s mission is to advance the knowledge of the medicinal use of aromatic plants and essential oils to its fullest extent and to support aromatherapy as a truly holistic professional art and science.
…and promptly became a member of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. Now, this is by no means the only organization that I found, however, it is the only one that I found whose mission statement so closely resonated with me.
So, with all that homework done, I then set out make new cough drops! (you know you are thinking….”well it’s about darn time”)
Unfortunately the making of a cough drop or throat lozenge would still be over a week away. I found out that there was way too much that I really didn’t know. And as I looked for answers, I quickly found out that there is a lot that others really didn’t know. (and some of those others had no idea that they didn’t know, and no idea that they really should)
So I proceeded to do what I do so well, and I began digging. I dug through recipes, I cataloged ingredients, I compared ratios and dilution percentages, I followed up on cited sources, I looked past the labels and brands, I tracked down the research behind the claims, I researched constituents of oils not just oils, I looked at every single data point without judgement. I did all this, because I was going to be making something that my family was going to inhale, apply or ingest; and I wanted there to be no question in my mind that I had done everything in my power to verify that the benefits outweighed any potential risk. If a claim was based on an opinion, or based on an extrapolation from inaccurate research, I wanted to know. I wanted to know if “x” is known to cause “y” based on study “z”. And, I wanted to know if everyone is just saying that “x” is known to cause “y” because they are repeating what they have heard and now believe it to be true. My homework came down to finding that darn horse’s mouth…so I could get it all first hand. I didn’t care if a claim was proven right or wrong, because I wasn’t invested in a side. I just needed the facts so that I could make a choice and be responsible.
SIDE NOTE : I think I am so passionate in my need to find the facts, because I recently found myself about to recite a “fact” to a family member and something stopped me from doing so. I continued to feel uneasy for the rest of the day. Obviously, I was worried about whether the knowledge that was in my head was factual or someone’s opinion. That is why I set out to find the truth; once I found it, I proceeded to clear up the misinformation that I had almost shared. It wasn’t enough for just me to know the facts, I wanted to make sure my family member knew the facts too (just in case they were ever questioned about this particular issue).
My homework included reading, lots and lots of reading. My homework included webinars, teleseminars, and videos (some good, some bad, but all informative in their own way). My homework isn’t even done; but, there really is no due date, so I am not stressing about it. I am finally enjoying homework.
Yep, bring on the Healthy Homework!