An Herbal Realization:: Q+A With Rebecca Arnold
This week I had the opportunity to chat with a beautiful stranger, who quickly became a fellow friend of the Hälsa community. Meet Rebecca Arnold, Hartford, CT native, and newfound lover of herbal medicine and healthy living. Since she is now a D.C resident, I was unable to sit down with her in person, but through our lively phone conversations and emails, she inspired me to share her story and continue the ripple effect of encouraging people to explore the world of eastern medicine, plant healing, and holistic wellness.
Clare Anderson: Growing up, what was your lifestyle and environment like? Active, nutritious, health conscious?
Rebecca Arnold: Growing up, being active and healthy was a priority to my family. Now with my discovery of natural remedies, I am building on that foundation by taking a holistic approach to my health.
C.A: When we spoke on the phone, you mentioned that you tend to get sick. What types of illnesses have you experienced and how long have you been getting sick regularly?
R.A: I have experienced lengthy illness during the winters since the end of college. During the winters of my junior and senior years, I had strep throat that was treated with antibiotics. In the winters following college, I had pneumonia, bronchitis, and just general chest/nasal congestion every winter. When the symptoms begin, I’ve always used over-the-counter drugs to try to prevent its progression and turned to antibiotics once things get more serious.
C.A: When you got sick most recently, what did you have and how long were you battling it?
R.A: I was sick for about three and a half weeks before turning to natural remedies. For the first few weeks, it was severe congestion and fatigue and at the tail end, I had body aches as well. Throughout this time, I tried several different medications and used them each for about 3-4 days.
C.A: What type of medications were you taking?
R.A: Over the 3 ½ week span, I used:
>Tylenol Sinus Congestion and Pain Severe
>Alka Seltzer Cold and Sinus
After I met with my doctor, she said that while she didn’t recommend antibiotics, she suggested I try Flonase and Mucinex-D, which I did. These did not do anything to relieve my congestion or boost my energy.
C.A: What were the side effects of these medications? Where they helpful?
R.A: None of them relieved my symptoms. The DayQuil gave me energy for a few hours during the day, but I would crash once it wore off and it didn’t help me actually feel any better. The only noticeable side effects were with the Alka Seltzer, which caused intermittent abdominal pain. That could have been my body’s reaction to yet another medication though rather than a result of the Alka Seltzer itself.
C.A: When you met with your fiancés family on a trip in New Hampshire, they gave you herbal recommendations to help you heal. How did you feel about trying to heal through herbal medicine?
R.A: My fiancé’s father and stepmother run an outdoor education school in Keene, NH called Kroka Expeditions. Kroka is focused on teaching how we can live in concert with nature rather than opposing it, so they had some great insight on how to treat my illness naturally. I was introduced to using a neti pot! It genuinely felt miraculous. After having been congested for almost 4 weeks, I finally felt a little relief. They also gave me a list of herbal remedies and a regimen for using them.
C.A: What did you do herbally to get over this sickness, and how long did it take?
R.A: After two weeks of the herbal remedy regimen, I felt back to normal in terms of energy and free from congestion; however, my energy was back up with significantly less nasal congestion after just one week.
>Neti Pot – 3 x a day until the mucus is clear with Himalayan Institute neti-salt, Himalayan Institute Neti- Wash Plus, and a pinch of Goldseal Root.
>Crushed garlic and warm water after neti-pot- 1 drop in each nostril and hold for 30 secs
>4 pills of Vitamin C—2 in the morning and 2 at night
>Honey Gardens Elderberry Syrup- 3x a day
>Chamomile Tea with raw honey (not pure honey)
>Breath in steam from water containing essential oils-1 drop of tea tree oil, 2 drop of lavender, and 2 drops of rosemary before bed
C.A: Through your herbal experience, how has this shifted your views on eastern and western medicine?
R.A: The general reaction to illness in our culture seems to be knock it out immediately so you can get back to work. This is at odds with the concept of allowing your body to build up strength by learning to fight off illness without the use of medication because fighting it off takes time. I want my body to fight illness on its own rather that relying on various chemicals of an unknown origin. In the event of some serious illness antibiotics must be used, but I prefer that to be the last resort rather than the go to. Prior to this, my thinking on food had shifted food after reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and this experience solidified how important it is to be mindful about absolutely everything that concerns your body and daily living, beyond just food.
C.A: How has this experience inspired healthy living for you?
R.A: I am motivated to approach my health in a more holistic fashion. Because herbal remedies are not a magic pill like industrial pharmaceuticals, I recognize the need to be strong so that my body is resilient and won’t been so affected by illness every winter as it has in the past. It’s a work in progress, but I am trying to be diligent about working out through yoga and cardio.
C.A: Why is it so important for you to share your story with the world?
R.A: A lot of people, including myself earlier in my life, simply don’t know that there are alternatives to pharmaceuticals out there, and when it comes to something as important as health and wellness, it’s important that people have as much information as possible in order to make deliberate choices. To the average consumer, there are many unknowns with synthesized and processed drugs. The long-term side effects and what exactly your medication consists of is a bit of a mystery to those of us not in the medical community. Natural remedies have come from the earth, which by design has all that we need to survive and thrive. We have also been using these remedies for time immemorial, so while there may be unknowns for the purposes of regulation, the side effects and dangers can be ascertained by just looking at our history.
Many thanks to Rebecca for taking the time to share this story with the world. There are so many of us that can relate to this experience, and many more that are looking for resolution and a better way to heal. Between the efforts of herbal education and stories like these, we can build a stronger awareness around alternative medicine and create a deeper connection with the earth.