~ Food Has Power ~
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Read about Ann Armbrecht, Co-Producer of Numen: the Healing Power of Plants who is included in this digital "Health Library" bundle.
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From Ann Armbrecht, Co-Producer, Numen: the Healing Power of Plants:
• What circumstances led you to your current health and wellness mission?
I happened upon herbal medicine after returning to the United States after living in Nepal for 18th months conducting research for a doctorate in anthropology. I was drawn to herbal medicine because it allowed me to begin to care for my daughter’s health with remedies I could grow and prepare on my own. But I was also drawn because, to me, traditional herbal medicine embodied the values I most came to appreciate in Nepal: a sense of the sacredness of the earth, a quality of respect and restraint in interactions with the environment, a focus on relationship rather than ownership, and an understanding of the spiritual and cultural dimensions of healing.
As I learned more about herbal medicine, however, I discovered that many of these values were threatened by the commercialization of herbal products. With filmmaker, Terrence Youk, we produced Numen: the Healing Power of Plants, to celebrate what to us is most important and powerful about herbal medicine and to bring these values to a larger audience, to those who might only see herbs on the shelves of a Whole Foods market. As we screened the film around the country, I came to see that what viewers then needed, especially in areas without easy access to herbalists teaching classes, were simple handouts to allow them to begin growing and preparing teas and tinctures on their own. And so we put together this resource guide with basic information on everything from growing and harvesting plants to preparing teas and tinctures to information on how to care for simple ailments like fevers, colds and flu at home.
• How does your work address needs that you see in today’s health care system?
I believe one of the greatest needs today is education. We all need to understand more about how our bodies work and how to keep them healthy. Our lack of education makes us overly dependent on a medical system that in my opinion does not have our best interests in mind. The more we know, the more empowered we are to take greater charge of our own health and to demand better quality when we do need to turn to medical providers. We produced Numen to encourage viewers to ask more questions about the healthcare they are provided and we produced the resource guide to provide them with some tools to begin to answer those questions for themselves.
• What do you wish more people knew about health?
That our health is inextricably connected to the health of the environment. And that pursuing more natural forms of medicine is crucial not just for our own health and wellness but because it is better for the environment and that we can’t be well until the environment in which we live is well.
At screenings of Numen, I have been surprised to discover that while many people are willing to ask hard questions about where their food comes from and to demand organic, locally produced food, they are not asking those same questions of the medicines they consume. To me, we should be even more concerned about what goes into these medicines than about the foods we consume. And yet we aren’t asking those questions. I think part of this is a question of education and the assumption that the doctor, ultimately, knows best. Part of this is the fact of being sick. When we are ill – or someone we love is ill – all we want is for them to be better, regardless of the environmental cost. But to me this is why it is even more important to educate ourselves about alternatives and to begin asking harder questions about the sources and effects of the medicines prescribed by doctors when we are well, not when we are sick. So that we are able to use this knowledge to begin to demand changes in the medicines we are provided.
• What has been hardest for you on this path of natural health?
Last year our son cut the tendon in his pinky and had to have staged reconstructive hand surgery. Not only did this experience trigger my deepest fears as a mother, it made me question everything I had come to understand from making Numen about the role of spirit and intuition and about the differences between allopathic and alternative medicine. What I found I could count on wasn’t what I’d been told I could count on by the people whose advice I had trusted. And what I had trusted about my intuition turned out to have been wrong, or not what I had believed. This experience—as so many of my experiences as a mother—gave me a far more grounded perspective on healing and medicine than I had discovered in research on those topics. It also helped me see that, like the healers in Nepal, what ultimately matters is the quality of the attention and skill of the practitioner in the moment, not the type of medicine they practice.
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