Our current healthcare system addresses an individual’s sickness, when the body has already lost its natural balance. What’s more, rather than addressing the underlying cause of the imbalance, medicines are prescribed to cover up the symptoms. Usually this “cure” or magic pill has side effects and in order to combat the side effects some people have to take more medicine. Symptoms are the body’s warning signs of an imbalance and by ignoring them or trying to cover them up we do not get better. This process leaves us with our current system of health care that some people call “sick care.”

Navajo Tea. Image credit: Institute for Traditional Medicine

For thousands of years people have relied on more natural methods of treatment for keeping their bodies in balance,and even more importantly they have consciously or unconsciously focused on preventive medicine. This involved nourishing a person’s body with the proper food and nutrients to maintain homeostasis. The fact is that today most doctors receive little, if any, training in nutrition. According to Food Matters, only “6% of M.D.’s have received training in nutrition.” Considering that the most deaths annually in the U.S. are from heart disease and that obesity is a major contributing factor to heart disease, wouldn’t it make sense that all MDs should have rigorous training in nutrition?  That’s why I have chosen to ask a local herbalist about her perspective on medicine.

Bernadette Torres is an Albuquerque herbalist who began discovering the power of plants while growing up in Black Lake, NM. As a child she learned the different uses for plants and to this day continues to learn about plants from various teachers from many walks of traditional medicine. Bernadette is well grounded and accepting. She treats the whole person, not just his or her symptoms. I asked Bernadette: “How do you help people, and what are some of the problems you help them with?” She responded that stress and diet are the two main factors that she helps people address.

“People experience stress in some part of their life, maybe it’s a relationship, a job, or some addictive habit. I just help them to recognize that the symptoms of illness have a root cause.” Bernadette is careful not to shame her patients, but instead shows them how to lessen stress and gives them positive alternatives. “I never tell people to quit their smoking, alcohol, coffee or other drug use. I show them alternatives that will help balance out what they are trying to heal instead of using those substances. I want them to use a substance that will bring a positive result instead of more negativity into their lives.”

Yerba mansa. Image credit: Medicinal Plants of the Southwest.

Bernadette emphasizes, “The other component is people’s diet. In our culture people are really dependent on packaged and instant foods. Those are two things that I think are really poisoning the body and we put so much of them into our bodies. When people feel healthy they are attracted to healthy substances and the attraction to unhealthy addictions fades.” Dr. Victor Zeines, in the film Food Matters, states that “food is at least a week old by the time you get it in the supermarket, and the nutritional value at best after 5 days is maybe 40%.” This goes to show the importance of eating local nutritious foods that don’t have to travel far. The loss of nourishment and declining quality of food during travel show that our current food system is not constructed in viable, healthy manner.

Stinging Nettles. Image credit: Desert USA

Patients come to Bernadette with a diagnosis from an MD, wanting to pursue natural means of treatment. “I research the herbs and I’m always really amazed at how much natural medicine there is and how many people have cured so many so-called incurable diseases. I want to promote [herbalism] so that people know they have a choice and so that people feel empowered by their choices.”

Many people are not aware of the benefits of using herbs for healing.  Bernadette illuminates the value of herbs: “Herbs are really working on people, by providing them nutrition. When we put good food and good herbs into our body, we start to heal, we come into balance, we feel stronger, we feel positive.”

Osha Root. Image credit: The Herb Depot

When talking about traditional herbs, Bernadette feels strongly that “local medicine has established itself and we don’t have to use a lot of water to maintain it, to keep it growing. It knows it’s environment so it actually breathes in and uses the same atmosphere, the same energy – it’s growing in the same area as us. Basically the constituents that it is taking in and breathing in are the same elements that we are taking in, so it works on our bodies more successfully than if we took medicine from other environments.”

Our ancestors focused on nutrition from local plant and animal sources to keep themselves healthy. It’s time we went back to the basics and did the same.

Bernadette Torres offers personal consultations and courses in healing and traditional plant knowledge. Contact her at: shabeta.abq@gmail.com or call 505-897-5755

Bernadette Torres

Want to read the full interview?

Posted by Kristiana

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to HERBS are FOOD is MEDICINE

  1. shabeta says:

    Good job, Kristiana! New contact number 505-897-5755

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